Archive for January, 2015

Spiritual Battle

January 29, 2015

Once upon a time, I served our country in the Marine Corps.  When I made the decision to not reenlist and to return to Bible college instead,  I told people that I was transferring to the 1st civ div.  I was in the Lord’s service and was being transferred.  My time in the military had been TAD (temporary assigned duty) but that it was time to get back to the calling God had on my life.

Ephesians 6:10-20

 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

I.  Be Strong in the Lord

Physical strength was very helpful in the Marine Corps.  In serving God a different type of strength is needed.  Spiritual strength comes from spending time in the Word and time in prayer.  It comes from God.

We are involved in a conflict.  This conflict is not fought with guns, planes, and tanks.  This conflict is fought with faith, prayer and the Word of God.  The conflict is spiritual.  We are not fighting for a country, or oil, or even physical freedom or prosperity.  We are fighting for the eternal destiny of souls.  All people will one day stand before the Lord.  Those who have rejected the salvation offered in Jesus Christ will go to hell for all eternity.  Our goal in this conflict is to bring all that we can into the kingdom of God.

It is a war worth fighting.  It is worth the cost.

II.  The Armor of God

I have known many people who believe that this armor is spiritual.  They get up in the morning and say a prayer, spiritually putting on the armor of God.  I do not have any problem with this practice.  It reminds people of the spiritual nature of our warfare.  However, I also believe that it will do little good to say this prayer if you are not actually practicing the articles of faithful living.

We should be people who speak truth.  Our culture is filled with lies.  The “little white lie” is considered harmless, or even helpful. As Christians, we must resist this influence and speak the truth.

We should have a good knowledge of the gospel so that we may be able to share it with those who are searching for hope in a world that desperately needs a solid foundation.

We should live lives of righteousness.  We are called to be holy.  I understand that we will not obtain perfection, but that is not an excuse to remain in our sins.  We are to be growing in godliness.

Our faith in God extends beyond simple salvation.  We trust God to guide, provide and protect.  When things are bad we remember that “all things work together for good, for those who love God”.  (Romans 8:28)

Our salvation is rooted in our relationship with God through our faith in Jesus Christ.  We must keep God first in our lives.  Do not allow yourself to drift away from your first love.

Jesus himself rebuked the devil with the Word of God.  We should be people of the Word.  We should read it, study it, memorize it, meditate upon it and make it a central part of our lives.  “It is written …” is much better than “I think…” when dealing with spiritual matters.

III.  Prayer

I suspect that many people underestimate the power of prayer.  Prayer has an impact beyond what we see.  It can also be an effective evangelistic tool.  People often like to share about their problems.  We can offer to pray for their needs.  Even unbelievers will gratefully accept prayer when the need is great.  It can reach into their lives and touch their hearts helping to make them more receptive to the gospel.

It has been many years since I served in the Marine Corps, but I have been on the front lines of spiritual battle for decades.  I encourage you to join me in this spiritual battle.

Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might!

These are the sermon notes from 1/4/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

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Past, Present and Future

January 26, 2015

It is the end of 2014, or the beginning of 2015, depending on how you want to look at it.  Are you looking back?  Or looking forward?  As for me, I need to be focused on the present because I am supposed to be preaching.

Philippians 3:12  Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

I.  The Past

As we think back over the past year there are events that stand out in our mind as good memories.  There are other things that are not so good.  We should appreciate the good things that happened in our life.   It is important to be able to recognize, enjoy and celebrate the good.

Those things that were not so good should be treated as learning opportunities.  We should learn from our mistakes.  We should learn how to deal better with adversity.  We should recognize that God will give us the wisdom to know what to do, and the strength to do it.  We can trust God to help us through the tough times.

II.  The Future

We can appreciate the past, and we can look forward to, and plan for, the future, but, we live in the moment.  We should seek to find the proper balance of fond memories, hopeful planning and current action.

We should press on.  This implies effort.  We should not simply coast through life.  We should actively pursue what God has called us to do.  We should continue to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, as He works in our lives.  We should be what we are supposed to be.

Don’t quit.  There are times when we may grow tired or discouraged, but we should not give up hope. God has promised to be with us and to help us through the time that we are here on earth.  There is a reason we are here.  God has a purpose for our lives.  We should fulfill that purpose.

These are the sermon notes from 12/31/14.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Lessons From King David

January 20, 2015

David is known as a man after God’s own heart.  We can look to his life for lessons for our own lives.

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.”

Saul had been anointed by Samuel, by the direction of God, to be the first king of Israel.  Saul had not been faithful to follow God with his whole heart and so God had sent Samuel to anoint the person who would be the next king of Israel.  The eldest son had been presented to Samuel, and he was impressive in appearance, but God was not looking for an impressive appearance.

