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. 

God Will Provide

February 22, 2017

The message today is based on a story that is familiar to most of us.

I.  Abraham’s Test:  Genesis 22:1-14

Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!”

And he said, “Here I am.”

Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”

So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!”

And he said, “Here I am, my son.”

Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”

And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together.

Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.

11 But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”

So he said, “Here I am.”

12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”

13 Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

The test that was given to Abraham was very difficult.  He was asked to sacrifice his only son Isaac.  Now, we know that Abraham had another son, Ishmael, but Isaac was the son of the promise.  The language of ‘only son’ is important for further understanding.

Abraham believed God, trusted God and was obedient to God.  He knew that he had heard from God and he was obedient.  This was before the Mosaic Law had been given to the Israelites, so Moses had no frame of reference, only his ability to hear from God.  Today, we would wish to compare the voice of God’s Spirit to the revelation of His Word for confirmation.

God is able to provide.  Ultimately, God did provide the lamb for the burnt offering.  God did not want Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, rather God wanted to point to the sacrifice that He Himself would one day make for the world.

Whatever test God brings our way, He will provide the resources to complete that test.

II.  The Lamb of God:  John 1:29

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

The test of Abraham pointed toward the day when Jesus Christ, the Only Son of God would be offered up as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.  Truly, God did provide the lamb for the ultimate sacrifice.

III.  Death to Life:  Ephesians 2:1-10

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

We were dead in our trespasses and sins.  It is only because of the grace of God that we may have new life.

We have been made alive in Christ, not because of what we have done, but because of what He has done for us.

It is by grace, through faith, for good works.  It is important to keep the correct order.  If God did not reach out to us, we would remain dead in our sins.  He has reached our to us by the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ and given us the opportunity to respond with faith in Jesus Christ.

This faith in Jesus leads to the new life.  We do not remain as we were, we become the people of God.  Our lives are changed, not because of our efforts but because God is working in us.

Thanks be to God!

To Him alone be the glory!!

 

These are the sermon notes from 2/19/17.  All scripture quotes are from the New Kings James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I do not have any control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Walk With God

February 15, 2017

The theme for the message this week is to walk with God.  It is a simple thought, but not such an easy action.  I have been thinking about it all week and am not yet completely settled in my own mind, but I want to share what I have with you today.

I.  Noah Walked With God:  Gen 6:9

This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.

It should be obvious that this is not to be taken in a literal, physical sense.  God did not take physical form and go for a walk with Abraham in the same way that my wife and I go for a walk.

I believe that God is present everywhere, at all times.  One way in which we can walk with God is to cultivate an awareness of His presence.  It is easy to sense the presence of God at certain times and in certain places, but, since God is always present, we should be able to have the eyes and ears of our heart opened so that we may sense His presence around us more and more.

We also should seek to commune with God.  We should talk to Him and we should be quiet to allow Him to speak to us.  This does not have to happen only at certain times or places, but rather frequently throughout our day.  Of course, there are times when we must focus on the task at hand, but how often through a day can we  breathe out a brief prayer to the Almighty One?

Also we should seek to be guided by God throughout our day.  This is true not only in the big decisions of life, but in many of the daily choices that we make.

II.  Noah Obeyed God:  Genesis 6:22

Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.

I wonder how many of us could say the same as what was said about Noah?

God has given us His Word.  The Bible is meant to provide a guide for us on how to live our lives.  We should read, apply and obey God’s Word.

God has also given us His Spirit.  We should cultivate an ability to be sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Neither of these are easy, nor are we perfect in our ability to understand and to live in obedience.

The challenge is to continue to grow in that ability.

III.  Heart and Hands:  Genesis 20:1-5

And Abraham journeyed from there to the South, and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur, and stayed in Gerar. Now Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.

But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, “Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.”

But Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, “Lord, will You slay a righteous nation also? Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she, even she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this.”

In the integrity of our heart we should seek to walk with God in obedience to His Word and His Spirit.  God sees our hearts.  He loves us and will guide us if we seek to live our lives for Him.

In the innocence of our hands we should ‘cease to do evil, and learn to do good”.  God will help.

I would add that we should seek to speak words that are pleasing to God and helpful to those who hear.

IV.  Enoch:  Genesis 5:24

And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

Enoch has set a high standard.  He walked with God and walked right into heaven.  For all of us still on this earth, it means that there is still room for growth.

Even as the song said,  “Just a closer walk with thee

daily Jesus let it be.”

 

These are the sermon notes from 2/12/17.  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. 

