Posts Tagged ‘religion’

A Big Project

October 4, 2017

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

I.  A Mind to Work:  Nehemiah 4:6

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

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

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

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

A good start is important.

II.  Failing Strength:  Nehemiah 4:10

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

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

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

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

III.  Frightened by Opposition:  Nehemiah 6:9

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

Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.

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

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

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

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

IV.  Finished:  Nehemiah 6:15-16

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

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

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

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

V.  Our Strength:  Nehemiah 8:8-12

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

These are the sermon notes from 10/1/17.  All scripture quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Advertisements

A Root of Evil

September 26, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II.  Great Gain:  I Timothy 6:6-10

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

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

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

We should be different.

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

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

III.  But You… I Timothy 6: 11-12

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

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

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

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

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

 

These are the sermon notes from 9/24/17.  All quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Ornan Who?

September 6, 2017

I want to be like Ornan.  If I were to take a poll, I doubt that there would be one in a thousand who would recognize the name of Ornan the Jebusite.  Nonetheless, he is the hero of our message today.

I need to introduce the context of today’s scripture.  David had commanded that the nation of Israel be counted.  This was something that he was not supposed to do, but he did it anyway.  God was displeased with his action and gave him a choice of punishments.  David choose to ‘fall into the hand of God”.  70,000 people were slain by an angel that God had sent to carry out the judgement.

I.  Ornan:  I Chronicles 21: 15-16, 20

And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it. As he was destroying, the Lord looked and relented of the disaster, and said to the angel who was destroying, “It is enough; now restrain your hand.” And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

16 Then David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven, having in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. So David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces.

 Now Ornan turned and saw the angel; and his four sons who were with him hid themselves, but Ornan continued threshing wheat.

This angel had already slain 70,000 people.  It was an angel of death and destruction.  I can only imagine how terrifying the sight must have been for those who were present.

David and the elders with him fell on their faces.

Ornan’s sons hid themselves.

Ornan saw the angel and went back to his threshing of wheat.

Apparently Ornan was not afraid.  I suspect that he recognized that God was with him.  Psalms 118:6 says:

The Lord is on my side;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?

I want to be like Ornan.  I want to have a walk with God that gives me the confidence to look at the angel of death and go about the business that is at hand.

II.  Soloman:  I Chronicles 22:12-13

 Only may the Lord give you wisdom and understanding, and give you charge concerning Israel, that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. 13 Then you will prosper, if you take care to fulfill the statutes and judgments with which the Lord charged Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and of good courage; do not fear nor be dismayed.

We need God to give us wisdom.  Wisdom allows us to know what to do in any given situation.  We do not want to depend solely on human wisdom.  We want the wisdom that comes from God.

Of course, God has already given us much instruction in His Word.  When God gives us direction, it is clearly in our best interest to follow it.  We should live our lives in obedience to God’s Word and His Spirit.

If we are walking with God in obedience we should expect that we can be strong and of good courage.  God is with us.

I want to be like Ornan.

III.  Daniel 11:32-33

Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. 33 And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering.

Daniel is speaking here about the end times, but really, it can apply to the people of God anytime.

Those who know God shall be strong and do great things.

May we come to know God.  May we know God more.  May we do great things in His service.  May we instruct others who see the difference that God makes in us.

Under the right circumstances the ordinary can be extraordinary.

Ornan was simply  threshing wheat…..in the presence of the angel of destruction.

I have never threshed wheat.  I have never seen the angel of destruction.

I want to know God in such a way that I will be courageous and faithful whatever I may face.

I want to be like Ornan.

Walk Worthy of the Son

August 24, 2017

There is nothing in this life or the next that is more important than our relationship with God.  We can be reconciled with God only through faith in Jesus Christ who died for us.

I.  Walk Worthy:  Colossians 1:9-14

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

I start by emphasizing the importance of prayer.  Our prayers are effective, not just for our own needs, but also for others.  We should pray for our family, friends, our government officials, missionaries and others as they come to our minds.  Prayer is something that almost everyone can do, and everyone who is able to pray, should pray.

The idea of being ‘worthy’ of Christ is a high ideal.  I do not think that we will ever be ‘worthy’ of what Christ did for us.  Jesus died for us because of His love for us, not because we were worthy of that sacrifice.  Still, it is a goal for which we should reach.  We should seek to live lives that are pleasing to God, but we should certainly be thankful for His forgiveness when we fall short.

