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#Lent#18

Thursday, March 19th, 2020

Have you ever noticed how some verses get a bad rap? Hear me out please. By bad rap I don’t mean kicked-to-the-curb-bad.  Instead, I’m referring to the fact that some verses are so close to another that stands out, that one verse is almost glossed over, even forgotten.

For example, Romans 8:29. Ask people to quote verse 28 and they’re on it!  Ask them to quote verse 29 and they most likely will stutter and stammer. Look closely though.  Verse 29 gives good traction and clarity to verse 28. All that happens is designed to conform us to the image of God’s Son.

Another one is in John 3.  Tell me what John 3:16 says.  That one is easy to spout off.  Some will know verse 17 if pressed. Okay, how about verse 15? We scramble for our Bibles to look it up.  Let me save you some time.  “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” BAM!

Powerful verse!  It finds its root in Numbers 21:5-9 where the Israelite people found life by looking at the serpent lifted up by Moses.  Life is found in the “lifted up” Christ.  That is a definite picture of Jesus being lifted up on a cross. There we find life. And it certainly isn’t a verse we can forget or leave out!!

Look up and live!

#PrayerfortheChurch

Friday, March 6th, 2020

We might occasionally hear someone say, “We need to pray for the church” and to stop short of gossip and story-telling they end it right there. Their heart and desire is sincere.  Some not so.  My sermon Sunday is going to take a positive spin on this often-used phrase and show how a person can pray for his/her church.

Paul’s prayer for the church from Colossians 1:9-14 is packed full of meaty stuff. 

  1. He first prays for them to have knowledge. This is direct aim at the Gnostics who were haunting the Colossian church with their nasty teaching. The Gnostics taught that Christ was a good place to start, but that there was so much more they could know and experience if only they would incorporate the Gnostic system of passwords, rites, and initiations.  The by-product of that was a know-it-all attitude and intimidation that their faith was not enough.  So Paul prays for knowledge. But here is the important thing: this knowledge is not just given to the follower of Christ to inform them, but to transform them.
  2. He then prays for them to walk well. The word walk has changed in meaning over the years. We all know what it means today. Back in biblical days it referred to a person’s pattern of daily conduct.  I’ll finish this section out with 4 marks of a pleasing walk.

Your prayers are deeply appreciated. Thanks.

#Trust#FulfilledProphecy

Sunday, February 2nd, 2020

In my last post I wrote about the sermon I was preaching this weekend.  As I write this post, it is Sunday morning and I am in a “holding pattern.” I am transitioning from studying and preparing myself to waiting. I thought I would share something that really struck me as I studied.

There are several reasons why we can trust God’s Word to be authoritative. One of those is fulfilled prophecy. I’d like to comment on that in this post.

I once had a man who was trying to defend his unbelief. When I asked Ken about Jesus and the fulfilled prophecy in His life, Ken’s answer was classic.  He said, “He was just the right man born at the right time and in the right place.” I wasn’t very knowledgeable at the time (and still have a huge lack in that department) and so my answer was simple: “Seriously? All those prophecies and one man filled them all in just the right time and just the right place?” Since then I have learned more. (Good thing since my answer was so weak). Here is just one thing I have found out:

There were 55 OT prophecies He alone fulfilled. One mathematics professor studied just 8 specific prophecies and his research was staggering. Just 8 prophecies and he found the possibility of one person fulfilling just those 8 was 1 in 10 with 17 zeroes. In a journal called Science Speaks this man said, “Suppose that we take 10 with 17 zeroes and had that put into silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep.  Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote using their own wisdom.”

That sort of puts it all into a different light doesn’t it?  Which is harder to accept-that Jesus was Who He said He was or that He was a man born at the right time and in the right place and just happened to fulfill the prophecies? I know where I will stake my sword.  And you?

#Trustworthy#Foundation

Friday, January 31st, 2020

Ideas on the Bible are mixed, even within the “church.”

