Thursday, December 26, 2013

Page Update

There are some who visit looking for articles, while others want to view the sermon and lesson outlines. In order to easily access those areas, a menu bar has been inserted just below the page title at the top. You have three choices: 1) Home, shows the most current post, no matter the category; 2) Articles, shows all articles, beginning with the most recent; and 3) Sermon & Lesson Outlines, shows all outlines, beginning with the most recent.

I hope this will make it easier to navigate the page and easily jump to the category of your choice. Again, thanks for the increased traffic ... and I hope you will share this page with any of your friends you believe would profit from the clear exposition of God's word.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Sunday Sermon Outline: Hebrews 2:1-4

"Drifting Away”
Hebrews 2:1-4

Introduction: Hebrews 1:1-2

I.   The Nature of Drifting  v. 1

     “we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.”

     A. Drifting requires no effort.

     B. Drifting is an unconscious process.

     C. Drifting moves us in one direction.

          2 Peter 3:17-18

     D. Drifting increases our risk.

     E. Drifting is a danger to others.

          Jude 1:12-13; 1 Timothy 1:18-19.

II.  The Signs of Drifting  vs. 2-4

     “For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, [3] how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, [4] God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.”

     A. There is a diminishing desire to study the truth.

          Psalm 1:1-4

     B. There is a diminishing desire to know the truth.

          John 17:17; James 4:4

     C. There is a diminishing desire to share the truth.

          Ephesians 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8

     D. There is an increasing desire to be like the world.

          1 John 2:15-17

III. The Prevention of Drifting  v. 1

     “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.”

     A. Keep rowing.

          2 Peter 1:5-7, 10

     B. Watch out for undercurrents.

          1 Peter 2:11; Hebrews 12:1-2

     C. Prepare to row against the tide.

          Matthew 7:13-14

      D. Attach yourself to a strong anchor.

          Colossians 2:6-7

Conclusion: Philippians 2:15; Hebrews 10:25

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Merry Christmas!

That's right, I said, "Merry Christmas!" The only reason this season means anything is because of "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).

I am grateful to the Lord for those who have helped make this internet ministry possible through their financial support. Some have provided single gifts, while others have included us in their pattern of regular giving. What a true blessing ... a spiritual blessing ... it is to see the Scriptures fulfilled. I have endeavored to provide "sound teaching" (Proverbs 4:2), to which some are responding with their whole hearts. Having received "spiritual things," they are responding by providing for my physical needs (Romans 15:26-27). What a grand restoration of the simple plan of sharing and fellowship established in Acts 2 ... “not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account” (Philippians 4:17).

In the next year, I will try even harder to provide more ... more of the gospel, more of the apostles' doctrine, more of the Law and the Prophets ... more of that which is foundational to our life and growth in Christ. Whether by articles or audio sermons and lessons, I want to provide you with "strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. [19] This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast" (Hebrews 6:18-19).

It is a dark world in which we live, and we need all the light we can get. Pray for me, please, and for all those who would shift your attention from earthly things to "things above, where Christ is" (Colossians 3:1-2). However you may choose to support this mission, I covet your partnership in providing good spiritual food. I desire to prove myself a good workman, "accurately handling the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).

I would also love to hear from those who are benefiting from this site. My email is available through my profile, which is always found to the top right of the page next to my picture. I am still amazed at the growth in activity over the last six months in particular. Traffic (both visits and page views) has tripled since June, and I pray that trend will continue. I truly hope that - as our nation falters - there will be a renewed interest in the things of God and a desire to "see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it" (Jeremiah 6:16).

Again, Merry Christmas! Why? Because of the One whom God has made "both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). "To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: [2] Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord" (2 Peter 1:1-2).

Midweek Lesson Outline: 1 Samuel 2

“Rejoicing in the Lord”
1 Samuel 2:1-10

Introduction: 1 Samuel 1

I. The Goodness of God v. 1

“My heart exults in the LORD; my horn is exalted in the LORD, my mouth speaks boldly against my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation.”

Psalm 34; Romans 8:28

II. The Greatness of God vs. 2-3

“There is no one holy like the LORD, indeed, there is no one besides You, nor is there any rock like our God. [3] Boast no more so very proudly, do not let arrogance come out of your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and with Him actions are weighed.”
1 Samuel 2:12; 3:13; Jeremiah 11:20; Hebrews 4:12-13; Psalm 95:1-3

III. The Government of God vs. 4-8

“The bows of the mighty are shattered, but the feeble gird on strength. [5] Those who were full hire themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry cease to hunger. Even the barren gives birth to seven, but she who has many children languishes. [6] The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up. [7] The LORD makes poor and rich; He brings low, He also exalts. [8] He raises the poor from the dust, He lifts the needy from the ash heap To make them sit with nobles, and inherit a seat of honor; for the pillars of the earth are the LORD's, and He set the world on them.”

Psalm 47:7-8; Revelation 19:6

IV. The Glory of God vs. 9-10

“He keeps the feet of His godly ones, but the wicked ones are silenced in darkness; for not by might shall a man prevail. [10] Those who contend with the LORD will be shattered; against them He will thunder in the heavens, the LORD will judge the ends of the earth; and He will give strength to His king, and will exalt the horn of His anointed.”

Acts 17:31; Isaiah 9:6-7; Hebrews 13:5; Psalm 95:6-7; 5:4-8; 2:12; 128:1

Conclusion: 1 Samuel 2:21; Mark 10:29-31; Ephesians 1:3; Revelation 18:2, 4-5, 20;
Luke 14:11; 1 Peter 5:5-6; Revelation 19:16; Ephesians 1:10; Revelation 1:5-6

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sunday Sermon Outline: Hebrews 1

“The First Word … and the Last”
Hebrews 1:1-12

I. The Witness of God's Word vs. 1-4

“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, [2] in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. [3] And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, [4] having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they."

Matthew 17:1-8; John 1:14, 17-18

II. The Worship of God's Word vs. 5-7

"For to which of the angels did He ever say, “YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU”? And again, “I WILL BE A FATHER TO HIM AND HE SHALL BE A SON TO ME”? [6] And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, “AND LET ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP HIM.” [7] And of the angels He says, “WHO MAKES HIS ANGELS WINDS, AND HIS MINISTERS A FLAME OF FIRE.""

