The Best Present

January 25, 2016

Every Christmas we read the Christmas story as told by Luke.  This year is no exception.

Luke 2:1-20

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Christmas is a wonderful time of year.  It seems as though most of humanity is willing to accept, for a time, the peace and good will that God offers to us in Christ.  Of course, the world spins the good news of Christmas into something else.  The focus goes from the birth of the Christ, to a man magically distributing presents.  Or, to a focus on love, family and friends; which certainly is better, but if Christ is excluded, the main point is missed.

This year my message is going to focus on a different portion of scripture.

I.  In The Beginning:  John 1:1-5

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

In Him was life.  In Christ we find, not just eternal life, but abundant life.  Life as it is meant to be.  As Christians we have purpose, hope, strength, love, peace, joy and much more.

I very much enjoy the lights at Christmas.  Our family will normally go for a ride around town to look at all the light displays as least once during the season.  Jesus is the true light of the world.  The light of His love shines in the darkness.  His love reaches out to us in many ways.  It truly is peace, good will to men.

Unfortunately, the darkness does not comprehend it.  There are many people who reject the love of God.  They do not understand.  They do not appreciate.  They are unwilling to receive the love that God has for them.

II.  Word Became Flesh:  John 1:14-18

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’”

16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

The Word, which is God, became flesh.  The birth of Christ was a truly remarkable time in history.

Grace and truth are personified in Christ.  The grace of God offers to us riches that we did not earn, nor do we deserve.  Jesus is the Truth. Our world today is especially lost, as many question whether there even is such a thing as truth.  Yet Christians have a firm foundation.  The truth is found in Christ.

Christ is the declaration of God.  In Christ the Father is revealed.  In Christ we find who we were meant to be.  We have an opportunity to receive of His fullness.  We do not fully understand or appreciate what that truly means.

Jesus Christ is truly the best present the world has ever received.

These are the sermon notes from 12/25/15.  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. 

Why Christ Came

January 11, 2016

At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Christ.  Jesus did not come to earth so that the American retailers can make money, He had a much greater purpose.

I.  To Save, Not Destroy:  Luke 9:51-56

 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, 52 and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. 54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”

55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them. And they went to another village.

I sometimes have conversations with atheists who are very angry.  In many of these cases the atheist has had an exposure to Christianity that either over emphasized the punishment of sins with a resulting legalistic, works oriented attitude; or people were hypocritical, saying one thing, but doing another.  These people have left the church, bitter, angry, and filled with hatred for the church.

I feel very sorry for these people.  They have had an exposure to a Christianity that very poorly represented what Christ intended for His church.

Christ did not come to spread hatred, punishment and death.  He came to spread forgiveness, love and life.

II.  Abundant Life: John 10:10

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

The life that God offers to us is not simply eternal life, it is abundant life.  An abundant life is filled with all sorts of good gifts that come from God.  Much of that comes from our growing ability to appreciate what God has done for us.  It is our ability to appreciate what God has given us in this world, but  even more important, is our ability to appreciate the relationship that we have with Him through Jesus Christ.

The abundant life does not begin when we physically die.  The abundant life begins when we are born again in Christ. (John 3: 3-6)

III.  On Our Side:  Luke 9:49-50

Now John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us.”

50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.”

Our society has such a competitive atmosphere that it has had an impact on the church.  We sometimes view people from other churches as if they were members of an opposing team, or even sometimes, an actual enemy.  We need to be able to recognize our allies and work together for the kingdom of God.  We need to be careful that we are not tearing down the work of God, just because it is not our work.  We especially need to be helpful to those who have been wounded in the battle.  Ministry can be very hard and sometimes people fail and sometimes people fall.  We should look to restore people to health and wholeness in Christ, not finish them off.

Christ came to love, to forgive, and to bring life.

So should we.

These are the sermon notes from 12/20/15.  All 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. 

 

Show Me Your Glory

January 4, 2016

“The things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of your glory and grace.”   This is a line from a chorus many of us may remember.  I wonder how focused we are on either the things of earth, or on heavenly things.

