Posts in the "Series" Category

The Lamb Will Triumph: Jesus Is Alive and Walks among His Churches

Sunday Sermon Series The Lamb Will Triumph

This is the first of seven sermons where we are going to look at seven broad themes in the book of Revelation. This is a book of Revelation is a book of encouragement. It also speaks to three audiences:

  1. The first century christians … This book contains letters written to seven churches of that time and also provides hope for the future.

  2. Christians of all ages … Timeless truths within the book still speak to us, as does the hope of a future in Heaven.

  3. The last generation … The book also contains end time prophecy and much symbolism of the end times.

The Greek word “nike” is in this book quite often. The word, often associated with shoes, means “victory” and is translated into a few different words in our English translations.

Revelation 17:14 is the key verse in Revelation and shows us the final outcome of the battle between Good and Evil, God vs Satan.

Revelation is a vision God gave to John that is symbolic of the end times.

Revelation 1-3

Revelation 1 reveals Jesus as the Living One who holds the keys to death and Hades. He walks among the seven churches and holds their angels in His right hand. … The lampstands represent seven literal churches, churches that actually existed. What does a lampstand do? It holds up the light. … The stars could mean a couple of different things, but is most likely the elders or pastors of the seven churches. … Jesus lives and walks among them. Jesus is alive and talking to John. … Some people will say they love Jesus but hate organized religion. These verses show that Jesus is among the churches; He is in organized religion. Elsewhere in the Bible we see Him say that wherever two or three gather in His name, He is there. We were meant to worship God together with other humans. The church is far from perfect (as we are about to see), but that is where Jesus chooses to make His presence known.

Revelation 2-3 record the seven letters from Jesus to His churches. The letters all follow the same outline:

  • Jesus knows the particular circumstances of each church (Revelation 2:13). … Jesus knows the circumstances of our lives too. He knows what you have gone through and what you are going through.

  • Jesus praises almost every church. The main thing Jesus commends in the churches is perseverance/faithfulness (Revelation 2:13). … There’s one church of the seven He has nothing good to say about. All of the churches have at least one commendable quality.

  • Jesus criticizes almost every church. … Two of the seven churches receive no critique.
    Jesus’ three major complaints involve:

    • False teaching (Revelation 2:20). … Jesus cares about what we believe.

    • Sexual immorality (Revelation 2:20). … Jesus cares about how we live and condemn sexual immorality.

    • Spiritual temperature (Revelation 3:16). Jesus cares about our passion for Him.

  • Jesus challenges (or warns) every church (Revelation 2:5; 3:19-20). … He gives us challenges and warnings that are meant to draw us back to Him. To one of the churches, He says He is knocking at the door id they would only let Him in

  • Jesus offers a promise to those who overcome (nike) (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21). … Jesus promises eternal life and glory and honor to all who overcome sin and follow Him.

Turning Everyday Conversations into Gospel Conversations: Advice

Series Gospel Conversations

Last week we were challenged to share the Gospel with 12 people in 2018 and saw one way of doing so, the 3 circles guide. This challenge is going to be a theme all of 2018. There will be other sermons and series, but this idea of turning everyday conversations into Gospel conversations will continue to come up. This week we get some advice on how to do this.

  1. Pray for people to be saved (Acts 7:57-60). … This is the story of Steven. Even while he was being stoned for his ministry, Steven prayed for his murders’ salvation. Saul, the man they laid their clothes by, went on to become Paul, one of the greatest champions of the Gospel.

  2. watch and listen to see what God is doing (Acts 8:29-31). … Be alert to what God is doing. Phillip heard the Spirit and listened. He ran next to a chariot for a while and then was asked to explain scripture to an Ethiopian man. That man was baptized soon after

  3. Don’t prejudge anyone (Acts 9:13-15; 10:28). … Saul was one of the great persecutors of Christians. God sent him to Ananias and Ananias was told by God to help Saul. Ananias questioned God and prejudged Saul. Ananias eventually concedes to God and is proven wrong to prejudge as Saul became Paul, a great Christian theologian. The Peter prejudged Cornelius, a Roman centurion. But God told him to speak with Cornelius and he and his family were saved.

  4. Open your mouth and talk about the Gospel (Acts 16:30-33). … It might not be politically correct to do this, but we can’t allow politics to get in the way of the Gospel. Even when the apostles were imprisoned for their ministry, they were faithful. God performed a miracle and still someone had to speak for the guard to know how to be saved.
    Transition the conversation by asking questions:

    1. What will happen to you when you die? … This direct question is for people you know well. Most people will say they will go to Heaven or they don’t know.

