Archive for September, 2014

A New Life

September 29, 2014

I enjoy riding motorcycles.  The motorcycle that I now ride is over thirty years old.  If I had a new motorcycle I would only be able to ride one at a time.  If I were going on a trip, I could either ride the old bike or the new bike.  You cannot ride two motorcycles at the same time.

I.  Born Again:  John 3:3-8

 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

The concept of being born again comes from this passage of scripture.  Nicodemus was obviously puzzled since it is obvious that a rebirth in the flesh is absurd.  The new birth is not a physical event, but a spiritual event.  We are born in the flesh, we must be born again in the spirit.  This happens when a person responds with repentance and faith to the message of Jesus Christ.  The message of the incarnate Christ who died for our sins and rose again from the dead.

People who have been born again should be guided by the Spirit.  It is a new life in Christ.  The guidance of the Spirit will make a difference in our lives that can be seen, but may not be understood.

II.  God Loved:  John 3:14-19

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 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.

18 “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.

God loves the world.  By this is meant that God loves the people of this world.  All of us.  God loves,  and so He gave.  He gave Jesus to be the sacrifice for our sins.  We are called to believe.  In believing we enter into a new relationship with God.  We respond to the gospel message with repentance and faith and He sends His Holy Spirit into our hearts.  It is when the Spirit enters our hearts that we are born again.  Born of the Spirit. It is a new life in Christ.

Some do not believe.  Some will reject the message of the love of God in Jesus.  They will be condemned, not just because they have sinned, but because they have rejected the only remedy for their sin.  If there was another way, then Jesus would not have had to give His life.  If Jesus did not have to give His life, then why would He?  Jesus is the only way of salvation, but some reject that offer of the love of God.  They will not give up their old life of sin for a new life in Christ.

III.  Serve Christ:  John 12:23-26

But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 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. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.

Jesus gave His life so that we might have new life.  We cannot have a new life in Christ without first letting go of the old life.  We must let go of our old life so that we can take hold of our new life in Christ.  God has a plan for us.  It is a good plan.  We can trust Him.  We should give our lives to Him and let Him make of us what He wants us to be.

We can either live our old life, or the new life that we have in Christ.  We cannot do both.

These are the sermon notes from 9/21/14.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

 

Call to Holiness

September 25, 2014

While reading in Leviticus in my devotions I was struck once again with the call to holiness.  God is holy.  We are called to be holy, but, what is holiness?

I.  A Holy God:  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.

What had Nadab and Abihu done wrong?  One of the jobs of the priests was to burn incense before the Lord, so why was this a problem?  Simply because God had not commanded it.  Apparently the priests were to do as God commanded, and no more.  The penalty for their sin was instant death.  God emphasized the need for obedience to His commands.  This message is not taught much today.  It is too harsh.  It is too judgmental.  We prefer the message of love, mercy and compassion.  I am concerned that our emphasis on these qualities of God have caused us to neglect the aspects of holiness, judgement and even wrath.  All of which are also qualities of God.

II.  Distinguish and Teach:  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.”

I remember one time, while I was a part of a denomination that approved of drinking in moderation, while I was serving in the Marine Corps, I returned to the barracks after an evening spent at a bar.  I had kept my drinks to less than one an hour and did not consider myself drunk.  There was another marine that started to talk to me about my faith.  It bothered me to think that I might not be able to adequately represent Christ at that time because of the influence of alcohol.  I did not feel good about myself or my witness, in that situation.  I have since come to the conclusion that I would rather have my senses sharp and my mind clear.  It has been many years since my last drink of alcohol.

Aaron and his sons were to distinguish between the holy and unholy, between the clean and the unclean.  Then they were to teach the people.  As Christians, we are called to be able to distinguish between right and wrong, good and evil, and then to teach others.  This was, and is, a serious charge.

III.  Holiness:

Leviticus 11:45  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.

Leviticus 19:1-2  And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.

Leviticus 20:7-8  Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the Lord who sanctifies you.

You might say at this point that these verses are all very good but that they are all a part of the Mosaic law from which we have been set free.  So here are some verses from the New Testament.

I Peter 1:15-16   but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Hebrews 12:14   Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:

I certainly hope to see the Lord one day and so will continue the pursuit of holiness.  Now I know that we are forgiven, and that we are saved because of the righteousness of Christ, but I think that we should seriously consider the call to holiness and what it means for our lives.

IV.  Love

Sometimes people have made the call to holiness into a list of dos and don’t.  People who get too caught up in this line of thinking may become self-righteous and judgmental.  I would suggest that the starting point for holiness is a call to love.

Matthew 22:36-40

 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

We are first and foremost to love God and to love people.  Let that be the primary focus of our call to holiness.

I would also add that we should develop a love for the Word of God.  Psalms 119:11

Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.

We are called to be a holy people.  If we pursue a love for God, a love for people, and a love for the Word of God, we will be on the right track.

These are the sermon notes from 9/14/14.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

 

 

Stand Firm in Your Faith

September 15, 2014

Sometimes the world around us can be pretty tempting.  If we are not careful we can easily fall into the way of the world, thinking that what we see with the eyes of the flesh is more important than the world of the spirit.

I.  Within You:  Luke 17:20-21

Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

Many of the Jews at the time of Jesus were looking for a messiah who would restore the autonomy of the kingdom of Israel.  They were tired of being under the rule of the Romans and longed for independence.  In these verses above we are told that the kingdom of God is within us.  It is not a kingdom of this world. Jesus acknowledged to Pilate that He was a king, but that His kingdom was not of this world.  We are told by Paul that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal.  That we wrestle not with flesh and blood.  It is a spiritual battle, a battle not based in the material world of the flesh, but in the non-material world of the spirit.

