Pastor’s Message, June 21 2015 - Father’s Day

• June 23rd, 2015

June 21, 2015

 

Am I Proof?

(That You Are Who You Say You Are)

(Father’s Day Message)

Happy Father’s Day…

If you are here this morning and you have the blessing & responsibility of being a Dad:

?      What are you goals as a dad?

?      What do you need to arm yourself with to be a godly dad?

Many of the things you will here me say today came from a book called: “Stepping Up – a call to Courageous Manhood” by Dennis Rainey.  When we start back up our G3 nights in September this will be the DVD / workbook that we will be doing with the men of the church.

God gives us a unique opportunity as fathers to join Him in what has to be one of the most noble, transcendent assignments we’ll ever have as men: He gives us the privilege of joining with Him in shaping the next generation of men and women.

I came here today to encourage you as fathers to stay in the moral and spiritual battle for your children’s souls.  I am not teaching from 1 Peter today, but from book of Colossians chapter 3 & 4.

There might be many here this morning that are in need of a clear battle cry, a challenge to truly step up and courageously be the father you always wanted to become.

What’s keeping you from doing your duty as a dad?

Ö      Is it a fear of inadequacy?

Ö      A fear of failure?

Ö      Past failures?

Ö      Pressure from work?

Ö      Ambition?

Ö      Misplace priorities?

Ö      A crisis of manhood in your own life?

Ö      The desire to spend time doing what you want to do?

Ö      An absent father when you were a boy?

Don’t leave your son or daughter to find answers to life on their own?

Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. - C.S. Lewi

How you step up as a father will determine the strength of your convictions and priorities.

So then the question becomes:  What are you convictions and priorities as a dad? Do you have the courage to live by your priorities?

Priority #1: Keep Seeking Him - Let go of the Old, put on the New!

Colossians 3:1-10 (NASB)

Put On the New Self

(1) Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (2) Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. (3) For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (4) When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

(5) Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. (6) For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, (7) and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. (8) But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. (9) Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, (10) and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—

Priority #2: Prayer!

Colossians 4:2 (NASB)

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;

“A Father’s Prayer”

Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.

Build me a son whose wishbone will not be where his backbone should be; a son who will know Thee – and that to know himself is the foundational stone of knowledge.

Lead him I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge.  Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail.

Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will learn to laugh yet never forget how to weep; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

After all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously.  Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.

Then, I, his father, will dare to whisper. “I have not lived in vain.”

General Douglas MacArthur

 

Priority #3: Build up – don’t tear down!

Colossians 3:21(NASB)

Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.

John Wooden, considered by many the greatest coach in the history of college basketball.  He coached his UCLA teams to ten national championships between 1964 and 1975. 

Many people don’t know about the profound influence that Coach Wooden’s father, Joshua, had on him.  Joshua believed in building character and continually emphasized the importance of making right choices.  Two of his favorite sayings which he taught his sons, were “Never life, never cheat, and never steal,” and “Don’t whine, don’t complain, and don’t alibi.”

When John graduated from 8th grade in his small country school, Joshua gave him a card and said, “Son try to live up to this.”  Eight decades late John still kept the card in his wallet and could recite these verses by heart:

Ø  Be true to yourself.

Ø  Make each day your masterpiece.

Ø  Help Others.

Ø  Drink deeply from good books, especially the Good Book.

Ø  Make friendship a fine art.

Ø  Build a shelter against a rainy day.

Ø  Pray for guidance and give thanks fro your blessings every day.

Colossians 3:23-24 (NASB)

(23) Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, (24) knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

Priority #4: Use Opportunities as an Opportunity!

When we were praying last Sunday morning in the conference room before our adult class I noticed these verses that had been put up by Covenant Christian Academy that meets here in the building.  What a great passage for dads as well as moms - and what a great passage to teach your children to live by…

Colossians 3:12-17 (NASB)

(12) So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; (13) bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. (14) Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. (15) Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. (16) Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (17) Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

When Coach Wooden become a father in 1936, his father gave him another poem.  This poem sums up the philosophy of a man who always knew that true success came in the lives he influenced rather than in titles he won.  The poem also reminds dads that every boy needs a father who is a role model:

A careful man I must always be;

A little fellow follows me.

I know I dare not go astray

For fear he’ll go the self-same way.

I cannot once escape his eyes;

Whatever he sees me do, he tries,

Like me, he says, he’s going to be,

This little chap who follows me. 

He thinks that I am good and fine;

Believers in every word of mine.

The base in me he must not see,

This little chap who follows me.

I must be careful as I go

Through summer’s sun and winter’s snow,

Because I am building for the years to be

This little chap who follows me.

 

Those are the words that every father needs to keep before him.  I challenge you to be involved and to be intentional with your son’s & daughter’s.  Put your arm around them as they embark on the journey of a lifetime, and courageously show them what it means to be a godly man or a godly woman. 

You can do it.

Their life may be hanging in the balance.

What if you are seated here today and you need help reaching out to those, maybe even family members, who don’t know Christ.

Colossians 4:5-6 (NASB)

(5) Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. (6) Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.

Priority #5: Point them to Christ!

Colossians 2:6-10 (NASB)

(6) Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,  (7) having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and over flowing with gratitude.

(8) See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. (9) For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, (10) and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;

One father said, “If I had it to do all over again…”

Ö      I’d love my wife more in front of my children

Ö      I’d laugh with my children more

Ö      I’d listen more, even to the youngest child

Ö      I’d be more honest about my own weaknesses and stop pretending perfection

Ö      I would pray differently for my children

Ö      I would be more encouraging and bestow more praise

And finally, if I had it to do all over again, I would use every ordinary thing that happened in every ordinary day to point them to God.


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Pastor’s Message, June 14 2015 - I’m Longing For The World to Know…

• June 23rd, 2015

June 14th

 

I’m Longing for the World to Know the Glory of the King!

(1 Peter 3:13-17)

One of the greatest tragedies in the twentieth century was the sinking of the Titanic.  This large ship hit an iceberg and many people died as a result.  Did you also know that most of the lifeboats that helped saved people from death were only half filled?  They were unwilling to turn back and save more people from dying.

If you knew someone that the doctors had said that they didn’t have long to live – would you share Christ with them?  This morning who do you know that needs Christ?

Today there is an escalating hostility toward biblical Christianity throughout Western culture. But the roots of that hostility are decades, even centuries, old.

Believers in Peter’s time lived in Rome, facing all the same kind of immorality, corruption, wickedness, evil and depravity that assaults today’s church as well.

In some parts of the world there is direct persecution of believers, and it is likely that in the coming years Christians everywhere will face increasing hostility, both from civil authorities and from unbelievers at the personal level. This passage (1 Peter 3:13-17) that we are going to look at today speaks to all who would live godly lives in the midst of a hostile, ungodly culture. 

1 Peter 3:13-17 (NASB)

(13) Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? (14) But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, (15) but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; (16) and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. (17) For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. 

The apostle Peter gives us five principles that we as believers need to embrace to equip and defend ourselves against the threats of an unbelieving, hostile world:

Principle #1 - A Passion for Goodness!

1 Peter 3:13

Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 

Peter’s rhetorical question shows that it is unusual for most people, even those hostile to Christianity, to harm believers who prove zealous for what is good.  Good refers generally to a life characterized by generosity, unselfishness, kindness, and thoughtfulness toward one another 

Prove means “to become” and points to believers’ basic character quality, which should be good and above reproach

Zealous means “intensity” or “enthusiasm” and describes a person with great passion for a specific cause. Peter wanted his readers to be zealots for what was good.

Being zealous for what is good produces a godly life.  This should be the delight and goal of all believers.  This kind of life leads to pure living and the loss of one’s appetite for the world’s ungodly attractions.

So the first principle Peter laid out was - A Passion for Goodness!

Principle #2 - A Willingness to Suffer— for Wrong and for Right!

1 Peter 3:14, 17

 (14) But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled,

(17) For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. 

Jesus Himself made it clear that believers cannot presume to escape all suffering.

Luke 6:22 (NASB)

Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.

John 15:20 (NASB)

Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.

Many Christians in the early church did suffer for the sake of righteousness.

Likewise, faithful Christians today should not be surprised or afraid if such suffering happens, because that becomes a means by which we are blessed.

We as believers can have the same sense of privilege by sharing in His sufferings. 

Matthew 5:10-12 (NASB)

(10)  “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

(11) “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  (12) Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

If we are willing to suffer for His sake – we need to face all circumstances with courage

Suffering must be viewed as an opportunity to receive spiritual blessings, not as an excuse to compromise our faith before a hostile world.

As the seventeenth-century English preacher and writer John Bunyan accepted imprisonment in the Bedford Jail for preaching without a license. Reformer Martin Luther stood before his enemies and refused to recant his scriptural beliefs, so as Christians today we must stand firm in the face of suffering.

In the verses here concerning suffering, we see two possibilities:

First, believers may suffer for doing what is right, accepting that pain as part of God’s wise and sovereign plan for blessing their lives.

