Posts Tagged ‘thoughts’

What About Sin?

March 9, 2017

We are saved by grace, through faith for good works. (Ephesians 2:8-10)  So what about sin in our lives?

I.  Be Serious!  (Mark 9:42-48)

 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 44 where

‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’

45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 46 where

‘Their worm does not die,
And the fire is not quenched.’

47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— 48 where

‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’

We are not expected to take these verses literally.  We are not supposed to literally cut off our hand or our foot, or to pluck out our eyes.  We are, however, to take sin seriously.  We do not earn our salvation by our works, but if we are saved our works should change.

II.  The Heart:  Mark 7:20-23

 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

When we are saved we receive the Spirit of Christ in our hearts.  (Ephesians 3:17)  If Christ is dwelling in our hearts, our lives will change.  It is not a matter of simply exercising self control, it is a matter of developing the new self.  As we develop our relationship with Christ, our hearts will be changed.  As our hearts change, our actions will change.

III.  The Mind:  II Corinthians 10:3-6

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

Sin originates in the heart, proceeds to our thoughts, and then is acted out in our bodies.  If thoughts come to our mind and we are able to recognize that they are sinful thoughts, we should not entertain them, but rather drive them from our mind.  God is at work in us, molding us into the image of His Son, but we need to cooperate with God as He seeks to make changes in our lives.

IV.  The Spirit and the Flesh:  Galatians 5:16-25

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Once again, obviously we do not literally crucify ourselves.  We recognize that although we have the Spirit of God, we also are still walking in the flesh.  The flesh will pull us in one direction, the Spirit will pull us in another direction.  We should learn to recognize which is which.  We should then exercise our will by denying the flesh, and obeying the Spirit.  As we mature in Christ we will become better and better and walking in the Spirit.

Our sins have been forgiven, thank you Jesus!  We have been born in the Spirit, thank you Jesus!  Let us learn how to walk in the Spirit, no longer living according to the flesh, please help us Jesus!

 

These are the sermon notes from 3/5/17.  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. 

On The Rock

December 1, 2016

I have been reading in Jeremiah.  He is known as the weeping prophet.  God called him at a young age to prophecy to the nation of Israel prior to, during, and after the Babylonian invasion.  He continually warned them of coming judgement, but occasionally offered words of hope if they would listen to the Word of the Lord.

They didn’t listen.

I.  Trust and Obey:  Jeremiah 42:7-17

 And it happened after ten days that the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. Then he called Johanan the son of Kareah, all the captains of the forces which were with him, and all the people from the least even to the greatest, and said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your petition before Him: 10 ‘If you will still remain in this land, then I will build you and not pull you down, and I will plant you and not pluck you up. For I relent concerning the disaster that I have brought upon you. 11 Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid; do not be afraid of him,’ says the Lord, ‘for I am with you, to save you and deliver you from his hand. 12 And I will show you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and cause you to return to your own land.’

13 “But if you say, ‘We will not dwell in this land,’ disobeying the voice of the Lord your God, 14 saying, ‘No, but we will go to the land of Egypt where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor be hungry for bread, and there we will dwell’— 15 Then hear now the word of the Lord, O remnant of Judah! Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘If you wholly set your faces to enter Egypt, and go to dwell there, 16 then it shall be that the sword which you feared shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt; the famine of which you were afraid shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there you shall die. 17 So shall it be with all the men who set their faces to go to Egypt to dwell there. They shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. And none of them shall remain or escape from the disaster that I will bring upon them.’

A.  The Word

Jeremiah had given them a Word from the Lord.  The right response would have been to trust and obey.  If they had, things would have been different.  As it was they went to Egypt, literally dragging Jeremiah with them, and there they all died.  You would have thought that after all the years of seeing that the words of Jeremiah were indeed the Words of God, that they would have listened to him.

They did not.

Today, we have the Word of God in the Bible.  Do we listen to it?

B.  The Spirit

God guides His people by His Word and His Spirit.  We should study the Word to see what God has said to His people.  We should also pray and ask God to direct us by His Spirit.  It we seek guidance from God, He will indeed guide us.

Will we listen?

II.  The Discipline of the Lord:  Hebrews 12:9-11

Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

A.  Disobedience

If we are disobedient to God’s Word, or to the guidance of His Spirit is should not surprise us if things do not go so well for us.

