Sermons

March 10th, 2019 – – This is the gist of a sermon I gave today on the first three chapters of Esther.

INTRODUCTION – One of the great challenges we face in the church in America is the lack of true intimacy with our God.  He has called us to that. He wired us for that.  But for a variety of reasons, we find it illusive at best.

One of the reasons I believe we find it illusive is we have not understood the cumulative effect sin has on we believers.

The apostle Paul in Galatians 6, writing to believers, explains it like this, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”  Galatians 6:7,8

While I am very thankful for the encouragement and healing that has come from all of the emphasis on our position in Christ in the church in America over the last however many years, I fear that we have misconstrued some things that have set us back, and actually prevented our healing. One of those things is the belief that once a man or woman or young person is born again, all of that corruption of our former life is forever gone.  I wish that were true.   

When the Bible says in II Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”   – wonderful, supernatural, instantaneous things happen when you or I finally admit we are a sinner – much in need of a Savior, and Jesus Christ is that one and only Savior, and we ask Him to be our personal Savior and Lord.   

Immediately upon that faith response to Him, He with resurrection power breaks the power of sin over our lives and gives us a new capacity to know and love Him and hear His voice and serve Him.  New creatures indeed!  Praise God!!

But the corruption we have sown still lingers until it is incrementally cleansed by the blood of Jesus.  That’s why Paul instructed the believers in Corinth in the first verse of chapter 7 – just a little more than a chapter after He proclaimed our newness in Christ – “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”   This is an ongoing work – largely dealing with the fleshly or carnal thought patterns, attitudes and motives that we have often unconsciously developed –  that we believers are to aggressively pursue by the power of the Spirit and by the precious blood of Christ until all of that corruption or defilement is cleaned up, and we are increasingly holy as He is holy. 

One of the aspects of corruption or defilement that I believe is very prevalent in the church – especially among those of us who have known the Lord for a long time, and yet have failed Him many times and not “perfected holiness in the fear of God” like we should have is that of performance mentality.  We know we have not walked with God as we should have. Deep down, though intellectually we know He loves us, we are convinced He is angry at us. And thus we just have to work harder or sacrifice more to get Him to ease up on His anger and overlook our many failures. In this vicious cycle shame and regret get a stranglehold on us; and the thought that the living God of the universe who never knew sin, and who is holy and pure through and through – could love us unconditionally and long for intimacy with us and enjoy our fellowship– well it’s just beyond our comprehension.

So what in the world does that have to do with the book of Esther?    Ahhh, Esther.  

Though Esther never mentions the words –  God, prayer, lovingkindness, mercy or grace; though the book of Esther never gives us a prophetic portrait of the coming Messiah like the Psalms and so many of the prophets do – – some of them like Isaiah – multiple times;……….  Esther – through the power of story – if we have eyes to see – gives us a wonderful example of the mystery of God’s sovereign choosing of someone (in this case a people – namely the Jews), and thus (because He chose them) we see His undying, unbreakable, covenant love toward that people, even when they foolishly rebel against Him, and worship idols, and make friends with the world that has so brazenly rejected Him.               

Does He discipline and chasten them for their sin?  Absolutely. Does He sometimes severely judge them for their rebellion and idolatry? Absolutely.  But never once did He stop loving and pursuing them, as evidenced by many passages throughout the Old Testament and by Romans chps 9-11 in the New Testament. Listen to His words to His people in Isaiah, “Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.”  Isaiah 49:15 And then His words through the prophet Jeremiah, “…I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.”  Jeremiah 31:3

While the book of Esther does not have one occurrence of the wonderful word, “lovingkindness”, that shows up 176 times elsewhere in the Old Testament and is translated from that rich Hebrew word, Hesed, which has the idea of covenant, unbreakable, undying, everlasting love, that can only be found in God,…. While Hesed doesn’t’ once appear in Esther, it is God’s lovingkindness that is operative behind the scenes in this great book.  It is God’s covenant love for a people that He chose and formed and destined to be a demonstration of His love to the world around Him, that is lurking behind the many turns of events in the book of Esther.

With that introduction, let’s dive into the book of Esther together. My assignment is the first three chapters, which I would at least like to read with you.

Vs. 1 – 4 – – King Ahasuerus’s Reign and Grand Celebration – –   Some translations like the NIV call this King Xerxes. They are one and the same. He ruled over a vast territory as described here – from the years 486-465 B.C.  

Some scholars believe that King Xerxes was using this banquet as a means of preparing his military leaders for an eventual invasion of Greece, which we know happened about four years later, though it was a failed invasion.

Vs. 5 – 8 – The banquet for the common folk – –  .  This 7 day banquet is a separate banquet for the common folk in which wine flowed in abundance and the King’s glory and splendor were again on display.

Vs. 9 – Queen Vashti’s banquet – – .  Separate banquets for the women were not unusual for that culture. 

Vs. 10-12 – – Vashti’s response to King Ahasuerus’s Command – –     “merry with wine” is another way of saying King Ahasuerus was sloshed, and not operating in good judgment.    Perhaps it was his example and perhaps the example of other foolish Kings with their lack of restraint because of their alcohol that caused King Lemuel’s mother to exhort him with these words as recorded in Proverbs 31:1-5 “The words of King Lemuel. The oracle which his mother taught him: What, O my son? And what, O son of my womb?  And what, O son of my vows?  Do not give you strength to women, Or your ways to that which destroys kings. It is not for kings, O Lemuel, It is not for kings to drink wine, Or for rulers to desire strong drink,   For they will drink and forget what is decreed, And pervert the rights of all the afflicted.”  

Vs. 11 – God wired husbands to rave over their wives’ beauty. But it was never meant for anyone else to gaze upon or enjoy.  It was never meant to be used as a trophy to parade in front of others.  

Vs. 12 – Vashti’s refusal sent the King into a fit of rage, I’m sure helped by his drunkenness.

Vs. 13 – 15 – King Ahasuerus turns to his counselors for advice.

Vs. 16 – 20  – His counselors advice  

Vs. 21,22 – The King’s response to their advice (read it)    He ok’d this plan, and evidently added to this announcement was that all men/husbands should be the master in their homes.