Second, we may suffer for doing what is wrong, receiving the expected discipline of the Lord for our disobeying His Word

God sometimes wills that believers suffer for righteousness so they might receive the blessings that come out of such suffering. It is also God’s will that believers endure His beneficial chastisement when they sin.  Of the two possibilities that may come, Peter recognizes that the first is unique because it comes only if God should will it so. That is a comforting promise. Paul certainly learned that lesson:

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NASB)

A Thorn in the Flesh

(7) Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! (8) Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. (9) And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

 (10) Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 

Christians suffer for the sake of righteousness when God wants them to. He never wants us to sin, so that suffering, in one sense, is not what He wished for us though it has sometimes become His will for our righteousness.

Hebrews 12:11 (NASB)

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

Principle #3 - A Devotion to Christ!

1 Peter 3:15a

(15) but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts,

When we as believers sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts, we affirm our submission to His control, instruction, and guidance. In so doing we also declare and submit to God’s sovereign majesty and demonstrate that we fear only Him.

Sanctify means “to set apart,” or “consecrate.” But in this context it also means giving the primary place of adoration, exaltation, and worship to Christ.   

When we sanctify Christ – we set Him apart from all others as the sole object of our love, reverence, loyalty, and obedience.

  • We recognize His perfection

  • We magnify His glory

  • We extol His pre-eminence, and

  • We submit ourselves to His will with the understanding that sometimes that submission includes suffering.

This honoring of Christ as Lord is not external, but in the hearts of true worshipers—even when we must face unjust suffering. Submission to and trust in the perfect purposes of the sovereign Lord yields courage, boldness, and fortitude to triumph through the most adverse situations.

Principle #4 - A Readiness to Defend the Faith!

1 Peter 3:15b

always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 

A couple of examples for you:

When you drop a letter in the mailbox, it is then delivered to the post office.  The mail is then sorted by postal workers who group the mail by zip code so that your letter can reach its proper destination.

In the same way, Christian have the job of making sure that others reach their divine destination.  It is hard to help somebody else reach their divine destination if you’re lost too.

We all grew up in school having to say the Pledge of Allegiance.  We were being reminded about the awesome privilege it is to enjoy the freedoms of America and to commit ourselves to loyalty to the country.

Before sporting events, “the Star-Spangled Banner” becomes a musical reminder of a commitment to a country and a flag and a constitutional republic that is the heart of this democracy.  This is not done as a routine; it’s done as a reminder of what the privileges are. 

In a similar way, Jesus Christ ask His followers to make a pledge of allegiance – a statement of commitment to be both identified and associated with Him, if, in fact, we claim Him as our Savior He has asked us to make it known that we are Christians, followers of Jesus Christ. 

 He invites us to come out of the closet and to go public.  He invites us to stop being secret-agent Christians and CIA followers.  He invites us to be clear an articulate representatives of Him.

Sharing the gospel has risks –

Ö      The risk of rejection

Ö      The risk of being made fun of

Ö      The risk of being called “holier than thou”

Ö      The risk of being called “Reverend.”

Ö      The risk of being avoided,

Ö      The risk of being asked questions you don’t know the answer to.

Yes, there are risks, but when someone is dying - offering them the gift of salvation is worth the risk.  What do you think about that?

We must be ready to make a defense of the faith.

“Always” indicates believers’ need for constant preparedness and readiness to respond, whether in a formal courtroom or informally, to everyone who asks us to give an account for why we live and believe the way we do.

Account is simply logos, “word,” or “message,” and it calls us to be able at the time someone asks to give the right words in response to questions about the gospel.

The gospel is identified as the hope that is in believers. Hope is synonymous with the Christian faith because the motive for believers’ embracing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is their anticipation of escaping hell and entering eternal glory

Thus hope becomes the focal point of any rational explanation believers should be able to provide regarding their salvation.

Our defense of this hope before the unbeliever who asks must be firm and uncompromising, but at the same time conveyed with gentleness and reverence.

Gentleness - refers to meekness or humility, not in the sense of weakness but in the sense of not being dominant or overbearing

Reverence - expresses devotion to God, a deep regard for His truth, and even respect for the person listening.

Christians who cannot present a biblically clear explanation of their faith will feel insecure when strongly challenged by unbelievers.

In some cases that insecurity can undermine our assurance of salvation.

The world’s attacks can overwhelm those who have not “put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation” that is talked about in Ephesians Chapter 6.

Principle #5 - A Pure Conscience!

I Peter 3:16

(16) and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. 

 The final thing that will allow believers to be secure in a hostile world is a pure conscience. The conscience is the divinely-placed internal mechanism that either accuses or excuses a person, acting as a means of conviction or affirmation.

The conscience is not to be equated with the voice of God or even the moral law, rather it is a human faculty which arbitrates upon human action by the light of the highest standard a person perceives.

Since the conscience holds people to their highest perceived standard, believers need to set that standard to the highest level by submitting to all of God’s Word

As we continually fill our minds with the truths of Scripture, we can  clarify God’s perfect law. Our consciences will then call us to live according to that law.

The conscience functions like a skylight, not like a lamp; it does not produce its own light, but merely lets moral light in. Because of that, the Bible teaches the importance of keeping a clear or good conscience. “The goal of our instruction,” Paul wrote to Timothy, 

1Timothy 1:5

But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith

Tony Evans once said:

One time, my check coolant system light came on in my car. 

  • I wish that light wouldn’t come on. 

  • I didn’t want that light to come on.

  • It irritated me when it came on. 

  • But that light still kept coming on. 

  • It was tying to tell me that I had a problem and it was going to keep blinking until I took it to the manufacturer to check the car out.

Now, if I wouldn’t have ever taken my car to be checked out, eventually I’d have a much bigger problem on my hands.  The light was there to give me a warning that would drive me to the manufacturer.

The Bible is shining and throwing up various caution signals and lights.  It shows us where we sin and were we offend God.  If we don’t go to the Maker and allow Him to address the issues in our life, we are going to end up with much bigger problems on our hands in years to come.

A good conscience is what every Christian must keep or, better, maintain.  A clear conscience allows believers to be free from any burden of guilt as they face hostility and criticism from the world

An impure conscience, however, cannot be comfortable and is unable to withstand the stress originating from difficult trials and persecutions.

A pure conscience can withstand and deflect whatever abusive, insulting speech the world hurls at it

Adversity is a reality and suffering a spiritual privilege for believers. If we realize “that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Rom. 8:28), we will be able to accept suffering as part of God’s plan for us and that we would equip ourselves with His securities against a hostile world.

Some other facts about Titanic – when it went under, three messages had been sent that said to watch out of the icebergs.  Because everything looked all right, the folks taking the message never passed it on.  They never sent the warning out of people who needed to hear and, as a result, over fifteen hundred people lost their lives.  The folks who knew kept quiet.  Fifteen hundred people didn’t have to die, but they did.  The folks who were saved didn’t want to go back because it was risky.

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Pastor’s Message, May 24 2015 - Building Praying Loving Waiting

• June 23rd, 2015

May 24, 2015

 

Building, Praying, Loving, Waiting

(Jude 17-25)

 

(Invite Kids up to the front – sit on the floor.)

Who has lego’s?

What is the coolest thing you’ve ever built? (Let kids answer…)

Do you know what God says about building?

Actually the word “build” is the Bible 236 times…

 

Building… Ourselves Up!  (Have Kids read three verses…)

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Ephesians 2:21

In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 

Ephesians 4:16

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

We need each other!  Your part as Children is to learn about God –

  • through His Word

  • through listening and obeying your parents

  • through kidztown as you gather each week to learn about God – so that you can be built up to make a difference for Him with the life He has blessed you with  - You all can go back to your seats while Melissa has a little pack for you…

Today I would like for us to look at the last 9 verses in the book of Jude.

As you can see the title of the message today is: “Building, Praying, Loving, Waiting”

How are we going to reach the lost in around area, at our work-places, and in our neighborhoods with the gospel?  There is a battle going on…

As you can see from the subtitle in this passage which says: a call to persevere – meaning to persist, continue, keep at it, carry on, keep trying, or stick with it.

 Jude 1:17-19 (NIV)

A Call to Persevere

(17) But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. (18) They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” (19) These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

These are those who scoff at God’s future plans.  Scoff meaning mock, ridicule, make fun of, laugh at, or poke fun at.

They pretend to know the truth but deny that Jesus is the answer and that judgment will ever come. These characteristics will prevail until Christ returns.   

What characteristics are we talking about?

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV)

(1) But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. (2) People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, (3) without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, (4) treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— (5) having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

What does having a form or godliness look like?

Ö      Religion void of a relationship will leave you spiritually hungry.  Like drinking saltwater, the more you drink, the thirstier you get.

Ö      Religion devoid of a relationship is like a pacifier that a baby works hard to suck on, but from which no real nutrition flows.

Which one of those sins listed (2Timothy 3:1-5) has captured your heart? 

Romans 16:17-19 (NIV)

(17) I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions (media, false teachings…) and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. (18) For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. (19) Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. 

Ö      The essence of false religion is a Christian being involved in religious activity.  It is exemplified by a person having a ritual of religion without a relationship with God.

So what do we need to do personally and as a church to not become scoffers?

Jude 1:20-21 (NIV)

 (20) But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, (21) keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

True believers have a sure foundation and a cornerstone in Jesus Christ. The truths of the Christian faith have been provided in the teaching of the apostles and prophets so that Christians can build themselves up by the Word of God

Praying…. In the Holy Spirit! 

