Category Archives: SERMON TOPICS”

Rebecca’s reflections and thoughts in regards to how certain scriptures speak to her. Also, some blogs taken from sermons from other pastors.

Psalm 66 – Worship

The first time I held my precious, new born grandson in my arms. Oh, what love I instantly felt in my heart for this little new born baby. I couldn’t help but shout out a loud “Praise Jesus” and thank your Lord, when I first heard the news that Lucas had arrived. I looked at this tiny baby that I was holding and felt such awe. He is so perfectly made.
There are so many horrible things going on in this world. Any thoughts of them slipped out of my mind during those moments when I looked at Lucas. I felt such joy and wonder, beyond words really. He brought such a sincere, happy and eventful, time of praise to God. It is easy to praise God in the exciting times. Sometimes the troubles of life and the sadness and evil we see around us steals the thankfulness from within.
It is so interesting to me that only that same week, I had read this psalm of praise and it spoke to my heart. God’s Word has so much to teach us. I love to worship in song. I am on a worship team at a local church. Of course as I read Psalm 66, this is how the words spoke to me: To me the Psalm really teaches us of true worship and praise of Almighty God. Often our praises can become routine songs we sing once in a while. The psalmist tells so much more about praise. Hopefully, you enjoy this psalm as much as I do. I hope it gives some room for thought about how and why we praise our Mighty and deserving God.

Psalm 66
English Standard Version (ESV) http://biblegateway.com
“How Awesome Are Your Deeds
To the choirmaster. A Song. A Psalm.
66 Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
2 sing the glory of his name;
give to him glorious praise!
3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
4 All the earth worships you
and sings praises to you;
they sing praises to your name.” Selah
5 Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.
6 He turned the sea into dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.
There did we rejoice in him,
7 who rules by his might forever,
whose eyes keep watch on the nations—
let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah
8 Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard,
9 who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip.
10 For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
11 You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
12 you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.
13 I will come into your house with burnt offerings;
I will perform my vows to you,
14 that which my lips uttered
and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
15 I will offer to you burnt offerings of fattened animals,
with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah
16 Come and hear, all you who fear God,
and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
17 I cried to him with my mouth,
and high praise was on[a] my tongue.[b]
18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
19 But truly God has listened;
he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
20 Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me!”

Theme – Praise and Worship

Introduction
Recognizing the deeds of God and how awesome they are. This psalm is a call to worship God who is worthy of all praise. The introduction to the Choir Master, is called a song and a psalm.

Psalm 66: 1-7
In these verses the psalmist calls upon all people to praise God, all lands, all the earth, all the inhabitants of the world that are capable of praising God, Ps. 66:1.

1. These verses speak of the glory of God and telling us that God is worthy to be praised by all, for he is good to all and furnishes every nation with matter for praise. This shows that all are to praise God, not just a few within the congregation or some people, but all people everywhere. “The duty of man, that all are obliged to praise God; it is part of the law of creation, and therefore is required of every creature. God has always been praised and always will be praised. If man does not praise God then even the rocks and stones will cry out and praise God.”

Luke 19:40 English Standard Version (ESV)
40 “He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

2. Through Jesus Christ we are under a Covenant of love and Grace and Mercy, so how much more should we praise our God and Saviour? Praise to God is of great importance to God. “Let us therefore see God’s works and observe the instances of his wisdom, power, and faithfulness in them (Ps. 66:5), and then speak of them, and speak of them to him”. We speak of God’s works through our worship. We sing of his great works and in doing so glorify God. We sing praise to Him and in doing so show Him our thankfulness and exaltation to God. It shows that we acknowledge that God is greater than all. He alone is praised.
3. In a heartfelt gesture to God, the psalmist encourages a good work of praising God. The psalmist abounds in praising God and wishes that God might have his tribute paid him by all the nations of the earth and not by the land of Israel only. He excites all lands.

Points to be noted:

a. To make a joyful noise to God. Holy joy is that devout affection which should animate all our praises; and, though it is not making a noise in religion that God will accept. For example the praise of hypocrites  who are said to cause their voice to be heard on high. I think this refers to those who praise with their lips and not with their hearts. The stage can be full of musicians and not necessarily worshippers. In other words, God won’t listen to lip service. (Isa. 58:4), yet, in praising God, [1.] “We must be hearty and zealous, and must do what we do with all our might, with all that is within us, with all our hearts, souls, mind and strength.”

b. We must be open and public, as those that are not ashamed of our God. And both these are implied in making a noise, a joyful noise.

c. To sing with pleasure, and to sing forth, for the edification of others, the honour of God’s name, that is, in recognition of all that God has made known, Ps. 66:2. That which is the honour of God’s name ought to be the matter of our praise.

d. To make his praise glorious as far as we can. In praising God we must do it so as to glorify God, and that must be reason of all our praises. It is the highest honour we the creature can offer to God our Creator.

Psalm 66 7- 15

These verses show us how that during the time this Psalm was written that the Israelites recognized the testing that God put them through.

“6 He turned the sea into dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.
There did we rejoice in him,
7 who rules by his might forever,
whose eyes keep watch on the nations—
let not the rebellious exalt themselves.”

They witnessed God’s mighty hand at work when he split the water in two as they crossed through the dry land. Oh how mighty is God. His eyes keep watch on the nations. God knows who is rebellious. God’s testing often reveals the truth of a man or woman’s heart or their motives. We see God’s miracles every day as did the Israelites. How quickly forgotten.  Today, do we take time to praise God. His miracles are all around us. Look at the birth of a baby, oh how wondrous and beautiful and intricate every detail from conception to birth. If we read the journey of the Israelites, we know that there were times when they stopped praising God and at times even began to praise false God’s. People have not changed in that respect. Believers often praise God in the good times, but in the bad times turn from God to other things.

The psalmist tells us to praise Him, don’t stop praising Him even during times of testing. In fact praise God more for those who truly trust in the Lord know that in that testing God is doing something far greater than we can even understand.

“For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.”

When silver is melted down all the impurities come out as is with gold. The things that are impure come to the top. For us when we are tested like silver, our true and impure thoughts and the wickedness within our hearts and the sin nature can be revealed to others and to God through the testing process.

I’m sure every one of us can get up and testify to a time within our life, where we have been tested as silver. You know, because it was during that testing you may have begun to question your faith in God. The doubt, the fear, the rebellion began to boil to the top. Some of us know very well the ugliness within our own hearts, the wickedness within that needs to be scooped from us during that process. The dross (impurities) come to the surface and that impurity needs to be removed. It is a continual process. Some of us might be going through that refiner’s fire right now. If you read the Old Testament, we see time and again the testing of God at work. We see the pattern of failure looming so large. We also see the repentant heart of the Psalmist like David who knew that the impurities could be cleansed by repentance and He praised God for the testing. It made Him a better person; a more trusted observer of the God He loved so much. David was a man who struggled with sin (adultery, murder and so on . . . but he was a man of repentance. We see example after example of God’s forgiveness toward David and the Israelites when they repentant and turned back to God. That is what made David a man after God’s own heart; a man who loved God and understood the love God had for him.

Psalm 66:13 – 15
“13 I will come into your house with burnt offerings;
I will perform my vows to you,
14 that which my lips uttered
and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
15 I will offer to you burnt offerings of fattened animals,
with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
I will make an offering of bulls and goats.”

The Psalmist at that time wanted to make amends. He wanted to right the wrongs; he wanted to give to God what he could give.

Psalm 66:16-19
16 Come and hear, all you who fear God,
and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
17 I cried to him with my mouth,
and high praise was on[a] my tongue.[b]
18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
19 But truly God has listened;
he has attended to the voice of my prayer.

The power in this last stanza is powerful. The psalmist reveals the main elements needed to enter into the highest of praise (fear God, cry out to God and remove sin).

Psalm 111:10 English Standard Version (ESV)
10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!”

Proverbs 1:7 English Standard Version (ESV)
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 9:10 English Standard Version (ESV)
10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”

a. Recognizing what God has done for each of us, in giving His Son Jesus Christ, in paying that burnt offering for us. No longer to we have to sacrifice burnt offerings as they did in the day of the psalmist. Jesus became that offering and that sacrifice. He was the perfect Lamb of God, without sin. His blood to atone for our sin.
b. A cry of praise to the Lord for what He has done. What did God do for you through His Son Jesus Christ? God the Father gave a gift of Grace and Mercy. What does that mean? Grace – God giving us what we don’t deserve which is atonement for our sins, eternal life and forgiveness. And Mercy – God not giving us what we do deserve, eternal death and destruction.
c. Romans 6:23 English Standard Version (ESV)
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We should all think about that scripture verse and ask ourselves if we have truly received that gift God offers? As in any gift given, a person has to take hold and accept that gift from the giver.

How much do we want to praise Jesus for this? The psalmist said he cried out and the highest praise was on his lips. How about when we worship? We all need to examine ourselves to honestly know ourselves and where we are in this place of worship to God?

Next take this as literal. Praise him with a song, with your lips to God and to other people. Don’t be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for by sharing it, you are also praising God and what He has done.

In this day and age, it is becoming increasingly difficult to share the gospel of Jesus Christ because world views are changing drastically from what God’s Word teaches. We often want to be peace keepers rather than gospel givers. We choose to compromise the Word of God and in doing so,  we are doing the farthest thing from praising God. In fact when I think about it, is it any different than Peter denying Christ three times when they were about to crucify Jesus? How sad that often, fear in its many forms, can immobilize us and in this battle against evil and sin, our love for self can be stronger than our love and praise to God. How difficult it can be to deny ourselves and take up that cross for Jesus. The testing’s are here and they will increase as the days grow even more dark. However, we have one who is greater than our fear and more powerful than the battle we may be in. He will supply us with the weapons needed to win whatever that battle might be. The key to winning any battle is that we have take the Saviour Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit with us.

d. The psalmist recognized the importance of integrity. Folks, we can’t hang on to the sins we love. If we do then we begin to cherish the sin, more than God. He will not hear our praises.

“8 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.”

4. 19 But truly God has listened, he has attended to the voice of my prayer.”  The psalmist new the need for repentance and also the love of God and the power of God and that God heard his praise and his prayer. Oh what blessed assurance we can have if we take the Psalmist’s example and do likewise – pray, repent and obey the voice of God.

Conclusion of my thoughts on Psalm 66

Let us therefore see God’s works and observe the instances of his wisdom, power, and faithfulness in them (Ps. 66:5), and then speak of them, and speak of them to him.
Praise God in all things, at all times, in all places. Let the praise of the one who deserves all honour glory and praise hear a humble and contrite heart and a heart of worship.

Now is the time to come and worship the King. Do you have a relationship with the Father God through His Son Jesus Christ?
If not come now and ask him to forgive your sins and receive the greatest gift of all – the one who grants God’s grace and Mercy. Pray (talk) to God on a daily basis. Receive and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved and given the gift of eternal life.

Praise be to God and our Lord Jesus Christ who is worthy of the highest praise. For even the angels rejoice, twirl and spin when one sinner comes to repentance and saving grace.

Click on Link below and Worship the Lord – Song – Here I am to Worship.

All Scripture from Biblegateway.com ESV version – more information see source commentary notes.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=youtube+worship+songs&&view=detail&mid=C3E7CA0FFE86DC527AC4C3E7CA0FFE86DC527AC4&rvsmid=8E81BCA99FD06E6AC5968E81BCA99FD06E6AC596&fsscr=0&FORM=VDFSRV

The Preeminence of Christ

Sermon – The Preeminence of Christ
by: Pastor in Training – Rebecca Robinson

1. Text – Colossians 1:15-20

“15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent (surpassing all others. Very distinct, authoritative). 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

(‭Colossians‬ ‭1‬:‭21-23‬ ESV)”
21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.”

Theme – The Preeminence of Christ

Introduction of the Sermon

Jesus asked Pontius Pilot a very important question. “Who do you say I am?” This is one of the most important questions to which any person must know the correct answer. Who do you say Jesus is? There are many religions who say that Jesus was a prophet or a teacher. Some say he was just a radical man. Others say, He is The Lord, Messiah, Saviour, Christ which means anointed one, Redeemer, Son of God, God and this same Jesus is referred to many other names throughout the Bible. He is light, life, truth, flesh, bread of life and so on.

Some people only say the name Jesus when they use it as a swear word. In doing so, blasphemy (offend) the living God, the Creator of the universe. On the other hand, there are many people today who believe in God and stop there. They don’t know God the Father. If they did they would know God the Son (this Christ, the one who carries the name above all names (Jesus) and they would know God the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that He and the Father are one. If you know Jesus, you know the Father. (Look up ref. John 6 and John 10).

Colossians 1:19 “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,” The fullness of God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus said He would not leave us. Though he was going away He would send The Holy Spirit to dwell within the believer to help us, teach us. The believer has been given access the the fullness of the living God. Wow! This is mentioned again in more detail Col. 2:9-10

Who do you say Jesus is? Many artists have painted their images of what they thought He looked like. Movie makers tend to stereo type Jesus as being white skinned, handsome, with brown hair, blue eyes, a beard and long hair. Some see Him as a man. It makes it is easy to relate to him on a human level. While Jesus lived a life on earth in human form, he was 100 percent human, yet he was still 100 percent God.

Colossians 16-17 – “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” ESV

Today Let us look at the bigger picture of Christ Jesus, in actuality the Preeminence of Christ.
Colossians 1:18 ESV – “And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent”. (surpassing all others. Very distinct, authoritative).

Body of the Sermon (points)

Point A:
History of this letter: Author of the letter to Colossians is stated by most theologians to be the apostle Paul written in his time of imprisonment in Rome. Mentioned in Acts 28:16-31. The reason for this letter was because of the uprising against Christianity and false teachings and heresies being spoken:

(‭Colossians‬ ‭2‬:‭4-16 ESV)
“2 I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.
“6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”

Ref – Col. 2-6 – Jesus is your Lord. The secure foundation of your faith. He is all authoritative. (Fullness of deity – creator and supreme being (God). Indwells the believer when born again.

As followers of Jesus we are to learn and know the precepts of Christ and don’t fall under teachings that hold you captive by putting you back under legal demands. This is a clear statement made in:

(‭Colossians‬ ‭2‬:‭16-23‬ ESV)
“16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.”

