Walk Worthy

November 15, 2018

As I was preparing this message, I initially thought that perhaps it was a series of messages. However, then I realized that it really was just one message.  The message begins with Ephesians 4:1-6.

I.  Walk Worthy

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

A.  Walk Worthy

We are challenged to “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called”.  We are called to be Christians.  That means that we represent Christ.  We are called the children of God.  That means that we represent God.  It is hard to imagine how we can truly walk worthy of that calling.  We cannot be as good as Christ.  We certainly aren’t God.  Yet we should strive to be the very best representatives of Christ and God that we can possibly be in this life.  It is a challenge that we should accept and strive to fulfill.  Not because we need to earn our salvation, but because we want to please the God who saved us by His love.

B.  United in Christ

Unity is not conformity.  Even in this church we do not always agree on everything.  That is OK.  We are able to recognize that we have a core belief that unites us in Jesus Christ.  This is true not only for this church, but ultimately for all believers in Jesus Christ.  There is only one Holy Spirit.  There is only one God.  Our understanding of how we serve God may vary, but we are united by our faith in Jesus, our love for God and our love for all people.

II.  Walk in Love:  Ephesians 5:1-8  (Verse 8 is the memory verse for this week.)

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For [a]this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

A.  Walk in Love

All that we do should be motivated by our love for God and our love for people.  As we mature in Christ we will learn more and more what it means to walk in love.

B.  Walk in the Light

I really appreciate how Isaiah puts it “Cease to do evil, learn to do good.”  Of course the first key is to be able to identify what is evil and what is good.  The Bible is the place where we should look for those definitions.  We should not look to the world.  It is pretty messed up.  We should look to God who is supremely good.  The Bible and the Holy Spirit will help the people of God to know how they should act.  Of course knowing is only the beginning then we must choose to act in accordance with our knowledge.  God will give us both wisdom and strength to know what to do.

C.  Imitate God

I have met some people who seem to think they are God, but that is not what this means.  Years ago there was a popular slogan, WWJD, What Would Jesus Do?  This actually is a very good question to ask ourselves.  Would we be ashamed of our activity is Jesus knew what we were doing?  Would we do it if he was physically present with us?  This is where we need to remember the promise in Matthew 28 “I am with you always..”.  We should try to live as Jesus would live.

III.  Stand:  Ephesians 6:10-18

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—

A.  Be Strong

To live as God wants us to live we need the strength that comes from God.  We cannot do it in our own strength.  God is our source of strength.

B.  The Wiles of the Devil

Satan desires to steal, kill and destroy.  (John 10:10)  He will use all kinds of tricks to bring us down, to end our walk with God or to severely hinder it.  Ask God to open your eyes to his tricks and to stand firm and fight the good fight.

C.  The Armor of God

Some people like to put on the armor of God in a spiritual sense in prayer.  I do not wish to speak against that practice, but it will not do you any good to put on spiritual armor if you are not living in the armor.  By that I mean we should be people of truth, righteousness, peace and faith.  We should be saved by our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, rose again from the grave, ascended into heaven and promised to return.  We should be reading the Word of God, studying the Word of God, memorizing the Word of God and meditating on the Word of God.

D.  Prayer

Never underestimate the power of prayer.  Pray for things in your own life, your family, your friends, your church, your pastor, missionaries, our government, other world issues and so on and on.  There is really no limit to the amount of things you could pray about.

Prayer should not just be a time of bringing our concerns before God.  We should bring ourselves before God.  We should simply spend time in His presence, seeking His Face.  Worshiping Him, thanking Him, listening to Him.

Can we walk worthy of God’s love.  No, not really, but we can seek to walk in love, to be imitators of God and to rely on His strength to do His will in our lives.

 

These are the sermon notes from 11/11/18.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

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Worship and the Heart

November 1, 2018

Saul was the first king of Israel.  He was not faithful to keep the commandments of God and so the kingdom was taken away from him and given to another.  Samuel, who had anointed Saul king, was told by God to anoint one of the sons of Jesse the new king.  This is where our first verse today comes into the story.

