Sermon Sunday May 22, 2022 Love One Another

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Church numerical growth has been a topic of study for decades. Many books have been written and seminars delivered. However, there is a very simple three-word prescription for church growth, “Love One Another”.

It might sound simplistic, but it is one of the most challenging things to do.

The apostle John is a succinct writer who simplifies the Christian life down to the essential elements, know Jesus, obey God, and love others.

John uses the term “beloved” six times in this letter. John makes the case that the love of God is essential for us to be able to love our brothers and sisters. We aren’t called to love out of duty or legalism, that would be hypocritical. What John is writing about is a supernatural love, seen and experienced in those who abide in Jesus. This is the love that is the fruit of the Spirit.

There is way more to this supernatural love than a mushy, warm and fuzzy experience, there is power in this love. As we see in verse 8, perfect love as revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ has dealt a death blow to darkness. Darkness is on the run, and it cannot outrun the light. How we love one another gives evidence of all of this.

The love of Christ in us is not a shallow sentimental emotion. It is a matter of the will not of feelings. Christlike love is a determined decision to allow the love of God to reach others through you. Christlike love is the essential ingredient of true evangelism.

The best explanation of Christian love is found in 1 Corinthians 13. This chapter is not a text for weddings or valentine’s day messages, it is a day-to-day church passage. It is the prescription for how we are to live as the body of Christ.

The love of God is given to the church supernaturally for the building up of the church (Romans 5:5). God has poured his love into the hearts of everyone who has given their lives to the Lordship of Jesus.

John’s life was transformed by this supernatural love. He was not always loving, he and his brother James were known as the “sons of thunder”, because of their emotional outbursts. In Luke 9, James and John asked Jesus if they could call down fire from heaven to destroy the Samaritan village who rejected Jesus. John was transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, and he loved as Jesus loved.

And there is good reason why this love is supernatural, because it is a cosmic war between light and darkness. The world of light and love always go together (1 John 2:9-10).

The natural question that follows is, who is my brother? The Greek word used for brother here means a person who lives close by, literally my neighbor. Well, who is my neighbor? Jesus addressed this in Luke 10 by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus explained that our neighbor is the person in front of us right now. The person in need, the person we work with or the person we bump into while walking into the store. Are you aware of your neighbor? Those daily opportunities to love the way Jesus loved.

Verse 11 returns to those who are in darkness, “But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”

If you hate someone, you are walking blindly in continual darkness. This kind of darkness is spiritual death. Hatred is blinding people today and this happens in the church as little disagreements creep in, and relationships are broken.

This kind of blindness can creep into the church in many ways. It is not necessarily through arguments. Sometimes blindness can creep into the church in the form of doctrine and spiritual elitism. People have their favorite doctrine, theology, or experience and if they are not careful, they become critical of others who do not share the same view or experience. This kind of person thinks he is a spiritual giant, having it all figured out, but really, he is a spiritual babe, lacking the ability to discern what is important, loving one another. Some people are so in love with their doctrine and “rightness”, that they have lost their love for their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

In recent years it seems that we have lost the ability to disagree and still love each other.

It is impossible to be in fellowship with the Father and out of fellowship with another Christian at the same time. The Christian life has two relationships: the vertical (Godward) and the horizontal (manward). We need both, which is why gathering for worship and fellowship on a Sunday morning is so vital to our spiritual health.

If you put a group of people in a room long enough, someone is going to get offended. So how do we respond?

The follower of Jesus who has been offended must understand two things;

1) I have no right to be offended. I gave up my rights when I asked Jesus to be Lord of my life.

2) Harboring unforgiveness only harms the offended person.

“Unforgiveness is like drinking poison yourself and waiting for the other person to die.”

Marianne Williamson

Loving one another in the church is very practical and essential for the health of the church.

Practically we love each other by:

  • Serving one another.  Stepping up and volunteering when there is a need.
  • Love one another through theological differences. Jesus was critical of the pharisees, not because of their doctrine, but because they didn’t care for the flock.
  • Love one another through joy and pain. Carry one another’s burdens, look for practical ways to care when someone is hurting.
  • Love one another on mission. Serving alongside each other as we share the Gospel in our community.  
  • Love one another by confronting sin. Do we love one another enough to call out a brother or sister who is living in sin?
  • Love one another to grow spiritually. Just as the fruits and flowers need sunshine, so God’s people need love if they are going to grow.

How are you loving each other today?

Sermon Sunday May 15, 2022 To Know and Obey Jesus.

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Is it possible to know God and to live like the Devil? Is it possible to truly know God and have no life change?

Obedience follows relationship. If there is no obedience – is there relationship at all?

Adrian Rogers wrote, “Study the Bible to know about God. Obey the Bible to really know God.”

This is the theme of 1 John 2. John’s goal is for the reader to know God rightly and have assurance of salvation, which leads to a life of joy in Jesus. To know God is to love God and to love God is to obey God.

Obedience to God reveals the genuineness of our faith. There is a huge difference between saying and doing. The true Gospel transforms us and leads to obedience. 1 John 2:3 reads, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments”.

The word “Keep”, means to guard, or protect like we would treat a precious treasure. And as we keep this treasure, our assurance in our salvation grows and we enjoy Jesus more. To obey His commands is never a burden, it is a blessing and a natural response to what He has done for me.

