Archive for September, 2013

Don’t be a Christian Zombie!

September 23, 2013

Here are the notes from the sermon Sunday 9/22.

I.  From Death to Life: Ephesians 2:1-10

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

We were dead in our sins.  This is in the past tense.  We have been made alive in Christ.  God, by His grace, has reached out to us by the Holy Spirit.  For those who respond with faith to the grace of God, we become a new creation, born again by the Spirit of God.  This new life that we have in Christ should be marked by a new lifestyle.  Good works are a result of being saved, not the means of salvation.

It seems to me that some Christians want to accept the new life, but want to continue to cling to the sinful practices of the dead.  These are what I am calling Christian Zombies.  They are alive, sort of, but in appearance, by their acts, they are still dead in their sins.

Don’t be a Christian Zombie!

II.  From Darkness to Light:  Ephesians 5:8-11

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

Walk as children of light.  It is a nice metaphor, but what does it mean?  We are told that the fruit of the Spirit is all goodness, righteousness and truth.  We can start there.  We go further when the Spirit guides us, and enables us to find out, to learn, what is acceptable to the Lord.  The point is that as we mature in Christ, our lives should be changing.  We should be involved in a process of becoming more like Christ, more like the people who God wants us to be.

A Zombie Christian stays in the dark.  Let us, as the people of God learn to walk in the light.

Don’t be a Zombie Christian!

III.  From Foolishness to Wisdom:  Ephesians 5:15-21

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God

Walk circumspectly?  What is that??  It means carefully, or prudently, or wisely.  Don’t be foolish, but be wise.

Do not be drunk with wine.  The world uses wine both to celebrate, and to mourn.  As Christians we do not need alcohol to help us celebrate.  We have the Spirit of God which brings joy that this world cannot even understand.  Nor do we need alcohol to comfort us in a time of mourning.  Another name for the Holy Spirit is the comforter.  The Holy Spirit is able to bring us comfort, peace and strength in times of loss, or sadness.

We are to encourage one another, thinking of others and not just ourselves.  A love for one another is supposed to be the means by which the world recognizes us as the disciples of Christ.

We are to give thanks, recognizing the goodness of God in our lives. Knowing that God will give us the grace to deal with the problems that come our way.

A Christian Zombie would foolishly continue in the ways of the world, selfishly thinking only of themselves.  Complaining, and focusing on the bad, instead of giving thanks for all the good that God has given us.

Don’t be a Christian Zombie!

Confidence in the Lord

September 16, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 9/15/13.

Introduction:  If people who do not attend church regularly were asked if they knew any stories from the Bible, I suspect that one of the stories that would be mentioned by many is the story of David and Goliath.

The message today is based on that story.  I would encourage you to read the story in full.  We are introduced to David in I Samuel chapter 16, David and Goliath is found in chapter 17. In my message, I have included only portions of the story.

I.  God Looks at the Heart:  I Samuel 16:7

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.”

This is the prelude to our first introduction to David.  These comments are being made about his older brother, who was impressive in appearance.

We are concerned with appearance.  Our first impression of someone is important and that first impression is what we observe externally.  Sometimes we place too much emphasis on our those characteristics.

God sees past the external appearance and sees our heart.  There is no fooling God. David was known to be “a man after God’s own heart”.

We should seek to have a heart for God.  By this I mean that we should develop our love for God.  We should truly love to be in His presence.  We should truly love to spend time in the Word.  We should truly desire to do His will.

II.    Confidence in God:  I Samuel 17:37

 Moreover David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”

David, although just a young teenager, had already experienced God’s help in his life.  As a shepherd he had killed both a lion, and a bear.  He believed that God had helped him to slay those animals, and that Goliath would be no different.  His experience of God’s faithfulness in the past, made him confident of God’s help in the future.  As long as the Lord was with him, he was not afraid.

III.  In the Name of the Lord:  I Samuel 17:40-51

Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine. 41 So the Philistine came, and began drawing near to David, and the man who bore the shield went before him. 42 And when the Philistine looked about and saw David, he disdained him; for he was only a youth, ruddy and good-looking. 43 So the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 And the Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!”

