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Istrouma Baptist Church
Nov 8, 2020

==========
November 8 | First John (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

Update
Update:
https://mailchi.mp/istrouma/istroumaupdate-577798?e=%5BUNIQID%5D

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November 8, 2020  | Jeff Williams
"Love Begins with Worship"
1 John 5:13-21

1 John 5:13-21
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

Notes:

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Direct download: IBC_20201108.mp3
Category:John -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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Istrouma en Español
Nov 1 , 2020

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Noviembre 1, 2020
Marcas de nacimiento.
==========

1 Juan 5:1-5
Todo el que cree que Jesús es el Cristo ha llegado a ser un hijo de Dios. Y todo el que ama al Padre ama también a los hijos nacidos de él. Sabemos que amamos a los hijos de Dios si amamos a Dios y obedecemos sus mandamientos. Amar a Dios significa obedecer sus mandamientos, y sus mandamientos no son una carga difícil de llevar. Pues todo hijo de Dios vence a este mundo de maldad, y logramos esa victoria por medio de nuestra fe. ¿Y quién puede ganar esta batalla contra el mundo? Únicamente los que creen que Jesús es el Hijo de Dios.

1. Creemos que Jesús es el Cristo (v.1)

2. Creemos que nacemos en la familia de Dios (v.1)

3. Amamos a Dios y a sus hijos (v.2)

4. Creemos que sus mandamientos no son costosos (v.3)

5. Vivimos victoriosamente a través de la fe (v.4-5)

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Nov 1, 2020

==========
November 1 | First John (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

Update
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Connection Card
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November 1, 2020  | Jeff Williams
"Winning Team"
1 John 5:1-12

1 John 5:1-12
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

When obedience is driven by love it loses its burden

The faith that saved you gives you victory over all things

Our confidence is in the fact that Jesus is God and that Jesus loves us

Jesus is God...
His birth, life, teachings,
miracles, death, and
resurrection.

God showed His commitment
God showed His love

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For all pastor updates and information go to:
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Want to receive weekly announcements in your inbox each week?
Click here to add your name to our mailing list:
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Text ISTROUMA IBC to 73256 or go to:
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Our Website
https://istrouma.org

Good morning, and so glad that you're here. And if you have a Bible turn to First John chapter five, we're going to jump in to the last chapter today. And in this series will finish next week and a really just excited about what we're going to talk about. It has been an interesting week. Ah, you know, we had another storm, you know, about that just happens like every other week now. And just all kinds of things that are happening in time change. I don't know about you, but some people talk about, Oh, I love time change because I get an extra hour sleep. 

Well, all I do is wake up earlier than I normally do, and then have to take a nap. I mean, that's pretty much what it means for me, but anyway, then a of a Halloween last night, which, you know, I think is funny that what we do at Halloween, you, that we spend hundreds of dollars on costumes and decorations and candy so that we can go around and beg for 5 cent candy from somebody else. I don't understand that. But anyway, so we, we were involved in that last night and I have to say that as we went, ah, you know, it's, I grew up in an environment where, you know, talked about how evil Halloween was you Weren't supposed to, even at like you liked it or whatever, and they have this. Now I'm not going to get into that conversation today. But there is something that is very powerful about the number of connections you can make with your neighbors on that day as its interesting, that that day of the year is the day that we have the opportunity and probably talk more to more of our neighbors. And we did that last night as we walked around, but the most creative, a thing that I saw a yesterday,  as we walked around, it was this one family decided to make sure social distancing was happening, but still we give out candy. 

And I think we have a picture of it up there. And so they sat on the top level and they shot in the candy down in the deal. And so that they didn't have to touch anybody or I just, I thought that was kind of cool. I don't know if that's new to you, but for a redneck from Alabama, that's a new thing for me. So I thought that was pretty awesome. And then this morning on Facebook, one of the kids from our church that I saw this, there is mom posted and I don't know how well you can see this, but he did this chart of his candy. This is what he got last night. And what I love is at the very bottom yucky candy. I mean, that was by far the most. 

And so let me say this, do people to give out that kind of candy, you know who you are, right. And stop it, stop it, give it up a good candy. All right, unbelievable. Anyway, I just thought that was awesome. And so I have to share that and so Declan, I'm not sure if I'd ever you met, but I asked his mom for permission to share that. And that was absolutely amazing. But anyway, so listen, I was thinking of this week in preparation for this message about a 10 years ago, a little over 10 years ago. And my family moved to Arkansas when I was going to be the pastor of this church and that this church that was pastored at a every year, they did this 5k run called run with the Son and they would do to it. 

It was a pretty big race. And then they would take the money that was collected from that. And they would give it to a local ministry organization is really just a cool event. And so when I got there, I had just been on this track of just trying to, to lose a bunch of weight and get back in shape. But I wasn't a runner. I mean that, this wasn't my thing. I've always been a headcase about running. Like, you know how I just can't do it. I mean, your mind just tells you, you can't do things that you, you really can't do that if you would get your mind out of the way, but that's where I was. But so I thought to myself, there was a guy who was on staff and he was about 10 years older than me and yeah, but he was a runner, but I thought, you know what, he's 10 years older than me. 

I can take him. And so I began to in promotion for the event, I began to practice a couple of my, of my greatest spiritual gifts. Now I don't know if you know anything about spiritual gifts, but you know, you can take tests and they can tell you what those might be in your life. And so when I take those tests and come back to my two greatest spiritual gifts are sarcasm and trash talking, that's my two greatest spiritual gifts. And so I began just to practice those is we got ready for that, right? And I'm thinking I can take this guy. You know, I'm getting in a pretty good shape and whatever. 

And he absolutely destroyed me. I mean, it wasn't even close because I just, wasn't a good runner. And I thought, you know, I can do better than this. I mean, I know that I can do better than this. And so when it got around to the beginning of next summer, the, the race was always the first week of school. And so I had all summer in three months, I was going to a train and I was going to, I was going to be ready at this time. So I've got a friend of mine. It was an actual runner to help you. He and I did all of the things he told me to do, and I know it was ready and I was going to beat this guy. And of course I was still talking trash again because I didn't learn anything from the first year. 

And so we get to the race and I know, and I don't know if you've ever done anything like that, any kind of sporting event when there was a starting block in all the people, hundreds of people around. And I was just all jacked up so excited, but I had this plan of what I was supposed to do, eat smile. And so as we are running at mile one and mile two, they would tell you, Hey, here's your time. This is where you are. This is what you've done. And so I was all excited. And so I was trying to pace myself because I knew where I wanted to be in. And so I took off because I was so excited. 

I mean, I was going a lot faster than I should have been going. And so I got to mile one and they told me what my time was. And it was like a minute and a half faster than what it should've been. And you might think, Oh man, you must be really proud of yourself. Look how great you're doing. But no, not me. All right, because remember I told you it was a headcase and I thought, Oh my goodness, that's way too fast. And my mind started turning right about, about, there's no way that I can keep this up and there's no way that I can make it. I started out too fast and there's no way that I can keep up this pace. 

And because of that, I'm going to get too tired. And because of it, I'm going to lose. And all of a sudden, your mind starts feeling your way. You start feeling yourself with all of these negative thoughts. And before I knew it before I even got to mile two, I'm breathing. So I mean, just like I can't even hardly a walk anymore. And so I stopped running and I began to walk. And in that moment I was absolutely defeated and he beat me again. And I never talked trash about that ever again, by the way. Right. I stopped it at that moment, but I was defeated. 

Not because I couldn't do it because I had done that, that 3.1 miles I had done it probably 60 or 70 times over the course of that summer. I, and I had run that exact route that we ran. I have to run that at least 10 times and done it to every single time and without stopping within, without really a lot too much of effort in terms of just being so tired. But in that moment in my mind, got in a way. And I defeated by myself because of all of the things that I was feeling in my mind. 

Now, I think about that when it comes to the subject that we've talked about the most over the course of this series, about loving one another in about those people in our lives, that we struggle with loving so much that some of you have defeated yourself, but that you have a com to a place where there's no way that you can ever love anybody else, because you have filled your mind with so many negative things, and there's no way that you will ever be able to accomplish it or not. 

Because God hasn't given you the ability not have been. Not because God hasn't given you all the tools, not because you are beyond having a, the ability to make that happen, but simply because you have defeated yourself before you ever really got started. And so today, what I want us to do is we look at the beginning of chapter five is I want to hopefully give you some confidence. I want you to see who you are in what it is that you have, because when God calls us to do something, he's not calling us to do that in order to punish us. 

He's not asking us to do something that is beyond our ability and it's not because you can, or you can is because he can and he's inside of you. And because of those facts and because of those realities, there's a victory that we have, that we are on a winning Team. We are in fact, we've already Won, but yet many of us live as though we've already been defeated. Many of us live as that, I'm just holding on until I die. And maybe Jesus will accept me. And that is a horrible way to live because if we could just buy into what God teaching us and modeling for us and desires for us to just live in obedience than what we will see is not only can we accomplish it, but there will be a joy that fills us. That is absolutely overwhelming. 

And so for all of those of you that came today out of obligation, because you're supposed to do that. But the whole way here you're praying is that I wish he wouldn't talk about loving one another again. Well, I'm sorry, we're going to talk about it again, but I hope that you leave today with a confidence that maybe you didn't have when you came in. So with all that in mind, look at First John Chapter five and let's begin in verse one. This is the, you know, 

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God. So we've talked about that a bunch, right? That believe me is that you put your whole weight upon you, take your life and you place it in God's hands that if you do that, if you've ever made that decision in your life, and by the way, if you've never made that decision at your life at any moment in time, you can do that. God is always willing and ready to accept you. You just say God I know that I'm a sinner. I know that I need you to place my life into your hands. That anyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ you've been born of God. 

That means you are a child of God in everyone who loves the father, loves whoever has been born of him. That means we love one another, right by this. We know that we loved the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments, the proof that we really are born of God is that we love each other. It doesn't mean that we earn God's approval by loving one another. It means this, the evidence that we already, 
I love God for this as the love verse three of God That we keep his commandments and don't miss this last phrase and his commandments. They're not Burdensome. Now that's an interesting phrase, right? Have you ever Thought about things that God tells you to do? Or are you ever read something in the Bible and you just want to put it down, right? You just wanted to ignore it and go back to the parts of the Bible that you like, because it feels like a burden. It feels like an obligation that I just don't want to do because often times, and this is the way that the world things that we see, the, the, the, the laws of God and the commandments of God is such an impossible task for us to have any part of fulfilling. 

And the reason is, is because we think it's all about things that were no longer allowed the dude or things that we have to do that are no fun, that are, are too hard, that are too difficult. And I don't receive the pleasure that I want to receive when I do what God wants me to do. And if we were, to be honest, I would say that at times, and our lives, all of us have been there. And that we see those things as a burden. But it says that when you love God that keeping his commandments is really not a burden. 

So thinking about it this way here, here's a statement that a road that went obedience is driven by love. It, loses his burden. 

I think about that for a minute, that Winning, If we choose to obey God, and that we're obeying God, not out of obligation, but we're doing it out of love. The burden is lifted. Thank you. Ma'am Is that for those of you that are parents, think about the things that we do for our children, that if we had to do those for someone else's children, that would be a burden, but we do them for our children because we love them. I think about a family vacation. I mean, I mean, you talk about anything that can be a burden, right? A family vacation. You have to take it out a second loan too, to pay all of that money, to go to Disney world, right? And then you have to pay for all that money to go down there. And then when you get done with that trip, you, if your, your, your thankful that you haven't killed any of those kids, that you are so loved that you took with you right now. 

And then I, at the end of that, you're so tired. You need another vacation just to recover from your vacation. And if you have kids like mine, you probably need counseling when you get back, because it's just been such a struggle. But we do a year after year, after a year now for us, we have given up, right. We don't do any of that no more. I mean, I told you the last one we have given up, all right, is that we probably need counseling ourselves, but we'd go to the beach. And what we say is, Hey, listen, we're going to the beach and we're going to sit by the pool, or we're going to sit on the beach. Then if you don't like it, you can get a job and go on your vacation. All right. That's what you can do. Right? 

But the things That we do for our kids that we wouldn't do for somebody else's kids, that they're motivated by our love for them, I've shared with you that our youngest two kids, Mason and Harper are adopted is, and if you've never been a part of the private adoption, you may not completely understand this, but it's expensive. I mean, it is absolutely expensive. And if we weren't driven by love for them, I mean, I'd probably sit around and think about how much money I spend on those adoptions. Not thinking, man, if I don't have these kids, I can have the nicest pull in a neighborhood. 

I mean, that would be absolutely amazing when I can, but I think that very often, by the way, all right. But the reason I don't is because I love them. I mean, I love them with all of my heart. In fact, there are times that I will sit and watch them play when they're not fighting, which is rare. But anyway, then when they're not fighting and then I'm sitting and watching them play, and I know the backgrounds of the families that they come from, I know that the things that they've walked through, I know what their life would be like if they were in those homes that not ours and listened to our home is by no means perfect. 

But you know what I do know that the dysfunction that they out of could have absolutely destroyed We are live. And because of that, when I watch them play and a half, I think about all of the other stuff that I just joked about, that drives me crazy. And that I'm thinking I'm way too old to be doing this all over again, that I find myself being drawn to the reality that I am so thankful that I have been able to have them come to be a part of our family, because I love him with all of my heart. And I would never want them to experience all the things that they will never understand. Okay. And that their lives could have been like, Oh, you know what? That is, that It's taking something that if you don't have the right mindset, that could be a burden, but because you do it at a love, it changes. So, so what's the application for that. And the application for that is that what happens so many times is it that we think about this struggle about those people that are hard to love. And because we think about this struggle of who they are and what they've done to us and how they've heard us that somehow what we've done is that we replaced the priority. Is that how they have heard us when the priority all of long should be the reality of how much God loves us. And that's because we love him so much, and we're overwhelmed by what he's done for us, that it just changes our perspective on the people that God's called us to love. 

We look at them different. We no longer see them for how they hurt us when we no longer see them for the pain that they caused To us. But we See them through the eyes in the model, have someone that loved us so much that what other people have done to us that, and let me be very clear with you about this. What other people have done to you pales in comparison to what you did to a Holy God that caused him to have to send his son to the cross, The dye. And when you see it that way, right? It just changes your perspective. So we can do this. We can fulfill the commands of God. The problem is, is that many of us we've let our minds get in the way. And we've begun to focus on things that are temporary. We begin to focus on the emotions of what other people have done to us or how other people make us feel. And what we do really need to bring ourselves to is a place where we come back to a mindset and Understanding that Who I am is all because of what Christ has done for me. And that, because of that, that my actions towards others can be born. All of that love. And it becomes not burden to it and listen to it Doesn't mean it's always easy. Some people are just difficult, right? I mean, let's be honest. I mean, this is not just a, a pie in the sky. Ah, you know that it's not an issue. Some people are difficult to love. It doesn't mean is never going to be tough. Listen, parenting is tough. And I just shared with you how much I love my kids. Know how much I'm thankful for them. But at the same time, there are times this is not easy. I mean, I think y'all, I, I been told by her, I should read a book about Harper. Ah, but ah, you know, this past week, I will give you another example of this past week. 

And I know what y'all know about adoption. And when he tells her to do something that she didn't want to do it. And she looks at Wendy and he says, well, you can't tell me what to do. You're not my mom. All right. So anyway, that the sheet, she's a, doesn't a, a completely understand. Everything is not always easy when you're dealing with kids, but there's something that changes when you recognize that, right? 

Well, we do is born out of a light. This has been changed. Now, let me say this before we move on. For some of you, Everything is always an obligation and there's not a desire deep down inside of you to respond to others in response to how God's loved you. Then you may need to examine whether or not you really know God, I don't mean with your head, but I mean with your heart, by giving him your life. Because when you give God your life, he changes, you know that there is a, a gradual move towards him. It doesn't mean that every day that you look and act just like Jesus right, none of us are there, but it does mean that we're moving in that general direction. 

It does mean that there is a conviction that comes when we don't act in obedience is the way God calls us to act. There are things that just happened that are different when you are a follower of Jesus. And that's part of what John was saying here is that you really need to examine whether or not you really are a follower of Jesus. And you do that based on how you really feel. Because I would say that for many of us, we have a desire to love other people, but it's still not always easy, is it? 

But when obedience is driven by love that The burden is lifted. So here's the next let's look at verse 14. And I promise the rest of this. Won't be as long as that one was all right, verse four, for every one who has been born of God, overcomes the world. And then This is the victory. Here's the good news, right? Here's how we know that we're on the Winning Team And. This is the victory that has overcome the world, our faith, who is it? We did that overcomes the world, except the one who believes that Jesus is the son of God. So we believed that Jesus, his son of God, in our faith, in him, we have already won the victory. Here's another way of saying that the faith and that saved us, gives us a victory over all things. The faith has saved us. Does it just give us a victory so that we could go to heaven when we die? Right? The faith has saved us, gives us the victory over all things. It gives you a victory over today, and it gives you a victory over the toughest things in your life. The things that God calls you to do, or to stop doing that, you don't know how in the world that you can do. And the, the faith that you have in Jesus is what gives you the victory. In essence, what you need to recognize and understand is that you've already won that you're already a winner. 

If you are a follower of Jesus. In fact, if you are a follower of Jesus and you live in obedience to him, you cannot lose no matter what the obstacles are, no matter how difficult it might be. There's a confidence in a peace that comes with knowing that you have already won. Now, for those of you that are like me, they're a sports fans, the, the pandemic, the COVID-19 or whatever other name you want to give to it. One of the toughest things about that for sports fans is that there was a period of time when there was no live sports, right? 

So I spent most of my time when you just have to have that fix watching the SCC network, because they would have a replay, a old football games, right? And so you do this to you, right? If it was a game that, you know, you one, then you have to stop and watch it. But if it was one, you knew you were lost, then you'd move on to go on, to go find someone else to do. And so I remember during the early part of that, when I just needed to fix one day, I turned on a sec sports network and they were replaying from a couple of years ago when a Bama, a beat Georgia and a national championship. And notice I'm not using your team. All right. So Bama a beat Georgia in national championship. 

Ah, and I remember watching that game and there was tears because we are we're way behind. And when we started coming back, but then at the very end, it was fourth down in like 47 to go. And there was no way that we were going to win, but yet an amazing play to have those to test out pass when the national championship, it was absolutely just a absolutely amazing, right? And so, as I watched it the first time I remember how anxious I was, 'cause you're in the middle of it. And you don't know how it was going to turn out, but when you know, you already won, isn't it fun to watch those? 

I mean, you stick it in the Lanxess, right? Your thinking is no way we're going to pull this out and no way, but in the back of your mind, you know, that you won, there's just such a, a, an enjoyment about watching something when you know what the end result is already going to be. And it's a good one. Right? Well, think about That related to the Christian life. What did he say when John was saying here is that you've already won the victory. You have faith in Jesus. You cannot lose. And if you look at the end of the story is John tells us in the book of revelation where you will find His is that God defeats a death hell and the grave that you have a home in heaven and what God promises you in that home and heaven is far greater than any struggle that you are walking through today. 

Oh, you're a winner you've won. So stop living as though you're defeated, Stop living as if there is no hope, stop worrying about what has been and look forward to what God has in store for you live in obedience to him, knowing that you are As a winner, man, I've got to move on. And because we were talking about that all day long, if I know, right, look at, look at the next section, the verses verses six to nine, I told you to be a little faster, right? Versus a six, six to nine. Yes. This is he here. Can you buy a water and blend? Now it gets a little weird here. I'm going to explain this in just a minute. Alright. This is who you came by. Water and bloods. Jesus Christ not by the water only, but by the water and the blood And the Spirit is the one who testifies. That's the key word there, right? This is the testify. God is going to testify about who Jesus is because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify the Spirit and the water and the blood. And these three agree If we receive the testimony of men. 

Look at this, don't miss this. The testimony of God is greater for this as the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. So within this, and I'll explain it. And just a moment, a little more clearly, but there's basically God's testifying about who Jesus is. And because of that also who you are. And that means is that because God is testifying and we see the evidence of all that Jesus has done. It gives us the confidence of knowing that God knows what he's talking about. 

And so therefore you can trust him because he is the authority, right? And it says that the testimony of man is a good thing, but how much greater is the testimony of God, about who this? Jesus is a think about that as it relates to people that you listen to. And when I grew up playing tennis and there was this deal where people, ah, that they could go to a class, it didn't matter how good you were. It didn't matter if you knew anything about tennis, you could go to this class and they would give you the certificate, buy the USDA, and you would be considered a tennis pro. 

Now I was a, a, a, a pretty, you know, opinionated, a teenager. And I remember that it would be, and these guys that would, The where we played tennis and that they would come and they would try and give lessons. And I'm thinking that person's horrible. They're not in a good, I allow in a world that I don't want to take lessons where someone that I, that MI as a 15 year-old kid, that I'm better than they are, or why in the world would, I want to take lessons from them because I want to take a lesson from somebody that knows what they're doing. It it's like someone who is not in shape, trying to tell you what you need to do for you to get in shape. 

I don't want to listen to you about that, right? I don't want to listen to someone who looks better than I do, but he was in better shape than I do. But why? Because the evidence is in who they are, they have shown that they know what they're talking about. Well, what John says is that the testimony of min is good, but let's take the testimony of God. Look at what God has us. Look at what God has described for us. And he talks about the spirit of God, which is God that he testifies of the water in the blood. 

Now, now think about what those represent. The water is talking about Jesus, his water baptism, right? So that when Jesus is at the beginning of his ministry, that he ushered in this idea that he is God in the flesh, through the baptism. And that God sent up the dove. And he was the, the entire thing was a sign that this is my Son. This is the, the, the Messiah, Oh, this is the one that I promise you. Jesus is him. Now that was a huge moment for the people that have been praying for the Messiah for generation after generation after generation. 

And so God says, Hey, here is in the blood. Obviously he represents the cross that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for our sins. And so it signifies the reality that God did what he said he was going to do. And so God testifies, this is my Son. This is the one. Everything that you need is found in, you know, and the testimony of God is so much greater than just the testimony of the experience of man. 

So, so here's how I would describe this and think about the things that God testify about. We see this in Jesus, His life, his teachings, his miracles, his death, and his resurrection In all of those things. What they are is evidence God's for you. God's not against you. 

If you need the confidence in that, go read the end of Romans eight today, all right, starting in about a verse 29 and go all the way through the end of the chapter. I have an amazing picture of what this describes, but what we see in Jesus, birth life teachings, miracles, death, and resurrection, all of those or evidence, God says, Hey, I'm for you. I've done everything that you need. I've given you everything that you need in your life. Everything that has passed that is needed for you to possibly obey the commands of God. 

He says, I have given you all of those Thanks. And this John describes this When he describes as this mindset or this idea is, is you look at every single one of these are all the way down to the resurrection, because really that that's where it all comes together, right? Because Jesus Rose from the dead. And by being raised from the dead, he proved that he was God. And that same God who had the power to raise himself from the dead. He has the power to give you everything you need in your life. 

He has the power to help you to be obedient. And to a sense of that, you can love those difficult people in your life, not through your own power, but through the power of the one that resides inside of it. 

You've already won. You have the victory. We should walk in confidence. So these last versus, and then we're done versus 10 to 12. 

Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself Whoever does not believe in it  God has made him a liar because he said Was not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son in here it is. And this is the testimony that God gave us eternal life. And this life is in his Son Whoever has the Son has life. Whoever does not have the son of God 

God does not have life. Life is in him. Life is in who he is and what he's done for you. So what we ought to be able to do is come to a place in their life where we stopped living as though we've lost, we are victorious. Yes, we are winners. And the way, The way that I would describe this as we wrap up today is this is a God has showed his commitment to us, and God has showed his love for us. And because of that, you can 

Trust him. You say, Well, Jeff what do I do with that today? As I leave this place, I just go back to where you started. Go back to what we read at the beginning have today. And that is, is that your victory, if you're going to live like a winter, that you go back to where you started at the beginning of your relationship with Christ. We say, God, I put my faith in you. That's where your victory is. God, today I put my faith in you or whatever you're facing. 

And whether it's someone that you are attempting to love, whether there is another challenge that's in your life, where there's something that you just can't get passed. You say, God, I'm making the choice today. I put my faith in you that I choose as to where I've made that prayer. The God I'm going to stand up and I'm going to begin to walk and live and victory because I've already one, because I'm all in the Winning Team. And because I know that I can walk in obedience and trust you because you do not fail. 

You do not lose. That's the God that we serve. That's the God that desires for you to live an abundant life. But it only, when you get out of your own head, stop living as though you're defeated, stop being miserable by doing it in your own way, come back to him, place your faith in him today. 

And trust him. He will not fail you. You will not lose. Amen. And amen. Let's pray together today. Lord, I don't know what the needs are across this room today, but God, I find comfort and confidence in the fact that you did Lord. I, I just have to believe that in a room this size, there are people that walked into this place with an issue in their life that caused them to feel defeated. 

And God, I pray that for those individuals that God even right now that through the power of the Holy spirit, that you will flood them with a peace and a desire to just, you know, Right. 

Lord, I pray for any one in this room that doesn't know, you know, they got, maybe they have just been going through the motions and they've been trying to earn your approval. And it's been all about their actions and not about their faith. And so God, I prayed that for those individuals, that they can humble themselves. They can confess with their life that you are the Christ, you are the law and they can put their whole weight upon, you know, they got, they could place they're life into your hands or what I prayed it right now. 

And there are people all across this room that are praying a prayer like that, that are just, just giving themselves to, and then God for those of us that, or somewhere in the middle of all of that, what you just give us confidence today, would you just to remind us of how much you are committed to us, about how much you love us? And I prayed that the testimony of who Jesus is and all that he's done or remind us this week was whatever we face. 

That guy we can trust. Thank you. That we're all on the Winning Team thank you for not giving up on us. Thank you for the victory. You're going to give us this week because of who you are and because of what you've done it, we love you. And we thank you for that victory, this in Jesus name. I pray. Amen and amen. Well, thank you so much for being here today. And as always, if there's ways we can help you, we'd love the opportunity to share with you and talk with you after the service, we'll be here as well. 

So hope that you have a great week and we we'll see you again next Sunday. 

Direct download: IBC_20201101.mp3
Category:John -- posted at: 11:58am EST

Istrouma en Español
Oct 25, 2020

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Octubre 25, 2020
El peligro del engaño espiritual.
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1 Juan 4:1-6
Queridos amigos, no les crean a todos los que afirman hablar de parte del Espíritu. Pónganlos a prueba para averiguar si el espíritu que tienen realmente proviene de Dios, porque hay muchos falsos profetas en el mundo. Esta es la manera en que sabremos si tienen o no el Espíritu de Dios: si una persona que afirma ser profeta reconoce que Jesucristo vino en un cuerpo humano, esa persona tiene el Espíritu de Dios; pero si alguien afirma ser profeta y no reconoce la verdad acerca de Jesús, aquella persona no es de Dios. Tal persona tiene el espíritu del Anticristo, del cual ustedes oyeron que viene al mundo, y de hecho, ya está aquí. Pero ustedes, mis queridos hijos, pertenecen a Dios. Ya lograron la victoria sobre esas personas, porque el Espíritu que vive en ustedes es más poderoso que el espíritu que vive en el mundo. Esas personas pertenecen a este mundo, por eso hablan desde el punto de vista del mundo, y el mundo les presta atención. En cambio, nosotros pertenecemos a Dios, y los que conocen a Dios nos prestan atención. Como ellos no pertenecen a Dios, no nos prestan atención. Así es como sabemos si alguien tiene el Espíritu de verdad o el espíritu de engaño.

1.    Una amonestación:
“Amados, no creáis a todo espíritu, sino probad los espíritus para ver si son De Dios..."  (4.1)

a.    No creas a todo espíritu.
b.    Probad los espíritus.

2.    Una advertencia:
“…porque han salido por el mundo muchos falsos profetas. 2 En esto pueden discernir quién tiene el Espíritu de Dios: todo profeta que reconoce que Jesucristo ha venido en cuerpo humano es de Dios; 3 todo profeta que no reconoce a Jesús no es de Dios...” (4.1c-3)

a.    Verdaderos maestros.
b.    Falsos maestros.

3.    Un acuerdo:
“Hijos míos, vosotros sois de Dios y los habéis vencido, porque mayor es el que está en vosotros que el que está en el mundo. 5 Ellos son del mundo; por eso hablan desde el punto de vista del mundo, y el mundo los escucha. 6 Nosotros somos de Dios, y todo el que conoce a Dios nos escucha; pero el que no es de Dios no nos escucha. Así distinguimos entre el Espíritu de la verdad y el espíritu del engaño.”(4.4-6)

a.    Somos hijos de Dios.
b.    Dios nos oye .

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 Well, good morning. So glad that you're here. If you have your Bibles turn to first John chapter four first John chapter four, and we continue our series walking through this book and just thinking about the idea of how to enjoy your faith for those of you that are parents you'll understand this, you know, there are things as a parent that we want to instill in our children. And so we, there are certain things that we say over and over and over again. Right. And for those of you that have several children, like we do, you know, when you get to the end, you're just like, you, you just tired of saying that. 

I mean, you've said that so many times over and over and over again, you know, and I think like my older kids Hannah's here today, so home from college. And so they look at us with our younger kids and they're like, you're so much easier on them than you were on us. Well, we've given up, I mean, we're just tired. We just, we just can't, we don't have nothing else in us. And so we just kind of survive. And so, especially when you have the family, like our family y'all y'all know where this is going. That number six for us as a total different ball game than the other five were. And so we're trying to instill some things in Harper and she really just doesn't want to listen. 

I mean, that, that's the bottom line. The, the other day, a couple of weeks ago now she was doing something. I don't even know what it was, but I was explaining to her that I was the boss and she was trying to explain to me that that's not the way that it is. And so I just to kind of roll my eyes at her and I said, I don't know what I'm going to do with you when you're a teenager. I think I'm going to send you to live with your sister. And she looked at me five years old. Now she's looked at me and says, well, you'll be old. And I'll be the boss. That's basically what she told me. So that's what we're dealing with. 

Right? But even in spite of that, our goal and desire is there's things that we want to invest in them. There's things that we want them to, to understand. And some of them are really big things. Some of them are, may seem small and they can't stand them. Like for instance, one of the things that Wendy and I have tried to instill in every one of our kids is to show respect for adults and just say, yes, sir, no, sir. Yes. Ma'am and no ma'am. And so after a while you get tired of when they answer a question yup. Or Nope, which I can't stand either one of those that you're yes. 

Ma'am and no you're reminding them over and over and over again. Why do we do that? We do that because there's things that we want to know that are going to help them as they grow, as they become adults, to be a part of society, to be what we would term as successful. And so just with that little example, the reason we do that is because if you can learn to show respect for people, and if you can begin to recognize authority, it changes everything about the way that you're able to succeed as an adult. 

So we say to them over and over and over and over again, knowing that eventually, hopefully we pray to Jesus that it will sink in. Right. Well, think about that as it relates to God's word and at a specifically with John that through the power of the Holy spirit, there's a couple of the messages that he gives us throughout the book of first John, over and over and over again. And if you listen to every single one of the messages that we do in this series, and there may be some times that you are thinking, well, why are you going back to that subject once again? 

Well, because that's the message. When you look at the book of first John above everything else, the one thing that he keeps coming back to over and over and over again, is this idea of love. One another, love one 

Another. And in case you thought We were going to go on to something else today, we're going right back to that subject again. But I think it's going to be a little bit of a different slant, but think about the, the, the John in all that he went through in his life there at the beginning of ministry, I've shared this with you. Before that he was known when Jesus met him as one of the sons of thunder, he was a rough guy. He was all about revenge. He was all about getting back at someone if they got you about attacking and about destroying things. And Jesus taught him through a series of relationships and examples and illustrations and sermons and talks over and over and over again to what you're supposed to do is you're just supposed 

To love one another. And at the End of John's life, as he writes this book, and as he travels around, that was his one central message over and over and over again. And so as we look at this again today, what I want you to see, don't just check out, all right, don't just check out and say, well, I understand that. And, and I know that, and you've already told us that, why are you coming back to that again? Because there's a reason if we believe that the Bible is in the inspired Word of God, then we need To stop trying to dance around things, or just find things to make us feel good. And then when you just study the word, allow the Holy spirit to speak to you. And what I would say to all of us today is there may be something about the same subject that we're going to talk about. Again, that God may show you in a little bit different way  That may transform who you are that may transform your relationships and just smite along the way, help you to enjoy your faith in a much different way than you ever have before. So in chapter four, he goes back to the same thing. I'm going to read the whole chapter. I encourage you to go back and read it this week. But throughout at the beginning of chapter four, all the way to the end of it, there's two basic things he talks about. He comes back to the issue of what is real and what's not real. What is Jesus? And what is the anti-Christ those that are not true followers of Jesus, those that are distracting you and leading you astray. And he goes back through us, reminding ourselves again, of what is real and what really matters. And they jumped right back into this subject of loving one another. 

And it's interesting that he uses the Trinity of throughout the chapter four, to really describe how you can, I, how you and I can love one another. And as we walked through this this morning, I want you to see these three different parts. And I want you to think of this practically, because if you were here with us two weeks ago, when we looked at the end of chapter three, it was the command to love one another. And the command is still here, but this time it's more of, here's how you do it. Here are the things. If we're really going to love the people that God has placed in our lives, if we're really going to be the people of God that reflect the love that he has for us, how is it that we're going to do that? 

And so there's three things that we're going to walk through, just a few of the verses today that will help us. And I believe the application, 

How you can truly love like Jesus. The first thing is this was That you and I must submit to the Authority of Jesus. 

We must submit, or we must surrender to the authority of Jesus. Now, what that means is, is that we recognize that he's the boss and that he is in control. If you have your Bibles open to it,  John look at verses two and three, look at what it says here. And these two verses  By this, you know, the spirit of God, once again, it's talking about the difference between Christ and the antichrist, right? This is how you know, this is the spirit of the true living. God, every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh and is from God. And the essence of that means that he is God, right? Anyone that confesses that Jesus is God right, continue on with that, right. Go ahead and put that back up. There. It is where to go. There it is. All right. And every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. 

This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. So think about this for a minute. All right. He says that the way that you begin this idea or this mindset of loving light Jesus, is that you recognize that Jesus is the authority. And what that in essence means is is that you come to a place in our life where we are not based on our emotions, not on our experiences, not based on what we've been taught within our culture, not based on anything that anyone has ever done to us, but that we say that I choose to live my life under the authority of Jesus. 

I'm going to draw a line in the sand and I'm not going back at it. It moves away from just going off of your feelings and you make a decision that Jesus is your Lord. Now that's what you do. When you become a follower of Jesus, you say, God, I know I'm a sinner. I know that I can't get to God on my own. And so God, I ask you to forgive me of my sins and God, I placed my life into your hands. When you place your life into someone's hands, that means that they are your authority. 

And what it does is it changes everything because here's what happens in our lives. That all of us have the tendency based on culture, based on emotions, based on our experiences that we, even though we always believe in God, we can just kind of drift away, right? We just slowly begin to drift away from the things of God and the priorities of God. And we begin to rationalize and justify have justification for the things that we do in our life. 