However we see in verse 4 that if we do not guard or keep the commands of the Lord, we are spiritual deceivers. We really don’t have a relationship with God.

Verse 5 gives is such a great promise, “but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him.”

Keeping the commands of God is not a condition of knowing God, but it is a clear sign and indication that we do know God.

The phrase, “the love of God”, refers to our love for God, and it is true that the more I know Him, the more I love Him, and the more I love Him, the more I know Him.

The same thing happens in a godly marriage. It should be that the more a husband and wife grow to know one another, the more they love one another. And the more love they share with each other, the more they will desire to know each other.

There is a tradition that on one occasion the apostle John, near the end of his life, was brought to the church on a pallet. All he said to the believing community was, “Love one another.” When he was asked why that was all he had to say, he responded, “Because it is enough.” (Matthew 22:37-40).

So how do we walk in the love of Christ? When we were saved it was so that we might be conformed in the image of His son (Romans 8:29). He saved us that we might “walk just as He walked.”

We have a moral obligation for our walk to match our talk. To truly abide in Christ means I will walk like Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1, Ephesians 5:1, 1 Peter 2:21).

Like Father, like Son. Like Savior, like saint. Christ’s life becomes my life, my example, my goal, and my pattern. And we must note that it is abiding in Him that enables me to live like Him. I don’t do it in my strength. I do it in His!

Looking back to verse 3, how can we tell if we “know” him?

What then does it mean to “know” Jesus? The Greek word used here, “ginosko”, means basically “grasping the full reality and nature of an object under consideration.”

John was writing to people who knew about Jesus but didn’t really know him personally. Today there are millions of people who know about Jesus, but don’t know him as Lord of their lives.

Jesus said in John 10:27, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me”. Those who belong to Jesus are responsive to His voice.

John does not suggest that relationship with God is established by obedience; rather, that relationship is demonstrated by obedience.

Sometimes people claim to know God but are unresponsive to His Word and His way of life. Such a person may possess accurate information about God and may be able to debate the finer points of theology. I have met people who have a deep grasp of the Bible and doctrine, but their lives do not match their words. Relationship is demonstrated by walking “as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6).

Jesus addressed this as he was speaking to the Jews, the scribes and the pharisees in John 8:44a, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.”

The religious leaders, knew about God, they knew the Torah, they knew a lot of theology, but they didn’t know God Himself or else they would have recognized His son, Jesus. They were worshipping the law of Moses, but they weren’t hearing the word of God. Jesus continued in verse 47, “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

So, my question today is, who are you listening to?

I always get discouraged when I talk to people who have not been in church for a long time and they say, “well, I am not in church, but I listen to Charles Stanley (or their favorite radio or TV teacher) each Sunday morning.” What they fail to realize is that they are neglecting to gather with his body, disobeying the word of God that calls us to commit to a fellowship of believers to grow together in love and unity.

Listening to good teaching is excellent, but the question is, are you listening to the words of God? Why do we run after the words of the created being, when we can sit at the feet of the creator?

Many Christians wrestle with decisions and they often say the same thing. “I am not getting a clear word from God.” My friends, it’s not that God doesn’t speak clearly, it’s that we don’t listen. It’s time to turn off the TV, YouTube, the cell phone and all the other noise surrounding us and open the Word of God. Make time to listen to the God who created you with the ability to hear His voice.

Are you abiding in Him, keeping his commandments?

Do you know Jesus?

Sermon Sunday May 8, 2022 – Let God be True and Every Man a Liar

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The number one problem in the world today is that humanity has a sin problem, and it affects everyone. But not everyone agrees with this assertion.

Today, we don’t hear people call sin for what it is. Sin is labelled an error of judgment, a mistake, a bad decision, etc. In fact people go to great lengths to rationalize or hide their sin.

But we must understand this basic truth, to deny sin is to call God a liar and question His character. In this passage, John uses the word “sin” nine times, and two times he will use the word “darkness.” To think correctly about Jesus, we must think correctly about sin.

In verse 5 we are reminded that we have good news, and it is a message that the world needs. This message concerns Jesus Christ, “the Word of life”. When we meet Jesus as our savior, our assignment is to take this message to the whole world. According to the JoshuaProject.net there are 7,418 unreached people groups who are yet to hear the Gospel.

A key component of the Gospel message is to convey an understanding of the nature and character of God. This is a constant theme of John’s writing.For example, he teaches us that; God is light (1:5), God is love (4:8, 16), and God is true (5:20).

In 1 John the statement “God is light” means God has as His very nature and being the source of life. Martin Luther said, “There is no darkness in Him, not even the slightest”.

This is a message that we must passionately share with the world.

But our message must also include what God says about sin. The essence of sin is our attempting to take the place of God. We want to be in charge. And we want to provide our own definitions of what is right and wrong.

John is not interested in human opinions on the matter of sin. He uses three “if we say” statements to lead his readers to understand sin. He says we are prone to lie to others, lie to ourselves and ultimately call God a liar.

1: Do Not Lie to Others (1 John 1:6–7)

John writes in 1 John 1:6, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth”.

If we say we have fellowship with God, but are walking in spiritual darkness, we are lying. We say to others, “I know God,” but our beliefs and behavior contradict our words. We lie to others about who we are.

In contrast, verse 7 says that if we live our lives in the realm of light, as God is in the light, our fellowship with one another is authentic and the blood of Jesus, His Son, keeps on cleansing us from all sin.

