Posts Tagged ‘theology’

Walk Worthy of the Son

August 24, 2017

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

I.  Walk Worthy:  Colossians 1:9-14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II.  His Son  Colossians 1:15-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can we ever truly walk worthy of that sacrifice?

Probably not.

But we can give it our best shot.

 

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

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A Big Week

April 12, 2017

(This message was preached the Saturday night before Palm Sunday.)

Tomorrow morning kicks off the busiest week in the Christian calendar.  Palm Sunday we remember the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.  He cleanses the temple by throwing out those who sold animals for sacrifice and the money changers.  He has several days filled with wonderful teachings and then we have what we now call Maundy Thursday.  That is the night that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, instituted the Lord’s Supper and prayed in the garden before being betrayed and arrested.  Good Friday we remember His time in front of the Sanhedrin, then Pilot, then His crucifixion, death and burial.  Then on Sunday we will celebrate His resurrection.

Like I said, it is a big week, called Holy Week by many Christians.

Since we do not have services through the week here it seems like I need to pick what I consider to be the highlight of the week.  There is so much good material but there is certainly one part that stands out to me.

II Corinthians 5:12-21

 For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 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.

I.  Compelled

It is the heart that matters most, but people do see the outside before they get to know what is inside.  Sometimes Pentecostal believers may act in peculiar ways during worship.  People respond differently to an encounter with the Holy Spirit.  When we are spending time in the presence of God our eyes should be on the Lord and not on each other.  When we preach and teach, hopefully, things are more straight forward.  We need to speak in ways that can be understood by all.  Through all of it we are compelled by the love of Christ; whether in worship or in preaching and teaching.

II.  A New Creation

The person who we were has been replaced with the person whom we are becoming in Christ.  The opportunity for a new beginning is a central promise of scripture.  The old man dies and we are born again as a child of God.

III.  Reconciled

A central part of this new life is the fact that we have been reconciled to God.  We were separated from Him because of our sin, but through Jesus Christ we can be reconciled with God.  On our own we could not make this happen.  It was necessary for God to reach out to us.

IV.  The Main Event

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us”.

We cannot begin to comprehend what this phrase truly means.  Jesus as God or man had never sinned.  He understood temptation, but He had never given in to sin.  Yet He took upon Himself the sins of the whole world.  The penalty for our sins was laid upon Him.  Exactly what this entails we can only speculate.  We do know that Jesus in the garden recognized the cost and asked if it could pass from Him, but if not, may the will of God be done.

There was, and is, no other way.

Salvation is only through Jesus and belief in Him who died for us.  (John 14:6)

Everything else in Holy Week is important, wonderful, beautiful and special, but without the death of Christ on the cross we would still be left in our sins.

Thank you God.

Thank you Jesus.

From The Inside Out

January 11, 2017

Certainly there are times when life is complex.  I know that my life is complex.  Maybe that is why I really do appreciate simplicity.  I realize that as a philosophy instructor this may seem contradictory, as most philosophy is anything but simple.  Theology can be the same way.  We can make the teachings of God very complex, or we can make them simple.  I like simple.

I.  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.

Amos was prophesying to the people of Israel.  They had stopped following the law and were living sinful lives.  Judgement was coming for their evil ways.  They could avoid that judgement by simply doing what was good in the sight of God.

We need to recognize that we are to hate evil, not the people who do evil.  Evil acts bring harm to all it involves.  God loves people and calls them to turn away from evil and do what is good.

This is not done in our own strength or wisdom.  God has given us His Word to help us to identify what is good and what is evil.  He has also given us His Spirit which will help both is knowing what is good, and in doing what is good.

God is just.  He is concerned with justice of all kinds.  We as His people should also seek for, and work for, justice in our midst.

II.  Do Good:  Amos 5:21-24

“I hate, I despise your feast days,
And I do not savor your sacred assemblies.
22 Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings,
I will not accept them,
Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings.
23 Take away from Me the noise of your songs,
For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.
24 But let justice run down like water,
And righteousness like a mighty stream

God cannot be bought.  We cannot simply go through the motions of commitment, we need to be fully committed to Him.  The people in the time of Amos were going through the motions.  They gathered together, they offered sacrifices, they sang worship songs, and they lived in sin.