Chapter 2

Vs. 1- 4 The Search Begins;  Some time later when the King had calmed down and was reflecting on what had happened with Vashti, his attendants and counselors encouraged him to get on with the search for her replacement, which he then authorized. 

Vs. 5-7 – Introduction of Mordecai and Esther  

Vs. 8-10 – Esther’s placement into Ahasurus’s harem   

Vs. 11 – Mordecai’s monitoring of her welfare

Vs. 12-14 – the process of coming before the King for these virgins  

Vs. 15-16 – Esther’s turn to be with the King     Can you imagine what that trek into the King’s bedroom must have been like for Esther?

Vs. 17-18 – The King’s response to Esther  

Vs. 19-20 – Re-entry of Mordecai’s influence on Esther to the story  

Vs. 21-23 – Mordecai’s exposing of the plot on the King’s life    

Chapter 3

Vs. 1-2 – Haman’s promotion and Mordecai’s refusal to bow before him  

Vs. 3-4 – The King’s servants’ response to his refusal  

Vs. 5-6 – Haman’s response to his refusal   

Vs. 7-11 – Haman’s appeal to the King to wipe out the Jews   

Vs. 12-15 – The decree is declared in all the provinces    

CONCLUSION – God promised His people through the prophet Jeremiah that their Babylonian captivity would only need to last 70 years, and then they would/should return to their homeland. Listen to His words, “For thus says the Lord, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. “  Jeremiah 29:10

Both Isaiah and Jeremiah exhorted the people of Israel and Judah to return to their homeland as can be seen in passages like Isaiah 48:20 and Jeremiah 50:8 and 51:6. Some obviously did which you can read about in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. But many didn’t -like Mordecai and Esther. 

Perhaps they got comfortable in the greater Persian empire; raised their families there; made some friends; established themselves in the marketplace.           Some scholars believe the reason the author of Esther never mentioned God or prayer or some of the other missing words I spoke of earlier in my sermon, is because the spiritual life of the Jews in this empire that Ahasuerus ruled over was at an all time low.  

But regardless of all of this, as you will see as we continue the study of Esther, God never lost sight of His people.  

Nor has He lost sight of you.  (Spontaneous bringing the message home).

May the Lord use the reading of this book in these next weeks to bring that home to you in a fresh way. 

Prayer and ministry time. 

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INTRODUCTION – Over 40 years ago Billy Graham wrote an article called  “Challenge for a Floundering Church”. He cites about seven or so major changes he believed needed to happen in the floundering church in America. These observations came from all of his travels and interactions with church leaders throughout our nation over many years. Here’s his third suggestion for change:

“Third, I would teach the necessity of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. The disciples were nothing before Pentecost. They were everything after it. When we read about famous Christians down through the centuries, we cannot escape the tremendous emphasis of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The church today has all the tools for conquest—money, edifices, organizations, education and methods. But we lack the God-given spark to ignite these things into a spiritual fire that could sweep the world and help bring peace to our desperate world. That spark is the personal infilling of the Holy Spirit in the life of every believer, without which the church has no spiritual power.”

A.W. Tozer impacted the church in America like few others in the first half of the 20thcentury. He pastored in Chicago for 30 years and then in Toronoto until he somewhat retired. He wrote 40 books including the classics “The Pursuit of God” and “The knowledge of the Holy”. Some called him a modern day prophet. He said re: the church and the Holy Spirit, “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference”

Samuel Chadwick, one of the greatest ever Methodist preachers and a champion for revival in the late 1800’s said re: the church and the Holy Spirit, – “The root-trouble of the present distress is that the Church has more faith in the world and the flesh than in the Holy Ghost, and things will get no better till we get back to His realized presence and power.”

Francis Chan in an interview in March of 2018 said, – – “There is a big gap between what we read in Scripture about the Holy Spirit and how most believers and churches operate today. In many modern churches, you would be stunned by the apparent absence of the Spirit in any manifest way. And this, I believe, is the crux of the problem.”

So that’s a bit about our problem. But here’s the thing. If the lack of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power is our problem; then His realized or manifest presence and power is our solution!  Throughout church history there have been times where the problem seemed insurmountable, but a remnant of sons and daughters of the king didn’t give up, and kept crying out for more of the Holy Spirit, and God the Father granted them their request. 

Isn’t that what we see in the book of Acts?  Thousands of people had been following Jesus – absolutely awed by His miracles and His teachings as seen in the four gospel accounts. But when He was unlawfully arrested and then ruthlessly crucified, the movement He had started seemed all but over. But the Holy Spirit raised Him from the dead after three days the scriptures tell us. And He appeared over a forty day period to about 500 people helping them all understand that it was always part of God’s plan for Him to die for our sins and then to rise from the dead to continue to lead His disciples forward. Before He ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father in heaven He gave final instructions to His closest band of disciples – the 12 minus Judas and some women who often traveled with them and some other disciples. He instructed them to gather in Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit, which they obediently and somewhat fearfully did for days before the Holy Spirit invaded their room and supernaturally enabled all of them to speak in foreign languages they had never learned, which drew a huge crowd, which caused formerly fearful and timid Peter to stand up and preach a sermon so bold and so powerful that 3,000 people repented of their sins, and embraced the risen Christ as their personal Savior and Lord, followed by baptism.

If you’ve read the book of Acts you know almost every page speaks of the mighty works of the Holy Spirit through a group of people who used to argue among themselves about who was the greatest,  and who dissed children and who dissed women and who dissed emotional displays of worship and who fell asleep when they were asked by Jesus to pray, etc.   It is an amazing and thrilling story of what the Holy Spirit can do in and through His people, and probably the primary reason why these leaders I quoted to you earlier said the things they said. 

My contention this morning is the Holy Spirit is yearning to do even greater works than these in and through you and me.     So to pave the way for that I would like to review with you who He is and what He is like.  Because as Joshua taught us last week, the Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force or a vibe or an energy field, or a cosmic genie; rather He is a person; a person that Jesus Christ went to great lengths to reveal to His disciples in those last hours He had with them.