God is Love

February 9, 2017

One thing that really bothers me is when I am accused of hate speech.  Because I have the nerve to call something a sin, some people automatically jump to accusations of hate.  This cannot be farther from the truth.  My entire belief system is based on the concept of love.

I.  Believe in God:  Genesis 1:1

 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Our first challenge is to believe that God exists.  Before there was anything else, there was God.  I believe in God the Creator.  Some people believe that God guided the evolutionary process.  (I think they are wrong!)  The stating point is to recognize the truth of the first four words of the Bible, “In the beginning God”.

The most important thing to know about God, is that He loves us.  John 3:16 is the most well known scripture in the world.

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.

God loves us.  If we are having a bad day, thinking about this magnificent truth should help us to feel better.  God does indeed love us.

II.  Love God:  I John 4:7-19

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.

God is love.  God is not hate.  God loves us and we are to love one another.  There is no room for hate in a Christian’s life.  We are to love God and to love one another.

Love drives out fear.  If we can understand the great love that God has for us, then we will not be afraid.  “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

III.  Obey God:  I John 4:20-5:5

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

If we love God, then we will obey God.  We are able to obey God because we have the Spirit of God in our hearts through our faith in Jesus Christ.  It is not in our own strength, but in the strength that God gives to us.

If we love God, we will also love people.  The commandments of God are based on love for God and love for people, so it will be relatively easy to keep the commandments, because of the love of God in our hearts.

We are able to overcome because of God.  Whatever obstacles we face in this life we know that we do not face them on our own.  “Greater is He who is in us, than he who is in the world”  (I John 4:4)

In the end, it is relatively simply, believe in God, believe in Jesus, love God and love people and obey God in all things.

These are the sermon notes from 2/5/17.  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.

 

Not By Might

February 1, 2017

Some of you will remember the Pentecostal Evangel the official publication of the Assemblies of God for many years.  On the cover every month was Zechariah 4:6.  Today, I would like to begin my message by reading Zechariah 4:6-10

 So he answered and said to me:

“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel:
‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’
Says the Lord of hosts.
‘Who are you, O great mountain?
Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain!
And he shall bring forth the capstone
With shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”’”

Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying:

“The hands of Zerubbabel
Have laid the foundation of this temple;
His hands shall also finish it.
Then you will know
That the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you.
10 For who has despised the day of small things?
For these seven rejoice to see
The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
They are the eyes of the Lord,

I.  Not By Might

The work that God has called us to do is not done merely by human wisdom, strength and skill.  Yes, God has given each of us talents and abilities that we should use for His glory, but if we limit ourselves to what we can do, then we will fall far short of what God would have us do.

II.  Great Mountain Becomes A Plain

There is nothing that is too big for God.  I am reminded that if we have faith, we can move mountains.  (Matthew 21:21)  Now, there normally isn’t any need for us to actually move a mountain, but there may be great things that seem impossible to us that God calls us to do.  By His Spirit we can do whatever He has called us to do.

III.  Small Things

Sometimes we think that because we are not playing the lead role, that our part is insignificant.  In the plans and purposes of God, each and every part is significant.  God has a purpose for each one of us.  Some may seem insignificant, but that is because we do not see things as God sees them.  We do not see the whole picture.  Each of us has a role to play and each one is important.  Do not despise the day of small things!

IV.  Eyes of the Lord

We are to be obedient to Gods direction.  We should not be envious of others if they seem to have landed a bigger role.  We should be faithful to do the part that has been assigned to us.  God sees each one.  Our ultimate goal is to simply hear the words “Well done good and faithful servant… enter into the joy of your Lord!”  (Matthew 25:21)

So whether we are called to do great things or small things, let us do all things to the glory of God and fulfill His call on our life!

These are the sermon notes from 1/22/17.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Live By Faith

January 18, 2017

If we are willing to let God guide our lives, the results will be pretty amazing.

I.  What Will He Say?  Habakkuk 2:1

I will stand my watch
And set myself on the rampart,
And watch to see what He will say to me,
And what I will answer when I am corrected.

Sometimes we need to stop moving.  I don’t know about you, but I tend to be very busy.  I always have stuff that should be done.  I have a list.  It’s long.  One of the most important things on that list is to pray.  In prayer, we are not to just bring a list of requests before God, we should take time to be still in His presence.  I remember, long ago, I was a tanker in the Marine Corps serving in Beirut.  I had guard duty every other day, six hours on, six hours off, two shifts, so twelve hours of guard duty every other day.  We were not located in an area with traffic and the threat level at the time was minimal, so there was lots of time to stand, pray and listen.  Sometimes I miss having those large chunks of time for prayer.

