Posts Tagged ‘spirituality’

Rest & Reconciliation

April 25, 2020

Many of the religions of the world are based in the actions that we take to find God.  In Christianity it is God who reaches out to us.  It is God who has fulfilled the requirements for reconciliation.  It is God who seeks to draw us into a relationship with Him.

I.  Rest:  Matthew 11:28-30

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

For some religions the quest to obtain our final goal is so difficult that it is believed to take many lives to obtain the goal.  In contrast, Jesus tells us that ‘His yoke is easy and His burden is light.’

For Christians salvation is freely offered to all who would believe in Jesus as the Christ who died for the sins of the world.  Many people are familiar with 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.”

Salvation is the gift of God to us.  We simply need to believe.  It doesn’t get any easier than that.

II.  Reconciliation:  II Corinthians 5:18-21

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

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. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

We were separated from God by our sin, but God sent His Son Jesus to pay the price for our sins.  Because Christ has paid our debt, we can be reconciled with God.  This is a truly wonderful thing.  We have the ability to spend our lives in the presence of God.  We can walk with God throughout this life and into the next.

In addition, we have been give the privilege of representing God to the people of the world.  We are supposed to share the message of God’s love.  It is The Good News!  We do not have to be pastors or theologians.  We all can share the simple message of the love of God that He showed to the world through Jesus Christ.

III.  Relationship:  Revelations 3:20

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

This is one of my favorite verses.  ( I have many favorites!)  The door that Jesus is knocking on is the door of our heart.  This is not our physical heart but our inner self.  When we respond to Christ with faith He will enter our hearts by His Spirit.  This allows us to be in a wonderful relationship with God Himself.  His Spirit dwells in our hearts and we can develop that relationship over time.  There is truly nothing like it in this world!!

God loves you.

You do not need to be alone.

 

If you would like to view this message as it was preached it can be viewed at: https://www.facebook.com/116005455113481/videos/571920860102011/

 

These are the sermon notes from 4/19/20.  All scripture quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any ads that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.   

A Joyful Life

February 15, 2020

I generally don’t think of the scriptures in terms of favorites.  It is, after all, all God’s Word.  However, Philippians chapter four would be right up there towards the top if I did keep track of these things.

I.  Rejoice in the Lord:  Philippians 4:4

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

I believe that the Christian life can be marked by joy.  It is, after all, one of the fruits of the Spirit.  (Galatians 5:22-23)  Here in Philippians we are told to rejoice in the Lord.  This is good advice.  We may not be able to always rejoice in our circumstances because life can be difficult, but we can always rejoice in the Lord.  His love for us is overwhelming and steadfast.  He is the rock of our salvation.

II.  Be Content:  Philippians 4:10-13

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to ]be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Many people like to quote verse thirteen.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  It is a wonderful verse, but we should recognize the context in which it is written.  Paul is speaking about being able to be content in any circumstance.  A key to finding joy in the Lord is being able to be content, even if our circumstances are not ideal.  God will take care of us.  We can trust Him.  We need to remember to view our lives from an eternal perspective.  Difficulties may last for a while, but God’s love is eternal.  The day will come when there will be no more tests or trials.  In the mean time we can be content in our circumstances.

There is a difference between contentment and complacency.  We can be content with where we are even as we work towards what we are meant to be.  Complacency lulls us into a lethargic state where we are ‘good enough’ where we are, even if it is not what we are meant to be.

III.  Giving:  Philippians 4:15-17

Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.

If people are experiencing financial issues I ask them three questions:  Do you tithe?  Do you have a budget?  Do you understand the difference between ‘need’ and ‘want’?  Malachi 3:10-11 talks of the blessings that God gives and the devourer that is turned away when we honor God with our tithes and offerings.

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,
Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,”
Says the Lord of hosts;

I have practiced tithing since I was sixteen.  God has always taken care of my family and I.  We have a budget that we follow that includes tithes and offerings.  If there are lean months, we reduce our spending in other areas, not in our tithes and offerings.  We also have a clear understanding of the difference between need and want.  God has always provided for our needs and many of our wants.

IV.  Provision:  Philippians 4:19

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

This is this weeks memory verse.  Many people like to quote it.  It is important to recognize that it talks about our needs, not our wants.  It is also important to recognize that it follows talking about giving.  Some people think that they cannot afford to give anything.  Others recognize that they cannot afford not to give.  It is important that we be good stewards of what God gives to us.  That includes our finances.

