Archive for January, 2013

Our Warfare

January 28, 2013

These are the sermon notes from 1/27/13.

I.  War in the Heavens:  Revelation 12:7-12

And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for themin heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. 12 Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”

A.  Heavenly Conflict

There is a battle in the heavens that continues to this day.  “We do not war against flesh and blood…”  The battle in which we are engaged does not involve rifles, tanks, or fighter jets.  Our battle is waged over the allegiance of souls.  Whether people are a part of the kingdom of God or whether they have rejected God’s offer of salvation in Jesus.  It is our desire to bring as many people into the kingdom of God as possible and keep them there.

B.  Overcomers

We overcome by the blood of the Lamb.  It is only through Jesus that we are victorious in this spiritual battle.  The word of our testimony is a powerful weapon.  We share what we believe, and what God has done in our lives, and God uses it for His kingdom’s work.  We should remember to keep our first allegiance to the work of God and not to seeking our own desires in this world.  Even to the point of sacrificing our lives for God if necessary.

II.  Choosing Sides:  Revelation 14:9-13

Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

13 Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’”

“Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.”

A.  Judgement

We must recognize that although God loves us and has provided salvation for us in Jesus, that not everyone will be saved.  Those who have rejected God’s offer of salvation in Jesus will be subject to eternal judgement.  That is why it is so important that we bring as many people into the kingdom of God as possible.  It is a battle that rages, not over some piece of land or political system, but over the eternal destination of human souls.

B.  Rest

For those who are serving God, life can be wearisome.  We are encouraged to “endure hardship, like good soldiers of Christ”.   We are encouraged to ” not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not”.    God sees our faithful service and our goal should be to one day hear the words “well done, good and faithful servant”.

III.  Final Reward:  Revelation 21:1-8

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving,  abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

A.  All Things New

There will come a day when all things will be made new.  For those who have received Christ as their savior we will be able to be a part of the new world, a world in which righteousness dwells.

B.  2nd Death

Not everyone will be allowed entrance to this new world.  Again, that is why the spiritual battle is so important.  God does not want any to perish, but those who have rejected salvation in Christ, or those who only give lip-service to Christ will not enter the kingdom of God.

Our warfare does not kill anyone.  Our warfare is about bringing life to those who are spiritually dead.

 

 

 

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A Servant’s Heart

January 21, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 1/20/13.

I.  Great Things?  Jeremiah 45:1-5

The word that Jeremiah the prophet spoke to Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the instruction of Jeremiah,in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to you, O Baruch: ‘You said, “Woe is me now! For the Lord has added grief to my sorrow. I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest.”’

“Thus you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Behold, what I have built I will break down, and what I have planted I will pluck up, that is, this whole land. And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh,” says the Lord. “But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.”’”

Apparently Baruch wanted great things.  That is certainly common enough.  Many people dream that they will be great in some way.  God chides Baruch for wanting more.  God was about to pour out His wrath on the nation of Israel.  Baruch was assured that he would not be one of the many that would die.  Baruch also did receive a degree of fame in that his name is recorded in scripture for all time.  Most importantly, Baruch had a job to do for God.  He should be content with what God give him to do.

Many of us dream of greatness, we should be content to be the people who God has called us to be; to fulfill the role that he has for us.

II.  A Servants Heart Revelations 1:1

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

I notice that this letter is written by a servant, to servants.  John, at the time of writing Revelation,  was the senior saint.  He was the last surviving disciple of the original twelve.  There would have been no one more worthy of claiming leadership of the church; yet he was referred to as a servant.

I am concerned that some Christians today prefer to think of themselves as the King’s Kids; a form of royalty.  Now, it is true that we are encouraged to call God, our father, but I am concerned that sometimes Christians act as spoiled brats.

III.  The Greatest Mark 10:42-45

But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

If we truly want to be great in the kingdom of God, then we are to serve.

I am reminded of a song by Larry Norman “I am a Servant”.  There are lines in the song that go:

I am a servant

but I sit here in the hall.

How can He use me

when I’ve never given all?

My encouragement to you today is to give your all to Jesus.  He desires to use you in the work of His kingdom.  We all have a part that we can play, but are we willing to do a bit part, or do we need a starring role?

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Day.  While he is best known for his work in civil rights, he was also a strong advocate for people to be involved.  The question “What are you doing for someone else?” was a challenge to think of the well-being of other people, not just our own dreams.

What are you doing for someone else?

What are you doing for God?

Do you have a heart to serve?

