Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Kneel at the Cross

I've moved to kneelatthecross.com. I hope everyone that came here to read will follow me to my new location. Why did I decide to move? Well I work on a few other websites and the all use a self-hosted word press blog. Since I'm very familiar with how it works it makes it easier to operate my own blog if it works in the same way. Plus I can add some features by self hosting I couldn't here. And pardon the mess as I finish tweaking my new blog to look the way I want it too.
in His service,
Scott Warren

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Presence of God

As I was praying this morning, I got that feeling I sometimes get when I’m really into a prayer. The feeling of Jesus wrapping His arms around me, comforting me and letting me know that He hears me. As I was reflecting on that feeling throughout the day, I remembered something I said a couple of weeks ago. I was teaching on grace in discipleship training and made the comment about how when we are worshipping as we should sometimes you can feel Jesus standing behind you with His hand on your shoulder and it was interesting looking out and seeing some people nodding their heads knowingly and others that didn’t quite understand what I meant by that. I had a teacher while encouraging us to use expository preaching say that we should not go back to our study trying to figure out what to preach on next Sunday while waiting for something “spooky” to happen. I mentioned that to a friend and he said “spooky, like the Holy Spirit?”

I said that’s what I thought. So why do we find it so hard to believe that Jesus is still alive and there next to us giving us His word and presence.

I got to wondering why is it that sometimes it feels as if Jesus is right there in the middle of worship and sometimes he isn’t. As I thought about it the story of the two men on the road to Emmaus came to mind. (Luke 24:13-33) Here are two disciples, men who know Jesus, walking along discussing Jesus and all of a sudden Jesus shows up to discuss Himself with them. And they did not recognize Him! The very object of their discussion and they did not know He was there talking to them. Vs. 16 says there eyes were kept from recognizing Him. He even hints to them He is there in vs. 25 “You foolish people – how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!

These men did not realize their guest was Jesus until He prayed and then they thought to themselves how stupid can we be did not our hearts burn within us as we discussed (worshipped) with Him vs.32 . Even Mary Magdalene in John 20:14-16 did not realize that it was Jesus she spoke to. So why did Mary and these two men not realize that Jesus was present with them.

Because they did not expect Him to be! “You foolish people – how slow of heart to believe…” When we worship or pray do we truly expect Jesus to make Himself known to us. Most of the time we don’t, so when He does it surprises us. But it shouldn’t. We should always expect Jesus to make Himself known. After all that is what we are worshipping for. So why would He not be there. It’s funny to hear a pastor talking and they want to say they heard the voice of God, but they are scared that everyone will think they are crazy.

We tell people to pray and ask God to answer them, but if they tell us God spoke to them and answered. We ask “are you sure you heard God?” We don’t believe that God truly answered them. Let’s not be like the men walking with Jesus to Emmaus and missing out on the presence of God because they doubted. Let us go forward knowing that we will feel the presence of God.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Providing From Nothing

As I was reading through 1 Kings 17 I noticed something interesting. Elijah prophecies a drought and God tells him to go to the brook of Cherith. There God feeds Elijah by ravens that bring him food and he drinks from the brook. Well eventually the brook dried up and God commands Elijah to go to Zarephath where a widow will take care of him.

Elijah arrives and finds the widow gathering wood for a cook fire. She is planning on making bread with the last bit of flour and oil she has. This is to be the special last meal she is preparing for her and her son and then she knows they will die of starvation. He asks her for water and then bread. Now look at what happens in 1 Kings 17:12-13

And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.”
And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son

Now let’s look at what is going on. He tells the woman, first not to fear. Now remember she knows this is a man of God because God told Elijah He had already commanded her to feed the one He sent. She knows that she only has enough food for this one meal and now at God’s commandment she has to give it to Elijah. But he is comforting her and reminding her that the Lord is her God too and he will take care of her.

Many times God will ask us to do something and we feel fear. I’m not able we will say. I don’t have the money or the time or it is all I have. But God is telling us not to fear. He knows it is all we have. He knows we are not capable. Did God not know that Moses was a poor speaker when he called him or that Gideon was the weakest of a weak family? Yet God used both of those men to accomplish His goals. When God asks us to do something we should not fear for if God has planned it for us, it can’t fail.

Next he tells her take care of me first. He is saying everything is alright, you know what God expects you to do so go and do it. Sometimes it’s hard to put the needs of others ahead of our own needs. Sometimes we think that are problems are so big that we can’t worry about someone else’s. But God tells us to provide for others and he will provide for us. Just as this woman was providing for Elijah he provided for her because God’s blessing came through him.

And last he tells her to take the rest and make her and her son something. She just told him that she has only enough for one meal and he tells her make you something with the extra. When we take care of the needs of others God will make sure and take care of ours.

Just picture for a minute a stranger shows up and asks you to fix him a sandwich. You tell this stranger you only have enough bread for one sandwich and you and your son were about to eat it. The man tells you “That’s nice, but fix me mine first, then go and make you and your son a couple.”

You would look at the man like he was crazy. “Uh, excuse me. I said I have enough for one sandwich and there are three of us. Are you not listening?” So you go in the house grumbling and complaining and you take out two slices of bread and make a sandwich thinking to yourself great all that’s left in the bag of bread are the end pieces that I have to split. After giving the sandwich to the stranger you go back inside and pull out four slices of bread and notice that all that’s left now are the two end pieces. That’s when it occurs to you that those four pieces weren’t in there a minute ago.

God will always provide for those who serve him!

What gets me here is God took someone who had next to nothing and asked that they give it away so that He could provide for them. If the widow had chosen to ignore Elijah and cook her and her son their last meal they would have died, but her willingness to answer God’s call and sacrifice all that she had allowed her to live and provide for Elijah to live.

This is what happened with us. God chose to give up His only Son. His and the Son’s sacrifice allowed Jesus to live and provided for us to live. As we reflect on what Jesus did for us and see how God provided for this widow when she was willing to give all she had to someone else, we should be ready to sacrifice for the plans God has for us.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wiser than Solomon

As I was reading the bible this morning I came across 2 Chronicles 8:11 Solomon moved Pharaoh’s daughter up from the city of David to the palace he had built for her, for he said, “my wife must not live in the palace of King David of Israel, for the places where the ark of the LORD has entered are holy.” This caught my attention because this immediately follows a heartfelt prayer where Solomon dedicated the temple, a prayer where Solomon had even said that foreigners will come and direct their prayers toward this temple. Then he pleads that God listens and answers those prayers. (1 Kings 8:41-43) But he is married to someone that he knows will not pray to God, and instead of trying to get her closer to God he decides to move her farther away.

Solomon loves God but he was willing to move away from God to keep worldly people near him. Think about that for a minute. Solomon says I can’t get my wife to grow closer to God so I will move farther from Him. How many of us make decisions like this? The world (our spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, coworkers, boss whatever it may be for you) does not want to come to know Jesus so we push Jesus aside to fit in with them.

For example you take your family out to eat and you are sitting down and the waitress brings you your food. You look over and there is someone you work with. You know that atheist that loves to make fun of how silly Jesus freaks are. If you and your family pray here, in this public place, in front of him, you will never here the end of it at work. So you smile at your wife and say “Lets eat.” You think to yourself Jesus understands that I can’t pray right now. I’ll say a prayer tonight and pray for my coworker. But you are forgetting that Jesus said you would be persecuted (Matthew 5:11)

The problem is that when we are willing to hide our beliefs or act differently around non Christians we risk forgetting who our Lord is. Solomon was the wisest man ever, but when Solomon became old the World (his wives) made him forget who his Lord was (1 Kings 11:4).

Be smarter than Solomon and do not let the world shape who you are by moving you away from Jesus. Cling to Jesus and say lets show the world who You are!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sunday's Sermons

Here is the link for the morning service I did over the weekend. I also did an evening service on Hebrews 11:35-40 it was a lot different from what I had previously done and some people felt I was a little to graphic.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Who Do You Say I Am?

This is the sermon I will be preaching in the morning.
Update: here is the link for the audio

Mat 16:13-20 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"

14They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

15"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"

16Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

17Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." 20Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.

Jesus has been with the disciples for a while now. They have seen Him perform many miracles. They have watched Him walk on water, calm the sea, heal people and cast out demons. They have listened to Him argue with the Pharisees and Sadducees. They have heard Him preach many lessons. They have been offered a chance to leave and they said “where would we go?” So now in chapter 16 of Matthew vs. 13 they are entering Caesarea Philippi.
Ceaseara Philippi is one of two towns in Judea named Caesarea. Caesarea Philippi was named by Herod the Tetrarch in honor of Augustus Caesar and the name Philippi is in owner of Herod's son Phillip the tetrarch who rebuilt and beautified the city. It was located at the southwest base of Mt. Hermon. Originally it was called Paneas for the god Pan. And at one point in its history it was a center for Baal worship.
Jesus and the disciples are standing in an area that has a long history of sin as Peter makes his confession. I think that's important because when Jesus calls us we are standing in an area (our life) that is filled with a history of sin. When we confess Jesus as our savior we are saying I'm here trapped in this sin save me from it.

