September 6, 2015
Pray Continually 1 Thessalonians 5:12-18
How can we get life under control? We can't! We can't control nature. We can't control the stock market. We can't control gasoline prices. We can't control what other people do.
So answering this question begins with accepting the fact that no matter how well you invest, no matter how many of the right foods you eat and how many of the right exercises you do, no matter how much you study, no matter who you get to know, you can't control life.
The market can collapse; the transmission will go out; someone you trusted will let you down; a tsunami will strike. You can't control it.
The real question to ask is: How can I keep myself under control in a life that's out of my control?
The answer can be found in Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians. They were people who were doing a lot of things right, but they still couldn't control everything around them. They still needed to hear this, and I suspect that there are a lot of us here this morning who need to hear this as well:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us to Rejoice always, pray continually and to give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
Rejoice, pray continually, give thanks.
#1 and #3 are pretty easy to figure out. So, the question I really want to ask this morning is What can we do to make prayer a constant in our lives or can we?
Because once we figure that out the rest should fall into place.
We're looking at one of the shortest verses in the Bible. In English, the shortest verse is: John 11:35 Jesus wept. (16 letters in Greek)
In the original language, though, the shortest is actually
I Thessalonians 5:16 Rejoice always (14 letters in the Greek)
And right behind them is I Thessalonians 5:17 Pray continually with a whopping 22 letters in the original Greek.
Different Bible translations have it worded a little differently, but the meaning is the same: NIV “ pray continually
RSV “ pray constantly
KJV“ pray without ceasing
The Message “ pray all the time
Amplified version “ Be unceasing in prayer
NLT “ keep on praying
CEV“ never stop praying
Pray continually So what does it mean?
First, I don't think that Paul is commanding them to do something he didn't expected them to do. He didn't mean that people who follow Jesus are people who are constantly bumping into things, unable to converse with other people or to hold a job because all they ever do is walk around, head bowed That's not the description of a Christian that's a description of someone texting! (walking around, head bowed bumping into things)
In 1 Thessalonians 1:3 Paul said about himself: We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Then in Romans 1:9-10 he says: God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times
Paul says he prayed continually and constantly and still he was a very busy man. He managed to be used by God to write over a dozen letters that make up almost half of the NT.
At the same time, he took at least 3 extended missionary trips, established churches, trained leaders, and led as many people to Christ as he could reach. Still, in the middle of all that, he describes his prayer life as continual and constant.
So, praying continually doesn't mean going off into the desert somewhere and just spending all our time praying. It has to be something else.
1. It starts with a longing for God
Making prayer a constant begins with a genuine desire to be with God.
I remember when Marla and I were dating we'd go out on a date and talk for a couple hours, and then, I'd go back to my apar'ent and she would go to hers, and then I'd call that girl I had just spent hours with to talk to her, again, and to say goodnight again. Why? I had a longing in my heart for her. I was in love! 32 years later, I still like to be around her!
I don't see how anyone who is serious about loving God and making Him first in their life can accomplish praying continually if they don't delight in the Lord.
We can talk about ways to pray, what to pray, how to pray, how to pray when you don't feel like it, how to fast and pray but it won't do a stitch of good unless we desire a genuine, personal relationship with God.
Our relationship with God will demonstrate itself in a healthy prayer life. It starts with a longing for God.
2. Next it's prompted by realizing our dependence on God
What did Jonah, do while he was in the belly of the whale? He prayed! Go home and read Jonah chapter 2. It's Jonah's prayer from inside the whale. Prayer seems to be where we turn to when we can't turn anywhere else.
Finish the quote:
As long as there are tests, there will be [prayer in schools].
There are no atheists [in foxholes]
You see when we're faced with situations in life that knock us to our knees, we turn to God. Wouldn't it be great if we could just realize our dependence on God without having to face tragedies?
If we could just look into the spiritual realm “ if we could just see what forces of evil surround us and are constantly at work to make us fall “ we'd be a lot quicker to realize how much we need God's help on a regular basis. We'd be a lot more careful to be plugged into His power and protection.
This is a true story A missionary named Herbert Jackson told how he was given a car that wouldn't start without a push. It took some getting used to, but he figured out how to cope. He went to the school near his home, got permission to take some kids out of class, and had them push his car off. As he made his rounds, he'd either leave the engine running or park on a hill.