That don't line up with the authority of Jesus. When I was a kid, I grew up in, in mobile. And so we were about an hour or a little bit over an hour from the beach from Gulf shores, which was an incredible thing. And we, we love the beats even today, but as we grew up, anytime that we would go to the beach. And, and for those of you that are familiar with Gulf shores, when you come down the, the main road that goes to, into the beach, 59, when you get to the beach road right now, there's, the hangout is right there. And there's all these buildings and all kinds of stuff. 

But when I was a kid, when you got to the end of that road, there was a huge public parking lot in for those of you that are old school like me, there was a McDonald's that was also there on the corner. I have no idea how that McDonald's inmate. Anyway, there was the McDonald's that was here on the corner and there was only one building that was right there. Now that building is still there, but you can't really see this much. Then it really stood out back then. And for those of you that grew up, like I did go on to the beach. You remember this building? It's still there. It's called the pink pony pub. All right, listen, you don't have to raise your hand. 

Cause I know many of you have been in there, but you don't want to admit it. And Church all right, but the pink pony pug, and every time that we would go to the beach that we went to park ourselves out, right by the pink pony pub. And the reason was this, you couldn't miss that building. I mean, it was an ugly, it was an ugly building. It was right there, but here's what would happen as we, as kids would get out in the water and we would begin to play in the water. You know what happens when you play in the ocean? That if you're not careful, you look up and you're like a mile away from where you started. 

So that the pink pony pub was like a reference point. You know that, Hey, don't get too far that we went with my friends, with their family. They would tell us, Hey, don't get too far down the beach. And this is your reference point. You always come back to this. You want to stay where this is so that you don't just drift slowly Away. Because when you were out There, you didn't know it, right. You just kind of out there playing and you look up and you're long a ways from where you started. That's what can happen in our relationship with Jesus. Maybe this happened to some of you that you've looked up and you know, you still love Jesus. And you know, you still want to follow him. But when you look at your life and you look at the things that you're doing in reality, you are a long ways away from where you start.  It's not because you don't love Jesus. And it's not because you don't care. It's just because you've been ruled by your emotions. You've been ruled by the culture. You've been ruled by your experiences and you just slowly drifted away.  So one of the greatest Things that we can do in order to be obedient to this loving light, Jesus is just make a decision today that we're confessing that Jesus is the Christ where we're drawing a line in the sand and saying, Jesus, you are my authority. Jesus, you are Lord. And whatever you say, I'm going to do it because I would imagine there's some of you that every week as we've discussed this issue of loving one another, there's people that have come to your mind and you are very, very resistant. You don't want to think about it. 

In fact, you're trying to block me out right now, even as I talk about it again. But the reality is is, you know, Jesus wants you to love them.  And what you Need to do is draw that line in the sand and say, Jesus, from this point forward, I'm going to do this simply because it's what you call me to do. It's not punishment. God knows you. God knows what you need.  And because of that, he asked us, he calls us to just live under that confession. You see, because walking with Jesus is more than just at some point in the past, declaring that he is Lord. It means a daily lifestyle of coming back to the place, drawing that line in the sand and say, in Jesus, you are my Number two 

Is that where to rely on the Holy spirit, we were to rely on the Holy spirit. Now this is an interesting section of scripture. And as we think about this, I want you to understand what John is trying to teach us about loving, like Jesus, about walking through this. Look at what it says in verses seven and eight verse seven says this beloved, let us love. One another for love is from God. 

And whoever loves has been born of God and knows God, anyone who does not love does not know God. And that's not new information, right? We've been, we've been saying that over and over again. But look at this last phrase and the reason that we know that we're from God, that if we do love and if we're not from God, because we don't love. If we don't love one another is simply because in these last three words in verse eight, because God is love. 

Now, If you have your Bible like a real Bible, right? Okay. And not, not one of those things on the computer, but a real Bible and you have a pen or something you ought to just underline those three words. God is love. It's who he is 
Now. I don't know about you, but growing up in church, I heard this phrase all the time and it kind of confused me because I didn't really understand how God could be something that describes something that we're supposed to do. And that may not make any sense to you. It didn't make any sense to me. I have a weird mind. I understand that. But I want you to think about that phrase for a moment. What does that mean? That God is love. It means that when you think about love, you think about God, because that's who he is. Let me say it this way. There are people in your lives right now. When you think about certain things, you automatically think about them. There are people that, that when you know, we're getting into hunting season, right? And there are certain people that love hunting. And when you think about it, you think about that person because that's just the part. That's just who they are, right? There's some of you that your routine, because you're such a fanatic LSU fan, there are people in your life. They know where you're going to be. They know what you're going to be doing. They know who else is going to be around. They even know what you're going to be eating because that's just the part that's just who you are. Think about it in terms of the things that we send. One another, you know, the, oftentimes you may see something online through social media or whatever, and it's a meme or a video or something. And it just makes you think of somebody else. And so you send it to them, right? Because it reminds you of them. It's just, it's just who they are. What that also means is you can tell what people think about you, about the stuff they send you. All right. Anyway, that's another story for another day. But the idea is, is that we do those things because we know people and that's just who they are. 

This idea that God is love just means that that's just who he is. You can't understand the true, perfect love without him. You can't give true, perfect love without him. It's impossible for us to understand really all that love means outside of who God is because he is the true definition of what love is. 

You say, what does that have to do with relying on the Holy spirit? Well, hang on with me. All right, 

Look back a few verses in verse four, look at what it says. And then I want to put these together. This is the little children you are from God. 

You have overcome them talking about those that are not of Christ. Those are, that are not of God. You overcome them. Why? Because he who is in you 

Is greater than he, who is in the world now. And the gospel of John, which is the same author, John 

Describes the Holy spirit, which is to come right. He describes it. The Holy spirit that when Jesus ascends to heaven in the Holy spirit is coming in, Jesus loves the disciples. Know he, that he has the comforter, that he is your helper, that he is your God. He is the one that will bring you into all truth and do all knowledge. It's the idea that the Holy spirit is coming. So now when the book of first John, who we see that the, the, the Holy spirit has come and the book of acts the, the, the day of Pentecost, the Holy spirit comes. 

And from that point forward, that when anyone gives their lives, they surrender to the authority of Jesus. The Bible teaches us at the Holy spirit that God himself takes residence inside of us. And so the reality is, is that the cause he takes residence inside of us. And remember that the Holy spirit is God, that that means that residing inside of every single one of us is the capacity to love as God loves not based on our own strength, but based on the strength of God, that is in the us, You and me. And so when we rely on the Holy spirit, what would you, 

And what we were doing is the reminder that greater is he, that is in you. The Church the follower of Christ greater is he, that is in you than he, that is in the world. The world says, There's some people that are impossible to love. The world says that there's some people that don't deserve for you to Love them. The world says That you ought to seek other things, and you have to worry about yourself and not be so forgiving, not be so merciful, not give grace, not be so loving. That's what the world teaches us. But the reality is is that we can love those that are difficult to love. We can love those that have hurt us. The most, the reason we can do that is because greater is he, that is in me. 
Then he, that is in the world. So you just come to a place where you just rely on the Holy spirit and listen, that sounds so cliche. And it almost sounds like a cop out, but I want you to understand what that means is that the, the Holy spirit is always working inside of you. And there are times when God calls you to do things and you don't really understand it. And you really can't wrap your mind around that. And what God wants you to do is once, once again, come back to the place you draw a line in the sand, God, I'm surrendering to your authority. 

And based on what you asked me to do, I'm just going to start being obedient. And then I'm going to rely on the Holy spirit to do the things I don't know how to do. I'm going to rely on the Holy spirit to lead me in ways that I don't know how I'm going to get there. And I'm going to rely on the Holy spirit because he is in me. And that means that love is inside of me. And that I have the capacity to love in a way that I don't even know that I do not based on my own strength, but based on Jesus, that is in me. 

And can I tell you something Then when you drift and when you start living by your experiences and your understanding of what the culture teaches you, you will live A defeated life and it is a miserable place to be. 

But when You come to a place where we draw that line in the sand, and we say, God, you are my authority. I'm going to begin to walk in obedience. God gives you a strength. God gives you wisdom. God gives you the ability far beyond what you ever thought was Possible. You know why? Because greater is he does end you than he lives in the world. Rest in that, lean on that, trust that. And then finally, today chapter 

Teaches us that were to follow the model of God. We're to follow the model of what God Has done for us. Now, Before I jump into this, let, let me, let me say this to you. There's some of you that need to hear what I'm going to say in this section, because the reality is that when you think about having a hard time loving, and when you think about people that you hate, The Person that you hate the most As yourself, And you don't feel worthy of the love that God provides for you, you don't feel worthy of even being able to do the things that God calls you to do, because you just feel so consumed with all the guilt and the shame of what you done in your own life. And so, as I talk about this last section, just real briefly today, I want you to hear this in a way, first of all, that this is how God feels about you. But then for those as followers of Jesus, this is the model that God calls us to be a part, as it relates to the other 

One, another, he, here's what he says. Look at verse 10 In. This is love. And not that we love God, but he loved us. And he sent his son to be the propitiation for our sin. Now, first of all, before I go any further, how many of you were really impressed at the guy from Alabama could say the word propitiation, all right. I can't spell it. All right. Well, this is right. The idea. There's no way I can spell it, but I want to, I want you to understand what that word means. If you've never heard that before, but before we get to that word, look at what it says there again, it says that we didn't love God, but that he first loved us. 

So the first thing within the model of God that you need to understand is this is that what we are to do is that we are to pursue love out of the character of who we are. We're to pursue love out of the character of who we are. God pursued you That long before You ever existed, God knew your sin. He knew the things you're going to be involved in, but he chose to pursue you. We see it in the story of the prodigal son, right? That God set out a way for us, for you and I to, to see a picture of his love for us, the father didn't wait for the sun to come back and to make him feel guilty of all the junk that he had done. The father was waiting for him. The father was anticipating him. 

He pursued him.  And if you're Struggling with hating yourself today, I want you to know that the God of all creation, the God that spoke the world into existence, he is pursuing you. He loves you with all of his hardens and the model that he establishes in that. And the reason that John sets that up, it's for you to not have to understand that. What would it look like if with the people that we struggled to love the most, if we just begin to pursue them, not wait on them, not fold our arms and say, well, I've done all I can do. 

We're going to see what they do hide the I can't do anymore. As opposed to having that idea, that mindset, what have you. And I just constantly pursued them the same way that God pursues us. 

You didn't first love God. He first loved you. So cool. We were to pursue love out of the character of who you are. But the second thing is, and don't miss. This is that we have to remove the barriers that you can control. What if you and I begin to pursue people in a way that says, I want to love them the way that God loves me. And then I'm going to remove every barrier that I can control. That would prevent us from having a great relationship. That's what God did. 

God pursued you. And as he pursued you, he saw your sin. And because God's holding, God's perfect. He couldn't have anything to do with that, right? So he said, man, I love them so much. And I won. I love her. I want to love them the way with everything that I have inside of me. And the only way for me to do that is I've got to find a way to remove that barrier. And so he sent Jesus as the propitiation for our sins, which means he took our place. 

He did for us. So we could not do for ourselves. He did not what he does deserve to have happen to him. But he went beyond that. Why? Because he thought more about God's desire to have a relationship with you than he did about the pain that it was going to cause him. 

That's how God feels about you. What if you and I did that for others, we pursued them. 

And as we pursue them, men, there's barriers that are there. And there's things that have caused that division. There's things that have caused that person to be one that is hard for you to love. And what if you said, God, I want you as a, as a walking obedience. And as I rely on the Holy spirit, God, I want to remove every barrier that I can control. They will cause that relationship to be more of what God desires. What if you and I began to do that now, I, I'm not living in a fairytale world. 

I'm not telling you if you do those things, the boy is going to be perfect. And it's going to be a hallmark movie at the end of the day. I'm not telling you any of those things. I mean, who we want to watch a hallmark movie anyway, but anyway, that's also another message, but I'm not telling you that. But what I am telling you is that what Scott, that's what God calls us to do. And the people may not deserve it, but neither did you, neither did I, but God did it for, 

So what are today? Those easy relationships and those difficult relationships and those people that we are living in the same house with and those people that we work with, those people that we come in contact with, what if our mindset was just simply to say, God, I'll make a decision today that I'm going to live my life. I'm going to draw a line in the sand and have the authority of Jesus. And to God as I do that, I'm going to recognize the greater is he, that is in me than he is in the world. 

And because of that, I got, I'm just going to rely on you. I don't know how I was going to turn out. I don't know what the end result is going to be, but God, I'm going to stop worrying about all of the and buds 

And got an, I am just going to walk in obedience and I'm going to trust you to do it. Only. You can do POD as it comes to people that you place in my path and that you put before my mind, you've got, I'm going to pursue those at the end, hardest to love. And I'm going to remove all of the barriers that I can. And then God, I'm going to trust you. Can't tell you something. If you and I can come to that place, it we'll begin to transform ourselves. It will. I promise you begin to transform some relationships and here's the greatness, right? That in the middle of all that, regardless of what the results are on this, this horizontal world that vertically God we'll receive, the glory in the gospel will go forth. And at the end of the day, isn't that what we're really all about it was about the gospel is about God being glorified through our lives. So let's make a commitment that we're going to love. 

Jesus. I'm going to ask you if you would just pray with me for just a moment and just with your heads bowed and your eyes closed for just a moment. I just want you to answer two simple questions. Number one, what does God's saying to you today? 

And then number two, what are you going to do about it? What are you going to do in response to what God said to you today? You take just a moment just in the quietness of this room. Just process those two questions with God. What did God say to me? 

And what am I going to do about it? 

Lord, you've heard the cries of your people all across this room and you know, their hearts. God would you begin to do what only you can do. Thank you for loving us, help us to love like Jesus. Now I'm going to ask you if you would just to stand at your feet and I'm going to read one more verse to you today, because what I would say to you is this. 

Some of you, God just sent some things to you that you're scared to death about. You're not sure how you're going to be able to do, but I want us to put this one more verse up on the screen. This is verse 18 at the same chapter. Look at what it says. There's no fear in love, but perfect love casts out. Fear for fear has to do with punishment and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 

Perfect love is seen in God, right? And so today you and I, we don't need to live in fear. We don't need to live with the, the, the fear of that. We're going to be punished because we're going to mess up again. Can I tell you something you're going to mess up again, but the great news about the grace of God is that perfect. Love it, casts out all that fear, fear from the ability to let God love you. And then fear from the ability to love other people. 

Life is not perfect, but we serve a perfect God that has given us everything that we need. So let's, don't be slaves to that fear any longer let's don't allow it to keep us captive. And the confidence that we have is knowing that at the end of the day, no matter what else happens, that you are a child of God. You're a child of the key. And because he is perfect and because he loves us, we cannot lose. 

So as we sing this song and just to close out our time together, let's use this, the place for us to draw the line in the sand, to no longer be a slave, to the fear that causes us to not trust Jesus and not to love others as we should and less be the people that God's called us to be. You are a child of God. Amen. Let's stand together. 

 

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Oct 18, 2020

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Oct 18, 2020

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October 18 | Go Global (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
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October 18, 2020
"Go Global"
Acts 13:1-4

Acts 13:1-4
Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

See how the Holy Spirit sent out missionaries

Reactive Fasting

See the strategic choice of sending Barnabas

Revelation 7:9-12
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

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Good morning. My name is Clint. If you don't recognize me. And it's probably because I've got a beard on my face and shoes on my feet, because when I was here to stay from a, I often didn't know, were either won. And so as a new attributes that people were getting used to what I'm here to serve. But when me and my, and my family were serving overseas, we have been overseas for about two years. And particularly when we miss family, we miss friends. But when we come here to Istrouma, we particularly feel very special because we equate this with seeing family. 

We love you. And I'm kind of shaken right now. I don't think from stage fright, but just because I'm so happy to be at a store, a man I've been dreaming about speaking to you and reporting to you and how you've invested in us and how that's reaching the nations. So Istrouma from the bottom of mine and my wife's heart. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. So this morning I have got 20 minutes. Okay. So this is going to go quick as, as the third eighth in line for Noah's art. 

And it's just started to rain. We are moving this morning. Okay. To get through this. Okay. So this morning we're going to be in acts 13. So if you wanna turn in your Bibles to acts 13, we'll have it on the screen. As if you don't have a copy in while you're finding your place to act 13, kind of laid down in the context of where we're at, because we're starting about halfway through the book of acts. Okay? So by acts 13, Jesus has ascended into heaven and the Holy spirit has sent the Holy spirit has been sent to equip the church from a ministry. 

Okay. Persecution. At this point, it's increased greatly. Okay. If you've heard the name, Stephen, he was a believer that was bludgeoned to death by stones for following Jesus. Okay. Christians, they fled from this persecution and they have been scattered all throughout the region and they have been forming churches where they've gone. Okay. Antioch where were looking at this morning? This is one of those cities. Okay. We're a church has been formed and the persecuted Christians have come together to form a church. Okay. So now let's read, we'll have it on the screen. 

Acts 13, one through four. Now there we're in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers Barnabas Simeon who was called Niger Lucius of Cyrene Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch and Saul in While. They were worshiping the Lord and fasting the Holy. Spirit said Set apart for me. Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. Then after fasting and praying, they laid their hands on them and sent them off. 

So being sent out by the Holy Spirit they went down to Seleucia and from there, they sailed to Cyprus, 

What's your name, 

Father, this, this record of your work and the first century Church I pray that you, that you can pick your heart's with how they operate on how they serve you. And we serve as a model for how we continue to strive in reach the nations or pray blessings over Istrouma as they, as they receive these blessings that they've turned them around to serve you further. Amen okay. So what we just wanted, this marks, the beginning of Paul's first missionary journey. 

Okay. After all these new churches have started from as a result of this lethal persecution. OK. And there were two observations that I want us to look at this morning from those four verses that we looked at the first is I want you to see how the Holy spirit sent out missionaries. Okay. How the Holy spirit sit on a mission is the heart of this church in Antioch, it beat for God's mission 'cause they were all together worshiping as you saw and Fasting together as one. 

Okay. So this is a service that they're having where they're coming together to worship. And, and through this coming together, they are praying. And so, like I said, we started halfway through the book of acts, but let me remind you of what has happened in the church since they've been praying. Okay. So in acts one, okay. We see that they prey in the upper room for 10 days and the Holy spirit comes and 3000 people are saved as a result of Peter's preaching. Okay. Acts four and five, they pray. And they were emboldened by the Holy spirit. 

And then we see there are nearly 10,000 believers in Jerusalem at this point. Okay. In some of those are the worst opponents to Jesus. And in his message that he brought was you have the, you have the priest and then you have Paul who we'll see later. Okay. And then acts 12. We see the church praying and God up in the prison to rescue Peter. And then God strikes down King Herod Agrippa, who was the lead persecutor at that time. And now in acts 13, where we are, we see the church pray and they send off Paul, the greatest missionary that we've known. 

If the award Jersey his number would be a retired today. So the Holy spirit sent Barnabas and Paul, as a result of their prayers, they, they were scent as a result of their prisons. This was the point that you have to see is the Holy spirit, responding to your prayer, not your responding to the Holy spirit. 

Okay. Samuel Chadwick. 

He was a Wesleyan minister who wrote this in his book and the path of prayer. And this was a great quote too, to reflect on in this importance of praise it's Satan, dreads, nothing but prayer. His one concern is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, from prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray 

Okay 

To worshiping, we see the next thing we see the church was Fasting and most of the world familiar with what Fasting is. And in this case, it's abstaining from food to drive our focus on our dependence on God. But what is peculiar here that we want to look at is when the church was Fasting okay. Because there was a drastic difference in when they fast it from the old Testament to how the church in Antioch right now is Fasting they are in Antioch. 

Okay. So let me 

I'll I'll tell you the story to illustrate the reference. I'll say in the old Testament. Okay. So I'm paraphrasing the book of judges specifically chapter 20. Okay. And if your familiar with the book of judges, this is dark history for God's people, the Israelites, and in Joshua, as a leader, he's just died. And at the beginning of the judges, OK. In his last thing, he was dying breath. He was saying, Hey, you need to obey God's law, obey the Torah. And part of his command was they needed to drive the Canaanites out of the promised land. 

Okay. But rather than this, this first command, rather than drive them, 

I'm out, they assimilated. 

So they allowed the outside influences of this surrounding culture to change them, to wear. They were indistinguishable with the world around them. Okay. They didn't drive out the Canaanites. They became just like the Canaanites in the Canaanites. They were worshiping idols and there were sacrificing children. Okay. So all this lead to a civil war within Israel, and many of the tribes of Israel have come together at this point that I'm paraphrasing. And there were at war with a tribe of Benjamin. Okay. And in Israel's army, there are 400,000 strong, okay. 

Day one have this battle against Benjamin 22,000 Israelites die. Okay. The people they went and they prayed asking God, should we go back? And should we fight again? And God says, yes. In the second day, 18,000 Israelites died. And the Israelites, they were really on their last leg. Okay. I mean, they have prayed. They were sincere about it to the point that they even cried and wept over it a little bit. And now they're asking 

God what do we do? Okay. 

No, the third night, when they were addressing God, they bring a whole army up and they fasted and they burnt sacrifices. And they did all of the things that they know that God likes. And on the third day, God gave them victory. And so set in motion, what I'll call Reactive Fasting. This is how they did it in the old Testament is the Israelites are in a, in an emergency. And they react to the emergency by Fasting as their last resort option. 

Okay. You see the Israeli, you see, those are the ones they repeat this process throughout the old Testament. Really beginning from this, this pair four is a story in judges to where this is their last act of desperation. Okay. And this is, this is similar. When you hear people who are in emergency themselves and they say something like, well, I've done. All I can do. All that's left to do is pray as though praying is their last act of desperation and not their first act of prep. 

Okay. 

The difference in how Antioch fast and in what we read in acts 13, and this is where the question of when they fast, it is really important because the church in Antioch, they proactively Fasting 

Because 

The church in acts 13 here in Antioch, they're at a point, a slight relief. Okay. In the next 12, just before this, the King a King Herod had just executed James and he's got Peter in jail that I referenced earlier in God has now struck there, a lead persecutor down here, they have free Peter. And now we see a church that is getting ready for mission. Okay. Barnabas he saw the mission field and he recruited Paul to come to Antioch to prepare. And before the church was sending them off before they sent them off, they go fast. 

The Israelites they use Fasting right. 

As a hail Mary in the fourth quarter with seconds left on the clock. But the church in Antioch, they use Fasting as their pregame warmup before they even went on a mission. The, the concept of when it's really, really stark and when they do it and, and this week Istrouma is about going, but Istrouma no one will go. If you do not pray and prepare for the Holy spirit to send them okay, I'm in Louisiana. And so I have to squeeze some French in here. 

A laissez Faire attitude is not going to reach the nations. Okay. In with this proactive prayer, with this proactive, Fasting the church. They did it together. Okay. Because look in verse two in your Bibles, it says as they were Fasting or worshiping the Lord, and Fasting the Holy Spirit said, OK. So the wording of this pronoun, it's not exclusive to just the leaders that were mentioned. 

This was for everyone because we see in acts 14, just after, at the end of the journey, they come together and they call the whole church together where they report on, on the success, how the Holy spirit works on the Island of Cyprus. And so you can say in the context, this was the whole church was all in, on sending Barnabas and Paul. So we must not saturate missions with individualism. This is not how the church did it in the first century. 

This is not our model for how we do it in the sermon. It would be untrue to save me and my family that we were simply on a mission trip for two years. When in reality, we were sent by you, you sent us, you discipled us our first discipleship before going overseas, was he read Istrouma you financially gave to us in a way that didn't have any stipulation that this would be an investment that would have returned yields back to yourself. This was a kingdom investment outside the walls of Istrouma. 

Okay. I'm making a slight semantic difference. And between going and being sent out. But it, the difference is sharp because there is no individualistic in mindset and going to reach the nations. Okay. The church nurtures and it disciples members from within to be sent out outside of these walls and out of this culture of prayer and discipleship, the Holy spirit will, will call upon you as a Church to send members locally, regionally, and internationally. 

So the church is intimately connected with those who go on mission, because it is a team effort of sending those people out so that you are so tightly bonded with those that are sent out there. Just like any other member of your church. Now just serving in another location. Cause the Holy spirit sent missionaries from the church as one where they proactively worshiped. And Fasting. So the second point is see the strategic choice of sending Barnabas okay. 

The church in Antioch, they were in a unique location at this point. So at this point in history, Antioch their third of importance in the Roman empire. Okay. So you've got Rome itself and then Alexandria, and now you've got Antioch. This was a major trading center. They had, 

They had a Seaport and So this diversity of all of these people being a hub there socially and culturally ethnically and linguistically diverse. The whole city is okay. So look back in verse one at your Bibles again, and I want you to see the people that are mentioned and the leaders in this Church okay. First you have Barnabas okay. Barnabas he's a Levi, right? And he's a native of the Island in the Mediterranean Sade called Cyprus. Okay. And he has been living through this persecution or responding to God's use of Stephen stoning to plant churches. 

Okay. So he's a first, second Simeon who was called Niger. So he was a believer of dark complexion, presumably from Africa somewhere because they were referred to him by the Latin word for black. Okay. Lucius of Cyrene he was possibly a friend of Simeon. That was from the North African city of styrene Manaen he was later described as to foster brother of heroine and the Anthropocene. Oh. And then you have solved who we knew as the Christian persecutor and after his conversion, he became known as Paul. He led the international church planting efforts and the first century, and he wrote the majority of the letters that you're holding and your new Testament Bibles today. 

Okay. So do you see the diversity of this church? Just from the few that are mentioned? Okay. You've got a beach boy fishermen from Island life. You've got two African men, someone on a royalty and dog to a Christian bounty Hunter worshiping in one church. And so it's, it's a lot with only the five that are mentioned. And if you count the rest of the Church members of that nature that are not mentioned, you're possibly looking at three continents and three to four languages represented just in this one body of believers. 

And, and I bring this up because I hope you see yourselves in this same predicament. Okay. Cause look at yourself, your, your already well-represented with English and American side and Spanish And the Holy spirit. He said to set apart for me, Barnabas and Saul and the church sent them to Cyprus coincidence. I think not Barnabas is from Cyprus. Okay. He's the one in acts four. He he's sold his field and I gave all of his money to the apostles for missions. 

And Barnabas was sent by the Jerusalem church to discover the rumors of the church. And Cyprus from the persecuted church planners at Barnabas. He shows up and he sees the work and he goes, and he finds Paul to share in the work they are in Cyprus, in his hometown so that they go to Antioch and they prepare for one year teaching in the church and writing and the church to send on mission back to Cyprus. So the church in Antioch, they sent two missionaries to Cyprus. One was native to Cyprus. 

One was foreign to Cyprus, it's a mission trip. They are not exclusively for those that are native or foreign to the location. But what I'm showing to show you is when you pair the two together, you traverse obstacles 

Better. Okay. 

So it took us about a year and a half overseas to pick on this in a way, a cultural blunder that, that we had just, I mean, natural personality, we would like to compliment people. You see something nice and you want to give attention to it and say, Hey, it's a good skill you've got. Or like, by example, you see a baby and your thoughts on that was the cutest baby I've ever seen. And you just want to tell the mom how cute the baby is. And we would give people these compliments, but we would sometimes kind of see some odd behavior like, Oh, well that's just acute as a baby I've ever seen. And, and the mom's like, yeah, 

Okay. And 

You're just going to have taken a back. And, and you're like, I'll just like elevate it like that. Just like some of that's a really good compliment or about your baby. And its almost like they've got a super strict cuteness, maybe judgments there's something. And it's like, I don't understand. And so, but not just for babies, but just on a whole string of compliments that we do. And we'd see weird, weird behavior from this. And then after about a year and a half, we come to learn about what has this cultural concept was all over the world. But our people really believe it in what's called the evil I, and this is that you can kind of a think of it as a karma, a system of beliefs to were they, if they get to much positive attention, then they, then there are more susceptible to this curves from the evil OD is going to like balance it out and bring the curses upon them in. 

So when you complement, not everybody, but it was a substantial portion of the people that are, Oh yeah, no, no, no, not really. And they're kind of like, and here I am not realized. And I picture of this evil eyes, like the evil eye have solver on and more door and here like Frodo is trying to sneak across and I'm just complimenting and like dancing around the sand, waving the flags, getting the evil eye to look at him. And I'm done that for a year and a half before I finally catch on. And I'm like, Oh man, if I had Barnabas with me, he would have been like, no Clint stomp, you have no idea what you're doing. You're making these people really uncomfortable right now because it was very intentional two work together. 

The church, the first century Church they sent payers or teams and missionaries to work together. And assuming you have to see the multicultural, ethnic, social enlisted, linguistic environment that you live in America, it's a nation of immigrants. And can you imagine saving your Indian neighbor and then you to go on mission together to India, think of that, the benefits of that kind of ministry partnership. And so particularly for you, I want you to see something unique and how God has equipped you. 

Istrouma for reaching the last in your area every year, the IMB, they put out statistical reports and they give values for the number of people and the number of professions of faith and the baptisms churches planted. Okay. So within the deaf affinity of the IMB, there were 69.9 million people, 1,534 of those deaf people die every day without knowing the Christ within that in the Americas affinity, that's the Mexico to the Southern tip of Argentina, 633.9 million people and 10,283 of those people die every day without knowing Christ two, six are taken from international reporting. 

So they're not the local context of right here in Baton Rouge and there's over 200 sign languages and there's many more languages than just Spanish that is South of us. But I want you to see this, to get a grasp of what is ahead of you, because if the diversity of your church is not unified, it will be like fighting with a hand tied behind your back. When you're engaging a diverse, Will you take the gospel to someone else? There's always going to be barriers and walls between you and them. 

Okay. There's always going to be a barrier between Doug packets and the barbershop that he wants to reach with the gospel. But if he brings somebody like Mike and with him, they may just reach that barber shop together. Okay. And I spent two years overseas studying the language and the culture and us still make dumb mistakes like complimenting babies and attracting the attention of the evil eye. I'm surrounded by seven different languages. And the almost all of them were entirely different than the one that I've I've learned. 

And my closest local friend who knows for languages where on a daily, no one of the seven is my closest partner in ministry. So Istrouma those of you that cannot sign the gospel to the deaf person. You know, you're not handicapped when you partner with somebody that can sign the gospel two, that deaf person, you know, in the same, those of you that cannot audibly share the gospel. 

You are not handicapped. When you partner with somebody who can audibly share the gospel. And this same principle applies when English or Spanish is your first language. Okay. When you're crossing that barrier between English and Spanish or vice versa, the diversity of believers in the church is not a progressive trophy for display. The diversity in the church is a gift from God use for communicating the gospel to a diverse world. 

And this is for me, if you would, let's stand together and we're going to close our time by praying this scripture over It, Revelation seven that For tells me the end result of God's mission. Okay. I will read the text in white and you as the church, you read the Text in yellow. After this, I looked and behold a great multitude that no one could number from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages standing before the throne. 

And before the Lamb clothed in white robes with Palm branches in their hands, in their hands and crying out with a loud voice, Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne and to the Lamb and the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. And they fell on their faces before the throne and worship God saying a man Blessing and glory and wisdom and Thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might be to our God forever and ever amen. 

A minister for a month. Let's continue 

Our focus this morning on going by saying this update from some of your members serving overseas and our city. There's only one Baptist Church for every 100,000 people. 100,000 people can fit into tiger stadium. When you see a tiger stadium, please pray for the millions of people and our city, the need remains great, but God is building his church. 

Even in the midst of this pandemic, two new Baptist churches performed in our city. This summer. One of these new churches now exists in an area of the city where no evangelical church has ever gathered before. Please pray for more churches to be planted in our city. Please pray for us that God would give us grace to continue to learn language, wisdom, and courage. 

Please pray for all the brothers and sisters and our city, the life-wise and the wisdom and purge. You might not be able to see the impact of your support with your own eyes or your support is extremely tangible in our lives, in the lives of our local friends, because of your giving. We were able to continue learning a new language Online even while our school remain closed. And now we can simply share the good news of Jesus Christ in this beautiful language, because of your giving. 

We've been able to purchase Bibles and gospel tracks to give to people in partnership with our local Church. Thank you for your prayers, encouragement and generosity. We love you. Istrouma 

To be recognized those voices. I know probably many of you here recognize the voices of our missionaries in Eastern Europe. And we sent them from a streamer in January, and they've experienced a lot of challenges as COVID hit their country as well, but even so we can see God working through them, using them to work with the local people, to plant new churches in their areas. They asked me repeatedly, please thank Istrouma for praying. Please think a stream of forgiving 'cause every time you give a huge portion of that goes directly to support our IMB missionary. 

So they thank you for giving so that they can be on the field, that they can provide resources for their local partners, and just keep working with these ministry opportunities. You can continue to give online or by text, or even as you leave this morning. So, Amanda, thank you all for being here. We are so happy you're we know that a lot of times people we'll have questions for people living overseas. So I just want to ask a couple of those questions and then give people the opportunity to, to respond to maybe the call of God has placed that on your life to become missionaries. 

So many of our families here at a parish at a streamer who have expressed to me their desire to go and to become oversees missionaries, but they're hesitant 'cause they have children. You have three small children, one on the way. So you know what its like to serve as a mom, especially in another country. Why would you encourage families to go, even though it is challenging? Well, honestly we went over with two kids and you have difficulties, no matter where you're at, you have difficulties here, you have difficulties they're they just might be different difficulties. 

So for me personally, I think the best verse that really encouraged me was the first Corinthians 10, 13, where it's talking about God never giving you so much that you can't handle the temptation. He's never going to tempt us beyond what we can handle. And so for me, that first holiday season, the holidays are really important to me. And I was really struggling. I was pregnant with our third, throwing up a lot, having a one-year-old and a three-year-old never felt like I could keep the house clean. And so I have that temptation to just be like, I can't do this. 

Like, I don't know if I can stay here. I think we might need to go home. I hit a wall with language, felt like I couldn't get any further. And that was when that verse was just so encouraging to me because it's like, God is not going to give me so much that I can't continue the call that he's called me to do with serving overseas in sharing the gospel with these people because others may not Go. And so for me, that was versus was really encouraging to let me know that God's going to help me through it. He is going to provide for me, whether it's through Clint, with helping while I was sick through teammates, through a language teacher that was really encouraging and helping giving me the other resources to study, it just really allowed me to See and to remind me of that, God is going to provide everything I need and that the temptation will never be so great that if I am truly called to go overseas, then God will provide everything needed for me. 

Yeah. I think she describes a lot of moms, right? I mean, you're going to struggle here or in there, so don't let going like a scare. You go to the point where you do not follow God obediently as a family on a mission. Thank you. Clint, give us an update. What is the Lord doing in your area? 

Yeah, I'm excited to put this question. Okay. So I mentioned earlier, like So at 14, they come back Barnabas and Paul, when they report back in the church on, on what's happened. And so this is something that I said was really, really healthy. I'm being cited about because like I mentioned, we're all invested in the us with no stipulation of that investment coming back to you, but solely go in to God's kingdom. And so if that makes me happy to come back, be like, Hey, here's a little bit that's that's been going on. And so we a, we were there for a little, a little over two years in that first term has really focused on culture or language acquisition. And we were able to get an advanced, a level of the language there in that first term, which we were proud of. 

And that really advance us to get involved in a lot of the cool things that are happening. The there's several, a hundred thousand people that, that we live among and we know have less than 10 believers. And most of them were scattered. They don't know each other, some of these believers, other than a foreigner that's come in like us. They've never met another believer in their lives. And so they're very, very isolated. And so its kind of hard for me for church planting when people are so spread out like this, but in one particular village we have three young men all in their twenties, they're close, close to the agents. 