A)Ceremonialism – what you should eat drink and festivals
(Col. 2:16-17) and (circumcision )
B)Asceticism (definition – severe self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons) . Do not handle! Do not Taste! Do not touch! (Col 2:21; 2:23)
C)Angel worship (Col 2:18)
Depreciation of Christ – Supremacy of Christ (Col 1:15-20, 2:2-3,9).
D)Secret knowledge Gnostic teachings.
E)Reliance on human wisdom and tradition. See (Col 2:4,8)

These false teachings lead Paul’s disciple (Epaphras) to travel by boat back to Rome and The Preeminence of Christ points out to Paul what was going on at the new church in Colosse. (See – (‭Colossians‬ ‭1‬:‭7-8‬ ESV) “just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.”

Point B:

The Supremacy of Christ: Paul tells us exactly who Christ Jesus is in the opening paragraph. Christ’s supremacy in creation and Christ’s supremacy in redemption. Who is JESUS?
– image of God
– radiance of God’s glory
– exact representation of his being- invisible God in that no one has ever seen God for God is Spirit.

See John 1:18 ESV – “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”

He is invisible – No man has seen God at any time. Paul calls Him the invisible God. (Col. 1:15, Rom. 1:20) Men saw the reflection of God’s glory, but not God. There are instances in the bible of theophanies or manifestations of deity in visible form. Ex. Jacob wrestled with God and said, “I have seen God face to face” (Gen. 32:30) or “The angel of the Lord” was a visible manifestation of deity. (Gen. 16:7-14) “The angel of the Lord” is identified as “the Lord”(incarnate Christ). Like Moses at the burning bush. He did not look at God.

– Christ is the eternal Son of God who became God-Man.
– firstborn over all creation – certain rights in relation to Creation. He has priority, preeminence (the face of surpassing all others who claim to be God. The sovereignty of Jesus Christ. (Col. 1:16-18)

The Ends Towards Which Providence is Directed.
1) God governs the world with a view to the happiness of the creature
2) with a view to the mental and moral development of the race
3) with a view to the salvation and preparation of a people for his own possession.

– The primary end of God’s government is his own glory: “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭48‬:‭11‬ ESV)”

In outward affairs:

God employs the laws of nature, instinct for self-preservation, and a sense of moral responsibility, supplemented by miracles – bringing things to pass by his powerful word. In the gospels we see that Christ Jesus did about 23 healing miracles. He did everything from healing the blind, casting out demons, healing people of leprosy, healed a paralyzed man and many more. The disciples witnessed at least nine miracles over nature:

Miracles showing power of nature

Calming of the storm – Matthew 8:23-27,Mark4:37-41,Luke 8:22-25
Walking on water – Matthew 14:25, Mark 6:48-51, John 6:19-21
Feeding of the 5,000 – Matthew 14:15-21, Mark 6:35-44,
Luke 9:12-17, John 6:6-13
Feeding of the 4,000 – Matthew 15:32-38, Mark 8:1-9
Coin in fish – Matthew 17:24-27
Fig tree withered – Matthew 21:18-22, Mark 11:12-14,20-25
Large catch of fish – Luke 5:4-11
Water turned into wine – John 2:1-11
Again another large catch of fish – John 21:1-11

Miracles of the Raising the Dead

Jairus’s daughter Matthew 9:18-19, Mark 5:22-24, Luke 8:41-42
Matthew 9:23-25, Mark 5:38-42, Luke8:49-56
Widow’s son at Nain – Luke 7:11-15
Lazarus – John 11:1-44

Point C:

Christ was the first to demonstrate God’s power through miracles since Moses. No man could do what he did, but man-God could do, including prophesying his own death and resurrection from the dead. Among the miracles Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, calmed a storm, walked on water, turned water into wine and multiplied the loaves of bread and the fish to feed the thousands. The fullness of God indwelled Him. No other prophet or person other than Christ Jesus can truly claim this pre-eminence. All other proclaimed prophets died and stayed in the grave.

Point D:

Through Christ’s death and resurrection He reconciled all things. His death did not save all people. Scripture speaks of an eternal hell and makes clear that only believers are saved. Through Adam and Eve’s sin, all harmony between creation and God was broken. Through Christ only, could peace be restored. A relationship bridged between the believer in Christ and the Father God. Old Testament prophesies of the coming Messiah Christ Jesus and a New Covenant declared, to bring about sanctification, justification, redemption and salvation through the gift God’s grace, mercy and love, was fulfilled through Jesus Christ.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (‭John‬ ‭3‬:‭16-21‬ ESV)

Conclusion of the Sermon
As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind— (Isaiah 52:14 ESV) This was a prophecy of what would happen hundreds of years in the future in regard to the coming Messiah and Saviour Jesus Christ. Isaiah describes the death of Christ in detail years before it happened.

We are all here today searching to know God or you wouldn’t be here listening to me trying to explain who Jesus is. I’ve given some scripture verses from the Bible and tried to interpret them for you the best that I can. Many of you like me sit in church every Sunday clinging to the Pastor’s sermons trying to take away another nugget of gold that might make us more knowledgable in the word of God. Do you believe the entire Bible to be the infallible Word of God? Has church become a ritualistic thing Christians do every Sabbath or Sunday? Hopefully it is not become just a social place to fellowship or we are all in trouble. The last scripture verse from Isaiah 52:14, should shake your chair or the foundation you live your lives upon. Jesus died on a cross to accomplish your justification and salvation. It wasn’t pretty. It was horrific and gruesome, painful and humiliating. You have all heard it before. Many times. Who do you say Jesus is? Who is He to you? That is one question each one of us better figure out fast. The Bible says some will be raised from the grave either to eternal death or eternal life. Which one will you choose? Quit taking up space and make a decision to believe in the one true God, in the Saviour Christ Jesus. Walk the talk and let us get off our butts and do something in return for what Jesus did for us. Save the lost while there is still time.

If you have never come out of that darkness and into the light and life with Christ. Don’t wait. Tomorrow is not a sure thing. While God is loving, he is also a just God. The punishable will not go unpunished. The word of God tells us so. Do you know Jesus? Best place is on your knees.

If you have never received Jesus as your Saviour, and you want to answer his call at this moment, then pray with me now. Let us bow our heads before His mighty throne. Let’s pray.
There is know special formula for receiving Jesus Christ as Saviour. The Word of God instructs us to repent of our sins and believe in the preeminent Christ Jesus.

Prayer – Our Father who is in heaven. Holy is your name. I ask you to forgive my trespasses (sins) as I also forgive those who have also sinned against me? Lord Jesus, will you come into my life and lead me in the way everlasting? I desire for you to teach me your ways by the power of your Holy Spirit, that I may walk in your truth and your life. I believe and confess you Jesus as the preeminent Saviour and Lord and that you suffered and died on a cross for the redemption of my sins. I believe you arose from the grave. In doing so, taking the punishment of my sin through the death of Christ on the cross, to offer me eternal life. Thank you God for such a great grace and and gift of eternal life. For it is by grace I am saved, not of works, but the gift of God found in Christ Jesus The Lord. In Jesus name I pray.

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Study of Galatians 3

Hermeneutic Assignment Galatians

I chose Galatians to examine the scriptures using hermeneutics, to determine the correct biblical doctrine taught by the Apostle Paul in regards to whether or not Christians must continue to observe (613 laws). The passages I have chosen to build my thesis on, is taken from Galatians 3:1-14, Galatians 2:15 and also other passages of scripture for validation. 

My focus will be on subjects of modern day controversy still affecting churches today. Example – Do Christians have to observe the commands such as: circumcision, abstaining from eating pork and also the observance of the Sabbath from Friday to Saturday evening rather than Sunday?

My aim is to find out what the bible teaches in regards to the New Covenant and what it means to no longer be slaves to the law. “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17 ESV)

By Faith, or by Works of the Law?

What is the Law? There are 613 laws mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible.

History – According to bible NIV commentary – There are two views regarding the date and destination of the letter to Galatians.

1. The North Galatian theory is that the letter was addressed to churches located in Asia Minor between A.D. 53 and 57 from Ephesus or Macedonia.

2. The South Galatian theory takes the view that the letter was addressed to churches in the southern area of the Roman province of Galatia, written from Syrian Antioch in 48-49 after Paul’s first journey and before the Jerusalem council meeting. (Acts15). Others say that the letter of Galatians was written in Syrian Antioch or Corinth between 51 and 53. We can estimate the time of writing to be between 51 to 57 A.D.

Identifying the Audience God Intended – Who, Where and What for Whom is this letter intended?

Who is the Author of the Book of Galatians?

Written by the Apostle Paul (Acts 9:1-11) Saul/Paul was once a Jew who persecuted Christians from the early church of the way. He was Jewish and very knowledgable in the Jewish faith. Through conversion – the act of changing one’s beliefs from the Jewish faith to teaching the gospel of Christ and then teaching others to follow that teaching. Saul became a follower of Christ Jesus the Messiah and was given the name Paul by The Lord. He then became known as an Apostle for Christ. 

Where, what and for whom?

In Galatia he is speaking to the Judaizers (Jewish Christians) to new converts to Christianity as a warning about false teachings. As the early church began, some Judaizers came against Paul’s teachings. These Jewish Christians continued to teach that Old Testament Jewish customs and religious rights, had to be kept, and they were trying to convert them back to Judaism, (which meant back under some of the old laws) They believed that a number of the ceremonial practices of the Old Testament still needed to be done. Example – circumcision and not eating pork.

Example of OT practices – See Exodus 24:6-9 “And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Judaizers argued that Old Testament practices are still binding on the New Testament Church. (that would be todays Christian churches). The Judaizers argued that Paul was not an authentic apostle and that out of a desire to make the message more appealing to Gentiles, he had removed from the gospel certain legal requirements. With apostolic authority of the gospel, Paul makes his case (defence) for Christ in his letter to the Galatians. Further Biblical study will show the teachings of the Judaizers became a common problem. Paul warned others to beware of (those of the law) and false teachers. (Titus 1, 1Timothy, 2 Corinthians 3, scripture verses are further along in this document). Paul’s adversaries (Judaizers) added requirements for justification (e.g. works of the law). In doing so, Paul said they perverted the gospel of grace. He warned against such false teachings and to adhere to sound doctrine (authority of God as the author) which would include living a life of faith alone and a new life in the freedom of the Spirit. 

(Commentary note) This letter of Galatians stands as a vigorous apologetic for the essential NT truth that man is justified by faith in Jesus Christ and nothing more or nothing less and not by legalistic works but by obedience that comes through faith in God, grace and Holy Spirit.

Through study, I will either confirm B. or disprove this commentary note.

Let us look at (Galatians 3:1-14 ESV) as my first set of passages for study.

“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” (This was a covenant with Abraham). So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. 10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged upon a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”

Analyzing Thought Structure Chapter

Paul asks the Galatians some very strong questions in defense of Gospel of Christ:

1. “O foolish Galatians!” A strong figurative statement.The Galatians were not mentally deficient but lacked correct perception. Example of foolishness. compare text (Luke 24:25 ESV) “And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!”

2. “Who has bewitched you?” –  bewitched—fascinated you so that you have lost your wits. Themistius says the Galatians were naturally very acute in intellect. Paul wonders why they could be so misled in this case.(Word Search)The word bewitched means – to be under the control of an evil magician or demonic spell. The word used is figurative. Paul’s question has a tone of rebuke that expresses deep concern for the Galatian believers who are being lead astray by persuasive teachers of the law (Judaizers). cross reference (Titus 1:14)

Example – (Galatians 4:8-10 ESV)
 (Historical) “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. (Presently) But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years.”
Note – When the Galatians were pagans, they thought that the beings they worshiped were gods; but when they became Christians, they learned better. Now they were turning back to the old beliefs.

3.  “It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.” A strong reminder to refocus them back to Christ and His crucifixion.” (Literal there were eye witnesses of the Crucifixion of Christ)

Compare texts: Using The Process of Synthesizing to form a hypothesis of the Scripture’s unity.

(1 Corinthians 1:22, 23 ESV)- 22 “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles. Could be used as a parallel element:

Parallel Element
(Numbers 21:9 ESV) “So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.” (signs and wonders in old testament vs science or Greek mythology, wisdom of man and then there is what Paul preaches – the absolute truth (gospel of Christ)

The tense of the verb crucified indicates that Paul’s vivid portrayal of Christ crucified was not only of the historical event (bronze serpent set it on a pole) but also of the present, saving power of the cross of Christ for all who believe in him. Christ’s death on the cross to the symbolic example of the bronze serpent on a pole for the Jew. 

4. Gal. 3 vs 2 “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?” 

This question seeks a thought out answer where they may have been confused. (Two opposing views. Paul’s question gets the Galatians thinking about their own experience of God. We should not get into the habit of relying on our personal experience to teach us scripture, as it is often shaded by emotions. In this case the questions break through the incorrect teachings and like a shepherds staff direct us in the right direction. One has to decide the correct answer. They were leaning to the incorrect answer which leads to Paul’s second harsh but necessary question. (Ref. Holy Spirit – Ephesians 1:13, Acts 2:38, 8:15, 10:44, 15:8,14, Hebrews 6:4)

5. Gal. 3 vs 3 “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”

Paul’s specific point is that the Galatians’ alternative is between living by the Spirit, whom they received when they believed the message of Christ crucified, and seeking perfection by circumcision (and other rites such as food laws and sabbath observance), which would identify them as proselyte Jews (noun) (a gentile who has converted to Judaism). Trying to attain perfection by the flesh in that context meant the attempt to attain spiritual status by conforming to Jewish customs in order to become Jews. The contrast between beginning with the Spirit and trying to attain your goal by the flesh (NIV translates “flesh” as human effort) sets up the antithesis (contrast) between spirit and flesh which recurs in Galatians 4:29, (Gal 5:16-23) and (Gal 6:8). In (Gal 4:23 and 29) the son born according to the flesh (“born in the ordinary way”) is a reference to Jews who hold to the Sinai covenant (Gal 4:24) also (Exodus 19-34) and to the present Jerusalem (Gal 4:25) as the basis of their identity. These are the same ones who desire to boast in circumcised flesh. In other words, in the proselytization of Gentile believers at Galatia (6:13).
 