And Jesus asks " Who do People say that the son of man is" Whom do men say that I the son of man am? Notice he calls Himself Son of Man. Jesus wants them to answer about the human side of Him. Jesus wants Peter to acknowledge what the crowds that follow them are saying about this man Jesus who is walking around preaching and performing amazing miracles. This man who is not afraid to challenge the religous establishment of the day.

Vs. 14 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

Notice everyone they have suggested is someone who is dead or gone as in the case of Elijah. The crowds recognize there is something supernatural about Jesus. They may not realize that this is Immanuel (God with us) but they do know that this is not a regular man. In Mark's Gospel the authority that Jesus speaks with stands out. In Mark 1:22 they were amazed because he taught as one with authority and not as the teachers of the law. The Jews notice that Jesus doesn't speak as someone who has studied the law but as someone who knows God personally.

Some say John the Baptist. John the Baptist! John the Baptist had been beheaded a few months before. Look at what the man that ordered for John's head to be taken said about Jesus. Matthew 14:1-2
1At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, 2and he said to his attendants, "This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him."
Herod believed Jesus was John the Baptist. He believed that somehow John had come back from the dead. Many others in the crowd of followers believed Jesus was John the Baptist.

Others say Elijah, Elijah was a powerful man. He was able to perform miracles and they knew that Malachi 4:5 had prophesied that Elijah would come back before the day of the Lord. So it made sense to many that this must be Elijah. Elijah never died and had went to be with God already. In Matthew 17 Jesus is talking to the disciples and they ask Him about Elijah coming first and Jesus tells them in Vs. 12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. Then they realize in Vs. 13 that John was the one that came in the spirit of Elijah. Peter actually witnessed Moses and Elijah carrying on a conversation with Jesus.

Still others Jeremiah. Wait! Jeremiah! Why Jeremiah? To truly understand why a Jewish man in Jesus's day would think of Jeremiah we have to read the same thing the Jewish people read. There is a series of books called the apocrypha. Apocrypha comes from a Greek word that means "those that have been hidden away". They are a series of writings that are not considered to belong in the canon of the bible. Martin Luther said the apocrypha was 'Useful historical writings”. He also believed that while these books were not inspired Christians should be familiar with them and at times they should even be read in services. The original King James of 1611 contained these books and so do many Catholic bibles today. In the apocryphical books of Maccabees we have some Jewish history and in those terrible times of the seculid kings we read about a revolt. In 2 Maccabees 2:4-7 we read about Jeremiah taking the ark of the Covenant and hiding it in a cave and 2Ma 2:4 It was also contained in the same writing, that the prophet, being warned of God, commanded the tabernacle and the ark to go with him, as he went forth into the mountain, where Moses climbed up, and saw the heritage of God.
2Ma 2:5 And when Jeremy came thither, he found an hollow cave, wherein he laid the tabernacle, and the ark, and the altar of incense, and so stopped the door.
2Ma 2:6 And some of those that followed him came to mark the way, but they could not find it.
2Ma 2:7 Which when Jeremy perceived, he blamed them, saying, As for that place, it shall be unknown until the time that God gather his people again together, and receive them unto mercy.
The Jewish people having heard this and the stories about it believed that Jesus was Jeremiah coming to bring the ark of God out of the cave.

Or one of the prophets.
Notice Peter didn't say a prophet. He said one of the prophets. In Luke's account of this event he even says "Or one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life." (Luke 9:19)
They are now thinking of all the prophets and saying he could be this one or that one, but no one is saying hey maybe he is a new prophet, and definitely no one is suggesting that this is the Son of God
In every case the Jews believed that Jesus was someone that had risen from the dead. They believe that Jesus is someone who has been with God but they do not understand that this is God in Human flesh.
Vs. 15 Jesus looks at Peter "But What about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"

Who Do you say I am?
That is the most important question you will ever answer. Even if you don't believe in Jesus, on the day of judgement you will stand in front of Jesus and answer that question.
Think about that for a minute! Who do you say I am?

That is an important question for all of us to ask .Who do you say Jesus is? That is the question of a lifetime the answer either brings you eternal life or eternal damnation. Think about that the most important question you will ever answer and you will have to answer it someday is; Who do you say I am?
I have heard people say Jesus is a great teacher, but not God. The problem with this view is Jesus went around telling people that he was the son of God. If a man was walking around today and he appeared to be a genius and everyone was amazed at what a great teacher he was, but then this man started telling you well I'm just telling you this because I'm God. I'm the only way to heaven and oh yeah to get there you have to eat my flesh and drink my blood. If Jesus was not God then he was a stark raving lunatic. Are you going to go to an asylum and expect to see a great teacher? NO! Are you going to call a crazy person a great teacher?
Many people believe he was a prophet, but not the savior. The problem with that is that God gave us through Moses a way to test the prophets. In Deutronomy 18 Moses says to see if a prophet was sent by God is to see if his prophecy comes true if it does God sent him. Jesus’s prophecy of dying and coming back to life was true. He also said that He was the one sent by God.

Who Do you Say I Am?
How many would answer that with, my Lord and Savior. That is how Peter summed it up. In 2 Peter, Peter refers to Jesus as our Lord and Savior 4 times. In that short letter that is how Peter sees Jesus, and that is how we should view Jesus. Our Lord and Savior. I want to take a minute and talk about these two words though. The word Lord is (koo'-ree-os) it means supreme in authority, controller and master. Basically Lord can be summed up King. King Jesus!
A King is ruler the supreme one in authority and a kings subjects would refer to him as Lord. When we say Jesus is our Lord we are saying that he is our King. A king has many responsibilities they are to keep invaders out and protect their subjects. They are to try and grow their Kingdom and maintain control of those that are subject to them. King Jesus does all these things
look at
· 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
o Jesus will not let sin invade us if we resist it.

· John 10:29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.
o Jesus protects us.

· Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."
o Jesus builds His kingdom.

· Hebrews 12:6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
o The Lord Disciplines those that are his

My question is how many of you that claim that Jesus is your Lord; live your life, as if He is your King. When you walked in this sanctuary this morning, Did you walk in with the same reverence you would if you were walking up to the throne of a King? Our King gave us a book that tells us what he expects of us! Did you follow the orders of your King this week. Did you even read the orders that your King gave you?
Maybe you don’t like thinking of Jesus as King. Thinking of Jesus that way bothers you. You like thinking of Jesus as a loving Priest that forgives you of your sins. You say I live under grace and the bible says that is all that is necessary. Grace alone! Grace Alone! Actually the Bible says repent and be saved. Read Mat_11:20-24 It will really rain on your day if you think you can live your life however you want and Jesus is going to say that’s okay you tried. And do you know why; because you didn’t try! It sounds to you like I’m saying works are required. You are going to hate this, if that is what you think. Grace is the Greek word charis (khar'-ece) guess what it means the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life. Did you catch that “and its reflection in the life” part. Yeah people should see that reflection of Jesus in your life. They see they by the way you serve Him.
God has forgiven us through grace and I want to come back to that, but first I want us to read a parable Jesus told in Luke 19. Luke tells us that Jesus told this parable because the disciples believed the Kingdom of God was about to appear. Jesus tells this parable to let them know that it was time for Him to begin His Earthly reign. If everyone one is there I’m going to start in Vs. 12
He said: "A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas.[a]'Put this money to work,' he said, 'until I come back.' 14"But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, 'We don't want this man to be our king.' 15"He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it. 16"The first one came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned ten more.'
17" 'Well done, my good servant!' his master replied. 'Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.'
18"The second came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned five more.'
19"His master answered, 'You take charge of five cities.'
20"Then another servant came and said, 'Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.'
22"His master replied, 'I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? 23Why then didn't you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?'
24"Then he said to those standing by, 'Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.'
25" 'Sir,' they said, 'he already has ten!'
26"He replied, 'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. 27But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me."
Jesus is talking about ascending to heaven and returning at his second coming. At Judgement.
Look at Vs. 27But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me."
Are you allowing Jesus to reign over you? This passage clearly shows us that we are to serve the Lord as King here on earth. The bible clearly teaches us this. And if you don’t want to accept the fact that you are a servant to King Jesus, you will hate heaven anyways, because the bible also shows us that Jesus will reign in a heavenly Kingdom and an Earthly Kingdom.

