Attitude

May 12, 2016

Our memory verse for this week is a verse that all teenagers should be required to know.  Actually, it would be good for adults to review often as well, as it seems to address a common problem.

I.  Do Not Complain Philippians 2:14*

Do all things without complaining and disputing,

As I read this verse I am reminded of all the times that the children of Israel complained as they were traveling through the wilderness.  God had miraculously brought them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, provided for their daily needs: yet they complained.

It did not end well for them.

God has brought us out of darkness and into the light of His love.  He watches over us, provides for us , protects us: yet often we complain.

We should learn a lesson from the children of Israel and learn to be content.

Being content, does not mean being complacent.  It is appropriate for us to work to improve the world around us.  It does mean having an attitude that is grateful for what we have received, rather than groaning about what others have that we covet for ourselves.

God is our provider.  We should not be grumbling about His provision.

God is our Lord.  We should not complain or dispute over the tasks that He sets before us.

II.  Rejoice!  Philippians 3:1

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.

Whatever our circumstances may be, whatever tasks we may be called upon to do, we can rejoice in the knowledge of God’s love for us.

I am reminded about when the disciples came back from their assignment to go out in pairs and preach the gospel.  When they came back together they were excited about the demons being subject to them.  Jesus told them instead to be glad that their names were written in heaven.  (Luke  10:1-19)  We too, can rejoice that our names are written in heaven.

At any given time we can look around us and see both good and evil.  We should focus on the good.  That will make it much easier to rejoice.

Philippians 4: 8

 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

III.  Press On: Philippians 3:12=14

 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

I have participated in five 24 hour runs.  One year I completed 30 miles and quit, one year I completed 50 miles and quit, two years I completed a little over 63 miles and quit.  Only one year did I stay at the track for the full 24 hours.  That year I completed 77.45 miles.  That is the only year that I feel I actually completed the race.

In our Christian walk, we should not quit early.   There is no retirement.  God has a plan and a purpose for us for as long as we are on this earth.  It is fine to fondly remember the things that God has done in the past, but let us press on to see what God has for us today.

II Timothy 4:7-8

 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Our attitude can really make a difference in our lives.  Let us not complain, but rather rejoice, as we press on to finish the race.

These are the sermon notes from 5/1/16.  All scripture is 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. 

*This is the memory verse for this week. 

The Cost of Sin

April 28, 2016

King David was a man after God’s own heart.  This does not mean that he was perfect.  Even when he was a mature man of God who had served the Lord for years,  he made some serious mistakes.

I.  If God…then God…  II Samuel 24:1-2

Again the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.”

So the king said to Joab the commander of the army who was with him, “Now go throughout all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and count the people, that I may know the number of the people.”

A.  When we read this with our cultural understanding, it seems as though God had caused David to sin so that He would have justification to punish Israel.  We have a problem with this understanding because it makes God actively causing sin and death.

Ancient Jews, and many contemporary Christians, believe that God is in control of what happens in the world.  For ancient Jews, they interpreted that to mean that God caused things.  They did not have a problem with that thinking.  Today, we do not believe that God is an active source of evil.  The way that we interpret it is that there is evil in the world, both humans and angels.  God restrains much of the evil that could happen, but sometimes He allows evil to have it’s way.  King David was not supposed to number the children of Israel,  that is one of the commandments that God had given them as a nation.  David knew the commandment, and broke it.

B.  Why God?  Why does God allow evil to have it’s way?  First, if we could not sin, then we would not truly be free.  Why does God allow some sins, but not others?  We do not have an answer to that question.  I would suggest that we be thankful for all the evil that is restrained, rather than be upset about what God does allow to happen.  God will give us the grace to deal with what He allows to happen in our lives.

II.  David Repents:  II Samuel 24:10-14

And David’s heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O Lord, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.”

11 Now when David arose in the morning, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying, 12 “Go and tell David, ‘Thus says the Lord: “I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you.”’” 13 So Gad came to David and told him; and he said to him, “Shall seven years of famine come to you in your land? Or shall you flee three months before your enemies, while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ plague in your land? Now consider and see what answer I should take back to Him who sent me.”

14 And David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.”

A.  David’s heart condemned him.  He has grown in his relationship with God.  He did not need a prophet to confront him with his sin.  He knew he had done wrong and asked God for forgiveness.

B.   David was given a choice of what would be the penalty for his sin.  This is highly unusual.  We do not normally have a choice.   He chose the plague, perhaps thinking that God would show mercy and the price would not be too great.

