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