God was not impressed.

As I was praying about these verses I believe that God spoke to me that in v.24 justice was our dealings with other people and righteousness was our walk before God.  That made me think of the simplicity of loving God and loving people, and of doing to others what we would want others to do to us.

III.  Be Good: James 2:14-17

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

We recognize that we are not saved by our works.  “By grace, through faith!”  (Ephesians 2:8)  We also recognize that Christ dwells in our hearts through faith.  (Ephesians 3:17)  If our faith is a living faith, then it will produce the fruit of righteousness and justice.  If Christ is truly in our hearts, our lives will be changed.  This change is not worked from the outside to the inside, but from the inside to the outside.  We don’t change our works so that our heart will change, our hearts are changed and so our acts change.

We don’t do this on our own.  God changes our hearts and our works will change.

We don’t simply do good things, an outside conformity to the law.  We be good people, the people of God.  Not because of us, but because of Christ, who dwells in us.

These are the sermon notes from 1/8/17.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.   

 

From Fear to Love

February 26, 2015

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”  Proverbs 9:10

I have this verse on a poster on the wall in my office at the college.  As a philosophy instructor I consider it to be particularly appropriate since philosophy is made up of two Greek words that together mean ‘the love of wisdom’.  I consider faith in God to be the starting point of my philosophy of life.  Traditionally,when discussing this verse, I emphasize the need to believe in, be in awe of, and to have respect for, the person of God, resulting in obedience to His commands.

The other day I was in a Chi Alpha meeting at the college where I teach.  Chi Alpha is a student club for Christian growth and outreach.  At our campus, it primarily is a weekly meeting for prayer and Bible study.  It is open to all students, faculty, staff, and guests.  One of our regular guests is a retired gentleman who comes to the college library to read.  At this particular meeting one of the students brought up the question of the fear of the Lord.  We discussed it for a while and had agreed upon basically the definition that is stated above.

As we were concluding our discussion, the retired gentleman offered a different perspective.  He pointed out that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  He commented that we start with that attitude, and grow in our love for God.  I have been periodically reflecting on that thought for the last two days.  I John 4:18 says ”  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. ”  We still believe in, are in awe of, and have respect for God, but it is to be rooted in love, not fear.

One of my concerns is that people will over-emphasis the love of God to the point that they presume upon his mercy.  I have had people tell me that they know that what they are doing is wrong, but that God will forgive them.  That line of thinking is very dangerous.  We are not to “continue in sin that grace might abound.” (Romans 6:1)

However, as I thought about it, I was reminded of I John 5:3 “ For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. ” A healthy maturation of faith will be an increase in love resulting in obedience.  If we truly love God, we will live in obedience to His commandments.

Our obedience to God may begin out of fear, but it is matured in love.

Life in Christ

December 8, 2014

Sometimes it is good to go back to the basics.  The simple truth of the gospel is good every time.

I.  The Simple Truth:  Romans 10:9-10

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

“Believe in your heart” implies a private relationship.  Without the relationship, based on faith in the Lord Jesus, by which the Spirit of God enters our heart, we are not saved.  This is the “born again” experience mentioned in John chapter three.  Christ dwells in our hearts through faith.  This is essential to our salvation.

“Confess with your mouth” implies a public proclamation.  We are to proclaim our faith by both word and deed.  If we try to hide our faith, if we are ashamed of Christ, then He will be ashamed of us.  We must boldly proclaim the hope that is within us.

II.  No Condemnation:  Romans 8:1-2

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

We do not earn our salvation.  It is a gift from God, given to those who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus in repentance and faith.  We are unable to keep the commandments and need to be forgiven.  We do not need to live in fear about whether we are “good enough” to be saved.  Salvation is by grace, through faith.

There is a difference between condemnation and conviction.  Condemnation is when we continue to feel the burden of guilt for our sins even after we have confessed and asked for forgiveness.  Condemnation is the devil telling us that we are not good enough, that we cannot be forgiven.  The scripture says in I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ”  We can believe that to be true.

