Archive for the ‘religion’ Category

A Servant’s Heart

January 21, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 1/20/13.

I.  Great Things?  Jeremiah 45:1-5

The word that Jeremiah the prophet spoke to Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the instruction of Jeremiah,in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to you, O Baruch: ‘You said, “Woe is me now! For the Lord has added grief to my sorrow. I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest.”’

“Thus you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Behold, what I have built I will break down, and what I have planted I will pluck up, that is, this whole land. And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh,” says the Lord. “But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.”’”

Apparently Baruch wanted great things.  That is certainly common enough.  Many people dream that they will be great in some way.  God chides Baruch for wanting more.  God was about to pour out His wrath on the nation of Israel.  Baruch was assured that he would not be one of the many that would die.  Baruch also did receive a degree of fame in that his name is recorded in scripture for all time.  Most importantly, Baruch had a job to do for God.  He should be content with what God give him to do.

Many of us dream of greatness, we should be content to be the people who God has called us to be; to fulfill the role that he has for us.

II.  A Servants Heart Revelations 1:1

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

I notice that this letter is written by a servant, to servants.  John, at the time of writing Revelation,  was the senior saint.  He was the last surviving disciple of the original twelve.  There would have been no one more worthy of claiming leadership of the church; yet he was referred to as a servant.

I am concerned that some Christians today prefer to think of themselves as the King’s Kids; a form of royalty.  Now, it is true that we are encouraged to call God, our father, but I am concerned that sometimes Christians act as spoiled brats.

III.  The Greatest Mark 10:42-45

But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

If we truly want to be great in the kingdom of God, then we are to serve.

I am reminded of a song by Larry Norman “I am a Servant”.  There are lines in the song that go:

I am a servant

but I sit here in the hall.

How can He use me

when I’ve never given all?

My encouragement to you today is to give your all to Jesus.  He desires to use you in the work of His kingdom.  We all have a part that we can play, but are we willing to do a bit part, or do we need a starring role?

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Day.  While he is best known for his work in civil rights, he was also a strong advocate for people to be involved.  The question “What are you doing for someone else?” was a challenge to think of the well-being of other people, not just our own dreams.

What are you doing for someone else?

What are you doing for God?

Do you have a heart to serve?



A Message of Sorrow

January 17, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 1/13/13.

Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet.  He spent a lifetime proclaiming an unfavorable message to an unwilling audience.  He experienced a great deal of hardship, and very little reward on this earth for his labor.

I.  Sometimes it’s Bad:  Jeremiah 37:11-16

And it happened, when the army of the Chaldeans left the siege of Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh’s army, 12 that Jeremiah went out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin to claim his property there among the people. 13 And when he was in the Gate of Benjamin, a captain of the guard was there whose name was Irijah the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he seized Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “You are defecting to the Chaldeans!”

14 Then Jeremiah said, “False! I am not defecting to the Chaldeans.” But he did not listen to him.

So Irijah seized Jeremiah and brought him to the princes. 15 Therefore the princes were angry with Jeremiah, and they struck him and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe. For they had made that the prison.

16 When Jeremiah entered the dungeon and the cells, and Jeremiah had remained there many days,

Jeremiah had proclaimed a message of the coming judgement of God for years.  Now that judgement was at the door and Jeremiah had been given a message of hope.  The hope was that the exile would not be permanent, that the children of Israel would return in seventy years.  As a symbol of the restoration, Jeremiah was directed to buy a field.  He was going out to look at that field when he was arrested as a defector.

He had been faithful to God and his situation deteriorated.

Sometimes when we are serving God, things can get bad.

II.  Sometimes it Gets Worse  Jeremiah 38:2-6

 “Thus says the Lord: ‘He who remains in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but he who goes over to the Chaldeans shall live; his life shall be as a prize to him, and he shall live.’ Thus says the Lord: ‘This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon’s army, which shall take it.’”

Therefore the princes said to the king, “Please, let this man be put to death, for thus he weakens the hands of the men of war who remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man does not seek the welfare of this people, but their harm.”

