Posts Tagged ‘religion’

You Decide

December 3, 2019

I very much appreciate that God has given us the ability to make our own decisions.  When my children were young (And still today!) I would pray that God would help them, and I, to make good decisions.

Deuteronomy 11:26-28

“Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.

I.  A Clear Division

I appreciate the clear division.  You can choose a blessing or a curse.  Of course, who would intentionally choose a curse?  Only someone who does not believe.

A.  Psalms 14:1

The fool has said in his heart,
There is no God.”
They are corrupt,
They have done abominable works,
There is none who does good.

B.  Proverbs 9:10

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

C.  Luke 11:23

He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.

From these verses we see a continuation of a clear-cut choice.  We can go with God, or without God.  We are either with Jesus, or against  Jesus.  There is no middle ground.  There is no neutral territory.  We must decide which side we are on.

II.  You Choose:  Joshua 24:14-15

“Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! 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.”

Joshua reminded the Children of Israel that they had a choice.  They could serve the Lord, or they could serve other gods, or no gods.

We also have a choice.  We can serve God, or follow some other path, but there will be consequences for our choice.  It is important that we make the right one.

III.  Believe:  Hebrews 11:6

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

We can read the words that tell us about Jesus and God but unless we mix that knowledge with faith, our knowledge will be useless.  We must believe that the words are true. We must have faith in God.  This faith comes about when the Spirit of God speaks to our hearts about the Word of God and we have the opportunity, by the grace of God, to choose to believe.  When we respond in faith to the message of Jesus the Spirit of God comes into our hearts and we become a new creation.

IV.  Act:  Matthew 7:21-27

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

24 “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.”

We do not change our lives to be saved, but if we are saved, our lives will change.  If the Spirit of God dwells inside of us, then we will not be the same.

We must daily decide to follow Jesus.  There will always be the temptation to follow old patterns, to do our own thing, but it is far better to follow Jesus, not just in what we say, but also in what we do.

Jesus has offered to us an abundant life.  It is up to us to choose whether or not we will receive it.

 

These are the sermon notes from 11/30/19.  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. 

 

Ready or Not

August 28, 2019

I wish we’d all been ready.  That is the name of a song by Larry Norman way back in the seventies.  It was a reference to the rapture, when Christ will return to gather His people to Himself.

I.  The Rapture:  Matthew 24:36-42

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.

The idea of being left behind on that day gives one a terrible feeling.  Books and movies have been written and made imagining what that would be like.

One way of interpreting the order of the end of the world is: rapture, tribulation, return of Christ, millennial reign, final rebellion, final judgment, and the new heavens and new earth.

That is a lot of material all thrown in at once.  Today, I want to focus on the rapture.

There are three views of when the rapture will take place.  The pre-trib view believes that the rapture will take place before the tribulation.  The mid-trib view is that the rapture will take place three and a half years into the tribulation.  The post-trib view is that it will take place at the end of the tribulation.

I like to tell people to prepare for pre but be prepared for post.  In order to be prepared for the pre-trib rapture we simply need to be living in a right relationship with God.  To be prepared for post we need to be living in a right relationship with God, and have an understanding that we might be called upon to suffer for the name of Christ.  This is something that we should be ready for anyway, as many Christians have suffered before us.

II.  Call Upon The Lord:  Genesis 4:26

And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the Lord.

From the beginning people have called upon the name of the Lord.  Of course, in the New Testament we are introduced to Jesus; the Son of God, who is our Lord and Savior.

Acts 4: 8-12

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, 10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

So, it is not merely a faith in a generic god, but faith in Jesus that saves us.

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

So, when we call on the name of the Lord, we call upon Jesus.

III.  Obedience  Genesis 6;22

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

God gave Noah direction.  Noah obeyed God.  Obedience is important.

Ephesians 2:8-10

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Please notice the order: grace, faith, works.  People often get this confused or out of order.  Unless God reached out to us by grace we would remain dead in our sins.  If we do not respond in faith we would have rejected the salvation that God offers us through Jesus Christ.  Our faith in Christ changes us.

James 2:17

Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Again, we need to emphasize that we do do have works to be saved.  We have works because we are saved.  We do not earn our salvation, but our salvation changes us.  Grace, faith, works, in that order.

So if we want to be ready for the rapture, if we do not want to be left behind, then we need to call upon the name of the Lord Jesus and be obedient to him.