People want to have joy in their lives.  I believe that there is a connection between joy, contentment and a life of giving.

 

These are the sermon notes from 2/9/20.  All scriptures are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any adds that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

Stand Fast

February 8, 2020

We have been serving this church now for almost 29 years.  A lot has happened during those almost three decades.  A lot of good, and some things, not so good.  We are still here.  We are still standing.

Philippians 4:1

Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.

I read this verse in my devotions recently.  It made me think of people whom I have known over the years.  Some have remained faithful to both God and this church.  Some have left the church, but remained faithful to God.  Some have left both the church and God.

I was then reminded of Galatians 6:10-20

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— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

I am so grateful that our strength comes from God.  We do not have to fight this battle in our own strength.  We were never meant to do that.  God is our source of strength.  It becomes ever more evident as the years go by that God is the source of our strength to do His work.

People are not the enemy.  Actually, the battle is for the souls of people.  We must always keep in mind that no person who is still breathing is beyond the ability of God to touch their heart.  We are not fighting them.  We are fighting for them.

It is a spiritual battle.  I know some people who make it a regular part of their prayer time to spiritually put on the armor of God.  I do not have a problem with that practice.  If you have found it to be beneficial for you, by all means, continue the practice.  However, even though our battle is fought in the spiritual realm.  We live in the earthly realm.

In order to gird our waists with truth, we need to be people of truth.  This means that we need to learn what is the truth.  We need to speak the truth.  We need to live in the truth.  By the way, that applies to your income tax!  No cheating!!  Render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s.

To put on the breastplate of righteousness, we need to live righteous lives.  God will help us to learn what is right and to do what is right.  We will not be perfect, but we should be growing in righteousness.

We should be people of peace.  First, at peace with ourselves.  Then at peace with our families.  Then at peace with our neighbors, or co-workers and even with people of the opposing political party!  This can be challenging at times.  As much as you can, live at peace with all people.

The shield of faith is able to protect us against the attacks of the enemy.  We must be able to hold fast to the belief that God is able to deliver us.  That in the end we will win.  That God is able to make all things work out for good for those who believe in Him.

For quite a while a wondered about the helmet of salvation.  Then I remembered that at the core of our salvation is our relationship with God.  We have the Spirit of Christ within us.  We live in a relationship with God almighty.  Maintain that relationship through the standard Christian devotions of prayer, scripture and worship.

The sword is used both for defense and for offense.  I hope that you are regularly reading the Bible, studying  it, committing it to memory, and meditating on it.  It is ‘living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword.”  (Hebrews 4:12)  We should watch for opportunities to share its truth with both believers and non-believers.  We can plant the seed of the word in our conversations.  God can then confirm that word by His spirit.

Finally, pray!  Pray about anything and everything!!  Prayer can accomplish more than we realize.  It is not our prayers, but the God who hears our prayers that makes the difference.  Yet God has directed us to do our part.  We are to pray, often, fervently, in faith believing that God is able to do even more than we ask or even think.

By the way, pray for me.  If you want to hear better messages in the future, pray harder!

 

These are the sermon notes from 2/2/20.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.  All scripture quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible. 

Growing Up

February 1, 2020

Act your age!  I know that I heard that a few times growing up.  At the time it was quite effective.  I did not want to be perceived as acting childishly.  I wanted to be all grown up.  It is a sad thing when grown adults act as misbehaving children.

Ephesians 4:11-16

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

I.  Equipping the Saints

Some people thing that the work of ministry is to be done by the professional clergy.  That is not what the scripture says.  The primary focus of clergy, sometimes called the five-fold ministry, the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, is to equip the saints so that they can do the work of the ministry.   We all have a part to play in God’s kingdom.  No one is supposed to sit on the bench.  We all get to play, to make a contribution, to do our share of the work of the ministry, to edify, or strengthen the body of Christ.

II.  Goals

One goal that we are working towards is that of unity.  We have a long way to go.  The various churches, the various denominations are not meant to be working in competition with each other but rather in cooperation with each other.  There is only one Lord, one savior, one Jesus.

We should be growing in our knowledge of Jesus Christ.  I have been saved for a long time and a minister for over thirty years and I recognize that I am only beginning to know Jesus.

It is not just to know Jesus, we are meant to become like Him.  Again, if we are honest, we know that we have a long way to go.  Perfection is not obtainable in this life, but we should be growing in Christ, becoming more like Him, being perfected in Christ.

