Sunday, May 31, 2020

What to look for below…Today’s video presentation is centred on God’s love based on the scripture passage from the Bible – 1 John 4:7-12. It begins with worship songs followed by the video message, a closing prayer and my sermon manuscript. Today is also Pentecost Sunday where we remember the coming of the Holy Spirit as promised by Jesus and the birth of the Church or Bride of Christ. Let us give thanks for the presence, the power and the gifts of the Holy Spirit that will keep us focused on Jesus until He returns! Hallelujah!

Visit Chris Tomlin music at https://www.christomlin.com/
Visit the Jesus Culture website at https://jesusculture.com/
Video Message “The Duty of Every Christian”

To hear the closing prayer below please click the arrow…

Sermon Manuscript: The Duty of Every Christian

Scriptures used in this manuscript are from New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

What was your first introduction to Christianity? If you didn’t grow up in a Christian church, I am assuming your first exposure to Christianity most likely happened through a Christian who invited you to a church service, youth group event, children’s program or some children’s camp sponsored by a church. Am I right?

I am also assuming that your decision to go was influenced by the person who invited you because they showed some genuine care and love for you.

Evangelist D.L. Moody wrote: Show me a church where there is love, and I will show you a church that is a power in the community. In Chicago, a few years ago a little boy attended a Sunday school I know of. When his parents moved to another part of the city the little fellow still attended the same Sunday school, although it meant a long, tiresome walk each way. A friend asked him why he went so far and told him that there were plenty of others just as good nearer his home.

“They may be as good for others, but not for me,” was his reply.

“Why not?” she asked.

“Because they love a fellow over there,” he replied.

How easy it is to reach people through love. Those who are successful in showing love will be successful in winning people to Christ. Source: Life and Labours of Dwight. L. Moody, Henry Davenport Northrop.

The apostle John in his first letter to the churches is making a bold pronouncement that the duty of every believer in Christ is to “love one another.” Why is it so important for believers to love one another?

The apostle John writes in 1 John 4:7-12 that love among children of God is a primary duty because of three reasons. Can you find these reasons as you read this passage below?

1 John 4:7-12, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

Let’s look at the three reasons believers need to do their duty in “loving one another.” I have received the help of Theologian John Stott to formulate these three reasons.

Three Reasons Christians need to Love One Another

1. God is love

The first reason children of God need to love one another is because God is love. We find this support in verse 7b, “for love comes from God;” and verses 8 and 16b, “God is love.” God is the author of love and His very nature is love which means everything He says, does, sees, commands, creates is done in love. When God disciplines His children that too He does in love. John Stott writes, “Far from condoning sin, his love has found a way to expose it without destroying the sinner, but rather saving him.”

Therefore, if God is love and love comes from Him then it only makes sense that His children must also resemble His character of love. This is what the apostle John is concluding as well. In fact, he takes a direct shot at false teachers who did not relate to God as a loving God in verse 8, “Whoever does not love does not know God.”

Love needs to define us as believers just as much as righteousness defines us. If we are sour pusses in the pews than we are no longer being proper representatives of God. If we fail to love our brothers and sisters in Jesus, then we are living out of our old nature which is at enmity with God.

A group of teenagers were enjoying a party, and someone suggested that they go to a certain restaurant for a good time. “I’d rather you took me home,” Jan said to her date. “My parents don’t approve of that place.” “Are you afraid your father will hurt you” one of the girls said sarcastically. “No,” Jan replied, “I’m afraid I might hurt my Father.” She understood the principle that a true child of God, who has experienced the love of God, has no desire to sin against that love. (Source Unknown).

Are you a child of God? If so, knowing that God is love and love comes from Him, make it your life’s pursuit to be like God in His loving nature. Is this your desire?

2. God demonstrated His love by Sending His Son

The second reason children of God need to love one another is because God demonstrated His love by sending His Son. We find this supported in verses 9 & 10, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Love is not just an emotion, but it is best defined when it is put into action. God showed His love for us by not allowing us to die in our sins, but to save us from our sins by sending His Son Jesus to be our atoning sacrifice on the cross. In the original Greek language, the word for love here is “agape” which is a benevolent love that is other-focused. It is a love shown by a person who is truly selfless and sacrificial in showing love. This is what God demonstrated by sending His Son Jesus to die for us that we might have eternal life when we accept Jesus as our Saviour. John wrote about this power of love in 1 John 3:16, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

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A certain medieval monk announced he would be preaching next Sunday evening on “The Love of God.” As the shadows fell and the light ceased to come in through the cathedral windows, the congregation gathered. In the darkness of the altar, the monk lit a candle and carried it to the crucifix. First of all, he illumined the crown of thorns, next, the two wounded hands, then the marks of the spear wound. In the hush that fell, he blew out the candle and left the chancel. There was nothing else to say.

The love God demonstrated to us cannot be earned because the apostle John highlights the truth that “He first loved us.” Therefore, when we love each other as believers we do it not gain acceptance from others, but to follow God’s example and bring praise to Him.

This week ask God to make your love more others-focused? Allow the Holy Spirit to probe your heart and see if the way you love others has strings attached?

3. God continues to love through us in perfect ways

The third reason children of God need to love one another is because God continues to love through us in perfect ways. We find this supported in verses 11 & 12, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

God’s children are a gateway for God to reveal his perfect (complete) love through us. In the Roman world, how many teachers were advocating a revolution of love in the apostle John’s lifetime? Only One!

It has always been the human ambition to divide and conquer. It is the human spirit to desire luxury and suppress the poor and marginalized. When Jesus came His message about the Kingdom began a revolution of love. In John 13:34-35, ““A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

As believers loved one another and loved the poor, sick and marginalized, word got around that these people were disciples of Jesus. This mission of love, in the power of the Holy Spirit, transformed the Roman culture. In 313 AD, under the Edict of Milan, Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity and gave Christians the freedom to worship. Ten years later it became the official religion of the Roman Empire.

When people see the way we love each other, and how we love others, they will see the invisible God of the universe in us and loving perfectly through us. They will know what true love is!

A little four-year-old African girl had been sold as a slave. She had never known what love was. Even her name, Keodi, meant “Nobody loves me!”

When she grew to be about ten years old, her body became covered with ugly sores. The natives turned her out and would have nothing to do with her. But some kind missionaries took Keodi in and cleaned her up, cared for her sores, and put clothes on her.

At first, she could not believe anyone loved her. She went about saying, “I am only Keodi; nobody loves me.” The missionaries told her that Jesus loved her and tried to teach her what love meant. Then she looked down at her dress, clean body and bandaged sores, and said, “Is this love?” They told her that it was.

Jesus showed His love for us by giving His life for us. Should we not then give Him our whole lives and love one another? (Gospel Chimes)

Application – This pandemic can simply be a lesson for us to not take loving others for granted. Are you a part of today’s love revolution? It is so easy to complain about our government, our economy, our uncertain state of affairs, but if we seriously allowed God to continue to show His love through us how would our church and our culture change?

How have you been going out of your way to love a brother or sister in the LORD lately? How about making that a goal for this week? Ask God to show you whom you should love this week.

Conclusion

It is my hope when we are able to meet in our church building again that this pandemic will have taught us some lessons on love relationships with each other and sharing that love with our world.

Right now, frontline workers and essential workers are receiving a lot praise because of the risks they are taking to care for the sick and keep our daily needs met.

How much more do we need to become front-line or essential workers with God’s love in this sin-sick world?

Let’s change people’s first impressions of Christianity and God by taking the apostles words seriously today about “loving one another” with God’s love. Do you want to be a part of a God’s love revolution?

Sunday, May 24, 2020

What to watch for below: In today’s video service we are continuing in the First Letter of John 4:1-6. I have prepared a Video Message that will challenge us to test the spirits or test the messages we hear about Jesus and test those who hear the message. Are we listening to the truth in this day and age of compromise? I conclude with an audio prayer and you can read my sermon manuscript for a deeper look at John’s passage. May you be encouraged as we get closer to the day that we will be together again! God bless you in Jesus Christ our Saviour, Redeemer and LORD!

This video was put together by Christian Worship Song Lyrics
You can visit Maranatha! Music at https://www.maranathamusic.com/
Video Message from 1 John 4:1-6

Click the arrow below to hear the closing prayer

Closing prayer for today!

Testing the Message and the Hearer

Text: 1 John 4:1-6 ~ The Scripture passages below are from New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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There are a lot of metals that on the surface look similar to gold. Centuries ago, people discovered that unscrupulous operators would take advantage of this to trick people into paying for worthless metal. In order to determine whether gold was genuine or not, scientists devised an “acid test.” The item that is supposed to be gold is rubbed on a black stone, leaving a mark behind. Gold is what is called a noble metal, meaning that it is resistant to the corrosive effects of acid. If the mark is washed away by the acid, then the metal is not real gold. If it remains unchanged, the genuine nature of the gold is proven.