So we connect really well. This is like in, in 20 years that we've not seen anything like this where we have three people in one location, it's like, Oh you all get together and you all get started. You know? And so it's, it's a very, very, very exciting. So for us in particular, that's where we read a really long for you to partner with, with, with us in prayer and these people that we work with and particularly in this village, because God has, has really been working in a very dark place. And we've seen things that you just can't deny. This was the Holy spirit at work. 

So that's our, our quick report of how you've given to us and how the world was continuing to work with them. 

That was awesome. Yeah. We really want you to pray for our missionaries. Update Clint and Amanda have a prayer card scattered throughout the four year. And I know there are some on this back table here, but there's some at the welcome desk. Please grab the line before you leave today and put it somewhere. You can see it and just constantly remember them in prayer. Also remember our partners that are in Eastern Europe, in the middle East and the gins that aren't in the Americas. So last question, people, anyone may be called to be a missionary. 

They really don't know how to go about even beginning of the process. What advice would you give to them? 

You don't do it alone. I mean that was kind of 20 minutes of do it together. So that, that is so if, if, if you, this is something that your, your, even for the short-term long-term, if your, if you were feeling a sense that, Hey, maybe a little, it could be leading us on our hearts. Then don't hold on to that to a long cause the whole focus, the whole aim is to do this as a Church. So with that, if you are feeling a sense of it, Then talk to talk to your fellow church members, talk to the, your leadership and your church get connected. 

'cause you need to be appropriately discipled and loved on. And so you can be sent out in a healthy way and the support. So really, if that is something that's like, I mean, please, please, please, in a way, voice it a voice it to yourselves among yourselves and to your church and don't keep it to yourselves for sure. 

So if you are feeling that call to be an overseas missionary, even if you just think, Hm, maybe I want to explore it a little bit and see what that might look like. Clint and Amanda will be here after the service. I will be here. We would love to just talk with you and get you connected. And it, you know, it doesn't commit you to anything obviously, but we would love to just hear if God is calling you to that. And as a streamer, we would love to walk alongside you. I'm in that process of that as the way that you were going. 

So thank you for being here this morning. Let's give them a hand. Thank you so much. So everyone is not called to be in overseas missionary. We know that the majority of people aren't, but our mission field is still here. We have many opportunities in a stream of missions to go and make disciples. It's not a project missions. Isn't something that we do. Missions is who we are called to be. 

It is a life that we are called to live. So in 2020, all of our mission trips were canceled due to COVID. We're hoping that 2021 is different. So there are a list of opportunities. Trips are not scheduled yet that we will put that information out. So begin praying about it. If the Lord would send you on one of these short term missions, we also have things that are happening within our state disaster relief right now is our biggest opportunity to serve. William did not. No I was going to do this, but could you like stand up for me? 

People know who you are. This is William Davis. We need help in disaster relief. We we need people that can work chainsaws. We need people that can work rakes and shovels. If you are able to serve in any capacity and disaster relief, we need you to get involved. So they use our one time, one day trips. This week, we have a one week trip going out, but please sign up. You can text the word disaster to that number on the screen and you'll receive texts with every single trip. 

Update an opportunity that we have. And lastly, we want you to always be prepared to share the gospel. The Bible says always be ready and seasoned to share this truth. So we will have an evangelism training this Friday from six to 8:00 PM and Saturday from nine to 12, it's a two-part training. The first 50 people to sign up will receive access for 90 days to the Billy Graham, rapid response sharing hope in crisis training, you will become equipped to share the gospel in crisis with people that believe differently than you do is important in this political climate. 

I think to be able to share the gospel with different beliefs and thoughts, but we want to equip you and then we want to help you equip others. So sign up@istrouma.org, SLAs missions, go down to Go Global and sign up for that. And we would love to see you this weekend and we'll pray. And then we'll continue to worship the father in heaven. Thank you much for this day. Thank you for a day where we can celebrate what is happening around the world and just to learn about ways that we can join you in that work. 

You don't need us, that you allow us to walk with you and others is they reach the nations with your truth. God, in a moment, we were going to sing words and I pray that they aren't empty words were, were going to sing that this world is dying to know who you are in the world is dying to know who you are. And we're going to sing that, change our hearts in a way that only you can and make us more like Jesus. And it's going to be easy to just Mel, the words because we were here on a Sunday morning and they're not just words. 

I pray that they will be the cry of our hearts today. And always that you would remind us constantly missions is not a project. It's not an activity. It is who you have called us to be in this in Jesus' name that we pray. Amen. 

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October 11 | First John (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
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October 11, 2020  | Jeff Williams
"Love Matters"
1 John 3:1-10

1 John 3:11-18
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Followers of Jesus should never be associated with...
       Murder
       Hate
       Indifference

1 John 3:23-24
And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

How I treat other people is a big deal to God.

How I treat other people is evidence of a life changed by God

How I treat other people is a choice not an emotion

1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

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All right. Well, good morning. So glad that you're here. If you have a Bible, it turned the first John chapter three first John chapter three. And for all of you that are worried, or we're not going to talk about it. All right. So the first John chapter three were going to jump right into it this morning. And I do seriously. I do want you to go back to the very first a day when we started this series. And I shared with you some things about John the author of the book of First John. And I want to go back to a couple of those today, because I think they're very, very important for where we're going to go in this message this morning and within the book of First John I shared with you that John wrote this book towards the end of his life.

And so somewhere between the ages of 19 100 as how old John was a, when he wrote this, and as you wrote, this book has had this journey one, whereas a, a, a really young man walking with Jesus, into seeing the differences of what Jesus made while he was all on this earth. And then John was a part of a team of people that got used to start the Church and to, to see God just do a movement that literally Hugh and I are impacted by because of the things that John saw him throughout his adult life.

And as you look at that period of time, what you find is, is that John changed dramatically when Jon was a young man, when Jesus first found him, it probably before then, John he was a, a fisherman. He was a little, for lack of a better way of saying he was a little rough around the edges. And he was a rough guy. He was a tough guy. And in fact, him at his brother were known as the sons of thunder. All right. Which meant that they would rather go in and destroy something and they would fix something. All right. And so everything that he did was a built on that month set, but as he spent time with Jesus, and as he gave his life to Jesus, does he surrendered to the mission that God had for him that over the years, what we see, and by the time we get to the book of First John, and as we look at history about his life, that he became not only known as the disciple that Jesus loved, but he became known as the one who understood this concept of loving one another.

He understood it may be better than any of the other disciples and is a testimony too. The difference that Jesus made in his life that he went from this God, that was rough around the edges that wanted to destroy everything to at the end of his life. As he traveled around from different churches in the region, he was carried because he was so feeble that he couldn't walk himself. He couldn't even a ride on an animal because he just didn't have the strength and his message. When he went from place to place a shared this with you on the first week was just simply three words, love one another.

And they would be upset with him because he wouldn't share more. Right now he wouldn't talk. Lorie is a sermon. He was just that short. And imagine how many of you all would be upset today? If my sermon was just three words, then we went home, but its not going to be so we're way past that and were just getting started. So anyway, that, that was his message. And they asked him, why is that all of that? You say, he says, because at the church to just get a hold of those three words, it would radically change the impact that we have in the world.

Love one of them. So would that in mind, we've already addressed this issue. In fact, Mike, on the second week of this series, he, he did, I did a great job as a part of the message talking about this issue of love and hate within the body of Christ in the way that we are to conduct ourselves as followers of Jesus. But in this section of John chapter, a first John chapter three, that the second half of the, of that chapter, he deals with this exclusively. And we're going to talk about this for the entire time this morning. And I want you to think about just this idea that Love Matters and I don't mean just love for God, but I mean love for one another.

And as we look at this passage, he's talking specifically about relationships within the body of Christ. But I believe when we look at scripture, there's no question there's application about our relationships with all of the people that God places in our life in this morning. I want you to think about this in terms of where are you in relationship to this idea or this command? It's not just an idea, right? To love one another. So we're going to look at a couple of different sections of this part of first John chapter three, and just looking just for a few minutes at what God says he was.

So the first John chapter three were going to begin to reading in verse 11. He says, For, this is the message that you have heard from the beginning that we should love one another. Once again, that was John's message. He knew the difference that it would make, but he also had seen the difference that God had made in his own heart. For that subject, we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him?

Because his own DS were evil and his brother's were righteous. It goes back to the story in Genesis, we see if Cain and Abel Cain killed his brother and it was all built out of this idea that he hated him, right? He says, Do not be surprised brothers, that the world hates you. Now, this doesn't seem to fit within the context that he's talking about. Relationship between brothers and these talking about what that murdered the other day. And then he jumps into this idea of the Do not be surprised when the world hates you. He's talking about the world.

Those that don't know Christ hating a, those that do know Christ that are followers of Jesus. And the essence of why they hate is because they don't understand is because they've never experienced the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. So he says, don't be surprised when they hate. And he's not saying this is a negative live on the world. He is saying that, Hey, this is just a reality. The reality is is that people without Jesus, people that don't know Christ they don't have any other choice because they've never experienced true love.

John also teaches us that God is love and that we are outside of knowing God, isn't it possible for any of us to really know the love that God talks about, then his word he says, don't be surprised when the world hates you because that's, that's just what they are. All that they know to do that it would is his next is we know that we had passed out of death and to live because we love the brothers. That's how we know that the evidence, the evidence of whether or not you are a follower of Jesus is whether or not you love the brothers.

You love other followers of Jesus. You love those within the Church Whoever does not love abides in death. Just that last word to say no, I'm from Alabama. I can read it. I know y'all can read it. All right. Whoever abides. Whoever does not abides. Whoever does not love. I can't read. I guess they do right? Whoever does not love abides in death. What's the word say death. No, no, no. That's a strong statement.

Isn't it? That if you don't love one, another Love is not in your hearts. Then you abide in death. How does the Bible describe death? Death is a, not just something that is physical, but it is spiritual. It means eternal separation from God, in essence, what he says. But if you don't love one another, then you're truly not a follower of Jesus. You really are not a Christian. You don't have a relationship with God. Now I'm not saying to you today, but if there's anyone that you Hate, then you're not a Christian.

No, John might be saying it, but I'm not saying it right. Okay. This is not me saying it. Oh, but he gives a very, I mean, just, this is a very powerful statement that we need to pay attention to you, that you can abide in love and have Hate and your heart looks at the next First. This is Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer. This is, I mean, I mean, he's not, this is not just a and encouraging self help talk.

Is that all right, everyone who hates his brother, you're a murderer. I mean, Jesus said the same thing in Matthew chapter five, right? A and a five, six to seven, the sermon on a mountain. He was talking about this idea of that Hate being equivalent to Murder and you know that no murderer has a turn of life abiding in him. No words. You can't be a murderer and be a follower of Jesus. That can't be a who you are. By this, we know love that he laid down his life for us talking about Jesus, right?

And so we ought to lay down our lives for the brother's is the equivalent of all of us understanding that if you recognize that Jesus laid down his life for you, that the result of that is going to be that you're willing to lay down your life for others and look at this next verse. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need yet closes his heart against him. How does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or in tol, but indeed.

And in truth, now let's stop there for a few minutes because it gives us some very powerful things that a statements about followers of Jesus, and that if you are a follower of Jesus, it gives us three different things that you should never be associated with. These should not be a part of your life. The first word is this is a Followers of Jesus should never be associated with Murder. Got it. It makes that a pretty clear, right? That Murder and in other words is a CIN.

You get that right? That's I don't think that if I have to go into too much detail about that, we all know that murder is a sin and we should not do that. And the good news at this point is most of us feel pretty good about ourselves because I don't think there's probably very many murderers in the room. Now, there may be a few. I mean, there's, there's no question in a room, the size of the, tell him what a, some of us have done a but for most of the most part, that's not where we are. And so there's a part of us. It's kind of feels good about ourselves cause of the cheque. I'm not that Wright, but the second thing as we go on this passage that we just read as the followers of Jesus should also never be associated with hate.

Then that gets a little more difficult. That is that there's probably someone's name that comes to your mind. As we, as I say, that, that you're struggling with right now. And the reality is is that the, that Hate is something that does Jesus very specifically in a sermon on a mountain or that he equated with. This is the same thing as Murder there's a reason why does that? We were going to come back to that in just a few here. He says, you can't hate your brother and say that you abide in Love.

I mean, to you, can't say that you are a follower of Jesus. If you are allowing that hate to be in your heart. Now, listen, understand this is not talking about the idea of the emotion of hate. We all have that at times in our life, but throughout the, all of us, chapter three, and even back into chapter two, he has this idea over and over again of the word abiding, right? And the word abiding means to do basically take a residence inside of, or to be at a home in eww. And for a while, what to Jon is talking about is for those of you that hate is like taking residents inside of your heart.

It is at home inside of you in is who you are. If you are so filled with rage and anger and bitterness and hatred and your heart towards other people than you need to evaluate whether or not you truly understand the grace and the mercy of Jesus, because John's argument is, but there's no way that you can understand all the Jesus is forgiven. You have, and you not be willing to show that towards the other people that God's placed in your life.

All of us have those individuals that get under our skin, right? Many of you have those individuals in your life. They've done you wrong. They have hurt you deeply. But the problem is is that we are looking at it through the lens of ourselves. Instead of looking at it through the lens of someone who's life has been changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. And when you honestly look at your life, when honestly look at my life, and I think what I've done to the heart of God, there's nothing that AMIA you could ever do to me, that would even compare to what I've done to Jesus Hate  Is, should not be something that is associated with a follower of Jesus. But then this is where it really gets tough in this passage is that we would just read it also tells us that followers of Jesus should never be associated with Indifference. He says, if you, if you see someone that's a need, I mean, how can you say that you're a follower of Jesus and listen, can not just tell you something. I'm just going to get in your business for just a minute. All right. That's the beauty of being in or around. Let me, I'm going to be gone soon anyway.

And so I just a whatever, I just want to, I want you to hear this clearly, because I do think this is a problem. How can you say that there's succeeded. There is someone in need and just do nothing. And the idea's not whether or not you have the resources to meet that need that. The idea here that is painted by John is that we are indifferent. We just don't care. If you want to push, this is a, a, a plane Alabama, Alabama, and we just don't give a rip. I mean, that, that's pretty much what he says and that if you feel that way, that listen, he equates that with the same thing as Murder.

And the problem is for many of us, we are so self absorbed. We have so much stuff that's happening in our own lives that we are consumed with, that we don't even care about people that are different than us. We don't even care about people that disagree with us. And in fact, sometimes if you think about the way that you view life and the way that you view people, anyone that is different from than you are, or anyone that disagrees with you, if we're not careful, we even find ourselves, we celebrate their demise that we, Edward Lee, we may say out loud that we are praying for someone, but in really were almost happy when bad things happen to them because were really just don't care.

In what John says is that don't you remember that Jesus laid down his life where you are. He laid down his life for you and the people that he laid down his life for him were the very ones that cost him to have to go to the cross. And you see for us what we need to understand that true, the loving one, another. It's not just a loving those people that love us. I mean, we all have family and close friends that we are closely tied to in connected too, that we would do anything in the world for a while.

I put the pictures of my family on the screen last week, I would do anything in the world for them. I love them. But what about the people that don't see things the way I see them? No. What about the people that don't believe the same things I believe politically?  No. What about the people that we see that they have a different viewpoint that have a different mindset, or they have a different, a, a standard about the way that they live in really well, oftentimes if I'm not careful because I'm not associated with him and because I don't see them on a regular basis and because I'm not connected to them and because they don't affect my life or affect my world, I'm not just don't really care in the heart thing about this in this passage, is that what John says is, is that if you're just indifferent in the eyes of Jesus is really no different than hatred is really no different than Murder. This is In the compassion of Jesus. It doesn't mean that what God calls someone else to do is what you have to go and do. That's their story. But it must matter when James talks about that pure religion is to care for the orphans and the widows. It doesn't mean that everyone has to have the same specific ministry to those groups of people. But if it doesn't matter, there's just this element of Indifference in you, that you really, you know, you just, you have to examine whether or not you truly know Jesus and listen, this is not a message of guilt or trying to scare you into thinking that you don't truly have a relationship with Jesus, but John's just being very honest about the reality that this is what makes the difference.

So in this first part of this section, he just of, of chapter three, he just simply says, listen, followers of Jesus, shouldn't be associated with those things and will talk at the end about it. If you struggle with any of those areas, we're gonna talk about how you get beyond that, but Murder hatred and the difference. So he says the same thing, a few different ways than the next few verses, but I want us just, just for the sake of time, I want us to jump to the very end of this chapter.

And in verse 23 and 20 For, he basically, he summarizes exactly what he wants us to understand. He says in this is his commandment. This is the commandment of Jesus. This is the commandment we see in the new Testament. And we see in the old Testament, here's the commandment. We believe in the name of his son. Jesus Christ. Now remember what that word believe means. Write the word believe is not talking about just mentally. It means that you are putting your whole weight upon God.

I put my life in your hands. God, I surrender to you. God, you are in control. Here's a commandment that you are to surrender to and believe in the name of his son. Jesus Christ. Jesus is Lord. And that means Jesus is my Lord. That's what it means to believe, right? And you are to love one another, just as he has commanded us. That's the commandment, right? All of life is built on those two things that were the love, the Lord, your God, with all of our heart, we surrender to him.

He is Lord. And we are to love our neighbors or say, if we're to love one another, Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God. And once again that you are resting in his authority and God is abiding in him as well. And by this, we know that he abides in us by the spirit of God, whom he has given us in an essence, when he says his, that the commands is a very clear in whether or not you have truly a URL abiding in God.

And God has a biding in you through the power of the Holy spirit. The evidence of that is what we see in our relationships by loving one another. So just real quickly as we wrap up D just, I want you to see three things that this past is teaches us, that we need to understand about this issue of loving one another. The first one is this is how I treat other people and is a big deal to God.

It's a big deal. You know, we categorize sins. Don't we, you know, the, the, the things that are embarrassing to us or the things that may be heard ourselves or her in our family, and we try to hide those. And we don't want to talk about those as a whole lot, because those are considered the quote, the big sins. But when it comes to the two thirds of the parts that we've talked about, people that you hate, or you can't stand, or if you laugh at someone who goes through a trial, regardless of who they are, you know, if you were indifferent about things and society of the things around us, those are things that oftentimes, if we're not careful about looking at our Facebook page, sometimes you know that we celebrate it, right?

But what we needed to understand is the secret sins that we would never want anyone else to know about that God sees this issue of hate. He sees this issue of Indifference on the same level is those. We need you to understand that this is a big deal to God. It's a huge deal. Number Tuesdays, how I treat other people is evidence of a life. This has been changed by God. That's really John's point.

Jon's not trying to guilt people into a, or trying to figure out whether or not they truly have a relationship with Jesus, what he wants them to see and understand. If you are a follower of Jesus, the evidence that your life has been changed, his, by the way, you treat other people around, you buy the love that you have for one another. That's the evidence. And the problem is, is that oftentimes what the world sees is not us loving one, another, some of the most amazing memories I have in my entire life have been in church, but also some of the most horrific, I don't remember as a senior in high school, on a Wednesday night, I sat in a business meeting in my church that was about to split right down the Biddle, all over the things that were surfaced in, worried about the gospel.

And I heard and saw people act in ways that were some of the nastiest, meanest things you could ever say to anyone. They said inside of a quote, worship center, going to tell you something that Church LA mean that, that was my goodness as the long time ago. That was 31 years ago. I didn't know. I could add, did you have 31 years ago?

Right? That's Church and that community has never been the same. There are people in that community that any time they hear of that Church 31 years later, or they might not have been there that night, but they heard, they heard how those Christians treated one another. If they heard, how have those followers of Jesus acted about things that had nothing to do with the eternal Matters.

And I believed it damaged the cause of Christ in that community 31 years, all because people got more consumed with what they wanted, then about having a kingdom perspective and truly understanding the grace of God and letting that play out in their relationship with one another.

Did you realize that the world knows more about what we're against than what we're For we talk about the cross of Jesus, but then we live in a way that doesn't reflect that how they treated people is evidence of a life. This has been changed by God man. Imagine if what gee, what Matt and I listen, I know so many of you in this room, I'm looking at your faces and I know the way you feel about what Jesus has done for you.

Imagine if the church of Jesus Christ could allow that mindset and that belief and that knowledge and that understanding to the played out in the way that we treat other people doesn't mean that we ignore sin. Does it mean that we don't have a conviction in standards? That just means that at the end of the day, what matters to us is truly showing the grace of God, by the way that we love one another.

And then finally, who, excuse me, how I treated the people. It's a choice. It's not an emotion. It's a choice. You say it was, if you don't know what they did to me, you're right. I don't Jeff you don't know how much that hurt me. Jeff you, you don't understand. And what they would they say are what they do or I'll let you're, right. I'm may not understand or understand the people that drive me crazy. I understand that.

Right. A but I may not understand what you've been through or what you're walking through, but what I'm telling you is, is that it is never, ever, ever going to be good for you or for the gospel going forward. If you allow those emotions to control you, how you treat other people's is a choice. When it was a kid, as the guest, I was nine years of age, my parents divorced, and it was a shock to me as a kid.

I, I didn't know you. No, I'm dumb a little kid. I knew it was wrong, but they're was it. And it was a very humbling experience, broke both of my parents. And I'm thankful to Jesus that even in that bad, horrible time, that most By both of my parents decided to run to Jesus, not away from it. And I'm eternally grateful for that, that their relationship never repaired.

I never got back together in terms of being husband and wife again, but they made a decision in their brokenness. They made a decision that they were never going to talk bad about one another in front of me and my sister. It listen to it. I didn't know it at the time, but there was a lot of bad things they could've said, right? But they made it for my entire growing up yours. I never heard my dad or one negative or bad about my mom. And I never heard my mom utter one negative word about my dad. And it wasn't because they didn't have the emotions.

They just were mature enough to recognize there was something bigger steak. There were something more important than a steak. And so they made a choice based on real life. Can I tell you something today for most of us in this room, in this and be included, I've had the deal with this all week long, write, you only have to do with it for a half an hour, right? But for most of us in this room, what we need to do is we did to make a choice to love the people that God has placed around us.

We did make a choice to love those people that are the most difficult for us to Love. We need to make a choice to remove hatred from our hearts and lives, and just begin out of the heart of what God has done for us to allow that to overflow in the way that we treat one, another first Corinthians 13 gives us the model now. Well, we normally read this at weddings and is a great application.

For husband and wife, that this has written to the church. This has written to the church that was struggling. Think about the choice in this passage. Love is patient. That's not an emotion right now. It makes us have emotions. When we have to be patient, right. Love is patient and kind, it does not envy. It does not boast. It is not arrogant or his roof or not rude. It does not insist on its own way.

It is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrongdoing. There's that Indifference but rejoices with the truth. Love bears. All things, love believes all things, love, hopes, all things and endures all things. And I love the very beginning of verse eight. Love never ends .

He uses the word that love never fails. You will not be defeated. You can not lose by loving people. You cannot lose, even though you've think that they're getting the best of you and that they one, because you show mercy and grace, what the Bible teaches us, that when we truly love one another, when we make that choice, that we cannot

The loose. So, so what do you do today?You said, Jeff I know I'm a follower of Jesus, but I struggle with whether it's Hate or Indifference. What is it that I do? Just a couple of things real quick, and that I'm gonna pray for her. The first thing you need to do is you need to confess it as sin, stop making excuses for it. Stop rationalizing the way that you feel. And once again, I'm not minimizing. The pain has been calls to you, but understand this, that you're not responsible for what someone else has done to you, but you are responsible for a God by the way that you respond.

And so if there's either one of those Hate or Indifference, it's in your heart, just confess at this morning and say, God, I know of that. This is sin. Can I tell you something? When we stop making excuses and rationalizing our, seeing that is something powerful that God does in our hearts. So just confess it. The number two, you need to begin to pray for yourself. You, you need to begin to pray for yourself, pray that God would begin to change your heart. That God would make you into the person that he desires for you to be.

Because listen to this spirit of God has sent at the end of verse 24, that resides inside of you as a follower of Jesus. He is the one that can do the work. He's the one that has the power to do that so that you need to begin to pray and say, God, I pray that you would change my heart. God, I pray that you would change my mind. The number three for the person or the group of people, whatever it might be that you Hate, or that you're struggling with, that you just don't care about.

You need to begin to pray for them. You can't consistently pray for someone in God, not change your heart. That's what prayer does. Prayer. Our lives are hard with the heart of God. And that person that you Hate is a person that Jesus died for. That group of people that you don't understand, and you don't identify with, and you don't really care about them. That's a group of people that Jesus Christ gave his for them the same way that he did for you. And when you begin to pray for them, there's something that God does.

I listen to us. That's not cliche words that I want you to understand that you really honestly confess your sin, pray for yourself, pray for them. And then go back to the last point that we just said. And basically what you need to do is make the choice to begin to act in a way that is loving. How can you treat them? How can you respond to them? How can you as the, the end of this past, he said, indeed, in truth, First 18 told us that we are to love indeed and instru that you begin to do things in a way that showed the love of God.

Imagine the difference. If we, as a part of this, start a stream of family with take this to heart and begins to love one another, but going to love our family beginning to love the people that we work with begin to love the people that live in our community in a way that honors and shows a reflection of the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. If you remember on an Easter, I shared with you the two statements that have kind of captured me and kind of helped me walk through so many times, and that is the God loves you.

And there's nothing you can do about it. Imagine if this Church imagined, if this community imagine if those around us, we're to be able to say those same things about us, Hey, I love you. And there's nothing you can do about it. I love you. And there's nothing you can do to change it. I love you. And I'm willing to lay down my life for you because Jesus Christ has changed me.

And I want to be a part of his ambition of allowing the people around me to see and know that not only his, he changed me, but I want to show them his love so that we can change the world. Amen. Wait a minute. That's a pretty good or bad. Is it so often was we do this. I want to make sure that we do this today, just with your heads, bowed and eyes closed.

What is God saying to you today? Answered that question right now. And then what does God wants you to do about it? You take a couple of minutes and just answer those questions and I'm going to lead us and pray for us as we close.

God thank you for loving us. Thank you for giving your life for us. Thank you for showing us grace and mercy. We don't deserve it. God, I pray this week that you remind us of that. But I pray this week is I come in contact with people in my own world, but I prayed that the thought at the forefront of my mind will be the grace and the mercy that you have shown me in may. My actions may. My words may be my feelings, may my own decisions.

My responses By reactions may be just my countenance to be one that truly reflects the love that you show him for me and my love for other people. Just be the overflow out of that. God, I pray this morning for people that are struggling, guy with some significant struggles. God showed them that you were all they need.

God, may we be, as we sang a few moments ago, more like, jeez, No

 Lord. We love you. And we thank you that we can have the victory over anything that were struggling with today because of Jesus. And so we surrender all of those things that we struggle with into your hands. And we ask you to use those this week to truly love one another. And it's in Jesus name. We pray. Amen. Amen. Thank you so much for being here and as always, if we can help you with love, the previous is a pray with you and talking with you and a other than that, will we hope you have a great week and we will see you next Sunday

 

 

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Istrouma en Español
Oct 4 – 5, 2020

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Octubre 4, 2020
“Un Loco Amor“
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1 Juan 3:1-10
Miren con cuánto amor nos ama nuestro Padre que nos llama sus hijos, ¡y eso es lo que somos! Pero la gente de este mundo no reconoce que somos hijos de Dios, porque no lo conocen a él. Queridos amigos, ya somos hijos de Dios, pero él todavía no nos ha mostrado lo que seremos cuando Cristo venga; pero sí sabemos que seremos como él, porque lo veremos tal como él es. Y todos los que tienen esta gran expectativa se mantendrán puros, así como él es puro. Todo el que peca viola la ley de Dios, porque todo pecado va en contra de la ley de Dios; y ustedes saben que Jesús vino para quitar nuestros pecados, y en él no hay pecado. Todo el que siga viviendo en él no pecará; pero todo el que sigue pecando no lo conoce ni entiende quién es él. Queridos hijos, no dejen que nadie los engañe acerca de lo siguiente: cuando una persona hace lo correcto, demuestra que es justa, así como Cristo es justo. Sin embargo, cuando alguien sigue pecando, demuestra que pertenece al diablo, el cual peca desde el principio; pero el Hijo de Dios vino para destruir las obras del diablo. Los que han nacido en la familia de Dios no se caracterizan por practicar el pecado, porque la vida de Dios está en ellos. Así que no pueden seguir pecando, porque son hijos de Dios. Por lo tanto, podemos identificar quiénes son hijos de Dios y quiénes son hijos del diablo. Todo el que no se conduce con rectitud y no ama a los creyentes no pertenece a Dios.

1.    La Personalidad del Padre.
“Mirad cuán gran amor nos ha otorgado el Padre, para que seamos llamados hijos de Dios; y eso somos…” (1 Juan 3.1a)

a.    Quien es Dios.
b.    Quienes son los hijos de Dios.

2.    La Obra del Hijo.
“Y vosotros sabéis que Él se manifestó a fin de quitar los” (1 Juan 3.5)

a.    Libres del castigo del pecado.
b.    Libres del control del pecado.

3.    La Fortaleza del Espíritu Santo.
“Ninguno que es nacido de Dios practica el pecado, porque la simiente de Dios permanece en él; y no puede pecar, porque es nacido de Dios” (1 Juan 3.9)

a.    Una nueva posición en Cristo.
b.    Una nueva pasión en Cristo.

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Istrouma en Español
Oct 11 – 12, 2020

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Octubre 11, 2020
¿Por que hablamos del Amor?
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1 Juan 3:11-24
Este es el mensaje que ustedes han oído desde el principio: que nos amemos unos a otros. No debemos ser como Caín, quien pertenecía al maligno y mató a su hermano. ¿Y por qué lo mató? Porque Caín hacía lo malo y su hermano lo recto. Así que, amados hermanos, no se sorprendan si el mundo los odia. Si amamos a nuestros hermanos creyentes, eso demuestra que hemos pasado de muerte a vida; pero el que no tiene amor sigue muerto. Todo el que odia a un hermano, en el fondo de su corazón es un asesino, y ustedes saben que ningún asesino tiene la vida eterna en él. Conocemos lo que es el amor verdadero, porque Jesús entregó su vida por nosotros. De manera que nosotros también tenemos que dar la vida por nuestros hermanos. Si alguien tiene suficiente dinero para vivir bien y ve a un hermano en necesidad pero no le muestra compasión, ¿cómo puede estar el amor de Dios en esa persona? Queridos hijos, que nuestro amor no quede solo en palabras; mostremos la verdad por medio de nuestras acciones. Nuestras acciones demostrarán que pertenecemos a la verdad, entonces estaremos confiados cuando estemos delante de Dios. Aun si nos sentimos culpables, Dios es superior a nuestros sentimientos y él lo sabe todo. Queridos amigos, si no nos sentimos culpables, podemos acercarnos a Dios con plena confianza. Y recibiremos de él todo lo que le pidamos porque lo obedecemos y hacemos las cosas que le agradan. Y su mandamiento es el siguiente: debemos creer en el nombre de su Hijo, Jesucristo, y amarnos unos a otros, así como él nos lo ordenó. Los que obedecen los mandamientos de Dios permanecen en comunión con él, y él permanece en comunión con ellos. Y sabemos que él vive en nosotros, porque el Espíritu que nos dio vive en nosotros.

Texto central:

Nosotros hemos pasado de la muerte a la vida, y lo sabemos porque amamos a nuestros hermanos. El que no ama, aún está muerto. 1 Juan 3:14, DHH.

1.    Principio de Identidad.
1 Juan 3:10, 19-20.
“Podemos identificar” y “demostraran” criterios sobre la identidad del creyente: aquí́, la oposición entre ser hijo de Dios o ser hijo del diablo, entre obrar la justicia o no obrarla, amar al hermano o no amarlo, ser o no ser de la verdad.

2.    Principio de Conocimiento.
1 Juan 3:11, 18.
El primero nos dice qué hacer: amarnos unos a otros; el segundo, cómo hacerlo: con nuestras acciones, en verdad, no solo de palabras.

3.    Principio de Comunión.
1 Juan 3:12, 16-17.
Caín y sus obras malas se oponen a Abel y sus obras justas. Cristo y los que aman, dan su vida y se oponen a quienes la quitan por no compartir los medios de vida.  

4.    Principio de Vida.
1 Juan 3:13, 15.
Existe una relación entre “odiar”, no amor y asesinar.

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strouma Baptist Church
Oct 4, 2020

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October 4 | First John (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
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October 4, 2020  | Jeff Williams
"Children of God"
1 John 3:1-10

1 John 3:1-10
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

God chose us to be His children. vs 1

God removed every obstacle to becoming His children
vs 5,8-9

God changes our “want to”
vs 3, 10

God’s children are a reflection of their Father
vs 6-7

God’s home is our home
vs 2

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All right. Well, good morning. So glad that you're here, get to see you today. You like you’re in a bit of a better mood than you were last week, so I'm glad to see that. So, I went last, I went yesterday to a little football gathering they did in Tuscaloosa and so on my way back. And by the way, it was weird. I don't know if any of you, you went to the game here last week, but being in a stadium with 25% full it's just odd that it was very relaxing. And of course, we knew it will be at the trash that it takes any of them. So that meant it even better.

 

And, but all the way home a will. And the other thing made it yesterday, great day is that the Georgia be in the trash out of Auburn because anytime Auburn loses that a really a great day, but the whole way home, I was praying for you because I was really praying for myself. Cause I thought If LSU loses to Vandy, but these people ain't come to church tomorrow in the ones that dear are going to be ready to kill me. So I'm really thankful for that. We got through that and it was a really good day for all of us. And we will live to tell more stories next week. But anyway, if you have your Bibles turned to first, John chapter three first John chapter three, and I am really, I was having a hard time during worship this morning, which was phenomenal by the way, because everything that we sang about is an aspect of what we're going to talk about this morning.

 

Because what I want us to think about this morning is about family, because that's what John describes in the book of a first John chapter three is this idea of us being a part of the family of God. So this on the screen is my family. That's us. All right? And so there's actually two more. There's six kids altogether, the older two or 27 and 23, I think met something like that anyway. And I'm not sure what their age is our own. We might, there are much older and they're out of the house. We don't have any pictures with all eight of us together, which is kind of weird.

 

But when the oldest is 27 and the youngest is five, it was just hard to get everybody in the same place, the same time to wait. But this was my family right now. And so when I looked at this picture, there's a lots of different things I think about. Alright, I think about these or the people that are probably arguing with the most, that you probably, that your family's proud at the same way, these or the people that are, that keep me up at night. And that wakes me up earlier in the morning. These are the ones that, that really, if I'm really going to just be completely transparent with you, these people are expensive. I mean, all of these folks, they are extremely in.

 

There are lots of days, but this group of people right here that they drive me insane. Now, if they were up here, they could tell you a whole lot worse things about that, about me and then about them. But the reality is that anytime you have a family, there are issues. But at the end of the day, this group of people, man, I dye for them. I love them. This is not care about all of you, but these are my people, right? That these are the, is this is my people.

 

And there's nothing in the world as a father that I would not do for my children. There is nothing in the world as a husband that I would not do from my wife. This is my family. And when you are a part of my family, you are going to have the best of whatever I can provide for you because that's how much I love you. Now. I would say that as I look at my family, that it is a privilege for me to be a part of the family that God has allowed me to be a part of growing up.

