2 Thessalonians: Stand Firm, God is Faithful

2021-10-10

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

As we discussed last week, Paul planted the church in Thessalonica during his 2nd missionary journey. He only stayed about a month, but the impact was unmistakable. He writes this second letter to the church to once again encourage them due to false teaching and counterfeit theology.

 

2 Thess. 2:1-2 (NLT) Now, dear brothers and sisters, let us clarify some things about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we will be gathered to meet him. Don’t be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord has already begun. Don’t believe them, even if they claim to have had a spiritual vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us.

 

1. Thankfulness produces faithfulness

2 Thess. 1:3-4 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing. We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering.

  • One of the best weapons for fighting Satan is praise. In spite of his pain, Job was able to say, ‘Blessed be the name of the Lord!’ So, the next time things go wrong and you are tempted to get impatient, turn to God and give thanks.”[1] – Warren Wiersbe
  • A thankful heart produces endurance which produces faith
  • 1 Thess 5:18 (NLT) Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus

 

2. Faithfulness allows us to remain strong when under attack

2 Thess. 2:15 (NLT) So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold to the traditions you were taught, whether by what we said or what we wrote.

  • Faithfulness to His Word
  • Faithfulness to what we’ve experienced in our faith journey
  • Verse 2 of chapter 2 – “Don’t be so easily shaken…

 

3. Faithfulness leads to deliverance

2 Thess. 3:1-3 (NLT) In addition, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.

  • Though Satan is real and active
  • 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT) Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.
  • The two mistakes Christians make in talking about Satan are that we either joke about him or we ignore him. According to this verse, neither of these is an option.”[2] – C.S. Lewis
  • The clear and present danger for all believers today lies in the reality of the attacks of Satan. But fear not, Jesus has overcome.s

 

John 16:33 (NLT) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 192.

[2] David Walls and Max Anders, I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude, vol. 11, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 93.

1 Thessalonians – Keep it Going

2021-10-03

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

 

Paul visited Thessalonica during his second missionary journey and planted the church to which he now writes. His mission in this letter was to celebrate their faithfulness, encourage them to be steadfast and point them to the blessed hope God has in store for us all. This message, like Paul’s other writings, are meant to be an encouragement to all Christ followers to stay the course and trust the heart of God.

 

1 Thess. 1:2-3 (CSB) We always thank God for all of you, making mention of you constantly in our prayers. We recall, in the presence of our God and Father, your work produced by faith, your labor motivated by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ

 

1. Our faith should drive us to action

Vs 3a We recall, in the presence of our God and Father, your work produced by faith…

  • Paul gives us the first glimpse of his later writing in 1 Cor. 13 here…”faith, hope, love” – the importance of these cannot be minimized
  • Our faith in Christ should produce good things
  • We are not saved by faith plus works, but by a faith that works.”[1] – Warren Wiersbe

 

[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 160.

2. Our action should be reflective of our love

Vs 3b … your labor motivated by love…

  • Labor (ko-pos) conveys the idea of “toil and trouble”
  • This was not a simple act on the part of believers but a deliberate action because of their love for others

 

3. Our love is strengthened in our hope

Vs 3c … and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • Endurance (He-poe-mo-NAY) = residing, staying for the long haul
  • They were willing to go the distance because of what was ahead
  • 1 Thess. 4:13ff is a picture of the promised future

 

4. Our witness will change the world

1 Thess. 1:7-10 (CSB) As a result, you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. For the word of the Lord rang out from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place that your faith, in God has gone out. Therefore, we don’t need to say anything, for they themselves report what kind of reception we had from you: how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath

  • Their faithfulness to God’s Word and God’s will became an example not only at home but it spread throughout the world because they were willing to “go”
  • What you do here impacts there!

 

5. Stand strong no matter what

1 Thess. 2:4 (CSB) Instead, just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please people, but rather God, who examines our hearts

  • Paul had been severely mistreated in Philippi but he shares here that he was not deterred in his mission
  • Verse 2 states they were “emboldened” in their work because of their opposition
  • This boldness came because they knew their mission was to serve God, not man
  • “If there is ineffectiveness within the church or the individual, it has little to do with methodology, persecution, leadership vacuums, or ecclesiastical structures. Instead, it comes from being less than convinced that we deal with truth (the message). It comes from trying to please anyone or anything other than God (the motive).”[1]

– Knute Larson

[1] Knute Larson, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, vol. 9, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 22.

Colossians

2021-09-26

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

The book of Colossians is one of the four prison epistles (along with Ephesians, Philippians and Philemon) written during Paul’s home imprisonment in Rome in the early 60’s A.D. While each of the letters have a specific purpose and message, they are connected. Colossians was written to address the dangerous heresies being entertained in the church at Colossae. The most dangerous of those heresies was an attack on the Deity of Christ. Paul wrote to emphasize the importance of knowing Christ.

 

1. Walking in His will

Colossians 1:9-10 (CSB) We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, 10 so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God,

  • Knowledge – epignosis – Deep understanding (1 Peter 3:7 Husbands & Wives)
  • This was a turning point from the greeting to the purpose since Paul was dealing with the heresies against the Deity of Christ
  • His message was that you must know Him to walk in His will

2. Growing in His power

Colossians 1:11-14 (CSB) being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, so that you may have great endurance and patience, joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light. 13 He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. 14 In him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

  • Paul was encouraging them to allow their knowledge of God to result in transformation
  • This transformation was a result of the power of the Gospel

3. Standing in awe of His presence

Colossians 1:15-20 (CSB) He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and by him all things hold together. 18 He is also the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile everything to himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

  • Paul’s emphasis on the centrality and supremacy of Christ in these verses addressed the heresies head on
  • John 1:14 And the Word became flesh…

 

4. Living strong in His truth

Colossians 2:4-10 (CSB) I am saying this so that no one will deceive you with arguments that sound reasonable. For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ. So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to walk in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude. Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elements of the world, rather than Christ. For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, 10 and you have been filled by him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

  • Paul’s concern stemming from Ephaphras’ report was they would lose their desire to follow Christ because of the false teaching which was prevalent
  • Vs 9 – fullness (pleroma – the sum total of all that God is, all of His being and attributes[1])
  • Weirsbe’s encouragement: ”Why, then would you need anything else?”

 

5. Being committed to His plan

Colossians 3:1-4 (CSB) So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

  • Again Paul focuses on transformation of the believer
  • If Christ is truly all we need and all there is, He should be the focus and purpose of our existence
  • Paul does not mean that we should never think the things upon the earth, but that these should not be our aim, our goal, our master. The Christian has to keep his feet upon the earth, but his head in the heavens. He must be heavenly-minded here on earth and so help to make earth like heaven.[1] – A.T. Robertson

[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 126.

[1] A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1933), Col 3:2.

Philippians: The Good Work of God

2021-09-19

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

 

Philippians is a letter whose focus is on joy. Whether in suffering, service or worry, Paul makes it clear we should rejoice in the “excellence” of Christ. This short letter is full of encouragement to a people in desperate need of hope. The key encouragement is found in its opening words.

 

Philippians 1:3-6 (NKJV) I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ

  • This is the real basis for joyful Christian fellowship, to have God at work in our lives day by day.”[1] – Warren Wiersbe

 

1. It starts in the Gospel

Philippians 1:20-21 (NKJV) according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain

  • God has a clear and undeniable good work He wants to do in your life
  • This work begins the moment we believe in Christ’s redemptive work
  • Understanding we cannot lose when we live in the power of the Gospel

 

2. It is continued in love

Philippians 2:1-4 (NKJV) Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others

  • Genuine love for others is the beginning point for understanding the power of God’s work
  • Seeing people as God sees them is a necessary step

 

3. It is in focusing on what really matters

Philippians 3:7-10 (NKJV) But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death

  • We must set aside the things the world believes are important for the things God says are important
  • Matthew 16:26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

 

4. It is secured by His gracious hand

Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

  • When everything seems to be falling apart, God provides what the world can’t imagine
  • “The position of the believer is not simply one of waiting for an absent Lord to return; it is also one of enjoying the reality of a Lord who is always present.”[2] – J.A. Motyer
  • Let go of worry and let God lead
    • Prayer is the starting point
    • Thankfulness is the posture
    • Seeking Him is invited
    • He will guard your heart

[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 65.

[2] J. A. Motyer, The Message of Philippians, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1984), 207.

Ephesians – God’s Great Plan

2021-09-12 

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

 

The book of Ephesians is an important letter from Paul for it deals with all of the elements of our faith. This short book has strong doctrinal teaching, faith-filled encouragement, a call for unity, a commitment to the Spiritual gifts and a practical application for all believers. And, it concludes with a call to stand firm in the battle against the powers of the enemy, but not without an explanation of how to stand. We stand in the power, protection and plan of God. The book focuses on two important elements of our faith: the Christian’s beliefs (chs. 1-3) and the Christian’s behavior (chs. 4-6).[1]

 

1. We are immeasurably blessed

Ephesians 1:3-4 (CSB) Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ. For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him.

  • “every spiritual blessing”
  • “chosen”
  • “holy and blameless”
  • The clear and undeniable picture is as believers in Christ, we have been given wonderful gifts through His presence and power

 

2. We are part of His great plan

Ephesians 1:9-14 (CSB) He made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he purposed in Christ 10 as a plan for the right time—to bring everything together in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in him. 11 In him we have also received an inheritance, because we were predestined according to the plan of the one who works out everything in agreement with the purpose of his will, 12 so that we who had already put our hope in Christ might bring praise to his glory. 13 In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed. 14 The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory.

  • “as a plan for the right time”
  • “so that we…might bring praise to His glory”
  • “you also were sealed”
  • “We are able to share in the secret that God will one day unite everything in Christ. Ever since sin came into the world, things have been falling apart… Sin is tearing everything apart, but in Christ, God will gather everything together in the culmination of the ages. We are a part of this great eternal program.”[2]Warren Wiersbe

 

3. We have an eternal hope

Ephesians 1:18-23 (CSB) I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the mighty working of his strength. 20 He exercised this power in Christ by raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens—21 far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given,, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he subjected everything under his feet, and appointed him as head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.

  • “your heart may be enlightened so that you may know what is the hope”
  • “what is the immeasurable greatness of His power”
  • His power in raising Christ from the dead is the same power we walk in today
  • “he subjected everything under his feet” – nothing is out of His control
  • We need to know our spiritual future is based on the promises of God and find strength and courage in that hope to live in the present.”[3]– Max Anders

 

4. We are undeniably secure

Ephesians 6:10-17 (CSB) A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

  • Our security is in Him, but it requires a commitment on our part
  • “put on all of God’s armor”
  • Belt of Truth – Breastplate of Righteousness – Shoes of Peace from Good News – Shield of Faith – Helmet of Salvation – Sword of the Spirit

 

 

 

[1] Porter Barrington, The Christian Life Study Bible, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers), pg 1186.

[2] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 12.

[3] Max Anders, Galatians-Colossians, vol. 8, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 94.

Jesus Only Jesus

2021-09-05

Charles Billingsley

This is what was happening in the churches of Galatia.

False teaching had crept into their church by way of a group called the Judaizers.  It was polluting the purity of the gospel that Paul had taught them, and in a very short time had turned their minds from the gospel of grace to a gospel determined by and dependent upon works.

Word comes to Paul in Antioch, and Paul is very upset.  So he writes them a scathing letter.

It reads differently than the other epistles.  You can tell right away that Paul is angry.

Written by Paul – 49 AD

Galatia was not a city.  It was a region.  Several churches were founded in that region by Paul on his first missionary journey.

Purpose for writing:  Judaizers had come into the region and were diffusing and diluting the pure gospel message of Paul.

Galatians is a Miniature book of Romans.   It was written 10 years before Romans.

It is the Charter of Christian Freedom.

Galatians can be divided into 3 different categories:

Chapters 1-2 –  Personal  – Paul defends his integrity as an apostle .  Paul tells his testimony about his conversion.  Paul attacks the ones who are perverting the Gospel.  Paul vs the Judaizers

Chapters 3-4 – Doctrinal  – Law vs Grace ;   Justification by Faith

Chapters 5-6 – Practical  – fruit of the spirit

Galatians 1:6 I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from him who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are troubling you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, a curse be on him!  As we have said before, I now say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, a curse be on him!

Judaizers had entered into the churches there and had begun to convince the young, predominantly Gentile believers that the Gospel Paul had preached to them was not all they needed.  They also needed to carry on the traditions of Judaism…circumcision and other Jewish traditions were necessary for them to truly follow the Gospel of Jesus.  But this was NOT the pure gospel.

Glossary of terms as they are used in Galatians:

Gospel – the Good News.  The word gospel comes from the Old English god meaning “good” and  spel meaning “news, a story.” In Christianity, the term “good news” refers to the story of Jesus Christ’s birth, death, resurrection, and His message of salvation by faith in Him.

Justification – an act of God whereby we, who are sinners and deserve a just punishment, are looked upon as righteous in the eyes of God, not because of anything we have done, but because of what Jesus has done for us.  Because of what Jesus did on the cross…conquering sin, death, hell, and the grave, we are viewed as righteous in the eyes of a Just and Holy God.  It is “just as if I’d” never sinned.

Faith –  Faith is believing in something and committing to that belief.  It is a firm belief in the existence of God but also in the salvation that comes only from God…through His son Jesus.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things unseen.“  – Hebrews 11:1

Grace – God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.   Undeserved and unmerited favor.  Grace is given, not earned.

Law – God’s standard of righteousness.  Given to Moses out of necessity, it was a rigid and unforgiving standard of rules by which mankind was to live.

Freedom – The state of being set loose from the power or the control of something or someone else.  To be in a position of liberty…exempt from the slavery and the confinement of sin.

Fruit  – The product, effect, or result of living righteously.

This book is a great reminder to us of three major themes:

1. We are justified by Faith 

Galatians 3:1-3

 You foolish Galatians! Who has cast a spell on you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by believing what you heard?  3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by the Spirit, are you now finishing by the flesh?

Galatians 3:10-11

For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written, Everyone who does not do everything written in the book of the law is cursed. 11 Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith.

Galatians 3:23-26

Before this faith came, we were confined under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith was revealed. 24 The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith. 25 But since that faithhas come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus.

Martin Luther

1505 – lightning.  Surrenders life to monastery.  As a Young monk, he was deeply devoted to monastic vows and lifestyle, observing the daily rituals and prayer patterns, all in an effort to reconcile his soul with the Savior.

Martin Luther just could not grasp how the “justice of God” was motivated by anything other than anger.  He was terrified of God. Even angry with him.. He viewed God as this overbearing abusive Father who is just waiting to punish us when we make even the smallest of mistakes.

Is that your view of God today?

“Justification by faith, ‘is the head and the cornerstone. It alone begets, nourishes, builds, preserves, and defends the church of God; and without it the church of God cannot exist for one hour. “  – Martin Luther 

“ Grace is the way to life and it is the way of life. “   – Charles Swindoll 

Therefore……Our faith produces freedom . 

2.  We are called to Be Free 

Galatians 5:1  For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm,then, and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer – another German theologian.

Cheap Grace – the idea that we can live any old way we want to because we are “under” grace.  But that cheapens the the very nature of the gospel…which is to set us free from all that mess.

 

Conviction without compassion is damning – Legalism 

Compassion without conviction is dangerous – Liberalism 

Compassion with conviction is dynamic – Love 

 

In Christ – We are no longer slaves!!!

Galatians 4:4-7

When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then God has made you an heir.

We have been called to freedom in Christ….the incarnate God.  But this call is a call to die to ourselves and to embrace the grace of  Christ which brings us life!  That’s why Paul is able to pen these words in the second chapter of this Magna Carta of freedom:

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

3.  Our freedom produces fruit 

As a result of this freedom in Christ,  the natural result will be that we bear fruit.

God uses the word “fruit” often in His word when describing what knowing Him produces in our lives.

When we follow Him and obey Him our lives become fruitful.

When we walk in the Spirit, our lives are fruitful.

Galatians 5:16-26

I say, then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I am warning you about these things—as I warned you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.[g] 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Observations on Fruit

  1. Fruit is always visible – no such thing as invisible fruit . “If your relationship to Christ is only visible to you…then it’s not much of a relationship.  If you are accused of being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you? Or would you be innocent of all charges?   Fruit is always visible.  If you are a Christian, people ought to know it.
  2. Fruit is always consistent with the plant from which it was produced.  It bears the character of the tree from which it is a part.   Apple trees always produce Apples. Apples do not grow on Orange trees.  That’s not the nature of the tree.  The nature of the tree defines the makeup of the fruit.  If you are a Christian, we ought to look like the Savior we serve in our walk and in our talk.  So our lives should be filled with  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control… among other things.
  3.   Fruit does not exist for itself.  Fruit exists for someone else to eat it.  Your life in Christ is meant for loving and serving others.

Galatians 5:13-15

For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.

15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another.

  1. Fruit doesn’t try to be anything that it is not.  It just is.  Pears aren’t trying to be anything but pears.  Fruit is fruit…just because it hangs out on the branch to which it is connected.

The only way your life will produce this fruit….is to hang out with Savior to whom you are connected.  Paul Called it …”to walk in the Spirit.”

How do you do that?

Jesus used a different word in John.  Here is the secret to being a fruitful Christian.

To ABIDE!!!  REMAIN.  Just hang out!!  Stay connected to Jesus!

John 15:4 Remain (or abide)  in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me.

If we will abide in Christ everyday…our lives will be fruitful…giving honor to Jesus Only Jesus.

That fruit is born out of a freedom that comes from Jesus Only Jesus.

And this freedom is born out of a faith alone and grace alone that has been justified because of Jesus Only Jesus!

This is the message of Galatians.  The Magna Carta of our Freedom in Christ.  Learn it.  Love it.  And Live by it.

Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

It is faith alone by grace alone In Christ alone.

It is Jesus Only Jesus.

2 Corinthians: The Thrill of Victory

2021-08-29

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

The 2nd letter to the Corinthians was written about a year after the first. Mainly, because Paul had heard the first letter had not made the impact he had hoped on the actions and hearts of the church at Corinth. So, this letter was written defending his authority and actions as well as calling them to give of themselves to help others. 2 Corinthians gives a personal vantage point of the life of Paul, more so than any other book. Paul truly wanted the church at Corinth to recognize the amazing grace of God available to them all.

 

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (CSB) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings that we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that as you share in the sufferings, so you will also share in the comfort.

 

1. Joy and sorrow can co-exist

2 Cor. 8:2 During a severe trial brought about by affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.

  • The people of Macedonia found joy in the most severe circumstances
  • When facing trials, don’t question the goodness of God, focus on the SERVING for God

 

2. Joy is found in what we do, not what we have

2 Cor. 8:3-4 I can testify that, according to their ability and even beyond their ability, of their own accord, they begged us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in the ministry to the saints,

  • They recognized the value in helping others even in their affliction
  • While Paul may have given them a “pass” in having to give, they begged him to do it anyway because they understood the value

 

3. It begins in giving all to Him

2 Cor. 8:5 and not just as we had hoped. Instead, they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us by God’s will.

  • This principle is only possible when we recognize our position before God
  • All we have and all we are belong to Him

 

4. Growing in Him is important, going for Him is too

2 Cor. 8:7 Now as you excel in everything—in faith, speech, knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love for us—excel also in this act of grace.

  • It’s not enough that we have spiritual knowledge and understanding, we must put it into practice
  • And, we must do so in abundance (vs 7 “excel”= para-SWE-o which means “abounding”

 

5. Christ as our example

2 Cor. 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.

  • The ultimate picture of this type of giving is from Christ Himself
  • He emptied Himself so we could be full

 

 

1 Corinthians: The End Game

2021-08-22
Pastor Jonathan Falwell

The letter we call 1 Corinthians in Paul’s to the church in Corinth to remain faithful and remain unified. He had heard of divisions and arguments within the church there and he wanted to set them straight. So, he wrote this letter as book of answers to the problems within the church. He addressed issues such as:

  • Divisions within the church (1 Cor. 1-4)
  • Issues of sexual immorality and serious implications (1 Cor. 5:1-13 & 6:12-20)
  • Issues surrounding our interactions and disputes with other Christians (1 Cor. 6:1-11)
  • Issues about marriage (1 Cor. 7)
  • Abuses of the liberties allowed for a follower of Christ (1 Cor. 8-11)
  • The Lord’s Supper – (1 Cor. 11)
  • False views of proper worship and spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12-14)
  • False ideas about Christ, His death and resurrection (1 Cor. 15)

So, Paul wrote this letter to clear up misconceptions, correct false doctrine, and condemn sin. All of which, in a way, can be evaluated through the lens of chapter 2.

1. The message

1 Corinthians 2:1-2 (CSB) When I came to you, brothers and sisters, announcing the mystery of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

  • Paul had no desire to confuse, corrupt or introduce any ideas to the church other than Christ and Him crucified.
  • This central thought is the most important message one could ever hear and understand

2. The method

1 Cor. 2:3-5 (CSB) I came to you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power.

  • Paul emphasizes, both in ch. 1 and 2, that it is only through the power and presence of God that we can truly comprehend the vastness of salvation
  • It is not through our human ability that we can explain and understand this message
  • John 12:32 – Jesus said “if I be lifted up…”

1 Cor. 2:9 (CSB) But as it is written, What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived— God has prepared these things for those who love him.

3. The mind

1 Cor. 2:12-16 (CSB) Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God. 13 We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. 14 But the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually. 15 The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, and yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone. 16 For who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct him?, But we have the mind of Christ.

  • The moment of salvation is the moment of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit
  • God has promised through His Spirit He will encourage, instruct, guide, lead, strengthen all of us
  • Ultimately, the destination is to have the mind of Christ

1 Cor. 1:18-19 (CSB) For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will set aside the intelligence of the intelligent.

Romans: Paul’s Purpose, Our Purpose

2021-08-15 

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

The book of Acts is a picture of the birth of the church and beginning of the spread of the Gospel. God used many individuals in those early, formative years to accomplish His mission. And, He still does the same today. 

Acts 28:25-31 Disagreeing among themselves, they began to leave after Paul made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah 26 when he said,  Go to these people and say: You will always be listening, but never understanding; and you will always be looking, but never perceiving. 27 For the hearts of these people have grown callous, their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them. 28 Therefore, let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” 30 Paul stayed two whole years in his own rented house. And he welcomed all who visited him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

While Acts was a picture of the Actions of the People, we now move into the New Testament books that give us further explanations of the Gospel, statements of doctrine, the importance of holiness and beauty of God’s ultimate plans. Today, let’s talk about the book of Romans.

Paul’s purpose was to proclaim the good news, the Gospel, to an unbelieving world. He wanted to take this message far and wide to obey Christ’s command to go to “the ends of the earth.” In the book of Acts, we discovered many of Paul’s journeys in taking this Gospel out to the world. But he wanted to take it further, he desired to go to Rome. Therefore, he wrote a letter to the church at Rome to introduce his work, his passion, his calling, and God’s plan. This was the letter to the Romans.

1. Paul’s purpose explained

Romans 1:1-6 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, and set apart for the gospel of God—which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures—concerning his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was a descendant of David, according to the flesh and was appointed to be the powerful Son of God according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection of the dead. Through him we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the Gentiles, including you who are also called by Jesus Christ.

  • Paul called himself a “servant” (doulos = slave)
  • Paul called himself an “apostle” (Apostolos = one who fulfills the role of being a special messenger)
  • Paul called himself “set apart” (aphōrismenos = separate)
  • Clearly, there is a connection between Paul’s purpose and what Christ told us our purpose should be

2. Paul’s passion explained

Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel,, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith,, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.

  • Paul was unafraid to tell others the good news of Jesus
  • He knew it revealed a clear picture of God’s righteousness and His plan

    3. The world’s desperation explained

Romans 1:28-32 And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a corrupt mind so that they do what is not right. 29 They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 senseless, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. 32 Although they know God’s just sentence—that those who practice such things deserve to die,—they not only do them, but even applaud, others who practice them.

  • Sin was a real and present danger to the people of that day
  • They committed sin, they embraced sin, they celebrated sin

4. God’s love explained

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  • Despite their sin and its deserved punishment, God’s love and righteousness was once again revealed

Romans 16:25-27 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation about Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept silent for long ages 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic Scriptures, according to the command of the eternal God to advance the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles—27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ—to him be the glory forever! Amen.

Priscilla and Aquila – The Original Power Couple

Actions of the People, Part 6

Priscilla and Aquila – The Original Power Couple

2021-08-08

Matt Willmington

Acts 18:1-3 After this, he left Athens and went to Corinth, where he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul came to them, and since they were of the same occupation, tentmakers by trade, he stayed with them and worked.

1. This couple started their ministry in the midst of DIFFICULT TRANSITION

Acts 18:2b …who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome…

  • Overcoming great obstacles can sometime be the very thing that sets you on the course of God’s will for your lives
  • This experience of a “new beginning” could have been an excuse to complain but they used it as a reason for a fresh start
  • God sometimes does His greatest work in the time of our greatest TRIAL

2. Their full-time ministry was also their CAREER

Acts 18:3 and since they were of the same occupation, tentmakers by trade, he stayed with them and worked

  • They recognized their work could be also be their opportunity for GREAT IMPACT
  • We should never believe that only the “experts” can do the work of the ministry
  • It is the responsibility of all believers to fulfill God’s call of outreach

3. Though they were tentmakers, they also embraced the opportunity for MISSIONS

Acts 18:18 After staying for some time, Paul said farewell to the brothers and sisters and sailed away to Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila

  • They went with Paul from Corinth to Ephesus to preach the Gospel
  • Paul did that which “was his custom” and preached in the synagogues
  • Priscilla and Aquila assisted him in his ministry
  • The importance of recognizing that our mission is for both home and abroad is critical
  • Our opportunity for missions:
    • TO PRAY
    • TO GIVE
    • TO SEND
    • TO GO

4. This couple embraced their job of BUILDING OTHERS

Acts 18:24-26 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native Alexandrian, an eloquent man who was competent in the use of the Scriptures, arrived in Ephesus. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately about Jesus, although he knew only John’s baptism. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. After Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately

  • They did not attack him PUBLICLY, they encouraged him PRIVATELY
  • His ministry was made better because they cared about his impact
  • All of us have a role to play in helping others fulfill their ministry

5. They used their own home as a place TO REACH OTHERS

Romans 16:3-5 Give my greetings to Prisca and Aquila, my coworkers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life. Not only do I thank them, but so do all the Gentile churches. Greet also the church that meets in their home

  • They didn’t assume that ministry could only happen within the walls of the “church”
  • They took Jesus’ command of “Go into all the world…” seriously
  • Through their obedience, the KINGDOM GREW

What about YOU?

  1. Are you letting your tough days be a catalyst for GREAT DAYS?
  2. Are you using the workplace as a MINISTRY PLACE?
  3. Have you prayed about GOING?
  4. What are you doing today to help others GROW IN THEIR MINISTRY?

Silas – Use Your Strengths to Strengthen the Team

Actions of the People, Part 5

Silas – Use Your Strengths to Strengthen the Team

2021-08-01

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Acts 15:22-27 (CSB) Then the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, decided to select men who were among them and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas: Judas, called Barsabbas, and Silas, both leading men among the brothers. 23 They wrote: “From the apostles and the elders, your brothers, To the brothers and sisters among the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some without our authorization went out from us and troubled you with their words and unsettled your hearts,, 25 we have unanimously decided to select men and send them to you along with our dearly loved Barnabas and Paul, 26 who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who will personally report the same things by word of mouth

1. Silas was chosen to CONTINUE THE WORK

Acts 15:22 Then the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, decided to select men who were among them and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas: Judas, called Barsabbas, and Silas, both leading men among the brothers

  • The apostles knew by experience the work must be shared to accomplish more
  • Silas was known as a “leading man” among the leaders of the church
  • Like those we’ve discussed in the previous weeks, only a faithful track record will result in BEING TRUSTED

2. Silas was sent to ENCOURAGE THE DISCOURAGED

Acts 15:24-25a Since we have heard that some without our authorization went out from us and troubled you with their words and unsettled your hearts,, 25 we have unanimously decided to select men and send them to you…

  • Silas was sent to Antioch because there were some who were troubling the church
  • Silas was known as a man to be trusted to help bring clarity and wisdom to a troubled people
  • Difficult tasks should be tackled by people leaning on BIBLICAL TRUTH NOT CULTURAL RELEVANCE

3. Silas was faithful to bring an ENCOURAGING WORD

Acts 15:30-33 So they were sent off and went down to Antioch, and after gathering the assembly, they delivered the letter. 31 When they read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. 32 Both Judas and Silas, who were also prophets themselves, encouraged the brothers and sisters and strengthened them with a long message. 33 After spending some time there, they were sent back in peace by the brothers and sisters to those who had sent them

  • Silas encouraged because he brought the Word of God
  • In a time where people are bombarded by negative words and negative actions, the church should continue to remain faithful to HIS WORD

4. Silas continued to be used by God to bring HOPE TO THE PEOPLE

Acts 15:40-41 But Paul chose Silas and departed, after being commended by the brothers and sisters to the grace of the Lord. 41 He traveled through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

  • The ministry of Paul and Silas was used by God to bring hope and strength to a church that was increasingly being attacked
  • God uses our faithfulness and obedience to build HIS CHURCH

6. Because Silas lived in truth, he faced TROUBLE

Acts 16:19-24 When her owners realized that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. 20 Bringing them before the chief magistrates, they said, “These men are seriously disturbing our city. They are Jews 21 and are promoting customs that are not legal for us as Romans to adopt or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in the attack against them, and the chief magistrates stripped off their clothes and ordered them to be beaten with rods. 23 After they had severely flogged them, they threw them in jail, ordering the jailer to guard them carefully. 24 Receiving such an order, he put them into the inner prison and secured their feet in the stocks

  • Knowing their actions would have consequences, they could have retreated but they never did
  • Regardless of what may come, we must always remain true to the WORD OF GOD and do the WORK OF GOD

What about YOU?

  1. What are you doing today to influence OTHERS IN TRUTH?
  2. How are you bringing hope to the DISCOURAGED?
  3. What are you doing to strengthen His CHURCH?
  4. What price are you willing to pay TO DO HIS WORK?

Timothy – Even the Young can Change the World

Actions of The People, Part 4

Timothy – Even the Young can Change the World

2021-07-25

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Acts 16:1-2 (CSB) Paul went on to Derbe and Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a believing Jewish woman, but his father was a Greek. The brothers and sisters at Lystra and Iconium spoke highly of him

1. Timothy was known to be a DISCIPLE

Acts 16:1b … where there was a disciple named Timothy…

  • To be known as a disciple requires DISCIPLINE
  • Your reputation doesn’t come easily or quickly but you can build the right reputation even if you’re young
  • Spiritual disciplines:
    • THE WORD
    • PRAYER
    • OBEDIENCE
    • SERVICE

2. Timothy came from an UNLIKELY HERITAGE

Acts 16:1c … the son of a believing Jewish woman, but his father was a Greek

  • The world, and the church, was not the most accepting or affirming at that time
  • Yet, God used Timothy for an important task
  • Timothy was willing to DO WHAT WAS NECESSARY
    • Acts 16:3 Paul wanted Timothy to go with him; so he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, since they all knew that his father was a Greek

3. Timothy was willing to work away from the LIMELIGHT

Acts 17:14 Then the brothers and sisters immediately sent Paul away to go to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed on there

  • Acts 19:21-22 After these events, Paul resolved by the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem. “After I’ve been there,” he said, “It is necessary for me to see Rome as well.” 22 After sending to Macedonia two of those who assisted him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while
  • Staying with Paul would have guaranteed the attention and the accolades, but Timothy was willing to do whatever was needed
  • Timothy wasn’t in the work for HIS OWN GLORY

4. Because of Timothy’s faithfulness, he was TRUSTED TO CARRY ON

1 Corinthians 4:17 This is why I have sent Timothy to you. He is my dearly loved and faithful child in the Lord. He will remind you about my ways in Christ Jesus, just as I teach everywhere in every church.

  • Timothy was sent by Paul from Ephesus to Corinth to influence the church and the culture with truth
  • A young man who had been diligent in his work was now asked to fulfill his own CALLING
  • This would never have happened if Timothy hadn’t done what was right
  • Throughout the rest of Paul’s life, and even today, he used Timothy’s life and ministry to instruct, direct and encourage the church

What about YOU?

  1. Are you willing to do what is necessary to be a DISCIPLE?
  2. Are the spiritual disciplines a part of your ROUTINE?
  3. Are you allowing your own “issues” to STOP YOU?
  4. Is your ministry today setting you up for TOMORROW?

Philip – Obedient and Faithful

2021-07-18

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Actions of The People, Part 3

Philip – Obedient and Faithful

 

Acts 6:5-7 (CSB) So they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a convert from Antioch. They had them stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. So the word of God spread, the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly in number, and a large group of priests became obedient to the faith.

1. Philip was chosen because of his FAITHFULNESS

Acts 6:3b …select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we can appoint to this duty

  • Like Stephen, Philip was chosen to help the church fulfill its duty to reach people
  • He was given an important RESPONSIBILITY
  • This responsibility is given to those who can be trusted
  • Evaluate your faith walk today and ask yourself, “would they choose me?”