In our world, where it is easy to be taken advantage of, wouldn’t it be a relief to have an “acid test” to determine the genuineness of products you are buying? How about having an app on your mobile phone that simulates a “lie detector test” so that it will indicate if the person you are speaking with is telling you the truth or not? The draw back to having these tests is that we could become overly critical and suspicious people.

However, as we will see in today’s passage of Scripture, the apostle John actually commands believers to test the “message and the receivers of the message.” This of course is in response to the false teachers who have made their way into the churches of Asia Minor and are leading believers away from God’s truth. Would it benefit us today if we heeded the apostle’s command?  Read today’s passage from 1 John 4:1-6.

1John 4:1-6, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.”

In testing the message and the receivers of the message I have narrowed down John’s test to two questions. Let us look at these questions below about the message and the messenger. 

Questions to Know the Genuineness of the Message and the Hearer

1. Does the Message Centre on The True Jesus?

The first test that separates the false message from the true message is to answer this question, “Does the message centre on the true Jesus?” In verses 2 & 3 John clear indicates, “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.”

The true Jesus that must be preached is the Jesus who is not only fully God, but He is also fully man. For Jesus to come to this world as a man in the likeness of sinful flesh, but without sin, is called the “incarnation.” John highlights the incarnation in his gospel. In John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John is stating here that Jesus is the Word and is co-equal with God. Then in John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  Every spirit, every teaching or message that acknowledges Jesus has come in the flesh (incarnate) is from God.

The false teachers in John’s day had an extremely low regard of the flesh. They believed that the only way to spiritual ascendency and value was through the mind which was governed by the spiritual. They believed what they did in the flesh had no consequence on their spiritual pursuits. Therefore, the sins they committed in the body did not prevent their spiritual growth and their pursuit of godlikeness. They believed Jesus had a brief encounter with the flesh but did not come in the flesh. They did not believe in the incarnation.

Theologian Charles Ryrie in His book Basic Theology writes, “Without the Incarnation we would have no Savior. Sin requires death for its payment. God does not die. So the Savior must be human in order to be able to die. But the death of an ordinary man would not pay for sin eternally, so the Savior must also be God. We must have a God-man Savior, and we do in our Lord (Hebrews 10:1-10).”

Knowing that Jesus is God-incarnate, what practical daily significance does this have on your faith and life? The key is in what John says about the spirit that denies Jesus’s true identity in verse 3b, “This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”

Everyday we need to be on guard against the spirit of the antichrist. This spirit is from Satan who opposes the message of the gospel and the true identity of Jesus. When Jesus walked this earth, his main opposition was from the religious elite called the Pharisees. In one encounter, Jesus pulls no stops in calling out the lies that the Pharisees were believing and propagating in their teachings. John records Jesus’s words addressed to the Pharisees in his gospel in John 8:44, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” We see earlier in this letter John wrote, 1 John 3:10, “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.”

Billy Bray was a Cornish miner who accepted Jesus Christ as his Saviour in 1823 at the age of 29. He lived a life of drunkenness and debauchery before his salvation, but he became such an outgoing witness and testimony for God that he became known as “God’s glad man.”

One time he was digging potatoes from his garden and felt the devil oppressing him. It seemed to him that the devil said, “Billy Bray, God doesn’t love you. If He did, He wouldn’t give you such puny potatoes and so few.”

But Billy Bray didn’t listen to the devil’s temptation, he talked back to him. He said, “I served you long and true, Devil, and no better servant could a master ever have than I was to you. But when I served you, you didn’t give me any potatoes. When I served you, you didn’t give me anything good for my efforts.”

Billy Bray reminded himself that the burden he had serving Christ was lighter than the one he had had serving the devil. The yoke that he wore in partnership with and submission to Jesus was easier than the yoke he wore as one of the devil’s disciples.

Billy Bray once said, “I would rather be in Hell with Jesus than in Heaven without Jesus. For Hell with Jesus would seem just like Heaven to me and Heaven without Jesus would seem just like Hell to me.” Submitted by Dr. R. B Ouellette

Today I want to encourage you to take John’s command seriously to test the spirits and test the messages you hear about Jesus and the gospel. Do not believer every teaching you hear about Jesus. Does the message centre on the truth about Jesus that He is fully God and fully man in order to be the Saviour of the world? Also teach this truth so that the spirit of the antichrist will be thwarted from telling lies to others. Ask God to give you the boldness to be a witness about the truth of His Son Jesus so that many more people will be delivered from serving the lies of the devil. May verse 4 also give you courage, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

The second question that helps identify what truth is and what is false is…

2. Do the receivers of the true message of Jesus actually listen?

Look again at verses 5 and 6, “They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.”

John makes it clear in this passage that there are two groups of people in this world. First there are those who are from the world speaking and listening to its viewpoint. Their viewpoint is based on human philosophy and human knowledge defining their reality and making in many cases their religion.

Someone wrote…

Appetite says, “Be sensuous, enjoy yourself.”

Education says, “Be resourceful, expand yourself.”

Materialism says, “Be satisfied, please yourself.”

Psychology says, “Be confident, fulfill yourself.”

Pride says, “Be superior, promote yourself.”

Humanism says, “Be capable believe in yourself.”

God says, “Be wise, humble yourself.”

The second group are those who are from God. These are the children of God who listen to the truth about Jesus. To listen is more than being hearers of the Word, but also doers of the Word.

John is telling the children of God do not expect those who have the viewpoint of the world to listen to you. Those who do not listen are not from God.

Today I want to encourage you by this truth – when people are not listening to the gospel of Jesus Christ, they are not rejecting you, but they are rejecting the message because the are not from God. We cannot expect people of the world to embrace the message of God unless God opens their ears to it and their hearts to receive it. This is what we need to pray for. We cannot force people to listen to the gospel.

Conclusion

In honour of Ravi Zacharias (a formidable apologist) who died this week I want to conclude with his words that sum up today’s message very well:

“Every other person who is at the heart of any religion has had his or her beginning either in fancy or in fact. But nevertheless, there is a beginning. Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem was a moment preceded by eternity. His being neither originated in time nor came about by the will of humanity. The Author of time, who lived in the eternal, was made incarnate in time that we might live with the eternal in view. In that sense, the message of Christ was not the introduction of a religion, but an introduction to truth about reality as God alone knows it. To deny Jesus’ message while pursuing spirituality is to conjure an imaginary religion in an attempt to see heaven while sight is confined to the earth. That is precisely what Jesus challenged when he said, “I have come that [you] may have life” (John 10:10). His life spells living. Your life or my life, apart from Him, spells death.” ― Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message

In our quickly changing world Jesus’s message remains the same. He loves you. He died for you and He wants you to spend eternity with Him. I invite you to accept Jesus (fully God and fully man) into your life as your Saviour from sin and become a lifelong listener and doer of His Word. This alone will keep you on the path of truth and the path of life everlasting. AMEN!

Sunday, May 17, 2020

What to watch for below: Today let us worship God for His greatness! This is the apostle John’s encouragement to the church and it is exactly what we need to focus on during this pandemic. Enjoy two worship choruses praising God for His greatness followed by my video message from 1 John 3:19-24. I conclude with a closing prayer and for further study you can read my sermon manuscript. May God give you the confidence in following Him realizing, “How Great Thou Art!”

Visit Chris Tomlin’s website at https://www.christomlin.com/
Visit Hillsong Worship at https://hillsong.com/worship/

Click the arrow below to hear the closing prayer

Sermon Manuscript: Focusing on God Brings Encouragement

Scripture passages below are from the New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

A man saw a span of horses drawing a very heavy load of logs, and as they came to a hard place they struggled and tried with all their force, strained every muscle to the highest tension, but they could not start the load. Then the driver took some of the logs off and tried to get them to start the load, but they would not. He rolled off some more, but those horses would not start. He rolled off still more, and at last took off every log, and then they started up the road. Those horses had been utterly discouraged; they had pulled with all their strength and failed, and anyone doing that, be it man or beast, is not able to accomplish half as much as a man who has not lost heart. (Source Unknown).

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There may be times in our lives, as believers in God, when we come across life challenges that may be quite deflating to our faith and confidence in the LORD. Our hearts may become downcast, depressed or uneasy and we hear that inner voice starting to question things like, “Why am I so sad? Why am I feeling so down? Where is Jesus in all of this? Did I do something wrong? Is there a sin I need to repent of?” Have you experienced any of these thoughts during our pandemic lockdown and isolation?

At the same time, you might come across people who have this incredible confidence during these same challenges. And you might be wondering, “Why don’t I have that same confidence? My faith in God really needs a boost!”

As we look at today’s passage of Scripture, the apostle John wants to encourage the believer’s hearts to have the assurance that they are saved, belonging in God’s truth which results in resting in His presence. How do we get our hearts and consciences focused on the truth and finding this rest? Look with me for the answers as your read 1 John 3:19-24.

