Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sunday Sermon Outline: Hosea 2

“The Price of Harlotry”
Hosea 2

Introduction: Hosea 1:2; John 5:44

I.  Divine Divorce 2:1-7
     “Say to your brothers, “Ammi,” and to your sisters, “Ruhamah.” [2] “Contend with your mother, contend, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband; and let her put away her harlotry from her face and her adultery from between her breasts, [3] Or I will strip her naked and expose her as on the day when she was born. I will also make her like a wilderness, make her like desert land and slay her with thirst. [4] “Also, I will have no compassion on her children, because they are children of harlotry. [5] “For their mother has played the harlot; she who conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’ [6] “Therefore, behold, I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her so that she cannot find her paths. [7] “She will pursue her lovers, but she will not overtake them; and she will seek them, but will not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now!’”

Hosea 1:11; 2 Peter 3:9

A. Her Shameless Prostitution 2:2

Matthew 10:35-36; Joshua 24:15

B. Her Certain Punishment 2:3-4

C. Her Disgusting Behavior 2:5

Luke 13:3,5

D. Her Future Repentance 2:6-7

Matthew 12:30

II. Proper Punishment 2:8-13
     “[8] “For she does not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the new wine and the oil, and lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal. [9] “Therefore, I will take back My grain at harvest time and My new wine in its season. I will also take away My wool and My flax given to cover her nakedness. [10] “And then I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one will rescue her out of My hand. [11] “I will also put an end to all her gaiety, her feasts, her new moons, her sabbaths and all her festal assemblies. [12] “I will destroy her vines and fig trees, of which she said, ‘These are my wages which my lovers have given me.’ And I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field will devour them. [13] “I will punish her for the days of the Baals when she used to offer sacrifices to them and adorn herself with her earrings and jewelry, and follow her lovers, so that she forgot Me,” declares the LORD.”

A. The Source of Prosperity Ignored 2:8

B. The Removal of Prosperity Threatened 2:9-11

James 4:4

C. The Abuse of Prosperity Reiterated 2:12-13

2 Peter 2:13-15

III. God's Grace 2:14-23
     “[14] “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her. [15] “Then I will give her her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor as a door of hope. And she will sing there as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt. [16] “It will come about in that day,” declares the LORD, “That you will call Me Ishi And will no longer call Me Baali. [17] “For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, so that they will be mentioned by their names no more. [18] “In that day I will also make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds of the sky and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword and war from the land, and will make them lie down in safety. [19] “I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness and in compassion, [20] And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD. [21] “It will come about in that day that I will respond,” declares the LORD. “I will respond to the heavens, and they will respond to the earth, [22] And the earth will respond to the grain, to the new wine and to the oil, And they will respond to Jezreel. [23] “I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, and I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they will say, ‘You are my God!’”

A. A New Courtship 2:14-15a

Joshua 7:16-26

B. A New Response 2:15b-17

Luke 15:10; Romans 6:13-14, 16; 1 Peter 4:16; Acts 4:12

C. A New Marriage 2:18-20

D. A New Prosperity 2:21-23a

2 Corinthians 9:10-11

E. A New Privilege 2:23b

Romans 3:28-30

Conclusion: Malachi 2:10; Hebrews 4:13; 1 Timothy 2:4-5; Romans 6:23; Colossians 2:13-14


Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Words of God

Consider mankind. People are often careful in what they say for various reasons – political or business advantage, social position, politeness, fear, embarrassment, insecurity. But the Lord suffers from none of those things. He is God. He is Creator.

How many times have we read, “All Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Timothy 3:16), yet we live and act as if were the work of “mere men” (1 Corinthians 3:4)? We project our thoughts and ways upon the word of God, forgetting His declaration, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).

God doesn't have to watch what He says. He has no superior to fear. He has no higher position to seek. The social conventions of men are beneath Him, and their scheming is not the product of His mind but of Satan's (Ephesians 6:11). In fact, God has taught us in His Son, “Let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil” (Matthew 5:37).

So why do men so often approach the Scriptures looking for hidden meanings? I believe that in order to properly understand the Bible, we have to start by assuming a literal meaning. Absolutely, there are figurative statements within God's word, but don't start your journey to understanding assuming that God is trying to hide something from you. As Moses learned so long ago, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

The word of God is what He wants us to know, otherwise He would not have revealed them in the first place. He has spoken not for His own advantage, but for ours (Romans 1:17). So as you read the Bible, know that God speaks plainly.

Perhaps we would never have the boldness to say to someone, “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?” (Matthew 23:33). But Jesus did, because “He is Lord of lords and King of kings” (Revelation 17:14).

“Oh, but He's God, and I'm just a man. I could never say something like that.”