Paul preached salvation and sanctification are the work of Holy Spirit not of the flesh (by human effort) or works of the law (obeying 613 laws). Paul refers to Holy Spirit sixteen times. Salvation and sanctification are the work of the Holy Spirit not human effort (flesh). Trying to achieve righteousness by works, including circumcision, was a part of the life in the flesh. 

Ref. (Ephesians 2-18) “11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, malienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” (See Col. 2:14, 20)

Hebrews 8:13 -13 – When God speaks of a “New” Covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. The old covenants which are many still exist, just like the writings of the Old Testament exist? The Jews could never uphold all the commands, laws or ordinances (613 laws). We do not throw away the Old Covenants, as they had a purpose to fulfil within the prophesied coming of Christ and the New Covenant. We don’t break covenants with God, but God replaces Old Covenants with new.

footnote: Logos commentary – made … old—“hath (at the time of speaking the prophecy) antiquated the first covenant.” From the time of God’s mention of a new covenant (since God’s words are all realities) the first covenant might be regarded as ever dwindling away, until its complete abolition on the actual introduction of the Gospel. Both covenants cannot exist side by side. Mark how verbal inspiration is proved in Paul’s argument turning wholly on the one word “new” (covenant), occurring but once in the Old Testament.

Hebrews 9:15-28 That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.

God’s promise can be trusted (Genesis 9:17)- God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 9:17 ESV)

Jesus established a new covenant (Luke 22:20) – And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. (Luke 22:20 ESV)

God’s covenant brings life (2 Corinthians, chapter 3) Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory. Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:1-18 ESV)

6. Galatians 3 vs 4 – Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?”

Paul is again asking a question to make them look at their history and all they suffered. In vain as one who looks in the mirror and immediately forgets what they look like. Was it all for nothing? (Gal 3:4) Paul is saying that those who go back into the old way are being mislead and he wants them to come back to the true gospel which is Christ Crucified and the work of the Holy Spirit. See – (1 Timothy 1:6, 7 ESV) “Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.”

7. Galatians 3 vs 5 -6 ” Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith – (Here we could apply cultural understanding of the Jewish as descendants and under the law of Moses.” Also (Consider Abraham) just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”.

Another question which directs them to consider and choose the right answer between law or faith.

In summary of verses Galatians 3:1-5 
Paul’s – questions focus on three aspects of the Galatians:
a) experience of the Spirit: their initial reception of the Spirit (3:1-2)
b) their progress toward maturity by the Spirit (3:3)
c) and their experience of miracles by the Spirit (3:4-5).

8. Galatians 3:7 “Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 
The general principle tells us it is conditional on faith whether or not they are sons of Abraham. In contemporary terms those of faith are (Christians) followers of Christ. Romans 3:30 – “Justification of uncircumcised or circumcised by faith. The word faith in vs 7 is literal meaning of faith.

9. Galatians 3:8 “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 

The Greek word Gentiles – KJV Heathen) The word nations can also be translated Gentiles depending on context.

10. Galatians 3:9-10 “So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” 10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse, for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all the things that are written in the book of the law to do them.”

11. Gal. 3:11-14 “Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith. 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” This is saying: All those who put themselves under the law are under a curse. If you try working for you salvation you are putting yourself under the laws.

Compare texts and (pg. 222 Understanding and Applying the Bible) studied (pg. 261 Bible Prophecy) through OT regarding Abraham to confirm our faith through the fulfilled prophesy of God’s promise to Abraham regarding the Christ. This prophecy influences every believer:  

(Prophesy Quote) “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3 ESV) 

“The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?”(Genesis 18:17, 18 ESV)

Reference to Galatians 2:16 – We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:15, 16 ESV) It is impossible to keep all the laws that is why creation needed the perfect sacrifice (Christ Jesus).

(Romans 4:13-16 ESV) For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,” note (Heir to the world The word ‘world’ means all creation.)

(Romans 4:20-25 ESV) No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead – Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

(Hebrews 11:8, 9 ESV) By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.

(John 8:33-47 ESV)”They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” 

Summary verses 7-10

a) those of the faith – anyone who is a believer and follower of Christ Jesus. (Gentiles and Jews) By faith Abraham believed in the coming promise.

b) sons of Abraham – Abraham was a figurative spiritual father to the Jewish.

c) justification comes through faith in Christ. Romans 4:12

d) What was the promise? Gen 13:16 – possession of the land of the peoples on earth will be blessed    through him Gen 12:3 and his offspring. Gen 22:18 Authoritative word that God purposed through Abraham. His offspring would work out their destiny and inheritance when Christ returns and those justified by faith receive the blessings which would include forgiveness of sins. A new covenant. see (Romans Chapter 4)

Summary verses 11-14

Paul contrasts the two states in their essential nature and principle.

a) Curse – which is death – “And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance. (Deuteronomy 21:22, 23 ESV)

b) Spirit – Gal 3:2 – promised Spirit – prophecy

c) faith – literally

d) blessing – life, justification, promise

e) OT Curse – NT Christ became Curse for sinners – law vs faith. Curse vs blessing.

Within the New Testament letters the apostles continued to send similar warnings as sent to Galatians, for new converts to Christianity to be aware of the false teachers. See examples – Book of Titus, Book of 1Timothy

(Titus 1:9-16 ESV) He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. (Judaizers -Jewish Christians) They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, (not devoting themselves to Jewish myths) and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. (To the pure, all things are pure,) but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. (They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works.) They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. 

Taken from the letter to Titus. Titus was one of Paul’s early converts to Christianity. He was a gentile. Paul sent him to Crete, which was in the Mediterranean – This letter was written by Paul after his release from Roman Prison (Acts 28:17-31)

Distinctive Characteristics: 
There was a lot of heresy being taught especially from those of the circumcision group. See Galatians 2:12) and (Titus 1:10-16) specifically (literal) wording and warning to teach sound doctrine. Warning of trouble makers, distorting the doctrine. There was three main characteristics:

1. Believed that for salvation or sanctification or both, it was necessary to be circumcised and to keep  the Jewish ceremonial law (See Galatians)

2. They held to unscriptural Jewish myths vs (Titus 1:14) and genealogies -“But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” (Titus 3:9 ESV) “As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.” (1 Timothy 1:3, 4 ESV)

“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. (1 Timothy 1:5-11 ESV)

Incompatible Passages: These appear to be incompatible passages even contradictory when read in wrong context. Many use these verses to prove they must still live under the law. I myself have been baffled for a quick response. After researching I am gaining a clearer perspective of interpretation.

Incompatible Verses for study.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20 ESV)

Some use this verse to defend living under the old law. (Mat. 5:18—“one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law “the word of God shall stand forever”).

Hebrews 9:15
15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

Confirmation of my thesis by Systematic Theology texts from Logos Bible.

Footnote Systematic Theology in reference to (Mat. 5:18—“one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law “the word of God shall stand forever”).
“In God’s veracity we have the guarantee that our faculties in their normal exercise do not deceive us; that the laws of thought are also laws of things; that the external world, and second causes in it, have objective existence; that the same causes will always produce the same effects; that the threats of the moral nature will be executed upon the unrepentant transgressor; that man’s moral nature is made in the image of God’s; and that we may draw just conclusions from what conscience is in us to what holiness is in him. We may therefore expect that all past revelations, whether in nature or in his word, will not only not be contradicted by our future knowledge, but will rather prove to have in them more of truth than we ever dreamed. Man’s word may pass away, but God’s word abides forever.”

To this view we urge the following objections: note Systematic Theology

(a) That since the law is a transcript of the holiness of God, its demands as a moral rule are unchanging. Only as a system of penalty and a method of salvation is the law abolished in Christ’s death.

(b) That the union between Christ and the believer secures not only the bearing of the penalty of the law by Christ, but also the impartation of Christ’s spirit of obedience to the believer,—in other words, brings him into communion with Christ’s work, and leads him to ratify it in his own experience.

(c) That the freedom from the law of which the Scriptures speak, is therefore simply that freedom from the constraint and bondage of the law, which characterizes those who have become one with Christ by faith.

“Jesus also gave instruction of what to do and what not to do. He summed the commandments by giving us the greatest commandment: “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)

We would be hard pressed to truthfully say any one of us could completely fulfill this great commandment. Can anyone fully love The Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and if you see other verses which say,”strength”? We may strive and desire to obey and reach that level of devotion and obedience to God, but we cannot fully do this when we love other people or things or think of other things etc. We naturally love other things as well as God. We love our spouses, children, family, and friends too. In this way, we don’t love God with all our hearts do we? That makes us all sinners. For no one fully loves God with all their heart. Again, it is only through the righteousness of Christ that we can stand before God forgiven of sin. There is a condition – To attain His Christ’s righteousness we must believe in our hearts and minds in regards to the one true Christ – God the Son, Jesus as our Saviour. The only one high priest who can be the propitiation for our sins. Jesus in His birth, death and resurrection proved that He is the fulfillment of the New Covenant between God and creation. He himself also said He has come to fulfill the law.

Summary Conclusion
After much research, I conclude that we have a moral responsibility to obey God. Moral commandments apply to all people in all times. We must also know the Word of God and live under the Authority of God, while being set free from the death of sin (breaking of the law) but only through:

a) experience of the Spirit: their initial reception of the Spirit (Gal. 3:1-2)
b) progress toward maturity by the Spirit (Gal. 3:3)
c) experience of miracles by the Spirit (Gal. 3:4-5).
d) Christ crucified, faith in Christ, justification for Jews or Gentiles who believe. `
e) Not by works of the law, but by faith in Christ alone.
f) God’s promise to Abraham fulfilled through Christ’s death on the Cross (fulfilled Old Covenant by His shed blood) “Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.
h) “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”
The Greek word Gentiles – KJV Heathen) The word nations can also be translated Gentiles depending on context.
I) “So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” (Gal. 3:9)
It is an incorrect teaching which tells Christians they must still live under the old laws. It is to go back into slavery from that which Christ set us free (free from the curse – Christ became curse for us). It is also clear that the New Covenant has added even higher standards being a follower of Christ Jesus (Christian) A moral standard written not on tablets but on our hearts. Holy Spirit will help us live to such a calling. 

For further study:
Also, a commentary Galatians CHAPTER 3

Ga 3:1–29. Reproof of the Galatians for Abandoning Faith for Legalism. Justification by Faith Vindicated: The Law Shown to Be Subsequent to the Promise: Believers Are the Spiritual Seed of Abraham, Who Was Justified by Faith. The Law Was Our Schoolmaster to Bring Us to Christ, that We Might Become Children of God by Faith.

1. that ye should not obey the truth—omitted in the oldest manuscripts.

you—emphatical. “You, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been graphically set forth (literally, in writing, namely, by vivid portraiture in preaching) among you, crucified” (so the sense and Greek order require rather than English Version). As Christ was “crucified,” so ye ought to have been by faith “crucified with Christ,” and so “dead to the law” (Ga 2:19, 20). Reference to the “eyes” is appropriate, as fascination was supposed to be exercised through the eyes. The sight of Christ crucified ought to have been enough to counteract all fascination.

2. “Was it by the works of the law that ye received the Spirit (manifested by outward miracles, Ga 3:5; Mk 16:17; Heb 2:4; and by spiritual graces, Ga 3:14; Ga 4:5, 6; Eph 1:13), or by the hearing of faith?” The “only” implies, “I desire, omitting other arguments, to rest the question on this alone”; I who was your teacher, desire now to “learn” this one thing from you. The epithet “Holy” is not prefixed to “Spirit” because that epithet is a joyous one, whereas this Epistle is stern and reproving [Bengel]. hearing of faith—Faith consists not in working, but in receiving (Ro 10:16, 17).

3. begun—the Christian life (Php 1:6).

In the Spirit—Not merely was Christ crucified “graphically set forth” in my preaching, but also “the Spirit” confirmed the word preached, by imparting His spiritual gifts. “Having thus begun” with the receiving His spiritual gifts, “are ye now being made perfect” (so the Greek), that is, are ye seeking to be made perfect with “fleshly” ordinances of the law? [Estius]. Compare Ro 2:28; Php 3:3; Heb 9:10. Having begun in the Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit ruling your spiritual life as its “essence and active principle” [Ellicott], in contrast to “the flesh,” the element in which the law works [Alford]. Having begun your Christianity in the Spirit, that is, in the divine life that proceeds from faith, are ye seeking after something higher still (the perfecting of your Christianity) in the sensuous and the earthly, which cannot possibly elevate the inner life of the Spirit, namely, outward ceremonies? [Neander]. No doubt the Galatians thought that they were going more deeply into the Spirit; for the flesh may be easily mistaken for the Spirit, even by those who have made progress, unless they continue to maintain a pure faith [Bengel].

4. Have ye suffered so many things—namely, persecution from Jews and from unbelieving fellow countrymen, incited by the Jews, at the time of your conversion.

in vain—fruitlessly, needlessly, since ye might have avoided them by professing Judaism [Grotius]. Or, shall ye, by falling from grace, lose the reward promised for all your sufferings, so that they shall be “in vain” (Ga 4:11; 1 Co 15:2, 17–19, 29–32; 2 Th 1:5–7; 2 Jn 1:8)?

yet—rather, “If it be really (or ‘indeed’) in yet—rather, “If it be really (or ‘indeed’) in vain” [Ellicott]. “If, as it must be, what I have said, ‘in vain,’ is really the fact” [Alford]. I prefer understanding it as a mitigation of the preceding words. I hope better things of you, for I trust you will return from legalism to grace; if so, as I confidently expect, you will not have “suffered so many things in vain” [Estius]. For “God has given you the Spirit and has wrought mighty works among you” (Ga 3:5; Heb 10:32–36) [Bengel].