This is not a call to some ecstatic form of prayer, but simply – It is a call to pray consistently in the will and power of the Spirit, as one would pray in the name of Jesus Christ

Romans 8:26-27 (NIV)

(26) In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. (27) And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

 When you pray this will establish our responsibility (as believers) to be obedient and faithful by living-out our salvation while God works out His will.

It means to remain in the place of obedience where God’s love is poured out on His children, as opposed to being disobedient and incurring His discipline.  Currently in our church - we have been having a small group of individuals praying Sunday mornings from 9-9:30am.  And then Wednesday nights from 6:30-8:00pm.  Our Wednesday nights have just ended for the Summer so I would like to announce today that starting Monday, June 8th, (Monday through Thursday) I will be here at the altar starting at 7:30am for prayer.  Whenever you can make it I would love for you to join me. 

  • Please use the green sheets each week to write out your requests.

  • Please write down people that you are asking for healing for.

  • Asking for those who you want God to penetrate their heart so that they would repent of their sins and surrender their life to Christ!

Keeping… Yourself in God’s Love

We accomplished this by: 1) building one’s self up in the Word of God; 2) praying in the Holy Spirit; and 3) while we wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring believer’s to eternal life. We won’t know how to love others until we learn how to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength! 

Waiting… for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ

Waiting is the hardest thing for me.  I’m trying to wait on the Lord for growth (spiritual & numerical) for miracles, for healings, for salvations, for answered prayers…I want to preserve for His glory, honor, and praise!

Wait appears in the Bible 129 times.

(Let’s read these 6 verses out loud together…)

Psalm 5:3

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. 

Psalm 27:14 

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Psalm 33:20

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.

Psalm 37:7

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Psalm 38:15

Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God.

I waited patiently for then Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.

Psalm 130:5

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. 

Jude (continues here by telling us what to do while we are waiting…)

(22) Be merciful to those who doubt; (23) save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

Who are we to be merciful to?  They are:

1)    Sincere doubters who deserve compassion

2)    Those who are deeper in unbelief and urgently need to be pulled from the fire

3)    Those declared disciples of apostasy who still deserve mercy, but are to be handled with much fear, lest the would-be-rescuer also be spiritually violated. 

 When it says: “save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear.”  The third group that I just mentioned needs mercy, even though they are thoroughly polluted by false teaching. These people are to be given the true gospel, but with great fear, lest the deliverer be contaminated also.

The defiled garment (clothing stained) pictures the unbeliever’s corrupt life, which can spread its corruption to the well-meaning believer.

 These victims of the false teachers need mercy and patience because they have not yet reached a firm conclusion about Christ and eternal life, and so remain doubters who could possibly be swayed to the truth

Jude

Doxology (meaning praise, doxa means glory, honor.  A prayer or hymn of praise to God)

(24) To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— (25) to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

In the study that we just finish on Sunday morning “Counter Culture”, David Platt made this statement:

As we live to extend God’s grace among more people, let’s long to exalt God’s glory among all peoples.

This last verse I would like us to look at is the answer to why we do everything here at CCF:

Ö      Bible Studies (G3 nights) , ministries for different ages, camps, retreats, VBS, fellowships, hotdog Sunday’s, etc.

2 Corinthians 4:15

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

How are we going to reach the lost?

By Building… ourselves up!

By Praying… in the Holy Spirit, (pray is 367 times, prayer 154 times)

By Loving… as we keep ourselves in God’s love and He will show                                                               to love others

By Waiting… for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ

§  waiting while we cry out to Him to fill this place with those who don’t know Him, those who need hope, who are searching for the meaning of life, those who need to hear the gospel!

§   Waiting while encouraging and loving, and spurring one another on to love and good works…

Vision of the church is on the other side of the flyer talking about our new Life-connection class starting next Sunday morning at 9:30am.  The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler

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Pastor’s Message, May 10 2015 - The Voice That Changes Everything

• June 20th, 2015

May 10, 2015

Through all our weaknesses

You remain strong.

We cannot repay you

But we love, you Mom

 

The Voice That Changes Everything!

 

An Excerpt from a book called: “A Woman that Jesus Can Teach” by Alice Mathews 

We seldom move from one comfortable level of learning and knowing to another unless we are forced in some way to move.

  • We don’t do ourselves a favor if we insist on staying at one learning level when we need to move to another one. 

  • We often don’t like the circumstances that push us to change.

  • We’d prefer to be left alone in our comfortable tranquility.  But that is not the path to growth.  Nor is it the path to true discipleship.

If we are to grow as Christian women in our understanding of God, we have to expect the tough circumstances that confront and disappoint us.  It takes grim life experiences to build muscle into our souls.

The process of following Jesus as His disciples is the process of making room for new ways of looking at life and at ourselves.

Jesus was a master teacher.  We might have expected Him to use only one method for getting His message across, but He taught different people in different ways.  Now we might think that Jesus would choose only the most promising pupils for His class.  Instead, He included men and women other teachers would have ignored. 

One choice pupil of the Master Teacher Jesus that I would like to highlight on this Mothers Day 2015 is Mary Magdalene.  She possible spent more time with Jesus than any other woman in the gospels.

I think Mary Magdalene found that her discipleship as a follower of Jesus Christ was a constant learning process. 

We all have to realize that (men, women, teenagers, children): As Christians – we will always be in a constant learning process.

Mary Magdalene had learned much as one who traveled with Jesus.  But in one of the final scenes in the Gospels, she was once again back in school, learning something new about being a disciple.

Mary Magdalene was mentioned fourteen times in the gospels, we actually know four things about her.  The first two we see in Luke 8:1-3

Luke 8:1-3 (NIV)

 (1) After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.  The Twelve were with him, (2) and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; (3) Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

Four Facts about Mary Magdalene:

1)   Jesus cast seven demons out of her.

The Bible doesn’t say where or when.  Both Mark and Luke share this information but neither gives us the story about it.  Now what it meant for Mary to be possessed by seven demons we cannot guess.  But for her, deliverance must have been a life-changing liberation.  Her bound spirit was set free.  Her cramped limbs relaxed.  Her contorted face because serene.

2)    The second thing we know about Mary Magdalene is that she traveled all over Galilee and down into Judea with Jesus and the twelve.  She had a terrible affliction and she met the one who healed her and she probably wanted to stay with those who followed Jesus.

There might be someone here today a mom, a wife, a father, a husband, a teenager who has been going through a tough time, a trial, a misfortune, a suffering, an ordeal, a difficulty, or some trouble.  Maybe you have been distressed by something… Jesus is a miracle maker!!!!

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NASB)

Jesus, the Example

(1) Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (2) fixing our eyes on Jesus, (why?) the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

(3) For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Jesus had healed Mary (called Magdalene) from seven demons!  Then she traveled with Him and the twelve as well as some women who have been cured from evil spirits and diseases! I hope everyone seated here today chooses to follow Jesus!

3)    The third thing we the Bible tells us about Mary Magdalene is that on a bad Friday called Good Friday she stayed at the cross long after the disciples had fled. 

From Mark we learn that

Mark 15:40-41 (NASB)

(40) There were also some women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome.  (41) When He was in Galilee, they used to follow Him and minister to Him; and there were many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.

All four gospel writers take pains to tell us that Mary and the other women not only stayed through the awful hours of crucifixion but made sure they knew where Jesus had been buried so they could come after the Sabbath and finish anointing the body.

When we look at Mary Magdalene and the others, we see women who were completely committed to Jesus Christ even in the midst of their bitter grief.

It comes as no surprise that we find these same women, with Mary Magdalene apparently leading them, up before dawn on Sunday morning, hurrying to the garden tomb.

As they went, I am sure they where fretting about a very real problem they were going to face: who would roll away the large stone at the entrance to the tomb so that they could prepare a dead body for a proper burial?

§  They knew the size of the stone

§  They had watch as Joseph and Nicodemus hastily laid Jesus’ body in the tomb and rolled the heavy cartwheel across the opening

§  They knew the stone was sealed by the Roman government and that seal could not be broken.

§  They had cared for His needs for three years as He traveled around Galilee and back and forth from Judea.

When they arrived, what did they find?  Mark tells us:

Mark 16:4

Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large. 

In that moment began Mary’s next lesson in discipleship.  She had set out that morning with one set of expectations and quickly found them turned upside down. 

As a mom – ever have a day like that?

John reports the incident this way:

John 20:1-11 (NASB)

The Empty Tomb

(1) Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene *came early to the tomb, while it *was still dark, and *saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. (2) So she *ran and *came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and *said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

(3) So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. (4) The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; (5) and stooping and looking in, he *saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. (6) And so Simon Peter also *came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he *saw the linen wrappings lying there, (7) and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. (8) So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. (9) For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. (10) So the disciples went away again to their own homes.

(11) But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb;

The highs and the lows of that week probably all flowed together for Mary.  She probably felt the sting of contradiction as she remembered hearing the crowds chant “hosanna” one day and “Away with Him!  Crucify Him!” only a few days later.

As a mom – how many times have you experience – “one day you’re the greatest and the next day you might here the words, I hate you!”

Mary Magdalene who had experienced that emotional rollercoaster now stood at the tomb, wrung out, devastated by the thought that, even in death, Jesus was dishonored (violated).  His body had been taken.  Her wrenching sobs expressed all the dash hopes and desperation she felt.

Do you know any moms today who hopes have been dashed and desperation is setting in?

