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?

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.

Sermon, Sunday January 23 2022 – ASK Part 2

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Before You Ask

James 4:1-10

When my son Joshua wants to ask me for something that he knows I might not want to give him, he uses a lot of strategy and downright emotional manipulation. He is a master of the ask. He prepares me for the question, softens me up and then when he thinks the moment is right, he makes his case.

Sometimes as children of God, we think we must prepare God for our ask. But I would propose rather that we need to prepare ourselves before we ask God for what we want.

God is not a mean vindictive father who withholds blessings until we get our act together. Matthew 7:11 says, “…how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

But, what does it mean to prepare ourselves to ask God? I am talking about the personal pursuit of holiness and purity that we are all called to as followers of Jesus.

James was dealing with conflict in the church as a result of the people embracing sinful lifestyles (see James 4:1). Some of the members of the church in Jerusalem were seeking pleasure by running after things which they thought would bring them joy. Things that were contrary to the perfect will of God.

God designed us to enjoy things and to find pleasure in things, so that is not wrong, but the driving desire for pleasure that is selfish is the problem. Looking to the world to satisfy what only God can, leads to dissatisfaction, pain, and broken lives. This is the result of a prayerless and selfish lifestyle.

The battle for holiness is fought in the mind. How healthy are the thoughts you entertain?

In verse 4, James exposes that as Christians, we have a singular allegiance, and that is to Christ alone. He calls our friendship with the world as spiritual adultery.

What are the affections of your heart? Do you find yourself thinking about; sexually immoral things, the accumulation of possessions, a certain addiction you entertain, how to manipulate people or situations for your own personal gain? Do you entertain sin by the movies you watch, the music you listen to or the places you go to?

Some may say that I am being old fashioned and that we need to stay away from challenging people’s moral decisions. But God’s requirement for holiness has never changed, and as James tells us, by accommodating these things, we are making ourselves enemies of God. You are making yourself the enemy of the one who gave His son for your salvation. It is time that we challenged each other in the area of purity.

We pray for revival, and historically a revival is a move of God that is characterized by repentance and people crying out to God for mercy as they were made aware their sins.

The question is, do we want this? Or are we comfortable and satisfied with weak and ineffectual Christian lives? We are no different to the world, we don’t take holiness seriously, we don’t take sin seriously. We fear man more than we fear God.

When we entertain sin in our lives and in the lives of the people around us, we are making ourselves the enemy of God. Sin is never personal; it affects all those around us. There are no private sins. When we entertain sin, we cheapen the grace of God, and we grieve the Holy Spirit.

But there is good news! As followers of Jesus filled with His spirit, when we fall and run after the pleasures that are contrary to the will of God for our lives, we are still greatly loved by our Heavenly Father. He is jealous for us, and He yearns for us to return to him.

When we sin, God does not stop loving us as that would be contrary to His nature. When we sin, God’s love for us is on full display. He reaches towards us to prevent us from hurting ourselves.

The root of all sin is pride, and that is where we need to start. We need to be humble and repent of our sins. Here is the amazingly good news of the Gospel, God offers us salvation freely and he offers his grace freely to grow in humility (James 4:6).

With humility as our starting point, we see a list of remedies for our sin in the following verses. James gives a prescription for our struggle with sin. It is only by the grace of God, but as we follow this prescription, we will know joy, peace, power, and freedom in our Christian lives.

The prescription is found in verses 7 -10, Submit yourself to God, resist the devil, draw near to God (meditating on His word and time in prayer and worship), cleanse your hands (repent of your sins), purify your heart (Psalm 51:10), mourn and weep, humble yourself.

Finally, we come to the closing phrase of verse 10, “and He will exalt you”

We must be careful; this is not an exalting in the way we would exalt a hero or a sports star. James means that after you have humbled yourself, repented and mourned over your sin, then He will lift you up. He will restore your identity. He will restore your standing before the throne of grace. Then you will live and thrive, living from your identity of who you are in Christ.

When we are not humble and in a right relationship with God, we are not going to ask for things that are on God’s heart, the things that are good for us.

Once we prepare our hearts and minds, once we humble ourselves and repent, only then will we know the perfect will of God and we will want what He wants.

What area of your life is God inviting you to deal with today?

Sermon, Sunday October 3, 2021 – Worship

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What if everything you treasured was suddenly taken away, what or who would you miss the most? Would you agree that what you value determines how you make most decisions?