5. He … that ministereth—or “supplieth,” God (2 Co 9:10). He who supplied and supplies to you the Spirit still, to the present time. These miracles do not prove grace to be in the heart (Mk 9:38, 39). He speaks of these miracles as a matter of unquestioned notoriety among those addressed; an undesigned proof of their genuineness (compare 1 Co 12:1–31).

worketh miracles among you—rather, “in  you,” as Ga 2:8; Mt 14:2; Eph 2:2; Php 2:13; at your conversion and since [Alford].

doeth he it by the works of the law—that is, as a consequence resulting from (so the Greek) the works of the law (compare Ga 3:2). This cannot be because the law was then unknown to you when you received those gifts of the Spirit.

6. The answer to the question in Galatians 3:5 is here taken for granted, It was by the hearing of faith: following this up, he says, “Even as Abraham believed,” &c. (Ge 15:4–6; Ro 4:3). God supplies unto you the Spirit as the result of faith, not works, just as Abraham obtained justification by faith, not by works (Ga 3:6, 8, 16; Ga 3:6, 8, 16, Ga 4:22, 26, 28). Where justification is, there the Spirit is, so that if the former comes by faith, the latter must also. 7. they which are of faith—as the source  and starting-point of their spiritual life. The same phrase is in the Greek of Ro 3:26.

the same—these, and these alone, to the exclusion of all the other descendants of Abraham.

children—Greek, “sons” (Ga 3:29).

8. And—Greek, “Moreover.”

foreseeing—One great excellency of Scripture is, that in it all points liable ever to be controverted, are, with prescient wisdom, decided in the most appropriate language.

would justify—rather, “justifieth.” Present indicative. It is now, and at all times, God’s one way of justification.

the heathen—rather, “the Gentiles”; or “the nations,” as the same Greek is translated at the end of the verse. God justifieth the Jews, too, “by faith, not by works.”

References:
biblegateway.com
NIV Commentary
Oxford Dictionary
logosbible.com
ESV Bible Vision 
http://www.gci.org/law/oldandnew
Systematic Theology
Commentary Critical and explanatory

By: Rebecca Robinson

Resurrection of Jesus

THE CASE OF CHRIST’S RESURRECTION

When it comes to Christianity – For centuries, many people have sat as judge and jury without looking at any of the evidence presented within the bible or at some historical documentation. Others have taken theology courses and the study of hermeneutics and other topics of study, as to gain a correct translation of the Bible’s teachings. Many people study through the bible word-for-word and verse-by-verse and with the knowledge they attained or lack of, they have delivered their verdict. For some people, it is as simple as faith. They can believe without having much evidence.

There are many names to faith: simple faith, saving faith, believing faith, childlike faith, no faith. You see the chair and sit in it without even checking to see if the chair will hold you up. You just believe it will hold you up when you sit in it. That would be a faith, that just does, without thinking about it. Big faith, little faith, and faith as big as a mustard seed. They can all do the same thing. It is called faith. Faith is believing in something we can’t see. (based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof). We either believe in Jesus is God the Son or we don’t.

Years ago, I sat in a church and without much bible study, I just knew that I wanted to have a relationship with the Father God. I was convicted of my sinfulness and I heard the gospel of Christ. I knew I needed a Saviour and I believed and received Jesus as that Saviour. Since that day, I have walked with Him and He with me every day. There have been good times and bad times, difficult times; times when I even felt far away from God. I always have known in my heart that God has been and is always with me, no matter how I may feel. I couldn’t believe anything stronger.

Being a follower of Christ for so many years, I have desired to know Him more and more. That is why I study the Bible and write about sermons and the truths I learn along the way. Jesus is the reason why I sing songs and why I write and live. For me, He is “The Risen Saviour and my God”. I want everyone to have this same RELATIONSHIP and LIFE that I have found in Christ Jesus. When we allow Him into our lives, it puts the living hope into our lives, no matter what we might be going through. HOPE! LIFE! PURPOSE! AND SO MUCH MORE.

I really enjoyed the sermon from Resurrection Sunday. I want to share it with you. Pastor Bryan’s jury duty proved to be very enlightening to me. I hope you will get on this jury for yourself and weigh or sift through the evidence presented. If you are still not quite convinced after this trial, pray and receive Jesus. Holy Spirit will give you all the evidence you need when you begin to receive and believe. Remember “faith”.

SERMON FOR RESURRECTION SUNDAY – Pastor Bryan Vaughan
His Resurection (preached April 2014)

The Resurrection is either one of the most wicked, heartless, vicious hoaxes ever or it is the most fantastic fact of history. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5:17, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless.”

I want to distill the overwhelming data about the Resurrection into some bite-size chunks. And, I want to ask you to serve on a jury. Imagine this auditorium as a courtroom and each of you are sitting in the jury box.

Opening Argument
In my opening argument I want to help you understand the correct story about what happened on that Resurrection morning. With all the information available in the world today, I will show that most of it is irrelevant and not very useful. Its just data floating around cyberspace. It doesn’t really matter. What does matter supremely, is whether or not Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus staked His entire reputation on the Resurrection. If it didn’t happen, everything that Jesus said and did is open to question.

The issue before the court, is not that of a crime, but a claim; a claim so spectacular and so crucial that it is either the cornerstone of Christianity or it’s a fatal flaw. Members of the jury, the claim is that Jesus Christ rose bodily from the dead. The Resurrection is the supreme miracle of Christianity. It’s at the very heart of the faith.

– If it never happened, Christianity collapses into mythology and billions of people have been deceived.
– If it did happen, it authenticates everything Jesus did and said — and believers have the guarantee of eternal life and forgiveness of sins.

In the words of the Apostle Paul:
1 Corinthians 15:17: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless.”  

So, The Resurrection is either one of the most wicked, heartless, vicious hoaxes ever or it is the most fantastic fact of history. I will show you overwhelming proof that Jesus Christ did exactly what He predicted He would do, on the third day. He rose from the dead.

Acts 1:3 – states that “After His suffering, He showed Himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive.”
I’m going to present three pieces of evidence, that when taken together, will provide convincing proof that Jesus rose from the dead.

Exhibit A: The Empty Tomb
The first piece of evidence, I want to bring before the court is Exhibit A: The Empty Tomb.

-The Bible teaches that after professional executioners crucified Jesus, His corpse was placed in a solid rock tomb which belonged to a man named Joseph of Arimathia.

-After His body was covered with about 100 pounds of spices, it was extensively wrapped in strips of linen cloth.
-A very large stone, estimated to weigh about 2 tons, was then rolled in front of the entrance to the tomb.
-After this boulder was in place, a contingent of up to 16 Roman soldiers was assigned to secure the tomb. Some pictures you may have seen, show one or two men standing around in mini-skirts, holding a spear in their hands. That’s simply not the case. These men were human fighting machines. These gladiators were trained to protect the area around the tomb against an entire battalion.

Matthew 27:66 – tells us that in addition to the Roman guard, they put a tamper-proof official Roman seal on the stone. Anyone who happened to make it past the Roman soldiers would then have to break this seal. Once you break this seal you have just called down the wrath of Roman Law upon yourself.
In spite of all these precautions – the stone, the soldiers, and the seal – the tomb was empty on Resurrection morning!
When the first people arrived to peer in, they saw only one thing: the blood-stained burial cloths. It was as if Jesus had materialized right through them.The empty tomb serves as Exhibit A. It is a powerful testimony to the Resurrection of Jesus. Critics down through the years have not been able to refute the empty tomb: Instead they’ve come up with other possibilities. Maybe the disciples stole the body? But this seems far-fetched when you consider that this group of cowards would have had to overpower armed soldiers, roll away a two-ton boulder, dispose of the body, and then manufacture a myth about His resurrection: A myth that they eventually gave their lives for. That doesn’t seem plausible.

Another possibility, would be that the religious leaders disposed of the body. But, this has some serious flaws as well. If they had removed the body, all they would have had to do is parade the remains through the streets of Jerusalem and they would have derailed Christianity from the very start. But, they couldn’t produce the body because the body was no longer dead. Jesus had been raised to life again.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, Christianity rises or falls on the empty tomb. It is the one silent and infallible witness. Critics cannot explain it away. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then where is the body? Leaders of every other religion died and stayed dead. Their bones are decaying in the ground. That’s not the case with Jesus. He claimed that He would rise from the dead on the third day — and that’s exactly what He did. The empty tomb validates His claim.

While this alone provides substantial evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, I will grant you that this fact was not convincing in itself to the original followers of Jesus. Even though Jesus had predicted that He would rise from the dead, it’s obvious, from their behaviour, that they were not expecting it. They needed more evidence — something that would remove all doubt from their minds.

Exhibit B: Multiple Witnesses

Men and women of the jury, I’d now like to enter into evidence Exhibit B: Multiple Witnesses.

The early followers of Jesus did not believe Jesus had risen just because of the empty tomb, they believed because they saw Him with their own eyes. When they talked to others about Jesus, they did not say, “We found an empty tomb,” Instead, they said, “We saw Jesus alive!”

The most outstanding proof that Jesus rose from the dead is that more than 515 eyewitnesses saw him on 12 different occasions. Acts 1:3 says that, “After His suffering, He showed Himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a period of 40 days and spoke about the kingdom of God.”

Jesus gave unquestionable proof that He was alive! After His resurrection, He made an appearance to a woman in the cemetery. Later that same day, He appeared in the middle of a group of disciples who were having a meeting and Jesus also talked with his frightened followers who were huddled in Jerusalem. In the evening, he walked side-by-side with two men as they made their way down a road. He appeared to believers and doubters; to tough-minded people and tender hearted souls.

Several people saw Him on more than one occasion, some alone, and some with large groups; sometimes at night and sometimes during the day. The apostle Paul, when writing a letter to a group of new Christians, laid it all out in 1 Corinthians 15:3-6: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.”

Let me illustrate. Let us say that you were in a car accident. Since the accident happened early in the morning, there were no eyewitnesses. When the police officer arrives on the scene, the first thing he wants to know is whether or not anyone had witnessed the accident. Because if no one had, he couldn’t really be sure what happened. You can tell him your story and the other guy can tell his story, but who is the officer to believe?

Now, imagine if there was one eyewitness who saw everything and testified that your version of the story was true. Officer Friendly would be more inclined to believe your account, wouldn’t he? How about if there were three eyewitnesses corroborating your take of what happened? It’d be even stronger if twelve people were willing to testify that you were in the right as you drove your trusty Pinto through that dangerous intersection. Can you imagine how strong your case would be if 100 people saw what happened? It would be airtight, and totally convincing if over 515 people were lined up at that intersection and saw everything unfold in front of their very eyes. Can you imagine? Who is going to contest your statement when over 500 witnesses saw the accident and say that it wasn’t your fault?

Friends, that’s how strong the case is for the resurrection of Jesus! Over 500 different individuals were willing to testify that they had seen the resurrected Christ. When people were running around telling everyone that they had seen the risen Jesus, this was the beginning of the Christian Church. And when parts of the Bible were written only 25 years later, their were still many witnesses alive who could say that what was being written was a lie or the truth. We have nothing written by historians saying that lies were being written about the risen Jesus by His followers.

Think about it. If you didn’t believe what they were saying, they could say to you well, go talk to those people down the street, they all saw Jesus after He rose from the dead.
As you ponder the facts that I’m presenting this morning, I urge you to consider Exhibit A: The Empty Tomb and Exhibit B: The Multiple Witnesses.

Exhibit C: Changed Lives

There’s one more compelling argument for the Resurrection. Distinguished members of the jury. I enter into evidence Exhibit C: Changed Lives.

Those who met the Resurrected Jesus have had their lives totally transformed. The Resurrection is validated by the changed lives of His followers.

Something happened to radically reorient this original group of followers. After Jesus was put to death, the disciples scattered. The Bible tells us that they were gathered in a locked room on the top floor of a building. They were filled with fear. Their leader had been executed. They were probably afraid that they would be next.

Let us look in on a scene that would forever change their outlook — and their lives: 

John 20:19-20 “On the evening of that first day of the week (Resurrection Sunday evening), when the disciples were together with the doors locked out of fear…Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you! After He said this, He showed them His hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”

Instead of confronting the disciples for not standing with Him in His time of need, Jesus appeared to them and said, “Peace be with you.” This overwhelming peace cut through their own guilt and feelings of failure. Their fear was replaced with joy. Peter was changed from a coward who had denied Christ three times, to a man who would go into the streets at any cost and proclaim the good news about the Messiah/ Jesus.

These ordinary men were transformed from frightened wimps into one of the most effective missionary organizations the world has ever seen. Let me ask you a question: What motivated them to go everywhere and proclaim the message of the risen Christ? Was it for money? Power? Fame? No.

Every one of them had come from doubt to determination, from confusion to conviction, from fear to faith. Listen to how they died and see if it sounds like they were just making up the Resurrection: Through historical writings it is said that:

• Matthew was killed in Ethiopia
• Mark was dragged through the streets until he was dead
• Peter, Simeon, Andrew, and Philip were crucified
• James was beheaded
• Bartholomew was flayed alive
• Thomas was pierced with lances
• James, the less, was thrown from the temple and stoned to death
• Jude was shot to death with arrows
• Paul was boiled in hot oil and beheaded

Members of the jury, would you be willing to die for a lie? May I suggest that the only thing that could have possibly changed their lives so dramatically was the Resurrection of Jesus Christ? Every one of these guys could have lived if they had said just one statement: “He is dead.” But they refused because they knew He was alive!

Exhibit C is changed lives. Not only did the resurrected Christ impact this group of individuals, His life-changing power has transformed people from the third decade of the first century down through today. The combined testimony of changed lives attributed to the risen Christ, runs into the billions. From every nation and tribe and language in the world. Despite the various intellectual and social backgrounds, followers of Jesus are united in their conviction that Jesus Christ is alive.
The risen Jesus has changed my life. And I know that many of you have had your lives changed by the risen Jesus. His life-changing power is just as available to us today as it was to that group of frightened followers on that Resurrection Sunday night.

Closing Argument

“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:12-19 ESV)

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20 ESV)

I would now like to make my closing argument. In considering the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, thinking men and women will take the time to sort through all the available information and study the evidence. First of all, how do you explain away the empty tomb? Second, how do you argue against multiple witnesses? Finally, how do you get away from the fact that the Resurrected Christ changes lives?