For 2 years, he used the same way of coping with the car that had to have a push start. Bad health forced the Jackson family to leave, and a new missionary came to take his place. Herbert began to proudly explain to the new guy his way of getting the car started. As he spoke, the new guy was looking under the hood.
Before the explanation was complete, the new missionary interrupted, and said: I believe the only trouble is this loose cable." He gave the cable a twist, stepped into the car, turned the key, and immediately the engine turned over.
The power was there all the time. Only a loose connection had kept Jackson from putting it to work.
That's the way a lot of Christians are living “ they have a loose connection, and rather than address it, they make needless hassle the routine. Oh, what peace we often forfeit. Oh, what needless pain we bear all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!
We need to realize our dependence on God.
It's easy to say we don't have time to pray constantly - Really? We eat, don't we? Yeah, but we have to do that to live! We breathe, don't we? Yeah, but we have to do that to live. That's true. Try to stop either of those things and you'll soon realize how something like breathing deserves a prominent place in your day!
What if you were to suddenly understand that just as surely as you have to eat and breathe to live, you have to be in continual pray not to die spiritually?
Dwight D. Eisenhower said: Personal prayer, it seems to me, is one of the simplest necessities of life, as basic to the individual as sunshine, food and water- and at times, of course, more so.
Have we really come to understand the place that prayer deserves in our thinking? Only if we're praying continually.
Luis Palau said: You can read all the manuals on prayer and listen to other people pray, but until you begin to pray yourself you will never understand prayer. It's like riding a bicycle or swimming: You learn by doing.
We won't be a people who understand prayer and the place it deserves until we've learned it by doing.
I started this sermon by saying that we will never get life under control “ but today, you can give Jesus control of your life.
August 30, 2015
Friendship Ecc. 4:9-4:10 Phil. 2:3- 4 and 19- 21
At a Special Olympics race one boy quickly took the lead. As he approached the final turn he looked back and saw that his best friend had fallen and hurt himself on the track.
He stopped and looked at the finish line. Then he looked back at his friend. People were cheering, "Run, run!" But he didn't. He went back and got his friend, helped him up, brushed off the cinders. And hand in hand, they crossed the finish line dead last.
But as they did, the people cheered, because there are some things more important than finishing first.
Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 4:9 - 10, "Two are better than one... If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!"
We all fall or get knocked down at times, don't we? And how wonderful it is when we have a friend who cares enough to lift us up, dust us off, and help us continue on.
In one of the verses we just read Paul says, "I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you."
Now Paul is a missionary, and sometimes missionaries write appeal letters. So it would have been logical for Paul to have written a letter saying, "I'm in prison here at Rome, and the conditions are really bad. I need help, so please take up a special offering and send it to me quickly."
But Paul doesn't do that. Instead, he is concerned about them. So he is sending Timothy to find out how things are going. And he wants so much for the news to be good.
Then in Philippians 2, he writes, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."
In other words, Paul is telling them to "be genuinely concerned about others."
Do you ever ask yourself on Sunday morning, "Why am I going to church? Am I going because I feel I owe a debt to God, so I'm trying to pay it back? Or because I'm carrying a heavy burden that I hope will be lifted? Or because I like the music and the fellowship and even the preaching? Why am I going?"
Why should we go? Well, if we are genuinely interested in others, the church becomes a training ground where we learn how to help one another.
So when you come to church, be on the lookout. Maybe you're sitting near a visitor. Introduce yourself and tell them, "I'm glad you came." And let them know that if we can help them in any way to grow in their faith, that's why we're here.
Or when you listen to the prayer requests, and hear of someone who is having a difficult time write them a note and let them know that you'll be praying for them.
Or if someone you know is struggling with a heavy burden of grief or loss, take time to listen to them. Just let them know that you care.
Now I realize that many of you are already doing that, and I praise God for that. Isn't it refreshing to know that we can care about each other without hidden agendas. That we can care about each other just because they are our Christian brother, or sister?
Things happen when you're genuinely concerned about others.
First of all, you begin to forget your own problems. We seldom realize that. We think that when I'm having trouble, I need to do something for me, something extravagant, or indulgent. But that's not the answer.
The quickest way to get rid of our troubles is to become involved in helping someone else.