Jesus is my Lord and Savior

Now what about Jesus as savior. At night I like to watch old TV shows and one of my favorites is the Andy Griffith Show. A few weeks back the episode where Andy saved Gomer’s life was on. Andy sees that the service station is on fire and he runs in and pulls Gomer out. If you have never seen this episode just about every television show made up until reality shows ruined television had a show with a similar plot. So Andy saves Gomer’s life. Gomer is so thankful that he serves Andy in every way he can. He does so to the point he becomes annoying to Andy. If you truly understood what it means to call Jesus your savior then you should be that thankful. So thankful that your life revolves around trying to do everything you can to serve Jesus.
Think about this for a minute. God created man, man said I don’t need you and your authority. And thereby sentencing man to death. God decides to save man by.. now look at this… God who created man and owes us nothing decided to save us. He did this by coming to Earth as man. He came in the form of the Son of God… JESUS! Then he allowed His creation to beat Him, Spit on Him, Rip His beard out and then after making fun of Him nail him to a cross and leave Him hanging till he died. God who at any time could have called down a whole host of Angels to destroy us. Allowed us, His creation, to Kill Him. And in that death our sins were washed away. Now it gets even better. God, Jesus rises from the grave and ascends to Heaven so that we too can go to be with the father in Heaven. If God didn’t do this for us. If God didn’t save us in this way we would go to Hell. And all we have to do to accept this salvation is believe. That Jesus Christ is the son of God that came and died for our sins and then rose again. That’s it! Just believe and that doesn’t make you want to drop on your knees and cry out, thank you Lord Jesus! I give my life to You. All of me! I Live for you. My life is an offering to you Lord. Are you not that grateful that He saved you. And being saved did not end on that day on the cross. Jesus saved you that day and every day since he has been saving you by that divine influence on the heart, that reflects in ones life that divine influence that refines and makes pure. And we will be saved on that day of Judgment when we stand before God and Jesus says oh that one I paid his fine already.
Saved by grace. If you are saved you will feel that divine influence on your heart, that convicting of sin that helps to purify and give you the righteousness that only comes from Jesus Christ. James said Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. That’s because that divine influence in James reflects.
We are saved by grace, But when you look at what Jesus did for you. What that Grace cost Jesus. If that doesn’t make you want to serve and demonstrate that you serve Jesus, then you don’t truly understand what the one you are calling Lord and savior did for you.
I think I want to go a little deeper here Because I have been emphasizing the deity of Jesus. The fact that He was God. But to truly understand the cost of that forgiveness you have to see that Jesus was also fully man. Let’s look and see how human Jesus was.
Mark 11:12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry.
John 19:28 Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty."
John 11:35 Jesus wept
Jesus hungered, thirsted, wept, and he was tempted by the devil. He felt sorrow at Gethesamne. Matthew 26:38 When Jesus was in the garden of gethsemane he prayed "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."
When Jesus was nailed to that roman cross He felt the pain just as you and I would. When Jesus died for our sins. It was a horrible punishment for Him. He felt the humiliation, the emotional and physical hurts just as we would.
Yet even knowing what he was about to go through Jesus suffered for us. Why?

You are the Christ the son of the living God.
Because Jesus was the christ the son of the living God come to take away the sin of the world. What has become known as Peter's confession is that Jesus is the Christ the on of the living God. What does this mean though. What did it mean to Peter 2000 years ago as he stood next to Jesus saying these words. When Peter said you are the Christ he is acknowledging that Jesus is the annoited or the one sent by God The prophets had told the Jews that God was sending someone to come to them and take over and rule. These prophecies go as far back as Genesis 3. When Peter says the son of the living God Son is Peter saying I realize that you are fully human flesh and blood just like me , but I also realize that you are God the one true living God.

Jesus replied, Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my father in heaven.
If your translation says Bar-Jonah that just means son of Jonah. Jesus called Peter that because He was acknowledging That Peter was born of man but Jesus was born of God. Now I want to look at what Jesus meant by his was not revealed to you by man. Have you ever thought about what Christians believe and how unbelievable it sounds to an unbeliever. This man Jesus who was fully God, but also fully man, was born of a virgin. He brought people back from the dead healed them then he was killed. three days later he rose. Visited a whole bunch of people then kind of floated up to heaven in their sight. He is coming back though with a sword in his mouth to take over. All of this was done so that we could go to heaven you know that place where the streets are made of gold. What we believe is pretty amazing and god has to prepare our hearts for that message. John says that God draws us. then as Peter did we have to confess who Christ is.

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hades will not overcome it.
In the verse before this one Jesus called Peter Simon. it's not unusual for God to change a mans name when he decides to use them.
Saul became Paul.
Abram became Abraham.
Jacob became Israel
The Greek meaning for Simon is a name. It comes from a old testament Hebrew name Simeon (The son of Jacob) which means hearing. But the meaning of Simon is just a name. Jesus renames Simon Peter here. Peter is a Greek word Petros (pet'-ros) which means a piece of rock, like a stone or boulder. The word rock in this verse is Petra it means a large slab of Rock. It is the same word that is used in look when talking about the wise builder who dug down deep and laid the foundation of his house on Rock (Petra). So I'm going to read this verse now with our new words and let's think about what it means that way. And I tell you that you are Petros, and on this Petra I will build my church. I tell you that you are just a small rock Simon, but on this solid rock I will build my church.
I go through all of that to demonstrate that while some denominations believe that Jesus was telling Peter that he was going to build the church on him that is incorrect. Jesus is the cornerstone of the church. The foundation which as any of the builders here today will tell you is the most important part is the fact that Jesus is the Christ. The one sent to take away the sins of man. Church (ekklēsia -ek-klay-see'-ah) simply means assembly. It's used in Acts to mean a riot. When Jesus says My Church He means a called out assembly of believers. It has nothing to do with a building or a denomination. it also does not mean everyone in the building. The church is the believers of the world and it is built on the fact and belief in that fact that Jesus is the Son of God come into the world to forgive man of sin through His death and resurrection.

And the Gates of Hell will not overcome it.
That is to say that the devil will never stop it. to fully understand this you must look at the persecution of the early church. Acts talks about a little of the persecution; Being thrown in jail, put in stocks, beaten. In 1563 a man named John Foxe printed an English translation of his book Acts and Monuments of These Later and Perilous Days. We know it as Foxe's Book of Martyrs. Foxe took the historical accounts of the early persecution of the church and put them into a book. I'm Just going to tell you about the deaths of the apostles and despite theses horrible deaths the number of Christians grew daily.
Peter, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Jude, Simon the Zealot = Crucified
James, Matthew, Matthias, Paul = Beheaded
Thomas = Speared
James = beaten and thrown from temple roof then had his head busted open with a tool used to beat cloth as he prayed for those who had beaten him.
And John before he was banished to the Isle of Patmos was dipped in a cauldron of boiling oil before being banished. history records he escaped this without injury.
Despite Satan doing his best to hold back the spread of Christianity. It grew to what we have today.

In conclusion I'm going to sum up what we have heard today. We come to our knowledge of Jesus surrounded by our sin. Our sin pulls us toward Hell, but Jesus reveals Himself to us. Then all we have to do is as Romans 10:9 says If we confess with our mouths that Jesus is lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead, We will be saved. But by confessing that Jesus is Lord. We are saying that Jesus is King of our lives, that we will serve him in whatever way he calls us to serve him. Our Lives will reflect that Lordship Jesus has over us. Just as a subject of a king would bow down to their King we will bow down to Jesus. We realize that Jesus has no use for us if we don't want Him to reign over us. If we understand what being saved truly means and the extent and the cost of it we will be grateful for that saving grace. People will see that gratefulness we have to the Lord reflected in our lives. By believing in Jesus as the Christ the Son of the living God we become members of the Church and Satan will never take that away from us. If we live our lives as if Jesus is our King we will aid in the growing of that Kingdom Jesus' Church.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Life Of Paul: The Jerusalem Council

This is actually the lesson from last Wednesday, I've been busy and haven't had time to post the it. There wasn't a lesson last night because I was hosting a community youth revival and the youth were there . You can check out it's website at unifiedyouth.org.

The Jerusalem Council
(50 A.D.)

During Paul’s first missionary journey, He saw that God “opened a door of faith to the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27)
· Sergius Paulus Acts13:6-12
· Gentiles in Antioch of Pisidia Acts 13:42-49
· Greeks at Iconium Acts 14:1

It didn’t take long before questions arose about Gentiles in the church.
· Should they convert to Judaism first?
· Should they be circumcised?
· Should they keep the Law of Moses?
After two years at Antioch Paul and Barnabas were faced with a crisis!


Acts 15:1 Some men came down from Judea and began to teach the brothers: "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom prescribed by Moses, you cannot be saved!"