I.  Tabernacle of Meeting:  Exodus 33: 7-11

Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting. And it came to pass that everyone who sought the Lord went out to the tabernacle of meeting which was outside the camp. So it was, whenever Moses went out to the tabernacle, that all the people rose, and each man stood at his tent door and watched Moses until he had gone into the tabernacle. And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. 10 All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man in his tent door. 11 So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.

The tabernacle of meeting was a place for people to seek the Lord.  It had one purpose: to meet with God.  I do not think that we can make a fair comparison to our churches today.  Our churches today serve many functions. meeting with God is only one of them.  I hope that it is the most important function, but I suspect that I might be disappointed if I knew the truth.

Moses had a relationship with God that was unique.  The pillar of cloud would descend to the door of the tabernacle and God would speak with Moses “face to face”.  This does not need to mean that God took on a human appearance, but rather that this phrase reveals the closeness of the relationship.  I wonder how close we are to God in our conversations with Him?  Are we up close and personal, or are we watching from the cheap seats, or maybe even on TV?

Moses spoke with God and then left.  Joshua stayed behind.  He could not get enough of a good thing.  He loved to be in the presence of God.  I know that we have to live in the world, but how much time do we spend in heavenly places?  Do we just pop in for a quick visit when we need something?  Or do we take our time and linger for a while?

II.  Grace and Rest:  Exodus 33:12-14

Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’ 13 Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.”

14 And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

God had given Moses an important task.  He gave him the grace that was needed to do the task.  God promised to be with him as he did his work and to give him rest.

God has given each of us a task on this earth.  We have a purpose.  That task will change over time.  Things may change, but God always has a purpose for us, and a task for us to do.  God will give us the grace that we need to fulfill our task.  He has promised to be with us always.  He will give us rest.

III.  Show Me Your Glory:  Exodus 33:15-23

Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.”

17 So the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”

18 And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.”

19 Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”

Moses wanted more.  He had a task.  He had the grace of God.  God had promised to be with him.  Moses wanted more of God.  “Please, show me Your glory.”

God allowed His goodness to pass before him, but Moses was human and could only handle so much.  The “face to face” reference earlier was not literal, but comparative.  No mortal could truly be exposed to the fullness of God’s glory and live.  God agreed to reveal as much as He felt Moses could handle.

How hungry are we for the presence of God?  Are we satisfied with a crumb when a whole feast is laid before us?

May we encounter the glory and the goodness of the Lord.  May our capacity for that encounter grow with each passing year.

These are the sermon notes from 12/13/15.  Any advertisements that might appear have been placed by WordPress. I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.   

 

Grow and Produce

December 21, 2015

I have exercised most of my life.  Physically I am well past my prime.Each year my times get a little slower and I get a little weaker.  I am simply trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, trying to avoid the heart decease that has plagued my family history.  I appreciate that there is an area where growth is still possible, an area that is not in decline.

I.  Grace and Peace:  II Peter 1:1-4

Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

A.  A Like Precious Faith

We recognize that there are many churches that are preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We recognize that people who love God and are trusting in Jesus are our spiritual family.  Family is important.

B.  Grace and Peace

The grace of God and the peace of God are multiplied in our life as we grow in our knowledge of God.  This is a process that takes a lifetime of prayer, Bible study, fellowship and worship.

C.  Divine Power

We do not grow in godliness in our own strength.  God gives us what we need to become the people He has called us to be.

D.  Divine Nature

This is a truly amazing promise, that we might be partakers of the divine nature.   The Holy Spirit comes into our heart: not the physical organ that pumps blood, but that inner part of us that is eternal.   We are still creatures of flesh and blood, but with the Spirit of God we become born again as the children of God.

II.  Abound:  II Peter 1: 5-8

 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

A.  Growth

We should diligently pursue growth in our Christian life.  It takes effort and commitment on our part.