I.  God Looks At The Heart:  I Samuel 16:7

 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. Forthe Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

We have a tendency to judge by what we see.  That is why there is such an emphasis placed on first impressions.  How we dress, our physical condition, our age, our race, our sex, all contribute to the first impression that we make on people.

After people have had an opportunity to get to know us, there is still a tendency to judge primarily by external factors.  Our wealth, our education, our athletic abilities or our skill can all contribute to how we view a person.

God  sees the heart.

All we can see are external features.  We can see actions and hear words, but it is possible for people to put on a show.  They can act, at least some of the time, the way that they want to appear.

God is not fooled.

It is not that all of these various factors are not important.  It is just that they  are not what is most important.  What is most important is the attitude of our heart.  We are to love God.  We are to love people.  That is a condition of the heart.

II.  A Troubled Heart:  I Samuel 16: 14, 23

 But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him….

And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him

The ancient Jews acknowledged all things as coming from God.  In the modern era we do not think of God as the originator of evil, but rather as allowing evil to afflict us.  Remember Job?  Satan could not attack him without God’s permission.  Today we draw a distinction between what God allows and what God does.

Either way, Saul is in distress.  You could say that his heart was troubled.  David played music and Saul felt better.

I would suggest that music can help a troubled heart.  Not just any music, I would suggest good Christian music, especially worship music.  If you are feeling down either listen to, or better yet, sing worship music.

Worship can change our attitude.  That is one reason why we begin service with a time of worship.  We want to shift our focus from the cares and concerns of the world and focus our minds and our hearts upon the Living God.  As we do this, we become more aware of His presence and in his presence there is fullness of joy.  (Psalms 16:11)

Of course the more important reason that we worship God is that He deserves our worship.  He is God after all.   Worship is not about what clothes we are wearing, what instruments we are playing or even the song list.  It is about worshiping God from our hearts.

On a side note, sometimes people have homes, apartments or workplaces that seem to have a sense of an evil presence. (And no, I don’t mean your boss!)  Demons do not enjoy worship music.  If you think that you might have a problem with a demonic presence in some physical location, try playing worship music in the area, even leaving it playing when you are not there.  It may have good results.

III.  A Cheerful Heart:  James 5:13

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.

If you are feeling good, sing psalms.  It is the expression of a joyful heart.  Our skill level doesn’t matter, just make a joyful noise.

There is a growing trend these days in churches to create an atmosphere that is similar to a concert.  A darkened room with stage lighting illuminating the people on the platform.  Do not be fooled by this appearance.  Worship is not a spectator sport!  It is not a concert that we attend to listen to with our ears and watch with our eyes.  It is an event where the people of God come together to worship the King of kings from our heart.

So, it is about the heart.  If you have a troubled heart, sing or play worship music.  If you have a joyful heart, sing worship music.  Just remember, when you are in worship, worship from the heart.

 

These are the sermon notes from 10/28/18.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Build Up, Don’t Tear Down

September 23, 2018

When I was a teenager I was told that I should avoid alcohol and tobacco because they would be bad for my health and that my body was the temple of the Holy Spirit.  When I was older I wondered why I wasn’t told to eat sensibly, get exercise, get sufficient rest  and not to overwork.  For some reason only alcohol and tobacco were singled out.  It seems inconsistent.

I.  The Body as Temple:  I Corinthians 6:19

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

So if we read just this verse then, yes, our body is the temple and we should take care of it.  However, we may want to read the preceding verses.

I Corinthians 6: 13-20

Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.

15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

So when we read the verse in context we see that it is talking about sexual immorality.  That is a far cry from physical health.  Now, it is important to realize that the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts through our faith in Jesus Christ.  (Ephesians 3:17)  Rather than simply taking care of our physical health we should think in terms of Christ being with us always.  Would Christ approve of our activities?  Of the shows that we watch?  Of the conversations that we have?  Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  We should live our lives with the knowledge that Christ is with us.

