Archive for preaching

Colossians 1 Devotional

Posted in Bible Study, Prayer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 2010/07/12 by NY4JB

I was asked to lead our praise band in a devotional before our rehearsal last week so here it is.  Feel free to pass it on or use it in any way you see fit…

Heavenly Father,
We are thankful that you have chosen to allow us to worship you, offering songs of praise. We thank you for the talents and skills you have given each of us and the opportunity to use them to glorify your name. As we go to your word tonight we ask that you let us hear your voice. Please don’t let the ink, the paper or the voice of a mere man reading your word become an obstacle or distraction but let your voice be heard by all. Lord you tell us in Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God…” yet as musicians we are not in the habit of being still so tonight we want to stop and listen expectantly for your voice as we prepare our hearts to receive you.
Amen

At this time, please close your eyes and pause in silent worship for about two minutes (Note: I used a timer so that I wouldn’t have to watch the clock)

Paul an apostle of
Christ Jesus by
The will of God and
Timothy our brother

To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

(Colossians 1 ESV)

When asked to lead this devotional I knew the first thing to be done was to choose what we would study. The temptation is to pick a topic and then research Bible verses to support the topic. Of course the danger there is that we are then starting with our own wisdom rather than God’s word and it is fairly easy to find Bible quotes to support just about any opinion even if it’s not Biblically based. So I prayed about how to approach this and found my answer was to cast lots as was done throughout the Bible such as in Leviticus 16:8 “And Aaron shall cast lots …

Using the random number generator in excel to get a number between 1 and 66, yielded 51 as the book of the Bible that we should study. Colossians is the 51st book, since it has 4 chapters I then had excel give me a number between 1 and 4. So by the modern equivalent of casting lots it was determined that we should study Colossians 1. The same method was used to determine our focus for tonight is to be on verse 10, “so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

This verse can be applied to the various levels of the church, starting with the individual believer; then up to the group level such as the worship team, in our case a praise band; the leadership of a local congregation, continuing up to the local church entity and finally the universal church, which, as you know, is the collection of all Christian churches.

So how are we supposed to walk? Ephesians 4:1 tells us to “…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, ”. We understand that sometimes small children will do things they are not supposed to do but as a child grows we expect more from them and of course adults don’t act like children. The same applies to our spiritual lives, with new believers being like small children needing help and support from the mature believers. The mature believer is then held to a higher standard and so on up through the levels with teachers, leadership and the local church itself each being held to increasingly higher standards.

James 3:1
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

Applying this to us, as a praise band, we see that not only must our personal walk be right but also as a group. So how is a group of Christians to act? Jesus tells us in John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” So then what is Christian love? 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

So with those guidelines about our walk, we move on to the idea of “bearing fruit in every good work.” Initially I thought the word ‘fruit’ meant just new believers but as I searched the scriptures I found there is more to this word fruit. Here are a few of the verses I found.

Hebrews 13:15
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

So praise is also fruit.

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Here we again find Christian love associated with fruit.

Philippians 1:9-11
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

And yet another type of fruit, “the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ

1 Corinthians 10:31
…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

In the end, everything we do is the fruit we bear.

Lord, our prayer for El Shaddai Christian Church tonight is that we may be filled with the knowledge of your will, in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

(All Bible quotes are from the English Standard Version.)

My Grace is Sufficient

Posted in Bible Study, faith, Observations, Prayer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 2010/03/22 by NY4JB

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (English Standard Version)
7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I am troubled by those who think that prayer heals anything and everything. While it’s true that prayer is extremely powerful, when we ask for something that is not in God’s will, the answer will be no. It is clear from the above scripture that even the Apostle Paul struggled with matters of the flesh and was denied. God clearly does not view our physical pains in the same way that we do and will at times allow us to suffer, just as a parent must allow a child to experience disappointment, in order that we might grow in the spirit.