We are going to look at four aspects of His person this morning rather quickly, because I want us to spend some time in prayer afterwards. And the first one is this:

He is fully God – The Holy Spirit is equal in deity with God the Father and God the Son – 

Jesus said these words to His disciples, after He had risen from the dead and right before He ascended to heaven,   “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19,20

Clearly new believers in Jesus were meant to know God as the triune God that He is. Clearly their new identity as disciples was to be grounded in the knowledge and experience of God the Father, God the Son & God the Holy Spirit.

When Peter rebuked Annanias and Sapphira for lying and pretending to be someone they were not in the early church in Jerusalem, he said these words, “…Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spiritand to keep back some of the price of the land?  While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God?”  Acts 5:3,4; 

In Peter’s mind, the Holy Spirit and God were one and the same.

So this means that when the Bible says “Nothing is too difficult for You” this is true of the Holy Spirit; and when the Bible says “Nothing will be impossible with God” – this is true of the Holy Spirit; and thus when the Bible says He will convict the world of sin and judgment and righteousness, no amount of post modernism or central coastianity or new age fluff or any other ism will prevent Him from accomplishing His convicting work.  Or When the Bible speaks of His sanctifying work in the lives of we believers, no amount of sin or corruption or defilement in our past will keep Him from accomplishing this precious sanctifying work – making us more and more like Jesus.

Well not only is He fully God; He is also HOLY.

The Spirit of God has a number of names or titles in the scriptures, but by far the most prevalent one in the New Testament is He is the Holy Spirit. 92 x’s He is referred to as such in the New Testament.

So what does it mean when the scriptures say He is the HOLY Spirit?

Well the greek word translated Holy has the idea of “distinction” or “apartness”.  One theologian spoke of Him as “Wholly other”.  Another scholar put it this way: “God the Holy Spirit is apart and distinct from all that is impotent and impure. He is distinct and separate from all created beings and false gods; there is no one like Him in any way or in any place.  The evidence for this is found in His righteousness and His power; He is not sinful and impure as man or gods, neither is He impotent as man or gods.”  

Thomas Watson, the prolific Puritan writer of a few centuries ago spoke of the holiness of God as follows: “Holiness is the glory of the Godhead. It is primarily and originally in God as light is in the sun; you may as well separate weight from lead, or heat from fire, as holiness from the divine nature; God’s holiness is that whereby His heart rises against any sin, as being most diametrically opposite to His essence, “You are of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.” Hab. 1:13  

Thus when the apostle Paul commanded the Corinthian believers to “Flee immorality” in I Cor. Ch. 6,  He supported that command with two reasons. First we should flee all forms of sexual immorality because of the destructive effects this sin has on one’s body.  And second because of the reality that the Spirit who dwells within us is the HOLY Spirit, and our body belongs to Him now.

“Flee immorality.  Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” I Cor. 6:18, 19

Were the Holy Spirit merely a force or energy –  what you do with your body probably wouldn’t matter. But because he is a person who is holy through and through, and because He lives inside of you, what you do, what you think, what you say matters greatly.

I’ve had to come to grips with the reality in recent years that a major reason we believers struggle to experience the power and vibrancy and reality of the Holy Spirit in our lives is because we are blind to His holiness, and thus very weak in our own holiness.  This was certainly true in my own life.

And I think one of the reasons we so struggle with this is because we see the Holy Spirit use unholy people – even ourselves, and we therefore conclude their lack of holiness  (or ours) is no big deal.  One of the things I used to justify my own lack of holiness was the fact that God was using me in people’s lives. Therefore He must have been pleased with me. 

One of the men God used in a powerful way in my life 30 or more years ago when I began to get acquainted with the Holy Spirit was John Wimber – the founder of the Vineyard movement. God used the Vineyard in a huge way in our nation in the late 70’s and 80’s and early 90’s to help the evangelical non charismatic arm of the church in the West rediscover the gifts of healing, prophecy, tongues, and rediscover that our God is a supernatural God who has always performed signs and wonders and always will. But He could have used them in far greater ways if they had known the Holy Spirit as the HOLY Spirit.

Listen to John’s own words, “…If the time of the Lord’s return is close (and he believed it was), doesn’t He expect us to prepare ourselves with righteous acts, so that we might be a bride fit for the wedding with the Lamb of God (Rev. 19:7-9)? If His return inaugurates our being in His presence forever, shouldn’t our highest priority today be seeking God’s face?

Perhaps this is why I have sensed God saying, “Get ready; Get ready; Get ready.” Call the people to account. Prepare them! They must be clean. They must be holy.” I’ve never known such urgent leading from the Lord.

I’m particularly sensitive to the call to righteousness, because for years I have been aware that few people in the Vineyard are truly holy. Very few lives are set apart – set apart from sin and impurity, and set apart to God.

When the Holy Spirit first came on the Vineyard I shook my head and said, “Wait a minute. I’ve been taught all my Christian life that God doesn’t use an unclean vessel, yet look at this thing: it’s unclean.” I knew our church was unclean, because I was pastoring it. I couldn’t’ understand how the favor of the Lord could be on a people like us.

In the early years of the Vineyard (and this was after it was known nationwide for miracles of healing and other miracles taking place) people asked me, “Do you and your people have a strong prayer ministry in your church?” “No,” I’d say, “only a few people pray. Very few.”

Then they’d ask, Surely your people endeavor to be holy, don’t they?” 

“Well only a few are. Many of them could care less. They’re more interested in the cares of the world than in God’s affairs.”

Oh we responded to the Lord and had some great meetings. But there was very little consecration on the part of the people. During this time a brother in the church prophesied, “We’re riding on someone else’s credit card.” Looking back, I believe that’s accurate; …” I assume someone else prayed for us….. And we received the blessings.” (end of quote)

One of the Holy Spirit’s passions is to prepare the bride of Christ to meet her groom without spot or wrinkle.  The great revivalist – Leonard Ravenhill said it best, when he exclaimed, “The greatest miracle that God can do today is to take an unholy man out of an unholy world, and make that man holy and put him back in to that unholy world and keep him holy in it.”  I firmly believe He is going to do that increasingly with our congregation, and with His church in this region as we get to know Him as He truly is!

He is God; He is the Holy Spirit; and thirdly He is Spirit.