II.  Living Stones:  I Peter 2:4-5

Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Here we read that we are being built into a spiritual house.  It is another one of the various ways that scripture talks about the church, the people of God, the body of Christ.

This same idea is repeated in Ephesians 2:19-22

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

So, both individually and corporately we are called a temple for the Holy Spirit.

III.  Build Up, Don’t Tear Down.  I Corinthians 3:19-22

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

I am reminded of the old saying “Only one life, it will soon be past.  Only what is done for Christ will last.”  It is understood that we have jobs, families and various activities that take up our time, but it is important that we seek to serve God in helping to build up the temple.  We can do this in a whole variety of ways.  Some of them are as simple as our attendance at services and our prayers.    We should seek to build rather than to tear down  the people of God.  This is true both for individuals and for churches.

The role that we play in building up the people of God will be rewarded.

We are warned that if we defile or tear down the temple of God we will be destroyed.  These are strong words and should be taken seriously.

We are called to build up, not to tear down.

 

These are the sermon notes from 9/23/18.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.   

 

 

Be Rich in God

August 4, 2018

As Christians we may, or may not, be blessed with an abundance of material blessings.  We will have, however, blessings that this world may not comprehend.

I.  The Blessing of the Lord:  Numbers 6:22-26

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 23 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them:

24 “The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.” ’

There are three components to this blessing.  God blesses us by providing for our material needs.  He gives us abilities and opportunities and helps our labor to be fruitful.  God also keeps us from harm.   Some times we are acutely aware of His protection, but there are doubtless many times that we are blissfully unaware of the dangers that we avoid because of the protection of God.

The third part of this blessing is the most important.  The first two are represented by the simple words ‘bless’ and ‘keep’.  The last portion is given in verses 25 & 26.  It has to do with the presence of God is our lives.

There is nothing greater than having an awareness of God’s presence.  He is with us not only in church gatherings, or in times in the beauty of nature.  God is with us always.  He is with us in traffic, while shopping, during the workday, indeed all throughout every day.  But are we aware of His presence?  Do we turn our eyes towards Him?  Can we hear His voice, sense His presence?

The fledgling nation of Israel had been brought out of Egypt by the power of God.  They had a visible symbol of His presence with them in the column of smoke by day, and the pillar of fire by night.  They saw miraculous provision and protection over and over.

Yet they did not appreciate what they had been given.

II.  Not Enough:  Numbers 11:1

Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.

They had been complaining because the manna that God provided each day became tiresome.  They missed the food that they had in Egypt, never mind that they had been slaves.  God had promised them a land ‘flowing with milk and honey’.  They were unhappy with what God had provided for them while on the journey.

III.  Consequences:  Psalms 106:15

And He gave them their request,
But sent leanness into their soul.

This is a sad commentary on the consequences of that day.  God provided huge flocks of birds for them to have to eat, but sent ‘leanness into their soul’.  They did not appreciate the special relationship that they had been given by God.

They did not appreciate what God had done for them.

IV.  The Moral of the Story:

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.

We too, are on a journey to a promised land.  Our promised land is heaven.  We have been given the promise that Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us, but that He will be with us always.  God provides for us and protects us and has given us of His Holy Spirit.

Yet sometimes we do not appreciate what we have been given.

We want more.

We want something different.

We fail to realize that the greatest gift that God has given to us is the ability that we have to live in relationship with Him.

May appreciate what we have been given.

May we seek more….of God in our lives.

May we always place God first in our lives.

 

These are the sermon notes from 7/29/18.  All quotations are from the New King James version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

A Call To Holiness

July 28, 2018

I do not hear many people today talking about holiness, not even in the church.  I believe that this is in reaction to some groups that have tied holiness to intolerance, or even hatred.  Holiness is important, and it should not lead to intolerance and certainly not to hatred.