Conviction is the work of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit will convict us of sin in our life so that we will turn away from that sin, and ask God for forgiveness.  It is an ongoing process in the believer.  It is the process of cleansing.

III.  Wages and Gift:  Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We have earned condemnation and death.  God has offered us forgiveness and eternal life.  Do not ever shake your fist at God telling Him to give you what you deserve.  What we have all earned is punishment for our sins.  God is gracious and merciful and has offered us forgiveness in Jesus Christ.  We should be eternally grateful.

IV.  Nothing Can Separate:  Romans 8:35-39

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 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.

We can be confident in our knowledge of the love of God for us.  Nothing from the outside can ever separate us from God.  We simply must continue to trust in Him whatever the circumstances of life.  God is faithful.  His love does not end.

V.  Life in Christ

    A.  Romans 14:4

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

We must be careful that we do not judge those who do not agree with us.  Each of us will answer to God.

    B.  Romans 14:7-8

 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.

We should recognize that we live in community with other believers.  How is our life affecting others?  Are we living for Christ, or for our self?  Are we having a favorable impact or a negative impact on those around us?

    C.  Romans 14:12-13

So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.

Let us resolve to live a life that will help people in their walk with Christ, rather than drive them away.

These are the sermon notes from 11/16/14.  Any advertisement that might appear is placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Call to Holiness

September 25, 2014

While reading in Leviticus in my devotions I was struck once again with the call to holiness.  God is holy.  We are called to be holy, but, what is holiness?

I.  A Holy God:  Leviticus 10:1-3

Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, saying:

‘By those who come near Me
I must be regarded as holy;
And before all the people
I must be glorified.’”

So Aaron held his peace.

What had Nadab and Abihu done wrong?  One of the jobs of the priests was to burn incense before the Lord, so why was this a problem?  Simply because God had not commanded it.  Apparently the priests were to do as God commanded, and no more.  The penalty for their sin was instant death.  God emphasized the need for obedience to His commands.  This message is not taught much today.  It is too harsh.  It is too judgmental.  We prefer the message of love, mercy and compassion.  I am concerned that our emphasis on these qualities of God have caused us to neglect the aspects of holiness, judgement and even wrath.  All of which are also qualities of God.

II.  Distinguish and Teach:  Leviticus 10:8-11

Then the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying: “Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, 10 that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, 11 and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.”

I remember one time, while I was a part of a denomination that approved of drinking in moderation, while I was serving in the Marine Corps, I returned to the barracks after an evening spent at a bar.  I had kept my drinks to less than one an hour and did not consider myself drunk.  There was another marine that started to talk to me about my faith.  It bothered me to think that I might not be able to adequately represent Christ at that time because of the influence of alcohol.  I did not feel good about myself or my witness, in that situation.  I have since come to the conclusion that I would rather have my senses sharp and my mind clear.  It has been many years since my last drink of alcohol.

Aaron and his sons were to distinguish between the holy and unholy, between the clean and the unclean.  Then they were to teach the people.  As Christians, we are called to be able to distinguish between right and wrong, good and evil, and then to teach others.  This was, and is, a serious charge.

III.  Holiness:

Leviticus 11:45  For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

Leviticus 19:1-2  And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.

Leviticus 20:7-8  Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the Lord who sanctifies you.

You might say at this point that these verses are all very good but that they are all a part of the Mosaic law from which we have been set free.  So here are some verses from the New Testament.

I Peter 1:15-16   but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Hebrews 12:14   Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:

I certainly hope to see the Lord one day and so will continue the pursuit of holiness.  Now I know that we are forgiven, and that we are saved because of the righteousness of Christ, but I think that we should seriously consider the call to holiness and what it means for our lives.

IV.  Love

Sometimes people have made the call to holiness into a list of dos and don’t.  People who get too caught up in this line of thinking may become self-righteous and judgmental.  I would suggest that the starting point for holiness is a call to love.

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.’[b] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

We are first and foremost to love God and to love people.  Let that be the primary focus of our call to holiness.

I would also add that we should develop a love for the Word of God.  Psalms 119:11

Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.

