Archive for the ‘Christian Teachings’ Category

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.   

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. 

A Big Week

April 12, 2017

(This message was preached the Saturday night before Palm Sunday.)

Tomorrow morning kicks off the busiest week in the Christian calendar.  Palm Sunday we remember the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.  He cleanses the temple by throwing out those who sold animals for sacrifice and the money changers.  He has several days filled with wonderful teachings and then we have what we now call Maundy Thursday.  That is the night that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, instituted the Lord’s Supper and prayed in the garden before being betrayed and arrested.  Good Friday we remember His time in front of the Sanhedrin, then Pilot, then His crucifixion, death and burial.  Then on Sunday we will celebrate His resurrection.

Like I said, it is a big week, called Holy Week by many Christians.

Since we do not have services through the week here it seems like I need to pick what I consider to be the highlight of the week.  There is so much good material but there is certainly one part that stands out to me.

II Corinthians 5:12-21

 For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

I.  Compelled

It is the heart that matters most, but people do see the outside before they get to know what is inside.  Sometimes Pentecostal believers may act in peculiar ways during worship.  People respond differently to an encounter with the Holy Spirit.  When we are spending time in the presence of God our eyes should be on the Lord and not on each other.  When we preach and teach, hopefully, things are more straight forward.  We need to speak in ways that can be understood by all.  Through all of it we are compelled by the love of Christ; whether in worship or in preaching and teaching.

II.  A New Creation

The person who we were has been replaced with the person whom we are becoming in Christ.  The opportunity for a new beginning is a central promise of scripture.  The old man dies and we are born again as a child of God.

III.  Reconciled

A central part of this new life is the fact that we have been reconciled to God.  We were separated from Him because of our sin, but through Jesus Christ we can be reconciled with God.  On our own we could not make this happen.  It was necessary for God to reach out to us.

IV.  The Main Event

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us”.

We cannot begin to comprehend what this phrase truly means.  Jesus as God or man had never sinned.  He understood temptation, but He had never given in to sin.  Yet He took upon Himself the sins of the whole world.  The penalty for our sins was laid upon Him.  Exactly what this entails we can only speculate.  We do know that Jesus in the garden recognized the cost and asked if it could pass from Him, but if not, may the will of God be done.

There was, and is, no other way.

Salvation is only through Jesus and belief in Him who died for us.  (John 14:6)

Everything else in Holy Week is important, wonderful, beautiful and special, but without the death of Christ on the cross we would still be left in our sins.

Thank you God.

Thank you Jesus.

Be Ready

April 5, 2017

I enjoy church history.  Reading about how God has worked in the lives of people over the years is an interesting study to me.  One thing that I has impressed me is how the core of the Christian message can be compacted into simple statements.  Today we celebrated communion.  An ancient creed that was used simply says: Christ has come, Christ has died, Christ has risen and Christ will come again.

We celebrate the coming of Christ every year at Christmas.  For many it is their favorite holiday.  Every time that we have communion we remember the death of Christ on the cross.  Easter is coming soon, and at Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Christ.

What about the second coming of Christ?

I.  The Return of Christ:  Luke 21:25-28

 “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

When Jesus came the first time, He came as a servant, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  When He returns it will be as the Lion of Judah, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Judge of all.

The early Christians thought that Christ would return in their lifetime.  It was only as the first generation of believers was dying out that they realized they had better write down the story of Christ in the gospels for future generations.

Throughout church history there have been many generations that believed that they were living in the last days, the days of Christ’s return.  This is true for today as well.  Many believe that Christ will return in their lifetime.

II.  The Rapture

A.  Luke 17:34-37

I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. 35 Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. 36 Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left.”

37 And they answered and said to Him, “Where, Lord?”

So He said to them, “Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.”

This event of one person being taken and another being left is an event that has come to be known as the rapture.  The believers who are on the earth at the time of the rapture will be taken from the earth to be with the Lord. It is described again in the first letter to the Thessalonians.

B.  I Thessalonians 4:16-17

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

When will the rapture take place?  Only God knows, but people have debated it for years.  Today, there are three primary groups.  The first group is the group that believes that the rapture will take place prior to the Tribulation.  The Tribulation is the seven year reign of the Antichrist.  Many people believe that Christians will be removed from the earth before this time.  Others believe that the rapture will take place at the midpoint of the reign of the Antichrist.  They believe that the rapture will take place when the covenant that was made is broken.  Still others believe that the rapture will take place only at the very end, even as Christ is returning to defeat the Antichrist and establish His kingdom on earth.

