Posts Tagged ‘church’

Rejoice Always

February 23, 2015

I Thessalonians 5:16 says “Rejoice always!”  There are times in life when this is  easy and times when it is not.

I.  Rejoice in Blessings:  I Chronicles 19:16

 “O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own.”

Everything that we have has come from God.  We may think that our own abilities and hard work have earned us the material things that we possess, but who gave us the abilities?  Who gave us the opportunities?  Who helped the results of our efforts to be favorable?  It is appropriate to rejoice in the blessings that God has given to us.  When things are going well it is easy to rejoice.

II.  Rejoice in Trials:  II Thessalonians 1:4-7

 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,

God is with us even in our times of trial.  We are not alone.  God will give us wisdom and strength to endure the times of trials.  We can rejoice that we do not face our trials alone.  God will give us the wisdom to know what to do, and the strength to do it.

We can rest assured that the wicked will be punished.  We do not rejoice in their destruction.  We pray for them to repent, but there is a sense of justice in knowing that the wicked who have not repented, will be punished.

The faithful will be rewarded.  If not in this life, then in the next.

III.  Rejoice in Death:

Luke 10: 20: 

Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

Revelation 20:11-15:

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

As Christians we can rejoice that our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  Our lives on this earth may be difficult at times but we have a hope that goes beyond this world.  Our true reward is in the life to come.

We do not rejoice in the destruction of the wicked.  Rather we warn them of the judgement to come upon those who do not repent and call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.  We rejoice along with the angels in heaven whenever a person turns from their sins and finds salvation in Jesus Christ.

To rejoice always seems like a difficult challenge, but when we think about it we realize that in times of blessing, in times of trial and even in death, we have reason to rejoice.  For in life, and in death, God is with us.

These are the sermon notes from 2/15/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

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Make Room

January 15, 2015

The Christmas story never grows old.  Each time that we read it something different stands out to us.  Today is Christmas Day and the scripture reading is from Luke chapter two.

Luke 2: 1-20

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

I.  Peace, Goodwill to Men

Peace to Earth.

Humanity deserves judgement.  We have sinned.  We have turned away from God.  We have abandoned His laws and denied His existence.   Yet God so loved the world that He sent His son into the world to be our savior.  God offers us forgiveness, instead of judgement.  He offers us a peace that this world does not understand, and that this world cannot take away.

Goodwill toward men.

God offers us an abundant life.  To choose to follow God is to choose the better path.  God loves us and wants what is best for us.  Part of that life is learning how to live and act justly.  This past year in our country there has been much unrest, much turmoil, much conflict in the pursuit of justice.  God offers us a better way.  We are not to detach and let the world go its own way.  We are to engage, to be salt and light in the world.  We are to be the hand of God extended to those who live in darkness.  We should pursue peace and justice in our world.  May God help us to express His goodwill towards humanity.

II.  No Room for Them

This is an eloquent symbol of many people today.  Just as there was no room for Mary and Joseph in the inn, so there seems to be no room in people’s lives today for Christ.  We are busy with so many activities that prayer, scripture, and church are frequently squeezed out of people’s lives.

Our government, in the name of separation of church and state is busily pursuing the removal of religious symbols.  It is all that much more important that Christians do all that they can do to keep Christ in the forefront of their lives. The light should shine in the darkness.

We should make room in our lives for Christ, so that we can be a living source of peace, goodwill towards all people.

These are the sermon notes from 12/25/14.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Christmas Lights

January 13, 2015

Every year we take at least one evening to drive around looking at the Christmas lights that are displayed on homes and businesses.  There is a lot of work and a lot of expense that goes into these beautiful decorations and we do enjoy them.  The colorful lights also serve as a wonderful symbol of the the work of God in the world.

I.  The Word Became Flesh:  John 1:1-5,14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

I have many favorite verses in the scriptures.  This passage is one of them.

When we celebrate Christmas it is more than just a story.  It is a proclamation of our belief that God came into the world and became a human being.  Jesus was not just a prophet, a good man, or a teacher. He was God incarnate.

Through Jesus, God revealed Himself to the world.  “The Light shines in the darkness.”  Unfortunately, most of the world did not comprehend it.

II.  Drawn to the Light:  John 3:16-21

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.

18 “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. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

There are two responses to the light of Christ.  Some reject the light and move deeper into darkness.  Some are drawn to the light.  This is an individual response to the grace of God offered in Jesus Christ.  John 3:16 is the most well known scripture in the world.  It is the gospel in a single sentence.  Yet not all believe in the Son of God.