 

2. Philip was one of the first MISSIONARIES

Acts 8:4-6 So those who were scattered went on their way preaching the word. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them. The crowds were all paying attention to what Philip said, as they listened and saw the signs he was performing

  • His faithful service led to more responsibility
  • After Stephen’s death, Philip was emboldened to continue his faithful ministry
  • Even those far from God responded to HIS FAITHFUL MESSAGE
  • Acts 8:9-13 A man named Simon had previously practiced sorcery in that city and amazed the Samaritan people, while claiming to be somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least of them to the greatest, and they said, “This man is called the Great Power of God.”, 11 They were attentive to him because he had amazed them with his sorceries for a long time. 12 But when they believed Philip, as he proclaimed the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. 13 Even Simon himself believed. And after he was baptized, he followed Philip everywhere and was amazed as he observed the signs and great miracles that were being performed

 

3. Philip continued to LISTEN CAREFULLY

Acts 8:26a An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip: “Get up and go…”

  • Though Philip was having great impact, he wanted to make sure he always was focused on GOD’S WILL FOR HIS LIFE
  • The easiest road would have been to continue in his current ministry, but God called
  • What if GOD CALLED YOU TO GO?

 

4. Philip OBEYED WITHOUT HESITATION

Acts 8:29-30a The Spirit told Philip, “Go and join that chariot.” 30 When Philip ran up to it…

  • Notice that Philip didn’t wait to obey…he ran!
  • In our service to Christ, we should never wait until we believe we are ready, qualified or knowledgeable. We should just respond.
  • In what areas of your life are you WAITING?

 

5. Philip never ceased to SHARE THE GOSPEL

Acts 8:40 Philip appeared in Azotus, and he was traveling and preaching the gospel in all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

  • Wherever he went, Philip persisted in obedience and outreach
  • His passion was to see people, like the Ethiopian eunuch, come to Christ and he saw as his MISSION

 

6.  Philip saw his ministry beyond his OWN GENERATION

Acts 21:8 The next day we left and came to Caesarea, where we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the Seven, and stayed with him. This man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.

  • He recognized the work he did today would outlive so he was diligent
  • God honored his service and raised up a family that honored God
  • What steps are you taking today to ensure your work REMAINS?

 

What about YOU?

1. Are you known for your FAITHFULNESS?

2. Are you willing to step outside of your COMFORT ZONE?

3. Do you obey without HESITATION?

 

Stephen – A Respected Leader Who Stood Strong

Actions of The People, Part 2

Stephen – A Respected Leader Who Stood Strong

2021-07-11

Charles Billingsley

Acts 6:1-5a (CSB) In those days, as the disciples were increasing in number, there arose a complaint by the Hellenistic Jews against the Hebraic Jews that their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution. The Twelve summoned the whole company of the disciples and said, “It would not be right for us to give up preaching the word of God to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we can appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” This proposal pleased the whole company. So they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit…

1. Stephen had a GOOD REPUTATION

Acts 6:3b … select from among you seven men of good reputation…

  • He was also full of the SPIRIT AND WISDOM
  • The people were pleased to choose him to serve
  • Would you BE CHOSEN FOR THIS GROUP

2. Stephen brought DIVERSITY TO THE CHURCH

Acts 6:3b …from among you…

  • To this point, the church was of “one accord” meaning Jews who believed
  • In chapter 6, we are introduced to the “Hellenists” who were Greek speaking Jews and were DIFFERENT THAN THE OTHERS
  • Stephen was one of the Hellenists who expanded the reach of the church to represent the WILL OF GOD

3. The work of God expands WHEN MANY CONTRIBUTE

  • Acts 6:7 So the word of God spread, the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly in number, and a large group of priests became obedient to the faith.
  • Stephen and the others contributed to the spread of the Gospel
  • When we are willing to be used, GOD WILL DO A GREAT WORK
  • The greatness of the work is dependent on our OBEDIENCE

4. Stephen stood strong regardless of the OPPOSITION

Acts 6:8 Now Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people

  • Stephen was respected because of his willingness to stand for truth
  • God never called us to be popular, He called us to be faithful – Rev. Jerry Falwell
  • Acts 6:11-12 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We heard him speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 They stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; so they came, seized him, and took him to the Sanhedrin
  • Stephen’s sensitivity to the SPIRIT made all the difference in his impact

5. Stephen knew how to deal with CONFLICT

Acts 6:15 And all who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him and saw that his face was like the face of an angel

  • The natural human reaction to lies being told about us is TO SEEK REVENGE
  • We desire revenge in the face of these attacks, but Stephen’s Spirit-led response is a great example
  • His sermon in Acts 7 shows his willingness TO STAND ON TRUTH IN THE FACE OF LIES

6. Even when they continued to attack, HE FORGAVE

Acts 7:59-60 While they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60 He knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” And after saying this, he fell asleep

  • He left an example, as Jesus did, to forgive those who harmed him
  • This is only possible through a life lived “full of grace and power”
  • Does this example REFLECT YOUR LIFE?

What about YOU?

1, Do you have a GOOD REPUTATION?

2. Are you living IN THE SPIRIT?

3. Do you face opposition with GRACE?

Acts of the Apostles: Barnabas – A Man Who Stood With Others

Actions of The People, Part 1

Barnabas – A Man Who Stood With Others

Acts 4:32-37 (CSB) Now the entire group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but instead they held everything in common. 33 With great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was on all of them. 34 For there was not a needy person among them because all those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the proceeds of what was sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet. This was then distributed to each person as any had need. 36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus by birth, the one the apostles called Barnabas (which is translated Son of Encouragement), 37 sold a field he owned, brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

1. What do people say about you?

  • Barnabas was known as an ENCOURAGER
    • Acts 4:36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus by birth, the one the apostles called Barnabas (which is translated Son of Encouragement)
  • He was part of a group of church leaders who understood the importance of encouraging others

2. What do your actions say about you?

  • Barnabas was known as a GIVER
    • Acts 4:37 sold a field he owned, brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet
  • Even though Barnabas was a Levite, he still owned land, maybe in his homeland of Cyprus
  • He was willing to DO WHAT WAS NEEDED

to help grow the church and impact his world

  • He taught us to USE WHAT WE HAVE

3. Barnabas was willing TO BRING OTHERS ALONG

Acts 9:26-27 When he arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, since they did not believe he was a disciple. 27 Barnabas, however, took him and brought him to the apostles and explained to them how Saul had seen the Lord on the road and that the Lord had talked to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus

  • He believed in the potential of those around him
  • He was willing to BELIEVE THE BEST ABOUT OTHERS
  • Where are you BRINGING OTHERS ALONG?

4. Because of his obedience, GOD CALLED HIM TO ACT

Acts 13:1-3 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off

  • Barnabas was sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading in his life and was willing to respond
  • He WAS WILLING TO GO
  • What could you accomplish if you were simply READY TO BE USED
  • God will never call those who are ignoring the Holy Spirit in their own lives
  1. Barnabas always WANTED TO GIVE A SECOND CHANCE
    • Acts 15:36-41 After some time had passed, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit the brothers and sisters in every town where we have preached the word of the Lord and see how they’re doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take along John who was called Mark. 38 But Paul insisted that they should not take along this man who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone on with them to the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed off to Cyprus. 40 But Paul chose Silas and departed, after being commended by the brothers and sisters to the grace of the Lord. 41 He traveled through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
  • John Mark had left the team during the first missionary journey
  • Barnabas wanted to give him a second chance
  • His heart and actions here underscore the description found in Acts 4 – he was an encourager

What about YOU?

  1. Are you an ENCOURAGER TODAY?
  2. Are you a GENEROUS PERSON?
  3. Do you believe THE BEST IN OTHERS?
  4. Are you willing TO GO WHEN CALLED?
  5. Are you willing TO GIVE OTHERS ANOTHER CHANCE?

John:  The Purpose of Jesus

2021-06-27

Pastor Jonathan  Falwell

Today, we arrive at the final Gospel. Although there are four books we call the Gospels, this last one is different than the other three. The book of John stands alone in its style and message where the other three (called the synoptic Gospels) stand together. The synoptic Gospels talk much about what Jesus said and did…John talks about who Jesus is.

Over the last three weeks, we’ve examined the ministry of Jesus through His actions and His teachings but today we talk about His purpose.

John 12:20-36 (CSB) Now some Greeks were among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 So they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and requested of him, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus replied to them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces much fruit. 25 The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me. Where I am, there my servant also will be. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. 27 “Now my soul is troubled. What should I say—Father, save me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.”, Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus responded, “This voice came, not for me, but for you. 31 Now is the judgment of this world. Now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 As for me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate what kind of death he was about to die. 34 Then the crowd replied to him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah will remain forever. So how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 Jesus answered, “The light will be with you only a little longer. Walk while you have the light so that darkness doesn’t overtake you. The one who walks in darkness doesn’t know where he’s going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light so that you may become children of light.” Jesus said this, then went away and hid from them.

1. Jesus explains the importance of His death

Vss 23-26 Jesus replied to them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces much fruit. 25 The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me. Where I am, there my servant also will be. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

  • Jesus explains the “WHY” of his coming to earth – to die so we might live
  • Verse 25 uses the word “life” in two different ways

2. Jesus explains the purpose of His life

Vs 27 Now my soul is troubled. What should I say—Father, save me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour.

  • Jesus makes it clear the only reason He was here was to die
  • His prayer in a time of need is once again instructive to us

3. Jesus explains the victory within His actions

Vss 28-33 Father, glorify your name.”, Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus responded, “This voice came, not for me, but for you. 31 Now is the judgment of this world. Now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 As for me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate what kind of death he was about to die.

  • God spoke from Heaven for the third time during Jesus’ time on earth (i.e. His baptism, the transfiguration)
  • He spoke of how God had been glorified through what Jesus had already done and how He would be glorified through what Jesus was about to do
  • Verse 32 doesn’t refer to a “universal” salvation. He is reinforcing His statement in John 3:14-15

John 3:14-15 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life

4. Jesus explains the response necessary

Vss 34-36 Then the crowd replied to him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah will remain forever. So how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 Jesus answered, “The light will be with you only a little longer. Walk while you have the light so that darkness doesn’t overtake you. The one who walks in darkness doesn’t know where he’s going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light so that you may become children of light.” Jesus said this, then went away and hid from them.

  • The message of Jesus’ entire time on earth is found in verse 36 – BELIEVE!

 

The Lost and Found

2021-06-20

Charles Billingsley

 

Luke 15 All the tax collectors  and sinners were approaching to listen to him. And the Pharisees and scribes were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

1. God pursues us with with reckless mercy.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

So he told them this parable: “What man among you, who has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it?When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who don’t need repentance.

 

2. God seeks us with patient love

The Parable of the Lost Coin

“Or what woman who has ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found the silver coin I lost!’ 10 I tell you, in the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents.”

 

3. God waits for us with infinite grace

The Parable of the Lost Son

11 He also said, “A man had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate I have coming to me.’ So he distributed the assets to them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered together all he had and traveled to a distant country, where he squandered his estate in foolish living.14 After he had spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he had nothing. 15 Then he went to work for one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to eat his fill from the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one would give him anything. 17 When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I’ll get up, go to my father, and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. 19 I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired workers.”’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.  But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. 21 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father told his servants, ‘Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.23 Then bring the fattened calf and slaughter it, and let’s celebrate with a feast, 24 because this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ So they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field; as he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he summoned one of the servants, questioning what these things meant. 27 ‘Your brother is here,’ he told him, ‘and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “Then he became angry and didn’t want to go in. So his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 But he replied to his father, ‘Look, I have been slaving many years for you, and I have never disobeyed your orders, yet you never gave me a goat so that I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your assets with prostitutes, you slaughtered the fattened calf for him.’

31 “‘Son,’ he said to him, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Romans 3:10

There is no one righteous, not even one.11 There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away; all alike have become worthless.  There is no one who does what is good, not even one.

Isaiah 53:6 We all went astray like sheep;

we all have turned to our own way;

and the Lord has punished him

for the iniquity of us all.

Malachi  3:7 – …”now return to me, and I will return to you.”

Mark – How Quickly We Forget!

2021-06-13

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

 

Last week, we were in the book of Matthew where we discussed the birth of the Messiah, the prophetic work of John the Baptist and the beginning of Jesus’ ministry where He called those to follow Him. Today, we are going to spend time in the book of Mark where we see the miraculous works of Christ as He spent time in His ministry reaching those around Him.

Specifically, we’re going to take a look at two events which took place during the ministry of Christ. One event is very well known, the other is not quite as celebrated. However, I believe the lesser known is the one in which we can learn the most.

 

Mark 8:1-8 In those days there was again a large crowd, and they had nothing to eat. He called the disciples and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they’ve already stayed with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, and some of them have come a long distance.” His disciples answered him, “Where can anyone get enough bread here in this desolate place to feed these people?” “How many loaves do you have?” he asked them. “Seven,” they said. He commanded the crowd to sit down on the ground. Taking the seven loaves, he gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people. So they served them to the crowd. They also had a few small fish, and after he had blessed them, he said these were to be served as well. They ate and were satisfied. Then they collected seven large baskets of leftover pieces.

1. He Is Always Sensitive to Our Needs

Vss 1-2 In those days there was again a large crowd, and they had nothing to eat. He called the disciples and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they’ve already stayed with me three days and have nothing to eat

  • Jesus had a desire to meet their most basic needs
  • This is an important message we cannot allow to be lost in the noise of the day

Mark 6:34 When he went ashore, he saw a large crowd and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd

 

2. We Are All Too Quick to Forget

Vs 4 His disciples answered him, “Where can anyone get enough bread here in this desolate place to feed these people?”

  • Even His closest followers had already forgotten “nothing is too hard for Him”
  • How does this parallel in your own life’s journey?

Mark 6:37 You give them something to eat,” he responded. They said to him, “Should we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?

 

3. He Is Always Quick to Remind Us of His Faithfulness

Vs 5 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked them. “Seven,” they said.

  • Jesus asked the same question He had spoken earlier which must have been a sad reminder to the disciples

Mark 6:38 He asked them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” When they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.”

 

4. He Will Never Let Us Down

Vs 6-8 He commanded the crowd to sit down on the ground. Taking the seven loaves, he gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people. So they served them to the crowd. They also had a few small fish, and after he had blessed them, he said these were to be served as well. They ate and were satisfied. Then they collected seven large baskets of leftover pieces.

  • Even in our lack of faith, He will never abandon us
  • And when God provides, it is always more than we could ever ask

Mark 6:42-44 Everyone ate and was satisfied. 43 They picked up twelve baskets full of pieces of bread and fish. 44 Now those who had eaten the loaves were five thousand men.

Matthew – The Journey Continues

2021-06-06

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Today, we move from the Old Testament to the New. And while this might seem like a major shift from what was, to what now is; it is exactly as predicted in the Old Testament.

 

What happened during the 400 silent years? God fulfilling His prophecy and setting the stage for the messenger and the Messiah.

 

Greece came to power as predicted in Daniel 2:39 and Daniel 7. Later defeated by the Romans in 146 BC and then again when Rome conquered Egypt in 31bc. All predicted in the Old Testament. Daniel 2 predicts in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream – Babylonians, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome. All happened just as predicted.

 

Malachi 3:1; Malachi 4:4-6 – God uses the prophet Malachi to predict the coming of the next prophet who would prepare the way for the Messiah.

 

Matthew 1-2 – Jesus arrives just as promised, in the way promised.

Matthew 3:1-3 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!” For he is the one spoken of through the prophet Isaiah, who said: A voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight!

Matthew 3-4 – Jesus baptized, Jesus tempted, Jesus begins His ministry.

Matthew 5-7 – Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 8 – Jesus heals, preaches, calms the storm.

Matthew 9:9-13 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, “Follow me,” and he got up and followed him. 10 While he was reclining at the table in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came to eat with Jesus and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 Now when he heard this, he said, “It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice., For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

1. God wants to use all of us

vs 9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, “Follow me,” and he got up and followed him

  • No one is too far from Him to be used by Him

2. God cares about all of us

Vs 10 While he was reclining at the table in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came to eat with Jesus and his disciples

  • Jesus met with the group called “sinners” because He truly loved them
  • How does this line up with your own outreach efforts?

3. God wants to reach more of us

Vs 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

  • The answer is clear: Jesus came to seek and save that which is lost (Luke 19:10)
  • While none of us are too far from Him to be used by Him; it is also true that none of us are too far from Him to be SAVED by Him (Romans 10:13)

4.  God expects more from us

Vs 12-13 Now when he heard this, he said, “It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice., For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

  • Jesus rebuked the “religious leaders” with the idea that it is far more important to point people to Christ than it is to tell people why they don’t deserve to be near Christ

 

 

 

 

God Loves You!  He always has.  He always will.

2021-05-30

Charles Billingsley

Hebrews 1:1

Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets.

 

Haggai – God of Renewal

Haggai 1:3-5
Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet,“Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways.

Haggai 1:13
13 Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave the people this message from the Lord: “I am with you, says the Lord!”

Haggai 2:4-7
Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.

Zechariah – God of Restoration

Zechariah 1:3
Therefore tell the people:  This is what the Lord Almighty says:  ‘return to me, declares the Lord almighty, ’and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty.

Zechariah 2:6-9
Up! Up! Flee from the land of the north, declares the Lord. For I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heavens, declares the Lord.Up! Escape to Zion, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon. For thus said the Lord of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye:“Behold, I will shake my hand over them, and they shall become plunder for those who served them. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me.

Zechariah 4:6-7
Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’”

MalachiThe Lord’s Love for Israel

 

Malachi 1:1-2

1 This is the message that the Lord gave to Israel through the prophet Malachi.
“I have always loved you,” says the Lord.

 

God has always loved you – That’s not the questions.  The question is: Do we love Him back?

 

2 great commandments: Come from Deut. 6

 

Matthew 22:36-40

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  37 And He said to him, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets. “

 

The Old Testament is one big story of God’s love for His chosen people of Israel.

 

4000 BC – Creation – Adam and Eve  

2350 BC – Noah  

2165 BC  – Established Covenant with Abraham  

2080 BC – Ishmael 

2065 BC – Isaac 

2006 BC – Jacob and Esau  

1898 BC  – 12 sons of Jacob – Joseph  – sold into slavery 

1876 BC – Jacob arrives in Egypt

1870-1450 BC – Egypt  – Egyptian captivity 

1450 BC  – Moses  – Exodus from Egypt 

1450-1410 BC – Wilderness  

1410-1390 BC  – Joshua – Promised Land  

1245-1045 BC  – Judges period 

1055- 930  – Kings Period – Saul,  David and Solomon 

 930 BC – Kingdom is divided  

 870 BC – Prophets start coming on the scene 

 725 BC  – Assyrians conquer the northern Kingdom of Israel 

 605 BC – children of Israel begin to be exiled to Babylon.  

 590 BC Babylonians finish the conquer of the Southern Kingdom of  Judah 

 590-520 BC – Babylonian Captivity 

 536 BC – 1st Remnant allowed to return with Zerubabbel

 460 BC – More return with Ezra 

 470 BC – Esther saves the Jewish people in Persia 

 460 – 430 BC –  More Jewish people return with Nehemiah  – Governor 

435 – 425 BC – Malachi Preaches 

 

How Have I loved you???   Let me Count the ways!!!

 

How should we respond to God’s love?   With worship!!   Our worship to God is a response to the Love of God for us.  In fact, you could define worship as that very thing:  Simply loving God with our whole heart soul mind and strength.

 

Therefore:

1. God’s love expects our Finest

Malachi 1:6

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says to the priests:  “A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master.  If I am your father and master, where are the honor and respect I deserve? You have shown contempt for my name!”

Worship demands our sacrifice

Do you offer God your best?  He takes these things seriously!

 

Malachi 2:5

“The purpose of my covenant with the Levites was to bring life and peace, and that is what I gave them.

 

Do we give God our leftovers?

 

God is worthy of our best!!!!

 

Worship requires Reverence

 

Let the love of God BREAK OUR Hearts of our sin.  

2. God’s love demands our faithfulness 

The disobedience of the priests led to disobedience of the people.

 

Malachi 2:13-14

13 Here is another thing you do.  You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because he pays no attention to your offerings and doesn’t accept them with pleasure.  14 You cry out, “why doesn’t the Lord accept my worship?”  I’ll tell you why!  Because the Lord witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young.  But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows.

 

Let the love of God cause us to Guard OUR HEARTS!

Worship demands our faithfulness

3. God’s love is worthy of our Firsts

Malachi 3:6-10

“I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

“But you ask, ‘How can we return when we have never gone away?’

“Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me!

“But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’

“You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me.10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!

 

Let the Love of God Open our hearts to His provision and blessing

 

4. God’s love secures our Future 

 

Malachi 3:1

“Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

Malachi 3:2 “But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes.

John 3:16 – “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

 

Jesus died once and for all! No longer did the sheep have to die for the shepherd…
for the good shepherd had come to die for His sheep.

 

Jesus is love personified – all the love of God for His people wrapped up in the flesh….and they Knew Him not….

 

But the beauty of the good news is that not only did God complete and seal His covenant with the sacrifice of His son for His people…but by doing this, He opened up the opportunity for ALL people…even you and me to experience His everlasting love and salvation!!!

 

He gave us His best – His one and only son – Jesus… the spotless lamb of God

 

Let the love of God Heal our hearts with the forgiveness of our sin. 

 

Malachi 4:2a

But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free

 

Romans 5:8

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

 

Hebrews 1:1-4

1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets.And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names.

And He is the embodiment…the greatest expression of love the human heart can fathom.

 

Is He worthy of our finest?  Yes He is.

Is He worthy of our faithfulness?  Yes He is.

Is He worthy of our firsts?   Oh yes…and so much more.

And Because His love has paid for our forgiveness…He holds our future in His hands.

The message of  Malachi, The message of the Old Testament, the message of the New Testament, and the message of the cross of Christ is so profound and so rich that there’s not enough sermons we could preach or books that could ever be written to adequately describe it!  And yet, it is so simple you can put it into three words…

 

YOU ARE LOVED.  YOU ARE LOVED.  YOU ARE LOVED!!

 

How deep the Father’s love for us,

How vast beyond all measure,

That He should give His only Son

To make a wretch His treasure.

How great the pain of searing loss –

The Father turns His face away,

As wounds which mar the Chosen One

Bring many sons to glory. 

Behold the man upon a cross,

My sin upon His shoulders;

Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice

Call out among the scoffers.

It was my sin that held Him there

Until it was accomplished;

His dying breath has brought me life –

I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything,

No gifts, no power, no wisdom;

But I will boast in Jesus Christ,

His death and resurrection.

Why should I gain from His reward?

I cannot give an answer;

But this I know with all my heart –

His wounds have paid my ransom.

 

Major on the Minors: God Calls Us To Be Holy and Punishes Our Sin

2021-05-21

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Today, we will begin a two-week series focusing on the 12 books called the Minor Prophets that bring the Old Testament to conclusion. Today we will focus on the first nine, next week the last three. And, being that this is a two week, two part series, I’ll go ahead and give you the theme of both weeks:

 

  1. God Calls Us To Be Holy and Punishes Our Sin (This week)
  2. God Promises To Restore and Renew (Next week)

 

Obviously, we won’t be diving into each book specifically over the next two weeks but the general theme of all of the minor prophets is basically broken down into two major ideas as I just shared. So, we will work from these themes and find encouragement for our journey.

 

God Calls Us To Be Holy and Punishes Our Sin

 

Today, I’ve pulled a passage from one of the books that seems to convey the message of all of the first 9 of the minor prophets.

Amos 5:1-6 (CSB) Listen to this message that I am singing for you, a lament, house of Israel: She has fallen; Virgin Israel will never rise again. She lies abandoned on her land with no one to raise her up. For the Lord God says: The city that marches out a thousand strong will have only a hundred left, and the one that marches out a hundred strong will have only ten left in the house of Israel. For the Lord says to the house of Israel: Seek me and live! Do not seek Bethel or go to Gilgal or journey to Beer-sheba, for Gilgal will certainly go into exile, and Bethel will come to nothing. Seek the Lord and live, or he will spread like fire throughout the house of Joseph; it will consume everything with no one at Bethel to extinguish it.

1. He calls us to listen

Vs 1a Listen to this message that I am singing for you

  • Amid the noise of the day, listen!

2. There is always devastating consequences to our sin

Vs 2 She has fallen; Virgin Israel will never rise again. She lies abandoned on her land with no one to raise her up.

  • We cannot live as we desire without paying the price
  • A life lived for self and sin will result in a life filled with pain and fear

3. But, He never leaves us without hope

Vs 4  For the Lord says to the house of Israel: Seek me and live!

  • There is always a way out of our sinful self – “Seek Him and live”
  • Taking our eyes off the world and focusing on Him leads to life
  • Taking our eyes off Him and focusing on the world leads to death

4. But, we must obey

Vs 6 Seek the Lord and live, or he will spread like fire throughout the house of Joseph; it will consume everything with no one at Bethel to extinguish it.

Key Verses –

Hosea 5:15 I will depart and return to my place until they recognize their guilt and seek my face; they will search for me in their distress

 

Joel 2:12-13 Even now—this is the Lord’s declaration—turn to me with all your heart,  with fasting, weeping, and mourning. 13 Tear your hearts, not just your clothes, and return to the Lord your God. For he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and he relents from sending disaster

 

Obadiah 1:3-4 Your arrogant heart has deceived you, you who live in clefts of the rock,

in your home on the heights, who say to yourself, “Who can bring me down to the ground?” Though you seem to soar like an eagle and make your nest among the stars,

even from there I will bring you down. This is the Lord’s declaration

 

Jonah 3:10 God saw their actions—that they had turned from their evil ways—so God relented from the disaster he had threatened them with. And he did not do it

 

Micah 6:8 Mankind, he has told each of you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God

 

Nahum 3:4-5 Because of the continual prostitution of the prostitute, the attractive mistress of sorcery, who treats nations and clans like merchandise by her prostitution and sorcery, I am against you. This is the declaration of the Lord of Armies. I will lift your skirts over your face and display your nakedness to nations, your shame to kingdoms

 

Habakkuk 1:12-13 Are you not from eternity, Lord my God? My Holy One, you will not die. Lord, you appointed them to execute judgment; my Rock, you destined them to punish us. 13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, and you cannot tolerate wrongdoing

 

Zephaniah 3:15 The Lord has removed your punishment; he has turned back your enemy. The King of Israel, the Lord, is among you; you need no longer fear harm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daniel’s Cry for Mercy

2021-05-16

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

 

Daniel 9:1-10 (CSB) “In the first year of Darius, the son of Ahasuerus, a Mede by birth, who was made king over the Chaldean kingdom — in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the books according to the word of the Lord to the prophet Jeremiah that the number of years for the desolation of Jerusalem would be seventy. So I turned my attention to the Lord God to seek him by prayer and petitions, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: Ah, Lord — the great and awe-inspiring God who keeps his gracious covenant with those who love him and keep his commands — we have sinned, done wrong, acted wickedly, rebelled, and turned away from your commands and ordinances. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, leaders, ancestors, and all the people of the land. Lord, righteousness belongs to you, but this day public shame belongs to us: the men of Judah, the residents of Jerusalem, and all Israel — those who are near and those who are far, in all the countries where you have banished them because of the disloyalty they have shown toward you. Lord, public shame belongs to us, our kings, our leaders, and our ancestors, because we have sinned against you. Compassion and forgiveness belong to the Lord our God, though we have rebelled against him and have not obeyed the Lord our God by following his instructions that he set before us through his servants the prophets.”

 

1. Know where deliverance comes from

Verse 3a So I turned my attention to the Lord God to seek him by prayer and petitions

  • It is no surprise that we often look to every other source for deliverance other than the one has already promised it
  • It is God we must turn to in times of our greatest need
  • Daniel had seen great and miraculous victories in his lifetime thus far, he knew exactly where to go

 

2. Make things right with him

Verse 4-5 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: Ah, Lord — the great and awe-inspiring God who keeps his gracious covenant with those who love him and keep his commands — we have sinned, done wrong, acted wickedly, rebelled, and turned away from your commands and ordinances.

  • It is interesting to note that Daniel who had clearly “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8) would actually seek to stand for those whom had defiled themselves
  • He placed himself in the same category with a people far from God.

 

3. Just listen

Verses 6-7a We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, leaders, ancestors, and all the people of the land. Lord, righteousness belongs to you, but this day public shame belongs to us

  • Quiet reflection on God’s already revealed Word will give us a clearer picture of who God is and who we are not
  • Our righteousness if but of “filthy rags” compared to Him (Isaiah 64:6)

4.  Righteousness belongs to Him

Verses 18-19a “Listen closely, my God, and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations and the city that bears your name. For we are not presenting our petitions before you based on our righteous acts, but based on your abundant compassion. Lord, hear! Lord, forgive! Lord, listen and act! My God, for your own sake, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your name.”

  • Submitting completely to Him is the first great step towards wholeness
  • Daniel lays out a perfect strategy for seeking God’s strength and deliverance
    • “Lord, hear!” – crying out to God
      • Jeremiah 33:3 Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and incomprehensible things you do not know
    • “Lord, forgive!” – confession and repentance
      • Psalm 32:5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not conceal my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin
    • “Lord, listen” – making our heart’s desire known to Him, petitioning Him for our needs
      • Philippians 4:6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God
    • “Act” – recognizing our deliverance is in His hand

 

Lamentations: The Right Cry For Help

2021-05-09

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations as a poem of grief over the destruction of the city of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed the city, the temple and the homeland Jeremiah loved. Jeremiah, known as the weeping prophet, wrote this “lament” in distress over what had happened to his great city, but also as a reminder of the faithfulness of God.

Lamentations 1:2 (CSB) She weeps bitterly during the night, with tears on her cheeks. There is no one to offer her comfort, not one from all her lovers. All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies

There are moments in life when everything seems to be out of control. These are times when we feel the turmoil is too much, the pain too great, the hurt overwhelming. There is no help to be found.

Lamentations 3:52-54 (CSB) For no reason, my enemies hunted me like a bird. 53 They smothered my life in a pit and threw stones on me. 54 Water flooded over my head, and I thought, “I’m going to die!”

But in those moments, it is important to remember who our God really is and what He has promised. It is, at those times, comforting to know we can cry out to Him and He always answers.

The Right Cry for Help

Lamentations 3:55-66 (CSB) I called on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit. 56 You heard my plea: Do not ignore my cry for relief. 57 You came near whenever I called you; you said, “Do not be afraid.” 58 You championed my cause, Lord; you redeemed my life. 59 Lord, you saw the wrong done to me; judge my case. 60 You saw all their vengefulness, all their plots against me. 61 Lord, you heard their insults, all their plots against me. 62 The slander and murmuring of my opponents attack me all day long. 63 When they sit and when they rise, look, I am mocked by their songs. 64 You will pay them back what they deserve, Lord, according to the work of their hands. 65 You will give them a heart filled with anguish. May your curse be on them! 66 You will pursue them in anger and destroy them under your heavens.

1. Our first turn should be to Him

Vs 55 I called on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit.

  • The key in this middle passage of the book of Jeremiah is that the Lord is our only source of hope and deliverance
  • No matter how desperate things might seem, God is always with us

 

2. His promise is absolute

Vss 56-57 You heard my plea: Do not ignore my cry for relief. 57 You came near whenever I called you; you said, “Do not be afraid.”

  • This is one of the greatest reminders of help found in the Scriptures

This passage echoes the promise found in Psalm 23 – “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…”

Vs 56 (NKJV) You have heard my voice: “Do not hide Your ear From my sighing, from my cry for help.”

  • Two types of prayer – “sighing” and “cry”
  • the sigh of a prayer silently breathed forth, and the loud, earnest cry (compare “prayer,” “secret speech,” Is 26:16, Margin; with “cry aloud,” Ps 55:17).[1]

[1] Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, vol. 1 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 564.

Psalm 55:17 Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, And He shall hear my voice

1 Peter 5:7    casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you

 

3. He will do the heavy lifting

Vss 58-61 You championed my cause, Lord; you redeemed my life. 59 Lord, you saw the wrong done to me; judge my case. 60 You saw all their vengefulness, all their plots against me. 61 Lord, you heard their insults, all their plots against me.

  • It is not our job to get back at those who have hurt us, our job is to trust

Romans 12:19 (NKJV) Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay,, says the Lord

4. Nothing is too hard for Him

Lamentations 3:22-25 (CSB) Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for his mercies never end. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! 24 I say, “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in him.” 25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the person who seeks him.

  • Each day, God promises to give us what we need in a new and refreshing way
  • There is never anything you will ever face for which God doesn’t promise to give you the strength you need to make it through

Jeremiah 29:13 (CSB) You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart

Wise Words: The Right Kind of Pride

2021-05-02

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Last week, we talked about the dangers of pride as discussed in Proverbs 16:18 and Isaiah 14. There is no question pride is one of the great weapons used by Satan to destroy us. But there is one kind of pride that actually is not a bad thing. Today, we’ll let the prophet Jeremiah give us a clear picture of the right kind of pride.