45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47 Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”

48 So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. 49 Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. 50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David. 51 Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it.

And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

David was not trusting in his skill with a sling.  He was trusting in the power of God.  Still, he used what abilities he had, and trusted that God would bless them.

We are not likely to be called upon to face a giant warrior.  We do however face problems in our lives that are giant-like.

We should develop our relationship with God.  That relationship is based on faith in Jesus.  It is a matter of the heart.  If we are living in a right relationship with God, we may rest assured that  God takes care of His people.

Whatever we are facing, God can give us the wisdom, strength and courage to do what He has called us to do.

We can have confidence in the Lord.

Walk (or Run) in the SpiritI.

September 10, 2013

Here are the notes from the sermon Sunday, September 8, 2013.

Introduction:  We were in Minnesota Friday and Saturday visiting Gloria’s mother.  I told Gloria that I would need to get a run in on one of those days.  I was having a tough time getting back into shape after taking two weeks off from exercise recently.  The only time that it would work in our schedule was first thing Saturday morning.  I got up at 7:00 and immediately hit the road.

When I was younger, I used to routinely run in the mornings.   For many years now I have done my running either at mid-morning or afternoon.  My body did not like starting a run first thing in the day.  It was very difficult.  I wanted to quit within the first one hundred yards.  I did not quit. however, but continued to put one foot in front of the other.  I struggled on through the first mile, and into the second.  As I kept going, eventually my stride came together and I was able to finish the six miles that I normally run.  I was feeling pretty good by the end.

I   A Good Start:  Galatians 1:10

 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

On Saturday, the first thing that I needed to do was to get out of bed with enough time to make the run.  Then I needed to get dressed and get out the door.  That doesn’t sound like much, but you cannot skip the first step.  In serving God the first step is even more important.  Are we seeking to please God?  Or are we trying to win the approval of others?  Or are we only seeking to please ourselves?  Our service to Christ should not be only with the lip-service of saying that we are Christian.  We should be wholly committed in our service to God.  We should be asking if the choices that we make, the things that we say and do, even our attitudes; are they pleasing to God?  If the answer is yes, then we are off to a good start.

II.  Crucified With Christ:  Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

As I was beginning my run, it was very difficult.  I had to really push myself to keep going.

At times in our Christian walk there will be times that are very difficult.  It is appropriate to pray and ask for God’s help.  It is appropriate to pray and ask for confirmation if we are doing what we are supposed to be doing.  Sometimes, serving the Lord will require that “we endure hardship”.

During difficult times, I remind myself that “I have been crucified with Christ” and that I now “live by faith” and not by sight.  It is important that we do not lose heart just because life is difficult.  Stay strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might!!  God will give us the grace that we need to fulfill His calling in our life.  We must cling to Him, keep going, and not give up.

III.  Walk in the Spirit, and not in the Flesh

A.  Led By the Spirit: Galatians 5:13-18

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!

16 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.

To really hit our stride, we must learn to love, and serve one another.  We should have compassion for all people, even those who have wronged us.

To be the people who God wants us to be, we must be led by the Spirit, rather than by the flesh.  The flesh is our old nature that would seek to please itself, rather than God.  The Spirit of God has entered into our hearts through our faith in Jesus.   The voice of the Spirit can guide us, but we must learn to listen and to be obedient to the direction that God gives us by His Spirit.

B.  The Works of the Flesh:  Galatians 5:19-21

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Paul identifies for us actions that can be labeled as the works of the flesh.  This list includes all forms of sexual immorality.  If he were writing today, I have no doubt that pornography would be included in this list.  Christians have no business viewing pornography.  Another item that would make this list if it were written today would be any form of recreational drug use.  It would fall under “drunkenness, revelries, and the like”.

We should use this list, not to examine the lives of others, but to examine our own lives.  Some will struggle more with envy, some with outbursts of wrath.  The point is that we can learn to identify the areas in our life where improvement is needed, just like some of us used to get on our report cards.  By God’s grace, we can change. We can weed out the deeds of the flesh, and allow the fruit of the Spirit to grow in our lives.