Jesus said of God and thus the Holy Spirit, – “God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24

The Holy Spirit is not confined or limited to a body like Jesus was while He walked and ministered on the earth. Thus He can minister to millions of people at the same time. Thus when Jesus said to His disciples in John 16:7, 8 “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;”  The advantage the Holy Spirit had and has is He is Spirit. He can be everywhere at once. He has no time or space limitations.

Finally He is the Spirit of Truth

Jesus said to His disciples, “ I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” John 14:16,17

“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spiritof truthwho proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me,” John 15:26

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”  John 16:13

The apostle John goes even farther in his first epistle and states, “…..It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.” I John 5:6

Do you want to be intimate with the Holy Spirit?  Do you want to filled with all His fullness?  Do you want to be the kind of vessel or temple or instrument that the Holy Spirit can do those greater works through that Jesus promised?

Then we are going to have to allow Him to purge and cleanse us from all the rationalization, and minimizing and embellishing and stretching the truth and falsehood that we have walked in for most of our lives.  I don’t know about you but I learned to lie and stretch the truth and beat around the bush and divert attention from my sins as a child and really got pretty good at it. It sadly became a way of life for me.

But even David knew as he prayed in Psalm 51;6, “Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,….” Perhaps that’s why a little later in that passionate prayer he pleaded, “Do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.”  

Now thankfully in this New Covenant relationship we believers have with and through Jesus Christ and through what He has done for us on the cross, we do not have to plead with Him not to be taken from us.  But we should be pleading for Him to purify us of all of our corruption and defilement and falsehood so He can fulfill His highest purposes in and through your life and mine.

Being a temple of the Holy Spirit and a temple of the Spirit of truth is a great privilege and honor. It means each of us has the potential to be used by Him beyond our wildest dreams. But that doesn’t happen automatically. 

Perhaps that’s why the great church father Augustine, prayed prayers like this re: the Holy Spirit – “Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.”

“O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams.”

Jesus’s promise for His church is this: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”    Let’s ask Him now!

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INTRODUCTION – We are jumping into chapter two of Paul’s letter to Titus this morning if you would like to turn there in your Bibles.     As Elizabeth taught us last week – this letter is considered to be one of the pastoral epistles – which are epistles or letters that were more specifically written to help the church know how to how to be the church in the midst of the darkness and perversion all around her. 

While this letter to Titus is one of the three pastoral epistles, I do not believe Titus himself should be seen as a pastor. Pastors or elders or overseers are called to shepherd the sheep in a given location. They are to dig their heels in a particular city or region and do their part to see the saints equipped, and the sheep in that given city or region shepherded, and the lost saved. They are to lay their lives down to see Christ’s kingdom come and His will done in their region until Christ clearly leads them elsewhere, if He ever does.  

An apostle on the other hand, tends to not be confined to one locale or one congregation.  An apostle typically oversees a number of churches and/or ministries and is given more to travel and to equipping equippers – and pastoring pastors. 

While Titus is never called an apostle in scripture, he functioned more like an apostle than a pastor. Paul calls him his “partner and fellow worker” in II Corinthians ch. 8. Titus ministered in Corinth for some period of time. He traveled with Paul to Jerusalem at one point in Paul’s journeys.  He traveled to Dalmatia for ministry at one point.  And now we see him appointing elders in every city in the island state of Crete.

Now,  one of the aspects of church life that is designed and intended to give God glory in every place where the church has been established is that its members look more and more like their Savior.

For young churches like these newly planted churches in Crete, there were not many – if any seasoned, mature believers to learn from and to model after; so Paul gave Titus in this letter some specific character targets to shoot for in the various age groups and stations of life.

He starts off as he should with Titus himself.  vs. 1 & vs. 15

“But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.” Vs. 1

“These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” Vs. 15

Please note the intended contrast in vs. 1 with the divisive men in 1:10,11 that the phrase, “But as for you” tips us off to.  Paul warns Titus in that passage, “For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.”

Titus, on the other hand is to teach these new believers and try to ground them in sound doctrine.  His every word in any context – official meeting or casual conversation – should help establish whomever he is talking to in sound doctrine, sound thinking, and thus sound behavior all centered on the Lord Jesus Christ. He is to do it faithfully and firmly, knowing it is crucial for the health and well being of Christ’s church, regardless of opposition or resistance.

One of the greatest responsibilities any apostle then or today has over any church is that it be grounded in sound doctrine.  That’s why Paul brings up doctrine four times in this short letter. And he also speaks of it in the other two pastoral epistles – I & II Timothy.

What is doctrine? Well doctrine is basically the body of truth given to us in the scriptures.  It is everything the King would ever want you to know about His kingdom, again as communicated in the Scriptures.  

One of the many expressions of God’s goodness to mankind is that He hasn’t left anything to chance or doubt.  He could have just given us one book instead of 66. But He loves to share His secrets with His people. He loves to tell us about Himself.  He loves to reveal His ways and His deeds or works.  He wants us to know how He has dealt with mankind since the very beginning. And He wants us to know what can be expected of and from Him in the now; and He wants us to know how things are going to end up (generally speaking) in the future.

Sound, Christ like, and God pleasing behavior rides on the back of sound, Christ centered doctrine. Sound doctrine protects Christ’s church from confusion and deception. It helps her rightly examine the more subjective aspects of kingdom life like prophetic words, dreams, visions, trances, etc.  It provides guard rails for the life of the Spirit.

Satan knows this better than we do sometimes I’m afraid. And that is why one of his main weapons against the church is raising up false teachers, false prophets and false apostles, who like him seek to deceive and spread false doctrine, but who are very cunning and seemingly religious or spiritual in the way they do it. 

How we are to be grounded in sound doctrine in the church is a whole other discussion that our teaching team is beginning to grapple with. One thing we know for sure is it was never meant to be confined to one man doing all the talking and teaching. All of us can and should play a role in the building and preserving of sound doctrine. I find it interesting that the believers in Berea – even after hearing the teaching of the greatest theologian (other than Jesus) ever to live, still “examined the scriptures daily to see whether these things were so”;  and the Holy Spirit through Luke calls them noble minded as contrasted with the believers in Thessalonica. You can read about that in Acts chapter 17.  But again – more on that perhaps in the near future.