Matthew 2:11; John 9:38; Matthew 14:33; 28:9; John 20:28

III. The Weight of God's Word vs. 8-14

Matthew 28:18; Hebrews 13:8; Philippians 2:10-11; Revelation 19:15; Hebrews 10:26-27; John 1:1

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Midweek Lesson Outline: Judges 6-8

“The Real Strength of a Nation”
Judges 6-8

Introduction: Judges 2:6-12; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Judges 6:1

I. Gideon was strong enough to trust God. Judges 6:11-24

“Then the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save it from the Midianites. [12] The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior.” [13] Then Gideon said to him, “O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” [14] The LORD looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” [15] He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father's house.” [16] But the LORD said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” [17] So Gideon said to Him, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who speak with me. [18] “Please do not depart from here, until I come back to You, and bring out my offering and lay it before You.” And He said, “I will remain until you return.”

[19] Then Gideon went in and prepared a young goat and unleavened bread from an ephah of flour; he put the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, and brought them out to him under the oak and presented them.[20] The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And he did so. [21] Then the angel of the LORD put out the end of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight. [22] When Gideon saw that he was the angel of the LORD, he said, “Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face.” [23] The LORD said to him, “Peace to you, do not fear; you shall not die.” [24] Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and named it The LORD is Peace.”

1 Corinthians 1:27; Psalm 33:12-22

II. Gideon was strong enough to stand up for God. Judges 6:25-32

“Now on the same night the LORD said to him, “Take your father's bull and a second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal which belongs to your father, and cut down the *Asherah that is beside it; [26] and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of this stronghold in an orderly manner, and take a second bull and offer a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah which you shall cut down.” [27] Then Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the LORD had spoken to him; and because he was too afraid of his father's household and the men of the city to do it by day, he did it by night. [28] When the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was torn down, and the Asherah which was beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar which had been built. [29] They said to one another, “Who did this thing?” And when they searched about and inquired, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash did this thing.” [30] Then the men of the city said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has torn down the altar of Baal, and indeed, he has cut down the Asherah which was beside it.” [31] But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Will you contend for Baal, or will you deliver him? Whoever will plead for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because someone has torn down his altar.” [32] Therefore on that day he named him Jerubbaal, that is to say, “Let Baal contend against him,” because he had torn down his altar.”

Matthew 10:36-37

III. Gideon was strong enough to seek the truth of God. Judges 6:34-40

“So the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon; and he blew a trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called together to follow him. [35] He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, and they also were called together to follow him; and he sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they came up to meet them. [36] Then Gideon said to God, “If You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken, [37] behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I will know that You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken.” [38] And it was so. When he arose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece, he drained the dew from the fleece, a bowl full of water. [39] Then Gideon said to God, “Do not let Your anger burn against me that I may speak once more; please let me make a test once more with the fleece, let it now be dry only on the fleece, and let there be dew on all the ground.” [40] God did so that night; for it was dry only on the fleece, and dew was on all the ground.”

Hebrews 11:32-34

IV. Gideon was strong enough to obey God. Judges 7-8

Judges 7:1-9, “Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him, rose early and camped beside the spring of Harod; and the camp of Midian was on the north side of them by the hill of Moreh in the valley. [2] The LORD said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’ [3] “Now therefore come, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is afraid and trembling, let him return and depart from Mount Gilead.’” So 22,000 people returned, but 10,000 remained. [4] Then the LORD said to Gideon, “The people are still too many; bring them down to the water and I will test them for you there. Therefore it shall be that he of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go with you; but everyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.” [5] So he brought the people down to the water. And the LORD said to Gideon, “You shall separate everyone who laps the water with his tongue as a dog laps, as well as everyone who kneels to drink.” [6] Now the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was 300 men; but all the rest of the people kneeled to drink water. [7] The LORD said to Gideon, “I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and will give the Midianites into your hands; so let all the other people go, each man to his home.” [8] So the 300 men took the people's provisions and their trumpets into their hands. And Gideon sent all the other men of Israel, each to his tent, but retained the 300 men; and the camp of Midian was below him in the valley. [9] Now the same night it came about that the LORD said to him, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hands.”

Judges 3:4

Conclusion: 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 2:4-5; 2 Corinthians 2:9

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Sunday Sermon Outline: 2 Peter 3

"Holding Fast to True Knowledge"
2 Peter 3

I. Stand Fast! vs. 1-10

A. Stand fast in the Scriptures. vs. 1-2

“This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.”

Matthew 7:24-25

B. Stand fast against the world. vs. 3-7

“Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation." 5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”

C. Stand fast for Christ's coming. vs. 8-10

“But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.”

II. Be Holy! vs. 11-18

A. Be holy before the church. vs. 11-13

“Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”

Hebrews 3:12-14

B. Be holy before God. vs. 14-16

“Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”

C. Be holy before the world. vs. 17-18

“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

Conclusion: 2 Peter 1:2-4; Philippians 2:16

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Midweek Lesson Outline: Joshua 24

“As For Me and My House”
Joshua 24:1-29

Introduction: Genesis 6:5-6, 8-9; 1 Peter 3:20; Acts 2:40

I. God must be our champion vs. 1-13

“Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel and for their heads and their judges and their officers; and they presented themselves before God. [2] Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘From ancient times your fathers lived beyond the River, namely, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods. [3] Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River, and led him through all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac. [4] To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau, and to Esau I gave Mount Seir to possess it; but Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt. [5] Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt by what I did in its midst; and afterward I brought you out. [6] I brought your fathers out of Egypt, and you came to the sea; and Egypt pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea. [7] But when they cried out to the LORD, He put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them and covered them; and your own eyes saw what I did in Egypt. And you lived in the wilderness for a long time. [8] Then I brought you into the land of the Amorites who lived beyond the Jordan, and they fought with you; and I gave them into your hand, and you took possession of their land when I destroyed them before you. [9] Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and fought against Israel, and he sent and summoned Balaam the son of Beor to curse you. [10] But I was not willing to listen to Balaam. So he had to bless you, and I delivered you from his hand. [11] You crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho; and the citizens of Jericho fought against you, and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Girgashite, the Hivite and the Jebusite. Thus I gave them into your hand. [12] Then I sent the hornet before you and it drove out the two kings of the Amorites from before you, but not by your sword or your bow. [13] I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and cities which you had not built, and you have lived in them; you are eating of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.’”

Numbers 14:8-9; Joshua 23:14; Hebrews 8:6; 1 John 2:25; John 20:29

II. God must be our choice vs. 14-29
A. The Choice of Masters, vs. 14-18.

““Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. [15] If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” [16] The people answered and said, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods; [17] for the LORD our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and who did these great signs in our sight and preserved us through all the way in which we went and among all the peoples through whose midst we passed. [18] The LORD drove out from before us all the peoples, even the Amorites who lived in the land. We also will serve the LORD, for He is our God.””

