Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

See the Good

August 16, 2017

I have many favorite scriptures.  Last week I was reading in Philippians and came across some wonderful verses which have provided the basis for the message today.

I.  Rejoice!  Philippians 4:4-5

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.

Rejoice in the Lord.  No matter what is going on in our life.  No matter what our circumstances may be.  We can rejoice in the Lord.  God is our greatest source of joy.

Our country is a free country, filled with people of many different ideas.  There is often hateful language and sometimes violence.  This is not helpful to our common goals.  As Christians we should lead the way at demonstrating how to handle disagreements.  We should be able to have rational, civil discussions about those things about which we disagree.

We have not always done so well at that.

We can, and should, do better.

II.  Don’t Worry!  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 should never worry.  Worry demonstrates a lack of trust in God.  God is worthy of our trust.

If there is a situation about which we are concerned, instead of worrying about it, we should pray about it.  We can pray about anything that concerns us.  God is able to help.  He is able to give us wisdom to know what to do and the strength to do what we should.  His grace is sufficient for us.  There is nothing that we cannot handle with the help that God gives us.  This doesn’t mean that things will turn out the way that we want them to, but rather that God will help us deal with the troubles of this life.

III.  Focus!  Philippians 4:8

 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Some people seem to be gifted with the ability to criticize.  They see what is wrong everywhere they look.  That is not the way be be at peace.  True, it is necessary to see what is wrong if we are to fix it, but to just focus on the ugly or the broken is no way to live.  We should look for the good around us.  This good is present in many, many things.  There is some good in all people.  Instead of focusing on what is wrong, focus on the good.

The greatest source of good is God and His Word.  In addition to seeking out the good in the world, we can focus our attention on God and His Word.

See the good!

 

These are the sermon notes from 8/13/17.  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. 

Serve One Another

July 19, 2017

There are some times when a single verse will provide a wonderful outline for a message.  This past week in my devotions I came across such a verse.

Galatians 5:13

 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

I.  Liberty:  John 8:36

Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

God has set us free from many things.  First of all, we are free from the bondage of trying to earn our salvation.  We are saved by grace, through faith, not of works… thank you God!  (Ephesians 2:8-10)  We do not have to wonder if we are good enough.  We are forgiven.  We are also set free from sin.  On our own, we could not escape the clutches of sin.  We could not break bad habits.  God breaks the hold that sin has on us and we are free to live as He would want us to live.  We also are set free from guilt.  If we confess our sins, He forgives us.  (I John 1:9)  We do not need to feel guilty.  We are forgiven.  We also do not need to worry.  God is watching out for us.  Nothing can happen to us that God will not give us the grace to handle.  Anything that is a concern to us, we can lift to God in prayer.  (Philippians 4:6)  We do not need to be afraid.  God has not given us a spirit of fear. ( I Timothy 1:7)  God is with us!

II.  Not For The Flesh:  Romans 6:1-4

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Just because we do not need to earn our salvation, it does not mean that we are not to live godly lives.  In Christ we are a new creation. (II Corinthians 5:17)  The old man has died.  We are to live in the newness of life that we have in Jesus Christ.  We are not earning our salvation, but we are living out our salvation.

III.  Serve One Another:  Galatians 6:1-5

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.

We are to serve one another.  We are not alone in this journey.  Our brothers and sisters in Christ are to come alongside of us and help us in the times of difficulty.  When we are strong, then we will help those who are in need.  Actually, even if we are both weak, we can lean on each other to continue down the path of life.

We are not meant to be alone.

This does not mean that we can blame others for our problems.  Ultimately, we will answer to God for what we have done with our lives.  We cannot point the finger at other people, claiming that this one hurt us and that one did not help us.

We have God.

His grace is enough.

God has set us free, not so that we are free to sin, but that we may serve Him and help one another in our journey through this life.

 

These are the notes from the message preached on 7/16/17.  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. 

Our Aim

July 12, 2017

When I received my black belt in tae kwon do.  The instructor told us that the black belt was not the end of the road.  In the same way, salvation is not the end of our Christian development.  It is only the beginning.

I.  Our Aim:  II Corinthians 5:9-10

 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

We are not trying to earn our salvation.  We recognize that we cannot be good enough to deserve our salvation.  It is only by the grace and mercy of God that we are saved.  However, we should desire to live a life that is pleasing to God.  The motivation is not our salvation, but rather that we want God to be pleased with what He sees in us.

We will one day appear before the judgment seat of Christ.  For believers in Jesus, this is not about our salvation, but rather the nature of our reward.  Of course, there are no slums in heaven, but idea that there may be distinctions made is taught in several places.

One such portion of scripture is II Timothy 2:19-21

II.  Vessel of Honor:  II Timothy 2:19-21

Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” 20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.

The Lord knows His people.  Those who have a living faith, have the Spirit of God dwelling in their hearts.  We are forgiven by grace, through faith.  (Ephesians 2:8-10)

If Christ is our Savior, then He is also our Lord.  We are called to “cease to do evil and learn to do good”.  As we develop our relationship with Christ, we should become more and more like Him.  Of course, a part of that is leaving behind sinful practices.  The more progress that has taken place in our lives in this area seems to make us more of a ‘vessel of honor’.

God desires to use us for the work of his kingdom.  He wants to work, not just in us, but also through us.  As we leave behind sinful practices, God can use us for various tasks within His kingdom.

III.  Completion:  Philippians 1:6

 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

God does not give up on us.  He began His work in us even before our salvation and He continues to work on us after salvation.  After salvation, we should grow in our knowledge, godliness and usefulness for the Kingdom of God.

We will not obtain perfection so this work is an ongoing process.

May we be more like Him.

May we be used by Him.

May God alone be glorified.

 

These are the sermon notes from 7/2/17.  All scriptures are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that may appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

Take Heed

June 28, 2017

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

I.  Striving:  I Corinthians 9:24-27

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

A.  Discipline

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

B.  Disqualified

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May we be more like Him.

 

These are the sermon notes from 6/17/17.  All quotations are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

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.