The definition of worship is ascribing value to something. When we worship God, we are saying that we value Him above everything else (Romans 12:1). We are to present all that we are and all that we have to God. This is the worship God requires of us. Worship is way more than singing songs.

500 years ago, John Calvin stated that the human heart is an idol factory. Isn’t it true that even saved people have a tendency towards idolatry as we value other things above God?

When we do not value God, we value other things, football, cars, careers, houses, celebrities, relationships and many other things. When we give these things greater value than God, we worship them, and we suffer the consequences of giving our affections to temporary things.

In Romans 1:18, Paul writes that the wrath of God is being revealed against those who have chosen to ignore Him and pursue sin. This is not some future event; it is a present reality. In fact, we can see all around us in the state of the world that God is punishing sin. God is pouring out His wrath on people, who do not acknowledge Him as God. But in our weak understanding of the holiness of God, we protest and say, “that is unfair”.

Romans 1:19-20 explains that no-one has an excuse for not acknowledging God, as He constantly reveals Himself through the general revelation of creation (Psalm 19:1). Every person who has ever lived, knows that there is a God, and has an awareness of his majesty and transcendence.

The problem is that we live in a fallen world, and we are given to Satan’s lies over the truth. Idolatry is worshipping other things, replacing the truth with a counterfeit. Mankind is prone to distort the truth of God, reshaping Him into our own image.

Our post-modern world has created a god of our own preferences. We are a nation and a world of people who in essence worship ourselves rather than the one true God. This is the root of humanism. In order to ignore God, there needs to be suppression of the truth (Romans 1:18). A determined and intentional holding down of the truth for mankind to live in sin. Whenever we willfully sin, we have to suppress the Holy Spirit’s voice in our lives.

Mankind is guilty of suppressing the truth today so that they can live their lives without the demands of an all-holy God, and the result is suffering and destruction.

Calvin used the analogy of a blindfold when saying, “mankind chooses to put on a blindfold and then we stumble around cursing the darkness.”

Paul lists the results of idolatry in Romans 1:21-22. Mankind knows that there is a creator but has chosen not to thank or acknowledge Him. The result is a futility of thinking, an aimless existence running after temporary pleasures, leading to a foolish heart. You don’t have to look further than the evening news to see the truth of verse 22, “Claiming to be wise, they became fools”.

In contrast to this, true worship that honors and values God above all else leads to a heart filled with thanksgiving. Worshipping God gives us purpose for life as our hearts are softened to the perfect will of God for our lives.

The reality is that there is a very short step from idolatry towards immorality. If man has become his own god, then he determines what is good and he lives to please his own desires. Sadly, even in our church family, we don’t value God enough to gather and worship Him. The moment something else comes along that is more pressing, a sports game, homework, or the comfort of the pillow or the couch, we value that more than we value God. We prefer other things; we worship other things.

It is time that the church gets serious about where our allegiance lies as individuals and as the church. This is not a season for comfortable Christianity. We are in a war and the enemy wants to prevent us from gathering and encouraging one another.

In verse 24 onwards we see the results of living a life of idol worship. Three times we read, “God gave them up,” in verses 24, 26 and 28. Mankind has decided to ignore God and in turn God steps back and allows man to walk into sin and error.

This is one of the clearest passages in scripture that speaks to the sin of homosexuality. It seems that homosexuality and the rise of the LGBT movement seems to be more prevalent than ever before. Who would have thought that we would have a month of the year given over to the celebration of sin? However as we look back and see that over the last fifty years, the post-modern world has rejected God, and God has given the world over to sin.

In verse 28 we see that mankind’s abandonment to sin leads to a debased or a depraved mind.  Paul lists twenty-one specific sinful behaviors, all of which are commonplace in our communities. We tend to focus on the “bad” sins of murder and the like, but what about the sins of gossip, slander, and envy for example? Sadly, these are all prevalent in the church because we are not worshipping God as we ought to. We can never worship God in Spirit and in truth and gossip at the same time.

We don’t grasp the importance and the power of a worshipping church, and we don’t fully understand worship. Worship is not simply singing songs. There are many people who come to church every week but never worship.

When we realize that we are in a war and that the only way to win the battle is by true worship by truly giving honor to God, we will begin to worship. And worship always wins (see 2 Chronicles 20).

What are you struggling with today? Try valuing God above all things. Worship God.