Matthew 7:21

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

 

Are you ready?

Ready or not….

 

These are the sermon notes from 8/25/19.  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. 

 

Follow Me

August 19, 2019

Sometimes you hear stories about very valuable items being donated to thrift stores or sold in garage sales for small amounts.  This is not necessarily because the owners were incredibly generous, they might not have known the the item’s true value.

I.  Great Value:  Matthew 13:44-46

  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

A.  Forgiveness: In order for us to enter the kingdom of heaven we must first receive the forgiveness of our sins.  Jesus Christ died so that our sins could be forgiven.  One way of estimating value is by acknowledging the price that is paid.  There can be no greater value than the life of the Son of God.

B. Relationship:  A part of our participation in the kingdom of heaven is the relationship that we have with God through our faith in Jesus.  Jesus said that He would be with us always.  How could we place a value on that?

C.  Eternity:  The best part of being included in the kingdom of heaven is that our hope is ultimately for eternal life.  What a day that will be when we enter the gates of heaven.

Of course, we recognize that God offers us the opportunity to be a part of the kingdom of heaven freely, through our faith in Jesus Christ.  He does this because he loves us.

II.  Follow Me:  Matthew 19:16-22

Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”

17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

18 He said to Him, “Which ones?”

Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ 19 ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”

21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

What God wants from us is for us to want Him.  God should be more important to us that anything in this world.

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

The young ruler wanted to know what he should do.  We should put God first in our lives, recognizing that He is of more value than all the money in the world.

III.  Exchange:  Matthew 16:24-27

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.

God offers us the kingdom of heaven.  We receive it freely.  We do not buy or earn our salvation, it is the gift of God.  However, as God’s people, we should fulfill His will for our lives.  We should be willing to do whatever God wants us to do.  We receive much more than we give up. We give up our old lives in exchange for the new life that God has for us.

The new life is much better than the old.

 

These are the sermon notes from 8/18/19.  All Biblical 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. 

 

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. 

 

Make Me More Like You

February 27, 2019

Forms of discipline for children have varied over the years and between cultures, but one thing is true everywhere; parents have an important role in the development of their children.

I.  Discipline:  Hebrews 12:3-7

For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”

If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?

Chastening is not a word that we use much today.  Discipline or correction might be more appropriate.  The idea that good behavior is rewarded and bad behavior is punished is an important lesson to learn in life.  God is continually working in our lives to mold us into the people that we were meant to be.  It is an ongoing process that will last a lifetime. At times we may feel weary or discouraged but we should stay strong and finish the race that is before us.

II.  Process:  Psalms 19:12-14

Who can understand his errors?
Cleanse me from secret faults.
13 Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins;
Let them not have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
And I shall be innocent of great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

We should embrace the process of change in ourselves.  Our thoughts, our words and our deeds should all be brought into alignment with God’s will.  It is important to remember that this is not being done to earn our salvation.  Our salvation is a gift, given to us through Jesus Christ and received by our faith in Him.  When we become Christians we are born again, now a child of God.  As a child of God we must now grow from a babe in Christ to maturity in Christ.  We will not reach perfection in this life but we will change from what we were, to what we are meant to be.

III.  Help:  Psalms 25:4-5

Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.

God will teach us.  God will help us.  We are not in this journey alone.  We should seek the presence of God.

IV.  Image:  Romans 8:29

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

What did God foreknow?  He knows who is going to respond to the Spirit with faith in Jesus.  Those who are born again are predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.  Lord, make us more like you.

A few years ago, WWJD was a popular acronym.  It stands for What Would Jesus Do?  Actually, it is a very good question to ask ourselves.  God is working in our lives to make us more like Jesus.  It is a work that will continue throughout this life.  We are not yet what we are meant to be, but neither are we still, the people that we were.

V.  Goal:  Psalms 17:15

As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness;
I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.

We seek the face of God.  Now we see dimly, but one day face to face.  We seek to be more like Jesus.  One day we will be with Him.

Then we will truly be satisfied.

 

These are the sermon notes from 2/24/19.  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.   

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. 

 

 

 

Walk Worthy

November 15, 2018

As I was preparing this message, I initially thought that perhaps it was a series of messages. However, then I realized that it really was just one message.  The message begins with Ephesians 4:1-6.

