Sermon notes from Monday night revival service at Union Church Baptist Church – “Why Revival?”

“WHY REVIVAL?”              Rev. 2:1-5

 INTRO – When I was a kid, if Daddy told me to do something, asking “Why?” was not a good idea!

But the question, “WHY?” is a good one to ask from time to time, particularly in relation to the things we do in church.

Sometimes we get caught in the, “Well, we’ve always done it this way” trap.

  • Nothing wrong w/ having traditions – A LOT wrong w/ traditionalism
  • Nothing wrong w/ doing the same thing repeatedly. Some things are commanded by God to do repeatedly in the church:
    • Lord’s Supper
    • Baptism

There are other things that most of us do in our Southern Baptist churches on an ongoing, repeated basis:

  • Lottie Moon & Annie Armstrong offerings

There are other things that individual churches may do repeatedly:

  • VBS
  • Christmas cantatas
  • Easter programs/sunrise services
  • Youth camp
  • Mission trips

And, REVIVAL SERVICES.

I specifically said revival SERVICES b/c sometimes we can have a series of services w/out ever having revival.  That’s not my desire for this week, & I KNOW it’s certainly not your desire.

So we ought to ask, “WHY REVIVAL?” Why do these services? Why set this time aside?

  • It costs $ to do it.
  • It costs times to do it.
  • It costs energy to do it.

 

So, WHY REVIVAL? Take the word WHY & see 3 reasons:

 

W – WE NEED IT!

The 7 churches in Rev. 2-3 that Jesus was speaking to very directly. 5 out of 7 needed to repent & turn back to the Lord. 2 received no correction or reprimand or reproof from the Lord: Smyrna & Philadelphia. All 5 of the others were reprimanded.

  • Ephesus – Had forsaken its first love
  • Pergamum – Holding on to false teachings
  • Thyatira – Tolerated Jezebel’s teachings – Giving it to sexual immorality
  • Sardis – Spiritually dead & asleep
  • Laodicea – Lukewarm faith

 

I believe it all boils down to the critical need in the church at Ephesus – FORSAKING OUR FIRST LOVE – Our primary love – Our priority love – OUR LOVE FOR JESUS CHRIST!

  • Very vulnerable to false teachings if you abandon Jesus
  • Very vulnerable to immorality of all types if you abandon Jesus
  • Very vulnerable to falling asleep in your spiritual life if you abandon Jesus
  • Very vulnerable to a faith that is cooling off if you abandon Jesus

ALL of us are vulnerable to ALL of these things if we allow our love for Christ to falter.

  • Greek word for “abandoned” or “forsaken” means “dismiss, depart from, leave behind, let go, divorce.”

 

H – HE’LL GIVE IT!

Our God is a giving God! I’m not talking about a health & wealth prosperity gospel mentality.

Our God gives to His children when we RECOGNIZE our spiritual condition & REPENT.

To everyone of these 7 churches in Revelation, Jesus promises some wonderful blessings to those who repent. They will be conquerors – one who prevails & endures & overcomes.

  • These were not perfect people. But they were humble, broken, repentant, obedient people.

2 Chron. 7:14 – Classic verse on revival. Tells us what our giving God will give to us when we will humble ourselves & pray, & seek His face, & turn from our wicked ways:

  • He will give us His attention – “hear from heaven”
  • He will give us His forgiveness – “will forgive their sins”
  • He will give us His healing – “heal their land”

In other words, He will give us REVIVAL!

 

Y – YOU CAN HAVE IT!

Back to Rev. 2 – We see Jesus’ instructions to us to have the restoration & revival in our hearts that we so desperately need:

  • RECOGNIZE our true condition – v. 4
  • REMEMBER how it used to be – v. 5a
  • REPENT – v. 5b
  • REPEAT the things you used to do – v. 5b – Interesting that Jesus didn’t give a comprehensive list of the things we need to do. But He did tell us one time that the greatest commandment is:
    • Love God
    • Love others
    • If we get these right, we are going to experience His work in our lives.

 

DRAW A CIRCLE – Take a piece of chalk. Go outside into the parking lot, the sidewalks, the front porch of the church building. Kneel down & draw a circle around yourself. Then cry out to God to let the revival begin within that circle.

  • Not a gimmick
  • Just a broken, contrite child of God crying out to the Father for Him to revive their love for Jesus, forgive their sins, & restore their first love for Jesus! God will answer that sin! He will not ignore a broken, contrite heart!
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Sermon notes from 7/16/17 – “The Tower of the Cross”

“THE TOWER OF THE CROSS”          Gal. 6:14

INTRO – Driving home from Philadelphia, MS a few weeks ago. Noticed some crosses rising above the buildings in the downtown area. Steeples of different churches – probably the First Baptist Church, the First Methodist Church, & the Presbyterian Church. Very common in small MS towns for those 3 to be located close to each other in the downtown area. Those crosses tower over cities & towns all across Mississippi.

Berry’s restaurant in Florence – The cross towers over that eating establishment.

Largest cross in western hemisphere – Corpus Christi, TX. A church there broke ground on the cross last year. When finished, it will tower over 210 ft. in the air. A USA Today article said this about it: “Once completed, the cross will be visible from 5 miles away by land and 10 miles by air; planes flying into Corpus Christi International Airport will descend about a half-mile to the east. The cross is expected to take about a year, and $1 million, to complete.” (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2016/02/04/texas-sized-americas-largest-cross-built/79809414/)

But it’s still over 200 feet shorter than the cross monument in Madrid that is 495 ft. tall.

