Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Bold Trust - Acts 23

These notes briefly outline my sermon on Acts 23 from this past Sunday. Read Acts 22:30 through the end of 23, then stop (it'll be difficult, the story is so compelling) and read through the following notes:


There’s no casual conversation going on here. This is intensity turned all the way up - then up a little more again and again as the story continues.


Paul calls the High Priest a “whitewashed wall,” then is confronted as to how he spoke to the high priest who is a very wicked man, but is still the leader. Leaders are to be respected, not reviled, and Paul immediately repents of his sinful attitude. In doing so he gives us a great principle.


Principle of spiritual maturity:

The time between being upset at a confrontation about your sin and genuine heart repentance will grows shorter as you grow spiritually. It's a measure of spiritual maturity.


We’re then reminded that:

The central claim of the gospel is the resurrection

1 Corinthians 15:14, 17, 19 – if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 17 your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 19 …we are of all people most to be pitied.


If you claim to be a Christian - you absolutely must stand up for the truth of the resurrection.

You have to say: I believe in Jesus - risen from the dead. If you do not , you’re not a Christian


Right in the middle of this passage - maybe the most important phrase in chapter 23: Take courage!

This was a Message of Courage, Comfort, Commendation, and Confidence


Principle: God brings us exactly what we need right when we need it 


We can be confidence in God’s plan for us. Always. 


The Plot to Kill Paul is one of the BEST illustrations of God’s sovereignty in the Bible. 

It’s so abundantly clear that God is actively intentionally orchestrating every little detail of this whole thing as it unfolds.


God is at work! All the time. In every situation.


1 Peter 5:7 – casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you


What does this passage mean for my daily life?


1. Be Bold

We need to be bold in words & conversations

We need to pray for one another to be bold.


Whether that means 

- standing up for what’s right

- leaving a conversation

- correcting a friend’s sin

- receiving correction

- simply bringing up the gospel.


The Boldness you need - He stands ready to give - just ask.


2. Trust God


Where and in what way do you need to trust God?

Start trusting?

Trust more?


Whatever situation you’re worried about.

coronavirus

my job

my finances

my health

that certain relationship

1,000 other things…

He’s got this


2 Corinthians 1:3-5Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

10 … on Him we have set our hope


 

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Thinking through your testimony

Paul’s Testimony

Acts 21:37-22:29


Paul’s testimony important. It’s repeated three times in Acts. Looking closely at Paul’s testimony will help us better craft how we can put together our own testimony as part of sharing the gospel with others.


FIVE PRINCIPLES for CRAFTING your TESTIMONY


1. Connects with your audience

Paul pointed out: I’m one of you. He identified and connected with them in a very powerful way.


Ephesians 2 shows us that no matter the crowd - we actually can identify with them.

[We all] were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Whoever you’re sharing with - you were once as they are now


Begin by identifying with our audience and speaking of your life before Christ


2. The Details of our Conversion

Paul’s conversion was a significant historical event - a major turning point for the church.

Paul was pursuing his own glory. Literally in the middle of his feet swift to shed blood when he was saved.

In an instant, he realized how wrong he had been and was dramatically converted. In that moment, he became a follower of Jesus Christ.


3. Your Commission is Connected to your Calling

When the Lord calls you in salvation,

You’re also commissioned to take that message to others.

Galatians 1:15-18 shows us that Paul’s commission to take the gospel to the Gentiles was there from the beginning.


4. You will Be Rejected

We don’t talk about this when we discuss evangelism, but we will often be rejected.

When the crowd heard of Paul’s mission to take the gospel to the Gentiles, they erupted in a frenzy of hatred, calling for Paul’s immediate death.



5. Attitude and Actions

Where it is absolutely relevant to what’s going on in our world today. Paul leaned into his rights as a citizen, telling us that we too can lean into the rights granted to us by our constitution.


Five Attitudes/Actions of Paul to Imitate

When faced with hostility,  difficulty, or persecution:

1. Accept the situation - remember God is in control

There’s no reason to be anxious or to panic

Just Stay calm - Carry on - Trust God


2. In Every Situation - See the Opportunity

If you’re looking for an opportunity to share the gospel, you’ll have that chance. 