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (CSB) This is what the Lord says: The wise person should not boast in his wisdom; the strong should not boast in his strength; the wealthy should not boast in his wealth. 24 But the one who boasts should boast in this: that he understands and knows me—that I am the Lord, showing faithful love, justice, and righteousness on the earth, for I delight in these things.

This is the Lord’s declaration.

 

Pride in…

 

1. Knowing God

Vs 24a But the one who boasts should boast in this: that he understands and knows me…

  • Our greatest source of pride should not be in what we have, what we do or who we are; it should be in who He is in our lives

 

2 Peter 3:18 (CSB): But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity

 

Proverbs 8:17 (CSB): I love those who love me,

and those who search for me find me

 

2. Seeking God

Vs 24b that I am the Lord…

  • The only way to know God is to seek God and to recognize Him for who He is…not a great teacher, prophet or example but rather the one true God of the universe

 

Jeremiah 29:13 (CSB) You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart

 

3. Seeking Truth

Vs 24c … showing faithful love, justice, and righteousness on the earth…

  • Through seeking Him we will not only find Him, we will find what is true. In a world where truth is relative and changes daily, we must look at Him for what He is…the same yesterday, today and forever

 

John 8:31–32 (CSB): Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you continue in my word,, you really are my disciples. 32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 

4. Glorifying Him

Vs 24d for I delight in these things. This is the Lord’s declaration.

  • We exist to bring Him honor and glory. It is never to be about our own glory, it is all about Him

 

Colossians 3:23 (CSB): Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people

 

1 Corinthians 10:31 (CSB): So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.

 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. 10 So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong

 

Jeremiah 23:5-6 (CSB) Look, the days are coming”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“when I will raise up a Righteous Branch for David. He will reign wisely as king and administer justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. This is the name he will be called: The Lord Is Our Righteousness.

 

 

 

 

Wise Words: The Danger of Pride

2021-04-25

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Proverbs 16:18 (CSB) Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.

Definition of pride: It is an over-concern with ourselves, a disposition to exalt self, to get above others, to hide our defects, and to pass for more than we are.”[1]

[1] https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/what-does-the-bible-say-about-pride.html

Isaiah 14:12-15 (CSB) Shining morning star, how you have fallen from the heavens! You destroyer of nations, you have been cut down to the ground. 13 You said to yourself: “I will ascend to the heavens; I will set up my throne above the stars of God. I will sit on the mount of the gods’ assembly, in the remotest parts of the North. 14 I will ascend above the highest clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” 15 But you will be brought down to Sheol into the deepest regions of the Pit.

1. In our success, pride seeks to stop us

Vs 12a Shining morning star, how you have fallen from the heavens! You destroyer of nations,

  • This king had been successful in his endeavors yet the consequence is his fall
  • The reason for Satan’s fall described in Ezekiel 28:17 is found in his success which led to pride

2. Pride makes us believe what is not true

Vs 13-14a You said to yourself: “I will ascend to the heavens; I will set up my throne above the stars of God. I will sit on the mount of the gods’ assembly, in the remotest parts of the North. 14 I will ascend above the highest clouds;

  • Our elevated sense of self leads us to believe our successes flow from our goodness or abilities
  • James 1:17 – “Every good and perfect gift is from above…

3. Pride causes us to replace God with self

Vs 14b I will make myself like the Most High.

  • This is where pride leads to destruction
  • A sense of self importance that craves more and more of self
  • Any time you replace God with self you will always find destruction

4. Our pride never takes us where we believe we’re going

Vs 15 But you will be brought down to Sheol into the deepest regions of the Pit.

  • The very definition of destruction…the fall

Jesus described it in Luke 10:18 “He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like lightning”

5. The right attitude to defeat pride

Isaiah 12:1-4 (CSB) On that day you will say: “I will praise You, Lord, although You were angry with me. Your anger has turned away, and You have had compassion on me. Indeed, God is my salvation; I will trust Him and not be afraid, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation.” You will joyfully draw water from the springs of salvation, and on that day you will say: “Give thanks to Yahweh; proclaim His name! Celebrate His works among the peoples. Declare that His name is exalted.

 

Isaiah 25:1 CSB) Yahweh, You are my God; I will exalt You. I will praise Your name, for You have accomplished wonders,

 

Isaiah 25:9 (CSB) On that day it will be said, “Look, this is our God; we have waited forHim, and He has saved us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him. Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.”

 

 

 

Wise Words: Under the Sun

2021-04-18

Charles Billingsley

 When people reach the top and don’t find fulfillment, it causes a great amount of distress, discouragement, and despair.

 

This has happened in the lives of so many millions.  The illustrations are available by the thousands.  Take just a few celebrity stories that all ended in premature deaths of suicide or drug overdose.  Consider the desperate lives of:

 

Michael Jackson

Whitney Houston

Robin Williams

 

the list goes on and on….almost all of them at the height of their careers…and yet there’s still an emptiness…a longing inside.

 

And the list of lottery winners…same way.

 

As we dive in the first thing I notice in reading this book is how many songs have been written from Ecclesiastes.  It’s because this book asks the questions:

 

Why am I here?

What is the meaning of life?

Why do certain things happen in our lives?

 

There is one word and one phrase that you need to understand in Ecclesiastes in order to fully grasp this book. But if you learn this one word and one phrase, this book will mean so much more to you.

 

Hebrew Word:  Hevel  – used 38 times in this book.

  (ESV)

1:1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,

vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

 

Hevel means – “Vanity” or “Meaningless” or “Futile” which is what you probably see in your Bible translation.   But the most accurate meaning is ‘smoke or vapor, or breath’

 

We first see this word in Genesis 4:2.

Genesis 4:2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel (Hevel) was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground.

It means  – passing, short-lived.  Like a breath.  A vapor.  smoke.

 

And the repetition of the word here in this passage is the Hebrew expression of driving home the point with emphasis.  That’s why I love The Message translation of this:

 

(MSG)

  1. 2 Smoke, nothing but smoke. [That’s what the Quester says.]

There’s nothing to anything—it’s all smoke.

 

It is important to understand that the word hevel does not suggest the absence of meaning. Solomon is not saying that everything in our lives is meaningless.  Rather, he is saying that there is a distortion or a mysterious obstruction of meaning to our lives under the sun. Life, therefore, is an enigma…a bewilderment that we won’t always understand.  And it’s like a vapor in that it is here today and gone tomorrow.

 

James 4:14 – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

 

Our human nature compels us to discover a meaning for our lives.  We are born with this emptiness in our hearts.  Yet the instant we think we have grasped it, it disintegrates like smoke in our hands.  It is because of this that so many find themselves void of any hope.

 

1:1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,

vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

What does man gain by all the toil

at which he toils under the sun?

 

Phrase:  Under the sun  – Hebraism – A Hebrew figure of speech.  But before we dive into the meaning of this phrase, let’s look at where it came from.

 

Genesis 2:5

When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground

then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

In the first days, mankind was living hundreds of years because of the absence of disease AND because there were no harmful rays of the sun.  The earth was in a constant greenhouse effect – and a mist was watering the whole face of the ground.  It didn’t rain for 1656 years!

 

Then, because of man’s sin, God determines to destroy the earth with a flood.  And he does this by opening the heavens to rain.

 

Then the flood – Gen. 7:11 “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.”

– God opened up the heavens and God determined at that time that mankind would live 120 years or less.

 

The phrase under the sun refers all the way back to when mankind began to work under the harmful rays of the sun – from the re-beginning of mankind at the time of Noah and the end of the flood.  Mankind became much more vulnerable and frail after the flood.

 

When Solomon writes this phrase “ under the sun”  he is referring to everything that happens in this life as mortal, finite beings. It is life from a totally humanistic viewpoint…void of God or an eternal perspective.   – used 28 times in this book

 

Solomon goes on three searches to understand the point of man’s existence on this earth.

 

  1. The intellectual search –  The cultivation of the mind. (1:12-18)

He tries education…and finds it doesn’t give his life the meaning he craves.

“I’ll find purpose through greater understanding.”

12 I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.

 

18 For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases in sorrow.

 

Education is good…but one thing I’ve learned is that the more i know and understand…the less I realize I really know and understand.  And even from the wisest man who ever lived…Solomon…he comes to the conclusion that even though education is a good thing…it is not the end all. You can be the smartest man alive and still be empty.   Something was still missing…..

 

  1. The hedonistic search – The pleasure of the body. (2:1-3)

 

“I’ll find meaning by doing what feels good.”

 

He’s going to Party!!!! Whatever he can do that brings pleasure…

I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life.

And when all the partying is over, when he sobered up, or when he came down from the high, or after another night with one of his many women…he found there was still something missing….

  1. The personal works search – an exploration of the soul.

I’ll find meaning in what I accomplish.”

If education won’t do it, and pleasure won’t do it, then I’m going to put all my energy into my work.

 

Ecclesiastes 2:4-11

 

I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man.

11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

So he tries everything…to learn all he can, the experience all he can, and to accomplish all he can…and he still comes up empty.

 

Solomon then reaches three conclusions at the end of these searches.

Conclusion #1 – We all die

 

 You’ll find it in Eccl. 2:12-17

 

  1. The same fate in this life awaits everyone, wise and fool alike.  We’re all going to die.  And shortly after, life moves on.  We are mortal beings.  We don’t know what each day will bring forth.  But one thing is for sure…100% of all people who live….will end up dying.

Hebrews 9:27 – It is appointed unto man once to die….and then the judgement.

 

16 For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! 17 So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.

 

Conclusion #2 – Someone gets your stuff

 

You’ll find it in Ecclesiastes 2:18-23

The benefits of this life’s works are inherited by those who never had to work for them.

18 I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, 19 and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil.

 

Conclusion #3 – But it’s all in God’s hands

2:24-25

24 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, 25 for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?

 

New Living Translation 

24 So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. 25 For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him?

 

So there is a time for all of this….

Ecclesiastes 3:1

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

 

Reminds me of a song – by the Byrds…with the same lyrics…

3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

God has placed an emptiness in our souls on purpose.  That longing you feel in your spirit…is not for more money or pleasure…it’s for God.  He put it there.  And He has intentionally trapped us in this dimension of time and space for the sole purpose of your soul’s fulfillment.  He made you with this hole in your…and it can only be filled by Him.

We are all born with this void in our soul.

And we are tempted to try anything to fill it.

 

And we begin to ask ourselves Is that all there is?

 

There are two things that last forever…the soul of mankind, and the word of God.

 

You are going to last forever.  But it’s a matter of where your soul will go.

 

When you go to the eye doctor, they have you look at an eye chart. And in order to determine what prescription you need for your glasses, they will have you look through a series of lenses until you are able to see clearly.

 

When we look through the lens of our own wisdom, our own perspective and our own motives, life remains blurry…

 

It’s only when we see through the lens of God’s perspective that we obtain the right focus or prescription to our lives in light of eternity.   And the reason for our existence becomes more clear.

 

(bring screens into focus here)

 

And we begin to see that it’s not about what we do under the sun…but instead what the Son of God has done for us.

 

But when you live your life in the son….this life is just the beginning of a glorious eternity.

 

This life is the short one!  But it’s incredibly important that we answer the issue of eternity now…because what we do with God in this life will determine where our souls spend eternity in the next life.

 

12:1 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”

 

Solomon’s great conclusion

12:13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

It’s that simple.  To fear – means a healthy respect for…to honor God.

(Col. 3:1-3)

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

 

 

Can i give you one more song lyric?

 

I stand amazed in the presence

Of Jesus the Nazarene,

And wonder how he could love me,

A sinner, condemned, unclean.

 

He took my sins and my sorrows,

He made them his very own;

He bore the burden to Calvary,

And suffered and died alone.

 

How marvelous! How wonderful!

And my song shall ever be:

How marvelous! How wonderful

Is my Savior’s love for me!

 

When with the ransomed in glory

His face I at last shall see,

‘Twill be my joy through the ages

To sing of his love for me.

 

How marvelous! How wonderful!

And my song shall ever be:

How marvelous! How wonderful

Is my Savior’s love for me!

 

Wise Words: How to Love

2021-04-11

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Today, we being a new series entitled…WISE WORDS. Over the coming weeks we will be spending time studying what’s called the Wisdom Books. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon; all written by the wisest man to ever live. While in the Bible they are found in the order above, in our series we are going to walk through these books in the order in which they were written. Solomon wrote his Songs when he was young and in love. He wrote Proverbs as he enjoyed the wisdom God granted to him in middle age. He wrote Ecclesiastes as an old man after having seen the consequences of carelessness and disobedience.

For our example, A love …

1. Of overwhelming desire

Song of Solomon 1:7 (CSB) Tell me, you, the one I love: Where do you pasture your sheep? Where do you let them rest at noon? Why should I be like one who veils herself beside the flocks of your companions?

  • She longed to find Solomon even if it meant she would have to search for him which was unexpected of a “daughter of Jerusalem”
  • She was afraid some would accuse her of being a “wanderer” among the shepherds which would infer a promiscuous woman and she wanted to avoid this completely
  • There are many who wander today looking for “their love” but because the object of their desire is not clearly defined, they wander aimlessly (2 Tim 3; 2 Tim 4; Eph 4)
  • Our love for God must be clearly focused on Him and nothing else

Song of Solomon 2:14 My dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crevices of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.

  • Here, Solomon longs for her yet in his words he speaks as if she was unreachable
  • But his desire was unmistakable

2. That gives completely

Song of Solomon 4:6-7 Before the day breaks and the shadows flee, I will make my way to the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense. 7You are absolutely beautiful, my darling, with no imperfection in you.

  • This is a statement focusing on the consummation of their marriage, of wanting to be completely hers and her being completely his. This is something that is to be treasured between husband and wife alone.
  • In today’s culture, so much of this has been thrown out as not being important.
  • Yet, God’s ideal for marriage is vitally important.
  • And, God’s ideal for our response to Him is even more important.

3. That overcomes

Song of Solomon 5:6-9 I opened to my love, but my love had turned and gone away. I was crushed that he had left. I sought him, but did not find him. I called him, but he did not answer. 7The guards who go about the city found me. They beat and wounded me;  they took my cloak from me— the guardians of the walls. 8Young women of Jerusalem, I charge you: if you find my love, tell him that I am lovesick. 9What makes the one you love better than another, most beautiful of women? What makes him better than another, that you would give us this charge?

  • The woman here gives a statement of loss yet her love has not weakened
  • We must stand fully committed to not letting the difficulties of life separate us from the love of God.

Song of Solomon 6:1 Where has your love gone, most beautiful of women? Which way has he turned? We will seek him with you.

 

4. That lasts

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death;  ardent love is as unrelenting as Sheol. Love’s flames are fiery flames — the fiercest of all. 7Mighty waters cannot extinguish love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If a man were to give all his wealth for love, it would be utterly scorned.

  • The image given here is of the kind of love that cannot be defeated or destroyed
  • Today, love is looked at as something that can easily be discarded or dismissed at the first sign of trouble.
  • God has given us a clear directive…LOVE.

1 Corinthians 13:7-8a (NKJV) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

 

 

 

Because Our Redeemer Lives…

2021-04-04

Jonathan Falwell

Job found himself in a hopeless situation. His life had been forever changed because of the suffering he endured. His friends and family that remained were blaming him for his losses. His wife told him to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). He was fully embroiled with the opportunity to dismiss hope and embrace his wife’s admonishment. But Job does exactly the opposite…he continues to trust God. His redeemer lives!

 

Wherever he looks, he finds himself isolated and alienated. And it is God who has caused this, not directly but through making him suffer. For Job’s suffering means to everyone who knows him that, despite everything they thought they knew about him, Job has been a dreadful sinner. It is dangerous to associate with such a wicked person.”[1]

 

Because our Redeemer lives…

 

  1. There is hope in our loss

Job 19:23-26 (NKJV) Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! 24 That they were engraved on a rock, With an iron pen and lead, forever! 25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; 26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God.

David also found himself in a similar situation. His life certainly was a challenge at times. He faced those who wanted to kill him, depose him, stop him. His own family would walk through desperate situations and David too would even lose his own children. Yet, in all of this, David continues to trust God.

  1. There is hope in our heartache

Psalm 16:9-11 (NKJV) Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. 10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. 11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

This assurance that God will preserve and protect. That we shall SEE God and He will raise us up. Interpretations vary as to whether David was speaking of himself, putting himself into a special category or whether he was prophesying of the coming Messiah. At least we know that Peter used this as an OT predictor of the coming messiah.

  1. There is hope for our eternity

Acts 2:29-33 (NKJV) Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.

Peter preached this message to point people to the truth that Jesus was crucified and that He was raised from the dead and this is the source of hope. That hope is found in believing in Jesus.

Acts 2:36-38 (NKJV) Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Himself echoed this statement when He stated at the early days of His ministry:

Mark 1:14-15 (NKJV) Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Because our Redeemer lives, we can have all the hope we need to make it through today, and to experience the promise of eternity.  Because Christ lives.

 

 

[1] David J. A. Clines, “Job,” in New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, ed. D. A. Carson et al., 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 472.

Love God Love People: Right Place, Right Time, Right Purpose

2021-03-28

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Esther ended up in a position of influence that saved the lives of thousands. She put her own life on the line to save others. This is a perfect picture of the love Jesus was speaking of in John 15.

 

John 15:13 No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.

1. The Right Place

Esther 2:15 (CSB) Esther was the daughter of Abihail, the uncle of Mordecai who had adopted her as his own daughter. When her turn came to go to the king, she did not ask for anything except what Hegai, the king’s trusted official in charge of the harem, suggested. Esther won approval in the sight of everyone who saw her.

  • The king was looking for a new queen after he banished Vashti
  • Many were “auditioned” but Esther caught his eye
  • She wouldn’t have been in this position but for her uncle Mordecai

 

2. The Right Time

Esther 3:5-6 When Haman saw that Mordecai was not bowing down or paying him homage, he was filled with rage. And when he learned of Mordecai’s ethnic identity, Haman decided not to do away with Mordecai alone. He planned to destroy all of Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout Ahasuerus’s kingdom.

 

Esther 4:1-3 When Mordecai learned all that had occurred, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, went into the middle of the city, and cried loudly and bitterly. He only went as far as the King’s Gate, since the law prohibited anyone wearing sackcloth from entering the King’s Gate. There was great mourning among the Jewish people in every province where the king’s command and edict came. They fasted, wept, and lamented, and many lay on sackcloth and ashes.

  • Mordecai heard of Haman’s plot so he told Esther hoping she would help
  • Esther wasn’t sure because of the danger of approaching the king

 

3.  The Right Purpose

Esther 4:14-16 If you keep silent at this time, liberation and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s house will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” 15 Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go and assemble all the Jews who can be found in Susa and fast for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days, day or night. I and my female servants will also fast in the same way. After that, I will go to the king even if it is against the law. If I perish, I perish.”

 

• We must speak (vs 14a)

  • If you keep silent at this time…
  • We live in a time where we have no option but to speak truth in love
  • Acts 4:20 for we are u­nable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard

• We are here for His purposes (vs 14b)

  • Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this
  • There are times we must recognize God has placed us where we are for this moment

• Our only hope is to lean completely on Him (vs 16a)

  • Go and assemble all the Jews who can be found in Susa and fast for me
  • Esther knew the only hope was prayer and fasting 

• We must sacrifice self for His purposes (vs 16b)

  • If I perish, I perish
  • Just as Jesus did for us

Matthew 26:28 For this is My blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.

 

Hebrews 9:22 According to the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

The epitome of “Love God, Love People”

Love God Love People – No Reserves, No Retreats, No Regrets

2021-03-21

Charles Billingsley

 

Introduction

His name was William Borden – everybody called him Bill.  He was heir to the Borden silver mining fortune in Chicago.

Graduated high school at 16 years old, and was given a gift from his parents…a trip around the world.  During this trip, his heart was so moved by the plight of so many in poverty  and the sheer amount of hurting people in the world, that he felt an overwhelming sense of calling to become a missionary.  He wrote home and told his family…which was met with a negative response….that he would be wasting his life and his inheritance.  His response….two words in the back of his Bible….

“No reserves.”

He would enter Yale University that fall…and quickly became a spiritual giant on that campus…leading hundreds of his friends to Christ and starting Bible study groups that, by his senior year, involved over 80% of the entire student body!

He was offered many well-paying jobs when he graduated, but still felt this intense calling to missions….in China.

When he graduated, he wrote two more words in the back of his Bible…..

“No retreats”

William Borden went on to Seminary at Princeton in New Jersey. When he finished his studies at Princeton, he sailed for China. He was hoping to work with Muslims, so he stopped first in Egypt to study Arabic. But while there, he contracted spinal meningitis. Within a month, 25-year-old William Borden was dead.

When the news of William Borden’s death was cabled back to the U.S., the story was carried by nearly every American newspaper.

The author of his biography wrote this… “A wave of sorrow went round the world . . . Borden not only gave (away) his wealth, but himself, in a way so joyous and natural that it (seemed) a privilege rather than a sacrifice.”

Was Borden’s untimely death a waste? Not in God’s perspective, or his.  As the story has it, prior to his death, Borden had written two more words in the back of his Bible. Underneath the words “No reserves” and “No retreats,” he had written:

“No regrets.” 

Today we are going to be studying the story of two men who lived their lives like this…Ezra and Nehemiah.  But because we have such a short amount of time…we are going to spend most all our time in Nehemiah.

Background:

Timeline

605 BC Nebachadnezzer comes to power

587 BC – Babylonians destroy Jerusalem and it’s walls, gates and temple and take Jewish people captive.  Took the cream of the crop young people to Babylon.

539 BC – Persia overthrows Babylonian kingdom.  Cyrus becomes king.

536 BC – Ezra 1-6 – Cyrus allows a remnant of Jews to return to rebuild the temple and the city – Zerubbabel – but gentiles and rebels hindered the work and greatly delayed it, so the work took 20 years to finish.  (Ezra 1-6) – but the gates and the walls were not repaired.

485 – Xerxes comes to power

478 – Esther becomes queen – these events happen between

Ezra 6 and 7.

465 – Xerxes dies

458 BC – Ezra 7 – Ezra goes to Jerusalem – teaches the law

Two prevalent themes exist in both of these books:

  1. The need to rebuild a structure of the city.
  2. The need to rebuild the lives of the people.

 

A. The Brokenness of Nehemiah 

The Problem 

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah.

Now it happened 

Nehemiah was in the Right place at the Right Time  – He has position, power, and proximity.   When God wants to accomplish a work He will put His people in the right places at the right time.

in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, 

It’s late 446 BC. Hebrew month of Chislev runs from Mid – November – mid December on our calendar.  So King Artaxerxes was at his winter palace in Susa – the capital city of the Persian Empire.

It was just an ordinary day that would turn out to be a turning point for Nehemiah.

that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.”

As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

 

Here we see the brokenness of Nehemiah for his people.  He wept for his people  – His heart was broken not just because the city was in ruins, but also because of the sin of his people.  He fasted and prayed.   Then he waited on the Lord.

How long has it been since any of us wept over our nation?  our neighbors?  our loved ones who don’t know Christ?  Do we fast and pray for them?  I’ve been so convicted this week as I’ve written this message to, instead of complaining about our leaders or the incredibly shockingly fast moral decline of our nation…to instead pray…and weep, and fast for our nation and our neighborhoods.

What walls need to be rebuilt in your life?

Walls of conviction?

Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) – Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

Walls of relationships?

Walls of boundaries?

 

But Nehemiah went to God first.   As should we.

So we see his brokenness.

 

B. The Boldness of Nehemiah

“For I was the king’s cupbearer.”

Nehemiah was not a priest like Ezra.  He held a secular job – he was a Cupbearer  – a position of great power and influence. Like chief of staff.  He had very close proximity to the king.  Therefore, he had the ear of the King. He also was the last line of defense for the King.  He tasted the King’s wine.  It was a lofty, highly trusted, but high risk position. So he might have very well been the most trusted person in the king’s court.  The king trusted Nehemiah with his life.  – and he was a Jewish captive.

2:1 And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that I took the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never been sad in his presence before. Therefore the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart.”

So I became dreadfully afraid, and said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire?”

Then the king said to me, “What do you request?”  

5And I said to the king, if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.”

Then the king said to me (the queen also sitting beside him),  

 “How long will your journey be? And when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.

 

C.  The Vision of Nehemiah

Furthermore I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of the region beyond the River, that they must permit me to pass through till I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which pertains to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy.” And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.

 

You may not feel adequate for the task or that you have enough education or that you have enough experience, but sometimes you just have to step out and start walking.

Anyone who accomplishes anything of significance will deal with failure along the way.

We learn more from our failures than we do our successes.

There’s no such thing as an overnight success.

Let vision and purpose be what drives you.

The bridge between vision and accomplishment is discipline.  

So develop the disciplines along the way that will keep you on task.

And Fear of failure should never enter the equation.

People are usually driven by one of two things: Fear or Vision   Fear will paralyze you.  Vision will energize you.  Fear will make you a coward.  Vision will make you courageous.

 

Nehemiah didn’t know what he was doing.  But he knew he had to do something.  So Nehemiah trusted God to lead him and to show him what to do and how to do it.

So he set out on the 1000 mile journey from Susa to Jerusalem.

 

Then I went to the governors in the region beyond the River, and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me. 10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of it, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.

11 So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me; I told no one what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem; nor was there any animal with me, except the one on which I rode. 

 

17 Then I said to them, “You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.” 18 And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me.

So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set their hands to this good work.

19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?”

20 So I answered them, and said to them, “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem.”

 

God has a plan and a purpose for all of us.  Seek His will, wait on His answer, and then go do it.

What is your vision for your life?  Where do you find yourself where God can use you right now?

 

If you have a God-given vision – it will probably be God-sized.  Which means it’s going to require God to intervene.

God is able to do it without you.  But He chooses to do it with you.  

When you have a God-given vision:  

  1. stop, fast, pray and work.  Prayer has to come before actionGod will equip you and God will prepare the way.  We need God to help us.  But God won’t do it without us.  Seek the Lord’s wisdom and seek the Lord’s timing.  “Pray like it depends on God. Work like it depends on God.”
  2. Get ready to face opposition  – it takes grit.  it takes tenacity.  it takes determination.  It takes discipline . You will encounter enemies.

 

In chapters 4-6 – you see at least 9 different ways the enemy used to try to stop what work on the walls…trouble from the inside and the outside.

And somehow ….through all the obstacles and attacks, Nehemiah led his people to finish the wall in just 52 days!!

So how did he handle all this?

 

  1. God-given vision cannot be accomplished alone– Each one had a job to do to repair their section of the wall. (chapter 3)

They had unity of purpose.

And it is the same today in the church.  We all have different gifts, and together, we can accomplish the work of the church.

 

Rom. 12:4-6 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them:

 

Nobody is too important to serve.

 

Neh. 4:6 So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.

 

It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you have unity of purpose and you don’t care who gets the credit. You cannot do this alone.

  1. Stay focused on the task at hand

Nehemiah prayed like it depended on God…he asked the Lord to handle it.  And then he worked like it depended on him….with a shovel in one hand and a sword in the other.

 Neh. 4:8-9 and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion. 9Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.

 

We are in a supernatural battle everyday! But we need to remember..the battle belongs to the Lord..and the battle begins on our knees before the Lord.  Trouble is sure to come.  Stay focused on the task.

And by the way….Jesus endured all the things on that list of opposition, as well.   But he stayed focused on the task at hand…to seek and to save the lost!  In fact,  the very things he endured by others, was the very reason He came in the first place….to rescue us from our sin!!

 

Isaiah 53:3

He is despised and rejected by men,

A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;

He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely He has borne our griefs

And carried our sorrows;

Yet we esteemed Him stricken,

Smitten by God, and afflicted.

But He was wounded for our transgressions,

He was bruised for our iniquities;

The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

And by His stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

We have turned, every one, to his own way;

And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

 

If God wants it, He will make a way.  And one thing He wants, is unbroken fellowship with HIs children.

That’s why when they finish building the walls, Nehemiah and Ezra the priest call them to a time of consecration and worship and celebration.

 

Maybe it’s time to live with:

NO REGRETS!

 

William Wilberforce

 

–  Born into the home of a wealthy family.  Came to know Christ while traveling through Europe with a brilliant politician friend who also had a solid Christian worldview.  Was then discipled by John Newton – a former slave trader who had radically been saved – wrote Amazing Grace.

 

We don’t need to fear failure.   What we must fear the most – is succeeding in things that don’t matter. 

William Wilberforce would “never rest” until he had done all he could do.

“Let it not be said that I was silent when they needed me.” 

~ William Wilberforce

 

 

What Wall is it that God wants you to build?

 

When God leads you to do something:

  1. Stop, Fast, Pray and Work
  2. Get ready to face opposition 
  3. Remember you can’t do it alone
  4. Stay focused on the task at hand.  

 

One of my favorite moments in this book:

6:1 Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates), 

2 that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they thought to do me harm. 

3 So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” 

 

When your enemies want you to meet them in a valley called Ono…your answer should be “Oh No!”

 

 Mark 15:29-30 (CSB)

29Those who passed by were yelling insult at him, shaking their heads, and saying, “Ha! The one who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save yourself by coming down from the cross! ”

 

If not you….then who?  If not now….then when?   Love People.  Love God.  And together…we will build the Kingdom of God.  May the vision God has given us….end in Victory….and bring glory to His holy name.

 

No reserves! 

No retreats! 

No regrets!

 

Love God Love People – Worship Warriors

2021-03-14

Matt Willmington

2 CHRONICLES 20 – Worship Warriors

 

  • Chronicles is the last Jewish Scriptures book. Tanakh= Instruction/ Prophets / Writing [Ketuvim]
  • not Kings rerun: ADAM – David/Solomon – Divide Kingdom – CYRUS

v.1-4 “After this, the Moabites and Ammonites, together with some of the Meunites, came to fight against Jehoshaphat. People came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast number from beyond the Dead Sea and from Edom has come to fight against you; they are already in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, En-gedi). Jehoshaphat was afraid, and he resolved to seek the Lord. Then he proclaimed a fast for all Judah, who gathered to seek the Lord. They even came from all cities of Judah to seek him.

 

1. SEEK GOD

v.5-9 Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem in the Lord’s temple before the new courtyard. He said: Lord, God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven, and do you not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in your hand, and no one can stand against you. Are you not our God who drove out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and who gave it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in the land and have built you a sanctuary in it for your name and have said, “If disaster comes on us — sword or judgment, pestilence or famine — we will stand before this temple and before you, for your name is in this temple. We will cry out to you because of our distress, and you will hear and deliver.” 

 

Jehoshaphat, 4th king of Judah [870BC]. Enemies had come from east, around Dead Sea. Now 50 miles from Jerusalem! King and people gather in God’s presence.

v.12 For we are powerless before this vast number that comes to fight against us. We do not know what to do, but we look to you. GREAT PRAYER!

 

2. PRAY TO GOD

Solomon’s Prayer – 2 Chronicles 6:28-30

2 Chronicles 6:28 “when their enemies besiege them in the land and its cities, when there is any plague”

God’s answer – 2 Chronicles 7:13-14

2 Chronicles 7:13-14 “If I shut the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the grasshopper to consume the land, or if I send pestilence on my people, and my people, who bear my name, humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”

WE humble + pray + seek + turn = GOD hears + forgives + heal 

v.13-19 All Judah was standing before the Lord with their dependents, their wives, and their children. In the middle of the congregation, the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel… “Listen carefully, all Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat. This is what the Lord says: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast number, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow, go down against them. You will see them coming up the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley facing the Wilderness of Jeruel. You do not have to fight this battle. Position yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. He is with you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Tomorrow, go out to face them, for the Lord is with you.’” Then Jehoshaphat knelt low with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord to worship him. Then the Levites from the sons of the Kohathites and the Korahites stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel shouting loudly.

Jahaziel prophesies victory. Jehoshaphat bowed down, Levites stood up, everyone praised loudly!

v.20-26 In the morning they got up early and went out to the wilderness of Tekoa… Then he consulted with the people and appointed some to sing for the Lord and some to praise the splendor of his holiness. When they went out in front of the armed forces, they kept singing: Give thanks to the Lord, for his faithful love endures forever. The moment they began their shouts and praises, the Lord set an ambush against the Ammonites, Moabites, and the inhabitants of Mount Seir who came to fight against Judah, and they were defeated. …When Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked for the large army, but there were only corpses lying on the ground; nobody had escaped. Then Jehoshaphat and his people went to gather the plunder… They were gathering the plunder for three days because there was so much. They assembled in the Valley of Beracah on the fourth day, for there they blessed the Lord. [Valley of BLESSING]

Singers preceded the soldiers into the valley. God used their shouts or praise to ambush the enemy – and they destroyed each other. Judah came through the valley and collected the plunder for 3 days – the Valley of Blessing.

 

3. WORSHIP GOD

v.27-30 Then all the men of Judah and Jerusalem turned back with Jehoshaphat their leader, returning joyfully to Jerusalem, for the Lord enabled them to rejoice over their enemies. So they came into Jerusalem to the Lord’s temple with harps, lyres, and trumpets. The terror of God was on all the kingdoms of the lands when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. Then Jehoshaphat’s kingdom was quiet, for his God gave him rest on every side.”