I think these crosses, whether on top of a church in downtown MS, or on a mountainside in Spain, are powerful reminders of the old rugged cross that was erected outside of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. I hope that those who build these crosses truly understand what the REAL cross was all about when the Savior of the world bled & died on it to pay the price for our sins.

 

But the question I have for you today doesn’t have anything to do w/ the crosses in Philadelphia, MS, Corpus Christi, TX, or Madrid, Spain. My question has everything to do w/ the cross of Jesus. Here’s the question: Does the cross tower over your life today?

 

THE CROSS TOWERS OVER OUR SIN – 1 Peter 2:24 – Can we talk about sin for just a minute? It’s something we all know a whole lot about, & it’s something that God talks a whole lot about. Truthfully, if this church or any church is going to experience true revival, then the sin that is our lives & in our midst must be dealt with. It’s not a pleasant experience, & many times we try to avoid it if we can. But, I’ve discovered in my life that God doesn’t let me avoid or ignore the sin in my life. His Holy Spirit brings conviction to my heart in many different ways & in many different circumstances.

  • Sometimes it’s in church
  • Sometimes it’s in my own personal quiet time or Bible study (even preparing this sermon)
  • Sometimes it’s in the middle of the night when He wakes me up

But b/c He loves me so much, God won’t allow that sin to sit in the middle of my heart w/out speaking to me about it. And maybe that’s what He’s doing in your heart right now.

You see, God dealt w/ our sin once & for all on the cross. That’s what the Bible tells us in 1 Peter 2:24.

  • Our sins will kill us – Rom. 6:23 – “The wages of sin is death.” So Jesus died FOR us on the cross so that WE can die – not physically or spiritually, but die to our sins.
  • Our sins will kill us – James 1:15 – “…desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” So Jesus died FOR us on the cross so that WE can live – “…but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  • Our sins will kill us – Rom. 5:12 – “…just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” So Jesus died FOR us to heal us from the deadly cancer of sin – “by His wounds you have been healed.”

The cross towers over our sin b/c ONLY the cross can help us & save us from our sins.

  • Good works won’t tower over our sins.
  • Willpower won’t tower over our sins.
  • Going to church more won’t tower over our sins.
  • ONLY THE CROSS!

 

THE CROSS TOWERS OVER OUR SELF – Luke 9:23 – You know who is one of the biggest enemies you have in this life? It’s not radical terrorists – Not cancer – Not drug dealers, or carjackers, or murderers, or rapists, or road rage maniacs. Your biggest enemy is YOU! Your SELF is one of your biggest enemies in your life, & one of the biggest hindrances to the work of Jesus in you. When self is on the throne of your life, calling the shots & leading you along in life, you are in big trouble.

  • 1 John 2:16 – “Everything in the world – the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, & the pride of life – comes not from the Father, but from the world.” That boastful pride of life – that self-filled, pride-filled attitude that says, “Look at me & all of my accomplishments,” is deadly! That’s why Jesus said if we want to come after Him, we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, & follow Him.

Why did Jesus say to take up our cross?

  • The cross shows the seriousness that must happen.
  • The cross shows the service that must happen.
  • The cross shows the sacrifice that must happen.

The cross towers over our self. It points to Jesus, causing us to turn away from ourselves & turn to the only One who can save us & set us free from ourselves.

 

THE CROSS TOWERS OVER OUR SUFFERING – Heb. 12:2 – We are going to suffer in this world. You & I know that. We’ve experienced it in many ways.

  • Difficulties in our family
  • Debilitating sickness & disease
  • Distressing financial troubles
  • Disruption of relationships
  • Defeat in our lives due to sin
  • Death of loved ones

Suffering is all around us, & sometimes can overwhelm us.

  • Plane crash in the Delta
  • Shootings in Brookhaven
  • Massive fire in London apt. building
  • Constantly going to hosp, funeral home, & people’s homes to be w/ folks in midst of their suffering.

But the cross towers over all of our suffering. On that cross, Jesus suffered in ways that you & I can only imagine. Heb. 12:2 tells us that He endured the cross for us, suffering there FOR us so that we will have the strength we need to make it through our suffering.

 

THE CROSS TOWERS OVER OUR SALVATION – 1 Cor. 1:18

 

CONCLUSION – Little boy was lost, separated from parents. Told police officer, “Take me to the cross! I can find my home from there!”

You & I can make it home if we will get to the cross!

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Sermon notes – 7/9/17 – “Anybody Here Want to Live Forever?”

“ANYBODY HERE WANT TO LIVE FOREVER?”            1 John 2:15-17

INTRO – Back in early ‘70’s when Christian music was just beginning to gain popularity, there was a female singer named Evie. Released a song entitled, “Say I Do.” Not about marriage vows, but about eternal life. Lyrics to chorus:

Anybody here want to live forever? Say I do. 
Anybody here want to walk on golden streets? Say I do. 
Anybody here sick and tired of living like you do? 
Anybody here want a home with love forever? Say I do 

Sounds like a pretty good question to ask this morning: Anybody here want to live forever? YOU CAN! What an awesome promise for the child of God! Eternal life doesn’t begin when our earthly life ends; it begins the moment we trust in Christ alone for our salvation! Major Ian Thomas: “Eternal life is not a peculiar feeling inside! It is not your ultimate destination, to which you will go when you die. If you are born again, eternal life is that quality of life you possess RIGHT NOW!”