Imagine you belong to the church and all of a sudden some men come in and tell you that you aren’t really saved and that you have to go through a whole bunch of ceremonies and rituals to become accepted by Jews then go through a painful surgery.
What would you think ?
How Would you feel?
Then Paul and Barnabas come to your defense.

Acts 15:2 But after Paul and Barnabas had engaged them in serious argument and debate, they arranged for Paul and Barnabas and some others of them to go up to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem concerning this controversy.

So the decision is made for Paul, Barnabas and Titus (Galatians 2:1 (Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me.) go and meet with the church in Jerusalem and as usual with Paul he is telling everybody about all the gentiles that have been saved.

Acts 15:3-5 When they had been sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, explaining in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and they created great joy among all the brothers.
4 When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, the apostles, and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. 5 But some of the believers from the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, "It is necessary to circumcise them and to command them to keep the law of Moses!"
So here go the Pharisees again. Now remember the Pharisees are the stricter of the religious classes and they are saying the Gentiles have to go through the religious rights.

I want to look at Paul’s own words about this meeting. Galatians 2:3-6 ESV But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek.
Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in-who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery-to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.
And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)-those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me

Truth of the gospel and the freedom we have in Christ. This freedom is freedom from sin not freedom to sin. Slavery is what the law would be doing to them. If being saved meant the keeping of the Law of Moses, we would be chained to the law. Our every thought would be okay the law says that we can’t do this, but we can do that. The Pharisee’s actually would sit down in meetings and discuss ways they could get around the law. There are a series of books called the Babylon Talmud. If you ever can’t sleep this are good to read. In them we see the teacher’s of the law discussing stuff like what you can do on the Sabbath before it would be considered work.
Obeying the law would make us look for loopholes in how we could get around obeying. Being free in Christ work’s different. One of the Early Church father’s Saint Augustine put it like this “Love Jesus, Do anything you want.”
Everyone in here loves their mother right? You would not do anything to intentionally hurt her right? Now sometimes we do upset our moms and they get on to us. Have you ever been in trouble and you are getting lectured and you feel really bad because you realize you have hurt your parents. This is what Augustine is talking about. If you love Jesus you want desire to do things that hurt Jesus.

So Paul gets to Jerusalem meets with the church and immediately the Pharisee’s start arguing. So they hold a public meeting.


Acts 15:6-11 Then the apostles and the elders assembled to consider this matter. After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them:
Peter has been sitting there listening to everyone argue back and forth, when he decides he needs to state his opinion.

"Brothers, you are aware that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the gospel message and believe. And God, who knows the heart, testified to them by giving the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. Why, then, are you now testing God by putting on the disciples' necks a yoke that neither our forefathers nor we have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way they are."

In this short statement Peter is saying a lot
· First Peter reminds them how God gave him a vision telling him it was okay to preach to the gentiles. Acts 10:9-29
· Second Man has no way of knowing what is truly in the heart of man, but God gave these men the Holy Spirit. This tells us that they were truly saved.
· God did not say go get circumcised then I’ll give you the Holy Spirit.
· Then Peter asks the Pharisee why they would put a burden on the Gospel that they themselves couldn’t keep.
· Lastly Peter says we are saved by grace alone.
Now that Peter has spoken Paul and Barnabas speak. Acts 15:12-18
Then the whole assembly fell silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul describing all the signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. After they stopped speaking, James responded: "Brothers, listen to me! Simeon has reported how God first intervened to take from the Gentiles a people for His name. And the words of the prophets agree with this, as it is written:
After these things I will return
and will rebuild David's tent, which has fallen down.
I will rebuild its ruins and will set it up again,
so that those who are left of mankind may seek the Lord—
even all the Gentiles who are called by My name,
says the Lord who does these things,
which have been known from long ago.

Now James reminds of the prophecy of Amos 9:11-12. This is proving that a Gentile can remain a Gentile a become a Christian. Acts 15:19-21
Therefore, in my judgment, we should not cause difficulties for those who turn to God from among the Gentiles, but instead we should write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from eating anything that has been strangled, and from blood. For since ancient times, Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, and he is read aloud in the synagogues every Sabbath day."

James gives us four things to avoid.
· Meats offered to Idols
· Sexual Immorality
· Meat from Strangled Animals
· Drinking of Blood

All of these things are part of Pagan religious services. Avoiding them will keep them from falling back into the worship of false gods.
Now we will see the letter to be sent to the Gentile churches Acts 15:22-35
Then the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, decided to select men from among them and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas: Judas, called Barsabbas, and Silas, both leading men among the brothers. They wrote this letter to be delivered by them:

From the apostles and the elders, your brothers,
To the brothers from among the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:
Because we have heard that some to whom we gave no authorization went out from us and troubled you with their words and unsettled your hearts, we have unanimously decided to select men and send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who will personally report the same things by word of mouth. For it was the Holy Spirit's decision—and ours—to put no greater burden on you than these necessary things: that you abstain from food offered to idols, from blood, from eating anything that has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these things, you will do well.
So let’s see what happens next
Then, being sent off, they went down to Antioch, and after gathering the assembly, they delivered the letter. When they read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. Both Judas and Silas, who were also prophets themselves, encouraged the brothers and strengthened them with a long message. After spending some time there, they were sent back in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them. But Paul and Barnabas, along with many others, remained in Antioch teaching and proclaiming the message of the Lord.

Everybody is happy and rejoicing Judas and Silas deliver a message. A little while later Judas and Silas leave but Paul and Barnabas stay preaching.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

When God Moves Faster Than We Do

This will be an unpopular post and probably make some people angry, but the bible is full of people that offended in an effort to speak of Jesus and what God wants. I do ask either read this post all the way through or don't read it at all. I'm going to start by saying I have never been in a church when it split. I've been in a church where there was tension over a decision and some people left and I still bear the scars from seeing how Christians react to these kind of situations. I also saw and did what was necessary to rebuild harmony so that the Body of Christ would not suffer. The church I attend did split many years ago before I was there and I still hear negative comments by people who do not belong to either church or they are new to the community. As far as church members both churches communicate on events and invite each other to events.
The main thing we as Christians most remember is that the church is not ours. It belongs to and IS the bride of Jesus Christ! When you insult a biblical church you are saying "hey Jesus your wife is ugly." Now back to the subject of church splits, The book of Acts tells us about the early church and how we should do church. Paul went from town to town planting churches.
When a church grew it sent members to start another church. Look at Romans 16. First Paul asks them to accept Phoebe from the church of Cenchrae. Next he greets Prisca and Aquila who were at the church in Corinth and now they are back in Rome. (Acts 18:1-2) This is just a couple of people who went to help grow a church. Before somebody says vs. 17 says to watch out for those who cause divisions it also says contrary to the doctrine you have been taught. The biblical example of a church is for it to grow and then split and start a new church.
Sometimes Christians resist change. We like our church why would we go to another one. Many think the bigger a church is the more it can reach out. The more "means" it has. The fact of the matter is New churches are good. there are many excellent books and lessons on churches that prove through data that new churches promote growth in the established church and the new church. Every church split I have heard or read about both churches wound up gaining members.
God wants us to grow and multiply, when we move to slow for him God finds His own way of speeding things up. I've heard the people use the excuse that the devil was at work in splitting "that" church. I agree, just like God used the devil to teach Job some lessons and how He used to the devil lead a bunch of Jewish people to crucify the very person that they had been waiting on to deliver them. That worked out pretty good for me in that through the crucifixion of Christ my sin was atoned for.
As Paul and Barnabas were leaving Pamphylia, A young man named John Mark decided instead of continuing with them he would go back to Jerusalem(Acts 13:13). Later Paul and Barnabas decided to go back and see how the churches they planted were doing.(Acts 15:36-40) Barnabas wanted to take John Mark, but Paul refused and they "Split". Is that a bad thing? Paul gathered other people and went anyways. Silas and another young man named Timothy(Acts 16:1-5) learned under Paul's tutelage. Barnabas and John Mark didn't give up ministry either, they continued on and Paul himself felt that John Mark was a great help in Ministry(2 Titus 4:11).
God split two experienced church planters up to accomplish His will twice as fast. We are all one church the bride of Jesus we must come together and act like it! We should encourage one another, support one another, and pray for each other. I pray for both churches that split near me. I pray that God will bless both of them. I pray for the leaders of both and pray that they will again realize sometimes God's will is not ours.
God Bless,

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Life Of Paul: First Missionary Journey

This is tonight's lesson on Paul. It covers his first missionary Journey.Again this lesson is based on an outline by Mark Copeland at executableoutlines.com

First Missionary Journey, And Residence In Antioch
(45-49 A.D.)
So far we have looked at Paul's life up until he starts his missonary Journeys
Paul has spent his life preparing for his calling by God
His education, heritage, his Jewish religous stnding and training all have prepared him
Since his conversion his preaching in Damascus, Arabia, and Tarsus have been getting him ready for what God had in mind for him..
Now Paul will begin his series of Journeys that will take the Gospel were it has never been heard Romans 15:20-21
So today we will look at Paul's first missionary Journey Which begins in Syria.