Then Zedekiah the king said, “Look, he is in your hand. For the king can do nothing against you.” So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the king’sson, which was in the court of the prison, and they let Jeremiah down with ropes. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire. So Jeremiah sank in the mire.

I suppose that the rulers had a point in that the message Jeremiah was proclaiming would indeed encourage people to give themselves up rather than fight.  That was the message that Jeremiah had been given by God to give to the people.  His reward for his faithfulness was to be tossed into a pit.

Sometimes when we are serving God it goes from bad to worse.

III.  Deliverance Will Come  Jeremiah 39:11-14

Now Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon gave charge concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, saying, 12 “Take him and look after him, and do him no harm; but do to him just as he says to you.” 13 So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard sent Nebushasban, Rabsaris, Nergal-Sharezer, Rabmag, and all the king of Babylon’s chief officers; 14 then they sent someone to take Jeremiah from the court of the prison, and committed him to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, that he should take him home. So he dwelt among the people.

God does not forget His servants.  Deliverance will come.  We just don’t know when.  It may not even come in this lifetime.  We need to remember that God looks at things from an eternal perspective.  The sacrifices that we make in this life for the kingdom of God will be remembered and rewarded, if not in this life, then in the life to come.

Conclusion:  Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet for good reason.  He proclaimed a message of destruction to a people who rejected that message.  When destruction came, he did not celebrate the fulfillment of the prophesy, but rather wept over the destruction of Jerusalem.  He remained in the city after its destruction until he was forcibly dragged off to Egypt by the remaining Jews who fled to Egypt.    His life had very few happy moments of celebration.

I have no doubt that he has received his reward in heaven.  We should all learn a lesson from his faithfulness.  He did not think of his own comfort or gain, he simply proclaimed the message that God had given him to proclaim.

Likewise, may we be faithful to do what God calls us to do.

The Challenge of Christmas

December 6, 2012

These are the sermon notes from December 2, 2012.

I.  Call to Repentance: Isaiah 1:16-17

Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,
17 Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.

These verses are a call to action.  We are not simply to feel bad about our shortcomings, we are to do something.  We should change our ways.

We are to cease doing evil.  The first step in ceasing to do evil is to be able to recognize what is evil.  God has given us His Word and His Holy Spirit.  By the Word and the Spirit we are able to learn to recognize evil.  Then the Holy Spirit will also give us the strength to change our ways.  Sometimes this change happens quickly, and sometimes it takes a while to learn new habits.  God understands, and is patient with us.

We are to learn to do good.  A new life is not just about not doing evil, it is learning to do good.  God is a just God, and is concerned with justice in our society.  We, as Christians, should also be concerned with justice.

There are two types of justice: criminal, and distributive.  As Christians we should use what influence we have in society to work towards justice for all.  Whether that means appropriate punishment for crimes, or protection from harassment for the innocent.  Distributive justice is the fair distribution of burdens and benefits.  We might not all agree about how to achieve distributive justice, or exactly what that would look like, but we should agree that it is important, and try to work toward that ideal.  We are to rebuke the oppressor, and take care of the needy.  It is also important as we work toward that goal, to treat one another with respect, recognizing that we may have honest disagreements about these important matters.

II.  Offer of Forgiveness: Isaiah 1:18-20

“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
You shall eat the good of the land;
20 But if you refuse and rebel,
You shall be devoured by the sword”;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

The message of Christmas is that Christ came to earth so that our sins might be forgiven.  Those who respond to the message of salvation are forgiven.  John 3:16-17 says  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Not all will listen to the message.  For them, there remains only judgement.  John 3:18-20 reads “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.”

III.  The Challenge of Christmas  III John 11

Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, buthe who does evil has not seen God.

The message of the early church was simply put “Repent and believe the gospel.”  The Greek language was not real concerned with the order of words, and so it is acceptable for us to think of this as believe and repent.  We believe in Jesus and are called to repentance: to cease to do evil and learn to do good.  One of the best ways that we can learn to do good, is to imitate good.  The best one to imitate for good,  is to imitate Christ.  That would be the challenge of Christmas.  Christ came to earth to show us the Father, we are now called to imitate Christ.