God may be trying to get our attention.

When things are not going well, when bad things happen, it is a good idea to pray and ask God if we are living in disobedience.  If we are, then God will reveal that to us.  Once we know what should change, we can, and should, change with the help of God.

Sometimes we pray and God does not reveal anything to us.  We are doing what we are supposed to be doing.  Do not be surprised by the tests and trials of our faith that will come along.  God did not promise that we would never have problems, but that He would be with us, and help us through our problems.

Obedience

In general, we can trust that if we live lives of obedience to God that He will reward us with the abundant life that He has for His people. (John 10:10)

III.  On the Rock Matthew 7:24-27

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

A.  Hears and Does

Those who live lives of obedience to Christ can expect their lives to be stable.  There will still be storms, but we will weather them by the grace of God.

B.  Hears and Does Not

Those who are disobedient can expect problems.  When the storms of life come, their lives will come crashing down around them.

C.  Wisdom

May God grant us wisdom to know the difference between the discipline of the Lord and the storms of life.  To change when we are supposed to change, and to hold fast when we are already doing the right thing.

In conclusion, it is relatively simple.

Seek the Lord.

Hear the Lord.

Obey the Lord.

These are the sermon notes from the message preached 11/27/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I do not have any control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

Like a Shadow

September 28, 2016

Solomon was a wise man, but even he struggled sometimes with what God was doing in this life.

I.  Like a Shadow:  Ecclesiastes 8:10-13

 Then I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of holiness, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done. This also is vanity. 11 Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. 12 Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him. 13 But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God.

A.  The Wicked and the Righteous

Throughout scripture there is a basic division between those who serve God and those who do not.  Whether the terms used are the wicked and the righteous, the foolish and the wise, or believer and unbeliever, it is understood that there are only two sides.

We want to be on the right side.

B.  Delayed Sentence

The scripture tells us that the righteous will be rewarded and the wicked will be punished.  Sometimes we see that in this life and sometimes we do not.  Sometimes the wicked prosper while the righteous barely seem to get by.  It may not seem fair, as if God is not keeping his promises.

C.  The Day Will Come

We need to remember to keep an eternal perspective.  This life will be over soon enough and eternity is a long time.  If we have not received the fulfillment of promises in this life, we know that the best is yet to come.  For the wicked, the day of judgement will be terrible.  We should not envy their current prosperity, for their future is bleak.

II.  Doesn’t Make Sense:  Ecclesiastes 8:14

 There is a vanity which occurs on earth, that there are just men to whom it happens according to the work of the wicked; again, there are wicked men to whom it happens according to the work of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity.

Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people.  In this life, it doesn’t make sense, but we do not see the whole picture.

III.  Enjoy!  Ecclesiastes 8:15

So I commended enjoyment, because a man has nothing better under the sun than to eat, drink, and be merry; for this will remain with him in his labor all the days of his life which God gives him under the sun.

A.  The Wicked

The person who has chosen to reject God might as well enjoy this life.  It is all they will have, their future is bleak.

B.  The Righteous

The person who is serving God can also enjoy this life.  Christ came that we might have the abundant life.  (John 10:10)  That life does not begin at death it begins when we are saved by the grace of God.  As believers we can enjoy what blessings God gives to us in this life, knowing that the best is yet to come.  Yet we do not simply hang on, waiting for heaven, but we enjoy the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Today is the day of salvation.  Today we can experience the goodness of the Lord!

IV.  The Work of God:  Ecclesiastes 8:16-17

When I applied my heart to know wisdom and to see the business that is done on earth, even though one sees no sleep day or night, 17 then I saw all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. For though a man labors to discover it, yet he will not find it; moreover, though a wise man attempts to know it, he will not be able to find it.

Solomon was a wise man, yet he acknowledged that he could not comprehend the ways of God.  We recognize that God’s ways are not our ways, that His thoughts are not our thoughts.

God knows what He is doing.

We do not.

We can, however, believe and trust Him.  He is worthy of our trust.  In the end, it will all work out for good for those who believe.  (Romans 8:28)

V.  What is His Name?  Proverbs 30:4

Who has ascended into heaven, or descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has bound the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name, and what is His Son’s name,
If you know?