 

I hope that my family will say the same thing about the family that Wendy and I have created for them. But one thing I know for sure, the way that your family looks like mine are whether your story has like mine are whether you have a good memories or bad memories about your family growing up. There's one thing that all of us have in common. And that is, is that we have been invited to be a part of a family that's far greater than what any of us could ever, ever, ever deserve.

 

We have the opportunity to be called Children of God Right? Just let that soak in for a minute today. Right? You said that the truth of that, but before we ever just read the, the word I want you to just allow the truth of just that reality that you have the opportunity and notice I said opportunity, I'm going to explain what I mean by that in just a moment, because just because you’re on this earth doesn't mean you're automatically a child of God, but you have the opportunity to be a child of the King, a child of the one who created this world, a child of the one who holds all power and his hands, a child at the one that there is absolutely nothing that is beyond his control.

 

There's absolutely nothing that is beyond his ability. There's absolutely nothing that he can't afford, or there's nothing that he can do that, that same God looks at you in a way that's even greater than the way that I look at my own children. You have the opportunity be a child of God. So as we read this passage, it's more in first John chapter three. I want you to think about what that means and just the power of that, because it may have some of it.

 

You may have come in this room today and you may feel defeated by life. You may be disappointed by the people around you, the ones that are supposed to love you are the ones that have mistreated you. And you may just feel like you're all alone, but I want you to know this morning. You are not alone because that good, good Father that we sing about a few moments ago. His not just for the religious and for the people that have got all the answers and done everything, right? It is for you. Those that are down and low and owl to those that are made a huge mistake with your life.

 

It doesn't matter who you are and what you've done. You have a father that loves you. There was no way we are going to finish this in 30 minutes today. And you ever go to try it right? First John chapter three, I have no idea why. I think the music has wound me up this morning, Doug. I don't know where the rest of those people went, but I'm just anybody. So here we go on to try to get through this because we got another service that's coming behind this. All right. And I, and I want y'all to come back next week. So first John chapter three,

 

Look at verse one. Right? See what kind of love the father has given to us that we should be called in there. It is. Children of God. And so we are, I love that phrase. I, in fact, if you have a Bible and you're not scared to right in it, just underline that phrase. And so we are, Ooh. The reason that we are is because God said we were, then it is, it just is. So, I mean, it's just, it's just the way that it is. It's amazing to me sometimes how we just go right past it.

 

A little simple phrase is in God's word, that's a powerful, powerful phrase. We should be called children of God. So we are that. That's just who we are. Just a matter of fact, the reason why the world does not know us is that it didn't know him. The reason why the world doesn't understand us, and they can wrap their minds around who we are. And what we do is because they don't know the Father because they're not a part of our family. You've ever had someone that was maybe scared to death too, to come to us to one of your family events.

 

I mean, my family's crazy, right? I remember the first time that Wendy came to my house for Thanksgiving, her family is very quiet in the very reserved and so that my family is not all right. If you have thin skin and don't come to my house, all right, is loud. It is obnoxious. And there are people that are making fun of you nonstop the whole time that you're there. It's just family. That's that. And so when she came to our house, the first time, I didn't think she was ever going to come back because I mean, it is just a different, different environment, but the reason she didn't understand, because he wasn't part of our family.

 

She didn't know us. And so when the world looks you that like, you're crazy for some of the things that you believe or some are the ways that you respond or, or the ways that you establish your priorities is not because there was anything wrong with you is just because they don't know the father. And as some of you, you’re thinking you're at verse one, right? All right, we haven't got to anything yet. All right, verse two, here we go. Beloved we are God's children now. And what we will be has not yet appeared. So the best as you have to come, but we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see the him as he is.

 

And that's going to be an incredible, incredible day. The first three and everyone who thus Hope's in him, purifies himself as he is pure. Everyone who makes up a practice of sinning also practiced lawlessness. Sin is lawlessness. You know, that he appeared in order to take away sins. And he's going to tell us another reason he appeared in just a few moments, but that that's a very important point. That the reason he appeared talking about the reason that Jesus came is to take away those sins, because God desires for you to be part of this family.

 

But what separates you from the, the, the ability on your own to be a part of God's family is that sin is lawlessness. It separates all of us from God. And so, Jesus came. He appeared in order to take away those sins in him talking to that, Jesus, there is no sin. So no one who abides remember that word from last week, we talked about what it means to a boss to allow the word of God, to be at home in us and to allow us to be able to rest in his authority. So the one who abides in him keeps Nope, no one who abides in him keeps on sending no one who keeps on going.

 

He has he ever seen him or know him known him little Children let me see. No one deceive you Whoever practices. Righteousness is righteous as he is righteous. So that, that's how you know, someone's righteous. Is there a practicing rights? That's the reason why they do that Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil for the devil has been sending from the beginning of the region. The son of God appeared we hear is that another phrase, right? The reason the son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

 

All the things that keep you from God that's the reason why Jesus came was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning for God's seed abides in him. We're going to come back to that in a few months and he cannot keep on sending because he has been born of God. Now think about the story and the gospel of John, where Nicodemus comes to Jesus, right in Jesus makes that statement to him is a, it's not about being a good person, not about to doing all of the, the things in the law, but in order for you to enter the kingdom of heaven, you must be born again in nicotine.

 

He has looked at him like he was crazy, you know, and if we would not have been people that he grew up in Church we would of looked at him like he was crazy as well, because I am I supposed to go back into my mother's womb again. But what is Jesus talking about? And that's a net to a conversation he's talking about being a part of the family, that when you are born, you are born into a family. And in order to be a part of the family of God, you must be born again. There's something that must happen in you and through you in order for you to be a part of God's family.

 

So no one's born of God is going to continue to it. Sin verse 10, by this, it does evidence who our, the children of God and who are the children of the devil, whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God nor is the one who does not love his brother. Now that I know a couple things before I just to point out for or five things that we find in this passage. First of all, we see some things that we've already seen as we've been reading the first two chapters of first John and John, repeat some things over and over and over again in this short book in oftentimes when things are repeated over and over again, we just begin to glossy.

 

I heard that yet. I heard that, but there's a reason why he keeps repeating them. And the reason he keeps repeating them, this is because you need to know them. And because he knows it, if we're not careful, we're not going to pay attention to them. And so he is emphasizing some specific things about what it looks like to be a child, God, but he comes back in chapter three and he tries to wrap our minds around how we become a part of the family of God. And then what it looks like, how we know for sure, there's some assurance that there's some of the things that he shows is in here, that we need to make sure that we can wrap our hearts in my, in Japan, the, the, the first thing I want you to see as he walked through this this morning is that God chose us to be its Children God chose you to be his child.

 

The Bible says that you didn't love of God first, but that God first loved. You are going to look at that in just a few weeks is the idea that the God came after you, then God is pursuing you. And whether or not you have a big already begun in a relationship with him, or whether or not you've been running from him then in either situation God is pursuing you if your here today, and you've been trying to get to God on your own. You're never going to get to God on your own. You're never going to be good enough, but I want you to know that God's done all that is necessary.

 

He is pursuing you because he loves you. And just like we see in the story of the prodigal son, that when the sun ran off and began to do his own thing in his own way, that we see that the Father was not busying himself doing something else, but the Father was awaiting his return because the Father has chosen that he desires for you to be a part of his family. I showed you a picture earlier of my entire family.

 

There there's two of my kids. I want to put back on the screen. If you notice, you know, Harper never just stands and just takes the picture she has to post for everything that she does. I think that we didn't ask her to do that right there. I, that that was, I was, Hey, listen. That's just who she is. Anyway, Harper and Mason are not, we're not born in terms of biologically into our family. There are both adopted, and their stories are just, I don't have time to go into them today, but it's just amazing.

 

The things that God has allowed us to be able to provide for them, that just the chaos that they would have grown up in, which has been absolutely just, it has been destructive. And so we think a lot about how we're going to have those conversations as they get older. And they already both know that they were adopted, and we make it just a normal part of the conversation. We don't ever want them to be surprised. But the biggest thing that we emphasize with them is that before we ever met you, before you ever knew we were, we chose you.

 

We chose you to be a part of our family. And we love you the same way that we love Taylor in HANA, who our children, biologically, we chose you to be a part of us. And what our prayer is that they see that their, that they don't see themselves as different as they grow up, but they see themselves as valued. They see themselves as understanding and knowing that we love them with all of our heart. And we were willing to sacrifice financially.

 

We were willing to sacrifice in terms of just comfort. And we were willing to sacrifice the fact that we're old and we shouldn't have kids as young. We are willing to sacrifice all of those things, but because we love them, we chose for them to be a part of us. Amen. Thank you.

 

You got the reality that God looked down from heaven. And when he desired more than anything else, he was for you to be his adopted son or daughter. He designed for you to be a part of his family. And listen, if you don't hear anything else, I say today, would you walk away with the understanding that regardless of what else is happening in your life, God, you, he chose you to be a part of his family.

 

Now, let me go back and read it right now. But verse one is the reference for you to go back and see how that,

 

That sets that up. The second thing I want you to see as this is the God removed every obstacle to becoming His children, vs member. I told you that he said there was two reasons that he came, and he came a, so that we wouldn't have to keep on sinning. He, he, he came to be the sacrifice for our sins, but then we also see the, ah, the idea or the mindset that he came to destroy the works of the devil. And that is, is that no matter how strong a sin may be in your life, I want you to know that God is stronger. And he came to remove that chain from you.

 

He came to remove that power from your life. He came to give you what you can never give for yourself. He removed all the berries because you see the, ah, the, the barrier of between you and God is sin. And what I want you to understand this a, this morning is that we have this mind set within our culture. Will of God is a loving God. Then why would God ever send anyone to hell? And I want you to understand God does the same. In any one day, God removed every obstacle. He removed every barrier.

 

And if you choose to reject him, you are choosing to ignore all of the things that God has provided. He has made a way so that no matter who we are, no matter what we've done, no matter what we've been through, no matter what, a mess we've made of circumstances or relationships or parts of our life, that God looked down, he came to this earth, Jesus, as God in the flesh.

 

And he removed every obstacle. You see it because when he died on the cross, when he, his, we looked out a couple of weeks ago when he became the propitiation for our sin, he took our place and he gave us access to God. So, here's the, the, the point of that, the point of that is this is that we serve a loving God. Who's who made a way in, in God's desire is not that anyone should perish that anyone should spend eternity without him.

 

God loves you. And God wants to be your father, Right? But you're not automatically a child of God, just because you were born. Because as he told Nicodemus, you must be born again. What does that mean? It means is John three 16 says that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life. The word believe we talked about it before. I, it means to put you're a whole way to pause, to say, God I put my life until your hands. And I want you to understand this. If you've never come to a place in your life where you say God, I know that I'm a sinner.

 

I know that I've made mistakes in my life. God, I ask you based on the sacrifice of Jesus to forgive me and my sins. And God I give you my life. Listen to me. If you've never done that, then you're not a child of God. That's the harsh truth. But the good news, the opposite of that is this is that for all of you who have done that. And for all of you, that desire to do that, that God will not reject you. That if you just say, God, I give you my life, he will not do anything except receive you as his sons and daughters, because that's the good, good Father that we sing about a few moments ago.

 

He's removed all the obstacles, but you need to understand it's not, it's not automatic. Number three, when we become Children of God, God changes our want to, I tried to find some, you know, a, a very intellectual way to say that this week. And I just couldn't even do that because that's what God does. When he talks through this chapter about the idea that when you are a board of God, you don't keep on sinning.

 

And then he said, now, listen, don't get me wrong. He doesn't say you don't sin because all of us that we have fallen short, or the glory of God, I'll all of us have a sinful nature. And there is a spiritual battle that has always taken place, but we can't use that as an excuse just to keep on sinning. Because when you are born of God, when the spirit of God, he uses the word that when his seed or when the spirit comes to live inside of you than what begins to happen is, is that your desire is to please the father.

 

Now, you always do that. No do I always do that? No, but there is a conviction of the Holy spirit. There is a pursuit of the spirit after me that will not ever allow me to be comfortable living in sin because he changes you want to. My mom is one of the greatest human beings that I think has ever lived on the face of this earth.

 

And my mom has always been my greatest encourager. My mom has always been my greatest supporter. I mean, ever since I was a kid, I listen. If you saw pictures of me when I was a kid, you know, when they say this a face only a mom can love that. That was me. All right. I'm the reason why they made that phrase. All right. But my mom has always thought that I was great. I mean, she, a sometimes I don't anyway, my mom's just who she is in the, you know, there's been times I've been this disappointed her. There's been times that I disobeyed her.

 

There have been times that I've been rebellious, and I've done things. And I know that she doesn't want me to do. And listen, I'm not saying that I've been a perfect child because God knows that I have it, but I always, always, always feel horrible about anything that I do. That's not what she wants me to do. You know why? Because she's my mom, because he is my biggest supporter. And so, I want to make her happy. I want to please her. And for you, if you are truly a child of God, the spirit of God comes to take a resonance in you.

 

If it changes you want to. And so if you are living just a pattern are a way where sin. It's no big deal too. You and were you enjoy it. And you never feel any remorse. You never feel any conviction. Then what you need to evaluate. And I'm not trying to scare you or guilt. You I'm just want you to understand what the word teaches us is that you need to examine or evaluate whether or not you're really are a child of God. Because when the spirit of God comes to take residence inside of you, it changes your one two.

 

Now on the flip side of that, some of you are Children of God and you are running is far in as fast as he possibly can. That's the reason why you’re so miserable, then no matter what you get, no matter what you do, no matter what happens, it just never seems to be enough. And the reason is, is because you are running from the one thing that will bring you the joy and peace and satisfaction that you desire. He changes our warranty. Number four is this is it God's children are a reflection of their father or the, the, the phrase.

 

And there in verse six, seven, it talks about the righteous and the sending. And this says that the one who practiced the righteousness, that's the one who is righteous, that they don't become righteous because they practice righteousness because outside of Jesus Christ, there is no righteousness in any of us. But the reason that we practice writes this, this is because that's what we are because of who we are or because of who's. We are right, because we are children of God.

 

And so we become a reflection of our own Father You know, that all the phrase is you hear about family, his, you know, the Apple didn't fall far from the tree, and it was a chip off the old blog. You know, just the phrase is that we, that we say are all, because you can see parents in children, you ever find yourself. And some of you that are younger than me, the older you get you’ll; you'll find yourself as your kids get older a that you become your parents. Now you've seen the commercials on TV about where you become your parents.

 

That, that that's what we do, right? Because we find ourselves, we've been by them. And so what John is saying is, is, Oh, what the world needs to see his children of God that, or a reflection of their Father. This is one of the greatest witnesses that we have is that as we begin to practice a righteousness, as we begin to understand that the spirit God is in inside of us there, or something that begins to change in a way that is so unbelievably powerful and this, because we just become a reflection of who he is.

 

It, you ever had a relationship with someone that you just knew. They walked with Jesus. He just knew there. And it wasn't because they were a, a, a, a, an arrogant about that. And it wasn't because they were, you know, a super spiritual in the sense that very religious, it was just evident by the way they conducted themselves. It was evident by the conversations that they had. It was evident by their priorities. It was the evident, by the way, they respond that in tough situations, it was evident because you just knew that person walks with God.

 

Those individuals are a reflection of their father. And, and here's the question I asked myself this week in, because I had to deal with it will make you deal with it too. Right? So here's the question. I asked myself all week long. Does it, when, when people see me, I don't mean here on Sunday morning. I mean, there, this is the, this is too easy, right? But I mean, during the week does this, this is my family, Right?

 

The people that I work with when they see me as there, anything about me that reflects Jesus, did you do, do they know that I've spent time with Jesus, by the way that I respond to difficult situations, but by our conversation's in the things that are important to me, do people know that I'm a child of the King? Because the reality is that if I'm, if God's changing my want to see if I've given my life to him and I'm doing everything, I can not to run from him, but to run to him, then my lives should be a reflection of who he is.

 

That was so interesting in this passage, did he, he begins by encouraging us and God chose you. And he shows his what Jesus did that, man, Jesus has done all the work. He's done. Everything is needed to be done. And then he gets a little, you know, a little too close to home to me. And he gets up, you know, in our business, write with the idea of man, look at your life. And are you sending, or are you being righteous? And whose child really are you, but then he ends with reminding us once again, of the goodness of being a part of the family of God, because he shows us that God's home is our home.

 

Is our home in verse two. He talks about the fact that he's going to return again. Right. But that is going to come back. And as he comes back, that we're going to see him as he is. We are going to have the privilege of being with him and that all the things that we've been anticipating, all the things that we've been enduring, but that all of those things are going to come to fruition. And we're going to find that is far greater as we talked about at the end of last week.

 

So, it is far greater than anything that we could ever imagine, Right?

 

This past We Wendy and I got away for a, just a few days, just the two of us with no kids, praise God for that. Right. I mean, I love my kids, right. They're my people but is great to be away from them. And it really, it really, really is. All right. I listen to any of you that are not married, and you got your own kids. The best thing that you can do is drop them off at grandma's house and go away for a couple of days. Now, I know you think you're the greatest mam in the world, but I promise you, they raised other kids. They can handle your kids.

 

All right. It, it is absolutely a, it is life giving. I don't think if Wendy and I wouldn't of practice, that we probably wouldn't ever made it. All right. But just so we got away for a couple days. And one, the days we were sitting down by the pool, you know, doing a lot of a real hard work, basically nothing. That's what we did all day long it's. So, we're sitting around by the pool now. And we were just reflecting all what we talked about last week. So just reflecting on what heaven we'll be like, just reflecting on what God is preparing for us.

 

And I know we talked about this last week, but I want you to come back and think about this again, this way is in this passage adverse to, as he talks about, listen to everything that we are doing is anticipation for something that God is preparing this far greater than what we could ever possibly imagine, that we're going to see him. And God says, Hey, there are times in life when you just got to hang on it. And there are times in life that you just, you just got to get through, but know is on the other side, it has, the Bible describes our life.

 

Our life has a vapor. That is just a twinkling of an eye. When this life is over that we're going to be together. You're going to see me face to face in this, going to be far greater, far more amazing than anything this world has to offer. You know, those days before you go on vacation, you know, usually the, the, the last few of them, they're usually a kind of crazy, right? I mean, you're running around trying to get things done and it, you want to get everything in place and you probably work harder than you do any other time, because you just want to be able to it when it's over.

 

You want to be able to just enjoy it. But there's something about the anticipation of that. That just drives you, right? There's something about the anticipation that has to come. Then it makes the long days in all the work you did; it makes it worth it. Because, you know, if I can just get through this, I'm going to be able to receive this. That's exactly what John is describing to the church that, Hey, there's going to be some of those days. There's going to be some of those times when you're going to have to work harder and you’re going to have to be more disciplined and you’re going to have to endure things that you don't want to enter in it.

 

But if you could just hang on what God has for you just around the corner is so much greater than all the other stuff that this world has to offer so that I don't know about you. But when I read that section, just those 10 verses, I just be honest with you. I struggle putting together an outline for this passage, because it just seems like it’s all over the place this week on Friday, it's like, God just made it just very clear as I was just reading through it again.

 

And basically, what he says is that this is a picture of what it looks like to be a child of God. You are loved deeply and immensely. You are loved by your father. More than you are loved by anyone on the face of the earth. But because he loves you, he has turned out of the everything that you need, but he also has provided expectations for you because he desires for you to see things and beat things that you don't understand at this point.

 

But if you will trust him and if you will follow him, what a waste for you on the other side and even what a waste for you tomorrow as far greater, far more amazing because when he is preparing for You is the best. And when you have no limit of resources, when you have no limit of ability and you're providing your children the best, that's pretty good.

 

So, you and I need to trust him. If you don't know him, you need to surrender your life to him. You need to today become a child of God. And then we need to listen to him. We need to follow him. We need to stop running away from him and start running to him. And no matter what we face today, whether the good, the bad or the ugly, we know that God is in control. And we know that God has a plan.

 

And because he is our Father, we can trust him. Amen. Amen. Let's together today, Therefore I pray for us. Take just a moment just with your heads bowed and your eyes closed, and you make application. What does God is saying to you today in what do you need to do in response to his word?

 

We thank you that we can be called your Children Lord. I pray for anyone. This room is still wrestling with whether not they really know U whether or not they're truly a child of God. I pray that this morning they will just surrender to you. Trust you, trust what your word says, and they'll place their life into your hands. I pray for those this morning that are running. There are a lot of the prodigal son and they're going all kinds of different directions.

 

They're trying to do everything they can to satisfy their own needs and the desires of their hearts. I pray you and show them how to empty. That is a pray that you will continue to pursue them. I pray they will surrender it to you today. Come back to you as their father. God, I pray for all of us today that we will walk out of this place with our heads, held high with a confidence in our hearts, knowing that you love us, that you are good.

 

Thank you, Jesus, for being everything that we need and this in Jesus' name that I pray. Amen. Amen. Thank you for being here. If we can help you, please let us know, hope that you have a wonderful week and we'll see you next. Sunday

Direct download: IBC_20201004.mp3
Category:John -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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Sep 27, 2020

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Septiembre 27, 2020
El Mundo tiene fecha de Caducidad
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1 Juan 2:12-17
Os escribo a vosotros, hijos, porque vuestros pecados os han sido perdonados por su nombre. Os escribo a vosotros, padres, porque conocéis al que ha sido desde el principio. Os escribo a vosotros, jóvenes, porque habéis vencido al maligno. Os he escrito a vosotros, niños, porque conocéis al Padre. Os he escrito a vosotros, padres, porque conocéis al que ha sido desde el principio. Os he escrito a vosotros, jóvenes, porque sois fuertes y la palabra de Dios permanece en vosotros y habéis vencido al maligno. No améis al mundo ni las cosas que están en el mundo. Si alguno ama al mundo, el amor del Padre no está en él. Porque todo lo que hay en el mundo, la pasión de la carne, la pasión de los ojos y la arrogancia de la vida, no proviene del Padre, sino del mundo. Y el mundo pasa, y también sus pasiones, pero el que hace la voluntad de Dios permanece para siempre.

1.    El carácter espiritual del creyente.
Os escribo a vosotros, hijos, porque vuestros pecados os han sido perdonados por su nombre .Os escribo a vosotros, padres, porque conocéis al que ha sido desde el principio. Os escribo a vosotros, jóvenes, porque habéis vencido al maligno. Os he escrito a vosotros, niños, porque conocéis al Padre. 14 Os he escrito a vosotros, padres, porque conocéis al que ha sido desde el principio. Os he escrito a vosotros, jóvenes, porque sois fuertes y la palabra de Dios permanece en vosotros y habéis vencido al maligno. (1 Juan 2.12-14)

a.    Los Niños
b.    Los Padres
c.    Los Jóvenes

2.    El conflicto espiritual del creyente.
No améis al mundo ni las cosas que están en el mundo. Si alguno ama al mundo, el amor del Padre no está en él. (1 Juan 2.15)

a.    Un imperativo
b.    Una evidencia
c.      Una razón

3.    El crecimiento espiritual del creyente.
Porque todo lo que hay en el mundo, la pasión de la carne, la pasión de los ojos y la arrogancia de la vida, no proviene del Padre, sino del mundo. Y el mundo pasa, y también sus pasiones, pero el que hace la voluntad de Dios permanece para siempre. (1 Juan 2.16-17)

a.    El Deseo carnal
b.    El Deseo de los ojos
c.    El Orgullo

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Sep 27, 2020

==========
September 27 | First John (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

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September 27, 2020  | Jeff Williams
"Abiding"
1 John 2: 18-28

1 John 2:18-28
Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us — eternal life. I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.

We should allow the Truth to take residence in us.

We should rest in the authority of Jesus

We should have confidence in the promise of heaven.

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Istrouma en Español
Sep 20 – 21, 2020

==========
Septiembre 20, 2020
Entre lo falso y lo genuino
==========

1 Juan 2:1-11
Hijitos míos, os escribo estas cosas para que no pequéis. Y si alguno peca, Abogado tenemos para con el Padre, a Jesucristo el justo. Él mismo es la propiciación por nuestros pecados, y no solo por los nuestros, sino también por los del mundo entero. Y en esto sabemos que hemos llegado a conocerle: si guardamos sus mandamientos. El que dice: Yo he llegado a conocerle, y no guarda sus mandamientos, es un mentiroso y la verdad no está en él; pero el que guarda su palabra, en él verdaderamente el amor de Dios se ha perfeccionado. En esto sabemos que estamos en Él. El que dice que permanece en Él, debe andar como Él anduvo. Amados, no os escribo un mandamiento nuevo, sino un mandamiento antiguo, que habéis tenido desde el principio; el mandamiento antiguo es la palabra que habéis oído. Por otra parte, os escribo un mandamiento nuevo, el cual es verdadero en Él y en vosotros, porque las tinieblas van pasando, y la luz verdadera ya está alumbrando. El que dice que está en la luz, y aborrece a su hermano, está aún en tinieblas. El que ama a su hermano, permanece en la luz y no hay causa de tropiezo en él. Pero el que aborrece a su hermano, está en tinieblas y anda en tinieblas, y no sabe adónde va, porque las tinieblas han cegado sus ojos.

1.  El creyente verdadero obedece a Dios.
El que dice: Yo le conozco, y no guarda sus mandamientos, el tal es mentiroso, y la verdad no está en él; (2.4)
a.    Guarda los Mandamientos de Dios.
b.    Guarda la Palabra de Dios.

2.  El creyente verdadero imita a Cristo.
El que dice que permanece en él, debe andar como él anduvo.(2.6)
a.    Debe permanecer en El.
b.    Debe andar como El.

3.  El creyente verdadero ama a sus hermanos.
El que dice que está en la luz, y aborrece a su hermano, está todavía en tinieblas.(2.9)
a.    Es un mandamiento nuevo.
b.    Es una prueba de nuestra fe .

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September 20, 2020  | Micah Cating
"Obedience"
1 John 2:1-17

1 John 2:1-2
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

YOU ENJOY YOUR FAITH WHEN YOU JOIN WITH GOD

1 John 2:3-6
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

IT IS HARD TO ENJOY YOUR FAITH WHEN YOU QUESTION YOUR SALVATION

ENJOYING YOUR FAITH VALUES PROGRESS OVER PERFECTION

1 John 2:7-11
Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

YOU CANNOT ENJOY YOUR FAITH WITH A HATEFUL HEART

John 13:34-35
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

1 John 2:15-17
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life —is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

YOU WILL ENJOY YOUR FAITH WHEN YOU LOVE WHAT GOD LOVES

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Istrouma en Español
Sep 13 – 14, 2020

==========
Septiembre 13, 2020
Para ser felices no hay que ser perfectos
==========

1 Juan 1:1-9
Lo que existía desde el principio, lo que hemos oído, lo que hemos visto con nuestros ojos, lo que hemos contemplado y lo que han palpado nuestras manos, acerca del Verbo de vida (pues la vida fue manifestada, y nosotros la hemos visto y damos testimonio y os anunciamos la vida eterna, la cual estaba con el Padre y se nos manifestó); lo que hemos visto y oído, os proclamamos también a vosotros, para que también vosotros tengáis comunión con nosotros; y en verdad nuestra comunión es con el Padre y con su Hijo Jesucristo. Os escribimos estas cosas para que nuestro gozo sea completo. Y este es el mensaje que hemos oído de Él y que os anunciamos: Dios es luz, y en Él no hay tiniebla alguna. Si decimos que tenemos comunión con Él, pero andamos en tinieblas, mentimos y no practicamos la verdad; mas si andamos en la luz, como Él está en la luz, tenemos comunión los unos con los otros, y la sangre de Jesús su Hijo nos limpia de todo pecado. Si decimos que no tenemos pecado, nos engañamos a nosotros mismos y la verdad no está en nosotros. Si confesamos nuestros pecados, Él es fiel y justo para perdonarnos los pecados y para limpiarnos de toda maldad.

1.    Debemos conocer a Jesús
“Lo que ha sido desde el principio, lo que hemos oído, lo que hemos visto con nuestros propios ojos, lo que hemos contemplado, lo que hemos tocado con las manos, esto les anunciamos respecto al Verbo que es vida. 2 Esta vida se manifestó. Nosotros la hemos visto y damos testimonio de ella, y les anunciamos a ustedes la vida eterna que estaba con el Padre y que se nos ha manifestado” (1.1-2)

a.    Jesús es 100 % Dios
b.    Jesús es 100 % hombre

2.    Debemos tener comunión con Jesús
“Les anunciamos lo que hemos visto y oído, para que también ustedes tengan comunión con nosotros. Y nuestra comunión es con el Padre y con su Hijo Jesucristo”(1.3)

a.    Comunión con El
b.    Comunión con los hermanos

3.    Debemos confiar en Jesús
“Este es el mensaje que hemos oído de él y que les anunciamos: Dios es luz y en él no hay ninguna oscuridad”. (1.5)

a.    Tendremos gozo
“Estas cosas os escribimos, para que vuestro gozo sea cumplido.”(1.4)
b.    Tendremos perdón

“Si afirmamos que tenemos comunión con él, pero vivimos en la oscuridad, mentimos y no ponemos en práctica la verdad. 7 Pero, si vivimos en la luz, así como él está en la luz, tenemos comunión unos con otros, y la sangre de su Hijo Jesucristo nos limpia de todo pecado. 8 Si afirmamos que no tenemos pecado, nos engañamos a nosotros mismos y no tenemos la verdad. 9 Si confesamos nuestros pecados, Dios, que es fiel y justo, nos los perdonará y nos limpiará de toda maldad” (1.6-9)

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Sep 13, 2020

==========
September 13 | First John (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

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September 13, 2020  | Jeff Williams
"Fellowship"
1 John 1:1-10

Fellowship Is an intimate connection; a partnership

Fellowship is the reason God created us

1 John 1:1-7
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

We cannot enjoy our faith if there is distance between us and God

We hide in the darkness to avoid accountability and transparency.

The Gospel is the vehicle to restore fellowship

1 John 1:8
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Extra Notes:

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John

Istrouma Baptist Church – Jeff Williams, Interim Pastor

 9:30 AM Sermon September 13, 2020

"Fellowship"

1 John 1:1-10

 

That just kind of makes it feel good. I don't know why it is just does. I mean, just makes me feel good, but if you have your Bibles to turn to First, John, First John is where we are going to be for the next several weeks. And a, before we jump into reading a chapter one, I want you to just know a little bit about a what's happening here is we study this book chronologically First John was the last book that was written a that we find in the new Testament. We know that revelation comes after that in terms of what we see in our Bible, but First John was actually the first, second and third John with actually the last books that were written.

 

Ah, and it was written by John who is described as the disciples that Jesus loved. And it’s interesting too, to think about it. I don’t know about you, but a growing up in church I've heard about John and he was obviously a close to Jesus. If you knew there was 12 disciples, but then there was three Peter James and John that were kind of like in the inner circle, they spent more time with Jesus. And I believe that Jesus knew just that the impact that they were going to have a in terms of just a, the early church, and so there was this extra time there was spent with them and John was one of those and he's often described as the disciple that Jesus loved.

 

And so from that, you get this impression of this really meek and this really just warmhearted and compassionate person, a but really when you look at all of the Gospel in history combined with that, that when John first comes onto the scene, him and his brother, James were known as the Sons of Thunder. All right. So, they were a little rough around the edges. They were fishermen. That's what they did for living. And so they, they weren't the polished a theologian that we all are often think about it.

 

When we think about John he was at a rough guy. And in fact, if you looked at parts of the Gospel, now there were times when things are going on a that James and John, they're answer to everything we'll say, well, let's just blow someone or something up. That's basically that was their mindset. And Jesus throughout his ministry to them. He taught them what it really meant to love God and to level one another. So we see it at the end of John's life. He was the last of disciples in terms of, he lived longer than the rest of them and when This book was written, John was probably about a hundred years old, a in history tells us that in his last days John died, that he would travel to the different cities where the churches had been planted and he would come there to speak. And a because of who he was, his relationship with Jesus, there would be large crowds that would gather in the John. He was so a week and feeble at that time moment. At that time of his life, a that they would actually have to carry him from city to city. You couldn't even walk. He wasn't even strong at the whole of himself up like riding an animal. So they would have to literally carry him from city to city. And they said that most of the time that his message, it was simply this, that when he would go into a church or he would go into an area where people would gather together to hear his message, that his message, which is just simply this, love one another. Now that wasn't a title of his message. No, that wasn't a theme of his message. And those three words were really all he would say. And then, you know, some of you are thinking, well, I wish your message is where that at short, but they're not. But anyway, that's, that's all he would say, and people would ask him, why is that all you say, isn't there more of that? He said, well, there's a lot more that I could say, but if people could just do that, it would literally change the world. You love one another, right? So it goes from the Son of Thunder that wants to destroy people and to blow things up to becoming someone who recognizes that the idea or the all that matters in life is loving one another. And the way that that happened was is that through his journey with Jesus, through the investment that Jesus made in his life, through seeing all the things that happened through the life of Jesus, the death and the resurrection, and then beyond that seen all that God did to the early church that when John came to realize if there was something that mattered much more than what his original mindset was about the way they should function, the way that they should act, God did a work in his heart. God did a work in his life, that literally transformed him. And so as we look at chapter one today, we are going to look at what I believe is the key component of what John understood. And then really, if we're going to enjoy our faith, we need to understand what it means to have fellowship with God.

