Sermon: Learning From Bitter Providence (Ruth 1:1-6)

Learning From Bitter Providence

Ruth 1:1-6 (ESV)

In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. [2] The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. [3] But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. [4] These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, [5] and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.

[6] Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food.

The Book of Ruth is a simple somewhat ordinary story on one hand and on the other; it is an amazing account of God’s sovereign dealings with a simple family. The Book of Ruth is sort of the calm in the midst of the storm. The Book of Judges is a book of one episode of judgment after another. God’s people would listen for a while and then they would turn to evil…God would judge them…God would send them a deliverer…they would turn back to Him. This cycle would happen time and time again. The reason this was so was that rather than listening to God, rather than reading His Word and obeying, the people did what they thought was right. Read More

Sermon: A Biblical View of Spiritual Warfare (Ephesians 6:10-24)

A Biblical View of Spiritual Warfare

Ephes. 6:10-24 (ESV)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  [11] Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  [12] For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  [13] Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.  [14] Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  [15] and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  [16] In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;  [17] and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  [18] praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,  [19] and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,  [20] for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

[21] So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything.  [22] I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.

[23] Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  [24] Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

As we begin to unpack these verses this morning we must first see the imagery Paul is giving us in this last section of the book.  He has taught us doctrine in the first three chapters.  In the last three he is teaching us duty.  Here, in this final piece of the puzzle, he is giving us the means in which we can live out those great commands that he’s issued in this great book to the church.

He uses a Roman Soldier as a metaphor picturing the Christian Soldier.  As we examine each piece of the Christian Soldier’s suit of armor I pray we will see clearly how the Lord has equipped us for this battle.  Every Christian is in this battle.  The Lord wants us all to be fighters and not bench warmers.

Let’s look together at A Biblical View of Spiritual Warfare

1. The Soldier’s Strength (Ephesians 6:10-12)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  [11] Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  [12] For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

There are forces that are alive and well in this world that are hostile to you as a Christian.  These evil forces work against everything that you are to be engaged in as a Christian.  More than anything else, these forces are fighting against the Gospel.

To close out the Book of Ephesians, Paul makes it very clear that all the doctrine he has laid out for us and all the proper behavior he has taught us is going to meet with extreme resistance.  Satan and his army are battling us.  Satan is the prince of the power of the air.  He is lord of this present darkness.

I hope you realize that the Christian life is a constant battle.  The moment you let your guard down, you go backwards.

The Church will be victorious, the gates of hell are no match to the church.  And at the same time, we’ll only be victorious if we wear the armor and fight the war. Read More

Sermon: Working for Christ (Ephesians 6:5-9)

Working for Christ

Ephes. 6:5-9 (ESV)

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ,  [6] not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,  [7] rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man,  [8] knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.  [9] Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.

As we begin to unpack this text today, it’s important that we think Bible and not think society.  As we look at the Scriptures they tell unanimously that slavery within God’s boundaries was not an evil of society.

Many folks have gotten sidetracked as they read texts of Scripture like this one.  They cry out why doesn’t Paul condemn slavery and why doesn’t Paul shout with all his breath that slavery is evil and sinful and that slave owners are unconverted hell bound sinners?  The fact is he doesn’t.  The fact is Jesus doesn’t.  The fact is God in the Old Testament doesn’t.

I thought I’d drop that bomb on you early on in the message in hopes that it will begin to sink in and you will have somewhat recovered by the time we get to the application of these very important divinely inspired words.

Before we begin to look at our text under consideration, let’s set in place a proper view of slavery and especially a view that will take us closer to our text.  Here more than ever, if we are to understand the text we must understand the times in which it was written.

Slavery was common in the ancient world.  In the ancient world, barring the abuses, it was a lot like the employer and employee relationships of today. Read More

Sermon: Children and Parents for the Glory of God (Ephesians 6:1-4)

Children and Parents for the Glory of God

Ephes. 6:1-4 (ESV)

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  [2] “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise),  [3] “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”  [4] Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

We continue through the practical aspects of the Letter to the Ephesians.  Paul can call us to proper Christian living because he has taught us proper Christian doctrine.  Without right understanding it is wrong to ask someone to behave or live correctly.