Sermon Sunday June 20 2021 – Are you a Follower or and Observer?

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Mountain top experiences part 9
Luke 23:21-49

Calvary is the mountain top encounter that all the others point to. This little hill just outside Jerusalem, is the peak on which all of human history pivots. During the Roman empire, this was the place where criminals were executed by the most inhumane method of crucifixion.

As we look at the various people who witnessed the death of Jesus, I want to challenge you by saying that on that day, Jesus had only one follower. There were many observers but only one follower. Looking at your life today, are you a follower or are you an observer?

As we read the account of the crucifixion, we subconsciously categorize people as guilty or innocent. The women were innocent, the soldiers were guilty, Pilate was confused and guilty, Simon of Cyrene was innocent, and the two criminals were both guilty, but one was saved.  

But the reality is that there was only one person innocent in the entire world, and that was Jesus. Luke does well to point this out in Luke 23 verses 22, 41 and 47.

Jesus was the only one who was sinless, and he died for all sinners (see Romans 3:22-23).

Everyone was impacted that day by the decisions they made and what they saw.

Pilate saw that Jesus was innocent and he tried to recuse himself (see Matthew 27:24).
He was a politician and a people pleaser. He did not have the character to stand by his convictions. But I wonder if I would have the courage to stand against the angry crowd on that day. He gave in to the pressure of the fear of man, and as a result he was guilty.

Simon of Cyrene was not involved in the crucifixion but was drawn in (Luke 23:26).He was a religious man from Libya who had travelled eight hundred miles to celebrate the Passover. Jesus was understandably exhausted and weakened by the beatings and interrogations, and could not carry the cross, so the crowd had this foreigner carry the cross.

There is a significant picture here, to carry your cross was a sign of guilt, it was perfectly ordained by God the Father that Jesus was not to carry his cross to the hill.I want to come back to Simon later in this article.

The rulers, soldiers and one of the criminals mocked Jesus. These religious leaders were the men who had studied the law and the prophets, the Old Testament, but they were blind to what they were doing. In verse 36, we read that the soldiers mocked him, getting drawn along by the crowd, they seemed to be enjoying the moment and teased Jesus. Even the dying criminal next to Jesus had energy left to mock and jeer at Jesus.

But then we come to the repentant criminal. His dialogue with Jesus is often used to explain the fact that we are saved by grace and not by works. There is nothing this criminal could do to earn his salvation, he simply asked Jesus to save him. But we can easily miss the tremendous faith that it took for him to ask Jesus to save him. He possibly had never seen Jesus before, we don’t know. But here in front of all the people, as he was dying, he declared that Jesus was the King of Kings. If you were drowning, would you ask a drowning man for help?

Here was a dying man, asking a dying man for help. A crazy idea, unless he really believed that Jesus was the son of God.

As Jesus died, we have a snapshot of a centurion. He was a hardened Roman soldier who had probably witnessed hundreds of crucifixions, but he had never seen anyone die like Jesus did. He knew that Jesus was innocent, and he gave glory to God.  He knew that he had just witnessed God in the flesh, and he was forever changed.

The people who were cheering the crucifixion were changed (Luke 23:48). They came to see a spectacle and to mock but left in fear and remorse. As they witnessed the spotless son of God dying, they became aware of their own sins and began grieving. How terrible and hopeless that must have felt for them.

Coming back to Simon, the man recruited to carry the cross. It is likely that what he saw that day, led him to be a Christian. In Mark 15:21 and Romans 16:13 we see that his sons were a part of the early church.

Carrying the cross changed Simon and, on that day, he was the only true follower of Jesus. He was walking out a prophetic picture of what it means to be a Christian. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Before Simon met Jesus, he was a religious Jew, going about his devotion. But to come to know Jesus, he had to leave behind his plans and his religion. He had to die to his plans and his ideas of what he wanted to do, and then he had to take up the cross of Jesus. Do you see the picture?

Matthew 16:24 is often misinterpreted. People often talk about a “cross” as a burden to carry, something like a chronic sickness or a thankless job, and we say, “it is my cross to bear”

But this is not what Jesus meant. In the 1st century, to carry your cross, was to walk to your death. It was a cruel and humiliating form of capital punishment. It wasn’t a temporary inconvenience.

