Posts Tagged ‘commentary’

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 About Sin?

March 9, 2017

We are saved by grace, through faith for good works. (Ephesians 2:8-10)  So what about sin in our lives?

I.  Be Serious!  (Mark 9:42-48)

 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 44 where

‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’

45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 46 where

‘Their worm does not die,
And the fire is not quenched.’

47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— 48 where

‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’

We are not expected to take these verses literally.  We are not supposed to literally cut off our hand or our foot, or to pluck out our eyes.  We are, however, to take sin seriously.  We do not earn our salvation by our works, but if we are saved our works should change.

II.  The Heart:  Mark 7:20-23

 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

When we are saved we receive the Spirit of Christ in our hearts.  (Ephesians 3:17)  If Christ is dwelling in our hearts, our lives will change.  It is not a matter of simply exercising self control, it is a matter of developing the new self.  As we develop our relationship with Christ, our hearts will be changed.  As our hearts change, our actions will change.

III.  The Mind:  II Corinthians 10:3-6

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

Sin originates in the heart, proceeds to our thoughts, and then is acted out in our bodies.  If thoughts come to our mind and we are able to recognize that they are sinful thoughts, we should not entertain them, but rather drive them from our mind.  God is at work in us, molding us into the image of His Son, but we need to cooperate with God as He seeks to make changes in our lives.

IV.  The Spirit and the Flesh:  Galatians 5:16-25

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Once again, obviously we do not literally crucify ourselves.  We recognize that although we have the Spirit of God, we also are still walking in the flesh.  The flesh will pull us in one direction, the Spirit will pull us in another direction.  We should learn to recognize which is which.  We should then exercise our will by denying the flesh, and obeying the Spirit.  As we mature in Christ we will become better and better and walking in the Spirit.

Our sins have been forgiven, thank you Jesus!  We have been born in the Spirit, thank you Jesus!  Let us learn how to walk in the Spirit, no longer living according to the flesh, please help us Jesus!

 

These are the sermon notes from 3/5/17.  All scripture references are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Walk With God

February 15, 2017

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

I.  Noah Walked With God:  Gen 6:9

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

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

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

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

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

II.  Noah Obeyed God:  Genesis 6:22

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

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

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

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

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

The challenge is to continue to grow in that ability.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IV.  Enoch:  Genesis 5:24

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

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

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

daily Jesus let it be.”

 

These are the sermon notes from 2/12/17.  All scripture references are from the New King  James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

God is Love

February 9, 2017

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

I.  Believe in God:  Genesis 1:1

 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

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

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

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

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

II.  Love God:  I John 4:7-19

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

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

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

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

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

III.  Obey God:  I John 4:20-5:5

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are the sermon notes from 2/5/17.  All scripture quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

 

Live By Faith

January 18, 2017

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

I.  What Will He Say?  Habakkuk 2:1

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

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

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

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

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

II.  Live By Faith:  Habakkuk 2:4

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.

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

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

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

Listen to God

Walk in faith.

Let God be your source of joy and strength.

God has an amazing life for you!

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

 

On The Rock

December 1, 2016

I have been reading in Jeremiah.  He is known as the weeping prophet.  God called him at a young age to prophecy to the nation of Israel prior to, during, and after the Babylonian invasion.  He continually warned them of coming judgement, but occasionally offered words of hope if they would listen to the Word of the Lord.

They didn’t listen.

I.  Trust and Obey:  Jeremiah 42:7-17

 And it happened after ten days that the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. Then he called Johanan the son of Kareah, all the captains of the forces which were with him, and all the people from the least even to the greatest, and said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your petition before Him: 10 ‘If you will still remain in this land, then I will build you and not pull you down, and I will plant you and not pluck you up. For I relent concerning the disaster that I have brought upon you. 11 Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid; do not be afraid of him,’ says the Lord, ‘for I am with you, to save you and deliver you from his hand. 12 And I will show you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and cause you to return to your own land.’

13 “But if you say, ‘We will not dwell in this land,’ disobeying the voice of the Lord your God, 14 saying, ‘No, but we will go to the land of Egypt where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor be hungry for bread, and there we will dwell’— 15 Then hear now the word of the Lord, O remnant of Judah! Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘If you wholly set your faces to enter Egypt, and go to dwell there, 16 then it shall be that the sword which you feared shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt; the famine of which you were afraid shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there you shall die. 17 So shall it be with all the men who set their faces to go to Egypt to dwell there. They shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. And none of them shall remain or escape from the disaster that I will bring upon them.’