I have always found it interesting that this section of scripture is dropped into the book of Proverbs.  Obviously, it is talking about God, but the revelation of the Son was to come in the fullness of time.

VI.  His Name is Jesus:  Acts 4: 10-12

 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.”

We cannot always understand, but we can always trust in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd of our souls.

 

These are the sermon notes from 9/26/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

 

 

Transformational Love

July 5, 2016

The message today is an odd mixture of fear and hope.  I suppose that is not so strange, there is an ongoing tension between the law and the gospel.

I.  Deny Him:  Tits 1:16

They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

I wonder how many of the people professing Christianity today could have this statement applied to them?

I wonder how serious is this problem?

Matthew 7:21-23

“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. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

This sounds serious to me.  It is made even more serious because the verses here in Matthew sound like they could be applied to Pentecostal pastors.

I am a Pentecostal pastor.

Now, I do not believe for a moment that we earn our salvation by our works.  Salvation is by grace, through faith.  It is a gift from God.

However, a living faith is transformational.  If we have a living faith our lives will be changed.

What sort of changes should take place?

II.  The Works of the Flesh:  Galatians 5:19-21

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Now the idea here is not to look at this list and focus on the things that are not a problem for us.  Rather, we look at the list and see if there are areas that need improvement.  We do not excuse our behavior, we repent and ask God help us to change our behavior.  We cannot change on our own, but we are not on our own.  God will help us.

III.  Good Works:  Titus 2:7-8

in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.

Here is an excellent goal!  We should try to live our lives in such a way that people will have to lie to say something bad.

How do we do this?

IV.  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.

The Spirit of God is transformational.  The Spirit will transform us from who we were, to the people that we are meant to be in Christ.  This is something that we can offer to the unsaved.  Do people really not want to have love in their lives?  Do they have too much peace in their hearts?  Do they not desire joy?  God offers us these things and so much more.

V.  Focus on Love

A.  Motivated by Love:  I John 5:1-3

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

As we grow in our relationship with God, His love transforms us.  We love Him.  We love other people.  We do what is right naturally, because of the love that is in our hearts.

B.  The Source of Love:  I John 4:18-19

 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. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.

We do not have to be afraid.  God loves us.  If we are discouraged or feeling overwhelmed we should stop and focus on the love that God has for us.  The knowledge of that love transforms us.  We love God.  We love other people.  We are strengthened.  We are encouraged.  We are changed.

The love of God is transformational.

These are the sermon notes from 7/3/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

Keep the Faith

June 30, 2016

Once again I am turning to the letters of Paul to Timothy for the message today.

I.  A Bad Situation:  II Timothy 3:10-13

But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.

A.  The Example of Paul

Paul had set an example of a Christian leader that Timothy could look up to.  Each of us should take seriously the call to set an example in our own lives.  Many of us had younger siblings that we were told were watching us.  That was true then and it is true today.  People want to see an example of a godly life.  We should try to set one.

B.  Hardships and Deliverance

Paul experienced terrible persecutions and hardships.  Through them all God delivered him.  We can trust God.  We should also recognize that deliverance can come in the form of bringing us safely through a problem, or by taking us home to heaven.  With faith in Christ we cannot lose.

C.  Worse and Worse

Things get better in this life only temporarily.  Things will get worse.  That is not particularly cheery news.  It is important to remember that through it all God will be with those who trust in Him.  This does not mean that we surrender to the inevitability of evil, but rather that we not be discouraged by setbacks.  We should work together to see “thy will be done”  to the best of our abilities.

II.  All Scripture is Inspired:  II Timothy 3:14-16

 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

God is perfectly capable of ensuring that the book that contains His message to the world says what He meant for it so say.  It is not a mixture of the Words of God and the words of men.  It is the Word of God spoken through men.  God inspired the authors to write what they wrote so that His message comes through.

I recommend something called the grammatical/historical approach to interpretation.  This means that we study the words that were written in their historical context.  We ask ourselves who was the author?  Who was the audience?  What message was given?  How does it apply to today?

It is not a secret code.  It is not merely the words of men.  It is the revelation of God to people throughout the world.