The prophet Isaiah knew that a long time ago. Isaiah 58:10 says, "If you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
Secondly, when you're genuinely concerned about others, you'll find that when you're in trouble, others will be there for you.
So we need to cultivate a genuine interest in others.
Now the second lesson is that we need to offer sincere encouragement to others. In vs. 20, Paul says, "I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare."
Paul is still talking about Timothy. Paul had mentored Timothy, and watched Him grow in his faith. Now Timothy is an adult and has a ministry of his own. Paul looks at him and says, "I don't know anybody like Timothy."
Now we have different levels of friendship. Most are casual friendships. We know each other's names, and we greet each other, "How are you?" "I'm fine. How are you?" "I'm fine, thank you."
Neither of us may actually be fine, but we don't feel like unloading on each other, so we answer, "I'm fine." That's a casual friendship.
Some are close friendships, where we enjoy going out and spending time with each other, doing things together. It's a deeper relationship, and we share things that we wouldn't normally share with others.
But there are a few "same soul" friendships where you're so close to each other that you almost think alike, and you're motivated by the same things.
That's a special blessing, because you can be who you are. (Warts and all) You don't have to pretend. You're kindred spirits, and there's a bond between you.
Paul writes that Timothy is a "same soul" friend. Then in vs. 21, he says, "For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ."
I think Paul is presenting a contrast. He is saying, "Most everybody else looks out for his own interests, but Timothy isn't like everybody else. He's special, and he's interested in you."
We need friends like that. And we need to be a friend like that someone who will pick them up when they fall down, and brush them off, and hold their hand, and go on with them toward the finish line.
A friendship that is really a friendship isn't a selfish or smothering kind of friendship.
There may be times when our friends are not able to help us not able to be there for us. In 2 Timothy 4, Paul is imprisoned again and the circumstances are very different this time. His friends aren't there.
I don't know where they are. Maybe they're too far away to get to him. Maybe they're in prison themselves, or dead. Or maybe they just got tired of coming to the prison. Paul's been in prison a lot.
So Paul writes these words in verse 16, "At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it."
Your best friend, the friend of friends, is Jesus. He will never leave you, nor forsake you. And when you fall, He'll pick you up, dust you off, and walk with you hand in hand all the way to the finish line.
This morning, if you don't know Him as your friend, if He is not your Lord and Savior, then we extend His invitation. And He stands ready to meet every need in your life, forgive your sins, and give you the promise of everlasting life.
Whose Call Will You Answer? Philippians 1:21-24 Matthew 16:24-25
In 1903, Jack London published a book called The Call of the Wild.
In the book, a dog named Buck is stolen from a ranch in the Santa Clara Valley in California. He is taken to Yukon, Canada to pull a sled during the gold rush.
While in the Yukon he begins to revert to a wild state -- by the end of the book, he's no longer the calm, domesticated dog he was in California but becomes the leader of a wolf pack in the Yukon, fully wild.
Buck was originally a domesticated pet -- fully content with his place in life. He belonged to his master, and he was OK with that.
When he was stolen, he was beaten and mistreated -- sometimes starved, His life became chaotic. The only rules that applied to his life now were hurt or be hurt and never disobey the humans. His main focus shifted from obeying his master to looking out for himself.
About two-thirds of the way through the book, Buck is rescued by a man named Thornton. Thornton loved Buck, and treated him well. Buck no longer had to worry about protecting himself -- he had a good, loving master again!
But the call of the wild was too strong. Buck made friends with a wild wolf, and began spending more and more time with the wolf pack. One day Buck returned to discover Thornton his master had been killed by Indians.
Buck the dog, killed the Indians, and ran off to join the wolf pack, completely removing any last traces of civilization in his life.
Buck's life is more than just a story about a dog “ in many ways it's a parallel to our own lives. Like Buck, we are thrown into a world of violence and heartache, and it often feels like our master is far away, never to be seen or heard from again.
But then something changes -- We get saved, we rest in the love and peace of our Savior -- but the call of the world is strong. What makes us different than Buck is that when our Master was killed, He came back!
That means the choice becomes ours -- do we answer the call of our Savior, or the call of the world?
The call of the world says to SURVIVE. Protect yourself first, and live at all costs. Kill or be killed. Everything we do requires a fight of some sort -- fighting for food, or money, or respect, or fame.