Today we celebrate the cross as a symbol of our salvation and the love of God, but when Jesus said these words, it would have sounded a whole lot different.
To take up your cross is to completely abandon our plans and goals and submitting to the perfect will of God. This is the first step in being a follower of Jesus (see Luke 14:27).

Are you a follower of Jesus? Have you seen that radical change in your life? Or are you still the master of your own plan.

I can assure you that the only way to live in peace and have eternal salvation, is to be a follower of Jesus and not an observer.

Sermon, Sunday November 29, 2020 We are at War

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December 7, 1941, September 11 2001, April 15 2013. These dates will always be remembered as days when America was attacked by a foreign enemy. Dates when the distant war was brought close to home. But for the majority of people living in America in 2020, war is something that is glamorized in the movies or watched on the news from distant lands. The horror and the pain of war is not a reality that we are familiar with, and that is something to be thankful for this week as we celebrate Thanksgiving.

However, as Christians, we need to be reminded that we are on the frontlines of a real war with a vicious enemy who does not adhere to conventional rules of engagement. I am talking about the spiritual warfare that we are engaged in daily, whether we realize it or not.

Our enemy is an ancient one. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

Satan was the most beautiful and anointed of the angels (Ezekiel 28:11-19). But because of his pride, the root of all sin, he fell and was cast out by God (Isaiah 14:9-20). But Satan still has access to God, and he is the accuser (Revelation 12:10), the deceiver (2 Corinthians 11:3) and the destroyer (1 Peter 5:8–9). The enemy of our souls and the enemy of the church is powerful and real.

The Apostle Paul closed the letter to the Ephesians with an encouragement to stand firm against the enemy of our souls. He began the letter by teaching on our identity as children of God in chapters 1 to 3. Then he continues with instructions of how we are to live and walk in our new identity as followers of Jesus in chapters 4 to the first part of chapter 6. This final section is not simply a closing paragraph, but is rather the capstone of this incredible letter.

Many people claim to be Christians because they have gone through the motions of some religious tradition, but they are not aware of the spiritual forces of evil that surround us on a daily basis. The Bible is clear that as true children of God, we are in a war. We are in a daily battle of life and death. We are fighting for the lives of our children, our co-workers and our neighbors. We are at war against spiritual forces that have the primary objective of taking souls with them to hell.

But there is good news, this enemy is raging because he is already defeated. When Jesus died and rose again, the victory over Satan was accomplished (John 12:31 and John 16:11). The apostle Paul does not urge us to fight for victory, rather we are fighting from the victory that is already completed. Satan is described in the Bible as the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4). We live in a broken world, eagerly waiting for Jesus to come again and finally cast Satan and his demons into the eternal fire of Hell (Revelation 20:10). But until that time, we are called to stand firm.

The encouragement to stand firm is echoed through verses 11 to 14. The key to standing is found in verse 10, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” We are standing not in our own strength, but in the strength of the all-powerful God of the universe. He is our strength, His is the victory (Romans 8:37).

The Apostle Paul was keenly aware of his dependency on the strength of God, he embraced his weakness because he realized that this was the key to victory (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

If dependence is the objective, weakness becomes an advantage. Beware your strengths, not your weaknesses, because your strengths are those places you are most likely to forget God.” JD Greear

We are dependent on God for our salvation and for our daily strength to stand against the enemy. We do not fight for victory, rather we fight from victory.

The key to living the victorious Christian life is living from the first three chapters of Ephesians. If we are not sitting before Jesus in worship, knowing our identity and walking in that, we will never be able to stand against the attacks of the enemy. Only those who sit can stand.

Our spiritual warfare is defensive, standing firm on the ground that Jesus has already secured with his victory over sin and death. As we stand firm, we have been given a defensive armor as we will see in the following verses of Ephesians 6.

Satan primarily attacks believers through our thoughts and feelings. Our emotions and our will. As we sit at the feet of Jesus and know our true identity as children of God, we are able to stand firm against these attacks.

We need to have a paradigm shift in our approach to the attacks of the enemy of our souls. We frequently ask God to help us to defeat Satan in a certain area of our lives, but may I suggest a different way of praying. We need to pray, thanking God for the victory that Jesus has already won and ask Him for the strength to stand firm.

This requires faith. Praising God for the miracle of victory even before we experience it. When you feel oppressed and attacked by Satan and his demons, simply praise God for what He has done and thank Him for the victory. Allowing God then to bring about the experience of that reality.