Check out the verses 11-14 in John 20…

John 20:11-14 (NASB)

(11) But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; (12) and she *saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. 

(13) And they *said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She *said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” (14) When she had said this, she turned around and *saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 

As a mom – have you ever wonder – where is my Lord?  I’m hurting, I’m suffering, I am distress – where is my Lord?

Blinded by her grief Mary Magdalene turned away from them.  As she turned, she saw a man standing nearby.    He spoke the same words she had just heard from the angels…

John 20:15-18

(15) Jesus *said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”  Supposing Him to be the gardener, she *said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” 

(16) Jesus *said to her, “Mary!” She turned and *said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). (17) Jesus *said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’” (18) Mary Magdalene *came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.

So the question for us today is – What did it take to move Mary from desolation to exultation, and to galvanize her for witness?   Only one thing.  Jesus spoke her name in a voice she knew and it was enough.

Suddenly everything that had been all wrong was now all right.

The one who had been dead was now alive.  The one who had delivered her from seven demons was once again with her.  In her ecstatic joy she flung her arms around Him.  Jesus gently disengaged her clinging hold on His body and gave her a task: Go and tell My brethren.

In a split second this disciple, Mary Magdalene, move from abject sorrow to euphoria:  The Teacher is alive!  Now she had work to do.

Which brings us to the forth thing we know about Mary Magdalene:

4)   She was sent by Jesus as the first witness to the resurrection!

He commissioned her to tell His brethren (His brothers), the good news.  Augustine (Latin philosopher & theologian 354 – 430) called her, “an apostle to the apostles.”

Mary knew Jesus’ voice when He spoke her name.  To her - Jesus gave a commission: go and tell.

Although this is the last mention of her in the Bible (John 20:11-18), she was probably among the women who gathered with the apostles to await the promised coming of the Holy Spirit.

When you open God’s word you can read what Jesus said over 2,000 ago and He is still calling people today just like he did Mary Magdalene so many years ago – His voice told us:

Matthew 11:28-29 (NASB)

(28) “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

John 14:23 (NIV)

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

John 14:16-17 (NASB)

Role of the Spirit

(16) I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; (17) that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

Is there any woman, any mom, who would like to receive Jesus today?


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Pastor’s Message, May 3 2015 - Winning an Unsaved Spouse

• June 20th, 2015

May 3, 2015

Winning an Unsaved Spouse

(1 Peter 3:1-7)

 

If we (believers in Christ) want to make a difference in this world for the kingdom – we must learn to reach out in four major arenas and Peter talks about everyone of them in 1 Peter:  Society – (3:13-17), the workplace (2:18-25) the family (3:1-7), and the church (3:8-9). 

Now the opening section of Chapter 3 deals with the third and smallest unit of the social structure ordained by God - the family.

Peter here directs six verses to wives’ submission to the husband’s one verse about serving the needs of his wife.

At first glance you might say this seems out of balance.  But in Peter’s day when a wife became a Christian, the potential for difficulty was much greater than it was if the husband first became a believer. (Today?)

When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth – he gave them some instructions to those marriages where one of the spouses was a Christian and the other wasn’t…

The believing Wife or a believing husband has the responsibility to stay with their unbelieving spouse.

1 Corinthians 7:12-15 (NASB)

(12) But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. (13) And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. (14) For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. (15) Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.

Now before I talk about these 7 verses today in 1 Peter - I want us to look at two verses in…

Galatians 3:27-28 (NASB)

(27) For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. (28) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Those 2 verses tell us that Christian women are spiritually equal to men in Christ.  But still, God has ordained women to have certain obligations to their husbands - which Peter identifies here in 1 Peter 3:1-6 as:

#1: She is to be Submissive & Faithful. 

1 Peter 3:1-2 (NASB)

Godly Living

 (1) In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won

without a word by the behavior of their wives, (2) as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. 

Disobedient to the word describes the unbelieving husband’s condition as his rejecting of the gospel.  (Through the years I have seen many wives praying and hoping that there spouse would believe and receive Christ)

Chaste - meaning pure, innocent, uncorrupted, virtuous, unblemished, spotless, and faithful.

When it comes to respectful behavior – I would point to what Aretha Franklin said:  (Right side say – when I raise my hand: “Just a little bit”, left side say

“just a” 4x)

Respect - What you want
(oo) Baby, I got

(oo) What you need
(oo) Do you know I got it?
(oo) All I'm askin'
(oo) Is for a little respect when you come home (just a little bit)
Hey baby (just a little bit) when you get home
(just a little bit) mister (just a little bit)

I ain't gonna do you wrong while you're gone
Ain't gonna do you wrong (oo) 'cause I don't wanna (oo)
All I'm askin' (oo)
Is for a little respect when you come home (just a little bit)
Baby (just a little bit) when you get home (just a little bit)
Yeah (just a little bit)

I'm about to give you all of my money
And all I'm askin' in return, honey
Is to give me my propers
When you get home (just a, just a, just a, just a)
Yeah baby (just a, just a, just a, just a)
When you get home (just a little bit)

(Ladies Read) A lovely, gracious, and submissive attitude is the most effective evangelist tool believing wives have.

Being submissive & faithful could also mean finding out and living-out your spouses love language.  I will talk about that at the end of the message

 

#2: She is to be Modest.

1 Peter 3:3-6 (NASB)

(3) Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 

(4) but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. (5) For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; (6) just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.

Now these verses don’t prohibit wives from styling their hair, wearing jewelry or lovely clothing, which is why the Bible states “merely”.

I think the point is that these things shouldn’t be your main concern when you are trying to draw your unsaved husband to Christ.

Instead of being consumed with your external appearance, Christian wives must be devoted to beautifying the things of the heart.

Gentleness – comes from the word referring to a humble and meek attitude, expressed in patient submissiveness.  Quiet is “still” or “tranquil.”

These characters (Gentleness & quiet spirit) are the true inner beauty that “is precious in the sight of God” verse 4 says in 1 Peter 3:4.

Let me say it this way:  The Lord is most pleased when a believing woman’s modest yet thoughtful and lovely adornment reflects the inner beauty Christ has fashioned in her.

Now the husbands get only one verse but I found that in serving his wife – he has three basic responsibilities:

#1) He must show consideration.

1 Peter 3:7a

You husbands in the same way,

live with your wives in an understanding way,

This is a fisherman talking.  But he got it.  To live with your wife in an understanding way means that as husbands we need to be considerate.  Understanding speaks of being sensitive and considering our wife’s deepest physical and emotional needs (Halmark channel).  Cherishing them is so important.  As husbands (who believe in Jesus) we must constantly nourish and cherish our wives (believers or non-believers) in the bond of intimacy.

In the series that we did here 7 years ago ”Winning at Work and at Home” – the men learned…

Four things that your wife needs:

(1) Security (safe financially & relationally)

(2) Conversation / companionship (date your wife)

(3) Significance (valued, appreciate, don’t take her for granted)

(4) Affection (treasuring)

These things will speak life into your marriage.  And if your wife does not know Christ – these four things will show how much you love her and support her and cherish her.  You will be representing Christ to her!

Husbands, win with their spouse through wise actions supported by proven insight.

Tony Evans once wrote this and boy does it fit in today’s world:

In our war against terrorism, there are Special Forces, the Army Rangers, the Green Berets, the Navy Seals, the Delta Force – these are special people who are cut out from the crowd, who are set apart from the rest of the general armed services.  These are no ordinary soldiers; they are cut out from and a cut above the rest.

God is calling men to be sanctifiers, men who set themselves apart, and are set apart, for the purpose of the transformation of their mates from where they are into what they ought to be. 

That’s sanctification, requiring a Savior first.

Other way to say it is:

First a man sanctifies his wife then he continues to sanctify her by continuously bringing her into the realm of love and kindness and shepherding care, until they are utterly and completely one.

#2) He must show Chivalry.

1 Peter 3:7b (NASB)

as with someone weaker, since she is a woman;’

Once again I would say that women are not spiritually inferior to men.  It means that women generally posses less physical strength than men.  As Christian husbands we are to be the sacrificial providers and protectors of our wives. 

 A man bragged on his marriage once and said, “In our marriage, my wife and I have decided to never go to bed angry.  We haven’t sleep in three weeks!

Colossians 3:19 (NASB)

Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.

1 Timothy 5:8 (NASB)

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

#3) He must lead with companionship.

1 Peter 3:7c (NASB)

and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

I think here that Peter labels marriage “the grace of life” because grace means “unmerited, or undeserved favor”.

Marriage is a divine providence given to man regardless of his attitude toward the God.

Intimate companionship in marriage should be one of the richest blessings of this life.

The warning in this verse is clearly given that if a husband in Christ is not fulfilling his responsibilities toward his wife, God may not answer his prayers.

Tony Evans shared this:

Most of grapes eaten in the United States are grown in Napa Valley, California.  In order for a vine of grapes to become fruitful, the branches of the vine must be elevated.

The branches are tied to a post for support.  As the grapes develop and grow, the vine will become too heavy and begin to droop and drag on the ground.  Elevation not only keeps the fruit off of the ground but also helps them to get the full benefit of the sun.

After a time then branches begin to spread along this post to which they have been tied.  Having been made stable, they are then free to climb or to spread.