III.  You Are the Light of the World:  Matthew 5:14-16

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

As Christians, we believe that God has given us of His Spirit.  It is the Spirit of God that dwells in our hearts that makes us the light of the world.  “People are drawn to Christians, and then to Christ.”  This is something I was once told by a young minister and I was quite offended by the statement at the time.  I thought that it meant that, as Christians, we should seek to be popular.  Now, many years later, I understand that what was meant by the statement is that people are drawn to the Christ that they see in us.  Our lives should be different.  The Spirit of God should make a difference in our lives that people are able to see.  Our words, deeds and attitudes should be different because of Jesus Christ.

Christmas lights shine in the darkness, lighting up the winter nights.  The light of Christ should shine through the lives of His followers, offering hope to those who dwell in darkness.

These are the sermon notes from 12/21/14.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Spirit and Flesh

January 8, 2015

Jihad is a word used by the Muslims to describe a holy struggle.  The lesser jihad is a reference to actual military combat.  The greater jihad is the struggle against evil in oneself.  Christians also have an inner struggle.  It is the struggle between flesh and Spirit.

I.  The Inner Battle:  Galatians 5:16-17

 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.

This is a battle that takes place within ourselves.  The battle between flesh and Spirit.  Our flesh is inclined towards evil.  God’s Spirit calls us to do what is right.  It is not simply a matter of “following your heart’, because your heart may be controlled by your flesh and might lead you astray.  It is important to be able to learn to distinguish what is the leading of the Spirit, and what is the inclination of the flesh.

II.  Crucify the Flesh:  Galatians 5:24-25

 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 we are able to identify the inclination of the flesh, we are to crucify it.  Of course, this is not meant to be taken literally.  It means that we are not to give in to the inclination of the flesh, but rather, to be given over to the Spirit, so that the Spirit leads us.

III.  Christ Lives in Me:  Galatians 2:20

 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

To the degree that we are being led by the Spirit, to that degree, Christ is living, or acting through us.  There have been times in my life when the struggle has been intense and I have reminded myself of this verse.  I have died, but Christ lives in me.  It has given me strength many times to continue in the calling that God has for me.  A part of the good news is that those times of struggle are only momentary, the joy of the Lord is eternal.

IV.  One in Christ:  Galatians 3:27-28

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

The body of Christ, which is the church, appears divided, but in truth it is one.  We are not divided by race, sex or denomination.  When these divisions do appear, it is the work of the flesh.  In the Spirit we are one.  We should try to live and act in that truth.

V.  Process:  Galatians 4:19

My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you,

We are saved by our faith in Jesus Christ.  At salvation the Spirit of God enters our hearts and we are born again.  After we have been saved, we begin the lifelong process of being formed into the image of Christ.

VI.  Service:  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.

We are not to live merely for ourselves.  We are to serve one another.  Each one of us has different skills and we should use them, not just for our own advancement or needs, but to help out our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We are not only human, as Christians we have received the Spirit of Christ by which we are transformed.  This transformation is a lifelong process which requires our cooperation.  We must learn to crucify the flesh, and to live and walk, in the Spirit.

These are the sermon notes from 12/14/14.  Any advertisement that might appear has been placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Joyful Giving

January 6, 2015

Deciding what to give your friends and family for Christmas can be a difficult decision.  Knowing that the greatest Christmas gift is the one that God gave us in Christ is relatively simple.  Recognizing that we should give something back to God should be natural, just like we exchange gifts on earth with our friends and family.  God gives to us.  We give back to God.  Of course, we cannot literally give to God, but we are able to give to God by giving to the local church, missionaries, and various humanitarian organizations.

I.  Sow Bountifully:  II Corinthians 9:6-7

 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

A.  Be generous.  This does not mean that we give the rent money to the church, but we should establish our budgets in such a way that we are living well within our means so that we are able to give, and we should give generously.

B.  II Corinthians 8:12-13

 For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.

13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened;

I believe that Christians should tithe on their income to their local church.  A tithe is ten percent.  I believe that when we are faithful to give God the tithe, He will enable us to live on the rest.  What we give beyond the tithe is our offerings.  Our offerings are given according to our ability.

C.  We should pray about what we give in offerings.  God will direct us if we have an open mind and heart.

D.  Be happy that you are able to give.  Do not worry if the amount is small.  If each person does what they are able to do the need will be met.  If we give only a small amount, we are still participating in the effort.  We should do what we can, not what we cannot.

