Resolute

Sermon given at Mt. Pleasant COG on 12/29/19

In 2020, let the body of Christ be united in one New Year’s Resolution…

 

To take life SLOW!

SLOW stands for:

S-Serve.
Serve God, serve one another, and serve our communities, fulfill the Great Commission to “make disciples” Matthew 28:19-20 and remembering Colossians 3:23-24.

L-Love. Love God, love one another, love your neighbor. Remember that is the first and greatest commandment. Matthew 22:37-40

O-Obey.
Obey God’s precepts and commands found in the only inspired authoritative source of revelation from God. His Word. If there is a conflict between God’s Word and our cultural standards, God’s Word wins. If there is a conflict between His Word and another culture’s standards, God’sWord wins. We must season the truth with LOVE, not driving unbelievers further from grace and shouldn’t expect those who do not have a relationship with God to obey the commandments that God established for his children, but as his Children, we should obey our Father’s will. ‘By this we know that we love the children of God: whenever we love God and obey his commandments.’ 1 John 5:2 NET

W-Worship.
Worship our Father in heaven, worship his Son, Jesus, our Savior, worship the Holy Spirit inside us, who helps us and guides us. Worship through love, prayer, work, service, obedience, song, teaching, learning… Remembering again Colossians 3:23-24. Everything we can do is an act of Worship. Remember worship equals service and personal sacrifice.


Here is our New Year’s Resolution…

Take it SLOW. Act SLOW. Be SLOW.
Be purposeful, determined, and unwavering; Be resolute; to SLOW up!

 

Trifecta of Temptation

This message, given at Christian Baptist Church in Decatur, IL, focuses on the three biggest areas of temptation in the lives of Christians.

Eve was enticed, Jesus suffered temptation, and John the apostle warned his readers in 1 John 2:16 about the same three things.

The Trifecta of Temptation. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

How can we fight temptation? The same way Jesus did! With TRUTH!!!

 

Deeply Saddened

This morning, I finished reading (actually listening while commuting) through the Old Testament.

I find it deeply saddening. Over and over God has kept his promises to Abraham’s descendants. Over and over he promised, if you will only keep me first, keep my commandments and decrees, I will bless and protect you. If you don’t, then I will remove my hand of protection and I will send other nations to discipline you and drive you back to me. He promised blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. He kept ALL his promises!

The nation of Israel faced hardship time and again because of their disobedience. The nation was scattered and exiled because of their disobedience. The nation was also blessed and restored when they would repent. However, even within the same generation, they would then turn from God again.

I find it heartbreaking!

In this age, God has sent his one and only Son, who died as an atoning sacrifice so that we don’t have to live under condemnation, but can live under mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

However, we still live in disobedience. We still rebel against God. God still keeps his promises and the world still suffers from it’s own disobedience.

Therefore, the answer is abundantly clear. Agree with God that sin is still sin (confess), turn from disobedience (repent), have faith, ask forgiveness, accept grace, and obey.

Have a blessed week!

Living Faith

Sermon given at Casey White Oak Church of God on 09/22/19.

The world is watching and wants to know if we, as Christians, can authentically live out our faith. They are quick to point out our hypocrisy and the abundance of media and social media makes it very easy to spin doctor our words and actions to point out that hypocrisy.

In light of this, knowing we are sinners in need of a savior, flawed people trying to serve a perfect God, how can we live as salt, light, and leaven to the glory of our God?

Have faith, do good, show love, and do the next right thing!

Listen to see how this plays out in our Christian walk.

Purpose in Pain

One of the great questions we, as humans, always have in regards to God, is this…

If there is a loving God, why is there some much pain and suffering in the world?

One answer is obvious, free will and sin. We are free to make any choice we want and our choices affect others in good ways and bad ways.

There is another answer we don’t talk about a lot… growth.

As human beings, we usually hate change. For better or worse, we are happy not to have to change. We will not change unless our current circumstance becomes unbearable. It is said, pain is the great motivator to change.