1John 3:19-24, “This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”

Here are four ways the apostle John encourages the hearts of believers by bringing them to the right focus.

Focus Brings Encouragement

1. Focus on God’s greatness

To the heart that is battling condemnation or anxious thoughts John says in verse 20, “If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts.”

The quickest way to immobilize faith is to have people believe that they are powerless. John’s antidote for this is for believers to focus in on the greatness of God. He is greater than our condemning hearts and fears.

A young boy traveling by airplane to visit his grandparents sat beside a man who happened to be a seminary professor. The boy was reading a Sunday school take-home paper when the professor thought he would have some fun with the lad. “Young man,” said the professor, “If you can tell me something God can do, I’ll give you a big, shiny apple.” The boy thought for a moment and then replied, “Mister, if you can tell me something God can’t do, I’ll give you a whole barrel of apples!” Today in the Word, April 1989, p. 43.

 What we have to realize when our hearts are downcast is, we are believing that God is too small to handle what we are facing. As we focus on how great God’s power is, our problems will be put in the right perspective. I challenge you to focus on God’s greatness today and leave your trials and problems with Him. What a relief you will experience!

The second thing John wants believers to focus on is…

2. Focus on God’s omniscience

Not only is God’s greatness sufficient to handle what troubles our heart, John says in verse 20, “he knows everything.” God knows what is troubling you and he knows why it is troubling you because He knows you better than you know yourself. When we focus on the truth that God is all knowing or omniscient there is nothing that surprises God so it should not surprise you. Therefore, God must have a reason for allowing certain trials and troubles to come our way like this pandemic. We do not see the end of the story, but God know the end from the beginning.

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Dwight Moody was traveling by boat on one of the Great Lakes when a really bad storm developed. The other passengers on the boat cowered in fear. They even started an impromptu prayer meeting asking God to deliver them from the storm. Moody didn’t join in this prayer meeting. When asked why not, he answered with these words, “I have a sister in Chicago and one in heaven and I don’t care which I see tonight.” (Source Unknown, Lou Nicholes – Missionary/Author)

When we know that God knows everything, we can put our trust into his plan just like Moody did. When was the last time you had that confidence? Can you pray, “God I am not going to worry about this because you know best.” Do you need to ask God to forgive you for succumbing to fear or faith-deflating-worry?

John wants us to focus on God’s greatness and that He knows everything. The third thing he wants us to focus on is…

3. Focus on pleasing God

John makes a transition from the condemning, deflated heart of a believer to a believer who has confidence. This transition is based on the fact of the believer pleasing God. Here again is what he wrote in verses 21-23, “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.”

A child of God who pleases God and has confidence to come before Him and ask Him for anything according to God’s will. How is this possible? Because pleasing God involves two things: a child of God believes in God’s Son Jesus Christ and acts out that faith in love toward others.

This sums up the whole gospel and if we anchor our faith and our lives here, we will have confidence in coming to God and asking Him in prayer for that which pleases Him.

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The story is told about two wives who were doing their laundry in a laundry mat. They were both mending their husband’s pants.

One wife said, “My husband is so miserable. Nothing goes right at work, and he can’t find anything good on television. Our home is a place of despair. When we go to church, the song leader is terrible, and the pastor is an idiot.

The other wife said, “My husband is so excited.” He can’t wait to go to church. He loves the sermons. We laugh all the time and enjoy our family.

It got very quiet in the laundry room as the women continued sewing the pants. One was patching the seat of the pants, and the other was patching the knees. (Source: Unknown)

Which of these two men pleased God with the right focus and with the right heart? The man with the worn out knees knew how to please God by confidently coming to God in prayer as a faithful and obedient child. Are you pleasing God? Does it show in confidence, obedience and in your prayer life? Focus on pleasing God this week by just talking to him.

Finally, John helps the discouraged, downhearted child of God by reminding him or her to…

4. Focus on the Spirit He Gave us

Look at verse 24, “The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” One of the most important things to remember about being a child of God is that we are “born again.” This means the Holy Spirit has given us new life (eternal life that is pardoned from sin with a new nature) by coming into our lives and regenerating us at the same moment of faith. The apostle Paul explains it this way to the believers in the church of Corinth in 2 Corinthians 5:5, “Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  A few verses later he writes in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who had no sin [Jesus] to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Who we are in Christ and realizing that the Holy Spirit lives in us is paramount in giving us the courage to face whatever comes our way because God does not abandon Himself. There is perfect unity between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Paul writes this to the believers in Rome in Romans 8:14-16, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”

“Without the Spirit of God, we can do nothing. We are as ships without the wind, branches without sap, and like coals without fire, we are useless.”—Charles Spurgeon

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Now take Charles Spurgeon’s quote and turn it to the positive to help you fight discouragement. “With the Spirit of God, I can do all things. I am a sailboat moved by His wind, a branch full of sap, a fire burning brightly fueled by Him and I am valuable in Him for His service.” Do you believe this? Focus on what The Holy Spirit has for your life and the work He has in bringing praise to Jesus.

Conclusion

During the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century, German pastor Paul Gerhardt and his family were forced to flee from their home. One night as they stayed in a small village inn, homeless and afraid, his wife broke down and cried openly in despair. To comfort her, Gerhardt reminded her of Scripture promises about God’s provision and keeping. Then, going out to the garden to be alone, he too broke down and wept. He felt he had come to his darkest hour. Soon afterward, Gerhardt felt the burden lifted and sensed anew the Lord’s presence. Taking his pen, he wrote a hymn that has brought comfort to many. “Give to the winds thy fears; hope and be undismayed; God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears; God shall lift up thy head. Through waves and clouds and storms He gently clears the way. Wait thou His time, so shall the night soon end in joyous day.”

It is often in our darkest times that God makes His presence known most clearly. He uses our sufferings and troubles to show us that He is our only source of strength. And when we see this truth, like Pastor Gerhardt, we receive new hope. (Our Daily Bread, May 7, 1992.)

How are you managing through this pandemic? Take heart. Be encouraged as you focus on the truths the apostle John has given us as children of God…God is greater than all our fears, He knows everything, confidence comes in pleasing Him and He has put His Spirit in us guaranteeing His presence now and forever more. Be at rest! Amen!

Mother’s Day Sunday, May 10, 2020

What to watch for below: Today we thank God for mothers! Please find below an assortment of videos for worship singing (chosen by our worship leader Anne), a video message, a closing prayer and my sermon manuscript for further reading. May the peace of our LORD Jesus be with you as we continue to wait for Him to deliver us from this pandemic and bring us back together in fellowship.

Before you enter the worship videos look at this video below as a tribute to moms

You can visit Steven Curtis Chapman’s website at https://stevencurtischapman.com/
Visit Casting Crowns at their website https://castingcrowns.com/
Read more about this band that is no longer touring at https://www.allsonsanddaughters.com/home
Vist Corey Voss’ website http://www.coreyvoss.com/
Mother’s Day Video Message

Click the arrow below to hear the closing prayer

Sermon manuscript for ~ A Mother’s Love

Text: 1 John 3:11-18

All Scripture passages below are New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

On this Mother’s Day of 2020, we are reminded to give thanks for our mothers and reflect on how they loved us and helped shape us into the people we are today. We also respect the fact that not all mothers were created equal. Some mothers had more of a traditional role in the home as domestic housewives while other mothers pursued careers. Either way, whatever role your mother gravitated toward, we take time today to be grateful for their “nurturing love.”

The apostle John focuses on loving one another in today’s passage. Every mother and father would be wise to understand the love the apostle is defining and apply it in their lives so that they can be godlier parents.

When Robert Ingersoll, the notorious skeptic, was in his heyday, two college students went to hear him lecture. As they walked down the street after the lecture, one said to the other, “Well, I guess he knocked the props out from under Christianity, didn’t he?” The other said, “No, I don’t think he did. Ingersoll did not explain my mother’s life, and until he can explain my mother’s life I will stand by my mother’s God.” James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited, Tyndale, 1972, p. 381.

What an incredible influence a godly mother has with her love. Let us look at the characteristics of love in 1 John 3:11-18,

11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. 16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

John reminds us that Cain was the first human to hate, and as a result murdered his brother Abel because he was jealous that God favoured Abel’s offering over his. Cain did not have the devote love for God as Abel did. John strongly warns that Cain’s behavior is unacceptable among believers. Believers must not hate their brothers or sisters, or their eternal security is in question. At the same time as believers live in righteousness, they should expect the world will hate them. Have you ever experienced discrimination for your devotion to God?

In the second part of this passage, verses 16-18, John provides three characteristics of love that are exemplified by a godly mother and every child of God must imitate.

