Posts Tagged ‘spirituality’

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. 

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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. 

 

Advice for the New Year

January 3, 2018

2017 is over.  It is a new year.  A new opportunity to do things the right way.  Of course, as Christians, we believe that God forgives the past, gives us wisdom and strength for today, and hope for tomorrow.  We do not need a new year.  Each day is a new day.  Each moment is a fresh start.  Let us learn to do things right.

I.  Live for God:  I Peter 4:1-2

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

As we start the new year I want to encourage you to seek to do the will of God in your lives.  This is easy to say, not always so easy to do.  First, we have to know what the will of God is for us.  We can start with the Bible.  We are to learn to apply it to our lives.  Biblical study is a life long pursuit.  We should be growing in our understanding of the scriptures and our ability to apply biblical teaching to our lives.  Of course, knowing what is right is one thing.  Actually doing what is right is an entirely different thing.  God can and will help us in both areas.

There are also many issues in life for which the Bible does not give us direct guidance.  We need to learn to be sensitive to the voice of the Spirit.  If we ask God to guide us, especially in the important decisions of our lives.  He will.   We need to be able to say, and mean, not my will, but thine be done.

II.  Established  5:6-11

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

A.  Humble Yourselves:  First, we need to recognize that we need God’s help.  We cannot be the people that He wants us to be on our own strength.  We are completely dependent on Him.

B.  Cast Your Cares:  It is a wonderful thing to be able to bring our cares and concerns to the God of the universe.  He hears us.  He loves us.  He is able to help us.  If our situation is bad and gets worse, we know that we do not face it on our own, but God is with us.  He will give us the wisdom to know what to do, the strength to do what we should, and the grace to deal with whatever happens.  We can trust Him completely.

C.  Be Vigilant:  Satan would like to destroy us, or at least make us ineffective.  We need to watch our for his traps and snares.  He would like to trip us up and drag us down.  Be careful!  Do not think of yourselves  as beyond temptation.  History has shown us that even great leaders can fall.  God will help us, but we must constantly be on our guard against the various attacks of the enemy.

D.  Be Established:  As we continue our walk with God we can know that we are building on a firm foundation.  Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone of our lives.  We can have a life that is solid and secure as we trust in the rock of our salvation.  The storms of life will not tear us down because our God is able to hold us up.

As we enter the new year let us seek to live for God with all of our heart and all of our strength.  That is the best resolution to make for this year and every year.

 

These are the sermon notes from 12/30/17.  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. 

Life and Death

December 13, 2017

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  This saying was commonly accepted as true when I was a child.  Sadly, it wasn’t true then, and it isn’t true now.  Sticks and stones may leave physical hurts that last for days but words can damage a person for an entire lifetime.

I.  Life and Death:  Proverbs 18:21

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.

A.  Words of Death

Our words may bring death in a variety of ways.  Lying is widely practiced today.  The thought that a ‘little white lie doesn’t  harm anyone’ is common.  Many others will lie to protect themselves from harm or to gain some form of advantage.  Sadly, we cannot simply take people that we do not know at their word.  In fact, there are people whom we do know that we cannot trust to tell the truth.  The world would be a different place if more people spoke the truth in love.

Gossip about other people is another common problem.  Years ago, I struggled with what it meant to gossip.  Can we not share any news about other people?  Then it came to me that we can share good news.  Nobody seems to mind looking good.  If what we are going to share makes a person look bad, then we do not need to say it.

Swearing also has increased in popularity today.  As Christians we should be different from the world around us.  “Do not take the name of the Lord in vain.” is in the top ten. (commandments)  We should be careful to use the name of God in prayer, praise and the proclamation of truth, not in simply venting anger or frustration.

We can also use our words to create strife and discord.  We can stir up all kinds of trouble by provoking discord by our words.  This is not good.  Not in our families, not in our places of work, and certainly not in our churches.  In addition, in our current political climate, we as Christians should recognize that there  are good Christian people in both major political parties.  We believers should demonstrate by our actions how one should conduct themselves in public discourse with people with whom we disagree.

Today bullying is getting a lot more attention, and rightly so.  Again, Christians should be leading the way in how to speak both in public and in private.

B.  Words of Life

Christians should be people who are known to speak the truth.  That does not mean that we have to share every thought that goes through our minds.  We should learn to speak the truth in love.  The right words at the right time in the right manner.  It takes a lifetime of practice.

We should share good news.  We should give words of encouragement and hope.

We should only use the name of God in the right manner.

We should be peacemakers, not causers of strife.  We should seek to bring people together for the common good, not drive people apart.

We should encourage and build up people.

We should speak words of life.

II.  Guard Your Tongue:  Proverbs 21:23

Whoever guards his mouth and tongue
Keeps his soul from troubles.

It is to our benefit to be careful of what we say.  We can get ourselves and others into all kinds of trouble with our mouths.  We should think carefully before we speak.  Actually, we should pray that God will lead us by His Spirit rather than simply speaking from our own hearts.  Of course, if we focus on being filled with, and directed by, the Spirit of God, then our flesh will not get us in as much trouble.

