Sermon Sunday June 26, 2022 – Who is Jesus?

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What is the most important question you will ever have to answer? Life is all about questions, asking and answering questions.

The most important question you will ever have to answer is, “Who is Jesus?” There is no other question that comes close.

In 1 John 2, John warns his readers that we are in the last hour and that the world has many Antichrists.

The word, “antichrist”, has a way of stirring up fear and wild speculation. What are these antichrists, and what do they do?

In the text today, John gives us three keys to help us recognize and defeat these enemies of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

  1. Antichrists Attack Christ (1 John 2:18).

The word “antichrist” means “against Christ” or “in the place of Christ.”

John writes at the beginning and the end of verse 18, “it is the last hour.” This means the entire period of time between when Jesus walked the earth and when he comes back again (See Acts 2:16-17 and Hebrews 1:1-2).

The phrase, “the last hour”, creates a sense of urgency that this world is temporary. We live in the age when the antichrists are active. This activity opposing Christ will increase until the Antichrist comes; the primary representative of Satan himself. Jesus spoke about the time we live in in Matthew 24:4-5.  

As we see the Gospel going out to the nations, we are seeing incredible things happening on the mission field as millions are coming to know Christ as Lord, at the same time Satan has his missionaries, these antichrists, and they are also going out into the world and into churches.

In 1 John 2:22, he makes plain what the spirit of antichrist is all about: “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.”

The strategy of Satan and his demons is deception. They don’t directly oppose Jesus, they redefine him.

  • They will say, “he is good, but he is not God”.
  • They will say, “He may be a son of God, but He is not the Son of God.”
  • They will say, “He may have died on the cross as a martyr, but He did not die as a Savior.”

The spirit of antichrist always diminishes the person and work of Jesus. If Jesus wasn’t God, then his death and resurrection would have no power over sin. The core of Christianity is Jesus, his person and his work as the eternal son of God. If we get this wrong, then everything else in our faith falls apart.

The apostle John makes it clear that there is a difference between the many antichrists who are already here and have been around for centuries, and the one Antichrist who is coming at the very end of the age. This man will have such power and charisma that the whole world will follow him (Revelation 13:2-4).

2: Antichrists Abandon the Church (1 John 2:19).

The greatest threat to the church comes from within the church. Satan plants antichrists in the church and uses them to subtly persuade the church that Jesus is not really who he claims to be. When these antichrists leave the church, they leave a trail of pain and sometimes even take captives with them who have been deceived.

There are some who share [for a while] our earthly company who do not share our heavenly birth” Alistair Begg.

Now let me be clear, not everyone who leaves a church is an antichrist, there are many different reasons why people come and go in the modern church.

But sometimes when people leave it is because they were never really saved. They never had a personal relationship with Jesus as Lord. Breaking fellowship could indicate a defective faith (see 1 John 3:9).

3: Antichrists Assault the Christian

We can easily get discouraged and confused about who to believe. The antichrists, people who teach against the person and work of Jesus are all around us. These people have influence, they are intellectually very strong, and it is hard to even wrap our minds around some of their deceptive arguments. John makes it clear that these antichrists are committed to defeating the church. But we have the promise of 1 John 4:4.

John reminds his readers that we have a two-pronged weapon to defeat Satan’s plans. We have the anointing and the indwelling Holy Spirit, and we have the Word of God (1 John 2:20-21 and 27).

The apostle Paul calls this the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God in Ephesians 6:17.

In verse 20, John emphatically says, “…you have been anointed by the Holy One…”  it is a promise and refers to the promised Holy Spirit.

As followers of Jesus, we are consecrated and set apart by God and for God by the Holy Spirit, we now have an internal and abiding Teacher who will guide us in all knowledge and truth. As we abide in him, we will not be misled by false teaching.

The teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit does not involve revelation of new truth. Rather, it is the revelation of the written Word of God to us. In verse 24, John challenges the believer to simply remain in the teaching of Christ. To abide and remain in this teaching is to abide and remain in both the Son and the Father.

There is not any additional thing you need. Jesus plus something extra equals heresy and the teachings of the antichrist.

Jesus is the center of Christianity. He does not stand and point to a way; he is the way!

This is what the Bible teaches and what the holy spirit affirms.

Do you know the Word? Are you abiding in the Word by the Holy Spirit? If not, you are at risk of being deceived.

Who do you say Jesus is?  Is he Lord of your life?

Mission Tahlequah report back. June 19, 2022

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Every Mission trip is different and this one was especially special. This one had so many unique stories that it is going to take all of us quite some time to process all that God did in and through us.

Thank you so much for all who contributed in finances to enable others to go. It was such an incredible blessing to see the Lord provide as He always does.