2: Do Not Lie to Yourself (1 John 1:8–9)

 Verse 8 says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Those who live in death and darkness do not just lie to others, and eventually they lie to themselves. They lose their moral compass, and their conscience is seared (1 Timothy 4:2).  

If we claim to be sinless, a declaration that we are free from the guilt and penalty of sin, we are deceived, and the truth is not in us.  The truth is a person, if we say we have no sin, we really have no relationship with Jesus.

John then follows up with one of the greatest verses in the Bible, verse 9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.

John writes that there are two kinds of people

  • There are some who cover and conceal their sin. They are liars.
  • There are also confessors who acknowledge and admit their sin. They are forgiven.

John is not saying that we need to be perfectly sinless as that is impossible. We need an advocate who can forgive us.

3: Do Not Lie about God (1 John 1:10)

John makes the case that we can lie to others about our sin, we will then lie to ourselves and ultimately, we will actually call God a liar. Verse 10, “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

Moving on to 1 John 2 verses 1 and 2, the world must know what God says about Jesus.

Jesus Is Our Advocate (1 John 2:1)

John has made it clear that in this life we cannot be sinless. However, he does believe we can sin less because we are now in intimate fellowship with the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

We all still sin, but we have the amazing promise of 1 John 1:9. In verse 1, John tells his readers to run to our savior, our advocate to the Father. This advocate is sinless, undefiled, and spotless in his nature and in all his actions. There is no one else like him.

The word “advocate” means helper, who comes alongside in a time of need. This helper is the cleanser of sin (1:7), the forgiver of sin (1:9), and the helper when we do sin.

We have this misconception that when we sin, Jesus turns away from us and leaves us because we have disappointed him. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus is drawn to us when we sin, he cares for us and knows that our sin leads to pain. He comes near to prevent us hurting ourselves further.

Jesus Is Our Atonement(1 John 2:2)

Jesus can be our advocate, because he has made propitiation, an atonement for our sins.

The word “propitiation” is a very important word that carries the idea of satisfaction. Jesus Christ, by His sacrifice on the cross, satisfied God’s holiness and turned away His righteous wrath from sinners.

The work of atonement accomplished by Christ on the cross is where God’s holiness and God’s love meet. (See Isaiah 53:10 and Philippians 2:9).

How do you stand before God today? Are you lying to those around you? Are you lying to yourself? Are you calling God a liar?

Jesus offers right standing before God, his forgiveness is instant and paid for.

Sunday May 1, 2022 Volunteering in the Church

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Today we recognized volunteers, the people that make everything run smoothly. As we called each volunteer forward, we asked them to put a crayon in a vase. Each one of the crayons represents a task that needs to be done in the church. It was evident that it took a lot of people to do all that needs to be done in the church.  

But let’s think about the church, why do we come to church?

I think one of the failures of the church in the past fifty years is the advent of the mega church and the multiple campus church models. One of the primary motivators of the seeker friendly church is to make the church as welcoming and inviting as possible in order to get people through the doors.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we absolutely need to be welcoming and inviting. And there is nothing wrong with large numbers. But what has happened is that the church has gone from being a sending agent and become a Christian entertainment venue.

Feeding peoples wants and desires by programs, features, and entertainment. Instead of people coming to church to be equipped for the work of the ministry, people are coming to church to be entertained, and they are dictating to the leadership what they want in order to stay.

If we are honest, who has become the object of attention? It is the attendees, and if we are focusing on the attendees, who are we worshipping?

The church is not a professional organization, it is a body. We are all members of the body and as such we all serve alongside one another, for one purpose – for the glory of God.

We are saved for more than simply getting a ticket to heaven – there is so much more for us.

God delivered us so that we would have a relationship with him, through which He calls us to be a part of His mission to bring the Gospel message to the lost. What a privilege. Paul makes this clear in Ephesians 2:8-10.

We are saved in order to do good works. Now, the church is not the only place where we can do these works, but it is an essential part of serving the Lord. Every volunteer that we recognized this morning has a motivation to serve.

As I was thinking about it, there are many different reasons why people serve as a volunteer, but only one right reason.

Some people serve for recognition, others for the applause of man or to earn favor with God, and some serve out of guilt. But the true motivation to serve the Lord comes from a genuine experience of joy. When you genuinely serve the Lord out of love for the Lord and understanding the call of God on your life, you experience joy, deep seated contentment, and it is not a burden or hardship at all.

One of the keys to contentment is serving in the place of obscurity. Doing things that no one sees other than the Lord. Genuine contentment and joy is knowing that the only person who really notices is the only one who really matters.

The truth is that the church would not exist without volunteers, so how do we get people to volunteer? The normal way is to make a good promo video and beg people to sign up to serve. Failing that we could offer them free donuts and coffee!

But I propose that there is a purer motivation that comes from a move of God. We don’t need more manipulation; we need more of the power of God. As God begins to move on peoples’ hearts, they are compelled by a sense of calling and purpose. Doing what God has called them to do. In Psalm 110:3 we read, “Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours.”

This Psalm is speaking about Jesus coming in glory and his followers offering themselves to serve him. What we need in the church is not more calls for volunteers or pleading videos, what we need is revival. Throughout the history of revivals, there has never been a shortage of workers who give themselves to the work of the Lord.

Henry Blackaby wrote, “Only the power of God can free us from our natural self-centeredness and reorient us toward the mission of God”

And finally, we have the privilege to serve the Lord because we gain an eternal reward. Revelation 19:7-8 reads, “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.”