Three Characteristics of a Godly Mother’s Love

1. A Godly mother’s love is sacrificial

In verse 16, we read again, “16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”  There are many types of love, but the love John is referring to here comes from the Greek word “agape” which is a charitable, affectionate love that was perfectly demonstrated by Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross. Agape love is “sacrificial love.” A godly mother makes many sacrifices for her children on a daily basis. This is a selfless love where she puts her needs and ambitions aside to provide nurturing love for her children.

Photo by Adrian Dorobantu on Pexels.com

Years ago, a young mother was making her way across the hills of South Wales, carrying her tiny baby in her arms, when she was overtaken by a blinding blizzard. She never reached her destination and when the blizzard had subsided her body was found by searchers beneath a mound of snow. But they discovered that before her death, she had taken off all her outer clothing and wrapped it about her baby. When they unwrapped the child, to their great surprise and joy, they found he was alive and well. She had mounded her body over his and given her life for her child, proving the depths of her mother love. Years later that child, David Lloyd George, grown to manhood, became prime minister of Great Britain, and, without doubt, one of England’s greatest statesman. James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited, Tyndale, 1972, p. 375.

Application Point – Where would this world be without the sacrificial love of Jesus? Where would this world be without the sacrificial love of a mother? How are we imitating the love of Jesus and our mothers today? How well are we loving sacrificially?

2. A Godly mother’s love is compassionate

In verse 17, we read, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” A godly mother has this nurturing love that expresses pity and wants to give when a child is in need. Someone said, “Love cannot be in the same room with pride or apathy.”

Jesus gives us the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) in which a priest and Levite walked past a poor, beaten, robbed countryman and brother.

It was easier for these men to be priest and Levite following the law than it was to be genuine caregivers with compassion. They carried out their roles but missed their opportunity to serve their LORD and touch the heart of God. A godly mother is always closer to the heart of God because she wants to alleviate pain and is willing to give of herself, time and effort to do so. I believe the Good Samaritan had a compassionate heart.

Photo by Garon Piceli on Pexels.com

A Christian counselor Brooks Ramsey made a marvelous discovery. He writes, “In the Hebrew language of the Old Testament the word for “compassion” comes from the root word, “womb.” The picture is of a birthing. Something new is being born. If I apply this in a human experience, it means that my compassionate acts always give the other person another chance. I do not hold past failures against them. I offer a “fresh start.” I want this for myself from others. Am I willing to give it to the other person? Such compassion will dramatically change the way we relate to each other.” Brooks Ramsey, Pastoral Counseling and Consulting Center, Memphis TN.

Application Point – During this COVID-19 pandemic, we need our love to be compassionate and moved toward giving to others. How often have we turned a blind “I” (eye) to others needs? Let us repent of this and allow God’s pure compassionate love to fill us and lead us to giving and supporting others. It can be as simple as listening to someone on the phone and offering them encouragement.

3. A Godly mother’s love is reliably active

In verse 18, John writes, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” Love is not just spoken word or emotion it must be action. A godly mother doesn’t make empty promises to her children she delivers. This is why we honour mothers because they don’t abandon their children, but follow through with reliable, active love.

Photo by VisionPic .net on Pexels.com

A young man, raised by a childless couple since he was seven years old, was leaving his adoptive parents in order to take a job in a distant city. During the emotional “Good-byes,” he grabbed his parents’ hands and said, “How can I ever repay you two for what you have done for me?” To which the father replied, “Son, there is a saying: The love of parents goes to their children, but the love of the children goes to their children.”

As the son attempted to respond, the mother broke in and said: “Son, what your father means is that a parent’s love can be paid back only by passing it on.”

Application point – How have you put your love in action lately? Have you put your loving words into action? Today, I repent of my empty promises and put on the love of Jesus. Will you join me in passing on reliable, active love to others – especially to your family?

Conclusion

Two brothers worked together on the family farm.  One was married and had a large family.  The other was single.  At the day’s end, the brothers shared everything equally, produce and profit.

Then one day the single brother said to himself, “It’s not right that we should share equally the produce and the profit. I’m alone and my needs are simple.” So, each night he took a sack of grain from his bin and crept across the field between their houses, dumping it into his brother’s bin.

Meanwhile, the married brother said to himself, “It’s not right that we should share the produce and the profit equally. After all, I’m married, and I have my wife and my children to look after me for years to come. My brother has no one, and no one to take care of his future.” So, each night he took a sack of grain and dumped it into his single brother’s bin.

Both men were puzzled for years because their supply of grain never dwindled. Then one dark night the two brothers bumped into each other. Slowly it dawned on them what was happening. They dropped their sacks and embraced one another.

These brothers lived out the love that was taught to them by their godly mother. God be praised for their godly character of love!

Today O LORD, we give thanks for mothers who love sacrificially, with compassion and in reliable action. Teach us to do the same. AMEN!

Sunday May 3, 2020

What to watch for below: I have chosen a few worship songs that I believe will help us turn our hearts to Jesus and prepare us to hear His Word in the following video message. I am taking another look at 1 John 3:2-10, but this time focusing on three reasons Jesus appeared to this world. I have included a closing prayer and my sermon manuscript for a fuller understanding of this passage. God bless you as you live as a child of God in Christ’s righteousness. When Jesus returns may He find us faithful.

Visit Tommy Walker and His Praise music at https://www.youtube.com/user/TommyWalkerDotNet
Visit Robin Mark’s Worship Music at https://robinmark.com/
Visit Hillsong Worship music at https://hillsong.com/worship/
Video Message – The Test of Being a Child of God

Press the arrow below to hear the Closing Prayer and Benediction

The Apostle Paul’s Prayer is from Ephesians 1:17-23

Sermon Manuscript ~ “The Test of Being a Child of God”

Text: 1 John 3:2-10

Jesus a World Conqueror?

How much do you value your freedom? God created us to have relationship with Him and with each other. How much are you willing to sacrifice to keep those freedoms? Will a few months of isolation and social distancing be worth the effort to destroy a virus that is trying to keep us apart? Will our efforts be worth it? What are the risks if we don’t comply? How much do you value your life and your freedoms?

For millennia, world leaders have arisen to become famous (or infamous) for their exploits in trying to improve the life and freedoms of their own people. You might have heard of some of these conquerors: Cyrus the Great 580-529 BC; Atilla the Hun 406-453 BC; Alexander the Great 356-323 BC; Roman Emperors Julius Caesar & Augustus Caesar 63 BC-14 AD; Charlemagne 742-814; Genghis Khan 1162-1227AD; British Monarchs William the Conqueror, Richard I, Edward I, Henry V; and French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte 1769-1821AD. Of course, this list is incomplete, and you may argue that some names should be added here. I believe a prominent name that is missing is that of Jesus the Christ (4 BC – 30 AD).

Many do not see Jesus as a world conqueror. He did not lead a rebellion to overthrow the Roman Empire, but for two millennia His teaching of the Kingdom of God, His life of compassion, the nature of His death, His resurrection from the grave, His ascension into Heaven, and the sending of His Holy Spirit to birth His Church has left an unalterable course for mankind which is leading to His return. This is what the apostle John saw in Revelation and what he has written in his God-inspired gospel and letters to the churches. Do you really know why Jesus appeared in this world?

Jesus Appears for Three Reasons

The apostle John reveals three reasons Jesus appeared in his first letter of John in chapter 3:2-10, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. 4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. 7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.”

1. To Take Away our Sins

The apostle John makes it clear in this passage that Jesus has appeared for three reasons. First, in verse 5a, “But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins.” Jesus came to free mankind from sin.The word “sins” comes from the Greek word “hamartia” which means “missing the mark” (used in ancient Greek archery) and leads to a disqualification. Sinning against God is missing His perfect target for your life. God’s target is having you live in His will by trusting in Him and obeying His laws.

The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome, a step by step understanding of how Jesus took away our sin. Christians call this the Roman Road of salvation or freedom from sin. Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Sin separates us from God’s perfection and holiness. Paul continues in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Here’s the good news in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Paul continues in Romans 10:9, 10, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

Have you accepted Jesus’s death on the cross for your sins? Are you saved from sin and its everlasting separation from God?  I want to encourage you to pause right here and in prayer (talking to God) ask Jesus to take away your sins in your life and accept His forgiveness by praying, “Jesus I thank you for dying on the cross for my sin. I accept you as my Saviour and LORD. Thank you for saving me from God’s wrath and making me a child of God. I ask for your Holy Spirit to give me new life and lead me to live for You. Amen.” If you prayed this prayer from your heart you are now a child of God free from the penalty of your sins. Hallelujah! Go tell, text or message someone about this right now!

