Posts Tagged ‘spirituality’

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. 

 

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Walk in the Truth

June 15, 2019

The Christian life begins with a moment in which we respond to the Word and the Spirit of God in repentance and faith.  That new birth is only the beginning of our Christian life.

I.  Walk in Truth:  III John 2-4

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

A.  Prayer, not Proclamation:  There was a time when I heard people use verse two to support the idea that all Christians should prosper and be in good health.  Now, it is true that often God will bless his people both financially and with good health, but it is not a guarantee.  This verse is a prayer for them to prosper and be in good health, not a proclamation that they will be.  There is a difference.  If anything, the existence of the prayer indicates that it is not a given.

B.  Rejoice:  I have been in ministry now for many years at the same church.  I have literally watched people grow from childhood to adulthood.  I can agree with John that it brings me great joy to know that my ‘children’ are walking in the truth.  For me, I would substitute my ‘people’ so that it can refer to the young, the old, and everyone in between.  The truth is that I have known some that have left the faith.  Those people sadden me.  The ones who are faithfully serving God do indeed bring joy.

C.  Walk in Truth:  There are multiple components to walking in truth.  First there is the understanding that Jesus himself is truth.  (See John 14:6) Therefore to walk in truth is simply to walk with Jesus.  Think ‘Just a Closer Walk With Thee”.  That would be a great start.  Another component of truth is having a knowledge of the truth.  That would be having an accurate understanding of the Bible and its’ teachings.  Thankfully, we do not have to have everything right.  It is not a test that we must score a certain percent on to go to heaven, but we should grow in our knowledge of truth.  The final component that I will mention today is to live our lives according to the commandments of God.  Again, it is important to know that we are not trying to earn our salvation, but rather to live out our salvation.  Christ makes a difference in our lives.

II.  Imitate:  III John 11

Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.

It is important to understand that we should not imitate the world’s understanding of good.  God has revealed what is good in His sight in the Bible.  The Bible should provide our standard of good.  Therefore, people who are living their lives according to God’s Word are the ones that we should be imitating.

III.  The Lord is Good:  Lamentations 3:22-25

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.

    A.  Not Consumed:  God is merciful.  Those who turn to Him in repentance are forgiven through Jesus Christ.  Thank you God!

B.  New Every Morning:  Our relationship with God is not something that we have to simply remember.  God is willing to reveal Himself to us daily.  We do not have to live only with a memory of what God did some time in the past.  He desires to be a part of our life today.

C. The Lord is Good:  If we seek God, we will find Him.  He is good to His people.  We should seek His presence regularly and diligently.

These are the sermon notes from 6/9/19.  All Bible quotes are from the New King James Version.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

 

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. 

 

 

 

A Different Side of Job

February 13, 2019

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

I.  Wisdom and Understanding:  Job 28:28

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

III.  Spokesman:  Job 33:1-6

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

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

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

 

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

 

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. 

Worship and the Heart

November 1, 2018

Saul was the first king of Israel.  He was not faithful to keep the commandments of God and so the kingdom was taken away from him and given to another.  Samuel, who had anointed Saul king, was told by God to anoint one of the sons of Jesse the new king.  This is where our first verse today comes into the story.

I.  God Looks At The Heart:  I Samuel 16:7

 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. Forthe Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

We have a tendency to judge by what we see.  That is why there is such an emphasis placed on first impressions.  How we dress, our physical condition, our age, our race, our sex, all contribute to the first impression that we make on people.

After people have had an opportunity to get to know us, there is still a tendency to judge primarily by external factors.  Our wealth, our education, our athletic abilities or our skill can all contribute to how we view a person.

God  sees the heart.

All we can see are external features.  We can see actions and hear words, but it is possible for people to put on a show.  They can act, at least some of the time, the way that they want to appear.

God is not fooled.

It is not that all of these various factors are not important.  It is just that they  are not what is most important.  What is most important is the attitude of our heart.  We are to love God.  We are to love people.  That is a condition of the heart.

II.  A Troubled Heart:  I Samuel 16: 14, 23

 But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him….

And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him

The ancient Jews acknowledged all things as coming from God.  In the modern era we do not think of God as the originator of evil, but rather as allowing evil to afflict us.  Remember Job?  Satan could not attack him without God’s permission.  Today we draw a distinction between what God allows and what God does.

Either way, Saul is in distress.  You could say that his heart was troubled.  David played music and Saul felt better.