III.  Growing Up

Years ago, Amy Grant sang a song Fat Baby.  Some people found it offensive.  The truth often is.  We begin our faith as children, but we are to grow up in the faith, not to remain babes in Christ.

Sometimes this will involve ‘speaking the truth in love’.  This is a good thing.  It is also a challenging thing.  Sometimes we have truth.  Sometimes we have love.  Having both truth and love come out of our mouths is a wonderful thing.

Ephesians 4:29 says ”  Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

May our words be words of truth, spoken in love, imparting grace.

IV.  Growing Out

When every part is doing it’s share, the body grows.  The growth of the body is both growing in maturity and growing in numbers.  A healthy church will have people in many different stages of development, from seekers and new Christians to those who are mature in Christ.

Are you doing your part?

 

These are the sermon notes from 1/26/20.  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. 

 

For The New Year

December 31, 2019

I don’t make New Years resolutions.  I do typically start a diet after the holidays, but it is not a resolution, it is an effort to remain in my clothes.  I don’t want to spend the money for larger sizes.

However, this year I believe that I have come up with three resolutions that I can truly get behind and try to implement in my own life.  I would even recommend them to you as well. They occurred to me after reading I Corinthians 9:24-27.

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

The word that stands out to me here is discipline.  Now, I was a sergeant in the Marine Corps.  I have been an athlete all of my life.  I understand and like discipline and I believe that most of us can use a little more of it in our lives.  Especially if it is used for a good purpose.  I believe that the following three purposes are worth pursuing.

I.  Know God Better

Wherever you are in your relationship with God.  I know that it is possible to know God better than you do now.  The means by which we may know God better are simple and well known, but they are worth stating.

A.  The Bible:  We should be reading, studying, memorizing and meditating on the Word of God.  God has revealed himself to us in the scriptures.

B.  Prayer:  We should be spending time in prayer.  Prayer is an opportunity for us to speak to God and for God to speak to us.

C.  Praise:  When we worship God we blur the lines between heaven and earth.  We may have an encounter with the Spirit of God that is truly transformational.

These three practices are common, but they also hold the opportunity for exceptional growth in our knowledge of God.  We can resolve to know God better than we do now.

II.  Walk With God Better:  Ephesians 5:8-11

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

When I say walk with God better, I mean that we walk as children of light.  By that I mean that we find out what is acceptable to God and choose to do what is right.  This involves three steps.

A.  Learn:  We learn what is right and acceptable by the Word of God and the Spirit of God.  As we know God better, we will also understand more what God wants of us as His people.

B.   Choose:  Just because we know what is right doesn’t mean that we will do it.  I know how to lose weight.  I may, or may not choose to do those things that I need to do.  Once we know what is right we must still choose to do what is right.

C.  Do:  Of course, this closely follows choosing.  Thankfully, God will help us.  It is also great to know that our salvation is not dependent upon our doing everything right.  By grace we have been saved, through faith, for works.  (Ephesians 2:8-10)

I would suggest that for the new year, we may not walk with God perfectly, but we can resolve to walk with God better than we do now.

III.  Serve God Better:  Matthew 9:37-38

Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.

A.  Pray:  We can all pray.  We all should pray.  Prayer is powerful because God is powerful.

B.  Share:  We should all be willing to share the good news of what God has done for us.  You do not have to be a pastor, missionary or evangelist.  If you know John 3:16 you know enough.  (More is better of course, but we are without excuse.)

C.  Our lives:  Colossians 3:23

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,

God can use us in all kinds of different ways and places.  We are called to be salt and light in the world.  Let the light of Christ shine through you wherever you may go.  Let God use you.

Resolve to serve God better in your life than you do now.

I believe that these are three resolutions I can support!

 

These are the sermon notes from 12/29/19.  All scripture quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

Ready or Not

August 28, 2019

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

I.  The Rapture:  Matthew 24:36-42

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

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

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

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

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

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

II.  Call Upon The Lord:  Genesis 4:26

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

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

Acts 4: 8-12

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

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

John 14:6

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

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

III.  Obedience  Genesis 6;22

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

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

Ephesians 2:8-10

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

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

James 2:17

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

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

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

Matthew 7:21

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

 

Are you ready?

Ready or not….