    2. Indirect: Ask: May I share with you what has given me hope/purpose?

  5. Analyze the response you receive (Acts 17:32, 34).

    1. Red light: Some will sneer. .. Stop. We can’t bully people into believing. Stopping might leave the door open in the future.

    2. Yellow light: Some will need to think on their own for a while. … Give them their space.

    3. Green light: Some will believe right away. … This is when you can have further conversations and help them grow in their faith.

Turnig Everyday Conversations into Gospel Conversations: 3 Circles

Sunday Sermon Series Gospel Conversations

The Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ. Gospel; conversations are conversations that are centered on the Gospel, where you have a chance to evangelize.

Challenge: In 2018, have 12 Gospel conversations. That’s one per month. For some, this might be easy. For others, this might be extremely difficult.

Acts 1:8 - This is one of the last things Jesus said before He ascended. He tells us that He has given us power and authority. This should give us the boldness we need to spread the Gospel; every chance we get.

Acts 8:1 - This verse tells us that all believers are challenged to tell people of the Gospel, not just pastors or missionaries.

Today we look at a simple way to turn any conversation into a Gospel conversation.

Below is a diagram we can use to show people why the Gospel is important. This method is called the 3 Circles.

Note: when drawing this out for someone, you may want to leave out anything in parentheses. The references are there to help you along.

Start by drawing the first circle and write “God’s design” in it. Explain that God created the world perfect and that something happened to cause it to be imperfect.

Draw an arrow to the right and label it “sin.” Explain that sin is the reason the world fell from perfection and how it happened.

Draw the circle on the right and label it “Brokenness.” The sin in the world produced a broken world with broken people.

Draw the arrows going to the right. These are our attempts to fix ourselves. They go nowhere.

Draw the third circle and label it “Gospel.” Tell them what the Gospel is.

Draw the arrow from brokenness to Gospel and explain how we must repent and believe to accept Christ.

Now draw the arrow from Gospel to God’s design. This is where you explain that the Gospel leads to the recovery and pursuit of God’s original design.

At this point, you can lead them in a prayer of salvation if they are ready.

God’s Odd and Wonderful Plan to Save the World: Week 3

Sunday Sermon Series God's Odd and Wonderful Plan

We’ve looked at the birth announcements and the births of John the Baptist and Jesus the first two weeks. Now we look at what happened after the birth of Jesus. We look at some of the visitors that came to see Him.

Matthew 2:1-23

Why would God communicate through the stars with Magi from an eastern country? What does their visit tell us about God’s plan to save the world? … Magi are wise men from the east. They are probably astrologers, people who study the stars. It seems odd that these Magi would come to visit Jesus. … There is a lot about the Magi that we do not know. We don’t know if there were only three of them or more, or maybe even less. They may or may not have been kings.

The Magi come to Jerusalem and visit King Herod to ask him where the newborn King was. Herod, a very disturbed man, did not like that a new king was born who might overthrow him. Herod had his own son killed when his son became popular. He also had a few wives killed. … So, Herod plots to kill the child. He consults his people who would know where the Messiah was to be born and sent the Magi on their way with instructions to return to him and tell him where to find the baby. Herod said he would worship the baby, but his real motive was murder.

The Magi followed the directions given and then followed the star to the precise location of the baby. When they arrived, they bowed down. The phrase “bow down” is not what we might see on tv when characters “bow down.” The phrase here means they fell on their faces. These Magi were laying down, prostrate, in front of a bay, the Messiah.

Before the Magi could return to Herod, an angel told them to not go to Herod. An angel also appeared to Joseph and told him to take Mary and Jesus to avoid Herod’s wrath. When Herod realized the Magi were not returning to him, he ordered all boys young enough to be the Messiah according to the Magi, in Bethlehem to be killed. A terrible massacre of young boys occured.

Once Herod died, an angel appeared Joseph again, saying they could return to Israel. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus had a detour early in their family life. Many of us also face detours in our lives as we try to become who we are meant to be. This detour retraced the journey of the Israelites in the Old Testament.

They plan on returning to Bethlehem, but they heard the worst of Herod’s sons was ruling there and decided to return to Nazareth, which is where they were before all of this happened. It’s amazing how God uses everyone to ensure that Jesus is born in Bethlehem, as the prophecies say, and that he would grow up in and be from Nazareth, as the prophecies say.

God is telling us that Jesus is a worldwide Savior. He came to save all people from all nations, all backgrounds, and all religions.

God reaches out to people in ways they can understand. For the Magi, it was a star. For others it might be dreams or another person. The possibilities are limitless.