In Acts 11:19-21 we see that the church in Antioch was started by men from Cyprus and Cyrene and when the Christians at Jerusalem heard about this church they sent Barnabas to help strengthen the church. Barnabas brought Paul to Antioch and for a year they met with the church. Here is where the term Christians came into existence. Acts 11:19-26

Those who had been scattered as a result of the persecution that started because of Stephen made their way as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the message to no one except Jews. 20 But there were some of them, Cypriot and Cyrenian men, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Hellenists, proclaiming the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord's hand was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord.

This congregation grew and had concern for all Christians. They hear about a famine coming to Jerusalem So Paul and Barnabas go to offer relief Acts 11:27-30 and after they helped there they returned to Antioch bringing with them John Mark. Acts 12:25

27 In those days some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine throughout the Roman world. This took place during the time of Claudius 29 So each of the disciples, according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brothers who lived in Judea. 30 This they did, sending it to the elders by means of Barnabas and Saul.

Back in Antioch while the Prophets and teachers are worshipping the Holy Spirit sets Barnabas and Paul apart for special service. Acts 13:1-3
1 In the local church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius the Cyrenian, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
2 As they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work that I have called them to." 3 Then, after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.
They head to the town of Seleucia and catch a ship to Cyprus and then go to the capital city of Salamis from there they head across the Island preaching. Acts 13:4-6
4 Being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they came down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 Arriving in Salamis, they proclaimed God's message in the Jewish synagogues. They also had John as their assistant. 6 When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came across a sorcerer, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. (Which means son of Joshua?)
It's interesting to note that the gospel had already been sent to Cyprus Ac 11:19 and it was men from Cyprus that started the church at Antioch and now God is sending Paul and Barnabas [who is from Cyprus Ac 4:36]to Cyprus to preach. Acts 11:20

At Paphos they discover a false prophet named Elymas Bar-Jesus and he is with the governor Sergius Paulus. The governor wants to hear the gospel, but as Paul is trying to teach, Elymas is trying to turn Sergius away from believing. Paul stops talking, looks at Elymas, and says“You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord?” Then Paul tells him he will be blind for awhile and God blinds him with a mist of Darkness. The governor believed. Acts 13:6-12

6 When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came across a sorcerer, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. 7 He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and desired to hear God's message. 8 But Elymas, the sorcerer, which is how his name is translated, opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith.
9 Then Saul—also called Paul—filled with the Holy Spirit, stared straight at the sorcerer 10 and said, "You son of the Devil, full of all deceit and all fraud, enemy of all righteousness! Won't you ever stop perverting the straight paths of the Lord? 11 Now, look! The Lord's hand is against you: you are going to be blind, and will not see the sun for a time." Suddenly a mist and darkness fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand.
12 Then the proconsul, seeing what happened, believed and was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.

Next Paul and Barnabas head to

Paul arrives at Perga in Pamphylia, Barnabas is with him but John Mark heads back to Jerusalem. Ac 13:13 John Mark's departure later became a sore spot between Barnabas and Paul Ac 15:36-40

13 Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. John, however, left them and went back to Jerusalem.

Next they arrive in Pisdia at Antioch (not to be confused with Antioch of Syria) and we have a sermon by Paul. Acts 13:14-41
14 They continued their journey from Perga and reached Antioch in Pisidia. On the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent [word] to them, saying, "Brothers, if you have any message of encouragement for the people, you can speak."
16 Then standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and spoke: "Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen! 17 The God of this people Israel chose our forefathers, exalted the people during their stay in the land of Egypt, and led them out of it with a mighty arm. 18 And for about 40 years He put up with them in the desert; 19 then after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, He gave their land to them as an inheritance. 20 This all took about 450 years. After this, He gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. 21 Then they asked for a king, so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for 40 years. 22 After removing him, He raised up David as their king, of whom He testified: ' I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will carry out all My will.'
23 "From this man's descendants, according to the promise, God brought the Savior, Jesus, to Israel. 24 Before He came to public attention, John had previously proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 Then as John was completing his life work, he said, 'Who do you think I am? I am not the One. But look! Someone is coming after me, and I am not worthy to untie the sandals on His feet. '
26 "Brothers, sons of Abraham's race, and those among you who fear God, the message of this salvation has been sent to us. 27 For the residents of Jerusalem and their rulers, since they did not recognize Him or the voices of the prophets that are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled their words by condemning Him. 28 Though they found no grounds for the death penalty, they asked Pilate to have Him killed. 29 When they had fulfilled all that had been written about Him, they took Him down from the tree and put Him in a tomb. 30 But God raised Him from the dead, 31 and He appeared for many days to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now His witnesses to the people. 32 And we ourselves proclaim to you the good news of the promise that was made to our forefathers. 33 God has fulfilled this to us their children by raising up Jesus, as it is written in the second Psalm:
You are My Son;
today I have become Your Father.
34 Since He raised Him from the dead, never to return to decay, He has spoken in this way, I will grant you the faithful covenant blessings made to David. 35 Therefore He also says in another passage, You will not allow Your Holy One to see decay. 36 For David, after serving his own generation in God's plan, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and decayed. 37 But the One whom God raised up did not decay. 38 Therefore, let it be known to you, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed to you, 39 and everyone who believes in Him is justified from everything, which you could not be justified from through the law of Moses. 40 So beware that what is said in the prophets does not happen to you:
41 Look, you scoffers,
marvel and vanish away,
because I am doing a work in your days,
a work that you will never believe,
even if someone were to explain it to you. "

Now That is the Gospel;
1. God promises Israel a Savior
2. Israel Condemned Jesus in whom no Guilt was found.
3.Jesus Rose from the dead
4. And through Him salvation is offered

And when the Gospel is preached the people want to hear more.
Acts 13:42-44

42 As they were leaving, they begged that these matters be presented to them the following Sabbath. 43 After the synagogue had been dismissed, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who were speaking with them and persuading them to continue in the grace of God.
44 The following Sabbath almost the whole town assembled to hear the message of the Lord.

But the Jews who rejected Jesus where jealous so they try to contradict Paul. Paul tells them that since they judged themselves unworthy of eternal life he would go and preach to the Gentiles. Acts 13:45-49

45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to oppose what Paul was saying by insulting him.
46 Then Paul and Barnabas boldly said: "It was necessary that God's message be spoken to you first. But since you reject it, and consider yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles! 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:
I have appointed you as a light for the Gentiles,
to bring salvation to the ends of the earth. "
48 When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and glorified the message of the Lord, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed. 49 So the message of the Lord spread through the whole region.

This spreading of the word made the Jews mad so they persecuted Paul and he leaves and heads to Iconium Acts 13:50-52

50 But the Jews incited the religious women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their district. 51 But shaking the dust off their feet against them, they proceeded to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

At Iconium Paul and Barnabas again go to the synagogue and began preaching. The unbelieving Jews stir up the Gentiles, despite this setback Paul and Barnabas stay for "a long time " preaching to a divided city until the unbelievers decided to stone them and they left and headed to Lyconia to preach. Acts 14:1-7

1 The same thing happened in Iconium; they entered the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. 2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against the brothers. 3 So they stayed there for some time and spoke boldly, in reliance on the Lord, who testified to the message of His grace by granting that signs and wonders be performed through them. 4 But the people of the city were divided, some siding with the Jews and some with the apostles. 5 When an attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to assault and stone them, 6 they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian towns called Lystra and Derbe, and to the surrounding countryside. 7 And there they kept evangelizing

When Paul and Barnabas get to Lystra they start preaching as Paul preaches he notices a crippled man seated and listening to him . Seeing that the man had faith, Paul told him to stand and the man stood and started walking. Well you can imagine the effect this had on the crowd listening they were amazed. Unfortunatly these people worshipped false Gods and they decided that Paul was the god Hermes and Barnabas was Zeus. Paul upset that these men were trying to worship and offer sacrifices to him ran away preaching the whole time he is running. Acts 14:8-18

8 In Lystra a man without strength in his feet, lame from birth, and who had never walked, sat 9 and heard Paul speaking. After observing him closely and seeing that he had faith to be healed, 10 [Paul] said in a loud voice, "Stand up straight on your feet!" And he jumped up and started to walk around.
11 When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in the form of men!" 12 And they started to call Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the main speaker. 13 Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the town, brought oxen and garlands to the gates. He, with the crowds, intended to offer sacrifice.
14 The apostles Barnabas and Paul tore their robes when they heard this and rushed into the crowd, shouting: 15 "Men! Why are you doing these things? We are men also, with the same nature as you, and we are proclaiming good news to you, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them . 16 In past generations He allowed all the nations to go their own way, 17 although He did not leave Himself without a witness, since He did good: giving you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, and satisfying your hearts with food and happiness." 18 Even though they said these things, they barely stopped the crowds from sacrificing to them.