III.  A Beautiful Thing:  Proverbs 25:11

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold
In settings of silver.

Don’t get hung up on the imagery of mixing gold and silver.  Don’t worry about whether you like apples or not.  The point is that the right words at the right time are a thing of beauty.  We should seek to add to the beauty of the world around us by the words that we share with others.  This does not have to be complex forms of poetry, sometimes very simple words or phrases can be very powerful.  May our words be a power for good.

IV.  Pleasant Words:  Proverbs 16:24

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.

Our words can bring life to those around us.  Our words can have a favorable impact.  Our words can be a beautiful thing.

May God help us to speak in a way that is pleasing to Him and helpful to those around us.

 

These are the sermon notes from 12/10/17.  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. 

Maturing in Christ

December 6, 2017

The message today starts with Philemon verses 4-7.

 I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.

I.  Love

Apparently Philemon had a good reputation.  He was known to love Jesus and other believers.  This is very important.  Jesus addressed this practice in Matthew 22:36-40.

 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

How do we express love for God?  Is it merely words or emotions?  We are told what it means to love God in I John 5:3.

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

It is not burdensome, because it is not done on our own strength, but by the help of the Holy Spirit.  The more we love God, the closer we will draw to Him, the more the Holy Spirit will direct our lives.  Love God and the rest will come into line.

If we are disciples of Jesus we will love one another.  John 13:34-35 confirms this.

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.”

II.  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.

Believing that God exists is the first step.  Believing that what God has spoken in His Word is another big step.   We are not always able to see how things are going to work out for us in this life, but we can continue to trust that God is all that He has revealed in His Word.  II Corinthians 5:7 encourages us.

 For we walk by faith, not by sight.

In this life we may not always understand, but the day is coming when we will know clearly.  Our faith in God enables us to live our the lives that he has called us  to live.  Hebrew 11:1 tells us.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Our faith in God changes the way that we live our lives.  Indeed, our lives are changed by faith.

III.  Effective Sharing

A.  I Peter 3:15

 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

We all should be watching for the opportunity to share our faith.  We are all called to speak to others about our faith in Jesus.

B.  Matthew 28:19-20

 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

We do not stop at mere conversion.  Saying the sinner’s prayer is only the beginning of a lifelong commitment to being a disciple of Jesus.

IV.  Every Good Thing

A.  Galatians 5:22-23

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

As a disciple of Jesus that loves God and loves people our lives are changed.  The fruit of the Spirit should be present and increasing in our life.  We can use this list for occasional self evaluation.  We should ask God to continue to develop this fruit in our lives.

B.  II Peter 1:5-8

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As we mature in Christ we should see God working both in our lives and through our lives.  Our lives are changed.  People see that change.  We can share the reason for the change.  God can use this process over and over.  We need to love God, love people, mature in the faith and share our faith with those around us.

 

These are the sermon notes from 11/29/17.  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. 

 

One Thing

November 1, 2017

Our head is in the clouds, but our feet are firmly planted on earth.

I.  My Strength:  Psalms 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?

God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.  He is pure goodness, there is no evil in Him.  He is our source of salvation, there is no other way.  He is our source of strength.  We can do whatever it is that He wants us to do because He will give us the wisdom and strength that we need.

II.  One Thing:  Psalms 27:4

One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.

I have been a Christian all my life.  I remember being picked up from the nursery at church.  I remember when falling asleep in the pew was a good thing because it meant you were quiet.  I remember asking Jesus into my heart at about age seven.  I remember powerful times of worship and prayer during my tweens and teens.  I remember the sense of God calling me into the ministry in my twenties and I remember the years of ministry in the local church.

Through all of it the true desire of my heart is, and has been, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to dwell in His house forever.

III.  Seek:  Psalms 27:8

When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”

Although I have spent a lifetime serving God and recognize that I have only begun to know Him.  I desire to seek His face, but the cares and concerns of the world demand attention.  Still, I try to open my eyes to His presence.  Since God is everywhere, I should be able to see Him anywhere.

Lord, open my eyes that I may see you.

IV.  Teach:  Psalms 27:11

Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.

We may be able to be in the presence of God, but we live here on earth.  We need God to guide our steps, to teach us how to live as His children, to be His people.  God’s ways are not our ways.  May God help us to hear His voice and to be obedient to His Word and His Spirit.

V.  Hope:  Psalms 27:13

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living

Christians should always have hope.  God will help us.  Maybe not in the way that we desire of expect, but God will give us the wisdom to know what to do and the strength to do it.  God will do what needs to be done that we cannot do.

We can trust Him.

VI.  Wait:  Psalms 27:14

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Just as God’s ways are not our ways.  God’s timing is not our timing.  Be patient.  Wait on the Lord.  Things will work out in His way and in His time.

Throughout the journey of this life, may our eyes be open to the beauty of the Lord.  May we live our lives according to His plan for us.  May His will be done in our lives, and to God alone be the glory!

 

These are the sermon notes from 10/29/17.  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. 

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.