In fact, from God’s perspective even physical death is just a calling home of one of his children (assuming the child is ‘saved’) yet from a human point of view it is a sad loss even when the person has lived a long, full life. I believe the following scripture is often misinterpreted as meaning that Jesus was mourning the death of his friend Lazarus but I believe “Jesus wept “ and was “greatly troubled” because of the lack of faith of his friends and followers. Jesus would not be troubled in the human sense because a saved man had died, knowing that they would soon be together again in Heaven.

John 11:32-35 (English Standard Version)
32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept.

Caution must be exercised here not to confuse human mourning with the spiritual truth, for as humans we will grieve the loss of a friend or family member from our earthly life.  It is a very real loss and as long as we live in this world we will feel grief for those who go on ahead of us. We will even feel sorrow at the loss of friends or times that are no longer at hand as a parent is both excited to see a child grow up and head out on their own, while missing the child’s presence in their own home.

So, we should pray for those who have needs but we should understand that we have no knowledge of God’s plan and he may answer a prayer with “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Riot or Revival

Posted in Observations with tags , , , , , on 2009/03/22 by NY4JB

Michael Easley quoting one of his professors, “ ‘…wherever Paul went either a revival or a riot broke out, when I go places they serve tea.’  The same can be said of Jesus.”  That is, Jesus caused strong reactions, not the serving of tea.

Wow, that’s something to think about.  I’ve heard some boring sermons where it was a struggle to stay awake, but on the other hand I’ve heard some that caused a lot of excitement but had no point; you know the type, on the drive home you’re saying “what was that all about?”  I do know that when Jesus comes up in conversation opinions are rarely neutral, sometimes the conversation comes to an abrupt halt, other times there are strong opinions and there are even people who never talk to you again.  I’d love to hear some thoughts from others…

Job 2:1-6

Posted in Bible Study with tags , , , , , , , , , on 2009/01/21 by NY4JB

Job 2:1-6 (English Standard Version)
1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 3 And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” 4 Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. 5 But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” 6 And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”

Chapter two begins very much like chapter one.  The sons of God, which we assume to be the angels of God’s court, are gathered before God.  Satan presumably sneaks in and God calls him out again and again turns the focus to Job.  In chapter one Job had a very bad day, as bad as anyone can imagine, his sons, daughters and servants are killed; livestock and possessions have been stolen or burned up; he is left only with his wife, house and a few servants.  This would be like getting a phone call telling you that all of your family has been killed then finding that your bank account has been emptied and your car has been stolen, all in one day.  Everywhere you turn you find you are ruined so what can you do but turn to the one who is always the same and that’s what Job does; he turns to God and worships.  Of course, this is easy to say when all is well but what would we really do in this situation?

How many of us would just lose it and start screaming or sobbing or drinking and casting blame on everyone and everything, including God.  Yet of Job God says, “He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.”

Still Satan is not going to admit defeat; maybe he’s thinking that Job didn’t really care about his family or all those things, he’s just glad to have escaped with his own skin.  On the other hand, even if Satan knows he is defeated, that God is right and Job will never curse God, Satan still seizes the opportunity to cause Job more pain.  God doesn’t argue the point but hands Job over to Satan to be tested further setting only one limit, spare his life.  Now this restriction is important to the test, since dead men can not curse God and even if God raised him from the dead that would interfere with the test. 

So that’s it, do your worst just don’t kill him; what faith God has in Job.  God already knows the outcome but that doesn’t help poor Job and at this point his bad day is about to get worse and this is just the beginning of the test.

Heavenly Father,
Without doubt we would fail a test as great as Job went through, for as you say there is none like Job on earth.  We are grateful that in your great mercy you have sent your son, Jesus Christ, to be our Lord and Saviour for without him there would be no hope for us.  Please open our hearts to receive the wisdom in this book that we may grow more like Jesus in our ways and to always worship you as our God.  This we ask in the great name of Jesus’
Amen

John MacArthur On Alcohol

Posted in Bible Study with tags , , , , , on 2009/01/19 by NY4JB

I’m listening to John MacArthur talk about drinking and if it is allowed Biblically.  Very interesting and you can download the mp3s free at http://www.gty.org/Products/AudioSeries/72

As somebody who, up until recently, would have defended drinking I need to give my testimony on this.  Up until about five years ago I drank socially and only occasionally to excess, then I found out that there was diabetes on both sides of my family.  I started to cut back and also started to notice that my gut would hurt when I had a drink so I stopped completely.  Notice that I only noticed the pain when I started to cut back as it would go away if I kept drinking but it was probably there all along.