The men led the praise parade back to Jerusalem. The victory struck fear in Judah’s enemies, and there was peace in the kingdom.

In the valley facing an enemy?

SEEK. PRAY. WORSHIP.

Love God Love People – A Spiritual Reboot

2021-03-07

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

 

2 Kings 22:1-2 Josiah was eight years old when he became king and reigned 31 years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. He did what was right in the Lord’s sight and walked in all the ways of his ancestor David; he did not turn to the right or the left.

 

From about 1025 BC to 586 BC, Israel was ruled by the kings. Starting with Saul and ending with Zedekiah in Judah and Hoshea in Israel. Judah was taken into captivity by the Babylonians and Israel by the Assyrians. This was a dark period in the time of Israel as most of the kings were evil men who led Israel astray.

 

Israel’s Monarchy

United Israel – 4 Kings (Saul, Ishbosheth, David, Solomon)

Divided Kingdom (Rehoboam ignored the advice of his father’s generation and went his own way)

Judah – 20 kings (14 evil, 6 good – Joash and Amaziah started off right but veered away)

Israel – 19 kings (all evil)

 

Josiah became king at 8 years old after his father, Amon, died. The legacy that Amon and his father, Manasseh, left was one of absolute evil. Josiah had no reason to do right, but Josiah was determined to change things. At 16, 2 Chronicles 34:3 says he began to seek out the God of David. At 18, he sought to restore the temple and sent his people to start the process.

 

1. A Spiritual Reboot

2 Kings 22:10-13 Then Shaphan the court secretary told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book,” and Shaphan read it in the presence of the king. 11 When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes. 12 Then he commanded Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Achbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the court secretary, and the king’s servant Asaiah: 13 “Go and inquire of the Lord for me, the people, and all Judah about the instruction in this book that has been found. For great is the Lord’s wrath that is kindled against us because our ancestors have not obeyed the words of this book in order to do everything written about us.”

  • Josiah began a spiritual journey that started in repentance
  • After hearing God’s Word, he acted by seeking out God’s plan
  • This was a spiritual “reboot” that the nation desperately needed but it started in the heart of one

2. A Spiritual Refocus

2 Kings 23:1-3 So the king sent messengers, and they gathered all the elders of Jerusalem and Judah to him. Then the king went to the Lord’s temple with all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, as well as the priests and the prophets—all the people from the youngest to the oldest. As they listened, he read all the words of the book of the covenant that had been found in the Lord’s temple. Next, the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant in the presence of the Lord to follow the Lord and to keep His commands, His decrees, and His statutes with all his mind and with all his heart, and to carry out the words of this covenant that were written in this book; all the people agreed to the covenant.

  • God’s Word always brings change
  • Josiah read the words to all who had gathered and led the people to refocus their hearts to the things of God and His covenant with them
  • We live in a season of promise from God as well. He has promised so much to us all, yet like Israel, many times we’ve abandoned His Word and His ways

 

“The Word of God is like a lion. You don’t have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself.”[1] – Charles Spurgeon

[1] https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/8561226-the-word-of-god-is-like-a-lion-you-don-t

3. A Spiritual Renewal

2 Kings 23:25 Before him there was no king like him who turned to the Lord with all his mind and with all his heart and with all his strength according to all the law of Moses, and no one like him arose after him.

  • It’s interesting that it was noted there had been no king like Josiah before and none after him. This includes David – “man after God’s own heart”
  • How can this be true? Because Josiah is remembered as the one fulfilled the commands of Deut. 6:5 and Matt. 22:39

Deut 6:5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

 

Matt. 22:39 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself

 

  • The world today is in desperate need of leaders who will determine in their hearts to LOVE HIM with everything, and LOVE PEOPLE in order to point them to God
  • That’s what Josiah did, he led his country back to God

 

The Right Way To Make Things Right

2021-02-28

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

2 Samuel 21:1-14 (CSB) During David’s reign there was a famine for three successive years, so David inquired of the Lord. The Lord answered, “It is because of the blood shed by Saul and his family when he killed the Gibeonites.”  The Gibeonites were not Israelites but rather a remnant of the Amorites. The Israelites had taken an oath concerning them, but Saul had tried to kill them in his zeal for the Israelites and Judah. So David summoned the Gibeonites and spoke to them. He asked the Gibeonites, “What should I do for you? How can I make atonement so that you will bring a blessing on the Lord’s inheritance?”  The Gibeonites said to him, “We are not asking for money from Saul or his family, and we cannot put anyone to death in Israel.” “Whatever you say, I will do for you,” he said. They replied to the king, “As for the man who annihilated us and plotted to destroy us so we would not exist within the whole territory of Israel, let seven of his male descendants be handed over to us so we may hang them in the presence of the Lord at Gibeah of Saul, the Lord’s chosen.” The king answered, “I will hand them over.” David spared Mephibosheth, the son of Saul’s son Jonathan, because of the oath of the Lord that was between David and Jonathan, Saul’s son. But the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, who were the two sons whom Rizpah daughter of Aiah had borne to Saul, and the five sons whom Merab daughter of Saul had borne to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite and handed them over to the Gibeonites. They hanged them on the hill in the presence of the Lord; the seven of them died together. They were executed in the first days of the harvest at the beginning of the barley harvest. 10 Rizpah, Aiah’s daughter, took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on the rock from the beginning of the harvest until the rain poured down from heaven on the bodies. She kept the birds of the sky from them by day and the wild animals by night. 11 When it was reported to David what Saul’s concubine Rizpah, daughter of Aiah, had done, 12 he went and got the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from the leaders of Jabesh-gilead. They had stolen them from the public square of Beth-shan where the Philistines had hung the bodies the day the Philistines killed Saul at Gilboa. 13 David had the bones brought from there. They gathered up the bones of Saul’s family who had been hung 14 and buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan at Zela in the land of Benjamin in the tomb of Saul’s father Kish. They did everything the king commanded. After this, God answered prayer for the land.

 

1. Go To The Source

Vs 1 During David’s reign there was a famine for three successive years, so David inquired of the Lord. The Lord answered, “It is because of the blood shed by Saul and his family when he killed the Gibeonites.”

  • David knew that there must be some sin in the land because of the famine so he sought the face of God on the matter
  • The Gibeonites were a people that had made a covenant with Joshua (Joshua 9)
  • Saul had broken this covenant by killing the Gibeonites in order to rid the land of non-Israelites
  • In Numbers 35, God promised the land would be “polluted” if Israel acted improperly

 

2. Act When He Speaks

Vs 2b So David summoned the Gibeonites and spoke to them. He asked the Gibeonites, “What should I do for you? How can I make atonement so that you will bring a blessing on the Lord’s inheritance?”

  • As soon as David heard the word of God, he acted
  • David didn’t shy away from approaching those who had been wronged
  • He showed genuine repentance and a genuine heart for restoration
  • But even in seeking restoration, David was not willing to compromise on his own commitments or beliefs

Vs 7 David spared Mephibosheth, the son of Saul’s son Jonathan, because of the oath of the Lord that was between David and Jonathan, Saul’s son.

 

3. Be People of Peace

Vss 11-14 When it was reported to David what Saul’s concubine Rizpah, daughter of Aiah, had done, 12 he went and got the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from the leaders of Jabesh-gilead. They had stolen them from the public square of Beth-shan where the Philistines had hung the bodies the day the Philistines killed Saul at Gilboa. 13 David had the bones brought from there. They gathered up the bones of Saul’s family who had been hung 14 and buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan at Zela in the land of Benjamin in the tomb of Saul’s father Kish. They did everything the king commanded. After this, God answered prayer for the land.

  • David could have considered his work done once he handed over the family of Saul
  • He could have made the family suffer as a result of the wrongdoing of Saul
  • But he recognized making things right with others means making things right with everyone
  • This is when God blessed David, and Israel, again

 

Application:

  • There will be moments of silence and suffering in our lives and we will truly wonder what’s gone wrong
  • In those moments, don’t seek to blame, criticize or be discouraged
  • Instead, seek the face of God and His Word and wisdom
  • Then act on His truths
  • This all starts when in communion with God

 

The Revolving Door of Righteousness

2021-02-21

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

About 50 times in the OT, “Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord”, “everyone did that which seemed right in their own eyes.” The book of Judges is a picture of the cycle of destruction that was ever present in the lives of Israel’s next generation

 

Judges 2:10 That whole generation was also gathered to their ancestors. After them another generation rose up who did not know the Lord or the works He had done for Israel.

 

1. Forgetting the goodness of God of yesterday is the first step towards our disobedience of God tomorrow

Vss 11-12 The Israelites did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. They worshiped the Baals 12 and abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods from the surrounding peoples and bowed down to them. They infuriated the Lord.

  • In almost every circumstance, Israel always moved away from God when times were good
  • They stopped depending on God
  • The minute they forgot how much they needed God in the crises of the past was the very minute they forgot God in the comfort of the present

 

2. Disobedience requires punishment

Vss 14-15 The Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and He handed them over to marauders who raided them. He sold them to the enemies around them, and they could no longer resist their enemies. 15 Whenever the Israelites went out, the Lord was against them and brought disaster on them, just as He had promised and sworn to them. So they suffered greatly.

  • God cannot tolerate sin and disobedience, there must be payment
  • Hebrews 9:22 – “without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins”

 

3. Punishment doesn’t mean God stops loving us

Vss 16-18 The Lord raised up judges, who saved them from the power of their marauders, 17 but they did not listen to their judges. Instead, they prostituted themselves with other gods, bowing down to them. They quickly turned from the way of their fathers, who had walked in obedience to the Lord’s commands. They did not do as their fathers did. 18 Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for the Israelites, the Lord was with him and saved the people from the power of their enemies while the judge was still alive. The Lord was moved to pity whenever they groaned because of those who were oppressing and afflicting them.

  • Even with Israel’s continued cycle of disobedience, God offered relief
  • The Lord cares, even when we don’t

 

4. So stop the cycle

Vs 19 Whenever the judge died, the Israelites would act even more corruptly than their fathers, going after other gods to worship and bow down to them. They did not turn from their evil practices or their obstinate ways.

  • The only way to stop the cycle is to remember the value of God’s presence and the power of God’s deliverance
  • This is true dependence on Him

 

Leon Morris says, “The voice of conscience can become dulled by successive acts of sin, and repentance can become more and more superficial until, ensnared in the character formed by a multitude of thoughts and actions, a miracle is needed to produce a genuine repentance and a seeking of the Lord with the whole heart.”[1]

[1] Arthur E. Cundall and Leon Morris, Judges and Ruth: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 7, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1968), 72.

Ruth 4:6-8 The redeemer replied, “I can’t redeem it myself, or I will ruin my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption, because I can’t redeem it.” At an earlier period in Israel, a man removed his sandal and gave it to the other party in order to make any matter legally binding concerning the right of redemption or the exchange of property. This was the method of legally binding a transaction in Israel. So the redeemer removed his sandal and said to Boaz, “Buy back the property yourself.”

 

 

The Battle Belongs to the Lord

2021-02-14

Charles Billingsley

Have you ever faced a situation or a crisis that seemed impossible to overcome?  Or have you ever stared at a problem that you just didn’t have the answer for or the ability to figure out?

It’s 1407 BC

Moses has just died.

Joshua is now the clear and chosen leader of Israel.  I imagine he was overwhelmed and probably full of anxiety and fear.

The weight of an entire nation is on his shoulders now.

He was originally names Hoshea, but at some point Moses changed his name to Joshua, which means YAHWEH Saves!  There are so many correlations between the Joshua of the old Testament, and Jesus our Savior.  In fact, Jesus is the greek form of the Hebrew name, Joshua.  And just like God used Joshua to bring his people into a promised Kingdom through physical warfare, Jesus would come to earth as God’s only begotten son to usher in a new Kingdom through Spiritual warfare….Ephesians 6:12 – For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  And of course, just like Joshua experiences victory on the battlefield so that the people of Israel would have a home in the promised land, Jesus conquered sin, death, hell and the grave so we would have a home in heaven one day.

This book is the transition book that tells us the story of the Children of Israel moving from the wilderness to the promised land.

What was promised to Abraham over 440 years earlier is now being possessed by Joshua and a new generation.

The people have been in the wilderness for 40 years!

So in the book of Joshua we see that God has commissioned him with a two fold task.

1. To drive out the inhabitants of Canaan – this promised land.

2. To divide the land between the 12 tribes of Israel.

 

Joshua overview

Chapters 1-5 – Joshua and the people enter the land

Chapters 6-12 – Joshua conquers the land- starting with Jericho, moving upwards through the center, then the south and then the north.

Chapters 13-21 – Joshua divides the land among the 12 tribes

Chapters 22-24 – The children of Israel begin to function as a nation.

Joshua 1 – God commissions Joshua and gives him the command to take the promised Land

If there were a song that sums up the book of Joshua, it would be Great is Thy Faithfulness.

So as we look briefly at a few specific moments here in Joshua, we are going to talk about some important life lessons that we can draw from this book.  I believe there are dozens, but we only have time for a few.  So let’s look at it from two perspectives.  What we can expect from God, and What God expects from us.

What you can expect from God:

1. God always has a plan: 

Joshua 1:2 NKJV  – “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.

God’s plans are always perfect and they come with a guarantee…He is with us!   Nothing surprises God.  Nothing just occurs to God.  He is sovereign and He is always in control, and He always has a plan for your life and mine.  The issue is not whether or not God has a plan, it is whether or not we are going to follow it!   This is what happened with the children of Israel.  What was supposed to be an 11 day journey from Egypt to the promised land took 40 years!  Why? Because of the disobedience and sin of the people!  But it was NOT because God didn’t have a plan.

He made it so clear to them. But even in their disobedience, He still provided for them.

in fact,  Every day there was miracles.

Follow the pillar of cloud by day. Follow the pillar of fire by night.  If those move, you move.

Then there was the manna!  Every day.  Just enough.  It lasted for that day only.  Gave them the nourishment they needed in the desert!  They didn’t have to hunt, plant, grow, harvest….nothing.  It was waiting on the ground for them each morning.  Of course, everyday eating the same food must have gotten a little old.  And they complained non-stop about it.  They had to get creative…

bamanna bread for breakfast?

manna-cotti for dinner?

toast a little manna bread with some manna cheese on there…maybe add a little manna-aise?

I don’t know…but the fact is…it was there.  everyday.  And they survived.

It was an everyday miracle.  But the people got so used to it, they didn’t even think about it anymore.  So they become presumptuous and ungrateful.

You know can become the same way. We need to remember, that each and every day is a miracle in so many ways.   Just think about it.

 

Right this very moment, your heart is pumping about 1.5 gallons of blood through your body at about 100,000 beats per day.  Every minute it beats, it is pumping 5-6 quarts of blood through your blood vessels keeping you alive. And there are over 100,000 miles worth of blood vessels in your body…enough to circle the earth 4 times!!!

You have a DNA construct that is different than anybody else in the entire world that has ever been or ever will be!  You are totally unique.

All the while you are sitting here on planet earth that is being heated by a blazing ball of fire known as the sun. It is beaming light and heat to us from 93 millions away.  It takes the light 8.3 minutes to reach us… and we are just far away enough to where we don’t fry, and just close enough to where we don’t freeze.  All this while we are traveling through space at a speed of  67,000 mph around that sun.  While at the same time, spinning on an axis at the rate of 1,037 mph at the equator.  All of this is happening right now.  And you’re not in the middle of a miracle?   Come on!!!  We are in the middle of multiple miracles a day!

So the children of Israel have witnessed miracle after miracle. God has shown them time and time again that He has a plan for them.  All they have to do is believe and follow His commands.

Sin always disrupts God’s plan for your life. Run from sin and follow God’s plan.

In Numbers 13, God told Moses to send into the promised land 12 spies..one from each tribe.  But when they returned after 40 days, only two gave a good report.  The other ten were scared to death and in turn freaked all the people out.  As a result, God punished them for their lack of faith. One year for every day they were gone spying on the land. (Numbers 14)   Further more, God told them only two people from the entire population…over 2,000,000 would actually live to see the promised land….Joshua and Caleb..the two spies that gave the positive report.

Sin and disobedience disrupted God’s plan for the Israelites.  And it will disrupt God’s plan for your life, as well.  

But one thing you can always expect from God…He has a plan.

2. God uses people you may never expect.  (Rahab)

Are there any people who have entered your life in an unexpected way and God ended up using them big time to bless you?  or speak wisdom into you?   I have a very long list of those individuals.  And ultimately, it’s these kinds of relationships that will cause you to one day look back and be able to connect the dots along your journey and help you see the faithful hand of God working and weaving His perfect will for your life.

In Joshua 2, Joshua sends out two spies to check out Jericho before they attacked it.  He’s doing a reconnaissance mission to see what all they can expect when they encounter the first major obstacle to taking the promised land.

And in the process, these spies meet someone who ends up helping them.

This “chance” encounter with Rahab, we will see, had eternal significance for all of us.

Joshua 2:1 Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.”

So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there.

Now for these two spies to “lodge” there actually made a lot of sense.  No, there weren’t there for promiscuous reasons…they went there because it would have been a place frequented by foreigners and so they would not easily be noticed.

So Rahab takes them in and hides them once she knows who they are.

Very likely was thrown into the profession at a very young age.  Canaanite culture.

And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, “Behold, men have come here tonight from the children of Israel to search out the country.”

So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the country.”

Then the woman took the two men and hid them. So she said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them.” (But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.) Then the men pursued them by the road to the Jordan, to the fords. And as soon as those who pursued them had gone out, they shut the gate.

Did she lie?  yes.  And God, in no way condones lying.  Rahab lied in this case, but all we have here is God recording that fact that she lied.  She’s a pagan.  She’s got no problem with doing bad things.

Has no concept or knowledge of the laws of God at this point. So yes, she lies and it does save these two spies…but it doesn’t mean that lying is ok.  God could have easily saved the spies in some other way.  But this is what happened, there is a record of her doing so, and it turns out that it was a “very present help in time of trouble.”   But you won’t find anywhere in scripture that God says its ok to lie.  This is just what she did.

Rahab  does do wrong when she falsely declares that the messengers were gone.  But there is a perfect will of God and then there is a permissive will of God.   On the whole, it was the perfect will of God that the spies should be delivered, but he did not approve of saving their life by falsehood.

But the Bible mentions Rahab several more times in the New Testament , and we discover that she becomes a very key figure in the history of the world.  And each time she is mentioned, she is called a harlot.  But she is commended for her faith.

How would you like to be so known for your past sins and everybody attaches it to your name?   There’s goes Larry the liar.  Or there goes Martha the Murderer.  Oh here’s Theodore the thief.

She believed in the God of Israel. And God honored the cry of her heart.  By faith she believed and she became a pillar of faith.  She had a pagan name.  Lived in a pagan land.  Had pagan parents.  She was a gentile.   And now….because of her faith….She is an example to all us. And she even makes the hall of faith in Hebrews!

Hebrews 11:30 – By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. 31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.

James 2:25   Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

And God used this unexpected lady of the night to save the spies and bless them in an unexpected way.

And in return, she asks them to bless her by saving her family when the time comes for them to take the city.

12 Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the Lord, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token, 13 and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.”

21 Then she said, “According to your words, so be it.” And she sent them away, and they departed. And she bound the scarlet cord in the window.

22 They departed and went to the mountain, and stayed there three days until the pursuers returned. The pursuers sought them all along the way, but did not find them. 23 So the two men returned, descended from the mountain, and crossed over; and they came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all that had befallen them. 24 And they said to Joshua, “Truly the Lord has delivered all the land into our hands, for indeed all the inhabitants of the country are fainthearted because of us.”

Remember in your journey, that sometimes God will bring people into your life that you never could have imagined or expected…and He will use them to speak truth into your life, be a blessing to your life, and who knows…maybe even save your life.  Every encounter really does matter.  And don’t forget, God very likely wants to use you in that way in someone else’s life, as well.  

3. God uses ways that you would never expect  

Joshua 3 – They cross the Jordan river – just like the Red Sea, God parts the waters.  New generation, new miracle, new place.

this time God said put your feet in the water, and then it divided.

Joshua 4 – The stones of remembrance

Joshua 5 – consecration before the Lord, massive circumcision, they observe the passover, then the eat from the land and God stops the manna because they were now in a land where they could gather their own food.   Joshua encounters the Commander of the army of the Lord.  (Christafani)

Joshua 6:1 Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in.

It’s not a huge city, but it’s an incredibly fortified city.  Only about 1200 people lived there, but thousands more had made their way there to find refuge from the Israelite army.

Joshua had an army of 40,000.

How could they break through these walls?

they couldn’t starve them out.  Harvest had just taken place.  There was fresh water springs inside the city, so they had plenty of food and water.  No one came in, and no one left.

Jericho:  Canaan’s most fortified city. Very intimidating and powerful city.  Highly strategic location.  Impregnable walls.

Three major digs of jericho sight.  And most scholars, for many years…almost 100 years, believed that the story of Jericho was made up.  Not historically accurate.  But all that was proven wrong, and now because of technology and more recent discoveries, the Bible has once again proven itself to be absolutely true and accurate to the smallest of details.

Kathleen Kenyon’s famous dig concluded that Jericho had been destroyed around 1550 BC by the Egyptians…many years prior to Joshua.

She also discovered  that the city had been burned.

However, a new archeological analysis of all the date reveals that the destruction of Jericho actually took place somewhere around 1400 BC…exactly the time of Joshua’s crossing into the land of Canaan.

The walls were a combinations of a 15 foot stacked stone retaining wall with another mud brick wall on top of the retaining wall that was 6 feet thick and 20-26 feet high.    And then above that about 15 feet further in, was another wall that loomed another 30-40 feet.

There were houses built between the walls in some places, which is where Rahab’s house would have been.

 

Digs found jars of grain – still full

water supply had not been cut off

Only 9 acres big…so it was only about a 30 minute walk around the city.

You can imagine how they must have felt looking at these massive walls…and yet see what the Lord says:

And the Lord said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.”

So then Joshua tells the people what the Lord has told him.

This is NOT your normal battle plan.  Not what you would expect!

Then they get ready to do it, and Joshua tells the people this:

10 Now Joshua had commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout.”

Maybe Joshua told them this because he was sick and tired of hearing their complaints for 40 years and somehow he knew that after just a day or two they’d be complaining about this different sort of warfare.

So he tells them to just hush!

So they have complete silence.

They have their shofars

And They have the Ark of the covenant.

THE ARK contained 3 ITEMS

THE VESSEL OF MANNA

THE BUDDING STICK

THE BROKEN TABLETS

ALL THREE ITEMS REPRESENTED MAJOR FAILURES OF THE PEOPLE OF THE ISRAEL.   BUT THE TOP OF THE BOX WAS COVERED BY THE MERCY SEAT.

All of the failures of Israel under the Mercy Seat of God – and the Ark represented the presence of God.  So while they carried around the ark – they were carrying reminders of their failures….that had been forgiven by the mercies of God and that were covered by the grace of God .   And His presence was ALWAYS WITH THEM.  Their failures, God’s provision and God’s presence.

The Ark was an ever present reminder of the children of Israel’s desperate need for God’s presence and God’s mercy!!

And that’s exactly what the cross represents for you and me!!!

So as you walk around this city or your home…you may walk with the ever constant reminders of your past failures…but don’t forget that as a child of God , those past failures are under the seat of His mercy and that you are constantly in His presence!!!!!

And so on the first day….they got up early and they go around the city.  And they are back home within the hour.

And they do this again…for 6 days straight.

Every trip around the city…the walls weren’t getting weaker, but their faith was getting stronger.

15 But it came to pass on the seventh day that they rose early, about the dawning of the day, and marched around the city seven times in the same manner. On that day only they marched around the city seven times. 16 And the seventh time it happened, when the priests blew the trumpets, that Joshua said to the people: “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city! 17 Now the city shall be doomed by the Lord to destruction, it and all who are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.

20 So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.

Walls crumbled from the top forming a natural ramp into the city

Archeological evidence supporting all this

22 But Joshua had said to the two men who had spied out the country, “Go into the harlot’s house, and from there bring out the woman and all that she has, as you swore to her.” 23 And the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, her mother, her brothers, and all that she had. So they brought out all her relatives and left them outside the camp of Israel.

Wait….if the walls all fell, how did Rahab’s house stay in tact?  

in another dig in 1907 by a german party, they discovered one portion of the north end of the wall still in tact. And there were houses connected to the wall!   this is where Rahab would have lived!

24 But they burned the city and all that was in it with fire. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. 25 And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her  father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

Scarlet Chord – 

      Reminds us of the scarlet blood of the lamb – passover

scarlet chord hung from the window is what saved her and her entire family.

Do you see?  There is a scarlet cord that runs throughout scripture and ends at the cross of Christ!

And it is the scarlet blood of Jesus that saves our soul.

Can you imagine what Rahab must have been feeling those six days they marched around the city walls.  I would bet she had the whole family in there from day one not knowing God’s plan for the battle.  And then on that 7th day when the walls began to crumble…by faith she stayed put and trusted the word of the spies and trusted in the God of Israel.

And then the shout of the warriors and those walls began to crumble

you can just imagine the intensity of the moment.  But she held onto the hope of the scarlet cord in that window and because of that she was saved.

And isn’t is just like God to place a prostitute in the middle of such a momentous occasion for the nation of Israel?  oh but wait….there’s more……..Rahab ends up settling into a new life and eventually starts a family of her own when she married a prince of the tribe of Judah named Salmon.   It is believed by many that Salmon was one of the two spies that saved her and her family!!  And in a perfect Valentine’s love story…they end up getting married!

1 chronicles 2:51 – Salmon was the Father of Bethlehem. He built the city where the Savior was born!!   Rahab was a huge part of building the city of Bethlehem!!

And we then see, in Matthew Chapter 1, that she would actually end up being the great great grandmother of King David, and even more importantly, in the lineage of the very son of God…Jesus.

Matthew 1:5-6 (CSB)

Salmon fathered Boaz by Rahab,

Boaz fathered Obed by Ruth,

Obed fathered Jesse,

and Jesse fathered King David.

What is a prostitute doing in the list of the genealogy of Christ??   Same thing that Abraham the liar, Jacob the thief, Judah the fornicator, Tamar the deceiver and David the adulterer are doing…just being everyday sinners that God chose to use in miraculous and powerful ways.   And if he can use these people…don’t you think He might be able to use you??  Yes He can!!!  And maybe He has strategically placed you around a Rahab or two who desperately needs to hear the good news of Jesus in their life!  Maybe you are the Scarlet Cord of the redeeming power of the gospel to them!  in other words…you are the only Jesus they may ever see.

There is a scarlet cord that runs throughout history…..it’s a cord of redemption.  Its the cord of grace.  And that scarlet cord

is the blood of Jesus! It was his blood and his sacrifice that gives us the hope that we have in our hearts.

When the walls are crumbling around you…hold on to the scarlet cord.

 

When you are overcome with fear or facing what seems like an insurmountable problem….hold on to that scarlet cord

when you are alone and afraid and darkness is all around you….hold on to that scarlet cord…it is the hope of Jesus!

God has a plan!

God uses unexpected people!

God uses unexpected ways!

And one more thing you can expect from God….

4. The battle is already won – 

Joshua 1:5 No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or abandon you.

John 16: 33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

What God expects from you:

1. Be Strong and Courageous

They have no weapons of war.  They are armed with a shofar, the Ark of the Covenant, and their voices.  And they are walking around the city, totally exposed to arrows and flying objects and attack.   Take possession of the city, because it was part of His plan…and they knew it.  It was His Blessing to them. But they had to be strong and Courageous…not weak and consumed by fear.

Three times in Joshua 1, God tells him to be Strong and Courageous.

“The God of Christianity is not comfort or security…it is freedom. And Freedom is often found in the most uncomfortable and insecure places.   Jesus did not come from heaven to earth to die on a cross and rise again from the dead to make us comfortable and secure.  He came to make us dangerous to the kingdom of darkness so that we can go in and possess the promises that He has for us.”  – Christine Caine

God was making the people of Israel dangerous for His glory.  So dangerous that the enemies “melted before them.”

Please remember this!  You have nothing to fear.  You are in the Lord’s army.  You are on the winning side.  There is no power, no person, and no principality that can overcome you because you are an overcomer under the blood of the Lamb!  And times may be difficult and times may be inconvenient, but never ever forget… If God be for us, who can be against us!?

Be Strong and Courageous for God is on your side.  You have nothing and no one to fear.

2. Stay Faithful to His Word

Joshua1:7 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may [a]prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Stay faithful to His word!

 

3. Stay in the Battle

This is a marathon, not a sprint.  Your Christian life should be marked by what Eugene Peterson calls  a “long obedience in the same direction.”

“The circumstances you are asking God to change may be the very circumstances He is using to change you.”   – Batterson

Don’t flee. Don’t falter.  Stand strong.  And don’t doubt.

“Don’t waste your walls” – Let whatever it is you are facing grow your faith.  Every long lap around that situation is making you stronger, building your testimony.  What is God trying to teach you in this battle?

One thing is for sure.  Every person in this room and every person watching this is facing some sort of battle that the rest of us don’t know anything about.  To you I say, Be strong and courageous, stay faithful, stay in this battle…..and know that God is with you.  Never doubt that.

the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

“Doubt dies unborn if it’s never spoken.” – Caine

We breed doubt and insecurity with our negative words.  did you know that over 80% of our thoughts are negative? No wonder over half of the population is dealing with depression.    Stop spewing doubt over your world with negative thoughts and words.

End the fear.  End the doubt.  End the negativity.

We are ALL flawed, but we can ALSO all be faithful.  Make sure you get up every morning, put the armor of the Lord on (Ephesians 6) and jump head first into the Battle.   You are in the Lord’s army…and He wants to use you to impact your family and this community for His glory!

Stay in the Battle…can you imagine if the Israelites would have gotten discouraged and quit circling the city after the 6th day?  They would have missed out on all God planned for them!  So don’t quit….never never quit!!

4. Trust and Obey   

You could sum up the entire instruction of the Bible  in those two words:  Trust and Obey.

“Work like it depends on you, and pray like it depends on God.” – Batterson

Trust God’s plan

Obey HIs word.

Leave the results to Him

And remember…..The Battle is already won!

You can count on it.  You can expect this from God.  What did he tell Joshua?

1:3 “Every place that the soul of your foot will tread upon I HAVE given you. 

6:2 “See, I have given Jericho into your hand…. 

And when you get to the end of your journey, my prayer is that we will all be like Joshua, who at 110 years old finished strong.  He stayed faithful.  He stayed in the battle until his last breath.  And He was able to declare until life itself left his lungs:

Joshua 24:15 “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”

When you get to the end of yourself you will find that you are just at the beginning of who God is.  We worship the God of the impossible.

Where there is no way, He will make a way!

So when it seems there is no way around the wall or over the wall or under the wall….trust the God of the impossible.  He will make a way!

The Battle Belongs to the Lord!

Walk In His Ways

2021-02-07

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Deut 11:1 (CSB) “Therefore, love the Lord your God and always keep His mandate and His statutes, ordinances, and commands.”

 

1. Walking with God is better than any other option

Deut 11:13-15 (CSB) If you carefully obey my commands I am giving you today, to love the Lord your God and worship Him with all your heart and all your soul, 14 I will provide rain for your land in the proper time, the autumn and spring rains, and you will harvest your grain, new wine, and oil. 15 I will provide grass in your fields for your livestock. You will eat and be satisfied.

 

2. Not walking with God has devastating consequences

Deut 11:16-17 (CSB) Be careful that you are not enticed to turn aside, worship, and bow down to other gods. 17 Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you. He will close the sky, and there will be no rain; the land will not yield its produce, and you will perish quickly from the good land the Lord is giving you.

 

3. Hold His truths close and tell others

Deut 11:18-21 (CSB) Imprint these words of mine on your hearts and minds, bind them as a sign on your hands, and let them be a symbol on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 so that as long as the heavens are above the earth, your days and those of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your fathers.

 

4. The bottom line is clear – be a follower of Jesus Christ

Deut 11:22-24 For if you carefully observe every one of these commands I am giving you to follow—to love the Lord your God, walk in all His ways, and remain faithful to Him— 23 the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will drive out nations greater and stronger than you are. 24 Every place the sole of your foot treads will be yours.

 

 

The Faithfulness of God

2021-01-31

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

 

In the book of Numbers, God is preparing His people for the fulfillment of His promise to them. Yet, God’s people are impatient, skeptical, disobedient and rebellious. Sounds familiar.

 

Numbers 11:1 CSB “Now the people began complaining openly before the Lord about hardship. When the Lord heard, his anger burned, and fire from the Lord blazed among them and consumed the outskirts of the camp.”

 

Their complaints seemed to be unending:

  • Numbers 11 Hardship
  • Numbers 11 Food
  • Numbers 12 Moses
  • Numbers 13-14 The Promised Land
  • Numbers 16 Moses and Aaron
  • Numbers 20 Water
  • Numbers 21 Food and Water

 

But throughout the rebellion, the complaining, the criticism, God remained faithful to His promise.