I.  Walk Worthy

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

A.  Walk Worthy

We are challenged to “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called”.  We are called to be Christians.  That means that we represent Christ.  We are called the children of God.  That means that we represent God.  It is hard to imagine how we can truly walk worthy of that calling.  We cannot be as good as Christ.  We certainly aren’t God.  Yet we should strive to be the very best representatives of Christ and God that we can possibly be in this life.  It is a challenge that we should accept and strive to fulfill.  Not because we need to earn our salvation, but because we want to please the God who saved us by His love.

B.  United in Christ

Unity is not conformity.  Even in this church we do not always agree on everything.  That is OK.  We are able to recognize that we have a core belief that unites us in Jesus Christ.  This is true not only for this church, but ultimately for all believers in Jesus Christ.  There is only one Holy Spirit.  There is only one God.  Our understanding of how we serve God may vary, but we are united by our faith in Jesus, our love for God and our love for all people.

II.  Walk in Love:  Ephesians 5:1-8  (Verse 8 is the memory verse for this week.)

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For [a]this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

A.  Walk in Love

All that we do should be motivated by our love for God and our love for people.  As we mature in Christ we will learn more and more what it means to walk in love.

B.  Walk in the Light

I really appreciate how Isaiah puts it “Cease to do evil, learn to do good.”  Of course the first key is to be able to identify what is evil and what is good.  The Bible is the place where we should look for those definitions.  We should not look to the world.  It is pretty messed up.  We should look to God who is supremely good.  The Bible and the Holy Spirit will help the people of God to know how they should act.  Of course knowing is only the beginning then we must choose to act in accordance with our knowledge.  God will give us both wisdom and strength to know what to do.

C.  Imitate God

I have met some people who seem to think they are God, but that is not what this means.  Years ago there was a popular slogan, WWJD, What Would Jesus Do?  This actually is a very good question to ask ourselves.  Would we be ashamed of our activity is Jesus knew what we were doing?  Would we do it if he was physically present with us?  This is where we need to remember the promise in Matthew 28 “I am with you always..”.  We should try to live as Jesus would live.

III.  Stand:  Ephesians 6:10-18

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—

A.  Be Strong

To live as God wants us to live we need the strength that comes from God.  We cannot do it in our own strength.  God is our source of strength.

B.  The Wiles of the Devil

Satan desires to steal, kill and destroy.  (John 10:10)  He will use all kinds of tricks to bring us down, to end our walk with God or to severely hinder it.  Ask God to open your eyes to his tricks and to stand firm and fight the good fight.

C.  The Armor of God

Some people like to put on the armor of God in a spiritual sense in prayer.  I do not wish to speak against that practice, but it will not do you any good to put on spiritual armor if you are not living in the armor.  By that I mean we should be people of truth, righteousness, peace and faith.  We should be saved by our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, rose again from the grave, ascended into heaven and promised to return.  We should be reading the Word of God, studying the Word of God, memorizing the Word of God and meditating on the Word of God.

D.  Prayer

Never underestimate the power of prayer.  Pray for things in your own life, your family, your friends, your church, your pastor, missionaries, our government, other world issues and so on and on.  There is really no limit to the amount of things you could pray about.

Prayer should not just be a time of bringing our concerns before God.  We should bring ourselves before God.  We should simply spend time in His presence, seeking His Face.  Worshiping Him, thanking Him, listening to Him.

Can we walk worthy of God’s love.  No, not really, but we can seek to walk in love, to be imitators of God and to rely on His strength to do His will in our lives.

 

These are the sermon notes from 11/11/18.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Build Up, Don’t Tear Down

September 23, 2018

When I was a teenager I was told that I should avoid alcohol and tobacco because they would be bad for my health and that my body was the temple of the Holy Spirit.  When I was older I wondered why I wasn’t told to eat sensibly, get exercise, get sufficient rest  and not to overwork.  For some reason only alcohol and tobacco were singled out.  It seems inconsistent.

I.  The Body as Temple:  I Corinthians 6:19

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

So if we read just this verse then, yes, our body is the temple and we should take care of it.  However, we may want to read the preceding verses.

I Corinthians 6: 13-20

Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.

15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

So when we read the verse in context we see that it is talking about sexual immorality.  That is a far cry from physical health.  Now, it is important to realize that the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts through our faith in Jesus Christ.  (Ephesians 3:17)  Rather than simply taking care of our physical health we should think in terms of Christ being with us always.  Would Christ approve of our activities?  Of the shows that we watch?  Of the conversations that we have?  Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  We should live our lives with the knowledge that Christ is with us.