III.  The Price of Sin:  2 Samuel 24:15-17

 So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel from the morning till the appointed time. From Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand men of the people died. 16 And when the angel stretched out His hand over Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the destruction, and said to the angel who was destroying the people, “It is enough; now restrain your hand.” And the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

17 Then David spoke to the Lord when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, “Surely I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father’s house.”

We do not realize how our sin affects others.  In this case 70,000 people die.  That is a lot of people, a lot of death.  When David saw this he wanted to change his mind, but the choice had been made and it was too late.

We can be forgiven for the eternal consequences of our sins, but there may be consequences here on earth that may be severe.

We should resist sin.  James 1: 12*-13

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.

We sometimes think that because God is loving and merciful, that sin is no big deal.

That is not true.

Sin hurts. 

IV.  David’s Offering:  2 Samuel 24: 18-25

 And Gad came that day to David and said to him, “Go up, erect an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19 So David, according to the word of Gad, went up as the Lord commanded. 20 Now Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming toward him. So Araunah went out and bowed before the king with his face to the ground.

21 Then Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?”

And David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you, to build an altar to the Lord, that the plague may be withdrawn from the people.”

22 Now Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up whatever seems good to him. Look, here are oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing implements and the yokes of the oxen for wood. 23 All these, O king, Araunah has given to the king.”

And Araunah said to the king, “May the Lord your God accept you.”

24 Then the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. 25 And David built there an altar to the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the Lord heeded the prayers for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel.

Jesus has paid the price for our sin.  There is nothing due.

However, out of gratitude we should offer something to God.

Actually, our whole lives should be given to God.  We are meant to be His servants.

What are we offering to God?

These are the sermon notes from 4/24/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

*This is the memory verse for this week. 

 

The Heart of the Matter

April 18, 2016

I teach philosophy courses at a community college.  One of the courses that I teach is a course on ethics.  Ethical theory can have different areas of focus.  They can focus on the action.  Some people think that Christianity has this focus.  Do not kill.  Do not steal.  Do not commit adultery, and so forth.  Another focus of ethical theory is the consequences.  “The end justifies the means”  is an example of this type of thinking.  This approach is much harder to reconcile with Christian thought, although it is quite popular in contemporary society.   A third focus is to focus on the individual;  their thoughts, motives and character.

Which approach does God favor?  I do not think that I want to make a definite conclusion to this question.  I would not want to wrongly represent God, but I will make a suggestion and offer some support.

I. God Sees the Heart:  I Samuel 16:6-7

Before we read these verses we should know the background.  Samuel was a prophet who served as the last judge over all Israel.  When he was old the people asked for him to appoint a king.  God directed Samuel to anoint Saul king of Israel.  Saul proved himself to be unfaithful by not being obedient to the commands of God.  God decided to remove him from being king and told Samuel to anoint a new person to be king.

So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him!”

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

I believe that God is most concerned with what is in our hearts.  We can exercise self control and act in the right way, at least temporarily, if we have sufficient motivation.  However, God is not fooled by actions that are not heartfelt. We are called to love God and to love our neighbor.  That is first and foremost, an attitude of the heart .

II.  Out of the Heart:  Luke 6:43-45

 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

We should seek to be filled with the things of God.  We are spiritual beings in a physical body.  We need to feed the body to meet the physical needs.  We need to feed our spirit to meet our spiritual needs.  We should be spending time in prayer, in the Word, and in fellowship with other believers so that our spirit is well fed and full.  Then we will be able to bring forth good things from our hearts.

III.  No Control:  James 3:8-12

But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.

Some people try to exercise self control and simply do and say the right thing from their own strength.  This will work.  Some of the time.

We cannot always be good in what we say and do in our own strength.  In our flesh we will fall short.  By the Spirit we can be victorious.

IV.  Seasoning:  Colossians 4:6*

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

Our words can have an impact.  They can build up or they can tear down.  Let us seek to be people whose words are filled with grace.  The right words, in the right tone, at the right time can be used by God to bring life,hope and peace.

V.  What are You?  Matthew 5:13-16

 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

We are called to be both salt and light.  I realize that I started this message by talking about the heart and then I moved on to our words and our deeds.  I believe that is how God works in our lives as well.  He starts in our hearts.  When we turn to Him in repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus He sends His Spirit into our hearts giving us a new life.  This new life is then demonstrated through our lives, through our attitudes, words and deeds.  If we are Christians, then Christ dwells in our hearts, if Christ is in our hearts He should show forth in our lives.

