Archive for March, 2016

Life in the Spirit

March 31, 2016

As Christians we believe that we are born again.  We were born in the flesh and now we are born in the Spirit.  This message is about life in the Spirit.

I.  Spirit Minded:  Romans 8:5-11

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

A.  There is a ongoing struggle between the Spirit and the flesh.  We need to be careful to emphasize the Spirit.  The flesh will struggle to survive and control.  We must be careful to live and walk in the Spirit.

B.  The Spirit of God dwells in us.  We do not function in our own strength, but rather in the strength that the Spirit of God gives to us.

C.  The Spirit gives life.  We are renewed by the presence of the Spirit in our lives.  Our physical body will still grow old, but our spirit will remain healthy and strong.

II.  More Than Conquerors:  Romans 8:31-38

 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    A.  If God is for us, then we are assured of victory.  God is for us.

    B.  God went so far as to give His own Son for us.  What greater level of commitment could be made by anyone?  We may rest assured of the love of God.

    C.  Through God we are more than conquerors.  We are not losers.  We are winners in Christ.

    D.  Nothing shall separate us from the love of God.  Love is a powerful motivator.  God loves us and nothing can change that.  Human love sometimes falters or fades.  God’s love never changes.

III.  Transformed:  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.

    A.  We are meant to be a living sacrifice.  That means that we should offer our lives to God so that He may use our lives for His purposes.

    B.  We should not conform to the world.  Christians are meant to be different.  Some Christians try to blend in to their surroundings.  We are meant to stand out from the crowd.

    C.  We are transformed by the Spirit of God,  If the Spirit of God dwells in us, we will be changed.

    D.  As we grow in our relationship with God, we will grow in our ability to discover God’s will for us.  We can discover that which is acceptable, that which is good, and that which is perfect.  Do not settle for merely the acceptable, grow in God so that you may discern that which is perfect.

As Christians we have a new life in Christ.  We should let go of the old life of the flesh and grow to maturity in the life in the Spirit.

These are the sermon notes from 2/28/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

The memory verses for this week are either Romans 8:37-38 or Romans 12:1-2, or both. 

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Love and Peace

March 24, 2016

I am greatly disturbed when I hear people talk about God hating people, or Christians who spew hateful things.  The Christian message is not based on hatred and fear, but on love and peace.

I.  The Goodness of God:  Romans 2:1-4

Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

A.  Sin is sin.  All sin is wrong.  It is wrong for us to judge the sin of others, while ignoring the sin in our own life.

B.  God is good to us.  He is patient with us.  The work of sanctification is an ongoing process in our lives.  The longer we walk with God, the closer we grow to God, the more sin-free our lives will be.

C.  It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance.  We are drawn to God because of his goodness.  We desire to be more like Him, so we turn away from our sin and seek to imitate the goodness of God.

II.  Justified By Faith:  Romans 1-5

 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

A.  We have peace with God through our faith in Jesus Christ.  We still seek to be good, because we want to please God, but we are forgiven, so the pressure is off.  We are not perfect, we are forgiven.  We are not worried.  We are at peace.

B.  Now that we are at peace within ourselves, we can face trouble in a different way.  We recognize that problems are opportunities for personal growth.  We place our trust in God, and draw close to Him in time of trouble.

C.  It is the love of God which truly changes us.  God loves us with a love that is beyond human comprehension.  The Holy Spirit assures us of that love as we grow in our relationship with God.

God loves us.  He has reached out to us through Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit confirms that truth to our hearts.  We respond to God’s love by drawing closer to Him.  As we draw closer to Him we turn away from sin and become more like Him.  We are not perfect, but we are perfectly loved and so we are at peace.

The Heart of the Mosaic Law

March 7, 2016

As Christians we tend to think of ourselves as being free from the Mosaic Law.  Many Christians do not spend much time reading the Old Testament, and many others will read Genesis and parts of Exodus, but then skim through the rest of the Pentateuch.  (The Pentateuch consists of the first five books of the Bible, Genesis through Deuteronomy.)  I would suggest that at the Heart of the Mosaic Law are the same basic themes that are in Christianity.

I.  Seek God:  Deuteronomy 4:29

 But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.

It should be obvious to us that God is not lost.  Rather, we need the eyes of our heart to be opened that we may see Him.  We need the ears of our heart to be opened that we might hear Him.  We need to take our focus off of the things of this world so that we can focus on the things that are not of this world.  This was true in the Mosaic Law and it is still true in the New Covenant that we have through Jesus Christ.

II.  Love God:  Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

We may recognize this verse.  When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, this is the verse that He quoted. God has always desired that we would love Him.  Of course, we know that “we love Him because He first loved us.”  (I John 4:19)

III.  Please God:  Deuteronomy 8:2-3

And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.

You might recognize these verses as well.  Jesus quoted the last portion of them when He was being tempted by Satan in the wilderness.  (Luke 4:4)

A.  Humble You:  God allows the circumstances of life to humble us so that we would recognize that we need Him.  Pride is a dangerous sin.  We should diligently guard against it.

B.  Test You:  God uses many ways to test us.  Do we trust God even when things are not going well?  Do we trust Him to guide, provide and protect?  We can trust God, for He is able to take care of us.  He is the Good Shepherd.

