Posts Tagged ‘commentary’

A Servant of Jesus

October 31, 2019

I.  Serve Christ: John 12:23-26

But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.

As a minister I have heard a lot of teaching on leadership.  I have not heard much about being a servant.  Now I suppose that you can say that the ideal thing is to be a servant leader, but my concern is on what we emphasize.

I am a servant.

A servant of Jesus.

Long ago I gave my life to Christ.  Long ago I asked God to direct me in what He wanted me to do with my life.

I regularly check in with God.  If I am supposed to be doing something other than preaching and teaching at the places where I now serve, I am confidant that God will let me know.

All Christians should be willing to let God direct their lives.  Where to go to school, what job to take, whom to marry,  all aspects of our lives should be given to God to direct.  Our first priority is to serve Him.

II.  Sons of Light:  John 12:35-36

Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.

Now we understand that light is to be a symbol of good and darkness represents evil.  We also know that Jesus said that He was the light of the world.  (John 8:12)  Here in these verses we are challenged to ‘believe in the light’  to become ‘sons of light’.

What does this mean?

III.  Abide in the Light:  John 12:42-46

Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

44 Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. 45 And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. 46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.

As I read these verses, one phrase really stood out to me.  “for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God”.

I remember an old song that talked about being God-pleasers rather than man-pleasers.  If we think back to the first point, we are to be servants of God.  We should want to please Him.  Sadly, there are some who are more concerned with how they look to men than to God.

We are called to abide in the light.  We are told that Jesus came as a light, but what does that mean?

IV.  The Word and The Spirit:  John 6:63

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

I suggest that in order to be servants of Jesus, in order to be sons of light and to abide in the light we should be guided by the Word and the Spirit.

A.  The Word:  Psalms 119:105

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.

If we were moving about in the darkness we might run into things and get hurt.  If we have a light we can see where we are going and can avoid dangerous obstacles.  God’s Word provides the direction we need to live our lives as Children of the Light.

B.  The Spirit:  John 16:33

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

We need help to understand the Word of God and to apply it accurately to our lives today.  It is the job of the Spirit is ‘guide us into all truth.’  We should not rely on our own human wisdom and understanding.  The Spirit of God reveals the truth of God to the people of God.

If we want to be servants of Jesus, let us allow the Word and the Spirit to guide our lives.  Then we will truly abide in the Light and be children of the Light.

 

These are the sermon notes from 8/27/19.  All scriptures 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. 

 

Good Ground

August 12, 2019

There are some Christians who focus almost exclusively on the New Testament.  They may be familiar with the famous stories of Adam and Eve, David and Goliath, Joshua at Jericho and Moses at the Red Sea, but speak to them about the Minor Prophets and they may not know very much.  The OLd Testament was the Bible of Jesus and the disciples.  It lays the foundation for the teachings of the New Testament.  It is good for Christians to read both the Old and the New Testaments in their daily devotions.

I.  Refined By Fire

Zechariah was a post-exilic prophet.  That means that he prophesied after the Children of Israel had returned to Jerusalem after their seventy year exile to Babylon.  This portion of his prophecy will be familiar to Christians because a portion of it is quoted in the gospels.

Zechariah 13:7-9

“Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd,
Against the Man who is My Companion,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
“Strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep will be scattered;
Then I will turn My hand against the little ones.
And it shall come to pass in all the land,”
Says the Lord,
That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die,
But one-third shall be left in it:
I will bring the one-third through the fire,
Will refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them.
I will say, ‘This is My people’;
And each one will say, ‘The Lordis my God.’ ”

A.  The Shepherd:  Verse seven is the verse that is quoted in the gospels.  It refers to the betrayal of Judas, the arrest of Jesus and the scattering of the disciples.

B.  Little Ones:  The affliction of the ‘little ones’ is hard to read.  Two-thirds are cut off and die.  Not everyone who says ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.  (cf. Matthew 7:21)  There is much debate in Christianity about the security of the believer, but even those who hold to the doctrine of eternal security recognize that some will come to the altar, profess Christ for a time, and then fall away.  They explain this by simply saying that the individual was never truly saved.  So, whether you acknowledge backsliding as an option or eternal security, there is the recognition that some for a time, claim Christianity, but will not be in heaven.