Our faith grows as it is challenged and proven to be reliable.  The challenges become greater as our faith grows stronger.

Virtue is the quality of developing righteousness on the inside and the outside, and being the same person in private as in public.

There is always more for us to learn.  We should seek to continue to grow in the knowledge of God.

As we learn the difference between right and wrong, we need to resist the temptation of the flesh to do wrong.  Exercising self control is an important part of growing in our Christian walk.

Perseverance is continuing faithfully to the end.  We do not quit.  We stand firm.

Growing in godliness is becoming more Christ-like.  I suspect that we all recognize that we have moments of godliness, but those moments should become longer and more frequent, the rule, rather than the exception.

We should be kind to all. Especially to those who least deserve it.

Over all, the love that God has given to us should be shared with all.  We should grow in our love for God, and our love for people.

B.  Produce

As we grow in these areas our very lives will be a witness of what God offers to us.  Other people will be encouraged to press on with their faith.  Those who do not yet know God, may be drawn to God.

I am thankful that I have not yet reached my prime in my spiritual walk.  I know that there is room for growth.  I have come a long way, but there is so much more.

May each one of us come to the Lord, grow in the Lord and have an impact for the Lord.

These are the sermon notes from 12/5/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.   

God is Able

December 14, 2015

Whatever circumstances we might face, God is able to bring us through them.  God can give us the wisdom to know what to do, and the strength to do it.

I.  Heard Their Cry:  Exodus 3:7-8

And the Lord said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites.

God saw the oppression that was faced by the Israelites.  God sees everything.  God sees the circumstances that we face.  He knows exactly what is going on in our lives even better than we ourselves.

God heard the cry of the Israelites as they called out to Him for Help.  God will hear us as well if we call out to Him.

God knew their sorrows.  God understands pain and suffering.  God knows exactly how we feel, what we think, and what has happened in our lives.

God knows.

God cares.

God understands.

God is able to help.

God planned to deliver the Israelites from their bondage.  They were a group of people who had been enslaved by a larger, more powerful nation.  God was going to deliver them.  God is able to deliver us as well.  Whatever our circumstances may be, nothing is too great for God.  God is able to deliver us.

II.  Brought Them Out:  Exodus 12:51

And it came to pass, on that very same day, that the Lord brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt according to their armies.

God was indeed able to deliver what He had promised.  He brought the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt.

This was a process.  God spoke to Moses and gave him directions.  Moses in turn gave directions to the Israelites.  This was not something that could be done our way.  It could only be done God’s way.  If we are in need of deliverance, we can ask God for help and He will give us direction as well.

Moses was obedient to God’s directions.  The Israelites were obedient to God’s directions.  We also, need to be obedient to the directions that God gives to us.

Even though they were  obedient, things got worse before they got better.  That happens sometimes.  We are not to lose faith in God.  He is able to do what He has promised to do.  We must be patient, be obedient, and have faith in God.  Sometimes we must endure the time of affliction.  It is during those times that our faith is tested.

Eventually, God will bring success if we trust in Him and are obedient.  We are not able to do it our way, but God’s way.  We cannot skip steps that we do not like.  We must follow God’s plan, not devise our own.

III.  God is Able:  Daniel 3:17

If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.

We have skipped ahead hundreds of years to a new story in the Old Testament.  Daniel’s friends had defied a law that said that they were to bow down to a golden image.  They were told that if they did not bow down and worship that they would be thrown into the fiery furnace.  They declared their belief that God was able to deliver them.

They were thrown into the furnace and God did deliver them.  It is a wonderful story that confirms that God is with us even in the midst of fiery affliction.  Whatever we are facing we can trust that we are not facing it alone.  God is with us.

God is able.

IV.  But if Not:  Daniel 3:18

But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

Sometimes Christians are called to be faithful even unto death.  Sometimes deliverance does not come in the physical world.

God is able to deliver us.