In chapter two of this book, the great apostle reminds us of the simple fact that we were dead in trespasses and sins prior to our conversion.  He goes on to state that before we met Christ we walked according to Satan’s plans.  We followed hard after him.  He wrote that we followed the passions of our flesh and carried out the desires of the body.  But now these former truths must die because we are no longer slaves to sin and slaves to Satan.  Now we belong to a different master.  Now we belong to Jesus Christ.  He purchased us by His very own blood.  Now we are slaves to Christ.  With these great truths in mind, we are told how to walk.  We are told what following Christ looks like in specific situations.  We are told what it’s like to be a Christian at home.

Many today live dual lives.  They play the part of a Christian while at worship on the Lord’s Day, but when they go home or when they go to work on Monday morning they are back to their old self.  In the Lord’s mind, there is no such thing as a Sunday Christian.  We either are believers all the time or we’re not.  It’s in these verses that we are shown just how vital it is to behave as a believer everywhere and all the time.

We looked at what a wife walking in the Spirit looks like.  Then we saw what a godly husband is all about.  Today, we come to the place in this section of Scripture that looks at the proper behavior of converted children and how parents are to raise them.  What does a child who is walking in the Spirit look like and what does a godly parent look like?? Read More

Sermon: Marriage, God’s Great Illustration Pt. 2 (Ephesians 5:22-33)

Marriage, God’s Great Illustration Part 2

Ephes. 5:22-33 (ESV)

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  [23] For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  [24] Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

[25] Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,  [26] that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,  [27] so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  [28] In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  [29] For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,  [30] because we are members of his body.  [31] “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  [32] This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.  [33] However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Last week we learned together just what is expected of a godly wife.  We learned that when a wife is walking in the spirit she will live a life in submission to her husband.  We also looked at the proper motivation for her to obey this text of Scripture.  We said that her motivation should not be to necessarily have a better marriage but the motivation to glorify Christ through her submissive obedience. If you remember we took a look at a case study using Adam and Eve’s role reversal and the effect it is still having on all humanity.

Now, I want us to see a husband who is walking in the spirit.  What is the husband’s role in a marriage relationship that will bring glory to Christ?  What does he look like?

Husbands are commanded to love their wives in the same way as Christ loves the church.

[25] Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church.

The problem for husbands wanting to obey this text is that when we read it, it’s like looking up at Mount Everest and someone telling us to jump over it.  It’s impossible.  How can a fallen, sinful husband love his wife like Christ loves the church?  I don’t think Paul is here telling husbands to love exactly like Christ loves the church but with a measure of Christ’s love.  A converted husband can love like Jesus in many ways.  The key in this text is to see that what Paul is getting at is the type of love that will honor God, not the extent.

One important note is that Christ still loves the church, but in this text it comes to us in the past tense.  So, it looks like what Paul is thinking about is the way in which Christ loved the church while He was on earth.  We should be careful not to get caught up in the technicality that would say that the church was first formed at Pentecost in Acts 2.  The church…God’s people…have always been around since man was created. Read More

Sermon: Marriage, God’s Great Illustration

Marriage, God’s Great Illustration (I)

Ephesians 5:21-33

Ephes. 5:21 (ESV)

submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Ephes. 5:22-33 (ESV)

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  [23] For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  [24] Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

[25] Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,  [26] that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,  [27] so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  [28] In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  [29] For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,  [30] because we are members of his body.  [31] “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  [32] This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.  [33] However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

To begin the message for this morning, I want to make things clear.  Today we are targeting the ladies within our church.  Next week will be the men’s turn.  I wanted to address the complete text at each sitting so we have the context.

Paul has spent time laying out for us doctrinal truth to influence our thinking and now we are being called through many different texts of Scripture to practice what we know to be the wonderful truths of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Last week we learned that Paul compared the Christian life to a walk.  He compared it to a consistent walk in this world.  One way he declared that we can be consistent is to walk in the Spirit’s control.  We are to be filled with the Spirit.

