Blood That Speaks

Sunday Sermon

Two times in the Bible there is a reference to blood that speaks. What does this talking blood mean? 

The blood of Abel speaks (Genesis 4:3-10). It cries out for justiceness. … Cain and Abel were brothers, children of Adam and Eve. When they brought offerings to God, Abel brought his best and Cain did not. God showed favor towards Abel and Cain grew jealous or upset and killed Abel. God told Cain that his brother's blood called out to Him. This tells us that God knows and he hears when injustice is done. And God doesn't let it go unpunished. Cain was punished for his crime. In some countries today, persecution of Christians is on the rise. God hears their blood. When the Holocaust happened, God heard the blood of the Jews who were murdered. When racial killings happen, God hears that blood too. Every day thousands of abortions happen, and God hears the blood of those babies. All this blood cries out for justice and justice will come.

The blood of Jesus speaks (Hebrews 12:18-24). It cries out for mercy. … This vision contrasts Mount Sinai and Mount Zion. Mount Sinai is where Moses went up and got the Ten Commandments. When he came down, he sprinkled animal blood as a sacrifice to atone for the sins of the people, a process that needed to be repeated regularly. Mount Zion here is used as a metaphor for a heavenly Jerusalem. This scripture provides a picture of who will be in Heaven (on Mount Zion). There will be angels, the church, and Jesus will be there. Sounds like a great place! It also tells us the Blood of Jesus will be sprinkled, like Moses did with the animal blood. But the blood of Jesus is blameless and atones for our sins once and for all. His blood cries out for mercy, a better cry than what the blood of Abel cries for. Through the Blood of Jesus anyone can be saved.

Change: How to Change Unwanted Thoughts and Emotions

Sunday Sermon Series Change

Philippians 4:4-13

Some Christians struggle with certain thoughts or emotions such as worry, lust, anger, fear, or a myriad of other thoughts and emotions. Some may need counseling beyond these six steps to help take control of those unwanted thoughts and emotions, but meditating on these verses can help. 

  1. Find your joy in the Lord (4:4). … You can cultivate an attitude of joy. The theme of this little book of Philippians is that you can be happy in a bad place. Paul wrote this letter in prison and he was finding joy in the Lord. Even through this pandemic we can find joy in the Lord. 

  2. Build a reputation for gentleness (4:5). … Relationships are a big source of stress. Being gentle or gracious in our relationships can help relieve some of that stress. 

  3. Replace your worries with prayers (4:6-7). … We’re not supposed to worry. We’re supposed to bring every worry to God. This is to be a pattern in our lives that we pray to God, thanking Him for the good and asking him to take care of the bad, the stuff that usually makes us worry. As a result, the peace of God will help take away those worries. 

  4. Fill your mind with positive, pure, beautiful things (4:8). … Paul lists eight adjectives, but it’s easier to remember three that sum them all up. If you want to change what goes on inside your mind, you need to change what goes into it. Paul tells us to put good things into our minds and it will change how we think.

  5. Put your beliefs into practice (4:9). … Doing actions is a good way to change your feelings. Whenever you feel discouraged or depressed or moody, you don’t want to do anything. But getting up and doing good things can really change those feelings and thoughts for the good. 

  6. Learn the secret of being content in any circumstance: a relationship with Christ (4:10-13). … The letter of Philippians is a thank you letter for financial assistance they sent to Paul. He is grateful for the help, but he also makes it clear that he would be content even without it because he has learned a secret to be content in all circumstances. That secret is Christ. As believers, Christ lives in us and gives us the strength we need to be content. No, this verse isn’t about sports. This verse is about being content and finding joy no matter the circumstances. 

Change: How to Change Your Relationships

Sunday Sermon Series Change

Ephesians 4:17-32

We looked at some ways to change unwanted behaviors the past three weeks. This week we’ll look at how to change relationships. 

Before we look at five things to do, we need to lay a foundation. Paul tells us that as Christians we need to be different (4:17-24). … We were born with an old, sinful nature but are reborn with new, righteous nature as we learned in Romans. We have to continuously take off that old self and put on the new self. We can’t do this without Jesus. These next five things can help change relationships, but they require us to be different from the world. 

  1. Put off falsehood Instead speak the truth (4:25). … Telling lies does not help build good relationships. Only those built on truth can last.
    Reason: We are all of one body. ... One member of a body lying to another is never good. It can only cause problems and throw coordination off. For a body to have full coordination, cooperation and honesty are necessary.

  2. Don’t let your anger become sin. Instead, deal with it daily (4:26-27). … Not all anger is sinful. Even Jesus got angry. However, it is easy for anger to crossover into sin. Anger can linger and build up, so it’s important to deal with, confess it to God, release it to God.
    Reason: Don’t give the Devil an opening. … As mentioned, it’s easy for anger to turn into sin, so when we let anger build up it becomes easier for the Devil to use it against us. 