The idea of being ‘filled with the knowledge of His will’ intrigues me.  May God help us to know what His will is for our lives.  May God help us to do his will in our lives.  May His will be ‘done on earth as it is in heaven.

We do not do this in our own strength.  We can pray for the strength that comes from His Spirit.  We are not ‘only human’.  God is with us.  With God’s help we can do His will in our lives.

In all things we should give thanks.  Why?  Because we believe that “all thing work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28)  The greatest good that God does for us is the salvation that He has offered to us through Jesus Christ.

It is only through the blood of Jesus that we are able to become a part of the kingdom of God.  There is no other way to come to God except through Jesus Christ and the cross.  (John 14:6)

II.  His Son  Colossians 1:15-20

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

To appreciate the depth of the cost of our salvation we need to have a better understanding of the nature of Jesus.

He is the ‘image of the invisible God’.  God, the Father, does not have physical form.  He is a Spirit and no one has ever seen Him.  (John 1:18)  So, to see what God is like, we must look to Jesus.  “He who has seen me, has seen the Father.”  (John 14:9)

He is the firstborn over all creation.  This does not mean that He is the first thing that was created, as some claim.  He became a part of the material world, but He existed before the material world.  Since He is a part of the material world He can be considered the ‘firstborn’ or greatest, or over all the material world.

He participated in the creation of the material realm.  The creation was a combined effort of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

In Him all things consist.  That word consist means to hold together.  I remember a science class, long ago, when we were learning about the makeup of atoms and there was some wonder about what kept them together.  In more recent years I have read about a theory that there is a certain particle that they have called the God Particle that holds everything together.  There doesn’t have to be a physical component.  It is God that holds the world together, and more specifically, Jesus.

He is the head of the church.  Christians ultimately have one leader, and it isn’t the pope.  It is Jesus.  We should fix our eyes on Him.

Jesus is a part of the Godhead.  In Him  ‘all the fullness’ dwelt.  He was both God and man.  This is impossible for us, but possible for God.

So, God died for us.  Only through the blood of the cross can we be reconciled to God.

Can we ever truly walk worthy of that sacrifice?

Probably not.

But we can give it our best shot.

 

These are the sermon notes from 8/20/17.  All quotations are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

See the Good

August 16, 2017

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

I.  Rejoice!  Philippians 4:4-5

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

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

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

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

We have not always done so well at that.

We can, and should, do better.

II.  Don’t Worry!  Philippians 4:6-7

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

As Christians we should never worry.  Worry demonstrates a lack of trust in God.  God is worthy of our trust.

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

III.  Focus!  Philippians 4:8

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

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

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

See the good!

 

These are the sermon notes from 8/13/17.  All scripture quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Serve One Another

July 19, 2017

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

Galatians 5:13

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

I.  Liberty:  John 8:36

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

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

II.  Not For The Flesh:  Romans 6:1-4

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

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

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

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

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

We are not meant to be alone.

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

We have God.

His grace is enough.

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

 

These are the notes from the message preached on 7/16/17.  All scripture quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Our Aim

July 12, 2017

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

I.  Our Aim:  II Corinthians 5:9-10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

III.  Completion:  Philippians 1:6

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

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

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

May we be more like Him.

May we be used by Him.

May God alone be glorified.

 

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

 

Take Heed

June 28, 2017

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

I.  Striving:  I Corinthians 9:24-27

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

A.  Discipline

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

B.  Disqualified

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May we be more like Him.

 

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

Saints? Who? Us??

June 21, 2017

As I was reading in my devotions this week I came across a phrase that really spoke to my heart.  It was found in I Corinthians 1:2.

 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

The phrase that struck me was “called to be saints”.  When we think of saints we generally think of the heroes of the faith, but that isn’t really what the term means.  The word we read as saints comes from the Greek word hagios which means: sacred, holy or saints.  Sacred or holy both imply two basic things; consecrated to God and pure or undefiled.

What would be the basic characteristics of one who is consecrated to God?

I.  Faith:  Hebrews 11:6

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

The first quality must be a faith in God.  This faith is not a generic faith that there is a god that exists, but rather a faith that is placed in Jesus.  John 14:6 tells us:

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

I would challenge all of us to examine our own walk with God.  Are we diligently seeking Him, or is our effort better described as half-hearted, or occasionally, or casually?  Now, thankfully, God is loving and will reward even our feeble efforts.  James 4:8 tells us:

 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Thankfully, we can start with faith like a mustard seed and it will grow through time.

