The Line

9 06 2015

Image result for crossing the line

Lines are everywhere! There are lines in parking lots to designate the parking spaces. There are lines drawn at intersections so that pedestrians know where to cross the street. There are little, but important, lines drawn on rulers to show units of measure. There are lines drawn on baseball diamonds, basketball courts, and football fields to help the players and referees know if the balls, and players, are in or out.
Lines can be very important. They help us know where we stand. We are either on one side of the line or the other.
Exodus 32 tells us that Moses drew a line. Here’s why: God’s people had participated in a drunken party and had worshiped a golden calf. Drunken idolaters! Moses knew that God demands that people love, obey and worship only Him. In a very courageous move, Moses stepped in front of all those people and drew a line by saying, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Let him come to me. . . .” (Ex. 32:26). That day, many crossed the line by standing with Moses and the Lord.
Jesus, too, drew a line when He called those from the multitude to follow Him. Jesus’ words make a very clear line: either you are for Christ or you are against Him. That same line exists today. We must decide on which side of that line we will stand.
Many choose to stand on both sides of the line. And for those individuals Jesus replies, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:15, 16). There is no middle ground with the Lord. In fact, for those who try, it makes Him sick to His stomach. Take a stand on God’s side.

 A Treasury of Bible Illustrations





The Apostle’s Creed: Its Relevance

7 05 2014

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. 

And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. 

I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. AMEN.



1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

 

Introduction- Timothy made a “good confession” of his faith. Perhaps this is when he was baptized, repeating something similar to the Apostle’s Creed. The oldest copy of the Creed is called the Old Latin Form, dating back to 140AD. It was tweaked to its present form by the 6th century. Certain religious traditions have tweaked it even more. The word “creed” is from the Latin word “credo, I believe”. It was never meant to be exhaustive but a brief and simple summary. Ignatius, student of John the Apostle and pastor of the Antioch church has expressions of the Creed in his, as well as those taken from Scripture (2Timothy 2:8, 4: 1).

Apostles’ Creed

 1.  I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
• The existence of God as Father, Almighty, Creator
• The Gnostics held that the universe was evil and God did not make it

2.  And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord:
• Jesus Christ is God of God, Lord of lords
• Jesus Christ is our Lord, the One we serve and obey

3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
• The virgin birth of Jesus
• The human and divine natures of Jesus expressed
• The Gnostics believed that God would never inhabit such an evil vessel as the human body

4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:
• Identification of Christ with history. Pilate was Procurator (governor) of Judah 26-36AD
• The gospel as declared in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
• Jesus really was dead, the rumors to the contrary are false ( see Matthew 28;13-15)
• Hell- Hades, the realm of the dead (see Psalm 16:10, Acts 2:31). Jesus went to “paradise” after His death (Luke 23:43) and lead captivity captive (see Psalm 68:18, Ephesians 4:8).

5. The third day he rose again from the dead:
• Jesus is alive, we serve a risen Savior

6. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
• His rightful place, He sits as God ruling with the Father Almighty
• He not only descended, He also ascended
• Authority is given to Him as Lord

7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
• Jesus is coming again
• Jesus is judge of all
• Quick- The living ( see 1 Peter 4:5)

8. I believe in the Holy Ghost:
• The Trinity now complete with the Father and the Son
• Acknowledging the work of the Holy Spirit in the church
• The Gnostics believed the Holy Spirit to be a power and not a person

9. The holy catholic Church: the communion of Saints:
• The church is holy (set apart) and catholic (universal)
• The Gnostics believed that the message of truth was reserved for a select few
• The need of fellowship in the church (see Acts 2:42)

10. The forgiveness of sins:
• God knows our nature and offers forgiveness (grace)

11. The resurrection of the body:
• The body is not evil but will be reunited with the soul
• The Gnostics believed that the body was evil
• We will have a resurrected body as the resurrected Christ

12. And the life everlasting. Amen.
• This life is not all there is
• We are not meant for time, but for eternity

Conclusion- The Apostles Creed has endured the test of time and is still relevant for today.





The Apostles Creed: Its Background

5 05 2014
Introduction-The Apostles Creed is the oldest of all statements of faith in the history of the church. It was verbally passed on during the apostolic age, superseding the assembly of the New Testament text. It was used at baptisms as a confession of faith in Jesus. Many non- Baptist churches use it as a statement of faith repeated at every worship service as a testimony of their common faith. Although such a tradition is not required in Scripture nor does it supersede Scripture but is it a form of sound doctrine that we need to at least consider incorporating into worship?
 