III.  Preach the Word:  II Timothy 4:1-5

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

When we are presenting the gospel or teaching doctrine, use the Word.  Do you think that you can say it better?

Remember Hebrews 4:12

 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Convince people of the truth!

Rebuke those who are in error!  (Although please do this in a loving manner!!  Perhaps we should think ‘correct’ rather than rebuke.)

Exhort those whose strength is failing.   Encouragement can go a long ways.

IV.  Finish the Race:  II Timothy 4:6-8

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

As Christians we are called to serve God throughout our life, to the very end.  The way in which we serve may change, the place may change, but our service to God continues through all stages of life.  There is no retirement.  God has a use for us as long as we are on this earth.  Let us finish the race.  Let us keep the faith.

These are the sermon notes from 6/26/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

Be Diligent

June 23, 2016

The idea of mentoring is not new.  Paul was a mentor to young Timothy back in the first century.  We have in the Bible two examples of what Paul said to his young student.

I.  Beware!  I Timothy 4:1-3

 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

It is now almost two thousand years after Paul wrote these words.  Clearly, these are “latter times”.  Also clear, there are people who are deceived.  Sadly, when people are deceived, they do not know it.  Their conscience is seared and only the Word of God, combined with the Spirit of God can set them free.  We should share with them the truth, and pray that God will open their minds and hearts by His Spirit.

Today, not many people are denying marriage or abstinence from certain foods, but there still is deception and false doctrine.  Many of them are found at the extreme ranges of biblical interpretation.  One extreme is liberalism.  An example is when  a Christian minister in a Christian church performs a marriage for two people of the same sex.  The only way to justify this is to ignore certain scriptures.  (For example: Lev 18:22, 20:13, I Cor 6:9-10, I Tim 1:8-11, and Rom 1:18-32)

The other extreme is a legalism that makes salvation a matter of doing, or not doing certain works, or of holding to certain theological beliefs that are not truly essential to the Christian message.  An example is those who believe that unless you are baptized by immersion in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ you cannot be saved.

Our salvation is by grace, through faith for good works.

Paul gives advice to Timothy that is even more important to us all today.  II Timothy 2:15

 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

II.  Be An Example:  I Timothy 4:12

 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

This is good advice to people of all ages.  We should seek to set an example by what we say, what we do, and by our attitudes to others.  People do not just listen to our words, they observe our lives.

III.  Be Content:  I Timothy 6:6-10

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

The ability to be content is a great thing.  It is not to be confused with complacency.  Being content means that we can be happy in our current state, even as we work to become the person that God means for us to be.

Please note that it is the love of money which is the root of all kinds of evil.  Many people misquote this verse by saying that money is the root.  Money is just a material thing, it is our attitude towards it, and what we do with it that can be evil.

IV.  Be Diligent:  I Timothy 6:11-12

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

Be diligent to pursue the growth that God wants to bring to our lives.  We do not simply coast through life.  We should seek to be all that God calls and enables us to be.

We should be diligent to fight the good fight.  To share the hope that is within us, the gospel of Jesus Christ whenever possible and to pray that the Word will take root in the lives of people.

Don’t quit!        Beware of deception!        Be an example!        Be content!        Be diligent!

These are the sermon notes from 6/19/16.  The 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. 

 

Rejoice and Give Thanks

June 2, 2016

Ain’t no sense in looking down!

There’s no discharge on the ground!

When going through Marine Corps boot camp we ran… a lot.  When we ran, we often sang.  The lines written above are an example of some of the things that our drill instructors would call out and that we recruits would repeat.

Oddly enough, I find some wisdom in those words that can be applied to our lives as Christians today.

I Chronicles 16:8-12

Oh, give thanks to the Lord!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!
10 Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!
11 Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!
12 Remember His marvelous works which He has done,
His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth,

I.  Give Thanks

Being grateful for what we have received is not meant to be simply an annual observance.  Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, but if that is the only time that we are grateful, then we have an attitude problem.  At any given time, even in difficult, or bad times, we should be able to look around us and count our blessings.  Actually, once we start looking for things to be grateful for, we will be amazed at how many there are in our lives.

We should give thanks to God for his love, our salvation through Jesus Christ, His ongoing presence in our lives, His provision, His protection, His help, and so much more!

God is good to His people.  We should be grateful!