Fighting to continue living the quality of life that we feel we are owed. The call of the world promises self-glorification, but at the cost of a life-long, never-ending struggle.
The call of our Savior, on the other hand, says the exact opposite. Paul says in Philippians 1:21-24
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
Here, Paul is telling the members of the church at Philippi that even though he would much rather be in Heaven (and who wouldn't?), he is more concerned with their lives than his own.
Already, this is different than the call of the world -- instead of looking out for Number One, he's concerned with the welfare of everyone around him. He is truly loving his neighbor.
One way to think of this is that Paul was dying to himself. His own concerns became much less important than those of the people he cared about. In fact, the Bible says repeatedly that we must all die to ourselves, in order to live for Jesus.
In Matthew 16:24-25 Jesus says, Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their lifewill lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.'
Galatians 2:20 puts it like this: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
So what does this all mean? It means that the call of our Savior is turning the call of the world upside down. We no longer need to concentrate on our own needs and desires, but can spend that energy working for the betterment of God's Kingdom.
The call of the world says to get revenge. If someone does something to hurt you, you need to hurt them back before they hurt you again. If you do it right, you'll hurt them to the point where they will never want to or even be able to hurt you again.
But, the call of our Savior goes completely opposite the call of the world. Instead of promising revenge, the Bible says never to take revenge. Never.
Romans 12:19-21, Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: It is mine to avenge; I will repay,says the Lord. On the contrary:
If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
That is what Buck the dog failed to do. He allowed revenge on the Indians to take over his life, giving in completely to the call of the world.
This is not a new problem, though -- even Paul dealt with this issue. Paul, the same man who wrote much of the New Testament, struggled with the desire to go back, to answer the call of the world.
He says so in the book of Romans, For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do”this I keep on doing.
Paul was saying that even though he knew that sin was wrong, he couldn't help doing it anyway! The book of Proverbs, chapter 26 verse 11 puts it a different way: As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.
This sounds like Buck wanting to go back into the forest with the wolves, even though he finally found a loving master. He finally had a good life, but simply could not stop himself from going back to his old life.
So what are we supposed to do, then? If even Paul struggled with sinning when he didn't want to; what hope is there for us?
Psalms 39:7 says, And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.
Because our hope is in Jesus, we don't have to worry about being wild -- our Master died 2000 years ago on the cross; but He came back three days later, and still lives today! That is where our hope lies -- our Master defeated death.
We all hear the call of the world and the call of our Savior. It's up to us to decide how much we listen, and how much attention we pay to each call.
August 2, 2015
Humble Ambition Mark 9:30-9:37
Ambition is one of the driving forces in our lives.
It propels us to excel in our jobs. It pushes us to reach our goals. It can give us a reason for living. Ambition is one of the tools that the world uses to measure success.
Ambition is usually a good thing but for a Christian it isn't the best way to measure success.
We mistakenly believe that if God receives glory for what we do, then it should be glorious for us also. But a quick look at some of God's faithful servants from the Bible, and we can see that their situations were not always easy or glamorous. For example:
- Noah built.
- Abraham moved.
- Moses led.
- Rahab protected.
- David conquered.
- Nehemiah rebuilt.
- Ruth stayed. Daniel Prayed
- Jeremiah preached.
- The poor widow gave.
- The Apostles went.
- The early church endured.
Ordinary people did extraordinary things and even though they may have thought their actions were insignificant at the time, the Lord through his word, has allowed us the opportunity to see the role these faithful people played in the greatest story ever told.
I recently read a story about a couple of school kids. One had gotten into some trouble and was going to have to walk laps at recess and wasn't taking the news very well.
Another student, who wasn't in trouble, stepped in to offer encouragement, He offered to walk laps with the kid who was in trouble so he wouldn't have to walk alone. So side by side they completed the laps.
The teacher remarked what a wonderful thing he had just done, and the student shrugged and replied, It's no big deal. It's what we're supposed to do.
Can you image a world if everyone had the same attitude? Can you imagine a church if everyone had that attitude? It's those Kingdom-minded thinkers who change the world.
Those who love, go the extra mile, and live righteously, not out of a sense of obligation, not because they're trying to earn their salvation, not to be seen by others, but because that's what they're supposed to do.