At the marriage feast, the church, the Bride of Christ, will be clothed in fine linen, bright and pure, but the linen is made up of the righteous deeds that we do. Now we know that we are not made righteous by what we do. Rather, we work from a position of righteousness because of the blood of Jesus.

The good works that we do, are righteous deeds that have an eternal value. Christ will reward us for our faithfulness. And the rewards we receive will make up the wedding gown.

Dr. Lehman Strauss writes, “Has it ever occurred to you … that at the marriage of the Bride to the Lamb, each of us will be wearing the wedding garment of our own making?”

That is a tremendous paradigm shift; we don’t serve out of duty, we serve as an act of worship.

How is your heart? What is the response of your heart today? Is your heart so filled with gratitude and worship that you are waiting for the opportunity to say like Isaiah, “here I am, send me.”

Sermon, Sunday April 24, 2022 – A Life Like No Other

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Jonathan Haidt recently wrote, “Artificial intelligence is close to enabling the limitless spread of highly believable disinformation.”

We live in a world where truth is almost unbelievable because of the saturation of lies and false narratives that are being promoted globally. Objective truth has been denied and sadly many Christians do not turn to the Word of God for truth and discernment. We should not be surprised by the ever-increasing volume of lies and misinformation in a world where Satan has his domain (John 8:44)

In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”. Jesus embodies truth. He is truth. John the Beloved disciple of Jesus wrote three short letters to the church in and around Ephesus. The primary purpose of the letters was to counter false teaching, causing confusion in the early church. The primary lie that was being promoted in the early church in Asia Minor was that Jesus was not God.

The fact the Jesus is the creator God himself is the foundational truth of the church. If that is not true, then his death and resurrection have no redemptive purpose.

Looking at the first four verses of 1 John, the author focuses our gaze on the Word of Life, the Son of God. In these verses we will see three aspects of how we relate to the truth that is Jesus. It is essential that we get the correct understanding of this man who is fully God and fully man at the same time.

1: A passion to know Jesus.

John wants us to know Jesus, the Word of Life who came down from heaven, and by his life, death, and resurrection provided a way for us to have fellowship with God the Father, now and for eternity. In the first 2 verses, John highlights two key truths about the uniqueness of Jesus.

A: He Is Divine

He begins with, “that which was from the beginning.” And in verse 2, “the eternal life that was with the Father…”

Jesus has always eternally existed with the Father as God. There has never been a time when the Son did not exist (John 8:58 and John 10:30). There never was a time when the Son was not fully God.

B: He Is Human

In these same verses John makes a clear case for the humanity of Jesus. He speaks as an eyewitness of the life and ministry of Jesus. He speaks about hearing Jesus, seeing Jesus and touching Jesus. He was a real person.

At the time, there was a false teaching that John was countering, an early form of what is called “Gnosticism,” a term based on the Greek word that means knowledge. They believed that all matter was evil and that salvation is by a mystical spiritual knowledge. Some of the Gnostics taught that Jesus only appeared to be human.

It is essential that we believe that, Jesus really became a human being in the flesh (John 1:14).

John Piper wrote, “When God becomes a man, man ceases to be the measure of all things, and this man becomes the measure of all things. This is simply intolerable to the rebellious heart of men and women. The incarnation is a violation of the bill of human rights written by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It is totalitarian. It’s authoritarian! Imperialism! Despotism! Usurpation! Absolutism! Who does he think he is! GOD!”

2: Once we know Jesus, we will have a passion to Share Jesus.

“That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you…” 1 John 1:3a.

Jesus chose twelve men, and they were so impacted by following him that the world was turned upside down (Acts 17:6). They were ordinary uneducated men who were compelled to take this Gospel message to the entire world. What they had experienced in Jesus they wanted others to experience too.

Everyone in the Bible who encountered Jesus, was compelled to share Jesus with others. Many believers today excuse themselves from sharing the Gospel because they feel that they don’t have the gift of evangelism. But it is not about a spiritual gift, it is about encountering Jesus. Simply put, encountering Jesus leads to speaking about Jesus.

If you are not sharing Jesus, you are not encountering Jesus. Which begs the question, do you know Jesus?

And what is the purpose of this sharing? Verse 3 continues, “…so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

This sharing is an invitation to relationship with Jesus, and an added blessing is the family that we get introduced to as a result. The invitation is open to everyone.

This fellowship that we enjoy as the body of Christ is far deeper than a gathering of like-minded people, or a social club or a fraternity. We are invited into a family that transcends all earthly barriers. Christianity is all about relationships being restored, firstly our relationship with God, and then we get millions of brothers and sisters all around the world.

3: We will enjoy Jesus.

And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete” 1 John 1:4. John wrote this letter so that we might know the fulness of Joy. Jesus also said this in John 15:11.

That fullness of joy is ours through our friendship with one another and with God, who is now our Father. And all of it made possible by the gospel of Jesus Christ, God’s Son.

As we walk this earth daily confronted by sin and pain, how can we experience joy?

The real issue is the difference between Joy and happiness. Happiness is short lived and dependent on external factors. Joy is peace based on security. We have Joy because we are in Christ and we have a certainty of his love for us, displayed on the cross and promised in his return.