C.  The Fruit of the Spirit:  Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

This list is given so that we can confirm that we are on the right track.  When I finally hit my stride in my run, my breathing was good, my legs were moving rhythmically, I was not hurting anywhere; it was good.  If we are able to look at our lives, and after an honest evaluation, we can see that the works of the flesh are growing less evident in our lives, while the fruit of the Spirit, is present and increasing, then we can continue to cruise on down the road.

D.  Crucify the Flesh:  Galatians 5:24-25

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

As we continue down the road of life, if we notice the works of the flesh trying to creep back into our lives, we are to crucify the flesh.  Now, obviously, we do not literally crucify anything.  We are however, not to simply give in to fleshly desires and claim that we cannot help ourselves.  We do not overcome the deeds of the flesh in our own strength, but by the power of the Spirit that is within us.  We can do all things through Christ.  We can overcome!

This is a process that will continue throughout our time here on earth.  We will not reach perfection in this life, but we will be growing in godliness if we are being led by the Spirit.  If we are being led by the Spirit, we will be pleasing to God.  We do this, not to earn our salvation, but to live out the new life that God has given us in Christ.

 

 

We Stand Firm

September 5, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 9/1/13.

I.  We Have Received This Ministry II Corinthians 4:1

Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.

When I was in my late teens I was a part of a Christian musical group called The Christian Life Singers.  As a group we memorized II Corinthians chapter four.  These verses have been very meaningful to me for a long time.  We recognize that each of us have some form of ministry, and each of us occasionally get discouraged, so it is good for us to claim these verses for ourselves.  Let us not loose heart, but rather may we stand firm in our faith and continue in the ministry to which God has called us.

II.  We Preach Christ:  verses 5-6

For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

We preach Christ.  That is our central message.  At least it should be.   We have been changed by the light of Christ which has shown into our hearts.  It is that light that we share with others.

III.  It is God: verse 7

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

We are imperfect people.  We have flaws.  We have cracks. Yet, God is able to work through us.  It is not our own strengths or skills, but it is God at work through us that accomplishes His purposes in our lives.

IV.  Death and Life:  verses 8-10

We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

We experience difficulties in this life.  There are problems, but we are not overcome.  We have died to this life and are alive in Christ.  We walk by faith, not by sight.  If we are experiencing problems, we know that ultimately we are victorious in Christ.

V.  Renewed Daily: verse 16

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.

As I get older I am able to associate more and more with the idea that the outward man is perishing.  That makes it ever more important that I can also associate with the concept of daily renewal in Christ.  As Christians we recognize that our true life is not in the flesh, but in the spirit.  Our spirits are daily renewed in Christ.

VI.  No Comparison:  verses 17-18

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

The problems we face are nothing compared to the reward that we will one day receive.  When we are in the midst of the tests and trials of this life, it is good to remember that our hope does not lie in this life, but in the life to come.  Our problems are temporary.  Our reward is eternal.  That is a comforting thought.

VII.  Cleanse Ourselves:  II Corinthians 7:1

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Since we have received the promise of the blessing of God’s forgiveness, we do not remain in our sins, but seek to be cleansed from all things that are displeasing to God.  This is not an attempt to earn our salvation, but rather an attempt to live out our salvation.  We represent Christ, and so should be concerned about how we live.  Do our lives show the mark of Christ, or the stains of the world?  Are we doing what is right, or are we remaining in our sins?

VIII.  Repentance is Change:  II Corinthians 7:10

For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Sometimes people are sorry, but do not change.  On our own we would be stuck in our sins, but by the grace of God we are able to change.  True repentance brings both change, and a sense of cleansing and forgiveness.

Conclusion:  God has given to each of us an opportunity for a new life.  This new life should be lived in service to Him.  We will still experience difficulties, but we can remain firm in Christ, serving Him faithfully until the day that we receive our eternal reward.