Remember the angry Jews and unbelievers at Antioch and Iconium. well they tracked Paul down and convinced the crowds to stone him and leave him outside the city dead. Acts 14:19

19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and when they had won over the crowds and stoned Paul, they dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead.
He wasn't! Acts 14:20

After the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.

So they go to Derbe and guess what they do? They preach! Then Paul goes back to the city were he was stoned to strengthen and encourage the believers and appoint elders for the church. Then he goes back to Iconium, where the Jews that wanted him stoned where, to do the same thing. Paul and Barnabas retrace their steps to make sure the churches were all still going strong. Acts 14:21-25

21 After they had evangelized that town and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, to Iconium, and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the hearts of the disciples by encouraging them to continue in the faith, and by telling them, "It is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God."
23 When they had appointed elders in every church and prayed with fasting, they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. 24 Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. 25 After they spoke the message in Perga, they went down to Attalia.

When they returned to Antioch, where they had started, they gathered the church together to tell of what had happened while they had been gone for the last two years (45-47 A.D.) Acts 14:26-27

26 From there they sailed back to Antioch where they had been entrusted to the grace of God for the work they had completed. 27 After they arrived and gathered the church together, they reported everything God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

28 And they spent a considerable time with the disciples. best guess being two years Acts 14:28

Now we see how Paul went from town to town
Establishing Churches

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

As Jesus Sees

August is here! Time for children to head off to school and time for our revival, plus this year there will be a revival for the youth. Another busy month where it’s easy to get caught up in all we have going on and forget about others. So what can we do to prepare ourselves for this busy month?
First the most important thing we can do is pray. Before we can pray we need to prepare ourselves for prayer. Start by taking a minute a looking at people the way God looks at them. Think back through your day. Think of everyone you have met today. How did you see them?
What do you know about them? What problems are they having? What good things do they have going on in their life? Often I’m so busy with my life that I forget to take a minute and look at people as Jesus would.
When Jesus sat down at the well(John 4:6-29) with the Samarian woman He didn’t look at her like the Jews or even his own disciple did. The Samarians were hated by the Jews. The Samarians worshipped God but they also worshipped idols. In the apocryphal book of Sirach we can see in the words of a Jew exactly how they felt about the Samarians. Sirach 50:25-26 There be two manner of nations which my heart abhorreth, and the third is no nation: They that sit upon the mountain of Samaria, and they that dwell among the Philistines, and that foolish people that dwell in Sichem.
Plus this woman had multiple adulterous affairs; a good Jew would never defile himself by speaking to her. But Jesus looked past all this and spoke and asked for water. Jesus spoke kindly and lovingly to her. Jesus told her that He was the deliverer. Thanks to Jesus not looking at her with condemnation and hate she came to know Jesus and brought others to Him. This is how we should look at God’s people. With love!


Monday, August 3, 2009

Life Of Paul;The Early Years

Since most of my time lately has been devoted to studying and preparing lessons for my youth classes, I have decided to start posting the lessons here. Right now we are studying the life of Paul. I've already done two lessons that had such a basic outline when I taught that they wouldn't be very helpful to anyone. Last Wednesday's I detailed pretty good and next Wednesdays the same way. I often make seemingly random comments to help jog my memory on something I want to talk about.

I based these on an outline I found that Mark Copeland had done. The original outlines can be found at Executable outlines.com

This is the lesson on the ten years after Paul's conversion and before he began his first missionary Journey. All bible verses are from the HCSB

Paul’s Early Years Of Service
(36-45 A.D.)
What do we know about Paul?
He persecuted the church
He was converted on the road to Damascus
He was a missionary and preacher.

But Paul became a Christian around 36 AD and it was almost 10 years later in 45 AD when he began his first missionary trip.
So What was Paul doing between his conversion and the time when the Spirit called him to begin
his missionary journeys?

He was preparing.........How should we prepare for what God has planned for us?


Acts 9:17-22 So Paul is baptised and immediatley begins preaching. Paul went to Damascus to kill Christians and when he got there he tried toconvert more people to Christ and everyone thought that was amazing!

9:17 So Ananias left and entered the house. Then he placed his hands on him and said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road you were traveling, has sent me so you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
Act 9:18 At once something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized.
Act 9:19 And after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul was with the disciples in Damascus for some days.
Act 9:20 Immediately he began proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues: "He is the Son of God."
Act 9:21 But all who heard him were astounded and said, "Isn't this the man who, in Jerusalem, was destroying those who called on this name, and then came here for the purpose of taking them as prisoners to the chief priests?"
Act 9:22 But Saul grew more capable, and kept confounding the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that this One is the Messiah.

So Paul did not stay in Damascus long before he decided he needed to go to Arabia and share the good news of Christ.
Paul did not stay in Damascus long after his conversion - cf. Gal_1:15-17

Gal 1:15 But when God, who from my mother's womb set me apart and called me by His grace, was pleased
Gal 1:16 to reveal His Son in me, so that I could preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone.
Gal 1:17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to those who had become apostles before me; instead I went to Arabia and came back to Damascus.

He went to Arabia, the desert area east and south of Damascus
We don't know exactly how long Paul stayed in Damascus or Arabia or, but sometime before three years was up he went back to Damascus to preach before going to Jerusalem -
cf. Gal_1:18

Gal 1:18 Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to get to know Cephas, and I stayed with him 15 days.

During his tme in Damascus and Arabia we Believe that Paul studied and thought about Jesus- cf. Gal_1:11-12

Gal 1:11 Now I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel preached by me is not based on a human point of view.
Gal 1:12 For I did not receive it from a human source and I was not taught it, but it came by a revelation from Jesus Christ.

So Paul leaves Arabia and heads back to Damascus to preach about Jesus - Gal_1:17
Gal 1:17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to those who had become apostles before me; instead I went to Arabia and came back to Damascus.

[Damascus was the first place Paul preached (Act_26:19-20),(Act 26:20 Instead, I preached to those in Damascus first, and to those in Jerusalem and in all the region of Judea, and to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works worthy of repentance. ) and the first place he experienced persecution. It would not be the last place for either experience!
The Jewish people, now remember Paul use to be a Jewish religious leader now he is converting people to Christ, so they decided to kill Paul.
Guess What! It didn't work! - Act_9:23-25
Act 9:23 After many days had passed, the Jews conspired to kill him,
Act 9:24 but their plot became known to Saul. So they were watching the gates day and night intending to kill him,
Acts 9:25 but his disciples took him by night and lowered him in a large basket through an opening in the wall.

Think about that He was put in a basket and in the middle of the night let down from a wall.
He also tells us about this in his letter to the church in Corinth - 2 Corinthians 11:32-33
2Co 11:32 In Damascus, the governor under King Aretas guarded the city of the Damascenes in order to arrest me,
2Co 11:33 so I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.

Leaving Damascus, Paul makes his way to Jerusalem the capital for Jewish worship...]

Do you think the Christian church was happy to see him?
At first, the church is afraid to receive him - Acts 9:26
Act 9:26 When he arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to associate with the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, since they did not believe he was a disciple.

Barnabas also called Joseph(cf. Acts 4:36) introduces him to the apostles - Acts 9:27;
Act 9:27 Barnabas, however, took him and brought him to the apostles and explained to them how, on the road, Saul had seen the Lord, and that He had talked to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus.

a. He saw Peter, and stayed with him fifteen days
b. He also saw James the Lord’s brother Galatians 1:18-19
Gal 1:18 Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to get to know Cephas, and I stayed with him 15 days.
Gal 1:19 But I didn't see any of the other apostles except James, the Lord's brother.

Many people think James was actually the leader of the Christian Church.

So what did he do in JERUSALEM...
1. He went around preaching in the churches in Jerusalem and makes more people want to kill him -Acts 9:28-29
Act 9:28 Saul was coming and going with them in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.
Act 9:29 He conversed and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they attempted to kill him.
Hellenists (Grecian Jews) - Foreign born jews

2. But God tells him to go... - cf. Acts 22:17-21
Act 22:17 "After I came back to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple complex, I went into a visionary state
Act 22:18 and saw Him telling me, 'Hurry and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me!'
Act 22:19 "But I said, 'Lord, they know that in synagogue after synagogue I had those who believed in You imprisoned and beaten.
Act 22:20 And when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving, and I guarded the clothes of those who killed him.'
Act 22:21 "Then He said to me, 'Go, because I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'"

and the other apostles send him to Tarsus - Acts 9:30
Act 9:30 When the brothers found out, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
Tarsus does that sound familiar?
[It is evident that Paul has now become a dangerous enemy to his former friends. His testimony concerning the Lord and his own conversion is difficult to answer, and the opposition is willing to do anything to silence him! At this point Paul returns home (Tarsus) and spends...]