II.  God is Able to Supply:  II Corinthians 9:8-9

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written:

“He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever.”

The grace of God abounds towards us.  My wife and I plan our offerings into our budget.  We have a set amount of money that we set aside each month so that we have money available to give in both tithes and offerings.  We give the full tithe each month and the offerings we give as the Lord leads.  When Gloria left her secular job we did not reduce the amount we give as offerings and God has enabled us to continue to live within our budget.

III.  The Greatest Gift:  II Corinthians 9:10-15

Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, 13 while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, 14 and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

    A.  God supplies in ways that we do not always understand.

    B.  There is much giving of thanks.  Both those who give and those who receive, give thanks to God.

    C.  To God be the glory!

    D.  It is natural to give God both thanks and praise.  It is also natural to offer prayers for the people who have generously met the need.  Prayers are powerful and we should never underestimate their value.

    E.  All of this talk of giving reminds us of the greatest gift which is, of course, the salvation offered to us through Jesus Christ.

Even as God has given to us so richly and generously, in so many ways, so we should look for ways to generously and joyfully. give back to God.

These are the sermon notes from 12/7/14.  Any advertisements that may appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Created for a Purpose

December 29, 2014

Gideon was one of the judges of Israel.  He had seventy sons by his wives, and one son, named Abimelech, by his concubine.  After the death of Gideon, Abimelech killed all of his brothers except one, named Jotham, who got away.  Jotham later confronted Abimelech with words recorded in the book of Judges.

I.  Our Common Purpose:  Judges 9:8-15

“The trees once went forth to anoint a king over them.
And they said to the olive tree,
‘Reign over us!’
But the olive tree said to them,
‘Should I cease giving my oil,
With which they honor God and men,
And go to sway over trees?’

10 “Then the trees said to the fig tree,
‘You come and reign over us!’
11 But the fig tree said to them,
‘Should I cease my sweetness and my good fruit,
And go to sway over trees?’

12 “Then the trees said to the vine,
‘You come and reign over us!’
13 But the vine said to them,
‘Should I cease my new wine,
Which cheers both God and men,
And go to sway over trees?’

14 “Then all the trees said to the bramble,
‘You come and reign over us!’
15 And the bramble said to the trees,
‘If in truth you anoint me as king over you,
Then come and take shelter in my shade;
But if not, let fire come out of the bramble
And devour the cedars of Lebanon!’

Now, I know that this is a prophetic word against Abimelech.  As such, it has a specific purpose for which it was written.  Today, however, I want to focus on something other than the treachery of Abimelech.  I want to talk about the symbolism of trees.

All living trees have some things in common.  They have roots, trunks, branches and leaves.  In the word given to Abimelech, the trees were symbolic of people.  I want to talk about people.  All people are created by God with some common purposes.

1.  We are to love God and people.  Matthew 22:36-40

 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

2.  We are to give thanks to God.  I Thessalonians 5:18

 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

3.  We are to do good works.  Matthew 5:16

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

4.  We are to tell others about Jesus.  I Peter 3:15

 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

5.  We are to pray.  I Thessalonians 5:17

pray without ceasing,

These actions are common to all Christians.  We do not have to ask ourselves if we should do these things.  We should be doing them.

II.  Our Different Gifts:  Romans 12:6-8

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

There are different types of trees that fulfill different purposes.  There are also different types of people to fulfill different purposes in the kingdom of God. There are many ways that God can use us.  We do not need to try to be something that God has not called and gifted us to be.  We should seek to identify our gifts and use them for the glory of God.

These are the sermon notes from 11/30/14.  Any advertisements that might accompany this post are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Thanks Be to God

December 15, 2014

Recently, my mother was very ill.  It was serious enough that all four of her children gathered together from different states to be with her as she went into surgery.  With the help of a lot of prayer, she came through and has since recovered enough to return to her own apartment in a senior center.

I Corinthians 15:54-58

 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

55 “O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

I.  Victory Over Death

As we talked with my mother about the surgery she said more than once “If the good Lord wills, I’ll come through this.”  There were two things that were important in that statement.  First, her life was in God’s hands.  She placed her trust, not in the doctors, but in God.  Second, although unsaid, it was understood that if she didn’t make it through the surgery, it was all right.  She was ready to go.  Her trust in God allowed her to face a surgery that she might not survive because death had lost its’ sting.

My mother lived out her faith in a difficult situation.  Each one of us who are believers should be able to place our trust in God who has overcome death and who holds our lives in His hands.

