Archive for December, 2012

The Best Gift Ever

December 27, 2012

These are the sermon notes from 12/23/12.

We probably all have gifts that we have received in the past that stand out from all the other gifts that we have received.  God himself, has given us the very best gift.

I.  Make the Right Choice Isaiah 55:1-3

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—
The sure mercies of David.

It is easy to get caught up in the pursuit of material things.  Material things, however, will not satisfy the longing in our soul.  We have been created to live in a relationship with God and unless that relationship is healthy, we will not be content.  We must remember to “seek first, the kingdom of God”.

II.  Restoration Isaiah 55:6-9

Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

God offers us forgiveness for our sins.  He longs for us to return to Him.  Remember the story of the prodigal son.  God, our heavenly father, is waiting for us to come to our senses and return to Him.

III.  The Word Isaiah 55:10-11

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Once we have been restored in our relationship with God we need to make spending time in the Bible a priority in our lives.   God’s Word will have a lasting, favorable impact on our lives.

IV.  Blessings Isaiah 55:12-13

For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree,
And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;
And it shall be to the Lord for a name,
For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

As we live our lives in a relationship with God we will experience the blessings of the Lord.  These blessings come in a whole variety of different forms, but we can be assured that God is good to His people.

Jesus said that He came that we might have life, and that more abundantly.  That is the best gift ever!

The Coming of Christ

December 20, 2012

Here are the sermon notes from December 16th, 2012.

We are in the season of Advent.  Advent is a time of preparation.

I.  Prepare the Way Isaiah 40:3-5

The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make straight in the desert
A highway for our God.
Every valley shall be exalted
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough places smooth;
The glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

During the ministry of John the Baptist, he was asked if he was the messiah.  He replied that he was not the messiah, he was the “voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord…”.

The Lord, of course, is Jesus.  At Christmas we celebrate the coming of Christ into the world.  We prepare for Christmas in a whole multitude of ways.  We make our plans and travel arrangements.  We shop, and bake, and wrap presents.  We decorate our homes; inside and out.  It is a busy time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

II.  More to Come

At Christmas we celebrate that Christ came into the world, but there is more to prepare for than the celebration of the first Christmas.

Christ promised to come again someday for His people.  We can prepare for that coming in two ways.

Proclamation:  Mathew 24:14

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

There are still people who have not heard the message of Jesus the Christ.  We can share in the proclamation of the gospel by sharing it ourselves with those whom we come  into contact.  We can also support those who go around the world preaching the gospel.  We can support them through our prayers and through our financial support.

Cleansing: Ephesians 5:25-27

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

We help to prepare for the coming of Christ by cooperating with the Holy Spirit as He works in our lives the work of sanctification.  As certainly as a bride prepares for her wedding day, we should prepare ourselves for the Lord’s return.

There is one more coming of Christ that it is appropriate to think about during the advent season.  That is the coming of Christ into the hearts of new believers.  This coming of Christ is very important to each one personally because without Christ, we cannot be saved.  We help to prepare for this coming by living out the lives that Christ would have us to live.  By our actions and our words we can help to either draw people to Christ, or drive them away.

I Corinthians 3:5-6

Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.

We recognize that the success of our efforts ultimately is up to God, but we are still asked to faithfully do our part.

May God help us as we seek to prepare, not just for Christmas, the celebration of the first coming of Christ into the world; but also for the return of Christ, and even more important, the coming of Christ into the hearts of the unsaved.

The Gospel and Judgement of Isaiah 9

December 13, 2012

These are the sermon notes from 12/9.

I.  The Gospel

A.  A Great Light Isaiah 9:1-2

Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed,
As when at first He lightly esteemed
The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
And afterward more heavily oppressed her,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
In Galilee of the Gentiles.
The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.

Jesus, was of Nazareth, from Galilee.  Galilee did not enjoy a good reputation.  In fact, one of the disciples, when first told about Jesus, asked “Does anything good come out of Galilee?”

Jesus did come out of Galilee and Jesus is most certainly good.  These verses in refer to the Christ who is the “light of the world.  We are reminded in John, that “the light shown in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

B.  The Eternal Kingdom Isaiah 9:6-7

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

These verses are often read at Christmas time.  Truly Jesus is wonderful,  He is a counselor, able to direct our lives.  He is the Mighty God, co-eternal with the Father, Everlasting Father, this can be confusing, since Jesus is not the same as our heavenly Father, but we are reminded, that Jesus said, “I and the Father are One” and “he who has seen me has seen the Father”.  So, we recognize that the Father is revealed in Christ.  Prince of Peace:  Christ gives to us a peace that is not of this world and that this world cannot take away.

The Kingdom of Christ is not of this world.  People are able to enter into His kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ.  People are continually being added to His kingdom throughout the years.  His kingdom will never end.

So far we have enjoyed the gospel of Isaiah 9, but there is more to come.

II.The Judgement

A.  Pride and Arrogance:  Isaiah 9:8-10

The Lord sent a word against Jacob,
And it has fallen on Israel.
All the people will know—
Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria—
Who say in pride and arrogance of heart:
10 “The bricks have fallen down,
But we will rebuild with hewn stones;
The sycamores are cut down,
But we will replace them with cedars.”