Matthew 4:10; Matthew 6:24; James 4:4-10

B. The Choice of Holiness, vs. 19-21.

“Then Joshua said to the people, “You will not be able to serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgression or your sins. [20] If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you.” [21] The people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the LORD.””

Romans 3:23; 1 Timothy 1:13; 1 Peter 1:14-16

C. The Choice of Faithfulness, vs. 22-29.

“Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen for yourselves the LORD, to serve Him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” [23] Now therefore, put away the foreign gods which are in your midst, and incline your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.” [24] The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the LORD our God and we will obey His voice.” [25] So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. [26] And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the LORD. [27] Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be for a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the LORD which He spoke to us; thus it shall be for a witness against you, so that you do not deny your God.” [28] Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to his inheritance. [29] It came about after these things that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being one hundred and ten years old.”

Deuteronomy 30:15-20; James 2:14, 17; 2 Thessalonians 1:8

Conclusion: Life and death choices.

Judges 2:7, 10-12, 16-17; Hebrews 10:25; 11:25, 31; Exodus 24:7;
Romans 12:2; Hosea 4:6; Acts 10:24

Monday, December 2, 2013

Consider Your Gifts

In the traditional Christian congregation, the time period between Thanksgiving and Christmas generally sees an increase in “benevolent” giving. Suggestions abound, usually involving toys for faceless children, canned goods and clothing for the unnamed homeless, or – keeping it closer to home – “upgrades” for the congregation itself. What a perfect time to take up a collection for a new van, a sound system, carpets or a trip for the youth group.

But – if you are really serious about offering a “gift” for the holidays – why not consider that which benefits the spirit, rather than the flesh? The strong majority of monetary gifts received by congregations this year will be completely physical in nature. They are tokens offered … some in sincerity, some to be seen of others and some given simply to make oneself feel better. But surely our God wants more than just a token? Did we learn nothing from Cain and Abel?

“So you have a better suggestion than giving to homeless orphans, Jonathan?”

As a matter of fact, I do. “Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, [7] a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table.[8] But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, “Why this waste? [9] For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.” [10] But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. [11] For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me”” (Matthew 26:6-11).

The poor will always be there … in abundance … but how often will your minister be there to faithfully preach the word of the Lord? How often will your Sunday School teacher continue to present godly, biblical lessons? How often will the elder come to visit you and pray with you, offering sage wisdom from the Scriptures? Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you.” Perhaps this would be an appropriate time to do so … to say thank you … to consider what has been spiritually provided to you.

I'm not asking you to take food out of a child's mouth. If you feel so inclined to give a gift for the meeting of physical needs, by all means do so. But “it is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’” (Matthew 4:4).

If the apostle Paul were currently alive and preaching, would you support him? There are people out there today sending $19.95 to spiritual charlatans for sa upposed blessing and a prayer cloth. Certainly I don't recommend the support of false teachers, but why would we ever be reticent about providing financial support to those who have truly been appointed by God as preachers and teachers “in faith and truth” (1 Timothy 2:7)?

Not all did support Paul though. He wrote to the church at Phillipi, saying, “at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; [16] for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. [17] Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account” (Philippians 4:15-17).

The Philippians apparently were the only ones who recognized the spiritual value of what the apostle was providing at that time. But such recognition not only met the apostle's needs, but profited the Philippians spiritually. The hope I have in writing this article is that you would so profit. Jesus taught that “the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, [46] and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46). I pray you would be so motivated in the consideration of your gifts.

Frankly, the majority of giving during the holidays is either driven by consumerism or emotionalism. Neither of those will produce a spiritual result though. What is it that you find valuable? If you need a heart transplant, you will find the best surgeon. If your car needs engine work, you will secure the best mechanic. If you want to save big on your taxes, you will find the best accountant. If you are in legal trouble, you will hire the best attorney. But concerning the word of the Lord, people are content to follow shepherds leading them in the wrong direction and to listen to the mediocre preaching of those whose highest title is “good Joe.” Where is the desire for “better things”? For “things that accompany salvation” (Hebrews 6:9)?

Ever hear the old saying, “You get what you pay for?” Nowhere is it more true than in spiritual matters. If you pay for a bowl of fake fruit, don't be surprised to find it inedible. “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?” (Isaiah 55:2). But if you buy a Rolls Royce, you expect a quality product. Unfortunately, there are – among our churches – many “old junker” preachers and teachers. I do not say that concerning the quantity of dollars they are receiving, but regarding the quality of instruction which they are providing.

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2). I've never heard a Bible college graduation ceremony that doesn't somehow work this verse into the program, yet why is it never taught to the graduating preachers or to the hiring congregations that “the laborer is worthy of his wages” (Luke 10:7)?

The saints in Jerusalem were losing everything materially in their stand for Christ, yet they were still willing to share the word of the Lord with others. Paul writes to those who had received the good word of God, “Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. [27] Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things” (Romans 15:26-27).

Notice how the apostle makes a clear distinction between the spiritual and the material? And it is obvious that the spiritual is the more valued commodity. No wonder the early church were “selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need” (Acts 2:45).

What a shame to see the ideal vs. the real though. In Acts 4, “the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them” (Acts 4:32). Come Sunday, some family will claim a tag off of a Christmas tree, buy a $20 pair of shoes for someone they don't know … and feel good about themselves.

In Acts 4, “all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales [35] and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.” This season, your pantry will be cleaned out of all your old canned goods … and you will receive an emotional lift because you dropped a bag of groceries off at the church building and never even saw where it went?

Certainly, it's a shame that there are people in financial difficulty. But the real shame is that Christians are not recognizing the real value of receiving sound spiritual instruction. “Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?” (1 Corinthians 9:7). “The plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops.[11] If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?” (1 Corinthians 9:10-11). “Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? [14] So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:13-14).

“Why is it you preachers are always begging for money?”

As Paul said, it is “not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account” (Philippians 4:17). I want those who are reading this to realize that there is greater value in what you have received spiritually than in what you possess materially. And if giving a gift this season is really what you feel you need to do, then let it be according to the Scriptures. “The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him” (Galatians 6:6).

The church is supposed to be “the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). So let's start supporting those who provide us with truth. “Buy truth, and do not sell it, get wisdom and instruction and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23).