To enjoy Jesus, we must receive him as he is; the eternal son of God, crucified, and raised back to life for our sins and coming back again. And as we submit to him as Lord, we will fully enjoy him.

Do you know this Jesus?

Are you sharing this Jesus?

Are you enjoying this Jesus?

Sermon, Sunday April 17, 2022

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In John 11, we read the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, and in John 11 verse 25, Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life…”

I want to make three observations from this amazing chapter.

First, why does God sometimes wait to answer our prayers?

In verse 6, we read that after receiving the news of his sick friend, Jesus decides to wait two days before travelling to Bethany. Jesus tells the messenger that Lazarus will not die.

From verse 5, we know that Jesus loved this family. The delay in responding to their prayers was not a denial of his love.

As we look at this account and apply it to our lives, we are the Mary’s and the Martha’s. We are praying for a miracle, and our Lazarus is something or someone that we hold dear and fear losing.

There are times in our lives when we cry out to God for a miracle, for a life situation that seems to be getting desperate, and we need God to save our Lazarus.

How often have you prayed asking God to intervene, but He did not respond immediately? We know God hears our prayers, but the answer is, “wait”.

Secondly, from John 11:20-27 and 32-37, it seems that sometimes God acts too late.  

Note the sequence of events. After receiving the message, Jesus waited for two days and then traveled to Bethany. When he arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days. This means the messenger must have taken a day to travel to Jesus, Jesus took a      day to travel back to Bethany, and Lazarus must have died after the messenger left. So, when Jesus said, “This illness does not lead to death,” Lazarus was already dead! Did Jesus make a mistake? Or did Jesus mean something else?

The sisters noticed this (see John 11:21 and 32), and the people grieving with the family also noticed (see John 11:37). At times, this same tension exists in life. We are told that Jesus loves us. Yet we wrestle with unbelief when we don’t receive the relief from pain that we are asking for. And Satan loves to throw in seeds of doubt into our minds.

The Bible is full of accounts of men and women who suffered long after praying for a miracle. Why does God do this? Jesus said: for the glory of God! In John 11:4b Jesus said, “It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Instead of answering their prayers, Jesus showed empathy and deep emotion for their pain. Jesus feels and understands our pain (see Hebrews 4:15-16).

At times it may look like God has failed you, but He will never leave or forsake you. He is faithful to minister to you.

Jesus knew that Lazarus would soon be raised, and that their grief would turn to joy. Yet he took time to grieve with them. Jesus wasn’t putting on a show of emotions, and in verse 33, we read that Jesus was “deeply moved”. The Greek word means “indignant” or “enraged.” Jesus hates death, and he was angry at the suffering and grief that it caused. Jesus hates the effect of sin in the world, and death was not part of God’s original plan. Jesus came to defeat death, and he knew this was his enemy.

Jesus said to them in verse 23, ‘Your brother will rise again.’” Remember earlier on he said, “This illness does not lead to death.” It must be hard to trust what he is saying or promising the second time.

From the declaration of Jesus in John 11:25-26, we know that those who believe in Jesus will receive the resurrection power and life that is in him. They may die in the flesh, but we know that eternal life is found in Jesus (John 5:24, ESV). Those who believe in Jesus have passed from death to life. We were spiritually dead, but in Christ we are made alive in the spirit.

In verse 26, Jesus asked Martha, “do you believe this?”. To which she responded, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”  What a powerful declaration! Do you believe this?

Finally, we read in verses 38 to 44, that Jesus always keeps his promises. Jesus arrived at the tomb and requested that the stone be removed. Martha protested, struggling to trust Jesus again.

Jesus called Lazarus, and he came out from the tomb alive! Martha and Mary’s faith was vindicated. They simply chose to trust Jesus again.

God keeps His promises, and we can trust Him even when we don’t understand. God will fulfill His promise in His timing and for His glory!

As followers of the one and only person who is the resurrection and the life, we don’t have to fear death. Eternal life starts the moment you give your life to Christ.

Maybe today, you have already made Jesus Lord of your life, but you are wrestling with your faith. You have asked for something, and he seems to be waiting.  Even though you have the faith that he is able, it seems that the miracle is still not coming.

And just maybe it seems too late, the miracle that you were praying for seems to be too late. I want to remind you today of Psalm 145:13,

“Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,

 and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

The Lord is faithful in all his words
    and kind in all his works.”

God keeps His promises. He is never late, and we can trust Him with the outcome, even when we don’t understand it.

We serve a risen Savior, and one who always keeps his promises!

Sermon, Sunday April 10 2022 – Jesus is the True Vine

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Have you ever formed a relationship with someone or with an organization that you regretted? We have all had relationships with people or organizations that have not been good for us. Unhealthy connections lead to unhealthy fruit in our lives.

But healthy connections are good for us. Healthy families, healthy institutions of learning, healthy churches, healthy relationships and more. However, no matter how good these connections are for us, people will let us down, organizations will change, and time will change us and our needs.

However, Jesus offers us a relationship that has the power to give us everything we need or ever will need, and a relationship that will never change. Sadly, so few people fully understand the total dependency that we have in our relationship with Jesus.

In John 15 verse 1, Jesus said, “I am the true vine…” Jesus uses the metaphor of a vine and branches, but it wasn’t a new picture for the Children of Israel (see Psalm 80:8-9). The vine metaphor was understood by Jews in the First Century as referring to Israel. Jesus takes the metaphor and applies it to himself, referring to himself as the “true” vine, and not just any vine.  