Sometimes that means that we are called to be faithful in this life, knowing that our reward, our deliverance will be in the life to come.  Over the years there have been many, many martyrs for the cause of Christ.  Even today, in various places around the world Christians are killed for their faith.  Their deliverance is still assured.  Their reward is in heaven.

God is able.

These are the sermon notes from 11/29/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

 

God Will Provide

December 7, 2015

Most of us know the story of Abraham.  When he was about 75 years old God told him that his descendants would be as the “sand of the sea”.  The only problem was that Abraham did not have any children yet.  Abraham believed God.  Abraham would have to wait about 25 years before the promised child, named Isaac,  would arrive.  This was a miraculous event!  When Isaac was a teenager, God told Abraham to sacrifice his son.  Abraham was obedient and set off to do what God had told him to do.

I.  God Will Provide:  Genesis 22:5-14

And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”

So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!”

And he said, “Here I am, my son.”

Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”

And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together.

Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.

11 But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”

So he said, “Here I am.”

12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”

13 Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

Abraham fully intended to sacrifice his son, and yet he believed that somehow God would restore his son to life and they would return.  It was an act of both faith and obedience.

The sacrifice that Abraham was to make was a foreshadowing of the sacrifice that God was going to make through His Son, Jesus Christ.

The words”God will provide for Himself the lamb” were truly prophetic, although Abraham probably did not realize it at the time.

II.  Jesus is the Lamb:  John 1:29

 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Here again, it is hard to say how much John truly understood about the prophetic words that he was saying, but we today can look at those words and understand.  Jesus was to be the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world.  Truly in Jesus, God had provided for Himself the lamb for the sacrifice.

III.  The Torn Veil:  Matthew 27:50-51

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.

51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,

When Jesus died the veil of the temple was torn.  This signified our ability tonow enter into the sacred place, the very presence of God.  We were no longer separated from God because of our sin, but we were reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.  God had provided the sacrifice for our sin.

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.

Ephesians 2:8-10

 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

The salvation that God offers to us through Jesus Christ is the greatest gift ever offered to anyone.

IV.  All Good Gifts:  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 of the good things in life that we enjoy come from God.  Even those things that we think that we have earned for ourselves through our own hard work.  Who has given us the abilities that we claim as our own?  Who has allowed opportunities to come our way?  Who has allowed our efforts to be successful?  Who could stop us at anytime in a whole multitude of different ways?

It is God who provides.

We should be thankful for all that we have in this life.

We should certainly be thankful for the life that is to come.

These are the sermon notes from 11/22/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

 

 

 

Go!

November 23, 2015

The Great Commission is a classic portion of scripture that gives the Christian church the mandate to evangelize the world.

Matthew 28:18-20

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

I.  Go!

Verse 29 begins with the simple word ‘Go’.  As Christians we are called to an active response, not a passive existence.  In the book of Acts Jesus tells His disciple that they will be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the end of the earth.  (Acts 1:8)   We too, are called to testify of the hope that is within us.  We are not to keep the Good News to ourselves, but to share it with others.

II.  Make Disciples

Sometimes in evangelical circles it seems as though the end goal is getting someone to say the sinners prayer.  We count up the number of people who say this prayer and keep a record to include on our annual report.  However, we are called to make disciples.  Conversion is only the first step.  We want people to be life-long followers of Jesus.  We teach them, and encourage them to follow all of the commandments of Jesus.  Baptism is a public declaration that a person is a disciple of Jesus.  Salvation may be private.  Baptism should be public.

III.  We Are Not Alone

In my philosophy class at the college one of the philosophers we study is an atheist named Jean Paul Satre.  He acknowledges that the consequence of his atheism is a belief that we are forlorn and in anguish.  Forlorn because we are alone in the world and in anguish because there is no God to provide direction.

I am glad to say that we are not alone.  God is with us always.  God is a spirit and as such is not limited by physical restraints.  It is a great comfort to acknowledge the presence of God.  God also provides direction for us by His Word and His Spirit.

IV.  The Good Shepherd:  Psalms 23

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.