What is our reality? Remember that we are seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). Our limited faith and weak flesh struggles to accept this reality and we somehow feel that we have to win battles that have already been won. We have been saved to declare the truth of our position, by being Christ’s ambassadors here in order to bring glory to God.

If only the modern church grasped the truth that we stand from a position of victory. The victory does not occur in the book of Revelation, it has already occurred in the resurrection of Jesus that we read about in the Gospels.

Sermon, Sunday August 16, 2020 – How Is Your Walk?

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Ephesians 5:3-6

Walk in Purity

As followers of Jesus, we are called to imitate God as we saw in Ephesians 5:1. Imitating God is walking in love as Jesus modeled for us. In addition to this we are to walk in light, as we have put on the new “clothing” of Christ.

In Ephesians 5:8, Paul makes the powerful assessment of our previous condition, “you were once darkness”. We were not simply in darkness before giving our lives to the Lord, we were darkness! Even our “good” deeds were tainted by our lack of identity. We lived for selfish motives.

But now, as followers of Jesus, we have taken on a new identity, we are light! (1 Peter 2:9).

So many church attenders and people who claim to be Christians have no idea that we are called to walk as Children of light (Ephesians 5:8). We walk as light as we exalt God, as we worship God our Father above all else.

The truth is that we so quickly give ourselves to idols. The Idols of the twenty-first century are not new, they are simply ancient idols repackaged.

In Ephesians 5:3-6, Paul lists the sins of sexual immorality, impurity, greed and crude speech. He implores the believers in Ephesus to live lives where these sins are not even named among them.

Sexual immorality and impurity contain a wide variety of sins, and we are prone to identify those that we see in other people, but gloss over the weaknesses in our own hearts. God calls us to holiness and purity (1 Peter 1:16), there are no exceptions.

Our culture is not very different to the first century in terms of our acceptance of sexual immorality. We see that the laws of the land are changing as various forms of immorality are becoming more and more acceptable. We must resist the temptation to rename sin, or to justify sin in order to appear socially acceptable or loving to those around us. God’s standard of purity and holiness has and will never change.

The gift of sex is only to be expressed within a marriage covenant between a man and a woman. Romans 1:18-32 shows the progression of how one’s life and actions are the overflow of one’s heart. Sexual sin is not simply a problem with lust or emotions, rather it is a problem of worship. We sin because we do not worship God. Once we get the worship problem aligned with God, we will find that the struggles of the flesh are less pervasive.

Pornography is an idol in so many people’s lives. It is an addiction that is destroying lives and marriages. Overcoming this addiction is a process of repentance, and worship, as we align our hearts and minds with the glory and the majesty of God.

Greed or covetousness is listed right along with impurity in verse 3 and it is no less an addiction than sexual immorality. Covetousness is the insatiable desire for more and it is defined as idolatry in verse 5. Greed is desiring anything more than God. Covetousness is a societal blind spot in our culture. You will never hear anyone say, “I think I love money too much”, simply because our culture thrives on us being consumers who are daily given reasons why we cannot be satisfied with what we have (see 1 Timothy 6:6).

Gambling is sinful for multiple reasons and it is an addiction that destroys lives. But the primary reason that gambling is sinful is because it is rooted in greed, a continual lust for more that can never be satisfied. This is idolatry and a direct breaking of the first commandment in Exodus 20:3.

Along with sexual immorality and covetousness, Paul includes foolish talk and crude joking in verse 4. Apart from the obvious bad language, slander, and gossiping, this also includes inappropriate humor and making jokes at the expense of other’s (see Colossians 3:8). Because we are children of God and filled with the Holy Spirit, every word we say is in the presence of the all-holy God.

The most effective way to purify our speech is to adopt a vocabulary of thanksgiving (1 Thessalonians 5:18). As the commentator Klyne Snodgrass explains, “thanksgiving is the antidote for sin, for it is difficult (impossible) to give thanks and sin at the same time.”

Ultimately, sexual sin, greed and corrupt speech are all based in self-centeredness. And if we are honest, we have all failed and probably will fail again in these areas, but we are called to walk as light and not dwell in darkness. A true follower of Jesus will not persist in these sins, but rather by the love and grace of God, we will quickly repent and turn back to walking in light (1 John 1:9).

Paul makes the sure statement in verse 5 that there will be consequences for living in sexual immorality, greed and foolish talk. The consequences are eternal.