A.  The Word

Jeremiah had given them a Word from the Lord.  The right response would have been to trust and obey.  If they had, things would have been different.  As it was they went to Egypt, literally dragging Jeremiah with them, and there they all died.  You would have thought that after all the years of seeing that the words of Jeremiah were indeed the Words of God, that they would have listened to him.

They did not.

Today, we have the Word of God in the Bible.  Do we listen to it?

B.  The Spirit

God guides His people by His Word and His Spirit.  We should study the Word to see what God has said to His people.  We should also pray and ask God to direct us by His Spirit.  It we seek guidance from God, He will indeed guide us.

Will we listen?

II.  The Discipline of the Lord:  Hebrews 12:9-11

Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

A.  Disobedience

If we are disobedient to God’s Word, or to the guidance of His Spirit is should not surprise us if things do not go so well for us.

God may be trying to get our attention.

When things are not going well, when bad things happen, it is a good idea to pray and ask God if we are living in disobedience.  If we are, then God will reveal that to us.  Once we know what should change, we can, and should, change with the help of God.

Sometimes we pray and God does not reveal anything to us.  We are doing what we are supposed to be doing.  Do not be surprised by the tests and trials of our faith that will come along.  God did not promise that we would never have problems, but that He would be with us, and help us through our problems.

Obedience

In general, we can trust that if we live lives of obedience to God that He will reward us with the abundant life that He has for His people. (John 10:10)

III.  On the Rock Matthew 7:24-27

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

A.  Hears and Does

Those who live lives of obedience to Christ can expect their lives to be stable.  There will still be storms, but we will weather them by the grace of God.

B.  Hears and Does Not

Those who are disobedient can expect problems.  When the storms of life come, their lives will come crashing down around them.

C.  Wisdom

May God grant us wisdom to know the difference between the discipline of the Lord and the storms of life.  To change when we are supposed to change, and to hold fast when we are already doing the right thing.

In conclusion, it is relatively simple.

Seek the Lord.

Hear the Lord.

Obey the Lord.

These are the sermon notes from the message preached 11/27/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I do not have any control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

In God We Trust

November 16, 2016

This message was preached 11/6/16, the Sunday before election day.  I had been reading in Jeremiah in my devotions and this seemed appropriate.

I.  Judgement on the Land:  Jeremiah 9:12-16

 Who is the wise man who may understand this? And who is he to whom the mouth of the Lord has spoken, that he may declare it? Why does the land perish and burn up like a wilderness, so that no one can pass through?

13 And the Lord said, “Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice, nor walked according to it, 14 but they have walked according to the dictates of their own hearts and after the Baals, which their fathers taught them,” 15 therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink. 16 I will scatter them also among the Gentiles, whom neither they nor their fathers have known. And I will send a sword after them until I have consumed them.”

A.  Not Obeyed My Voice

The children of Israel had not continued in following the law of God.  As a result, God was sending judgement upon the land.

In our country, there are many who serve God, but there are also many who do not.  It is very important that those who claim to be followers of God, are actually following God.  We should seek to live in obedience to His Word and His Spirit.  We may not be able to be perfect, but we should seek to be the people God means for us to be.

B.  The Dictates of Their Own Hearts

I really have a dislike for the song “I Did It My Way”.  I am afraid that there are far too many people who are living their lives their way instead of God’s way.  In the end it will not work out so well for them.  We should be like Jesus and say “Not my will, but thine be done.”.

Is judgment coming to our country?

Only time will tell, but it is not too late.

II.  Time to Change:  Jeremiah 18:7-8

The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.

A.  Freedom

I firmly believe that one of the ways in which we are made in the image of God is that we have the freedom to choose how we act.  Each one of us has the freedom to choose how we will respond to God.  Now, I do not expect the entire nation to repent, but I hope and pray that many within our nation will repent.

B.  Responsibility

With freedom comes responsibility.  Since we can choose our actions, we are responsible for our actions.

C.  Consequences

There are consequences for our decisions.  When we do what is right in the eyes of God, we can expect to be blessed.  If we do what is wrong, we should not be surprised if there are unpleasant consequences.

D.  Is There Hope?

Our hope is not found in a political party or candidate.  Our hope is placed in God.  With God, there is always hope.

III.  The Right Choice:  Jeremiah 17:7-8

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

A.  Trust in the Lord

I appreciate that it still says “In God We Trust” on our money.  It is a regular reminder to trust in God, not in the things of this world.  God is worthy of our trust.  People may fail us.  God will not.