The evidence is strong and compelling. In fact, many skeptics have approached the resurrection with the goal of disproving it. As they gathered all the data, they discovered that the evidence leads to a resurrected Jesus.

Members of the jury, what’s your verdict on the Resurrection?
Though you might agree with the strong evidence for the Resurrection, some of you are bored with it. It doesn’t do much for you. The data, simply put, does not seem relevant to your life. Hey, I know that some news makes you snooze. I’m a lot like you — I want some news that I can use.

Before you just file this talk away into your brain storage where it will be lost forever. I want to close my case by arguing that the Resurrection is full of news that you can use — it applies in a remarkable way to your life.

After investigating the evidence for the Resurrection, the question ultimately comes down to this: So what? What difference does it make in my life?

Resurrection answers to at least 5 questions that we all have:

1. The question of doubt. Is it true? How can I know it’s true? What is truth? Like Thomas, who wouldn’t believe unless he actually could touch the wounds of Jesus, the evidence for the Resurrection can displace doubt from your mind.

2. The question of loneliness. Does anyone really care about me? Do I matter? The Resurrection proves that you matter deeply to God. Jesus died for you as payment for your sins and rose again to demonstrate how important you are to Him. He can now meet your deepest need for a relationship with Him because He’s alive.

3. The question of weakness. How can I find the power to change? Why can’t I break those bad habits in my life? Friend, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to you. He can transform you just like he radically changed that first group of weakened disciples. An encounter with the living Christ can give you strength and confidence like you’ve never had before.

4. The question of guilt. How can I get rid of my guilt for all that I’ve done? Do you want some good news — some news that you can really use? The Resurrection is final proof that God accepted the sacrifice of Jesus as a substitute for your sin. Jesus has forgiven us for our sins; He’s removed the guilt. Our guilt was nailed to the cross with Jesus. He took our sin upon Himself therefore if we have no sin there can be no guilt.

5. The question of death. What happens when I die? Because of what Jesus did, you can now know that there is life beyond the grave. It’s not just a theory — it’s a proven reality. Because Jesus is alive, death will never have the last word; when we die we will also be raised back to life with a new body just like Jesus’ body when He was raised. It is a body that we can recognize but it is glorified in that it will never die again. No more death, no more disease, no more pain. Friend, you can’t sit in judgment forever. The evidence for the Resurrection is overwhelming — and relevant to your life. What is the verdict that you will reach? It’s time to make your decision. It’s time to encounter the living Christ for yourself. If you want irrefutable proof for the Resurrection, then let Jesus change your life. Open yourself up to Him. Turn to Him now. Embrace the living Lord Jesus.

Take the next step and believe. Put your faith in the Resurrected Christ and ask Him to save you from your sins and change you from the inside out.

Sermon notes – Pastor Bryan Vaughan
Hope For Today Fellowship
http://www.hopefortoday.ca

Famous Last Words

This Blog note was taken from the book: “When Time Stands Still

Pen name – Rebecca Hickson

We live our lives from one day to the next, one week to the next. The months flow into years. The days arrive when we stand at a gravesite or in the memorial service. We hear or say many words to express what that person’s life meant to us. It is one of those moments, “When Time Stands Still”. We endure the numbness with the death of a loved one. Time stands still while a clock ticks to the beat of a hypnotic song. A line of friends converse with strangers, some with giddy laughter, as they hide their pain in the numbness of reality. Others weep at the unspoken words of love, the smile left unseen, the hug of appreciation, which never happened. All this self-reproach can be put into an empty box, in the corner of one’s fading memory. A little too late are the unspoken words to the one who would have appreciated them most. Now the body sleeps, lifeless and cold, an empty shell, in a shiny wooden casket. The shell remains yet the soul and spirit go to some other place.

We fill the room with a garden of flowers, but the smell of death lingers with an over-powering stench of stagnating weeds. It is a three or four-day ritual which leaves people with simple yet unanswerable questions. Whys? What ifs? Questions that get lost in a barrage of thoughts. We ponder over fond memories and look at pictures of times we shared.

The memories bring a moment of refreshing laughter, until reality comes crashing down. A cloud burst of tears swell up from the depth of emotionalism, leaving emptiness, which wrenches the very soul. Ties are broken and lives are altered. One day or one minute can change our lives forever. Some people carry the pain not just through this day, but also with them to their own death.

Blessed is the one who can take comfort in God’s promises and does not have to walk through the valley of death alone, but instead, walk hand and hand with the Author of Life. The parlour may be full of people whom their own love has blinded. They mourn an empty shell, of what was once beautiful and full of vitality. Unknown to them, Jesus has delivered the soul from the enemy of death. It is through salvation, which was given through faith in The Saviour Christ Jesus.

What happens to all of us, who pour out our sentiments onto the columns of the obituary pages? Are our lives filled with empty words and grief, which are really nothing more, then an inkblot on a page of recycled newspaper? Do we reap the joy of His salvation? Do we inherit God’s promised kingdom of eternal life, a heavenly place where times stands still forever? Heaven is a place where love and perfection abounds, in the presence of a great and awesome God. To get there, we must know and understand the last words spoken by The Saviour and receive Him and His truth. As you read through this impacting sermon from last Easter weekend, I pray that all who read these words would seek to know Jesus – God, who offers it all. I pray all would accept His Mercy, the gift of eternal life. Simplicity at its finest, the gift is Christ Jesus, a gift waiting to be unwrapped. Open it.

The last words spoken by Jesus Messiah while enduring such moments of suffering, rejection and separation from God the Father, are words to take to heart and really ponder. They are the most powerful last words spoken. His words are for each one of us.

Famous Last Words (preached April 2014)

Summary: The last words of a dying man can tell us a great deal about his life; the last words of Jesus on the cross are a message to us of what Jesus’ life was about and what our lives should be.

Luke 23:33-46 (ESV)
“33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”[a] And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him,[b] “This is the King of the Jews.”

39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him,[c] saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” 44 It was now about the sixth hour,[d] and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour,[e] 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

John 19:25-30 (ESV)
25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. 28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

INTRODUCTION:
The last words of a dying man tell us a great deal about him.

Famous last words in history:
1. Entrepreneur, P. T. Barnum, d. 1891 “How were the receipts today at Madison Square Garden?”
2. John Barrymore, actor, d. May 29, 1942 “Die? I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him.”
3. Humphrey Bogart, actor, d. January 14, 1957 “I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis.”
4. Before slipping into a coma and dying 9 days later; Sir Winston Churchill, the statesman who is famous for his commencement address of “Never give up!” died January 24, 1965 with this last words. “I’m bored with it all.” Sounds like he gave up to me!
5. To his housekeeper, who urged him to tell her his last words so she could write them down for posterity; the revolutionary communist, Karl Marx, died in 1883 with these last words… “Go on, get out – last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.”
6. Writer Oscar Wilde, died November 30, 1900 saying, “Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.”
7. William Saroyan was a Pulitzer Prize winning writer of plays, short stories, and novels whose works were noted for their sentimental optimism. Before his death in 1981, Saroyan telephoned his final words to the Associated Press. “Everybody has got to die, but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case. Now what?”
8. Dominique Bouhours, French grammarian, died in 1702; his last words… “I am about to — or I am going to — die: either expression is correct.”
9. Thomas à Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, d.1170 “I am ready to die for my Lord, that in my blood the Church may obtain liberty and peace.”
But there is one man in history whose last words not only tell us a great deal about him, but also tell us a great deal about how we should live our lives. Some 2000 years ago, Jesus of Nazareth was hung on a cross to die for the sins of the whole world.
Seven phrases were recorded from his lips on that day.Those famous last words are revelation to us about our Saviour and about our own lives as his believers.

Those last seven sentences that Jesus spoke from the cross teach us that our saviour was:

1/ A Man of Forgiveness
Lk.23: 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Jesus was the same in life and in death. These were not words Jesus said as He died but never said them before. They were words He lived by.

Look with me at:
Luke 6:27-29 (ESV)27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic[a] either.

Jesus lived a life of forgiveness and he died still showing forgiveness. His last words teach us that Jesus was:

2/ A Man of Mission
Lk. 23:43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Wow, even when it would have been very easy to focus on his own pain and heartache, Jesus remembered what He was about.
Luke 19:10 (ESV) 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Even with His last breath, Jesus was living out His purpose in life. We can lose our perspective and forget what we are here for. It is so easy to be self consumed and not think of anyone else especially when we are going through a hard time. But Jesus stayed focused on His mission, to come and save the lost.

His last words teach us that Jesus was:

3/ A Man of Compassion
John 19:26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

Jesus was always thinking about others. He felt compassion towards His mother and towards John. He felt compassion towards the one on the cross next to Him (today you…) He felt compassion towards the soldiers (Father forgive them…) and He felt compassion for the whole human race as He hung on the cross to take away the sin of the World.

Someone has said, “Family is the place where they won’t kick you out.” But the families in North America are breaking apart due to divorce, abuse and absent fathers and mothers who chose selfish ambitions over responsible integrity. Those who are true followers of Jesus are GOD’s family.  When you’ve been caste out in life, God’s family is “the place where you won’t be kicked out.”
Jesus said, “Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ’Here is your mother.”

Jesus last words while He was on the cross teach us that Jesus was:

4/ A Man of Communion
Matthew 27:45-46 (ESV) -45 Now from the sixth hour[a] there was darkness over all the land[b] until the ninth hour.[c] 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Now GOD the father has turned His face from GOD the son. Jesus has been in perfect union with GOD the Father since the beginning of time. The Christ and the Father both are Alpha and Omega (which means the first and the last) they always have been, always will be. They both claim the title of the great “I Am” (Meaning that they are and always have been).

This is why they are GOD. My friends, if we could explain where GOD came from then He wouldn’t be GOD would He? GOD the Father and GOD the Son living in perfect submission to each other and now Jesus hangs on a cross to take upon Himself the sin of the World. And if Jesus has the sin of the world on Him then the wrath of GOD  is poured out upon Jesus for our sin. (I hope you follow me on this point.It is a little convoluted). For a brief time, the perfect union between GOD the Father and GOD the Son is broken. The communion is broken. The greatest pain of the death of Jesus was his separation from GOD the Father. The son was separated from the Father for our sakes. The greatest pain of Christ on the cross was not physical but spiritual. In all of eternity the Father and the Son had been one. In this moment, the Son understood separation from the Father.

The next words of Jesus on the cross teach us that Jesus was:

5/ A Man of Humanity
“I thirst!” (John 19:28ESV)

We must never forget that Jesus took on humanity. Jesus is 100% GOD but also 100% human. That is hard to explain, but He is GOD. He can do what He wants. I am so thankful that He loved us so much that He chose to become a human, so that He could live a sinless life and then die in our place and take our sin upon Himself. This was His sacrifice for us so that we could choose to accept His free gift of eternal life.
When Jesus was on earth as a human, He had all the same traits as us. Here on the cross we see that He is thirsty. Elsewhere in the bible we read that Jesus was hungry, tired, angry, sad, and He was tempted to sin just like each one of us. The difference is that He never gave in to temptation and never sinned. If He had sinned, He couldn’t have taken away our sin. He would have had the same problem we have. A sinner can not die for a sinner. We needed a perfect spotless sacrifice. Only GOD could have done that for us. He didn’t have to, but He loved us so much that He did.

“I am thirsty.” Jesus confesses of His weakness. Don’t be ashamed of your weaknesses because it is in our weakness that GOD becomes strong.

The sixth thing that we learn about Jesus from His last words on the cross is that He was:

6/ A Man of Destiny
Jn. 19:30 …Jesus said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
Jesus knew what He came to do and He knew when that mission was accomplished. It is finished. He could say that with complete confidence. Jesus understood His destiny; the destiny He faced and He entered into with total faith.

And the final words of Jesus on the cross teach us that He was:

7/ A Man of Submission
Lk. 23:46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

With his last breath, Jesus was committed to remaining in submission to GOD the Father. This reflection of Jesus total trust in GOD the Father. Wow! What a demonstration of the kind of faith we should live in. Paul said, “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” He too understand absolute trust and submission to the Father.
We have not lost if we know in whose hands we are held. Whether stripped of our possessions, reputation, physical or mental health, we need not be anxious, because our lives are not like dry leaves, blown and tossed by the wind. We are lovingly and eternally held in our Father’s hands.

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

These final words of Jesus offer eternal confidence and eternal relationship. There is the promise of forgiveness, the promise of Heaven, the promise of family, the promise of God’s watchfulness, the promise of resources and resolve, and the promise of God’s sovereign care. Praise be to God!

Sermon notes – Pastor Bryan Vaughan
Hope For Today Fellowship
http://www.hopefortoday.ca

When Bad News Arrives

This sermon is a great reminder from the scriptures through the example taken from the book of Nehemiah. Many years ago, I wrote a song basically summing up the book of Nehemiah. It was to go with a sermon about the wall of Jerusalem. This sermon below is a refreshing reminder to me.

This has been a difficult winter for many people.  For me, I have experienced the crumbling down of some protective walls. Many times, I have fought the battle in prayer. Sometimes we are in that battle field, just trying to get through the day to rise another day. Sometimes the problems are still there when we get out of bed. When this happens, it is of great help to know you have a friend you can trust and ask to pray with you or for you. Sometimes we can feel so beaten down by the battle, we need to ask someone esle to pray for us. One prayer can make a huge difference in the battle. Even if that prayer, initially, only reveals to you that someone cares and understands what you are going through.

So, many times we hear about tearing down the walls around us. This sermon gives another perspective. I am learning that some walls are needed. Without walls or boundaries, we become totally vulnerable for attacks. In the case of protection a wall is good and it serves a great purpose. There is always a big gate for entry. We can open that gate at any time to allow that which is good to enter. The book of Nehemiah shows many strategic battle plans in the success of rebuilding that wall in the midst of the battle. (Prayer and fasting, reverence and humility before God, determination, effort, reverent obedience, steadfast faith, trust) May you recognize some of these strategies and apply them to your broken-down wall. May the Lord God of Heaven help you rebuild your wall.

Nehemiah – song

The wall of Jerusalem was broken down.

The gates burned with fire to the ground.

Nehemiah, sat there and prayed to God above.