On September 12, 2001 in response to the destruction of the Twin Towers,  Tom Daschle, the Senate majority leader, in a speech to congress quoted verse ten.   It sounds nice except that in Isaiah it is a message of rebuke.  The people of Samaria had been afflicted because God had sent judgement, and instead of repenting of their sin, they stubbornly rebuilt.

This prophecy was originally for Samaria, but it is common for prophecy to have multiple applications.  The similarities to the Twin Towers are easy to see.  The original towers of brick and steel were knocked down.  When the Freedom Tower was began to be built on the site, there was a large granite stone, lowered into the foundation.

There was also a sycamore tree a short distance away that had been destroyed by debris.  It was later replaced with an evergreen tree, a tree for which the Hebrew word translated as cedars in the NKJ, could also be translated.

B.  Consequence:  Isaiah 9:11-13

Therefore the Lord shall set up
The adversaries of Rezin against him,
And spur his enemies on,
12 The Syrians before and the Philistines behind;
And they shall devour Israel with an open mouth.

For all this His anger is not turned away,
But His hand is stretched out still.

13 For the people do not turn to Him who strikes them,
Nor do they seek the Lord of hosts.

The people in Isaiah did not repent.  So, God sent additional punishments upon them.  The people still did not respond.  Since 9/11 there have been numerous natural disasters, that in an earlier age, people may have interpreted as the judgement of God.  Now, I am not saying that these various disasters over the last eleven years are the judgement of God, but I am saying that they could be the judgement of God.

Do we have any reason as a nation to need to repent?

C.  Leaders:  Isaiah 9:14-17

Therefore the Lord will cut off head and tail from Israel,
Palm branch and bulrush in one day.
15 The elder and honorable, he is the head;
The prophet who teaches lies, he is the tail.
16 For the leaders of this people cause them to err,
And those who are led by them are destroyed.
17 Therefore the Lord will have no joy in their young men,
Nor have mercy on their fatherless and widows;
For everyone is a hypocrite and an evildoer,
And every mouth speaks folly.

For all this His anger is not turned away,
But His hand is stretched out still.

There is no question that there is much sin in our land.  Abortion, gay marriage, sexual immorality of various kinds,  greed, oppression, hatred and much more are tolerated and even celebrated by many.  There are both political and religious leaders who support and encourage things that are declared evil by God.

Could our land be in danger of judgement?  The answer is yes, it could be in danger of judgement.

However, there are also many godly people in America.  It is very important that Christians continue to maintain their faith in God, to pray for our country, and to seek to live lives of righteousness: to be the salt and light that we are called to be in this world .

There might be some turbulence ahead, but we need  to remember that God will not forsake us, He is with us always.

The Challenge of Christmas

December 6, 2012

These are the sermon notes from December 2, 2012.

I.  Call to Repentance: Isaiah 1:16-17

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

These verses are a call to action.  We are not simply to feel bad about our shortcomings, we are to do something.  We should change our ways.

We are to cease doing evil.  The first step in ceasing to do evil is to be able to recognize what is evil.  God has given us His Word and His Holy Spirit.  By the Word and the Spirit we are able to learn to recognize evil.  Then the Holy Spirit will also give us the strength to change our ways.  Sometimes this change happens quickly, and sometimes it takes a while to learn new habits.  God understands, and is patient with us.

We are to learn to do good.  A new life is not just about not doing evil, it is learning to do good.  God is a just God, and is concerned with justice in our society.  We, as Christians, should also be concerned with justice.

There are two types of justice: criminal, and distributive.  As Christians we should use what influence we have in society to work towards justice for all.  Whether that means appropriate punishment for crimes, or protection from harassment for the innocent.  Distributive justice is the fair distribution of burdens and benefits.  We might not all agree about how to achieve distributive justice, or exactly what that would look like, but we should agree that it is important, and try to work toward that ideal.  We are to rebuke the oppressor, and take care of the needy.  It is also important as we work toward that goal, to treat one another with respect, recognizing that we may have honest disagreements about these important matters.

II.  Offer of Forgiveness: Isaiah 1:18-20

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

The message of Christmas is that Christ came to earth so that our sins might be forgiven.  Those who respond to the message of salvation are forgiven.  John 3:16-17 says  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. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Not all will listen to the message.  For them, there remains only judgement.  John 3:18-20 reads “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.”

III.  The Challenge of Christmas  III John 11

Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, buthe who does evil has not seen God.

The message of the early church was simply put “Repent and believe the gospel.”  The Greek language was not real concerned with the order of words, and so it is acceptable for us to think of this as believe and repent.  We believe in Jesus and are called to repentance: to cease to do evil and learn to do good.  One of the best ways that we can learn to do good, is to imitate good.  The best one to imitate for good,  is to imitate Christ.  That would be the challenge of Christmas.  Christ came to earth to show us the Father, we are now called to imitate Christ.

The message of Christmas is that Christ has come.

The challenge of Christmas is to imitate Christ.