Thanks be to God.

II.  Victory in Life

We recognize that God has given us the victory in life as well as in death.  Our lives have purpose and meaning, even if we do not always see or understand. All good gifts ultimately come from God.  There are many  simple pleasures in this life.  Most important is the love of God, family and friends.

Thanks be to God.

III.  Be Steadfast

Since we believe that we can have victory either in life or in death, it is easier to remain steadfast.  We do not quit.  We do not give up.  We continue to carry out the purpose that God has for our life.  We know that our labor for God is not in vain.

Thanks be to God.

These are the sermon notes from 11/23/14.  Any advertisement is placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

A Reason for the Wilderness

November 13, 2014

We all experience difficult times.  Sometimes we know that those difficulties are a direct result of our own stupidity.  Other times we are unable to discern what went wrong.  It is nice to know that God has a reason for everything and can even use difficult times to continue His work in us.

I.  The Wilderness:  Deuteronomy 8:1-2

 “Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers. And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

Deuteronomy is the farewell address of Moses.  He has led the children of Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness for forty years.  As they are on the verge of entering the promised land Moses reviews what they have learned.  The time in the wilderness was a time of humbling.  Israel could not survive without God’s help.  We too, should accept the fact that we need God’s help to face our own wilderness.  The time in the wilderness was a time of testing.  We too, are tested by the difficulties that we experience.  Are we able to continue in faith and obedience to God when times are difficult?  The time in the wilderness was used to examine their hearts.  Did they love God?  Were they willing to keep His commandments?  Do we?  Are we?  Difficult times reveal our character.

II.  Not By Bread Alone:  Deuteronomy 8:3-4

So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years.

God allows us to hunger, so that we might recognize both the provision of God, and the need for God.  These verses were referenced by Jesus when He was being tempted in the wilderness.  We too, should remember that we do not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.  We should not find our primary fulfillment in the things of the world, but in the Word of God.

III. Know in Your Heart:  Deuteronomy 8:5-6

 You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens you.

“Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him.

Sometimes the difficulties that we experience are used by God to chasten us, to correct us.  Sometimes we don’t listen.  Sometimes we are disobedient.  When difficulties come it is appropriate to ask God if He is trying to tell us something, or if we are being disobedient.  We should listen for His still small voice.  If we are being disobedient, then we should repent and change our ways.  We should love God, and respect Him enough to listen and obey.

When we experience difficulties we should ask God if there is something in our life that we need to change.  If not, then we can trust that it is only a test and we can hold fast to our faith in God and our obedience to His Word.  God will see us through the wilderness if we will humbly walk with Him.

These are the sermon notes from October 26, 2014.  Any advertisements that accompany this blog are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Tithing

October 13, 2014

Occasionally I speak with people who are having financial problems.  I ask them two questions at the beginning.  Do you tithe?  Do you have a budget?  If the answer to either of those questions is no, then I know where to start.

A tithe is one tenth.  So tithing is giving 10% of your income to your local church.  Some people think that tithing is a part of the Mosaic law, and no longer applicable to Christian practice.

I disagree.

I.  Before the Law

Genesis 14:18-20

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. 19 And he blessed him and said:

“Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
20 And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”

And he gave him a tithe of all.

Abraham , who was earlier called Abram, gave a tithe to Melchizedek.  This is the first place in scripture where it is recorded that a servant of God gave a tithe to a religious leader.  Abraham lived 500 years before the law was given.  Tithing predates the Law.

Genesis 28:20-22

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. 22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

Jacob, who later became known as Israel, also declared his intention to practice tithing.  It was his response of gratitude for the provision of the Lord.  He had left home with the clothes on his back and the staff in his hand.  God provided for him throughout his time away and he returned home twenty years later, a wealthy man.

II.  The Law

Leviticus 27:30-33

And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord. 31 If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it. 32 And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord. 33 He shall not inquire whether it is good or bad, nor shall he exchange it; and if he exchanges it at all, then both it and the one exchanged for it shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.’”

Israel was primarily an agricultural society and so the tithe was described in terms of seed, fruit and flocks.  The principle of giving a tenth of our income is easily enough applied to a cash society.

III.  The Prophets

Malachi 3:8-11

“Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,
Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,”
Says the Lord of hosts;

In these verses are a warning and a promise.  The warning is to those who do not tithe.  They are under a curse.  This curse may be fulfilled in a wide variety of ways, but the most common is continuing financial hardship.  Giving a tithe expresses obedience and trust.  Not giving a tithe expresses disobedience and distrust.

