Archive for April, 2013

Faith of Our Fathers

April 15, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 4/14/13.

Introduction:  One of my earliest memories of church is standing alongside my father as the congregation sang Holy, Holy, Holy, .  When we think of the faith of our fathers, it doesn’t mean literally, the faith of our biological fathers, but rather our predecessors in the faith.  Our lineage in the faith stretches back through the years, all the way to Abraham and beyond.

I. Rule Over Sin: Genesis 4:3-8

And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.

So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.

I have heard it preached that Abel’s sacrifice was accepted because it was a blood sacrifice.  I do not believe that was the problem.  Elsewhere in scripture all different types of offerings were presented to, and accepted by, even commanded by, God.  It tells us in Hebrews that “by faith” Able offered a better sacrifice than Cain.  Obviously, Cain believed in the existence of God, so it wasn’t that type of faith.  I believe that it was an attitude of the heart.  God knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts and I believe that Cain was not right in his heart towards God.   Our first priority to should be to incline our hearts towards God.

Cain is warned that sin is “at the door”.  There is always the opportunity to sin.  Sin brings consequences.  We should seek to avoid sin like the plague that it is.

Cain is urged to “rule over sin”.  Some versions say to “master it” .  In order to do this we must first be able to recognize sin.  We need to know what is, and what is not, pleasing to God.  The second step is to resist sin.  This requires an active choice on our part.  It is one thing to know what is right, it is another thing to actually do it.  We are called to “rule over” sin, that is, to conquer it.  We do this by developing our relationship with God.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to recognize, resist and rule over sin.

II.  Children of Abraham:  Genesis 15:1

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”

We may not be descendents of Abraham in a physical sense, but we are his children in the faith.  This event takes place before God has changed Abram’s name to Abraham.

God is our shield.  I really appreciate that God is able to protect us from the attacks of the enemy.  I do sometimes wonder why He allows some things to happen, while preventing other things.  I recognize first of all, that a shield does not protect us from our own careless, or flat-out wrong actions.  A shield protects us from attack from the outside, not our own mistakes.  Second, God allows a certain amount of tests and trials into our lives to develop our faith and our trust in Him.

God is our reward.  This is one of the most profound statements of scripture.  Our relationship with God is greater than anything that this world can possibly offer.  As believers we are able to be in the very presence of God.  There is no greater reward than our relationship with God.  I suspect that many of us have not come to truly appreciate what that means.

III.  God Will Provide:  Genesis 22:7-8

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.

This quote comes from the episode in which God has told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on the altar.  Abraham is going to obey God and is on his way to follow through with this command when this exchange takes place.   Every time that I read this I am struck with the saying that “God will provide for Himself the lamb”.  Of course, this is a type, or a forecast, of the sacrifice that God would make of His son Jesus.  Jesus is called ‘the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”.  God did indeed provide the lamb, His Son, for the sins of the world.

After God had stopped Abraham from killing his son, a ram is found in the thicket and offered to God as a sacrifice.  Abraham called the place “the Lord will provide”.  As believers we have continued to believe in a God who will provide what is needed in our lives.

Conclusion:  We can learn from those who have gone before us in the faith.  We should develop our relationship with God.  We should learn to rule over sin.  We should trust that God will provide.


The Great Commission

April 8, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 4/7/13.

Today I am preaching from a passage of scripture well-known as the Great Commission.   Missionaries commonly use these verses in encouraging missions support.  This text is excellent for that purpose, and for much more.

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.

All Authority:  Jesus lived during the reign of the Roman Empire.  The Romans were polytheistic, believing in many gods.   The Jewish people were a part of a monotheistic religion; believing that only Jehovah; their God, was real.  It was common for nations to have their own god that they claimed as their own.  When Jesus proclaims that all authority has been given to Him it says that He is Lord over all; all kingdoms, nations and people.

Go:  This is an active pursuit, not passive.  It is like the difference between stalking deer or sitting in a deer stand waiting for them to come to you.  We are not to sit in our churches waiting for people to come to us, we are to go to them with the gospel message, to share the hope that is within us.