That is sad.

C.  Refined:  For those whose faith remains firm, they will go through testing.  It is meant to be a time of spiritual growth.  It is part of how we progress from being babes in Christ to mature believers.  It is an ongoing process.

II.  The Sower and the Seed

Some will not be convinced by verses from the Old Testament.  The same principle is taught in the gospels by Jesus himself.

A. The Parable:  Matthew 13:3-9

Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

I am sure that you will see the similarities to Zechariah’s prophecy, but we do not have to leave this parable to our own interpretation.  Jesus gave the interpretation to the disciples so that there can be no doubt.

B.  The Interpretation:  Matthew 13:18-23

“Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. 20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

So, some do not respond to the gospel.  They are unbelievers.  Some respond to the gospel and fall away under persecution.  Some respond but their lives are choked out by the cares and concerns of the world.  Some respond and bear fruit.   Please notice that of those that respond, two parts out of three, will not survive in their faith.

See the similarity now?

III.  The Security of the Believer:  Romans 8:37-39

  Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God!  We are more than conquerors!!  We are secure in Christ!!!  These verses prove that claim.

Do they?

It is true that nothing from the outside can take us away from Christ.  But…. can we choose to leave?

I would submit that we do have that choice.  We can give up.  We can be drawn away.  Those are choices that we can make.  God does not force us to stay with Him.

So if we want to be sure that we are in ‘good ground’ what should we do?

IV.  Keep Your Eyes on Jesus:  Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The Christian life is not over at the beginning.  It is not a brief sprint.  It is a life-long commitment to Christ.  It is daily making the choice to follow Jesus.  We should daily fix our eyes on Jesus and follow Him.  It is basic Christian teaching that to grow in Christ we should spend time reading the Bible, we should spend time in prayer, and we should regularly gather together with other believers for worship, instruction, prayer and encouragement.

This does not mean that we go back and forth from saved to unsaved, over and over again.  Exactly at which point does our faith die?  That is only for God to judge.  I know that in my life I want to pursue a healthy life in Christ.  I want a ‘closer walk with thee’.  I don’t want to find the line just to stay above it.  I want to be all that I can be in Christ.

I hope that you do as well.

 

These are the sermon notes from 8/4/19.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I recieve any money from them.  All Bible quotes are from the New King James Version. 

 

Finish the Race

February 21, 2019

The Christian life is not a moment but a lifetime.

I.  Anchor:  Hebrews 6:17-19

Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,

A.  The Promises of God:  In scripture there are many promises that God makes to His people.  None is more precious than John 3:16″For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  God cannot lie and He always keeps His promises.  This is wonderful news to us and provides an anchor for our souls.  This confidence allows us to endure the storms of life.  It provides stability in times of turmoil.

B.  Also mentioned in these verses is the opportunity that we have to enter into the very presence of God.  When Jesus died on the cross, the veil that separated the holiest of holys was torn in two.  This symbolizes that we are able to enter the presence of God.  This is a wonderful privilege that God has granted to us through Jesus Christ.

II.  Not Alone:  Hebrews 10:19-25

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

A.   Let Us Draw Near:  We have the opportunity to draw closer to God.  Do we take advantage of that opportunity?  If we seek God, He will let us find Him.  If we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.

B.  Let Us Hold Fast:  Life can tear us away from the presence of God.  We may be tempted to give up on our faith.  Let us hold fast to the hope that God has given to us.  God allows tests and trial into our live to test us, to strengthen our faith, and to help us to draw closer to God.

C.  Let Us Consider One Another:  We are not meant to be alone in this journey through life.  We are meant to be a part of the family of God.  We are meant to encourage one another in our walk with Christ.

III.  Endurance:  Hebrews 10:36

For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:

Christianity is not a singular event.  It does not end when we give our heart to Christ. That is only the beginning.  Our walk with Christ begins when we are born again through our faith in Jesus.  Then we must live our lives continuing to develop our relationship with God.  It is not a sprint, but rather more like an ultra distance event.  It is not a moment, it is a lifetime.