After giving Titus specific instructions for his life and ministry there in Crete, Paul now turns to the older men there in the church. vs. 2   “Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.”

I want to make a few comments on this characteristic of being Sensible. We were told in ch. 1 that elders are to be sensible; as are old men in vs. 2, young women in vs. 5, young men in vs. 6, and then all of us as seen in vs. 12.  This characteristic is obviously of great concern to the apostle Paul.

Translated “sensible” in the New American Standard version; the NIV & NLT = self controlled;  It has the idea of being in control at all times of our passions and drives or lusts.  

Why is this quality necessary for older men in the church?  Well possibly because older men tend to think they’ve put in their time; they’ve worked hard all their life; so now they are entitled to sit back in their easy chair and enjoy their favorite shows or sports or both on their wide screen T.V.’s ; while enjoying a big bowl of ice cream to boot – every night!                 Now I’m not saying thou shalt never as an old man watch t.v. or eat ice cream.  But if you as an older man are going to be sensible or self controlled, which is a fruit of the Spirit by the way, then entitlement to the American way has to go. Older men if they are born again and thus baptized or placed into the church by the Holy Spirit; are therefore temples of the Holy Spirit; and therefore He the Holy Spirit would prefer to make the judgment or determination on how His temple spends their time, and what they eat or drink, or how much they eat or drink, and what they watch, etc.

The lie of the evil one, besides this entitlement lie, is that older men are washed up and cannot bear any significant fruit in their old age.  The good news of the kingdom of God is that our fruit will only get riper in old age as we learn to walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh.

Psalm 92:12-15 has been a guiding light for me as people sometimes ask me these days if I have retired, or if I am soon planning on retiring:

“The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, They will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green, To declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”   This is normal kingdom life and expectation for older men (and women).

Speaking of older women, let’s read Paul’s instructions for them – vs. 3,4a 

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women….”

Older women likewise are notto see themselves as “retired” or having earned a life of ease and pleasure after years of hard work raising children, and perhaps grandchildren, and/or working in the workforce. Nor should the church see them as such. Older women in the kingdom of God are the key to seeing younger women thrive.

As long as there are younger women around, older women can bear fruit by imparting to them the life of Christ and the life of the Spirit that they have learned over the years, and are still learning hopefully.

Please note the first of four “So that” purpose clauses in this chapter that shows up in vs. 4       “so that they may encourage the young women….”

In the kingdom of God, this is what older women were designed to do.  But as some of you older women (and men) might have learned – this doesn’t just automatically happen does it?  

Older women and we older men have to cultivate the kind of spiritual life and character that causes younger women (or younger men) to feel safe with us and therefore dare to open their lives to us.

And that first of all requires that we learn to listen and not react, not unrighteously judge, and not preach.  

The more an older woman gives herself to becoming the kind of godly woman vs. 3 describes, the more she will see doors open to impart this life to younger women.

Sometimes there is a tendency in older women (or men) in the church to want a platform to teach the younger women (or men), rather than taking the time to cultivate the piety that ultimately opens more doors than any platform ever could.  Piety ultimately bears far more fruit in terms of generational transfer than platforms (even organized men’s and women’s ministries) ever will.

OK. What about younger women? – vs. 4b, 5

“…to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”

Here is the second “so that” purpose clause in this passage: “so that the word of God will not be dishonored.  When younger women are known to be Christians, but are not known to be Christlike, God’s word is mocked, and the lost who know them chalk this up as one more hypocrite to add to the long list.  But of course the converse of this is when younger women walk in this kind of godly character, the word of God is honored and respected even among the lost.

Titus has a few words for younger men – vs. 6-8

“Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.”

Here’s the third “so that” purpose clause: “so that the opponent will be put to shame…”  godly young men can actually cause the opponents of the church to shut their mouths.

What about Bondslaves? – vs. 9,10

“Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.”

Here’s the fourth purpose clause:  “so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect”.  Doctrine can actually be adorned or beautified and magnified by the behavior of slaves.

Why should older men and older women and younger men and women and slaves give themselves to the pursuit of godliness and holiness? Because when they do – 

  • younger women will receive the encouragement from older women they so desperately need
  • the word of God will not be dishonored in Christian marriages
  • the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about the church
  • the doctrine of God our Savior will be adorned and wonderfully displayed

All of this of course is only possible by the empowering grace of God

Paul wants to make sure we know that, so he is now going to speak of four wonderful things the grace of God does in the world and in the church in vs. 11-14.

First of all it brings salvation to all men – vs. 11 

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,”

God has always been a God of grace.  A God who gives lavishly to men what they could never deserve or earn.  Jesus Christ, as John the apostle tells us in his gospel – – walked on our planet in plain view as one “full of grace and truth”.  Those who met Him and knew Him John says received “grace upon grace”.  Grace exploded on planet earth in and through the Savior Jesus Christ, and it is extended or freely offered to every man, woman, young person and child – regardless of ethnicity, or privilege or economic status, etc.

Second, the grace of God instructs those of us who have been born again by the Spirit of God to deny ungodliness and worldly desires – vs. 12a 

“instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires…”

When we begin to see how unworthy (not worthless) we are; when our eyes are opened to how utterly sinful in our flesh we are; and when we see how great His grace is towards us – – when we see and begin to taste how great His love and unconditional acceptance is; when we begin to experience His favor and power poured out on us all because of the goodness of His heart – – we gladly deny all matters of ungodliness and worldly desires.  They lose their grip on us. Praise God!!

Third the grace of God instructs we believers to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age – vs. 12b 

“instructing us to ……live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.”

   The grace of God, defined by some as unmerited favor and blessing, but also defined as enabling power to please God and become like Him – – this amazing grace teaches us how and motivates us to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the midst of the perversion and corruption that surrounds us.

Finally the grace of God instructs us to look for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus – vs. 13 

“looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.”

  The grace of God as we begin to taste it and experience it, enables us to break all illicit ties with this world, and look forward to and anticipate the glorious return of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Death is no longer feared, but rather embraced as our pathway to unhindered intimacy and fellowship with our great Savior.