 

Think about that word. Fellowship if you grew up Baptist, you associate that with fried chicken. I'm sure. Right. That's just what we eat. We all know we all are associated with food, right? A did. If we're going to have Fellowship, there has to be food involved. Well, and listen, there ain't nothing wrong with food ever being involved as far as I'm concerned. But that, that the key component of Fellowship is This, here's the definition of what Fellowship his Fellowship, Is an intimate connection. It's a partnership. it's being together. And I don't just mean physically, but in terms of your heart, your mind, your soul, there is a connection. And here's the next part of that, that you to understand? That's so crucial in terms of John got this.  this is what Fellowship is, but Fellowship is the reason that God created us. The reason that you were created is because God desired to have fellowship with you. He desired an intimate connection with you. He desired a partnership with you. He desired for his presence in your presence to be together. Now, oftentimes we don't think about our lives in that manner. We think about that. We're supposed to obey God, which you are. We were supposed to respect God that he is his, we just sang. He is Holy, Holy, Holy. And because of that, we often have, is this mindset of being fearful of God being scared, or even sometimes to get too close to him because he might see the junk, this in our life cannot tell you something that they can. I just to take the pressure off. He already knows all the junk and your life, or whether you are close to him or not. He knows everything about you, but because the, we see ourselves as sinners and we see him as Holy, there's this mindset of fear that we have towards God, but that's not what God's desire is. We should respect him. We should be in all of him, what we should obey him, who are what we should understand that he's riding. And we need to submit to him, but really at the end of the day, that what God desires is for us to do that in the context of, of true, genuine fellowship with him. So as we look at chapter one today, we're going to see what happens when Fellowship takes place. But we're also going to see the things that cause us to really not experience that, that joy, that God desires within our relationship with him. And so, as we do that, what I want you to see and to know and understand today is there is a way for you to enjoy your faith when John, this same, John, that wrote First John what he says. And John 10, 10, the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But Jesus, he said this to John then and John understand it now. he says, I have come that you might have what life and have it abundantly or to the fullest. That's a much different than oftentimes what you. And I experience. And God wants us to see that. God wants us to understand what that looks like and what that means. So first John chapter one, and let's begin reading in verse one. All right. First John chapter one and beginning in verse one That, which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and have touched with our hands concerning the word of life. Verse two the life was made manifest, and we have seen it and we testify to it and proclaimed to you the eternal life, which was with the father. And it was made manifest to us. verse three, that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you that you may have fellowship with us. And indeed, our fellowship is with the father and with his son, Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things. Don't miss this. We are writing these things so that our joy may be what's the next word say complete. It means multiplying. It means to the fullest verse five. So this is the message we have heard from him. So he says the goal was for us, for our joy to be complete. So here's the message that we've heard from him and proclaimed to you that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. So if we say that we have fellowship with him, but yet we walk in darkness, we lie, and we do not practice the truth. That sounds so harsh, right? But if we walk into the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, his son, it, it cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. And the truth is not in us., so within this section right here, he describes in verses one, through four of the fact, they have seen him in touch with the infinite, invisible, God, God, in the flesh has come to this earth. And because of that, we had the privilege to have a relationship with you. We had a fellowship with God. And because of that, we want to convey to you what we learned here is his message. And then he goes into a couple of things that are related to what Fellowship looks like and what breaks that Fellowship in our lives. So he describes that Jesus is light. There is no darkness in him at all, or is this idea a that everything is open, that everything is real, that everything is true, that everything is right. There's no darkness at all. And then he a contrast that oftentimes with those of us, that even though we say we are in the light, we say we have fellowship with him, but yet we are walking in darkness. Think for just a moment about what that means when you are walking in darkness, in essence, and in the context of this idea of Fellowship, what it literally means is that we cannot, we cannot enjoy the faith that we say we have If there is a distance between us and God, that's what it means to walk in darkness. We see that is something that is in terms of, in our minds, that is an evil a and all sin is evil. There is no question about that, but in essence, what it is just as separation and when There's a separation between you and God things just aren't right.

 

A couple of months ago, now we took, Hannah are a fourth child to, to college. Now that it's a different experience than anything I've had to this point, because our oldest to our boys and who cares when they leave the house, right? Get out, just go, make a living. Don't cost me any more money. That, that was the mindset. Right? And then Taylor, our oldest daughter, she still lives with us and she goes to, to BRCC. So she's with us every day. And so she's transitioning, but she still there or Hannah to decide for some God unknown reason to go to Arkansas to go to college. And that's like six hours away from me. And so that separation has been hard on dad, right? Because I've taken care of her. I've been able to protect her. I've known where she was at all times. I mean, all of those things. And so now my baby is gone in and it's been very, very difficult for me, even though I know she's okay. Even though that relationship is very, very important, obviously still, but that separation is just difficult. And in my world, there's just something this just not right. I mean, there's been a couple of times that Wendy had to talk with me off the ledge, coz I was going to get in the car and drive six hours just to have breakfast with her and turn around and come back. And she was like, you can't do that. Leave her alone. That's what she, and she's a lot smarter than I am. But anyway, that, is I want to just to be with her, that separation was difficult. And I think at times what happens is, is that there's distance between us and God and we don't really recognize it. And here's the reason why we may recognize that with other relationships in our life. But because we can't see God, because we can't physically sit down across the table and have coffee or have a meal with him. There's something about a, the distance that we see. They're there, there's already distance in our minds because we think of God is in Heaven and we’re here. But the reality is, is that what God desires is for us to understand that, that he wants to be with us. He wants to be a part of everything we do. There needs to be that closeness and that when we walk in darkness and when we walk into sin, in essence, what we are doing is we're putting separation between us and God. There's a distance that's there. And what happens is oftentimes because that distance is there we begin to, to lean more towards those mindsets and the reality of the fear and the insignificance you know, and we're not worthy of him. And we feel guilty and shame about our sin. And so what happens is his, as opposed to just being in the darkness, we start hiding in the darkness. You know what that looks like, right? That you hide in the dark to me, anyone that's ever played the game of hide and seek, you always know that the best blood places to do that is a place where its alone quiet and dark right? That's the way you play the game. So what happens is, is if we're not careful, we start playing that game with God and we hide in the darkness. But here's reason why we do that. We hide in the darkness to avoid two things, the accountability and transparency. within that passage that we just read. He talks about the fact that we, when we deceive ourselves into thinking that everything is okay, or maybe it's not that you think everything's okay, it's just that you want everyone else around you to think that everything's okay. And so we just begin to hide. And the idea of accountability is it, listen, if there are things in your life that are causing you to have distance between you and God, we don't want to hear about it, right? It may be things that are areas of comfort for you. It may be areas of instant gratification for you. It may be something that you just so we're saying, Hey, here is something that I want to pursue. And it may not be what God wants me to pursue, but it's what I want in this moment. And so I'm going to keep my distance from God and look at this. I'm going to keep my distance from other people that will make me feel convicted about that because I don't want the accountability in my life is the reason that we oftentimes drift from Church. It’s not because we don't love God. And it's not even because we don't love the church. It's just because there's things that are happening in us. Listen to those things that are happening in you should push you towards the people of God. It should push you towards her relationship with God and not away from him. But that's our tendency is we just begin to hide. We just don't want that accountability. And then alongside that, we also, we don't want that transparent. We don't want to be in the light because if we're in the lie, what is going to do is going to expose all the areas of darkness that we've been in. Right? And so what we do is we just, sometimes it's just easier to keep our distance.  but here's, what's so dangerous about that. You can be so close, but still be so far away. You see, I described to you that distance that we have with Hannah and that Fellowship has not there, but the way that, that he used to be, because there's that separation. But do you realize that you can be in the same room with someone and there are still be distance, right? Anybody that's married knows exactly what that feels. Right? Right. I mean, you could be in the same room with him and be completely just a year, your distance in terms of your emotions, your distance, in terms of maybe your perspective on whatever your fighting about. Don't look at me like that. I know Wendy and I are not the only ones that have discussions about things right.  that you find yourself. have you ever been in the same room with your spouse or someone that you love may be a parent or a child and you’re in the same place, but yet you are a million miles away? And what happens with God is that we can be in the same vicinity. We can be going through all the motions. We can be doing all the right things to make everyone else around us think that everything is good and that we love God and that we're following him. But we really want to just keep our distance emotionally. And we want to keep things on the surface because the reality is it's there are things in our lives that we are struggling with and we just don't want anyone to know. We just begin to deceive ourselves. We just begin to find that is easier for us to fake it than it is to actually deal with it in all along the way Here's what happens. There are things in our lives that we struggle with. There are things in our lives. And listen, I'm telling you this from my own experience, that there are things that we hold on to then at the end of the day, they still, or are they just leave us feeling empty. Then there are things that we are a pursuing that or outside of a will have a plan of God. And that at the end of the day, when we lay our head down and no matter how much we convince ourselves and deceive ourself, that is where we want to be is what we want to pursue. That when we lay our head down a night, there's just, something is just not right. There is something that is just empty. There is something that is just missing. It, it may be something that nobody else in your life knows about it, but you recognize that it cannot tell you exactly what that is. This missing its Jesus because God created us for fellowship with him. And because he created this that way, if there's ever a point in time, when that Fellowship is not what God desires for to be when we are not a sensing that that is the priority relationships, not only in what do we say, but in a way that we live and the terms, the a, the way we spend our time. then what happens is that, that means if there is separation and when there's separation between you and God, life is never going to be what you think it should be. You're not going to experience joy. You're not going to ever enjoy the faith that you say is so important to you because you are comfortable with keeping the distance, you’re comfortable with privately hiding in the dark.  Even if everyone else around you thinks that you are living in the light, you're keeping them at a distance. You're faking it and going through the motions. But inside there is something in you that is just simply dying. You know what the sad truth is, is I believe a lot of people live that way and feel that way, man. I've lived that way in the past and felt that way. And we're just not sure how to get out of it. We're not sure what to do it. If that's where you are today, some of you, you like you, are you still smiling on the outside or your, you’re thinking, I'm a getting that face like a, would you be quiet so I can go to lunch. I mean, I'll say something of that, but an inside of you, there was something in some of you, but it's just screaming out. Yes, that's me to, what do I do? Well, I love the way that John describes the answer to this. it’s the verse of scripture that if you've been here very many weeks, you've probably heard me quote this passage because I think this is the heart in the key of everything that we do. But before I read it, I want you to think about here is the answer for whatever it is that we're hiding as is keeping us. And that is the gospel. The gospel is the vehicle to restore that Fellowship for some of you that are here this morning, you may not have a relationship with Jesus. You have been trying to get to God on your own. You've been trying to do the right thing. So in fact, you're a here this morning because you think, or maybe that will make me feel better about my life If I attend church, maybe God, we'll be happy with me. If I show up today and listen, God's glad you're here. We are glad that you're here, but that's not the answer to what's happening in your life. The gospel is the only answer. The gospel is the reality that Jesus Christ did for you. What you could not do for yourself. You say, God knew long before you were ever born, that you are going to have a period of time or the year we're going to hide in darkness because you were born into sin. He knew that was going to be a separation between you and him because of that sin. And so he planned to send Jesus long before you were ever born long before you ever sinned, simply so that he could have that relationship with you restored. in verse nine, gives us the key of how we do that. And whether you're not a follower of Jesus or whether you'd been a follower of Jesus for years, this is still the answer for you. If we confess our sins, think about what the word confess means. It means to not hide it anymore. It means to be transparent. Now I don't mean standing up in a room. The size of tell everybody all your junk, right? Nobody needs to hear all your stuff, right? But it starts with if you come before God and say, God, man, I confess my sins to you. And don't just say, I confess my sin. Be specific about the things that you're being convicted about. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and he is just, I love those two words. He is faithful means that you can count on him. There's nothing that you've done. That God won't forgive of. There is nothing that you've done that’s caught God by surprise. There is nothing that you've done that’s a bigger than the power of God that overcome sin. He is faithful. And you can know for sure that listen. Even if there's things in your life that you've done, that nobody else will forgive you up. God promises. He is faithful. He will forgive. He is faithful. And he is just. That's crucial because not only is he faithful in that he will do that. He has the right to do it. And the reason he is just in forgiving of your sins is not because you are worthy of that is because Jesus took your place. When Jesus died on the cross, he died willingly for the sins of all mankind. That's all of us and anyone else who ever lived. So you don't have to feel like, well, I want to confess my sins, but then I have to earn God's approval. You don't need to earn God's approval, but if you will confess your sins, he is faithful. And he has just, the fact that he is just, means that when he sees you, he sees you through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And for many of us in this room, if we could just wrap our minds around that simple fact, we went to enjoy our faith the whole a lot more, because we would recognize there, the simple reality that when Jesus forgives us, we are truly forgiven. If you ever had someone tell you, they forgave you, but then every time they got upset with you, they bring it back up.

You know what I think happens that oftentimes when we ask God to forgive us for the 475th time of the same thing, we see God through the eyes of that person that did that to us. But what I want you to see is we're not talking about a human being who is flawed and sinful and week and untrustworthy. We are talking about a Holy God who is faithful and just, we confess our sins. He is faithful. And he has just to forgive us, have our sins. And he cleanses us from all unrighteousness. We get a fresh start. We get a new beginning. The weight is lifted off. I joked earlier about Wendy and at times being in the same room but being a million miles away. And I'll just be honest with you. And outside of my relationship with Jesus, Wendy is the most important relationship that I have on the face of this earth. And when things aren't right between us, there is nothing else is right in my life. You know? I mean, work's not right kids, all right with it, not right. No, they do it anyway. Anyway, right? All the stuff is just not right. And you show your just not the same. We don't have that same life in you. but when we come to a place where whatever it is causing us to be divided. When we come back together, there is a weight that is lifted off of me. It's like new life. And even if the issue that we struggle with is still there because we are together is just as our life is unbelievable, just breath of fresh air that comes all over me. That's what God desires to do with us. And when he cleanses us from all unrighteousness, it is this idea of a fresh start. It's this idea of coming before him and saying, God, I surrender myself too. I humble myself before you. Here are the things of my life that I know or separating us. And God to the best. I know how I confess these sins. And God, I trust you. I believe what your word says. And because of that, I ask you to cleanse me of all the junk that's in my life. And here is the good news. If you will come to him in faith, he will do just that. And then it’s a process of moving your life in a way, in a direction where the goal every day is to maintain that Fellowship with you to walk in the light, to do the things that God calls us to do. And to recognize that because he created us for fellowship with him, that the things he calls us to do are the things that are the best for us. Not in terms of God just not being mad at us, but God knows your best. He knows what you need. He knows what will bring you joy. He knows what will bring you peace. He knows that what will make you come to a place where you can enjoy the faith that God has given you? Now let me just make sure you understand this. This is not pie in the sky, health and wealth. You know that, Hey, if you just, you know, if you just love Jesus, then you'll never have any problems in your life. The Bible says that, you know, calamities, the Bible says that bad things. They fall on the jest and the unjust. It was just a part of the living in a sinful world. Life's not going to be perfect. And God uses even those things as a way, a bolstering our faith and moving us closer to him. But the reality is that whether life is good, or life is bad in terms of the circumstances that if we are in fellowship with Jesus, life is still good. It's still good. And that's what he desires.

 

So if you're here today and you never into, in a relationship with Jesus, you have been trying to do it on your own. Cannot tell you something. You cannot do it on your own. Jesus already did all the work for you. What do you need to do? You need to believe that Jesus did that work for you and you need to come, and you need to confess your sins to him. And you need to allow him to do the work in you and through you that only he can do you didn't to give your life. You're in essence, you're saying, God, I put my life in your hands and listen. If that's where you are today, if you're in this room and you've never begun a relationship with Jesus, he will not reject you. He loves you with all of his heart and wants you to experience that today. If that's where you are, it's just simple. As you pray and say in God, I know I'm a sinner. I know I've made mistakes in my life. And because of that, I'm not as good as you are. And God the best. I know how I asked you to forgive me of my sins and God I give my life to, I place my life into your hands. If you will do that today, based on the truth of God's word, he will save you. He's faithful. And he, he is just, and if that's where you are today, I encourage you that as we pray in just a moment for you to just to pray that listen, God knows your heart is not a magic prayer. You just pour your heart out to him and then you let us know how we can help you. But for others of you in this room that you have a relationship with Jesus. But if you're to be honest, you’re just enduring it right now. I mean, life is hard. Maybe you've made some mistakes or maybe others are made mistakes around you. And it's just, it's just one of those things that you're just enduring it. Can I encourage you to pray that same prayer that God I come to you? Here's the things that are separating us. God, I declare that I need you and Bible says that whatever it is separating. Whatever is, is pulling away. Don't you? That God is faithful and just, he will forgive you. He'll give you that fresh start and listen that’s nothing to be ashamed of. As we all need a fresh start. Some of us, we need it every day, right? I mean maybe every hour. I mean then all of us and we need that. It ought to be a regular routine of our life is doing whatever it takes to maintain that fellowship with him. And then let's you and I, after we pray those prayers, let's stand out from this place. Let's leave this room and let's walk in the light. Let's walk in fellowship with him. Let's spend time with him and then do the things we know to do trusts God for the rest. That's a pretty much it, right? Spin time with him, do the things he asks us to do and to trust him for the rest. If you and I will do that, our faith will begin to be something that we are excited about. And we were passionate about not just something that we endure. Let’s pray together today. And before I pray for you, just with your heads bowed and your eyes closed, I want to give you just a moment. If you don't know Jesus man, just pour your heart out to him. Pray a prayer of faith, knowing he is faithful, and he is just, he will forgive you if you do know him, but do you feel separated from him, man? And just pour your heart out to him. Come back to him today.

 

Lord, you are a good God.  And God, sometimes I'm overwhelmed at how you can see me, see all the, the darkness, but yet you still love me. You never give up on me. God, I Thank you that there was joy in You. Thank you that there is joy that comes from a relationship with you and God. I pray right now for those within the sound of my voice, the God that they can experience what a real joy filled life looks like. Lord, I pray over the next several weeks as we study this book, that God that you will allow our joy to be complete. Thank you that you desire a relationship with us. Thank you for the Fellowship that we can experience with you. And I pray that this week we can walk and your light. Spend time with you.  Do the things you'd tell us to do, and then trust you for the rest. God thank you for never giving up on us, use us this week for your glory and this in Jesus' name that I pray. Amen. Amen.

Direct download: IBC_20200913.mp3
Category:John -- posted at: 2:45pm EST

John

Istrouma Baptist Church – Jeff Williams, Interim Pastor

 9:30 AM Sermon September 13, 2020

"Fellowship"

1 John 1:1-10

 

That just kind of makes it feel good. I don't know why it is just does. I mean, just makes me feel good, but if you have your Bibles to turn to First, John, First John is where we are going to be for the next several weeks. And a, before we jump into reading a chapter one, I want you to just know a little bit about a what's happening here is we study this book chronologically First John was the last book that was written a that we find in the new Testament. We know that revelation comes after that in terms of what we see in our Bible, but First John was actually the first, second and third John with actually the last books that were written.

 

Ah, and it was written by John who is described as the disciples that Jesus loved. And it’s interesting too, to think about it. I don’t know about you, but a growing up in church I've heard about John and he was obviously a close to Jesus. If you knew there was 12 disciples, but then there was three Peter James and John that were kind of like in the inner circle, they spent more time with Jesus. And I believe that Jesus knew just that the impact that they were going to have a in terms of just a, the early church, and so there was this extra time there was spent with them and John was one of those and he's often described as the disciple that Jesus loved.

 

And so from that, you get this impression of this really meek and this really just warmhearted and compassionate person, a but really when you look at all of the Gospel in history combined with that, that when John first comes onto the scene, him and his brother, James were known as the Sons of Thunder. All right. So, they were a little rough around the edges. They were fishermen. That's what they did for living. And so they, they weren't the polished a theologian that we all are often think about it.

 

When we think about John he was at a rough guy. And in fact, if you looked at parts of the Gospel, now there were times when things are going on a that James and John, they're answer to everything we'll say, well, let's just blow someone or something up. That's basically that was their mindset. And Jesus throughout his ministry to them. He taught them what it really meant to love God and to level one another. So we see it at the end of John's life. He was the last of disciples in terms of, he lived longer than the rest of them and when This book was written, John was probably about a hundred years old, a in history tells us that in his last days John died, that he would travel to the different cities where the churches had been planted and he would come there to speak. And a because of who he was, his relationship with Jesus, there would be large crowds that would gather in the John. He was so a week and feeble at that time moment. At that time of his life, a that they would actually have to carry him from city to city. You couldn't even walk. He wasn't even strong at the whole of himself up like riding an animal. So they would have to literally carry him from city to city. And they said that most of the time that his message, it was simply this, that when he would go into a church or he would go into an area where people would gather together to hear his message, that his message, which is just simply this, love one another. Now that wasn't a title of his message. No, that wasn't a theme of his message. And those three words were really all he would say. And then, you know, some of you are thinking, well, I wish your message is where that at short, but they're not. But anyway, that's, that's all he would say, and people would ask him, why is that all you say, isn't there more of that? He said, well, there's a lot more that I could say, but if people could just do that, it would literally change the world. You love one another, right? So it goes from the Son of Thunder that wants to destroy people and to blow things up to becoming someone who recognizes that the idea or the all that matters in life is loving one another. And the way that that happened was is that through his journey with Jesus, through the investment that Jesus made in his life, through seeing all the things that happened through the life of Jesus, the death and the resurrection, and then beyond that seen all that God did to the early church that when John came to realize if there was something that mattered much more than what his original mindset was about the way they should function, the way that they should act, God did a work in his heart. God did a work in his life, that literally transformed him. And so as we look at chapter one today, we are going to look at what I believe is the key component of what John understood. And then really, if we're going to enjoy our faith, we need to understand what it means to have fellowship with God.

 

Think about that word. Fellowship if you grew up Baptist, you associate that with fried chicken. I'm sure. Right. That's just what we eat. We all know we all are associated with food, right? A did. If we're going to have Fellowship, there has to be food involved. Well, and listen, there ain't nothing wrong with food ever being involved as far as I'm concerned. But that, that the key component of Fellowship is This, here's the definition of what Fellowship his Fellowship, Is an intimate connection. It's a partnership. it's being together. And I don't just mean physically, but in terms of your heart, your mind, your soul, there is a connection. And here's the next part of that, that you to understand? That's so crucial in terms of John got this.  this is what Fellowship is, but Fellowship is the reason that God created us. The reason that you were created is because God desired to have fellowship with you. He desired an intimate connection with you. He desired a partnership with you. He desired for his presence in your presence to be together. Now, oftentimes we don't think about our lives in that manner. We think about that. We're supposed to obey God, which you are. We were supposed to respect God that he is his, we just sang. He is Holy, Holy, Holy. And because of that, we often have, is this mindset of being fearful of God being scared, or even sometimes to get too close to him because he might see the junk, this in our life cannot tell you something that they can. I just to take the pressure off. He already knows all the junk and your life, or whether you are close to him or not. He knows everything about you, but because the, we see ourselves as sinners and we see him as Holy, there's this mindset of fear that we have towards God, but that's not what God's desire is. We should respect him. We should be in all of him, what we should obey him, who are what we should understand that he's riding. And we need to submit to him, but really at the end of the day, that what God desires is for us to do that in the context of, of true, genuine fellowship with him. So as we look at chapter one today, we're going to see what happens when Fellowship takes place. But we're also going to see the things that cause us to really not experience that, that joy, that God desires within our relationship with him. And so, as we do that, what I want you to see and to know and understand today is there is a way for you to enjoy your faith when John, this same, John, that wrote First John what he says. And John 10, 10, the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But Jesus, he said this to John then and John understand it now. he says, I have come that you might have what life and have it abundantly or to the fullest. That's a much different than oftentimes what you. And I experience. And God wants us to see that. God wants us to understand what that looks like and what that means. So first John chapter one, and let's begin reading in verse one. All right. First John chapter one and beginning in verse one That, which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and have touched with our hands concerning the word of life. Verse two the life was made manifest, and we have seen it and we testify to it and proclaimed to you the eternal life, which was with the father. And it was made manifest to us. verse three, that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you that you may have fellowship with us. And indeed, our fellowship is with the father and with his son, Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things. Don't miss this. We are writing these things so that our joy may be what's the next word say complete. It means multiplying. It means to the fullest verse five. So this is the message we have heard from him. So he says the goal was for us, for our joy to be complete. So here's the message that we've heard from him and proclaimed to you that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. So if we say that we have fellowship with him, but yet we walk in darkness, we lie, and we do not practice the truth. That sounds so harsh, right? But if we walk into the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, his son, it, it cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. And the truth is not in us., so within this section right here, he describes in verses one, through four of the fact, they have seen him in touch with the infinite, invisible, God, God, in the flesh has come to this earth. And because of that, we had the privilege to have a relationship with you. We had a fellowship with God. And because of that, we want to convey to you what we learned here is his message. And then he goes into a couple of things that are related to what Fellowship looks like and what breaks that Fellowship in our lives. So he describes that Jesus is light. There is no darkness in him at all, or is this idea a that everything is open, that everything is real, that everything is true, that everything is right. There's no darkness at all. And then he a contrast that oftentimes with those of us, that even though we say we are in the light, we say we have fellowship with him, but yet we are walking in darkness. Think for just a moment about what that means when you are walking in darkness, in essence, and in the context of this idea of Fellowship, what it literally means is that we cannot, we cannot enjoy the faith that we say we have If there is a distance between us and God, that's what it means to walk in darkness. We see that is something that is in terms of, in our minds, that is an evil a and all sin is evil. There is no question about that, but in essence, what it is just as separation and when There's a separation between you and God things just aren't right.

 

A couple of months ago, now we took, Hannah are a fourth child to, to college. Now that it's a different experience than anything I've had to this point, because our oldest to our boys and who cares when they leave the house, right? Get out, just go, make a living. Don't cost me any more money. That, that was the mindset. Right? And then Taylor, our oldest daughter, she still lives with us and she goes to, to BRCC. So she's with us every day. And so she's transitioning, but she still there or Hannah to decide for some God unknown reason to go to Arkansas to go to college. And that's like six hours away from me. And so that separation has been hard on dad, right? Because I've taken care of her. I've been able to protect her. I've known where she was at all times. I mean, all of those things. And so now my baby is gone in and it's been very, very difficult for me, even though I know she's okay. Even though that relationship is very, very important, obviously still, but that separation is just difficult. And in my world, there's just something this just not right. I mean, there's been a couple of times that Wendy had to talk with me off the ledge, coz I was going to get in the car and drive six hours just to have breakfast with her and turn around and come back. And she was like, you can't do that. Leave her alone. That's what she, and she's a lot smarter than I am. But anyway, that, is I want to just to be with her, that separation was difficult. And I think at times what happens is, is that there's distance between us and God and we don't really recognize it. And here's the reason why we may recognize that with other relationships in our life. But because we can't see God, because we can't physically sit down across the table and have coffee or have a meal with him. There's something about a, the distance that we see. They're there, there's already distance in our minds because we think of God is in Heaven and we’re here. But the reality is, is that what God desires is for us to understand that, that he wants to be with us. He wants to be a part of everything we do. There needs to be that closeness and that when we walk in darkness and when we walk into sin, in essence, what we are doing is we're putting separation between us and God. There's a distance that's there. And what happens is oftentimes because that distance is there we begin to, to lean more towards those mindsets and the reality of the fear and the insignificance you know, and we're not worthy of him. And we feel guilty and shame about our sin. And so what happens is his, as opposed to just being in the darkness, we start hiding in the darkness. You know what that looks like, right? That you hide in the dark to me, anyone that's ever played the game of hide and seek, you always know that the best blood places to do that is a place where its alone quiet and dark right? That's the way you play the game. So what happens is, is if we're not careful, we start playing that game with God and we hide in the darkness. But here's reason why we do that. We hide in the darkness to avoid two things, the accountability and transparency. within that passage that we just read. He talks about the fact that we, when we deceive ourselves into thinking that everything is okay, or maybe it's not that you think everything's okay, it's just that you want everyone else around you to think that everything's okay. And so we just begin to hide. And the idea of accountability is it, listen, if there are things in your life that are causing you to have distance between you and God, we don't want to hear about it, right? It may be things that are areas of comfort for you. It may be areas of instant gratification for you. It may be something that you just so we're saying, Hey, here is something that I want to pursue. And it may not be what God wants me to pursue, but it's what I want in this moment. And so I'm going to keep my distance from God and look at this. I'm going to keep my distance from other people that will make me feel convicted about that because I don't want the accountability in my life is the reason that we oftentimes drift from Church. It’s not because we don't love God. And it's not even because we don't love the church. It's just because there's things that are happening in us. Listen to those things that are happening in you should push you towards the people of God. It should push you towards her relationship with God and not away from him. But that's our tendency is we just begin to hide. We just don't want that accountability. And then alongside that, we also, we don't want that transparent. We don't want to be in the light because if we're in the lie, what is going to do is going to expose all the areas of darkness that we've been in. Right? And so what we do is we just, sometimes it's just easier to keep our distance.  but here's, what's so dangerous about that. You can be so close, but still be so far away. You see, I described to you that distance that we have with Hannah and that Fellowship has not there, but the way that, that he used to be, because there's that separation. But do you realize that you can be in the same room with someone and there are still be distance, right? Anybody that's married knows exactly what that feels. Right? Right. I mean, you could be in the same room with him and be completely just a year, your distance in terms of your emotions, your distance, in terms of maybe your perspective on whatever your fighting about. Don't look at me like that. I know Wendy and I are not the only ones that have discussions about things right.  that you find yourself. have you ever been in the same room with your spouse or someone that you love may be a parent or a child and you’re in the same place, but yet you are a million miles away? And what happens with God is that we can be in the same vicinity. We can be going through all the motions. We can be doing all the right things to make everyone else around us think that everything is good and that we love God and that we're following him. But we really want to just keep our distance emotionally. And we want to keep things on the surface because the reality is it's there are things in our lives that we are struggling with and we just don't want anyone to know. We just begin to deceive ourselves. We just begin to find that is easier for us to fake it than it is to actually deal with it in all along the way Here's what happens. There are things in our lives that we struggle with. There are things in our lives. And listen, I'm telling you this from my own experience, that there are things that we hold on to then at the end of the day, they still, or are they just leave us feeling empty. Then there are things that we are a pursuing that or outside of a will have a plan of God. And that at the end of the day, when we lay our head down and no matter how much we convince ourselves and deceive ourself, that is where we want to be is what we want to pursue. That when we lay our head down a night, there's just, something is just not right. There is something that is just empty. There is something that is just missing. It, it may be something that nobody else in your life knows about it, but you recognize that it cannot tell you exactly what that is. This missing its Jesus because God created us for fellowship with him. And because he created this that way, if there's ever a point in time, when that Fellowship is not what God desires for to be when we are not a sensing that that is the priority relationships, not only in what do we say, but in a way that we live and the terms, the a, the way we spend our time. then what happens is that, that means if there is separation and when there's separation between you and God, life is never going to be what you think it should be. You're not going to experience joy. You're not going to ever enjoy the faith that you say is so important to you because you are comfortable with keeping the distance, you’re comfortable with privately hiding in the dark.  Even if everyone else around you thinks that you are living in the light, you're keeping them at a distance. You're faking it and going through the motions. But inside there is something in you that is just simply dying. You know what the sad truth is, is I believe a lot of people live that way and feel that way, man. I've lived that way in the past and felt that way. And we're just not sure how to get out of it. We're not sure what to do it. If that's where you are today, some of you, you like you, are you still smiling on the outside or your, you’re thinking, I'm a getting that face like a, would you be quiet so I can go to lunch. I mean, I'll say something of that, but an inside of you, there was something in some of you, but it's just screaming out. Yes, that's me to, what do I do? Well, I love the way that John describes the answer to this. it’s the verse of scripture that if you've been here very many weeks, you've probably heard me quote this passage because I think this is the heart in the key of everything that we do. But before I read it, I want you to think about here is the answer for whatever it is that we're hiding as is keeping us. And that is the gospel. The gospel is the vehicle to restore that Fellowship for some of you that are here this morning, you may not have a relationship with Jesus. You have been trying to get to God on your own. You've been trying to do the right thing. So in fact, you're a here this morning because you think, or maybe that will make me feel better about my life If I attend church, maybe God, we'll be happy with me. If I show up today and listen, God's glad you're here. We are glad that you're here, but that's not the answer to what's happening in your life. The gospel is the only answer. The gospel is the reality that Jesus Christ did for you. What you could not do for yourself. You say, God knew long before you were ever born, that you are going to have a period of time or the year we're going to hide in darkness because you were born into sin. He knew that was going to be a separation between you and him because of that sin. And so he planned to send Jesus long before you were ever born long before you ever sinned, simply so that he could have that relationship with you restored. in verse nine, gives us the key of how we do that. And whether you're not a follower of Jesus or whether you'd been a follower of Jesus for years, this is still the answer for you. If we confess our sins, think about what the word confess means. It means to not hide it anymore. It means to be transparent. Now I don't mean standing up in a room. The size of tell everybody all your junk, right? Nobody needs to hear all your stuff, right? But it starts with if you come before God and say, God, man, I confess my sins to you. And don't just say, I confess my sin. Be specific about the things that you're being convicted about. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and he is just, I love those two words. He is faithful means that you can count on him. There's nothing that you've done. That God won't forgive of. There is nothing that you've done that’s caught God by surprise. There is nothing that you've done that’s a bigger than the power of God that overcome sin. He is faithful. And you can know for sure that listen. Even if there's things in your life that you've done, that nobody else will forgive you up. God promises. He is faithful. He will forgive. He is faithful. And he is just. That's crucial because not only is he faithful in that he will do that. He has the right to do it. And the reason he is just in forgiving of your sins is not because you are worthy of that is because Jesus took your place. When Jesus died on the cross, he died willingly for the sins of all mankind. That's all of us and anyone else who ever lived. So you don't have to feel like, well, I want to confess my sins, but then I have to earn God's approval. You don't need to earn God's approval, but if you will confess your sins, he is faithful. And he has just, the fact that he is just, means that when he sees you, he sees you through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And for many of us in this room, if we could just wrap our minds around that simple fact, we went to enjoy our faith the whole a lot more, because we would recognize there, the simple reality that when Jesus forgives us, we are truly forgiven. If you ever had someone tell you, they forgave you, but then every time they got upset with you, they bring it back up.

You know what I think happens that oftentimes when we ask God to forgive us for the 475th time of the same thing, we see God through the eyes of that person that did that to us. But what I want you to see is we're not talking about a human being who is flawed and sinful and week and untrustworthy. We are talking about a Holy God who is faithful and just, we confess our sins. He is faithful. And he has just to forgive us, have our sins. And he cleanses us from all unrighteousness. We get a fresh start. We get a new beginning. The weight is lifted off. I joked earlier about Wendy and at times being in the same room but being a million miles away. And I'll just be honest with you. And outside of my relationship with Jesus, Wendy is the most important relationship that I have on the face of this earth. And when things aren't right between us, there is nothing else is right in my life. You know? I mean, work's not right kids, all right with it, not right. No, they do it anyway. Anyway, right? All the stuff is just not right. And you show your just not the same. We don't have that same life in you. but when we come to a place where whatever it is causing us to be divided. When we come back together, there is a weight that is lifted off of me. It's like new life. And even if the issue that we struggle with is still there because we are together is just as our life is unbelievable, just breath of fresh air that comes all over me. That's what God desires to do with us. And when he cleanses us from all unrighteousness, it is this idea of a fresh start. It's this idea of coming before him and saying, God, I surrender myself too. I humble myself before you. Here are the things of my life that I know or separating us. And God to the best. I know how I confess these sins. And God, I trust you. I believe what your word says. And because of that, I ask you to cleanse me of all the junk that's in my life. And here is the good news. If you will come to him in faith, he will do just that. And then it’s a process of moving your life in a way, in a direction where the goal every day is to maintain that Fellowship with you to walk in the light, to do the things that God calls us to do. And to recognize that because he created us for fellowship with him, that the things he calls us to do are the things that are the best for us. Not in terms of God just not being mad at us, but God knows your best. He knows what you need. He knows what will bring you joy. He knows what will bring you peace. He knows that what will make you come to a place where you can enjoy the faith that God has given you? Now let me just make sure you understand this. This is not pie in the sky, health and wealth. You know that, Hey, if you just, you know, if you just love Jesus, then you'll never have any problems in your life. The Bible says that, you know, calamities, the Bible says that bad things. They fall on the jest and the unjust. It was just a part of the living in a sinful world. Life's not going to be perfect. And God uses even those things as a way, a bolstering our faith and moving us closer to him. But the reality is that whether life is good, or life is bad in terms of the circumstances that if we are in fellowship with Jesus, life is still good. It's still good. And that's what he desires.

