Archive for June, 2013

God Offers Abundant Life

June 24, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 6/23/13.

I. The Bread of Life: John 6:35

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

As I read this verse, I am reminded also of Mathew 5:6:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

In Christ, we find life.  In Christ, we find fulfillment.  It is only through Christ that our lives can be made whole.  It is only in Christ that we are made complete.  Christ, and Christ alone, is the source of true, spiritual, life.

II.  His Words are Life:  John 6:63

 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

We recognize that true life is found in the spirit.  The physical realm is secondary.  The Word of God brings life to our spirits.  We should regularly be reading the Word of God, the Bible, to bring life into our spirits.  Sometimes we will sense the life coming into us, other times it may not be so obvious, but in the spirit-realm, the Word of God always has an impact on our lives.  I am reminded that even Christ said in Luke 4:4:

But Jesus answered him, saying,“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’”

III.  Abundant Life: John 10:10

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

God offers us abundant life.  That does not mean simply a life that will last forever, it means a life that is full and complete.  It also is important to realize that the abundant life that God offers to us can begin now.  It is not something that begins only after we have died and gone to be with the Lord.  Abundant life begins the moment that our new life in Christ begins.  We were dead in our trespasses and sins, but now we are made alive in Christ, and the life that we have in Christ today, is an abundant life.

IV.  Exchanging Lives:  John 12:24-25

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

In order to experience the abundant life that God has for us, we need to let go of the life that we have in ourselves.  We are beings that are composed of both flesh and spirit.  For many people, the fleshly part rules our lives.  We, as Christians, need to place God first; and the flesh must take the secondary role in our lives.  Only then can we experience all that God has for us.

V.  A Life of Love: John 15:9-11

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

We are to abide in the love of God.  God loves us first.  We are to love God in return.  We are also to love one another with the same love that God has given us.  By living a life filled with the love of God, it will be easy to keep the commands of God, all of which are grounded in love.  As we live this kind of life we will truly find that our joy is complete.

A life that is filled with the love of God, and the Joy of the Spirit, truly is a life that is abundant.

Be Like Our Father

June 17, 2013

These are the sermon notes from June 16, 2013.

Today is Father’s Day.  I find it to be both comforting and challenging to be able to call God our heavenly father.  It is comforting because I appreciate the understanding that God loves us like a father loves his children.  I appreciate that He provides, protects and guides us throughout our lives.  It is challenging because as a father myself, I am challenged to treat my children in a way that is similar to the way that God treats us.  That seems to be a tall order, but I understand that, as Christians, we should all seek to be like God, at least as much as we can, given our obvious limitations.  It is natural after all, for children to want to be like their father.

I.  Challenged to be Holy:  Leviticus 11:44-45

 For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth. 45 For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

We have been set free from the Mosaic Law.  We are no longer concerned about the dietary laws, but what are we concerned about?  In I Peter, we are again admonished to be holy, but the question then becomes, if we are set free from the Mosaic Law, then what is holiness?

II.  The Need to Judge:  Leviticus 10:8-11

Then the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying: “Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, 10 that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, 11 and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.”

We no longer have priests who are responsible before God to discern holiness for us.  There are religious leaders, of course, but  to which one do you listen?  Ultimately, each individual will stand before God and give their own account.

III.  Deadly Serious:  Leviticus 10:1-3

Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, saying:

‘By those who come near Me
I must be regarded as holy;
And before all the people
I must be glorified.’”

So Aaron held his peace.

Nadab and Abihu were priests, but they took it upon themselves to offer this incense.  They were struck dead on the spot as an example of the serious nature of the holiness of God.  Again, as Christians we are set free from the Mosaic Law, but question remains, “What is holiness?”

IV.  Before God and Man Leviticus 19:15-18

‘You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor. 16 You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord.

17 ‘You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, he replied that the greatest commandment was to love God and to love one’s neighbor.   We are no longer required to keep the Mosaic Law, but we are required to keep the law of love.  We are to love God with our whole heart, and our neighbor as ourselves.  This begins in the attitude of our heart, and is revealed by our words and actions.  Some people would prefer nice list of does and don’t.  In some ways that is easier, and more clear.  Certainly there are things that I would like to place on a universal list, but then we would find ourselves arguing over the list.  For the message today, we simply want to recognize the starting point, and the starting point of holiness, is love.

V.  Pursue Holiness:  Hebrew 12:14

  Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:

As Christians, we recognize that we are saved by grace, through faith, for good works.  (c.f. Ephesians 2:8-10)  We do not pursue holiness out of fear, or an attempt to earn our way into heaven.  We pursue holiness, because God is holy, and we want to be like our heavenly father.

Big Brother?

June 13, 2013

Apparently we are being watched.  Well, not all the time, but our online visits and our phone calls are being monitored.  By this, I do not mean that they are actually listening in to our phone calls, or reading our emails, but rather they are tracking what sites we visit, and where we  place our calls.This has upset a lot of people.  It is considered by many to be an invasion of privacy, an act of spying on the American people.

For whatever reason, this particular action by our government does not bother me.  Certainly our government does other things that bother me, and maybe this action should, but it just doesn’t.  I have always known that our internet servers, and our phone companies have had this information in their records, so I have never considered it to be truly private.  You know, just a secret between me and whoever-it-is at the corporation.  You can’t lose what you never had.