In the same way, stability allows a woman to feel secure and cared for.  She is then free to flourish, to climb, and to be fruitful.

The key to having a positive witness to an unsaved spouse is living an exemplary Christian life as a faithful, submissive spouse.  That obedience pleases God and provides the testimony that honors Jesus Christ before the unsaved partner.

A marriage is like a violin. After the music stops, the strings are still attached.  A husband and wife are bound together as long as they live.

Opposites usually attract to balance, refine, and mature one another.

Then there are the love languages.  I would like to close in talking about them.  Every person, men and women has a primary love language.

(1)  Words of Affirmation – positive words come out of the cut, not forced, not fake.  Compliments, encouragements. 

(2)  Quality Time – sharing life together

(3)  Receiving Gifts – big or small – it’s a gift. Could be a note, Car accident…

(4)  Acts of Service – doing things for them…

(5)  Physical Touch - all touches are not equal.  Hug, back rub, feet

How do you know which one of love languages is your spouses?

Ask your spouse. 

Wives and husbands – find specific ways to speak your spouses love language.

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Pastor’s Message, April 26 2015 - Contract or Covenant

• June 20th, 2015

April 26th

Contract or Covenant?

(Two Broken & Diverse People)

 

Marriage is under attack.   But it’s too important to surrender.  It’s not hateful to boldly defend what God has ordained.

1 Corinthians 11:3 (NASB)

But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.

 

Matt Chandler said in his book, “The Mingling of Two Souls”: (P.102)

Sometimes when people talk about marriage, they talk about partnership in a good, biblical way.  But sometimes when they say marriage is partnership, they make it sound like a business arrangement.  “You need to give fifty-fifty,” they might say.

But this is terrible advice.  It is worldly advice.  It does not reflect the reality of marriage is a reflection of the unique reality of the gospel.  After all, Jesus Christ did not say to sinners in need of redemption, “Meet Me halfway.  Let’s go fifty-fifty on this deal.”

No, Marriage is not a contract; it is a covenant.

At a wedding ceremony, then, we have to be careful come vow time.  The bride and groom turn away from the minister, face each other, and make profound promises.  The vows are their public profession of commitment to one another.  They announce in their vows before many witnesses what they mean to do.

 

The vows must never be contractual.  Never, ever, ever.  If the vows were explicitly contractual, we’d probably all gasp and realize the marriage is headed for trouble.  We would certainly recognize something was wrong if the couple turned to each other and the bride said, “Look, I’m in this thing as long as you mow the lawn,” or if the groom said, “Well, I’ll stick around so long as you keep the dishes clean and the laundry done.” 

If we heard vows like that, we’d know right away that the couple was thinking contractually.  While hardly any couples exchange vows with conditions like that, way too many couples treat their vows like that in their hearts. 

Since we are sinners, our natural responses in relationships usually hinge on what might be gained.  We tend to turn all our relationships into contractual arrangements of some kind.

Ø  We’ll sacrifice for our spouse if she deserves it.

Ø  We’ll submit to our spouse if he agrees with me.

Ø  We’ll serve our spouse if she’ll serve me in return. 

These kinds of thoughts bear no resemblance to the gracious covenant God makes with us.

In a covenant, we don’t barter around services.  We’re not trying to get under a tax shelter.  We’re entering into a relationship in such a way that we give ourselves to one another.  Vows are not a contract.  They’re a covenant.  They sound like traditional promises: “For better or for worse.  For richer or for poorer.  In sickness and in health.  Till death do us part.”  That’s covenantal language.

In the covenant of marriage, husband and wife give themselves to each other.  It’s not fifty-fifty; it’s one hundred – one hundred.  At any given time either spouse won’t have 100% to give, but this does not diminish the other’s commitment because they are not in a contract but a covenant.  As in the covenant of grace initiated by God to save sinners, one party can give 100 percent even if the other gives nothing.

In a gospel-centered marriage, you give yourself to your spouse regardless of the goods or the services because that’s what true love is and because that’s what glorifies God.

If everything goes great and you find out as you start your life together that the marriage is exactly what you expected, you’re in.

But if you’re like every other normal human being and things get a little problematic, and you find out you married a sinner who’s got some crazy he or she was hiding away, you’re still in.

This is why Biblical marriage is so serious – and why divorce is so serious.  Ephesians 5 helps us see the weight of the glory of the gospel.  Submission is weighty.  Sacrifice is weighty.  They are weighty like the good news of Jesus Christ is weighty.  They are as heavy like the cross. 

And in forgiving and loving our sinful spouse, we begin to understand - on a much smaller scale - what it meant for our holy God to forgive and redeem us.

God’s relationship to the church is not contractual; it’s covenantal.  And what’s mind-blowing about God’s covenantal love toward the church is that God fulfills the obligations of both parties!

When we love with no expectation or promise of getting something back, we know what it means to sacrifice and deny ourselves in ways we wouldn’t otherwise. 

As in the gospel, in marriage we may also begin to see that the grace that attracts us will sustain us.  In God’s covenant with His people, He doesn’t just initiate the covenant in grace; He also enables our ability to respond rightly to the covenant He initiated.

Pastor Chip Ingram wrote a book at few years back concerning relationship and marriage.

He wrote that the Bible talks about two commands that are at the core of loving people God’s way:

Ephesians 5:1-2 NASB

(1) Be imitators of God, as beloved children; (2) and walk in love,

just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us,

as offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

When you thing about your marriage being a contract or covenant a good example of this can be stated this way:

Contract - Hollywood’s Way

Four Steps:

  1. Find the right person.

  2. Fall in love.

  3. Fix your hopes and dreams on this person for our future fulfillment.

  4. If failure occurs, repeat steps 1, 2, and 3.

 

Covenant - God’s Plan

God’s Step #1:

Instead of looking for the right person, become the right person!

God’s step #2:

Instead of falling in love, walk in love!

God’s step #3:

Instead of fixing your hopes and dreams on another person, fix your hope on God and seek to please Him through this relationship

God’s step #4:

If failure occurs, repeat steps 1, 2, and 3

 

The fourth step for God’s covenant marriage is the same as Hollywood’s – contract marriage - its just plays out differently. Both Hollywood and God recognize an unavoidable feature of human relationships – failure.  When it comes to failure in a relationship, the real question isn’t if but when. When it happens, you go back to the beginning.  You walk through steps… imitate God, walk in love, fix you hope on God, and seek to please him in every one of your relationships.

Pastor Tony Evans wrote:

Many of us are disturbed in our homes.  Rather than being married by the justice of the peace, it looks like we’ve been wedded by the secretary of war.

A man and a woman were being married by their preacher.  The preacher asked if anyone had any just reason why the marriage should not occur.  He told them to “speak now, or forever hold your peace.”

A voice rung our loud, over the whole church, crying, “I object, I object, I object!” 

The preacher said, Be quiet, you are the groom, you can’t object!”

 

Now last week we look at Ephesians 5:21-33, but I skipped verses 22 – 24…

Ephesians 5:22-24 (NASB)

(22) Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (23) For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. (24) But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

Ephesians 5:33 (NASB)

Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

From these verses I don’t think Paul is not saying that love and respect shouldn’t both be expressed by each spouse.  I think God’s Word is cleverly yet clearly pointing out that God has created the women with a unique need to be loved and men with a unique need to be respected. 

These needs are related to God’s design of the man in a position of loving headship and the woman in a position of respectful helpmate.  Practically speaking, a wife can more easily respect her husband if she feels loved.

A wife who feels loved will more naturally submit to her husband’s lead.  After all, he’s acting in love for her.  Likewise, when the husband feels respected he’s more confident to lead his wife and to love her sacrificially.

When his unique need is being met, his desire is to meet her unique need.

There’s a mutually beneficial and fulfilling enjoyment of each other.  In giving and receiving, there’s equality.  Neither his need nor hers is superior.  Although the needs are distinct, both are equally worthy of being fulfilled.

In Counter-Culture David Platt shared:

Women often find it easier to love their husbands than to respect them.  A woman can sit with other women and speak about her husband disrespectfully but then quietly go home and care for his needs.  Why?  Because she loves him. But the more important questions is, does she respect him?  When a wife is trying to work on a troubled marriage, she may tell her husband that she loves him, which is what she would like to hear.  But again, the more important questions is, “does she respect her husband, and does she tell him that she respects him?” 

A wife may think, My husband doesn’t work hard enough or do enough to earn my respect. But even then, might a wife be buying into the unbiblical lie that respect is purely based on performance?  In the same way a selfless love for his wife is based on God’s charge to him, isn’t a wife’s selfless respect for her husband based on God’s charge to her?

So wives, you’re in a complementary, not competitive, relationship with your husband.  Yield to leadership in love, knowing you’re representing the church’s relationship with Christ.

Behold the beauty of God’s design for man, woman, and marriage: 

Ö      Two broken people - both molded in the image of their Maker. 

Ö      Two diverse people - uniquely designed to complement each other. 

Ö      A male and a female - fashioned by God to form one flesh.

Ö      A physical bond between two bodies where the deepest point of unity is found at the greatest point of difference.

Ö      A matrimony marked by unity in diversity, equality with variety, and personal satisfaction through shared consummation.

Last week I asked husbands to take some time this week and ask your bride this question:

“How can I love you and lead our marriage better?”