Pain, suffering, trials, tribulations, sickness, death, and temptation; all these spur us to change. God’s great purpose is to change us to be conformed to the image of his son, Jesus.

Sometimes, the negative situations we go through are motivation for us to change. Sometimes, it is our responses to these situations that are examples to others of how great our God is, to bring us through the change and to work all things for good.

God, in his sovereignty, allows us to go through all kinds of pain to bring us, and those around us, closer to him.

See also, Romans 8:28-30 and Romans 5:3.

Read also,

C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

John Piper, Suffering and the Sovereignty of God

10 Signs You’re Attending a Good Church

This article is absolutely right on!

Every church leader should be using this as a metric of potential for the congregation God has entrusted to them.

https://churchleaders.com/outreach-missions/outreach-missions-articles/176826-great-church.html

H.O.W. It Works

I have said for many years, if someone, anyone, truly works the 12 steps they will come into a right understanding of a relationship with God and come to accept Jesus Christ as Savior. It doesn’t matter if they be atheist (as I once w claimed to be), agnostic, disillusioned, unchurched, oppressed, even other faiths, or worldviews. If we are totally honest, open-minded, and willing, to look at all the facts regarding creation, life, death, separation from God and its causes, our shortcomings, our relationships with others, and the claims that the Bible makes; we will become disciples of Jesus.

The keys to recovery, whether it be alcoholism, addiction of some sort, or anything the Scriptures frankly call sin, are Honesty, Open-mindedness, and Willingness. The three points of the AA triangle within the circle represent these three ideals.

If we seek recovery and a relationship with God living out these three principles to their fullest, we will invariably come to the same conclusions. If we short ourselves on any one of them, we will end up hitting a wall. This wall may not cause us to relapse in recovery, but it will stunt our growth spiritually regardless. Let’s take a closer look at these three principles and see how they affect our lives and how they can guide us into all truth objectively.

First, honesty. Looking at ourselves, no matter how well put together an individual seems to be, if we are honest, we are all muffed up in many ways. We all have our shortcomings, our defects of character, the places we injure ourselves or others, the things we cover up, justify, or outright lie about, the places we miss the mark of whatever objective or subjective mark of perfection set for us by ourselves, our society, or our belief system. For some, these may be extreme and outwardly obvious. For others, they may be more subtle. If we look at our various cultures, communities, countries, and our world; we can really see just how muffed up we can get.

If we honestly take stock, the Bible has one word that describes all of this, sin. There are many lists throughout Scripture, but there are two that really sum up all the rest… whether you agree with specific items or not, I ask you to simply consider them.

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6:9‭-‬10 NET https://bible.com/bible/107/1co.6.9-10.NET‬

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, idolatry, sorcery (getting high on drugs), hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things. I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God!

Galatians 5:19‭-‬21 NET https://bible.com/bible/107/gal.5.19-21.NET‬

These two lists sum up very well everything that causes any and every kind of harm we can cause to ourselves and others. The Scriptures are clear in both respects, these things separate us from God both now and have eternal consequences.

You may ask, why should I believe anything the Bible has to say? Other than looking at the truth of just these previous couple paragraphs, if you are willing and open-minded enough to give the Bible a fair shake, See also the attached article by Charlie Campbell, 10 Evidences for the Bible.

10 evidences

There is a Creator. Sin has separated us from him. The Scriptures say this,

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.

Romans 1:18‭-‬20 NET https://bible.com/bible/107/rom.1.18-20.NET‬

If we can honestly accept there is really a problem here. Guess what… God has also provided a solution to the problem. Jesus.

Are you open-minded enough to hear about him? Are you open-minded enough to hear about a loving Creator Father that wants a relationship with us? Are you open-minded enough to read a book that through the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit was given to us to explain how glorious he really is and what he has done to have a relationship with us? Open-minded enough to hear how he has been working since creation to bring us, sinful, rebellious, imperfect human beings into a relationship with a perfect and holy God?
The Bible tells us…

For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. Now this is the basis for judging: that the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil.