It is good to take time to “see what He will say to me”.  God may speak to us if we take the time to listen.  Are we giving him time?  Or in our times of prayer are we the only ones speaking?

If God corrects us, how will we respond?  Will we make excuses?  Will we blame someone else?  Or will we take responsibility for our past mistakes and put forth our best effort to do better?

If God gives us direction, will we follow?  Or do we think that we know what is best?

II.  Live By Faith:  Habakkuk 2:4

Behold the proud,
His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith.

The proud will not accept correction or direction .  They do not think that they should listen to God because they believe that they know what they are doing and are already good enough.

The just do not place their confidence in their own abilities but in the mercy and grace of God.  “The just shall live by his faith.” inspired Paul and later Martin Luther to recognize that our relationship with God is indeed based on faith, not our good works.

Our faith in God will incline us to listen to God and to accept both His correction and direction.  If we are willing to accept the correction of God,  to follow the direction of God and to live the lives that He has for us, we will be amazed at the results.

 

III.  God is the Source:  Habakkuk 3:17-19

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.

19 The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.

To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.

Here in America today, there are some who face hunger, but actually starvation is pretty rare.  In Habakkuk’s day, the possibility of starvation was very real.  If you have a pile of gold, but there is nothing to eat, the gold will not sustain you.

Even if it all goes badly, I will rejoice in the Lord.   I love this thought.  Our joy is not based on the things of this world but rather in our relationship with the God of our salvation.

God also is our source of strength.  He will enable us to do what we have to do.  We do not operate in our own strength, but in the strength that God gives to us.

Listen to God

Walk in faith.

Let God be your source of joy and strength.

God has an amazing life for you!

These are the sermon notes from 1/15/17.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

From The Inside Out

January 11, 2017

Certainly there are times when life is complex.  I know that my life is complex.  Maybe that is why I really do appreciate simplicity.  I realize that as a philosophy instructor this may seem contradictory, as most philosophy is anything but simple.  Theology can be the same way.  We can make the teachings of God very complex, or we can make them simple.  I like simple.

I.  Seek Good: Amos 5:14-15

Seek good and not evil,
That you may live;
So the Lord God of hosts will be with you,
As you have spoken.
15 Hate evil, love good;
Establish justice in the gate.
It may be that the Lord God of hosts
Will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

Amos was prophesying to the people of Israel.  They had stopped following the law and were living sinful lives.  Judgement was coming for their evil ways.  They could avoid that judgement by simply doing what was good in the sight of God.

We need to recognize that we are to hate evil, not the people who do evil.  Evil acts bring harm to all it involves.  God loves people and calls them to turn away from evil and do what is good.

This is not done in our own strength or wisdom.  God has given us His Word to help us to identify what is good and what is evil.  He has also given us His Spirit which will help both is knowing what is good, and in doing what is good.

God is just.  He is concerned with justice of all kinds.  We as His people should also seek for, and work for, justice in our midst.

II.  Do Good:  Amos 5:21-24

“I hate, I despise your feast days,
And I do not savor your sacred assemblies.
22 Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings,
I will not accept them,
Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings.
23 Take away from Me the noise of your songs,
For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.
24 But let justice run down like water,
And righteousness like a mighty stream

God cannot be bought.  We cannot simply go through the motions of commitment, we need to be fully committed to Him.  The people in the time of Amos were going through the motions.  They gathered together, they offered sacrifices, they sang worship songs, and they lived in sin.

God was not impressed.

As I was praying about these verses I believe that God spoke to me that in v.24 justice was our dealings with other people and righteousness was our walk before God.  That made me think of the simplicity of loving God and loving people, and of doing to others what we would want others to do to us.

III.  Be Good: James 2:14-17

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.

We recognize that we are not saved by our works.  “By grace, through faith!”  (Ephesians 2:8)  We also recognize that Christ dwells in our hearts through faith.  (Ephesians 3:17)  If our faith is a living faith, then it will produce the fruit of righteousness and justice.  If Christ is truly in our hearts, our lives will be changed.  This change is not worked from the outside to the inside, but from the inside to the outside.  We don’t change our works so that our heart will change, our hearts are changed and so our acts change.

We don’t do this on our own.  God changes our hearts and our works will change.

We don’t simply do good things, an outside conformity to the law.  We be good people, the people of God.  Not because of us, but because of Christ, who dwells in us.

These are the sermon notes from 1/8/17.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.