I also understand that it can be beneficial.  That it is one more tool in the war against terror.  It is an act of diligence.

Of course it could be misused.  Instead of seeking out terrorists, it could be turned against any interest group.

Like any other weapon in our arsenal, or tool in our tool bag; it needs to be used wisely, carefully, and with supervision.

 

The Kingdom of God is Near

June 10, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 6/9/13.

I.  The Kingdom of God is Near:  Luke 21:29-33

Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31 So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

A.  Christ had promised to return.

1.  John 14:3

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

2.  Acts 1:9-11

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

B.  We live in expectation

From the very first generation, people have expected Christ to return in their lifetime.  The gospels were almost the last part of the New Testament to be written, because it was only after the apostles began to die off, that it occurred to them that it was necessary to have a written record of the life of Christ.  They had anticipated his soon return.

I remember as a young person hearing a lot of emphasis on the rapture, the belief that Christ would take his people from this world before the seven-year tribulation.  The presentation was very clear that Christ could return at any moment, we should be ready.

I remember reading in church history, that many, if not all generations have had those who read the prophetic words and interpret them in the light of their current circumstances, and believe that they are in the last days before Christ returns.

I consider this to be, not so much an error in interpretation, as a marvel in inspiration.  That God would have inspired the prophets to write in such a way that each generation would read the words and live in expectation is a marvelous feat.

II.  Take Heed :  Luke 21:34-36

But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Take Heed:  We are to be alert, be ready for our Lord’s return.  The day will come “like a thief in the night”  “like the lightning that flashes from east to west”.  We need to continue to do the Lord’s will until He comes for us, or we go to Him.

Watch:  We should live with both anticipation and patience.  Our kids have a dog that provides a nice illustration.  The other day when we picked up our daughter-in-law, their dog immediately went to the window, stuck his head past the curtain, and watched us leave.  When we returned a while later, the dog was still sitting there, head to the window, watching for her return.  That dog is a good illustration of waiting in anticipation and patience.

Pray:  We should pray to be worthy.  We are only made worthy because of the righteousness of Christ.  Yet the presence of Christ in our lives changes us.  We should pray that God continues His work, both in us, and through us.

For our part, we need to be careful to keep God as our top priority.  If we are not careful, the cares and concerns of this world may crowd Christ from the place of priority in our lives.  This  is why  we must take heed, watch and pray; for the kingdom of God is near.  

God Cares About the Lost

June 4, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 6/2/13.

A number of years ago, we had a speaker here at the church who preached a message with the phrase “God has an agenda, and you’re not it!”  It was meant to emphasize that, although God does, of course, care about His people, that His first priority, is calling the lost to repentance.

I.  The Lost Sheep:  Luke 15:1-7

Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He spoke this parable to them, saying:

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.

God cares about the lost, and so should we.  The angels rejoice when a sinner is saved.  Christians need to reach out to the lost.  We should not be so wrapped up in our own problems.  We should have a compassion for the lost.

II.  The Coin:  Luke 15:8-10

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins,  if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’ 10 Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

If we lose our keys, as many of us do, we will search high and low until we find them.  Even more frightening, if we have lost our wallets, with our cards, our cash, our license, etc.  We will frantically search, calling for all in the house to help as we see for the lost because it is important to us.

Lost people are important to God and should be important to us.  How much effort do we put into evangelism?  How earnestly do we pray for their salvation?  God cares about the lost, and so should we.

III.  The Prodigal Son:  Luke 15:11-32

Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. 14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. 15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’

20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

25 “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’

28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’

31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’”

God cares about the lost and is waiting anxiously for them to return.  Do we care about the lost?  Or are we more like the brother who resents the attention that they receive when they return?  Do we resent that they are so quickly forgiven for the sins of their past?

God cares about the lost, and so should we.

IV.  The Narrow Way:  Luke 13:22-27

And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?”

And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ 26 then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ 27 But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’

The vast majority of people in this world believe in some form of God.  We are not saved by having a faith in a generic God.  We must place our faith in Jesus, the Son of God who died for our sins and rose again from the dead.

Many people think that they are good people, and that surely a loving God will let them into heaven.  God does indeed love the world, and sent His Son to die for us, so that we might have forgiveness through Him.  If we are trusting in our own goodness, we are lost.  We must put our faith, and trust, in the One who died for us.  We must trust in Jesus, the Christ.

Some people think that it doesn’t matter how they live.  They think that a belief in Jesus is sufficient.  We are indeed saved by our faith in Jesus, but our faith in Jesus, if it is genuine, will be a transforming faith.   We will “cease to do evil, and learn to do good.”

When we are thinking about the lost, it is not enough to bring them to a generic faith in God,  it is certainly not enough to let them think that they are good enough on their own, and we also should not remain in our sin so that grace may abound.  We seek to lead people to a living faith in Jesus that transforms their lives.

God cares about the lost, and so should we.

My Apologies

June 4, 2013

I was recently on vacation and did not get on my blog site.  I apologize to those readers whose comments were held for longer than usual before being posted.  In addition, some comments had been erroneously sent to spam.