We are called to be a holy people.  If we pursue a love for God, a love for people, and a love for the Word of God, we will be on the right track.

These are the sermon notes from 9/14/14.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

 

 

Heaven is For Real

June 19, 2014

I recently watched the movie Heaven is For Real.  I had heard a lot of good things about it.  After viewing the movie I have a mixed response.  The movie is good in that it helps people to believe in a life beyond the grave.  It gives credible support to the existence of an afterlife.  That is a good thing.  Unfortunately, one could easily come away from the movie with the belief that everyone goes to heaven.  I am told that the book did a better job of presenting that a life in heaven came as a result of faith in Jesus Christ.  The idea that everyone goes to heaven is a belief called universalism and is a very dangerous belief.  No repentance, no faith is necessary.  A loving God simply welcomes everyone home to heaven.  That is not biblical truth.  There is a line in the movie where the minister states “What if we truly believed that heaven is real?  Wouldn’t we live differently?”  (This quote may not be exact, but it is close.)  I would suggest a different question “What if we truly believe that both heaven and hell are real?  Wouldn’t we live differently?”  The Bible tells us in Revelation 20:15

And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

If we truly believe this to be true, would we live any different?  If only heaven is real, that is one thing, but if both heaven and hell are real, how should we live?

 

Any advertisements that accompany this blog are placed by WordPress.  I do not have any control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

God Has a Plan

December 30, 2013

God Knows What He is Doing:  Esther 4:13-14

And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

When Esther was selected to be queen, there was no way for her to know what was going to happen in the coming days.  God, however, does know what is going to happen.   One of the things that I find most fascinating to think about is how God is able to use His foreknowledge of future events, many of which are caused by the free choices that humans make, and blend them together into His plan.

I.  The Will of Man: Psalms 37:23-24

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the Lord upholds him with His hand.

God enables us to make the right choices.  When we are faced with decisions we can ask God for guidance, and He will guide our steps.  We can believe this to be true even if we do not receive clear guidance.  If we are sincere in our desire to let God guide us, He will guide our steps.

There are times when we fail to seek God’s will.  Sometimes we  are led into error by our flesh, or even by demonic spirits.  Thank God that He does not abandon us when we stray from the path.  We might fall, but we are not destroyed.  God helps us to get back up, and back on track.

II.  The Will of Satan:  John 10:10a

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. 

Satan desires to destroy the people of God.  However, we learn from Job that Satan is limited by what God allows.  There is a hedge of protection around the people of God and Satan is only allowed to tempt us and try our faith.  It is important that during the times of testing and trial that we keep our eyes on Jesus, seek to do His will, and place our trust in Him.

III.  The Will of God:  John 10:10b

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

God desires to give us abundant life.  Abundant does not mean merely everlasting, but joyful and fulfilling.  The abundant life that God has for us does not begin when we die, it begins the moment that we enter into a relationship with God through our faith in Jesus Christ.

Having abundant life does not mean that we do not have tests or trials.  It means that God is with us in the midst of those tests and trials.  It also means that God is able “to work all things together for good, for those who love God”.  (Romans 8:28)  This does not mean that all things are good.  It means that God can take something that was a mistake, or an evil choice, and still ultimately use it for good.

We can trust that God knows what He is doing.  He loves us.  He has a plan.  And in the end,  it is all good.

These are the sermon notes from the message preached December 15, 2013.  Feel free to make comments or ask questions.

Any advertisement placed with this post is put there by WordPress.  I have no control over the advertising, nor do I receive any money from the advertisements.

Speaking in Tongues

July 18, 2013

We are approaching the beginning of our centennial year as a fellowship.  The Assemblies of God was begun by a group of men and women who had experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, receiving the gift of speaking in tongues.  To this day, our churches are distinguished from other evangelicals by our emphasis on the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in contemporary society.

I.  Baptized in the Holy Spirit:  Acts 1:4,5 & 8

And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

The primary purpose of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is to give us power to boldly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Yes, there are other effects, such as a heightened awareness of God’s presence, a greater fervency in worship, and an opening of understanding of God’s Word, but the primary purpose is the proclamation of the gospel.

