Archive for September, 2015

Things We Should Know

September 28, 2015

There are some things that we know, or should know, as Christians that we really ought to share with anyone who will listen.

I.  Lack of Knowledge:  Hosea 4:1 & 6

Hear the word of the Lord,
You children of Israel,
For the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land:

“There is no truth or mercy
Or knowledge of God in the land.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Because you have rejected knowledge,
I also will reject you from being priest for Me;
Because you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.

There are some simple, powerful truths in the Bible that Christians should know and share.  Without that knowledge people perish.  Their lives are sorely diminished.

II.   God Loves You:  John 3:16

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.

The first thing that we need to know and share is that God loves us.  All of us.  Everyone.  He has offered us forgiveness of sins and a new eternal life through the sacrifice of His son Jesus Christ.  We are simply called to believe this good news.

III.  Pursue Knowledge:  Hosea 6:3

Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth.

As we pursue the knowledge of God there is a wonderful truth that we can grasp and hold on to.  God has a plan for us...and it is a good one.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

The person who has given their life over to God has a future and a hope.  Whatever circumstances come our way God can give us wisdom and strength.  Wisdom to know what to do.  Strength to do it.  God will help us with the challenges of this life.  Even if this life is rough, we have a hope of an eternity with Him in heaven.

IV.  Mercy

In Hosea 4:1, already quoted above, the absence of mercy contributes to the problem.  Mercy is when we are not given the punishment that we deserve.  As Christians we are called upon to forgive those who have wronged us.  We even pray “forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.”  Forgiveness is a very important part of who we are as believers.   We are both forgiven and forgiving.

V.  Things Will Work Out:  Romans 8:28

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

We are not God.  We are not capable of seeing things from His perspective.  Even when we cannot understand, we can trust.  All things will work out for good for those who believe.  We may not be able to see how they work out in this life, but once we have an eternal perspective we may understand.  For those who do not believe, their ultimate end, unfortunately, is destruction and torment.  It does not work out so well for them.

These basic truths are very important to Christians.  We should be aware of them ourselves, and we should share them with others.  These truths offer us, and all who would believe, a hope that is unshakable.

Hope can really make a difference.

God makes a difference.

These are the sermon notes from 9/13/15.  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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Their Inheritance

September 21, 2015

What is our most precious possession?  What do we own that is of greatest value?  Are they the same thing?

I.  I Am Their Inheritance: Ezekiel 44:28

 “It shall be, in regard to their inheritance, that I am their inheritance. You shall give them no possession in Israel, for I am their possession.

This passage is speaking of the priests.  Their possession was not land, but God Himself.  Of course, no one can actually possess God.  It is a means of understanding the priority, or nature, of the relationship between each priest and God. That relationship is of more value than any material thing.

II.  We Are a Royal Priesthood:  I Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

As a part of the new covenant that we have with God in Christ, the Levitical priesthood is replaced.  All Christians are a part of the new priesthood.  We are all able to enter into the presence of God through our faith in Jesus Christ.  As a new priesthood, we can lay claim to the promise made to the old priesthood.  We can now consider God to be our ‘possession’.

III.  The Pearl of Great Price:  Mathew 13: 45-46

 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

What could be of more value than God?  Yet how much effort do we put into developing our relationship with God?  How much time do we spend in the Word?  How much time do we spend in prayer?  How much priority do we place on being present in worship in the house of God?

IV.  A Living Sacrifice:  Romans  12:1-2

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

If we have recognized the value of our relationship with God, it is reasonable to offer ourselves to God as a living sacrifice.  We should be willing to submit to whatever God’s will is for our lives.  The challenge is to be able to discern what that will of God is for us.  There is that which is acceptable, that which is good, and that which is perfect.  May we be able to discern and follow the perfect will of God.

These are the sermon notes from 9/6/15.  Any advertisements are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Stand in the Gap

September 14, 2015

Prayer can make a difference in the events in our country.  Sin is prevalent throughout our land.  Will God send judgement?

I.  The Sins of the People:  Ezekiel 22:29

The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger.

Oppression comes in many forms.  It may begin as a stronger child picking on those who are weaker.  It continues in the workforce as domineering individuals distribute chores unfairly.  It continues in the business and political world as the powerful create policies that favor certain parties over others.  It may be based on racial, religious, or economic factors.  It is always wrong.

Robbery is taking something that is not rightfully yours.  Yet it is also a form of robbery to cheat on our taxes, to take things from our place of employment, or to spend time at work, cruising the internet for personal reasons.

The mistreatment of the poor and needy goes beyond ensuring that they are not starving.  If they visit our churches, are they treated with the same dignity and respect as people of more influential means?  Are we showing favoritism?  God loves all people without distinguishing between class, education or ability to contribute.

How do we treat those who are new to our country?  Here in the United States we have an issue with illegal immigrants, but does that cause us to treat all immigrants with suspicion?  For that matter, is our handling of illegals just and fair?  What is the right thing to do?

II.  Stand in the Gap:  Ezekiel 22:30

So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.

It is our responsibility as Christians, not only to do the right thing ourselves, but to pray on behalf of our country for the forgiveness of the sin that is in our land.  Prayer is powerful.  Many people praying is even  more powerful.  The prayers of the people of God can hold off judgement that could rightly fall upon our land At what point does God send judgement?  I do not know.  I do know that prayer can make a difference.