History

• Was first written in Greek, so it probably originates from the Greek speaking people in the Eastern Roman Empire
• It was translated into Latin and adapted by the Western Roman Empire
• The purpose was to have a simple and easily memorized summary of the faith in order to protect oneself from heresy
• The Apostle’s Creed remained as the premiere creed of the Western Church, while the Eastern Church adapted the Nicene Creed in 325
• Both Creeds were written to combat different false teaching that was diverting the church away from sound doctrine

o Apostle’s Creed- Gnosticism
o Nicene Creed- Arianism

Gnosticism (gnosis- Greek for “knowledge”)- A belief that there is a higher knowledge than that which the apostles teach. It integrates Greek philosophy: all creation is corrupt, the flesh is evil because it imprisons the soul. There are two powers vying for the domination of man, that of good and evil. Jesus was not born in the flesh, the cross was a fabrication, God is not a person but a force, the flesh needs strict and punishing discipline.
Arianism– (teachings of Arius, an Alexandrian theologian) – Jesus is God, yet created by the Father and therefore subservient to the Father. The Trinity is a reality but not as co-equals. The Holy Spirit was also created.

I am unable to sympathize with a man who says he has no creed; because I believe him to be in the wrong by his own showing. He ought to have a creed. What is equally certain, he has a creed—he must have one, even though he repudiates the notion. His very unbelief is, in a sense, a creed.
Charles Spurgeon

 





Loving God with all your …mind

22 01 2014

I am not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. I often gasp in wonder at the great teachers and thinkers in the church universal.  I am glad that they are on “my side” because “there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:9). I study the writings of these great men and women of God and try to apply them to my life and to my preaching. I could never communicate their depth but  try to add insight that I would not discover on my own.

I do not find such devotion to study among believers and even my preacher brethren. We are spoon-feeding a generation whose learning is from sound-bytes, the 140 characters of Twitter, and mindless reality shows. I know about using the milk of the Word and the meat of the Word, but I also know the importance of weaning our youth off the bottle and move on to the weightier issues of faith. We are satisfied with “dumbing-down” our preaching to accommodate the standards of a generation who will be checking out their Facebook page in church if they get bored. I know preachers who “wing it” every Sunday and call it spontaneous Spirit preaching. I call it laziness.

If we do not reach the heart, soul, and mind, we are missing the mark of becoming like Jesus, overcoming temptation, and resisting the attacks of Satan. I present a edited blog from A. Maeve McDonald to emphasize this important issue.

Touchy-Feely Faith that Neglects the Mind

The importance of loving God with all our minds is overlooked in a dumbed-down Christian culture that relishes sound-bite theology and fleeting ah-ha moments in our Twitter feed. In addition, the growing emphasis on feeling-experiences in the Christian culture reflects the pattern-behavior of this world—patterns we are specifically taught not to conform to! (Romans 12:1).  Leading emotion-driven lives and “following one’s heart” is indeed the modus operandi of a worldly culture.The hedonistic environment in which we live, is also fertile ground for self-serving lies to flourish such as, “if it feels good, it is good.” And as followers of Christ, we should reject this worldly pattern of behavior vehemently.

Basing one’s life decisions and priorities on feelings, or following one’s heart, certainly has fatal pitfalls; the Bible teaches clearly that the heart (in biblical Hebrew, the heart is a metaphor for the seat of emotions) is deceitful above all things (Jer 17:9) and is naturally wicked (Gen 8:21). Hence, the heart, when left in its original condition, contaminates one’s whole life and character (Matt 12:34; Matt 15:18). The Bible teaches that the heart must be changed and regenerated (Eze 36:26; Eze 11:19; Psa 51:10), before we can willingly obey God. 


Jesus said: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt 22:37). In this, the first and greatest of God’s commandments, we learn that loving God involves a cognitive grasp of who He is (through His Word), coupled with our heart response to the transformative power of the gospel, for a faith that will endure with our souls forever. 






The Apostles Creed

20 10 2013

As a Roman Catholic I was taught the Apostle’s Creed. It was memorized by repetition, publicly spoken  at every mass I attended. The creed itself is very old, originating in the 4th century. It  closely resembles the Nicene Creed, product of the Nicene Council of 325AD ( the council was a watershed of the Christian faith ). It very well could of originated from the apostles themselves, but that is speculation. For centuries and millennium it has been committed to memory and repeated during times of worship. It contains basic doctrine that every Christian must profess in order to claim that they are a Christian.

This past week I attended  a Presbyterian Church in Savannah , one of the oldest active churches in America, dating back to 1758. During the morning worship service the ancient words of this creed were once again repeated in unison by the 600 people present. It was refreshing, appropriate, and right. I am not sure any baptist church has such a tradition in their morning worship service; perhaps because it is repeated in Catholic churches and thus considered as ritual and possibly as insignificant. Are we missing something?