 

A Message of Sorrow

January 17, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 1/13/13.

Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet.  He spent a lifetime proclaiming an unfavorable message to an unwilling audience.  He experienced a great deal of hardship, and very little reward on this earth for his labor.

I.  Sometimes it’s Bad:  Jeremiah 37:11-16

And it happened, when the army of the Chaldeans left the siege of Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh’s army, 12 that Jeremiah went out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin to claim his property there among the people. 13 And when he was in the Gate of Benjamin, a captain of the guard was there whose name was Irijah the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he seized Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “You are defecting to the Chaldeans!”

14 Then Jeremiah said, “False! I am not defecting to the Chaldeans.” But he did not listen to him.

So Irijah seized Jeremiah and brought him to the princes. 15 Therefore the princes were angry with Jeremiah, and they struck him and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe. For they had made that the prison.

16 When Jeremiah entered the dungeon and the cells, and Jeremiah had remained there many days,

Jeremiah had proclaimed a message of the coming judgement of God for years.  Now that judgement was at the door and Jeremiah had been given a message of hope.  The hope was that the exile would not be permanent, that the children of Israel would return in seventy years.  As a symbol of the restoration, Jeremiah was directed to buy a field.  He was going out to look at that field when he was arrested as a defector.

He had been faithful to God and his situation deteriorated.

Sometimes when we are serving God, things can get bad.

II.  Sometimes it Gets Worse  Jeremiah 38:2-6

 “Thus says the Lord: ‘He who remains in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but he who goes over to the Chaldeans shall live; his life shall be as a prize to him, and he shall live.’ Thus says the Lord: ‘This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon’s army, which shall take it.’”

Therefore the princes said to the king, “Please, let this man be put to death, for thus he weakens the hands of the men of war who remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man does not seek the welfare of this people, but their harm.”

Then Zedekiah the king said, “Look, he is in your hand. For the king can do nothing against you.” So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the king’sson, which was in the court of the prison, and they let Jeremiah down with ropes. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire. So Jeremiah sank in the mire.

I suppose that the rulers had a point in that the message Jeremiah was proclaiming would indeed encourage people to give themselves up rather than fight.  That was the message that Jeremiah had been given by God to give to the people.  His reward for his faithfulness was to be tossed into a pit.

Sometimes when we are serving God it goes from bad to worse.

III.  Deliverance Will Come  Jeremiah 39:11-14

Now Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon gave charge concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, saying, 12 “Take him and look after him, and do him no harm; but do to him just as he says to you.” 13 So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard sent Nebushasban, Rabsaris, Nergal-Sharezer, Rabmag, and all the king of Babylon’s chief officers; 14 then they sent someone to take Jeremiah from the court of the prison, and committed him to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, that he should take him home. So he dwelt among the people.

God does not forget His servants.  Deliverance will come.  We just don’t know when.  It may not even come in this lifetime.  We need to remember that God looks at things from an eternal perspective.  The sacrifices that we make in this life for the kingdom of God will be remembered and rewarded, if not in this life, then in the life to come.

Conclusion:  Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet for good reason.  He proclaimed a message of destruction to a people who rejected that message.  When destruction came, he did not celebrate the fulfillment of the prophesy, but rather wept over the destruction of Jerusalem.  He remained in the city after its destruction until he was forcibly dragged off to Egypt by the remaining Jews who fled to Egypt.    His life had very few happy moments of celebration.

I have no doubt that he has received his reward in heaven.  We should all learn a lesson from his faithfulness.  He did not think of his own comfort or gain, he simply proclaimed the message that God had given him to proclaim.

Likewise, may we be faithful to do what God calls us to do.

Warning!

January 10, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from January 6, 2013.

Introduction:  I had an interesting dream last night that I believe was from the Lord.  It will serve as both the introduction to the message and the conclusion.

In my dream I was in a small town set in a valley.  When the dream began I was a little ways up the hill looking down on the town.  I walked down the hill and through a few blocks to the home of some people that I knew.  I walked into the house and called out to the people who live there.  There was no answer so I walked further into the house.  I passed by the stove in the kitchen and noticed that there was a very large frying pan filled with grease to the very top on the stove, which was lit.  There  was additional bacon floating and sizzling on top of the grease.  The oven also was on.  I looked at that and thought that it was a definite fire hazard.  Then I heard someone finally answer my call.  They were in the shower, so I left.  I walked back up the hill and looked back and the house was on fire.  