If we are experiencing difficulties, we should not focus on the external symptoms, but on the internal relationship.  Draw close to God and our lives will bear the fruit of righteousness.

These are the sermon notes from 4/17/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

*This is the memory verse for this week. 

 

 

Celebration!

April 14, 2016

Palm Sunday is recognized by every Christian denomination that I am aware of as a day of celebration.

Mark 11:1-11

Now when they drew near Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples; and He said to them, “Go into the village opposite you; and as soon as you have entered it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has sat. Loose it and bring it. And if anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it,’ and immediately he will send it here.”

So they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door outside on the street, and they loosed it. But some of those who stood there said to them, “What are you doing, loosing the colt?”

And they spoke to them just as Jesus had commanded. So they let them go. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes on it, and He sat on it. And many spread their clothes on the road, and others cut down leafy branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:

“Hosanna!
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
10 Blessed is the kingdom of our father David
That comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!”

11 And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the temple. So when He had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve. (NKJV)

I.  Celebration!

On the original Palm Sunday Jesus was coming to Jerusalem for the Passover.  He was well known throughout the land .  Lazarus had just recently been raised from the dead.  Jesus was welcomed to Jerusalem by crowds of people who recognized what He had done and praised God.

I remember in my childhood, growing up in a Lutheran church, Palm Sunday was a big deal. The children would march in and form a double line, holding palm branches up in the air.  The choir and then the minister would enter, all the while the organ would be playing joyfully.

I think that it is important to celebrate.

I am not talking now about Palm Sunday.  I am talking about celebrating other events in our lives.  Life is filled with a cycle of work and rest, struggles and victories. It is appropriate for us, as the people of God, to recognize what God has done in our lives and to celebrate the victories.

II.  Remember!

The Christian church certainly continues to remember Palm Sunday.

On that day, the crowd remembered the great things that they had heard and seen.

We have seen God’s blessings in our lives.  We should remember what God has done in the past for us, for our families, for our friends.

Sometimes, when times are tough, we forget that God has been very good to us.

We should remember what God has done.

III. Trust!

As we look into the future we can trust that God will be with us.  He will guide us.  He will protect us.  He will provide for us.  He will enable us to handle whatever circumstances we might face.

On Palm Sunday, Jesus looked ahead to the cross.  He knew what was coming.  He also knew that after the cross, would come the resurrection.

We do not know what the future holds for us.  We may  be called upon to endure severe tests or trials, but we may be assured that we will be victorious in the end.

Resurrection Day is coming!

Proverbs 3:5-6*

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

These are the sermon notes from 3/20/16.  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. 

*This is the recommended memory verse for this week. 

Blessings and Trials

April 11, 2016

In my devotions recently I was reading in Joshua and I was impressed with a particular passage that I felt gave excellent advice for the Christian life.

Joshua 1:8-9

 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

I.  An Emphasis on the Word:

As a teenager I memorized Psalms chapter one.  A portion of that Psalm supports what we have just read in Joshua.

Psalms 1:1-3

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
    Nor stands in the path of sinners,
    Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
    Planted by the rivers of water,
    That brings forth its fruit in its season,
    Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

Many Christians today are frightened by the idea of meditation.  They view it as a part of an Eastern religion, and not a part of Christianity.  They are not aware of the role that meditation has played in the Christian tradition.  As can be seen in both Bible readings listed above, the practice of meditation is encouraged.  The major difference between Christian meditation and Eastern meditation is the focus.  In Eastern meditation a person seeks to empty, or quiet their mind.  In Christian meditation, the mind is focused either on the Word of God, or on God Himself.  Instead of seeking to be empty, a Christian seeks to be full of the Word, or of the Spirit of God.

Of course, simply knowing the Word is not enough.  We need to be living in accordance to the Word.  Knowing and doing are two different things.  As Christians we should seek both to know the Word of God and to be obedient to the Word of God.  (See James)

As we live lives of obedience, we will prosper.  That prosperity may differ in manifestation from person to person.  It is not necessarily a means of financial gain.  There is far more to life than money.  A prosperous life may not have a large bank account.

II.  Endure Hardship:  II Timothy 2:3

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

A.  Be strong.  We recognize that the Christian life is not always easy.  There are many blessings, but there are also tests and trials.  We must not quit or give up just because life becomes challenging.

B.  Be courageous.   II Timothy 1:7*

   For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

We should face the challenges of this life bravely.  God will give us the wisdom to know what to do and the strength to do it.