3. Bless Your Persecutors

Paul never got upset or angry. He genuinely cared for those persecuting him. He reached out to the angry crowd, and stopped the centurion from an action that would have brought trouble to him.


4. Glorify God

When sharing his testimony, it wasn’t about what He had done - it was about what God did in and through Him. His heart’s desire was to magnify and lift up God, not himself. 


5. An Attitude Like Christ

Paul demonstrated sacrificial love constantly. Ultimately, this was a reflection of Jesus

1 Peter 2:23 – When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 


The attitudes and actions that Paul had were both a picture of Jesus and a result of trusting in Him. When you turn away from sinfulness and place your faith in Jesus, you become like Him and are commissioned to carry His message to the world.


Sunday, August 16, 2020

The Gospel in God's Words

Using only God's Words - this is the message of Christ Crucified that we proclaim:

Psalm 96 the Lord made the heavens…Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;”

1 Corinthians 10:31”So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Romans 3:10-11– None is righteous, no one understands; no one seeks for God. 

Romans 3:23” all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

6:23”the wages of sin is death

Acts 17:30-31 – “…now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world...”

Romans 2:8 – for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

Romans 5:8“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”

1 Peter 3:18“Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, so that he might bring us to God…”

1 Corinthians 15:4of first importance .... Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”

Romans 10:9-10 ...if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” 

so....

Mark 1:15 …repent and believe in the gospel.

Ephesians 2:8 …by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God


And as 2 Corinthians 5:20 says - We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.


How to memorize these passages?
Get a small card - the blank back of a business card or an index card - write out the first verse on the card, put it in the window sleeve of your wallet. Tape a second one to the dashboard of your car. 

Read through it several times in the morning before heading out for the day, again mid-day, and again before you go to bed. Read it out loud at least one of those times. 

On the second day, as you read through it, try to say more of it without reading it off the card each time you read. Say as much of it as you can without looking at the card. 

After a few days, hand the card to someone, quote it to them, asking them to help you one you need help.

By the end of the week, you should have the verse down pretty well. If you need to keep working on the verse the next week, that's fine,. If you get it memorized before the week ends, start working on a new verse.

At the end of each week, review the verses you've memorized previously. 

Aim for word-for-word precision. You're memorizing the actual words of God!!



 

Monday, August 10, 2020

God's Provision: Defensive Weaponry

Ephesians 6:13b-17a

When Jesus died and rose again, He brought forgiveness of sins and new spiritual life. We really did receive more than we could ask or imagine. 


And as we come to the final section of Ephesians, the culmination of the whole letter, we’re shown what God has provided for our spiritual victory and joy and what we must do on our side. 


Remember, the enemy is coming against you at every turn to steal your joy, frustrate you, slow you down, and distract you.


Don’t forget, however, that our problem isn’t JUST the attack of the devil. The other foe we face is ourselves. Our pride, preferences, and traditions are often a big part of the problem. 


We must constantly live in submission to the Holy Spirit, and acknowledge that our own works, strength, and ability are never going to cut it. We need to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.

Two important details to remember when considering how to put on the armor that God has provided:

1. It’s the whole armor. You can’t pick and chose.

2. You must follow what precede this all through Ephesians. Verse 13b says having done all

Paul is reminding us that knowing, obeying, following everything up to this point - is absolutely required to stand firm. 


Everything we have has been provide by God (including salvation), but as we pursue sanctificaiton, we must make every effort (2  Peter 1:5 - …make every effort)


Our efforts don’t earn the armor. Our efforts are what God uses to bring us to a better understanding of all that He has provided. 

And even with God’s provision of His perfect weaponry, we’re still responsible to  “put it on”


For each piece of weaponry we’ll see:

1. The Truth

2. What it looks like

3. What we do to “put it on.”


The Belt of Truth

1. Right doctrine - accurate knowledge of spiritual things - knowledge based on the Bible

2. Living a changed life as a result of that knowledge.

3. Pursue Biblical truth - the great doctrines fo the Bible - more than hobbies, sports, etc. 


The Breastplate of Righteousness

1. Imputed Righteousness: the Righteousness that Christ provides for us in Salvation


2. The pursuit of Righteousness. Personal holiness. 1 Peter 1:15 - be holy in all your conduct


3. Train yourself to ask “is it holy? To everything. In every action, attitude, and all of your words ask yourself is it holy?