II.  Call Upon His Name

When we do experience problems, we can call upon God to help.  He is “an ever present help”.  (Psalms 46:1)

Knowing that God hears us when we pray, and that He is able to help, brings great comfort in times of difficulty.  We can trust that in any situation that we face, that if we call upon the Lord, He will give us the wisdom to know what to do and the strength that we need to do it.

III.  Make Known

Here at our church we regularly give people an opportunity to share their testimonies of what God has done in their life.  It is good to hear that God is at work both in our lives and through our lives.  God does not work only in the times of the Bible, nor in missions work overseas.  God is at work all the time in the lives of ordinary people.  We should learn to be aware of the hand of God working in our midst.  We should both give God thanks, and make known what He is doing in our lives today.  We share these testimonies, not only in church, but with our friends and family, really, with anyone with whom we are have a conversation.  We should watch for opportunities to share what God has done in our lives.

IV.  Seek the Lord

Our prayer time should be more than bringing a lists of requests to the throne of God.  Yes, it is appropriate to bring our requests before Him, but prayer is meant to be more than that.  We are to seek His presence.  Now, God is present everywhere, so it is not really a matter of trying to find where He is located, it is about having our spiritual eyes, and ears opened, so that we may see and hear Him.  It is about having our heart opened so that we may receive all that He has for us.

I encourage you to cultivate an awareness of the presence of God, to recognize that He is always with us.

V.  Rejoice!

As the people of God, we have much reason to rejoice. Our lives should not be marked by drudgery and struggle, but rather by blessings and glorious victory!  Again, do not mistake the difficulties of this world with final defeat.  Walk in faith!  See the victory that is ahead of us!  Rejoice in the God of our salvation!!

Ain’t no sense in looking down!

Look up!!

These are the sermon notes from 5/29/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

The memory verse for this week is I Chronicles 16:8, or if you prefer more of a challenge; 8-10.

Blessings and Trials

April 11, 2016

In my devotions recently I was reading in Joshua and I was impressed with a particular passage that I felt gave excellent advice for the Christian life.

Joshua 1:8-9

 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

I.  An Emphasis on the Word:

As a teenager I memorized Psalms chapter one.  A portion of that Psalm supports what we have just read in Joshua.

Psalms 1:1-3

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
    Nor stands in the path of sinners,
    Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
    Planted by the rivers of water,
    That brings forth its fruit in its season,
    Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

Many Christians today are frightened by the idea of meditation.  They view it as a part of an Eastern religion, and not a part of Christianity.  They are not aware of the role that meditation has played in the Christian tradition.  As can be seen in both Bible readings listed above, the practice of meditation is encouraged.  The major difference between Christian meditation and Eastern meditation is the focus.  In Eastern meditation a person seeks to empty, or quiet their mind.  In Christian meditation, the mind is focused either on the Word of God, or on God Himself.  Instead of seeking to be empty, a Christian seeks to be full of the Word, or of the Spirit of God.

Of course, simply knowing the Word is not enough.  We need to be living in accordance to the Word.  Knowing and doing are two different things.  As Christians we should seek both to know the Word of God and to be obedient to the Word of God.  (See James)

As we live lives of obedience, we will prosper.  That prosperity may differ in manifestation from person to person.  It is not necessarily a means of financial gain.  There is far more to life than money.  A prosperous life may not have a large bank account.

II.  Endure Hardship:  II Timothy 2:3

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

A.  Be strong.  We recognize that the Christian life is not always easy.  There are many blessings, but there are also tests and trials.  We must not quit or give up just because life becomes challenging.

B.  Be courageous.   II Timothy 1:7*

   For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

We should face the challenges of this life bravely.  God will give us the wisdom to know what to do and the strength to do it.

C.  God is with you.  Joshua assures Israel that God is with them.  Jesus told His disciples that He would be with them always. (Matthew 28)  As Christians we can face whatever comes our way because of the knowledge that God is with us.

This life can be both rewarding and difficult.  As we serve the Lord we can expect to see His blessings in our lives, and to receive help in times of trouble.

These are the sermon notes from 3/5/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

*This is the memory verse for this week. 

 

Spirit Led

February 29, 2016

I remember as a young Christian being introduced to the idea that as a Christian my life would always be happy and carefree.