C.  Know You:  God wants to know what is in our hearts.  How will we respond to success, or to failure?  Do we love and trust Him, or do we just desire the blessings of this world?

Throughout the events of this life, it should be our desire to please God.  Hopefully, we can pass the tests of this life.  We can, if we place our trust fully in Him.

IV.  Remember God:  Deuteronomy 8:11-18

 “Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, 12 lest—when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; 14 when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; 15 who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end— 17 then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’

18 “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

We should beware of the dangers of success!  When times are tough, it is easy to remember to call out to God.  We need His help and we know it!  When things are going well, sometimes we forget that it is God who has blessed us with success.  Sometimes we allow the things of this world to take priority in our lives.  We should remember to keep God first in our life at all times.  (Matthew 6:33)

V.  Serve God:  Deuteronomy 10:12-13*

 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?

These verses are similar to Micah 6:8.  They give us a condensed statement of what God desires of us.  My focus for this message will be the part to serve God.  God has given us everything that we have in this life and the next.  It is appropriate to serve Him.  We serve Him in a wide variety of ways, but it involves our whole life, not just a portion of it.

We should not quickly dismiss the Mosaic Law.  It is true that we are no longer bound by the sacrificial system, or the dietary requirements, but the heart of the Mosaic Law: to seek God, love God, please God, remember God and to serve God, still apply to us as Christians.

These are the sermon notes from 2/14/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

*This is the memory verse for this week. 

 

Life Long Calling

March 3, 2016

The journey of our lives often take unexpected turns.  Even if we see a general direction, the exact route is often changed by detours.  We should not be surprised if things do not go the way that we expect them to go.

I.  Paul’s Calling:  Acts 26:15-18

 So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’

Paul is sharing the story of his calling as a part of his defense in court.  His calling was dramatic and powerful.  His life and ministry have had an impact on the world.

My own story is much less dramatic.  I initially worked for my parents in the grocery stores that they owned.  I had done well in high school, but had no interest in going on to college.  I intentionally graduated early, because I had no desire to spend any more time in school.

I worked for my parents full time serving as a manager for one of the stores.  After about a year and a half, I came to the decision that I wanted to do something different.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but the pastor at my church encouraged all young people to go to Bible college for a year to get a solid foundation in the Word, so I went off to college at North Central Bible College.

I did well in school.  I enjoyed it and one year turned into two.  In my third year I began to question whether I was truly called to the ministry or if I was simply following the crowd.  I knew that I did not want to go back to the stores.  The idea of the military appealed to me.  My dad had served in the Marine Corps.  I started thinking about signing up.  I spoke with my parents, my pastor, and a teacher from the school.  They all agreed.  If I was called to the ministry, four years in the Marine Corps would not change that calling.  It was not a quick decision.  I started thinking about it around Thanksgiving and I signed up after the new year.

My years in the Marine Corps were good years.  I obtained the rank of sergeant and even had the opportunity to serve as platoon sergeant for a few months due to a shortage of staff NCOs.  It was a great experience and I seriously considered it becoming my career.

However, as I prayed about it, I strongly sensed that I was to return to Bible college, become a pastor and maybe someday teach in a college.

II.  The Steps of a Good Man:  Psalms 37:23

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.

I was raised in the Lutheran church.  While in high school I started attending a nondenominational Pentecostal church.  I was very involved with that church for about four years.  Then I returned to the Lutheran church.  When I returned, I appreciated the liturgy and the symbolism even more than I had in my younger years.

When I was in the military I attended a Methodist church for a number of years.  The pastors were good friends and I spent every open weekend as a guest in their house.

When I finished my time in the military I went back to the Assemblies of God college that I had attended earlier.  I met, and married my wife while I finished up my degree there.  Then it was off to seminary.  I attended Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary.  In my second year there, I came to the conclusion that we had “irreconcilable theological differences”.  So now what?  I applied for and received credentials with the Assemblies of God.

When I left the Lutheran church, a member of my youth group gave me a plaque that read “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord”.  I have rather wondered at the twists and turns that life had taken, but I do believe that every experience has helped to prepare me for the future that God had for me.

We came to this church in February of 1991.  We have been serving here for 25 years.

I finished my masters degree in 1997 and began teaching philosophy part time  at the college in 1998.

We started the Chi Alpha ministry at the college where I teach in 2010.

We planted a church in December.

Only God knows what the future holds.

III.  Thoughts of You:  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.

I think that you have heard enough about my story.  I want to encourage each of you to realize that God has a plan for you.  He loves you and wants you to follow the plan that He has for your life.

IV.  Lay Down Your Life:  Mark 8:34-35*

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

We need to be willing to let go of our hopes and plans in order to take up the plan that God has for us.  Sometimes those plans will in fact be the same plans that we already held, but the key is to let God direct our steps.  He has come to give us life.  We can trust Him completely.  He has a good plan for our lives.

V.  Finish the Race:  II Timothy 4:7-8

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

My race is not yet finished, but I want to finish strong.  The goal is not to serve God for a moment, or for a season, but for a lifetime.

Wherever you may be on your journey, know that God has a plan for you.  You can trust Him with your life.  Serve Him not just for a day, but for a lifetime.

These are the sermon notes from 2/7/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I do not have any control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

*This is the memory verse for the week.