The Gospel of Peace

1. A readiness, willingess, and eagerness to share the gospel of peace any time, any place. 

For most of us, this is a big struggle. 


2. Are you ready right now to share the gospel with someone?


3. What will you do need to do to be prepared, to be bettter prepared, or to generate opportunities?



The Shield of Faith

1. This large shield fully covers and protects you.


2. It is most effective in deflecting the attacks fo the enemy when you’re linked up with others: your church family.


3. Are you fully confident and trusting in God? Stop worrying because God is in control. Remind yourself of His absolute sovereignty in ALL things. And never forget His love for you. All of His actions toward you are based in His sacrificial love for you. The love seen in it’s clearest form on the cross. 



The Helmet of Salvation

1. This is the hope of heaven. The assurance of our salvation based on the teaching of the Bible (see the Belt of Truth again, and remember “whole armor”)


2. We can have absolute confidence in the final destination of our journey. 


3. Be comforted, and full of joy, reminding yourself that your salvation is absolutely secure. You have nothing to worry about or fear.


When we put on this armor daily, there is great joy even in the midst of situations that should be frustrating and defeating. 


2 Corinthians 4:8-9; 16-18We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed 16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 


On your own, you’ll never withstand the attacks of the enemy, but you’re not meant to do it alone. God has not only saved you, but He has provided everything you need to live a successful, victorious, joyful Christian life.


Monday, August 3, 2020

Living the Christian life is Fighting a Battle

The Battle

Ephesians 6:10-20, part 1


This passage is the culmination of the entire book. Paul describes how God equips and enables us to live a victorious Christian life. 


It builds on Ephesians 1:1-6:9


Here’s what Paul is teaching us in this passage:

Strength and Power (verse. 10)

You have to have right beliefs - Chapters 1-3.

You have to have a right walk - Chapters 4-6:9


It will take more than that….

All of your effort and time is never going to be good enough. 

That’s actually fantastic news!

because:

HE IS our strength. (Ephesians 1:19–20)

We can face any battle - any trial - because we stand in HIS strength!



2. The Enemy (verse 11)

Our enemy is very real.

We face a formidable foe

1 Peter 5:8Your adversary/enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 


The forces of evil are constantly striving to drag the world down deeper and deeper into evil. We must stand firm in every way we can. 


Three things tabout the enemy:

1. He is Powerful

But don’t forget that God is more powerful

This is God’s universe - not the devil’s

God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient - Satan is not. You can’t resist the enemy in your own strength.

But GOD’s Strength is MORE than sufficient

2. He is Wicked & Evil

Satan and his minions are always working both behind the scenes, and in the obvious ways to be as  destructive as possible in both individual lives and in society in general.



3. He is Crafty

His attacks will be varied, because he doesn’t want them to be obvious. 


3. The Realm of Warfare (verse 12)

Where will he attack you?

When will he attack you?


1. Immediately after salvation

Before you begin laying a foundation.


2. In Affliction

He’ll say things like, “Maybe God doesn’t love you… He’s obviously abandoned you…”


3. In Success

Any success - in any area - can immediately lead to pride


4. When you’re Not making every effort (when you’re spiritually idle)

Idle hands are the devil’s workshop….


5. When you’re not Connected to the Body

You need the encouragement, help, and accountability that a church family provides.

Sheep aren’t meant to be wandering out by themselves. Sheep need to be in a flock

They need to be under the care of a shepherd


How does he attack?

As a Lion

As a friend - in the garden, he was giving friendly advice - not a scary attack

An angel of light - the “enlightenment” of our culture today, largely demonic. We see it at every turn right. 


4. God’s Provision (verse 13)

When you trust in yourself - you will fail

To be successful in this battle…Put on God’s Armor - what He has given us for this battle. 

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

It is absolutely certain that you will be attacked TODAY!