That was not true.  The Christian life in this world still battles with sin, the flesh and the devil.

I.  Spirit Led:  Acts 13:1-4

Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

Barnabas and Saul are set apart and sent out to proclaim the gospel.  They have fasted, prayed and are being led by the Spirit.  We can believe that this decision was indeed the will of God.

II.  Tribulation:  Acts 14:19-22

Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. 20 However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”

Even though they have been led by God and are doing the work of God, they encountered resistance.  In these verses Paul is stoned and left for dead.  Just because we are doing the will of God does not mean that we will escape problems.  Actually, as we serve the Lord we are in the midst of a spiritual battle and things will be difficult at times.  God will give us the strength that we need for the challenges that come our way.

III.  Dissension:  Acts 15:1-2

And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.

Even in the early church there was occasional disagreement among the followers of Christ.  It was probably quite heated.  We are saved, but we are still human.  Our human nature can lead us to places that the Spirit would not wish to go.  We are far from perfect.

IV.  Decision:  Acts 15:22-29

Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren.

23 They wrote this letter by them:

The apostles, the elders, and the brethren,

To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:

Greetings.

24 Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law” —to whom we gave no such commandment— 25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.

Farewell.

Here they have come to a decision.  Still, there would continue to be occasional controversy over various doctrinal issues.  That continues until the present day.  It does not mean that we are unsaved.  It means that we are limited by our flesh. We think that we are right.  If we knew what was wrong, most of us would change.  Our current understanding is limited.  One day we will know all the truth, but that time will have to wait until we are in heaven.  We should be patient with those with whom we have disagreements, as we all seek to understand the truth.

V.  Division:  Acts 15:36-41

 Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.” 37 Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. 39 Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Here two mature believers who had worked together for years have a disagreement that leads to division.  We might be tempted to say that Barnabas was wrong, after all, Paul literally wrote most of the New Testament.  However, many believe that  this Mark wrote the gospel denoted by his name.  It is often considered to be the first of the synoptic gospels and may even have served as a model for Matthew and Luke.  So here is an example of “all things working together for good”.

VI.  Walking in the Spirit:  Galatians 5:16-18*

 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Even though we will not be perfect, we should strive to walk in the Spirit.  We should seek to recognize when our flesh is taking over, and we should ask God to help us.

The Christian life is a life that is led by the Spirit, but walked out in the flesh.  We will occasionally make mistakes, but God will not abandon us.  We should be patient with one another as we all seek to be Spirit led.

These are the sermon notes from 1/31/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

*This is the memory verse for the week. 

Good and Faithful Servant

February 18, 2016

We hear a lot about leadership these days.  Today I want to address the idea of being a servant.

I.  Washing Feet:  John 13:1-5, 12-15

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.

12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.

Don’t get nervous, we are not going to have a foot washing service.  Although there are some churches that practice that ritual, we are not going to do that here today.

I do want us to recognize this action of Jesus as a powerful symbol of humble service.  We are called to be the servants of God.  If we are to follow the example of Jesus then we would recognize that there is nothing that we are ‘too good’ to do.

II.  Be a Servant:  Matthew 20:25-28

But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

We have a tendency to dream of greatness.  We want to be powerful, successful leaders; not humble servants.  Yet, we are called to serve.

There are many ways to serve.  If we ask God to guide us, He will.

Sometimes faithful servants are elevated into positions of leadership.  Sometimes they are not.  The goal for us as Christians is not worldly success, but faithful service to the Father in whatever capacity He calls us to serve.

III.  Bearing Burdens:  Galatians 6:2-5

 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.

At first glance these verses seem contradictory.  Which is it?  Bear one another’s burden, or bear our own load?

It is both.  A part of our load is to help each other.  However, when we stand before God, we will not be able to point our finger at someone else to blame them for our choices.  We are to help each other, and we will each answer for our own choices.

IV.  Not Grow Weary:  Galatians 6:9*

 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

A life of service is hard work.  Sometimes we see the fruit of our labor, and sometimes we do not.  We are called to continue to do good, and not lose heart.  God is faithful.  We should be faithful to Him.

Our ultimate goal should not have anything to do with success as this world measures it.  Our ultimate goal should be to one day stand before the Father and hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  (Matthew 25:21)