There were those in the first century church who were trying to convince the believers they could live in sin without any consequences and the same dangerous teaching is prevalent today. Sadly, this way of thinking is not only contrary to the Word of God, it also prevents believers from fulfilling their calling and potential as followers of Jesus.

The consequence for standing for truth today is temporal.

The consequence for appeasing the culture today is eternal.

As believers we have a relationship with a Father who is more satisfying than anything the world has to offer. Our God is worthy of endless thanksgiving. Let us worship God alone and not a cheap substitute.

How is your walk?

Sermon, Sunday April 26, 2020 What are You Wearing?

By Grace Alone – Ephesians 2:8-10

What are you wearing? Rather, what are you wearing spiritually?

More about that later.

In Ephesians 2:8 Paul writing to the church in Ephesus says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—”

You may have heard this said:

Justice is getting what you deserve.
Mercy is not getting what you deserve.
And Grace is getting what you don’t deserve.

Paul says that this saving grace comes to us through faith, and faith is the instrument that allows us to grab hold of the truth of the Gospel and be saved. But faith itself is a gift from God, we cannot muster up faith. Faith comes from God, for us to believe in God.

Everything is a gift; grace is a gift, faith is a gift and salvation is a gift.

We must never ever think of our salvation as a transaction, whereby I give my life to Jesus and he saves me. Rather God gives me grace, then He gives me faith to believe and He saves me.

Because grace, faith and salvation are divine gifts, we cannot earn them, nor do we deserve them. Every human being is equally lost before God grants them grace. We were dead in our sins, dead people cannot have faith in God.

Ephesians 2:9 continues, “not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Salvation can only be attributed to Jesus and what he did for us on the cross, and he deserves all the glory.

God sent Jesus to live the life we couldn’t live, to die the death we should have died, and rise from the dead on our behalf.

We really struggle with this in our culture, we as a culture loves accolades for doing something noteworthy. But in our salvation the glory goes to God (see 1 Corinthians 1:31).

Paul continues in verse 10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

After saying clearly that we are not saved by anything we do, Paul notes the importance of works. Works are not the root of our salvation, but they are the fruit of our salvation.

The Greek word for handiwork here is poiema, which is where we get the word Poem from. The word refers to a work of art or masterpiece, a piece of art created by a master craftsman.

This word is only used one other time in the New Testament, in Romans 1, referring to the glory of God’s creation.

We, as saved believers in Jesus, are God’s new creation (see 2 Corinthians 5:21)

But God does not create a masterpiece to hide it away, we were created to display the work and the glory of God.

As God’s workmanship people around us should see our works and say, “That is a work of God!” (see Matthew 5:16).

We should never be working out of duty or guilt. We do good works because we are walking in a new nature, and as a result we cannot help ourselves from being used by God to do good works.

But not only are we to do good works, we are told that God has prepared these works for us to do. God, in His sovereignty, had tasks in mind for us when He saved us.

We are not saved by faith plus good works, but by a faith that works

The believer has God working in him, and therefore his works are good. His works are not good because he himself is good, but because he has a new nature and the Holy Spirit works in him and through him to produce these good works.

We do not perform good works to glorify ourselves, but to glorify God. Paul wrote that we should “abound to every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8), and to be “fruitful in every good work” (Colossians 1:10).

Back to the question, what are you wearing?

In John 11 we read the account where Jesus raised Lazarus back to life after he had been dead for four days. Jesus stood in front of the tomb and in a loud voice commanded Lazarus to come out. Notice what Lazarus was wearing, he was wearing grave clothes, the embalming material that was wrapped tightly around his body.

As Lazarus comes out of the tomb, Jesus instructs those standing around to… “Take off the grave clothes and let him go” (John 11:44).

So, what are you wearing?

Are you wearing “grave clothes” or “grace clothes”?

Are you enjoying the liberty you have in Christ, or are you still bound by the habits of the old life of sin?

Lazarus was freed from the restrictions of the grave clothes and freed to do what he had been raised to do.

We were dead in our sins when God raised us up with Jesus, sadly many of us are wrapped in the grave clothes. Some of us are so comfortable in the grave clothes that we don’t know how to do the good works that God has prepared for us to do.