II.  Speaking in Tongues: Acts 2:1-4

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

In the Assemblies of God we recognize speaking in tongues as the initial physical evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  There are three types of speaking in tongues.

1. A sign to unbelievers:  I Corinthians 14:22

Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.

This form of tongues is when an individual speaks in a human language that is unknown to them, but that is known by the person’s hearing the message.  It is a powerful sign to unbelievers.  Sadly, it is not a very common occurrence, although I have heard contemporary testimonies of it occurring.

2.  A word to believers:  I Corinthians 14:26-28

How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. 28 But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God.

This form of tongues happens much more frequently.  Someone will give a message in tongues by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and then someone will give an interpretation of that message.  These are two separate gifts of the Spirit: a message in tongues and an interpretation of tongues.  These gifts are meant for the edification of God’s people as they are gathered together.

3.  The individual believer:  I Corinthians 14: 2, 4

For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.

He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.

This is the most common form of speaking in tongues.  It is the individual praying without the barrier of human language.  We are able to pour out our hearts to God, and it is a powerful experience for the individual.  I strongly encourage people who have received this gift to use it regularly in their private devotions.  It is also acceptable during certain portions of corporate worship to use our tongues to praise or to pray, speaking out loud, but quietly, to the Lord.

III.  Offered to All:  Acts 2: 38-39

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

Obviously, we are among those who are “afar off”.  Yet, I believe that, although not all Christians speak in tongues, that all Christians could speak in tongues.  It is a gift that is offered to all.

IV.  To the Gentiles:  Acts 10:44-48

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.

Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

In this second recording of the gift of tongues being manifested on a new group of believers: there are no tongues of flame, no rushing mighty wind, but the gift of the Holy Spirit of speaking in tongues is again manifested.  The way that people receive this gift may vary, but the evidence of speaking in tongues is a common thread.

V.  Ask God, Trust God  Luke 11:11-13

If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

I firmly believe that if we ask God for this gift, that we will not receive a substitute.  God gives good gifts to His children and certainly the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues is a good gift.  This can take place at a service or in the privacy of our own homes.  Seek and you will find, ask and it shall be given to you.

God Offers Abundant Life

June 24, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 6/23/13.

I. The Bread of Life: John 6:35

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

As I read this verse, I am reminded also of Mathew 5:6:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

In Christ, we find life.  In Christ, we find fulfillment.  It is only through Christ that our lives can be made whole.  It is only in Christ that we are made complete.  Christ, and Christ alone, is the source of true, spiritual, life.

II.  His Words are Life:  John 6:63

 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

We recognize that true life is found in the spirit.  The physical realm is secondary.  The Word of God brings life to our spirits.  We should regularly be reading the Word of God, the Bible, to bring life into our spirits.  Sometimes we will sense the life coming into us, other times it may not be so obvious, but in the spirit-realm, the Word of God always has an impact on our lives.  I am reminded that even Christ said in Luke 4:4:

But Jesus answered him, saying,“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’”

III.  Abundant Life: John 10:10

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

God offers us abundant life.  That does not mean simply a life that will last forever, it means a life that is full and complete.  It also is important to realize that the abundant life that God offers to us can begin now.  It is not something that begins only after we have died and gone to be with the Lord.  Abundant life begins the moment that our new life in Christ begins.  We were dead in our trespasses and sins, but now we are made alive in Christ, and the life that we have in Christ today, is an abundant life.

IV.  Exchanging Lives:  John 12:24-25

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

In order to experience the abundant life that God has for us, we need to let go of the life that we have in ourselves.  We are beings that are composed of both flesh and spirit.  For many people, the fleshly part rules our lives.  We, as Christians, need to place God first; and the flesh must take the secondary role in our lives.  Only then can we experience all that God has for us.

V.  A Life of Love: John 15:9-11

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

We are to abide in the love of God.  God loves us first.  We are to love God in return.  We are also to love one another with the same love that God has given us.  By living a life filled with the love of God, it will be easy to keep the commands of God, all of which are grounded in love.  As we live this kind of life we will truly find that our joy is complete.

A life that is filled with the love of God, and the Joy of the Spirit, truly is a life that is abundant.