The Lord might also call us to do simple, humble things that show compassion toward other people and which display God's character. These deeds are not done for personal gain. They are done out of an outflow of God's love in us and for His glory.
Jesus argued that the way to be successful or get ahead in the spiritual world is to become like a child. In Jesus' time, women and children were seen as little more than property.
Children were considered useless until they were old enough to help with the work.
The greatest people in God's kingdom are not the rich and the powerful, but the poor and the helpless; not the ones with the most servants, but those who serve the most. Jesus argued that if we help those who are lowly, poor, or oppressed, we will be successful from a heavenly point of view.
The disciples didn't realize this. They were still thinking of success in worldly terms. They were concerned with using earthly ambition to get ahead in heaven.
Jesus knew that this was what the disciples were talking about, even though they did not answer the question He asked them, What were you arguing about on the road?
You see, Jesus knows everything about us-what we think, what we feel, what our thoughts are... He knew what their problem was and he also had the solution. The disciples tried to hide their discussion, but you can't hide anything from God.
So instead of asking how they could better understand and fulfill Jesus' mission, their main concern was finding out how each of them could become the greatest.
The disciples' attitude was one that Jesus had to address. We have to do the same. We like the disciples need to learn that the true heavenly power that Jesus wants from us is in service to others.
It can be difficult for us to let go of our desire to succeed in earthly ways. It is part of our human nature for us to be in control. We want to be independent. We want to be in control of our lives and our goals, and this includes the desire to succeed.
We need to let go and let God control our destiny and successes if we want to be first in His eyes. We need to let go of our desire to get ahead and replace it with a desire to serve others, especially the less fortunate.
Jesus constantly challenges us to be a servant, to think of others instead of ourselves. If we feel unhappy and unfulfilled in our lives, perhaps it is time to take a long hard look at our lives. We have to ask ourselves if we are I-centered or others-centered.
The road to happiness is the road of service. The way to greatness is not possible without a servant heart, a servant hand, a humble heart and a humble hand.
Jesus himself is a good example of the greatness of service and humility. He came to earth as a servant. He humbled himself to the point of death on a cross, and thereby became highly exalted by God.
Some of us might think that serving someone is beneath us or that somehow the act of serving others diminishes us. On the contrary, those who serve the most are the greatest people on earth”and in heaven.
Jesus asks us to embrace those who are in need. We are to show concern for the less fortunate.
Those who would be first must be last. This is the opposite of our ambitious ways, but we have to admit that Jesus was right. Our ambitions are compulsive, suspicious, obsessive, jealous, resentful and full of revenge.
The only ambition that truly gives life is the ambition to serve others. It means relying on God's strength instead of our own. As God said to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
The image of God is upon all of us. If we want to be successful in God's eyes, we must show the image of a serving, humble God.
Faith is not about a church doctrine or power or privilege. It is about service to others service to the point of sacrifice. As individuals we need to serve the church so that together the church can serve the world.
Each and every day we will have the opportunity to show how Christ's love can bring healing to our hurting world. The only way we can do this clearly is with humility. Jesus taught us this when he set the little child among the disciples and basically said if you are serving this kid you're serving me.
And we are to do so humbly not seeking attention, not for personal gain, but because it's God's plan for us to help others, to care for others, to lift up those who have fallen and to bring them to the Savior.
At the beginning of this sermon I said ambition is usually a good thing and it is as long as we use our ambition to serve and not to promote ourselves.
July 26, 2015
The Heart of Christianity 1Peter 1:3 - 8
When it comes to the subject of Christianity there is no shortage of debate. When discussing the Bible you will hear many different views and opinions. There are some subjects that are very difficult to understand.
But when it comes to what really matters...when it comes to the fundamentals of the faith, they are plain, clear and simple to understand!
In verse 8 we read these words: Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him
Peter saw something in these believers. He saw that they possessed a love for the Savior who they had not seen in the flesh. Peter had walked and talked with the Lord. He had physically touched him But these early Christians had only seen Jesus with eyes of faith.
But their faith was so real that they possessed the same love as those who had spent time with Jesus while He was present upon the Earth. Though we have yet to see Christ with our physical eyes... we have seen Him! We have seen Him though the preaching of the Gospel.