I guess that's my real point in this article. What are you supporting … the local institution or eternal truth? What are you buying with your gifts … an emotional placebo or that which feeds your soul? If you know a preacher or teacher who is more than just a scratcher of itching ears, then give your gift to them. As the word says, “we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth” (3 John 7-8).

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday Sermon Outline: 2 Peter 2

“The Danger of Abandoning True Knowledge”
2 Peter 2

Introduction: 1 Samuel 15:29

I. The Incursion of Error vs. 1-3

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”

2 Peter 3:9; John 3:36

II. The Examples of Error vs. 4-10a

“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter; 7 and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men 8 (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day with their lawless deeds), 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. …”

III. The Activities of Error vs. 10b-19

“…Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, 11 whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, 13 suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery and that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; 15 forsaking the right way they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness, 16 but he received a rebuke for his own transgression; for a dumb donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet. 17 These are springs without water, and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. 18 For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, 19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.”

Galatians 6:7; Revelation 2:16; John 8:36

IV. The Danger of Error vs. 20-22

“For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb, "A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT," and, "A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire."”

Luke 12:47; Hebrews 6:4-6; Hebrews 10:25-27; Proverbs 26:11

Friday, November 29, 2013

Midweek Lesson Outline: Joshua 6

“Trust and Obey”
Joshua 6

I. Joshua's obedience won the battle 6:1-20

“Now Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in. [2] The LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors. [3] You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. [4] Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. [5] It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead.””

“[6] So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD.” [7] Then he said to the people, “Go forward, and march around the city, and let the armed men go on before the ark of the LORD.””

“[8] And it was so, that when Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the LORD went forward and blew the trumpets; and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them. [9] The armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard came after the ark, while they continued to blow the trumpets. [10] But Joshua commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout nor let your voice be heard nor let a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I tell you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout!” [11] So he had the ark of the LORD taken around the city, circling it once; then they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp. [12] Now Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. [13] The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew the trumpets; and the armed men went before them and the rear guard came after the ark of the LORD, while they continued to blow the trumpets.”

“[14] Thus the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp; they did so for six days. [15] Then on the seventh day they rose early at the dawning of the day and marched around the city in the same manner seven times; only on that day they marched around the city seven times. [16] At the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For the LORD has given you the city. [17] The city shall be under the ban, it and all that is in it belongs to the LORD; only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in the house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent.””

“[18] “But as for you, only keep yourselves from the things under the ban, so that you do not covet them and take some of the things under the ban, and make the camp of Israel accursed and bring trouble on it. [19] But all the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron are holy to the LORD; they shall go into the treasury of the LORD.” [20] So the people shouted, and priests blew the trumpets; and when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city.”

Hebrews 11:30; Luke 22:19; Mark 16:16; John 14:15; Matthew 12:30

II. Rahab's obedience saved her life 6:21-25

“They utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword. [22] Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the harlot's house and bring the woman and all she has out of there, as you have sworn to her.” [23] So the young men who were spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and her mother and her brothers and all she had; they also brought out all her relatives and placed them outside the camp of Israel. [24] They burned the city with fire, and all that was in it. Only the silver and gold, and articles of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. [25] However, Rahab the harlot and her father's household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.”

Joshua 2:14-21; Hebrews 11:31

III. Achan's disobedience invoked the wrath of God 6:26 - 7:1

“Then Joshua made them take an oath at that time, saying, “Cursed before the LORD is the man who rises up and builds this city Jericho; with the loss of his firstborn he shall lay its foundation, and with the loss of his youngest son he shall set up its gates.” [27] So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land. [7:1] But the sons of Israel acted unfaithfully in regard to the things under the ban, for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, took some of the things under the ban, therefore the anger of the LORD burned against the sons of Israel.”

Joshua 7:24-26

Conclusion: Hebrews 5:9

It’s not always easy to smile and be nice,
When we are called to sacrifice.
It’s not always easy to put others first,
Especially when tired and feeling our worst.
It’s not always easy to do the Father’s will.
It wasn’t so easy to climb Calvary’s hill.
But we as His children, should learn to obey;
Not seeking our own but seeking His way.
It’s not always easy to fight the good fight.
But it’s always good and it’s always right!

- Glenda Fulton Davis

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sunday Sermon Outline: 2 Peter 1

“The Nature of True Knowledge”
2 Peter 1

I. Authority vs. 1-4

“Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”

Romans 10:1-3; 1:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; 1 John 1:3

II. Maturity vs. 5-15

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. 12 Therefore, I shall always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. 13 And I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you may be able to call these things to mind.”

Ephesians 4:14-15; 1 Timothy 5:24-25; 1:6-7; 2 Timothy 3:6-9; Matthew 15:14; Philippians 3:13-20; Hosea 4:6

III. Certainty vs. 16-21

“For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased"-- 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

Luke 6:40; Psalm 119:104-105

Conclusion: Genesis 2:16-17; Genesis 3:1-5; 2 Corinthians 11:3

Friday, November 22, 2013

Midweek Lesson Outline: Joshua 3-5

"Step Into the Water”
Joshua 3-5

Introduction: Joshua 1:6-9

First, if there is to be success, God's people must display a fixed …

I. Concentration 3:1-4

“Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and he and all the sons of Israel set out from Shittim and came to the Jordan, and they lodged there before they crossed. [2] At the end of three days the officers went through the midst of the camp; [3] and they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. [4] However, there shall be between you and it a distance of about 2,000 cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.””

Deuteronomy 1:30-33; Psalm 32:8-9; John 10:27; Hebrews 12:1-2

Next, for the people to cross the river and enter the land promised to them would require complete …

II. Consecration 3:5

“Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.””

Leviticus 11:44; 2 Timothy 2:19, 21

Third, to enter the Promised Land, God’s people would have to make full …

III. Commitment 3:6-17

“And Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, “Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over ahead of the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went ahead of the people. [7] Now the LORD said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you. [8] You shall, moreover, command the priests who are carrying the ark of the covenant, saying, ‘When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” [9] Then Joshua said to the sons of Israel, “Come here, and hear the words of the LORD your God.” [10] Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will assuredly dispossess from before you the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Hivite, the Perizzite, the Girgashite, the Amorite, and the Jebusite. [11] Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over ahead of you into the Jordan. [12] Now then, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man for each tribe. [13] It shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan will be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap.” [14] So when the people set out from their tents to cross the Jordan with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant before the people, [15] and when those who carried the ark came into the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the ark were dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest), [16] the waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan; and those which were flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. So the people crossed opposite Jericho. [17] And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.”