The Apostle John clearly told his readers in 2:17 that “whoever does the will of God abides forever.” Since the majority of us here today want to live forever, we would do well to understand what the Word is teaching us in this passage today. Let’s back up to v. 15 & look at these 3 points:

 

The Words of Strong Warning – v. 15 – Remember when you were a kid & you gave a warning to your brother, or sister, or that punk kid at school that, if they touched you, you were going to punch them – “I’m warning you! You touch me, & it’s on!” Sometimes they would back off. Other times, their curiosity would get the best of them, & they would have to touch you to see if you were serious. Then you had to decide: Are you going to follow through w/ your warning? Or were you just bluffing?

John is not bluffing here & gives a strong warning in this verse. He doesn’t mince words here. He doesn’t use vague, confusing words. He draws a distinct line in the sand for us to see: You either love the world or you love God. You can’t love them both. It’s the same thing that Jesus said in Luke 16:13 – “No servant can serve 2 masters, for either he will hate the one & love the other, or he will be devoted to the one & despise the other. You cannot love God & money.” Jesus didn’t say, “You SHOULD not love God & money.” He said you “CANNOT” love them both. It’s a spiritual impossibility. It reminds us of what James said in James 4:4 – “Friendship w/ the world is hatred toward God.”

John is warning his readers that they must not love the sinful things of the world. Anyone who does love the world does not have the love of the Father in him, & should not think that they are saved.

Let’s be clear about something: As Christ-followers, we are to love the PEOPLE of the world. Jesus told us to “love our enemies” (Matt. 5:44).

  • Our love for the people of the world moves us out of our comfort zones & into their lives. Love of comfort keeps many from moving out & into the lives of those in the world.
  • Our love for the people of the world moves us to strive to meet their physical needs. Lack of concern keeps many from trying to meet physical needs of others.
  • Our love for the people of the world motivates us to share the Gospel with them so that they may be saved. Lost zeal for the Gospel & our own salvation keeps many from sharing the Gospel w/ the lost.

But we have to be careful to maintain our love for God as we do this. Satan is a cunning adversary & will look for every opportunity to tempt us to begin loving the THINGS of the world, even as we are loving the PEOPLE of the world. So we must guard against…

 

The World’s Strong Pull – v. 16 – Worldiness – that sin of putting the temporal things of the world ahead of the eternal things of God – is a strong pull in our lives & is dangerous place for us to be. Love what Steven Cole said about worldliness: “Worldliness is, at its core, a matter of the heart. If your heart is captured by the world, you will love the things of the world. If your heart is captured by the love of God, you will be drawn to Him and to the things of God. The only way that our hearts can be transformed so that we love God is by the supernatural new birth.” (https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-9-choose-your-love-world-or-father-1-john-215-17)

Worldliness places us in Satan’s camp, Satan’s domain, & makes us extremely vulnerable to Satan’s influence & attacks. It makes us extremely likely to come under the discipline of God as it hurts our witness, damages our fellowship w/ God & other believers, & brings injury to the Church & the name of Christ.

Here’s where we see the specific ways that Satan comes against us with the strong pull of the things of the world. John gets very specific in v. 16:

  • “the desires of the flesh” – word for “desires” is epithumia – passionate longing, deep desire, lust. The lust of the flesh is when we allow the desires of our fallen nature to consume us. Many times, this is a sexual sin, but it applies to any desire of our flesh that gets out of hand – desire for food, companionship, security, success.
  • “the desires of the eyes” – This points toward the sins of greed & covetousness, seeing something that is not ours or that we do not have & being consumed with getting that thing.
  • “the pride of life” – Lust of the eyes refers to what we do NOT have, while “the pride of life” refers to sinful pride in what we DO have. It’s the driving motivation to be better than others so that you can boast about yourself, your accomplishments, your possessions, your exploits – basically, pointing at YOU all the time instead of pointing at JESUS & what HE has done.
  • Interesting that all 3 of these parallel how Eve was tempted in the Garden of Eden:
    • She saw that the forbidden fruit was good for food ( 3:6), which was an appeal to the lust of the flesh.
    • She saw “that it was a delight to the eyes.” This appealed to the lust of the eyes.
    • She also saw “that the tree was desirable to make one wise.” This appealed to the boastful pride of life.

“We all battle these temptations daily, and we often fail. But John’s point is, if you go on yielding to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life as your way of life, you are not maintaining love for the Father. Rather, you are maintaining love for the world. Worldly people wallow in these things; God’s children fight them continually. How do we maintain our love for the Father?” (https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-9-choose-your-love-world-or-father-1-john-215-17)

 

The Will of Our Strong God – v. 17 – The key to living the eternal life of an overcoming Christ-follower is to know & live out the will of God. It means living a life of continual, ongoing obedience to the commands of God. Doesn’t mean doing that perfectly. But it does mean that obedience to God’s Word & His commands is the overruling passion of our lives. Nothing is more important.

It starts when we obey His call upon our lives to be saved. The Bible makes it very clear that God’s will is for all people to be saved.

  • John 3:16
  • 2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” (NLT)
  • 1 Tim. 2:3-4 – “This is good & pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved & to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
  • God’s will for ALL of us today is that we turn to Christ alone today, trust Him alone, & be saved.

His will for our lives continues w/ His expectation that we will obey Him for the rest of our lives after we come to know Him. God’s will is for all of His people to obey Him.