C.  God is with you.  Joshua assures Israel that God is with them.  Jesus told His disciples that He would be with them always. (Matthew 28)  As Christians we can face whatever comes our way because of the knowledge that God is with us.

This life can be both rewarding and difficult.  As we serve the Lord we can expect to see His blessings in our lives, and to receive help in times of trouble.

These are the sermon notes from 3/5/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

*This is the memory verse for this week. 

 

Life in the Spirit

March 31, 2016

As Christians we believe that we are born again.  We were born in the flesh and now we are born in the Spirit.  This message is about life in the Spirit.

I.  Spirit Minded:  Romans 8:5-11

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

A.  There is a ongoing struggle between the Spirit and the flesh.  We need to be careful to emphasize the Spirit.  The flesh will struggle to survive and control.  We must be careful to live and walk in the Spirit.

B.  The Spirit of God dwells in us.  We do not function in our own strength, but rather in the strength that the Spirit of God gives to us.

C.  The Spirit gives life.  We are renewed by the presence of the Spirit in our lives.  Our physical body will still grow old, but our spirit will remain healthy and strong.

II.  More Than Conquerors:  Romans 8:31-38

 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    A.  If God is for us, then we are assured of victory.  God is for us.

    B.  God went so far as to give His own Son for us.  What greater level of commitment could be made by anyone?  We may rest assured of the love of God.

    C.  Through God we are more than conquerors.  We are not losers.  We are winners in Christ.

    D.  Nothing shall separate us from the love of God.  Love is a powerful motivator.  God loves us and nothing can change that.  Human love sometimes falters or fades.  God’s love never changes.

III.  Transformed:  Romans 12:1-2

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

    A.  We are meant to be a living sacrifice.  That means that we should offer our lives to God so that He may use our lives for His purposes.

    B.  We should not conform to the world.  Christians are meant to be different.  Some Christians try to blend in to their surroundings.  We are meant to stand out from the crowd.

    C.  We are transformed by the Spirit of God,  If the Spirit of God dwells in us, we will be changed.

    D.  As we grow in our relationship with God, we will grow in our ability to discover God’s will for us.  We can discover that which is acceptable, that which is good, and that which is perfect.  Do not settle for merely the acceptable, grow in God so that you may discern that which is perfect.

As Christians we have a new life in Christ.  We should let go of the old life of the flesh and grow to maturity in the life in the Spirit.

These are the sermon notes from 2/28/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

The memory verses for this week are either Romans 8:37-38 or Romans 12:1-2, or both. 

Love and Peace

March 24, 2016

I am greatly disturbed when I hear people talk about God hating people, or Christians who spew hateful things.  The Christian message is not based on hatred and fear, but on love and peace.

I.  The Goodness of God:  Romans 2:1-4

Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

A.  Sin is sin.  All sin is wrong.  It is wrong for us to judge the sin of others, while ignoring the sin in our own life.

B.  God is good to us.  He is patient with us.  The work of sanctification is an ongoing process in our lives.  The longer we walk with God, the closer we grow to God, the more sin-free our lives will be.

C.  It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance.  We are drawn to God because of his goodness.  We desire to be more like Him, so we turn away from our sin and seek to imitate the goodness of God.

II.  Justified By Faith:  Romans 1-5

 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

A.  We have peace with God through our faith in Jesus Christ.  We still seek to be good, because we want to please God, but we are forgiven, so the pressure is off.  We are not perfect, we are forgiven.  We are not worried.  We are at peace.

B.  Now that we are at peace within ourselves, we can face trouble in a different way.  We recognize that problems are opportunities for personal growth.  We place our trust in God, and draw close to Him in time of trouble.

C.  It is the love of God which truly changes us.  God loves us with a love that is beyond human comprehension.  The Holy Spirit assures us of that love as we grow in our relationship with God.

God loves us.  He has reached out to us through Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit confirms that truth to our hearts.  We respond to God’s love by drawing closer to Him.  As we draw closer to Him we turn away from sin and become more like Him.  We are not perfect, but we are perfectly loved and so we are at peace.

The Heart of the Mosaic Law

March 7, 2016

As Christians we tend to think of ourselves as being free from the Mosaic Law.  Many Christians do not spend much time reading the Old Testament, and many others will read Genesis and parts of Exodus, but then skim through the rest of the Pentateuch.  (The Pentateuch consists of the first five books of the Bible, Genesis through Deuteronomy.)  I would suggest that at the Heart of the Mosaic Law are the same basic themes that are in Christianity.

I.  Seek God:  Deuteronomy 4:29

 But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.