This week I am going to ask the brides to take some time this week and ask your husbands:

1)   What can I do to make you feel more respected and loved?

2)   What concerns, if any, do you have regarding showing me unconditional love?  

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Pastor’s Message, April 19, 2015 - Broken Together

• June 20th, 2015

April 19, 2015

Broken Together!

(Ephesians 5:20, 25-33)

 

Description of marriage by Mark Hall & Bernie Herms (wrote the song)

 

“Marriage is tough. We bring a lot of fairytales to the picture when it comes to marriage. We bring them to the altar with us [thinking]: ‘This is going to be perfect.

  • We don’t have to be apart.

  • We can just wake up together every morning and no one is going to have morning breath.

  • We’re not going to have any problems.

 

 And then the problems hit and you don’t know where to file those into your picture. . . The idea I’m trying to say is:

?      ‘Can you lay down who you thought I was and love the ‘me’ that is?

?      Can we take this from where we are now and realize that I can’t be that person?’

 

Only God is going to be able to make this work and broken people can be broken together!

 

Once a man said:

My wife and I promised that we would never go to bed angry.  We haven’t slept together in seven years!

 

Once a woman was asked why she was seeking a divorce from her husband.  She said, “When I got married I was looking for the ideal, instead it became an ordeal, so now I want to new deal.”

 

David Platt said in the series we are doing right now on Sunday morning – “Counter Culture” said: “Marriage is arguably the most prominent issue in our culture today and will likely prove to be the most polarizing and divisive, possibly becoming the decisive issue for the direction and position of the church in this generation.

 

Three questions he posed in the workbook:

1)   Is the discussion of marriage in our culture simply a matter of moving on from old-fashioned and traditional ways of thinking to progressive and open-minded ways of thinking?

 

2)   Is marriage merely a tradition that’s open to changing with the times?

Okay now the big question:

 

3)   Or is marriage an institution that was ordained to be consistent through all time?

 

In the 33 series volume one “A Man and His Design” it stated these facts:

 

Our world desperately needs better men.

Ö      Men are in a state of confusion.

Ö      Men are experiencing a general disappointment with life.

Ö      Men are experiencing pain.

Ö      Men are lonely.

Ö      Men are drifting.

Ö      Men are turning to escapes to numb the pain.

Ö      Confused men create major problems.

Ö      Without a compelling vision for manhood, men will settle for less in life.

 

In Volume 5 of the current 33 series – session one stated that:

 

  • Too many of us are stuck in our marriages.

  • Marriage is about way more than just your momentary happiness and positive outcomes on society.

 

The workbook talked about Four Foundational truths when it comes to marriage:

  1.  Marriage was God’s idea.

  • One man with one woman in a unique covenant relationship.

 

  1. God said that it was not good for man to be alone.

 

  1. God created a helper suitable for man

 

§  The woman was created to co-rule the earth with the man, not to be ruled by him.

 

Matthew Henry in his commentary said this:

Woman was not made of man’s head to top him.  Not of his feet to be trampled under him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.

 

  1. God intended man to leave his parents’ home and to cling to his wife.

 

 

God intended man to be leaders - to leave the dependence of their parents’ home, and to create their own self-sustaining family unit.  One that a man creates, cultivates, provides for, and protects.

        

§  The word “cling” carries with it the idea of maintaining a covenant relationship. The word “cling” implies fidelity, whole-hearted commitment, and permanents.

§  God didn’t intend marriage as a temporary arrangement.  Or something that is entered into lightly.  It was intended to be the deepest bond that you could experience!  And highest commitment that you can offer.  A commitment to one woman for life.

 

Pastor and author Paul Tripp said:

There are probably thousands of couples that get married every year with unrealistic expectations.  We all bring “broken issues” into our marriage.

 

Here is a Biblical view of marriage:  It’s a flawed person married to a flaw person in a fallen world, but with a faithful God.

 

We tend in the heat of romance, and the joy of the relationship - to minimize the reality of sin in our hearts.  That can be so destructive to marriage, and the reality of living in a broken world. We live in a world that does not operate the way God intended.  And the troubles of this world will enter the door of your marriage.

 

It is important to have high goals for your marriage.  Your goals should be as high as God’s design for that relationship.  But you must have realistic expectations.  You must understand the things you bring into that relationship are destructive to what it could be.

 

Perhaps our struggles with expectations are really rooted in the misunderstanding of the purpose of marriage.

 

The ultimate purpose for marriage is not human happiness.  A lot of people get married to become happy, or find identity, or to find meaning and purpose.

 

We have to realize that marriage has a creator.  It’s not a human idea but God’s idea.  God has a purpose for your relationship.  If you look at what the Bible says about relationships – the ultimate purpose for marriage is actually not happiness - its holiness.

 

It’s the radical reformation transformation of the human heart to be what God meant it to be.  So what God does is that He puts us in this comprehensive relationship that will bring us to the end of ourselves - because that is a good thing – so that we will seek His grace together.

 

And in seeking His grace we begin to grow together to be what He created us to be! That is what marriage was meant to be.

Ø  So, all those differences in marriage are not the way of God’s plan. 

Ø  All those things we have to deal with – there not the way of God’s plan - they a part of God’s plan. 

Ø  Because if He wanted it predictable and easy - He would have done that, and that is not His plan. 

His plan is that there is something better than happiness – its holiness! It’s walking with Him in the way the He created us to be.  When a husband is doing that and a wife is doing that – they doing that together – growing into what God created their marriage to be!

 

God’s design for a Biblical marriage is found in Ephesians 5.

This is what Paul wrote:

Ephesians 5:21 (NASB)

and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

 

(He goes on in verses 22-24 to talk about the women’s role – we’ll look into that next week, but in verses 25-33 he tells us about the man’s role.  The subtitle in the NASB says:

Marriage Like Christ and the Church

 

Ephesians 5:25-27 (NASB)

(25) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, (26) so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, (27) that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 

 

This passage makes it clear that a husband is to love his wife unselfishly.  The world tells men to defend themselves, assert themselves, and draw attention to themselves, yet the Word tells men to sacrifice themselves for their wives.  Headship isn’t an opportunity to control wives; it’s a responsibility to die for them.

 

This means, husband, you don’t love your wife because of what you get from her.  That’s how the culture defines love.  That’s selfish.  God love is sacrificial.  The culture says you love your wife because of her attractive attributes and compelling characteristics, but this is a wildly fickle preference than what the Bible tells us.

 

For as soon as some attribute or characteristic fades, then love fails.  Husbands - love your wife not because of who they are but because of who Christ is.  He loves them deeply, and your responsibility is to reflect His love.

 

Ephesians 5:28-32 (NASB)

(28) So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; (29) for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, (30) because we are members of His body. (31) For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. (32) This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.

Husbands live to serve your wife and to see her grow in Christlikeness.  Men are accountable for loving their wives in such a way that they grow in loveliness.  Just as Christ takes responsibility for the spiritual health of his church, men are responsible for the spiritual health of their wives and their marriages. 

 

A man is to treasure, encourage, build up, protect, cherish, spur on, and comfort his wife.  A man takes the initiative in caring for his wife, not waiting for her to approach him with problems that need to be fixed.

 

If you are sitting here this morning as a husband – take some time this week and ask your bride this question:

“How can I love you and lead our marriage better?”

 

As married couples we need to realize what is at stake here.  You’re representing Christ and His church to a watching world so it is so important on how you treat each other.

 

Tony Evans wrote:

A husband’s job is to set the temperature in the home.  The woman is the thermometer.  She is to give a temperature reading.  The reading of the thermometer ought to reflect the setting of a thermostat.  If a man wants a summer wife, he can’t bring home winter weather.

 

Pastor Evans also shared a couple of stories of husbands who just don’t get it.

 

A man one day went to the Super Bowl.  He was sitting in a seat with an empty seat beside him.  A gentleman who sat on the other side of him said, “Is that your seat?  I see no one sitting there.” 

 

The man said, “Yes.  My wife and I had tickets but she died, and none of my friends whom I invited could make it to the Super Bowl, so the seat is just empty.”

 

The gentleman was puzzled.  “None of your friends could make it to the Super Bowl?’’ he asked.

 

 

The man said, “No, they couldn’t.”

 

The gentleman was still clueless as to how this man couldn’t find one friend who would love to be at the Super Bowl.

 

“Boy, the biggest sports event in all history and they are missing it?”

 

The man didn’t skip a beat, “Yeah, they’re all at her funeral.

 

A man was looking at a couple and he said to his wife, “look at them, they look so happy.  They look like a happy couple.”

She said, Don’t be too sure, they’re probably saying the same thing about us!”

 

Some people think marriage is just three rings: the engagement ring, the wedding ring, and the suffering.

 

The Husbands Biblical role can be defined as “Headship” it’s his divinely appointed role to provide responsible servant leadership in his home.

 

Leadership means that you take the initiative and the responsibility for key aspects of your marriage and family.

 

There is a key word that goes with the word “headship” and is the word “servant.”

  • Being a servant leader means that, like Jesus, you are others-centered.

  • All healthy marriages are built on and around grace!

 

The goal of relationships isn’t to make sure everything goes our way or makes us happy. The goal is to please God!

 

So the Biblical view of marriage:  It’s a flawed person married to a flaw person in a fallen world, but with a faithful God.