2. To Destroy the Devil’s Work

Secondly, Jesus appeared not only to take away sins, but to destroy the devil’s work. We read in verse 8, “The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” What is the devil’s work? His work from the beginning has been to exalt himself above God and to disobey God’s will making himself a “god.” The devil’s work is “selfish pride.” The apostle John records Jesus’s teaching on being a Shepherd to helpless sheep and guarding against the devil in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

When we pray to receive Jesus as our Saviour, and become a child of God, He will constantly make us aware of how the devil is trying to steal, kill and destroy God’s plan for our lives. The devil will tempt a child of God to sin because sin will separate us from God’s plan and the fullness of Jesus’s life in us. Jesus will make us aware of these battles against the devil through His Holy Spirit in order to destroy any foothold or stronghold that the devil is trying to get in our hearts, souls and minds.

In the rest of our Scripture passage for today John engages in this battle against the devil and sin by imposing a test of authenticity upon the churches he is writing to. John wants the churches to know who is a true child of God and who is counterfeit. Can you tell the difference?

The American Banking Association in their training program to help tellers never look at a counterfeit bill. All they do hour after hour, day after day, is handle authentic currency until they are so familiar with the true that they cannot possibly be fooled with the false.

John’s test of authenticity is correctly stated this way by Bible commentator and preacher Robert Law from his book of sermons – “The Tests of Life: A study of the First Epistle of St. John” – “Doing is the test of being.” This is exactly what the apostle is stating in the following verses. In following verses look at the “doing” and the “being” references and how they define the authentic child of God.

Verse 4 – “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” Whoever breaks the law (does) “is (being) lawless.” We have jails for lawbreakers. Do you remember Romans 3:23? We have all sinned (done) and are “sinners.” Are you still a sinner? Look at the next verse…

Verses 5b, 6, “And in him [Jesus] is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” John reiterates the same truths in verse 9, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.” These verses reveal that Jesus set the standard for being a child of God and that is to be without sin. The test is in the doing. If you continue to sin which is the opposite of who Jesus is then you are not a child of God. As theologian John R, W, Stott puts it in his commentary book The Letters of John, “to sin is to deny Christ.”  

Wait one moment! If you believe you are a child of God (which I believe I am) and you sin, does that mean you will lose your salvation? No. The key to understanding these verses is to look at the context of the letter. John wrote earlier in 1 John 1:8-10, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

The apostle John is not saying that the child of God will be without sin while living on this earth. What he is emphasizing is that “sin is no longer the defining nature of a child of God.” Again verse 9 states, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them.” John is revealing this truth: whoever claims to be a child of God, but persists (continues) in sin, and is not conscious stricken, not remorseful, not repentant and does not desire to be holy, is a heretic like the false teachers who infiltrated the churches he wrote to.

When we change our identity from being in bondage to sin (child of the devil) to being in Christ (or being born again) we are unable to sin habitually. John Stott explains it this way, “The new birth involves the acquisition of a new nature through the implanting within us of the very seed or the lifegiving power of God…It exerts a strong internal pressure towards holiness.” Therefore, Jesus will destroy the devil’s work in God’s children by constantly waring against the temptations and sins we choose so that we will not be enslaved to the devil’s traps and miss God’s best, His abundant life of freedom for us.

Do you pass the “doing test of being?” Do you desire to be like Jesus Christ – sinless? The apostle John, our general, commands us in verse 7, “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.” And verse 10, “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.” 

Passing the “doing test of being” means you will desire to live a righteous life as Jesus lived. It means you will want to love others as He did. It means you will constantly be confessing your sins such as: ingratitude, lack of love to God, neglect of the Bible, unbelief, neglect of prayer, pride, envy, evil speaking and slander, lying, cheating, hypocrisy and robbing God (wasting your money). This list of sins was provided by 19th century American revivalist C.G. Finney. Do you need to confess any of them now?

3. To Conquer the Kingdoms of this World

Finally, Jesus appeared with a promise to take the children of God to be with Him and His Father forever and to conquer the kingdoms of this world. John reminds the children of God in verse 2, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Children of God will have the joy of being perfect like Jesus and see Him in His glory when He returns.God also revealed this about Jesus to the apostle John, in Revelation chapters 19 and 20. Jesus will return as the Conqueror of the world and set Himself up in the city of Jerusalem as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords for a thousand years and then forevermore in the new Jerusalem. Jesus came as Saviour and will reveal Himself as LORD. The early church sang about this in their hymn in Philippians 2:9-11, “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,  to the glory of God the Father.”

Conclusion

Let me leave you with a challenge from John Stott and then a powerful prayer of hope for the children of God by the apostle Paul.

 John Stott challenges us, “If Christ appeared first both to “take away our sins” and to “destroy the devil’s work” and, when He appears the second time, “we shall see Him” and, in consequence, “we shall be like Him,” how can we possibly go on living in sin? If we are loyal, we must ‘‘purify ourselves” as he is pure (verse 3). By so doing we shall give evidence of our birth of God.”

Paul’s prayer for children of God (for you?) from his letter to the believers in Ephesus, Ephesians 1, “15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. AMEN!”

Sunday, April 26, 2020

What to watch for below: It is my hope to bring glory to God through another collage of videos and messages this beautiful spring Sunday under COVID-19 lockdown. Please find below a few worship song videos followed by my video message from 1 John 2:28 – 3:10. I have included a closing prayer and my sermon manuscript for a fuller understanding of this passage. God bless you as you live as a child of God in these important times. I miss you and love you. Keep your eyes and faith focused on Jesus!

No Longer Slaves (Official Lyric Video) – Jonathan David and Melissa Helser | We Will Not Be Shaken. Visit their site at https://www.jonathanhelser.com/
Canadian Worship Leader Matt Maher. Visit his site at https://www.mattmahermusic.com/
Sung by Stuart Townend and choir. Visit his site at https://www.stuarttownend.co.uk/biography/

CLICK THE ARROW BELOW TO HEAR THE CLOSING PRAYER

Sermon Manuscript entitled, “Do You Know Your Identity Markers?”

Text: 1 John 2:29 -3:10 and other passages are from New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

I. Introduction

Have you ever been mistaken for someone else? How do you feel when you are called by someone else’s name? If you have siblings, how did you feel being called your brother or sister’s name instead of your own? You can let it pass for the first or second time, but if the person continually calls you by a wrong name you might get a little annoyed or offended.

Think for a moment about identical twins you may know. Have you noticed that close relatives and close friends are able to tell them apart? How do they do it? They rely on certain identity markers. These identity markers could be physical like: dimples, different hairlines, moles, freckles, and birth marks. These identity markers can be character differences such as one being introverted while the other is extroverted. These identity markers could also include habits, talents, or mannerisms. Identity markers are important in telling twins apart.

Photo by malcolm garret on Pexels.com

II. Transition

Are there identity markers that set children of God apart from others? When our Canadian culture was steeped in Christian values and principles it wasn’t uncommon to hear people say, “we are all God’s children.” It was a religious assumption in our Christian nation that everyone knew God. Unfortunately, our culture has changed dramatically and many today don’t know what Christians believe in and don’t even know the significance of Christmas or Easter. In some cases, Christians can be working together for years and not know that their co-worker is a believer in Jesus. How sad is that?

In my sermon series from the First Letter of John, the apostle John is writing to warn children of God not to live by a false identity because many were being deceived by a false gospel and false doctrine. False teachers were convincing them to believe that all matter and flesh were evil. They began to believe Jesus was not fully God and fully man. These false teachers were the forefathers to what would later be called “Gnosticism” which is a knowledge cult promoting spiritual ascendency beyond human form. The apostle John held up a true standard against these falsities when he wrote this letter.

As you read today’s passage in 1 John 2:29-3:10 below, look for identity markers that set true believers in Jesus apart from these false teachers…  

“28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him. Chapter 3:1, See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. 4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. 7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.”

III. Your True Identity Revealed

Let us look at John’s identity markers for true children of God. John describes them this way. They are…

1) Abiding in God – again we read in verse 28a, “And now, dear children, continue in him…”  The word “continue” comes from the Greek word “meno” which can be translated “abide or continue.”

How does it look like to abide in God or continue in Him as a child of God? Think of the happiest moment in your life. Think about the best visit you ever had with a loved one or relative. Think about the joy you saw in the faces of your children on Christmas day. Think about the time you really felt God’s presence in your life. During these incredible moments and encounters, did you ever have the feeling, “I want this moment to last forever!” This could be the feeling of two lovers. Others cherish loving company and wish, “I want to stay longer. I don’t want my kids to grow up. I want to enjoy this time a little bit longer.”  It’s like my grandson Fletcher who comes over to swing on a cheap little plastic swing and when its time to go home he wants to swing just a little bit longer. The swing is a big part of his enjoyment, but he loves our attention too.

Abiding in God is remaining in His presence where you sense and know His love, His peace and you just want to enjoy Him more and more. God wants this for you continually. Children of God who know God intimately in this way just want to abide, rest and be with Him. It leads to the next identity marker which is – they are…

2) Confident and unashamed – we find this in verse 28b – “so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.” The apostle John is telling us here that Jesus will return one day. When He does, will He find us confident in our faith and unashamed to see him? If Jesus returned right now, would your faith roll out the red carpet for Him or would you want to hide behind a rock?