It should be obvious to us that God is not lost.  Rather, we need the eyes of our heart to be opened that we may see Him.  We need the ears of our heart to be opened that we might hear Him.  We need to take our focus off of the things of this world so that we can focus on the things that are not of this world.  This was true in the Mosaic Law and it is still true in the New Covenant that we have through Jesus Christ.

II.  Love God:  Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

We may recognize this verse.  When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, this is the verse that He quoted. God has always desired that we would love Him.  Of course, we know that “we love Him because He first loved us.”  (I John 4:19)

III.  Please God:  Deuteronomy 8:2-3

And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.

You might recognize these verses as well.  Jesus quoted the last portion of them when He was being tempted by Satan in the wilderness.  (Luke 4:4)

A.  Humble You:  God allows the circumstances of life to humble us so that we would recognize that we need Him.  Pride is a dangerous sin.  We should diligently guard against it.

B.  Test You:  God uses many ways to test us.  Do we trust God even when things are not going well?  Do we trust Him to guide, provide and protect?  We can trust God, for He is able to take care of us.  He is the Good Shepherd.

C.  Know You:  God wants to know what is in our hearts.  How will we respond to success, or to failure?  Do we love and trust Him, or do we just desire the blessings of this world?

Throughout the events of this life, it should be our desire to please God.  Hopefully, we can pass the tests of this life.  We can, if we place our trust fully in Him.

IV.  Remember God:  Deuteronomy 8:11-18

 “Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, 12 lest—when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; 14 when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; 15 who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end— 17 then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’

18 “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

We should beware of the dangers of success!  When times are tough, it is easy to remember to call out to God.  We need His help and we know it!  When things are going well, sometimes we forget that it is God who has blessed us with success.  Sometimes we allow the things of this world to take priority in our lives.  We should remember to keep God first in our life at all times.  (Matthew 6:33)

V.  Serve God:  Deuteronomy 10:12-13*

 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?

These verses are similar to Micah 6:8.  They give us a condensed statement of what God desires of us.  My focus for this message will be the part to serve God.  God has given us everything that we have in this life and the next.  It is appropriate to serve Him.  We serve Him in a wide variety of ways, but it involves our whole life, not just a portion of it.

We should not quickly dismiss the Mosaic Law.  It is true that we are no longer bound by the sacrificial system, or the dietary requirements, but the heart of the Mosaic Law: to seek God, love God, please God, remember God and to serve God, still apply to us as Christians.

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

*This is the memory verse for this week. 

 

Life Long Calling

March 3, 2016

The journey of our lives often take unexpected turns.  Even if we see a general direction, the exact route is often changed by detours.  We should not be surprised if things do not go the way that we expect them to go.

I.  Paul’s Calling:  Acts 26:15-18

 So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’

Paul is sharing the story of his calling as a part of his defense in court.  His calling was dramatic and powerful.  His life and ministry have had an impact on the world.

My own story is much less dramatic.  I initially worked for my parents in the grocery stores that they owned.  I had done well in high school, but had no interest in going on to college.  I intentionally graduated early, because I had no desire to spend any more time in school.

I worked for my parents full time serving as a manager for one of the stores.  After about a year and a half, I came to the decision that I wanted to do something different.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but the pastor at my church encouraged all young people to go to Bible college for a year to get a solid foundation in the Word, so I went off to college at North Central Bible College.

I did well in school.  I enjoyed it and one year turned into two.  In my third year I began to question whether I was truly called to the ministry or if I was simply following the crowd.  I knew that I did not want to go back to the stores.  The idea of the military appealed to me.  My dad had served in the Marine Corps.  I started thinking about signing up.  I spoke with my parents, my pastor, and a teacher from the school.  They all agreed.  If I was called to the ministry, four years in the Marine Corps would not change that calling.  It was not a quick decision.  I started thinking about it around Thanksgiving and I signed up after the new year.

My years in the Marine Corps were good years.  I obtained the rank of sergeant and even had the opportunity to serve as platoon sergeant for a few months due to a shortage of staff NCOs.  It was a great experience and I seriously considered it becoming my career.

However, as I prayed about it, I strongly sensed that I was to return to Bible college, become a pastor and maybe someday teach in a college.

II.  The Steps of a Good Man:  Psalms 37:23

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.

I was raised in the Lutheran church.  While in high school I started attending a nondenominational Pentecostal church.  I was very involved with that church for about four years.  Then I returned to the Lutheran church.  When I returned, I appreciated the liturgy and the symbolism even more than I had in my younger years.