Really? Not even if the Spirit of God were within you? Acts 13:8-10 says that “Elymas the magician ... was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. [9] But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him, [10] and said, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord?”” See? In the Spirit of God, Paul spoke plainly.

Haven't you ever once wondered why the modern church doesn't see the same spiritual success as the first century church? I believe it is because today's church leaders are preaching acceptance, tolerance and a non-judgmental spirit, while the church that Jesus established and the leaders He chose were more concerned with accurately relaying the words of the Lord. As Paul said, “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. [3] I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, [4] and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, [5] so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:2-5).

But the faith of the modern church is no longer resting on “the power of God.” As the apostle forewarned, we have around us men who are “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.” The word of God is plain and direct, “Avoid such men as these” (2 Timothy 3:5).

“Then who should I listen to?”


“But my preacher said ...”

If he hasn't set aside his opinions and pointed you directly to the word of God, he is no real servant of God.

We read of the birth of the church in the beginning of the book of Acts. It is said that “the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul” (Acts 4:32). Why? Because “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).

“But our church doesn't believe ...”

But Christ's church does. Those who truly belong to the Lord believe in the word of God. “The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

Thus David said, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).

Thus Jesus said, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

The question is, what do you say? I would only point you to the Scriptures, “in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. [22] Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:21-22).

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunday Sermon Outline: Hosea 1

“The Children of Harlotry”
Hosea 1  

Introduction: 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 1 Samuel 15:29; Romans 16:26

I.  The Command to Marry 1:1-2
     “The word of the LORD which came to Hosea the son of Beeri, during the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel. [2] When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the LORD.””

Titus 1:11

II. The Command to Name His Children 1:3-9
      “[3] So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. [4] And the LORD said to him, “Name him Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. [5] On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.”

Joshua 1:27-28

     “[6] Then she conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. And the LORD said to him, “Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have compassion on the house of Israel, that I would ever forgive them. [7] “But I will have compassion on the house of Judah and deliver them by the LORD their God, and will not deliver them by bow, sword, battle, horses or horsemen.””

Revelation 5:5;  1 John 5:4

     “[8] When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and gave birth to a son. [9] And the LORD said, “Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not My people and I am not your God.”

 III. The Coming Messiah vs. 10-11
     “[10] Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; and in the place where it is said to them, “You are not My people,” it will be said to them, “You are the sons of the living God.” [11] And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together, and they will appoint for themselves one leader, and they will go up from the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.”

Conclusion: Romans 9:22-26; 2:6-11; Ephesians 5:7-8


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sunday Sermon Outline: James 5

“Patience in Suffering”
James 5

Introduction: 2 Timothy 3:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5

I.  Warning to oppressors vs. 1-6
     “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. [2] Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. [3] Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! [4] Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. [5] You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. [6] You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.”

Matthew 19:24; 1 Timothy 6:9-10; 2 Peter 3:10

II. Encouragement to the oppressed vs. 7-12
     “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. [8] You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. [9] Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. [10] As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. [11] We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. [12] But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.”

Revelation 6:10; 1 Corinthians 15:36; Isaiah 45:9-10; Jeremiah 4:3; Hosea 10:12

III. Wisdom to overcome oppression vs. 13-20
     “[13] Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. [14] Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; [15] and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. [16] Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. [17] Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. [18] Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit. [19] My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, [20] let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”

Ephesians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 12:7, 10; Acts 20:28; Hebrews 13:7; Matthew 10:28; 1 Kings 17:3-6, 8-16; 18:17

Conclusion: James 5:19-20, “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, [20] let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”

Romans 6:6; Ephesians 5:9-11; Genesis 4:9; John 8:31-32; 2 Timothy 1:10; John 16:3


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Christian Communication

Speech is required to accomplish the work of Christ. But I truly wonder what work – if any – is being accomplished within the modern church, since true speech … honest speech … real spiritual communication … is almost non-existent.

Consider first the society in which we live. We are an aggressive people, prone to sarcasm, insults, argumentative rebuttal and fits of anger. Then consider today's church. A majority preach love and tolerance, yet the American spirit is much stronger within them than the Holy Spirit. Underneath a thin veneer of Christian love lies the real substance of their character … and it is not pretty.

How many times I have stood in a congregation's foyer listening to shallow conversations concerning weather, sports, politics, music, movies, travel, work and family. Supposedly such communication allows me to “get to know” a person, yet all I “know” after years of such discourse is that most people are interested primarily in themselves.

How often I have heard “church problems” discussed behind the closed doors of leadership meetings. Opinions flow freely, while the word of God remains closed. Polite discussion – when it does not get its way – often gives way to sarcastic insinuation, and sometimes even to angry debate.

Considering the Bible's reminder that “the tongue is a fire” (James 3:6), “a restless evil” and “full of deadly poison” (James 3:8) … and seeing much proof of that within both our society and our Christian congregations … one could wonder whether honest communication is even possible anymore.