 

So husbands take your all of your flaws and learn to live out…

Ephesians 5:25-27 (NASB)

(25) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, (26) so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, (27) that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 

 

Let’s pray…

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Pastor’s Message, April 12, 2015 - Some Assembly Required

• June 20th, 2015

April 12, 2015

 Some Assembling Required  

Spiritual Privileges & Freedoms

(1 Peter 2:4-10)

 

Many believers view the Christian life more from the standpoint of spiritual duty rather than spiritual freedom. We tend to be preoccupied with the temporal pressures of what we view as obligations and do not cherish the lasting privileges & freedoms God has given us to enjoy.

 

I worried that some often think of those privileges & freedoms:

§  as blessings reserved only for heaven,

§  to be appreciated only in the presence of God and Christ

§  In that place of perfect joy, peace, harmony, unity, rest, knowledge, and wisdom.

 

As Christians, we have to know who we are.  We have to stop letting the world tell us who we are.  We are children of God.  We are saints.  We are being sanctified.  We are secure.  We are holy.  We have royal blood flowing through our veins.  That’s who we are!  There are those who are not acting like they should act because they don’t remember who they are!

 

In this passage of 1 Peter 2 starting at verse 4, the apostle Peter emphasizes the richness of the privileges & freedoms that we as believers already have in Christ. 

 

1 Peter 2:4-5 (NASB)

As Living Stones

(4) And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, (5) you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 

 

When we come to Christ – as believers we enter the realm of spiritual privilege & freedoms. Jesus Himself, with Peter and the other apostles as eyewitnesses, called people to abandon the turmoil of their sin and come to Him in faith and experience true soul rest.  We want to cry out that call every week here at CCF – for people to come to Him in faith!

 

Matthew 11:28–29

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”. 

 

Because of Christ our once troubled soul is at peace.  Are you here today with a troubled soul?  Do you need peace? 

The stone talked about in verse 4 is living in that it is personal.  He is a life-giving stone.

 

Peter used the metaphor of a living stone to identify the One to whom believers come—Jesus Christ—and to launch his discussion of spiritual privileges & freedoms. Stone (Greek - lithos) sometimes refers to a carved precious stone, but usually it means “building stone.”

 

As we look at verse 5 – I can break down some of the privileges & freedoms we have as being children of God.  The verse tells us that we have:

Ö      The privilege of Union with Christ

1 Peter 2:5a

You also, as living stones

 

Ö      The privilege of Access to God as Priests

1 Peter 2:5b

are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood

 

Ö      The privilege of Access To God Through Spiritual Sacrifices

1 Peter 2:5c

to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 

 

As Christians -what are our spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ?

The New Testament sets forth several spiritual sacrifices for us: our bodies, our praise, our good works, our possessions, our converts, our love, and our prayers.

 

God remains the infinite, inexhaustible source of all goodness, visible in the beauties of creation and is experienced in His mercy toward sinners.

James 1:17 (NASB)

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

 

His ultimate and most generous goodness is the gift of redemption from sin, which culminates with eternal life. The apostle Peter wanted us to continue to focus on God’s goodness, which has been granted in all spiritual privileges & freedoms. In 2:4–5 he affirmed for us the first two privileges as union with Christ and access to Christ that is expressed through us as we are being made a holy priesthood as we offer spiritual sacrifices.

 

In verses 6–9b Peter presents four more spiritual privileges for us as believers to understand.

 

1) Security in Christ

1 Peter 2:6 (NASB)

For this is contained in Scripture:

“Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone,
And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”

 

In that verse you see Jesus as a choice stone, God’s chosen one.  And He is not only a choice stone but a precious corner stone.  Precious meaning “unequaled in value, “costly”, or “irreplaceable.”  When we put our trust in Him – we will not be disappointed.

 

Romans 10:11-13 (NASB)

(11) For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” (12) For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; (13) for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”


So 1) we have Security in Christ – next

 

2) Affection for Christ

 

1 Peter 2:7-8 (NASB)

(7) This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve,

“The stone which the builders rejected,
This became the very cornerstone,”

(8) and,

“A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”;

for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.

 

He told the Jews in

John 8:42

If God were your Father, you would love Me

 

In the Upper Room Discourse, He told the apostles,

John 14:21

“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him

 

Later in the Discourse Jesus told them,

John 16:27

 “For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father

 

Believing in Christ and loving Him are therefore inseparable privileges & freedoms. 

1 Peter 1:8-9 (NASB)

(8) and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, (9) obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

 

Only those who believe manifest a surpassing love for Christ.  I hope you have that kind of love for Him today! I do…  I thank Him everyday

 

But in contrast to that - those who do not believe do not and will not love Christ.  (Blinded by the Light…) Blinded by the light
Revved up like a deuce
(in tennis; a throw of two in dice games, bad luck.  Informal: the devil
Another runner in the night
Blinded by the light 

 

We are God’s creation and He dictates to us why we exist and can tell us what we are designed to do.  He gives us our purpose. 

 

If we operate outside of our reason for being, that’s when we experience problems.  Walking in the purpose God designed for us is how we fulfill our unique reason for being.

 

3) Appointed By Christ

1 Peter 2:9a (NASB)

But you are a chosen race,

 

We have been given the blessing of being appointed by Christ!  We are a spiritual people elected by God Himself.

 

The apostle Peter again drew his terminology from an Old Testament passage:

Deuteronomy 7:6-9 (NASB)

(6) For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

 

(7) “The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, (8) but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (9) Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;

 

4) Dominion with Christ

 

1 Peter 2:9b (NASB)

a royal priesthood, 

All those who believe in Jesus as Messiah and trust in Him alone for salvation receive the privilege of becoming royal priests

Revelation 5:10 (NASB)

“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

 

As we come to understand and walk in these spiritual privileges & freedoms - from having security in Christ, Affection for Christ, appointed by Christ and that we have dominion with Him, we ought to be thrilled into abundant praise and worship.  And He wants us to teach our children these things! To share these things with those who don’t know Him!

 

As we dig into the rest of verse 9 and 10 we see 5 additional spiritual privileges and freedoms that He has given us.

 

5) Separation to Christ

1 Peter 2:9c (NASB)

a holy nation,

 

The word nation translates ethnos, which means “people,” as an ethnic group.  Holy (hagios) means “separate” or “set apart.

 

God sets apart believers primarily to have a relationship with Him, and service to Him flows out of that relationship.

 

Years earlier at the Jerusalem Council, Peter said this:

Acts 15:7-9 (NASB)

(7) After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. (8) And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; (9) and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.

 

6) Possession by Christ

1 Peter 2:9d

a people for God’s own possession,

 

Again, this foreshadows the truth of Peter’s statement that Christians are now a people for God’s own possession.

 

7) Illumination in Christ

I Peter 2:9f

who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 

 

Throughout history unbelievers face two kinds of darkness: intellectual and moral. 

Intellectual darkness is ignorance—the inability to see and know the truth, whereas moral darkness is immorality—the inability to see and do what is right.

 

The darkness Peter refers to here is the second type—the sinful state of unbelievers who are trapped in the spiritual darkness of Satan, the prince of darkness.

 

 Unbelievers are children born in the darkness. They not only walk in the darkness, they love the darkness.

 

However Peter reminds us that Christ has sovereignly, powerfully, and effectively called us out of darkness.  The positive side of Christ’s calling sinners out of darkness is that they are also thereby called into his marvelous light.

 

8) Compassion from Christ

1 Peter 2:10

for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

 

As unbelievers, the Gentiles knew no compassion from Christ—they once were not a people. But now they had become the people of God, because they had received His mercy.

 

Mercy is synonymous with compassion and essentially involves God’s sympathy with sinners’ misery and His withholding from us the just punishment for our sins

 

9) Proclamation of Christ

1 Peter 2:9e

So that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him

 

Finally, God has provided His kaleidoscope of spiritual privileges for believers for one overarching purpose: that they may proclaim the excellencies of Christ. There is no higher privilege than to be a herald for the gospel.

Herald means messenger, bearer of news, and harbinger.

 

1Timothy 1:12-17 (NASB)

(12) I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, (13) even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; (14) and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. (15) It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.  

(16) Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. 

 

(17) Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

 

So to recap today’s message - in 1 Peter 2:4–5 he affirmed the first two privileges as union with Christ and access to Christ

 

So in verses 6–10 Peter presented nine more spiritual privileges for us as believers to ponder.

1) Security in Christ - 1 Peter 2:6

 

2) Affection for Christ - 1 Peter 2:7-8

 

3) Appointed by Christ - 1 Peter 2:9a

 

4) Dominion with Christ - 1 Peter 2:9b

 

5) Separation to Christ - 1 Peter 2:9c

 

6) Possession by Christ - 1 Peter 2:9d

 

7) Illumination in Christ - I Peter 2:9f

 

8) Compassion from Christ - 1 Peter 2:10

 

9) Proclamation of Christ - 1 Peter 2:9e

 

So besides having union with Christ and access to Christ - these are the privileges & freedoms that we as believers already have in Christ. 

 

Would you like to receive and experience these privileges and freedoms today, April 12, 2015?