The message of Christmas is that Christ has come.

The challenge of Christmas is to imitate Christ.


The Way of Life

November 29, 2012

I.  The Way of Life: Proverbs 15:24

The way of life winds upward for the wise,
That he may turn away from hell below.

I think that this verse provides a simple, yet wonderful, description of the Christian life.  Christianity begins with repentance, which is to turn around.  We were lost, but now we have been found.  We were separated from God, but now our fellowship has been restored through the blood of Jesus Christ.  As a new creation, a child of God, we must now learn what it means to walk with God.  Even as the song goes “Just a closer walk with thee, grant it Jesus is my plea.”

II.  Trust in the Lord:  Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall directyour paths.

We can trust God.  If we put our trust in Him, and not in ourselves, He will direct our paths.  He will help us to make the right decisions.  Our lives will unfold the way that God intends for them to unfold.

III.  The Wrong Way: Proverbs 6:16-19

These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
17 A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
18 A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
19 A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.

It is obviously not simply looking proud, it is being proud that is the problem.  One way that many of us may struggle with in the area of pride is the sense that we are always right.  We should at least be willing to listen to what others say, and recognize that perhaps there is room in our lives for correction.

Lying is so prevalent in society today.  The art of telling the truth in a tactful manner needs to be reemphasized and restored to common practice.

Regarding the shedding of blood, perhaps we are not given to physical violence, but have we hurt people with our words?  Physical wounds may heal rather quickly, but the wounds to our heart that words may cause can last a lifetime.  We should not hurt innocent people, either physically, or with our words.

Perhaps we do not actually carry out evil schemes, but are they something that we daydream about?  It is wrong to allow our minds to wander down the paths of wickedness.

When confronted with an opportunity to sin, do we stand fast and do the right thing?  Or do we quickly cave in, and do the wrong thing?  Do we try to claim that “I’m only human.”?  Have we forgotten that we have the Spirit of God within our hearts?  We are not “only human”  God is with us.  We can do the right thing.

Lying has already been mentioned, but it is mentioned again.  It is one thing to lie about your own exploits, it is even more wrong when you lie about other people.

Finally, in this list of things that God hates, is the act of sowing discord.  How many churches have been hampered in their mission to spread the gospel because of the people of God tearing apart with their words their brothers and sisters in Christ?  This is clearly wrong, yet commonly practiced.

IV.  The Right Way:  Proverbs 11:24-25

There is one who scatters, yet increases more;
And there is one who withholds more than is right,
But it leads to poverty.
25 The generous soul will be made rich,
And he who waters will also be watered himself.

This verse reminds me of Acts 20:35 where we are told “It is more blessed to give, than to receive.”

We are to be unselfish people.  We should give of our time, our talents, our finances to God, to family, to others who are in need.  As God has blessed us, we should be a blessing to others.

God has shown us the way of life in His Word.  We should walk in the way of life.



Joyful Service

October 22, 2012

Here are the sermon notes from October 21, 2012.

I.  Warning!:   Psalms 50:22-23

“Now consider this, you who forget God,
Lest I tear you in pieces,
And there be none to deliver:
23 Whoever offers praise glorifies Me;
And to him who orders his conduct aright
I will show the salvation of God.”

The warning to those who forget God is quite somber.  Once again, we are presented with a clear choice to serve God and reap the benefits, or to reject God and suffer the consequences.

II.  Recommended Prayer: Psalms 55:17

Evening and morning and at noon
I will pray, and cry aloud,
And He shall hear my voice.

Muslims pray faithfully five times a day.  Christians are regularly encouraged to have daily devotions.  I think that it would be appropriate to increase our commitment and have regular prayer time, three times a day.  Daniel prayed in this fashion, and it worked well for him.  In the New Testament, we are encouraged to “pray without ceasing”, so three times a day shouldn’t be too much to ask.