Make Disciples:  We are asked to record the number of new conversions that take place each year in our ministry.  Conversions are important, but they are only the beginning.  A new convert must become a disciple, and a disciple is a life-long servant and student.

All Nations:  We are sent into all the world with the hope of the gospel.  We should all share the message in our particular circumstances; watching for the ‘divine appointments’ that God may bring our way.  We should also be open to hear God’s call to further missions involvement.  We may be called to the mission field as full-time missionaries, or short-term assignments, or whenever the opportunity arises.  We also should support those who do go around the world with our prayers and our offerings.

Baptizing Them:  Christians throughout the centuries have argued over the form, timing and meaning of baptism.  We all recognize that if you are Christian, then you should be baptized.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit:  This statement of Christ continues the progressive revelation of the triune God.  The nature of the trinity is hinted at in the Old Testament, more fully revealed in the New Testament, and hammered out through time by the reflection of God’s people upon God’s Word.

Teaching Them:  As I have already said, a disciple is a life-long student.  If we think that we already know everything, then we really understand very little.  We should continue to both learn more, and teach others what we have learned.

To Observe:  We are not simply to know, we are to do.  For someone to say I know I should but… is wrong to accept.  If we know we should, then we should do.

Always With You:  The comfort of the knowledge that Christ is with us always is immeasurable.  It is one of my favorite portions of scripture.  He will never leave us or forsake us.  We do not face the challenges of life alone.  Christ is with us always.

The Great Commission

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.



Out of Death Comes Life

April 4, 2013

Here are the sermon notes  from Easter Sunday March 31, 2013.

I.  Resurrection:  Matthew 28:1-10

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.

But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”

So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.

And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

Rejoice!  The first word of Jesus to the women in this gospel account is to  rejoice.  Christians ever since that first Easter morning truly have rejoiced that Christ has risen!  It has made all the difference in the world.  It confirms the message that Jesus preached, and gives us a hope that goes beyond the grave.

Our church does not have Holy Week services.  We do not have a Maunday Thursday, or a Good Friday service.  We celebrate the Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday, and the resurrection on Easter.  This gives the impression that the season is only that of celebration.

We must remember that you do not have a resurrection, without first having a death.  Hebrews 12:1-2 says:

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

We will never be able to fully comprehend the true suffering of Christ on the cross.  We cannot understand what it means to take the sins of the world.  Jesus knew what it was going to be like, and He asked three times that “this cup might pass from me”.  However, the Father, and Jesus also, knew there was no other way so “may thy will be done”.

II.  Out of Death Comes Life:  Matthew 16:21-27

From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.

22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”

23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.

I am concerned that we want to skip an important step.  We do not get to have the new life that Christ has for us unless we are willing to lay down the old one.  It seems as though many people want the promise of God’s help in this life and the promise of life to come, but they want to remain the masters of their own lives.  They  do not want to give their lives to Christ, they want to keep them for themselves.  Not everyone seems willing to say “not my will, but thine be done”.

Romans 6:1-4:

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

I am concerned that many of us are so busy telling God what we want Him to do, that we forget to ask God what He wants us to do.

Years ago the Imperials recorded a song titled Water Grave.  It contains the words:

I’m going down to the river.

I’m going to be buried alive.

I’m going to show my heavenly Father

the man I used to be has finally died.

I have a 1983 Yamaha Venture motorcycle.  It runs good, but cosmetically it is in pretty rough shape.  If someday I get a different motorcycle I will have to choose which one I ride.  I can’t ride two bikes at the same time.

We cannot live our lives for ourselves, and live for God at the same time.

If we die to self, only then can we live for Christ.

Christ came that we might have life, and that more abundantly.  Let’s trust God enough to give up the lives that we had, so that we might live the life He has for us.

Obviously, I am not talking about a physical death.  I am talking about telling God “not my will, but Thine be done”.