Which is right?  There is biblical support for each position.  My personal recommendation is to pray that the pre-tribulation position is right, but be prepared to endure tribulation if they are wrong.  So, pray for pre, prepare for post.

III.  Be Ready

A.  I Thessalonians 5:1-2

But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.

We do not know when Christ will return, so the wise thing to do is to live in a state of readiness.  If Christ were to return at this moment, to be ready.

B.  Luke 21:34-36

 “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

It is not that hard to be ready.  Thankfully we do not earn our salvation, but rather we receive it as a gift through our faith in Jesus Christ.  That faith produces a living relationship with God that transforms our life.  We simply need to remember to keep Christ first is our lives and not be seduced by the things of the world.

Keep Christ First.

Ready or not, Christ will return one day.

Be Ready.

What About Sin?

March 9, 2017

We are saved by grace, through faith for good works. (Ephesians 2:8-10)  So what about sin in our lives?

I.  Be Serious!  (Mark 9:42-48)

 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 44 where

‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’

45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 46 where

‘Their worm does not die,
And the fire is not quenched.’

47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— 48 where

‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’

We are not expected to take these verses literally.  We are not supposed to literally cut off our hand or our foot, or to pluck out our eyes.  We are, however, to take sin seriously.  We do not earn our salvation by our works, but if we are saved our works should change.

II.  The Heart:  Mark 7:20-23

 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

When we are saved we receive the Spirit of Christ in our hearts.  (Ephesians 3:17)  If Christ is dwelling in our hearts, our lives will change.  It is not a matter of simply exercising self control, it is a matter of developing the new self.  As we develop our relationship with Christ, our hearts will be changed.  As our hearts change, our actions will change.

III.  The Mind:  II Corinthians 10:3-6

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

Sin originates in the heart, proceeds to our thoughts, and then is acted out in our bodies.  If thoughts come to our mind and we are able to recognize that they are sinful thoughts, we should not entertain them, but rather drive them from our mind.  God is at work in us, molding us into the image of His Son, but we need to cooperate with God as He seeks to make changes in our lives.

IV.  The Spirit and the Flesh:  Galatians 5:16-25

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. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 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 again, obviously we do not literally crucify ourselves.  We recognize that although we have the Spirit of God, we also are still walking in the flesh.  The flesh will pull us in one direction, the Spirit will pull us in another direction.  We should learn to recognize which is which.  We should then exercise our will by denying the flesh, and obeying the Spirit.  As we mature in Christ we will become better and better and walking in the Spirit.

Our sins have been forgiven, thank you Jesus!  We have been born in the Spirit, thank you Jesus!  Let us learn how to walk in the Spirit, no longer living according to the flesh, please help us Jesus!

 

These are the sermon notes from 3/5/17.  All scripture references 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. 

Overcome Evil With Good

March 2, 2017

Joseph is known as an example of a suffering servant.  He became a great leader, but before that he was a slave and a prisoner.

I.  Joseph:  Genesis 50:15-21

 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.” 16 So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying, 17 ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.”’ Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.

18 Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.”

19 Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? 20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. 21 Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

Remember that Joseph’s brothers had sold him into slavery.  They were right to be concerned about their welfare.  If Joseph had held a grudge, he could have been waiting for his father to pass away before exacting his revenge on his brothers.

He was able to recognize that God had a plan and that it was necessary for him to go through the difficult times to arrive at the place where he was ultimately meant to be.  This attitude reminds us of Romans 8:28 where we are told that “all things work together for good, for those that love God.”

He leaves his brothers to God.  God is the true judge, who will do what is right.

II.  God Will Repay:  Romans 12:17-21

 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

As much as we can, we should live at peace with other people.  Not just the people who are like us, but with all people.  This does not mean that we cannot defend ourselves, but we ought not to provoke others, nor mistreat them.

Even when we are treated poorly, we are not to repay evil for evil.  We can leave them to God.  He will repay.

Instead, we are to do good to those who have mistreated us.  We should look for ways to show kindness and the love of God in tangible ways.

III.  Love Your Enemies:  Matthew 5:43-45

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

God loves everyone.  We also should love people, even our enemies.  We should bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us and pray for everyone.

People are not our enemies, they are people who are loved by God.  Jesus died for them.  God wants them to come to repentance and faith.  He does not rejoice in the condemnation of the wicked.  All of heaven rejoices when a person comes to Christ for forgiveness.

We should not repay evil for evil, but overcome evil with good.  We are not sent to punish, but rather to offer grace, mercy, forgiveness and love.

These are the sermon notes from 2/26/17.  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.