O Lord, God of Heaven, the Great and awesome God,

Let your ear be attentive and eyes open to prayer.

Let me go to Judah and rebuild the ruins there.

By the Gracious hand of God.

Many men worked day and night.

With reverent obedience, they worked with all their might.

Although they were ridiculed and insulted to their face,

Though the threat of attack was against them, they kept a steady pace.

They worked with half their men holding onto spears.

But God was on their side to alleviate their fears.

They sacrificed everything they had.

They rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem, by the hand of God.

Nehemiah sat there and prayed to God above.

O Lord, God of Heaven, You’re a great and awesome God.

If you intend to work, you can get the job done.

Work with the Lord. He is the awesome one.

 

When Bad News Arrives

Ezra 9:8-9 (ESV) “But now for a brief moment favor has been shown by the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant and to give us a secure hold[a] within his holy place, that our God may brighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our slavery. For we are slaves. Yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery, but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia, to grant us some reviving to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us protection[b] in Judea and Jerusalem.”

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah.

Nehemiah 1:1-4 (ESV) “Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.”As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.”

Background of Nehemiah:
“Those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it”
The HISTORY of the people of Israel was given to us SO THAT we could learn the lessons and avoid repeating their mistakes.

1 Corinthians 10:6-11(ESV) –Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ[a] to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.”

**What is the lesson?? I want to learn the lesson!! God’s chosen people, the Jews, couldn’t seem to get it right…so it must be really complicated– right??

It’s actually AMAZINGLY simple!
It’s so simple you wonder how anyone could get it wrong!
It’s so simple you have to ask yourself, “Why do I so often forget this?”

  • The primary lesson is Obey and honor God and He promises to bless you. The opposite is also true: Disobey and ignore God and you will experience trouble and suffering.

Deuteronomy 30:1-3 (ESV) 30 “And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you.”

And generation after generation of Israelites experienced this cycle of OBEDIENCE for a time, followed by a DECLINE (growing cold and compromise) into sin and idolatry, followed by God’s JUDGMENT and usually their defeat and slavery to some military power.

**The books of Ezra and Nehemiah are a glimpse into one of those periods when Israel had fallen into sin and rebellion against God and were being dominated by the Persian Empire. They had been either KILLED or REMOVED from their homeland and most of the things important to them lay abandoned and ruined.

**BUT GOD WAS AT WORK!!! In the 5th century B.C….after almost 70 years of dominance… the Persian rulers began to…not “allow”…but INSIST that Jews return to Jerusalem.

Ezra 1:1(ESV) -“In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing”.

Cross references:

  1. Ezra 1:1 : For ver. 1-3, see 2 Chr. 36:22, 23
  2. Ezra 1:1 : Jer. 25:12, 13; 29:10
  3. Ezra 1:1 : ch. 5:13

The result of this first movement was that almost 50,000 Jews got to return and they attempted to rebuild the temple…BUT it would be ALMOST 50 YEARS LATER that a priest named Ezra would be sent back by King Artaxerxes with the authority and resources to rebuild the temple. Now “JUMP AHEAD” another 15 years…and you find God moving in the heart of a man who was uniquely gifted to TACKLE another important task that needed to be done for the sake of Jerusalem’s IDENTITY and PROTECTION. That man is King Artaxerxes “Cup Bearer to the King was a man named Nehemiah.

  • Nehemiah has genuine concern for his people- (verses 1 and 2)

Nehemiah 1:1-4 (ESV)

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah.

“Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem.”

Why would Nehemiah care about a bunch of people hundreds of miles away from where he was? Nehemiah was well taken care of by the king, in fact the kings life depended upon Nehemiah the cup bearer. Nehemiah would be set for life if he continued on in the king’s court.

Was it perhaps because Nehemiah was a Jew that he was concerned about the people in Jerusalem? I am a Canadian but I don’t often think about the other Canadians scattered about the world.

Do you always care about people all around the world just because they are the same religion as you? We should but we don’t. Perhaps it was because Nehemiah had great memories of Jerusalem when he was a kid? No, that couldn’t be it because Nehemiah was born the son of slave, born into captivity and had never stepped foot into Jerusalem up to this point in his life.

Actually, in these verses, his concern seems to grow out of two things:

1.) The involvement of his own brother, Hananai, in the work of the exiles.
2.) His understanding of the importance of Jerusalem to his people in their worship.

Question: Do I have a genuine concern for what people around me are going through?

3.) Nehemiah hears a report that breaks his heart- (Verse 3 and first half of 4)

“3 And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” 

**The importance of a WALL in Nehemiah’s day could not be overstated. Without a wall, a city was nothing more than a group of people waiting to be robbed, harassed and even killed. During that first fifty year period, an attempt was made to rebuild the walls but King Artaxerxes was warned about the history of the Jewish people and he demanded that they stop. So those 50,000 or so people were LITERALLY in constant danger and the broken city walls and burned gates were a constant reminder of the humiliation that their captors had subjected them to.

Canada has become a nation whose walls are broken down…and for the most part, we didn’t have an enemy come in and take them down by force. WE dismantled the walls so that we could be “free”. The freedom to do – ‘WHAT I want to do WHEN I’ want to do it, has destroyed the walls of MARRIAGE and FAMILY and SELF-CONTROL and ABSTAINANCE and everyone is in DANGER because there are no walls anymore.

  • ALL AROUND US are individuals…marriages…and families that are in DANGER because the walls are down and they don’t even understand why.

***It’s NOT ENOUGH for us to point to our “better” marriages and “happier” families while those around us are victimized…they want to know if we CARE.

Question: Does it bother you when you hear about a painful situation?

-When I hear of a hurting marriage
-An abused child
-A lonely widow

Dr. Tony Campolo said: “We are caught up in a particular point in our national life in which we are not only terribly materialistic, but worse than that; we’re becoming emotionally dead as a people. We don’t sing, we don’t dance, and we don’t even sin with much enthusiasm. There is deadness everywhere. High schools are apathetic. Colleges are apathetic. Worst of all– some fellowships are apathetic. If WE are no longer alive– what hope is there for the world?”

  •  “Don’t just DO something…sit there!”

Neh. 1:4 – “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.”

**We are all familiar with the saying- “Don’t just SIT there…do something!” It’s very “Canadian”.

I appreciate what Nehemiah does. When confronted with the report from his brother, it doesn’t say that he offered a single word of advice…he didn’t offer to speak to the king about the matter…he didn’t make a personal “resolution”…he got before the God of heaven and he PRAYED. Actually…he FASTED and PRAYED.
Can you see that image…of a man who has been confronted with a HUGE PROBLEM…and who feels an INTENSE BURDEN and is not going to DO ANYTHING or GO ANYWHERE until he really prays about it.

Question: What’s my instinctive reaction to “bad news?”
-Work things out on my own?
-Talk to people about it?
-Fall into depression?
-Let it bring me to a place of true dependence upon God again?

Application: How are things going in your life?

If you would say, “Things are going well with me!” Do you realize that God hasn’t blessed you so you could simply “soak it in” for yourself. Everything you have (including a good marriage and happy family life) is a resource God expects you to use for His glory.

If you would say, “Things are not going well with me!”, it’s time to take responsibility for the broken-down walls in your life and seek help in rebuilding them. If Hanani had not been honest with Nehemiah about the condition of the people, he probably wouldn’t have responded in the same way…open up with a Godly friend you feel you can trust. Tell them about your burden or your struggle. And recognize the place that real prayer and brokenness before God will play.

Let’s all be concerned for one another and see what we can do to help each other rebuild the walls of our life. Let’s pray.

Sermon notes: Rev. Pastor Bryan Vaughan

Hope For Today Fellowship – http://www.hopefortodayfellowship.ca

Time to grow-up!

Time to grow-up! 

As for this sermon, it has, shall I say, given me much to think about and work toward.  I’m still crawling along at a snail’s pace as far spiritual maturity goes. Even recently during the storms of winter, I’ve had to look in the mirror to see just how old I look – only to find out that my maturity level is not catching up with that mirrored image.  You would think we would learn from our mistakes and immaturity. One would think that the little slips of the tongue would help us live with tongue in cheek. Sometimes the tongue behaves like it is still frozen from being at the dentist. When it is frozen you can bite your tongue right off and not even feel it. However, like in life, when the freezing comes out and the damage is done, it is hard to sew your tongue back on. Often times the hurt and damage is done and the dentist and care providers have left the building, leaving you to wipe up your own saliva. We have heard the sermons. We know how and what we are supposed to do as Christians. Speaking for myself, I always fall short. My human efforts are not enough. This morning I said something I should not have said. I made a judgement I should not have made. I realized this, too late. That being said, I believe the first step would be: getting on my face and praying, seeking God with all my heart, soul and mind. Knowing and behaving are two different things. There is a long distance from the head to the heart.

I just watched a video last night called “More than Dreams”. It was about five people at a crossroads in life – crying with all their heart for a deeper understanding of God. It is said that in every person’s heart there exists a void only God can fill. For these five Muslims their cry to God brought them new discovery and a relationship with Christ Jesus. The found the truth they were seeking to find. They discovered more than superstition… more than magic… more than ritual… more than religion… more than dreams… They discovered Jesus. Their lives were radically transformed. God can change their lives. He can change all of our lives. I couldn’t help but notice that within each person’s story, they had one thing in common. They each had a desperate desire for God and His truth. Desperate seeking of God, is the best place to start in our pursuit of Spiritual Maturity. Start on our knees before the God of the Universe. Allow His transforming power to work. He is the heart transformer. He can change a heart full of hatred, jealousy, anger, addiction, pain, judgment, depression into a heart of Christ-like love and Spiritual Maturity. When we receive Jesus in the truest sense – it is like being born again. Being changed to a new creation. God becomes the rudder of our ship. We will not go anywhere if don’t get on board, all the way. We can’t have one foot on the dock and one foot in the boat.

It struck me – a lightbulb moment as I watched that DVD. It occurred to me that I seem to want to protect certain areas of my heart; fill that void with other things or people, rather than give all my heart to the Lord to fill. No wonder I struggle with Spiritual maturity. After examining my own heart, I repented, prayed and ask Jesus to fill that area of my heart that I had not given over to him.

Maybe you have a void in your heart and you feel that desperation, but you don’t know what to do with it? Think about what Jesus did on the cross and ask Him to fill that void in your heart.  This Friday we will remember what Christ did for each of us who call on the name of The Lord. On this Friday remember: It was after Jesus endured much persecution, rejection, suffering.  It was about sixth hour (3 o’clock) in the afternoon when Jesus – God’s Son, the prophesied Messiah, gave up His Spirit to the Father God and finished the work of the cross. Through his shed blood and death on a cross, Jesus took our place. In doing this He became the bridge between us and God the Father bringing the redemption and forgiveness of sins for those who choose to believe, repent and follow him.  We are not little children anymore. Skip the Easter eggs and chocolate. They won’t save you. Receive Jesus the Saviour and live for eternal life. He may be returning soon. I love you. Please don’t put it off. This is for real.

Sermon notes by Associate Pastor Colyn Rogers:

Christian…Time to grow-up!

Did you know that it is God’s will that every Christian become spiritually mature? It’s true!

God wants us all to grow to spiritual maturity. Paul scolds the Corinthian church for their lack of maturity. He treats them as if they are babes in Christ. Let’s look at a few scripture verses on the topic:

”I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh.  For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?”(1 Corinthians 3:2-3)

One of the biggest problems that we face today is that of spiritual maturity. We get ourselves into all kinds of problems by saying immature things, by acting in immature ways, by making immature decisions.  Sometimes pride can elevate a person’s thinking to being a Superior Christian. This is a person that has elevated themselves above others; they haven’t matured beyond keeping up appearances. You will recognize these people as they have a superior arrogance about themselves. They would say things like, “I can’t help you, I’m a CHRISTIAN!!! That may be a harsh statement, but we probably all know at least one person who has veered away from the church or fellowship, saying I don’t want any part of that Holier than thou attitude. Many hurting people are just not seeing the love in the church!

We need to live as Christ, see as Christ and feel as Christ. We need to become spiritually mature. We need to grow up. We need to stop playing church, but instead be the church body God expects us to be.

Paul tells Corinthians to grow up! God wants them and all of us to grow up – because spiritual immaturity causes all kinds of problems.  God’s will for your life is spiritual maturity. One of the purposes of this Fellowship is to help you grow to spiritual maturity. What is spiritual maturity?  Let me start by telling you what it is not:

Spiritual maturity is not a matter of AGE.  Spiritual maturity takes effort, energy and a whole lot of discipline…Turn of those distractions, TV, Radio or whatever it is that keeps you from connecting with the King of the Universe. No one becomes spiritually mature overnight. Even Jesus grew – as he grew up. Look at what the Bible says in Luke chapter two:

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favour with God and man.” (Luke 2:52)

One can get older and not grow to spiritual maturity. Some Christians refuse to grow up. I’ve seen 50 and 60 year old spiritual babies. Spiritual maturity involves much more than just aging.

Spiritual maturity is not a matter of APPEARANCE.

Some people look and sound spiritually mature. They know how to talk the talk – but the question is – do they know how to walk the walk? Some people look holy – they seem to have heaven hovering around them – but that may just be appearance and not reality. Appearances can be deceiving. Spiritual maturity is not a matter of what a person looks or sounds like on the outside.

Spiritual maturity is not a matter of ACHIEVEMENT.

You know you can be recognized by all kinds of organizations but that does not make you spiritually mature. You can have all kinds of degrees and diplomas hanging on your wall, but that is not spiritually mature either. Achievements are not a sure sign of spiritual maturity.

Spiritual maturity is a matter of ATTITUDE and CHARACTER.

Attitude and character make a difference. It’s attitude and character that count. D. L. Moody said, “Character is what you are in the dark.” Recognition is what people say about you. Character is what God knows about you. God says it’s your attitude and your character that determines who you are. The book of James is manual on spiritual maturity. This morning we’re going to look at six things on spiritual maturity.