 

So if you're here today and you never into, in a relationship with Jesus, you have been trying to do it on your own. Cannot tell you something. You cannot do it on your own. Jesus already did all the work for you. What do you need to do? You need to believe that Jesus did that work for you and you need to come, and you need to confess your sins to him. And you need to allow him to do the work in you and through you that only he can do you didn't to give your life. You're in essence, you're saying, God, I put my life in your hands and listen. If that's where you are today, if you're in this room and you've never begun a relationship with Jesus, he will not reject you. He loves you with all of his heart and wants you to experience that today. If that's where you are, it's just simple. As you pray and say in God, I know I'm a sinner. I know I've made mistakes in my life. And because of that, I'm not as good as you are. And God the best. I know how I asked you to forgive me of my sins and God I give my life to, I place my life into your hands. If you will do that today, based on the truth of God's word, he will save you. He's faithful. And he, he is just, and if that's where you are today, I encourage you that as we pray in just a moment for you to just to pray that listen, God knows your heart is not a magic prayer. You just pour your heart out to him and then you let us know how we can help you. But for others of you in this room that you have a relationship with Jesus. But if you're to be honest, you’re just enduring it right now. I mean, life is hard. Maybe you've made some mistakes or maybe others are made mistakes around you. And it's just, it's just one of those things that you're just enduring it. Can I encourage you to pray that same prayer that God I come to you? Here's the things that are separating us. God, I declare that I need you and Bible says that whatever it is separating. Whatever is, is pulling away. Don't you? That God is faithful and just, he will forgive you. He'll give you that fresh start and listen that’s nothing to be ashamed of. As we all need a fresh start. Some of us, we need it every day, right? I mean maybe every hour. I mean then all of us and we need that. It ought to be a regular routine of our life is doing whatever it takes to maintain that fellowship with him. And then let's you and I, after we pray those prayers, let's stand out from this place. Let's leave this room and let's walk in the light. Let's walk in fellowship with him. Let's spend time with him and then do the things we know to do trusts God for the rest. That's a pretty much it, right? Spin time with him, do the things he asks us to do and to trust him for the rest. If you and I will do that, our faith will begin to be something that we are excited about. And we were passionate about not just something that we endure. Let’s pray together today. And before I pray for you, just with your heads bowed and your eyes closed, I want to give you just a moment. If you don't know Jesus man, just pour your heart out to him. Pray a prayer of faith, knowing he is faithful, and he is just, he will forgive you if you do know him, but do you feel separated from him, man? And just pour your heart out to him. Come back to him today.

 

Lord, you are a good God.  And God, sometimes I'm overwhelmed at how you can see me, see all the, the darkness, but yet you still love me. You never give up on me. God, I Thank you that there was joy in You. Thank you that there is joy that comes from a relationship with you and God. I pray right now for those within the sound of my voice, the God that they can experience what a real joy filled life looks like. Lord, I pray over the next several weeks as we study this book, that God that you will allow our joy to be complete. Thank you that you desire a relationship with us. Thank you for the Fellowship that we can experience with you. And I pray that this week we can walk and your light. Spend time with you.  Do the things you'd tell us to do, and then trust you for the rest. God thank you for never giving up on us, use us this week for your glory and this in Jesus' name that I pray. Amen. Amen.

Direct download: IBC_Transcript_20200913.pdf
Category:John -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Ephesians 1:15-23

Istrouma Baptist Church – Jeff Williams, Interim Pastor

 10:45 AM Sermon September 6, 2020

 

 

 

Good morning. So glad that you're here and that you've chosen to worship with us. If you are new to us, we have just completed last week, a series where we walked through the book of Ezra had a great time just to really looking at just the way that God provides and the way that God moves. And then next Sunday. We will begin a series just walking through the book of first John, and really excited about that. And I won’t say anything else because I'll go ahead and start preaching that series. And I want you to come back next week. So we'll just leave that where it is, but to really looking forward. And I would encourage you that one of the greatest things that you can do when you're studying a book as a group of people, whether it's in your small group or in worship, is that if you will read along with that on your own, you will be amazed at just the multiplication of what God teaches you. Because oftentimes what we do is we think about the study of the word is something that happens in this room. In many times, we miss a huge part of what God wants to teach us individually because God's given us his word individually. He's given us the Holy Spirit, which resides inside of us. And so, we need to allow God to teach us throughout the week. And then as we gather together to study that together, God just illuminates that on just a whole other level. So, if you don't have a specific plan or even if you do maybe take first John chapter one, read it a few times this week and just, just allow God to use that, to prepare your hearts as we jump into that next week.

 

And so today we're going to do something a little bit different and I want us to, and some of y'all don't know me that well, but anytime that I ever pastored a church, whenever I said that it used to scare people to death because there was no telling what I might do. Don't worry. It's not going to be that outside of the box. But I do want us to practice something that we see in scripture that I think is very important. And as we think about the church, we are obviously in a time of transition. And as we think about all the transition that's happened over the course of this year, and as we move forward, there's something at the forefront that should be at the forefront of our minds as we are in the season that we're in, it's something that's important all the time. But I think that the level of intensity that we should have towards this subject is really important during this season. So, I want to make a statement on the front end, and then we'll jump into what that is and how we're going to be part of that this morning. I want to make a statement that for those of you that have been around the church more than about 30 minutes, you know, this is true. And that is, is that the church is not perfect. Is that a shock to anyone? Right? The church is not perfect in the reason the church is not perfect, just because of you. All right, let's just get that out there, right? It's not because of somebody else or that the church is not perfect because of you, I used to have a pastor that said, man, being a pastor would be easy if it wasn't for all the people, right. That would be, it'd be so easy, right? Because the reality is that all of us are flawed. We all have opinions. We all have issues. We all have stuff that is in us. And because of that, the church is not perfect. But what's amazing about that is that God has chosen to use this imperfect organism. It's not an organization but an organism because the church is us, right. Then God's chosen to use this as his vehicle to get the gospel to the world from the very beginning of the church in Acts Chapter Two, we see, I think God chose to form the church and that through that vehicle, through you and I, that the gospel was going to get to the entire world.

 

And so, it's interesting that God would take something that is not perfect is made up of you and I, but yet that's what he would choose to get the gospel everywhere. So that means that you are important. That means for you and me, and obviously you're thinking, well, Jeff, I know that I'm here, right? But you need to understand that this is not just a ritual that we go through every week so that you can feel better about yourself. This is what God has chosen. We are a part of something that God wants to use to shed the light of the gospel across the street and around the world.

 

And I would say that this is very cliche, but it's very true. And that there's never been a time in the world that the world needed the gospel more than it does today. So, it means that we're imperfect. We don't have all the answers and we don't always get it right. But yet this is what God has chosen to use. Which means that the church should be very, very important to us. So here's what happens. Here's how we get off track. Well, we get off track because we began to see the church as something that's more about us than we do about what God really wants it to be about.

 

We see in the gospels, the famous story about Jesus coming in and cleansing the temple. You've heard that story where Jesus is upset because there are people that they're basically selling animals for sacrifices, but up in the price really, really high. So they can make money off the well that are coming to offer sacrifices. And it makes Jesus angry. There's a righteous anger that comes over here and he comes in and he cleanses the temple. He just, he just turns the tables over. He just, he just basically just confuses everything that they have going on.

 

And he makes a statement at the end of those stories that we see in the gospel when he cleanses the temple. And he says, and he quotes from the Old Testament, but he says that my house shall be called a house of what?  Prayer. Now it's interesting because what we've done with that story is, I remember growing up, I grew up in church and I listen. Some of my greatest memories in life happened in the church. I love the church, some of the most, some of the best friends in the world that I have. I met in church and some of the greatest memories personally, there's some of the greatest memories and the milestones for me spiritually. They happen inside the walls of a church or a church event. And because of that, I believe that church is an absolutely amazing place, but there's some things that are funny about the, the way that we interpret scripture within the church.  And I can remember growing up in church that, that people interpreted this passage to mean, you were sinning if you did a raffle in the church, right? I mean, that was like the worst thing in all the world you can do. Don't do raffle in the church because that's why Jesus cleansed the temple. And listen, we can debate about whether you should do a raffle in the church or not, but that's not the point of that passage. The point of that passage is what upset Jesus is that he took something that was to be about him. And people begin to make it about their own interest. They begin to use the church as a way for them to gain something for themselves. It began to be about them and not about him. And that's the reason why he comes back to this issue of prayer, because there's something that happens when we pray. Now there's no question that we see all throughout scripture and all throughout church history that God responds when his people pray. There is a power in prayer that is absolutely unexplainable. But the other thing that happens when we pray as we get our focus, right? For instance, if you have someone that you struggle with relationally, you say, man, I hate that person. Or I'm struggling not to hate that person. You know, the greatest remedy for you to get over that bitterness and that anger in your life is just to begin to pray for them because the longer you pray for them, you begin to get God's perspective on that person.

 

Well, the same thing goes for every arena of our life is that one of the things that prayer does for us is it gives us God's perspective. And over time it gives us God's heart. The book of Psalms describes that we're to delight ourselves in the Lord and that he will give us the desires of our heart. We love the second part of that, right? That is that God give me the desires of my heart, but we missed the reality that what God is saying there is that when you delight yourself in me, when you spend time with me, when the emphasis of your life is prayer, that what begins to happen is God begins to change our heart, to match his heart. And so, all throughout scripture, we see different prayers. If you have your Bibles, I want you to look with me at Ephesians Chapter One for just a few moments today. And in Ephesians Chapter One, there is a prayer that Paul prays for the church. And what I would encourage you to do is you begin to develop your prayer life. As you begin to recognize that as you intercede for your, not only for your needs, but on behalf of other people in your life, that God responds to the prayers of his people. And there is absolute power in prayer. But then you're also saying that God, that as I prayed, that I, what I desire for you to do is to make my heart match your heart and think about the power of the church. When our heart matches God's heart. When we are aligned with him and the things that matter to him become the things that matter to us. And in the process of that, what God begins to do is something that is absolutely amazing in our hearts. And then it flows out from this building. It flows out from our services. It flows out from our lives to the community and ultimately the world around us. When we say, God, I want my heart to align with yours. So, as you begin to develop your prayer life, one of the things that you can do is look at scripture and find prayers that are there and begin to use those as your model for prayer. Jesus gives us the model, prayer in the Sermon on The Mount. And you can look through that and begin to structure your prayer life around that. You can go to John chapter 17, where Jesus prays for himself. He prays for his disciples. He prays for the world. It gives you the opportunity. Just something to look at, to begin to model your life. You can take a proverb every day. There's 31 chapters in Proverbs, take one that corresponds with the day of the month and just begin to read it and just begin to pray that you can pray the Psalms. I mean, there's so many different ways. One of the most, one of the things that I think that we miss a lot of times is just that the power that comes when we pray, what scripture teaches us to pray when we use that as the model for how we lift up our hearts to God.

 

So as we look at a Ephesians Chapter One, this is a prayer that Paul prays for the church. And so, I want us to look at this just for a few moments together, but we're going to stop along the way. And there's three different parts here that I think are things that are relevant for us today, where we are, that we ought to just stop and pray for. So we're going to read a little bit, I'm going to talk for a second and then we're going to pray. Now I know that's a, that's a crazy concept, right? In church, we're going to stop and actually pray, right? But we're going to do that today. And so, I want, once again, for those of you that might be new or your guests with us, don't worry. I'm not going to make you uncomfortable or do anything that you're not comfortable doing, but we're just going to stop along the way. And I'm not going to just pray for us. I'm going to ask you to stop and pray. And I'm going to ask you to really a look at these aspects and look at how God uses his word to model. Because Jesus said that my house shall be called a house of prayer. So we're going to spend a few moments doing that. So Ephesians Chapter One, and we're going to begin reading in verse 15. He says, for this reason, and this, the idea of these talking about the gospel, he's talking about the church, he's talking about the people that are in the church and the things that they are doing. And he says for this reason, because I have heard of your faith, Paul had not actually been there, but he knew of the things that God was doing through the church at Ephesus. He says, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord, Jesus, and your love toward all the saints. I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. So in this introduction he says, I want you to know, I give thanks to you that for you in the, I am remembering you in my prayers. And then what follows is the prayer that he prays for the church at Ephesus. Now he's praying this for them specifically, but I also think that there's application for us in terms of where we are today.

 

So the first thing he prays for, we see in verse 17, look at what it says there, that the God of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory may give you look at this. Don't miss this, the spirit of wisdom and of revelation and the knowledge of him. He asked for wisdom. He asked for revelation in the knowledge of him. So in essence, what he says is, is that God, I pray that you will give this. When I pray for this church, what I'm praying for is that God, you would give them wisdom. The God, you would give them the ability to see your plan, to see your wheel and that God that you would give them the knowledge of what you desire from them. Now stop and think about that for just a minute. What a great prayer for us to pray, because we can get so caught up in the things that we know we can get. So caught up in the things that we do, we can get so caught up, even in the things that we've done in the past, that we are very familiar with and that we are very good at. And if we're not careful, we can miss the reality that what we need to see for today, what we need to see for the future is what God sees. God align my heart so that I can be filled with wisdom. God, I align our leadership in a way that they have wisdom to, to have Your will for our Church, revealed to them so that we can have the knowledge of what you desire from us. Is there anything greater that we can pray and say, God, help us to see what you want us to see. I see God help us to make decisions that honor you. God lead us to the path that the God that we desire for whatever you want. And then think about this. If we pray that with a pure heart, and we really say, God, I want to be aligned with what you want. God, I want you to give us wisdom to make the right decision. If we pray that with a pure heart, do you realize that we can't lose? Because if we're praying that with a pure heart and we're praying to that to a God who is in complete control, and if we're submitting ourselves to his will and to his wisdom, then God's, this is not a game, right? It's not a game of hide and seek, and God's not attempting to hide His will from us. He's just attempting to get us to a place where we surrender to Him and then whatever He desires, God just will do that. So it's a releasing prayer, but it's a prayer that I believe is very, very important. Now I just, once again, I'm up here. So we're going to do this the way that the God is leading me. And I'll just tell you the first thing that came to my mind when I read that is really for our Pastor Search Committee, because you've heard for the last several weeks as we've just stopped and we've seen videos and we've, we've talked just about the need to pray for that group. And I want you to hear this from my heart. That there's nothing that I believe for this church. That is the more important for us to be praying for than for that team right now, thinking about the wisdom that they need and think about when you pray for them, that you're not praying for them to find the kind of person that you want, right? You're praying for them to find the person that God desires. You're praying for God to reveal his desire to them so that they can make a wise decision. Because when they make this decision in terms of, on behalf of the church and they bring this person before us as a body of believers, what we need to understand is that this is a very, very big deal for the future of our church. And we need to ask God to give them wisdom, the, the weight that's on them. And I can tell you from my own experience, the weight that’s on the person that they will eventually talk to. It is a weight that on both sides of that, we need wisdom. We need God as a body of believers to, for us to be passionate about praying for them. Because what we desire is the same way for the last hundred years that we've celebrated that God has used this church to make a powerful impact in this community and around the world, we want the next hundred years to be even greater. And the only way that happens is by God revealing to us, us having his wisdom and his, and making the decisions he desires for us today. So can we just stop for a minute and just pray? Let's just pray for that team. In fact, not to embarrass you and then we'll call you out and ask you to anything else. But if you're a part of that team, just because I know everybody doesn't know all the people that are on there, if you're a part of our pastor search team, would you stand for just a second so that people can just lay eyes on you? I know there's Adam's here. Is there anybody else that's you're in? I mean, nobody else cares about Jesus, but you've had none kidding. All right. But thank you, Adam. Here's what I'm going to ask you to do. I've just bow your heads and close your eyes. Thank you. And I want to ask you to pray. If you know anyone on the search team, would you pray for them by name? Just take a moment just in the quietness of where we are. Just pray for them by name and your prayer for them is God, would you give them wisdom? God, would you reveal your will to them? If you don't know anybody that's on that team, maybe you can just pray for Adam today. Maybe for others of you. What do you want to pray for is the person that God's going to lead us to. You don't even know who they are, but just pray for them that God would give them wisdom. On the other side. Let's just pause.

 

Let's pray specifically for this team for wisdom, for the revealing of his will and for the knowledge of what God decided, you take a moment and just pray that. Can we pause today and just say that we need you. God, we're not a perfect people. We're not a perfect church, But God, I thank you for this church. I thank you for leading me and my family to come and be a part of this church. God, I thank you for what it means to us and God. I thank you for the way that you've used it. Just such as a powerful testimony and instrument in this community and to serve not just the folks around this, but around the world. We don't know all of the answers for what the future holds and God, it's just such an odd time. And we've got at the same time, Lord, it's a great time because we don't have the answers. And so, it gives us the opportunity just to submit and surrender to you. So God is we surrender to you. God, I pray specifically for every member of our pastor search team. God, I pray that you will remove any fear. God, I pray that you will remove any agenda. God, I pray that you will remove any pressure. God, I pray that you will remove any sin from their lives so that they can clearly hear God, you have the power. God, you have the answers. So Lord, we placed them into your hands right now. You got to be thanked you for what you're going to do, because we know that when we surrender to you from a pure heart, that we can't lose. And so, God, we thank you in advance for how you're going to use this team to move us forward for the future of our ministry. God, we love you. And we thank you for hearing our prayers. It's in Jesus name. I pray,

Amen.

 

Now look at verse 18, The next thing he calls them as he's praying for them. He says, having the eyes of your heart in the light, look at this, that you may know, what is the hope to which he has called you? What are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the Saint? So it's an interesting verse because in essence, I mean, it's a, it's a very, you know, it's worded very well, right? But in the middle of that, he says the hope of the calling that you were called to in essence, what he says is that you would understand the power, that you would understand the riches, that you would understand the mission of what God has called you to do. And I think that's both collectively and individually that he's praying for them that first of all, that God would reveal to them the direction and what needs to happen, that there would be wisdom in the decisions they may, but as they are making decisions as a body of believers, that God would constantly remind him of in essence. What I would say is their mission. Then he would constantly remind him of who they are and what it is that they are to be about, you know, any organization over time, any established organization. And this is the, the case. And no matter what realm of business or what realm of spirituality or that, anything that is established over time has the tendency to turn inward and what used to be about the mission becomes about themselves. I was sharing with Micah, just looking at where we're going in terms of after the first John series about looking at several different churches in the new Testament, in terms of them staying focused on their mission. And one of the things we see in the church at Jerusalem, which is where the church started, that over time, they begin to struggle because as they began to be established, they stopped looking outward to what God had called them to do, and they just simply began to turn inward. And so one of the things that we have to constantly battle against as a great established church in this community is that for us to never get to a point where it becomes all about what we do in here, but we're constantly pushing ourselves outward to the mission that God has given us. And so once again, as I was reading this this week, and just thinking about the things for us, specifically as a church to pray for, I thought about where we are in terms of the emphasis of our outward focus ministry right now, in terms of what we're doing relationship to Hurricane Laura, that we have teams I've loved watching on social media this week about the number of teams even this week that have gone and taken time off of work and taking time out of their schedule to take a day or a couple of days, and just to go over and we've taken tons of supplies. I can't believe the number of things y'all brought last weekend to the campus that were sent out last Sunday and all throughout the week that have been teams of people that have been going. And I know that everybody can't do that, but that needs to be the heart of every one of us, whether we have the opportunity and the ability to go, it needs to matter to us. And all those, some people may say, well, that doesn't seem like a very spiritual thing to, you know, to take a chainsaw and cut down the tree and to clean up a yard or clean up a home or to take supplies. But the reality is, is what greater message that the church had to send then in a time of crisis, that we are there for them, not because we're such great people, but because the mission of God compels us to go. And what Paul says to the Church at Ephesus where is that I pray that you will constantly be reminded the hope that you have the joy that you have because of the, what you've been called to do. And so, what I want us to do is take just a couple of moments. Then I want us just to stop and pray that God would keep us focused on the mission. The mission is not to be the biggest church in town. The mission is not to have the nicest buildings in town. The mission is not to do the most things for ourselves, but the mission is to be, as the book of Matthew describes is that we are a city that is set on a Hill. We are the light of the world, and that we cannot be hidden, that we want our mission to be so bright that if tomorrow, if this church was taken out of this community, there would be a hole in this community because of all the things that we do to serve them and to love them and to point them towards Jesus. So we need to pray that God would use this body of believers, that we would stay focused on the hope of what we've been called to do. So let's take just a moment and I'm going to ask you to bow your heads with me again. And would you ask God for yourself? First of all, personally, that God would keep you focused on your part of the mission that he's called you to do, but that he would keep us as a body of believers focused, that we would fight the tendency to turn inward and that we would do everything we can to focus our heart and attention on the world. Around us. You take just a moment just with your heads, bowed and eyes closed. Pray that for yourself, pray that for the church, ask God to do that in our lives.

 

Let's pray together. Lord, we're grateful for our church. God, we pray that we would be a church of people as individuals, Lord, who put others first or that as we live our own lives, God, that we wouldn't be looking just to our own interests Lord, but we'll be looking to the interest of others. God, that we would be humbled. People, people who imitate the likeness of Jesus, that we would put other people ahead of ourselves Lord. And as we do that individually Lord, we pray that that's what our church would be. That we would be a church that seeks the welfare of our city that seeks the good of people in our community. Thank God that our church would be a place that makes a massive impact for those around us. Lord, God help us to be a community of believers that don't just look out for each other and look out for this place, Lord, but that we were driven to help others. God, like we've seen so many going out and serving with the hurricane aftermath. Lord, help that to not just be something we do in disasters, Lord, but that we do every day that we see needs. And we meet them Lord, because we have a desire to help them because we know that we have the message of the gospel Lord and that as we go that your honor, that your name is lifted high. God let us be that type of people or help us to be that way. Keep our eyes focused on you and not just focused on ourselves. And we love you. We thank you for Istrouma. We thank you for moments like this.

 

Amen.

 

We've been reading the book of Ezra about God establishing the people of Israel as his chosen people. And he did that because he wanted people to see him, right? He didn't do that because they were any more special than the rest of the world. He didn't do that because there was anything that was different about the way that they were created. He did that to show people how great he was. And when I want you to see at the end of this passage, the end of this prayer in the last five verses to me is a very powerful, powerful prayer. But I believe it's a prayer that we need to pray for us, for us. As we walk out these doors for us, as we encounter a world that may not agree with us, for us as we encounter a world that may have different views or may not even believe in God, but there's something that they see in us. But what they see in us is not about us, but it's about the God that we serve. There's a confidence in the end of this passage, there's a power that's in the end of this past, but there's also authenticity that shows people what we really want them to see, because what the world needs to see from the church is not just all the things that we don't do or that we are against, but what they need to see is not only what we are for, but who we are for. And they need to see the power of God that resides inside of us. And so, I want us to read this passage together, but then I want us to pray this for ourselves. And I want you to, as you read this with me, I want you to get the vision of exactly what it is that God wants us to see what God wants us to be a part of, of what he wants the world to see in us and through us. So here's what I want to ask you to do. I'm going to ask you if you would just to stand right where you are.

I am not sure we can read this part sitting down and look, I know some time to time, Pastor Jeff, again, watches the services. He doesn't think that we should sit for any of it. So I apologize if you're watching Pastor Jeff, but we are going to stand for this part. All right. I want you to think about the power that is in these verses, starting in verse 19. I want us to read this together and then I want us to pray together. And I want us to ask God for the world. When they see us, this is what they see. Let's start in verse 19. I want you to read it out loud with me. All right. It says, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly paces. Don't miss this right, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name, that His name, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the Church. Let's read verse 22. Again, that's great, right? And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all, you know, let's pray. Some of you just with your heads bowed and your eyes closed. You needed that phrase in verse 22. Today, all things are under his feet. All things, anything that you're facing today is not beyond his control or authority. All things are under his feet. Any challenges that we face as a church are not beyond his ability or not beyond his authority, because all things are under his feet. There ought to be a peace and a calm that floods our heart and mind. When we recognize the fact that we serve a God who is in complete control, All Things are under his feet.

 

God, I pray that That image in verses 19 through 23 can be what the world sees in us. Not a people of arrogance, not people that think they are superior in any way or that we're more Holy or that there's something that, that is different about who we are as individuals, but they will see people that are totally dependent upon you that are willing to remove all the things that don't look like you so that the world can clearly see how great you are. God, thank you that you are our ruler. God, thank you that you are our authority. God, thank you that you have all power and all dominion over everything in our lives, over everything in our community, over everything in the world that is so difficult to see so much of the division and heartache and pain and strife that goes on God. We thank You that if we will rest in You, that God, that You will give us Your wisdom, that You will give us Your plan. God, that You will keep us focused on Your mission. And then we will recognize that if the world can see you that God, you're the one who makes the difference. So God allow us as a body of believers to rests in You today, allow us to trust you because you are a God who has all things under his feet and this in Jesus’ name that I pray and all God's people said,

Amen.

 

Be seated for just a moment. One of the other things that we see come on Christian, that we see in the new Testament is that there were times that there were people that got it used a specific location, and he sent them out to other places to do other things. And so today Christian is going to lead us in a time as a Luke is in that situation where he's being called out. And so, he's going to share some things with us. Lucy will share a couple of things with us, and then we're going to close our service by praying for Luke. That's right? Some of the past three years, as we have worshiped together in this space, you have seen at Luke's face and his heart leading us in that regard for the past three years. And so today Luke's final day here with us at Istrouma, as he heads home, to Atlanta, the Atlanta area, where he is from to serve at a church there. And in his time here, he has led us well, he has fostered deep and meaningful relationships and, and discipled many of us, even in this room today. And we're thankful for the Lord giving us the chance to serve alongside of him. And we're excited about what he is doing and where he is going to continue to serve at a different sister church. And so, Luke, you had some words for us today. Yes. On my phone. It's where I read my Bible from which you can't really add to Ephesians one really. I mean, just the hope that is there and the prayer and that's all of our prayers that we would know and understand the love of God for us. And then go out to the world, just that repeated the measurable greatness of his power. Like 13 verses later in chapter two, he talks about the measurable grace of God, in his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. And So this is Zachariah chapter nine. I've kind of been in this for the last few months, was in like the prophets and the minor prophets in the springtime. And so, I hit Zachariah about June and it's just like, it's exactly the same thing. Like our God is a God, who's a measurable and he's generous. And he graciously and freely gives us wisdom and revelation. So, this is Zachariah nine verse 16 says on that day, the Lord, their God will save them as the flock of his people for like the jewels of a crown. They shall shine on his land. Just makes me think of where the city on a Hill, like where these jewels in a crown that everyone can see for. How great is his goodness and how great his beauty grain shall make the young men flourish in new wine. The young women, God has God who makes things flourish to a lot of us. This may feel like a barren time. I got time in the desert, but our God is a fountain of water. Like he's living water.

He is a God who things grow and barren places. So then verse one of chapter 10 says pray. So to the people of God, he says, ask rain from the Lord in the season of the spring, rain from the Lord who makes the storm clouds is the God who makes the rain. So pray to him, ask him for rain. And he will give them showers of rain to everyone, the vegetation in the field. You can't really say more than that. Our God is a God who loves to pour himself out. And he asked us to come to them and to ask him for rain. And he will do it. Every word of the Lord proves true. So that's right. And we are excited that the Lord is going to use a Luke to bring his, the message of his immeasurable grace, to our sister church in there and in Atlanta. And so, Luke will be here as the service concludes. And normally we would invite everybody to come down and place their hand on Luke is we send him out. But today where you are, if you would, if you just would extend your handout where you are towards Luke and we'll pray and, and then we'll dismiss, all right, father, we thank you for the time that you have given us with our brother. We are excited that he is, has an opportunity to be able to, to share your truth in a new place. Lord. And we arrest a short knowing that we will be shoulder to shoulder singing for eternity, with saints that you have shown your grace to here in Baton Rouge and in Atlanta through your servant, Luke Lord, we're thankful that you've given him the gifts that you have and the opportunities to be able to make your name great and known Lord, we know that you are indeed that fountain in the midst of our barren and dry land and God, we look to you and you alone.

 

Lord, we know that you are great and powerful and good and kind, and that that message is one that we want to see the world come to know. We're thankful that you've placed it on Luke's heart to do that in a new area, Lord and we're we sent him out with love and gratitude and your precious and Holy Name. We pray. We love You. Amen.

 

Category:Sermon -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Sep 6, 2020

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September 6 (BR)
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September 6, 2020  | Jeff Williams
Ephesians 1:15-23

Ephesians 1:15-23
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

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Ephesians 1:15-23

Istrouma Baptist Church – Jeff Williams, Interim Pastor

 10:45 AM Sermon September 6, 2020

 

 

 

Good morning. So glad that you're here and that you've chosen to worship with us. If you are new to us, we have just completed last week, a series where we walked through the book of Ezra had a great time just to really looking at just the way that God provides and the way that God moves. And then next Sunday. We will begin a series just walking through the book of first John, and really excited about that. And I won’t say anything else because I'll go ahead and start preaching that series. And I want you to come back next week. So we'll just leave that where it is, but to really looking forward. And I would encourage you that one of the greatest things that you can do when you're studying a book as a group of people, whether it's in your small group or in worship, is that if you will read along with that on your own, you will be amazed at just the multiplication of what God teaches you. Because oftentimes what we do is we think about the study of the word is something that happens in this room. In many times, we miss a huge part of what God wants to teach us individually because God's given us his word individually. He's given us the Holy Spirit, which resides inside of us. And so, we need to allow God to teach us throughout the week. And then as we gather together to study that together, God just illuminates that on just a whole other level. So, if you don't have a specific plan or even if you do maybe take first John chapter one, read it a few times this week and just, just allow God to use that, to prepare your hearts as we jump into that next week.

 

And so today we're going to do something a little bit different and I want us to, and some of y'all don't know me that well, but anytime that I ever pastored a church, whenever I said that it used to scare people to death because there was no telling what I might do. Don't worry. It's not going to be that outside of the box. But I do want us to practice something that we see in scripture that I think is very important. And as we think about the church, we are obviously in a time of transition. And as we think about all the transition that's happened over the course of this year, and as we move forward, there's something at the forefront that should be at the forefront of our minds as we are in the season that we're in, it's something that's important all the time. But I think that the level of intensity that we should have towards this subject is really important during this season. So, I want to make a statement on the front end, and then we'll jump into what that is and how we're going to be part of that this morning. I want to make a statement that for those of you that have been around the church more than about 30 minutes, you know, this is true. And that is, is that the church is not perfect. Is that a shock to anyone? Right? The church is not perfect in the reason the church is not perfect, just because of you. All right, let's just get that out there, right? It's not because of somebody else or that the church is not perfect because of you, I used to have a pastor that said, man, being a pastor would be easy if it wasn't for all the people, right. That would be, it'd be so easy, right? Because the reality is that all of us are flawed. We all have opinions. We all have issues. We all have stuff that is in us. And because of that, the church is not perfect. But what's amazing about that is that God has chosen to use this imperfect organism. It's not an organization but an organism because the church is us, right. Then God's chosen to use this as his vehicle to get the gospel to the world from the very beginning of the church in Acts Chapter Two, we see, I think God chose to form the church and that through that vehicle, through you and I, that the gospel was going to get to the entire world.

 

And so, it's interesting that God would take something that is not perfect is made up of you and I, but yet that's what he would choose to get the gospel everywhere. So that means that you are important. That means for you and me, and obviously you're thinking, well, Jeff, I know that I'm here, right? But you need to understand that this is not just a ritual that we go through every week so that you can feel better about yourself. This is what God has chosen. We are a part of something that God wants to use to shed the light of the gospel across the street and around the world.

 

And I would say that this is very cliche, but it's very true. And that there's never been a time in the world that the world needed the gospel more than it does today. So, it means that we're imperfect. We don't have all the answers and we don't always get it right. But yet this is what God has chosen to use. Which means that the church should be very, very important to us. So here's what happens. Here's how we get off track. Well, we get off track because we began to see the church as something that's more about us than we do about what God really wants it to be about.

 

We see in the gospels, the famous story about Jesus coming in and cleansing the temple. You've heard that story where Jesus is upset because there are people that they're basically selling animals for sacrifices, but up in the price really, really high. So they can make money off the well that are coming to offer sacrifices. And it makes Jesus angry. There's a righteous anger that comes over here and he comes in and he cleanses the temple. He just, he just turns the tables over. He just, he just basically just confuses everything that they have going on.

 

And he makes a statement at the end of those stories that we see in the gospel when he cleanses the temple. And he says, and he quotes from the Old Testament, but he says that my house shall be called a house of what?  Prayer. Now it's interesting because what we've done with that story is, I remember growing up, I grew up in church and I listen. Some of my greatest memories in life happened in the church. I love the church, some of the most, some of the best friends in the world that I have. I met in church and some of the greatest memories personally, there's some of the greatest memories and the milestones for me spiritually. They happen inside the walls of a church or a church event. And because of that, I believe that church is an absolutely amazing place, but there's some things that are funny about the, the way that we interpret scripture within the church.  And I can remember growing up in church that, that people interpreted this passage to mean, you were sinning if you did a raffle in the church, right? I mean, that was like the worst thing in all the world you can do. Don't do raffle in the church because that's why Jesus cleansed the temple. And listen, we can debate about whether you should do a raffle in the church or not, but that's not the point of that passage. The point of that passage is what upset Jesus is that he took something that was to be about him. And people begin to make it about their own interest. They begin to use the church as a way for them to gain something for themselves. It began to be about them and not about him. And that's the reason why he comes back to this issue of prayer, because there's something that happens when we pray. Now there's no question that we see all throughout scripture and all throughout church history that God responds when his people pray. There is a power in prayer that is absolutely unexplainable. But the other thing that happens when we pray as we get our focus, right? For instance, if you have someone that you struggle with relationally, you say, man, I hate that person. Or I'm struggling not to hate that person. You know, the greatest remedy for you to get over that bitterness and that anger in your life is just to begin to pray for them because the longer you pray for them, you begin to get God's perspective on that person.

 

Well, the same thing goes for every arena of our life is that one of the things that prayer does for us is it gives us God's perspective. And over time it gives us God's heart. The book of Psalms describes that we're to delight ourselves in the Lord and that he will give us the desires of our heart. We love the second part of that, right? That is that God give me the desires of my heart, but we missed the reality that what God is saying there is that when you delight yourself in me, when you spend time with me, when the emphasis of your life is prayer, that what begins to happen is God begins to change our heart, to match his heart. And so, all throughout scripture, we see different prayers. If you have your Bibles, I want you to look with me at Ephesians Chapter One for just a few moments today. And in Ephesians Chapter One, there is a prayer that Paul prays for the church. And what I would encourage you to do is you begin to develop your prayer life. As you begin to recognize that as you intercede for your, not only for your needs, but on behalf of other people in your life, that God responds to the prayers of his people. And there is absolute power in prayer. But then you're also saying that God, that as I prayed, that I, what I desire for you to do is to make my heart match your heart and think about the power of the church. When our heart matches God's heart. When we are aligned with him and the things that matter to him become the things that matter to us. And in the process of that, what God begins to do is something that is absolutely amazing in our hearts. And then it flows out from this building. It flows out from our services. It flows out from our lives to the community and ultimately the world around us. When we say, God, I want my heart to align with yours. So, as you begin to develop your prayer life, one of the things that you can do is look at scripture and find prayers that are there and begin to use those as your model for prayer. Jesus gives us the model, prayer in the Sermon on The Mount. And you can look through that and begin to structure your prayer life around that. You can go to John chapter 17, where Jesus prays for himself. He prays for his disciples. He prays for the world. It gives you the opportunity. Just something to look at, to begin to model your life. You can take a proverb every day. There's 31 chapters in Proverbs, take one that corresponds with the day of the month and just begin to read it and just begin to pray that you can pray the Psalms. I mean, there's so many different ways. One of the most, one of the things that I think that we miss a lot of times is just that the power that comes when we pray, what scripture teaches us to pray when we use that as the model for how we lift up our hearts to God.