So Paul is sent back to the place of his birth- there he preaches for about 5 years

Barnabas who had introduced Peter to the church in Jerusalem goes to Tarsu to get Paul
Act 11:22 Then the report about them reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to travel as far as Antioch.
Act 11:23 When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he encouraged all of them to remain true to the Lord with a firm resolve of the heart--
Act 11:24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith--and large numbers of people were added to the Lord.
Act 11:25 Then he went to Tarsus to search for Saul,
Act 11:26 and when he found him he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught large numbers, and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

[So Paul had worked alone up to this time. But with Barnabas Paul begins a series of labors in which he was always accompanied by fellow-workers. Barnabas and Paul go and preach at the already established church in Antioch

They preached in Antioch until they fond out about a famine in Judea, the church at Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas back with relief.
Act 11:27 In those days some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.
Act 11:28 Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine throughout the Roman world. This took place during the time of Claudius.
Act 11:29 So each of the disciples, according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brothers who lived in Judea.
Act 11:30 This they did, sending it to the elders by means of Barnabas and Saul.

Let's talk about what that means for us today.

So Paul goes back to Jerusalem to help with relief. Paul and Barnabas join with Barnabas' Cousin John Mark. John Mark is the man that Barnabas and Paul split over during the first missionary journey Mark wanted to go back to Jerusalem and when you talk about someones relatives it can get ugly. Acts12:25, Colossians 4:10, Acts 13:13; Acts15:37-39
Paul forgave and Mark and Paul did become friends later. 2 Timothy 4:11, Philemon 1:24
As a sidenote Mark also traveled with Peter and wrote the Gospel of Mark (1 Peter 5:13)

At this point Paul returns to Antioch of Syria... and the Holy Spirit sends him on his missionary Journeys
Act 13:1 In the local church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius the Cyrenian, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
Act 13:2 As they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work that I have called them to."
Act 13:3 Then, after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.
Act 13:4 Being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they came down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.
In “Paul’s Early Years Of Service” (36-45 A.D.), a pattern is established...
Establishing churches,
And helping those in need

“He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in
what is least is unjust also in much. - Luke 16:10
In our next study, we will survey Paul’s first missionary journey...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Father In His Image

June is here and with it comes warm summer days and children exploring their freedom from school. With June also comes the day we sit aside to remember fathers. This is an opportunity for us all to think of the men who have shaped our lives and led us to be the adults that we are now. As I think back over childhood some of my fondest memories involve my dad teaching me and instructing me on how to be a gentleman, how to love and respect those around me, and how to demand respect in a loving way.
About five years ago my dad went with me to a funeral for a friend. Another friend, whom I hadn‟t seen in several years, came up to my dad and me. He told my dad that he appreciated him for the man he was while we were growing up and that he tries to use my dad as a model for how he raises his children. I know that testimony meant a lot to my dad and as I thought about it, I was truly blessed to have a father that cared for me so much. He always went out of his way to get to know my friends and to watch over them. He always made them feel like they were just as much his children as I was.
I remember losing my first friend in a car accident, 3 AM my dad woke me and after I heard the news he comforted me and reached out and helped me and all my friends to make it through this tragic accident. No matter how stubborn, hardheaded or rebellious I was, my dad was there standing beside me and ready to pick me up after my mistakes and forgive.
As I look at what kind of father I would like to be and think back on what kind of father I had, I can see that my Heavenly Father truly blessed me with a Godly man that mirrored the Heavenly Father in how he cared for me and my friends. How he was always willing to forgive and always ready to help when I asked for it. I pray that I may be all these things to my children and their friends, and that they may someday look back at me as I look back at my dad and say thank you Father for the father you gave me. May God bless all fathers this month.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

By Any Other Name

I preached my second sermon this morning. I included the manuscript I wrote out to practice it with but it isn't exactly word for word. Here is the link.

Good morning! I’m going to start this morning in Hebrews chapter 3 then we will visit Numbers 20, Genesis 3 and stop in Romans 7.So if everyone is in Hebrews 3 we will start at verse 7 and go to 19
Hebrews 3:7-19 (New International Version)
Warning Against Unbelief
7So, as the Holy Spirit says:
"Today, if you hear his voice,
8do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
during the time of testing in the desert,
9where your fathers tested and tried me
and for forty years saw what I did.
10That is why I was angry with that generation,
and I said, 'Their hearts are always going astray,
and they have not known my ways.'
11So I declared on oath in my anger,
'They shall never enter my rest.' "[a]
12See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. 14We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. 15As has just been said:
"Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion."[b]
16Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? 18And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed[c]? 19So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.
I want to focus on three things that are said in this section of scripture.
Vs. 8 8do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion,
Vs. 11 11So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.' "
And Vs. 13 so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.
First I want to point out that this is addressed to Christians verse 1 of this chapter says therefore Holy brothers and sisters, so the author is talking to fellow Christians. Let’s go back to verse 8 where the writer tells us that the Holy Spirit says; “do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” Notice that; “do not harden your hearts.” It is an act of our will to harden our hearts. In Exodus we see the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart referred to in two ways.
The Lord said I will harden his heart. (Exodus 4:21) and
Pharoah hardened his heart (Exodus 8:15)

The hardening of our hearts is not something God does so we will be like little robots. God Hardening Pharaoh’s heart is just God allowing Pharaoh to do what is already in his heart. The hardening of our hearts is something we do. We choose to soften our hearts or harden them sometimes God arranges events to help ge our hearts where He wants them, but just as pharaoh’s pride forced him to harden his heart we let circumstances harden or soften our hearts.

So we are told not to harden our hearts as they did in the rebellion. I want to first address the broad way the author of Hebrews is approaching this scripture and then I’m going to tighten it up a little and look at the narrow way of looking at verse 8. The author is talking about how God did not allow the Israelites into the Promised Land because of their unbelief. God has saved and delivered them. That is important to see. The Israelites have already been saved. As I pointed out earlier the author of Hebrews was talking about Christians and here we have the saved Israelites, kinda of like the Old testament version of Christians.So they have been saved and delivered but the Promised Land that they were to be given is not going to be theirs during their lifetime because they doubt. They did not believe that God was truly going to take care of them. Numbers 13 tells of the spies being sent into the Promised Land and they come back talking about the military strength and the fortifications of the cities and then they compare their selves to Grasshoppers amongst these people who were giants. These spies say “we can’t do this. We can’t do this. “
And they are right. They are right, they can’t do it. But God can. These people have already seen the miracles of the plagues. God not only delivered them but made them rich when the Egyptians paid them to leave. They saw the Red Sea split open. Think about that miracle by itself. Any one ever drained a pond and immediately walked in it afterwards. You sink to your knees in the mud but the Israelites had the sea split and crossed on dry ground. Then God allowed the waters to overtake the Egyptians. Just imagine seeing this and then to doubt God. They have survived battles, by armies much stronger and more well trained .They have had bitter water turned sweet, seen manna fall from the sky. God has taken care of these people but when He says “Go and take your reward” they say “We can’t.” Caleb and Joshua were the only two that didn’t harden their hearts and they were the only ones that got to see their reward on this side of heaven.
All the others let unbelief harden their hearts. Think about that they were saved but because sin hardened their hearts they did not get an earthly reward. I’m not saying that Caleb and Joshua didn’t suffer they went through the exact same things as all the other Israelites but to them it wasn’t as bad because they knew that God was carrying them and they got to see the reward of their belief that God would conquer the promised land

Now to the narrow look into this scripture "Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion."[
This comes from Psalm 95 and in Psalm 95 it refers to the wilderness as Meribah and Massah. The events at Meribah and Massah are recorded in Exodus 17 and Numbers 20. they refer to Moses getting water from the Rock at Meribah. Now God instructs Moses to talk to the rock and strike it once. Let’s look at Numbers 20:10-13
He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, "Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?" 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.
12 But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them."

Moses in his anger at the unbelief of the Israelites hardened his heart and did not honor God as Holy. Because of that Moses did not get to enter the Promised Land in his lifetime. Do you see a pattern? The hardening of our hearts to sin stops us from receiving the reward that God has in store for us. Now a reward might be the blessing in getting to see someone we know come to Christ. One of the hardest things I have had to endure was seeing someone I care about hate me for being honest about what the bible says. But I endured I stayed focused on Jesus and what he wanted and the greatest reward was seeing that person start going to church regularly. If we follow Jesus and do not let our hearts be hardened by sins deceitfulness we will get to see the reward of our efforts.