What is so “great” about Him?

Well first of all He gave Himself for us. vs. 14 a

“who gave Himself for us….”

He willingly walked back into Jerusalem on that fateful day, knowing the Jewish religious leaders were going to capture Him and unlawfully arrest Him and unlawfully try Him; and unlawfully and brutally beat Him, and finally crucify Him on a criminal’s cross. He did that for you and me. And He did that to accomplish a number of things, two of which Paul emphasizes in this passage: – 

First to redeem us from every lawless deed – vs. 14b 

“who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed,….”

 Before Jesus invaded our lives and saved us from our sins and made us new creatures, we were slaves to sin and lawlessness. By that I don’t mean we necessarily broke major laws of our land; but we broke God’s laws – on a daily basis – – the greatest one being to love Him with our whole heart, soul, strength and mind.  Jesus died to set us free from this awful bondage to sin – – a bondage that was more awful than most of us realize.

The second reason Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood was to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds – vs. 14c 

“who gave Himself for us ….to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”

The most wonderful  purifying and cleansing agent in the universe is the blood of Jesus.  There is no sin, no bondage, no addiction, no generational long time sin pattern that it can’t cleanse.  The blood of Jesus can take a Corinthian church and turn it into a Philippian church. 

You know, God’s strategy for reaching the whole world with the wonderful news of His saving grace has never really changed. He has always been about forming a people among whom He could dwell and manifest Himself, so that His manifested presence in our midst first purifies us of all defilement, and then spills out on all those within reach with God appointed and Spirit directed good deeds. 

Do you sense Him calling you out of the world, or rather calling the world out of you in these days brethren? 

I know some of you do. Oh the joys that are ahead of The Well – Los Osos  – – when we get serious about breaking our friendship with the world.  Oh the zeal for doing every good deed that is going to be increasingly ours – – as we finally begin to hate the things He hates and love the things He loves, and therefore find ourselves free from all the things that used to trip us up.

Jesus said in the sermon on the mount to a crowd of disciples, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they (plural) shall see God.”  (Matthew 5:8).  There is no greater happiness in this earthly life than allowing our great Redeemer and Savior to clean us up from the inside as a people so we can see Him as He is, and experience Him in our midst, and thus have His intended impact on the outside watching world.

Can we pray into this some as His people this morning?  

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INTRODUCTION – The author of www.evilbible.com says this re: the Bible and the scourge of slavery: “Except for murder, slavery has got to be one of the most immoral things a person can do. Yet slavery is rampant throughout the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments. The Bible clearly approves of slavery in many passages, and it goes so far as to tell how to obtain slaves, how hard you can beat them, and when you can have sex with the female slaves.”

Psalm 145:8,9 says this about the God of the Old and New testaments – the same God who wrote the Old and New testaments through the minds and pens of men: “The Lord is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The Lord is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works.” Later in vs. 17 it says, “The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds.”

So who should we believe? Well one of the passages evilbible.com uses to make its argument just so happens to be the one we are going to look at today in our ongoing series through I Timothy. So please turn in your Bibles if you will to I Timothy 6:1,2 Continue reading Slavery & The Kingdom of God – I Tim. 6:1,2

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INTRODUCTION – This morning I hope to help broaden and strengthen your perspective on how life works, & how the kingdom of God intersects this fallen world; because that is what I believe Solomon – the preacher – is after in chapter 10, if not in this whole book called Ecclesiastes. Even back then, I think Solomon knew that people could place their faith in God to escape hell and judgment and to find much needed forgiveness for sins, but never really learn how to live like God meant for us to live.

You see perspective pretty much more than anything else determines whether we thrive or just survive. Perspective determines whether we see the glass half full or almost empty. Perspective – that is wise and godly perspective – shields us from the onslaught of lies that constantly come our way from the father of lies, and from this corrupt world system that is well oiled and crafted by the father of lies, and from our own sinful flesh. Continue reading Truths for Thriving – – Ecclesiastes 10:1-20

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INTRODUCTION – Ecclesiastes is a great book for those of us who tend to be too black and white, too anal, too uptight, too dependent on formulas, or just too unlike Christ!

I want to confess that it is not the easiest book to understand, much less apply or heed. Parts of Chapter 8 are especially challenging. One of the things that helped me this week was my reading on Wednesday in Thomas a Kempis’s “Imitation of Christ” re: the study of scripture and how to handle difficult to understand portions. Here’s what he said,
“Our curiosity proves a hindrance to us, for while reading the Scriptures we sometimes want to stop to debate and discuss, when we should simply read on. If you wish to derive profit from your reading of Scripture, do it with humility, simplicity and faith; “ Continue reading Overcoming sternness with Wisdom – Eccl. 8:1

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June 17, 2018
INTRODUCTION – As we jump into Ecclesiastes ch. 4 today, I want to direct my thoughts primarily to the working folk among us, because that is what most of this chapter is about.

Thinking back to Genesis ch. 2 if you would for a moment, soon after God created Adam and Eve , He set them to work in this beautiful and most likely quite expansive garden in a place called Eden.
The living God is a God who loves to work. He never dreams of retiring. He enjoys and takes great delight in working and creating and accomplishing and healing and redeeming things on the earth. And part of being created in His image is having a mind and capacity to not only work, but to enjoy it. Continue reading Four Maxims for the Marketplace – Ecclesiastes 4

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INTRODUCTION – I was grieved this last week to hear from a dear friend of yet another local congregation (not anywhere near here) being torn apart because of ungodliness and worldliness among the elder board or elder team.

Another friend wrote me this last week telling me of his grief in learning that a good friend of his had quit walking with the Lord.

God’s will and full intention is that the elders of His church – wherever in the world a corporate expression of Christ’s church finds itself – thrive in the carrying out of their ministry, and that they end their race strong and well, and that Christ’s church is safe and secure under their leadership and care as a result.

God’s will and full intention for every believer in His church is that they also thrive in the fulfillment of their calling, that they experience the fullness of Christ and the Holy Spirit in ever greater measure, and that they end their race strong and well. Continue reading How to Thrive and End Well in Christ – – I Peter 5:1-14

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Rom. 8:32 – Before I started my sermon, I expounded the thought that if the living holy and sinless God was willing to deliver His Son over to all the evil and suffering and finally taking our sin upon Himself that He did, then how much more will He give us spiritual gifts!?