2 Corinthians 5:7; Luke 23:46; Psalm 37:5

Once they are on the other side, we see yet another vital part of Israel's success, which is a time of …

IV. Commemoration 4:1-8

“Now when all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying, [2] “Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from each tribe, [3] and command them, saying, ‘Take up for yourselves twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet are standing firm, and carry them over with you and lay them down in the lodging place where you will lodge tonight.’” [4] So Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the sons of Israel, one man from each tribe; [5] and Joshua said to them, “Cross again to the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel. [6] Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ [7] then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.” [8] Thus the sons of Israel did as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, just as the LORD spoke to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel; and they carried them over with them to the lodging place and put them down there.”

Colossians 1:13; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Conclusion: Joshua 5:1, “Now it came about when all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard how the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the sons of Israel until they had crossed, that their hearts melted, and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the sons of Israel.”

Philippians 3:14; 1 John 3:2-3; 1 Peter 4:19; 2 Timothy 2:8; Romans 8:31; 1 John 5:4

Monday, November 18, 2013

Perception vs. Reality

Perception is not always reality, especially for Christians. Having been reminded that “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7), then perhaps what is seen is not always the whole story.

Over the course of a twenty-five year ministry, I was fired four times. That sure doesn't look good. I know of other ministers who have spent fifty years with the same congregation. That looks great! For the last two and a half years, I have not received a paycheck from a regular employer. That doesn't look good. I know others who have steady jobs and do a wonderful job of financially supporting their families. That looks great! But haven't you heard? Looks can be deceiving!

To the world (and even most of my family), it seems as if I do nothing. I am not employed by any congregation, and I have been unsuccessful – to the present – in securing any secular employment. There was a time when I, too, worried about such things, until the word of God reminded me that “the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14).

“But no church will hire you!”

You see, it is in response to that observation that I found spiritual truth. The local congregations that I have served were never my employers. The One for whom I have consistently “worked” is the Lord. I have served Him faithfully for almost twenty-eight years. Every message preached, every lesson taught, every article written, every person counseled or consoled, edified or evangelized has been under His employ. What support I have received – whether from congregations or individuals – has been at His discretion.

Like Timothy, I have been instructed, “Do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5). Such a command is in no way dependent upon a paycheck. The apostle Paul did not minister because of compensation, but because he was compelled to do so. “For I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16). Not“woe is me” I won't get paid, but “woe is me” if I don't respond to the Lord's call.

Therefore, I continue to go where the Lord leads, preaching and teaching the truth of the gospel as God provides opportunity. I have never stopped being “eager to preach the gospel” (Romans 1:15).

“But you don't get a paycheck! How will you pay your bills and support your family?”

I used to worry about that, as well. Then I remembered the command of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount, “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ [32] For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. [33] But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:31-33).

“But … but ...”

But what? Consider Elijah, called by God. Upon delivering the Lord's message of impending drought, the prophet's “work” took him to the brook Cherith where he spent the next two and a half years being fed bread and meat by ravens (1 Kings 17:2-6). Then, when the brook dried up, the Lord led him to a nearby widow who continued to provide for his needs (1 Kings 17:7-16).

“But that's not a REAL job!”

Isn't it? Upon whose reality do we make such a determination – man's or God's? The end result of his time spent with the widow seemed to produce exactly the spiritual result that God intended, as “the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth”” (1 Kings 17:24).

Consider Jesus' apostles. What evidence is there to suggest that any of them ever again held secular employment after submitting to the Lord and becoming fishers of men? The brothers never again worked their father's boat for profit. Matthew never again sat at the tax collector's table. After the birth of the church, they didn't even have time to wait tables, “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4).

And what of Jesus Himself? What “work” did He do to provide for Himself? The answer is: He didn't. Didn't receive a paycheck, that is. Absolutely, He worked! “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working” (John 5:17). But that “work” didn't provide a roof over His head, as He states, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20). Nor did that “work” pay His taxes, but when confronted about what was “owed,” the Lord sent Peter fishing! “Go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me” (Matthew 17:27).

“So you believe that the Lord is going to pay your bills?”

Does it matter? What matters is my obedience to the Lord. So far, I have not missed a meal in two and a half “unemployed” years. I still have a roof over my head, and I still have clothes on my back. The majority of this provision has been the result of three individuals who have not “paid” me for a “job,” but who have supported the ministry to which they know the Lord called me.

“But what do you do when the bill collector's call?”

Perhaps the Lord will provide me with vessels of oil to pay the debts (2 Kings 4:1-7). Perhaps he will eventually provide a means of secular employment. Or perhaps I'll end up in debtor's prison. If so, there are ample biblical examples of men who accomplished great things for the Lord from behind bars. Regardless, I cannot prove disobedient to my heavenly calling (Acts 26:19). Just because I don't know where God is leading me, doesn't mean He's not leading me. Again, perception is not always reality.

I no longer own a house. I own no property. I have a 240 sq. ft. RV, and a burning compulsion to share the word of the Lord. I haven't been provided with gas money, so obviously the Lord doesn't want me going anywhere at the moment. Therefore, I will sit and write. I will reach out via the Internet as long as I still have that access available.

God Himself declares, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; [11] So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11). I believe that with all my heart. Therefore, I will continue to obey! I must “work the works of Him who sent me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).

Certainly I don't like to be in debt. Without a doubt it is uncomfortable not knowing whether I will be able to pay next month's lot rent. No one likes to scrape through the change jar for enough to buy a gallon of milk. And – like Paul's “thorn in the flesh” – I have prayed that the Lord would alter the situation. But His response to me is ultimately the same one given to the apostle, ““My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. [10] Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

My marching orders have been issued: “Do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5). If the Lord has so employed me, then I know He is able to fully supply my need (2 Corinthians 11:9; Philippians 4:19). Spiritual reality trumps worldly perception every time.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sunday Sermon Outline: 1 Peter 5

“The Unfading Crown of Glory”
1 Peter 5

Introduction: 1 Peter 4:2; Romans 8:16-17; Philippians 3:14-15; 1 Peter 4:19

I. Glory for those who lead vs. 1-4

“Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, 2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”

John 21:15-17

II. Glory for those who follow in humility vs. 5-7

“You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.”

Matthew 20:28; 1 Corinthians 10:5-11; Matthew 7:19

III. Glory for those who are alert to the enemy vs. 8-12

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 11 To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen. 12 Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it!”

2 Timothy 3:12-15; Hebrews 12:4; Matthew 13:20-21

Conclusion, vs. 13-14: “She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace be to you all who are in Christ.”