Jesus uses the Greek word for “abide” or “remain” ten times in these few verses. The Greek word means to stay and commit to a specific relationship or location. In this context, it means to remain in fellowship with Christ, so that his life can work in and through us to produce fruit (See John 15:4). Jesus said, “abide in me…” commit to remaining in my presence.

But then Jesus makes a commitment to abide in us. Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you…” What a wonderful promise. As we commit to remain in Jesus, making him lord of our lives, he commits to remaining with us. A promise that he will never break.

In Genesis 3, there was a separation caused by the first sin that removed mankind from abiding with God. Jesus repairs the separation, but more than that, he promises to give us his Spirit. The fellowship and intimacy we are offered is closer than we could ever imagine.

The apostle Paul frequently used the words, “In Christ” in his letters. What does that mean, and how do we experience the fullness of being in Christ?

The most crucial part of understanding this is knowing where we are. As followers of Jesus, we need to know where we are positionally. Paul makes this clear in Romans 6 where he writes about the reality and the necessity of being dead to sin, and alive in Christ. (See Romans 6:1-5).

Being in Christ, is positional. We are, as followers of Jesus, positioned in Christ by his righteousness. So that when God the Father looks at us, he sees us covered by the righteousness of Christ.

So how do we live from that position? How do we abide in Christ?

John 15 gives us two critical ways of abiding in Christ.

The first way is found in John 15 verse 3 and 7, in verse 7 Jesus said, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

Here we have an instruction and a promise. The instruction is to abide in the word (See Psalm 119:11). His words are to remain in us. We are to keep them in our lives, to build our lives upon them, to be obedient to them. When we take time to meditate on God’s word, to listen to God, to reflect on it and allow it to instruct us, we strengthen our ‘abiding’ with Jesus. As we do this, we become more aware of our position, who we really are as children of God.

As we meditate and feed on the the written word of God, the Holy Spirit in us, takes the word and makes it come alive and active, making it the Rhema word of God to us. As Hebrews 4:12 says, “… discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart”

Secondly, we abide by obeying His Commands (John 15:10).

Jesus says in these verses that through obedience we remain in his love. This is not obedience out of duty or law, rather as we grow in our love and knowledge of Jesus, we desire to do what he wants us to do, and we naturally find Joy in obedience. Jesus wants us to experience the fullness of his joy in this life, and an essential part of this is found in keeping his commandments.

So how can we know that we are abiding in Christ? What is the fruit that Jesus talks about in John 15:5?

There are several different kinds of spiritual fruit named in the Bible.

We bear fruit when we win others to Christ. As we grow in holiness and obedience, we bear fruit of the evidence of the presence of God. We have the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22–23). The kind of Christian character that glorifies God and makes Christ real to others.

Along with producing healthy fruit there is the pruning (See John 15:1-2).

Jesus is the true vine, and the Father is the Vinedresser. The Vinedresser must prune the branches to keep the vineyard healthy. We don’t like that, and when we are pruned, we sometimes get angry at God. He may remove things from our lives that we like, things that we think are essential, but God knows they are holding us back from producing more fruit. Any sin (dead branches) in our lives will be dealt with by God because of His love for us.

Sometimes God removes seemingly good things in our lives for us to become more fruitful.

What is God pruning in your life today?

What is the fruit that Jesus is producing in your life as you are abiding in him?

Sermon Sunday April 3, 2022 – Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life.

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We live in a time of fear and uncertainty, and the Bible is filled with relatable accounts of ordinary people wrestling with doubt and fear. The disciples of Jesus were thrown into confusion and doubt as Jesus began to explain to them what was going to happen as they celebrated the Passover meal. A night of celebration turned into a night of uncertainty and then terror as Jesus was arrested.

However, in chapter 14 Jesus begins by encouraging the disciples saying, “Do not let your hearts be troubled”. How would they do this? Jesus continued in the rest of verse 1, “…you believe in God; believe also in me.” In other words, “trust me, like you trust God.”

Jesus continues to build their faith as he says in verse 6, “…I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Jesus is clear that he is the only way. This is not widely accepted today, even in many so-called Christian circles. But Jesus is the only Son of God, who rose from the dead. Jesus Christ is the only way to be restored to a right relationship with God, the creator of Heaven and Earth. Wealth, fame, achievements, and good works are not good enough to bridge the divide caused by sin. The only thing that matters is our relationship with the living savior Jesus Christ (See Acts 4:12).

Jesus comforts his disciples by saying, “I am the way, the truth and life”.

  • Jesus is the way

Sadly, many people today are on the wrong path, and the result is deadly (See Proverbs 14:12). Jesus does not simply teach about the way to go; Jesus is the way.

We all get lost when we think that our way is the right way. Our pride causes us to persist along a path that ends up destroying us.

We are driven by various appetites, ambition, fear, desire for recognition and instead of changing direction when we realize our error, we push harder thinking it will ultimately lead to success. But ultimately, if it is not the perfect path that Jesus has for you, it will only cause pain. Jesus offers us a better way in Matthew 11:28-30. Jesus is the way to peace, freedom from addictions and a life of purpose.

Are you living a life that follows Jesus as the way? Or are you making your own way, hoping for the best.

  • Jesus is the truth

Truth is a regularly debated word in our culture. Is truth fixed? Many in our culture will argue that there is no such thing as objective truth, but by making that statement, they are making an objective statement. Daily we are inundated with information that claims to be factual, but is it really?