Ephes. 5:18-21 (ESV)

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,  [19] addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart,  [20] giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,  [21] submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Also, remember from last week when I said that in the same way that wine affects a drunken person, so when we’re filled with the Spirit, we should be influenced by Him. Now, he addresses what being filled with the Spirit or walking in the Spirit looks like in specific situations.

Today, we are going to look at what a godly wife who is walking in the Spirit looks like.  Even more specifically, I want us to see how this is a picture of Christ and the church.

Ladies, whether you’re married or about to be married or someday hope to be married this sermon has much in it to be applied. Read More

Sermon: Living as Christ in This World (Ephesians 5:1-20)

Living as Christ in this World

Ephes. 5:1-20 (ESV)

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  [2] And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

[3] But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.  [4] Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.  [5] For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous ( that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.  [6] Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.  [7] Therefore do not associate with them;  [8] for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

[9] (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),  [10] and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.  [11] Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.  [12] For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.  [13] But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible,  [14] for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,

and arise from the dead,

and Christ will shine on you.”

[15] Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,  [16] making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  [17] Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  [18] And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,  [19] addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart,  [20] giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

In our text today, the Lord has for us a challenge to walk through this world and yet remain completely dedicated to Him.  How is it that we are in the world but not of the world?

Our Lord gives us this command:

Matthew 5:13-16 (ESV)

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

[14] “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  [15] Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  [16] In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

What Jesus has in mind here is that we as Christians are to be affecting or infiltrating the world.  We affect it, it should not affect us.  This is the challenge.  How is it that we enter into the world without allowing it to affect us? Read More

Sermon: Living Obedient for the Good of the Church (Ephesians 4)

Living Obedient  for the Good of the Church

 

Ephes. 4:25-32 (ESV) 

    Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.  [26] Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,  [27] and give no opportunity to the devil.  [28] Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.  [29] Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  [30] And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  [31] 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, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

The Apostle Paul begins to open up for us the proper behavior of a truly born again person.  Last time we were in the Book of Ephesians, we looked at putting off the old self and replacing it with the new self that has been created in Christ Jesus.  He taught us in this passage that we are to no longer live as Gentiles do.  In other words, an unbeliever lives a certain way and a believer lives a certain way.  The way they live is based on the ideas and worldview they have.  If one is an unbeliever he/she does not have the Holy Spirit residing within them, they cannot obey from the heart because their heart is darkened and they cannot understand the things of God.  We however, as God’s children, born again to eternal life have been given the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit living within us is the key to living a godly life. Read More

Sermon: The Birth of the King (Matthew 1&2)

 

The Birth of King Jesus

Matthew 1:18-2:12 (ESV) 

    Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.  [19] And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.  [20] But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  [21] She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  [22] All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

  [23] “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,

        and they shall call his name Immanuel”

        (which means, God with us).  [24] When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,  [25] but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Matthew 2:1-12 (ESV) 

    Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem,  [2] saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”  [3] When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him;  [4] and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.  [5] They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

 

    [6] ” ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

        are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

    for from you shall come a ruler

        who will shepherd my people Israel.’ “

 

    [7] Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared.  [8] And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”  [9] After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.  [10] When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.  [11] And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.  [12] And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

So ends the reading of God’s Holy Word, may He add His blessing.

 

1. Jesus’ Nature (1:18) Read More

Evangelism Made Personal by Mark A. Copeland

 

Evangelism Made Personal

Increasing Opportunities To Share The Gospel

(An Approach That Works!)

The importance of sharing the gospel of Christ with those who are lost cannot be over-emphasized. Jesus wants everyone to hear the good news of salvation (Mk 16:15-16), and has provided the gospel as God’s power to save all who believe it (Ro 1:16-17).

But what is the most effective way to reach people today? The Institute For American Church Growth asked over 10,000 people this question: “What was responsible for your coming to Christ and this church?” Their replies were: Read More