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Pastors Message on June 7, 2015

• June 14th, 2015

June 7, 2015

 

If Love is Who I Am

Then This is Where I’ll Stand

(1 Peter 3:8-12)

 

Turn to 1 Peter 3 in your Bible.  Two weeks ago we started in chapter 3 and looked at the first 7 verses which talked about wives and husbands.  The subtitled of this section in the NASB is “Godly Living.”  Peter is writing this letter to Christians who were being persecuted for their faith, suffering for their faith, dying for their faith!  Don’t we see this still happening in our world right now in the year 2015?  With all the persecution, suffering, and dying – Peter says:

 

1 Peter 3:8-12 (NASB)

(8) To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; (9) not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. (10) For,

“The one who desires life, to love and see good days,
Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.
(11) “He must turn away from evil and do good;
He must seek peace and pursue it.
(12) “For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous,
And His ears attend to their prayer,
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

 

The Declaration of Independence contains the well-known phrase “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” which its author Thomas Jefferson listed as among the “unalienable rights” God gave to people.

 

For most in today’s postmodern society, pursuit of that Jeffersonian ideal means primarily chasing after objects of self-gratification such as money, houses, cars, vacations, fine clothes, gourmet food, the best seats at sporting and entertainment events, and health and fitness.

 

While there is nothing wrong with having these things – the problems comes when these thing become more important than your relationship with God.  Many times I have seen many people who have obtained many of these things thinking that they will fill the void in their heart.  And all of a sudden they don’t have time for God and have no hunger or passion to seek Him, and to live out His plan because they are focusing on the stuff and not Him.

 

So I am here to tell you – “Don’t feel guilty about having stuff, feel guilty about how much that stuff means to you, or feel guilty about how much you give from the abundance God has blessed you with…”

Didn’t Jesus tell us?

Luke 9:23-25 (NASB)

(23) And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to (*1) come after Me, (*2) he must deny himself, and (*3) take up his cross daily and follow Me.

(24) For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. (25) For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?

 

The sad reality is that such things (stuff) are merely a temporary fulfillment that will eventually fall far short of the genuine good life that really satisfies our heart.

 

As believers we should love the life God has granted us and enjoy its goodness day by day.

 

I heard this song a couple of weeks ago and you have probably heard it.  It’s by a group called Sidewalk Prophets and it’s called” I Wanna Live Like That”.  For the next several weeks I am taking the lyrics from that song and entitling each message as we continue through 1 Peter.

 

The song starts out by saying:

Sometimes I think
What will people say of me
When I'm only just a memory
When I'm home where my soul belongs

 

Was I love
When no one else would show up
Was I Jesus to the least of us
Was my worship more than just a song

 

One of the lines in the chorus which became the title for today’s message is

If Love is Who I Am

Then this is Where I’ll Stand

 

In these five verses 1 Peter 3:8-12, Peter gives us four basic insights for living and loving the good life, even when we go through trials and tribulations in our lives.  Four basic insights for us as believers - to take our stand as followers of Jesus Christ.

 

1.) Having the Right Attitude

1 Peter 3:8 (NASB)

To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;

 

Everything begins with the right attitude. You see in verse 8 that there are spiritual virtues that constitute this God-honoring perspective.

Ø  Believers are to be harmonious - which means believers are to live in harmony together, maintaining a common commitment to the truth that produces an inward unity of heart with one another

 

We should not be in conflict with each other, even if we come under severe persecution.  Paul told the believers at the church at Philppi…

Philippians 1:27-28 (NASB)

(27) Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; (28) in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.

 

Ø  Sympathetic, is the second factor listed in 1 Peter 3:8, which means “sharing the same feeling.” Christians are to be united on the truth, but also ready to sympathize with the pain of others, even of those they do not know.

 

Ø  Next, Peter used the term brotherly. This refers to affection among people who are closely related in some way. Those who demonstrate that affection will do so by unselfish service for one another.

 

Ø  Next, Peter mentions Kindhearted which is much like being sympathetic.  This expression calls for us to be so affected by the pain of others as to feel it deeply. (News…) This follows the kind of tenderhearted compassion God, through His Son, has for sinners

 

Ø   The final factor in Peter’s list for enjoying the goodness of the Christian life is being humble in spiritHumility is arguably the most essential, all-encompassing virtue of the Christian life

 

(Everyone read this) The joys of our lives in Christ are maximized when we as believers are united in truth and life with one another, peaceful in disposition, gracious toward those who need the gospel, sensitive to the pains of fallen sinners, sacrificial in loving service to all, compassionate instead of harsh, and above all humble like our Savior. (See those key words?)

 

Now the 2nd basic insight for us to take our stand as believers is…

 

2.) Having the Right Response

1 Peter 3:9 (NASB)

not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. 

A godly approach to life incorporates not only the right action motivated by the right attitude, but the proper reaction when mistreated.

 

Romans 12:19-21 (NASB)

(19) Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (20) “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” (21) Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

 

When mistreated by someone with a wicked disposition - we as believers should not retaliate.

 

Rather than retaliating when treated in a hostile way, verse 9 tells us that believers are to respond by giving a blessing instead.

 

Ö      Believers can bless people by loving them unconditionally

Ö                They can give a blessing by praying for the salvation of an unbeliever or the sanctification of a fellow believer.

 

Ö                Believers can bless people by expressing gratitude for them

Ö                And the most crucial thing believers can do to bless people is to forgive those who persecute them

 

Peter’s point here is that as believers we have received the divine, unmerited, and eternal blessing of complete forgiveness of an unpayable debt to a holy God and heavenly life forever with Him

The 3rd insight for us as believers to stand up is…

3.) Having the Right Standard

1 Peter 3:10-11 (NASB)

(10) For,

“The one who desires life, to love and see good days,
Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.
(11) “He must turn away from evil and do good;
He must seek peace and pursue it.

A Young boy one day went to a monk and said, “I have slandered my neighbor. What can I do?”

 

The monk said, “take a feather and put it on every step in the neighborhood.”

 

And so the boy put out a couple of hundred feathers.  He went back to the monk and said, “Ok.  Now what?”

 

“Now go pick them up”  But when the boy went to pick them up, most of them had been blown away by the wind, to which the monk said, “Once you gossip, it’s nearly impossible to stop it.

  

The tongue is often unruly and prone to sin.

 

James 3:6 (NASB)

And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.

 

In addition to refraining from verbal retaliation, as believers we must stop our lips from speaking deceit. We must be absolutely committed to the truth and opposed to all lying, deception, and hypocrisy. 

(You know a lot like we see the media doing everyday)

 

These matters of speech are controlled, not at the mouth, but on the inside.  Jesus told us

 

Matthew 12:34 (NASB)

You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.

 

Verse 11 of 1 Peter 3 is drawn from Psalm 34:14, which contains some straightforward imperative commands.

 

Ö      First, believers are to turn away from evil

Ö      Second, Peter commanded his readers to do good, what is excellent in quality, what expresses deep-down virtue. That contrasts sharply with the contemporary notion of the good life as “doing one’s own thing,” whatever feels good at the expense of obeying God’s will

Ö      The third and fourth imperatives appear together in the command for believers to seek peace and pursue it.

 

Christians are to seek peace and hunt for it aggressively, even peace with their persecutors and others who do not know Christ.

 

We are to be known in the world as peacemakers, those who strive for harmony with others as much as possible without compromising the truth.

The 4th and last insight I want to share with you today is…

4.) Having the Right Incentive

1 Peter 3:12 (NASB)

“For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous,
And His ears attend to their prayer,
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

 

Peter’s quote here of Psalm 34:15–16 vividly fixes the reality that ought to motivate us as believers to live our lives with pleasing God. 

“The eyes of the Lord” is a common Old Testament phrase that relates to God’s special, caring watchfulness over His people.

 

God is looking toward the righteous so that He can attend to their prayer.

 

God is always fully aware of everything in the lives of His children.

 

This ought to be a great incentive for us to live as Peter has outlined, knowing that we can have confidence that the Lord is always watching and waiting, ready to hear and answer our prayers. (please fill out your prayer requests on the green sheet in your listening guide – 7:30am…)

 

Like the title of the message says: If Love is Who I Am - Then This is Where I’ll Stand

 

On the other hand, the “face of the Lord is against those who do evil.  I am worried that many pastors or other believers are afraid to say this because they don’t want to offend anyone.

 

In contrast to the “eyes of the Lord”, which refers to watchfulness, the Old Testament concept “face of the Lord” refers to judgment

 

His eyes represent His all-seeing omniscience, whereas His face in this context represents the manifestation of His anger and displeasure.

God’s wrath is against those who do evil and those who disobey His Word.

 

Revelation 6:16 (NASB)

and they *said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb;

 

Christians, whether today or in Peter’s time, have always had to contend with a hostile world.

 

But (Let’s read this statement together) we can live humbly, respond to persecution in a Christlike manner, and adhere to God’s standard of authority because we have the promise that even in the midst of trying circumstances God is watching over us, protecting us, and ready to extend His blessings.

 

So to review this morning - in 1 Peter 3:8-12, Peter gives us four basic insights for us as believers - to take our stand as followers of Jesus Christ:

1.) Having the Right Attitude  2.) Having the Right Response

 

3.) Having the Right Standard 4.) Having the Right Incentive

And - If Love is Who I Am - Then This is Where I’ll Stand

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Bill Duffey’s Message on May 31, 2015

• June 14th, 2015
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