I.  The Call to Holiness:  Leviticus 19:1-2

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.

Of course, your reaction to this verse might be to declare that it is part of the Mosaic Law and that we have been set free from the law.  You would be partly correct.  We are free from the Law, but that does not mean that we are not called to holiness.

A.  A New Testament Call:  I Peter 1:13-16

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Here Peter repeats the call that we read first in Leviticus.  Jesus Christ is holy.  We are called Christians.  We are called to be holy.  It is important.

B. The Importance of Holiness:  Hebrews 12:14

  Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:

So we are to pursue holiness.  We are saved by grace, through faith but if we are saved our lives should change.

C.  Guided to Holiness

It is not my intent in this message to give to you a list of do’s and don’t.  Rather I would point you to the means by which you can discover for yourself the details of holiness.

1.  The Word:  II Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

As Christians we do not look to the world for our standards of right and wrong, rather we should look to the Word of God.

2.  The Spirit:  John 16:13

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

If we depend solely on human wisdom we will not discover the truths that God has for us.  We need the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

II.  The Dangers of Holiness

If I am going to encourage you to pursue holiness, it is appropriate for me also to warn you of some dangers associated with holiness.

  1.  We may start to think that we have earned our salvation or God’s favor.  Salvation is a gift.  We do not earn it.  Nor does God owe us anything for doing what we ought to do.
  2. We may become divided.  As we pray and search the scriptures we may come to different conclusions about exactly what constitutes holiness.  We may think that people who do not agree with our standards are not ‘true’ Christians.
  3. We may think that we are better than others.  As God helps us to change and overcome various sins in our lives we may look at others who are still struggling and think that we are better than them.  We may see some of their faults and not see our own.  Or we may think less of them, and more highly of ourselves.
  4. We may think that we are worthless.  If we become conscious of our sins and we seem to unable to overcome them we may think that we are worthless.  We may forget that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  That alone makes us of great worth.  God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for us.
  5. We may give up.  If we seem unable to live up to the standards we, or others, have set up we may just leave the faith as too hard.  We may fail to recognize that God loves us as we are and He will continue to work on us throughout our lives, molding us into the image of His Son.

III. The Key to Holiness

A.  Crucify the Flesh:  Galatians 5: 24

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Obviously, this is not to be taken literally.  It does mean that as we learn to recognize the difference between holy living and unholy living our old nature will sometimes desire to do things that are unholy.  We should not just give in to those desires and say that ‘we are only human’.  Rather, we recognize that as Christians we now have the Spirit of God.  We are not ‘only human’ we are the children of God.  Do not give in to the temptations of the old nature, but rather live as the people God has called us to be.

B.  Be Filled with the Spirit:  Ephesians 3:17-19

that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

We do not change through the strength of our own will but by the strength of the Spirit that God gives to us.  It is an ongoing battle between the flesh and the Spirit.

Let us pursue holiness in all of our conduct, not so that we can be saved, but because we are saved.

Let us seek to be holy because our God is holy

 

These are the sermon notes from 7/22/18.  All quotations are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have not control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

This Is The Day

June 7, 2018

We have been doing memory verses each week for over three years now.  I am surprised that I have not used this one yet.

I.  This is the Day:  Psalms 118:24

This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.

This day.  What day is that?  That is today.  Everyday.  We do not rejoice just on the perfect days, or the good days, or vacation days or the weekends.  Every day is the day that the Lord has made.

We means all of us.  No one is excluded.

Now it says will, but maybe is means ‘should’.  Obviously, not everyone is going to rejoice in every day.   But we should.  The use of the word will may imply that it is indeed an act of our will.  We may not feel like it. It might not happen spontaneously, but we can exercise our will and choose to rejoice.

Rejoice!  As Christians our lives should be marked by joy.  It is one of the fruits of the Spirit.  (see Galatians 5:22-23)

How can we rejoice every day?