Jesus is truth and it leads us to peace (see Isaiah 26:3). What is your mind fixed on? What consumes your thoughts? Paul encourages us to, “Take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

We do this by aligning our thoughts with the Word of God and meditating on the Truth (see Philippians 4:8). The truth isn’t an opinion, truth is a person, and his name is Jesus. And truth is found in his Word, which can set us free from the lies that we believe.

In the building industry, a true wall is one that follows a plumbline.  A true line does not deviate from its path. Jesus is true in that he is the exact representation of God the Father (see John 14:9). Not only does Jesus reveal the truth of God to us, he displays the nature and Character of God.

As Christians we are to be people of the truth, people so aligned with Jesus that we are known for our integrity and honesty, even when it costs (see Ephesians 4:25).

  • Jesus is the life.

Unless Jesus returns, we will all experience a physical death. However, through Jesus we no longer have to fear death, because he defeated the grave.

But there are other deaths that we experience. Sometimes we experience the death of hope or dreams that we held.  Even though we pray and cry out to God, we don’t see the miracle we are praying for.

Some are dying because they have allowed the enemy to steal their joy, killing their peace and contentment.  

There are some whose marriage seems like it’s dying. Some see the death of a close relationship; Satan has slowly eaten away at the relationship and now it is dying.

But Jesus came to give us life, which means there’s nothing that’s dead or seems dead that he can’t bring back to life because the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in you (see 1 Peter 1:3).

The Bible is a book all about life; in the Garden of Eden, we read about the tree of life, in the book of revelation we read about the river of the water of life flowing from the throne of God. And between those two books, the other 64 books are the history of life. Unfortunately, today we have Christians who do not fully realize this life.  The degree to which we as the church are fully alive in Christ, determines our effectiveness of bringing life and salvation to our community. Being led by the spirit we will be truly alive in Christ, and as a result, our community will be changed for the glory of God.

Are you truly alive in Christ? Or are you going through life just getting by, but numbed by the cares and entertainment of the world?

Thomas A Kempis wrote,without the way there is no going; without the truth there is no knowing; without the life there is no living”. Are you truly living?

Unfortunately, many people make the mental decision to agree with the gospel message, but then slip back into a state of passivity. What a waste of a life that has unlimited potential in Christ! Sadly, many people are trying so hard to stay alive, yet they are spiritually dead. Don’t be so in love with this world and the temporary things of this world that you slowly stop living for God.

Sermon Sunday March 27, 2022 – I am the Good Shepherd – John 10:1-15

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In John 10 verse 11, Jesus called himself, the Good Shepherd, contrasting himself to a hired hand who simply cares for the sheep to get paid. Then Jesus called the Pharisees, “hired hands” in verse 12.

Jesus continues (verse 11 and 15) to say that the Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. To those listening, a shepherd was supposed to be brave and fight off wild animals, but dying for the sheep was a tragedy and not the intention of the shepherd.

In John 10, Jesus stated five times that he was going to lay down his own life, and Jesus clearly affirmed the sacrificial nature of His death. He did not die as a martyr, he died as a substitute, willingly laying down his life for us. Remember how John the Baptist identified Jesus when he met him (see John 1:29).

Furthermore in John 10:14 Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.” How well do you know Jesus?

When we think of Jesus as the Good Shepherd many of us think of Psalm 23. It is a wonderful Psalm, but utterly meaningless if you don’t know the Shepherd personally. When you go to church or open the Bible, do you simply want to know about God, or do you desire to know Him personally. This is the personal relationship that Jesus offers us.  

Because God knows our natures, He also knows our needs before we are even aware of them. As the shepherd cares for the sheep, the sheep get to know their shepherd better. The Good Shepherd knows His sheep and His sheep know Him. They get to know Him better by listening to His voice (the Word) and experiencing His daily care.

There are three important aspects between the Shepherd and his sheep.

1: The Shepherd knows his sheep.

The Bible describes close relationships between shepherds and their flocks (See John 10:14-15a). There is an intimacy and a closeness of relationship between Jesus and his followers. Jesus goes on to say in John 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me…”

In the Gospel of John, the word “know” means much more than intellectual awareness. It speaks of an intimate relationship between God and His people. The shepherd knows each of his sheep personally and therefore knows best how to care for them.

How is your relationship with Jesus? Do you listen for his voice daily? Are you following him as he leads you besides still waters? This is the normal Christian life.

Christ, as the Good Shepherd, knows his sheep perfectly. There is nothing about you that he does not know, from the most obvious to what you think is the most hidden, he knows it all!

Spend a few minutes reading and meditating on Psalm 139:1-4. Verse 4 says, “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.”

He doesn’t just know it after I say it, he knows it before I say it. Who else would we want to know us this well but the one who promises to be with us, to hem us in, to safeguard us, and to minister to us in our weakness? (Psalm 139:5).

Wherever I go, Christ is with me. He surrounds me and never abandons me, because he knows me. He knows that I am weak, and that I need the good shepherd. He gently cares for us and deals with us according to our need.

2: The Good Shepherd Protects His Sheep.

Jesus willingly died in order to save us. It is through his sacrifice that we are protected.