 

So as we look at a Ephesians Chapter One, this is a prayer that Paul prays for the church. And so, I want us to look at this just for a few moments together, but we're going to stop along the way. And there's three different parts here that I think are things that are relevant for us today, where we are, that we ought to just stop and pray for. So we're going to read a little bit, I'm going to talk for a second and then we're going to pray. Now I know that's a, that's a crazy concept, right? In church, we're going to stop and actually pray, right? But we're going to do that today. And so, I want, once again, for those of you that might be new or your guests with us, don't worry. I'm not going to make you uncomfortable or do anything that you're not comfortable doing, but we're just going to stop along the way. And I'm not going to just pray for us. I'm going to ask you to stop and pray. And I'm going to ask you to really a look at these aspects and look at how God uses his word to model. Because Jesus said that my house shall be called a house of prayer. So we're going to spend a few moments doing that. So Ephesians Chapter One, and we're going to begin reading in verse 15. He says, for this reason, and this, the idea of these talking about the gospel, he's talking about the church, he's talking about the people that are in the church and the things that they are doing. And he says for this reason, because I have heard of your faith, Paul had not actually been there, but he knew of the things that God was doing through the church at Ephesus. He says, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord, Jesus, and your love toward all the saints. I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. So in this introduction he says, I want you to know, I give thanks to you that for you in the, I am remembering you in my prayers. And then what follows is the prayer that he prays for the church at Ephesus. Now he's praying this for them specifically, but I also think that there's application for us in terms of where we are today.

 

So the first thing he prays for, we see in verse 17, look at what it says there, that the God of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory may give you look at this. Don't miss this, the spirit of wisdom and of revelation and the knowledge of him. He asked for wisdom. He asked for revelation in the knowledge of him. So in essence, what he says is, is that God, I pray that you will give this. When I pray for this church, what I'm praying for is that God, you would give them wisdom. The God, you would give them the ability to see your plan, to see your wheel and that God that you would give them the knowledge of what you desire from them. Now stop and think about that for just a minute. What a great prayer for us to pray, because we can get so caught up in the things that we know we can get. So caught up in the things that we do, we can get so caught up, even in the things that we've done in the past, that we are very familiar with and that we are very good at. And if we're not careful, we can miss the reality that what we need to see for today, what we need to see for the future is what God sees. God align my heart so that I can be filled with wisdom. God, I align our leadership in a way that they have wisdom to, to have Your will for our Church, revealed to them so that we can have the knowledge of what you desire from us. Is there anything greater that we can pray and say, God, help us to see what you want us to see. I see God help us to make decisions that honor you. God lead us to the path that the God that we desire for whatever you want. And then think about this. If we pray that with a pure heart, and we really say, God, I want to be aligned with what you want. God, I want you to give us wisdom to make the right decision. If we pray that with a pure heart, do you realize that we can't lose? Because if we're praying that with a pure heart and we're praying to that to a God who is in complete control, and if we're submitting ourselves to his will and to his wisdom, then God's, this is not a game, right? It's not a game of hide and seek, and God's not attempting to hide His will from us. He's just attempting to get us to a place where we surrender to Him and then whatever He desires, God just will do that. So it's a releasing prayer, but it's a prayer that I believe is very, very important. Now I just, once again, I'm up here. So we're going to do this the way that the God is leading me. And I'll just tell you the first thing that came to my mind when I read that is really for our Pastor Search Committee, because you've heard for the last several weeks as we've just stopped and we've seen videos and we've, we've talked just about the need to pray for that group. And I want you to hear this from my heart. That there's nothing that I believe for this church. That is the more important for us to be praying for than for that team right now, thinking about the wisdom that they need and think about when you pray for them, that you're not praying for them to find the kind of person that you want, right? You're praying for them to find the person that God desires. You're praying for God to reveal his desire to them so that they can make a wise decision. Because when they make this decision in terms of, on behalf of the church and they bring this person before us as a body of believers, what we need to understand is that this is a very, very big deal for the future of our church. And we need to ask God to give them wisdom, the, the weight that's on them. And I can tell you from my own experience, the weight that’s on the person that they will eventually talk to. It is a weight that on both sides of that, we need wisdom. We need God as a body of believers to, for us to be passionate about praying for them. Because what we desire is the same way for the last hundred years that we've celebrated that God has used this church to make a powerful impact in this community and around the world, we want the next hundred years to be even greater. And the only way that happens is by God revealing to us, us having his wisdom and his, and making the decisions he desires for us today. So can we just stop for a minute and just pray? Let's just pray for that team. In fact, not to embarrass you and then we'll call you out and ask you to anything else. But if you're a part of that team, just because I know everybody doesn't know all the people that are on there, if you're a part of our pastor search team, would you stand for just a second so that people can just lay eyes on you? I know there's Adam's here. Is there anybody else that's you're in? I mean, nobody else cares about Jesus, but you've had none kidding. All right. But thank you, Adam. Here's what I'm going to ask you to do. I've just bow your heads and close your eyes. Thank you. And I want to ask you to pray. If you know anyone on the search team, would you pray for them by name? Just take a moment just in the quietness of where we are. Just pray for them by name and your prayer for them is God, would you give them wisdom? God, would you reveal your will to them? If you don't know anybody that's on that team, maybe you can just pray for Adam today. Maybe for others of you. What do you want to pray for is the person that God's going to lead us to. You don't even know who they are, but just pray for them that God would give them wisdom. On the other side. Let's just pause.

 

Let's pray specifically for this team for wisdom, for the revealing of his will and for the knowledge of what God decided, you take a moment and just pray that. Can we pause today and just say that we need you. God, we're not a perfect people. We're not a perfect church, But God, I thank you for this church. I thank you for leading me and my family to come and be a part of this church. God, I thank you for what it means to us and God. I thank you for the way that you've used it. Just such as a powerful testimony and instrument in this community and to serve not just the folks around this, but around the world. We don't know all of the answers for what the future holds and God, it's just such an odd time. And we've got at the same time, Lord, it's a great time because we don't have the answers. And so, it gives us the opportunity just to submit and surrender to you. So God is we surrender to you. God, I pray specifically for every member of our pastor search team. God, I pray that you will remove any fear. God, I pray that you will remove any agenda. God, I pray that you will remove any pressure. God, I pray that you will remove any sin from their lives so that they can clearly hear God, you have the power. God, you have the answers. So Lord, we placed them into your hands right now. You got to be thanked you for what you're going to do, because we know that when we surrender to you from a pure heart, that we can't lose. And so, God, we thank you in advance for how you're going to use this team to move us forward for the future of our ministry. God, we love you. And we thank you for hearing our prayers. It's in Jesus name. I pray,

Amen.

 

Now look at verse 18, The next thing he calls them as he's praying for them. He says, having the eyes of your heart in the light, look at this, that you may know, what is the hope to which he has called you? What are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the Saint? So it's an interesting verse because in essence, I mean, it's a, it's a very, you know, it's worded very well, right? But in the middle of that, he says the hope of the calling that you were called to in essence, what he says is that you would understand the power, that you would understand the riches, that you would understand the mission of what God has called you to do. And I think that's both collectively and individually that he's praying for them that first of all, that God would reveal to them the direction and what needs to happen, that there would be wisdom in the decisions they may, but as they are making decisions as a body of believers, that God would constantly remind him of in essence. What I would say is their mission. Then he would constantly remind him of who they are and what it is that they are to be about, you know, any organization over time, any established organization. And this is the, the case. And no matter what realm of business or what realm of spirituality or that, anything that is established over time has the tendency to turn inward and what used to be about the mission becomes about themselves. I was sharing with Micah, just looking at where we're going in terms of after the first John series about looking at several different churches in the new Testament, in terms of them staying focused on their mission. And one of the things we see in the church at Jerusalem, which is where the church started, that over time, they begin to struggle because as they began to be established, they stopped looking outward to what God had called them to do, and they just simply began to turn inward. And so one of the things that we have to constantly battle against as a great established church in this community is that for us to never get to a point where it becomes all about what we do in here, but we're constantly pushing ourselves outward to the mission that God has given us. And so once again, as I was reading this this week, and just thinking about the things for us, specifically as a church to pray for, I thought about where we are in terms of the emphasis of our outward focus ministry right now, in terms of what we're doing relationship to Hurricane Laura, that we have teams I've loved watching on social media this week about the number of teams even this week that have gone and taken time off of work and taking time out of their schedule to take a day or a couple of days, and just to go over and we've taken tons of supplies. I can't believe the number of things y'all brought last weekend to the campus that were sent out last Sunday and all throughout the week that have been teams of people that have been going. And I know that everybody can't do that, but that needs to be the heart of every one of us, whether we have the opportunity and the ability to go, it needs to matter to us. And all those, some people may say, well, that doesn't seem like a very spiritual thing to, you know, to take a chainsaw and cut down the tree and to clean up a yard or clean up a home or to take supplies. But the reality is, is what greater message that the church had to send then in a time of crisis, that we are there for them, not because we're such great people, but because the mission of God compels us to go. And what Paul says to the Church at Ephesus where is that I pray that you will constantly be reminded the hope that you have the joy that you have because of the, what you've been called to do. And so, what I want us to do is take just a couple of moments. Then I want us just to stop and pray that God would keep us focused on the mission. The mission is not to be the biggest church in town. The mission is not to have the nicest buildings in town. The mission is not to do the most things for ourselves, but the mission is to be, as the book of Matthew describes is that we are a city that is set on a Hill. We are the light of the world, and that we cannot be hidden, that we want our mission to be so bright that if tomorrow, if this church was taken out of this community, there would be a hole in this community because of all the things that we do to serve them and to love them and to point them towards Jesus. So we need to pray that God would use this body of believers, that we would stay focused on the hope of what we've been called to do. So let's take just a moment and I'm going to ask you to bow your heads with me again. And would you ask God for yourself? First of all, personally, that God would keep you focused on your part of the mission that he's called you to do, but that he would keep us as a body of believers focused, that we would fight the tendency to turn inward and that we would do everything we can to focus our heart and attention on the world. Around us. You take just a moment just with your heads, bowed and eyes closed. Pray that for yourself, pray that for the church, ask God to do that in our lives.

 

Let's pray together. Lord, we're grateful for our church. God, we pray that we would be a church of people as individuals, Lord, who put others first or that as we live our own lives, God, that we wouldn't be looking just to our own interests Lord, but we'll be looking to the interest of others. God, that we would be humbled. People, people who imitate the likeness of Jesus, that we would put other people ahead of ourselves Lord. And as we do that individually Lord, we pray that that's what our church would be. That we would be a church that seeks the welfare of our city that seeks the good of people in our community. Thank God that our church would be a place that makes a massive impact for those around us. Lord, God help us to be a community of believers that don't just look out for each other and look out for this place, Lord, but that we were driven to help others. God, like we've seen so many going out and serving with the hurricane aftermath. Lord, help that to not just be something we do in disasters, Lord, but that we do every day that we see needs. And we meet them Lord, because we have a desire to help them because we know that we have the message of the gospel Lord and that as we go that your honor, that your name is lifted high. God let us be that type of people or help us to be that way. Keep our eyes focused on you and not just focused on ourselves. And we love you. We thank you for Istrouma. We thank you for moments like this.

 

Amen.

 

We've been reading the book of Ezra about God establishing the people of Israel as his chosen people. And he did that because he wanted people to see him, right? He didn't do that because they were any more special than the rest of the world. He didn't do that because there was anything that was different about the way that they were created. He did that to show people how great he was. And when I want you to see at the end of this passage, the end of this prayer in the last five verses to me is a very powerful, powerful prayer. But I believe it's a prayer that we need to pray for us, for us. As we walk out these doors for us, as we encounter a world that may not agree with us, for us as we encounter a world that may have different views or may not even believe in God, but there's something that they see in us. But what they see in us is not about us, but it's about the God that we serve. There's a confidence in the end of this passage, there's a power that's in the end of this past, but there's also authenticity that shows people what we really want them to see, because what the world needs to see from the church is not just all the things that we don't do or that we are against, but what they need to see is not only what we are for, but who we are for. And they need to see the power of God that resides inside of us. And so, I want us to read this passage together, but then I want us to pray this for ourselves. And I want you to, as you read this with me, I want you to get the vision of exactly what it is that God wants us to see what God wants us to be a part of, of what he wants the world to see in us and through us. So here's what I want to ask you to do. I'm going to ask you if you would just to stand right where you are.

I am not sure we can read this part sitting down and look, I know some time to time, Pastor Jeff, again, watches the services. He doesn't think that we should sit for any of it. So I apologize if you're watching Pastor Jeff, but we are going to stand for this part. All right. I want you to think about the power that is in these verses, starting in verse 19. I want us to read this together and then I want us to pray together. And I want us to ask God for the world. When they see us, this is what they see. Let's start in verse 19. I want you to read it out loud with me. All right. It says, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly paces. Don't miss this right, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name, that His name, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the Church. Let's read verse 22. Again, that's great, right? And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all, you know, let's pray. Some of you just with your heads bowed and your eyes closed. You needed that phrase in verse 22. Today, all things are under his feet. All things, anything that you're facing today is not beyond his control or authority. All things are under his feet. Any challenges that we face as a church are not beyond his ability or not beyond his authority, because all things are under his feet. There ought to be a peace and a calm that floods our heart and mind. When we recognize the fact that we serve a God who is in complete control, All Things are under his feet.

 

God, I pray that That image in verses 19 through 23 can be what the world sees in us. Not a people of arrogance, not people that think they are superior in any way or that we're more Holy or that there's something that, that is different about who we are as individuals, but they will see people that are totally dependent upon you that are willing to remove all the things that don't look like you so that the world can clearly see how great you are. God, thank you that you are our ruler. God, thank you that you are our authority. God, thank you that you have all power and all dominion over everything in our lives, over everything in our community, over everything in the world that is so difficult to see so much of the division and heartache and pain and strife that goes on God. We thank You that if we will rest in You, that God, that You will give us Your wisdom, that You will give us Your plan. God, that You will keep us focused on Your mission. And then we will recognize that if the world can see you that God, you're the one who makes the difference. So God allow us as a body of believers to rests in You today, allow us to trust you because you are a God who has all things under his feet and this in Jesus’ name that I pray and all God's people said,

Amen.

 

Be seated for just a moment. One of the other things that we see come on Christian, that we see in the new Testament is that there were times that there were people that got it used a specific location, and he sent them out to other places to do other things. And so today Christian is going to lead us in a time as a Luke is in that situation where he's being called out. And so, he's going to share some things with us. Lucy will share a couple of things with us, and then we're going to close our service by praying for Luke. That's right? Some of the past three years, as we have worshiped together in this space, you have seen at Luke's face and his heart leading us in that regard for the past three years. And so today Luke's final day here with us at Istrouma, as he heads home, to Atlanta, the Atlanta area, where he is from to serve at a church there. And in his time here, he has led us well, he has fostered deep and meaningful relationships and, and discipled many of us, even in this room today. And we're thankful for the Lord giving us the chance to serve alongside of him. And we're excited about what he is doing and where he is going to continue to serve at a different sister church. And so, Luke, you had some words for us today. Yes. On my phone. It's where I read my Bible from which you can't really add to Ephesians one really. I mean, just the hope that is there and the prayer and that's all of our prayers that we would know and understand the love of God for us. And then go out to the world, just that repeated the measurable greatness of his power. Like 13 verses later in chapter two, he talks about the measurable grace of God, in his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. And So this is Zachariah chapter nine. I've kind of been in this for the last few months, was in like the prophets and the minor prophets in the springtime. And so, I hit Zachariah about June and it's just like, it's exactly the same thing. Like our God is a God, who's a measurable and he's generous. And he graciously and freely gives us wisdom and revelation. So, this is Zachariah nine verse 16 says on that day, the Lord, their God will save them as the flock of his people for like the jewels of a crown. They shall shine on his land. Just makes me think of where the city on a Hill, like where these jewels in a crown that everyone can see for. How great is his goodness and how great his beauty grain shall make the young men flourish in new wine. The young women, God has God who makes things flourish to a lot of us. This may feel like a barren time. I got time in the desert, but our God is a fountain of water. Like he's living water.

He is a God who things grow and barren places. So then verse one of chapter 10 says pray. So to the people of God, he says, ask rain from the Lord in the season of the spring, rain from the Lord who makes the storm clouds is the God who makes the rain. So pray to him, ask him for rain. And he will give them showers of rain to everyone, the vegetation in the field. You can't really say more than that. Our God is a God who loves to pour himself out. And he asked us to come to them and to ask him for rain. And he will do it. Every word of the Lord proves true. So that's right. And we are excited that the Lord is going to use a Luke to bring his, the message of his immeasurable grace, to our sister church in there and in Atlanta. And so, Luke will be here as the service concludes. And normally we would invite everybody to come down and place their hand on Luke is we send him out. But today where you are, if you would, if you just would extend your handout where you are towards Luke and we'll pray and, and then we'll dismiss, all right, father, we thank you for the time that you have given us with our brother. We are excited that he is, has an opportunity to be able to, to share your truth in a new place. Lord. And we arrest a short knowing that we will be shoulder to shoulder singing for eternity, with saints that you have shown your grace to here in Baton Rouge and in Atlanta through your servant, Luke Lord, we're thankful that you've given him the gifts that you have and the opportunities to be able to make your name great and known Lord, we know that you are indeed that fountain in the midst of our barren and dry land and God, we look to you and you alone.

 

Lord, we know that you are great and powerful and good and kind, and that that message is one that we want to see the world come to know. We're thankful that you've placed it on Luke's heart to do that in a new area, Lord and we're we sent him out with love and gratitude and your precious and Holy Name. We pray. We love You. Amen.

 

Direct download: IBC_20200906.mp3
Category:Sermon -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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Agosto 30, 2020
EL PROCESO DE RENOVACION
==========

Esdras 7:1-10

Características que deben ser parte del Pueblo del Señor:

A.- ES ALGUIEN QUE AFIRMA SUS PASOS EN LA PALABRA DEL SEÑOR.

1.- Estudioso de la Palabra del Señor
2.- Practicante de la Palabra del Señor
3. Dispuestos a enseñar a otros la Palabra.

B.- ES ALGUIEN QUE DEPOSITA SU CONFIANZA EN LAS PROMESAS DEL SEÑOR.

1.- Pidan y se les dara.
2.- Busquen y van a encontrar
3.- Llamen y se les abrira.

C.- ES ALGUIEN QUE DECIDE VIVIR EN SANTIDAD DELANTE DE DIOS.

1.- Hay un reconocimiento de que se han cometido pecados.
2.- Se Identifica con el pecado del pueblo.
3. Hacen las correcciones necesarias para vivir agradando al Señor.

Conclusión:
Siempre está en nuestras manos la decisión de agradar a Dios:
-Con nuestras Vidas.
-Viviendo conforme a su Palabra.
-Viviendo confiando en su Palabra.
-Debemos apartarnos de aquello que sabemos qué entristece el corazón de nuestro Dios.

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Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20200830.mp3
Category:Esdras -- posted at: 2:52pm EST

“Renew”

Sermon Series: Ezra

Ephesians 2:8-10

Istrouma Baptist Church – Jeff Williams, Interim Pastor

 10:45 AM Sermon August 30, 2020

 

Good morning. 

I’m so glad that you're here and that you have chosen to worship with us today. If you have your Bible, you can turn to Ezra chapter seven as her chapter seven. We'll be there in just a few moments before we jump in, though, I felt like I needed to give just a little bit of a disclaimer. I'm sure those of you that were here last week are more excited about what I'm wearing today than what I wore last week. And I have to admit that I turned on my Facebook earlier in the week. You know, in sometimes during the week they put like little clips of whatever we talked about. And when I turned that clip on, when it popped up and all I saw was that that Bama shirt that's like just staring just really just boldly at me. I thought that's probably not fair for people that weren't there that don't know the context. I think what an arrogant jerk, that guy is wearing a Bama shirt in the middle of Louisiana. So, I made my own personal commitment. I'll share it with you that I won't ever speak on this stage ever again with Bama attire. So I know some of you will come back now, wait at the clap,  that wasn't really necessary, but anyways, but I'm just so thankful for just what God is doing through our college students and what a great time that was last week to be able to celebrate with them, tons of them that were in our 11 o'clock service. And so, thank you just for the way that you love and support college students in our area. Just an amazing, amazing opportunity for us as a church to be able to minister to just the next generation. Yesterday. I did a, a wedding for a couple in our church and it was in Kentwood, Louisiana. That's the first time I've ever been to Kentwood, but was a, just a great experience, but it actually wasn’t, their wedding ceremony. It was their, the renewing of their vows. Now I I've done renewal of vows, you know, for five years and for 10 years and for 15 years and for 20 and 25 and even for 50 years, but I've never done a vow renewal for a couple of this, been married for five months. All right. But that's what we did yesterday. And the reason was, is because their wedding was originally scheduled about four or five weeks after COVID just exploded. And so, they had to shut down the big ceremony and we just did a backyard wedding five months ago. And so yesterday we did the vow renewal in front of all their family and friends was just a great experience them. And so, like Monday when the light, the storm is starting to roll in, I'm thinking, oh my goodness, if this, this couple, if their wedding got messed up and then their, the renewal got messed up because of the storm. So, I was thankful that they were able to do it, but it was just a great time together. But within that, I started thinking this week is we're looking at the word renewal. That's the focus for our time together today. I begin to think about when you do that, whether it's at five months or whether it's at 50 years, there's a purpose while people renew their vows, it is a recommitment or a reminder of exactly what they started with with a vow that they made before, but between one another before God, I want you to think about that concept renewal today, as it relates to your relationship with God.

So, first of all, let's think about what that word means. The word renews simply means to resume after an interruption to give fresh life or strength to. I like the end of that for many of us, when it comes to spiritual renewal, what we have to remember is that many times there's an interruption in terms of our passion for God, right? There's something that happens that distracts us or gets us off track. And we're not as passionate about Jesus maybe we once were. And so, we have a renewal. It means that we decide that we're going to resume that, we decide that we're going to get back on track. We decide that we're going to change some things in our life in order to give back to where we know God wants us to be. And what happens when we do that, then it gives fresh or strength. It gives you something that you did not have before. It renews that thing in your life that was missing. And I don't know about you, but I've been through periods of time in my life to where there was just a going through the motions you ever been there or mean there was things that you were trying to ignore as we talked about the last couple of weeks that, you know, you needed to deal with, but you just didn't. And you just come to that point in life where you say enough is enough, tired of playing games. I'm tired of going through the motions. I'm tired of ignoring it, just, just surviving day in and day out. I want that passion to be renewed. I want that in my life again. I want that fresh life. I want that strength that comes from being exactly where God wants us to be.

Okay. So within that concept, I want you to think about it. A couple of things related to this idea of renewal, first of all, is this is that renewal begins with an acknowledgement. That change is necessary, that if you're going to renew you yourself, you have to begin with the idea or the concept that you say, you know what? There is change that is necessary in my life. And so for every single one of us on a day like today is we're going to participate, Lord’s Supper in just a few moments that as we do that, it is a reminder. And we'll talk more about this in a minute, but there is a reminder of the fact that there's change that is necessary in my life. The Bible describes in First Corinthians that anytime you take the Lord's supper, that what you are to first do is to examine yourself, to see if there's anything in you that is unworthy of partaking of the body and the blood of Christ. So within this concept of renewal, it begins with you recognizing there's something in my life that's not the way It should be. So the question You want to be asking yourself throughout this morning is what is that for you? What is that thing? Or what is that issue or what is that relationship that just needs to change in your life? Now let's take it another step forward. As it relates to a specifically spiritual renewal, that spiritual renewal involves a movement toward Jesus. All right. In my attitude, my priority, in my actions. It makes a conscious effort in your heart and mind just as I I've moved away from where Jesus, Jesus didn't move, right. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. But what happens oftentimes is that we move away. We, we drift, or we're distracted. And so, what spiritual renewal is, if you make the decision today that I need to renew, whether it's my attitude, my priorities, or my actions, I want to make a step towards Jesus. And we're going to talk about, and just a few moments about what that looks like. So when we look, at the book of Ezra, that was the purpose of Ezra. Now we finally, this is the last week of the series, and we're finally getting to the, the, the Ezra, the man, right? We've been looking at the book of Ezra, but now he enters the scene in chapter seven. And when he enters the scene, the King who was Artaxerxes decided that he was going to send him back. This is the second wave of people that return to Israel. And as they're returning, everything has been rebuilt in terms of the temple, in terms of the city, things are beginning to happen, but there's all of these interruptions that have been going on.

We talked last week about between Chapter Four and Chapter Five, that there was a 16-year period of time where the wall stopped being built. Then we see that begins again. We looked at that last week and when we get to the end of Chapter Six, there's another 60 to 70-year period of time between Chapter Six and Chapter Seven. Now, what’s interesting is that earlier in the year, we studied the book of Esther, right? The book of Esther, all the things that we studied happens right there between chapter six and chapter seven. So, on the end of everything we studied in Esther, we find King Artaxerxes he sends, he sends Ezra back to Israel with another group of people. And the focus of this is the renewal. It is the idea that there needs to be renewal amongst the people. That's why God led the King to do that. That's why as is returning Ezra was a scribe Ezra, basically when we look at the New Testament and we think about Pharisees and scribes, that Ezra was the part of the foundation of what that became. They were the religious leaders. They were the ones that knew the word. They were the ones that their heart was supposed to be focused on leading the people towards God. So Ezra, as he returns, we see this in Chapter Seven and Chapter Eight, that he, he leads the leaders of this group into a time of prayer and fasting for the people for the will of God and what he desires for them to do. And then as he returns, there's something interesting that happens in Chapters Nine and Chapter Ten, that as Ezra as he returns, he identifies that many of the Jewish people had intermarried with other people that had been displaced to Jerusalem. And what he sees is that people were intermarrying with people of other faiths, of other religious people that were pagans that were not fearers of God. And so, he does something that's very odd. He does something that seems strange in light of what we know that scripture teaches us related to the issue of divorce and he challenges them. And he calls on them to leave their, their wives and the children that were not of the Jewish faith that were not fearers and followers of God. He's, he calls them to divorce them. And basically, to start all over again. Now, when you read that, that can be confusing, right? It can be confusing because it seems to go against everything that we know that God's Word teaches us about scripture.  listen for, if we were just to be honest, and that there's times in scripture, that we read things that we're not sure completely how to wrap our minds around it. We're not sure that we completely understand them. And so I want to give you just a couple of things to think about when you come to those times as you're reading scripture is that anytime you come to a passage of scripture that is confusing to you, or that you have trouble wrapping your minds around, understand this, that you never build what you believe or your theology around the things that you don't understand, you always interpret what you don't understand in light of what is very clear that you do understand.

And here's, what's clear in scripture. It is clear in scripture; you look at the book of Malachi. It says that God hates divorce. So this is obviously not God's ultimate desire or God's ultimate plan is a divorce is not something that God desires. You can't take the book of Ezra and begin to build a theology that says, well, the person that I am married to is not a strong follower of Jesus, or they're not a follower of Jesus. And so I want to be with this person. And so Ezra gives me the right to divorce them and go over here.

You can't do that because the reality is, is that the scripture is clear that God hates divorce. Scripture is also clear in the New Testament. We can look at the book of Matthew. You can look at the book of First Corinthians and it describes the times that God allows divorce. But even in those allowances, he ultimately says that God's desire is for man and woman to stay together. Now, I don't want us to get off on all that means and what that looks like, but here's what I want you to see is that we can look at the book of Ezra and build our theology on what Ezra leads the people to do about the way that we live our lives, because there are other things in scripture that are very, very clear about what God feet, how God feels and what God desires as it relates to the issue of divorce.

So what do we learn from this passage then? Right? Ezra is basically giving us the history of what took place and why was he leading them to do that? And that's the thing that we need to emphasize. As we look at that at this section of scripture, the reason that Ezra was calling them to divorce and to make sure that purity remain among the Jewish people is he was trying to protect, look at this, don't miss this. He's trying to protect the lineage that the Messiah was going to come through. You see, God had been promising for generations, that the Messiah was going to come through the Jewish people, that through the people of Israel, the Messiah that was God's chosen people, he had set everything up for the world to see that what God desired is for them to follow him. And so he set up his own people that he was going to have favor upon that he was going to lead and protect and guide, and the whole purpose of that was so that eventually, and ultimately that the whole world would come to be followers of Jesus, simply because they recognize that God was the only true God and that he was in control.

So within this passage of scripture, what we see is Ezra protecting the purity of the Jewish people, because it was the way that Jesus, the Messiah, was going to come. So basically, here's the way that we have to view that, that in essence, what we see in Ezra Chapter Seven through Chapter Ten is God showing us through scripture, a description of what he did at a specific place in time. It is the history of what happened. It's a history of the story of God. And what happens is oftentimes is we take the things in scripture, or we take the things in life that are meant to be descriptive, and we make them prescriptive, which means that we take the things that God is describing a point in history where God did a certain thing in a certain way. And we try to make that about us and about the way that we make decisions. And scripture is very clear about the reality that is sometimes they're describing what God did in a series of time.

And then other times he's giving us specific instructions about what we are to do. Think about that in light of the church, that oftentimes here's what churches do. churches hear about the story of what God is doing somewhere else, right? And God just doing some amazing things through lots of different churches of different styles, with different leadership. I mean, just, there's just some amazing things that God is doing literally all over the world. But the problem is that when churches and leaders in the church, when they see what God is doing somewhere else, and then they try to go and copy that for what God is doing right here. And the reality is, is that just because God does something as a certain way, somewhere else doesn't mean that's the way that he wants to do it here. It’s a description of what God is doing at a specific place at a specific point in time. But we cannot relate that and say, well, then we must copy what they did, because if God did it there, that he wants to do it here, because the reality is that every church is different.

Every circumstance is different. Every leadership is different. All the things about a specific church are different. It also can relate to us as an individual body of believers. In January, we celebrated a hundred years of Istrouma as a church. Doesn't that seem like that was like a hundred years ago. I mean, I can't, it's hard to believe that was just a few months ago, but we celebrated the story of what God has done. And the, one of the worst things we could do is to, is to begin to think in our minds, well that for the next hundred years, it has to look exactly like it did for the first a hundred years, because the reality is, is that the story of the first hundred years was about how God used this church at different points along the way, because of who we were because of where we were because of the community around us to do things at that season in time.

So For the next hundred years, we're in a transition for the last several weeks. We've heard just testimonies and videos of from our pastor search team that we're in that moment or in that time of looking for what the story is going to look like as we go forward. And then it'll be something that all of us should be excited about and should we should be praying about, but the reality is, is that what God desires to do? We don't know yet, because the reality is that God is working in God, uses his own story as a part of what he wants to do in and through us about the larger picture of who God is and what he's doing.

But the emphasis of that passage is not just the issue of divorce. The emphasis of that passage is on Ezra, leading the people towards spiritual renewal. You say, well, Jeff, how does all that fit together? I mean, I just gave you a ton of information, sorry about just throwing all that on you one time. But the way that all that fits together is that when we think about the story that God has placed us in,  that throughout that story, you look at the people in Israel, how many times that they had to go through spiritual renewal because they got distracted or they got off track. And you think about how God used spiritual renewal to show himself, to be glorious, to show himself, to be powerful over and over and over again. So then for us today, as we think about where we are, and we think about praying for the next step in our journey, and we think about us individually, and as a body of believers, the times that we get distracted or we get, get off track or whatever it might be that today, the emphasis is we see Ezra’s model is for us to come to a place of spiritual renewal of saying today as a part of what God wants to do in my life and the life of this church, I want to make a move towards Jesus in my attitude, my priority in my actions. That that sounds good. Right? So how do we do that? Well, I want us to look at just one verse of scripture and Ezra Chapter Seven, that shows how Ezra led the people towards this place of spiritual renewal. And so remember everything I just shared with you about his challenge for the people and about them being pure about an essence, what they were doing is socially distancing from the rest of the world. It wasn't that they thought they were better than them, but there was something that God wanted them to do, that they needed to be seen as separate. They needed to be seen as different. And so in Ezra Chapter Seven and verse Ten, it describes exactly what Ezra did, for Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel. That was his vision. He was returning to have this, this movement of spiritual renewal. And this is the vision of what Ezra said. This is the reason why I'm returning. This is what God has placed in my heart. These are the things that I'm going to do. And if you and I are going to experience spiritual renewal, if we're going to be a part of God's story and our life at this point in time, here's the three things that God wants us to do. They all revolve around this idea of renewal. We're going to look past this next passage of scripture when it come back to it. And just a moment, but let's look at those three things that God calls us to do as it, as we see in this passage, first of all, we've seen that renewal is Bible centered. What we see from Ezra in Ezra Chapter Seven, verse Ten is first of all, is that renewal is Bible centered. Look back at what he says there. And as her Chapter Seven and verse Ten, it says there, I can't see, because I don't have my glasses on. Can we put it back up on the screen as we're chapter seven, verse 10, it says for Ezra had set his heart to do what what's that next word say, study, to study the law of the Lord. That if you and I are going to be renewed, we have to understand that it has to be centered in the Bible. This spiritual renewal is not about emotion. Spiritual renewal is not about a feeling. It's not about the right set of circumstances that at the center of spiritual renewal, we must understand that the study of the word of God must be priority. Think about what Romans 12 says, Romans 12. It says, I appeal to you, therefore brothers, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice Holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. This is the idea of renewal, right? And then he tells you how to do that. He says, do not be conformed to this world. That's exactly what Ezra was saying to the people of Israel. When he returned, he says, Hey, listen, we need to be seen as separate. It's not an arrogance that we're better than everyone else, but it means that we don't live life based on the principles and the standards of the world around us, that we are to be seen as separate and different.

Not in our mindset towards people. We love everyone, but we're to be seen as separate in the way that we make decisions in life. And it says that we are to be transformed. Look at this by the renewing or by the renewal of our, what, Minds.You see, it begins with the word of God, because the word of God must get into our hearts and our minds. It must be something that we study. Notice it. Doesn't say, just read I in the essence of what God wants you to do is to recognize that even what happens in this room on Sunday mornings, if this is the only time that you open the word of God, if this is the only time that you are receiving anything from the word, and then you are missing out on the, the biggest part of what God wants you to be, to be a part of God gave you his word, and God gave you the Holy Spirit so that you can have a daily relationship with him. And if you're going to be renewed in terms of within your spirit, if you're going to begin that journey of moving towards Jesus, it begins about you renewing your mind. It begins by you studying in and immersing yourself in who God wants you to be. And the only way that you can find that ultimately is through the word of God. We take it for granted though. Don't we. Probably got Bibles all over your house, right? That are just sitting there collecting dust. We have all kinds of technology that at any moment at any time, probably most of you in the room have an app on your phone that has the Bible on it is everywhere around this, but yet how often we just take it for granted. And we re we don't recognize the reality that the lack of the scripture being in our minds, the, the lack of studying the Word of God is the reason that we struggle with making those moves towards Jesus.