B.  If My People

As the people of God lead the way in repentance, perhaps others will follow. II Chronicles 7:14 says:

if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

C.  Choose This Day:  Joshua 24:15

 And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

We cannot decide for everybody, but we can decide for ourselves.  Let us choose to serve the Lord.

D.  Let Your Light Shine:  Matthew 5:13-16

 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

14 “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.

If we have chosen to follow the Lord, then our lives should be different from the world around us.  Let us not give way to anger, hatred or despair, but rather may we be examples of the peace, love and hope that God has for us, and for all who call upon His name.

Let the light of Christ shine through your lives.  May the light of Christ bring hope to the world.

This is the message that was preached 11/6/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

 

Pure Religion

September 14, 2016

These are verses that I distinctly remember puzzling over as a teenager.  I had nothing to do with widows or orphans, yet I wanted to be what God wanted me to be.

James 1:26-27

If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. 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.

I.  Bridle Your Tongue

James says quite a bit about controlling our tongue.

A.  James 3:8-10

But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.

We should be careful of what we speak.  However, the secret to controlling our tongue is not in our mouth, but in our heart.

B.  Luke 6:45

 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

The best way to control our tongue is to fill our hearts with the love of God.

Our words can be powerful. We should seek to speak words of life, words of encouragement, words of hope and words of love.

II.  Visit Orphans and Widows

A.  The first century was not like today.  There was no social security to provide for those in need.  Women did not have a place in the workforce.  A woman remained in her father’s home until she was married.  If her husband died, she needed to return to her father’s home or if she had a son that was old enough, he could provide for her.  If there was no one to provide for her, or for her young children, she was in trouble.

These are the people that James is talking about.  People who are in trouble.  People who are in desperate need.

For centuries the Christian church provided charity for those in need.  Today, with government programs, the role of the church has changed, but we should still be concerned for those who are in need and be willing to help when possible.  It is not just widows and orphans but any who are in desperate need.

B.  Balance: II Thessalonians 3:10

 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.

There is a difference between being in need and being lazy.  Since resources are limited we need godly wisdom to be able to be good stewards of what God has given us.  We want to help those in need, we do not want to enable people to live unproductive lives.

C.  Retirement

In biblical times when a person could no longer work it was the responsibility of children to provide and care for their aging parents.  People would continue to contribute according to their abilities.

People in retirement today should continue to contribute in ways that they are able.

III.  Unspotted

A.  The Flesh:  Galatians 5:19-21

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

These verses provide us with a good starting point of what it means to be unspotted.  The idea of this list is not to point the finger at the problems that we see in the lives of other people, but to examine our own lives and ask God to help us turn away from these things.

Some spots take some time to get out.

B.  The Spirit:  Galatians 5:22-23

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

As we spend time in the Word of God, and prayer, God will mold us into the people that he wants us to be.  The Word of God and the Spirit of God work together to build the people of God.  They are spot removers.

C.  Effort:  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.

The flesh is stubborn.  It continues to resurface for as long as we are in these mortal bodies.  We need to exercise our will, and the self control that comes from God and chose to do what is right in the sight of God.

It is an ongoing process.

D.  God is at work in us:  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;

It is not in our own strength, but it does require our cooperation.

May God continue His work both in us, and through us.

 

These are the sermon notes from 8/28.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.  All quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible. 

A Light to Our Path

September 1, 2016

God has a plan and a purpose for our lives.  If we will let Him guide us, our lives will be rich and meaningful.

I.  A Light:  Psalms 119:105

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

If there is a power outage at night when we are home we suddenly find ourselves in the dark.  Maybe we have candles or a flashlight somewhere nearby. Or of course, maybe you have a flashlight app on your phone.  The point is we want to be able to have enough light to see where we are going.

We should allow the Word of God to be a light to our paths, to direct our steps.  When you walk in the dark, you might bump into something, or trip over something.  You might get hurt.  If you live your life by the instructions in the Bible, you are less likely to be hurt.

Life goes better when you follow the instructions.

II.  Open My Eyes:  Psalms 119:18

Open my eyes, that I may see
Wondrous things from Your law.

The Bible should be read in an attitude of prayer.  We need God to open our eyes to the truths that are presented.  We need God to help us to understand and to apply the principles that are contained in the Word.

Even if we have been reading the Bible for decades, God can reveal wondrous things to us.

III.  Strengthen Me:  Psalms 119:28

My soul melts from heaviness;
Strengthen me according to Your word.

Life can wear us out.

Spending time in the Word can bring new strength.