II.  Love:  John 13:34-35

 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

As the old song says, “they will know we are Christians by our love”.  Yet, some Christians seem to project more of an attitude of animosity, judgmentalism and even hatred.

We are to love God, other Christians and the unsaved.  God loves everyone and so should we.  This is an area that we should regular check our own attitude towards the people in our life.

Our love for others should be seen in our actions, our words and our attitudes.

Is your love showing?

III.  Unity:  I Corinthians 1:10

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

For a thousand years there was basically one church.  Then in the 11th century the first large split occurred in the church between the Orthodox and the Catholic church.  Then in the 16th century the Protestant reformation broke away from the Catholic church and eventually there were thousands of denominations. Sometimes the divisions have been incredibly bitter and filled with animosity.

What happened to the unity of the church of Jesus Christ?

We should be very careful of our passing judgment on other Christians.  Very early in the church there was a very simple creed.

Christ has come. Christ has died.  Christ has risen.  Christ will come again.

Perhaps the time has come for us to recognize the basic unity of the body of Christ.  Sure we may argue over our doctrinal differences, but it should be like a family argument, recognizing that at the end of the day we are brothers and sisters in Christ.

Final judgement belongs to God, not us.  Romans 14:4 says:

Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

We are united, not by the details of our doctrine but by the cross of Christ.

I Corinthians 1:18

 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

So, as Christians, called to be saints, we are consecrated to God by our faith, love and the cross of Jesus Christ.

The discussion of what it means to be pure and undefiled will have to wait for another day.

 

These are the sermon notes from 6/11/17.  All quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

 

Suffering

June 14, 2017

Most of the messages that we hear preached proclaim the good points of the Christian life.  We emphasize love, joy, peace, hope, wisdom, strength,  and overall blessings.

That is not the only part of the Christian message.

I.  Suffering:  Romans 8:16-18

 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

We prefer to emphasize that we are the heirs of the kingdom, together with Christ.  It is an easier sell.

However, with Christ we also going to experience a degree of suffering.  We prefer to think of the glory to come, but the sufferings of this world are a part of the Christian experience.

There are places in the world where Christians are still being killed for their faith.  Recently, in Egypt a group of Christians were on a trip to visit a monastery.  They were attacked by people with machine guns mounted on trucked.  Many were killed, some of them children, and more were injured.  They were targeted specifically because they were Christians.

Here in America, at least for now, it is unlikely that we will suffer that kind of persecution, but that does not mean that we do not experience suffering.  Whenever you deny the flesh to live for Christ there will be opposition.

II.  Hard Pressed:  II Corinthians 4:7-10

 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

I memorized these verses many years ago when I was a part of a gospel group called the Christian Life Singers.  It has spoken to my heart many times over the years.  There have definitely been times when I have felt hard-pressed and perplexed.  Life in the ministry has not been easy.  I have never actually seen the statistics, but I know that the percentage of people who serve in the ministry all the way to retirement is fairly low.

It is not just ministers.  All Christians have an enemy that seeks to destroy them.  God allows us to be tested so that we will grow in our faith.  We should always be aware that we are dependent on God.

III.  Renewed:  II Corinthians 4:16-18

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

As I have aged I have become more aware of the perishing of the outward man.  I am not as young as I once was, and clearly this physical body is not what it used to be.

That is all right.

The inner man is renewed day by day.

As we continue our journey through this life, we are able to grow in our relationship with Christ.  Our body may be aging and breaking down, but our spirit is aging and growing stronger.

As the things of this life begin to fade in importance, we recognize even more the glory of the life to come.

The light affliction of this life is nothing compared to the glory of the life to come.

IV.  Good Soldier:  II Timothy 2:3

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

Sure, we focus on the good aspects of the Christian life.  That does not mean that we deny the reality of the spiritual struggle in which we are engaged.  I have often told people that my best preparation for ministry did not come from Bible college, but from my time in the Marine Corps.  As a marine we learned to never give up, to accomplish the mission.

At the end of this life I desire to hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  (Matthew 25:21)

God is good.  All the time.  However, there will be times of testing, trial and suffering as we go through the journey of this life.  Do not be surprised.  Stand firm in your faith.  Trust God.  He will see you through to the end.

 

These are the sermon notes from 6/4/17.  All scripture quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.