III.  Judgement:  Ezekiel 22:31

 Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord God.

Israel was God’s own chosen people.  They had fallen into sin, ignored the prophets’ warnings, and judgement came on the land.  Some have suggested that America is like a new Israel.  I do not think that is the case.  Even if it was, we should examine our situation.  Sin has increased in our land over the last fifty years.  Is judgement coming for our sins?

I close with II Chronicles 7:14

 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

These are the sermon notes from 8/30/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

The Search for Truth and Love

September 8, 2015

As a philosophy instructor I have a particular appreciation for the search for truth.  This appreciation comes from the realization that truth is not as easily grasped as one might think.  The discovery of truth provides a bedrock foundation upon which we can build our understanding of life.

I.  Truth:  II John 1-3

The Elder,

To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth, because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever:

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

As I read these verses I am reminded that Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)  If we have placed our faith in Jesus then we are at the correct starting point.  Starting with a belief in Jesus, the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth.  (John 16:13)  In Jesus, “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32)  I believe that throughout our life we can grow in our knowledge of the truth.  You could say that our life is a journey in search of the truth, which fits really well with a philosophers ‘love of wisdom’.  

II.  Love:  II John v5

And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another.

As I read this verse I am reminded that the great commandments, according to Jesus, are to love God, and to love one another.  (Matthew 22:36-40)

I am also reminded of the line from the famous song by the Beatles “All you need is love…”

Love is a powerful force and a powerful motivator.  It is probably true that more people search for love than truth.

In Christ we find both.

III.  Obedience:  II John v6

This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.

Unfortunately, we may lose a few people here.  People want to do their own thing.  They want to be independent.  However “doing it my way”  is not a good thing in the Christian walk.  We are to do things His way.  We are called to be obedient.  We do have the freedom to say no to Christ, but if we have given our lives to Christ, then He is both Savior and Lord.  If He is not our Lord, then neither is He our savior.  I John 5:3 says “ For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”  We are able to keep His commandments, not in our own strength, but because of the Spirit of God that dwells in us. 

IV.  Deceit:  II John v7

For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

We must be careful in our search for truth.  There are those who would seek to deceive us and lead us away from the truth.

As we continue our journey through this life.  We can continue to grow in our knowledge of the truth.  We can grow in our love for God and for one another.  We can grow in our ability to be obedient to Christ, as we guard against the deceit that is in the world.

These are the sermon notes from 8/9/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.   

 

Good Grief!

September 3, 2015

Why do bad things happen?  If God is in control, why does He allow tragedies?  Bad things happen for a variety of reasons.  Some things happen because of simple natural law.  We age, we get sick, we eventually die.  It is the common fate of all humanity.  No one is exempt.  Some bad things happen as a result of human choices.  If we drink and drive, we may just kill someone.  Some bad things happen as a result of demonic activity.  Satan lives to destroy.  Sometimes God allows it.  God is also able to intervene.  Actually, God is sovereign and is able to stop, or deflect all evil.  The question is “Why does He allow bad things to happen?”  Although the question could be “How many times has He intervened and we are unaware?”

I.  The Lord Causes Grief:  Lamentations 3:31-33

For the Lord will not cast off forever.
32 Though He causes grief,
Yet He will show compassion
According to the multitude of His mercies.
33 For He does not afflict willingly,
Nor grieve the children of men.

Some people are uncomfortable with the idea that the Lord causes grief.  Does He cause, or allow, bad things to happen.  The Jewish people in the Old Testament accepted everything as if it came from God.  They emphasized the sovereignty of God.  These verses indicate that although the Lord causes grief, it is not something that He enjoys.   He does use grief as a teaching tool.  In the same way that human parents use punishment to teach their children right from wrong, God sometimes uses grief to instruct us.

II.  Punishment for Sin:  Lamentations 3:37-39

Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass,
When the Lord has not commanded it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
That woe and well-being proceed?
39 Why should a living man complain,
A man for the punishment of his sins?

Once again we see the  language that God commands what comes to pass.  Certainly,  when the bad things that happen to us are a consequence of our sin, we should recognize we may have got off easy.  We have all sinned.  God has offered forgiveness in Jesus Christ.  Sometimes, even though we are forgiven of the eternal consequences of sin, there is a penalty that will be paid here on earth.

III.  Examine Our Ways:  Lamentations 3:40-41

Let us search out and examine our ways,
And turn back to the Lord;
41 Let us lift our hearts and hands
To God in heaven.

If bad things are happening to us we should examine our lives.  Are we living in unrepentant sin?  Have we repented of any known sin?  Are we caught up in the sins of others?  Is it merely a test of our faith?  Is it a learning experience?  Is God using it so that we may be a witness to others?

Even if we are unable to discern the cause we can trust that God knows what He is doing.  God is not surprised.  He will give us the wisdom and strength that we need for any challenge.

IV.  We Are Not Consumed:  Lamentations 3: 22-24

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”

The difficulties that we face in this life will have an end.  We must simply trust in God to see us through.  His mercies are new every morning.  He is faithful to His people.  We should not lose heart.  Our hope is in God.

V.  The Lord is Good:  Lamentations 3:25

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.

This does not mean  that there will never be anything bad in our life.  Bad things happen for a variety of reasons, but through them all, God is good to His people.  In fact, in times of grief it is even more important to turn to God for help, comfort and strength.  When grief drives us closer to God, it is good grief.