Now, MacArthur mentioned the excuse that, if everyone else is drinking you have to just to fit in.  He calls it as he sees it, that’s no excuse at all, yet that is the way I felt after I stopped.  I was uncomfortable and avoided going out and this is the part of my testimony that may be helpful to somebody going through that stage.  I am now perfectly comfortable in a setting where the bulk of the people are drinking and I am not.  I order a coke or a sweet tea and nobody blinks an eye, they really don’t care the peer pressure I thought was there was all in my mind.  So if you are holding on to that as an excuse for having a beer with the boys, give it up, they won’t even notice if you order a coke.  Even if they do, you’re not a teenager who needs to defend yourself just say that’s what you want to have.

Now, here’s the other side of the coin for those who are not fully mature adults (anyone who has not lived on there own for at least five years – college doesn’t count as living on your own), teenagers and college kids are still impressionable and for them peer pressure is real.  This is not an excuse for them to drink but a reality they face and if the adult figures in their lives drink they are very likely to also. 

I recommend listening to the MacArthur series but if you must know the Biblical legality of drinking.
– Getting drunk is outright prohibited
– Strong drink, which includes modern wine, is prohibited (they mixed it with water)
– Drinking wine when it is the only thing available is allowable but caution must be used
– Those of a higher spiritual calling are prohibited from drinking
– Any action that might cause another to stumble is prohibited (parents this is you, your children heed the example you set much more than the words you say)
– If you drink it is by choice not mandate and if your conscience is clear than it is allowed but may not be the best choice

I’m trying to compress several sermons into a few bullet points so please listen to the source.

Heavenly Father,
You are wise beyond human understanding and have provided for us all we need.  Help us to understand all that is available to us and to make wise choices that honor your name.  In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen

In These Last Days . . .

Posted in faith with tags , , on 2008/11/18 by NY4JB

I have a problem with end-time preaching; I often hear that the end is coming soon and how the Bible predicts it because of this or that, but every generation has thought that they would be the last generation.  It’s human arrogance to think we are of some special generation.  While I have no doubt that life on Earth will end at some point, after all nothing in our universe lasts forever, it is not likely to end during my lifetime.  However unlikely, we should still be prepared at all times to be judged because we don’t know when we will die.

Hebrews 9:27 “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment…”

When you left your house this morning, did you lock your door?  I think I did but I have come home on several occasions finding that I had forgotten to lock my door, but nothing bad had happened.  Nobody came in and robbed me; even though they could have just walked in and taken anything they wanted.  Yet when I found the door unlocked I thought, ‘I got lucky this time; I need to be more careful.’  Why?  Because I know that I would have nobody but myself to blame if it did happen and that if I left the door unlocked all of the time eventually it would happen.  None of us lives forever and few choose the time of their passing.  Who would say, “Today is my last day; I must settle my debts so I may die with a clear conscience.”  There are a few who know they are dying and have the chance to make plans but most don’t have that opportunity.

1 Thessalonians 5:2 “For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”

So what’s my problem with end-time preaching, now that I have argued myself into a corner?  The problem is that it raises an unnecessary question/debate, “are we the last generation?”  And people tend to get off-point and argue from their feelings and opinion when even the Bible warns about trying to predict this. 

Matthew 24:23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.

We won’t know when Christ is returning until it’s too late but as Christians we do know without any doubt that each of us will die and face judgment and that should be enough information to keep us on course and encourage us to evangelize our unsaved neighbors.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.