  3. Do not steal. Instead, work (4:28). … A work ethic will improve relationships.
    Reason: So you can share with those in need. … When you work, you can share the fruits of your labor. Sharing improves relationships and generally makes everyone involved happier. 

  4. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth. Instead, speak words that build others up (4:29-30). … It’s not enough to just not cuss. There needs to be positive words too.
    Reason: Do not grieve the Holy Spirit. … The Holy Spirit lives inside us. Keyword: Holy. His role is to sanctify us and make us holy, better than we were. We need to cooperate with Him. When we don’t, He is grieved.  

  5. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, malice, shouting, abusive speech, and malice. Instead, be kind, compassionate, and forgiving. … These things we are told to get rid of all come from anger. They are all a little different, but they each need to be removed from our lives and replaced with kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. Sometimes that’s hard. We vehemently disagree with some people and it can make us angry to the point of bitterness or rage. It can make us want to shout at them, slander them. It’s important to not act on those inclinations but to find a way to show kindness and compassion without compromising our beliefs. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. It means you stop bringing it up, stop replaying it in your head. You don’t simply forget abusive words or physical abuse, but you can forgive it and move on.
    Reason: In Christ, God forgave you (4:31-32). … When we remember how God forgave us and how much evil we’ve done, it becomes easier to forgive that other person. If you can be forgiven for all the bad things you’ve done, that person can be forgiven too. 

Change: How to Change Unwanted Behaviors 3

Sunday Sermon Series Change

Romans 8:1-14

As you struggle to change unwanted behaviors, you are not alone. You have a powerful ally in the person of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-2). … Last week in Romans 7 we saw the struggle we still have inside us to do what’s right instead of sinning. It’s a tough battle. But this week in Romans 8 we see that we have a helper in the Holy Spirit

How do I get this this help of the Holy Spirit? If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit is already in you (Romans 8:8-9). … When we repent of our sin and become a Christian, the Holy Spirit comes and lives inside us as we are reborn in spirit. He is always with us. God, the Holy Spirit, resides in us as living in a house. And, quite frankly, we’re all fixer uppers when the Holy Spirits comes to live in us. He will work to make us holy, but we have to cooperate with Him. 

How do I cooperate with the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit?

  1. Walk according to the Spirit (8:3-4). … To walk with somebody, you just turn in the direction they’re going and start moving. Turn in the direction the Holy Spirit is going and move with Him. It’s a daily commitment that needs to be done.

  2. Set your mind on the things of the Spirit (8:5-7). … The mindset of the flesh is harmful. It’s hostile and leads to death, but the mindset of the Spirit is healing and leads to life. Setting our minds on the things of the Spirit is like wearing glasses that help us to see things clearer. It’s a lens that reveals certain things we wouldn’t see otherwise. 

  3. Be led by the Spirit (8:13-14). … Often, our biggest stumbling block is ourselves. We screw up. We want to go our own way even if it’s wrong. This is why it’s important to let the Holy Spirit lead us.

Change: How to Change Unwanted Behaviors 2

Sunday Sermon Series Change

Romans 7:14-25

Todd Agnew has an album called “Better Questions” that really goes with today’s sermon quite well and I encourage everyone reading this to listen to the full album. It’s one of my favorite albums. 

Why do Christians continue to struggle with sin? Why do we do things we don’t want to do? (7:14-15) … Some scholars think Paul isn’t speaking about Christians here, but most believe he is. In context, it makes more sense that he’s talking about Christians. He uses first person point of view. It’s in present tense. We can all identify with it. This leads most scholars to believe Paul is talking about Christians and himself personally. 

You have two natures within you: 

  1. You have an old, sinful nature (7:17-20). … We were born with a sinful nature. This nature desires to do evil and is enslaved to sin. 

  2. You have a new, spiritual nature (7:21-22). … We receive a new nature when we become Christians. It wants to do good and serve Christ. 

These two natures are in civil war (7:23). In order to change unwanted behaviors, you must feed the new nature and starve the old nature. … The nature that you nurture will come out on top. 

You can know victory through Jesus, but your old nature will be with you throughout your life (7:24-25). … If we call out to Jesus He will help. However, the old sinful nature is always there, lingering and tempting us. Some believe that Christians can achieve perfection, but this verse indicates that we will always be sinners until our sanctification is complete in Heaven. 

Understanding this battle will keep you from two dangers:

  1. Overconfidence. … We’re in a battle and will continue to be in a battle, so we need to stay focused and humble instead of overconfident and cocky.

  2. Discouragement. … We know there will be struggles, but we also know the final outcome. We know God will help us. We know God wins in the end. 