  • John 14:15 – “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
  • John 15:10 – “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”

Friends, God’s will is very clear: He wants you to be saved, & He wants you to live in obedience to Him. So, there are really only 2 questions for each of us to answer today:

  1. Am I saved?
  2. Am I obeying God?
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Sermon notes from 7/2/17 – “America Needs Jesus!” (Matthew 9:35-38)

“AMERICA NEEDS JESUS!”        Matt. 9:35-38

 INTRO – Anybody in here suffer from road rage? You know – that aggressive behavior that erupts when someone does something you don’t like when you’re driving down the road. Just this past week, a 17 yr-old PA girl, Bianca Roberson, was shot & killed in a road rage incident.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines road rage as when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property; an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of one motor vehicle on the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle caused by an incident that occurred on a roadway.”

That incident might be that they’re driving too fast, or they’re driving too slow. Or they’re following too closely, or staying in the left land, the passing lane. Or they change lanes too quickly, or pull out in front of you, or are texting & driving, or don’t give a signal when they’re turning, or they speed up, then slow down, speed up, the slow down.

Road rage is not officially recognized as a mental disorder. But in an article published in 2006, the behaviors typically associated with road rage can be the result of a disorder known as intermittent explosive disorder that is recognized as a mental disorder.

 

I believe that right now, there are many people in the USA who are suffering from “nation rage.” Like road rage, those who are suffering from nation rage are lashing out at those who do something that they don’t like or agree with. People in every sector of society are suffering from this malady. There are people suffering from nation rage in every political party, in every race, every religion, every socioeconomic strata, in every community & region of our country. And it seems to be getting worse & worse. We can point all the fingers that we want to point. We can argue all day long about who’s at fault. We can debate & rage about the reasons we believe this is happening. We can have every talking head on every news channel on TV giving their viewpoints & opinions. But the bottom line truth of all of this shows one major point: AMERICA NEEDS JESUS!

I don’t think I need to do a comprehensive rundown of all the problems that we’ve got going on in America right now. We are all aware that the spiritual & moral climate in our nation is in a rapid downward spiral. The slope is slippery & getting more so every day.

  • The politicians aren’t going to fix it.
  • The educators aren’t going to fix it.
  • Hollywood isn’t going to fix it.
  • Folks that go on rants & tirades on Facebook aren’t going to fix it.
  • The answer is found in the One who came to seek & save those who are lost; the One whose heart broke when He saw the lost & desperate crowds of people; the One whose blood can wash away all of our sins.
  • AMERICA NEEDS JESUS!

 

Billy Graham – “My heart aches for America & its deceived people…I’m absolutely convinced that no matter who’s elected, America is not going to be saved unless we have a moral & spiritual revival.”

Greg Laurie – “We are rotting from within… There never will be a spiritual awakening in this country until we believe in the one and only true God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Without this, there never will be moral change or a cure to our nation’s countless social ills.” (http://www.wnd.com/2017/01/why-america-needs-a-spiritual-awakening/)

The late Adrian Rogers – “America…is on a collision course with God’s judgment. We should be greatly alarmed! As in that day, today the prayer of a patriot needs to be, “Wilt Thou not revive us again?”

 

America needs Jesus. Why?

B/c we ALL need eternal life – Every person who has ever been born & will ever be born needs to be saved. And b/c God loves every person who has ever been born & will ever be born, He has provided the way for each person to be saved – through Jesus Christ alone. 1 John 2:2 – “[Jesus] is the propitiation [the atoning sacrifice] for our sins, & not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”

B/c we ALL need community love – I’m not talking about a mushy, feel-good, “I’m OK, you’re OK,” group hug kind of love. I’m talking about the life-changing, life-altering, radical love of a real community of believers who know they are broken, but know that Jesus can & will take their broken lives & use them for His glory & His Kingdom. I’m talking about the church! It’s incredibly important! It’s absolutely essential! It’s a biblical necessity in all of our lives! And it’s more than a name on a church roll & an occasional $20 bill in the offering plate. Too many people are TRYING to do Christianity w/out doing Church – NOT GONNA HAPPEN! When we join Jesus, we join His FAMILY & His MISSION!

  • “A Jesus-centered community is an attractive community – a community that encourages, forgives, serves, loves, & invites non-Christians into its community.” (Jonathan Dodson, Gospel-Centered Discipleship)

B/c we ALL need purposeful living – Rick Warren, best known for his book, Purpose-Driven Life, – “If you’re alive, there’s a purpose for your life…Without purpose, life is motion w/out meaning, activity w/out direction, & events w/out reason.”

 

What IS our purpose for living? Paul summed it up in 1 Cor. 10:31 – “So, whether you eat or drink, or WHATEVER you do, do all to the glory of God.” Our purpose as Christ-followers, plain & simple, is to glorify God in ALL that we do in ALL circumstances in our lives, in ALL relationships in our lives, in ALL areas of our lives. And the ONLY way we can do that is to let Jesus continually reign over our lives in every way.

And what’s our purpose as a Church? DEVELOPING DEVOTED DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS!

Matthew 9:35-38 – Let’s look at this passage again & see what the Holy Spirit is saying to us today through His Word:

JESUS’ PLAN – v. 35Go to “all the cities & villages” – There’s that word “all” again

  • “teaching” – instructing
  • “preaching” – proclaiming, announcing the Gospel
  • “healing” – serving

Jesus went to ALL people to teach, preach, & heal/serve them. And He calls us to do the same!