In secular ethics, there are different approaches to determining right and wrong.  Some focus on the rules.  With all the rules that God sets forth, some might think that God focuses on the rules, but that would be wrong.  Some focus on the results, that too, would be wrong.  With God, it is about our heart.  We are first and foremost to have a heart for God, to love God with our whole heart, and our neighbor as ourselves.

II. Confidence in God:  I Samuel 17:37 & 45

 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!”

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.

This passage is from the famous story of David and Goliath.

What God has done in the past inspires hope for what God will do in the future.  That is one reason why we share testimonies.  The stories of what God has done in the lives of our family and friends inspires hope that God will work in our life as well.  David had experienced God’s help as a young shepherd and it gave him confidence in the present crisis.  His trust was not placed in his own skill, but in the knowledge that God was with him.

It is important to note, that God did use what David had in the way of abilities.  David did not face Goliath with armor, shield and sword; but with the shepherd’s staff and sling.

God can bless what we offer to Him to use.

III.  God is Our Strength:  I Samuel 30:6

Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

At this time, before David was king, his followers had left their families in a town and gone off to battle.  While they were gone, the town had been attacked and all the people captured.  When David and his men returned to the town, they were greatly distressed and grieved.  David’s response was to turn to God for strength.

God is our strength.

If we could only remember this one thing.  When we are overwhelmed, we should turn to the rock of our salvation.  We should turn to God for strength.  He will help those who trust in Him.

David and his men pursued the army that had captured their families and were able to rescue them all.

We should love God with all our heart.  We can have complete confidence in Him.  He is our strength.

These are the sermon notes from 12/28.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

 

Make Room

January 15, 2015

The Christmas story never grows old.  Each time that we read it something different stands out to us.  Today is Christmas Day and the scripture reading is from Luke chapter two.

Luke 2: 1-20

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

I.  Peace, Goodwill to Men

Peace to Earth.

Humanity deserves judgement.  We have sinned.  We have turned away from God.  We have abandoned His laws and denied His existence.   Yet God so loved the world that He sent His son into the world to be our savior.  God offers us forgiveness, instead of judgement.  He offers us a peace that this world does not understand, and that this world cannot take away.

Goodwill toward men.

God offers us an abundant life.  To choose to follow God is to choose the better path.  God loves us and wants what is best for us.  Part of that life is learning how to live and act justly.  This past year in our country there has been much unrest, much turmoil, much conflict in the pursuit of justice.  God offers us a better way.  We are not to detach and let the world go its own way.  We are to engage, to be salt and light in the world.  We are to be the hand of God extended to those who live in darkness.  We should pursue peace and justice in our world.  May God help us to express His goodwill towards humanity.

II.  No Room for Them

This is an eloquent symbol of many people today.  Just as there was no room for Mary and Joseph in the inn, so there seems to be no room in people’s lives today for Christ.  We are busy with so many activities that prayer, scripture, and church are frequently squeezed out of people’s lives.

Our government, in the name of separation of church and state is busily pursuing the removal of religious symbols.  It is all that much more important that Christians do all that they can do to keep Christ in the forefront of their lives. The light should shine in the darkness.

We should make room in our lives for Christ, so that we can be a living source of peace, goodwill towards all people.

These are the sermon notes from 12/25/14.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Christmas Lights

January 13, 2015

Every year we take at least one evening to drive around looking at the Christmas lights that are displayed on homes and businesses.  There is a lot of work and a lot of expense that goes into these beautiful decorations and we do enjoy them.  The colorful lights also serve as a wonderful symbol of the the work of God in the world.

I.  The Word Became Flesh:  John 1:1-5,14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

I have many favorite verses in the scriptures.  This passage is one of them.

When we celebrate Christmas it is more than just a story.  It is a proclamation of our belief that God came into the world and became a human being.  Jesus was not just a prophet, a good man, or a teacher. He was God incarnate.

Through Jesus, God revealed Himself to the world.  “The Light shines in the darkness.”  Unfortunately, most of the world did not comprehend it.

II.  Drawn to the Light:  John 3:16-21

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. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

There are two responses to the light of Christ.  Some reject the light and move deeper into darkness.  Some are drawn to the light.  This is an individual response to the grace of God offered in Jesus Christ.  John 3:16 is the most well known scripture in the world.  It is the gospel in a single sentence.  Yet not all believe in the Son of God.

III.  You Are the Light of the World:  Matthew 5:14-16

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

As Christians, we believe that God has given us of His Spirit.  It is the Spirit of God that dwells in our hearts that makes us the light of the world.  “People are drawn to Christians, and then to Christ.”  This is something I was once told by a young minister and I was quite offended by the statement at the time.  I thought that it meant that, as Christians, we should seek to be popular.  Now, many years later, I understand that what was meant by the statement is that people are drawn to the Christ that they see in us.  Our lives should be different.  The Spirit of God should make a difference in our lives that people are able to see.  Our words, deeds and attitudes should be different because of Jesus Christ.