1 Peter 1:2; Revelation 2:10; 1 Peter 4:13-14

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Midweek Lesson Outline: Joshua 1

"Confidence: The Key to Victory!"
Joshua 1

Introduction: Joshua 1:1-5, “Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying, [2] “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. [3] Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. [4] From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun will be your territory. [5] No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.””

II. A Fearless Confidence vs. 6-9

“Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. [7] Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. [8] This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. [9] Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

A. Confidence based upon the promises of God, v. 6

B. Confidence based upon obedience to God's word, v. 7

C. Confidence based upon absorbing God's word, v. 8

D. Confidence based upon God's presence, v. 9

III. A Victorious People vs. 10-18

“Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, [11] “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you are to cross this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you, to possess it.’””

“[12] To the Reubenites and to the Gadites and to the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said, [13] “Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, ‘The LORD your God gives you rest and will give you this land.’ [14] Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle shall remain in the land which Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but you shall cross before your brothers in battle array, all your valiant warriors, and shall help them, [15] until the LORD gives your brothers rest, as He gives you, and they also possess the land which the LORD your God is giving them. Then you shall return to your own land, and possess that which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.””

“[16] They answered Joshua, saying, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. [17] Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you; only may the LORD your God be with you as He was with Moses. [18] Anyone who rebels against your command and does not obey your words in all that you command him, shall be put to death; only be strong and courageous.””

A. Victory through preparation, vs. 10-11

B. Victory through unity, vs. 12-15

C. Victory through godly leadership, v. 16

D. Victory through obedience, vs. 17-18

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sunday Sermon Outline: 1 Peter 4

Here is the outline for tomorrow's message. It accompanies the audio sermon, found in the sermon files section of this page.

“Glorifying God in All Things”
1 Peter 4

Introduction: 1 Peter 3:17-18

I. Submitting to the Will of God vs. 1-6

“Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. 4 And in all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excess of dissipation, and they malign you; 5 but they shall give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.”

A. Consider your purpose, vs. 1-2

Philippians 2:5; 2 Timothy 2:11-12; Romans 6:6-7; Romans 6:2; 1 Peter 3:21

B. Consider your pursuits, v. 3

C. Consider your partners, vs. 4-5

Matthew 12:36-37

D. Consider your preaching, v. 6

John 12:48; Hebrews 4:12

II. Serving the People of God vs. 7-11

“7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. 8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint. 10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

A. Prayer, v. 7

Mark 14:37-38

B. Love, v. 8

Proverbs 10:12; Isaiah 43:25

C. Hospitality, v. 9

Matthew 25:37-40

D. Gifts, vs. 10-11

III. Suffering like the Son of God vs. 12-19

“12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 AND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS IS SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER? 19 Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”
Proverbs 17:3

A. The Test of Fire, v. 12

Matthew 5:11-12; 1 John 3:13

B. The Test of Joy, vs. 13-14

Romans 8:17; Philippians 3:10; John 15:19-20; James 1:2-3; Mark 13:13

C. The Test of Conscience, vs. 15-18

Matthew 10:28; James 1:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10

D. The Test of Faith (Conclusion), v. 19

“Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”
(1) Entrust yourselves to God. Luke 23:46

(2) Continue to do what is right. Deuteronomy 13:17-18

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mid-Week Lessons

Mid-week lessons are now available in MP3 format. They may be accessed on the right column under - appropriately enough - Mid-Week Lessons. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Audio Sermons

Some have asked for regular access to audio recordings of the Sunday messages. That feature is now available, and will be updated weekly (at least by Saturday evening).

On the right hand column (you might need to scroll down just a bit) is a gadget called Sermons. The most recent message will always be at the top of the list. You may either click on it to begin listening to the recording, or right-click on it and hit Save As to download it to your computer for future listening.

The link has been checked on the PC as well as the iPhone. If anyone has a problem with the sound file - or with accessing it - please let me know.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The People of Lawlessness

Most of the people calling themselves Christians with whom I have been associated all of my life would be considered politically as conservatives. I have heard much talk over the last several years about the wave of liberalism that is sweeping the country. They show frustration that are nation is being subverted before their eyes. They are angry because of the impotence of our national leaders. What they do not see is that they – the so-called church – have become exactly what they claim to despise within their nation.

One of the most terrifying passages of Scripture for the church today should be 2 Thessalonians 2. It speaks of an “apostasy” in which “the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction” (v. 3). We are warned of one “who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God” (v. 4).

Wait! I haven't gotten to the scary part yet. I'm not worried about “that lawless one,” because v. 8 tells us “the Lord will slay [him] with the breath of His mouth and bring [him] to an end by the appearance of His coming.” I'm more concerned about the PEOPLE of lawlessness that have subsequently been produced.

The contemporary church has become the very thing that they claim to hate. They have become spiritual liberals who have traded facts for feelings. Education and edification have been shelved for the more pleasant commodities of emotions and entertainment. What Paul is describing in our text is not just some future event, according to v. 7, “The mystery of lawlessness is already at work!”

Unfortunately, that “mystery” is a mystery no longer. Paul warned, “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, [4] and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). That day has already come. It is “the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world” (1 John 4:3).

“But how can you say that such evil exists within the church? Our preacher only preaches from the Bible!”

This is the answer I fully expect. What church would ever raise her hand and say, “It's us! We're preaching false doctrine!” What congregation is going to admit to having an evil minister or satanic leaders? This is why that 2 Thessalonians 2 passage is so terrifying! The people of lawlessness are completely deluded!

“... they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. [11] For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, [12] in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness” (vs. 10-12).

The problem isn't that they haven't at some point received “the truth,” but that they haven't loved it. David says, “O how I love Your law!” (Psalm 119:97) … “I love Your testimonies” (Psalm 119:119) … “I love Your commandments above gold, yes, above fine gold” (Psalm 119:127) … “Consider how I love Your precepts” (Psalm 119:159) … “I hate and despise falsehood, but I love Your law” (Psalm 119:163) … “Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Psalm 119:165).

This is why I am able to say with certainty that the people of lawlessness are occupying the membership rolls of the modern church, because there is no love of the truth! There are none who “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). Today's ministers, leaders and members are like men who have built their spiritual house upon the sand. They are not hearing the word of Christ, nor are they acting upon it (Matthew 7:26). What foolishness!

“Oh, but our church is growing! It must be the Lord!”

Our text spoke of what is occurring among the people of lawlessness. “The activity of Satan” is accompanied “with all power and signs and false wonders, [10] and with all the deception of wickedness” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10). This is what Jesus warned us about,“False Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24).