 

These are the sermon notes from 8/25/19.  All scripture references are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

Follow Me

August 19, 2019

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

I.  Great Value:  Matthew 13:44-46

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

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

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

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

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

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

II.  Follow Me:  Matthew 19:16-22

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

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

18 He said to Him, “Which ones?”

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew 6:33

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

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

III.  Exchange:  Matthew 16:24-27

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

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

The new life is much better than the old.

 

These are the sermon notes from 8/18/19.  All Biblical quotations are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

Good Ground

August 12, 2019

There are some Christians who focus almost exclusively on the New Testament.  They may be familiar with the famous stories of Adam and Eve, David and Goliath, Joshua at Jericho and Moses at the Red Sea, but speak to them about the Minor Prophets and they may not know very much.  The OLd Testament was the Bible of Jesus and the disciples.  It lays the foundation for the teachings of the New Testament.  It is good for Christians to read both the Old and the New Testaments in their daily devotions.

I.  Refined By Fire

Zechariah was a post-exilic prophet.  That means that he prophesied after the Children of Israel had returned to Jerusalem after their seventy year exile to Babylon.  This portion of his prophecy will be familiar to Christians because a portion of it is quoted in the gospels.

Zechariah 13:7-9

“Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd,
Against the Man who is My Companion,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
“Strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep will be scattered;
Then I will turn My hand against the little ones.
And it shall come to pass in all the land,”
Says the Lord,
That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die,
But one-third shall be left in it:
I will bring the one-third through the fire,
Will refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them.
I will say, ‘This is My people’;
And each one will say, ‘The Lordis my God.’ ”

A.  The Shepherd:  Verse seven is the verse that is quoted in the gospels.  It refers to the betrayal of Judas, the arrest of Jesus and the scattering of the disciples.

B.  Little Ones:  The affliction of the ‘little ones’ is hard to read.  Two-thirds are cut off and die.  Not everyone who says ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.  (cf. Matthew 7:21)  There is much debate in Christianity about the security of the believer, but even those who hold to the doctrine of eternal security recognize that some will come to the altar, profess Christ for a time, and then fall away.  They explain this by simply saying that the individual was never truly saved.  So, whether you acknowledge backsliding as an option or eternal security, there is the recognition that some for a time, claim Christianity, but will not be in heaven.

That is sad.

C.  Refined:  For those whose faith remains firm, they will go through testing.  It is meant to be a time of spiritual growth.  It is part of how we progress from being babes in Christ to mature believers.  It is an ongoing process.

II.  The Sower and the Seed

Some will not be convinced by verses from the Old Testament.  The same principle is taught in the gospels by Jesus himself.

A. The Parable:  Matthew 13:3-9

Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

I am sure that you will see the similarities to Zechariah’s prophecy, but we do not have to leave this parable to our own interpretation.  Jesus gave the interpretation to the disciples so that there can be no doubt.

B.  The Interpretation:  Matthew 13:18-23

“Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. 20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

So, some do not respond to the gospel.  They are unbelievers.  Some respond to the gospel and fall away under persecution.  Some respond but their lives are choked out by the cares and concerns of the world.  Some respond and bear fruit.   Please notice that of those that respond, two parts out of three, will not survive in their faith.

See the similarity now?

III.  The Security of the Believer:  Romans 8:37-39

  Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God!  We are more than conquerors!!  We are secure in Christ!!!  These verses prove that claim.

Do they?

It is true that nothing from the outside can take us away from Christ.  But…. can we choose to leave?

I would submit that we do have that choice.  We can give up.  We can be drawn away.  Those are choices that we can make.  God does not force us to stay with Him.

So if we want to be sure that we are in ‘good ground’ what should we do?

IV.  Keep Your Eyes on Jesus:  Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The Christian life is not over at the beginning.  It is not a brief sprint.  It is a life-long commitment to Christ.  It is daily making the choice to follow Jesus.  We should daily fix our eyes on Jesus and follow Him.  It is basic Christian teaching that to grow in Christ we should spend time reading the Bible, we should spend time in prayer, and we should regularly gather together with other believers for worship, instruction, prayer and encouragement.

This does not mean that we go back and forth from saved to unsaved, over and over again.  Exactly at which point does our faith die?  That is only for God to judge.  I know that in my life I want to pursue a healthy life in Christ.  I want a ‘closer walk with thee’.  I don’t want to find the line just to stay above it.  I want to be all that I can be in Christ.

I hope that you do as well.

 

These are the sermon notes from 8/4/19.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I recieve any money from them.  All Bible quotes are from the New King James Version. 

 

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.