 

JESUS’ PASSION – v. 36Broken, hurting people – When He saw them, He was moved w/ “compassion” – moved in the deepest possible part of His soul. The people were:

  • “harassed” – literally, “skinned alive”
  • “helpless” – thrown away, thrown down, & rejected
  • “like sheep w/out a shepherd” – What do “sheep w/out a shepherd” do?
    • They stray – making them vulnerable to predators & DEATH!
    • They stumble – making them vulnerable to injury & DEATH!
    • They starve – making them vulnerable to weakness & DEATH!

 

JESUS’ PLEA – v. 37-38 – More workers – You & I are the answer to His prayer. If His disciples were obedient to Him & actually prayed “earnestly” (begging, pleading), then you & I are the answer to their prayers!

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Sermon notes from 6/25/17 – “Old & New Commandment”

“OLD & NEW COMMANDMENTS”                            1 John 2:7-14

 INTRO – (Show Lucy & Linus cartoon) – “I love mankind. It’s PEOPLE I can’t stand! (Linus) Anybody feel like Linus sometimes? Of course, we all do in some ways. When our imperfect lives rub up against the imperfect lives of others, there’s bound to be some sparks that will fly.

We are looking at a subject today that we have discussed many times before. It’s the subject of love. The danger is that we may feel like we already have this figured out. It’s so basic. It’s Christianity 101. It’s foundational.

“Love” is a word that we used a lot in a lot of different ways about a lot of different things. In my own life, I have used it in a multitude of ways. Here’s a sampling of how I would use the word “love”:

  • I love my wife, kids, & grandkids; coffee; collecting coffee mugs; dogs; Cleveland, MS; my family; Lake Tiak-O’Khata; Thanksgiving; pizza; Sonic tater tots; the MS State Bulldogs; gardenias; deer hunting w/ my buddy, David Martin, in Lawrence County; going on mission trips; preaching; being a firefighter; vacations at the beach; all types of music; &, of course, Country Woods Baptist Church!
  • What’s on your list of “loves”? Turn to person next to you & tell them.

 

Before we focus on the old & new commandments that John wrote about, let me give you a quick overview outline of this passage. 4 main points:

  1. Love is commanded by God & is an indication that we are living in His light. Brotherly love is the essential markof the Christian life – v. 7-8
  2. Hatred is an indication that we are NOT living in the light of God. It causes us to stumblebecause we are in the darkness. – v. 9,11
  3. When we are obeying God & living in the light of His love, we will not stumble – v. 10
  4. There are various levelsof maturity in the Christian life. – v. 12-14
  • Children know the Fatherand their sins are forgiven.
  • Young men are strongin the Word so they can stand against the evil one.
  • Fathers have an intimateknowledge of God.

(Ray Pritchard)

 

Our main focus in this sermon – v. 7-11 – the old & new commandments.

Jesus had a lot to say about love in His teachings & dealings w/ His disciples.

  • John 15:13
  • John 3:16
  • Matthew 5:43-44

“Yeah, well I love them, but I don’t have to like them!” Where did we get the false idea that it’s easier to like someone than it is to love them? If Jesus is our perfect example of how we are to love others, then:

  • Love means sacrifice for them
  • …their interests over ours
  • …forgive at all costs
  • …go to the cross for them

Kinda changes your perspective on loving someone, doesn’t it? We must remember that loving others, even those who are our enemies, is an essential peculiarity of a Christ-follower.

Looking at our passage today, there are 2 marks of love that we find here:

 

LOVE = OBEDIENCE – v. 7-8 – You might say, “I don’t see the word ‘obey’ or ‘obedience’ here.” That’s true, but you DO see the word “commandment” used 4 times in the ESV. What did Jesus expect us to do w/ His commandments? OBEY THEM! And what is this old/new commandment from Jesus that we are to obey? He stated it in John 13:34-35 – “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (HCSB)

  • This was an “old” commandment in two senses (borrowed material from Pastor Steven Cole):
    • First, it was old in that Moses taught it in the Law, “… you shall love your neighbor as yourself” ( 19:18). Jesus identified this as the second greatest commandment, after the command to love God with all your being (Matt. 22:37-40). So in that sense, this command had been with God’s people for 1,400 years
    • But the main sense in which this was an old commandment is that these believers had heard it from the very earliest days of their Christian experience (2:7): “… which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.” John uses the phrase, “from the beginning,” in the same way in 1 John 3:11, “For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another” (also, 2 John 5). (https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-7-old-new-commandment-1-john-27-11)

 

But it’s also a “new” commandment in these ways:

  • It’s new b/c it is CONCLUSIVE – It is the summation of all the commandments of the OT. As Jesus said in Matt. 23:35-40, ALL of the Law & prophets depend on, or hang on, these 2 commandments. They give us the final word on how to live an obedient life as a Christ-follower. H
  • It’s new b/c it is COMPREHENSIVE – There is no one who is outside the scope or the boundaries of our love. Jesus taught by example (Zacchaeus, the Rich Young Ruler – “Jesus looked at him & loved him” [Mk. 10:21], lepers, prostitutes, outcasts, unclean, scorned) & by word (Good Samaritan) of the importance of having a comprehensive love for all people.
    • It’s an all-encompassing love.
    • It’s a global love.
    • It’s a broad love. As Paul wrote in Eph. 2:18-19, it’s a “wide, long, high, & deep” love that goes beyond our knowledge & comprehension.
  • It’s new b/c it is CONTINUING – The love of Jesus on the cross is inexhaustible. There’s no end to it. It continues even to this day. As we grow in our understanding of His love, we will grow in our application of His love, & we will find that there is no way that we cannot NOT love someone. As Paul said in 1 Cor. 13:8, “Love never fails” or “never ends.” Greek word – never be destroyed, never cease.