II.  The Good Days:  James 1:17

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

All that we have ultimately comes from God.  Even those things that we have worked for using our time, talents and energy.  Yet, where did we receive that time, those talents, or that energy?  Could not God take it all away?  When things go right, is it all because of us, or has God blessed us with success?

For those  of us that recognize the hand of God at work in our lives it is easy to rejoice on the good days, when things are going well and we are enjoying the fruits of our labors.

III.  The Bad Days:  James 1:2-4

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

So we are told to ‘count it all joy’ when we are experiencing problems.  That is easier said than done.  How do we do that?

First we understand that God uses those trials to help us develop into mature Christians.  Even mature Christians have room for additional growth.

Second, we can believe that God will give us the wisdom to know what to do, and the strength that we need to do it.

Third, and most important, we can know that God is with us in our trials.  He has not abandoned us.  We are not alone.

Fourth,  God may use the way that we handle trials as a testimony to nonbelievers.  Our problems may actually be used to bring someone to Christ.  That is a great reason to rejoice!

IV.  All Days:  Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

A.  We rejoice in God.  We are able to be in His presence.  He gives us His Spirit.  Sometimes we need to take our eyes off of the problems of this world and focus our attention on Jesus.  In Him, we can always rejoice.

B.  We can rejoice in the knowledge of God’s love.  Ephesians 3:17-18

that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

The love of God for us is truly a reason to rejoice.  All day.  Every day.

This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalms 118:24)

 

 

These are the sermon notes from 5/27/18.  All scriptures quoted are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

 

 

Poisonous Gas

April 12, 2018

Over the years this blog has gone through various changes.  In the beginning, I posted 4-5 times a week with articles about many different things.  Then for quite a while, my posts have primarily been sermon outlines that I wanted to share.

Today, I want to return to my roots, at least for today and write about a current topic.

Someone has used poisonous gas in Syria in a rebel held area.  The popular assumption is that President Assad is responsible.

My question is: “Why would he do that?”  The civil war has been going on for years and it appears that the Syrian army, with the support of Russia is making significant headway.  Now that ISIS is no longer controlling much territory in Syria, America is considering withdrawal.  Things were looking good for Assad.  Certainly, he would know that the use of chemical weapons would cause a backlash that would  ignite renewed opposition.  So again; “Why would he do that?”

On the other hand, the rebels are a combination of different groups.  They are aware that things are not going their way.  Perhaps someone opposed to the government has decided that desperate times call for desperate measures.  Chemical weapons could have been obtained at some time during the long civil war.  It is possible that someone may believe that using chemicals against their own people may be justified for their version of the greater good.  They also would be aware that a chemical attack, blamed on Syria, would likely bring retribution and perhaps a renewed opposition to Assad.

So is President Assad guilty or is he being framed?

What does he stand to gain?

What would his opponents stand to gain?

I hope that our government investigates carefully before reacting to this terrible atrocity.  Certainly, if Assad is guilty there should be consequences.  However, if this is an attempt of someone in the opposition to provoke America to respond, then that response should be something very different.

I would encourage my readers who are people of faith to pray for our leaders, that the truth will be known and that they will make the right decision.

The Spirit Poured Out

April 11, 2018

As a Pentecostal church the primary issue that distinguishes us from other churches is not our music or order of service, but rather our understanding of the nature, work and role of the Holy Spirit in the church today.

Joel 2: 28-32

“And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:
Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
32 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.
For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance,
As the Lord has said,
Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.

I.  Outpouring of the Spirit

A.  Seek the Spirit:  It is appropriate for us to continue to ask God to pour out His Spirit.  We desire to see God at work through His Holy Spirit.  God is at work, but there is even more that could be happening.  God responds to the heartfelt, earnest prayer of His people.

B.  The Gifts of the Spirit:  I Corinthians 12:7-11

 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

These gifts are available to all believers.  It is appropriate for us to ask God to pour out His Spirit, with the manifestation of these gifts.  We do need to recognize that we do not have control over these gifts, they are given ‘as He wills’.