There are three responses in this passage to the news that a King has been born:

  1. Hostility … Herod is against Jesus, sees Jesus as a threat, and wants to get rid of Him. Even today He still threatens the lifestyles of people living in sin.

  2. Indifference … The religious leaders and scribes told the Magi where to go and did not go themselves. These are the people you would expect to be most excited to see what they’ve been studying their whole lives.

  3. Worship … The least likely people in this story to worship the Messiah are the ones to do it. The Magi come and fall down and worship the Messiah and give Him gifts.

God's Odd and Wonderful Plan: Week 2

Sunday Sermon Series God's Odd and Wonderful Plan

Last week we learned about 2 odd and wonderful pregnancies.

  1. Elizabeth is pregnant and Zechariah didn’t believe the angel, so he is mute until the baby is born and named John.

  2. Mary is pregnant and is engaged to Joseph and is a virgin. Joseph thought to divorce her quietly but was persuaded by an angel to still marry her.

Luke 1:57-2:38

Elizabeth gives birth to a baby (Luke 1:57-80).

  • Elizabeth and Zechariah name him John. … The relatives there did not understand why      the baby was to be named John. It was more traditional to name the first male son after his father.

  • Zechariah is able to speak again, and he praises God. …

Mary gives birth to a baby (Luke 2:1-21).

  • Joseph and Mary journey to Bethlehem. … Caesar Augustus issued a decree that everyone should return to their ancestor’s hometown for a census. Joseph was a descendent of David, yes, the David who killed Goliath and later became king of Israel. Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth, but had to go to Bethlehem for the census.

  • The baby is born in a place where livestock are kept. … Mary and Joseph couldn’t find anywhere to stay, probably because so many people came back for the census. They ended up in some type of livestock holding area. It may have been a cave where animals were kept or structure like a stable.

  • Angels announce the birth to shepherds. … In and odd and wonderful way, the first birth announcement is to some shepherds. The shepherds are just out there watching their sheep for the night and angels appear to them, declaring the birth of the Christ.

  • The shepherds find the baby and praise God. … The shepherds were told the baby would be in a manger and go to find him. Imagine this group of shepherds enthusiastically knocking on doors and asking residents if their was a baby in their manger.

  • When the baby is 8 days old, He is named Jesus. … The name is important.

Joseph and Mary take Jesus to Jerusalem (Luke 2:22-28).

  • When Jesus is 40 days old, they go to the temple. … When a child was 40 days old, the mother was required to offer a sacrifice for cleansing. Also, the first born was to be consecrated to the Lord.

  • Simon and Anna recognize Jesus as God’s salvation. … Anna, an old lady, prophecies to Mary and Joseph about Jesus. Simeon, an old man who had asked God to show him the Messiah before he died, recognized Jesus as that Messiah and knows salvation is here and on the way. … Anna and Simeon knew Jesus was how God would save the world in an odd and wonderful way.

Salvation is not a philosophy. Salvation is a relationship with Jesus. We all need saving from our sin. For those of us who have already accepted that salvation, we sometimes need to ask for forgiveness for our failings too. For those who have not accepted it, consider doing so by starting that relationship today.

God's Odd and Wonderful Plan: Week 1

Series God's Odd and Wonderful Plan

The story of Christmas is the story of God saving the world.

Where do we begin? Before we get to that, let’s look at the last verses of the Old Testament. In Micah 4:5-6 the prophecy of a Messiah comes and the people wait 400 years before He comes. God works on His own time, not ours.

This story starts with two odd and wonderful pregnancy announcements.

  1. First we see that Elizabeth is pregnant (Luke 1:5-25). … Zechariah and Elizabeth were an old couple who had been unable have children. Zechariah, a priest, goes into the temple to perform his duties. Gabriel, an angel, appears to him and tells him he we have a son and that his son’s name will be John. John is to take a vow to never drink any kind of wine. John is to prepare the way for the Messiah. Zechariah finds all of this hard to believe and then we learn that God wants us to take Him at His word and makes Zechariah mute until the baby is born and named John.

  2. Second we see Mary is pregnant (Luke 1: 26-38). … Gabriel goes out to the boondocks of Israel in Nazareth and appears to Mary. Gabriel tells her not to be afraid, that she has been chosen to give birth to the Messiah. Mary is confused. She doesn’t understand how she, a virgin, could have a baby.

Then Mary goes to visit Elizabeth. Both are pregnant at this time. Something odd and wonderful happens. John senses the presence of Jesus and jumps in Elizabeth’s womb. Mary breaks out in song.