Christmas lights shine in the darkness, lighting up the winter nights.  The light of Christ should shine through the lives of His followers, offering hope to those who dwell in darkness.

These are the sermon notes from 12/21/14.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Spirit and Flesh

January 8, 2015

Jihad is a word used by the Muslims to describe a holy struggle.  The lesser jihad is a reference to actual military combat.  The greater jihad is the struggle against evil in oneself.  Christians also have an inner struggle.  It is the struggle between flesh and Spirit.

I.  The Inner Battle:  Galatians 5:16-17

 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.

This is a battle that takes place within ourselves.  The battle between flesh and Spirit.  Our flesh is inclined towards evil.  God’s Spirit calls us to do what is right.  It is not simply a matter of “following your heart’, because your heart may be controlled by your flesh and might lead you astray.  It is important to be able to learn to distinguish what is the leading of the Spirit, and what is the inclination of the flesh.

II.  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.

Once we are able to identify the inclination of the flesh, we are to crucify it.  Of course, this is not meant to be taken literally.  It means that we are not to give in to the inclination of the flesh, but rather, to be given over to the Spirit, so that the Spirit leads us.

III.  Christ Lives in Me:  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.

To the degree that we are being led by the Spirit, to that degree, Christ is living, or acting through us.  There have been times in my life when the struggle has been intense and I have reminded myself of this verse.  I have died, but Christ lives in me.  It has given me strength many times to continue in the calling that God has for me.  A part of the good news is that those times of struggle are only momentary, the joy of the Lord is eternal.

IV.  One in Christ:  Galatians 3:27-28

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

The body of Christ, which is the church, appears divided, but in truth it is one.  We are not divided by race, sex or denomination.  When these divisions do appear, it is the work of the flesh.  In the Spirit we are one.  We should try to live and act in that truth.

V.  Process:  Galatians 4:19

My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you,

We are saved by our faith in Jesus Christ.  At salvation the Spirit of God enters our hearts and we are born again.  After we have been saved, we begin the lifelong process of being formed into the image of Christ.

VI.  Service:  Galatians 5:13

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.

We are not to live merely for ourselves.  We are to serve one another.  Each one of us has different skills and we should use them, not just for our own advancement or needs, but to help out our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We are not only human, as Christians we have received the Spirit of Christ by which we are transformed.  This transformation is a lifelong process which requires our cooperation.  We must learn to crucify the flesh, and to live and walk, in the Spirit.

These are the sermon notes from 12/14/14.  Any advertisement that might appear has been placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Joyful Giving

January 6, 2015

Deciding what to give your friends and family for Christmas can be a difficult decision.  Knowing that the greatest Christmas gift is the one that God gave us in Christ is relatively simple.  Recognizing that we should give something back to God should be natural, just like we exchange gifts on earth with our friends and family.  God gives to us.  We give back to God.  Of course, we cannot literally give to God, but we are able to give to God by giving to the local church, missionaries, and various humanitarian organizations.

I.  Sow Bountifully:  II Corinthians 9:6-7

 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

A.  Be generous.  This does not mean that we give the rent money to the church, but we should establish our budgets in such a way that we are living well within our means so that we are able to give, and we should give generously.

B.  II Corinthians 8:12-13

 For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.

13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened;

I believe that Christians should tithe on their income to their local church.  A tithe is ten percent.  I believe that when we are faithful to give God the tithe, He will enable us to live on the rest.  What we give beyond the tithe is our offerings.  Our offerings are given according to our ability.

C.  We should pray about what we give in offerings.  God will direct us if we have an open mind and heart.

D.  Be happy that you are able to give.  Do not worry if the amount is small.  If each person does what they are able to do the need will be met.  If we give only a small amount, we are still participating in the effort.  We should do what we can, not what we cannot.

II.  God is Able to Supply:  II Corinthians 9:8-9

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written:

“He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever.”

The grace of God abounds towards us.  My wife and I plan our offerings into our budget.  We have a set amount of money that we set aside each month so that we have money available to give in both tithes and offerings.  We give the full tithe each month and the offerings we give as the Lord leads.  When Gloria left her secular job we did not reduce the amount we give as offerings and God has enabled us to continue to live within our budget.

III.  The Greatest Gift:  II Corinthians 9:10-15

Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, 13 while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, 14 and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

    A.  God supplies in ways that we do not always understand.

    B.  There is much giving of thanks.  Both those who give and those who receive, give thanks to God.

    C.  To God be the glory!

    D.  It is natural to give God both thanks and praise.  It is also natural to offer prayers for the people who have generously met the need.  Prayers are powerful and we should never underestimate their value.

    E.  All of this talk of giving reminds us of the greatest gift which is, of course, the salvation offered to us through Jesus Christ.

Even as God has given to us so richly and generously, in so many ways, so we should look for ways to generously and joyfully. give back to God.

These are the sermon notes from 12/7/14.  Any advertisements that may appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.