II.  Living Stones:  I Peter 2:4-5

Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Here we read that we are being built into a spiritual house.  It is another one of the various ways that scripture talks about the church, the people of God, the body of Christ.

This same idea is repeated in Ephesians 2:19-22

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

So, both individually and corporately we are called a temple for the Holy Spirit.

III.  Build Up, Don’t Tear Down.  I Corinthians 3:19-22

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

I am reminded of the old saying “Only one life, it will soon be past.  Only what is done for Christ will last.”  It is understood that we have jobs, families and various activities that take up our time, but it is important that we seek to serve God in helping to build up the temple.  We can do this in a whole variety of ways.  Some of them are as simple as our attendance at services and our prayers.    We should seek to build rather than to tear down  the people of God.  This is true both for individuals and for churches.

The role that we play in building up the people of God will be rewarded.

We are warned that if we defile or tear down the temple of God we will be destroyed.  These are strong words and should be taken seriously.

We are called to build up, not to tear down.

 

These are the sermon notes from 9/23/18.  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 Call To Holiness

July 28, 2018

I do not hear many people today talking about holiness, not even in the church.  I believe that this is in reaction to some groups that have tied holiness to intolerance, or even hatred.  Holiness is important, and it should not lead to intolerance and certainly not to hatred.

I.  The Call to Holiness:  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.

Of course, your reaction to this verse might be to declare that it is part of the Mosaic Law and that we have been set free from the law.  You would be partly correct.  We are free from the Law, but that does not mean that we are not called to holiness.

A.  A New Testament Call:  I Peter 1:13-16

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 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.”

Here Peter repeats the call that we read first in Leviticus.  Jesus Christ is holy.  We are called Christians.  We are called to be holy.  It is important.

B. The Importance of Holiness:  Hebrews 12:14

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

So we are to pursue holiness.  We are saved by grace, through faith but if we are saved our lives should change.

C.  Guided to Holiness

It is not my intent in this message to give to you a list of do’s and don’t.  Rather I would point you to the means by which you can discover for yourself the details of holiness.

1.  The Word:  II Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

As Christians we do not look to the world for our standards of right and wrong, rather we should look to the Word of God.

2.  The Spirit:  John 16:13

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.

If we depend solely on human wisdom we will not discover the truths that God has for us.  We need the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

II.  The Dangers of Holiness

If I am going to encourage you to pursue holiness, it is appropriate for me also to warn you of some dangers associated with holiness.

  1.  We may start to think that we have earned our salvation or God’s favor.  Salvation is a gift.  We do not earn it.  Nor does God owe us anything for doing what we ought to do.
  2. We may become divided.  As we pray and search the scriptures we may come to different conclusions about exactly what constitutes holiness.  We may think that people who do not agree with our standards are not ‘true’ Christians.
  3. We may think that we are better than others.  As God helps us to change and overcome various sins in our lives we may look at others who are still struggling and think that we are better than them.  We may see some of their faults and not see our own.  Or we may think less of them, and more highly of ourselves.
  4. We may think that we are worthless.  If we become conscious of our sins and we seem to unable to overcome them we may think that we are worthless.  We may forget that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  That alone makes us of great worth.  God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for us.
  5. We may give up.  If we seem unable to live up to the standards we, or others, have set up we may just leave the faith as too hard.  We may fail to recognize that God loves us as we are and He will continue to work on us throughout our lives, molding us into the image of His Son.

III. The Key to Holiness

A.  Crucify the Flesh:  Galatians 5: 24

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Obviously, this is not to be taken literally.  It does mean that as we learn to recognize the difference between holy living and unholy living our old nature will sometimes desire to do things that are unholy.  We should not just give in to those desires and say that ‘we are only human’.  Rather, we recognize that as Christians we now have the Spirit of God.  We are not ‘only human’ we are the children of God.  Do not give in to the temptations of the old nature, but rather live as the people God has called us to be.

B.  Be Filled with the Spirit:  Ephesians 3:17-19

that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

We do not change through the strength of our own will but by the strength of the Spirit that God gives to us.  It is an ongoing battle between the flesh and the Spirit.

Let us pursue holiness in all of our conduct, not so that we can be saved, but because we are saved.

Let us seek to be holy because our God is holy

 

These are the sermon notes from 7/22/18.  All quotations are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have not control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.