 

Numbers 23:7-10 CSB Balaam proclaimed his poem: Balak brought me from Aram; the king of Moab, from the eastern mountains: “Come, put a curse on Jacob for me; come, denounce Israel!” How can I curse someone God has not cursed? How can I denounce someone the Lord has not denounced? I see them from the top of rocky cliffs, and I watch them from the hills. There is a people living alone; it does not consider itself among the nations. 10 Who has counted the dust of Jacob or numbered the dust clouds of Israel? Let me die the death of the upright; let the end of my life be like theirs.

 

 

Numbers 23:17-24 CSB So he returned to Balak, who was standing there by his burnt offering with the officials of Moab. Balak asked him, “What did the Lord say?” 18 Balaam proclaimed his poem: Balak, get up and listen; son of Zippor, pay attention to what I say! 19 God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill? 20 I have indeed received a command to bless; since He has blessed, I cannot change it. 21 He considers no disaster for Jacob; He sees no trouble for Israel. The Lord their God is with them, and there is rejoicing over the King among them. 22 God brought them out of Egypt; He is like the horns of a wild ox for them. 23 There is no magic curse against Jacob and no divination against Israel. It will now be said about Jacob and Israel, “What great things God has done!” 24 A people rise up like a lioness; They rouse themselves like a lion. They will not lie down until they devour the prey and drink the blood of the slain.

 

Numbers 24:5-9 CSB How beautiful are your tents, Jacob, your dwellings, Israel. The stretch out like river valleys, like gardens beside a stream, like aloes the Lord has planted, like cedars beside the water. Water will flow from his buckets, and his seed will be by abundant water. His king will be greater than Agag, and his kingdom will be exalted. God brought him out of Egypt; He is like the horns of a wild ox for them. He will feed on enemy nations and gnaw their bones; he will strike them with his arrows. He crouches, he lies down like a lion or a lioness—who dares to rouse him? Those who bless you will be blessed, and those who curse you will be cursed.

 

 

1. Regardless of what others might say, if God is for you who can be against you

Numbers 23:8 How can I curse someone God has not cursed? How can I denounce someone the Lord has not denounced?

  • We may be constantly under attack, but if we are focused on God’s will and plan for our lives, nothing can stop us and nothing can destroy us

Romans 8:31 What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

 

2. Regardless of our disobedience, God can always be trusted

Numbers 23:19 God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?

  • Even when we stray from God’s ideal, which we will, God still is on our side

3. Regardless of the ugliness of our actions, God still sees beauty

Numbers 24:5-6 How beautiful are your tents, Jacob, your dwellings, Israel. The stretch out like river valleys, like gardens beside a stream, like aloes the Lord has planted, like cedars beside the water.

  • God never stops seeing us for who we are, people He loves and people for whom Jesus died

4. Regardless of our past, God has secured our future

Numbers 24: 7 Water will flow from his buckets, and his seed will be by abundant water. His king will be greater than Agag, and his kingdom will be exalted.

 

1 Peter 1:3-4 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.

 

Holy God, Holy People

2021-01-24

Mattt Willmington

Leviticus 19

God was on the mountain giving His people instructions before they headed to Canaan. To travel with Him they would have to be like Him. To travel with God in 2021 we must be like God: HOLY.

The Lord spoke to Moses: 2 “Speak to the entire Israelite community and tell them: Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.

1. RESPECT

3 “Each of you is to respect his mother and father. You are to keep my Sabbaths; I am the Lord your God. 4 Do not turn to worthless idols or make cast images of gods for yourselves; I am the Lord your God.

2. SACRIFICE

5 “When you offer a fellowship sacrifice to the Lord, sacrifice it so that you may be accepted. 6 It is to be eaten on the day you sacrifice it or on the next day, but what remains on the third day must be burned. 7 If any is eaten on the third day, it is a repulsive thing; it will not be accepted. 8 Anyone who eats it will bear his iniquity, for he has profaned what is holy to the Lord. That person is to be cut off from his people.

3. GENEROSITY

9 “When you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap to the very edge of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not strip your vineyard bare or gather its fallen grapes. Leave them for the poor and the resident alien; I am the Lord your God.

4. HONESTY

11 “Do not steal. Do not act deceptively or lie to one another. 12 Do not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God; I am the Lord.

5. JUSTICE

13 “Do not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages due a hired worker must not remain with you until morning. 14 Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but you are to fear your God; I am the Lord. 15 “Do not act unjustly when deciding a case. Do not be partial to the poor or give preference to the rich; judge your neighbor fairly. 16 Do not go about spreading slander among your people; do not jeopardize your neighbor’s life; I am the Lord.

6. LOVE

17 “Do not harbor hatred against your brother.[b] Rebuke your neighbor directly, and you will not incur guilt because of him. 18 Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.

We are God’s people at foot of “Mt.2021”. It could be a hard road, but our God is leading us. The only way to travel with Him is to be like Him. HOLINESS!

The Call of God

2021-01-17 

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

 

Exodus 3:1-4  Meanwhile, Moses was shepherding the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. Then the Angel of the Lordappeared to him in a flame of fire within a bush. As Moses looked, he saw that the bush was on fire but was not consumed. So Moses thought: I must go over and look at this remarkable sight. Why isn’t the bush burning up? When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called out to him from the bush, “Moses, Moses!” “Here I am,” he answered.

 

Exodus 3:9-12 The Israelites’ cry for help has come to Me, and I have also seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 Therefore, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh so that you may lead My people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses asked God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 12 He answered, “I will certainly be with you, and this will be the sign to you that I have sent you: when you bring the people out of Egypt, you will all worship God at this mountain.”

 

Exodus 4:1 Then Moses answered, “What if they won’t believe me and will not obey me but say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”

 

Exodus 4:10-13 But Moses replied to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent—either in the past or recently or since You have been speaking to Your servant —because I am slow and hesitant in speech.” 11 Yahweh said to him, “Who made the human mouth? Who makes him mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, Yahweh? 12 Now go! I will help you speak and I will teach you what to say.” 13 Moses said, “Please, Lord, send someone else.”

 

1. Never ignore God’s call

Vs 3:4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called out to him from the bush, “Moses, Moses!” “Here I am,” he answered.

  • Fear could have kept Moses away from the presence of God
  • This fear could have led Moses to miss out on God’s calling and plan for his life

2. Never question God’s call

Vss 3:10-11 Therefore, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh so that you may lead My people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses asked God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

 

Vs 4:1 Then Moses answered, “What if they won’t believe me and will not obey me but say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”

  • The “what ifs” in life will always lead us to question God’s plan
  • This is a specific tactic of the enemy to keep us from trusting God
  • Moses answered in verse 4, “Here I am,” but when he heard the scope of God’s call he questioned the wisdom of God in calling him
  • God will never call you to something in which He doesn’t also equip to you fulfill that call successfully

3. Never doubt God’s power

Vs 3:12a He answered, “I will certainly be with you…”

  • Throughout this “burning bush” encounter, God continually assured Moses His power was all that was needed
  • And yet, Moses continued to doubt His own ability, God’s call and ultimately, God’s power to make it happen
  • In our lives, doubting that God can equip us to fulfill His call has been the one thing that has kept many people from ever accomplishing great things for Him
  • Until you accept that you can “do all things through Christ who strengthens me”, you will never make an impact for Him

4. Always trust God’s heart

Vss 3:16-17a “Go and assemble the elders of Israel and say to them: Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has appeared to me and said: I have paid close attention to you and to what has been done to you in Egypt. 17 And I have promised you that I will bring you up from the misery of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites…

  • God made it clear that He never forgot Israel in the midst of their problems and despair
  • Certainly at times there were moments where Israel wondered where God was, but His timing was always right

 

 

 

From The Depths…There Is Good

2021-01-10

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Genesis 39:1-2 (CSB) Now Joseph had been taken to Egypt. An Egyptian named Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, serving in the household of his Egyptian master.

 

Genesis 39:19-21 (CSB) When his master heard the story his wife told him—“These are the things your slave did to me”—he was furious 20 and had him thrown into prison, where the king’s prisoners were confined. So Joseph was there in prison. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him. He granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.

 

1. In the most difficult of moments, God is with you

Vs 2 The Lord was with Joseph…

  • No matter how deep the pit or great the challenge you are facing, God will not leave you on your own
  • 1 Peter 5:7 – “casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you”
  • This promise comes immediately following the statement that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble

 

2. When you are treated badly by others, God doesn’t abandon you

Vss 19b-21a—“These are the things your slave did to me”—he was furious 20 and had him thrown into prison, where the king’s prisoners were confined. So Joseph was there in prison. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him

  • Joseph had been hated by his brothers, left for dead, sold as a slave, lied about to his boss and now thrown into jail
  • But notice verse 21…But the Lord was with Joseph
  • Hebrews 13:5-6 reminds us He will never leave us or forsake us…and that because the Lord is our helper, there is nothing to fear because man can do nothing to us
  • Matthew 28:20 – “I am with you always”, Jesus said

 

3. God’s Best Should Be Our Focus

Vs 23b (CSB)…and the Lord made everything that he did successful.

  • Here’s the key: Despite all of the injustices that happened to Joseph, he continued to do what is right
  • He had every excuse to blame others, to quit, to seek revenge; but he didn’t

Gen.  50:20 (CSB) You planned evil against me; God planned it for good…

 

A Fresh Start

2021-01-03

 

Last week’s key verse: Phil. 3:13 (CSB) Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead

 

1. What are you hiding from?

Genesis 3:8-10 (CSB) Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”  10 And he said, “I heard You in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”

  • Our past will always keep us from moving forward, if we let it
  • Adam could not have truly believed that hiding would keep God from finding out what he had done
  • What are you hiding from?
    • Sin, fear, calling

2. Stop playing the “blame game”

Genesis 3:11-13 (CSB) Then He asked, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”  12 Then the man replied, “The woman You gave to be with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate.”  13 So the Lord God asked the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “It was the serpent. He deceived me, and I ate.”

  • Adam quickly blamed Eve for this transgression, but he also tried to put the blame back on God (…the woman you gave to be with me…)
  • Eve blamed the serpent (Satan) for her sin
  • Where was really the cause of this sin?
    • Pride, isolation, independence from God rather than dependence on God
    • Our sin is never caused by the actions of others, it is always caused by the consent of self

3. God has promised His presence…and His power

  • God promised Adam and Eve that He would care for them, even in their punishment (Gen. 3:14-19)
  • He also promised us all He would care for us, even in our sin

Genesis 8:21-22 (CSB) When the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, He said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, even though man’s inclination is evil from his youth. And I will never again strike down every living thing as I have done. 22 As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night will not cease.”

 

  • Psalm 23 – “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me…”
  • God promises to always be with us, no matter the circumstance
  • So, the greatest thing we can do is stop hiding, stop blaming, and start living the life God has called us to live

 

John 14:16-18 (CSB) And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. 17 He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you.

 

 

Forgetting The Past With A Heart For The Future

2020-12-27

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Philippians 3:7-14 (CSB) But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ —the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead. 12 Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, 14 I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.

 

1. The things I thought mattered don’t matter at all

Vs 7 But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ.

  • This is not to say the things or accomplishments of this world have no value, just that we must see them as they really are
  • The value of earthy possessions and accomplishments is found in how we use them for the Kingdom

 

2. Our ultimate goal is to know Him

Vs 8 More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ

  • The purpose of our lives must be focused on Christ and His daily impact in our lives
  • So often, we allow everything else to take priority in our lives rather than our devotion to Him

 

Vs 10 My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death

 

3. Knowing Him requires commitment

Vs 12 Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus.

  • This is a daily commitment and takes work
  • Because of Christ’s gift from the cross, we should make it our heart’s desire to grow in our faith
  • Becoming spiritually mature never happens by accident

 

4. Letting go of yesterday, focusing on tomorrow

Vs 13-14 Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, 14 I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.

  • There’s never been a more important statement for the church
  • We must let go of yesterday regardless of what’s there
  • One of the greatest threats to the success of the church is allowing the pain and failures of yesterday to determine the level of commitment for tomorrow
  • What’s your daily pursuit?

 

Christmas Eve Service

2020-12-24

 

Luke 2:1-14 (KJV) And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, Good will toward men.

 

Luke 1:30-33 (KJV) And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

 

1. God Became Man

Vs 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

 

2. But He Never Ceased to be God

Vs 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest

and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David

 

3. He Reigned Then, He Reigns Now, He will Reign Forever

Vs 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end

 

Luke 1:35 (NKJV) that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

 

Luke 1:37 (NKJV) For with God nothing will be impossible.

 

A Thrill of Hope:  Hope for the Heart

2020-12-20

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Christmas is a time when the word hope is used a great deal. While it is the desire of every human, we are often left disappointed because we look for hope in the wrong places.

 

Isaiah 9:6-7a For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end…

 

The Prince of Peace is the very source we have all been looking for. But when looking in the wrong place, we find pain, not peace. The book of Psalms we find a good description of what happens to us when we go to any other source than the Prince of Peace!

 

Psalm 6:2-3 Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled. 3 My soul also is greatly troubled; But You, O Lord—how long?

 

1. There is no pain too great

Vs 2a Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak…

  • David was experiencing great anguish because of his great sin
  • He felt as if the pain of life had become so great, he could no longer bear it

God’s Answer:

John 16:31-33 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

 

2. There is no grip too strong

Vs 2b …O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled

  • David’s pain went far beyond discomfort, it affected every aspect of his life
  • This was from a mental anguish that seemed hopeless

God’s Answer:

Psalm 31:24 Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the Lord.

 

3. There is no journey too far

Vs 3a My soul also is greatly troubled; But You, O Lord…

  • When we get to the point where our pain and hopelessness goes beyond the physical and emotional and goes to our soul
  • David’s pain had exceeded what he thought was humanly possible
  • But he recognized there was only one way out

God’s Answer:

Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

 

1 Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Psalm 6:4 Return, O Lord, deliver me Oh, save me for Your mercies’ sake!

 

 

 

A Thrill of Hope: Hope Has A Name

2020-12-13

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Isaiah 9:6-7a For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of Hisgovernment and peace There will be no end…

 

1. He redefines hope

Vs 6b And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

  • Wonderful – Greater than we can imagine
  • Counselor – A guide for our daily struggles
  • Mighty God – His divine nature cannot be diminished
  • Everlasting Father – His eternal care for His children
  • Prince of Peace – the very definition of hope; finally at peace

 

2. His hope has no end

Vs 7a Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end…

  • This is not referring to an earthly government, this is referring to His eternal Kingdom which will come ONE DAY
  • This Kingdom will be one of eternal peace

 

This promise implies that no one will be able to successfully oppose his authority or undermine the positive effects of his government.[1]

 

3. His hope has a catch

Acts 4:12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

 

Philippians 2:9-11 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

Matthew 8 – The Son of Man

John 4 – Messiah

John 8 – Light of the World – you will never walk in darkness

John 8 – I AM

John 10 – the Gate – whoever enters through me will be saved

John 10 – the Good Shepherd – He knows us

John 11 – the Resurrection and the Life

John 13 – Our Lord

John 14 – Way, Truth and Life

Rev 1 – The First and the Last

Rev 22 – the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end

 

[1] Gary V. Smith, Isaiah 1–39, ed. E. Ray Clendenen, The New American Commentary (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2007), 242.

A Thrill of Hope: Hope Changes Everything

December 6, 2020

Scott Bullman

HOPE CHANGES EVERYTHING

 

The world in which we live is messy. Hopelessness abounds. And the further we stray from God, the more hopeless we become.

 

Job:8:11 (TLB) – “Those who forget God have no hope…”

 

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A CULTURE FORGETS GOD? *

  • Wealth is idolized
  • Truth is minimized
  • Life is trivialized
  • Abortion is legalized
  • Television is vulgarized
  • Everything is sexualized and commercialized
  • Our consciences become desensitized
  • Education is secularized
  • Races are polarized
  • Morals and Ethics are liberalized
  • Entertainment crime is sensationalized
  • Immorality is popularized
  • Drugs are legitimized
  • Sin is glamorized
  • The Courts are paralyzed
  • The breakup of the family is rationalized
  • Manners are uncivilized
  • Christians are demonized and
  • God is marginalized

*  list compiled by Rick Warren

 

 

But there is a HOPE you can anchor your soul to. The promise is God’s…the person is Jesus…and this Hope CHANGES EVERYTHING!!!

 

 

HOPE is not optimism

  • Hope is theological…optimism is psychological.
  • Optimism is telling yourself things are going to be great even when they are not great.
  • Optimism is convincing yourself your situation isn’t bad. Hope says “It’s bad…but I still believe”

Three Types of Hope:

  1. Wishful Hope – what most people mean when they use the word HOPE.
  2. Expectant Hope – there’s some basis in reality.
  3. Certain Hope – This is what the Bible says to anchor your life to.
    • Hebrews 6:19 (NIV) – “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…”
    • There is no doubt in certain hope. It is confident.

 

Hope keeps your soul alive.

“Hope is the life preserver of our soul when it seems all is lost.” – Charles Billingsley

 

Hope (Certain Hope) is not only a life preserver…it is AN ANCHOR for your soul.

 

Certain Hope is based on God’s word, not my wishes.

…not on what I sense, but what God has said.

…not on my emotion, but what God has spoken.

 

Titus 1:2 (The Message) – My aim is to raise hopes by pointing the way to life without end. This is the life God promised long ago—and he doesn’t break promises!

 

Certain Hope is based on the fact that God cannot lie. We can trust His promises!!!

 

Romans 15:13 (NLT) –  I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

  • God is both the Source and Supplier of HOPE.
  • God is not just the Inspirer of Hope…He authors
  • His supply is abundant.

 

Romans 5:2-5 (NASB)

“…we celebrate in HOPE of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also celebrate in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, HOPE; and hope does not disappoint…”

 

Isaiah 43:2-3 (NLT)

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

 

“Contending for what you believe in is harder than conceding to what you are afraid of.”  – Mark Batterson

 

Jesus gave us the weapon against hopelessness in Luke 18:1 (NCV) – “Jesus taught his followers to always pray and never lose hope.”

 

Don’t panic…PRAY

Don’t worry…WORSHIP

Don’t concede…CONTEND

 

 

10 Most Common Causes of Hopelessness…

and 10 Reasons for Hope (based on The Lord’s Prayer)

taken from THE HOPE YOU NEED by Rick Warren

 

  1. You feel alone or abandoned –

Remember – My loving Father will never abandon me.

“Our Father which art in Heaven…”

 

  1. Life seems out of control –

Remember – God’s power is greater than any problem.

Hallowed be Your name…

 

  1. You don’t see a purpose

Remember – God fits everything into His plan.

Thy kingdom come…”

 

  1. Grieving a loss –

Remember – God has a greater purpose.

Thy will be done…”

 

  1. When you don’t have what you need –

Remember – God has promised to meet all our needs.

“Give us this day our daily bread…”

 

  1. You’ve done something wrong (guilt, shame, regret) –

Remember – Jesus died to pay for all I’ve done wrong.

“Forgive our trespasses…”

 

  1. Deeply wounded by someone (bitterness, resentment) –

Remember – God will settle the score someday.

“As we forgive those who trespass against us…”

 

  1. Temptation (constantly pulled in the wrong direction) –

Remember – God has promised to help me.

“Lead us not into temptation…”

 

  1. Hounded by fear (anxiety leads to hopelessness) –

Remember – Jesus in me is greater than any other power.

“Deliver us from evil…”

 

  1. When it looks like defeat –

Remember – This is NOT the end of the story.

“For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory FOREVER.”

 

Thrill of Hope: Hope Revealed

2020-11-29
Charles Billingsley

Introduction:

In 1944, Corrie Ten Boom, her sister Betsie, and their father Casper, were placed in a Nazi prison for giving refuge to Jewish people during WWII.  You can read the full story in her famous biography called The Hiding Place.  Eventually, Corrie and Betsie ended up in the Ravensbruck Concentration Camp for women.  While they were imprisoned at Ravensbruck, Betsie and Corrie would lead a Bible study each evening with a single copy of a smuggled Bible. Through their genuine love for the other prisoners, they would end up leading many of them to faith in Christ.

However, Betsie’s health deteriorated quickly while in those horrible conditions, and she died on December 16, 1944 at the age of 59.  Before she died, and in a particularly hard time while being ravished by the cold and tortured with starvation, she told Corrie,”There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still.” Corrie held on to those words of hope from her sister.  Then suddenly, twelve days later, Corrie was released. Afterwards, she was told that her release was because of a clerical error and that a week later, all the women in her age group were sent to the gas chambers.

Even in the midst of the worst of conditions, Corrie and Betsie never gave up hope.

Hope is the life preserver of our souls when it seems that all is lost.

But before we go any further, lets define it.

What is Hope?

Tertullian said that “Hope is patience with the lamp lit.”

Or maybe I could say it this way:
“Hope is the Motel 6 of virtues:  It always leaves the light on.”

One thing is for sure… We cannot live without hope.

 

Max Lucado put it this way: “Biblical hope is not wishful thinking.
It is the unshakable confidence that God can be trusted.  It is the belief that God is always at work for our good.  It is the assurance that God’s promises are true even while we wait for their fulfillment. Because our hope is certain, we wait patiently, not fretfully, trusting that God is already at work to provide the light we seek, the help we need, and the deliverance we long for.”

Jesus is the light we seek.
Jesus is the help we need.
Jesus is the deliverance we long for.

This Hope is thrilling because of the confidence and the salvation that it brings.  It is NOT a false hope.  This is a hope that is based on absolute truth!

This is the kind of hope that only God can give us.  why? because God keeps His promises!

1. Hope Revealed – In the promise of the Christ

There are 332 passages in the Old Testament that scholars recognize as prophesies of the first coming of the Messiah.

Many of these have to do specifically with His birth.

Take for instance – Isaiah 7:14  -Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

It was fulfilled in Matthew 1:18-25
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His nameJesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.

He is Jesus by name.  But He is Immanuel by nature.  He is God with Us.

A few things you need to know about The Incarnate God –
1. The incarnation was not the beginning of Christ. Jesus has always been.  He didn’t just suddenly appear 2,000 years ago as a baby. He’s been here from the beginning.  He is creator God.
Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
Don’t ever forget that Jesus is creator, ruler, master, and authority over ALL things!!  He always has been and always will be!! He IS King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

2. The incarnation fulfilled prophesy.

3. The Mega Millions had a $1.6 billon jackpot in October 2018, and the odds of winning it were merely 1 in 302,575,350

Peter Stone’s mathematical calculations determined that the chances of Jesus fulfilling just 8 of the 332 prophesies about his first coming is 1 in 10 to the 17th power.  (Silver Dollar analogy I gave last year) Thats a 1 with 17 0’s behind it.

And what if he fulfilled just 48 of the 332?  The chances of that are 1 in 10 to the 57th power!!!  And yet Christ fulfilled them all!  How?   Because he wrote all the prophesies!

4. The incarnation is necessary for salvation. Salvation comes through Christ alone by way of the cross and HIs resurrection . None of us know why this is God’s plan, but it is.  And certainly none of us, if we were delivering a savior to a broken world, would send him in the form of a helpless, peasant baby.  And yet, this is exactly what God has done.
Jesus removed His robes of royalty, purposefully stepped away from the glory of heaven where He was being attended to by legions of Angels, where He was sitting on a throne of splendor and majesty, where He was omnipotent and omnipresent, and chose to confine Himself to flesh – and humbled himself and became a person.

Philippians 2:7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
He willingly stepped away from His majestic throne and into our messy home.

And what a mess it was!
It had been 400 years since anyone had heard from God.  He was silent.  This is known as the Intertestamental period.   There is no record where God spoke through any prophets.  There was no Biblical book written in that time.  No one heard God’s voice. He was, of course present, but He did not manifest His presence. He was not dead….but He was silent.  So the world lie in wait.

So He did all this in just the right way at just the right time.

My friend Chris Rice summed it up well in his song Welcome to Our World:

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You’ve been promised, we’ve been waiting
Welcome Holy Child
Welcome Holy Child

Hope that you don’t mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long-awaited Holy Stranger
Make Yourself at home
Please make Yourself at home

Bring Your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
Word now breaking Heaven’s silence
Welcome to our world
Welcome to our world

Immanuel was here…..God was now with us.  And he would grow and experience the highs and lows of everyday life.  Fully God…yet fully human.

 

Jesus gets you!   He truly gets you!  And He came because he wants to help you get out of your mess!! He wants to give you hope!

He is Immanuel – God WITH Us.

But He is also God FOR us!

Romans 15:13 New King James Version (NKJV)
13 Now may the God of hope fill YOU with ALL joy and peace in believing, that YOU may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit

What an incredible Christmas gift of YOU!  God is FOR you!

2. Hope Revealed – In the power of the Cross

Romans 8:31 – What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
8:37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What the cross reveals to us is just how much God truly LOVES us!  He loves us so much that He came and died for our mess. Nothing can diminish the Love of God for us.

John 3:16-17
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

 

So you can’t earn this salvation. You can’t buy this hope.  You can’t lease it for a little while.  It’s permanent, but it only through the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born

Philippians 2:8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

So what??? What does any of this have to do with us today? Everything!!!  Because the cross is just as powerful and life changing now as it has ever been.

You may find yourself in a desperate situation today…lost and in a pit of despair.

The lure of wealth
the temptation of sex/relationships
the enticement of addictive substances.

but then there’s Jesus… revealed as the promised Christ…gets down into the pit with you….
wraps his loving arms around you and holds you with his nail scarred hands and says “come unto me….I love you and gave my life for you!

The overwhelming message of Christmas is simply this:
You are loved !!

No matter who you are or what you’ve done…you are loved.

Corrie Ten Boom never forgot that statement:  “There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still.”

God is always with you
God is always for you

You need to remember that today.

You also need to remember this:

There is no darkness dark enough where the light of Jesus can’t illuminate your soul.

There is no distance far enough that God’s loving arms can’t reach around you.

So wrap our injured flesh around You
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy
Perfect Son of God
Perfect Son of God
Welcome to our world

1. Hope Revealed – in the promise of the Christ –
He jumped into our mess

2. Hope Revealed – in the power of the Cross –
He died for our mess

3. Hope Revealed – In the presence of HIs Coming
Remember I mentioned 332 prophesies are about his first coming.
Did you know that there are literally more than 1800 Biblical references to His second coming!!  And if Jesus fulfilled all 332 prophesies about His first coming, you better believe the prophesies about what is yet to come are going to happen.  That’s biblical hope…hope with an unshakeable confidence that

One day He will take us out of this mess!

Philippians 2:9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

1 Peter 1:3 New King James Version (NKJV)
3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

And Always Be Thankful

2020-11-22

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

 

Colossians 3:1–15 (NLT): Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. 6 Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. 7 You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. 8 But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. 9 Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. 11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. 12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

 

1. Thankfulness requires refocusing

Vss 1-2 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.

  • It is so easy for us to be distracted by the world’s nonsense which leads to uncertainty, confusion and even discouragement
  • “set your sights” higher

2. Thankfulness requires recommitment

Vs 5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.

  • Worship of this world and its “idols” will keep you from being thankful
  • Worship of this world and its “idols” will you leave you discontent
  • We must “kill off” the temptation to give in to Satan’s ploy

3. Thankfulness requires reprioritizing

Vs 11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

  • Be thankful for Christ and His gift above all and everything else falls into place
  • No matter the circumstance, Christ is all that matters

4. Thankfulness requires recognition

Vs 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

  • This world is always on edge, always divided
  • God has called us to peace and that peace is only possible if we allow Christ to rule in our hearts
  • This is the beginning of being thankful and will change everything in your life

 

 

The Beginning and End

2020-11-15

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

1 John 1:1-4 (NLT) We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.

 

1. Jesus has always been the only Way

1:1a We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning…

  • At a time when everyone is looking for anything that can bring joy, peace and contentment; the answer is still the same…Jesus
  • John clearly wanted to point people to Christ for he knew the hope we needed was in Christ alone

2. Jesus became like us to save us

1:1b … whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life.

  • Some false teachers at the time were declaring that Jesus wasn’t really fully man when He was on earth
  • John is reaffirming the Incarnation of Christ. Jesus was fully man and fully God which was necessary to fulfill His mission

3. Jesus came to give us life

1:2b … And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us.

  • John also reaffirms the statement Jesus made in John 14:6
  • He also states that Jesus has always been and will always be

Rev. 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”

4. Jesus came to bring us home

1 John 5:20-21 And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life. 21 Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.

  • Jesus has come
  • He has revealed truth and hope
  • He has given us the opportunity through his resurrection to have fellowship with God
  • HE has given us the promise of Heaven
  • So, why do we run from Him?

 

 

 

 

 

Peace In The Midst of the Storm

2020-11-08

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

John 14:25-31 (CSB) “I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit —the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you. 27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful. 28 You have heard Me tell you, ‘I am going away and I am coming to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens so that when it does happen you may believe. 30 I will not talk with you much longer, because the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over Me. 31 On the contrary, I am going away so that the world may know that I love the Father. Just as the Father commanded Me, so I do. “Get up; let’s leave this place.”

 

1. God is with us

Vs 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit —the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.

  • No matter we might be experiencing, the Holy Spirit is with us to:
    • Remind of us what God has said
    • Renew God’s promises daily
    • Return us to the blameless life

2. He still gives peace

Vs 27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.

  • God’s desire is for us to see peace in every trial
  • We are not promised He will keep us out of the trial, just that He will be with us in it

Psalm 34:17-18 The righteous cry out, and the Lordhears, and delivers them from all their troubles. 18 The Lordis near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit.

 

3. Nothing can stop it

Vs 30 I will not talk with you much longer, because the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over Me.

  • At times, it seems like Satan has the upper hand in our situations but Jesus reminds us here that Satan has no power over our God

Proverbs 18:10 (NKJV) The name of the Lordisa strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.

 

4. So keep on keeping on

Vs 31 On the contrary, I am going away so that the world may know that I love the Father. Just as the Father commanded Me, so I do. “Get up; let’s leave this place.

  • Jesus reminds us one more time that He has everything under control
  • His encouragement: “Get up; let’s leave this place”
  • What place do you need to leave today that is keeping you discouraged?

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

 

 

 

The Unknown god: the god of tribalism

2020-11-01

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Tribalism – “tribalism is the attitude and practice of harboring such a strong feeling of loyalty or bonds to one’s tribe that one excludes or even demonizes those ‘others’ who do not belong to that group”[1]or; 2) often disapproving : loyalty to a tribe or other social group especially when combined with strong negative feelings for people outside the group.[2]

 

Racism – 1) “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capabilities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race”[3]

 

 

There are varying types of tribalism. It can come from Northerners and Southerners, it can come from ethnic or racial bounds. It can flow from political differences. Obviously, it can flow from political or belief systems. Regardless of its foundations, tribalism when it is taken to the extreme, is always damaging and always sin.

 

Luke 10:25-37 (CSB) Just then an expert in the law stood up to test Him, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the law?” He asked him. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. 28 “You’ve answered correctly,” He told him. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus took up the question and said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him up, and fled, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down that road. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 In the same way, a Levite, when he arrived at the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan on his journey came up to him, and when he saw the man, he had compassion. 34 He went over to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on olive oil and wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him. When I come back I’ll reimburse you for whatever extra you spend.’36 “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 “The one who showed mercy to him,” he said. Then Jesus told him, “Go and do the same.”

 

The monumental question in this passage is found in verse 29:  And who is my neighbor?

 

“Before the question ‘Who is my neighbor?’ at the beginning of time was the question ‘Am I my brother’s keeper’ [Cain]? The answer was and is ‘YES’.”Genesis 4:9

 

The answer Jesus gave: vs 37 “The one who showed mercy to him,” he said. Then Jesus told him, “Go and do the same.”

 

  1. The only way to truly love your neighbor begins in your personal relationship with Christ

Vs 27 He answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind

  1. Loving your neighbor never develops in passivity

Vss 31-32 A priest happened to be going down that road. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 In the same way, a Levite, when he arrived at the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

  1. Loving your neighbor always requires being active

Vs 33a But a Samaritan on his journey came up to him…

  1. Loving your neighbor always requires reflecting God’s love

1 Cor. 13:4-8 (CSB) Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

 

 

Vs 33b …and when he saw the man, he had compassion.

 

  1. Loving your neighbor does not mean having to sacrifice your beliefs or Biblical truth
  • “We can DISAGREE – but we should not be DIVIDED”
  • “Bottom line – are you aChrist follower? Then we are in ONE tribe – God’s! Eph 4:4-6 There is one body and one Spirit —just as you were called to one hope at your calling— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

 

 

 

[1]Nothwehr D. M., 2008, That They May Be One,Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, p. 5

[2]English Language Learners Dictionary

[3]Merriam Webster Dictionary, 2014

Who makes the Rules?  (Reasoning with the Relativist)

2020-10-25

 

Charles Billingsley

 

The overriding questions of ethics are simply this…

Who makes the rules?

What are the rules ?

Do we have to follow the rules?

For Christians, the answer is obvious.  God makes the rules and yes we must follow them.  But for the majority of the world, the answer is something like this:

Who makes the rules?  you can make our own.

What are the rules?  whatever you think they should be

Do we have to follow them?  only if it’s right for you.

So is it your truth that matters? – where you make the rules

or is it God’s Truth that matters? – Where God makes the rules

This issue of questioning and challenging any and all values is what we call moral relativism. And our nation is drowning in it.