How do I explain to a sinner the ramifications of his sin and his need for a Savior if his first instinct is to be insulted and angry? But wait! The same thing holds true if I want to discuss the Scriptures with a neighbor or co-worker, or teach a body of church members, or train a group of church leaders. For all the rhetoric that is spewed concerning love, tolerance and acceptance, the first instinct is still to become insulted and angry.

There is a simple two-fold answer … but it is difficult, because it flies in the face of the world in which we live. First, we must deny ourselves. Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). This theme is then repeated within the apostles' doctrine. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; [4] do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

“Oh, our congregation is all about others!”
While I know you want that to be true, it's probably not. As Paul wrote to Timothy, “I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. [21] For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:20-21).

If you want honest speech … genuine spiritual communication … then you must first fight against yourself and your own desires. Insults and sarcasm were never utilized by those filled with the Holy Spirit and “the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). The Spirit insists, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. [32] Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31).

“But it's so difficult ...”
Then work harder.

“But I can't ...”
Yes, you can.

“It's just the way I am.”
So in other words, you refuse to deny yourself? Even knowing what's at stake? After all, the Bible has made it clear that “those who practice such things … “enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, [and] factions” … will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:20-21).

Self-denial, that's the number one prerequisite to real Christian communication. Then second, is “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). No Christian – or congregation – can “grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,” without “speaking the truth in love.”

“Oh, but we do!”
No, I don't think you do. You see, Paul wasn't writing to pagans, but to Christians, saying, “laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another” (Ephesians 4:25).

In fact, isn't it interesting that the referenced epistle was written to the exact same people whose leaders were warned that “savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; [30] and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30)?

“But our leaders would never do such a thing!”
Don't you think the Ephesian congregation said the same thing? Yet the apostle warned them not to be “carried about by every wind of doctrine.” He warned them about “the trickery of men” and of “craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14). He preached to them of “laying aside falsehood” (Ephesians 4:25). He was inspired by the Spirit to write, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).

Why would he write that, unless he knew it was a pressing need? Why would he warn them against “filthiness and silly talk, [and] coarse jesting” (Ephesians 5:4)? Why would he say, “Let no one deceive you with empty words” (Ephesians 5:6)? Because these were real issues within a real congregation. And my guess is, these issues exist within your congregation … and your family … and you, as well. These are not words for the first century. These are words for every century.

If you want to see real change within yourself, then deny yourself. If you want honest communication within your congregation, then “SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.”

What does it mean to “speak truth”? Christ prayed to His Father, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17). Therefore, the word of God is our source for truth. Christian communication is not achieved by sharing our personal interests or opinions, but by “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19) … by “speaking the truth in love.”

The more we speak of God, the less we speak of ourselves. The more we consider His word, the less we consider those who are “speaking perverse things.” We cannot allow sarcasm, insults and anger to control us. If the Holy Spirit resides within us, then “the love of Christ controls us” (2 Corinthians 5:14). And if such love controls us … if we remember that in Christ “we are members of one another” … then we will begin “speaking the truth in love,” which is exactly the kind of communication Christ wants within His kingdom.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sunday Sermon Outline: James 4

“Doing the Right Thing”
James 4

Introduction: 2 Timothy 4:3; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Timothy 3:15; Ephesians 4:11; 2 Timothy 3:16-17

I.  The Pleasure of Man vs. 1-4
     “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? [2] You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. [3] You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. [4] You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

1 John 2:16; Genesis 3:17-19; Titus 2:12; Revelation 3:1

II. The Presence of God vs. 5-10
     “[5] Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? [6] But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” [7] Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. [8] Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. [9] Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. [10] Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”

Ephesians 1:13-14

III. The Presumption of Man vs. 11-14
     “[11] Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. [12] There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?”

Matthew 16:24; James 1:22, 26; John 16:8; 2 Corinthians 10:12

     “[13] Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” [14] Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”

2 Peter 3:10

IV. The Purpose of God vs. 15-17
     “[15] Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” [16] But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. [17] Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 3:10; Romans 8:5


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sunday Sermon Outline: James 3

“Proper Speech”
James 3

Introduction: Romans 15:1

I.   The Power of Speech  vs. 1-4      “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. [2] For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. [3] Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. [4] Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires.”

A. Maturity in our speech vs. 1-2

Galatians 1:6-9

B. Mastery of our speech vs. 3-4

II.  The Abuse of Speech  vs. 5-12 
     “So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! [6] And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. [7] For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. [8] But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. [9] With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; [10] from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. [11] Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? [12] Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.”

A. Ignition v. 5

B. Iniquity vs. 6-8

C. Inconsistency vs. 9-12

Matthew 7:15-20

III. The Fruit of Speech  vs. 13-18
     “[13] Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. [14] But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. [15] This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. [16] For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. [17] But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. [18] And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”