II.  Serve God or Money:  Luke 16:13

 “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

Mammon is not a word that is commonly used today.  It basically means money.  You cannot serve God and money.  It is not that money is important, it is that it is not more important than God.  God must be first.  We live in this material world, but the non-material world of the spirit is, and must be, more important to us.  We cannot serve God and the world.  Only one thing can be our top priority, and that must be God.

III.  Giving Offense:  Luke 17:1-4

Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”

Take heed to yourselves.  Be careful that the things that we say and the life that we lead does not become a stumbling block to others in their faith.  If someone sins against us, we can rebuke them.  If they repent, we must forgive them.

IV.  Sifted:  Luke 22:31-32

 And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

Like Simon, our faith may be sifted, or tried, by events in this life.  If we do fail, it does not have to be permanent.  We can repent and be restored.  We should encourage others who go through trials, and occasionally fail, that momentary failure does not have to be permanent separation.  Of course, the goal is to pass the test, standing firm in our faith.

As we seek to be faithful servants of the kingdom of God, we should steadfastly give God priority in our lives.  We should seek to live lives that will encourage others in their faith and not be a hindrance to them.  We should forgive those who have wronged us even as we trust that God will forgive us.

These are the sermon notes from 9/7/14.  Any advertisement that might appear is placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Building A Storm-Proof Life

September 11, 2014

Have you ever encountered a disaster?  Something that you were trying to accomplish that completely fell apart?  God gives us some basic directions about how we can keep our lives from falling apart.

I.  Bear Good Fruit:  Luke 6:43-45

 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

A.  Bear Good Fruit

What is good fruit?  How can we know if our lives are bearing good fruit?  Galatians 5:22-23 tells us about the fruit of the Spirit.

 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 is contrasted with the deeds of the flesh found in 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.

So a rather simple examination of our lives can tell us if the fruit of the Spirit is evident and growing or if we are mired in the deeds of the flesh.  We should seek to weed out the          deeds of the flesh and cultivate the fruit of the Spirit.

B.  From the Heart

The development of the fruit of the Spirit is not something that we seek to force upon the outside.   We should develop a love for God and for people.  This should originate in our relationship with God that originates in our hearts.  This growing relationship with God will do a transformational work within us.  It is change from the inside out, not from the outside in.

II.  A Solid Foundation:  Luke 6:46-49

“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? 47 Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. 49 But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”

Obeying the commandments of God are the key to building a stable, successful life.  Christians will still encounter the storms of life, but their “house” will stand solid if it is built on the rock of Jesus Christ.

If we have heard, but do not obey, the teaching of Christ, then when the storms come, our lives will fall apart.

III.  Take Up Your Cross:  Luke 9:23-26

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.

We are called to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Him.  If we seek our own goals and pleasures we will ultimately lose.  We should seek to fulfill God’s plan for our life.  In following God’s plan we will ultimately save our life.  Daily we should say “not my will, but thine be done”.  

IV.  Life:  Luke 9:56

For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.

We can trust God with our lives.  He is good to His people.

John 10:10 says:

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.

May our lives be given over to God, so that He may do a work in our hearts, transforming us into the people of God.  May our lives bear the fruit of righteousness as we live in obedience to His Word and His Spirit.  That is how we can truly live an abundant life in Him, a life that will be storm-proof.

These are the sermon notes from 8/31/14.  Any advertisements that may appear have been placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

A Little Help Please

September 4, 2014

Many of us celebrate our independence.  We like to be able to handle our problems by ourselves.   There are times however, when we need a little help from our friends.

I.  Sometimes We Know:  Exodus 17:8-13

Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.” 10 So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

In this battle there were many roles to be filled.  Moses had to hold up his staff.  Aaron and Hur supported the hands of Moses.  Joshua was the battle leader.  Some men were selected to go into combat.  Each one was important.  Moses realized very quickly that he could not hold up the rod of God by himself.  It became evident that as his hand lowered Amalek prevailed. So he sat on the rock and Aaron and Hur supported his hands.  The problem was solved with a little help, and the battle was won.

Sometimes we know that we need help.

II.  Sometimes Others Know:  Exodus 18:13-24

And so it was, on the next day, that Moses sat to judge the people; and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening. 14 So when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit, and all the people stand before you from morning until evening?”

15 And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. 16 When they have a difficulty, they come to me, and I judge between one and another; and I make known the statutes of God and His laws.”

17 So Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you do is not good. 18 Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself. 19 Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God. 20 And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. 21 Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 22 And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you. 23 If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all this people will also go to their place in peace.”

24 So Moses heeded the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said.

Sometimes we try to do more than we should do on our own.  We may not even be aware that what we are doing is not good for us, or for those whom we are serving.  There are times that we need help, but we do not recognize it.  May God give us wisdom to know when we need help, or may God bring along someone to speak truth into our lives.  May we be willing to listen to the godly council of others so that we may not bear the burden alone.

III.  All Together Now:  I Corinthians 12:12-18

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.

15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.

Together we can accomplish the work of God.  We each have a task to perform and each one is important.  We are not in competition with each other, we are working together to build the kingdom of God.

May we each do our part, and may we accept a little help from our brothers and sisters in Christ.

These are the sermon notes from 8/24/14.  Any advertisements that may appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.