 

What’s Up?

 

What is Relativism ?

Relativism is not a god, so to speak.  But rather it’s a philosophy.  The god in relativism….is you.

Websters:

“a view that ethical truths depend on the individuals and groups holding them.”

 

What is Moral Relativism?

It is, in essence, the belief that moral absolutes do not exist, but rather we are free to determine what is morally right or wrong based on our upbringing, our social status, our natural desires and the culture around us.

So what seems right to me, may not be right to you.  And that’s ok.

What’s true for you may not be true for me.  And that’s ok.  We become our own standard of measurement.  We create our own set of values and principles.

 

The problem is that with this mindset, there is no basis for where anyone can find objective truth and there is no person morally pure enough in the world who can provide for us a pure and perfect system of values and principles.  So with this philosophy of life, we are left to figure this  out for ourselves, with, of course, the absolute rule that we don’t offend anyone with our beliefs.  However, that in itself is a contradiction of the relativists point of view.  If there are no moral absolutes, then you can’t have an absolute rule of any kind.

But relativists do have one absolute.

 

The only moral absolute of relativism is freedom to think and do whatever you want.

The only sin of relativism is tolerance.

But have you noticed how the so-called “tolerant” are incredibly intolerant if you disagree with them in any way? I personally find the intolerance of the tolerant incredibly intolerable.

Do you see how this philosophy might lead to a severe downward spiral in our society.

It begins this never ending cycle where we eventually end up like the children of Israel in Judges 21:25

 

Judges 21:25

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

 

1. Wake Up

 

Colossians 2:8

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

How do we recognize relativism so we can talk to our neighbors and loved ones about this stuff?

It’s all around us

in media

in journalism – remember when you could watch the news and just get the news and NOT an editorial?

in education  – relativism is routinely taught in secular universities

in entertainment

in government

This philosophy is nothing new.  We see in Acts 17 where Paul encounters various philosophers in Greece, many of which were rooted in what we would today call “relativism.”

The rise of communism, marxism, Atheism socialism, the holocaust, slavery, and racism are all rooted in relativism philosophy.

Hot issues of our day like abortion, euthanasia, gender identity, sexual orientation issues…all rooted in relativism.

The problem with relativism, is that it ultimately will destroy our nation and our world.  We cannot redefine our reality just to suit a personal agenda.  We cannot create our own set of morals based off of personal preferences.   There is just no end to that slippery slope.  What happens is that we eventually obscure what is evil and even begin to accept it as good.

Dwight  Longenekker – “first we overlook evil, then we permit evil, then we legalize evil, then we promote evil, then we celebrate evil, then we persecute those who still call it evil.”

 

Isaiah 5:20-21

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;

Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;

Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,

And prudent in their own sight!

Relativism provides no sure foundation for a safe and orderly society.

 

Charles Colson

No culture in history has ever embraced moral relativism and survived. Our own culture, therefore, will either (1) be the first, and disprove history’s clearest lesson, or (2) persist in its relativism and die, or (3) repent of its relativism and live. There is no other option.

 

Peter Kreeft

It is time for the church to WAKE UP and realize that relativism is here and it is taking over.

 

2. Dress UP

 

Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians uses a metaphor to help Christians gain a picture for how to stand strong in the world.

Ephesians 6: 13-16 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth…

The reason Paul starts his list of the these pieces of Armor with the Belt of Truth.  When a Roman Soldier would dress for battle, he would have a tunic underneath that armor.

 

This all important belt would serve 3 important roles.

  1. It would hold the tunic in place when the solder would tuck it in.
  2. It helped secure his backpack and supplies by keeping it strapped to his waist not just his shoulders
  3. It would hold his sword and his breastplate in place

 

The belt was basically what held all the equipment of the soldier together.  It was a central piece of his armor.  And I believe Paul mentions it first in the armor of God because it is truth that holds us together.

Without the truth of the Gospel, our faith is worthless…there is no salvation….peace…or even righteousness.

So dress up ….put on your belt of truth!

 

3.  Wise Up

 

Proverbs 14:12

There is a way that seems right to a man,

But its end is the way of death.

 

A relativist doesn’t necessarily have to be right in everyone’s eyes.  They just have to be right in their own eyes.  As long as their pathway to truth seems right to them and it doesn’t infringe on your pathway to truth , they are ok with that.

Oprah Winfrey summed up this mindset for millions of people watching when she made this statement during her speech at the 75th Golden Globe awards:

“What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”

But as believers, we don’t believe in atruth, we believe in THEtruth.

I like what Ben Shapiro said in response to Oprah – “there is no such thing as your truth.  There is only THE truth and your opinion.”

But nevertheless, a relativist buys into this mindset that their reality is based on their truth…whatever that might be.

The Oxford dictionary’s word of the year was post-truth – “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

This is classic relativism right here.

 

“We love the truth when it enlightens us. We hate the truth when it convicts us.” – Augustine”

 

Even at the risk of sounding intolerant, we must have the courage to present to them an alternative based on an absolute truth. Challenge them to closely examine the foundations of BOTH worldviews… one with God and one without God.

 

So two things:

A. We must Know what we believe

 

Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

Be smart and gentle at the same time.

Earn the right to be heard with your kindness, gentleness and genuine love for others.

Engage in what Francis Shaeffer called “pre-evangelism.”  Seek first to understand their worldview and then gently and lovingly present the Christian worldview.  Paul did this everywhere he went, but we see it vividly in Acts 17.

When talking to someone who you know comes from a relativistic mindset…start with some common ground and go from there.

So we must wise up.

We must know what we believe.

 

B. We must clarify what we believe  –  Know your Bible.  Know how to explain the doctrines of faith, salvation, grace and forgiveness.

These are good dinner table discussions with your family or your Christian friends. So talk about it with each other. It will help you “flesh out” how you explain your faith in Christ  to others.

 

1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…

The word “answer” is the Greek word apologia….it is where we get our word apologetics from.

“The purpose of apologetics is to mold the thought of the world in such a way as to make the acceptance of Christianity something more than a logical absurdity.” – Charles Colson

So we must

 

Wake up – relativism is all around us  – It’s my truth vs. The truth

Dress up – put on the belt of truth

Wise up – know what you believe and clarify what you believe

 

4. Rise Up

 

Acts 17:16

16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols.

Paul was completely aware of the culture in which he was present, and its beliefs.  But not only that, his greatest desire was for them to know Christ.  But He had to understand their religions, their Gods and their customs and meet them where they were in the conversation.   The was a burning passion that provoked him to reach out to these people.

But notice what he did next.

 

Act.17:17 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.

 

Paul reasoned with them – He didn’t argue or fight or talk about them behind their back or post things about them later.  He reasoned with them – face to face.

 

And he did so on their turf – with Jews in the synagogue, gentiles in their places of worship, and in the marketplace!

And he did it daily.  Witnessing for Christ should be an as you go lifestyle…always open and ready for a conversation with someone who might be hurting or in need, or simply curious about the hope you have in your heart.

“The enemy advances when Christians relax.”  – David Fiorazo

If we begin to talk to our friends and loved ones about all this, is it going to cause some rather uncomfortable conversations?  You bet.  But it all depends on your love for them and the tone which you use.  If people know you have a genuine love for them and that your truly do care about them, and you’ve shown them so by things you’ve done for them, then they are generally open to a conversation like this.

 

There is no traction without friction.

“When the church is truly the church, a community living in biblical obedience and contending for faith in every area of life, it will surely revive the surrounding culture or create a new one.”

Charles Colson

So we’ve got to Rise up… and do what?

Point people to THE truth….not a truth…but THE truth!!

“ Our job is not only to build up the church but also to build a society to the glory of God.”

Charles Colson

This is the reason Liberty University plays such a vital role in, literally, the future of this nation.  Because at Liberty, we are raising up thousands upon thousands of young champions for Christ who don’t ascribe to Relativism.  And we are sending them out to the pulpits across the world to preach the truth. But we are not just sending out preachers and worship leaders and missionaries….no!  We are also sending out top notch lawyers, doctors, nurses, business men and women, athletes, engineers, secular musicians, artists, politicians, scientists, and much much more!!  We are literally on a campus full of world changers for the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, for the good of mankind and for the future of the nations.  Praise God for Liberty University!  It exists to point our world to the truth!

What is truth you may ask?  (Just like Pilate asked Jesus in John 18.)

 

Truth is that which is factual, actual and real.

And when we encounter something that is true, then we know we can trust it.

 

Truth develops trust.

Watching the news to me now is like watching pro-wrestling.  you flip back and forth between those channels and you’re asking yourself the same question…is it real or is it fake!

Trust is built off of truth.  If someone or something proves themselves untrue….then you lose your trust in them.

But that’s one of the primary reasons you can totally rely on Jesus!  He is exactly who he said He is…You can trust Him.

He is the Living water, bread of life, Son of man, the good shepherd, the true vine, the light of the world, the Chief Cornerstone, grace-giver, promise keeper, Savior, redeemer, Friend …and He is the Way, the Life, the Truth!

 

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Let’s let the truth speak for Himself

Jesus is the embodiment of God’s truth.  It is the truth of Jesus that brings hope and life and forgiveness and peace and real freedom.  You cannot manufacture that kind of truth from your own existence!

 

John 8:31-32 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

 

“To the relativist, the only moral absolute is freedom.  And the only sin is intolerance.” – Tim Keller

 

“Real freedom comes from a strategic loss of some freedoms in order to gain others. It is not the absence of constraints but it is choosing the right constraints and the right freedoms to lose.”  – Tim Keller

 

In life…You can sin all you want, but the natural law of sin’s result is disappointment, emptiness, and death.  Sin always ends up making a travesty of our lives.

God is dead – said Neitzche.  But in the end – Neitzche is dead – said God.

 

Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

 

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The choice is yours….you can do it your way, but I would suggest you try it God’s way.  His way has proven in the lives of countless millions…including mine…to be the true way to live.  And if you have the truth in Jesus…you are truly free.

 

Law of thrusts vs. the law of gravity

 

ROMANS 8:2

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”

 

Just like a plane uses the law of thrusts to overcome the law of gravity, so the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus overcomes the consequences of sin and death.

 

When you place your life and your trust into the hands of Jesus…when you allow Him to constrain your sinful nature with his arms of love…you will discover a greater freedom you never dreamed possible.  For this is freedom for your soul.

 

O to grace how great a debtor

Daily I’m constrained to be!

Let thy grace now like a fetter

Bind my wandering heart to Thee

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it

Prone to leave the God I love

Here’s my heart, O take and seal it

Seal it for Thy courts above

 

Truth has a name….Jesus

Freedom has a name…Jesus

 

You want THE truth?  It is in Christ alone

You want real freedom? Freedom is in Christ alone

 

Romans 8:36 “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

Unknown god: The god of status

2020-10-18 

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

 

Matthew 20:20-28 (CSB) Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons approached Him with her sons. She knelt down to ask Him for something. 21 “What do you want?” He asked her. “Promise,” she said to Him, “that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right and the other on Your left, in Your kingdom.” 22 But Jesus answered, “You don’t know what you’re asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” “We are able,” they said to Him. 23 He told them, “You will indeed drink My cup. But to sit at My right and left is not Mine to give; instead, it belongs to those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.”  24 When the 10 disciples heard this, they became indignant with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and the men of high position exercise power over them. 26 It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.”

 

1. The desire for status

Vs 21b “Promise,” she said to Him, “that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right and the other on Your left, in Your kingdom.”

  • She may have been made aware of what Jesus said in Matthew 19:28 that the
    twelve “would sit on twelve thrones, judging the tribes of Israel”
  • She was advocating that her sons have the most important spots, the right and the left
  • Today, things are no different. Many times, we all angle for positions and status in order to convey the image of greatness and power

2. An empty pursuit

Vs 22 But Jesus answered, “You don’t know what you’re asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?”

  • Jesus clearly conveyed they had a false sense of what greatness is
  • They answered in the second part of the verse, “we are able” but they had no idea Jesus was speaking of His death on the cross
  • Jesus used these words to convey the path to greatness is not found in status, it is found in serving

Matthew 23:11-12 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

 

3. The right way

Vss 25-27 But Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and the men of high position exercise power over them. 26 It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.”

  • Jesus used the contrast between the world’s rulers and what Jesus said was true greatness
  • The world’s rulers abused their power and abused their people with their status
  • Jesus clearly gave the order, “it must not be like that among you”
  • Jesus is our example

 

Stuart Weber said, “The person who is truly great, by heaven’s definition, is the one who chooses an attitude of submission to others in the family of believers.[1]

 

[1]Stuart K. Weber, Matthew, vol. 1, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 324.

 

Phil. 2:3-8 (CSB) Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross.

 

 

Unknown god: The god of materialism

2020-10-11

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Key Verse: Matthew 6:33 (CSB) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

 

Matthew 6:19-24 (CSB) “Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness—how deep is that darkness! 24 “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.

 

1. What is the object of your focus?

Vs 19a “Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth…”

  • Jesus clearly states if our focus is on the things of this earth, they are of no value

Vs 20a “But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven…”

  • Jesus gives a clear picture of the difference between focusing on the things of God and the things of man

Vs 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

 

2. Our focus is based on how we view things

Vss 22-23 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness—how deep is that darkness!

  • The lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, pride of life

1 John 2:16 For everything in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions–is not from the Father, but is from the world.

  • If we look at things wrongly, it is destructive to every part of our being

 

  1. Whom do you serve?

Vs 24 “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.”

 

 

 

The god of Pleasure

2020-10-04

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

 

2 Timothy 3:1-5 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

 

1. “Lovers of Themselves”– vs 2a

  • The exact opposite of God’s plan
  • Matt. 22:37-39 Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lordyour God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’38 This is thefirst and great commandment. 39 Andthesecond islike it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
  • Knute Larson said,

When we fall in love with ourselves, our own appetites consume our souls. We become our own lover, pandering to that solitary “i” which must, of necessity, dismiss all threats and counterclaims to our affections. Everything from thoughts to possessions must be lavished upon the one we love—ourselves.[1]

 

2. The result of messing up God’s plan

Vss 2b – 4a lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty,

  • When we fixate on self rather than focus on God, the inevitable result is abuse of everything, and everyone, around us
  • We elevate self over others. We criticize, gossip, attack, and turn on even those closest to us, because our ultimate goal is feeding the appetite of self

Ecc. 2:9-11 (NLT) So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. 10 Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. 11 But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

 

3. A false worship

Vs 4b – 5 lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

  • Thomas Lea says it this way, “Because they loved themselves, they also loved sensual pleasures. They were controlled by the quest for the thrill of pleasure. Given a choice, they would always please themselves rather than God[2]
  • Hypocritical faith never leads to Godliness
  • God calls us to reject those who are “lovers of pleasure”

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

 

 

[1]Knute Larson, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, vol. 9, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 301.

[2]Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 225–226.

Unknown God

2020-09-27

 

Key Verse: Acts 17:30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,

We have allowed our lives to be consumed by the distractions of this world. We have created gods among us which have led us to misdirection in our worship and confusion of our God. This is not a new condition. This sad state of affairs is one that has been present since the Garden of Eden. Yet, we have now reached a tipping point, a critical moment in the spiritual journey. The church has arrived at what 1 Peter 4:17 describes.

 

1 Peter 4:17 (NLT) For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News?

 

Acts 17:22-31 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

1. Refocusing on the one true God

Vs 23b Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you:

  • We’ve reached a time when we must recognize God for who He is. He is not a convenience to be counted on when times are tough or the mood allows, He must be the central figure of our daily lives
  • No longer can we allow the things of this world, the distractions of the world, to turn our eyes and attention away from Him
  • Because we have been distracted, we’ve gotten ourselves into a very deep pit

2. The Creator of all

Vss 24-25 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.

  • The idea that our actions, our words, our thoughts drive our ability to see Him at work in our lives must be dismissed. God is present, He is active, and He is able
  • We have given into the notion that God is not capable of delivering us from our present state; nothing could be further from the truth
  • God is more powerful than we can imagine. There is nothing going on within our lives or our world that God cannot overcome

3. Created to seek and worship Him

Vss 26-28 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’

  • Our purpose in life is not to accomplish, achieve or obtain; it is to worship Him
  • The God who orders the steps of the Godly will always lead them to peace
    • Psalm 37:23 (NLT) The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.

4. Not to seek and worship everything else

Vss 29-31 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.

  • We have created a system whereby the things of this world have become the focus of our world
  • We worship the stuff and the pleasure rather than the one who created
  • We must replace our unknown God with the only God

Howard Marshall said, “Until the coming of the revelation of God’s true nature in Christianity men lived in ignorance of him. But now the proclamation of the Christian message brings this time to an end so far as those who hear the gospel are concerned; they no longer have any excuse for their ignorance. God[1]

[1]I. Howard Marshall, Acts: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 5, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1980), 306.

30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

 

Better Together

2020-09-20

 

Hebrews 3:12–13 (HCSB) Watch out, brothers, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that departs from the living God. 13 But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.

 

1. Spiritual Awareness In An Ungodly World

Vs 12a Watch out, brothers, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart

  • We are living in a dangerous time in history
  • Apathy towards, or ignorance of, God’s Word during these days can only result in a negative heart change

 

2. A Breaking Away From God

Vs 12b …that departs from the living God.

  • A lack of intentionality as it relates to our faith will lead to moving away from God
  • Humans don’t naturally drift towards righteousness

 

3. Better Together

Vs 13 But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.

 

  • Corrie Ten Boom said, “When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles. When he stops studying the Bible, the devil laughs. When he stops praying, the devil shouts for joy.”[1]

 

  • Gene Getz stated, “Though true Christianity uniquely involves a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, it is also a corporate experience…Christians cannot grow spiritually as they ought to in isolation from one another.”[2]

 

 

Acts 2:46–47 (HCSB) Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.

 

[1]Corrie Ten Boom, https://www.azquotes.com/quotes/topics/christian-fellowship.html

[2]Encouraging One Another, Victor Books, 1985, p. 10.

 

ALL IN

2020-09-13

Scott Bullman

 

Key Verse: We are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us.”

                                                                                                            2 Corinthians 5:20 (NLT)

 

1 Kings 19:19-21 (NLT)

19 So Elijah went and found Elisha son of Shaphat plowing a field. There were twelve teams of oxen in the field, and Elisha was plowing with the twelfth team. Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak across his shoulders and then walked away. 20 Elisha left the oxen standing there, ran after Elijah, and said to him, “First let me go and kiss my father and mother good-bye, and then I will go with you!”

Elijah replied, “Go on back, but think about what I have done to you.”

21 So Elisha returned to his oxen and slaughtered them. He used the wood from the plow to build a fire to roast their flesh. He passed around the meat to the townspeople, and they all ate. Then he went with Elijah as his assistant.

 

 

Elisha’s ALL-IN moment:

21 So Elisha returned to his oxen and slaughtered them. He used the wood from the plow to build a fire to roast their flesh. He passed around the meat to the townspeople, and they all ate. Then he went with Elijah as his assistant.

 

  • Elisha wasn’t just buying in…he was SELLING OUT!

 

 

ALL-IN COMMITMENT requires ALL-IN OBEDIENCE

 

  1. ALL-IN Obedience Will Be Tested

“A test is simply an opportunity to get a testimony.” – Mark Batterson

 

  1. ALL-IN Obedience Often Releases God’s Miracles

– When you walk in obedience TO God, you are not surprised by the miracles FROM God.

 

  1. ALL-IN Obedience Always Requires Faith

– Delayed obedience is disobedience.

– Obedience is our responsibility…the outcome is God’s responsibility.

 

Trade FEAR for FAITH

Risk SAFETY for MIRACLES

Go ALL IN!!!

 

A Bold Faith

2020-09-06

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

 

Hebrews 10:19-25 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

 

1. The Confidence of the Believer

Vss 20-21 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God,

  • “new” – made possible by Christ’s death
  • “living” – because of His resurrection
  • “way” – the path by which we must walk

– Jesus called Himself the WAY in John 14:6

– Early Christians described their newfound faith as “people of the way”

2. The Closeness of the Believer

Vs 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

  • “true heart” – absolute commitment to our faith, not hypocrisy
  • “full assurance of our faith” – confidence as discussed in the previous verse
  • “hearts sprinkled” – continual and constant confession of our sins

 

3. The Consistency of the Believer

Vs 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

  • We must continue to hold tightly to the promise we have in Christ

Faith reposes completely in the love of God: Hope vividly anticipates that God will fulfill His promises in a particular way[1]– Westcott

4. The Commitment of the Believer

Vs 24-25 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

a. We have a responsibility, not only to Christ, but to each other

b. This responsibility includes:

i. Encouragement

ii. Serving

iii. Gathering

iv. Exhorting

 

The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion.[2]– John Wesley

 

It is interesting that this kind of love is thus a product of community activity, for it is a virtue that requires others for its exercise. One may practice faith or hope alone, but not love.[3]– Leon Morris

 

 

[1]Leon Morris, “Hebrews,”in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews through Revelation, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 12 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 104.

[2]Raymond Brown, The Message of Hebrews: Christ above All, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 186–187.

[3]Leon Morris, “Hebrews,”in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews through Revelation, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 12 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 105.

The power of sin, the greatness of shame & the sufficiency of Christ. 

2020-08-30

 

David Nasser

We are reminded in the gospel about the cancer and the cure. The problem and the solution.

 

1. Sin is strong

 

Definition:
Sin is the “missing of the mark” or going beyond the boundaries or limits set by God.

 

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life inChrist Jesus our Lord.

 

Ephesians 2:1

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins

 

Quote: “The recognition of sin is the beginning of salvation.” – Martin Luther

 

 

2 primary distinctives:

1) Original sin= sin has been with us from the very beginning. (duration)

 

We are born with a sinful nature. Adamic in nature. not neutral.

 

2) Total depravity- sin touches the totality of our being.

 

John Wesley- no man loves God by nature any more than he does of stone or the earth he treads upon. wat we love we delight in but no man naturally delights in god. we are hardwired against it by nature.

 

2. Shame is great

 

Define: Shame is the conscience acknowledging sin

Shame is a privilege. Remember that the next time you experience it. It shows that God values you enough to beckon you to the righteousness that He alone can provide. (Jeremy Pierre)

 

Philippians 3:18-19

18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.

Our posture towards others sin must be accountibility and brokenness.

 

3. Jesus is greater

 

Phil 3:20-21
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

 

This is amazing news. His power is greater than our sin and shame.

 

Romans 6:12
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.

 

 

No Matter What… Make A Difference

2020-08-23

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

 

1 Timothy 4:11-13 (CSB) Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise your youth; instead, you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I come, give your attention to public reading, exhortation, and teaching.

 

1. Example

• Tu-POS– an image left

• We are called to be an example to those around us as a follower of Christ

• This does not happen by accident or default

• Claiming the name of Christ doesn’t automatically result in being an example for Christ

 

2. Speech

• The words we use are always a picture of what lies beneath

Matthew 12:34 (NKJV) “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

• If our heart is full of worldliness, our mouths will speak it

The principle is to pursue Christ so diligently that the inner spirit is purified, producing only good and appropriate things to say. The same is true of our outward acts, our lifestyle.[1]– Knute Larson

 

3. Conduct

• Our actions should match our faith

• Timothy would have been looked on with suspicion, he had to prove the words he spoke by the life he lived

Phil. 1:27 (CSB) Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith that comes from the gospel

• 1 Peter 2:12 tells us to live in such a way that even the unbelievers around us will notice holiness

 

4. Love

• As followers of Christ, we do not have the luxury of hate

• First century Christians could have ignored and hated the non-Jews but they would have been disobeying God had they done so

• When we as followers of Christ dismiss others based on their status, position, color or beliefs…not only do we dishonor them, we dishonor God

• 1 Corinthians 13 is how we are to love

 

5. Faith

• Pistis – conviction of truth

• We must hold fast to truth, not our truth but God’s

 

6. Purity

• Cleanliness

• Sexual purity

1 Cor. 6:18-20 (CSB) Run from sexual immorality! “Every sin a person can commit is outside the body.” On the contrary, the person who is sexually immoral sins against his own body. Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.

 

Vs 14 – Don’t neglect what God gave you

[1]Knute Larson, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, vol. 9, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 207.

Whom Do We Serve?

2020-08-16

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Key Verse:  1 Thess. 2:4 (CSB) Instead, just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but rather God, who examines our hearts.

1 Thess. 2:1-4 (CSB) For you yourselves know, brothers, that our visit with you was not without result. 2 On the contrary, after we had previously suffered, and we were treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, we were emboldened by our God to speak the gospel of God to you in spite of great opposition. 3 For our exhortation didn’t come from error or impurity or an intent to deceive. 4 Instead, just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but rather God, who examines our hearts.

 

1. Opposition Can’t Stop Impact (vss 1-2)

Vss 1-2 For you yourselves know, brothers, that our visit with you was not without result. 2 On the contrary, after we had previously suffered, and we were treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, we were emboldened by our God to speak the gospel of God to you in spite of great opposition.

• Paul and Silas had been beaten and imprisoned in a jail in Philippi for preaching the Gospel

• This attack didn’t serve to quiet Paul, it inspired him to more faithfulness

• Now in Thessalonica, they once again were opposed by those who fought against their Gospel

• They were steadfast because they knew the impact which would result

Acts 17:4 Then some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, including a great number of God-fearing Greeks, as well as a number of the leading women

• No matter the opposition we may face, our faith in God will give us the boldness needed to stand firm

 

2. Temptation Can Stop Impact (vs 3)

Vs 3 For our exhortation didn’t come from error or impurity or an intent to deceive.

• Preaching a false Gospel or modified Gospel will never make a difference

• Preaching a self-serving gospel will never make a positive difference

• We must ensure our motives are not

Warren Wiersbe stated, “It is possible to preach the right message with the wrong motives”[1]

[1]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 164.

 

3. So, Never Forget Your Purpose (vs 4)

Vs 4 Instead, just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but rather God, who examines our hearts.

• Our mission is not to build self, it is to build the Kingdom of God

• Our goal should never be for acceptance or elevating self, it should be to please Godand God alone.

Rev. Jerry Falwell said, “God never called me to popular, He called me to be faithful!”

There is a River – Psalm 46:1-7

2020-08-09

Charles Billingsley

Psalm 46 

1 God is our refuge and strength,

A very present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear,

Even though the earth be removed,

And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

3 Though its waters roar and be troubled,

Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,

The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.

5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;

God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.

6 The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;

He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

7 The Lord of hosts is with us;

The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,

Who has made desolations in the earth.

9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;

He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;

He burns the chariot in the fire.

10 Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth!

11 The Lord of hosts is with us;

The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

 

1. God’s Presence is with Us.  

46 God is our refuge  – He is who we can run to.  It is in Him that we find our shelter and rest.  

Golf story – Craig, Cindy, Shae and Me – We found refuge under that tree…And in God…we find refuge under the shadow of His wings.  

Psalm 36:7 (NKJV)

How precious is your lovingkindness, O God!

Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of your wings.  

To take refuge in the Lord means we are now under His protection, His care, His watch.  And it also means this is where we can find rest.   But not only do we find God is our refuge, He is also our strength. 

and strength –  He will bear your burdens.  

Psalm 55:22 – Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you…

1 Peter 5:7 – Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 

Psalm 59:9 – I will wait for You, O you His strength; For God is my defense.  

God is strong enough to handle any problem you’ve got!  

A very present help in trouble. – Not past, not future….but present!   VERY present.  He is the right now God for your right now problem.   God’s presence is with us!  

 

2. We Have Nothing to Fear 

2 Therefore we will not fear – This is the resolve we must have as children of God.  With Covid 19 on the increase, riots everywhere, racial tension, cultural unrest, political wars, terrorist attacks, this is one of the craziest and most volatile periods in our nation’s history!   But we have NO reason to Fear.  

In the Presence of God, there is no room for the child of God to fear anything! 

And as a child of God, you are always in the presence of God! 

The Holy Spirit resides within you.  He is your comforter and your protector.  And until God is through with you, you are invincible.  

WE will not fear…. 

Even though the earth be removed,

And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;  Gives us the picture of a volcano erupting  Or of a mass of land crashing into the sea…which would cause a tsunami.  

3 Though its waters roar and be troubled, – Tsunami or even a hurricane

Though the mountains shake with its swelling. or an Earthquake 

The Psalmist is saying that no matter what natural disasters may occur, no matter how terrible, we will not fear.  No matter what catastrophe comes our way – from cancer to covid, from tornadoes to terrorist attacks, and from pandemics to protests, God’s presence is with us and we have nothing to fear.  

Selah –  Like a rest in music.  An intentional pause.  It means  “There ……what do you think about that.”   

 

3. God’s Spirit is in us

4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,

The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.

It’s interesting how a central theme of the Bible is rivers.  And the Bible is bookended with references to rivers.  

Gen. 2:10 –  Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads.

Revelation 22:1-2 – And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

It appears as though one day there will be a river that flows from the throne of God in the New Jerusalem.     

But there is no river that currently flows through Jerusalem.  And yet, it is the City of God.  Or might the psalmist be referencing not just a place, but also people?   A city is not just buildings…it is the people who make up the real heart of the city.  

John 4 – the samaritan woman at the well – Jesus tells her:

John 4:13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” 

Rivers bring life.  Rivers bring hope. The ultimate hope is found in the life giving grace of Jesus.  Do you know Him today?  

 

4. We have nothing to flee

5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;

God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. 

  God is always there, and He is always on time.  Though it may seem dark and lonely and desperate, God will bring hope and help just at the break of dawn.  He is in our midst as we move throughout our work place. 

So take heart……you have nothing to flee! 

The Gulf Stream

Did you know There is a river in the ocean?  It is actually the largest and one of the fastest moving rivers in the world.   In a drought it never fails, and in a flood it never overflows. It begins in the Gulf of Mexico off the southern tip of Florida and ends in the Arctic Ocean.  

We have this amazing opportunity as the church.  As we live and move in this ocean of humanity, we have the awesome opportunity to bring the love and grace and mercy and message of Christ to the world.  Throughout history the church has influenced society and government and education. This has to continue.  We must continue to be a calm voice of reason in the midst of a turbulent time in our culture.  

6 The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; – this is not the first pandemic.  this is certainly not the first or the last time we will have cultural unrest or riots or violence.  That stuff was happening in this day too! Nations are raging and kingdoms are moving,  But God doesn’t move. 

He uttered His voice, the earth melted. – The earth and all that is in it…every nation, every kingdom, every culture, all the technology, all the people…it is all but putty in His hands.  God is sovereign and in control.  All of it was created by the utterance of HIs voice…and all of it can go away with the same voice.  

7 The Lord of hosts is with us;

The God of Jacob is our refuge. 

Selah

On 31 October 1517, Luther posted his historic Ninety-five Theses, launching his defiant protest against the abuses of the Catholic church in Rome. This decisive act became the hinge upon which history turned. And at the very core of this Protestant movement were the Psalms, which continued to play a defining role throughout Luther’s life and ministry.  Luther referred to the Psalms as ‘the Bible in miniature’.

Luther would later write a paraphrase of Psalm 46, and it would become his most famous hymn.  A Mighty Fortress is our God.  

I believe we, too, can draw  strength and encouragement from this Psalm.  Meditate on it.  Marinate in it.  Let the words of this Psalm speak deep into your soul until the fear in your heart disappears and you able to float freely and boldly in the river of God’s presence and power, His mercy and grace.  

God’s presence is with us, so we have nothing to fear. 

God’s Spirit is within us, so we have nothing to flee. 

As we close the service today, i would ask you to stand and let’s sing this great old hymn together.   

A mighty fortress is our God,

A bulwark never failing.

Our helper He amid the flood

Of mortal ills prevailing.

For still our ancient foe

Doth seek to work us woe.

His craft and power are great,

And, armed with cruel hate,

On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,

Our striving would be losing,

Were not the right man on our side,

The man of God’s own choosing.

Dost ask who that may be?

Christ Jesus, it is He.

Lord Sabboth, his name,

From age to age the same,

And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled,

Should threaten to undo us,

We will not fear, for God hath willed

His truth to triumph through us.

The Prince of Darkness grim,

We tremble not for him.

His rage we can endure,

For lo, his doom is sure.

One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers

Not thanks to them, abideth.

The Spirit and the gifts are ours

Through him who with us sideth.

Let goods and kindred go,

This mortal life also.

The body they may kill,

God’s truth abideth still.

His kingdom is forever…

A Life Worth Living

2020-08-02

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Key Verse: Colossians 2:10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

 

Colossians 2:6-10 (NKJV) As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

 

Colossians 2:6-10 (NLT) And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. 10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

 

1. Walk in Him

Vs 6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him

• The greatest gift has been given to us, not just for the future, but for now

• Many Christ followers’ walks don’t change at all

• The importance of walking right and living right is IMPACT

 

2. Established through Him

Vs 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving

• How do we walk in Him? By allowing our lives to be nurtured by His presence and His power

• His Word, gathering, fellowship, worship, giving, serving, gratefulness

 

3. Guided by Him

Vs 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily…

•  There is nothing missing when we follow Christ. Everything needed to travel the journey of life will be found in Him, nothing else.