INTRODUCTION – – Most of you know that a few months before my 20th birthday I rather abruptly moved from Knoxville, TN to San Jose, CA – desperate for change and breakthrough in my personal and spiritual life and journey with Christ. That first year in San Jose I devoured the Bible like never before; and then I believe in my second year met my wife – Anne, who through similar life circumstances and desperation for change was also becoming a beaver for the Bible. The combination of our daily quiet times and scripture memory, involvement in small group Bible studies, and attending a very strong Bible teaching church brought a much needed stability to our lives. Continue reading Our Journey Out of I Corinthians ch. 14

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This last Sunday my wife shared some thoughts before I preached – – both of us commenting on aspects of I Corinthians 14. Below is the gist of what she shared. Mine will follow.

Last week as Joshua preached on 1 Corinthians 14 he ended briefly addressing verses 34 and 35 “Let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says. And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.” And I thought, I would like to say something about that, because if you are anything like me, initially it seems that this is restrictive and unequal. Continue reading Women & the Washing of the Word

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INTRODUCTION – In our ongoing series of sermons through the 16 chapter book of I Corinthians, we come this morning to the 13th chapter, affectionately known by many as “the love chapter”. Even some unbelievers, who know little of the treasures of the Bible, know this chapter exists because of usually having heard it spoken of at a wedding. I myself have chosen to speak from this chapter at some of the weddings I have done. Though I want to say this morning, its intended purpose was not for marriages as much as it was for congregations.

Because the 66 books of the Bible were written as whole units with great strategic purpose, every placement of a chapter or verse in a given book is strategic and intentionally placed. So that begs the question, Why did Paul choose to deal with the subject of loving one another after chapter 12 and before chapter 14, both of which deal specifically with the subject of the spiritual gifts that Jesus – the Head has given to His body? Continue reading The Primacy or Supremacy of Love – I Corinthians 13

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INTRODUCTION – One of the books I’m reading right now is the 2nd book written by Rosario Butterfield, entitled “Openness Unhindered.” Rosario became a Lesbian in her early college days, and then as she went on for her PhD and then into a very influential tenured teaching post at Syracuse University – she became a widely known and very vocal lesbian activist and apologist. Her first book is entitled “The Secret Thoughts of an unlikely convert”, and a highly unlikely convert she was. So unlikely that most believers who knew her or knew of her didn’t even try to help her come to know Jesus Christ. Most, if they dealt with her at all, sent her condemning letters of the judgment that awaited her – especially after she dared trash the Promise keepers movement in one of her columns in the late 90’s. Continue reading Freeing Up the Fragrance – – I Corinthians 9

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July 16, 2017
INTRODUCTION – As we have been walking together through the pages of the apostle Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, we have noted several times that the social context into which this church was planted was one of extreme sexual immorality, and thus significant relational damage. Sexual immorality always results in emotional and relational damage to all involved – whether in first century Corinth or in 21st Century Central Coast of CA communities.

Josh dealt with this when he preached on chapter 5. Elizabeth dealt with it last week in chapter six. And we are going to deal with it again today in chapter 7.

The good news of the kingdom of God – this wonderful supernatural realm that the risen Christ rules and that we all have begun to operate in and experience – is that there is a far superior way of living life and handling our sexual passions and needs, and walking out the marriage covenant with our spouse than that which the world system offers. Continue reading Marriage, Oneness & Sex – – I Cor. 7:1- 5

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June 18, 2017
My mother’s phone call – my files – Dave Barry on Fatherhood

Prayer for Holy Spirit power and revelation

INTRODUCTION – One of the disciplines the Holy Spirit led me to practice many years ago is daily praying through a portion of our church directory . So for instance this morning I prayed for all of our individuals or families whose last name starts with T-Z.

And one of the many things I pray for each of you every week is that you will grow in the joy of being a co laborer for the harvest with Jesus. One of the things Jesus promises to do in and through the life of every person who is born again by the Spirit of God is to make them what He calls a “fisher of men (or women)”. Continue reading Faith in The Power of God – I Cor. 2:1-5

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May 14, 2017

INTRODUCTION – Lucille Ball – one of the great female comediennes of my early years on this planet, and of all time really – said of wisdom, “In life, all good things come hard, but wisdom is the hardest to come by.”

One of the primary reasons true wisdom is so hard to come by is because Satan – the father of lies and the god of this world – has created a world system of belief and thought patterns and attitudes that operates on a false or corrupted sense of wisdom – a socially acceptable wisdom if you will. And he (that is Satan) has succeeded in getting most of our cultural influencers to embrace this worldly wisdom. The apostle James, who was never one to mince words, refers to this wisdom or way of seeing and doing life as earthy, natural and demonic in chapter 3 of his epistle as contrasted with divine or heavenly wisdom. (We will look at that passage later on) Continue reading The wisdom of God vs. the wisdom of man – I Cor. 1:10-25

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INTRODUCTION – Around the end of April of 2015 – our son Joshua called Anne and I and asked if he could come over and sit down with us. That conversation started the ball rolling that eventually (after many hours of meetings with our elders) led us to install Joshua as lead pastor as of June 1st of 2015, and then send Anne and I off on a three month sabbatical for those summer months to get rested up and re – envisioned for the years ahead.

When I jumped back in the saddle in early September of that year – our elders began to process together over many hours the changes that the Holy Spirit — primarily through Joshua was wanting to bring about.
One of the questions we wrestled with in some of those meetings (and I believe Steve Sharp joined us in some of those discussions) was what tag line or motto would best characterize who we are becoming, and what we are most pursuing as a people. Our eventual choice was: “People encountering Jesus.” We knew there were safer more acceptable words to use rather than “encounter” – but we all eventually concluded this was the word that best summed up what God wanted us to pursue, and what God wanted us to expect of Him. Continue reading Encountering God – Only One Thing is Necessary

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March 24, 2013
INTRODUCTION – What the book of Acts is about, and why we are going through it.