“But I don't see anyone like that in my church!”

Of course you don't! “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light [15] Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

“But how could I have known if they deceived me?”

You allowed yourself to be deceived, because you “did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10). And if someone did try to warn you … if they did point you back to the word of God … if they did plead with you to open your eyes … the “deluding influence” (2 Thessalonians 2:11) was too strong … you “did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12).

“Aren't you taking all of this just a bit too seriously?”

How seriously do you take salvation? Isn't that the topic of our text? “... they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.” If you want to be saved, then you must love the truth as did the Christians of Thessalonica. Paul wrote in his first letter, “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

Stop accepting preaching that is more “the word of men” than “the word of God!” Stop following leaders who are not leading you along “the Highway of Holiness” (Isaiah 35:8)! Stop attending congregations whose sole purpose is to entertain you and make you feel good! The people of lawlessness are not your friends, but your enemies!

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! [2] But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. [3] He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. [4] The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away. [5] Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. [6] For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Psalm 1).

Sunday, October 20, 2013

1 Peter 1, "A Living Hope"

Introduction: Last week from John 21, Jesus gave Peter his life’s mission, to shepherd and feed the flock of God. Then – following a clear warning of his impending death – the command of Christ is simply, “Follow Me.” We still saw glimpses of Peter’s impetuous nature. We also saw that his maturity was lacking. He still did not have a complete and compelling love for Christ. But all of that changed.

Peter’s first and second epistles were written over thirty years later, shortly before the Roman emperor Nero's persecution of the church in AD 64. Both of these letters were written to Christians in Asia Minor who were suffering under many trials and persecutions. They were written to encourage believers to expect and endure the hardships that Peter knows – from personal experience – will come as a result of their commitment to the Christian faith.

He begins his first letter by pointing to a …

I. Future Hope vs. 1-5

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen [2] according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure. [3] Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, [4] to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, [5] who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

God’s People are clearly identified in v. 1 as “aliens” who are “scattered” among the nations. This is a reminder that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Too many have become too comfortable in this world. It is the “aliens” … the ones who have separated themselves from this world … who have been “chosen,” and it's been that way since the beginning. Back in Deuteronomy 14:2, Moses said, “you are a holy people to the LORD your God; and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”

We who are Christians are that people. In the next chapter, Peter will tell us, “You are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). The Lord's choice was made according to His “foreknowledge.” It was accomplished “by the sanctifying work of the Spirit.”

And God’s Purpose is made clear in v. 2. We are “to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood.” He wants us to be saved. Paul said that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Those whom He has chosen are those who have – by decision and action – accepted Christ as their Savior and Lord, and have received the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. And our primary work as Christians is to be obedient to Jesus Christ.

This is a major theme within Peter’s letter. Constantly he will remind his readers what God has done for them, and then direct them to be obedient on that basis. This is why Peter brings up the Old Testament illustration of being sprinkled with blood. Listen to Exodus 24:7-8, Moses “took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!" 8 So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, "Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words."”

Peter is using such an event to illustrate our new covenant with Christ. If we have submitted to Jesus in full obedience, then we have entered into an eternal covenant. And if we will honor that covenant, then – as Peter says in v. 3 – God’s “grace and peace [will] be yours in the fullest measure.”

Even though our eyes are on a future hope, we recognize God’s Provision in vs. 3-4. Praise God for what He's done for us! It is by “His great mercy” that we have been “born again.” It is because of “the resurrection of Jesus Christ” that we have “a living hope.” “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:19). This is the hope of eternal salvation!

And if you will look forward to the last few verses of the chapter, you will see how this new birth is brought about – by "the living and enduring word of God." God is the One who has fully provided for our salvation. Peter begins his second epistle by telling us that “[God’s] divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).

Thus in our text Peter reminds us that it is God has provided. He has given us not only the hope of eternal life, but an inheritance as well. That inheritance is “imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” It is not subject to doubt! God Himself is protecting it in heaven. And He is also protecting you!

God’s Protection is revealed in v. 5. He would not leave the church unprotected in the midst of a hostile world! Such protection is “by the power of God,” but it comes about “through faith” … which means we are involved. We must trust the Lord. We must be obedient and faithful to Him. He will guard us until Christ comes again and our future hope is fulfilled.

But there will be …

II. Present Testing vs. 6-9

“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, [7] so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; [8] and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, [9] obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”

Peter says, "In this you greatly rejoice." In what? In a living hope … in an imperishable inheritance … in the protection of God … in eternal salvation. What a selfish, self-centered world in which we live. People rejoice when they get a raise at work, or when their child gets a scholarship, or when they win the lottery. Such physical things are only temporary. Real joy is focused upon eternal and lasting things, such as eternal life and a divine inheritance.

“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials.” We are only putting up with the temporary to get to the permanent. And those same people who rejoice in the temporary will be weeping when the trials and persecutions come. They will not be prepared when their faith is tested.

God tests each and every person. Peter’s faith was certainly tested … and on several occasions. The only way to expose the pure gold is to subject it to fire and burn away the dross. In the same way, it is necessary for our faith to be exposed to trials in order that all the counterfeit and impure earthly elements may be removed.

Thus the proof of which the apostle speaks is not that you physically survive the trials, but that you become more pure in your Christian lifestyle. And the end result of a genuine faith is that God will be praised, glorified and honored for what He has done through Christ.

“And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.”

The Bible tells us that as long we are in this body “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). But if we truly believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God … if we love Him more than we love the things of this world … we will be able to rejoice even in the midst of the trials.

This statement is made looking forward to the time when Christ will be revealed and we will see Him as He is. At that time, we will receive the reward of faith according to v. 9, which is “the salvation of your souls.”

Paul says in Philippians 3:13-14 says, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” In Revelation 2:10, John says something similar, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

We cannot rest and take a vacation from Christianity. We cannot stop making forward progress toward heaven. There is no early retirement plan in the kingdom of Christ. We are in the process of being saved. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” That process will be made complete when we die or when Christ returns. But for now, we will have to endure an evil world and the present testing of our faith.

So we have a future hope, but presently live in a world of testing. Others did, too, though! This is Peter's encouragement in vs. 10-12, reminding us of the Old Testament prophets and their ...

III. Past Predictions vs. 10-12

“As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, [11] seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. [12] It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.”