Vs 8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

•  Many are looking for “more” and they are fooled into believing our hope is found in “CHRIST PLUS”

Ephesians 3:16-19 (NLT) I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

 

4. Complete in Him

Vs 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power

• Christ is not only enough to face the uncertainties of life, He is all there is

• Our lack of awareness of this truth has nothing to do with the inadequacies of Christ, it is from the inadequacy of our faith

 

 

 

Faith With Feet – James 5

2020-07-26 

Key Verse: James 5:8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

1. Motives Matter(vss 1-6)

1 Come now, yourich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you!Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.

  • The possession of wealth is not evil. Abusing wealth by selfish living and by harming people dependent on you, is. These people seem to have used their wealth only for themselves.[1]
  • We have focused our journey, not on serving and loving God, but serving and loving self
  • James delivers a clear condemnation of the act of selfishness in these verses
  • What are you living for?

[1]Thomas D. Lea, Hebrews, James, vol. 10, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 340.

2. Patience is a Virtue(vss 7-12)

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See howthe farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! 10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended bythe Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your“No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment.

  • The farmer must trust God to bring what cannot be created…rain
  • We must work diligently while fully trusting God in every circumstance
  • And, when things don’t go our way, we don’t complain, we trust
  • Live as a clear representative of truth which flows from God

3. The Proper Posture of Prayer(vss 13-18)

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess yourtrespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

  • Often times, our prayers fall short. Not because God doesn’t answer but because we don’t ask correctly.
  • When we suffer, we pray with faith (vs 13)
  • When we prosper, we praise with faith (vs 13)
  • These verses underscore the importance of prayer
  • Verse 15 is a portrait of healing. God always heals…from sickness and sin.
  • Verse 16 is a crash course in praying right

4. The Power of Purpose(vss 19-20)

19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

  • Some of the most encouraging verses in Scripture
  • There is always hope
  • There are some of us who have drifted away from righteousness for a myriad of reasons
  • God will always welcome us back

 

Faith With Feet: The Right Path

202007-19

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Key Verse: James 4:17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

 

1. The Real Issue – SELF

James 4:1-4 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

  • A. Motyer says, “The channels of communication with God and of supply from God have become blocked….We find that the unfettered flow of prayer upwards, and of response downwards, is no longer operating; we are somehow out of sorts with God. The passions are at work again. We want it all for self.[1]
  • Our main problem in life today comes from misplaced priorities and desires
  • Our focus should be on God’s best for us, not our perception of the world’s best
  • This misplaced priority is rooted in pride

[1]J. A. Motyer, The Message of James: The Tests of Faith, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1985), 143.

2. The Solution to Pride

James 4:5-10 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? 6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” 7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

  • Verse 5 is an often misunderstood passage. It simply states that God desperately desires His Holy Spirit to be our guide
  • James clearly gives an obvious encouragement immediately following – “God resists the proud…”
  • So, the solution is clearly stated…Draw near to Him, pursue holiness, hate sin!

3. The Right Attitude

James 4:11-12 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?

 

James 4:11–12 (NLT): Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. 12 God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?

James 4:11–12 (NLT): Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. 12 God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?

  • First steps towards right living
  • Treat others well. This is why Jesus stated “Love God, Love People”
  • It is not our job to attack, vilify, and condemn others. It is our job to love.

4. Our Proper Focus

James 4:13-17 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

  • Focus your heart on today
  • Do what is right…today
  • Live for Him…today

 

Faith with Feet – What we Say and What we Sow – James 3

2020-07-12

Charles Billingsley

The human tongue only weighs a few ounces, but what a powerful weapon it is.  it is not just used for swallowing.  Without it, we cannot form words. We have to have a tongue in order to talk.  And those who are most convincing with their talk, rule the world.  It is the tongue that is perhaps the most potent weapon on earth because it has the power to sway the heart and manipulate the mind.

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.

 

If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well.

When we can’t hold back, or set boundaries, on what comes from our lips, our words are in charge-not us. But we are still responsible for those words. Our words do not come from somewhere outside of us, as if we were a ventriloquist’s dummy. They are the product of our hearts. Our saying, “I didn’t mean that,” is probably better translated, “I didn’t want you to know I thought that about you.” We need to take responsibility for our words. “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken” (Matt. 12:36). – Henry Cloud

Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!

And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.

What does the Bible have to say about all this? a great deal!!!

Proverbs 26: 20 (ESV)

Fire goes out without wood,

and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.

Proverbs 20:19 

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.

Proverbs 16:28 (ESV)

A dishonest man spreads strife,

and a whisperer separates close friends.

Proverbs 10:19 (ESV)

When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever refrains his lips is prudent.

Proverbs 17:27-28

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge,

and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.

 Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;

when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

James 3:7-12

For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

 

Proverbs 12:18 (ESV) – There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

1. We put feet to our faith by what we say

A. Be careful what you say

B. Be careful how you say it

We must learn how to communicate – and remember, Communication is not just what we say…..it is what they are hearing!  You can say things in a certain way, but depending on how you say it…it can be misconstrued and taken wrongly…and suddenly you’ve offended someone and didn’t even know it.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Four things you can’t recover from your words:

1. the word after it’s been said

2. the blow after it’s been delivered

3. the pain from the blow

4. the scar that it leaves

C. Be careful when you say it

Proverbs 15:23 (NLT) – Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time

James 1:19 – “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.”

 

The maturity of our speech is the mark of maturity in our life. 

Psalm 141:3 (ESV) – Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.

Be careful with what you say, how you say it, and when you say it!

  1. 2. We put feet to our faith by what we sow

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.

A.  Live in wisdom 

14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

B. Live in peace

18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Romans 10:9 (ESV) – ” if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Remember Proverbs 18:21 – “Death and Life are in the Power of the tongue.”

Our faith is fleshed out in what we say and what we do.  

Faith without works is dead.  Words without works are useless.  

Faith With Feet – Faith And Works

2020-07-05 

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Key Verse: James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Today, we’ll continue our study of James. The second chapter of James is a challenging and convicting passage. Challenging because it calls us to action. Convicting because it points to our failures. James uses his words to encourage us to make a difference through our faith.

1. Everyone Matters

James 2:1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lordof glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to berich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called? If you really fulfill theroyal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,”you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point,he is guilty of all.

  • God hates the practice of honoring some and ignoring others
  • When we honor the rich and powerful, we do so for the purposes of helping ourselves. When we honor the poor, the lowly, the “not powerful, we do so for the purposes of glorifying God.
  • Jesus taught with the parable of the Good Samaritan that everyone matters and it will only be when Christians live out this principle that we will truly reflect Christ.

2. Everything Matters

11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,”also said, “Do not murder.”Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. 14 What does itprofit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does itprofit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

  • Our actions speak volumes. Doing the right thing in one area but the wrong thing in another doesn’t buy us status with God.
  • Saying we are Christ followers without carrying out the works of Christ has no real benefit. We may be on the team but with no real contribution.

3. It All Matters

19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it wasaccounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. 25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent themout another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

  • James gave us examples of actions which pointed to the value and depth of our faith.
  • Abraham was a Godly man who gave rise to the Jewish and Gentiles, but also was willing to do the unthinkable to obey God. This was faith, with works.
  • Rahab was a lowly prostitute, disregarded by the community. Yet, her faith was so strong she was willing to risk her life to honor the God of Israel.
  • Our works don’t save us, but they certainly define us.

 

Faith with Feet

2020-06-28

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Key Verse: James 1:26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion isuseless

Today, we will begin a walk through the book of James. This is a powerful book written by the brother of Jesus. It is one of the earliest writings in the New Testament and written by a man who had an interesting history with Jesus. They were brothers and, for a while, James didn’t even believe Jesus was anything but an arrogant older brother. (John 7) But, after James saw Jesus in His resurrected body, everything changed. (1 Cor. 15)

 

This book is written so we may know how to live according to the words of Christ in times of difficulty and so we may truly make a difference in the world. This is a book desperately needed today.

Quotes: “The articulation of our lips should be matched by the activity of our lives”[1]

 

1. Feet to the Fire (vss 1-18)

a. The Fire Perfects Us

Vs 2-4
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

b. Knowing How to Persevere

Vss 5-8
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

c. The Reward For Doing Right

Vs 12
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

d. The Difference Between The Wrongs of this World and The Rights from Him

Vss 13-18
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18  Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

 

2. Listening in the Fire (vss 19-20)

a. The Right Steps

Vss 19-20
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

 

3. The Action of the Faithful (vss 21-27)

a. Stepping Away From Sin

Vss 21-22
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.  22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

b. The Dangers of Hypocrisy

Vss 23- 25
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

c. The Danger in our Words

Vs 26
If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.

d. The Safety in our Acts

Vs 27
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

 

 

 

[1]Harold Fickett, Jr., An Introduction to James, pg 1255, The Christian Life Study Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Father of fathers

2020-06-21

Matt Willmington

 

• Men – YOU have a Father

 

“Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you may be also. You know the way to where I am going.” “Lord,” Thomas said, “we don’t know where you’re going. How can we know the way?” Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” “Lord,” said Philip, “show us the Father, and that’s enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been among you all this time and you do not know me, Philip?” John 14:1-10 CSB

• HOME

 

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit… My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples… You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.” John 15:1-2, 8, 16

• FRUIT

 

“I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by your name that you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one.

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. I sanctify myself for them, so that they also may be sanctified by the truth. “I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word. May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me.” John 17:11, 17-21

• PROTECTION. 

• PURITY

• UNITY

 

Our Father in heaven,

Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.

Your will be done

On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

 

Run the Race: Running with Heart, pt 2

2020-06-14

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Key verse: Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.

 

Today, let’s continue to walk through the Beatitudes as delivered by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Last week, we covered the first four and today we will cover the next four. All of these statements are timely messages from the heart of God for such a time as this.

 

Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 9Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

1. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy

Kingdom servants must reflect in their own hearts the heart of the king(Stuart Weber) [1]

  • We have all been shown mercy in abundance. As a result, we must show mercy in abudance.
  • We don’t have the luxury of selective or situational mercy
  • Mercy embraces both forgiveness for the guilty and compassion for the suffering and needy. (D.A. Carson) [2]

 

2. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.

  • Purity and holiness are not nice things to have, they are critical elements of the Christian life
  • Another beatitude:

Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.

  • Any distracting or corrupting influence a kingdom servant allows into his or her heart makes that person less effective as a servant. (Stuart Weber) [3]

 

3. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.

  • As Christ-followers, not only do we have a duty to live “IN PEACE” but we have a duty to “BRING ABOUT PEACE”
  • There is no more godlike work to be done in this world than peacemaking” (Broadus quoted by D.A. Carson).[4]
  • God is the supreme peacemaker and this quality marks disciples out as his sons, for the son shares the characteristics of the father. (R.T. France) [5]

Ephesians 2:14-15 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups.

 

4. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

  • This is not simply the idea of trying to be a good person, it means a completely changed life
  • The success of the race we run is largely dependent on the change in our heart, not the actions of our hands
  • It indicates a whole orientation of life towards God and his will. Such a life is conspicuous and so attracts persecution (T. France) [6]
  • Kingdom honor is not granted as compensation for the unfairness of life, but as a blessing on those who have actively pursued true kingdom righteousness and have been persecuted for it(Stuart Weber)[7]

[1]Stuart K. Weber, Matthew, vol. 1, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 59.

[2]D. A. Carson, “Matthew,”in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 8 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984), 134.

[3]Stuart K. Weber, Matthew, vol. 1, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 60.

[4]D. A. Carson, “Matthew,”in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 8 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984), 135.

[5]R. T. France, Matthew: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 1, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1985), 116.

[6]R. T. France, Matthew: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 1, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1985), 116.

[7]Stuart K. Weber, Matthew, vol. 1, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 60.

Run The Race: Run it with Heart!

2020-06-07

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Key Verse: Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful

Today we continue the series, Run The Race, by looking at the teachings of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount. Specifically, we’re going to address the passage commonly known as the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes, while specifically talking about the passage in Matthew we’re going to talk about today and next Sunday, they are technically all over the Bible, especially in the Psalms. The term “Beatitudes” really just refers to a blessing. “Blessed” is translated from both Hebrew and Greek words, to refer to divine favor conveyed to man.[1]

But for today, let’s walk through 8 blessings given by Jesus to the church, to us, and they are just as timely today as they were 2,000 years ago.

Matthew 5:3-12 Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.5Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.9Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great isyour reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 

1. Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

  • Not financial poverty but spiritual poverty
  • This poverty flows from an understanding we can never find righteousness on our own due to our own sinful nature
  • The beginning of repentance is the recognition of one’s spiritual bankruptcy—one’s inability to become righteous on one’s own[2]

 

2. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.

This statement, too, has nothing to do with being upset over a life occurrence, but rather mourning our own spiritual emptiness

  • This mourning is where healing grows and grace begins

 

3. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.

Meekness is not weakness

  • Being meek reflects self-control, kindness, gentleness
  • To be meek toward others implies freedom from malice and a vengeful spirit.[3]
  • Being meek is an image of power which is not overbearing or unkind
  • The most powerful people in the world are not those who lash out with their power and position but rather show restraint in leadership

 

4. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

Jesus uses two words that reflect emptiness to show the proper desires of our heart

  • Just as we long for food and refreshment, we should long for righteousness
  • Any change in our culture, our church, ourselves must begin within our own hearts

 

 

 

 

[1]James M. Houston, “Beatitudes, The,”Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 271.

[2]Stuart K. Weber, Matthew, vol. 1, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 58.

[3]D. A. Carson, “Matthew,”in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 8 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984), 133.

Run the Race: Running into the Wind

2020-05-31

Key verse: Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.

 

1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks beto God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Last week, we looked at the three elements of our race; Remove, Renew and Return. Today, we continue in our series, Run The Race, by beginning the conversation of the purpose of the race. Where are we going, why are we going, what are supposed to do along the way? These are all great questions and there’s really no better day to begin this discussion than on Pentecost Sunday. The day the church began its mission.

Acts 2:22-28 (NLT) People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. 23 But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. 24 But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip. 25 King David said this about him: ‘Isee that the Lordis always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. 26 No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope. 27 For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave. 28 You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’

 

The church’s mission has never been more important than it is today. And, the only way the church’s mission will be accomplished is if we all “run the race” He has called us to.

 

1. You are never alone

Vs 25b I see that the Lordis always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

  • No one likes to run alone
  • The good news is that we never will

2. Joy comes in the journey

Vs 26 No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope

  • We worship Him because His promises are absolute and continual
  • The power and presence of God is not dependent on our action or inaction

3. His victory is our victory

Vs 27 For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.

  • Because He lives, we live

4. The path is clear

Vs 28 You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.

  • The Gospel is the way of life
  • When we embrace the Gospel, let it guide us every day, we will follow the path that leads to Him

Acts 2:36 So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!

 

Run The Race: A New Beginning

2020-05-24

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Key Verse: Psalm 122:1 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord.”

 

Psalm 107:28-32 (NKJV) “Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble, And He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, So that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; So He guides them to their desired haven. Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people, And praise Him in the company of the elders.”

 

All of us have, at certain points, been completely overwhelmed by this thing called life. There are moments when giving up seems to be the better plan than staying the course. Last week, we had a clear sermon on the importance of never giving up. In these coming weeks, we’re going to spend some time focusing on our journey, which can be much like a race. We’re going to focus on the importance of running the race to victory.

 

But, before we begin, we need to be encouraged by the ending.

 

1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanksbeto God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ

 

So, now that we know what the ending looks like, let’s talk about the importance of the journey.

 

Heb 12:1-2 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us,and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of ourfaith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

The Elements of the Race

 

1. Remove

Vs 1b – …let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us…

  • No race has ever been won without removing that which slows us down
  • In order to win the race, we must set aside the things in life which will keep us from the race
  • Sin, self, sloth

 

2. Renew

Vs 2a – looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of ourfaith…

  • Running the race requires energy
  • Tapping into the presence of Christ in our lives
  • God has given the Holy Spirit to keep us moving forward

 

3. Return

Vs 2b – …who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

  • We must be encouraged by the prize
  • Jesus has given us the great hope of Heaven
  • There’s a reason we don’t quit…

 

Phil. 3:14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus

 

 

 

 

Run The Race: Never, Never Quit

2020-05-17

Delivered by Rev. Jerry Falwell, April 1999

  1. Never, never quit
    1. 2 Cor 3:5-6
  2. Most Christians have a wrong view of trouble
    1. Being a Christian doesn’t guarantee deliverance from trouble, rather deliverance in trouble
    2. You don’t determine a man’s greatness by his wealth or status as the world does, but rather by what it takes to discourage him
  3. Trouble is a basic need for spiritual growth
    1. God doesn’t give us an overcoming life, he gives us life as we overcome
    2. God will give you the strength
  4. God’s grace is not available for tomorrow, it is for today
    1. 2 Cor 12 – in our weakness we are made strong by his great strength
    2. He gives strength for the moment
  5. God’s ultimate high is only revealed in life’s greatest crisis
  6. You will never get out of trouble
    1. Learn how to live while you’re in trouble
    2. God promises to never leave us nor forsake us
  7. You are not the only one who suffers
    1. 1 Cor. 10:13 – God is faithful
    2. He will never take us past what we are able to bear
  8. Trouble is not always judgment
    1. Hebrews 12:6
    2. Your trouble comes from God. He either allows it or sends it.
    3. Job 13:16 – Yet will I trust Him
  9. Bear your own burdens
    1. God may send someone to help, but we must trust God alone
    2. God will give you everything you need
  10. False optimism are detrimental
    1. Get alone with God in prayer
    2. The world needs pillars of strength
  11. When we complain, our problem is really a heart problem
    1. Pray about your problem
    2. Pray for others, don’t gossip or complain
  12. Satan uses a lot of things to discourage us
    1. Lack of prayer
    2. Physical fatigue
    3. Unconfessed Sin
    4. Failure
    5. Routine
    6. Betrayal and Bitterness
    7. Selfishness
  13. No matter what today holds; never, never quit!

The Power of a Godly Woman…and Man!

2020-05-10

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Key Verse:
Jeremiah 17:7 Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord.

 

The Power of a Godly Woman…and Man…is found in three simple attributes which must be present in all of us.

 

1. Learn to Lean

Jer. 17:5-6 Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man, And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the Lord. 6For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which isnot inhabited.”

  • Learn to lean on God as the source of everything
  • When we attempt to navigate life in our own power, wisdom and strength…we will always fail

 

2 Cor. 12:9-10 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

2. Lean to Lead

Jer. 17:7-8 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. 8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

  • Dependence on God is the key ingredient needed if we desire to lead others
  • Without a firm foundation, rooted in Him, we will falter and fail

 

Psalm 62:5-7 My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation isfrom Him. 6He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. 7In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God.

 

1 Cor. 13:13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

 

3. Lead in Love

Jer. 17:9-10 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? 10I, the Lord, search the heart, test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.

 

1 Cor. 13:13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

  • Every mom, every dad, is a leader
  • How you lead will determine your child’s future
  • Everyone else, is also a leader, so what will you do with it?

 

Three Leadership Imperatives

 

  1. Leadership requires love
  2. Leadership requires recognition
  3. Leadership requires appreciation

Acorns and Oak Trees 

2020-05-03

Charles Billingsley

Acorns – inside each one is a small seed that carries all the DNA or chemical make up required to become a giant oak tree.  

Each acorn that falls to the ground is up against a lot in order to succeed.   It must end up in the right spot..where it can receive sunlight and rain.  It must be shielded or somehow passed over by squirrels and chipmunks and various other critters that feed off its protein.   it must be given time to germinate.  

If all this happens, then the acorn might just begin to grow into an oak tree. 

But in order for it to grow upward and outward, it must grow downward.   The first thing that happens in an acorn is that the seed begins to grow a taproot deep down into the soil.  Only after this, will a tiny green shoot grow upward above the soil.   Finally, after about 4-5 years, if it is somehow able to avoid the many dangers of animals and storms and flooding, then it will grow into a small little tree known as a sapling.  And eventually, through the years, that sapling matures into an oak tree. 

Oak trees are know as a symbol of strength, sturdiness, beauty and toughness.  

It is on record that some oak trees, especially the red oak in the north, can live upwards of 1,000 years.  

And they can be huge.  One oak tree in Poland measured over 43 meters around its base.  

Oak trees are a picture of steadiness in an restless and ever-changing world.  

Some of us are still in the acorn phase.  We may have said a prayer, or surrendered our heart to Jesus at some point, but for some reason, we’ve never gone any deeper.  No taproots have formed, and we are still just an acorn laying on the ground….useless, exposed, weak, and thrown about by the ever changing winds of culture…at high risk of being destroyed by the evil one, or swayed by public opinion, or tossed about by whatever new distraction comes our way.   

Matthew 16:24  

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” 

This is no small call.  And it certainly doesn’t sound like Jesus expects us to remain acorns.  

At some point, as believers, we must begin to grow.  A taproot must begin to form.  And, having been in church my whole life, it is my estimation, that most church goers are either still in the acorn phase, or you have grown enough to become a sapling.  But where are all the oaks?    Oh every church has them.  That person of faith…many times an elderly person, but it doesnt have to be.  I thing of little Nathan Norman.   Just  13  years old.  He’s battled cancer for most of his life. But because of all he’s been through, he’s a giant of the faith.  I think of Benji Nasser, who just went home to be with the Lord.  He was an oak….a strong and steady believer who inspired thousands with His genuine love for Christ.  

1. Life is fragile 

We’ve all seen how in just a few weeks time we can go from riding high in the stock market, everything cooking on all cylinders, to total devastation.   It’s amazing the transformation we have undergone as a nation and as a world in just 6 weeks.  Shocking.   

And it is a reminder to us all….life is fragile. It is tissue-paper thin.  Things can turn on a dime.  Are we prepared?  

when my doctor told me how bad my blood tests were and how if i wasn’t in decent shape I’d be dead right now…it was a wake-up call to me that my life is truly fragile.  

James 4:13-14

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

We do not know what tomorrow holds.  But thankfully, we know who holds our tomorrow.  That brings me to my second lesson.  

2. Faith is essential

I asked this question in an earlier message:  When Fear comes knocking at your door, will Faith answer?  

What is faith?  

Heb.11:1 reminds us that it is the substance or the assurance of things hoped for.    But faith is also the evidence of things unseen.  I don’t see it.  I don’t feel it.  But faith is the confidence and the assurance that I WILL see it in due time.  

 

God reminded me of how faith works in all of this.  

God showed me once again, that my faith has a long ways to go. 

Just like an oak tree, faith takes time to grow.  

3. Fear is not an option  

365 times in scripture we are told….do not fear. 

 And it is in His perfect presence that we find perfect peace which allows us to rest in His perfect plan.  

And when you are at rest…you are not in fear. 

His power is perfect in our weakness.  

Anxiety and worry keep us from hearing God. 

Why do we worry? 

Quite simply, because We are focused on the wrong authority. We are in effect saying, “God I’m not sure you are capable of handling this.”

So one thing I began to do, was read Phil. 4:6-7 over and over again.   

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 

One of the cures for worry and anxiety is thankfulness!

It’s amazing, but when we begin to truly just live a live of thanksgiving, it will take your mind off of the negative situation you are in and place you in a positive mindset so you can overcome.  This leads to the peace of God which passes ALL understanding.  No words can describe it.  And this peace places a shield of protection around your heart and your mind through Jesus Christ.  

It was the peace of God and HIs sustaining grace that kept my mind at peace through those 24 days. But when I began to worship the Lord with thanksgiving, He brought me peace that passes all understanding.  

John 14:27 

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 

So…

Life is fragile

Faith is essential

Fear is not an option

and lastly…..

4. No matter what – keep your eyes on Jesus

  

James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:1-2   Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our  faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Keep your eyes on Jesus – the author – He is writing your story.  Yes there may be some rough chapters, yes there will be some challenges, some which may seem insurmountable .  Yes there will be many difficult and dark days.  But keep your eyes on Jesus.   He is chastening you and molding you to turn you from an acorn into an oak tree.   He is pushing you to grow up and become a man or a woman of God.  And He is the finisher of your Faith. 

Jesus sees in every acorn, a potential oak tree!!

And as the Author OF YOUR STORY and Finisher of YOUR faith….He is standing in your corner and exhorting you….”LOOK AT ME!   

LISTEN TO ME!  FOLLOW ME!!!!  TRUST ME!   

YOU CAN DO IT! YOU CAN DO IT !!   YOU CAN DO IT!!!!”

And You Shall…

2020-04-26

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Key Verse: Acts 1:8a But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me…

 

Last week, we spent time studying the last words of Jesus on this earth…and the last words of Jesus in the Bible. Those statements gave us two distinct thoughts: 1)We must go and tell, and 2) Jesus is coming soon. Today, I want to build off of those thoughts and personalize His statements to us all.

The one clear thought He gave is this:  AND YOU SHALL!

1. Jesus commanded it

Acts 1:8a But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me…

  • Our call to tell people about Jesus is not a suggestion, it is a directive
  • We don’t have the option of sharing our faith only when convenient or comfortable

2. Jesus taught it

Matthew 4:19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

  • Jesus clearly lived His life as an example of “following”
  • If we will spend time studying the life of Christ we will learn how to reach the world for Christ
  • Biblical illiteracy is the reason we have not seen revival

 

3. The world needs it

Matthew 9:37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly isplentiful, but the laborers arefew.”

  • The world is in trouble, not just because of a disease, the world is in trouble because of sin
  • But, the world is ready for a new day. The only question is “will we be faithful?”

Matthew 24:9-12 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.

 

4. You can do it

Matthew 24:14a And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations…

 

1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always beready to givea defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

 

Philippians 4:13  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

 

  • The good news is God will give you everything you need to reach others for Him
  • Fear is how Satan keeps us from being obedient
  • Now is the greatest time to reach the world!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Famous Last Words: Never Alone

2020-04-19

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Key Verse:  Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

 

Today we conclude our look at the “Famous Last Words” of Jesus during His time here on earth. The words we’ve studied to this point were all statements made from the cross, but today we shift to two final statements. Statements made as he left this earth and as He promised to return soon. These statements give us hope, challenge and encouragement. Honestly, there’s never been a better time for us to be reminded of these words.

 

1. Fear Not

Matt. 28:18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”

  • We are told at least 365 times in the Bible to “Fear Not”
  • While those words are often repeated, it is only possible when look at this command from Christ through the lens of Matt. 28:18
  • Christ has been give ALL authority

 

2. Make A Difference

Matt. 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

  • In other words, make a difference until I return
  • How do we make a difference? Through the Gospel

3. Do The Right Thing

Matt. 28:20a teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you;

  • Jesus made it clear we have an obligation to obey
  • James 4:17 tells us it is sin to not obey
  • John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commandments”

4. You’re Not Alone

Matt. 28:20b …and lo, I am with you always, evento the end of the age.” Amen.

  • Isn’t it encouraging to know the same Jesus who stated in verse 18 He has all authority went on to tell us in verse 20 “I will be with you always”

…And, you’ll never be alone!

 

Revelation 22:20-21 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ bewith you all. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Easter Sunday: He Lives!

2020-04-12

 

A continuation of His Purpose that we discussed last Sunday. His purpose was two-fold. The first part of the purpose was to die for our sins, the second part was to rise from the grave!

 

HE LIVES!

 

The purpose in His death was to give purpose for our lives; the purpose in his resurrection was to give us hope within our death.

 

1. His work was accomplished

John 19:28a After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished…

 

2. The Scriptures proven

John 19:28b … that the Scripture might be fulfilled…

 

John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world

 

3. His love displayed

John 19:30b … He said, “It is finished!”…

  • Rev 16:17-18 “It is finished”

 

Romans 5:8. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us

 

4. His power confirmed

John 19:30c … And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

  • Jesus was always fully in control
  • Nothing had been taken from, everything had been done according to His will and His power. He willingly gave!

 

John 10:17-18a “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself…

 

5. His promise fulfilled

John 10:18b …I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

 

2 Corinthians 5:15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again

 

1 Corintians 15:3-4 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures

 

1 Thess. 4:14 For if we believe…

 

Hebrews 10:9-10 then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. 10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

 

ONCE FOR ALL. JESUS DIED ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES AND HE WAS BURIED AND HE ROSE AGAIN ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES!

 

AND HE DID THIS FOR YOU!

 

The Will of God was to reconcile YOU TO HIMSELF

 

Famous Last Words, Pt 2

2020-04-05

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

 

Key Verse: Luke 23:46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ ” Having said this, He breathed His last.

 

We continue to look at the “famous last words” of Jesus as He hung on the cross. Last week we examined the statements of forgiveness, hope and comfort. Today we’ll look at the statements which point to His pain, His humanity and His purpose. Jesus came for a reason and as we begin this Passion week leading up to Easter, we must never forget the great hope Jesus brings.

 

 

1. His Pain

Matthew 27:45-46 Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

  • This darkness cannot be attributed to anything other than a supernatural occurrence which signified “creation’s awareness of its creator’s death”
  • Just before His death, He cried out to His Father for He now experienced the great pain of our sin
  • His statement is a reflection of Psalm 22:1
    • Psalm 22:1 MyGod, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
      Why are You so far from helping Me,
      And from the words of My groaning?
  • Jesus Himself had questioned this path He was taking
    • John 12:27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’?But for this purpose I came to this hour.

2. His Humanity

John 19:28-29 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put iton hyssop, and put itto His mouth.

  • The deity of Christ was never in question, but this does underscore the hypostatic union: the dual nature of Christ as both God and man
  • His statement is a reflection of Psalm 69:21
    • Psalm 69:21 They also gave me gall for my food,And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
  • This “sour wine” referred to here was a bitter mix of cheap wine and vinegar which would cause the throat muscles to contract restricting the ability cry out in pain

3. His Purpose

Luke 23:45-46 Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. 46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ ” Having said this, He breathed His last.

  • Again, the darkness was a supernatural event signifying when the Light of the World is absent, there can be no light at all
  • A world that rejects God’s Son must expect signs that God has rejected the sinful world.[1]
  • The veil was ripped indicating there would be no more separation between God and man
  • Then Jesus clearly gave us the picture of the promise of death; the God-Man reminds us even in death, God is still in control

 

Christ’s purpose was that of salvation. While He had accomplished much during His time on earth as it relates to doctrine, service, example, teaching…it was for the salvation of mankind that He came.

 

John 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

 

 

 

[1]Butler, T. C. (2000). Luke(Vol. 3, p. 396). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Famous Last Words, Pt. 1

2020-03-29

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Today, we are beginning to move towards the greatest day in the history of mankind, Easter, by looking at the statements Jesus made as He hung on the cross. These statements give us a beautiful portrait of the heart of Jesus and the plan He had for all of us. Let’s look at these statements, not only for what they meant to those in that time, but for what they continue to mean for us.

 

1. Forgiveness

Luke 23:32-34 There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. 33 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

  1. To think, Jesus’ concern at this moment was not about His pain, it was about His people
  2. This plea for forgiveness was for the very people who were currently nailing Him to the cross, and everyone else
  3. “The prayer is answered by his death, which brings the forgiveness of sins[1]

 

2. Hope

Luke 23:39-43 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” 40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” 43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

  1. One criminal dismissed Jesus, one believed
  2. Notice the second criminal used the word “when” and Jesus used the word “today” – clearly an encouragement Jesus gave for when we die
  3. This is the epitome of hope, Jesus promises His presence for eternity

 

3. Comfort

John 19:25-27 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wifeof Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.

  1. In the last moments of Jesus’ life, His concern was to care for others
  2. It shows the constant state of the heart of God is absolute love
  3. Jesus stated in Matthew 20:28 – “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
  4. Jesus’ concern for His mother at this moment is a clear statement of His desire to serve
  5. The real meaning of this episode is that Jesus was caring for his mother and thus fulfilling the Old Testament commandment to “honor thy father and thy mother”(Exod. 20:12) (Boice, V, p. 212).[2]

 

It is telling that Jesus uttered words from the cross that continued to provide forgiveness, hope and comfort to those witnessing this horrific event, as well as for those of us experiencing our own challenges and traumas today. Everything Jesus did was to bring us the forgiveness we need, the hope we crave, and the comfort we long for. Let Him do the same for you today.

 

 

 

[1]Stein, R. H. (1992). Luke(Vol. 24, p. 589). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[2]Gangel, K. O. (2000). John(Vol. 4, p. 351). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Lessons from the Belly of the Whale

2020-03-22

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Key verse: Jonah 2:9 But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.

These are interesting days. Days of uncertainty, fear and isolation. Today I want to spend a little time talking about the man who faced the most difficult quarantine in the history of mankind. If you think you feel isolated, this guy had it far worse.

The story of Jonah is one that is extremely relevant for us today.

Jonah 1:17 Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.

T. Kendall says it well: “The belly of the fish is not a happy place to live, but it is a good place to learn.”

Jonah 2:1-10 Then Jonah prayed to the Lordhis God from inside the fish. 2 He said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and Lord, you heard me! 3 You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea. The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves. 4 Then I said, ‘O Lord, you have driven me from your presence. Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’ 5 “I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me. Seaweed wrapped itself around my head. 6 I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever. But you, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! 7 As my life was slipping away, I remembered the Lord. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple. 8 Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies. 9 But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.” 10 Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.