They are the grave clothes of addiction, anger, jealousy, lust, pride, fear, self-sufficiency and many more. All of these hold us back and restrict us from being and doing what we are created for. All these are clothes that were your grave clothes, and Jesus commands them to be taken off, for you to be set free. Why are you holding on to your grave clothes?

As a Christian, you have been raised and seated with Christ in the heavenly places, you have been clothed in righteousness.

Practice your position in Christ!

You are clothed in righteousness in Christ Jesus.

Sermon April 15, 2018 – Heaven

Revelation 21:1-8

Do you know where you are going when you die? We are all eternal beings, designed by God to live forever. We as frail humanity, for fear of the unknown, struggle to live in these broken bodies for as long as we possibly can.

We struggle to hold on to something that is temporal, because we don’t see ourselves as eternal. We are afraid of the unknown, but the unknown is going to be infinitely better than anything we have ever experienced in this life.

There are two primary reasons why one fears death,

Firstly, if you don’t have the security of knowing that you are saved by the blood of Jesus, death is to be feared.

And secondly, we don’t trust the God who created us for eternity, we don’t trust that the one who created us knows what would be best for us.

We fear the unknown primarily because we don’t trust the goodness of the Designer.

Heaven is a real place, in Revelation 21:3 we read that God himself speaking from the throne, says that the dwelling place of God is with man. The new earth is a real place as Jesus promised in John 14:1-2.

This earth will one day be renewed made perfect, delivered from sin and the curse, will one day be our home and the place where God dwells. Heaven is a real place, and the new heaven and the new earth will be real as well.

While it is probable that heaven is in another dimension, we still can be assured that heaven is both a place and a state. I do not agree that it is primarily a state, since we are living on earth in a physical / spiritual dimension, why would this be so different in heaven. We would live in our resurrected bodies, but our soul would still exist and commune with God. I agree with the theologian Erickson that wrote, “life in heaven will be more real than our present existence.”

When we die, we are not going to have one single complaint, not one single thing about heaven will be imperfect. We have no idea of the glory and the beauty and the peace of the presence of our Heavenly Father.

In the new heaven, we will have real, perfect resurrected bodies, as Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 15. These will be our eternal bodies, ones that will never fail or break down. And we will live with God in His presence.

We were made to have communion with God, God created man in His own image to have fellowship with him. But when sin entered the world, that relationship was broken, there was a separation that took place. Inside every human being is a longing and an unfulfilled desire that can only be met by the perfect presence of God himself, we read in Ecclesiastes 3:11; “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Being in the presence of God for eternity is heaven and being separated from God for eternity is hell. Our selfish and humanistic mindset cannot even begin to grasp what it will be like to be in the presence of God and to worship him. It will not be boring, that is a lie from Satan, Heaven will be the most exciting and thrilling experience that we cannot imagine. I know that sentence doesn’t make sense, because we cannot begin to grasp heaven. In our self-serving culture, we have no idea of what it will be like to be in the presence of the creator of the universe. Heaven will be a place of unending worship and praising God for all that He has done and all that He is.

Heaven will be a place of rest, peace and worship of God, but heaven will also be a place of service and work. We will not be idly sitting on clouds playing harps. God is a creative God and he designed us to be creative beings along with him. We see in Genesis 1, that God created man to have dominion and care for the creation. Remember the parable that Jesus told about the parable of the Talents given to the servants in Matthew 25. The servants who served faithfully were given more to rule over and more responsibility, this is a glimpse into our eternal destiny.

So, we know heaven is real, it is eternal, we have some idea of what we will be doing, but how can we be certain we are going to heaven? Randy Alcorn, in his book on Heaven said that a recent Barna poll shows that for every American who believes he or she is going to Hell, there are 120 who believe they’re going to Heaven. Yet Christ said otherwise in Matthew 7:13-14.

Heaven is not our default condition. Increasingly in our politically correct culture we don’t often hear people preaching on the fact that heaven is only for people who have submitted themselves to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Only people who have acknowledge that Jesus is the way the truth and the life are going to heaven.

If heaven was the default position of everyone who dies, then Jesus gave up his position in heaven, he humbled himself and even humbled himself to die on the cross, for nothing. The greatest act of love in all of human history was a waste of time, if heaven is the default position.

Heaven is where God dwells and before we are even allowed into the presence of God we need to deal with our sin problem, the sin that separates us from God. You deal with that sin by accepting Jesus as Lord and repenting of your sins. You can know, with absolute certainty, that you are going to heaven (see 1 John 5:13).

on the cross, he took upon himself the Hell we deserve, in order to purchase the Heaven we don’t deserve”

Randy Alcorn.