C.  The Fruit of the Spirit:  Galatians 5: 22-23

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

All believers have the Spirit to some degree.  The fruit of the Spirit should be developing in all of our lives.  The gifts of the Spirit are given to specific people at specific times, but the fruit of the Spirit is for all believers and for all times.   The fruit of the Spirit in our lives is one of the very best testimonies of the transformational power of God.

II.  Day of the Lord

A.  Signs and Wonders:  The various signs that are described could have already been fulfilled.  The smoke of Mt. St. Helen’s volcano, the eclipse of the sun, the blood moons.  Although each of these things are rooted in natural phenomena, they still could be fulfillment of the prophecy in Joel.    Actually, many generations of Christians have interpreted the signs of their times and concluded that the end is at hand.  Of course, the end has not come yet so earlier generations were wrong, and we might be wrong as well.  What is important is that we be ready when the day comes.

B.  The Day of the Lord: To those who ‘call upon the name of the Lord’  it will be a great day.  Of course, we know that the name of the Lord is Jesus.  “There is no other name under heaven, given among men by which we must be saved.”  Acts 4:12  He alone is ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through Him”  John 14:6

Sadly, for those who have rejected the Son, the Day of the Lord will be a terrible day of judgement.  For them it will be a day of darkness and mourning.

III.  Seek Good:  Amos 5:14-15

Seek good and not evil,
That you may live;
So the Lord God of hosts will be with you,
As you have spoken.
15 Hate evil, love good;
Establish justice in the gate.
It may be that the Lord God of hosts
Will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

We recognize that we are saved by grace, through faith.  (See Ephesians 2:8-10)  However, if we are saved, then our lives should be changed.  We should seek to do what is right.  We should work for justice in the land.   What kind of justice?  All kinds. We do not do this in our own strength, but by the power of the Spirit that God has given to us.

May the Spirit of God be poured out in our world, our churches and our lives.

 

These are the sermon notes from 4/8/18.  All Bible quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

Advice for the New Year

January 3, 2018

2017 is over.  It is a new year.  A new opportunity to do things the right way.  Of course, as Christians, we believe that God forgives the past, gives us wisdom and strength for today, and hope for tomorrow.  We do not need a new year.  Each day is a new day.  Each moment is a fresh start.  Let us learn to do things right.

I.  Live for God:  I Peter 4:1-2

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

As we start the new year I want to encourage you to seek to do the will of God in your lives.  This is easy to say, not always so easy to do.  First, we have to know what the will of God is for us.  We can start with the Bible.  We are to learn to apply it to our lives.  Biblical study is a life long pursuit.  We should be growing in our understanding of the scriptures and our ability to apply biblical teaching to our lives.  Of course, knowing what is right is one thing.  Actually doing what is right is an entirely different thing.  God can and will help us in both areas.

There are also many issues in life for which the Bible does not give us direct guidance.  We need to learn to be sensitive to the voice of the Spirit.  If we ask God to guide us, especially in the important decisions of our lives.  He will.   We need to be able to say, and mean, not my will, but thine be done.

II.  Established  5:6-11

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.

A.  Humble Yourselves:  First, we need to recognize that we need God’s help.  We cannot be the people that He wants us to be on our own strength.  We are completely dependent on Him.

B.  Cast Your Cares:  It is a wonderful thing to be able to bring our cares and concerns to the God of the universe.  He hears us.  He loves us.  He is able to help us.  If our situation is bad and gets worse, we know that we do not face it on our own, but God is with us.  He will give us the wisdom to know what to do, the strength to do what we should, and the grace to deal with whatever happens.  We can trust Him completely.

C.  Be Vigilant:  Satan would like to destroy us, or at least make us ineffective.  We need to watch our for his traps and snares.  He would like to trip us up and drag us down.  Be careful!  Do not think of yourselves  as beyond temptation.  History has shown us that even great leaders can fall.  God will help us, but we must constantly be on our guard against the various attacks of the enemy.