A spiritual mature person is positive under PRESSURE.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

All of us have problems – all of us have trials – all of us have situations that are not good. How do you handle them? How do you deal with things gone wrong? Do your problems blow you out of the water? Do you get up-tight? Do you grumble? Do you get negative or nervous, depressed? The first test of spiritual maturity is – do you act positive under pressure? Remember the Bible says: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds”

Life is full of problems and a big part of life is – problem solving. The question to ask is, “Do I have the right attitude as I approach the problems of life?” Remember the Bible tells us to, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” You can know the Bible cover to cover – just don’t be rude and obnoxious when sharing. What is your attitude toward life? A spiritual mature person is positive under pressure. Think on that and if you are still not getting it, ponder it, verify it against the Word of God. A spiritual mature person is sensitive to the needs of OTHERS!

If you really obey the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” James 2:8 (ESV) A spiritually mature person is sensitive to the needs of those who are around them.  A spiritually mature person doesn’t just see their own needs, they are also aware of the needs of others. They understand that there are many around them that are hurting and have needs. When children are young they say, “I want this or I want that. I don’t care about what you want – I want … I want … I want … and I should get my way.” (Some people are still children in their thinking.) Spiritually immaturity says, “It’s my way or the highway. I want it all – give it to me.”

God tells us that love – being concerned about other people – is a sign of spiritual maturity. James tells us not to show favouritism, don’t be a snob, don’t be rude, don’t ever, ever look down on other people, don’t judge by appearances and don’t insult people. Spiritual maturity is how I treat other people.

Paul implies – “I can build cathedrals, I can write theological articles, I can put out Christian CDs, I can give all my money to international missions work – but if I don’t have love – all I’m doing is tooting my own horn. It really doesn’t amount to much – in fact it is worth nothing.”

 A spiritual mature person is master of his MOUTH.

“For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.” James 3:2 (ESV)

There’s a saying – ‘Loose Lips Sink Ships’. Loose lips not only sink ships, they destroy lives.

As kids we would say “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” I guess we know differently now, names will and do hurt you, and your feelings. So what we say is very important. Some people tell me not to be so sensitive. That doesn’t always help.  Some words can really tear you down.  That is what James tells us. We should be very careful in what we say and if we can control what comes out of our mouths – we can control the whole body. I will repeat that – IF WE CAN CONTROL WHAT COMES OUT OF OUR MOUTHS – WE CAN CONTROL THE WHOLE BODY!

We get ourselves into much trouble by what we say. James gives us several illustrations of how much the tongue can get us in trouble. He says the tongue is like a rudder, a horse’s bit, a spark, a wild animal, and a spring. He says that when you put a small bit in a horse’s mouth – you can control the direction that the horse goes. A small rudder on a boat is designed to control the direction of a boat. Your tongue is small – but it has a huge impact on your life. What you say can destroy your life. You can use your mouth for words of encouragement – or you can use your mouth to spread words of discouragement.

The tongue is small but mighty.

Have you ever heard someone say, “I just say what’s on my mind”? As if they are proud of it. But what if there mind is in the gutter. What if there is not very much in their mind or on their mind? What if what they’re thinking is mean and nasty? It is better to say nothing than to say something stupid, rude or crude.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)

Each word you speak should be uplifting to someone else. If it doesn’t build someone else up – don’t say it – even if it’s true – don’t say it. That’s a sign of maturity. You are learning to manage your mouth.

A spiritual mature person is a peacemaker not a troublemaker.

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” James 4:1 (ESV)

The Message commentary interprets it this way:

“Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way and fight for it deep inside yourselves.” James 4:1 (MSG)

James is talking about conflicts and quarrels. He says that we fuss, fight, and fume because of our own inner desires. You want something and you don’t get it – so you get mad instead. When you get mad you take it out on others. You kill and covet but you still don’t get what you want.

The real questions to ask here are: ‘Am I a peacemaker or am I a troublemaker? Do I like to argue? Do I like to debate? Do I like to stir up trouble? Do I intentionally hurt other people’s feelings? Am I a peacemaker or am I a troublemaker?’ The sign of a spiritually mature person is the lack of conflict in their life.

A spiritual mature person is PATIENT.

“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” James 5:7-8 (ESV)

Patience is another sign of spiritual maturity. The word ‘patient’ is used three times in these two verses – that tells me that being patient is important. Being patient is an excellent character trait.

James gives an illustration of a farmer who plants his fields and now has to wait for the harvest. If there is anyone who has patience, it’s a farmer. He plants the seed, he cultivates, he sprays, he hopes, he expects… he waits. There are no overnight crops. Just like a farmer – sometimes we have to wait. We wait on God to answer our prayers. We wait for a miracle. We wait for God to move in our lives. We wait. Patience is a sign of maturity. The only way to learn patience is by waiting. Many times God says, “Not yet.” That does not mean no – it means not yet. We need to wait. We need to be patient.

A spiritual mature person is PRAYERFUL.

“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16

Prayer is talking to God. It is bringing Him your requests. It is praising Him. When we pray we acknowledge that He has control in our lives. James uses the story of Elijah to show us that there is – Power in Prayer. Elijah prayed that it would not rain and God stopped the rain for three years. Elijah prayed again and the heavens opened up. Elijah did not manipulate God – but he acknowledged Him and believed that God controlled the elements of nature.

How do you handle your problems?

  • Are you positive under pressure? Are you sensitive to the needs of others around you? Are you mastering your mouth – keeping control of what you say?
  • Are you a peacemaker rather than a troublemaker? Are you patient and are you prayerful?

These are all signs of a spiritually mature Christian. Commit yourself today – to grow into maturity as a Christian.

Ok, I’m done. Let’s pack up our Bibles, put away our crossword puzzles and texting devices. I’m going to pray, speak with the King of Kings,

Inspired by – Sermon by: Associate Pastor Colyn Rogers

Hope For Today Fellowship – http://www.hopefortoday.ca

Lord, Lord

I always struggled with the understanding of these verses which are the topic of this sermon:

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. (Luke 6:46,47,48 ESV)

“But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” (Luke 6:49 ESV)

Another reference:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)

It makes me wonder how someone could have the power to cast out demons, or give prophecy, or use The Lord’s name and do these things – how they would not actually know Jesus? The words say “lord”. dictionary meaning (lord – means someone or something having power, authority, or influence; a master or ruler: lord of the sea/lords of the jungle/our lord and king.)Many people claim to have a faith in God and many pray to the Lord. The question is – who is that person’s Lord. Lord could be anyone they exult to the level of Christ, The Lord they confess whether or not that lord is the one true God or not. The question in Matthew, asks the question, “does Jesus know them”?

What is lawlessness? Lawlessness – “not governed by or obedient to laws; characterized by lack of civic order.” In this context the word lawlessness would mean breaking any of the written laws, Old and New Testament. Without Christ – they are still in their sin. It would be lawless to mimic Holy Spirit or use The Lord’s name in vein, for personal gain or fame. Also the act of mimicking or replicating the phycological effects of God and attaching The Lord’s name to it. This person may not be a genuine follower of Christ. It is a dangerous thing to say, “Thus sayeth The Lord”, when The Lord did not truly give that prophesy or word of knowledge. Do nothing out of selfish ambition.

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” (Romans 4:7, 8 ESV) Repentance and a relationship with Christ is the only way to have redemption.

The sermon is making me think about these scriptures, in regards to the many experiences and things I’ve witnessed, through a variety of teachings in some gatherings, done in the name of Jesus. Is these scripture references, when they say to The Lord, “Did we not do all these things in your name?”  The saying would refer to –  “In your name” meaning “In Jesus name” or “In the name of Jesus.

At this time in my life, I find myself in a place of questioning some of these things going on, in the name of Jesus, and questioning the teaching I hear from some pulpits. I’m always checking what is being taught with what the bible says. We should all do this. There have been so many times where I have got caught up in the emotional atmosphere, often fuelled by enthusiastic preachers. I enjoy a charismatic atmosphere for worship. Who does not want to experience a deeper move of the Spirit? I’m not saying that emotional responses are false. I’m just saying that it is so easy to be moved by our emotions which can be changing frequently, especially in regards to loyalties, interests and affection toward people, and the situations we are experiencing at certain times. I have gone up for altar calls seeking something more from God. In human understanding, many times faith does not seem enough. We want the manifestation of God whether through a healing, the miraculous sign or by falling down by the power of God (called slain in the Spirit). In fact, where is being slain in the Spirit mentioned in the bible? That is a good topic for research. In some way, do these manifestations strengthen a believers faith? Or does it lead to it a feel good religion or literally, “Man – manifestations”? Are we seeking a feeling of being high (drunk in the spirit)?  “But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.” Acts 2:14 ESV)

I just listened to a song by Tim McGraw called “Drugs or Jesus”. Does Jesus become the replacement drug for some of us? The problem with this is you eventually have to leave the church altar or the retreat and go out into the world. Life in Jesus is not always on a high. When the emotional high is not there, many fall back into the drugs of the world. The joy of The Lord is a totally different sermon which is found in my other blog called “Rejoice”.

I believe I have felt what many Christians call, “the anointing, moving of Holy Spirit”. When this happens anything can be changed in whatever way the Holy Spirit wants to work. Holy Spirit also indwells the true believer and follower of Christ Jesus. That is a promise from God.

Everyone needs to take a step of faith and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. We need to know the difference between Holy Spirit and Emotional manipulation. The bible does tell us to check the Spirits so that we do not get deceived. I’ve heard many prophesies in the local churches. We must test these words of knowledge or prophecy to make sure they are from God. Do they line up with scripture? I’m still trying to understand this. Sometimes it is hard to know the truth from the fake. Pray for discernment. Instinctively, we want to believe we just had a word from God. For someone coming into a church for the first time, it can be a little intimidating when someone points you out of the congregation and tells you they have a word from God. Does that not make one feel special? I’ve listened to so called prophetic words given to me and also given to my friends, by people with titles given to them; names like apostle or prophet/prophetess. They could be a spiritualist for all I know. I have received “words of knowledge” which have come to pass, while other’s who have prophesied over me have not. One thing I have come to believe, is that, if a prophetic word is given and it is truly from God, it will come to pass and it would not contradict scripture. That is one way of knowing a true prophecy or word of knowledge. I’ve had pastor’s and people in leadership positions ministering to me at an altar call.  In many of these revival meetings, people have yelled in my ear and casting off this and casting off that demon.  I don’t deny that the Holy Spirit can move through others who God has given an authentic gift. One problem is; many times we elevate these prophets, thinking that they have a special in with Jesus, beyond what is available for each one who believes. Jesus said, Holy Spirit would come to each believer. They don’t have a better in with Jesus. Some may have more knowledge or are walking closer with God. Why do we need to ask someone else to talk to The Lord on our behalf, when we can get down on our knees or simply be quiet before Him and listen and speak to the Father ourselves? Jesus often went to a place of solitude and prayed to the Father God. Why wouldn’t we do what Jesus did?

When we seek other’s before we seek Jesus first, we are exulting that person to a level with Jesus. We elevate idols. That is how people like Joseph Smith have been elevated and called a prophet from God (Mormon, Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints. People seek to read what he has written in his Book of Mormon, before they read the Holy Bible.)

Another example – (The Jehovah’s Witnesses tradition is a religion founded in the late 19th century C.E. in the United States. Founded by Charles Taze Russell, Jehovah’s Witnesses grew out of the Christian Millerite movement and has since spread worldwide. Jehovah’s Witnesses doctrine is grounded in Russell’s teaching that the Second Coming of Christ has already occurred (in a spiritual, invisible form) and the visible form that will follow will include the establishment of Christ’s millennial kingdom here on earth.)

There are some false prophets leading large congregations in the name of Christianity. We can easily seek another person or so called prophet for their wisdom or teachings and believe in them, as from God, when it may not be from The Lord at all. Do we seek the gifts more than the giver? That is also a dangerous place to enter. I have been down that road. While I have experienced a little bit of an elevation in my Spirit from these experiences, I do now wonder if they were legitimate manifestations of the Holy Spirit or simply emotional manifestations? Dare I even say, they could have possibly been a demonic force at work? As seen in (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV) Jesus will judge.

If you ever used a Ouija board, or had your palm read, or spoke to a physic, you may recognize their is another power at work. That power is not from The Lord. He clearly tells us to stay away from mediums. (Leviticus 19:13) We know that Satan is an imitator and a mocker of anything of God. We saw the magicians turn sticks into snakes. (Exodus 7:12) We know that Satan comes to deceive, destroy, and steal away the sheep (John 10:10). Knowing this, should encourage us to be cautious and knowledgable to what is being taught? Now, I’m not trying to scare anyone away from the Church, in fact I encourage everyone to seek God first and a relationship with Christ and His Kingdom, and all the rest will fall into place. Jesus said, he would leave those who believe in Him (followers of Christ) the Holy Spirit, to teach us, lead us through “The Word” (Bible). Thinking about the sermon notes below, I am once again searching the Word and seeking God’s truth in all things. When that day comes when I stand before The Lord, I don’t want to hear those words, “I never knew you.”

Read below and examine this scripture for yourself. Open up your bible and come on the journey.

Recap of verses:
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” (Luke 6:46-49 ESV)

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)

Sermon notes:

Jesus asks a crucial question.  “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Periodically, everyone who is a follower of Christ should asked themselves, Christ’s question, and examine the way they live their lives to these passages of scripture.

Three things:

1. These people honestly believed they were saved. They are talking like followers of Jesus.

2. There are many of them. A multitude is bigger than a few. This is frightening. Many will say Lord Lord.

3. They claimed that they prophesied, cast out demons. Some people think that if they do a miracle in the name of Jesus they have arrived. This is a side issue. The central issue is whether Jesus knows you.

Think about it. If your pastor was up at the front of the church every week casting out demons, yet when he stands before God, Jesus says to him, “I never knew you”.

The question Jesus confronts us with:

“Is Jesus The Lord of my life? He had just finished preaching the “Sermon on the Mount” to a multitude of people plus the disciples. Also called “The Beatitudes”

The Beatitudes – (Luke 6:20-23 ESV)

And he (Jesus) lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:
*  “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”
*  “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.”
*  “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.”
*  “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son    of Man!”
*  “Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.”

Summarized bible commentary says:
Contents: Sermon on the Mount, continued. Encouragement to prayer. The two ways. Warnings against false teachers. Danger of profession without faith. The two foundations.