Jesus referred to Himself as the Good Shepherd.  We recognize that Jesus will guide our steps, that He will provide for us, and that He will protect us.  He has called us to a mission, but He has not left us alone.  He is with us always and will guide, provide and protect.

These are the sermon notes from 11/1/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Who Do You Serve?

November 9, 2015

As we think about the future, there is a great deal of uncertainty: the fluctuations in global economy, the rising national debt, the rise of terrorist organizations,  the growing intolerance towards those who practice conservative religion, and the increasing polarization of politics, all contribute to a sense that we may be headed for serious trouble.  I am very glad that the Bible addresses how to live in troubling times.

I.  Where is Your Treasure?  Matthew 6:19-21

 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

We have limited resources.  There is only so much money, time and energy.  How are we investing our resources?  Of course, most of us have to work a job, or attend classes.  We all have daily tasks that need to be performed, but what do we do with what is left?  Certainly it is possible that we can use up all of our resources on ourselves, but is that what we are supposed to do?  Is that what we have to do?  We should ask God to help us prioritize our lives in such a way that they will be pleasing to Him.  We are not supposed to work ourselves to death, but we are to have the type of priorities that God has for us.  It might be enlightening to make a chart of how we use our resources, and see just what kind of priority is being given to God.  We might be surprised at what we see.

II.  Light or Dark?  Matthew 6:22-23

 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

I love to watch sunrises.  There is something very special about watching the world wake up.  Things look different in the early morning light.

Jesus is the light of the world.  How often during the day do we focus on Him.  Of course it is necessary for us to focus on the task at hand, especially if driving or doing some other task that is potentially dangerous, but Jesus should never be far from our mind or heart.  If we allow His light to shine into our spirits, then our days will be so much better.  Remember, He is with us always, but are we aware of His presence?

III.  Who Do You Serve?  Matthew 6:24

 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

The first question would have to be “What is mammon?”.  Certainly, it is not a word that we use in our normal conversations.  Basically, it just means money.  What is comes down to is what is the focus of our lives?  Are we serving God, or just trying to accumulate money?  There is the saying “He who dies with the most toys wins”, but that is not meant to be our focus as the children of God.   We are to serve God first.  He will take care of us.  Only one thing can be most important in our lives.  That should be God.

IV.  God Will Provide  Matthew 6:25-34

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

If we seek God first, He will take care of us.  God knows our needs.  He can bless us with employment and can help what we have go further than we would expect if we will but trust in Him.  Jesus was a carpenter, but He referred to Himself as the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd will guide, provide and protect His sheep.  We can trust that God will take care of us if we put our trust in Him by making our relationship with Him our top priority.

V.  Don’t Worry, Pray!  Philippians 4:6+7

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

If we find ourselves becoming weighed down with the concerns of this world, remember that we can turn to God in prayer, knowing that He will take care of us.    Pray until the peace comes.  In placing our trust, not in ourselves, but in God, we will find the peace that passes understanding.  We are, most often, still called to act, but God will give us the direction that we need. He will give us wisdom to know what to do, and the strength to do it.

So as we look into an uncertain future, we can trust that God will guide, provide and protect.  We can trust that in the end all things will work out for the good of those who place their trust in God.  (Romans 8:28)

These are the sermon notes from 10/25/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Dealing With Temptation

October 26, 2015

We all deal with temptation.  Even Jesus was tempted.  We can look to Jesus for an example of how we should deal with temptation.

Matthew 4:1-11

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:

‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’

and,

‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’

Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”

Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”

10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”

11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

I.  Led By The Spirit

It is important to recognize that facing temptation does not mean that we are out of the will of God.  Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.  The temptation that Jesus would face was an important part of his mission on earth.  He was to face temptation and show us how to defeat it.  The three temptations that are recorded here may represent the temptations that we all face.  They may represent temptations to the body, soul and spirit; thus representing the temptations to our whole being.