John 3:16‭-‬19 NET https://bible.com/bible/107/jhn.3.16-19.NET‬

You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross! As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow – in heaven and on earth and under the earth – and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5‭-‬11 NET https://bible.com/bible/107/php.2.5-11.NET‬

because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation.

Romans 10:9‭-‬10 NET https://bible.com/bible/107/rom.10.9-10.NET‬

If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:8‭-‬9 NET https://bible.com/bible/107/1jn.1.8-9.NET‬

If we are willing enough, we can break down all the barriers between us and God. If we are willing enough, we can bridge the gap. If we are willing enough, we can help others to do the same. We need to be willing to be open-minded. We need to be willing to honestly evaluate the facts and face the truth. We need to be willing to let go of ourselves and accept God on his terms, rather than making up our own.

Because of our sin, God sent his Son, Jesus, to live a perfect human life as God in the flesh. He died on the cross, convicted of crimes he did not commit as a holy sacrifice to make us right with God the Father, bridging the separation sin has caused. He rose from the dead, as both a symbol of his divinity and to raise all those who are willing to follow him into an eternal relationship with the Father and give us his Holy Spirit to live in and with us, so we can live in his image and show his sacrificial love to all the world.

Can you be honest enough to accept this truth about yourself and God? Are you open-minded enough to give all this information consideration or further your own search for the truth? Are you willing enough to do the hard work and soul searching to restore your relationship with God and follow Jesus?

Have faith, do good, show love, and do the next right thing!

May God bless you!

Satan is not god!

In our Christian lives, we usually fall into two extremes when it comes to the evil one and his minions. We usually either marginalize them, creating them into powerless cartoon characters and deny their existence entirely. Or, we give them all the power, knowledge, and ability of God himself. Neither is a healthy view in light of what Scripture teaches.

First, Satan, also known as Lucifer and the devil, and his crew are fallen angels, aka demons…not gods, and not cartoons! Scripture says that the Evil One is the god of this age. Meaning that he rules the hearts and minds of those who do not belong to Christ and he can affect the world. He is also called the prince of the power of the air. See here in 2 Corinthians how Paul describes Satan and his work against the gospel of Christ and those who believe.

But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing, among whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of those who do not believe so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4

However, Lucifer only has half the angels on his side that God does. They are created beings and inferior in every way to God himself. They are not all knowing, not all powerful, not omnipresent. They are not trapped in hell. They can’t make you do anything without fully possessing your body. However, they can affect your thoughts and the world around you. Make no mistake, as a Christian, with God’s indwelling Holy Spirit inside you, the power of Christ in you is always more powerful than them. Peter warns Jesus followers what the enemy’s tactics are and how to combat him.

Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, strong in your faith, because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are enduring the same kinds of suffering. And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him belongs the power forever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:8-11

The devil has used the same tricks since his time in the garden of Eden with Eve (Genesis 3:6). He uses the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life to tempt us to betray God and follow our own sinful desires rather than submitting to the will of God. He used these same things against Jesus in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11), and John warns us in 1 John, that his tactics have not changed. They haven’t changed, because they still work against us. See what John says,

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, because all that is in the world (the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance produced by material possessions) is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away with all its desires, but the person who does the will of God remains forever. 1 John 2:15-17

 

We need to know, we already have victory in Jesus. We have an Advocate before the Father, that pleads our case for us when we do sin (1 John 2:1-2). John also says that by living in forgiveness, by knowing the Father, by knowing and applying his Word, we have conquered the evil one (1 John 2:13-14). The enemy of our souls can’t make us do anything we do not have the desire to do ourselves. James 1:14 says,

“But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires.”

We must resist these impulses! We must fight temptation! Paul says,

“No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

Turn to God and submit to His will and the devil will have no power over you…