Characters: God, Jesus, disciples and a great multitude 

“And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all. (Luke 6:17-19 ESV)

Jesus uses the simplest words and truths. Some in the crowd shouted amen and agreed, but it had no radical impact on their lives. Some of the truths a preacher speaks can impact our lives. We do our devotions, pray and then we get to the front door and leave what we learned behind. Often we leave our faith at the door of the church. We don’t take it with us through the week to the work place or to those we meet.

Conclusion: True disciples of Christ will be men and women cautious in their judgment of others; conscious of their own faults; confident and earnest in prayer; wary of false teachers and hypocritical profession; building all eternal hopes upon the firm Rock, faith in the Word of God and Christ Jesus.

Key Word: Sermon on the Mount, 5:2. (Two ways, vv. 13, 24, 26.)

Strong Verses: 1, 2, 7, 8, 12, 15, 21, 24.

Striking Facts: v. 22 shows that there will be among those rejected by Christ in the last days, many preachers, so-called soul winners and good moral men, simply because devoid of true faith in Christ who alone is the foundation of salvation. Beware of mere lip-devotion which signifies nothing, either here or hereafter.

How do we get to know Jesus?

It is by spending time with Jesus and building a relationship (strong foundation) with him. What makes a husband your husband? Not a piece of paper. It is in the relationship. We have to work on the relationship. We must qualify. So many people (believers in Christ included) are being taken up on side issues. The side issues are stealing the limelight, so much, that we can even forget to talk about Jesus. Some are consumed by signs and wonders. There are fellowships where people go, just so they can receive a prophesy. The danger is that people can get side-tracked into seeking the signs and wonders more then they seek the Saviour Christ Jesus.

There are many churches calling themselves a prophetic church? Do we need to go to a prophetic church to find out the will of God? or Can we read the word of God, learn and know the will of God for ourselves? Are we becoming lazy Christians and just want to ride on the coat tails of what someone else teaches or says, rather than seek God and His word for His truth and instruction for ourselves? We must seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and communicate with God in that one-on-one relationship through His Son Christ Jesus?

Some in the churches are even going to mediums. The mind is a powerful thing. The devil can use these things to lie to you. There were many false prophets mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible and their were many true Prophets called by The Lord God.

True prophesy within the Old Testament was to tell you what would happen in the New Testament. Many prophesies were fulfilled. There are 1000’s of prophesies which have come to pass. If someone tells you something outside of the Word of God, it is not prophesy. Ex. If someone prophesies saying, “God told me you should leave your wife.” You would have to question that as being from The Lord. Stay in the Word of God. If you start listening to false prophesy you will be lead away from the truth and into that which itches the ears. Be consumed by God and not by tricks of the enemy.

But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. (Matthew 12:39 ESV)

God does not do signs or miracles to get people to believe. He does miracles for his glory. Just because God does a miracle through the prayers of a person, does not mean that God approves of that person. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ (Matthew 7:22 ESV)

* Jesus didn’t say they didn’t do the miracles. He just said, He didn’t know them.
* Jesus calls for decisive action
* Jesus gives illustration of a house built on a rock and a house built without a foundation.

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, (Deuteronomy 13:1 ESV)and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 13:2-5 ESV)

This being said, within the body of Christ, there are special appointments and gifts from the Holy Spirit. Ex. Missionaries, Evangelists, Teachers. In actuality, followers of Christ, are all called to be Missionaries, Evangelists and Teachers. For some there may be is a special anointing (Where the Holy Spirit divinely moves in that person’s calling or gift. Some are given authority and power.

“And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.” (Luke 9:1, 2 ESV)

“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Corinthians 12:1-11 ESV)

Here are biblical examples:

* Read story of Balaam – Numbers 22:30-35

“But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. (John 11:49, 51, 52 ESV)

* Magician’s prophesied.
* Evil sons of Sheba cast out demons.

Don’t be deceived by those who practice lawlessness (not governed by or obedient to laws or sound doctrines of the Word) yet they claim God to be their Lord. What a thing to have the instruction of God, but deny it and teach and twist scripture and side-track believers.

Jesus is not doing a new thing. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Always, be coming to Jesus. Focusing on Jesus and seeking His will by His Word (scripture).

“A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:5 ESV)

How do you get to know the voice of Jesus?

* Read the bible.
* A mistruth is a lie. There are many believers who get sidetracked. If you are close to the shepherd you are in a safe place. Those on the fringe are the first to be attacked and pulled away.
* Be hearing. Don’t just read about the bible, but get in tune to Holy Spirit.
* Do what Jesus says. Obedience is the key to Christian life. God never asks us to something that is not good for us.
* Knowledge is no substitute for obedience. Obedience is true spirituality.

Jesus talks about the house. All about the foundation you build your faith upon. If the foundation is built right, the rest of the house is easy to complete.
– foundation built on the rock.
– holiness and daily reading
– prayer and fellowship with the body of Christ.
– encourage one another.
– to a casual observer from a distance, both houses look good. When the storms come then we see which house is still standing.

Some have blamed God when their house fell. It is our responsibility to build the strong foundation. Be wise and build your house upon the rock. Don’t be the person who measures their life by the miracles you do or see, but by what God did for each one of us, through His Son Christ Jesus.

To be obedient is to be Holy as He is Holy.

Jesus said there are two commands.
Love The Lord your God with all your Heart soul and mind and love you neighbour as your self.

If we love Jesus we have to keep these commands.

STAND ON THE ROCK

Inspired by sermon notes – Pastor Bryan Vaughan
Hope for Today Fellowship

If you have any questions or comments, direct them to: http://www.hopefortoday.ca

Giants

Giants

The biggest giant I have ever had to face is the voice which seems to be inside my head. That voice that is always quick and ready to tell me I am no good for anything! It can be a condemning voice with convincing words of accusations. Sometimes that voice brings his friends. That voice can come from the “accuser of the brethren” (Satan). They run toward me like a football team ready to tackle me to the ground. They do their damage and then leave me there like a flattened football, thinking they have won. By God’s great grace and strength, I manage to get back up, stagger about, while trying to recover from the many blows. I know the enemy knows my weakness. When those attacking voices think they have already captured my mind, then they aim their arrows at the heart They attack the areas where there may be fear, insecurity, pain, loss, guilt and the tender wounds from previous battle scars. Even when I begin to overcome, the enemy is quick to shut down any confidence or growth.

In public school there was always a bully around each corner. I was a tough kid. I had three brothers who taught me how to fight. Just to clarify, I wasn’t a bully. (A person who uses strength or power or influence, to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.) Thinking back, I usually stood up for the one’s being bullied. Had my fair share of hair pulling, fist punching, kick fights. I have the scars to prove it. There are some terrible memories wrapped in that need to defend. That was the way it was for me in those growing years. While in public school, there was one girl who I actually feared. I could call her one of my childhood giants. When I was a child I had nightmares about her.

Now, I’m an adult. There still seems to be many giants to fight in a battle of a different kind. It is a Spiritual battle because I am a Christian in the Lord’s army now. There is an enemy at work in all of our lives fighting to destroy our souls. When we are on the front lines, it is common to feel the brunt of the attack.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 ESV)

We walk in flesh (earthly bodies). The war being fought is against powers of darkness (Satan). We have the divine power to win the battle. Many of those thoughts are lies of Satan telling me that I’m not really a Christian, not really saved. The liars say, “You don’t really know Jesus. You don’t have the Spirit. You are immoral. You are like Jezebel and God is going to throw you on your deathbed. You don’t have love, joy, peace, therefore you do not have the fruit of the Spirit. You are despicable. You are a bully. You don’t have any friends. You are not loved. You are a trouble maker. There is something terribly wrong with you. You don’t fit in. You are evil. You are a terrible neighbour. You are a terrible person and everyone sees you that way. On and on the the words of destruction swirl in my mind, trying to permeate deep enough that I begin to believe them. Sometimes, he uses other people to attack, using arguments, opinions, sharp words and even scripture (Satan used scripture to tempt Jesus). Most of the lies come in the silence when I am alone. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, The Maker of heaven and earth. I fall on my face before my Saviour.  I have to be steadfast and faithful and raise the Sword of His Word and fight that battle. We all must take those thoughts, and whatever ammunition used against us, captive, rather than becoming the one held captive by that giant. We do this by obeying the word of Christ and prayer.

Old Testament – teaches us the old covenant (law of commandments) without Christ in the flesh. There are all kinds of giants in our lives. God sent people to the Promised Land which was inhabited by giants.

1 Chronicles 20:6-8 “Another battle took place at Gath, where there was a giant with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. He was a descendant of the ancient giants. 7He defied the Israelites, and Jonathan, the son of David’s brother Shammah, killed him. 8 These three, who were killed by David and his men, were descendants of the giants at Gath.

Today, we are at war against giants. They are not seven feet tall with six toes. Sometimes the giant is in giving over our will to be in the Lord’s will. We want to do what we want to do, but the Spirit wants to do something better.

New Testament
“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.” (Ephesians 2:11-16 ESV)

We see that there was a great battle already won through Christ’s shed blood on that cross. He conquered sin and death reconciling us to God and in the process killed hostility.

Spiritual warfare is a necessity. For God’s children this is what to expect. Ex 3:16-17

“Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.”’ (Exodus 3:16, 17 ESV)

In Exodus we see Israel was promised a land flowing with milk and honey, but there would also be enemies. God promised Joshua the land. God said to Joshua Be strong and courageous” because they would have to face many challenges and battles.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 ESV)

We also read of David and how he had to fight Goliath: “And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. (1 Samuel 17:4-6 ESV)

Saul’s clothing and armour was too big for David. David was a shepherd boy not used to wearing heavy armour. He took it off and went to fight Goliath with five stones and a sling.

“Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” So David put them off. Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:4-6, 38-40 ESV)

“So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.” (1 Samuel 17:50, 51 ESV)

Later in David’s life he would have to fight for his life against King Saul and his armies and the many armies to follow.

In the New Testament, Jesus promised tough times for those who followed him and taught His gospel, but He also promised He would be with us. Jesus told us:

“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.” (John 15:19, 20 ESV)

Our war is not conventional. It is a different kind of war – offensive warfare! Unfortunately, many followers of Christ want to protect themselves rather than go out and make war (as in, stand up for their faith in Christ and the Word of God)

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:4 ESV)

In Ephesus many worshipped Diana and other idols. There was drunkenness and immorality. When Paul preached at Ephesus he was, in essence, making war as he was destroying their business. He was dethroning Diana by spreading the good news. Strongholds and arguments can be pulled down. This is what Paul was doing by spreading the gospel of Christ. A giant is anything that exults itself higher than Jesus. We may think that these battles are too high above us and begin to believe that we can’t take them down. That in itself, is a lie from the enemy. When we trust and obey the Word of God, we have the armour and ammunition wrapped up with faith and with God, to take down that giant.

There are many spiritual giants who seem to know much more than we do. We might even think or be told things like, who are you to question them? A giant is anything that does not give God his righteous place.

Two kinds of weapons:
+ The kind you can’t trust.
+ The kind you can trust.
+ Our weapons are not carnal or fleshly, but of divine power.
+ The weapons of God are not our own man made weapons.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 ESV)

+ David used the armour of God not the armour of King Saul.
+ The Word of God is also called “The Sword of the Spirit”.
+ Prayer is a weapon. The prayers of a righteous person are effective.
+ We also have God’s people to go with us in battle.
+ What Giants do you face in your life?
+ Are they coming between you, and people or even God?

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”(Hebrews 12:1, 2 ESV)

Some days there are different giants. We do not need to fear because God is on our side; The Creator of the universe.

What are your Giants:
+ Is the giant Loneliness? This can be a huge giant.
+ Addiction can be a giant.
+ Maybe it is a broken relationship.
+ Financial worries
+ Physical giant
+ A giant that seems so big and in control over you, that you may want to die.
+ When kids are teenagers, they go through stuff, hormones. Sometimes they freak out.
+ What is a giant to someone else, may seem nothing to you.
+ Sometimes the giants can seem overwhelming. Some of us need others to help us.
+ A giant can be someone controlling something in your life you have no control over.
+ A giant can be the wounds inflicted by those you love.

Maybe you are reading this and you feel like you have conquered all your giants. Life is good and you are spinning and twirling (rejoicing) because everything in your life is just hunky-dory? Just keep spinning, just keep swimming, oblivious to the giants attacking those around you. I’m thinking of Dory from the movie “Finding Nemo”. She was constantly being lost in her own short memory. That would be a very short sighted perspective.

This would be a good time to help someone else in their battle. Step out of your ice palace and give an act of love to someone who could really use a little help right now facing their giants. Sometimes, just a little word to encourage someone can help defeat that giant. Sometimes, in reaching out to others, we not only help them with their giants, we are shrinking our giants at the same time. Life can be full of surprises. When you least expect, that giant can come knocking on your door. Maybe, I am a bit of a dreamer, but sometimes when we face the giants, we can learn a lot. We might even be surprised to see how God works in that Giant’s life too. I tend to think that over time, the giants won’t look so big because we can change and grow bigger than any giant.

In closing, about a month ago, while waiting in a line-up, I met that girl (giant) from public school. She was standing right beside me. I was not afraid of her anymore. Of course we are grown women now and have outgrown that violence. I should hope so. She is now shorter than me. I started talking to her like we were the best of friends. We laughed as we reminisced about the school days and about how she tried to beat me up for running through her skipping rope. Good thing for me the teacher intervened that day or who knows how many black eyes I would have gotten!! That girl ended up beating up our teacher instead of me. That was a close call even though we were both sent to the principals office. As we both stood there waiting for the punishment, I leaned against the office wall crying in a repentant kind of way, she leaned against the wall laughing at what she did to the teacher. I’ll never forget it.

It was a big deal to me, but for her, she probably never gave it another thought. She was just like Dory. “Just keep swimming. . . just keep swimming. . .”

Inspired by sermon notes – Pastor Bryan Vaughan

Hope For Today Fellowship – http://www.hopefortoday.ca

 

Rejoice in the Lord Always

Rejoice in the Lord Always.

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