II.  1st Temptation: Body

The first temptation begins with the phrase ” If you are..” .  Jesus knew that He was the Son of God.  He did not need to prove it to Satan, nor to Himself.  The temptation to turn the stones into bread to satisfy His hunger may represent the various temptations that we face to fulfill the desires of the flesh.  Eating bread is obviously not a sin, but placing the flesh over the spirit, that is wrong.  Jesus responds to the temptation with the phrase “It is written…”.  Jesus uses the Word of God to resist temptation.  So should we.  The acknowledgement that we do not “live by bread alone..” helps us to remember that true life is found in God and His Word, to place spiritual needs over physical needs.

III.  2nd Temptation:  Soul

The 2nd temptation recognizes the temptations that we face to the soul, or mind.  We are tempted to be proud of our abilities, or to be envious, or jealous, or to covet, or any of the other sins of the heart, mind or soul.  Jesus did not need to show off.  In this temptation, Satan uses scripture.  It is important for us to have a good understanding of scripture so that we can accurately respond to people who try to twist it or misapply it.  We will need the help of the Spirit to rightly divide the Word of Truth.

 

This temptation is a challenge to both an understanding of scripture and of appropriate faith.  God will take care of us, but we do not need to jump off a tower to prove it.  On a related note, we need to be careful that when we are proclaiming our faith in something that God is going to do for us, that it is indeed according to the will of God.  God is not required to fulfill our whims, but His will be done.

IV.  3rd Temptation:  Spirit

Our allegiance should be only to God.  Even if Satan could fulfill our wildest dreams of this life, we should not sell our spiritual allegiance.  We should only worship and serve God.

V.  The Power of the Word:  Psalms 119:11

Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.

In each of the temptations that Jesus faced, He responded with the Word of God.  Jesus used the scriptures to deal with temptation as an example for us.  We should read the Word and memorize the Word. so that we can use the Word, when we are faced with temptation.

Temptation in all kinds of forms is something that we all regularly face.  We can successfully overcome temptation by using the Word of God.

These are the sermon notes from 10/18/15,  Any advertisement that might appear is placed by WordPress.  I do not have any control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.   

Walk Humbly With God

October 22, 2015

I have recently been reading in the minor prophets.  I believe that they have some wonderful life lessons for us.

I.  Warning!  Jonah 3:4,5&10

And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.

10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

Jonah proclaims a warning to the people of Nineveh of coming judgement.  The people believe the message and repent.  Their repentance is sincere.  It is demonstrated by their actions.  God sees the genuine nature of their repentance and forgives them.

Do we as the people of God respond as well?  When we are confronted with sin, do we believe and repent; or do we argue and make excuses?

II.  Live By Faith:  Habakkuk 2:4

“Behold the proud,
His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith.

Pride is a common sin that may not be easily recognized.  We need to guard against pride in our lives.

What does it mean to live by faith?  Paul quotes this verse in Romans 1:16-17.  Then Martin Luther used these verses to start a reformation movement that profoundly changed the church.

In my own life, I think of living by faith to mean that I will seek to know God, worship God and to serve God.  Ultimately, this is all done by faith because we must believe in the message that He has given us in the Bible, and also the conviction that comes from the Holy Spirit.  “We walk by faith, not by sight.” (II Corinthians 5:7)

III.  Walk With God:  Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

When I was a young man torn between two Christian traditions: one, a part of the holiness movement, with its’ emphasis on rules for holy living; and the other a tradition marked by an emphasis on grace; these verses brought me comfort and direction.

I was to do justly.  I understood that to mean to do what is right in my relationships with others, with God, and with the environment.

I was to love mercy.  I appreciated that God was merciful to me.  I was to be merciful to others.  That means that as God forgives me, I was to forgive others.

I was to walk humbly with God.  This is my favorite.  I am not alone.  God is always with me.  We do not have to think too much of ourselves, but we can think much of the presence of God in our lives.

My hope and my prayer is that we will receive the Word of God in faith and repentance, that we will learn what it means to walk in faith, humbly with our God.

These are the sermon notes from 10/11/15.  Any advertisements are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 


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