Here’s a poetic monologue that rings true with unashamed confidence in identifying yourself with Christ. It is entitled, “No Turning Back.”

I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still. My past is redeemed, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, live by prayer and labor by His power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable and my mission clear. I cannot be bought, deluded or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up and preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go ‘till He comes, give ‘till I drop, preach ‘till all know and work ‘till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. Anonymous

Do you identify with this confidence as a child of God? Ask God to give it to you. Here is John’s next identity marker for children of God – they…

3) Know and Live in God’s Righteous – read verse 29, “If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.” This is one of the most distinct identity markers for children of God because in their moral behaviours, actions and good deeds they want to do what is pleasing and right in God’s sight. It is like your defining feature such as your nose or your sparkling eyes or your beautiful smile. John gives us more details of how this looks like in verses 2 to 10. It is a life where we are living like Christ. To be a Christian is to be a “little Christ.” To be a child of God is to be like God’s Son. We live by faith under the guidance of the Holy Spirit so that we make decisions and carry out actions that are sinless and blameless before our Righteous God.

A Bible commentator from https://www.gotquestions.org/imputed-righteousness.html wrote,

When we place our faith in Christ, God ascribes the perfect righteousness of Christ to our account so that we become perfect in His sight. “God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin [be a sin offering] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

By having the righteousness of Christ imputed, or attributed, to us, we can be seen as sinless, as Jesus is sinless. We are not righteous in ourselves; rather, we possess Christ’s righteousness applied to our account. It is not our perfection, but Christ’s that God sees when He brings us into fellowship with Himself. We are still sinners in practice, but the grace of God has declared us to have righteous standing before the law.

The apostle John encourages confession to purify us (children of God) from sin and unrighteousness. He wrote this earlier in chapter 1 verses 8 and 9, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

What a joy we have in knowing that God sees the righteousness of His Son Jesus in us and we are pardoned of our sin. As we wash our hands to prevent a COVID-19 virus infection, how much more should we wash our souls with daily repentance, confession and surrender to Christ’s righteous presence in us? The apostle states it well in verse 3, “All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.” Are you washing?

Finally, the last identity marker of a child of God that I want to highlight is – they…

4) Know and Live in God’s love – in chapter 3:1, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

If righteousness is a distinct feature for a child of God, like the nose on your face, then knowing God’s love and living in His love is the believer’s DNA or blood type. The love that ran through Jesus’ veins is the love that must run through ours. The love and the compassion that spurred on Jesus’ ministry is what we need for one another.

This love, in question, is well defined in this phrase from verse 1, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us.” When we look at God’s love toward us what do we see? Most definitely the apostle is telling us to look at the cross. It was at the cross that Jesus poured out His love for us. He poured out His blood for our sin, as our sin offering to God, in order that God’s wrath would be satisfied in this payment; and by faith in receiving Jesus’ love for us in His sacrifice we are freed from eternal condemnation and thus enter into an intimate love relation with God where we cry out, as His children,  “Father! Daddy!” The apostle Paul compares it to a loving adoption when we receive Jesus and are born of His Holy Spirit in Romans 8:14 and 15, “14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

I love the verb “lavished” in association with how great the Father’s love is for us. Google dictionary defines the word this way, “bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities on, and/or more literally, cover something thickly or liberally with.” The word comes from the Latin “to wash or flood.” Two images come to my mind. One is what some mothers experience at a baby shower for a newborn baby and the gifts are showered (bestowed) on the mother and her child. Another image is that of eating one of my favourite foods which is ice cream lavished in chocolate syrup and yummy treats.

Photo by Jer Chung on Pexels.com

In the same way, God pours out His love in great heaps desiring to saturate us so that we will love others as He has loved us. As children of God, we are no longer under God’s wrath, but we are now under His great love. How often do we forget this?

When we sin, or when we believe in lies about our true identity like our brothers and sisters did in the Early Church, we can easily feel like we don’t measure up to God. We can start condemning ourselves, but God’s antidote is simply reminding us with open arms like a Father that He loves us with a great, unending, downpour of love even when we fall and fail Him because He has adopted us into His loving family. Isn’t this truth delicious? I just don’t want this moment of truth to be forgotten. Do you?

IV. Conclusion

As a child of God, will you allow Him to shape you into the image of His Son every day? So that you will be assured of Jesus’ identity markers in your life? Can children of God, and those who live in sin, see that you: abide in God; are unashamedly confident in your faith; know and live in God’s righteousness; and finally know and live in God’s love? If your answer is “no” – get out from underneath that rock of falsehood and repent of your self-condemnation, self-pity and sin! Stop living in fear and selfishness like the world does! You are loved! You belong to God our Abba Father! Live in your true identity in Christ Jesus!

If you are not a child of God, ask God to open your eyes to the love He demonstrated for you at the cross through His Son Jesus. I plead with you to give your life over to Him now! He is lavishing His grace and His love upon you now! Accept Jesus, His Son, by faith and God will adopt you as His child. He knows your name and is calling you into and everlasting love relationship with Him.

I leave you with this joyous encounter that will never end…But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is (verse 2b).” Hallelujah! Amen!

Photo by Ruvim on Pexels.com

Sunday April 19, 2020

What to watch for…In this installment of connecting with our Calvary Bible family and friends please find below: an opening greeting and prayer from Kevin, Bethany and kids; worship songs; a video message; a closing prayer and a related sermon in text. God bless you as you continue to persevere in faith by relying on God’s strength and grace to get you beyond this pandemic. Amen?

A Greeting and a Prayer from the Hannahs
Visit Chris Tomlin’s YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsNH0JAvjeNjwJKrS_509EA
Canadian born singer from Winchester, ON – George Beverly Shea. Sung during a Billy Graham Crusade. Visit https://www.billygraham.ca/
Run to the Father sung by Cody Carnes. Visit Cody Carnes at http://codycarnes.com/
Closing Prayer and Benediction

Remaining in the Truth

This message is related to the video message for today, but focusing more on remaining in the truth. The video message brought forward the importance of God’s grace, truth and His love. As you read, may Jesus Christ bless you and reveal to you His Words to His beloved servant John through the leading and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Text: 1 John 2:18-28 All Scripture passages are…

New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Two explorers were on a jungle safari when suddenly a ferocious lion jumped in front of them. “Keep calm,” the first explorer whispered. “Remember what we read in that book on wild animals? If you stand perfectly still and look the lion in the eye, he will turn and run.” “Sure,” replied his companion. “You’ve read the book, and I’ve read the book. But has the lion read the book?”

During a summer vacation, years ago, our family went through a drive-thru zoo called the “African Lion’s Safari.” From the safety of a bus, we looked at these lazy lions lounging upon man-made rocky structures. The lions seemed almost oblivious to the attention they were receiving, as vehicles lined up to take pictures. Wardens were not far away, in their pick-up trucks, ready to intervene if a lion should happen to go WILD! We had no worries of this happening because the lions seemed well fed and their prowess seemed dormant.

In our lives, there will be a time when we will have to face our lions or should I say, “fearful opponents.” We might have the ability to avoid the things that scare us like heights, spiders, water, darkness etc, but how do we face something that we might not necessarily see? How do we face something that can creep into our lives and before we know it to be wrong – we are caught in its deception?

In the preceding chapter and scripture passages from the first letter of John, the Apostle John gives the believers encouragement (to grow in faith), and a warning (not to get caught up in the desires of the world). Today, John writes about being on guard in a time of deception. John gives us signs to identify the last hour of the world before Jesus’ return and how to be protected in it. John and the Early Church believed Christ’s return was imminent because of the oppression (and the one world order) of the Roman Empire. Almost two thousand years later God’s redemptive plan for mankind includes us today. He desires for us to know Him and love Him, but the time is coming when Jesus will return and we need to be watchful.

Take a moment and read today’s passage from 1 John 2:18-28

“Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

 20But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 24 See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—even eternal life. 26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.”

Identifying The Last Hour

John gives us two signs we can identify this last hour or time of deception:

1. Many Antichrists Have Come

In verse 18, “even now many antichrists have come.” In John’s day, it was a cult of knowledge (precursor to the Gnostics) who were teaching a false doctrine of Jesus. They spoke contrary to the gospel taught by Jesus so John goes as far as calling them “antichrists.”

These antichrists or false teachers would precede the coming of the antichrist. The Bible tells us that a powerful world leader is still coming. The apostle Paul says in,  2 Thessalonians 2:3, “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.” Jesus said in Matthew 24:4,5, “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.”

We are living in a time of deception where many antichrists have come and many more are waiting in the wings. If we think about antichrists, we can think of past world leaders such Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Sadam Hussein; or cultic leaders such as Charles Manson, Jim Jones, and David Koresh. These men were deceived and deceived others. Yet more are coming who will deceive the world.