III.  God’s People: Psalms 100

A. Joyful Service: vv1-2

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.

We regularly come into the presence of God with singing.  It is a big part of our church services.  I do not recall ever participating in a congregational “joyful shout.  As I have been reading the Psalms I have noticed this action mentioned numerous times.  Today we are going to experiment with making a “joyful shout”

We tried out shouting “Praise God”  “Hallelujah” and “Amen”.  It was kind of fun.

I believe that joy and gladness should regularly fill the hearts of Christians as they serve the Lord.  Regular worship, and a joyful shout, can help bring joy and gladness to our hearts.

B.  We Are God’s People: v.3

Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

I have managed to take care of numerous pets over the years.  Our last cat lived to be 21, which is quite old for a cat.  If I can be trusted to watch over pets entrusted to my care, how much more can we trust God to take care of us?  He is my shepherd, I shall not want…Psalm 23.

C.  Thankfulness and Praise:  vv4-5

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.

God is good to His people.  Giving Him thanks and praise is the least that we can do.  It should be a regular part of our worship and prayer to give God thanks and praise.

Conclusion:  Serving the Lord is not always easy, but joy and gladness should regularly fill the hearts of the believer as they faithfully serve the Lord.

The Heart is the Key

October 11, 2012

Here are the sermon notes from October 7, 2012.
I.  Acceptable Thoughts and Words:  Psalms 19:14

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

We can be taught to control our actions.  Change may be difficult, but with sufficient motivation, we can change.  It is more difficult to control the tongue.  James 3:8 tells us ” But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”  The key to change is the heart.  Matthew 12:33-37 tells us “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart[a] brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

So the key to true, lasting change, lies in a change of heart, and a change of heart is possible by exposure to God’s Spirit and His Word.

II.  The Word Can Change Our Lives: Psalms 19:7-11

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.

The Word of God is necessary for conversion.  It is used to make us wise.  We should rejoice over the impact that the Word of God has on our lives.  The Word of God has a role in our transformation.  Roman’s 12:1&2 says:

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.

God will continue to mold our hearts by His Word and by His Spirit.

III.  God Protects and Rewards the Faithful

A.  Protection:  Psalms 33:12-22

The Lord looks from heaven;
He sees all the sons of men.
14 From the place of His dwelling He looks
On all the inhabitants of the earth;
15 He fashions their hearts individually;
He considers all their works.

16 No king is saved by the multitude of an army;
A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for safety;
Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength.

18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy,
19 To deliver their soul from death,
And to keep them alive in famine.

20 Our soul waits for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart shall rejoice in Him,
Because we have trusted in His holy name.
22 Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us,
Just as we hope in You.

We can have confidence that God is looking out for us.  Even if things are going badly, God has not abandoned us.

B.  Provision: Psalms 34:8-10

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints!
There is no want to those who fear Him.
10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger;
But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.

God is good to His people.  We can place our hope, our trust, our confidence in Him.

When God sees our hearts, what does He see?

The Path of Life

October 1, 2012

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday, September 30,2012.

I.  The Will of God:  I Peter 4:1-5

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

The “will of the Gentiles” reminds me of the party culture of many colleges.  For Christians who attend those colleges, but who do not participate in the popular pastimes, there is a certain degree of alienation.  There may even be a certain amount of  rejection, or even mild persecution.  Compared to what Christians around the world go through, this is very mild.  Still, to the person experiencing it, it can feel like a major issue.  We must remember that we are called to live according to the will of God.  We should pray, as Christ prayed, “not my will, but thine, be done.  If in following the will of God for our life, we become subject to persecution, and suffering in this life, so be it.  We can remember that a day of deliverance and of judgement is coming.

II.  The Way of God: Psalms 16:7-11

I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel;
My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
I have set the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope.
10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
11 You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

God has given us His council in His Word.  We should read the Bible so that we can know how God would have us to live our lives.  It is the will of God for us to live according to His Word.