D.A. Carson wrote, “The shepherd does not die for his sheep to serve as an example, throwing himself off a cliff in a grotesque and futile display, while bellowing, ‘See how much I love you!’ No, the assumption is that the sheep are in mortal danger; that in their defense, the shepherd loses his life; and that by his death (and only by his death) could they be saved. This is what makes him the good shepherd above all else: he willingly dies for his sheep, to protect them.”

Normally, if a shepherd dies, the flock is abandoned to wild animals. There is no-one to protect them. So it is never a good thing for the shepherd to die.

In contrast Jesus, as the Good Shepherd, knows that if he does not die, his flock will be abandoned. Jesus is intentional about the sacrifice he offers. Jesus said in both verses 11 and 14, “I lay down my life for the sheep.” A shepherd may be willing to sacrifice his life, but Jesus doesn’t just say that he’s willing. He’s planning and pursuing it. It was his knowledge of what we needed and his willingness to meet that need that led to his death.

It wasn’t the power of Satan or even the Roman Empire, but the authority of the Son, that leads him to lay down his life, so that he might take it up again for us.

3: The Good Shepherd Provides for His Sheep

In Genesis 22 Isaac was spared and God provided a ram to be the sacrifice (see Genesis 22:14). We are introduced to God as our provider. A foreshadowing of the time when the Good Shepherd would lay down his life for his sheep.

It is still true today that the Good Shepherd is providing for his sheep even in the midst of the multiple crises that the world is facing. Our Good Shepherd sees us and provides for us.  

The last verse of Psalm 23 says, “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life…” God’s goodness is guaranteed for all our days.

God is still providing manna and multiplying food for the multitudes (see Philippians 4:19). The Lord knows what you need even before you do. Goodness and mercy follow you all the days of your life: it’s a promise that’s evidenced in his great provision in sacrificing himself for us. He provides for us now and will provide for you forevermore.

Do you know the Good Shepherd?

Sermon Sunday March 13, 2022 – I AM the Light of the World.

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I am the light of the World – John 8:12

Let’s be honest, we have all been afraid of the dark at some point in our lives. Clinical Psychologist Alicia Clark said, “We are not as afraid of the dark as we are afraid of what is in the dark that we can’t see.”

That’s why this “I AM” declaration of Jesus is so powerful, …” I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Jesus provides light where there is darkness like a flashlight or lantern, so we know we are not alone. Jesus also shines a light for us along the path of life, directing us as we go.

But there is so much more to this statement. We read in John’s introduction to the Gospel, “In him was life and that life was the light of all mankind” (John 1:4). The first few verses of John chapter 1 point us to Genesis 1 and in verse 3 we read, “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”

Jesus, the very source of light, said “Let there be light” at creation. Now, he’s saying it again, “Let there be light.” This time he’s depositing that light into us who believe.

During the second world war, the people in Britain would set lights out in the field so that the German bombers would bomb the lights in empty fields thinking they were hitting a factory or town. The light didn’t need a sign telling the pilots that they were there, they testified for themselves.

Light bears witness to itself, it tells you it is there, and Jesus told the Pharisees this in John 8:14. Jesus didn’t need another witness, he gave witness and God the Father gave witness to them through His word (see John 5:37-38).

How tragic that these experts in the Law did not even know their own Messiah as he stood before them! They claimed to know the Law of God, but they did not know the God of the Law. They did not have His Word abiding in their hearts. They saw the light of Jesus but did not acknowledge it or believe in him.

To be a follower of Jesus, is to believe in him, to submit to his lordship over your life and have the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. As a result, we become Christ’s ambassadors, we become the lights of the world, representing Christ.

In the sermon on the mount, in Matthew 5, Jesus said to his disciples that they were the light of the world (see Matthew 5:14-16). The problem with many so called “Christians” is that they compartmentalize their lives. They are Sunday Christians, but during the week, they are far from Christ’s ambassadors. They do not shine the light of Christ before their co-workers or even their families.

You will not be able to shine the light of Christ to those around you unless you truly have an encounter with the living God.

In Exodus 34, we see that Moses’ face shone, it radiated light from spending forty days on top of mount Sinai in the presence of God when he received the law for the Children of Israel. You might say, “well, that is Moses, he was in the presence of God, naturally his face shone.” But those who are true followers of Jesus have an even better position with God. In Ephesians 2:6 we read, And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,”

We have to remember that we have the Holy Spirit, and we have the privilege to enter into the presence of God. That is why it is crucial to set aside a daily time with the Lord in prayer, and his word. As you do, the world notices, you shine because, like Moses, you have been with the Father. Does your life shine with the light of Christ? This is what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 5:14-16.

Jesus places his light into us who believe, and his light source is actually life. The light of Jesus in us is life that will keep us living for eternity. The light is also to be dispersed from us to produce good works that will bring glory to God.

What does John 8:12 mean for you today? “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

We all face darkness and uncertainty in our lives. In fact, the greatest epidemic in the world today is not COVID, it is fear. Fear and uncertainty are all around us. Just ask your neighbor or co-worker. The media fuels this and the marketing companies feed on this. They know that if they can tap into your fears, they can take advantage of you. Fear is formed in the darkness of uncertainty.

Jesus said, “…whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” John 8:12b. If you claim to be a follower of Jesus, but you are overwhelmed by fear and uncertainty, either you don’t know who you are in Christ or you aren’t a true follower of the one who is the light of the world.

Ephesians 5 we read, “But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:13-14.

Allow the light of Christ to shine on you and through you to a lost and dying world.