IV.  Looking to Jesus:  Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

When life gets us down.  We should look up to Jesus.  We should remember that He gave His life so that we might be forgiven.  He finished what God had sent Him to earth to do and then returned to His rightful place in heaven.  Let us also finish what God has for us to do, knowing that one day we will go to be with Jesus forever.  Let us be faithful to the end, even as Jesus was faithful.

 

These are the sermon notes from 2/16/19.  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. 

 

 

 

A Different Side of Job

February 13, 2019

I was reading in Job recently and was struck by some verses that inspired a different type of message than you normally hear from the book of Job.

I.  Wisdom and Understanding:  Job 28:28

And to man He said,
‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
And to depart from evil is understanding.’ ”

A.  Wisdom:  When I read this verse in Job I was struck by the similarity with Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”  I have this verse on  a poster in my office at the college.  I have often thought that I should put up a complimentary poster of Psalms 14:1 “The fool has said in his heart,  ‘There is no God.'”  However, I don’t think that will set a proper stage for constructive dialogue.  Still, it is true that the decision to believe in God or not truly is the most important decision that we make in life.  

B.  Understanding:  It is important that we depart from evil.  Evil acts, evil company both contribute to a significant decline in the quality of life.  There are consequences for evil.  Wise people understand that.  This reminds me of a portion of Isaiah 1:16-17.  “Cease to do evil,  Learn to do good”  This is easy to say but a little harder to do.  First we must correctly identify both good and evil.  Do not look to the world to define these, look to the Word of God. 

C.  Ask God:  James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”  Wisdom starts with God and God develops wisdom in His people.  True wisdom comes from God.

II.  The Breath of the Almighty:  Job 32:8

 But there is a spirit in man,
And the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding.

When I read this I thought about a couple of things.  First of all I thought about how as Christians we believe that Christ dwells in our hearts, as we are told in Ephesians 3:17 “ that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, “.  Then I also thought about Zechariah 4:6  ” ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts.”  If we have given our lives to God then we do not do what we do in our own strength, but in the strength that comes from God.  This is very helpful for those days that we might feel overwhelmed.  We are not alone, God is with us.  That is a comforting thought.

III.  Spokesman:  Job 33:1-6

“But please, Job, hear my speech,
And listen to all my words.
Now, I open my mouth;
My tongue speaks in my mouth.
My words come from my upright heart;
My lips utter pure knowledge.
The Spirit of God has made me,
And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
If you can answer me,
Set your words in order before me;
Take your stand.
Truly I am as your spokesman before God;
I also have been formed out of clay.

The portion of this speech that I would like to focus on today is in verse 6.  The speaker identifies himself as a spokesman before God.  This made me think of II Corinthians 5:20 “ 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. ”  You see, we also are spokesmen for God.  It is our job to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the world.  Of course, we cannot share that good news to all the world by ourselves but each of us should look for every opportunity that comes our way to share it in our circle of influence.  Incidentally,  ambassadors represent both sides in communication.  We tell people about God, we also pray to God about the people in our lives.

One of my favorite phrases is that “God will give us the wisdom to know what to do and the strength to do it.”  Here in Job again I see that basic thought reinforced.  God will give us wisdom.  God will give us strength.  God wants us to help Him reach the lost people of the world.

 

These are the sermon notes from February 10, 2019.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.  

 

Be Rich in God

August 4, 2018

As Christians we may, or may not, be blessed with an abundance of material blessings.  We will have, however, blessings that this world may not comprehend.

I.  The Blessing of the Lord:  Numbers 6:22-26

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 23 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them:

24 “The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.” ’

There are three components to this blessing.  God blesses us by providing for our material needs.  He gives us abilities and opportunities and helps our labor to be fruitful.  God also keeps us from harm.   Some times we are acutely aware of His protection, but there are doubtless many times that we are blissfully unaware of the dangers that we avoid because of the protection of God.

The third part of this blessing is the most important.  The first two are represented by the simple words ‘bless’ and ‘keep’.  The last portion is given in verses 25 & 26.  It has to do with the presence of God is our lives.