When I was in the military I attended a Methodist church for a number of years.  The pastors were good friends and I spent every open weekend as a guest in their house.

When I finished my time in the military I went back to the Assemblies of God college that I had attended earlier.  I met, and married my wife while I finished up my degree there.  Then it was off to seminary.  I attended Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary.  In my second year there, I came to the conclusion that we had “irreconcilable theological differences”.  So now what?  I applied for and received credentials with the Assemblies of God.

When I left the Lutheran church, a member of my youth group gave me a plaque that read “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord”.  I have rather wondered at the twists and turns that life had taken, but I do believe that every experience has helped to prepare me for the future that God had for me.

We came to this church in February of 1991.  We have been serving here for 25 years.

I finished my masters degree in 1997 and began teaching philosophy part time  at the college in 1998.

We started the Chi Alpha ministry at the college where I teach in 2010.

We planted a church in December.

Only God knows what the future holds.

III.  Thoughts of You:  Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

I think that you have heard enough about my story.  I want to encourage each of you to realize that God has a plan for you.  He loves you and wants you to follow the plan that He has for your life.

IV.  Lay Down Your Life:  Mark 8:34-35*

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

We need to be willing to let go of our hopes and plans in order to take up the plan that God has for us.  Sometimes those plans will in fact be the same plans that we already held, but the key is to let God direct our steps.  He has come to give us life.  We can trust Him completely.  He has a good plan for our lives.

V.  Finish the Race:  II Timothy 4:7-8

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

My race is not yet finished, but I want to finish strong.  The goal is not to serve God for a moment, or for a season, but for a lifetime.

Wherever you may be on your journey, know that God has a plan for you.  You can trust Him with your life.  Serve Him not just for a day, but for a lifetime.

These are the sermon notes from 2/7/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I do not have any control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

*This is the memory verse for the week. 

Spirit Led

February 29, 2016

I remember as a young Christian being introduced to the idea that as a Christian my life would always be happy and carefree.

That was not true.  The Christian life in this world still battles with sin, the flesh and the devil.

I.  Spirit Led:  Acts 13:1-4

Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

Barnabas and Saul are set apart and sent out to proclaim the gospel.  They have fasted, prayed and are being led by the Spirit.  We can believe that this decision was indeed the will of God.

II.  Tribulation:  Acts 14:19-22

Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. 20 However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”

Even though they have been led by God and are doing the work of God, they encountered resistance.  In these verses Paul is stoned and left for dead.  Just because we are doing the will of God does not mean that we will escape problems.  Actually, as we serve the Lord we are in the midst of a spiritual battle and things will be difficult at times.  God will give us the strength that we need for the challenges that come our way.

III.  Dissension:  Acts 15:1-2

And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.

Even in the early church there was occasional disagreement among the followers of Christ.  It was probably quite heated.  We are saved, but we are still human.  Our human nature can lead us to places that the Spirit would not wish to go.  We are far from perfect.

IV.  Decision:  Acts 15:22-29

Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren.

23 They wrote this letter by them:

The apostles, the elders, and the brethren,

To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:

Greetings.

24 Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law” —to whom we gave no such commandment— 25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.

Farewell.

Here they have come to a decision.  Still, there would continue to be occasional controversy over various doctrinal issues.  That continues until the present day.  It does not mean that we are unsaved.  It means that we are limited by our flesh. We think that we are right.  If we knew what was wrong, most of us would change.  Our current understanding is limited.  One day we will know all the truth, but that time will have to wait until we are in heaven.  We should be patient with those with whom we have disagreements, as we all seek to understand the truth.

V.  Division:  Acts 15:36-41

 Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.” 37 Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. 39 Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Here two mature believers who had worked together for years have a disagreement that leads to division.  We might be tempted to say that Barnabas was wrong, after all, Paul literally wrote most of the New Testament.  However, many believe that  this Mark wrote the gospel denoted by his name.  It is often considered to be the first of the synoptic gospels and may even have served as a model for Matthew and Luke.  So here is an example of “all things working together for good”.

VI.  Walking in the Spirit:  Galatians 5:16-18*

 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Even though we will not be perfect, we should strive to walk in the Spirit.  We should seek to recognize when our flesh is taking over, and we should ask God to help us.

The Christian life is a life that is led by the Spirit, but walked out in the flesh.  We will occasionally make mistakes, but God will not abandon us.  We should be patient with one another as we all seek to be Spirit led.

These are the sermon notes from 1/31/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

*This is the memory verse for the week. 


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