In Canada alone, we are seeing the rapid dismantling of our country’s Judeo-Christian foundation. As world governments throw out the truths of God’s Word (The Holy Bible) from directing laws and policy, a one-world government and one world economy are emerging. Political scientists are casting their opinions about the COVID-19 pandemic halting globalization. However, I believe in order to fight this enemy and survive global economic collapse the nations of the world will need to work closer together then ever before. We are getting closer to the last hour where anti-christs will try to solve the world’s problems preparing the way for the Anti-Christ or “lawless one” (read 2 Thessalonians chapter 2) to appear. If you follow Jesus as your Saviour and LORD, He commands us to be watchful and ready for His return which will bring an end to the rule of the lawless one (Matthew 24:42).

2. They Went Out From Us

Secondly, what John points out next is disconcerting. These antichrists or false teachers in verse 19, “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”  They went out from us. These antichrists or false teachers were once a part of the Christian community, but did not remain in the Truth. They were people going through the motions until they found something better to promote their own agendas. They are people who give Christianity lip service, but not heart service. These men and women are not believers. They pose as Christians.

John gives us a quick test to help us recognize a false teacher or a person who is influenced by the spirit of the antichrist. 

True or False Test

You know a false teacher when he:

1) Denies Jesus is the Christ verse 22a, “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ.”  Read these verses that are connected from 1 John 4:2,3 – “2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” Have you come across this dreadful spirit?

2) Denies Jesus is the Son of God – in verses 22b-23, “Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”

These are direct attacks John throws at this knowledge cult because they did not believe Jesus was the Messiah. They believed that the Spirit came upon Jesus at His baptism, but departed from Him before he faced the cross. They did not believe that God would suffer in the flesh since the flesh is evil and of no value.

Let’s imagine you are back at your favourite coffee shop (nice thoughts eh?) and you have the opportunity to bring up the subject of Jesus with a local coffee drinker. As the Lord leads, you may ask the person, “Who is Jesus to you?” They may say, “He is a good man of the past.” Another may say, “He is just a made up story.”

I remember speaking to university students (during my days as a student) who said he was a “prophet.” They did not believe He was the Christ or the Son of God. These coffee drinkers and students don’t believe Jesus is the Son of God or the Christ because their eyes have not been opened to the Truth.

The Apostle John continues in our passage with two foundational guides (or tracks) that reveal Jesus’ true identity and guard us in Truth. This is the most important part of the message.

Two Foundational Guides That Will Guard Us in Truth

1. Anointing From The Holy One

In verse 20 John writes, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.”  Moses, when he consecrated his brother Aaron and his sons into the priesthood, anointed them with oil (Exodus 29:1-9). The High Priest and Judge Samuel anointed Saul (1 Samuel 10:1) to be King over Israel and then later anointed his successor David (1 Samuel 16:13). All these anointings were holy rituals commanded of God to set up these men into high positions were they would intercede and rule over men and women before their living God. However, they were more then just markings of leadership they also brought the empowering of the Holy Spirit to these men so that they God fulfill God’s will.

I believe John is telling us that we have a greater anointing then any past or present false teacher or Gnostic. We have an anointing that is even more personal then what it was to Aaron, Saul or David. Jesus promised in John 14:16,17, – “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”  The Holy Spirit came to the disciples in the Upper Room on Pentecost and they were transformed from lowly men to confident preachers of the good news. The apostle Paul writes on this anointing or presence of the Holy Spirit in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” Paul is saying we are set apart for God and given His presence and power in the Holy Spirit not only to accomplish good works now on earth, but we are sealed for in Christ for Heaven.

Speaking to a large audience, D.L. Moody held up a glass and asked, “How can I get the air out of this glass?” One man shouted, “Suck it out with a pump!” Moody replied, “That would create a vacuum and shatter the glass.” After numerous other suggestions Moody smiled, picked up a pitcher of water, and filled the glass. “There,” he said, “all the air is now removed.” He then went on to explain that victory in the Christian life is not accomplished by “sucking out a sin here and there,” but by being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Are you filled by the Holy Spirit? Does He live inside of You as promised by Jesus when we follow Him? Accept God’s grace by faith and you will be anointed (set apart, favoured without merit and cared for) by His Holy Spirit unto salvation and His service.

2. Remain in His truth

John says another way to guard you in the truth is to remain in it.  Again verse 24 and 27, “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father…27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.”

The word “remain” repeats many times here. Do you get the message? You can’t save yourself from your sin, but by faith remaining in Jesus and His Truth (what He has done for you on the cross) and His Spirit you will be taught all you need to know about having a love relationship with God. Your identity will change because on remaining in Jesus, God will live through you as you abide or remain or rest in Him. When we abide (remain) in Him we die to self and live through Jesus and He through us.

Jesus gives us the wonderful example of the Vine and the Branches in John 15. In John 15:7,8, Jesus said, “7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

Conclusion

There might be a time where you will have to defend your faith in Jesus from the knowledge of the antichrists. I encourage you to do it in love realizing that the person you are speaking with needs their eyes opened by God’s grace, love and truth.

This is a story of an incident that happened a number of years ago at USC [University of Southern California]. Please note: I have not verified this story to be true. It was passed on to me. It does make an interesting encounter and this story, with many others like it, has inspired the movie “God’s Not Dead.” https://youtu.be/bMjo5f9eiX8

There was a professor of philosophy at USC who was a deeply committed atheist. His primary goal for one required class was to spend the entire semester attempting to prove that God couldn’t exist. His students were always afraid to argue with him because of his impeccable logic. For twenty years, he had taught this class and no one had ever had the courage to go against him. Sure, some had argued in class at times, but no one had ever really gone against him (you’ll see what I mean later). Nobody would go against him because he had a reputation.

At the end of every semester, on the last day, he would say to his class of 300 students, “If there anyone here who still believes in Jesus, stand up!” In twenty years, no one had ever stood up. They knew what he was going to do next. He would say, “Because anyone who does believe in God is a fool. If God existed, he could stop this piece of chalk from hitting the ground and breaking. Such a simple task to prove that he is God, and yet he can’t do it.” And every year, he would drop the chalk onto the tile floor of the classroom and it would shatter into a hundred pieces. All of the students could do nothing but stop and stare. Most of the students were convinced that God couldn’t exist. Certainly, a number of Christians had slipped through, but for 20 years, they had been too afraid to stand up.

Well, a few years ago, there was a freshman who happened to get enrolled in the class. He was a Christian, and had heard the stories about this professor. He had to take the class because it was one of the required classes for his major. And he was afraid. But for 3 months that semester, he prayed every morning that he would have the courage to stand up no matter what the professor said or what the class thought. Nothing they said or did could ever shatter his faith, he hoped. Finally the day came. The professor said, “If there is anyone here who still believes in God, stand up!” The professor and the class of 300 people looked at him, shocked, as he stood up at the back of the classroom. The professor shouted, “You FOOL!! If God existed, he could keep this piece of chalk from breaking when it hit the ground!” He proceeded to drop the chalk, but as he did, it slipped out of his fingers, off his shirt cuff, onto the pleats of his pants, down his leg, and off his shoe. As it hit the ground, it simply rolled away, unbroken. The professor’s jaw dropped as he stared at the chalk. He looked up at the young man and then walked out of the lecture hall. The young man who had stood up proceeded to walk to the front of the room and share his faith in Jesus for the next half hour. 300 students stayed and listened as he told of God’s love for them and of his power through Jesus.

“Yet to all who received HIM, to those who believed in HIS name, HE gave the right to become children of God, “children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of GOD.”

“But HE knows the way that I take. When HE has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10

The encouragement I want to leave you is this: as a believer you are anointed in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in your life. Daily ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with a newness making sure that all sin he brings to your mind is confessed. Remain in the Lord Jesus and His word and you will bear fruit in the Spirit and finally from 1 John 4:4, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

Have you accepted Jesus as the Christ (Messiah) and as God’s Son? God’s grace is available to you right now for your eyes to be opened to who Jesus really is? By faith say in your heart, “Jesus I accept You as my Messiah (my LORD) and my Saviour. You are the Son of God!” Praise God if this is your heart’s cry and welcome to the family of God! You are now ready to face the last hour with confidence in Jesus’ glorious return. AMEN!

Easter Sunday 2020 Service

What to watch for below…Our service leader for today, Jordi Wills, has an Easter greeting from his family. This is followed by our worship leader Anne’s Easter greeting followed by a couple songs chosen by her worship team. A short Easter message is delivered while I visit our empty church. I conclude with a closing Hymn selected by Cliff and a closing prayer. If you want to read my full message I have also included it at the end. Keep scrolling and uncovering what the LORD Jesus has for you. He is Risen! He is risen indeed!