1. Crying out to God is more important than crying about our circumstances

Vs 2 He said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and Lord, you heard me!

  • Fear and self-pity will never provide the help we need
  • Focusing on the surroundings rather than God will leave us fearful, empty and without hope
  • No matter how isolated you may feel, God is never far away. He is always listening, responding and acting.

2. Focusing on His promises is more important than focusing on our problems

Vss 3-4 You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea. The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves. 4 Then I said, ‘O Lord, you have driven me from your presence. Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’

  • Jonah knew that trusting God in this moment was His only hope

3. Worshipping our Master is more important that worrying about our mess

Vss 5-7 “I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me. Seaweed wrapped itself around my head. 6 I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever. But you, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! 7 As my life was slipping away, I remembered the Lord. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple.

  • Worship in the midst of our worst days is more meaningful than worship in the midst of our best days
  • Jonah remembered the Lord when common sense would have told him, “You’re Done!”

4. Our crisis is never greater than our God

Vs 9 But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.”

  • No matter what you’re going through, our salvation comes from Him ALONE!
  • No matter how bad it is, it’s not too much for Him to handle
    • Jeremiah 32:27 “I am the LORD, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?”

VS 10 Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.

Today is full of uncertainty and the opportunity for fear. Never forget, the same God who commanded a great fish to swallow a man whole, and then to spit him out again three days later unharmed, is the same God who has you in His grip!

Amos, Obadiah, Jonah(Vol. 19B, p. 241). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Living the Dash

2020-03-15

Charles Billingsley

Hebrews 9:27

“It is appointed once to die, but after this the judgement.”

 

Romans 3:23

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

and “the wages of sin is death.”

 

The Wake 

 

Two sides to every wake:

1. Tasks 

2. Relationships 

 

We live life looking forward, but we understand life looking backward. 

 

I. Living the Dash – through the waiting  

 

John 11:1-7;

1 Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3 Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”

4 When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. 7 Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”

 

John 11:17

17 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days.

 

John 11:18-20

18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away. 19 And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”

 

 

 

 

John 11:32

32 Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

1. Keep your eyes on the Big Picture

 

The life of unbelief places our circumstances between ourselves and God.

The life of faith places God between ourselves and our circumstances 

 

2 Corinthians – 5:7 – “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

2. Keep your faith in His blessed Promises

You might be waiting, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t moving.

3. Keep your heart tuned into His beautiful presence.  

Always remember: God works in the space of the entire dash, not just a sliver of it.

 

John 11:21-22

21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”

 

Hebrews 13:5 – “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

 

God doesn’t have mixed feelings toward you. 

Psalms 27:14

“Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!”

 

As you move through your dash, Wait on the Lord, and you will eventually discover His impeccable plan. 

 

II.  Living the Dash – through the weeping

 

1. The Lord understands your pain  –      

Psalm 34.17-18
“The righteous call to the LORD, and he listens; he rescues them from all their troubles. The LORD is near to those who are discouraged; he saves those who have lost all hope.”

John 11:33-35

33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. 34 And He said, “Where have you laid him?”

They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”

35 Jesus wept.

 

Psalm 31:7

I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy,

For You have considered my trouble;

You have known my soul in adversities

 

Hebrews 4:15

“We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses”

2. Joy comes in the morning 

Psalms 30:5

“…weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

 

Isaiah 43:2

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.

When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.”

 

Psalms 23:4

“though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”

 

III.  Living the Dash – through the watching 

 

John 11:38-40

38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”

Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”

40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”

 

This verse carries two of those themes.

 

First: Belief

 

Hebrews 11:1

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things NOT seen. “

 

Second: The Glory of God

 

God’s glory is the fleshing out of His presence, His power, and His perfection.

 

Our engaged obedience and sensitivity to all that is going on around us often plays a key role in the supernatural handiwork of God.  

 

Every life that is changed by the grace of God is a testimony to the glory of God. 

 

So we see that:

 1. Through the waiting, we discover His impeccable plan. 

 2. Through the weeping we find His incredible peace

 3. Through the watching we see His immeasurable power.

 

IV. Living the Dash – through the wonder

 

John 11:41-44a

41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And  I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” 44 And he who had died came out

 

Colossians 1:16

All things were created through Him and FOR Him.

 

As we move through our dash, If you live for Him…we discover the wonder of worship and His intimate presence.

 

John 11:44

And he who had died came out – bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”

 

The lifestyle of worship is a perpetual celebration over the freedom and forgiveness God has given you.   

 

James 4:14

Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

 

 

 

2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

 

John 11:25-26

25 Jesus said to her (Martha), “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

 

Let Him show you His plan in your waiting. 

Let Him show you His Peace in your weeping.

Let Him show you His power in your watching

Let Him show you His presence in your worship. 

 

A Changed Life

2020-03-08

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Key verse: Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men

As we discussed last week, our salvation is not a “one and done” transaction with God, it is a life-changing, life-altering decision which should guide you for the rest of your days. The greatest hindrance to allowing this decision to not only change our eternity but also to change the here and now is how we value this gift.

Titus 2:11-15 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself Hisown special people, zealous for good works. 15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.

 

1. We are saved by the grace of God

Vs 11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men

 

Eph 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it isthe gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast

  • Salvation is an undeserved gift
  • How do you value this gift?

 

2. Which should affect the way we live and act

Vs 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,

  • Is your status as redeemed altering your actions?

 

3. As we wait for the great promise

Vs 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

  • What we are waiting for is far greater than you can imagine

 

 

4. Because He has changed us for a reason

Vs 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself Hisown special people, zealous for good works.

 

Vs 14 (NLT) He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

  • Our Father changed us so we could be more like Him

 

5. So we can change the world through Him

Vs 15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.

  • So what do we speak to a world that is running from truth?

Titus 3:1-7 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

 

The Best Job With The Best Pay

2020-03-01 

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Titus 1:1-4a (NKJV) Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior; To Titus, a true son inourcommon faith…

 

Titus 1:1-4a (NLT) This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives. This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began. And now at just the right time he has revealed this message, which we announce to everyone. It is by the command of God our Savior that I have been entrusted with this work for him. I am writing to Titus, my true son in the faith that we share.

The message of the Gospel is the single most important element of the Christian’s life. It is not a
“one and done” transaction with God, it is a life-changing, life-altering decision which should guide you for the rest of your days. The hope of the Gospel is absolute, the spread of the Gospel is up to us.

1. We don’t have a choice

Vs 1 – …a bondservant of God/a slave of God

  • Greek word – doulos= one who is a slave in the sense of becoming the property of an owner
  • Paul recognized his faithfulness to the Gospel and to the giver of the Gospel was not an option, it was required

2. Not just to know truth, but to live truth

Vs 1b – …according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness

Vs 1b (NLT) – …teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives.

  • This is a picture of our own spiritual growth: faith, knowledge, godliness
  • When we come to Christ, we are not simply given a key to Heaven, we are given the duty of representing Heaven here

3. This truth matters

Vs 2 – in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began

  • The promise of the Gospel is an eternal reward, which cannot be removed, lost, or destroyed
  • This is God’s promise

4. It’s our job, It’s our joy

Vs 3 – but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior;

 

Vs 3 (NLT) – It is by the command of God our Savior that I have been entrusted with this work for him.

  • As a result of the truth and the promise of the Gospel, it should be our absolute joy to talk about it

 

5. Given to us all

Vs 4 – To Titus, a true son in ourcommon faith…

  • This was not an exclusive calling only to Paul, it was one that requires us to help others accomplish
  • Titus was a gentile who Paul challenged to be faithful in sharing the Gospel and growing the church…can we be trusted to do the same?

 

 

 

 

God’s Road Is Better Than Ours

2020-02-23

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

 

Key verse: Exodus 13:18a So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea…

 

Exodus 13:17-18a (NKJV) Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them byway of the land of the Philistines, although that wasnear; for God said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people around byway of the wilderness of the Red Sea…

 

1. Letting go is better than taking charge

Vs 17b …that God did not lead them byway of the land of the Philistines…

  • The Philistines were lined up on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea on the border of Egypt
  • They were a daunting military force which Israel would not have been prepared for at that time
  • God had a very specific process for the Israelites as they begin this victory story

 

2. The easy way is not always the best way

Vs 17c …although that wasnear…

 

Vs 17c (NLT) even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land.

  • The easiest and fastest route from Egypt to the Promised Land was the Via Maris which was the coastal road that was a fairly direct path
  • The Via Maris would have led directly through the Philistine territory at a time when the Philistines were planning to expand their dominance
  • The Philistines would have most certainly attacked a strange people walking through their territory
  • And, the Israelites would not have been prepared for battle. In fact, at this time, it is likely they had few if any weapons with them.

 

3. God sees our potential weakness even when we don’t

Vs 17d  …for God said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.”

  • God knew the Israelites would have been attacked and destroyed
  • God knew the mental state of the Israelites would have led to a hasty retreat running back to what they knew, not what was best for them
  • So why wouldn’t God just destroy the Philistines for them as He had done with the Egyptians when crossing the Red Sea?

 

4. God leads us on the path that will lead to His best, not our wants

Vs 18a So God led the people around byway of the wilderness of the Red Sea…

 

Vs 18a (NLT) So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea.

  • God knew the Israelites had much growing to do in order to fully trust Him and become the people He wanted them to be
  • Had He led them directly into the Promised Land without the wilderness experience, it is likely the Israelites would never have become as fully dependent on Him as they could have
  • The narratives found in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy and Joshua clearly show a people needing to follow God’s path, not their own

 

 

 

The Truth That Sets You Free

2020-02-16

Phil Waldrep

“The Truth That Sets You Free”

Psalm 41:9 ESV

“Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.”

• Forgiveness frees me forever.

• Forgiveness frees me from the person who betrayed me.

• Forgiveness frees me from the pursuit of my betrayer.

• Forgiveness frees me from the pain of my betrayal.

Psalm 27: Afraid and Alone?

2020-02-09

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Key verse: Psalm 27:13 I would have lost heart,unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the LordIn the land of the living.

 

1 Samuel 21:1 Now David came to Nob, to Ahimelech the priest. And Ahimelech was afraid when he met David, and said to him, “Why areyou alone, and no one is with you?”

1 Samuel 21: 10 Then David arose and fled that day from before Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath. 11 And the servants of Achish said to him, “Isthis not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of him to one another in dances, saying: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands’?” 12 Now David took these words to heart, and was very much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. 13 So he changed his behavior before them, pretended madness in their hands, scratched on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva fall down on his beard. 14 Then Achish said to his servants, “Look, you see the man is insane.

 

1. Feeling alone is a common condition (vss 1-3a)

Psalm 27: 1 The Lordismy light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lordisthe strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? 2When the wicked came against me To eat up my flesh, My enemies and foes, They stumbled and fell. 3Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear;

 

2. Feeling alone should not shake your confidence in God (vss 3b-5)

3b Though war may rise against me, In this I will beconfident. 4One thingI have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LordAll the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple. 5For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.

 

3. Trusting God in our trouble is the first step towards victory (vss 6-7)

6 And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord. 7Hear, O Lord, whenI cry with my voice! Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.

 

4. Trusting God requires seeking God (vss 8-9)

8 When You said,“Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” 9Do not hide Your face from me; Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not leave me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation.

 

5. When all else fails, trust Him (vss 10-14)

10 When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the Lordwill take care of me. 11Teach me Your way, O Lord, And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies. 12Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; For false witnesses have risen against me, And such as breathe out violence. 13I would have lost heart,unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the LordIn the land of the living. 14Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!

 

SO MUCH MORE: Reaching Beyond Our Grasp

2020-02-02

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

 

Key Verse: Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think

 

We all have a responsibility to reach beyond our grasp when it comes to the Gospel. God has entrusted us with a great calling and great opportunity to reach this world for Christ. If we are going to see God do infinitely more in the days ahead, we must be faithful in carrying this message outside of our comfort zone.

 

1 Corinthians 9:16 Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News!

 

Matthew 4:19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”

 

The Importance of Reaching

 

1. It is COMMANDED BY GOD

Mark 16:15-16 And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.16 Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned

 

2. It is GOD’S PLAN FOR US ALL

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

 

3. His love COMPELS US

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them

 

4. The world NEEDS JESUS

Ephesians 2:1-3 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

 

 

5. Time is SHORT

Matthew 24:36 However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows

 

Reasons Why We Don’t Reach

 

1. We don’t know the GOSPEL OURSELVES

 

2. We don’t care where people spend eternity

Hebrews 9:27 And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment

 

3. Weworry about what THEY MIGHT THINK

 

Let’s Remember the Gospel

 

1. God is our LOVING CREATOR

John 1:1-5 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

 

2. His creation IS FULL OF SIN

Romans 3:23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

 

3. Jesus paid FOR OUR SINS

Romans 3:24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins

 

John 3:16 For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life

 

4. We receive this payment THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST

Romans 3:25a For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood…

 

5. The result of our faith isETERNAL LIFE THROUGH CHRIST OUR LORD

Romans 3:25b-26 This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus

 

SO MUCH MORE: Being Faithful

January 26, 2020

 

Key Verse: Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

 

1 Timothy 6:17-19 Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. 18 Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. 19 By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.

 

The Struggle to be Faithful

 

1. GREED – We all know people who are greedy, we just THINK WE DON’T STRUGGLE OURSELVES

 

Vs 17a Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable.

 

2. DOUBT – Can God really TAKE CARE OF ALL OF MY NEEDS?

 

Vs 17b Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.

 

Philippians 4:19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

 

3. COMFORT– We think WE’VE DONE ENOUGH OR FOCUS ON SELF

 

Vs 18-19 Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. 19 By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.

 

Our RESPONSIBILITYto be Faithful

 

1 Corinthians 4:2 Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful

 

1. It all BELONGS TO GOD

Psalm 89:11The heavens are yours; and the earth is yours; everything in the world is yours – you created it all.

 

James 1:17-18 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. 18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession

 

a. WE belong to God

 

b. OUR STUFF belongs to God

 

c. OUR HOPE comes from God

 

2. Our response to God

2 Corinthians 9:7-9 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”

 

a. Give ABUNDANTLY

1 Peter 4:10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

 

b. Give REGULARLY

2 Cor. 9:7a You must each decide in your heart how much to give.

 

c. Give JOYFULLY

2

2 Corinthians 9:7-9  NLT

Cor. 9:7b …For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.

 

 

Our ACCOUNTABILITYin being Faithful

 

Romans 14:12 Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God

 

1. We are accountable to OURSELVES

 

2. We are accountable for OURPOSSESSIONS

 

3. We are accountable for OUR TIME

 

4. We are accountable for OUR GIFTS

 

SO MUCH MORE: The Heart of Gratitude

2020-01-19

Key Verse: Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power

at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

“Whatever you don’t turn into praise turns into pride.”

– Mark Batterson

The Struggle to be Grateful:

1. We live entitled lives. “I DESERVE THIS AND MORE”

2. We live discontented lives. “IF I ONLY HAD MORE…”

3. We live jealous lives. “THEY DON’T DESERVE THAT”

Living with Gratitude

Luke 17:11-19 (NLT) As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between

Galilee and Samaria. 12 As he entered a village there, ten men with leprosy stood at a distance,

13 crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 He looked at them and said, “Go show

yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. 15 One of them,

when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” 16 He fell to the

ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus

asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give glory to

God except this foreigner?” 19 And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has

healed you.”

“It’s not happy people who are grateful; it’s grateful people who are happy”

– Craig Groeschel

Turn every blessing into praise

1. Praise God for your NEW POSITION

Vs 15 One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting,

“Praise God!”

Vs 18 Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”

– Recognize the MASSIVE DIFFERENCE GOD HAS MADE IN YOUR LIFE

– Recognize WHERE YOU WOULD BE IF IT WERE NOT FOR HIM

2. Praise God for HIS PROVISIONS

Vs 16 He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man

was a Samaritan.

– Our joy in life is never based on our CIRCUMSTANCES

3. Praise God for THE POSSIBILITY FOR IMPACT

Vs 19 And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

– Be a blessing in SOMEONE ELSE’S LIFE

– We show our thanks to God by WORSHIPPING HIM AND SERVING OTHERS

God wants to fulfill his plan through you and that is always dependent on our Gratitude. God’s

will is to use His children to reach the world through the Gospel. His will can be easily thwarted

by the ingratitude of those same children.

So, our response?

2 Chronicles 16:9-13 Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.

10 Exult in his holy name; rejoice, you who worship the LORD. 11 Search for the LORD and for his

strength; continually seek him. 12 Remember the wonders he has performed, his miracles, and the

rulings he has given, 13 you children of his servant Israel, you descendants of Jacob, his chosen

ones.

Thank God Always.

1. For what GOD HAS DONE

Vs 9b …Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds…

2. For God IS OUR REWARD

Vs 10 Exult in his holy name; rejoice, you who worship the LORD

3. For GOD IS OUR GOD AND HE WILL NEVER CHANGE

vs 11 Search for the LORD and for his strength; continually seek him…

4. For GOD SAVED US FOREVER

Vs12a Remember the wonders he has performed, his miracles

“The beginning of a man’s rebellion against God was, and is, the lack of a thankful heart.”

– Francis Schaeffer

SO MUCH MORE: Conversations and Commitments

2020-01-12

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Key Verse: Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

 

In order to see God accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think, we actually need to ASK AND THINK!

 

Today, we’re going to focus on the importance and power of prayer and fasting in our lives.  There are some important truths about prayer as it relates to our relationship with God.

 

Prayer is the reflection of our relationship with God.

 

1. A relationship between THE CREATOR AND HIS CREATION

 

2. A relationship between the KING AND HIS SUBJECTS

 

3. A relationship between a FATHER AND HIS SON

 

Mark 9:14-29 When they returned to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd surrounding them, and some teachers of religious law were arguing with them. 15 When the crowd saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with awe, and they ran to greet him. 16 “What is all this arguing about?” Jesus asked. 17 One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. 18 And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.” 19 Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” 20 So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth. 21 “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father. He replied, “Since he was a little boy. 22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” 23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” 24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” 25 When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit. “Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak,” he said. “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!” 26 Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd as people said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up. 28 Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?” 29 Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.”

 

In our lives today, we should all be looking for the “infinitely more”that only God can accomplish. So why is it we miss out so often on God’s “more?”

1. Our LACK OF FAITH

Mark 9:19a Jesus said to them, “You faithless people!…

 

2. Our LACK OF COMMITMENT

 

3. Our LACK OF ASKING

Mark 9:29 Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.”

 

Mark 9:29 (NKJV) So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”

 

“Prayer CONNECTSus to the Father while fasting DISCONNECTS us from the world”

– Chris Hodges

 

Fasting is more about REPLACING than it is about ABSTAINING.”

– Gary Rohrmayer

 

In the Bible, God’s people fasted before a major victory, miracle, or answer to prayer:

 

SEEKING MIRACLES: 2 Samuel 12:16 David begged God to spare the child. He went without food and lay all night on the bare ground.

 

SEEKING REPENTANCE: 1 Samuel 7:6So they gathered at Mizpah and, in a great ceremony, drew water from a well and poured it out before the Lord. They also went without food all day and confessed that they had sinned against the Lord. (It was at Mizpah that Samuel became Israel’s judge.)

 

MAKING DECISIONS:Acts 13:2-3 One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Appoint Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.

 

Why Prayer and Fasting Matters

 

1. We rely onHIS STRENGTH

 

2. We FOCUS ON THE ETERNAL

 

3. We REPENT OF OUR SINS

 

4. We RECEIVE THE DIRECTION WE NEED

 

How to Pray:

Philippians 4:6 — Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

 

  • Tell Him WHAT YOU NEED

 

  • Thank Him FOR ALL HE HAS DONE

 

How to Fast:

 

1. Set a REALISTIC GOAL

 

2. Determine THE SCOPE OF YOUR FASTING

 

3. Make it about YOUR HEART

 

4. Focus on WHAT YOU HAVE TO GAIN RATHER THAN WHAT MIGHT MISS

 

SO MUCH MORE: A Walk In The Word

2020-01-05

Charles Billingsley

Key Verse: Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

 

“The more you read the Bible; and the more you meditate on it, the more you will be astonished with it.” – Charles Spurgeon

 

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

 

Key thought: Physical growth is automatic. Spiritual growth is a choice. Until we get in God’s Word, we will never know the MORE God has in STORE!

 

The Importance of God’s Word

 

1. You can TRUST THE WORD OF GOD

Vs 16a All Scripture is inspired by God…

 

2. It NEVER CHANGES

Vs 16b …and is useful to teach us what is true…

 

3. It will always CHANGE YOU

vs 16c – 17 …and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

 

The Power of God’s Word

 

1. It is our WEAPON AGAINST SATAN’S ATTACKS AND LIES

Ephesians 6:12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

 

2. It FEEDS OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST

Matthew 4:4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone,  but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

 

3. It keeps us FOCUSED ON ETERNITY

Colossians 3:1-4 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

 

The Integrity of God’s Word

 

1. Jesus Christ IS THE WORD

John 1:1-3 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God,  and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.

 

2. The Word is LIVING AND ACTIVE

Hebrews 4:12-13 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

 

3. The Word is the ROADMAP OF THE WAY

John 14:6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

 

Our Commitment to God’s Word

 

1. We need to HEAR GOD’S WORD

Romans 10:17 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”

 

2. We need to READ GOD’S WORD

Acts 17:11 And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.

 

3. We need to STUDY GOD’S WORD

Joshua 1:8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.

 

4. We need to MEMORIZE GOD’S WORD

Psalm 119:11 I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

 

5. We need to OBEY GOD’S WORD

James 1:22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

 

The Most Important Thing

2019-12-29

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

We’ve had an amazing year in 2019. God has blessed in incredible and eternal ways. But we are trusting God for more in 2020. SO MUCH MORE!

Ephesians 3:14-21 (NLT) When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

 

1. No limit to God’s greatness or God’s goodness

Vss 15-16 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.

  • There is nothing God will hold back from you as it relates to His perfect will and way in your life
  • God will never call us to defeat or failure
  • God will never give us an impossible task
  • The key is making sure our direction is His path!

Jeremiah 32:17 O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!

 

Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”

 

2. Our contentment is based on our connection

Vs 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.

  • The world is constantly looking for happiness
  • This is only possible through our connection to Him

3. God wants us to trust Him that much

Vs 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.

  • His “covering” goes far beyond our human understanding
  • We attempt to define trusting God in human terms, this never works
  • His ways our not our ways – Isaiah 55:8

4. We will be complete

Vs 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

  • Our completeness in life doesn’t come from outward influences, it comes from within

Ephesians 3:20-21 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Sing Noel: Joy to the World

2019-12-22
Pastor Jonathan Falwell
Key Verse: Luke 2:11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Today, we’re focusing on the the great Christmas hymn of the faith, Joy To The World…the LORD HAS COME. This song has less to do with the trappings of Christmas and far more to do with God’s plan of salvation. We sing these words during this time of year simply because of our focus on Christ’s birth, but the words of this song paint a picture of God’s redeeming work regardless of the time of year.
The song was first published in 1719 in Watts’ collection The Psalms of David: Imitated in the language of the New Testament, and applied to the Christian state and worship.  It has been a staple of the church, and our faith, ever since because it is a clear doctrinal statement of the Gospel.
Luke 2:13-14 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!
Matthew 1:18-23 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19  Then Joseph her husband, being a just man,and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  21  And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.  22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 Behold,the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, God with us.
His birth brought joy because:
1. It was certainly from God
Verse 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit
• This was a miraculous event
• This was a faith test for Joseph
2. It was exactly what was needed
Verse 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.
• The word will is a promise from God
• Romans 3:23  For all have sinned
3. It was always God’s plan
Verse 22-23 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:  23   Behold,the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated,  God with us.
• Prophecy from Isaiah 7:14
• Written around 740 B.C.
• God’s plan was first revealed in Genesis 3:15 (protoevangelium)
Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.
4. It was God’s plan from the beginning for all of us
Verse 21b …for He will save His people from their sins.
Isaiah 53:5 But He  waswounded for our transgressions,  He wasbruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace  wasupon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning  Hispromise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
• The birth of Jesus wasn’t an afterthought or a plan B
• God’s plan was always to give us the promise of Heaven through His Son, Jesus
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joy_to_the_World

O Holy Night – The Space Between

2019-12-15

Charles Billingsley

 

We are in the middle of our sermon series entitled “Sing Noel” where we are exploring the powerful messages of a few of our most beloved Christmas Carols.  Each song has a unique story, and today’s hymn, O Holy Night, is very unique, indeed.  The message of O Holy night is a powerful one.  It is full of wonderful, Biblical truths has inspired untold millions through the generations.  Today we will explore the lyrics of this great old song and how it’s poetic lyrics tell the Biblical story of Christ’s birth.

Key Verses:   Colossians 1:15-18

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.  All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.  And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

 

The Space Between

1. He is Holy 

O Holy Night – 

Luke 1:35 New King James Version (NKJV)

35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

The word “Holy” means to be “set apart” – and this night above all nights is certainly set apart!  This night split time in two!  This night is the space between BC and AD.

I think sometimes we forget that this Jesus who was born in a manger, has always been.  He was there when God roamed the expanses of the Heavens.  He was there when God lit the Sun and the stars with just a spoken word….Let there be Light!  And then….That word became flesh….and He was there again…in physical form.

Jesus is the embodiment of holiness itself.

 Colossians 1:15-18

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.  All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.  And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

Jesus is Holy!

Yes!  It was a holy night because the King of Kings left his throne in glory, and Humbled himself before us so that we might see the face of God.

Phil. 2:5-8

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to  the point of death, even the death of the cross.”

Hebrews 7:26-27

26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He died once for all when He offered up Himself.

 

Phil. 2:9-11

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus is Holy.

And also….

2. He is Here

“Long Lay the world in sin and Error Pining till He appeared!”

Christmas is not about our presents under the tree.  It is about His Presence with us….right now!   

Long lay the world in sin and error pining – till He appeared and the soul felt it’s worth 

What is the soul? 

We all have worth!  We are worth so much to God that He gave His only son to suffer and die on a cross for your sin and mine.

 

He is here – And the more time you spend with Him, the more you discover that He is the one who can fill thespace between who you are now, and who He created you to be.

 

This Christmas, let’s remember that:

1. He is Holy

2. He is Here

and

3. He is Hope!

 

The story of Christmas is filled with hope.

 

A thrill of Hope the song says.  Not hope for just that moment – but hope for eternity!!!

 

Jesus is the light we seek.

Jesus is the help we need.

Jesus is the deliverance we long for.

 

This Hope is thrilling because of the confidence and the salvation that it brings.

 

Romans 15:13 New King James Version (NKJV)

13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit

1 Peter 1:3 New King James Version (NKJV)

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

 

vs 3 of the carol says:

“Truly He taught us to love one another.

His law is love and His gospel is peace.

Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother

And in His name, all oppression shall cease.”

 

Luke 4:16-21

16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me [a]to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are [b]oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

 

So the space between the throes of despair and the thrill of Hope – is Jesus !  

The space between your reality and your expectations can be filled with the hope of Jesus! 

 

Our response to Him should be one of hope-filled worship and praise!

 

Oh that this weary world might some day rejoice in the sweet and precious presence of the Savior  – for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn !

 

He’s Worthy of Our Praise!!

 

Fall on your knees!!!  O hear the angel voices.  O night divine!

 

And let the

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,

Let all within us praise His holy name.

 

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,

His power and glory evermore proclaim!!!!

 

O Holy night has had quite a history and it has blessed the hearts of untold millions.  But so much more…infinitely more important ….is the  story from which O holy night is written that truly changes lives.  We could live without the hymn.  We cannot live without Jesus.

 

The Space between your eternal hope and eternal despair is bridged by Jesus – It is bridged by His cross, His blood, His sacrifice, His forgiveness, His peace, His grace, His mercy.

He is Holy.  He is Here.  He is our hope. 

And the story of Christmas, in the space between what happened in a lowly manger over 2000 years ago until this morning in Lynchburg, Va….. in that space screams one big loud message –

 

YOU ARE LOVED!  YOU ARE LOVED!  YOU ARE LOVED!

 

Sing Noel: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

2019-12-08

Scott Bullman

Key Verse:   Luke 2:13-14   And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

 

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King!
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.”
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’ angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem.”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King!

 

Christ, by highest heaven adored:
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of the Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see;
Hail, th’incarnate Deity:
Pleased, as man, with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King!

 

Hail! the heaven-born Prince of peace!
Hail! the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die:
Born to raise the son of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King !”

 

 

 

 

THE MESSENGERS – What the Bible teaches about ANGELS:

 

Angels are mentioned 273 times in the Bible…108 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New Testament.

 

Angels are CREATED beings.

 

“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.”   Colossians 1:16 (NIV)

 

Angels are SPIRIT beings.

 

Hemakes His angels spirits,His ministers a flame of fire.”  Psalm 104:4 (NKJV)

 

Angels are INNUMERABLE.

 

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands…”.  Revelation 5:11 (ESV)

 

Angels have PERSONALITIES.

 

  • Intellect – Ezekiel 28:17
  • Will – Isaiah 14
  • Emotions – Luke 2:13 / 1 Peter 1:12

 

There are RANKS of Angels

 

  • Archangels
  • Cherubim and Seraphim
  • Living creatures – (Revelation)
  • Guardian Angels – Matthew 18:10 / Hebrews 1:14

 

Angels are POWERFUL beings.

 

  • Rolled the stone away – Luke 24
  • Revelation 7, 8, 16

 

Angels are FUNCTIONAL beings.

 

  • They Worship God – “And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,who was and is and is to come!” Revelation 4:8 (ESV)
  • They Observe the People of God – “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10 (NKJV)
  • They Protect – “The angel of the Lordencamps all around those who fear Him…anddelivers them.”Psalm 34:7 (NKJV)
  • They Comfort – 1 Kings 19
  • They Inform and Instruct – The Story of the Birth of Christ
    • Zechariah – Luke 1:19
    • Mary – Luke 1:26
    • Joseph – Mt. 1:20 / Mt. 2:13, 19
    • Shepherds – Luke 2:9

 

 

THE MESSAGE – Christ the SAVIOR is Born

 

Mild he lays his glory by

”Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.” Philippians 2:6-7 (NLT)

 

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see

“For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.” Colossians 2:9 (NLT)

 

Pleased as man with men to dwell

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…”  John 1:14 (ESV)

 

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.”                        2 Corinthians 8:9  (NKJV)

 

God and sinners reconciled

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;that is, in Christ God was reconcilingthe world to himself…” 2 Corinthians 5:17-19

 

Light and life to all he brings

”In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”  John 1:4 (NKJV)

 

Born that man no more may die

“But we see him (Jesus) who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”  Hebrews 2:9 (ESV)

 

Born to give them second birth

“Jesus replied, I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” John 3:3 (NLT)

The First Noel: A Birthday Like No Other

2019-12-01

Key Verse: Luke 2:11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord

 

Noël is the French word for Christmas and is from the Latin natalis, meaning“birthday.” Most medieval poetry was written to be sung, so it is presumed that the words were written with an existing tune in mind. … ‘The First Nowell‘ was first published in Gilbert’s Some Ancient Christmas Carols in 1823.[1]

 

The first Noel the angel did say
was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;
in fields where they lay keeping their sheep,
on a cold winter’s night that was so deep.

 

Chorus:
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
born is the King of Israel.

 

They looked up and saw a star
shining in the east, beyond them far;
and to the earth it gave great light,
and so it continued both day and night.

And by the light of that same star
three Wise Men came from country far;
to seek for a king was their intent,
and to follow the star wherever it went.

This star drew nigh to the northwest,
o’er Bethlehem it took its rest;
and there it did both stop and stay,
right over the place where Jesus lay.

Then entered in those Wise Men three,
full reverently upon the knee,
and offered there, in his presence,
their gold and myrrh and frankincense.

 

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
born is the King of Israel.

 

The announcement of His birth was:

 

1. Delivered to people just like you and me

Luke 2:8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.

 

Matthew 2:1-2a Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?

 

2. Confusing and Scary

Luke 2:9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.

 

Matthew 2:3-6 When Herod the king heard this,he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: 6‘Butyou, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;For out of you shall come a RulerWho will shepherd My people Israel.’ 

 

3. Life-Changing

Luke 2:10-11 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

 

Matthew 2:7-8 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him,bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.

 

4. Miraculous

 

Matthew 2:2b For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

 

Matthew 2:9-11a When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him…

 

[1]http://www.classichistory.net/archives/first-noel-carol

Being Grateful When Things May Not Be Great

2019-11-24

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Key verse: Ephesians 5:20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ

 

Ephesians 5:17-21 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.

 

1. Do Not Be Drunk With Wine

A picture of masking life by giving something else control

  • Day of Pentecost

2. Be Filled With The Spirit

Be filled (play-ROE) complete

  • Continually be filled

3. Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.

The joy of music

  • Psalms-like
  • Melody in your heart

4. Giving Thanks Always For All Things

“all things” is difficult

  • Why?

1 Thess. 5:16-18 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of Godin Christ Jesus for you.

 

Romans 8:28 – ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD!

 

Psalms 50:15 Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

 

1 Cor. 11 – COMMUNION