First let me say that I never walk into people’s homes without being invited in.  Second, I would have shut off the stove and oven before I left, but this was a dream and I believe there was a reason for it.

I.  Something to Boast About:  Jeremiah 9:23-24

 Thus says the Lord:

“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;
24 But let him who glories glory in this,
That he understands and knows Me,
That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these I delight,” says the Lord.

We are not to glory, or boast, in our wisdom, strength or riches, but we can glory, rejoice in, even boast about, the fact that we have the opportunity to know God.

God exercises lovingkindness, judgement, and righteousness.  We serve a God who inspires us to be more like Him.

II.  The Wrong Thing: Jeremiah 13:1-11

Thus the Lord said to me: “Go and get yourself a linen sash, and put it around your waist, but do not put it in water.” So I got a sash according to the word of the Lord, and put it around my waist.

And the word of the Lord came to me the second time, saying, “Take the sash that you acquired, which is around your waist, and arise, go to the Euphrates,[a] and hide it there in a hole in the rock.” So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the Lord commanded me.

Now it came to pass after many days that the Lord said to me, “Arise, go to the Euphrates, and take from there the sash which I commanded you to hide there.” Then I went to the Euphrates and dug, and I took the sash from the place where I had hidden it; and there was the sash, ruined. It was profitable for nothing.

Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Thus says the Lord: ‘In this manner I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10 This evil people, who refuse to hear My words, who follow the dictates of their hearts, and walk after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be just like this sash which is profitable for nothing. 11 For as the sash clings to the waist of a man, so I have caused the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to cling to Me,’ says the Lord, ‘that they may become My people, for renown, for praise, and for glory; but they would not hear.’

The sash was perfectly fine while it was worn around the waist of the prophet.  Once it was separated however, it became ruined and worthless.

The people had refused to listen to God’s Word.  They had followed instead, the dictates of their own hearts.  They chose the to follow the wrong thing.  

As long as we remain in a right relationship with God everything will be fine.  If we leave God, or are willfully disobedient to His word, we can expect our lives to deteriorate.

III.  Our Hearts’ Choice Jeremiah 17:5-10 

Thus says the Lord:

“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
And makes flesh his strength,
Whose heart departs from the Lord.
For he shall be like a shrub in the desert,
And shall not see when good comes,
But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness,
In a salt land which is not inhabited.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear[a] when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

“The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
10 I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings.

Those who chose to trust in the flesh will be under a curse. 

Those who trust in God will be blessed.

God sees our hearts and will not be fooled by outward compliance that is not consistent with an internal commitment.

Conclusion: There is a clear distinction between clinging to, and serving God: and rejecting God, or God’s Word to do our own thing.  If we see people who have rejected God or His Word, we have a responsibility to do something.  We should warn them.  We should pray for them.  We should live our own lives as an example to them.  

To do nothing, would be like walking away from a fire hazard that could be easily addressed.

Preach the Good News

January 3, 2013

These are the sermon notes from 12/30/12.

Isaiah 61:1-3

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

It is common for prophetic words to have multiple applications.  These verses could originally have been applied to Isaiah himself.  Later, they were applied to Jesus.  Today, I believe that we can apply them to ourselves.

We have the Spirit of the Lord within our hearts.  As Christians we believe that we have been ‘born again’ , that the Spirit of God dwells within our hearts through our faith in Jesus.

The disciples were charged to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.”  As modern disciples of Jesus, we too, are expected to share the good news of salvation in Jesus.

The message that we bring is able to heal the broken-hearted. There are many people in our world today that need their hearts to be healed.

Our message is able to set people free.  In Christ, we are set free from the penalty of sin.  We are set free from trying to earn our salvation by being good enough.  We are set free from the bonds of sin, in that God will give us the power to change the way that we think and act.  Old habits can be broken.  We are new creations in Christ.

Could 2013 be the year that Christ returns?  Of course that is possible, but we do not make any predictions, for no man knows the time that Christ will return.  Remember, that the Day of the Lord will be a time of rejoicing for those who believe, but a time of mourning for those who have rejected the offer of forgiveness in Christ.

We offer comfort to those who mourn.  We do not mourn as those who have no hope, but we believe in a life that goes beyond the grave.  In the tests and trials of this life we believe that God will give us wisdom and strength, that He will never leave us or forsake us.

Our lives should be marked by joy, praise, and righteousness.  This is part of the abundant life that Christ has promised to his followers.

This message is indeed good news to those who believe.