When Jesus was present upon the Earth there were multitudes who saw Him. But they didn't see Him for Who He was! John 1:11 tells us that "He came unto His own and His own received Him not".
We have seen Jesus because God has shown Him to us! - 2 Corinthians 4:6 says: For God, who said, Let light shine out of darkness,made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ.
The people that we read about in the Bible did not know Jesus the way that we do. They did not have all of the information that we have.
1) The Wise Men and the Shepherds got a glimpse of Christ as a babe.
2) The scribes in the Temple spent a brief amount of time with Him as a young child.
3) Peter's mother in law got to see Him shortly when He healed her.
4) Lazarus, Mary and Martha were close and special to Jesus but they did not see it all.
5) The deaf, the dumb, the blind, the lame, the demon possessed and the lepers saw certain aspects of His ministry.
There are many accounts in the scriptures that describe the great miracles that Jesus performed in people's lives. But all of those people only had brief encounters with Jesus.
Even the Apostles didn't see everything that we have seen, Consider: There were 3 occasions where Peter, James and John saw things that the other disciples did not see 1. Jesus raising Jairus' daughter from the dead. 2. The transfiguration 3. The prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.
When Jesus appeared after His resurrection Thomas missed out on that first appearance completely. Through the Gospels we have as much information (if not more) than the Apostles possessed as these things took place. We are privileged to see things that even the closest of Jesus' followers did not see.
And it is through the Word of God that Christ has been revealed to us. It is because of the scriptures that we can know Him. And because we know Him, we love Him!!
The Apostle John said that - "We love him, because he first loved us."(1 John 4:19)
It is because what we see in the bible that we see His love for us. Through the Word of God we are told that: He was born of a virgin, Lived a sinless life, Taught with authority, Performed countless miracles, Went to the cross, Laid down His life, Paid the ultimate sacrifice, Rose from the grave on the 3rd day!!
He defeated Sin, Satan, Death, Hell and The Grave. After this He then ascended to Heaven, Sat down at the right hand of the Father.
1. He has provided atonement for our sins.
2. He is making intercession on our behalf at this very moment.
3. He has forgiven our sins, Saved our souls, Changed our lives,
4. Provided eternal life
5. and He has promised to come again to receive us.
Because of the scriptures we know that He did all of this for us!! Because of the scriptures we have seen Him. Because of the scriptures we know Him and because we know Him ...we love Him.
Because of what He has done for us ...we love Him. Because of our personal relationship with Him...We love Him!!! That my friend is the heart of Christianity!
That is why Peter could proclaim that even though the early Christians had not seen Him...they loved Him! That is why we can declare that though we have not seen Him...We too love Him.
This brings us to the second aspect of Christianity that I would like to consider:
Our Faith In Christ - Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him
The Christian life is a life of faith. Just think for a moment about the things that a Christian believes:
1. The Christian believes that we were created by a God that we have never seen with our eyes.
2. We believe that we were born in sin and destined for an eternity of torment in a place we have never seen.
3. We believe that this God that we have never seen sent His Son that we have never seen to save us from the torture of the place that we have never seen.
4. The Christian believes that God took on human flesh and was born of a virgin in a stable almost 2,000 years ago.
5. We believe that this child grew up and lived a perfect life.
6. We believe that He: gave blind their sight, made the deaf to hear, healed the sick & the lame, cast demons from possessed people.
7. We believe that He raised the dead. We believe that He rose from the grave after physically being dead for 3 days.
8. We believe that this same Jesus ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God.
9. We believe through the sacrifice of this Son of God who we have never seen, we can be saved from the torture of the place that we have never seen and spend eternity in a Heaven that we have never seen.
10. We also believe that along with The Father we have never seen and The Son we have never seen, that there is a third entity called the Holy Spirit (who we have never seen) who abides within us and guides us through this life.
It is no wonder people think that we're crazy!
But we are not... We do believe these things. And we have confidence that these things are true. And we believe this THROUGH FAITH!
But even this faith that we possess is a gift from Almighty God!
1. Because of our faith in Christ we are saved from our sins.
2. Because of our faith in Christ we have assurance of our deliverance from hell.
3. Because of our faith in Christ we have hope in eternal life.
4. Because of our faith in Christ we look forward to a home in Heaven.
5. And because of all of these things that our faith in Christ brings we have great joy through Christ!