Easter Greeting from our service leader Jordi featuring his kids
Our worship leader Anne gives her Easter greeting to us.
Because He Lives by Canadian Artist Matt Maher. Visit his website at https://www.mattmahermusic.com/
Pastor Greg’s Easter Message
Composed by SE Samonte. You can follow him at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQTV0LiuDpcJN6hSkcCP1Vg
Closing Prayer and Benediction

Easter Sunday 2020 Message

Note: All the Holy Bible verses in this message are New International Version used by permission by New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Here we are! The first Easter Sunday service where we are “not gathered together” to worship our Risen Saviour and LORD Jesus on the most important Sunday (some may call it the holiest) in Christendom. I am responding to this tragedy with conflicting emotions. Am I the only one?

In my personal devotions, this past week, I have been meditating on some of the apostle Paul’s richest words of encouragement to the church gathered at Thessalonica found in his letter to them 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18,  “Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” How do we superimpose these verses into our current situation and how do I internally apply them to my life, as a believer?

Obviously in the midst of trial the above exhortations can only be carried out by a “liberated” heart, mind and soul. What does that mean? How can a person have a liberated heart, mind and soul? What does a person need to be liberated from if he or she is living in a free country?

The simple answer is this… if you are not rejoicing, not continually talking to God and you are not giving thanks to God “in” what you are facing then you are captivated by something or someone that is causing you to take your eyes off of Jesus.

I will admit, with the current circumstances around me and hearing of trials that dear friends and loved ones are going through, I can quickly take my eyes off of Jesus and focus on suffering or loss. It could even be one quick thought, “O LORD why is this happening? It shouldn’t be this way!” As soon as I think this then what I’m saying to God is, “You need to heal, deliver and change that person’s circumstances according to my will for them.” Whereas a liberated heart, mind and soul “in Christ Jesus” would say or think, “God you have a plan that I don’t understand for this person right now. I am going to rejoice in You that You will not abandon this person in their heartache or trial, and through my continued prayers, You will show me what You are doing and for that I am truly grateful in this circumstance.

Ruth Bell Graham (wife to evangelist Billy Graham – now both in glory) once said to a pastor friend, “We can’t always give thanks FOR everything, but we can always give thanks IN everything.” This is a very liberating thought. If I agree with Ruth I can say, “I am not thankful FOR COVID-19, but I am thankful IN the way God is allowing it and using it to bring about change, conviction, confession or compassion IN my heart, my mind, my soul leading me to the freedom to love others as Jesus did and share the good news of salvation (liberation) in Him.” Reread this former sentence and replace COVID-19 with something you are NOT thankful for like cancer, murder, divorce, poverty, sexual abuse, mental illness or any evil action. Does this help you to understand “give thanks in all circumstances?”

If you are a little lost with where I am going with this “liberation” thing then hopefully it will be clearer as we join the disciples on that first Resurrection Sunday when our Risen Jesus appeared to them. Get your Bibles and read this passage – John 20:11-23 and Luke 24:36-49.

Mary has mentioned that she has seen the LORD, but the disciples have not. They have only received a report that the body is missing from Peter and John. The disciples are gathered in a room. What do you notice about this situation? It is a lockdown. Literally, the doors are locked. Why? John 20:19, reveals “for fear of the Jewish leaders.”

The disciples’ reaction to Jesus’ crucifixion and death is paralyzing “fear.” When you read through the gospels it seems to be a reoccurring problem that they have. How about us? Have you ever been trapped and incarcerated by fear? How about now as you wonder what will happen with COVID-19 and its aftermath? I have thoughts that are fear inducing in this time.

It is easy to have conflicting emotions especially when “fear” is at the root spinning out other impulsive thoughts and emotions like worry, fright, hopelessness and helplessness. In 1933 during the dark days of the depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in a radio speech. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” (George Sweeting, Who Said That? p.196).

Here is the good news. Jesus met His disciples (His followers) right in the middle of their fear. No locked doors could stop Him. The only thing that could hold Him back were the locked doors in their hearts, souls and minds. How did Jesus break through those intrapersonal locks? He broke through them with PEP. He broke through with “peace,” “evidence” and “power.”

First of all, Jesus’ spoke these words to their hearts, “Peace be with you.” These are words Jesus had used many times with his followers. The night of Jesus’ betrayal and death He spoke these words to His disciples in the upper room, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27).” God’s peace is the antidote to fear. God’s peace does not mean we won’t face trials, but we can experience His peace and presence in our hearts in the midst of our trials. Courage is birthed from His inner peace for us.

Peace in the midst of storm – A former president of the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and historians from England, Egypt, Germany, and India have come up with some startling information: Since 3600 B.C. the world has known only 292 years of peace! During this period there have been 14,351 wars, large and small, in which 3.64 billion people have been killed. Moreover, in excess of 8000 peace treaties have been made—and broken. (Bits and Pieces).

How is Jesus speaking His peace into your life right now? Invite Him into your fears today and spend time in His WORD (Holy Bible) and you will be liberated.

The second thing Jesus did to liberate His disciples from fear was offer their minds empirical evidence that He was alive. “He showed them his hands and his side.” He revealed evidence of His resurrection. He was not a ghost! His body that was crucified which had the nail (and spear) pierced wounds were available for observation.

Science is based on empirical evidence. Today, we have very intelligent, logical scientists who believe that Jesus was a historical figure and rose from the dead. How did they come to these conclusions? Many of them through observing the constructs of this cosmos from micro to macro see “design, order and purpose.” I won’t take time here to get into evidence of God’s existence and the importance of Jesus’ resurrection which is the foundation of our faith, but you can visit these incredible apologists and their websites – Ravi Zacharias https://www.rzim.org/, William Lane Craig https://www.reasonablefaith.org/ and Creation.com https://creation.com/. There is more than enough evidence that points to a loving Creator who sent His Son to save us from our sin.

Finally, Jesus liberated His disciples from fear by giving their souls His power and presence through the Holy Spirit. We read in Luke 24:45, “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” Also we read in John 20:21, 22, “Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Jesus opened his disciples’ minds and souls to His Spirit. The lights came on! Everything that Jesus had taught them was now coming into focus as He breathed His power, His truth and His presence upon them. This was just a foretaste of what was to come for them on the Day of Pentecost as recorded in the book of Acts chapter 2.

This is the power we need to keep living God’s purpose for each one of us both now and forever more. This is what Jesus told his follower Nicodemus in the gospel of John chapter 3 verses 5 to 8, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” This means that a heart, mind and soul of a person will be “liberated from sin and its darkness” (born of the Spirit) when you confess Jesus as your Saviour and your risen LORD. The apostle Paul put it this way in Romans 10:9, 10, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Have you declared with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is LORD? If so then you are born again, not by anything you have done, but what Jesus did for you on the cross by taking your place there. When Jesus cried out, “It is finished” on the cross your sins were paid for in full – making the way for you to come to God the Father and His kingdom. Is there anything that is holding you back from receiving Jesus and His Holy Spirit? Is it selfishness? Is it self-determination where you still want to be god of your life? Today is the day to trust in Jesus and He will liberate you into an eternal love relationship with God. Ask Jesus to save you and give you new birth by His Spirit.

 If you are a saved believer then let me leave you with this final thought. I love verse John 20:20. Do the numbers of this verse open your eyes and minds to anything? Take this verse with you as a fear-fighter… “20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.” This verse gives me peace because I have an unspeakable, deep seated joy that my faith in Jesus will be rewarded by actually seeing Him face to face one day. This is the joy of eternal glory. Jesus had the same joy when He faced the cross. The joy of His future heavenly glory. Take that same joy with you this week. Death is not our end! Jesus is! Because He lives beyond the grave we will also live just as He promised in John 11:25, ““I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”

I’m putting my hope in Jesus! He has liberated me! Now there is something to be thankful for!

Good Friday 2020

What to watch for below…I prepared a video presentation to help us meditate on Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross. God bless you as you come to “know Him personally” through His Son Jesus. I have also included a video that you might want to click on. Join our worship leader Anne, our service leader Jordi and I in worshiping our Risen Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday! Blessings and miss you!

The Cross Has The Final Word by the Newsboys. Visit their official site at https://newsboys.com/

Sunday Worship Service April 5, 2020

Good morning Calvary Bible Church and friends! Hosanna to the Son of David!

What to watch for below… a welcome from this Sunday’s Service Leader Chris Coker; some selected worship videos to sing with (optional of course); and a Palm Sunday Video. Today is also Communion Sunday, but unfortunately we’ll have to wait to break the Bread and share the Cup of the LORD until we meet again.

Greeting from our Service Leader Chris Coker
The praise song, Hosanna! with Music, Vocals & Lyrics, written by Carl Tuttle
Goodness of God performed by Bethel Music
Palm Sunday Video by Pastor Greg
Prayers of Salvation and Intercession. A Benediction. Final Announcements

To send me a Easter video or Easter greeting from yourself and/or family for next week’s website service email me for more info at calvarysmithsfalls@gmail.com

Lauren Daigle performs “Light of the World”