Change: How to Change Unwanted Behaviors

Sunday Sermon Series Change

Romans 6:1-23

It’s still weird to take notes from a recliner, but sometimes we need to change, and that’s what this new series is about. We’re going to look at how to change unwanted behaviors. If you don’t want to change behaviors, this isn’t going to work well. You have to want to change. 

Potential behaviors to change: lying, stealing, gossip, sexual immorality, alcoholism, drug abuse, pornography. And more.

  1. Die to sin (Romans 6:1-7).
    Make a decisive break with your unwanted behavior. … A lot of us don’t really want to make a clear break with our negative behavior; we just want to manage it, do it less. That’s not how this works. We don’t get to keep pet sins. When we biome a Believer, we get baptized by immersion. When we are submerged under the water, it represents our death to sin. It’s a graveside service. There has to be a drastic break. Delete that app. End the affair. Confess to those you’ve wronged. What happens if we fall into that sin again? Die to it again! It’s harder in sins of excess like overeating,overspending, and spending too much time on your computer or phone. Those are more difficult because we have to eat, we have to spend money, and most of us need a computer or phone for work. Set boundaries for yourself that force you to curb those behaviors. 

  2. Live for Jesus (Romans 6:8-23).
    Offer yourself as a servant to God and righteousness. ... Baptism isn’t just a graveside service. It’s also a baby shower. When we come back up out of the water we are born again and considered alive to God. After we die to sin we need to make a positive action by offering ourselves to God. The Bible tells us that we will either be a slave to sin or to Jesus. We get to choose. We can submit to Jesus or to sin, but we will submit to one. Which will you choose to serve? 

The Biography of Jesus

Sunday Sermon

It's been a while since I posted here. Something about taking notes while sitting at a home watching a sermon on TV just seems strange. This week's sermon was considerably different though. And it inspired me to do something fun. Our outstanding pastor used a whiteboard to draw out the biography of Jesus. While I was watching I realized I could recreate the whole thing online, so that's what I did at the following link.

And here's a preview image

I'll try to get back to regular posts in 2021. 

The Miracles of Jesus: Jesus Delivers a Canaanite Girl

Sunday Sermon Series The Miracles of Jesus

Matthew 15:21-28

This woman has a little daughter who is suffering greatly from demon possession. Jesus delivers the girl because of her mother’s “great faith.” Do you have great faith? … The last verse of this story tells us Jesus performed this miracle because of the mother’s great faith. We know from other stories that faith isn’t the only factor in whether or not a miracle will be performed, but in this case, it is the reason. 

What can we learn from this story about great faith?

  1. Great faith comes from unlikely sources. (Matthew 15:21-22). … This woman was a Canaanite, a descendent of the enemies of the Israelites. In Matthew 8:10 we see Jesus commend a Roman centurion for his great faith. That is the only other time in the Gospels that Jesus says someone has great faith. Even the disciples were never told they have great faith. In fact, in Matthew 8:26 Jesus says they have little faith. … This would be similar to if a Muslim or Athiest came to Christ today. Or maybe even former addicts or criminals. The point is that it seems as though those who we deem unlikely to become Christians are often the most full of faith when they do.

  2. Great faith comes from a sense of desperation. (Matthew 15:22). … Great faith comes from great need. This woman cried out to Jesus over and over. Her faith was her last hope. She knew there was no other way and could clearly see her need for Jesus. Do you see how much you need Jesus?

  3. Great faith is not easily discouraged. It is persistent.(Matthew 15:22-25). … Jesus didn’t answer for a while until His disciples complained about her. This shows us we need to be persistent in our faith and in our prayers. 

  4. Great faith is not easily offended. It is humble. (Matthew 15:26-27). … Jesus compares the Jews to children and gentiles to dogs. Today, this woman likely would have been offended and taken to twitter with her complaints. Instead, she humbled herself. … Even in Jesus’ time the Jews were offended by Jesus. Matthew 15:12 is one example of this. This woman responded better than the Jews.In Luke 7:23 Jesus implies that He will offend people, that people will stumble because of Him. 

One of our church members gave a testimony. His sister was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer around Thanksgiving. He, a medical professional, didn’t think she had much chance of beating it. She had faith from the start that God would do a miracle. After three treatments of cancer treatment, she is now cancer-free. Our church and several other churches as far away as Guatemala prayed for her and her family. It certainly seems as though persistent prayer worked and God performed a miracle.

The Miracles of Jesus: Jesus Restores a Demon-Possessed Man

Sunday Sermon Series The Miracles of Jesus

Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39

Demons destroy. Jesus restores. … There’s the four word tl;dr summary of this sermon. John 10:10 shows us where Jesus stated this Himself. 

The verses we’re looking at today show Jesus restoring a man back to his natural state from one of demon possession. 