So, we love as we obey, and we obey as we love.

  • We need to let His love transform the way we think.
  • …the words we say
  • …the walk we walk

 

LOVE = LIGHT – v. 9-11 – Walking in obedience is walking in the light. Walking in love is walking in the light. Pretty straightforward!

John probably directing some of this comments here to the false teachers who were “saying” that they loved others, but were hating others. That’s a pretty clear sign that they were still in the darkness of their sin & lost condition.

But I love what Pastor Steven Cole says about these verses: “But we should not only use John’s words to identify false teachers. We should also apply them honestly to our own lives. Sadly, there are many that profess to know Christ, but in their marriages and towards their children they do not practice biblical love. Many evangelical churches are torn apart by conflict because certain powerful members did not get their own way. Rather than acting in love, they viciously attack those who don’t agree with them. So John shows that love is inseparable from the light, just as hatred invariably is bound up with darkness. He does not allow for any middle ground, where you can be sort of loving, but sort of cantankerous, too!” (https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-7-old-new-commandment-1-john-27-11)

It’s clear: Love = light, & hate = darkness. You are one or the other. “But, hate is such a strong word. I don’t really hate that person. I just don’t like them.”

We love to split hairs over the words of Scripture to water them down some. “Love” & “hate” are 2 of the words that we try to redefine. Makes it so much easier for us to live a watered-down version of the Christian life, which really is not a valid version of the Christian life at all.

Whether we like it or not, or whether we are comfortable w/ it or not, the Scriptures are clear. We either love or hate. We either live in the light, or live in the darkness. It’s the classic battle between light & darkness. And it has eternal implications.

  • Your profession of faith in Jesus is questionable if you hate someone – v. 9 – Plain & simple, you’re still in the darkness of your lostness.
  • Your pathway will be lit up w/ the light of Christ when you love others – v. 10 – The fruit of your life will show that you truly know Christ, & that you’re following Him on HIS pathway that leads to heaven.
  • Your eyes will be blinded by the darkness if you hate others – v. 11 – You’ll stumble around in the darkness, causing others to stumble as well. You won’t know where you are going. You won’t know how to live your life. You will bring pain to yourself & others. And you may not even be saved.

CONCLUSION – None of us will love perfectly. Only Jesus did that. But the call on our lives is to grow in this absolutely essential area of our lives. If you’re struggling in this area, repent today! Get to work obeying this old/new commandment. It’s not an optional commandment for us.

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Sermon notes from 6/19/17 – “Jesus, Our Advocate”

“JESUS, OUR ADVOCATE”          1 John 2:1-6

INTRO – Back in the 80’s, Joan Rivers was a popular TV talk show host & stand-up comedian from Brooklyn. She was an “in your face” kind of personality, & her catchphrase was, “Can we talk?” You knew when she asked that question, she was about to get pretty straightforward w/ whatever subject she was talking about. There was going to no doubt about her opinion or views on that subject.

As we come to the beginning of chapter 2 in our study of 1 John, I want to ask the Joan Rivers question: “Can we talk?” I want to give to you some straightforward statements about our lives as Christ-followers based on these verses.

 

“WE OUGHT NOT TO SIN” – v. 1a, 3, 6 – That’s pretty straightforward. If we belong to the Lord, then we are called & expected to live a holy life.

  • v. 3 – If we “know Him,” then we will keep His commandments. In fact, keeping His commandments is an indication that we DO know Him. And this “knowing” is not just having head knowledge about Jesus; it is truly knowing Him by experiencing His work in our lives.
  • v. 6 – If we “abide” in Him – to have habitual fellowship w/ Jesus – then we ought to “walk in the same way in which He walked.”
    • Abiding in Jesus means that we are depending completely on Him for all we need to live for & serve Him. It’s a living relationship, a close, active, intimate relationship.
    • WWJD

 

So, “Can we talk? Can we talk about not sinning?” It’s abundantly clear that the expectation of a Christ-follower is that we ought not to sin. We should strive continually to know Jesus, to obey Jesus, to abide w/ Jesus, & to walk w/ Jesus. If we will do these things, we won’t sin. Sin is “missing the mark.” So, if we will do these things, we will stay on target & not miss the mark that God has for us.

 

“WE ARE GOING TO SIN – v. 1b, 4 – BUT, as we all know by our study of the Scriptures & by our own personal experience, we are going to sin. Can we talk? Can we be honest here? Can we be transparent today? We ought not to sin. We don’t want to sin. We know that sin breaks the heart of God & quenches the Spirit of God. We’ve experienced the consequences of sin in our own life through pain, disappointment, loss, injury to ourselves & others. Our parents teach us not to, our pastor preaches & exhorts us not to, our personal study of the Bible shows us that we ought not to. And yet, we do it anyway. We still sin, & we are going to sin some more. I wish it wasn’t true, but it is.

  • We don’t have permission to do it, but we do it anyhow.
  • We don’t have license to do it, but we do it anyhow.
  • We don’t benefit from it, but we do it anyhow.
  • We don’t help our families when we do it, but we do it anyhow.
  • We hurt ourselves & others when we do it, but we do it anyhow.