Group 1 will say the Bible is just another book. You know…it has some wise sayings here and there.  It is mixed with a lot of genealogies, myths and other crazy visions.

Group 2 will say, “I know the Bible is important- at least my pastor thinks so. He’s always referring to it.” But they have no working, first-hand knowledge of the Bible itself.

Group 3 would align themselves with other Bible believers. It is true. It is God’s Word. It is infallible. It is without error. It is inspired. It is more than just a guide to life; it shows how to find real life.

Where do you stand? Group 1 stands for many in our culture today, even in the “church.” Liberal churches are teaching the Bible is just another book and it is being taught as a good guideline on how to treat people; how to be successful, etc.  Group 2 is a picture of those who might grow up in the church- might even still be in the church- but are really not convinced of its importance in their own life. Group 3 represents those who firmly believe in the importance of the Bible. Men of God are called on to preach the Word of God.  Paul told Timothy, “Preach the Word.”

That is all well and good if the Word is trustworthy. It becomes the foundation upon which we build. My sermon Sunday is entitled You Can Trust It!! It is getting more and more scarce to see and hear and meet people who firmly believe the Bible is trustworthy and are willing to teach it and preach it with authority.  My goal is to show why we can trust the Bible and MUST use it as the foundation of our faith and practice.

This is not an easy topic to make interesting because of the amount of information to be dispelled. I’d certainly appreciate your prayers for me and for those who listen. Thanks.

#Qualities#NewCovenant

Sunday, January 12th, 2020

I’m thinking that sometimes we who are Christ-followers really do miss out on the importance of the New Covenant over the Old. Now…before I say even more I want to make one thing very clear: I am in no way discounting the importance of the Old. The TRUTH is that we miss out on a lot of the meaning of the New by discounting the Old and we miss out on the observances of the Old by relegating it to “non-person” status. The power of the New Covenant is enhanced by our understanding of the Old.

In my sermon Sunday I brought to light 8 distinctive qualities of the New Covenant as found in 2 Cor. 3:6-18. I’d like to share them with you but also ask you to go to your Bible and see them for yourself. Underline and highlight them and use them to earn a greater appreciation for what we have. Here they are:

  1. It gives life. (v.6) Check out this verse on your own. “The letter kills but the Spirit gives life.” What a powerful statement against legalism. I’d almost say it was this one verse that solved the mystery for me years ago.
  2. It produces righteousness. (7a,8-9) The phrase “now if” can be translated as “since.” Since the law was a ministry of condemnation it could not offer righteousness. That could only come through Christ.
  3. It is permanent. (7b,10-11) Just as Moses’ covered reflection faded, so does the Old Covenant. The glory of God never fades away.
  4. It brings hope. (12) Those under the law had no hope, which also meant (are you ready for this?) no forgiveness of sins. Hope is the confident belief that God will fulfill all the promises of His New Covenant. It is a hope the Law could not offer.
  5. It is clear. (13-14a) Moses had to put a veil over his face after being in God’s presence.  He did that for two reasons: to hide the blazing glory of God, and to hide that it was fading. In contrast, the New Covenant reveals the mysteries of God that were obscure in the Old. All those sacrifices. All those rules. All those rituals.
  6. It is Christ-centered. (14b-16,18a) The veil which obscured the Old Covenant was removed in Christ, and was made plain in Him.
  7. It is energized by the Spirit. (17) The same God who gave the Old gave the New. The same God who gave the Law is the same God who gave salvation to all. The same God who gave the rules and regulations of the Old is the same God who set us free through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
  8. It is transforming. (18b) We are daily being transformed in the image of Jesus.

There is no doubt the New Covenant is superior to the Old. Let’s not denigrate the Old; let’s just remember its place and purpose. Galatians tells us it was a “schoolmaster to lead us to Christ.”  Paul was upset with the Galatians that they were going back to the “old ways of the Law.” Let’s not go backwards. Let’s move forward in faith.

