Archive for May, 2017

Choose Wisely

May 31, 2017

Many of us are  familiar with the verses from Joshua which tell us to “Choose you this day whom you will serve…”  Before Joshua, Moses offered this same choice to the children of Israel.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20

 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

I.  Life and Death

A.  Choose

In order for us to be able to choose, we must have the ability to choose.  It is one of the most important aspects of who we are as human beings.  The idea that we do have the ability to choose for ourselves whom we will serve is critical to my understanding of who we are, and also the nature of God.

Proverbs 9:10

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Our belief in God is only the first step, but it is an indispensable step in our growth as the people of God.

B.  Love

We are to love God.  We should desire to know Him more.  We get to know Him by spending time in the Word, in prayer and in fellowship with other  believers.  Our love for God should be our first love, the most important thing in our world.

C.  Obey:  I John 5:3

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

If we believe in God and love God then we will want to keep His commandments.  We will be able to do this, not in our own strength, but in the strength that comes from the Holy Spirit.

II.  Spirit and Flesh

A.  Cling

We are spiritual creatures living in a house of flesh.  We need to develop our relationship with the Spirit of God even as we walk upon this earth.  We cling to God by taking the time to pray, worship and read the Word.  How we spend our time is an important choice that we make every day.  We must choose to cling to God even while the things of this world demand our attention.

B.  Dwell

As we develop our life in Christ, God will guide us in the affairs of this life.  It is not a matter of being so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good, rather it is heavenly directed to work in the world.

Our choice to serve God is the most important choice that we will make, affecting every part of our lives in this life and the next.

 

These are the sermon notes from 5/28/17.  All quotations are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any ads that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Presumption

May 24, 2017

I have always been amazed at the story of Israel after they escaped Egypt.  They had miracle after miracle happen and yet when they came to the edge of the promised land, they turned back in fear.  After they had heard the judgement of God against them, that they would wander in the wilderness until that entire generation died, then they decided to invade the land.

I.  Presumptuously: Deuteronomy 1:41-45

 “Then you answered and said to me, ‘We have sinned against the Lord; we will go up and fight, just as the Lord our God commanded us.’ And when everyone of you had girded on his weapons of war, you were ready to go up into the mountain.

42 “And the Lord said to me, ‘Tell them, “Do not go up nor fight, for I am not among you; lest you be defeated before your enemies.” 43 So I spoke to you; yet you would not listen, but rebelled against the command of the Lord, and presumptuously went up into the mountain. 44 And the Amorites who dwelt in that mountain came out against you and chased you as bees do, and drove you back from Seir to Hormah. 45 Then you returned and wept before the Lord, but the Lord would not listen to your voice nor give ear to you.

God had given them direction.  They were disobedient.  God passed judgement upon them.  They thought that they could go against His word, that God would help them even though they were not being obedient.

Presumption.  Sometimes we think that God will bless us even though we are not following His will for our lives.  Or we assume that He will protect us from the consequences of our actions even if we know that they are wrong.  I don’t know how many times I have heard the phrase “I know it is wrong, but…”

We should be more careful.

II.  Arrogance:  James 4:13-16

 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

When we get all caught up in planning what we will do, we sometimes forget that our lives are in the hand of God.

Certainly it is appropriate to make plans for the future, but we should always understand that God may have other plans.  Our goal should always be to fulfill His plan for our lives.

III.  His Will:

A.  James 4:1-3

 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

It is appropriate to ask God for whatever our hearts desire.  If we are not meant to have it, then God will not give it to us.  We should be open to His direction for our life and be happy with His provision.

B.  Philippians 4:6-7

 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

As Christians we do not need to worry.  We can bring our concerns to God and He will take care of us.  He is our shepherd.  (Psalms 23)  We can pray about anything and everything, and leave it in the hands of God.

C.  I John 5:14-15

 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

We may or may not know what the will of God is in a particular situation but we can always ask.  Then we leave it to God.  May His will be done.

As we submit to the plan of God for our lives, we can be at peace in the knowledge that He is with us and that His grace is sufficient for us.

 

These are the sermon notes from 5/21/17.  All quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Justice for All

May 17, 2017

Today on Mother’s Day, I am not going to preach about mothers, rather I am going to recognize that for thousands of years, even for kings, the words “Listen to your mother!” are good advice.

I.  A Mother’s Advice:  Proverbs 31:1, 8-9

The words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him:

Open your mouth for the speechless,
In the cause of all who are appointed to die.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And plead the cause of the poor and needy.