 

So, “Can we talk? Can we talk how we sin?” It’s crazy, isn’t it? From the Garden of Eden until this very moment, Satan has been tempting & we’ve been taking the forbidden fruit, all the while knowing that we will reap the consequences. We ought not to do it, but we are going to sin.

 

“WE HAVE AN ADVOCATE WHEN WE DO SIN – v. 1b – Ever heard of the terminology of “hysterical strength”? It’s the almost superhuman strength that you hear of someone having in a moment of dire need. Eric Hefflemire was working on his pickup truck in the garage of his VA home, when truck fell of jack & pinned him. Make matters worse, it caught on fire. 19 y/o daughter, Charlotte, came in, lifted truck off him, & pulled him to safety before truck exploded. At that moment, she was her dad’s advocate.

Advocateparaclete – one called alongside to help. Usually has a legal meaning to it. Someone accused of a crime needs someone to plead their case before the judge. That’s an advocate.

This is only place that Jesus is called our Advocate. In Gospel of John, Jesus calls the Holy Spirit our Advocate in John 14, 15, & 16.

  • John 14:16-17
  • John 14:26
  • John 15:26
  • John 16:7

The Spirit comes to our aid here, today, right now in our walk w/ Christ to teach us, strengthen us, empower us, help us, & guide us.

But here in 1 John 2:1, John says that JESUS is our Advocate before the Father in heaven. When we sin, Jesus stands before the Father as our Advocate. But He doesn’t declare us “not guilty” b/c that would be untrue. We ARE guilty b/c we HAVE sinned! But He tells the Father that we ARE guilty, but that HE has paid the penalty for our sins, thus securing our undeserved pardon. We will not suffer the punishment that we deserve b/c our Jesus, our Advocate, suffered the punishment FOR us.

 

So, “Can we talk? Can we talk about our Advocate?” When we have messed up & find ourselves crushed beneath the weight of sin w/ the fire of sin is growing stronger & hotter in our lives, our Advocate steps up & pleads our case before the Father, reminding Him that on the cross, He lifted that burden of sin off of us & took it upon Himself. HE was burned w/ the fire of our sin so we would NOT be burned in the fires of hell!

  • THAT’S what He did for us as our Substitute
  • THAT’S what He endured for us as our Suffering Servant;
  • THAT’S how He delivered us as our Savior
  • And THAT’S what He submits to the Father as our Advocate!
    • “He’s guilty, Father, but I’ve paid the price for him.”
    • “She’s guilty, Father, but I’ve endured the pain & suffering for her.”
    • “He’s guilty, Father, but I took his place as his substitute.”
    • “She’s guilty, Father, but I rescued her & died for her.”

When you see your child fall & hurt himself, what do you do? “Get up, stupid! Can’t believe you did that!”? No! Run to their side & help them up.

When your best friend has lost their job, or their marriage, or a parent, what do you do? Think to yourself, “Well, I hope everything turns out ok”? No! Run to their side to help them.

When a soldier on a battlefield sees his buddy injured when he comes under attack from the enemy, what does he do? Run the other way? No! Run to his side & fight off the enemy! Pick his buddy up & get him to safety.

Jesus, our Advocate, did all of those things for us on the cross. And He is STILL our Advocate in heaven until He comes again to take us home to be w/ Him forever.

Daddy would always tell us boys, “Remember who you are, son.” So who are we?

  • We are children of God who ought not to sin.
  • We are children of God who do sin.

Today, our Heavenly Daddy says to us, “Remember who HE is – Jesus – He’s YOUR Advocate!”

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Sermon notes from 6/11/17 – “The 5 Ifs”

“THE 5 ‘IFS’”             1 John 1:5-10

 INTRO – There are a lot of people in our country today who say that they are Christians, especially here in the Deep South. The majority of us here today, maybe even all of us, would say that we are a Christian. This is still a somewhat acceptable, even expected component of many people’s lives, although that acceptance is rapidly changing in our society.

For instance, just this past week, past Presidential candidate & US Senator Bernie Sanders became very hostile against Russell Vought, Pres. Trump’s nominee for Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management & Budget, due to Mr. Vought’s biblical view on salvation. Watch this video: https://vimeo.com/220854817

This is going to become more & more common in our post-modern, post-Christian society. The lines are being drawn deeper & deeper, & those who truly name the name of Christ & live out their faith in a real, authentic way will suffer the consequences in more blatant ways.

This is one of the reasons why there are so many who will “SAY” that they are Christians, but when the heat increases, they back away from a strong stand on true biblical Christianity, which guarantees suffering & hardship.

  • 2 Tim. 3:12 – “Persecution is inevitable for those who are determined to live really Christian lives…” (Phillips)
  • “How could we ever think the Christian faith would be safe when its central metaphor [the cross] is an instrument of death? It is not a coincidence that baptism is a water grave depicting death & resurrection. It is no less significant that the ongoing ordinance of the Lord’s Supper is a reminder of sacrifice. How did we ever develop a safe theology from such a dangerous faith?” (Irwin McManus)

 

So we come to this passage of Scripture today where John lays out 5 consecutive “If-then” statements that challenge us on the legitimacy of our profession of our faith in Jesus Christ. Is our faith in Jesus Christ real? Or are we just going to “SAY” it’s real? If it’s real, then it will show in our words & actions every day of our lives. If it’s not real, then we are doomed to hell.