When Mary returns home, Joseph, her betrothed, finds out she is pregnant and decides to quietly divorce her (Matthew 1:18-25). … But an angel appears to him and tells him to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife because the child was conceived by the Holy Spirit. The angel tells him to name the baby Jesus. The name is significant. It means Yahweh saves. It is a message to Joseph and to the world that this child will save the world, He will save us from our sins. … The angel also tells Joseph this was happening in this way to fulfill the prophecy of the virgin birth. The virgin conception is certainly odd and wonderful. … The baby will also be called “Immanuel” which means “God with us.” The virgin conception is important to this. If Jesus had had two human parents then we might have more trouble believing He is fully human and fully God. But with God as His Father, we can see more easily how Jesus is both.

It is truly an odd and wonderful plan.

Nehemiah: Be Faithful to the End

Sunday Sermon Series Nehemiah

Nehemiah 13

This is the last chapter of Nehemiah and the last sermon in this series. The purpose of the series was to answer this question: What does God want me to do with my life?

The first half of the book tells us God has work for us. We saw in those chapters that we will face obstacles when we do God’s work. We learned that prayer and preparation are important in doing God’s work.

In the second half of the book we saw that God wants us to assemble. God wants us to come together.

Nehemiah returned to his job in Persia. Later he came back to Jerusalem. He found that spiritual conditions had declined in his absence:

  • The temple was defiled (Nehemiah 13:7-9). … A man, a non-believer even, moved into the temple. He was living there. Nehemiah threw him out and put the temple back i order. The people did not keep their commitment from chapter 10.

  • Tithing was neglected (Nehemiah 13:10-13). … The temple was understaffed because the people were not tithing, which probably led to the man being able to live there. They neglected their commitments from earlier.

  • The Sabbath was not observed (Nehemiah 13 15-21). … The people did not honor the Sabbath again, just as their ancestors, and against their commitments.

  • Marriage was compromised (Nehemiah 13:23-26). … The people ignored God’s commands on marriage and their own commitments as they married foreigners, just as their ancestors.

What does this teach us about faithfulness in our lives?

  1. Your spiritual life will tend to decline without continual attention. … The second law of thermodynamics is true materially and spiritually. Without maintenance, it will fall apart.

  2. It is more difficult to restart your spiritual life than to continue it. … You can restart, but it’s hard. The law of inertia applies to our spiritual lives too, making it easier to keep momentum than to start or stop or restart.

  3. Leaders can set the tone for your spiritual life in a group. … In this book we see that while Nehemiah is there, everything goes well. When he leaves though, it all falls apart until he returns.

  4. We need the Gospel to enable us to be faithful (Romans 8:3-4). … Nehemiah 13 might be the last book, chronologically, in the Old Testament. The book of Malachi probably comes before Nehemiah’s first return to Jerusalem or just before his second return. Then, 400 years later, we get the New Testament, the Gospel. Nehemiah shows us our inability to keep the law on our own. We can’t keep the law good enough to earn our own way to Heaven. That’s where the Gospel comes in (Romans 8:1-4).

Like Nehemiah, Jesus has gone away, and He is coming back. He wants to find us faithful (Matthew 24:12-13, 45-46).

Nehemiah: Ordinary

Sunday Sermon Series Nehemiah

Nehemiah 11-12

Let’s review a little: Nehemiah used to be a cupbearer to the king of Persia. Persia was the controlling empire at the time and the capital was lavish. Nehemiah probably had it pretty nice. Then God calls him to help rebuild Jerusalem, a broken down city that requires months of work to rebuild just the walls. Nehemiah may have been tempted to return to the lavish life in Persia, but he found something special in Jerusalem. He found God’s presence and God’s work.

Big Idea: God is building churches made of of seemingly insignificant people who live ordinary lives, but change the world.

Point One: God uses ordinary people who surrender their control (Nehemiah 11:1-2). … At this point, Jerusalem is not safe. The rebuilt walls make it a fresh target. The people who live in the city don’t have as much as land in an agricultural society. Jerusalem offered very little to its inhabitants, but the people who volunteered to live there wanted to be part of what the city meant. This was the Holy City. This was where God’s presence was supposed to live on Earth. They made a sacrifice to live in the city. They sacrificed their control; the control of land and of safety.

Point Two: God uses ordinary people who surrender their eternity (Nehemiah 11:3-24). … The men who were to live in the city were men of courage and of valor and of faithfulness. They were men capable of protecting their family. They were men willing to make sacrifices for God. … We were made for joy. We get joy from worshipping and serving God, as these men did. … There are two lists of names for our final eternal destination. Do you know which list you are on? Are you going to have eternal joy in Heaven or eternal suffering in Hell? Here are a couple questions you can ask yourself:

  1. Have you trusted in Jesus Christ to save you from your sin? … Have you been saved?

  2. Are you a member of a local church? … Being involved with a local church may not be a requirement for salvation, but it is important for our growth as Christians.