The first enemy in your life is your own lostness

The first step is to submit to God in salvation

Repent and believe in the Gospel!


The Lord stands ready to provide everything you need for life and godliness - 2 Peter 1:3


None of this is automatic

It’s not just knowing information, it’s surrendering your life to Him - First in salvation.

Then - in humble obedience to His Word


So how do we stand? Tune in next week…


Monday, July 27, 2020

So do I have to wear a mask?

[NOTE: We're living in a time where we're seeing executive orders, new ordinances, recommendations, and such in areas we never imagined we'd see. What is the Christian's obligation to follow these rules that are, in many cases, quite controversial? The full sermon will help you determine that, and the blog below is a summary of what you'll hear in the sermon. There's a lot that's left out in the blog, so be sure to listen to the sermon so you understand the big picture....]


Colossians 1:13-14 – He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 


We must always consider ourselves first and foremost citizens of the Kingdom of God 

above all else. We owe our allegiance to our King - the Lord Jesus Christ. 


Period. End of sentence. End of discussion. 


As Christians, as we strive to follow Jesus, the Bible teaches that we are to be in submission to the authorities in the various areas of our lives. 

Romans 13 gives us the basic framework for how we are to submit to the governing authorities. That submission, however, isn’t to be blind, automatic acquiescence to every single law or order. 


For a full explanation of what our submission should look like, watch the full sermon here.

(the sermon starts at the 29:43 mark)


Below is the basic outline and principles outlines in the sermon:


The meaning of “Submission” 

Subject - as a soldier is required to obey his superior officer, we are to obey the governing authorities.


governing authorities - This isn’t about a particular person - but the authority that is over you. Ultimately, in America, our final authority is the constitution. It is to be mediated through the various levels of government. 

Verse 1bthere is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

God is the one who ordains authority.

God ordains that we are all under authority.

He ordains authority in four areas (all of life)

Home

   wives are under the authority of husbands

   children are under the authority of parents

Church

   believers > the church (through leadership)

Workplace

   employees > bosses

Society

   citizens > governing authorities


You don’t just submit when the authority is good, competent, moral, or reasonable. 


The God-ordained role of government:

• Restrain Evil (including punishment)

• Protect Citizens (Life & Property)

Ultimately, the role is to Implement Justice


Verses 3-5 – it’s not fear of punishment that drives our obedience, but our obligation to God


The summary command:

The basic thing that should characterize us: Submission to Authority, including the Government.


Christians must recognize that God’s delegated authority runs through all of life. Submission to that authority part of how God keeps order in the world, guides His children, and protects them. 


As followers of Christ, we know that He humbled Himself to the point of death on a cross at the hands of an evil government that was breaking their own according to their own laws.


While we are to submit to the governing authorities and be known for submission, rather than rebellion, submission doesn’t mean that we automatically obey every single point of law like a robot.

 

Acts 5:29Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.

This was their highest court.

Their governing authorities


The Real Question at Hand:

• Do I have to wear a mask?

• Do we have to stop gathering?

• Do I have to quarantine?

• There will be many more questions that will come up in the future. 


When are you free to not submit?

Four principles for determining this:

1. Examine Your Heart

Are you known for submission or rebellion? 

For pursuing peace & unity or stirring things up?


Are you looking for an excuse to NOT wear the mask? 

Or are you truly trying to do the right thing?


If you’re absolutely convinced that wearing a mask is going to help others - you should wear one whether it’s a law or not. 


Make sure you have the right heart attitude first. If you don’t, get that right before moving on.

It starts with the heart!


2. Follow your Conscience

Your conscience must be Scripture Saturated and Spirit-Led

God gave us the ability to reason and discern right and wrong. 

Your conscience must be informed biblically, factually, and must be Spirit-Led.


3. Consider Others First 

Philippians 2:3-4, Romans 14:1-12, Matthew 7:12


With or without the governments involvement and command: We must pursue that which is for my neighbors’s good and reject that which would bring them harm. 

This necessarily includes fighting against injustice. 


4. Resist and Seek Reform

Psalm 109:8 – (of the wicked man) May his days be few; may another take his office! 


Remember: as you follow God’s law first and foremost you will always be in conflict with the tyrants who scoff at it. 