There is nothing greater than having an awareness of God’s presence.  He is with us not only in church gatherings, or in times in the beauty of nature.  God is with us always.  He is with us in traffic, while shopping, during the workday, indeed all throughout every day.  But are we aware of His presence?  Do we turn our eyes towards Him?  Can we hear His voice, sense His presence?

The fledgling nation of Israel had been brought out of Egypt by the power of God.  They had a visible symbol of His presence with them in the column of smoke by day, and the pillar of fire by night.  They saw miraculous provision and protection over and over.

Yet they did not appreciate what they had been given.

II.  Not Enough:  Numbers 11:1

Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.

They had been complaining because the manna that God provided each day became tiresome.  They missed the food that they had in Egypt, never mind that they had been slaves.  God had promised them a land ‘flowing with milk and honey’.  They were unhappy with what God had provided for them while on the journey.

III.  Consequences:  Psalms 106:15

And He gave them their request,
But sent leanness into their soul.

This is a sad commentary on the consequences of that day.  God provided huge flocks of birds for them to have to eat, but sent ‘leanness into their soul’.  They did not appreciate the special relationship that they had been given by God.

They did not appreciate what God had done for them.

IV.  The Moral of the Story:

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.

We too, are on a journey to a promised land.  Our promised land is heaven.  We have been given the promise that Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us, but that He will be with us always.  God provides for us and protects us and has given us of His Holy Spirit.

Yet sometimes we do not appreciate what we have been given.

We want more.

We want something different.

We fail to realize that the greatest gift that God has given to us is the ability that we have to live in relationship with Him.

May appreciate what we have been given.

May we seek more….of God in our lives.

May we always place God first in our lives.

 

These are the sermon notes from 7/29/18.  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. 

 

A Big Project

October 4, 2017

Sometimes we have a big project to undertake.  We should research, prepare, plan and recruit workers with the necessary skills.  Nehemiah desired to see the wall rebuilt around Jerusalem.  The Jewish people had been allowed to return to rebuild, but progress had stalled.  Nehemiah traveled to Jerusalem to encourage the workers.

I.  A Mind to Work:  Nehemiah 4:6

 So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.

Initially, the project went well.  The people had been motivated to work and they contributed enthusiastically and good progress was made initially.

So often we start a new project with a fast start.  It is new, exciting, even fun, in the beginning.

This is true with the Christian life as well.  People who are new converts  are excited.  They attend church regularly.  They read their Bibles.  They see God at work all around them.

A good start is important.

II.  Failing Strength:  Nehemiah 4:10

Then Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall.”

After the newness wears off, the test of our wills begins in earnest.  It is hard work to build a wall.  There is a lot of physical labor.  Sometimes it can be overwhelming.

This is true in many other projects as well.  We become tired.  The obstacles seem to be larger and more numerous.  We may be tempted to stop.

In our Christian lives as well, there are times when we grow weary.  We are faced with the tests and trials of life and we can become discouraged.

III.  Frightened by Opposition:  Nehemiah 6:9

For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, “Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done.”

Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.

There were people around Jerusalem who did not want to see the walls rebuilt.  They threatened Nehemiah and made plans to attack.

Nehemiah responded by asking God for help and by taking appropriate action.

Sometimes people will actively try to stop us from doing the work of God.  We  should take this threats seriously, pray for guidance and strength, and take appropriate action.

The devil would love to destroy our relationship with God. He will try many different tactics to end our relationship with God and to render us ineffective.  We should watch out for his tricks and trust that God will guide and protect us.

IV.  Finished:  Nehemiah 6:15-16

So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God.

Nehemiah was able to complete the project despite the obstacles.  God helped him.  The success was not due to Nehemiah, but to God who worked through him.

It is a wonderful feeling to accomplish major projects.  We should always give God the glory for enabling us to complete the work He has set before us.

God continues his work in us.  (Philippians 1:6)  As long as we are on this earth, there is work to be done in us and through us.  To God be the glory!

V.  Our Strength:  Nehemiah 8:8-12

 

So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.