Sermon Sunday March 4, 2018 Jesus came to Destroy the works of the Devil

We are in March! Spring is coming and naturally we begin to think about Easter. The danger is that we become so accustomed to the season, that we can easily gloss over the fact that this single event is the pivotal event of all human history. No other event carries more weight and no other event has more impact on humanity than the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As we focus on the cross, we must ask ourselves the question, why did Jesus have to die? The very simple answer is found in 1 John 3:8b, “…The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”

 Satan deceived Adam and Eve into thinking that God’s ways were not perfect. Sin is ultimately a failure to trust God, to trust that His ways are perfect, to know and be satisfied with the goodness of God and His perfect will for our lives. Sin is ultimately idolatry, when we sin we are saying to God, in this area of my life currently, you are not on the throne, rather I choose to worship a god of my own choosing.

As we read this letter from John, we see that John constantly compares the glory and the light of Jesus against the evil and darkness of sin. He very directly states that when we sin, we choose to follow the devil. To show us how vile our sin is, John holds up the pure spotless lamb of God (see 1 John 2:29, 1 John 3:3 and 5).

In contrast to the purity of Jesus we have the statements of verses 6 and 9. Those are some harsh words, and not well accepted in our post-modern culture. But does John mean that a Christian never sins? Of course not, what it does mean is that if you have made Jesus Christ Lord of your life then persistent sin is inconceivable in the light of his presence and glory. No one who is a follower of Jesus can actively persistently walk in sin.

If your life is united with Christ, you hate sin as much as he does. But we are so casual and minimize sin, in the church today, we talk about “stumbling” or “areas of weakness”, rather than seeing the death and destruction that it causes in our lives and those around us. Because of our new birth in Jesus, persistent sin impossible. Being born of God, being filled with the Holy Spirit, you and I cannot keep on sinning without any remorse.

The idea that we are saved from our sin, but still live as the rest of the world making light and trivializing sin, the idea that this is even possible is inconceivable, and yet this is today’s church. We rationalize sin, we make light of the grace of God, the gift that God gave us that cost him everything.

Today’s church has made the goal of large churches and church membership so important that we don’t call people to the standard of what it means to be a Christian.

But verse 6 and 9 say that if you continue to sin, and it does not consume you with guilt and shame, you have never encountered Jesus, you are not saved, I don’t care if your name is on the membership role of the church, your name is not in the Lamb’s Book of Life and that is the only list that matters.

As a Christian you have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside you and when you walk into a room, you bring into that room the fragrance of Christ. Your life must be characterized by, all the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

The fruit if the spirit is not some vague ideal that only a few sanctified believers hope to attain to, these are to be the mark and the evidence of a believer in Jesus Christ.

Are you a Christian? Do you have a growing relationship with Jesus Christ? Or do you harbor sin, and even enjoy sin?

Are you holding a grudge against someone? That is persistent sin.

Do you like to gossip? That is persistent sin. We are so quick to identify the sins of various addictions, drugs, pornography, lust, but we tolerate the sins of unforgiveness, lack of faith, fear and gossip.

2000 years ago, Jesus came to destroy the work of the Devil, so why would those who have been born again continue to wallow in doing the works of the devil?

As a true Christian we are not perfect, there is a daily transformation taking place in us, Christians are people who are daily becoming more like Christ. This is called sanctification. As we gaze on the glory of our savior, it leads us to become like him. We will never be sinless, but we will be quick to repent (1 John 1:9).

But John begins chapter 3 with the wonderful truth of the Gospel message (1 john 3:1). God calls us to be His Adopted Children, not because of anything we have done, but only because of His great love for us? (Ephesians 5:1).

In a few weeks we will focus our gaze on the beauty and the horror of the cross, may we never forget that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. We have been set free from slavery, and yet we hold on to our chains (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Jesus, in the Gospel of John sums up this whole argument in one verse, John 10:10. Satan hates Jesus, Satan hates us. Why do we give the devil any control in our lives? My friends, don’t ever be deceived into thinking that sin is not a big deal, because of our sin, the pure holy Son of God suffered and died, Sin should make our knees tremble, we must learn once again to hate sin.

What do you need to repent of today?  Prayerfully read Psalm 139: 23-24.