In the 19th century there was a movement that thought that Christians should work to bring heaven to earth.  The emphasis was placed on making this world a better place for all.  It became known as the social gospel.  It was warmly embraced by liberal theologians.  There was a reaction to it.  Some felt that too much emphasis was placed on the things of this world to the exclusion of the more important  spiritual dimensions.  Conservative theologians gathered around this call to stress the spiritual dimension of the gospel.

It was never meant to be an either/or question.  It is not either the social gospel or the spiritual gospel.

It is both/and.  It is both the spiritual gospel and the social gospel.

II.  New Testament: James 1:27

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

In the first century widows and orphans were in trouble.  The people of God were to help those who were in trouble.

It is still true today.  The people of God are to help those who are in trouble.  It is not just widows and orphans, but any who are in need.  We are to show compassion and offer guidance and assistance to any who need it.

III.  Justice for All

Christians are called to be salt and light.  We are to work for a better world, not just for Christians, but for all.

God is a just God and Christians should be a just people.

We should seek for justice in our families, our neighborhoods, our workplaces, our communities, our country and our world.

Christianity is not just about the life to come.  It is about life today.

 

 

These are the sermon notes from 5/14/17.  All Bible quotes are from the New King James.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress. I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

What Makes Us Different

May 10, 2017

A few years ago I was asked by someone what makes our church different from other churches.

I gave the wrong answer.

I said that it was our music that made us different.  Now, it was true, at that time, that we were the only church in town that routinely used guitars, drums, and percussion, along with a keyboard or piano, but that really isn’t the most important difference.

The most important difference is our view towards the work of the Holy Spirit in the world today.

Now, all Christians recognize that the Holy Spirit plays an important role in the church.  This message is not an in-depth study of the role of the Holy Spirit, that would take far more time than what we have today.  This message is about one of the cardinal doctrines of the Assemblies of God.  This message is about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

I.  The Promise of the Father: Acts 1:4-8

And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

A.  Receive the Spirit: John 20:22

 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

A person is not a Christian unless he has been born again. (John 3)  A person is born again when the Spirit of Christ, or the Holy Spirit, comes into our heart as a result of our faith in Christ.  Here in John, the Holy Spirit is first given to the disciples.  It is what makes us a part of the kingdom of God.

B.  Baptized in the Spirit: The Holy Spirit was already a part of their lives as we saw in John.  This baptism in the Holy Spirit is something different.  It is a new event.

C.  The Purpose of the Power:  The baptism of the Holy Spirit will provide power to be witnesses.

II.  The Promise is Fulfilled:  Acts 2:1-4

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

In this initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit there was a sound of a rushing mighty wind, tongues of fire that appeared and they spoke in tongues.  Today when we talk about the initial physical evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, we only speak about speaking in tongues.  That is because in the two other incidents in Acts where the Holy Spirit is poured out, the wind and the tongues of fire do not appear.

A.  Acts 10:44-46

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.

B.  Acts 19:6

 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

The Assemblies of God was started by people who had been asked to leave their churches after experiencing for themselves this particular manifestation of the Holy Spirit.  They became known as Pentecostals because of their emphasis on this particular experience.

Today  most Christian denominations acknowledge the authenticity of this experience, but they are not necessarily comfortable with it, or able to provide guidance to a person who may be seeking to experience this for themselves.

III.  The Promise is for All:  Acts 2:37-39

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

Here we are, almost two thousand years later, and thousands of miles away.  Clearly we fall under the category of ‘all who are afar off’.

Some people say that this gift was only for the apostolic age, but we believe that it is still for today.  We still need the power of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses to the world.

A.  Prayer:  Romans 8:26

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

There are different forms of speaking in tongues, but by far the most common is for individual prayer.  A person who prays in tongues is being guided by the Holy Spirit in what is prayed.  It is a powerful experience.

B.  A Good Gift:  Luke 11:11-13

If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

Some people believe that speaking in tongues is a demonic manifestation.  However, it is clearly listed as a Biblical experience.  When a Christian asks God for the Holy Spirit, I do not believe that God will allow a demon to come into His children when they are asking for the Holy Spirit.

C.  Use the Gift:  I Corinthians 14:14-15

 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15 What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.

This gift from God is meant to be used.  It is not a one-time experience.  We are to use it as a regular part of our devotional life.  We should pray in tongues regularly.

Singing in the spirit is also a wonderful gift.  If you have never sung in the spirit, I can assure you that it is a powerful experience.

So what sets us apart?  There may be several things, but clearly the most important is our belief that the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues is available today.  At this church, at any service you could request prayer to experience this for yourself.

The power of the Holy Spirit is available today to all who call upon the name of the Lord.

These are the sermon notes from 5/7/17.  All quotes are from the New King James version.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.