Archive for June, 2017

Take Heed

June 28, 2017

When I was a young Christian in my teens and twenties, there were a series of prominent Christians who fell into sin and lost their ministries.  I suppose this sort of thing has happened throughout history, but now it gets way more publicity.  This has a very destructive impact on the proclamation of the gospel.

I.  Striving:  I Corinthians 9:24-27

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

A.  Discipline

We are born again, but we are still walking around in our old bodies.  The flesh leads us in one direction, the spirit leads us in another.  We should discipline ourselves to follow the guidance of the spirit, not the flesh.

B.  Disqualified

Thankfully, we are saved by grace through faith.  (Ephesians 2:8-10)  However, faith without works is a dead faith.  (James 2:17)  Can a dead faith save us?  How deeply can we remained trapped in sin and still be saved?  I don’t think that is the question that we are to try to live out.  Rather, we should ask how much sin can we leave behind while still on this earth?  It is not a matter of earning our salvation, but living out our salvation.

II.  Not Pleased:  I Corinthians 10:1-5

 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

The Hebrews who followed Moses out of Egypt shared many marvelous experiences of God working in their midst.  Yet, God was not pleased with most of them and they died in the wilderness.

The opportunity was there for them to walk with God, but instead they rebelled.

People who are in the church today should be careful that they are not simply going through the motions of a relationship with God.  To say that Jesus is Lord, but then do whatever you want, is and example of faith without works.  Empty words mean nothing.  Our lives should be changed because of the presence of God in our hearts and lives.

III.  Turn Away:  I Corinthians 10:6-10

Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.

The story of the Hebrews is written for our education.  What can we learn?

The “lusting after evil things” was not just things that were purely evil.  They longed for meat, cucumbers, onions and a variety of other foods.  They were not happy with what God had provided and they wanted something else.  We should learn the secret of being content with the things that God blesses us with and recognize that our true joy comes from God.

Idolatry in the form of worshiping an idol may not present a problem to you, but what about putting something else ahead of God in your life?  Perhaps the pursuit of a career, a spouse, some form of fame or achievement will become more important to us than serving God.

God should be first in our lives.  (Matthew 6:33)

Sexual immorality is widespread in our American culture.  God intended for sex to be an experience shared between husband and wife.  Period.  Anything else is immoral in the sight of God.

Even growing discouraged and complaining can be considered a sin.  We need the help of God, and sometimes the support of friends and family, to remain steadfast, to not grow weary while doing good, knowing that we shall reap in due season, if we do not give up.  (Galatians 6:9)

IV.  God is Faithful:  I Corinthians 10:11-13

Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

No matter how long we have been serving God, we should be careful.  Our enemy seeks for the opportunity to destroy us and our witness if possible.  Be on your guard.  Take heed.  God will help us to avoid the snares of the enemy.

Our lives are changed because of Christ.  We are not who we were, but we are not yet all that we will become.  God is completing the work in us that He began.  (Philippians 1:6)

May we be more like Him.

 

These are the sermon notes from 6/17/17.  All quotations 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. 

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Saints? Who? Us??

June 21, 2017

As I was reading in my devotions this week I came across a phrase that really spoke to my heart.  It was found in I Corinthians 1:2.

 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

The phrase that struck me was “called to be saints”.  When we think of saints we generally think of the heroes of the faith, but that isn’t really what the term means.  The word we read as saints comes from the Greek word hagios which means: sacred, holy or saints.  Sacred or holy both imply two basic things; consecrated to God and pure or undefiled.

What would be the basic characteristics of one who is consecrated to God?

I.  Faith:  Hebrews 11:6

 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

The first quality must be a faith in God.  This faith is not a generic faith that there is a god that exists, but rather a faith that is placed in Jesus.  John 14:6 tells us:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

I would challenge all of us to examine our own walk with God.  Are we diligently seeking Him, or is our effort better described as half-hearted, or occasionally, or casually?  Now, thankfully, God is loving and will reward even our feeble efforts.  James 4:8 tells us:

 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Thankfully, we can start with faith like a mustard seed and it will grow through time.

II.  Love:  John 13:34-35

 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

As the old song says, “they will know we are Christians by our love”.  Yet, some Christians seem to project more of an attitude of animosity, judgmentalism and even hatred.