The Apostles Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth;

And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord,

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary,

Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried;

He descended into hell (the grave);

The third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven,

And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;

From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic (universal) Church;

The communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins;

The resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen





The Uncommon Christian

3 10 2013

Henry Frost was the North America director for the China Inland Mission in the early to mid 20th century. He was a man who knew God intimately and served Him faithfully. I ran across this quote and some principles in which he lived. They are well worth the read!

Pastor Dave

Nothing so pleases God in connection with our prayer as our praise, and nothing so blesses the man who prays as the praise which he offers. I got a great blessing once in China in this connection. I had received bad and sad news from home, and deep shadows had covered my soul. I prayed, but the darkness did not vanish. I summoned myself to endure, but the darkness only deepened. Just then I went to an inland station and saw on the wall of the mission home these words: “Try Thanksgiving.” I did, and in a moment every shadow was gone, not to return. Yes, the Psalmist was right, “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord.”Henry W. Frost

The Uncommon Christian

According to Frost, an “uncommon” Christian (i.e., “above the common” Christian) is one who…

(1) makes God’s Word his only, his full, and his constant rule of faith and practice;

(2) lives out his life, having no confidence in the flesh, but having all confidence in the person and power of the Holy Spirit;

(3) makes the Lord Jesus Christ once and forever the absolute Lord of his life;

(4) has the vision of those who walk in heavenly places, and who thus sees things from the heavenly and larger standpoint; and

(5) gives his life irrevocably to God for the saving and sanctifying of the souls of men.





The Prayer Warrior

2 07 2013

How did we get such a phrase as “prayer warrior”?  It is not in the Bible, or is it?  In Romans 15:30, Paul urges the believers there to “strive together with me in your prayers”.  The word “strive” means to fight or contend.  We get our English word “agonize” from its Greek root, emplying to put forth a great effort. In II Corinthians 10:4 we are reminded that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but spiritual.  Ephesians 6:18 includes prayer as a vital element of the whole armor of God.  Paul encouraged praying believers in Rome to be “instant in prayer” (Romans 12:12).  They were prayer minutemen.  They were prayer warriors who joined the apostle on the spiritual level to do combat with our spiritual enemy who is constantly affecting events and decisions in the earthly realm.  We can legitimately claim prayer as a weapon we can use to benefit the believer or unbeliever as they struggle with unseen existence of the enemy.  What are similarities, between the life of a soldier and that of a prayer warrior?

PRAYER IS A PLACE OF…

1. Duty – when enlisted because of the battle
A prayer warrior is a volunteer with in God’s army, enlisting as one of His “special forces”.  They sense the battle, answer the call to duty, and enlist for the duration.  He chooses to push away from the comfort zone to enter a war zone.

2. Discipline – when training for the battle
When training for war, a soldier must maintain a very high degree of discipline.  This discipline is forged by the daily drill within their area of expertise.  When one is training fro warfare in the heavenlies, they must be disciplined in the daily and sometimes intense operations of prayer.  A prayer warrior must never be AWOL when it comes to perseverance in prayer.

3. Combat – when striving in the battle
A prayer warrior is a soldier on the front line of spiritual battles.  They know what it means to agonize in prayer.  They may be a thousand miles from the one for whom they pray, but they know that they are within the hearing of the throne room of their King.  They know that it is not all about them as they enter their holy chamber to do combat on the behalf of others.  They realize also that this army takes teamwork.  He has a duty to watch the back of other soldiers if they leave themselves exposed to the enemy.

4. Watchfulness – when alert to the battle
“Watch and pray” are the standing orders given by the Commander-in-Chief (Matthew 26:41).  They must be alert to deception and the underhanded methods of the enemy.  The word “watch” used in the above verse means an “absence of sleep”.  It implies an attentiveness and vigilance for the sake of those who are not.  Sometimes God would wake them up just to pray for one who is in the heat of battle!

5. Retreat – when you suffer a loss in the battle
I wish I could promise success in every battle we wage against the enemy.  We will lose battles due to our own weakness, our own lack of discernment, or just the length of the conflict.  I can promise that the prayer closet will be the place for recovery and regrouping.  Retreat does not mean you are quitting, it means you need healing and rest before going on your next deployment.  Prayer is our place of retreat.

6. Rest – when you are weary of the battle
Every soldier needs a time of R & R.  They may not have been wounded or may not have been in a losing battle, but they need a time for recharging their batteries.  Every prayer warrior needs a time of rest from the battle.  Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give thee rest”.  (Matthew 11:28)  Guess what?  The way we find rest is through prayer!  “They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength”.  (Isaiah 40:31)

Paul called upon believers to volunteer to be a “Green Beret” in God’s army, ones who battle the very real forces of spiritual enemy, ones who will strive together in prayer.  God is still calling elite group of prayer warriors to stand in the evil day.