God also speaks to us in our hearts, by His Spirit.  We should learn to be sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  By the Word of God and the Spirit of God, God’s will for our lives is revealed to us.  In the absence of specific guidance, we can pray for God’s direction and make the choice that seems best to us.  We can trust that if we have committed our ways to God, searched His Word, and asked for His guidance, that He will help us to make the right decision. He will show us the “path of life”.

As we follow the path that God has for us, the joy, gladness, peace, and the righteous pleasures of being in the will of God will be available to us.  There may be times of testing, trial, or even suffering; but overall, our lives should be filled with the joy of the Lord.

III.  The Reward of God:  Psalms 17:13-15

Arise, O Lord,
Confront him, cast him down;
Deliver my life from the wicked with Your sword,
14 With Your hand from men, O Lord,
From men of the world who have their portion in this life,
And whose belly You fill with Your hidden treasure.
They are satisfied with children,
And leave the rest of their possession for their babes.

15 As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness;
I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness

People who have rejected Christ receive their portion is this life.  If their lives appear to be good, we must realize that this life is all that they will have of good.  We should feel sorry for them.  As for us, we should seek the face of God in our lives daily.  One day, we will finally see Him face to face.  That will be our reward for a life of faith.  At that point, the tests, trials, and sufferings, of this life will no longer be remembered.  The things that seem so big to us now, will fade into obscurity in the light of His presence.

Be Holy

September 27, 2012

Here are the sermon notes from September 23.

I.  Hope and Grace in Christ: I Peter 1:13

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

God has given us the ability to reason.  We should be clear-minded in our pursuit of the things of God.  We recognize that our hope is placed, not in ourselves, but in Christ alone.  It is by God’s grace that we are able to come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

II.  Be Holy:  vv.14-17

as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”[a]

17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;

We are called to be obedient, to be holy, and to be respectful of God.  We need to be careful that we do not become lazy in our approach to sin and holiness.  We must learn what it means to “cease to do evil, and learn to do good”.  We must learn what it means to live as the children of God.

III.  Redeemed By the Blood of the Lamb vv. 18-21

knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Our salvation required the blood and death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  We should never take this lightly.  It was not a mistake, but was planned by God from the very beginning of time.  It is good to know that our hope and our faith rest, not on our own works or abilities, but upon what has already been done for us by Christ.

IV.  Born by the Word  vv22-25a

Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit[a] in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,[b] 24 because

“All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man[c] as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.”

We are born again by our response to the Word.  We hear the message of salvation.  Then the Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts, confirming the Word that we have heard.  We are given the opportunity to respond the the Word and the Spirit, to believe…to have faith in the One who died for us.  As we respond in faith to the Word the Spirit enters our hearts and we are born again.  We are born to be a new creation, a person who no longer lives according to the ways of the world but a person who lives in obedience and love, not to earn our salvation, but to live out our salvation.

V.  The Lord is Good:  1:25b-2:3

Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

2 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,[b] if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

Since we have been saved, we should be changed.  We should continue to use our minds, and be open in our spirits to the Word of God, and the Spirit of God. We have tasted, and seen that that Lord is good, and we should continue in the pursuit of a greater depth of the knowledge of God,and  a closer walk with Him.




A Lesson From Job

September 20, 2012

I.  Job’s Test: Job chapters 1&2

The summary of this story is that Job was an upright, godly man whom God had richly blessed with material wealth and ten children.  God gave permission to Satan to take away everything that Job had been given, to see if he would still praise God.  Job responded with the words. “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1: 21b)

Satan is then given permission to afflict Job’s health.  He again responds with wonderful words of faith. ” Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?”

Clearly Job passes the test in the first stages.

Job’s friends then come to comfort him and instead of offering comfort they accuse him of wrongdoing.  He argues with them, saying that he is not guilty of anything, and that he does not understand why these things have happened to him.