The reality and expectation that as we continue to follow Jesus we will increasingly be His instrument for His ongoing healing ministry and other miracles.

And as this happens we will receive opportunities to explain what is behind the miracles.

Last week we looked at the miracle healing of the lame man in Acts chapter 3: vs. 1-10. Today we are going to look at the message that Peter got to preach or proclaim as a result of that miracle of healing. Let’s read it together starting with vs. 11 Continue reading Miracle Messaging – Acts 3:11-26

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An address I gave last night (9/25/16) at the Opening Rally for 40 Days for Life in San Luis Obispo.

INTRODUCTION – One of the most fruit producing, justice establishing, church purifying, darkness piercing and life preserving ministries or movements on the planet today in my opinion is the “40 days for Life” campaign – – – especially when the said campaign is carried out by united, loving, humble, God dependent, Christ centered, Spirit led and Spirit empowered – women, men, young people and children.

My objective tonight is to share a few foundational truths that will enable you and I to be that kind of people as we begin together on Wednesday – the 40 days for life campaign in San Luis Obispo in front of Planned Parenthood on Pismo Street. Continue reading Preparing to Remove Mountains

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March 17, 2013

INTRODUCTION – We have been recently exposed to the raised standard of financial health and prosperity via the Dave Ramsey Course – specifically:
1. Absolutely no debt;
2. Savings acc;t of at least 3 mos. Of one’s salary;
3. Diverse investments for retirement;
4. A lifestyle of liberal giving.

The feeling for some of us older folk is that we are so far off the standard/mark – – because of starting too late – – why try?! Every time we start making some traction, a car blows up or someone lands in the hospital with huge medical bills, or …….

Many times we believers feel the same when we read accounts of powerful ways God has worked through his people in days of old – like the one we are going to read today. Continue reading Raising the Standard for Healing the Sick – Acts 3:1-10

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June 19,2005
INTRODUCTION – Rom 15:4 “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

My readings in Proverbs
Prov. 8:33 “Heed instruction and be wise and do not neglect it.”

Take a look at some of the first fathers on the planet. Far from perfect – all of them. But they all had strengths. They all did something right somewhere along the way.
Six lessons from six men whose example God wants us to learn from. Continue reading Learning from the Successes or Strengths of Fathers in the Old Testament

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INTRODUCTION –
Read Col. 3:21
I. The Negative Command: – Do not exasperate your children

A. Definition – “to excite or inflame the anger of; to cause irritation or annoyance to; syn = irritate” Lightfoot translates it “show no bitterness, behave not harshly.”

B. Ways that we exasperate:
1. neglect through work and/or play (golf, fishing, watching sports on t.v., watching movies) Continue reading Fathers – Encouragers, Not Exasperaters!

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February 24, 2013
INTRODUCTION – In Acts ch. 2 vs. 1 and following – we find that the united fervent persistent prayers of God’s people led to God pouring out His Spirit with signs and wonders, which led to a bewildered and curious crowd…. with some critics and naysayers among them, which led to a wonderful opportunity for Peter to explain what was behind those signs and wonders.

Today – – we probably won’t experience an outpouring quite like this because of all the unique elements of Jewish society and culture that colored that outpouring. But as we interact with the lost, and as we get better at looking for signs of God’s working, I believe we will find that the people we are reaching out to have had dreams or visions, have expereinced unusual protection from disaster (neighbor’s bike ride), healings, unusual provisions, or even may be expressing their desperate need for a miracle etc., and thus we will find an open door for our witness. Continue reading Making the Most of Opportunities Acts 2:14-36

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2/17/13
INTRODUCTION – Importance of faith and expectation – –
Heb. 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”

The risen, but not yet ascended Lord of Lords and King of kings – Jesus Christ had promised His disciples that if they would gather in Jerusalem and seek Him and wait upon Him in prayer together – they would receive power from on high. Listen to Luke’s account of this from Acts 1:4,5, “Gathering them together, he commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Later in vs. 8 Jesus further defines for them what they can expect when the Holy Spirit falls on them, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you….”

It was not an experience, but the power of God that was promised, and thus it is the power of God that should be sought. But when the power of God via the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples in the early church, there was always a visible manifestation of that; there were always some visible experiences of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power. Continue reading Is There More?? Further Reflections on Acts 2:1-13

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January 27, 2013
INTRODUCTION – The kingdom of God invading the kingdom of darkness as chronicled in the gospels

On becoming a visible demonstration of the good news of the kingdom of God – – what it looks like or how it manifests in a people

40 days with disciples after resurrection

40 years with His church in America – – starting to get it – – George Ladd’s books on the kingdom; Dennis Peacocke began his itinerant ministry in earnest around the kingdom of God;

3 areas the Holy Spirit wants to help us grow in this year so we can see His kingdom come and His will be done. Continue reading Sharpening our Focus for 2013 Acts 1:9-26

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January 13, 2013
INTRODUCTION – – Last time we looked at this passage – we looked at it from Jesus – the Head’s perspective – – that is – – we focused on His ability to pull off His purposes through His church as its Captain of the Army/Head of the Church/Commander in Chief. Specifically we focused on five truths about His work in the present: 1. Jesus is still revealing Himself – still giving orders to His disciples, and still calling the shots for His church (vs. 1-3); 2. Jesus is still gathering His people (vs. 4). 3. Jesus is still revealing and clarifying and expanding and spotlighting His kingdom to His church and to society at large (vs. 3, 6,7). 4. Jesus is still clarifying and strengthening our calling as His witnesses to the ends of the earth (vs. 6-8). 5. The Holy Spirit is greater than all of our weaknesses, distractions, obstacles, excuses and enemies (vs. 8).

This morning I want to address our response to who He is and what He is doing. Specifically I want to address three responses we must have to all that He is doing if we are going to be participants and not spectators to His glorious work on the earth before He returns. He IS going to fulfill His purposes. The question is: Are we going to be in the thick of what He is doing? Or are we going to be on the sidelines. None of us need to be on the sidelines. To make sure we are not,
I want to share 3 very practical ways you and I can be in the thick with Jesus in 2013. Continue reading The Way for Witnesses Acts 1:1-8

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