There are 5 statements in 5 verses that I want to put in 4 categories. Before I do that, let’s look at v. 5. This verse is a foundational verse for the entire book of 1 John. It’s a verse that causes us to examine every aspect of our lives & ask, “If God is light & there is no darkness in Him, where is there darkness in my life, & what must I do to eradicate it from my life?” The bulk of 1 John answers that question & teaches us how to live in the light of God b/c the Christian life is more than just claiming to know Jesus. It’s more than just having a chummy relationship w/ the “Big Guy upstairs.” Living a life in fellowship w/ God means to live in holiness, to walk in the light, & to actively love God & love others.

  • It’s more than just a profession – It’s putting it into practice.
  • It’s more than just words – It’s walking it out in a way that puts it out there for all to see.
  • It’s more than just saying it – It’s showing it in every area of our lives.
  • It’s more than just a private relationship – It’s putting out there in public for all to see.

 

So let’s look at these 5 verses in these 4 categories – 2 negative categories & 2 positive categories.

 

False Fellowship – v. 6 – This verse piggybacks right on v. 5. To “SAY” that you have fellowship w/ God, but to continue to walk & live in the darkness of sin is a complete contradiction in terms. Some of the false teachers of that day said that the body & the spirit were completely separate, so a person could live any way they wanted to live in their body b/c it was going to be destroyed anyhow. Pretty popular teaching! Who wouldn’t want to believe that? Fulfill all your lusts & desires any way you want to b/c it doesn’t affect your spiritual life.

The truth is that if God is light, then those who are walking in darkness are not walking w/ God, no matter what they say. Theirs is a false fellowship. Remember that Greek word for fellowship – koinonia? It means to participate, to share, to contribute. To say that you are participating & sharing in the things of God, but go on living in sin is false fellowship. You are NOT fellowshipping w/ God, no matter what you SAY. You are not & cannot participate in the things of God, share in the things of God, & contribute to the work of God. You are, at best, out of fellowship w/ God, &, at worst, lost w/out Christ. As the NLT puts v. 6 – “We are lying if we say we have fellowship w/ God but go on living in spiritual darkness. We are not living in the truth.” Which leads to the next category:

 

Definitely Deceived – v. 8, 10 – Both of these verses talk about the deception of saying that we are not sinners, either in nature or in practice. Our “sin” is the root. Our “sins” are the fruit. “Sin” is our fallen nature that says the world revolves around US, our desires, our passions, our wants, our motives. The “sins” we commit are the ways we indulge ourselves – our desires, our passions, our wants, our motives. To say that we have no sin nature & that we have not committed any sins is absolutely ludicrous, & shows the depth of our depravity & the deception that we’ve given in to.

To be deceived means to wander around w/out a purpose. When we give in to sin, this is exactly what happens in our lives. Our purpose as Christ-followers is to honor & glorify God in all we say & do. Sin blurs & defeats that purpose in our lives. Sin brings confusion & leads us to wander off course in our lives, moving us into dangerous enemy territory. These final 2 positive categories show us what to do to stay on course & to get back on course when we’ve strayed away.

 

Living in the Light – v. 7 – Light is a wonderful thing. It & darkness cannot coexist. Wherever you find light, you will not find darkness. When I got to the church early this AM, walked into a dark building. What did I immediately begin doing? Turning on the lights. Why?

  • Light shows the way to walk.
  • Light reveals any obstructions or hindrances.
  • Light helps us to be productive (read my Bible).

The light of Christ does those same things in our lives, which is why we MUST walk & live in the light.

  • His light shows us the way to walk.
    • 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet, & a light for my path.” (NLT)
  • His light reveals the sin in our lives that obstructs our pathway & hinders our spiritual growth & health.
    • John 3:19-21 – “And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”
  • His light helps us to be productive in our life as a Christ-follower.
    • Already established the fact that we cannot & will not be productive in the work of God & contribute in a meaningful way to the work of God if we’re walking in the darkness of sin.
    • John 9:4-5 – “We must keep on doing the work of Him Who sent Me while it is day. Night is coming when no man can work. While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”

 

Cleansing Confession – v. 9 – We end w/ the verse that is probably the most familiar verse in 1 John. God makes some wonderful promises to His kids all throughout the Bible, & this is one of His best promises to us!

Those of us who are saved know all too well that, even though we belong to Christ, we will still sin. It breaks the heart of God & grieves the Spirit of God. And we need the forgiveness that only God can give us by His grace & mercy. There are 2 types of forgiveness that we as Christ-followers enjoy.

  1. Judicial forgiveness – We receive this at the moment we trust Christ to save us. It is an immediate, eternal, unchanging forgiveness of the penalty of our sins, meaning we won’t suffer the wrath of God & end up in hell.
    1. 1:7 – “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, in accordance w/ the riches of His grace, that He lavished on us w/ all wisdom & understanding.”
    2. This is not the kind of forgiveness that 1 John 1:9 is talking about. We don’t have to ask for God’s judicial forgiveness over & over again. We don’t need to be saved over & over again.
  2. Familial forgiveness – This is the forgiveness that God grants to us when we confess our sins to Him & restores our fellowship w/ Him. Again – Remember how important the word “fellowship” is! This familial or parental forgiveness is not the forgiveness that grants us eternal salvation. It IS the forgiveness that grants us renewed & restored fellowship w/ the Lord.
    1. “You can’t walk w/ God if you are holding hands w/ the devil. If the sin you are tolerating in your life doesn’t break your heart like it does God’s, you need to check which side you are on.” (Tony Martin)
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