IV.  Sow in Tears:  Psalms 126:5-6

Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.

Here in America we may not fully understand this imagery.  Our food is purchased in stores that, in our lifetime, have never had empty shelves.  We do not grow our own food.  We do not understand the imagery of taking seed that could be eaten today, and planting it in the ground hoping for a harvest in the future.

There is a way that this illustration makes more sense to us.  If we remember the parable of the sower and the seed from the gospels.  In this parable the seed is the Word of God that we share with people and some respond in faith.  We share the Word in tears, maybe not literally, but with a breaking heart, hoping that people will receive the good news of salvation in Christ.   When people do respond to the Word with faith in Jesus, we, together with the angels in heaven, rejoice in the salvation of another person.

V.  Unless the Lord:  Psalms 127:1

Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.

Whatever our life’s work, we need God to help us.  We use the skills and opportunities that God gives to us to complete the work that God has planned for us.  It is a dual effort.  We must do our part, but we need God to bless our efforts.

God has a plan and a purpose for each one of us.  We should ask God to direct our steps, open our eyes, give us strength and bless our efforts.

It is a wonderful thing to be living in accordance to the will of God for our lives.

These are the sermon notes from 8/28/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Hold Fast

July 11, 2016

We prefer to talk about the abundant life that God has for us.  We enjoy the many blessings that we receive.

How do we respond when things don’t go as we would hope?

What do we do in the face of tragedy?

I.  Job

A.  Do What is Right:  Job 1:1

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.

This is a good model for us.  We should fear God and shun evil.  We should seek to be blameless and upright.  We know that we cannot be perfect, but we should seek to live as God wants us to live.

Just because we are serving God doesn’t mean that we are exempt from hardship.  In a single day Job suffered the loss of all his great wealth and the tragic death of all ten of his children.  It just doesn’t get any worse than that.

His response has become a classic line.

B.  Response to Loss:  Job 1:20-22

 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

22 In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.

He mourned the loss and worshiped God.  These words were uttered long ago, but they have been repeated by countless other believers who have suffered loss.  If we turn to God, He is able to bring us comfort in times of tragedy.

Some might say, at least he still had his health.  That was the next to go.  He was stricken with painful boils that made him physically miserable.

    C.  Hold Fast:  Job 2:9-10

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”

10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

In times of hardship.  Hold fast to your integrity.  Actually, hold fast to your faith in God which is the true source of integrity.

If we are facing the loss of material things or the deterioration of our health we can still trust that God is with us.  He will help us through the difficult times.  A better day is coming.  If not in this life, then in the life to come.

Hold fast.

II.  Endure Hardship:  II Timothy 2:3

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

I served in the United States Marine Corps.  I have often said that that experience prepared me better for ministry than my years at Bible college.

Why?

A marine is not allowed to quit when the mission becomes difficult.  It doesn’t matter if you are tired, hot, cold, hurt, or whatever.

Accomplish the mission!

Our devotion to God should be even more of a commitment than a marine’s commitment to his/her duty.  After all, a marine is serving an earthly kingdom, while we serve a heavenly kingdom.

There have been many times when I have been tempted to leave the ministry.  There are far easier ways to make a living.  However, it is the desire of my heart to be faithful to my calling, to accomplish the mission that God has given to me.

Never quit!

It is appropriate to ask ourselves some questions when hardship comes our way.

Is this hardship the consequence of a bad decision, or mistake on my part?  If that is the case, then learn from your mistakes.

Is God trying to get my attention?  Have I been following the direction of God?  God sometimes allows things to go badly for us so that we will get back on track.

If we are doing what we are supposed to be doing, if we are serving God to the best of our ability, then we can recognize hardships as a test or trial of our faith.  We should hold fast and press on.

III.  Count it all Joy:  James 1:2-4

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

God uses the tests and trials of this life to mold us into the people that we are called to be in Christ.  We can rejoice in the knowledge that God is working in us.  The difficulties that we face actually can strengthen our faith and help in our development as Christians.

In addition  to the work that God is doing in us, God can use difficult experiences for His glory.  How we handle bad experiences can sometimes be the very best testimony that we give to unbelievers.

We can also rejoice in the knowledge that even in bad times, God is with us.  We can rejoice in the Lord.  He loves us and will help us.  His grace is sufficient for us.  (II Corinthians 12:9)

So, when we are called upon to suffer hardship;  hold fast to your faith, endure hardship, and count it all joy that God is working both in you and through you.

These are the sermon notes from 7/9/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.  All scripture quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.