10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

11 So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.

As a part of their celebration of the completion of the wall, the Word of God was read to the people.  As they heard the words of the law, they realized just how far they had fallen from where God had called them to live.  They knew that they were not living according to the law and they were sorrowful.

The leaders encouraged them.  The day was meant to be a day of celebration.  They were  not supposed to look at how far they still had to go, but to rejoice in how far they had come.

God loves us.  He is working in us.  We are becoming more like Him.  The process will continue throughout our lives.  We can rejoice that we are saved ‘by grace, through faith’.  (Ephesians 2:8)

It is the joy of the Lord that is our strength.  We find that joy primarily by spending time in the presence of God.  (Psalms 16:11) We also develop joy in our lives as a product of the Holy Spirit that dwells in us.  (Galatians 5:22-23)

The life of a Christian should not be filled with anger and sorrow, but rather with the love and joy and peace that comes from God Himself.  That is our source of strength with which we will finish the projects that God gives to us, most importantly the project of a lifetime of serving God.

 

These are the sermon notes from 10/1/17.  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. 

A Root of Evil

September 26, 2017

Caution!  Danger ahead!!  It is good to be warned of dangers that are ahead of us.  Forewarned is forearmed some say.  That is; if we heed the warning.

I.  Useless Wranglings:  I Timothy 6: 3-5

If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.

Here at this church we encourage individuals to study the Bible and to discuss it freely.  Sometimes this means that we have disagreements on interpretation.  These disagreements may be invigorating, challenging us to search the scriptures to back up our view.  I love it when, after a service, I see people sitting with their Bibles open, in deep conversation with their neighbor.

When do we cross over from a healthy discussion to ‘useless wranglings’?  Primarily, it comes down to our attitude.  Are we still listening to the points that the other person is making in support of their position?  Are  we considering the possibility that they may be right and we may be wrong?  Or are we simply trying to win an argument?? At the end of the discussion are we stimulated to learn?  Or simply angry??   Or filled with pride at our superiority?   Our attitude makes the difference.

I have often heard it preached that godliness is a means of gain.  Isn’t that the basic assumption of the prosperity gospel that was popular for many years?  Health and wealth for all believers??

We should be careful.  Our true riches do not lie in this world but in the next. Now, it is true that God blesses His people in a wide variety of ways, but we must be careful that we never place the pursuit of blessings over our pursuit of the One Who blesses.

Also, we must recognize that historically, there have been many, many Christians who have been poor in the things of this world, while rich in the things of God.  Which is more important??

II.  Great Gain:  I Timothy 6:6-10

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

We should be in pursuit of godliness.  It should be our desire to be more like Christ.  This involves a dying to the flesh combined with a growth in the spirit.  We cannot do it without God, but God requires our cooperation.

The ability to be content is a terrific trait.  It also goes counter to our culture which pushes us to always want more, bigger, and better, to never be content.  Christians need to be careful not to be caught up with the flow of society which drives us to always work to have more.  “He who dies with the most toys wins” seems to describe the goals of our society.

We should be different.

“The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil”.  Money itself is not evil.  It is the love of money that is evil.  It is the attitude that is wrong.  Some people think that this only applies to rich people, but that would be wrong.  Poor people can love money too.

God is to be our first love.  We are to seek Him first, above all else.  Then everything will fall into place. (Matthew 6:33)

III.  But You… I Timothy 6: 11-12

 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses

We should pursue, not money, but the traits of godliness.  We will not become perfect in this life, but we should be steadily growing in godliness.

Fight the good fight.  Instead of trying to accumulate things, we should be accumulating souls for the kingdom of God.  We are effective in the work of the kingdom by being fervent in prayer.  Our prayers have an impact that we may not realize.  Everyone can pray and prayer is important!

We can also fight the good fight by our proclamation of the gospel.  We should always be looking for opportunities to share the hope that is within us, the good things that God has done for us, the good news of God’s love for all people.

Finally, we fight the good fight, by letting our light shine in the darkness.  That light, of course, is Christ in us, the hope of glory.  Without Him, we would still be in the dark.

 

These are the sermon notes from 9/24/17.  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. 

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.