How do you know when a person is out of his mind? Well, what if a man behaves like nobody else behaves? What if he says he hears things nobody else hears? What if he fears what nobody else fears? What if he devotes all his energy to a cause nobody else believes in? Would you say he’s crazy? At the very least, you’d think he’s weird, wouldn’t you? Suppose this crazy person goes to work on a strange project. He claims that the world is about to be wiped out and that he’s building the only place where anyone will be able to survive when the disaster comes. How does he know all this? He says he heard a voice telling him so. There’s no sign at all of the disaster he expects, but he keeps working on his project year after year, simply because of that voice he heard. Would you take him seriously? Wouldn’t you instead laugh at him, or, at best, feel sorry for him? The man would have to be crazy!
But what if the “crazy” man is an old fellow named Noah? What if the project he’s working on is an enormous ark? What if the disaster he’s speaking about is a worldwide flood? What if the voice that told him to build the ark was the voice of God? What if the reason his behavior is so different from others is that the whole world has gone crazy with evil and that he, unlike so many, has a relationship with God? Read More
A Portrait of Salvation
2 Kings 5:1-15
In our passage today we are forced to deal with many things about God that stretch our understanding. We just get to the place where we think we are starting to understand God and then He throws a passage like this at us.
In this passage we have God giving Syria success in battle against His chosen people Israel. We have God turning His back on His people and coming to the aid of foreigners. We have God including a Gentile who is unclean in His covenant.
We leave the land of Israel and enter a pagan nation. We step into Syria to the north, a heathen, pagan nation surrounded by darkness, a place of idolatry, and blindness. Naaman’s healing is a portrait of what God would later do through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here is a classic picture of the love God has for those in darkness. We get a glimpse of God’s sovereign work in salvation. At times God shows grace, even to His enemies. Read More
Digging Wells and Planting Churches
As we live the Christian life, we must remember that it is a life of faith in Christ and a life dependant on Him. Believing in the unseen with as much trust as in the things we can see. It’s a life of living in this world but longing for the next. It’s loving those around us but supremely loving Christ. It’s also a life of discontent with what the world has to offer because we believe the true and everlasting treasure is Jesus. Living a life of faith is vital for the Christian. Paul is a great example of someone living in this world but longing for the next.
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord,  for we walk by faith, not by sight.  Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.  So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 2 Cor. 5:6-9 (ESV)
One way we manifest walking by faith and not by sight is when we acknowledge our complete dependence on the Lord. We do this best when we pray. Prayer is the keyhole that we look through catching small glimpses of the world to come and longing to be there. As we speak with the God of the universe in prayer, He begins to change our worldly focus to an eternal focus. The more we get God’s vision for our lives, the more the unseen comes into focus and the more the seen begins to loose its grip on our hearts. Read More
An All-Round Ministry
James 5:13-20 (ESV)
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.  Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.  Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.  Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back,  let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
James has already made the connection between the physical and the spiritual. The Church is to have a ministry that has both in mind. Spiritual matters are the priority but physical matters are important as well and many times it’s hard to separate the two. Both impact the Church. Read More
While You Wait Pt. 1
James 5:1-12 (ESV)
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you.  Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten.  Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days.  Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.  You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.  You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.
 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.  You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.  Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.  As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
 But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.
There are times when I am more patient than others. When things are going the way I want them to go I’m patient. When things are going another direction I’m less patient. I’m not where James is yet.
In 46 AD when James wrote this letter to his friends at his church who were being persecuted for their faith, he knew what they needed most. He knew that they needed to be encouraged to endure trials in a God honoring way, he knew they needed to be warned about sin, and they needed to be encouraged to be patient. Read More
The Crisis of Sovereignty
James 4: 13-17
We saw earlier in chapter 4 of James the truths relating to quarreling and fighting among Believers. James’ conclusion to this was we fight because we have misguided passions that are constantly at war. Our own selfishness is the sole cause of fights and arguments among God’s people. When this happens we have traded the eternal for the temporal or we could say we are walking by sight and not by faith. To use the words of Christ, we are not laying up treasures in heaven but have settled for rotting decaying treasure. We’ve set our sights too low.
James takes us a step further and shows us what happens to our thinking the more we live with misguided and twisted affections. Read More
Cheating on a Jealous God
James 4:1-10 (ESV)
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?  You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.  You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.  Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?  But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
I walked in to the waiting room at a hospital one day, and out of about 50 chairs there were two free. Everyone else was smarter than I was because the two seats were placed right under the TV. I don’t know if it was The Young and the Restless, Days of Our Lives, General Hospital. In about 1 minute Read More
James 3:13-18 (ESV)
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.  But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.  This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.  For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.  And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Last week we saw the importance of controlling our tongues. We saw the power it has to control our whole being. We saw the danger of our tongues. Then we saw the inconsistency of our tongues, we praise God and also curse men. Read More
As you might expect from a church on the move…we’re moving. God has so graciously answered our prayers to move into Chillicothe. We trusted the Lord to supply our need for a building to meet in inside Chillicothe and He wonderfully met that need. We will begin on Sunday Evening June 8th joining together for worship at 43 South Paint Street, Chillicothe, Ohio. We are right next door to Renick’s Family Restaurant. What we plan to do is on June 1st during our cookout in the park is to gather everyone together and drive to the new location for a time of corporate prayer asking God to bring folks into the Kingdom through Grace Reformed Fellowship. May He receive glory in all things. Pray that Jesus Christ would be lifted up and that He will draw all people to Himself (John 12;31).
The Character of Faith Pt. 2
James 2:14-26 (ESV)
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,  and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?  So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.  You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!  Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?  You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;  and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”— and he was called a friend of God.  You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.  And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?  For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
This genuine saving faith that is centered in and has laid hold of Christ, as we learned last week, is a faith that will show itself in obedience to Christ.
Many have claimed that these verses in James’ letter contradict what Paul taught in his writings. Even the great reformer, Martin Luther struggled with this epistle. So, before we begin it’s vital to the understanding of these verses to realize a couple of things. Read More