I would suggest that music can help a troubled heart.  Not just any music, I would suggest good Christian music, especially worship music.  If you are feeling down either listen to, or better yet, sing worship music.

Worship can change our attitude.  That is one reason why we begin service with a time of worship.  We want to shift our focus from the cares and concerns of the world and focus our minds and our hearts upon the Living God.  As we do this, we become more aware of His presence and in his presence there is fullness of joy.  (Psalms 16:11)

Of course the more important reason that we worship God is that He deserves our worship.  He is God after all.   Worship is not about what clothes we are wearing, what instruments we are playing or even the song list.  It is about worshiping God from our hearts.

On a side note, sometimes people have homes, apartments or workplaces that seem to have a sense of an evil presence. (And no, I don’t mean your boss!)  Demons do not enjoy worship music.  If you think that you might have a problem with a demonic presence in some physical location, try playing worship music in the area, even leaving it playing when you are not there.  It may have good results.

III.  A Cheerful Heart:  James 5:13

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.

If you are feeling good, sing psalms.  It is the expression of a joyful heart.  Our skill level doesn’t matter, just make a joyful noise.

There is a growing trend these days in churches to create an atmosphere that is similar to a concert.  A darkened room with stage lighting illuminating the people on the platform.  Do not be fooled by this appearance.  Worship is not a spectator sport!  It is not a concert that we attend to listen to with our ears and watch with our eyes.  It is an event where the people of God come together to worship the King of kings from our heart.

So, it is about the heart.  If you have a troubled heart, sing or play worship music.  If you have a joyful heart, sing worship music.  Just remember, when you are in worship, worship from the heart.

 

These are the sermon notes from 10/28/18.  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. 

 

The Spirit Poured Out

April 11, 2018

As a Pentecostal church the primary issue that distinguishes us from other churches is not our music or order of service, but rather our understanding of the nature, work and role of the Holy Spirit in the church today.

Joel 2: 28-32

“And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:
Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
32 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.
For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance,
As the Lord has said,
Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.

I.  Outpouring of the Spirit

A.  Seek the Spirit:  It is appropriate for us to continue to ask God to pour out His Spirit.  We desire to see God at work through His Holy Spirit.  God is at work, but there is even more that could be happening.  God responds to the heartfelt, earnest prayer of His people.

B.  The Gifts of the Spirit:  I Corinthians 12:7-11

 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

These gifts are available to all believers.  It is appropriate for us to ask God to pour out His Spirit, with the manifestation of these gifts.  We do need to recognize that we do not have control over these gifts, they are given ‘as He wills’.

C.  The Fruit of the Spirit:  Galatians 5: 22-23

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

All believers have the Spirit to some degree.  The fruit of the Spirit should be developing in all of our lives.  The gifts of the Spirit are given to specific people at specific times, but the fruit of the Spirit is for all believers and for all times.   The fruit of the Spirit in our lives is one of the very best testimonies of the transformational power of God.

II.  Day of the Lord

A.  Signs and Wonders:  The various signs that are described could have already been fulfilled.  The smoke of Mt. St. Helen’s volcano, the eclipse of the sun, the blood moons.  Although each of these things are rooted in natural phenomena, they still could be fulfillment of the prophecy in Joel.    Actually, many generations of Christians have interpreted the signs of their times and concluded that the end is at hand.  Of course, the end has not come yet so earlier generations were wrong, and we might be wrong as well.  What is important is that we be ready when the day comes.

B.  The Day of the Lord: To those who ‘call upon the name of the Lord’  it will be a great day.  Of course, we know that the name of the Lord is Jesus.  “There is no other name under heaven, given among men by which we must be saved.”  Acts 4:12  He alone is ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through Him”  John 14:6

Sadly, for those who have rejected the Son, the Day of the Lord will be a terrible day of judgement.  For them it will be a day of darkness and mourning.

III.  Seek Good:  Amos 5:14-15

Seek good and not evil,
That you may live;
So the Lord God of hosts will be with you,
As you have spoken.
15 Hate evil, love good;
Establish justice in the gate.
It may be that the Lord God of hosts
Will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

We recognize that we are saved by grace, through faith.  (See Ephesians 2:8-10)  However, if we are saved, then our lives should be changed.  We should seek to do what is right.  We should work for justice in the land.   What kind of justice?  All kinds. We do not do this in our own strength, but by the power of the Spirit that God has given to us.

May the Spirit of God be poured out in our world, our churches and our lives.

 

These are the sermon notes from 4/8/18.  All Bible 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.