Lets go back to Hebrews 3. Verses 12 and 13 12See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.

Moses heart was hardened by the disbelief of those around him and that lead to his sin.
Let’s look at two other people who allowed sins deceitfulness to harden their hearts.
Lets back up to Adam and Eve
Genesis 3 is the infamous chapter called the fall. Let’s look at what happened though.3:1-6 1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. Notice we are told here that the serpent was crafty or we could say deceitful. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" Notice what he just did he misquoted what God had said in an effort to cause confusion and doubt.
2 The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "
4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

The beauty of the sinful fruit hardened the heart of Eve. Think about that the allure of sin hardened Eve’s Heart . Satan changed sin from something that kills and destroys to something desirable.
And she gave some to her husband.
Adam loved Eve and in his love for a woman Adam disobeyed God
The love of a woman hardened Adam’s heart.

Disbelief of those around hardened moses’ heart
Beauty hardened Eve’s heart.
Love Hardened Adam’s heart.
, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.

So what Hardens our hearts and how does sin deceive us.

Last summer I caught a Garter Snake in the yard. Dustin and I played with it for a while a Savannah took a picture of us holding it. I put the picture on my screensaver at work. A woman I work with walked up and looked at it with disgust asking what is that. I said my son!
She replied No, not the boy. I said oh, That would be me.
I have been married long enough that I have learned that when a woman is holding sharp objects and gets that insane look in her eyes its time for the jokes to stop so I told it was a Garter snake.
A Garter snake.
A Snake.
Well yes but it’s a Garter snake. I try to inform this woman that it lived under our house and eats mice therefore it was friend of mine.
A Snake.
A garter snake.
A Snake.
I then tried to inform her that Garter snakes are harmless and can’t hurt you.
She asked does it bite. I said well yes but I didn’t give it the opportunity and even if it did it’s not poisonous so it wouldn’t have been a big deal had it bitten me.
A Snake.
A garter snake.
She then walked off shaking her head and mumbling something about poor poor Amy.
So I was trying to give the snake a fancy name to make it less harmful sounding to her. To make her hardened to the fear the snake caused
And sometimes we treat sin like that and by making sin less harmful sounding we allow our hearts to be hardened by sins deceitfulness.
I’ve got some examples I’d like to share this morning.

We don’t call it murder in the news because that would give a negative tone to it and would lead a jury to be more likely to convict. It’s Homicide or manslaughter. If I say murder you get an image of brutality and violence in your mind. but if I say homocide it’s not as bad it’s less horrific sounding. Homicide that doesn’t paint as vivid a picture in your head does it.
What about the Murder of an unborn child.
How many people had the word abortion pop in their head as I said that. The murder of an unborn child and we put an innocent sounding name on it like abortion. That doesn’t sound so bad does it. Abortion to stop a process the problem is this is the process of Life that God started we are stopping.
What about Pro Choice. Choices that sounds really nice doesn’t it. By putting a positive word at the beginning we are creating a word that doesn’t create negativity in our minds or our hearts.
What about family planning. That sounds really nice. I can see little kids and a dog named boo. But no that is the murder of an unborn child. Family planning is not killing babies family planning is waiting until your married to have sex as God has Commanded us to do.
The unnatural lust for someone of the same sex. What do we call it homosexuality give it a nice scientific name and it isn’t so bad. Kind of sterilizes it doesn’t it?
Alternative lifestyle. Isn’t that what the Amish have. An alternative lifestyle is living without electricity and traveling by horse and buggy .Having sex in a way that the bible calls an abomination just because a woman named Ellen says it’s okay is not an alternative lifestyle. It is a sin.
Pornography what do we call it Adult entertainment. Adult entertainment That doesn’t sound so bad. Go to Memphis or Nashville and you find Gentleman’s Clubs. Gentleman’s clubs that sounds like a respectable place. A Gentleman is a good thing. Pornography is not entertainment. Matthew 5:28 tells us that to look at a woman lustfully is to commit adultery. Think about that every pornographic image you have looked at is the same in God’s eyes as you committing adultery against your spouse. Pornography is a sin, and it destroys families, marriages and self esteem. It is not entertainment.
Adultery what pleasant terms can we come up with for breaking a marriage covenant. Infidelity, affair, Cheating. Cheating is what you do in the seventh grade when you peek over the shoulder of the guy in front of you to see his answers on a test. Telling your spouse that the covenat that you and her made before God does not matter. That its something as innocent as cheating at aboard game. Think about that when you commit adultery you are telling your spouse and God that what you want is more important than they are.
, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.

Okay but what does this have to do with me. A Christian living under grace and sanctified by the blood of Christ. Forgiven of all sins past, present and future by the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. Maybe you are thinking I haven’t done any of those things anyways, So this doesn’t apply to me.
Yeah, I use the political correct terms of the day so I want offend but that doesn’t cause me to sin.
What does it matter if I use more sensitive language when I talk about these subjects? If I don’t use sensitive language, sinners want listen to me when I try and tell them about Jesus. None of this is causing me to sin. My heart isn’t hardened.
The problem isn’t in using these words in conversing with people the problem is believing these words that harden our hearts.
How many have referred to a friend committing adultery as just having an affair?
You don’t believe you have allowed the deceitfulness of sin to harden your heart! How many while talking to someone who is having marriage difficulties have thought well maybe they shouldn’t be together! Maybe they shouldn’t be together. That is why the divorce rate among Christians is just as high as among none Christians. Because sin has hardened our heart.
Think about what you are truly saying, God I don’t think this couple should honor the contract they made before you They just don’t seem to be able to live up to their part. You know what though lucky for us God doesn’t decide to give up on the contract he gave lost sinners just because we can’t live up to our part of the contract. We all would be in a mess then.

When we become scared to call sin what it is because we may offend someone we have allowed sin to harden our hearts and that leads to us disobeying God.
Christians wrestle with sin that what makes God’s mercy so amazing is even though He knows we will still sin He forgives us.
Look at Romans 7 Paul is telling us that the law is there so we will know sin and notice how Paul wrestles with sin in v1515I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Look at that What I hate I do. That is a man on his knees in conviction of his sin.
16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. Now he is saying God you are right this is a sin 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. Lord I can’t do this. That is a sinner begging for God’s grace and help19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. That is what a sinner on his knees sounds like!
Why is God allowing Paul to suffer and wrestle with sin. Why does God allow us to suffer and wrestle with sin.
Being saved requires repentance. Repentance is the changing of one’s way of thinking. So to repent of sin is to realize that I am committing sin and to realize that Jesus died for that sin so that I could have eternal life with the father. Jesus refers to the Holy spirit as the helper, and counselor. So how does the Holy Spirit help me or counsel me.
When I sin the Holy Spirit will convict me. Ephesians 4 gives us instructions for Christian living v 30 tells us not to grieve the Holy Spirit. This grieving is conviction it is the feeling in our heart of knowing that we have done wrong. So what do we do with this feeling we pray, Just as David cried out to God in Psalm 51 We should admit against you God have I sinned. Our forgiveness is there but we still have our old nature to show us we are dependant upon God.
But when we change the name of sin so that we are not convicted when we change the name of sin so that others are not convicted we are telling God that we do not need Him and His definition of sin. We are telling God what sin is and not listening to him so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness..
Earlier I said I told the woman that even if the Garter snake had bitten me it wouldn’t hurt me. I got to thinking about that I had a friend get bitten by a boa constrictor and a fang broke off in his hand. The bite got infected and hurt him for several days just as what seems like a small private sin can grow and hurt us if we don’t call it what it is.
We must recognize sin for what it is. It is disobeying God, and changing the name of it so that we won’t be convicted is not honoring God as Holy. Remember Moses he did not get to see the promised land because he did not honor God as holy. Jesus died on a cross for you and I. He bled so that I could be washed in that blood. It was Jesus that saved me. And I can turn back and live in sin and I can change the name of it so I won’t be convicted but I will never enter God’s rest in my lifetime. Or I can thank Jesus for what he did it can drink of his living water. I can call out to Him I am a sinner Lord help me. And I will get to know what it is like to have Jesus take my burden on Him. How many have had some kind of stress in their life this week. Jesus said hey I want to take that from you rely on me, live for me. You’ll still go through the wilderness like Caleb and Joshua did but the whole time you will know that you Jesus is carrying you. By not allowing our heart to be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, I will no what it’s like to live for Christ. I will get to see the rewards of living for Him. I’ll get to hear that child come to know him I get to see that friend fall to their knee’s in repentance I’ll get to hear that elderly gentleman call out to Jesus with his dying breathe. I will always have that presence around me letting me know that no Scott can’t do this But I can, God can, Jesus can. All you have to do is today "Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion." and do not let the deceitfulness of sin harden your heart.