Demons seek to destroy your:

modesty “had not worn clothes” … Demons strip away our self-respect and self-value, leading some to be immodest because they don’t value themselves enough. 

relationships “or lived in a house” .. The demon destroyed this man’s home life and social life. We don’t know if he was married, but he hadn’t been home in a long time, so if he was married, that relationship would have taken a huge hit. Other relationships would have suffered too. 

self-control “no one could bind him” (Mark 5:4) … God works to bring self control to your life. Demons will work to destroy that.

Peace of mind “night and day he cried out” (Mark 5:5) … This man clearly wasn’t sleeping well and he was screaming often. He had no peace within him as the demon worked his evil. 

body “and cut himself with stones” (Mark 5:5) … This man hurt himself physically due to the demon possessing him, This doesn’t mean that everyone who harms themselves is possessed by a demon, but they are surely being influenced by evil powers. 

After we read about the man who is possessed, Jesus confronts him and it is revealed that there are many demons inside him, not just one. The demons recognize Jesus. They ask Him to not send them to the abyss, but rather into some pigs. Jesus gave them permission (He has authority over evil). 

Luke 11::24-26 gives a potential reason for why Jesus allowed the demons to go into the pigs. It’s possible He did it so the demons wouldn’t go into someone else. The passage also acta as a warning against being empty. If we aren’t filled with the spirit, there is room for demons. 

Jesus can restore your:

self-control “sitting” (Luke 8:35) … Jesus can restore self-control. It’s one of the fruits of the Spirit. 

relationships “at Jesus’ feet” (Luke 8:35) … The man has entered into a student-teacher relationship with Jesus, showing that He has regained that ability to have a relationship. 

modesty “dressed” … Jesus can restore our self-wealth and self-respect. 

mind “in his right mind” … This man was now calm and peaceful, no longer screaming. 

Jesus can give you something you have not had before:

Purpose “return home and tell how much God has done for you” (Luke 8:37-39) … The people  of the town chased Jesus off for some reason. The man He restored wanted to go back with Jesus, but Jesus told him to go back home and tell the people what God had done for him. 

The Miracles of Jesus: Jesus Drives Out Demons

Sunday Sermon Series The Miracles of Jesus

Luke 4:31-37

This starts our month of looking at miracles where Jesus exhibits His power over demons. 

When Jesus was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum, a man possessed by a demon shouted at Him. Jesus commanded the demon to come out, and the demon left. Jesus came to Earth to destroy the works of the Devil and part of that includes defeating demons. 

Some try to say that the people in the Bible didn’t understand some of the medical conditions like epilepsy and attributed it to demons. Matthew 4:24 is a verse that shows they didn’t just attribute everything they didn’t understand to demons. 

Some will say that they didn’t have the psychiatric knowledge we have today about things like multiple personality disorder. However, some leading psychiatrists today will tell you that while they categorize most cases in some psychiatric category, there are some cases that don’t fit any of those and could be something supernatural. 

Are demons real? Is demon-possession real? 

The Bible has several examples of humans being possessed by demons or even the demon himself, such as with Judas Iscariot in John 13:21-30. 

If it is real, why don’t we see very much of this today?

Three possible reasons we see less today:

  1. In military terms, sending Jesus was an offensive move by God and Satan launched a counter-offensive. We see a lot more angels and demons in the New Testament than in any other equivalent period in the Bible. 

  2. Western culture has a Christian heritage that could help hold back the powers of evil. It may very well be that other cultures are more open to this type of attack. 

  3. Satan doesn’t need to use demon-possession to bring us down. In a society that asks questions and analyzes everything, it’s more effective to use our vices against us than it is to attack more directly with demon-possession. 

Can a Christian be demon-possessed?

1 John 4:4 tells us that the One inside us is greater than the enemy. With the Spirit inside us, there is no room for a demon. 

What should be the attitude of Christians toward demons?

Some Christians credit too much to demons. They’ll blame a demon for causing them to lie (or some other sin) instead of taking responsibility for it.

Other Christians give too little credence to demons. Deuteronomy 18:10-13 shows us that God takes these things seriously. Don’t take things like ouija boards, séances, the occult, and witchcraft lightly. 

This doesn’t mean you need to ban every story that has magic in it. Magic can be a good way to explain spiritual warfare, especially if there is both good and evil magic in the story and the good comes out victorious. Two of the most famous Christian fiction writers of all time used magic in their most famous works. C.S. Lewis uses it in his Chronicles of Narnia saga and J.R.R. Tolkein puts it to use in his Lord of the Rings trilogy. Both stories have allegorical value and feature magic being used for both good and evil. 

We live in the midst of spiritual battles and need to be prepared for them every day. Ephesians 4:26-27 tells us to not open up footholds for the devil by letting sin linger. Ephesians 6:11-17 shows us that we need to put on our spiritual armor because our battle is with the spiritual forces of evil, not flesh and blood humans.