We are to love God, other Christians and the unsaved.  God loves everyone and so should we.  This is an area that we should regular check our own attitude towards the people in our life.

Our love for others should be seen in our actions, our words and our attitudes.

Is your love showing?

III.  Unity:  I Corinthians 1:10

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

For a thousand years there was basically one church.  Then in the 11th century the first large split occurred in the church between the Orthodox and the Catholic church.  Then in the 16th century the Protestant reformation broke away from the Catholic church and eventually there were thousands of denominations. Sometimes the divisions have been incredibly bitter and filled with animosity.

What happened to the unity of the church of Jesus Christ?

We should be very careful of our passing judgment on other Christians.  Very early in the church there was a very simple creed.

Christ has come. Christ has died.  Christ has risen.  Christ will come again.

Perhaps the time has come for us to recognize the basic unity of the body of Christ.  Sure we may argue over our doctrinal differences, but it should be like a family argument, recognizing that at the end of the day we are brothers and sisters in Christ.

Final judgement belongs to God, not us.  Romans 14:4 says:

Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

We are united, not by the details of our doctrine but by the cross of Christ.

I Corinthians 1:18

 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

So, as Christians, called to be saints, we are consecrated to God by our faith, love and the cross of Jesus Christ.

The discussion of what it means to be pure and undefiled will have to wait for another day.

 

These are the sermon notes from 6/11/17.  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. 

 

 

Suffering

June 14, 2017

Most of the messages that we hear preached proclaim the good points of the Christian life.  We emphasize love, joy, peace, hope, wisdom, strength,  and overall blessings.

That is not the only part of the Christian message.

I.  Suffering:  Romans 8:16-18

 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

We prefer to emphasize that we are the heirs of the kingdom, together with Christ.  It is an easier sell.

However, with Christ we also going to experience a degree of suffering.  We prefer to think of the glory to come, but the sufferings of this world are a part of the Christian experience.

There are places in the world where Christians are still being killed for their faith.  Recently, in Egypt a group of Christians were on a trip to visit a monastery.  They were attacked by people with machine guns mounted on trucked.  Many were killed, some of them children, and more were injured.  They were targeted specifically because they were Christians.

Here in America, at least for now, it is unlikely that we will suffer that kind of persecution, but that does not mean that we do not experience suffering.  Whenever you deny the flesh to live for Christ there will be opposition.

II.  Hard Pressed:  II Corinthians 4:7-10

 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

I memorized these verses many years ago when I was a part of a gospel group called the Christian Life Singers.  It has spoken to my heart many times over the years.  There have definitely been times when I have felt hard-pressed and perplexed.  Life in the ministry has not been easy.  I have never actually seen the statistics, but I know that the percentage of people who serve in the ministry all the way to retirement is fairly low.

It is not just ministers.  All Christians have an enemy that seeks to destroy them.  God allows us to be tested so that we will grow in our faith.  We should always be aware that we are dependent on God.

III.  Renewed:  II Corinthians 4:16-18

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

As I have aged I have become more aware of the perishing of the outward man.  I am not as young as I once was, and clearly this physical body is not what it used to be.

That is all right.

The inner man is renewed day by day.

As we continue our journey through this life, we are able to grow in our relationship with Christ.  Our body may be aging and breaking down, but our spirit is aging and growing stronger.

As the things of this life begin to fade in importance, we recognize even more the glory of the life to come.

The light affliction of this life is nothing compared to the glory of the life to come.

IV.  Good Soldier:  II Timothy 2:3

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

Sure, we focus on the good aspects of the Christian life.  That does not mean that we deny the reality of the spiritual struggle in which we are engaged.  I have often told people that my best preparation for ministry did not come from Bible college, but from my time in the Marine Corps.  As a marine we learned to never give up, to accomplish the mission.

At the end of this life I desire to hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  (Matthew 25:21)

God is good.  All the time.  However, there will be times of testing, trial and suffering as we go through the journey of this life.  Do not be surprised.  Stand firm in your faith.  Trust God.  He will see you through to the end.

 

These are the sermon notes from 6/4/17.  All scripture 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.