The prophets who received God’s word did not always understand the future implications of their prophecies. They simply spoke what God told them to speak. But that does not mean they were not intensely curious as to the meaning of those prophecies. The prophets prayed and studied. They wanted to know what these things meant, especially concerning the hope of a future Redeemer.

They never did receive a full understanding of their prophecies. If they understood it all, where would be the need for faith? But the Holy Spirit did reveal to them that this good news was for a future age – an age to which we now belong.

But this is the gospel of Jesus Christ we’re talking about! This is the good news of eternal salvation! No wonder the prophets wanted to badly to know these things. Even the angels of heaven want to know everything they can about such an important and eternal subject. Which leads to a very important question: If these things were so important that the prophets studied extensively to know the truth – and even angels wanted to bend down and look into it – then how is it that Christians … members and ministers … shepherds, as well as the flock … treat all of this so casually?

Peter is telling us that we can’t. We shouldn't. This is a matter of life and death. In light of the evidence of prophecy … in view of the reality of present trials and persecutions … in anticipation and full hope of a future inheritance … a Christian needs to be different than everyone else … and not just one Sundays, but every day of the week, every hour of the day. Thus Peter speaks of our …

IV. Constant Conduct vs. 13-21

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. [14] As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, [15] but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; [16] because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.””

Our salvation is so great that prophets and even angels have desired to know about it. Our inheritance is so sure that we can even rejoice in the midst of suffering. But the place in which our salvation – our inheritance – is being reserved is so pure that a new and different kind of life is expected.

If you really want to reach heaven, then you must "prepare your minds for action." The apostle says it's time to get serious about the work of God. The world wants you to lose yourself in emotion, exciting experiences, and excessive confusion, but Peter says, “keep sober in spirit.” As v. 14 tells us, too much time has already been spent in living in ignorant, uncontrolled sin. The hard truth is, the lives of a majority of mankind are shaped and molded – not by God, but – by their own fleshly desires. Peter says, now is the time for self-control as we prepare for the purity of heaven.

As children obedient to our heavenly Parent, we will demonstrate two responses: 1) A negative response to the desires of the flesh, and 2) a positive response to the will of God. To be a child of God is to bear a family resemblance. God is by nature holy. He has separated Himself from sin. Since our Father then is holy, we His children are to be holy.

Verse 2 spoke of the sanctifying work of the Spirit. To be sanctified is to be set apart from sin, even as God is set apart from sin. It is for this reason that we have been “called … out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

The apostle Paul puts it this way, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). A holy God only produces holy children. Purity of thought and action are godly qualities that should be ours and increasing from the very first day we enter into Christ Jesus.

If such holiness … such godliness … is NOT evident within a person … well … then perhaps such people belong to the other father! But Peter says in v. 17, “If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; [18] knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, [19] but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”

Peter is continuing his appeal for a holy lifestyle. Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven …” (Matthew 6:9). But the apostle is cautioning us not to presume upon that relationship. Yes, God is our Father, but that does not make Him blind to our sin. He judges each man's work impartially. Peter first came to this realization in Acts 10:34-35, saying, “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, 35 but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him.” He understood then – and is teaching us now – that God demands holiness in every aspect of His children’s daily lives. If we truly fear God … if we have reverence for His name … then we will do as He asks in our limited time here on this temporary earth.

Verse 19 of our text reminds us that Jesus paid the ransom for our sins with His own blood. In so doing, He released us from bondage to sin and secured our permanent citizenship in heaven. So why are so many continuing to live a “futile way of life”?

“But that's the way I was raised!”

So what? Loyalty to your earthly family traditions won’t save you. Your earthly father may leave you plenty of inheritance for living an extravagant earthly life. But only submission to the will of an eternal Father will result in a permanent inheritance and eternal life.

Also, we must consider the legacy we will leave to our children and grandchildren. Is a “futile way of life” what we're teaching them? You may not have one earthly possession to leave to your children as an inheritance; but if you have given them Christ, you have given them everything they need to truly survive this world! In fact, that's why Jesus was sent in the first place, says Peter in v. 20 ...

“For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you [21] who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”

The cross of Calvary was not an alternate plan of action because man sinned and messed up God’s original plan; Jesus' sacrifice was THE plan, even before man was created. Case in point, 1 John 3:8, “The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” Thus when man was finally created, God – knowing Satan’s influence – had already prepared His Son to counter the work of the devil. That’s why Jesus came to earth in the fullness of time (Galatians 4:4). That’s why He lived a righteous and holy life, as an example for those of us who would follow Him (1 Peter 2:21). That’s why He had to die on the cross and be raised from the dead. That we “may come to [our] senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:26).

Knowing the cost – the blood of His Son – and knowing that man would rebel against Him, it is a wonder that God created us at all. Amazing grace, indeed – which is exactly what Peter wants us to remember. Everything that God has done, according to the apostle, was in order that we might be “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” We must let that fact change us completely and affect our conduct constantly.

Conclusion, vs. 22-25: “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, [23] for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. [24] For, “ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF, [25] BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.” And this is the word which was preached to you.”
We purify ourselves by obeying the truth of God’s word, and that purity will naturally affect the body of Christ. Some, lacking in maturity as Peter once was, will only offer their brothers and sisters a phileo love – a friendly, neighborly love. But the truth is, we must express the same motivating agape love to our Christian brothers as we do to God Himself. The old saying is, “Blood is thicker than water.” The implication is that the family relationship is stronger than a friendly relationship. But Christianity takes us one step further, saying that the blood of Christ is stronger far than even the blood of family.

Unlike a natural birth that results from perishable seed, spiritual birth is accomplished by the living and abiding word of God. Peter quotes from the prophet Isaiah (40:6-8) to emphasize that natural life is only temporary; but spiritual life endures forever. Everything in the world around us may change and fade away, but God's word is eternal. This should be our greatest source of hope as we live in a world of shifting loyalties and progressive traditions … God has provided us with a source of stability and permanency in His word.

How many church leaders don't know enough of that word to capably feed or protect the flock? How many ministers search constantly for stories, jokes, illustrations … anything that will capture the attention of the the worldly-minded? Why aren't our so-called spiritual leaders pointing us to the real foundation, which comes “by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17)? Jesus said, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24).

1 Peter 1 ends with the apostle reminding us that the message preached by Christ and His apostles were not the words of men, but the very word of God. Knowing that should cause us to respond in belief, in obedience, in purity, and in brotherly love. If we will prepare ourselves in such a fashion – separating ourselves from sin and looking always forward in eternal hope – then there is nothing in this life that will “separate us from the love of Christ” – not “tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword” (Romans 8:35).