#SecondBest#WhySettle?#New/Old

Friday, January 10th, 2020

It is common among children, either on a playground, a class or a field to say something along the lines of “My dad is stronger than your dad” or “My dad can beat up your dad.” Since I am not a fighter, I sure am glad my girls never made those kinds of boasts about me! Talk about being in hot water. My Man Card would definitely have been called into question. 🙂

The whole purpose behind those statements is the idea of superiority: my dad is superior to your dad. Many who call themselves Christ-followers are content to settle for second best. We have a group around here-and perhaps you do as well-that want to be known as Torah observant. My question to that is why? Paul’s book to the Galatians effectively-least I think so- negates the life of the one who chooses the OT over the NT. Please understand that I am not taking the stand of one well-known pastor that we need to cast aside the OT (old covenant) and solely follow the New, but I am saying the New Testament should be our “go-to” not the Old. Paul himself said the Old covenant was not evil or wicked, but  it was and is certainly limited in its ability to save us.

My sermon for this Sunday is entitled Why Settle for Second Best? and as you have probably gathered it will on the Old versus the New Testament. I’ll be doing a comparison of both and will obviously come out on the side of the New Testament as being superior.  The Scripture is 2 Corinthians 3: 6-18. I’d love it if you would read it and then listen to the podcast if you are unable to attend. But above all I covet your prayers.

I’m sorry you are unable to listen to last week’s sermon via podcast. We had a guest leading our worship and a person on the soundboard for the first time on a Sunday morning. He pushed a pause button but when he turned it back on it had disappeared. He felt bad. Ryan just doesn’t have a job anymore as the Youth Pastor.  🙂  I wouldn’t trade him for anyone or anything (unless an exchange of significant money was made).  I jest about it all (except for the high praise for him).

Thanks for your prayers. They are much appreciated.

#Truth’sTruth#Can’tForget

Wednesday, January 8th, 2020

In my last post I talked about PostModernism and the importance of feelings to our culture’s way of thinking.  I can’t think what I want to think because it is “all about me anyway.” I don’t like God’s rules or standards so I’ll make up my own. Talk about a world of hurt for a world in hurt!!

For this post I’d like to take you a bit further. Back in April of 2018 I purchased a book by Steve Lawson entitled The Moment of Truth. Steve is a pastor, a professor and has a ministry dedicated to biblical preaching. I bought it because I was appalled by what some were calling preaching these days. You know…the kind of nonsensical garbage from the “Your Best Life Now” author and others who want to preach their own ideas as Gospel-even though those ideas violate Scripture. Even though they leave out vital truths like sin, salvation by the blood of Christ, etc. Anyway, I digress. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t falling into that hole myself so I bought this book.  The first chapter was titled “What is Truth?” and he gave 8 distinguishing marks of truth. I chose 4 that I shared this past Sunday. The main thoughts are his; the commentary is mine.

#1- Truth comes from God. Truth is divine. All truth originates with God.  I’m certainly glad it doesn’t originate with man. We can’t even make up our minds what we are going to wear in the morning! Salvation is what God says it is. A lifestyle is wrong or right by what God says, not what I think.

#2- Truth reigns supreme. Truth is absolute.  Our culture may say truth is relative but it isn’t. Just like water conforms to its container, so does our version of “truth” today. Not God’s version.  Let me give you an illustration; I am 6’5″ tall. You can disagree with me but it doesn’t change the truth. You can say I’m only 5′ or I am a giant and must be 7’6.” But your thoughts don’t change the truth.

#3- Truth is a fact. Truth is objective. Truth never blurs the line of distinction. We can’t say something is truth one minute and then “fudge” the next. That is why we can’t base truth on our feelings. They change and waver too much.