We began the mission by driving up to an overlook over the city and prayed together for the city and the people that we would be meeting during the week. As we were sitting there, the Lord took me to 2 Corinthians 2:14-17, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”

As we prayed over the city of Tahlequah, I felt the impact of years of lies spoken over these people. Lies of manipulation and fear, promising them wealth and prosperity, but never delivering. Lies of centuries of belief in ancestral worship.

As I was praying about this, I was reminded of Isaiah 59:14, Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.”

Truth has been removed from the public square in Tahlequah and in America. We must remember that truth is a person. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). As missionaries we are representatives of the truth.

The Lord sent us with a commission as verse 17 says. We came to the city and region around Tahlequah with an authority to proclaim the truth of God’s word, Commissioned by God.

We spread the fragrance of the aroma of Christ as we knocked on doors and met people in the streets. Some people were drawn to us. Drawn into conversation, like Robert who was sitting in his hot car in the middle of the day. He had just moved from California and has been told “you can live here as long as you like, but you will never belong.” It was a joy to be able to share with him the hope of eternal life and connect him with a local church family who would love him and treat him like family.

Then there were others who closed the door and hid behind the blinds of the windows.

We walked out verse 14 and had the joy of seeing lives impacted for eternity.

I asked the mission team to answer two questions on our final evening debrief; what did God show you this week? And what are you going to commit to doing moving forward?

Our son Joshua has many challenges in life, including autism, a brain injury from epilepsy and prolonged seizures in Kindergarten, anxiety, sensory processing disorder, etc. He really has intense struggles that I cannot relate to. On several occasions he was pushed way beyond his comfort zone and had some very tough moments.

When it was Joshua’s time to answer, he said the following: “God showed me that when I feel anxious, I am able to push through and keep going” I cannot tell you how much of a miracle that is. Then he said, “I commit to being a bold witness for God to introduce people to the Kingdom of God”. 

That was the best Father’s Day gift I could have received!

God sent us to a nation within a nation, the people of the Cherokee. I love the different people groups God has created. I love seeing different aspects of Gods character and nature as we fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ who have a different culture.

I was blessed to sit down to lunch with Tommy Flute. He began telling me how ten years ago the Lord set him free from twenty-five years of alcohol addiction. He is now a worship leader in his Church. He is one of only 1900 people who speak Cherokee as a first language.

In the early 1800’s a Cherokee man Sequoyah, developed the Cherokee syllabary a form of script consisting of 86 symbols that became the “alphabet” for the Cherokee people. The first book translated was the New Testament which became the first book for reading and study in the school system. As a result of keeping the Bible as their foundation, the Cherokee advanced far beyond other native American tribes. It is a powerful testimony to the life transforming – nation transforming, power of the Word of God.

I pray that we as a nation of many nations would once more place the Word of God as our foundation.

Sermon, Sunday June 5, 2022 – Do Not Love the World.

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1 John 4 teaches that God is love, but the Bible also teaches that there are some things that God hates and so should we (See Psalm 5:5-6, Proverbs 6:16-19, Revelation 2:6).

As we see in John 2, God hates the love of the world. When we become Christians, we no longer view this world as our home. Rather, we are looking forward to an eternal home with the Lord. If we truly believe this, then why would we give our time, energy, finances, and passions to temporary things that directly oppose God.

As we surrender, God not only takes us into His kingdom, but He also brings us into His family. John uses three terms to identify the people he is writing to in verses 12-14: Children, Fathers and Young Men.

The term children refers to new believers, the fathers are the mature believers who have been following the Lord for many years, and the young men are the maturing believers who are pursuing God with passion and fervor.

In verse 12, John addresses those newer believers and encourages them with the good news of their forgiven sins. Isn’t it great to know that our sins are forgiven?

Next, John addresses the spiritual fathers and mothers who have been walking with the Lord for many years. When we become Christians, we begin a journey that leads to a growing relationship with God our Father. John repeats this in verse 14 to emphasize the importance of growing in our knowledge of our Heavenly Father. We grow in this knowledge and relationship through life experiences, challenges, and trials.

Then John addresses the people who are growing in their passion and zeal for the things of God. These people are young in the faith, maturing, and fighting hard in spiritual warfare. They are strong because the word of God abides in them.

It is important to remember that we don’t overcome the attacks of Satan by our own hard work or efforts, we rest on the completed work of Jesus on the cross. Satan loves to tempt us and hurl accusations at us regarding our past, but our debt has been paid, in Christ there is no more condemnation (Romans 8:1).

These young warriors are abiding in the word of God and as a result they are strong in the face of temptation and trials.  

Sadly, many Christians never grow up and remain as children because they do not have the discipline to read, meditate, and feed on the Word of God.

In the following three verses John warns his readers about the “World”. What he is referring to is a worldview and a way of life that is led by Satan and his demons. Following the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes and the pride of possessions. This is a worldview that leaves God out of our thinking and decisions. Chasing after temporary things while ignoring eternal things.