Point Three: God uses ordinary people who surrender their resources (Nehemiah 12:44-47). … The people saw the importance of worship and were willing to invest in it. They gave of their farms and of their income so that the people could worship.

Nehemiah: Renew Your Commitments to God

Sunday Sermon Series Nehemiah

Nehemiah 9:38; 10:29-39

Lots of people are indecisive. They struggle to make decisions about life, and sometimes it’s just time to fish or cut bait. Decisions must be made. That’s where the Israelites are now in our study of Nehemiah. They have to decide  who they are. They chose to renew their covenant with God. … Today we take the Lord’s Supper as a renewal of our covenant as well.

Nehemiah 9:38; 10:27-28 … The Israelites did this publicly and unashamedly. They signed a binding agreement. This is not something to take lightly.

Basic Commitments (Nehemiah 10:29) … Their basic commitment was to follow the Word of the Lord. Here are basic commitments you can make today:

  • I want to become a follower of Jesus and be baptized.

  • I want to join First Baptist Church (or whichever church you attend).

  • I renew my commitment to Jesus as Lord of my Life.

Separation/Holiness (Nehemiah 10:30) … The Israelites decided to separate themselves from the outside world in ways God commanded them long ago. Here are ways we can separate ourselves from our world today:

  • If I marry, I will choose a person who shares my faith.

  • I will not view anything that pleases God.

Rhythms of Worship (Nehemiah 10:31) … The Israelites decided to follow the patterns God specified in the Old Testament. Here are some patterns we can follow so we honor God consistently:

  • I will gather with my church family for worship each week unless providentially hindered.

  • I will join and attend a Connection Group (Sunday School class).

  • I will participate in the Christian Development Program on Wednesday nights.

  • I will seek to pray and read my Bible daily. I will do this with my fam`ily.

Stewardship (Nehemiah 10:32-39) … The Israelites once again decide to follow God’s law, even with their time and hard earned resources. Here are ways we can do this too:

  • I will give a tenth of my income to God through the church.

  • I will give to special offerings:

    • Missions

    • Finish the Race

    • Other:

  • I will give my time as a volunteer in a ministry in my church.

Maybe there is some other commitment you need to make. Whatever commitments you need to make, put it in writing and sign it. Make a binding agreement with God like the Israelites did.

Nehemiah: Confess Your Sins to God

Sunday Sermon Series Nehemiah

Nehemiah 9

The Israelites gathered together, fasting, wearing sackcloth, and putting dust on their heads. They spent about three hours confessing their sins to God (Nehemiah 9:1-3). … The first gathering (on the 1st day of the month) was full of joy. Now they meet again on the 24th day of the month and mourn as they confess their sins.

Nehemiah 9:5-37 is a prayer of confession for their sins and the sins of their ancestors. … This is also a great review of the Old Testament. It is a confession of sin as they review their history. They praise God for what He has done even as they and their ancestors sinned.

Confession of sin involves these actions:

  1. Evaluate your life … Look back on your life

  2. Acknowledge your sin … It is important that admit you have sinned

  3. Grieve … Be sorry for your sin

  4. Ask for forgiveness … Ask God to cleanse your sins

  5. Turn from sin … Repent, turn away from your old ways

Why do we believers need to confess our sins? If we are saved, aren’t we already forgiven? (John 13:8-10; 1 John 1:6, 9; 3:6). … Even though we have had our bath or shower to make us clean, we still have dirty feet, dirty hands. Your sin as a believer does not end your relationship with God, but it does hurt your fellowship with Him.

Are there sins you need to confess?

10 Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 5:4-21)

  • Have you made anything more important than God?

  • Have you made anything into an idol?

  • Does anything coming from your mouth dishonor God?

  • Are you forgetting to take a day off work to honor God?

  • Are you disrespectful towards parents?

  • Have you taken a life? an unborn life? Do you harbor hate towards anyone?

  • Have you stayed faithful to your spouse? Have you lusted after another?

  • Are you robbing your employer, the government, or God?

  • Do you lie to your parents, your spouse, or your anyone else?

  • Do you covet after things other people have?

Thoughts (Colossians 3:5-11)

  • How is your thought life? Is there malice, lewdness, or envy? Does it cause slander to come from your mouth?

  • Are you prideful or self-righteous?

Spiritual Clothing (Colossians 3:12-17)

  • Have you forgotten to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, or patience?

  • Is there anyone you haven’t forgiven?

  • Have you put on love? Do you show love to those around you?