And when you submit in the moment while disagreeing with someone - be sure you continue to respect authority. You are free to pursue the path of seeking reform.


Keep in mind, however, that even doing the right thing with the wrong heart attitude - almost always becomes a sinful pride thing. 

Doing the right thing can quickly and easily become the wrong thing


SUMMARY:

We are to submit to the governing authorities because it honors Christ. 

It’s not automatic, blanket submission. 

Before deciding to NOT submit, you must think and proceed carefully always striving to honor and obey the Lord first and foremost. 

I hope this helps as we all wade through every situation and opportunity the Lord brings our way. 


Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Rob 

Monday, July 13, 2020

SUBMISSION

Ephesians 5:21-6:9 concludes Paul's teaching on what the Spirit-Filled life looks like

The Spirit filled life isn’t measured by personal spiritual experience. Your attitudes and actions toward other people is the real indicator of being Spirit-filled.

Wives and Husbands
In our culture, the roles of men and women are on a constant state of flux, but God’s design has not changed and will not change.

God’s will for your family is simple:
wives submit to your husbands
• husbands love your wives sacrificially
as you both look to Christ for the example

Children
Children - these instructions are mandatory
Parents - you need to teach this to your children
Obedience is about actions
Honor is about attitude

In the Lord - when you honor and obey your parents, you are honoring and obeying the Lord.
Disobeying your parents is disobeying God

Outside of your parents commanding you to sin - to disobey God (not going to happen here), you simply must obey them. 

Parents are responsible for three things
1. Don’t Provoke
Provoke - a repeated, ongoing pattern that causes anger and resentment to build up.

How you provoke your children:
1. Be overbearing
2. Show Favoritism
prefer one child over another
Compare them - why can’t you be more like your sister!
3. Have Unreasonable Expectations
It’s never good enough
4. DIScourage - never encourage
only point out what they do wrong
5. Don’t Sacrifice for them
Do the bare minimum: food/clothing/shelter
6. Don’t let them grow at a normal pace
Don’t allow them to be their age. 
7. Use your Love/Affection as a tool
Reward good punish bad with your love, time, etc. 
8. Abuse
whether physical, verbal, emotional, etc. sbuse is never 
acceptable

Do Four things:
A Harvard study points out that when families do four things, there’s a 90% chance that the children will not grow up to be delinquent. Obviously this isn’t a guarantee, but it’s reflective of biblical principles:
Dad: firm, fair, consistent discipline
Mom: supervise and be their companion
Mom & Dad: Love one another - affectionate
• Spend time together as a family

2. Discipline
Training in the rules of life, how to behave in all situations, education, correction/punishment Proverbs is full of instruction on Training

3. Instruction
To insert into the mind. Starting with information and pointing toward right attitudes and behaviors.

The key is of the Lord
According to Scripture
Through the Spirit
In the name of Jesus
To the glory of Jesus

• Employees/Bosses
In every aspect of our lives, God ordains authority - and requires submission
HOME - WORK - CHURCH - SOCIAL - ETC.

Do your job well - to the best of your ability
Don’t brag
Don’t complain
Don’t criticize
Be the best employee you can be. 
1 Peter 2:18-20[Slaves], be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.

• The Motive: Christ
Out of love for Christ (He commands, you obey)
Bby the power of Christ (He enables you)
To the glory of Christ (this adorns the gospel)

Bosses - you’re called on to express the same kind of humility and love toward those who work for you as they do to you. 

The bottom line about submission:
Submission points inward not outward. 
Submission is willing and gladly giving up your rights to another’s authority.

If your submission is begrudging,
It’s not submission - It’s pride

EVERYONE has SOMEONE they are to submit to. 
(probably more than one)

Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of humility
He Is God, And He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a [slave], being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2)

Jesus modeled this in His incarnation, life, and ministry. The cross was the culmination. 
The resurrection brought the ability to submit.
In Christ - we CAN joyfully submit!
WE can because He did

Submission is one of the primary ways you demonstrate the change that has happened in you because of the gospel.

Submission and humility go hand in hand and are one of the primary evidences of the change that the gospel brings in your life