The promise is two-fold.  God will bless the person who faithfully tithes.  This blessing will also be fulfilled in a wide variety of ways.  The second promise is that the devourer will be rebuked.  Now, what exactly “the devourer” is, is not known for sure, but clearly it is bad.  When we give God the tithe, God blesses the remainder so that 90% will go further than 100%.   I personally have tithed since I was first introduced to the practice at age 16 and God has always taken good care of my family and I.  We have never been wealthy, but our needs, and many of our wants have been met throughout the years.

III.  Jesus

Matthew 23:23

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

Here Jesus is rebuking the scribes and Pharisees for neglecting justice, mercy and faith, which are more important than tithing.  Still, he says that tithing should be done.

IV.  The Epistles

I Corinthians 9:4-14

 Do we have no right to eat and drink? Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working? Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?

Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? 10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 12 If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?

Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? 14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.

Paul supported himself by working as a tent-maker.  Today many ministers support their families by working a secular job.  That is not the way that it is meant to be.  Ministers should be able to devote themselves full-time to the work of the ministry.  They can only do that if they are supported by the giving of the people they serve.

The principle of tithing predates the law, is established by the law, is confirmed by Jesus, and it’s purpose clarified by Paul.  These verses that I have shared are a representation of the scriptures about giving and I believe that they are adequate to support the continued practice of tithing.

These are the notes from a teaching given to the youth group 10/12/14.

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Call to Holiness

September 25, 2014

While reading in Leviticus in my devotions I was struck once again with the call to holiness.  God is holy.  We are called to be holy, but, what is holiness?

I.  A Holy God:  Leviticus 10:1-3

Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, saying:

‘By those who come near Me
I must be regarded as holy;
And before all the people
I must be glorified.’”

So Aaron held his peace.

What had Nadab and Abihu done wrong?  One of the jobs of the priests was to burn incense before the Lord, so why was this a problem?  Simply because God had not commanded it.  Apparently the priests were to do as God commanded, and no more.  The penalty for their sin was instant death.  God emphasized the need for obedience to His commands.  This message is not taught much today.  It is too harsh.  It is too judgmental.  We prefer the message of love, mercy and compassion.  I am concerned that our emphasis on these qualities of God have caused us to neglect the aspects of holiness, judgement and even wrath.  All of which are also qualities of God.

II.  Distinguish and Teach:  Leviticus 10:8-11

Then the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying: “Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, 10 that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, 11 and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.”

I remember one time, while I was a part of a denomination that approved of drinking in moderation, while I was serving in the Marine Corps, I returned to the barracks after an evening spent at a bar.  I had kept my drinks to less than one an hour and did not consider myself drunk.  There was another marine that started to talk to me about my faith.  It bothered me to think that I might not be able to adequately represent Christ at that time because of the influence of alcohol.  I did not feel good about myself or my witness, in that situation.  I have since come to the conclusion that I would rather have my senses sharp and my mind clear.  It has been many years since my last drink of alcohol.

Aaron and his sons were to distinguish between the holy and unholy, between the clean and the unclean.  Then they were to teach the people.  As Christians, we are called to be able to distinguish between right and wrong, good and evil, and then to teach others.  This was, and is, a serious charge.

III.  Holiness:

Leviticus 11:45  For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

Leviticus 19:1-2  And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.

Leviticus 20:7-8  Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the Lord who sanctifies you.

You might say at this point that these verses are all very good but that they are all a part of the Mosaic law from which we have been set free.  So here are some verses from the New Testament.

I Peter 1:15-16   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.”

Hebrews 12:14   Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:

I certainly hope to see the Lord one day and so will continue the pursuit of holiness.  Now I know that we are forgiven, and that we are saved because of the righteousness of Christ, but I think that we should seriously consider the call to holiness and what it means for our lives.

IV.  Love

Sometimes people have made the call to holiness into a list of dos and don’t.  People who get too caught up in this line of thinking may become self-righteous and judgmental.  I would suggest that the starting point for holiness is a call to love.

Matthew 22:36-40

 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

We are first and foremost to love God and to love people.  Let that be the primary focus of our call to holiness.

I would also add that we should develop a love for the Word of God.  Psalms 119:11

Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.

We are called to be a holy people.  If we pursue a love for God, a love for people, and a love for the Word of God, we will be on the right track.

These are the sermon notes from 9/14/14.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.