D.  Be Established:  As we continue our walk with God we can know that we are building on a firm foundation.  Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone of our lives.  We can have a life that is solid and secure as we trust in the rock of our salvation.  The storms of life will not tear us down because our God is able to hold us up.

As we enter the new year let us seek to live for God with all of our heart and all of our strength.  That is the best resolution to make for this year and every year.

 

These are the sermon notes from 12/30/17.  All scripture quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Life and Death

December 13, 2017

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  This saying was commonly accepted as true when I was a child.  Sadly, it wasn’t true then, and it isn’t true now.  Sticks and stones may leave physical hurts that last for days but words can damage a person for an entire lifetime.

I.  Life and Death:  Proverbs 18:21

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.

A.  Words of Death

Our words may bring death in a variety of ways.  Lying is widely practiced today.  The thought that a ‘little white lie doesn’t  harm anyone’ is common.  Many others will lie to protect themselves from harm or to gain some form of advantage.  Sadly, we cannot simply take people that we do not know at their word.  In fact, there are people whom we do know that we cannot trust to tell the truth.  The world would be a different place if more people spoke the truth in love.

Gossip about other people is another common problem.  Years ago, I struggled with what it meant to gossip.  Can we not share any news about other people?  Then it came to me that we can share good news.  Nobody seems to mind looking good.  If what we are going to share makes a person look bad, then we do not need to say it.

Swearing also has increased in popularity today.  As Christians we should be different from the world around us.  “Do not take the name of the Lord in vain.” is in the top ten. (commandments)  We should be careful to use the name of God in prayer, praise and the proclamation of truth, not in simply venting anger or frustration.

We can also use our words to create strife and discord.  We can stir up all kinds of trouble by provoking discord by our words.  This is not good.  Not in our families, not in our places of work, and certainly not in our churches.  In addition, in our current political climate, we as Christians should recognize that there  are good Christian people in both major political parties.  We believers should demonstrate by our actions how one should conduct themselves in public discourse with people with whom we disagree.

Today bullying is getting a lot more attention, and rightly so.  Again, Christians should be leading the way in how to speak both in public and in private.

B.  Words of Life

Christians should be people who are known to speak the truth.  That does not mean that we have to share every thought that goes through our minds.  We should learn to speak the truth in love.  The right words at the right time in the right manner.  It takes a lifetime of practice.

We should share good news.  We should give words of encouragement and hope.

We should only use the name of God in the right manner.

We should be peacemakers, not causers of strife.  We should seek to bring people together for the common good, not drive people apart.

We should encourage and build up people.

We should speak words of life.

II.  Guard Your Tongue:  Proverbs 21:23

Whoever guards his mouth and tongue
Keeps his soul from troubles.

It is to our benefit to be careful of what we say.  We can get ourselves and others into all kinds of trouble with our mouths.  We should think carefully before we speak.  Actually, we should pray that God will lead us by His Spirit rather than simply speaking from our own hearts.  Of course, if we focus on being filled with, and directed by, the Spirit of God, then our flesh will not get us in as much trouble.

III.  A Beautiful Thing:  Proverbs 25:11

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold
In settings of silver.

Don’t get hung up on the imagery of mixing gold and silver.  Don’t worry about whether you like apples or not.  The point is that the right words at the right time are a thing of beauty.  We should seek to add to the beauty of the world around us by the words that we share with others.  This does not have to be complex forms of poetry, sometimes very simple words or phrases can be very powerful.  May our words be a power for good.

IV.  Pleasant Words:  Proverbs 16:24

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.

Our words can bring life to those around us.  Our words can have a favorable impact.  Our words can be a beautiful thing.

May God help us to speak in a way that is pleasing to Him and helpful to those around us.

 

These are the sermon notes from 12/10/17.  All scripture quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.