These verses encourage us to reject anything that goes against God’s word and anything that we would value more than God. That would be an idol in our lives. Worldliness means living only to please our flesh and pursuing the desire of our eyes. This is a life pursuing temporal pleasure and will never satisfy.  

John highlights three things the world promises but cannot deliver:

1: The World Cannot Give You What You Need (1 John 2:15).

Everyone of us has a God given need to love and to be loved. But the object of our love needs to be in the right order for us to experience peace. If we choose to love the world, we are choosing to not love God and we will never be fulfilled.

2: The World Cannot Give You What It Promises (1 John 2:16).

This is one of the most important verses in the Bible. It identifies three weapons Satan uses to seduce men and women away from God. These same three weapons Satan used in the Garden of Eden to tempt Adam and Eve.

Genesis 3:6 says, “Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food [lust of the flesh] and delightful to look at [lust of the eyes], and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom [the pride of life].”

The same three weapons were used by Satan when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness in Luke 4. And today Satan still uses the same three weapons against the followers of Jesus. They are effective, because we don’t recognize them and resist them by the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.

  • The desires (lust) of the flesh appeal to our appetites.

“Desires” means cravings, lust, or passion. The word desire is neutral, but the object of our desire is what determines whether such desires are good or bad. It is important to realize that we are not sinful because we sin. Instead, we sin because we are sinful.

  • The desire of the eyes appeals to our affections.

Our eyes, like our natural desire, are not evil (Proverbs 20:12), however, the eyes are windows to the soul by which sinful desires enter.  In 2 Samuel 11, David was led to adultery and murder because of what he allowed his eyes to see.

  • Pride in possessions appeals to our ambitions.

Pride is an unhealthy self-image, boasting and arrogance to impress others. The “Pride of possessions” or “pride of life” speaks of the person who glorifies himself rather than God.

If you think that you don’t fall into this category, just spend a few moments thinking about how much time and energy you spend trying to earn a few extra dollars or gain that next promotion or buy that nice car or phone. We are all prone to stumbling in this area as in the others because of our human nature.

But there is a better way to live, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you” 1 Peter 5:6.  

3: The World Cannot Give You What Will Last (1 John 2:17).

We have two opposing worlds to give our lives to, why would we give our lives to something that is temporary and an illusion. Why would we give our lives to the temporary deception of Satan’s world that leads only to death? The only life that produces eternal fruit, is a life that is committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and living to do the will of God.

One of the saddest stories in the Bible concerns a man by the name of Demas. In Colossians 4, we read that he is faithfully serving alongside Luke for the Gospel ministry. However much later in 2 Timothy 4:10, the Apostle Paul writes these tragic words, “Demas has deserted me, because he loved this present world.”

The history of Christianity is filled with people who have followed in the path of Demas. Don’t live for the temporal and lose out on the eternal.

What are you pursuing in life?

Peace Through Pain. Sunday May 29, 2022

It is Memorial Day, a day filled with family and friends gathered around a grill and enjoying the smells of meat cooking and the sound of children playing. But this year, it feels different as we wrestle with the tragedy of the past week.

It is impossible to wrap our minds around the senseless horror of nineteen fourth-grade children who are missing from the family meal table today. As a church family we spent some time in silence yesterday, praying for the families and friends who have lost loved ones in Uvalde Texas this past week. We must pray that the Prince of Peace and Wonderful Counselor will be near to those who are mourning today.

In this world, we are surrounded by pain and grief at every turn, and sometimes it becomes overwhelming. Many people look for a way to escape the pain and turn to substances or other forms of addictions.

When I am overwhelmed by the hurt in this world, I turn to the promise of Jesus in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

The Greek word for “tribulation”, could also mean, “distress”. The world around us will cause us to be distressed, troubled and many times confused, Jesus said it would be so. But we have the enduring promise from our Lord and Savior, “in me you may have peace.”

Memorial Day is a day when we remember those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedoms that we enjoy. Throughout the generations, there have been hundreds of thousands of people who have faced the grief and distress of losing a loved one on the battlefield. Their lives are changed forever in an instant as they begin the process of grieving.

The words of Jesus are not a well-worn platitude, rather, it still carries immeasurable power and hope. However, this promise of peace is only available to those who find their comfort in Christ. To be in Christ is to have a personal relationship with Jesus as Lord. Jesus was speaking these words to his disciples as he was preparing them for his crucifixion and ultimate departure.

In the same chapter Jesus encourages his disciples that he must go in order for the Holy Spirit, the Helper and Comforter, to come to them. This same Holy Spirit is in all who truly follow Jesus and he is praying for us when we don’t know what to pray as Paul writes in Romans 8:26, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

As we see the Day of the Lord approaching, it is certain that we will also see an increase in pain and suffering (distress), in the world. We will be exposed to it and we will also experience it, however we have the promise of Jesus that we will be able to know his peace through the distress.

Do you need peace today?

Place your faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and lean on his unbreakable promises.

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!