#4- Truth stands as truth. Truth never contradicts itself. What is says once; it says again and again. If it changes then it is not the truth. God doesn’t say to you, “I love you with grace” but turn to me and say, “I can’t stand you. You aren’t good enough for me.” God’s truth is always the same.

Four marks that make truth stand out. I hope you will grasp onto truth and not let go. What do you think?

#Temptation#RequirementstoDefeat

Monday, August 12th, 2019

Sunday I preached on Joseph’s battle against the temptation Potiphar’s wife presented. Two phrases I used several times were these:

With greater success comes greater measure of trust.  We can read how Potiphar trusted Joseph.

With greater measure of success comes a greater measure of vulnerability.  We can also see how his success made him vulnerable to attacks. The enemy came at him with laser-like accuracy.

What  would Joseph do? Well, with the benefit of hindsight we know Joseph said no, fled, but then was falsely accused by a woman who was scorned.

How can we do the same? Temptation is common to all of us. How can we defeat it? I hesitate giving an easy “Four Step Plan” because most of those don’t work, but Chuck Swindoll gave some great advice in his book on Joseph. As promised here, I’d like to give you his words.  The main thoughts are his; the commentary is mine.

1. Don’t be weakened by the situation. The Scripture says, “Day after day” Potiphar’s wife went after Joseph. Not one and done. Day after day. Fatigue often sets in during the battle. Don’t be weakened.

2. Don’t be deceived by the persuasion. I have heard my share of excuses, as I’m sure you have, when people fall. “No one will know.” “My husband or wife doesn’t meet my needs.” “I’m lonely.” “Just this once. Never again.”  Be careful of justification.

3. Don’t be gentle with your emotions.  Many soft-hearted people are drawn in by their compassion. I think that is one reason for not having mixed sex “gripe” sessions. Too often what started as innocent becomes the downfall for many. “But I don’t want to hurt their feelings.”  You are not being rude or insensitive by saying no.

4. Don’t be confused by the immediate results. Joseph was falsely accused and ended up in prison. We often cannot see the forest for the trees. Immediate results can be deceptive.

There you have it. Four simple ideas about defeating temptation. They aren’t steps to take; they are advice to heed.

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Grounded

Friday, February 1st, 2019

One of the worst fears of any ship or boat is being grounded. Hitting a sandbar. Hitting a reef. Being tossed on shore. (Think Gilligan’s Island! 🙂 )  But I’ve got another kind of grounding in mind.

G. Campbell Morgan, a British preacher who lived from 1863-1945 (that means he “saw” both the Civil War and both World Wars) once wrote:

If our Rock were not our Redeemer, we would be without hope. If our Redeemer were not our Rock, we might be afraid.  Let us never forget that our redemption has in it the strength of the Mighty One.

Since the first of the year (except the Sunday we had to cancel due to the weather), I’ve been looking at Psalm 27 and its truth as an anchor. For an anchor to hold there must be solid ground, something it can sink into. This Sunday’s Scripture show us there is something we can sink our teeth into, the solid ground of the Word of God. My sermon this week will be on Psalm 19: 7-11. There is so much richness there in those few verses! First, I’m going to look at 5 myths surrounding the Bible, then look at the solid foundation the Scripture offers us.

I’m excited about preaching this message. I love talking about the Bible’s strong foundation. I’d appreciate your prayers for this Sunday.

Shameless

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

Shameless plug here. I make no bones about it. I’m not going to call it something else. I’ll call it what it is. 🙂 I wrote the following at my other blog, LivingintheShadow:

Ever since I read Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur in 1993-1995 for the first and second time, I have always been stopped by Psalm 13. There was a scene in the book where Yoma (a wise old man) led Jason (the main character) through this psalm. No matter how many times I read Psalms, I ponder this chapter because it made things so clear to me years ago and still does. Here is how it breaks down:

For the rest of the post and my thoughts please go here:

I would be honored if you would check out my other blog and consider subscribing. See the side bar for a direct link to LivingintheShadow. Thanks.