II.  Job’s Misery Job 7:1-10

Is there not a time of hard service for man on earth?
Are not his days also like the days of a hired man?
Like a servant who earnestly desires the shade,
And like a hired man who eagerly looks for his wages,
So I have been allotted months of futility,
And wearisome nights have been appointed to me.
When I lie down, I say, ‘When shall I arise,
And the night be ended?’
For I have had my fill of tossing till dawn.
My flesh is caked with worms and dust,
My skin is cracked and breaks out afresh.

“My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle,
And are spent without hope.
Oh, remember that my life is a breath!
My eye will never again see good.
The eye of him who sees me will see me no more;
While your eyes are upon me, I shall no longer be.
As the cloud disappears and vanishes away,
So he who goes down to the grave does not come up.
10 He shall never return to his house,
Nor shall his place know him anymore.

As time has gone on and Job continues in his misery, he longs for death to take him.  He is tired of life.

III Job’s Faith Job 19:23-27

“Oh, that my words were written!
Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!
24 That they were engraved on a rock
With an iron pen and lead, forever!
25 For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
27 Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!

This is a wonderful declaration of faith and hope in the midst of misery and despair.  Job believed that even after his flesh was destroyed he would one day stand before God his Redeemer.  I see in these verses both hope for today and confidence in tomorrow, a confidence placed in faith in our redeemer, a hope that goes beyond the grave.

IV.  Job’s Lesson

When bad things happen in our life, I believe it is appropriate to ask ourselves some important questions.

Has this evil come about because of the consequences of some bad choices on our part?  If we get hurt because we decided to try “car surfing” and we fall off the vehicle, do we really need to look for any other reason for our injury?

Are we living in unrepentant sin?  If we are willingly, and knowingly, continuing in a sinful behavior it is entirely possible that God has removed his hedge of protection, or his hand of blessing.  If this is the case, we simply need to repent of our sin.

Are we living in rebellion or disobedience.  Are we like Jonah?  Has God given us direction that we have refused to take in our lives?  If this is the case, then we need to listen to the voice of the Spirit and follow the guidance that God has given to us.

If none of the above questions apply to us, then we can recognize that the circumstances are a test.  We can pray and ask God for deliverance.  We can remember that God is with us, that He is in control, and that we are ultimately victorious as we trust in God.

A Complete Faith

September 13, 2012

Here are the sermon notes from 9/9/12.

I.  James 1:2-5   Christian Completion

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

We do not enjoy tests, but they do serve a purpose.  Tests help us to mature in Christ.  Patience is an essential component for living the Christian life.  We must be patient with others and also patient as we wait for the timing of God for things in our lives.  God is working within us to bring us to completion.  We will not be perfect in this life, but we should continue to make progress.  God will give us the wisdom that we need for the problems that we face.

II.  James 1:21-25 Doers of the Word

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

We are called as Christians to lay aside sin.  We are able to come to Christ just as we are, but we are not to remain in our sins.  God will give us the grace to change.  The Word of God sinks deep into our hearts, the Spirit of God applies that Word to our lives, and we utilize our will to bring our lives into conformity with God’s Word.  It is an ongoing process.  If we truly have a living faith, it will produce a life marked by righteousness.

III.  James 2:14-26  Faith Produces Works

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your[a] works, and I will show you my faith by my[b] works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?[c] 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”[d] And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

In my garden there are the remnants of bean plants.  They have pretty much died and are no longer producing fruit.  We also have a cherry tomato plant that has grown to enormous size and is producing far more tomatoes than we can eat.

As Christians our lives should be more like the tomato plant, and not like the beans.  The beans produced for a while, but they died early because we were on vacation and it was too hot and dry.  Apparently the tomato plant had roots that went deeper into the soil and it was better able to survive.

We need to be well-rooted in Christ.  There will be times of testing and trial.  We need to hold fast to Jesus,be grounded in the Word,  gather strength from the Spirit and continue  produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

May God continue His work in us, so that in all areas of our lives, we may conform to His Word, and may His Spirit, which dwells in our hearts by faith, continue to grant to us a living faith that produces works of righteousness.