I would say that for most of us in this room, if I were to ask you today, you say, man, I love Jesus. And I want to serve Him, and I want to follow Him, but I just can't seem to get over this. Or I just can't seem to get past this, or I just can't seem to stop doing this, or I just can't seem to change my mind. I just, all of us have those things that we're constantly struggling with. And the reason is, is that we are trying to move towards Jesus in our own efforts, with our own minds, with our own strength and what we need to recognize and understand that the power for every single one of us is in the Word of God. Get in there. If you don't know what to do in terms of where to start, what I would challenge you to do is just start with the gospel of John. Just start reading it every single day and to listen. What I challenged people to do is take the first chapter and read it every day. This week. If you can't read it every day, if you say, man, I don't know if I could do that. Just at least try four or five times this week just to read through John chapter one. And when you read it, you say, well, I don't know what I'm looking for. Well, this, and that's the reason why God gave us the Holy Spirit that you pray and say, God, would you teach me something from your word? And you just stay in it. Listen. It's like anything else that we do, there must be a commitment. There must be something that you're willing to do day in and day out. And here's, what's amazing. That happens is that over time, if you will make a commitment to the word of God, that what God will do is God will use the Holy Spirit and he will make the word come alive in your life. But it begins with renewal can happen in your life. You're not going to make that move towards Jesus without the Word of God.  renewal is Bible centered. number two, renewal is application centered. Renewal is application centered. Look back again at Ezra Chapter Seven, Ezra Chapter Seven. It says there that Ezra set his heart to study the law of the Lord and then what, to do it. I mean, that's pretty simple, right? I don't know how much more I need to expound on that. And you're thinking, I hope you don't right, but there's really not much else to say about that, but you just got to do it, because think about, go back to Romans Chapter 12 for just a minute. Verse two, look at verse two, do not be conformed to this world, but be look at that next word to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. You see for many people, they love to study the word because they can't wait for somebody to ask them a Bible trivia question, because they're going to have the answer or they know all those Kings and all those different things in the Old Testament, because they've been studying the word. But here's what happens is that many times people get stuck in. They want to know the facts of the word, but God did not give you this word for information. God gave you his word because he wants it to be something that transforms your life. So as, as much as we need to make sure that we are constantly immersing ourselves in the word of God, we need to make sure that the things that we know that God's word teaches us to do that we're applying them and actually doing them. You see, because it doesn't do us any good to have all this information in our heads, if we all follow it. So renewal, first of all, this Bible centered, but second of all, it is application oriented, driven. You have got to find yourself in a situation where you understand that I need to apply the word of God to my life. You say, well, Jeff, there's just things in there. I don't understand yet. Let me ask you this simple question. All the things that you do understand are you being obedient, and all those areas just start there. listen. If we all just started by being obedient in the areas that we already understand, we got plenty of work to do this week, right? I mean, we got plenty of work to do for the rest of 2020, and then beyond, because the reality is, is there things that are clear in scripture that we all know that at times that we're just not being obedient to. So if you want to make that move towards Jesus, you need to recognize that what God desires is for you to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

And then finally, what we see in this passage is that renewal is contagious. Renewal is contagious. You say, I don't understand why you would say that. Well, look back one more time. But as we're chapter seven, this is for Ezra set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to do it and look at this and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel, that what God wants to do in your heart and life God's not doing that just for you. God's doing that as a part of his bigger story of what he wants to do in our community, and what he wants to do in the world. So what we see in Ezra is that he studied the law of the Lord. He began to apply it and he let the word, transform him, but then he began to invest that and others, you know what, that's a picture of. That's a picture of the great commission, right? That's exactly what Jesus taught his disciples to do is to understand, Hey, listen to what I'm telling you, put it into action and then go and make disciples.

You see, because that's the desire of the way that God wants the gospel to go forth is by you and I making a move towards Jesus and what that looks like his studying of the word, applying it to our lives, and then doing everything we can to influence and invest that word, to invest that, that gospel and to the people that are around us. You see, God has a plan for the people of Israel. And we see that story played out in the Old Testament. God had a plan for his disciples into the life and the death and the resurrection of Jesus. And we see that in the early church and over and over again, both in the Old Testament, in the New Testament, we see time and time again, where people had to take stock of where they were. They had to take a deep breath and they had to make the ultimate decision. There are things in my life. That just aren't right. And I need the word of God. I need the application in order for me to make a move towards Jesus. And then as I made that move towards him, what God is going to do is to use me to influence those around me. They're going to see the light of the gospel in my life. But for many of us we've been there before, right? and we've renewed our faith in Jesus. We know we've recommitted, and we've grown up Baptist. We rededicated our lives to the Lord, right? And after a while, for many of us, we just get tired of doing that. We feel like such a failure because we just seem to not be able just to get it all together. But can I encourage you today with the simple reality that God knows that God knew long before you were ever born, that you were going to struggle.

God knew long before you ever existed, that you were going to see it. And they were going to be areas of your life that you were just going to need that constant renewal, that constant reminder. And so God gives us different things in his word. He gives us different instructions about things that we need to do to be reminded of who he is, what he's done for us. And what is planned is for our life. One of those is the Lord's Supper. You see Jesus told his disciples, as often as you do this, do this in remembrance of Me. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of what matters don't we sometimes we just need to take a step back, take a deep breath and remember all ultimately what matters in life. That's the reason why we do the Lord's Supper. that’s the reason why we do that? Because the bottom line at the end of the day is that all the other stuff that you're worried about, and then being distracted by, and you've gotten off track because of all of those things they’ve paled in comparison to who Jesus is, what he's done for you and the way he feels about you. God loves you. God has not given up on you and God desires for you to live his life in his life. According to scripture is an abundant life. So this morning, as we take a few moments and just stop and we take a deep breath and we remember who Jesus is, and we remember what Jesus did for us. I pray that God will use this as the catalyst for all of us to make a step towards Jesus. So here's what we're going to start. I'm going to ask you if you would just to bow your heads and close your eyes Because you see this time begins with us, examining our hearts and lives. What area of your life do you need to confess to him?

The Bible says that if you will confess your sins, that he is faithful and just to forgive you of your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness, just talk to him right now, prepare your heart for this time. Be encouraged that his grace is sufficient for you,

Lord. This is your time. God, I don't know what all the needs are in this one, But I do know that Our ultimate need for all of us, regardless of the circumstances of life is you. God forgive us where we failed. You Forgive us where our lives just haven't measured up. God, forgive us for not taking you and your words seriously for just ignoring you or setting you on the shelf.  Forgive us for trying to live lives that are our own efforts. Forgive us for the decisions that we've made. That just don't honor. You God, thank you that your grace and your mercy overflow into our lives. Give us your peace right now to know that as we confess our sins, that you are faithful and just To forgive us, God cleanse us right now, allow us to receive from you in a way that brings you honor and encourages and Bolsters are heart

I’d ask if you would to take the elements that you received when you came in and if there's any of you that did not receive it, if you just raise your hand, one of our men will bring those to you, someone right down here looking to see if there's anyone else. So once you received that, if you take out the bread that's on one side of that I just want you to hold that in your hand for a minute. And I want you to think about what this bread represents; this bread represents the body of Christ. Why is that so significant? Well, to me, and this is what I want you to focus on today. That is significant because it represents how much God wants you, Jesus, God, in the flesh, the Bible describes that he came to this earth and he lived a perfect life, but he did it as just a regular, ordinary, not a King, but just a man. And that he went through all types of things throughout his life, all of the emotions and all of the struggles and all of the temptations that the Bible says that everything that you and I. He did that because he loves you. And the Bible says that at the end of his life, that is, he was arrested. He was beaten. When you read scripture, you find that his body was beaten to the point that it couldn't even be recognized. And at any point he could have stopped it, but he did because he loves you And Jesus.

The perfect spotless Son of God allowed his own body to be placed on a cross. That was meant for the worst of the worst. And he died and excruciating death, not because he had to because he loves you. And when Jesus was on that cross, he knew every sin you were ever going to commit. He knew everything you were ever going to do, but yet he died for you anyway. You know why? Because he loves you. And so as we take this bread today, no matter who you are or what you're facing or how discouraged you are, or what have you been living for or anything else in your life, be reminded that the God of Heaven who loves you with all His heart. The Bible says that Jesus took the bread and he blessed it and he broke it and he gave it to the disciples, and he says, take and eat this is my body.

The cup represents the blood of Christ. The Bible describes that the shedding of blood was necessary for the forgiveness of sins. We see that in the Old Testament, with sacrifices that were made. And so when Jesus died on the cross, as the only person who ever lived a perfect sinless life, God in the flesh that when his blood was shed, when he died, that he gave you and I, the opportunity to have a relationship with him both now and for all of eternity in heaven. And so, one of the things I think is so crucial about us being renewed and coming to a place where we're reminded of what Jesus did for us is to go back to the time and the place when we began a relationship with Him. Cause I'm going to ask you to do this before we partake of the cup. I want you to bow your heads and close your eyes just one more time. And I want you to think about the day that you've surrendered your life to Jesus. The day that Jesus came and took over your life. Would you just thank Him? The Bible says that Jesus took the cup and he blessed it. And he gave it to the disciples. It says, this is my blood, which was shed for many, for the forgiveness of sins.

I'm going to ask you if you want to stand with me. As you stand, we're just going to simply sing together today as we close. And as we do this, be reminded, God loves you. And he has given you everything you need to live the life he wants you to live. So let's focus this week on studying the word of God, applying it to our lives, and then doing everything we can to disciple others and lead him towards the God that loves them too.

Category:Ezra -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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Aug 30, 2020

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August 30 | Ezra (BR)
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August 30, 2020  | Jeff Williams
"Renew"

Renew means to resume after an interruption; to give fresh life or strength to

Renewal begins with an acknowledgement that change is necessary

Spiritual renewals involves a movement towards Jesus in my attitude, priorities, and actions.

Ezra 7:10
For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.

Renewal is Bible centered

Renewal is application driven

Renewal is contagious

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“Renew”

Sermon Series: Ezra

Ephesians 2:8-10

Istrouma Baptist Church – Jeff Williams, Interim Pastor

 10:45 AM Sermon August 30, 2020

 

Good morning. 

I’m so glad that you're here and that you have chosen to worship with us today. If you have your Bible, you can turn to Ezra chapter seven as her chapter seven. We'll be there in just a few moments before we jump in, though, I felt like I needed to give just a little bit of a disclaimer. I'm sure those of you that were here last week are more excited about what I'm wearing today than what I wore last week. And I have to admit that I turned on my Facebook earlier in the week. You know, in sometimes during the week they put like little clips of whatever we talked about. And when I turned that clip on, when it popped up and all I saw was that that Bama shirt that's like just staring just really just boldly at me. I thought that's probably not fair for people that weren't there that don't know the context. I think what an arrogant jerk, that guy is wearing a Bama shirt in the middle of Louisiana. So, I made my own personal commitment. I'll share it with you that I won't ever speak on this stage ever again with Bama attire. So I know some of you will come back now, wait at the clap,  that wasn't really necessary, but anyways, but I'm just so thankful for just what God is doing through our college students and what a great time that was last week to be able to celebrate with them, tons of them that were in our 11 o'clock service. And so, thank you just for the way that you love and support college students in our area. Just an amazing, amazing opportunity for us as a church to be able to minister to just the next generation. Yesterday. I did a, a wedding for a couple in our church and it was in Kentwood, Louisiana. That's the first time I've ever been to Kentwood, but was a, just a great experience, but it actually wasn’t, their wedding ceremony. It was their, the renewing of their vows. Now I I've done renewal of vows, you know, for five years and for 10 years and for 15 years and for 20 and 25 and even for 50 years, but I've never done a vow renewal for a couple of this, been married for five months. All right. But that's what we did yesterday. And the reason was, is because their wedding was originally scheduled about four or five weeks after COVID just exploded. And so, they had to shut down the big ceremony and we just did a backyard wedding five months ago. And so yesterday we did the vow renewal in front of all their family and friends was just a great experience them. And so, like Monday when the light, the storm is starting to roll in, I'm thinking, oh my goodness, if this, this couple, if their wedding got messed up and then their, the renewal got messed up because of the storm. So, I was thankful that they were able to do it, but it was just a great time together. But within that, I started thinking this week is we're looking at the word renewal. That's the focus for our time together today. I begin to think about when you do that, whether it's at five months or whether it's at 50 years, there's a purpose while people renew their vows, it is a recommitment or a reminder of exactly what they started with with a vow that they made before, but between one another before God, I want you to think about that concept renewal today, as it relates to your relationship with God.

So, first of all, let's think about what that word means. The word renews simply means to resume after an interruption to give fresh life or strength to. I like the end of that for many of us, when it comes to spiritual renewal, what we have to remember is that many times there's an interruption in terms of our passion for God, right? There's something that happens that distracts us or gets us off track. And we're not as passionate about Jesus maybe we once were. And so, we have a renewal. It means that we decide that we're going to resume that, we decide that we're going to get back on track. We decide that we're going to change some things in our life in order to give back to where we know God wants us to be. And what happens when we do that, then it gives fresh or strength. It gives you something that you did not have before. It renews that thing in your life that was missing. And I don't know about you, but I've been through periods of time in my life to where there was just a going through the motions you ever been there or mean there was things that you were trying to ignore as we talked about the last couple of weeks that, you know, you needed to deal with, but you just didn't. And you just come to that point in life where you say enough is enough, tired of playing games. I'm tired of going through the motions. I'm tired of ignoring it, just, just surviving day in and day out. I want that passion to be renewed. I want that in my life again. I want that fresh life. I want that strength that comes from being exactly where God wants us to be.

Okay. So within that concept, I want you to think about it. A couple of things related to this idea of renewal, first of all, is this is that renewal begins with an acknowledgement. That change is necessary, that if you're going to renew you yourself, you have to begin with the idea or the concept that you say, you know what? There is change that is necessary in my life. And so for every single one of us on a day like today is we're going to participate, Lord’s Supper in just a few moments that as we do that, it is a reminder. And we'll talk more about this in a minute, but there is a reminder of the fact that there's change that is necessary in my life. The Bible describes in First Corinthians that anytime you take the Lord's supper, that what you are to first do is to examine yourself, to see if there's anything in you that is unworthy of partaking of the body and the blood of Christ. So within this concept of renewal, it begins with you recognizing there's something in my life that's not the way It should be. So the question You want to be asking yourself throughout this morning is what is that for you? What is that thing? Or what is that issue or what is that relationship that just needs to change in your life? Now let's take it another step forward. As it relates to a specifically spiritual renewal, that spiritual renewal involves a movement toward Jesus. All right. In my attitude, my priority, in my actions. It makes a conscious effort in your heart and mind just as I I've moved away from where Jesus, Jesus didn't move, right. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. But what happens oftentimes is that we move away. We, we drift, or we're distracted. And so, what spiritual renewal is, if you make the decision today that I need to renew, whether it's my attitude, my priorities, or my actions, I want to make a step towards Jesus. And we're going to talk about, and just a few moments about what that looks like. So when we look, at the book of Ezra, that was the purpose of Ezra. Now we finally, this is the last week of the series, and we're finally getting to the, the, the Ezra, the man, right? We've been looking at the book of Ezra, but now he enters the scene in chapter seven. And when he enters the scene, the King who was Artaxerxes decided that he was going to send him back. This is the second wave of people that return to Israel. And as they're returning, everything has been rebuilt in terms of the temple, in terms of the city, things are beginning to happen, but there's all of these interruptions that have been going on.

We talked last week about between Chapter Four and Chapter Five, that there was a 16-year period of time where the wall stopped being built. Then we see that begins again. We looked at that last week and when we get to the end of Chapter Six, there's another 60 to 70-year period of time between Chapter Six and Chapter Seven. Now, what’s interesting is that earlier in the year, we studied the book of Esther, right? The book of Esther, all the things that we studied happens right there between chapter six and chapter seven. So, on the end of everything we studied in Esther, we find King Artaxerxes he sends, he sends Ezra back to Israel with another group of people. And the focus of this is the renewal. It is the idea that there needs to be renewal amongst the people. That's why God led the King to do that. That's why as is returning Ezra was a scribe Ezra, basically when we look at the New Testament and we think about Pharisees and scribes, that Ezra was the part of the foundation of what that became. They were the religious leaders. They were the ones that knew the word. They were the ones that their heart was supposed to be focused on leading the people towards God. So Ezra, as he returns, we see this in Chapter Seven and Chapter Eight, that he, he leads the leaders of this group into a time of prayer and fasting for the people for the will of God and what he desires for them to do. And then as he returns, there's something interesting that happens in Chapters Nine and Chapter Ten, that as Ezra as he returns, he identifies that many of the Jewish people had intermarried with other people that had been displaced to Jerusalem. And what he sees is that people were intermarrying with people of other faiths, of other religious people that were pagans that were not fearers of God. And so, he does something that's very odd. He does something that seems strange in light of what we know that scripture teaches us related to the issue of divorce and he challenges them. And he calls on them to leave their, their wives and the children that were not of the Jewish faith that were not fearers and followers of God. He's, he calls them to divorce them. And basically, to start all over again. Now, when you read that, that can be confusing, right? It can be confusing because it seems to go against everything that we know that God's Word teaches us about scripture.  listen for, if we were just to be honest, and that there's times in scripture, that we read things that we're not sure completely how to wrap our minds around it. We're not sure that we completely understand them. And so I want to give you just a couple of things to think about when you come to those times as you're reading scripture is that anytime you come to a passage of scripture that is confusing to you, or that you have trouble wrapping your minds around, understand this, that you never build what you believe or your theology around the things that you don't understand, you always interpret what you don't understand in light of what is very clear that you do understand.

And here's, what's clear in scripture. It is clear in scripture; you look at the book of Malachi. It says that God hates divorce. So this is obviously not God's ultimate desire or God's ultimate plan is a divorce is not something that God desires. You can't take the book of Ezra and begin to build a theology that says, well, the person that I am married to is not a strong follower of Jesus, or they're not a follower of Jesus. And so I want to be with this person. And so Ezra gives me the right to divorce them and go over here.

You can't do that because the reality is, is that the scripture is clear that God hates divorce. Scripture is also clear in the New Testament. We can look at the book of Matthew. You can look at the book of First Corinthians and it describes the times that God allows divorce. But even in those allowances, he ultimately says that God's desire is for man and woman to stay together. Now, I don't want us to get off on all that means and what that looks like, but here's what I want you to see is that we can look at the book of Ezra and build our theology on what Ezra leads the people to do about the way that we live our lives, because there are other things in scripture that are very, very clear about what God feet, how God feels and what God desires as it relates to the issue of divorce.

So what do we learn from this passage then? Right? Ezra is basically giving us the history of what took place and why was he leading them to do that? And that's the thing that we need to emphasize. As we look at that at this section of scripture, the reason that Ezra was calling them to divorce and to make sure that purity remain among the Jewish people is he was trying to protect, look at this, don't miss this. He's trying to protect the lineage that the Messiah was going to come through. You see, God had been promising for generations, that the Messiah was going to come through the Jewish people, that through the people of Israel, the Messiah that was God's chosen people, he had set everything up for the world to see that what God desired is for them to follow him. And so he set up his own people that he was going to have favor upon that he was going to lead and protect and guide, and the whole purpose of that was so that eventually, and ultimately that the whole world would come to be followers of Jesus, simply because they recognize that God was the only true God and that he was in control.

So within this passage of scripture, what we see is Ezra protecting the purity of the Jewish people, because it was the way that Jesus, the Messiah, was going to come. So basically, here's the way that we have to view that, that in essence, what we see in Ezra Chapter Seven through Chapter Ten is God showing us through scripture, a description of what he did at a specific place in time. It is the history of what happened. It's a history of the story of God. And what happens is oftentimes is we take the things in scripture, or we take the things in life that are meant to be descriptive, and we make them prescriptive, which means that we take the things that God is describing a point in history where God did a certain thing in a certain way. And we try to make that about us and about the way that we make decisions. And scripture is very clear about the reality that is sometimes they're describing what God did in a series of time.

And then other times he's giving us specific instructions about what we are to do. Think about that in light of the church, that oftentimes here's what churches do. churches hear about the story of what God is doing somewhere else, right? And God just doing some amazing things through lots of different churches of different styles, with different leadership. I mean, just, there's just some amazing things that God is doing literally all over the world. But the problem is that when churches and leaders in the church, when they see what God is doing somewhere else, and then they try to go and copy that for what God is doing right here. And the reality is, is that just because God does something as a certain way, somewhere else doesn't mean that's the way that he wants to do it here. It’s a description of what God is doing at a specific place at a specific point in time. But we cannot relate that and say, well, then we must copy what they did, because if God did it there, that he wants to do it here, because the reality is that every church is different.

Every circumstance is different. Every leadership is different. All the things about a specific church are different. It also can relate to us as an individual body of believers. In January, we celebrated a hundred years of Istrouma as a church. Doesn't that seem like that was like a hundred years ago. I mean, I can't, it's hard to believe that was just a few months ago, but we celebrated the story of what God has done. And the, one of the worst things we could do is to, is to begin to think in our minds, well that for the next hundred years, it has to look exactly like it did for the first a hundred years, because the reality is, is that the story of the first hundred years was about how God used this church at different points along the way, because of who we were because of where we were because of the community around us to do things at that season in time.

So For the next hundred years, we're in a transition for the last several weeks. We've heard just testimonies and videos of from our pastor search team that we're in that moment or in that time of looking for what the story is going to look like as we go forward. And then it'll be something that all of us should be excited about and should we should be praying about, but the reality is, is that what God desires to do? We don't know yet, because the reality is that God is working in God, uses his own story as a part of what he wants to do in and through us about the larger picture of who God is and what he's doing.

But the emphasis of that passage is not just the issue of divorce. The emphasis of that passage is on Ezra, leading the people towards spiritual renewal. You say, well, Jeff, how does all that fit together? I mean, I just gave you a ton of information, sorry about just throwing all that on you one time. But the way that all that fits together is that when we think about the story that God has placed us in,  that throughout that story, you look at the people in Israel, how many times that they had to go through spiritual renewal because they got distracted or they got off track. And you think about how God used spiritual renewal to show himself, to be glorious, to show himself, to be powerful over and over and over again. So then for us today, as we think about where we are, and we think about praying for the next step in our journey, and we think about us individually, and as a body of believers, the times that we get distracted or we get, get off track or whatever it might be that today, the emphasis is we see Ezra’s model is for us to come to a place of spiritual renewal of saying today as a part of what God wants to do in my life and the life of this church, I want to make a move towards Jesus in my attitude, my priority in my actions. That that sounds good. Right? So how do we do that? Well, I want us to look at just one verse of scripture and Ezra Chapter Seven, that shows how Ezra led the people towards this place of spiritual renewal. And so remember everything I just shared with you about his challenge for the people and about them being pure about an essence, what they were doing is socially distancing from the rest of the world. It wasn't that they thought they were better than them, but there was something that God wanted them to do, that they needed to be seen as separate. They needed to be seen as different. And so in Ezra Chapter Seven and verse Ten, it describes exactly what Ezra did, for Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel. That was his vision. He was returning to have this, this movement of spiritual renewal. And this is the vision of what Ezra said. This is the reason why I'm returning. This is what God has placed in my heart. These are the things that I'm going to do. And if you and I are going to experience spiritual renewal, if we're going to be a part of God's story and our life at this point in time, here's the three things that God wants us to do. They all revolve around this idea of renewal. We're going to look past this next passage of scripture when it come back to it. And just a moment, but let's look at those three things that God calls us to do as it, as we see in this passage, first of all, we've seen that renewal is Bible centered. What we see from Ezra in Ezra Chapter Seven, verse Ten is first of all, is that renewal is Bible centered. Look back at what he says there. And as her Chapter Seven and verse Ten, it says there, I can't see, because I don't have my glasses on. Can we put it back up on the screen as we're chapter seven, verse 10, it says for Ezra had set his heart to do what what's that next word say, study, to study the law of the Lord. That if you and I are going to be renewed, we have to understand that it has to be centered in the Bible. This spiritual renewal is not about emotion. Spiritual renewal is not about a feeling. It's not about the right set of circumstances that at the center of spiritual renewal, we must understand that the study of the word of God must be priority. Think about what Romans 12 says, Romans 12. It says, I appeal to you, therefore brothers, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice Holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. This is the idea of renewal, right? And then he tells you how to do that. He says, do not be conformed to this world. That's exactly what Ezra was saying to the people of Israel. When he returned, he says, Hey, listen, we need to be seen as separate. It's not an arrogance that we're better than everyone else, but it means that we don't live life based on the principles and the standards of the world around us, that we are to be seen as separate and different.

Not in our mindset towards people. We love everyone, but we're to be seen as separate in the way that we make decisions in life. And it says that we are to be transformed. Look at this by the renewing or by the renewal of our, what, Minds.You see, it begins with the word of God, because the word of God must get into our hearts and our minds. It must be something that we study. Notice it. Doesn't say, just read I in the essence of what God wants you to do is to recognize that even what happens in this room on Sunday mornings, if this is the only time that you open the word of God, if this is the only time that you are receiving anything from the word, and then you are missing out on the, the biggest part of what God wants you to be, to be a part of God gave you his word, and God gave you the Holy Spirit so that you can have a daily relationship with him. And if you're going to be renewed in terms of within your spirit, if you're going to begin that journey of moving towards Jesus, it begins about you renewing your mind. It begins by you studying in and immersing yourself in who God wants you to be. And the only way that you can find that ultimately is through the word of God. We take it for granted though. Don't we. Probably got Bibles all over your house, right? That are just sitting there collecting dust. We have all kinds of technology that at any moment at any time, probably most of you in the room have an app on your phone that has the Bible on it is everywhere around this, but yet how often we just take it for granted. And we re we don't recognize the reality that the lack of the scripture being in our minds, the, the lack of studying the Word of God is the reason that we struggle with making those moves towards Jesus.

I would say that for most of us in this room, if I were to ask you today, you say, man, I love Jesus. And I want to serve Him, and I want to follow Him, but I just can't seem to get over this. Or I just can't seem to get past this, or I just can't seem to stop doing this, or I just can't seem to change my mind. I just, all of us have those things that we're constantly struggling with. And the reason is, is that we are trying to move towards Jesus in our own efforts, with our own minds, with our own strength and what we need to recognize and understand that the power for every single one of us is in the Word of God. Get in there. If you don't know what to do in terms of where to start, what I would challenge you to do is just start with the gospel of John. Just start reading it every single day and to listen. What I challenged people to do is take the first chapter and read it every day. This week. If you can't read it every day, if you say, man, I don't know if I could do that. Just at least try four or five times this week just to read through John chapter one. And when you read it, you say, well, I don't know what I'm looking for. Well, this, and that's the reason why God gave us the Holy Spirit that you pray and say, God, would you teach me something from your word? And you just stay in it. Listen. It's like anything else that we do, there must be a commitment. There must be something that you're willing to do day in and day out. And here's, what's amazing. That happens is that over time, if you will make a commitment to the word of God, that what God will do is God will use the Holy Spirit and he will make the word come alive in your life. But it begins with renewal can happen in your life. You're not going to make that move towards Jesus without the Word of God.  renewal is Bible centered. number two, renewal is application centered. Renewal is application centered. Look back again at Ezra Chapter Seven, Ezra Chapter Seven. It says there that Ezra set his heart to study the law of the Lord and then what, to do it. I mean, that's pretty simple, right? I don't know how much more I need to expound on that. And you're thinking, I hope you don't right, but there's really not much else to say about that, but you just got to do it, because think about, go back to Romans Chapter 12 for just a minute. Verse two, look at verse two, do not be conformed to this world, but be look at that next word to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. You see for many people, they love to study the word because they can't wait for somebody to ask them a Bible trivia question, because they're going to have the answer or they know all those Kings and all those different things in the Old Testament, because they've been studying the word. But here's what happens is that many times people get stuck in. They want to know the facts of the word, but God did not give you this word for information. God gave you his word because he wants it to be something that transforms your life. So as, as much as we need to make sure that we are constantly immersing ourselves in the word of God, we need to make sure that the things that we know that God's word teaches us to do that we're applying them and actually doing them. You see, because it doesn't do us any good to have all this information in our heads, if we all follow it. So renewal, first of all, this Bible centered, but second of all, it is application oriented, driven. You have got to find yourself in a situation where you understand that I need to apply the word of God to my life. You say, well, Jeff, there's just things in there. I don't understand yet. Let me ask you this simple question. All the things that you do understand are you being obedient, and all those areas just start there. listen. If we all just started by being obedient in the areas that we already understand, we got plenty of work to do this week, right? I mean, we got plenty of work to do for the rest of 2020, and then beyond, because the reality is, is there things that are clear in scripture that we all know that at times that we're just not being obedient to. So if you want to make that move towards Jesus, you need to recognize that what God desires is for you to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

And then finally, what we see in this passage is that renewal is contagious. Renewal is contagious. You say, I don't understand why you would say that. Well, look back one more time. But as we're chapter seven, this is for Ezra set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to do it and look at this and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel, that what God wants to do in your heart and life God's not doing that just for you. God's doing that as a part of his bigger story of what he wants to do in our community, and what he wants to do in the world. So what we see in Ezra is that he studied the law of the Lord. He began to apply it and he let the word, transform him, but then he began to invest that and others, you know what, that's a picture of. That's a picture of the great commission, right? That's exactly what Jesus taught his disciples to do is to understand, Hey, listen to what I'm telling you, put it into action and then go and make disciples.

You see, because that's the desire of the way that God wants the gospel to go forth is by you and I making a move towards Jesus and what that looks like his studying of the word, applying it to our lives, and then doing everything we can to influence and invest that word, to invest that, that gospel and to the people that are around us. You see, God has a plan for the people of Israel. And we see that story played out in the Old Testament. God had a plan for his disciples into the life and the death and the resurrection of Jesus. And we see that in the early church and over and over again, both in the Old Testament, in the New Testament, we see time and time again, where people had to take stock of where they were. They had to take a deep breath and they had to make the ultimate decision. There are things in my life. That just aren't right. And I need the word of God. I need the application in order for me to make a move towards Jesus. And then as I made that move towards him, what God is going to do is to use me to influence those around me. They're going to see the light of the gospel in my life. But for many of us we've been there before, right? and we've renewed our faith in Jesus. We know we've recommitted, and we've grown up Baptist. We rededicated our lives to the Lord, right? And after a while, for many of us, we just get tired of doing that. We feel like such a failure because we just seem to not be able just to get it all together. But can I encourage you today with the simple reality that God knows that God knew long before you were ever born, that you were going to struggle.

God knew long before you ever existed, that you were going to see it. And they were going to be areas of your life that you were just going to need that constant renewal, that constant reminder. And so God gives us different things in his word. He gives us different instructions about things that we need to do to be reminded of who he is, what he's done for us. And what is planned is for our life. One of those is the Lord's Supper. You see Jesus told his disciples, as often as you do this, do this in remembrance of Me. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of what matters don't we sometimes we just need to take a step back, take a deep breath and remember all ultimately what matters in life. That's the reason why we do the Lord's Supper. that’s the reason why we do that? Because the bottom line at the end of the day is that all the other stuff that you're worried about, and then being distracted by, and you've gotten off track because of all of those things they’ve paled in comparison to who Jesus is, what he's done for you and the way he feels about you. God loves you. God has not given up on you and God desires for you to live his life in his life. According to scripture is an abundant life. So this morning, as we take a few moments and just stop and we take a deep breath and we remember who Jesus is, and we remember what Jesus did for us. I pray that God will use this as the catalyst for all of us to make a step towards Jesus. So here's what we're going to start. I'm going to ask you if you would just to bow your heads and close your eyes Because you see this time begins with us, examining our hearts and lives. What area of your life do you need to confess to him?

The Bible says that if you will confess your sins, that he is faithful and just to forgive you of your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness, just talk to him right now, prepare your heart for this time. Be encouraged that his grace is sufficient for you,

Lord. This is your time. God, I don't know what all the needs are in this one, But I do know that Our ultimate need for all of us, regardless of the circumstances of life is you. God forgive us where we failed. You Forgive us where our lives just haven't measured up. God, forgive us for not taking you and your words seriously for just ignoring you or setting you on the shelf.  Forgive us for trying to live lives that are our own efforts. Forgive us for the decisions that we've made. That just don't honor. You God, thank you that your grace and your mercy overflow into our lives. Give us your peace right now to know that as we confess our sins, that you are faithful and just To forgive us, God cleanse us right now, allow us to receive from you in a way that brings you honor and encourages and Bolsters are heart

I’d ask if you would to take the elements that you received when you came in and if there's any of you that did not receive it, if you just raise your hand, one of our men will bring those to you, someone right down here looking to see if there's anyone else. So once you received that, if you take out the bread that's on one side of that I just want you to hold that in your hand for a minute. And I want you to think about what this bread represents; this bread represents the body of Christ. Why is that so significant? Well, to me, and this is what I want you to focus on today. That is significant because it represents how much God wants you, Jesus, God, in the flesh, the Bible describes that he came to this earth and he lived a perfect life, but he did it as just a regular, ordinary, not a King, but just a man. And that he went through all types of things throughout his life, all of the emotions and all of the struggles and all of the temptations that the Bible says that everything that you and I. He did that because he loves you. And the Bible says that at the end of his life, that is, he was arrested. He was beaten. When you read scripture, you find that his body was beaten to the point that it couldn't even be recognized. And at any point he could have stopped it, but he did because he loves you And Jesus.

The perfect spotless Son of God allowed his own body to be placed on a cross. That was meant for the worst of the worst. And he died and excruciating death, not because he had to because he loves you. And when Jesus was on that cross, he knew every sin you were ever going to commit. He knew everything you were ever going to do, but yet he died for you anyway. You know why? Because he loves you. And so as we take this bread today, no matter who you are or what you're facing or how discouraged you are, or what have you been living for or anything else in your life, be reminded that the God of Heaven who loves you with all His heart. The Bible says that Jesus took the bread and he blessed it and he broke it and he gave it to the disciples, and he says, take and eat this is my body.

The cup represents the blood of Christ. The Bible describes that the shedding of blood was necessary for the forgiveness of sins. We see that in the Old Testament, with sacrifices that were made. And so when Jesus died on the cross, as the only person who ever lived a perfect sinless life, God in the flesh that when his blood was shed, when he died, that he gave you and I, the opportunity to have a relationship with him both now and for all of eternity in heaven. And so, one of the things I think is so crucial about us being renewed and coming to a place where we're reminded of what Jesus did for us is to go back to the time and the place when we began a relationship with Him. Cause I'm going to ask you to do this before we partake of the cup. I want you to bow your heads and close your eyes just one more time. And I want you to think about the day that you've surrendered your life to Jesus. The day that Jesus came and took over your life. Would you just thank Him? The Bible says that Jesus took the cup and he blessed it. And he gave it to the disciples. It says, this is my blood, which was shed for many, for the forgiveness of sins.

I'm going to ask you if you want to stand with me. As you stand, we're just going to simply sing together today as we close. And as we do this, be reminded, God loves you. And he has given you everything you need to live the life he wants you to live. So let's focus this week on studying the word of God, applying it to our lives, and then doing everything we can to disciple others and lead him towards the God that loves them too.

Direct download: IBC_20200830.mp3
Category:Ezra -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

“Come To Jesus Meeting”

Sermon Series: Ezra

Ezra 5:1-2

Haggai 1:1-9

Istrouma Baptist Church – Jeff Williams, Interim Pastor

 10:45 AM Sermon August 23, 2020

 

How many of you are really excited to see me right now? So, yeah, I really wouldn't expect in that response, but anyway, so, Hey, listen, here's the deal I did. I wore this shirt today as a service to Mike and the team. Cause I figured this would help you out pray a lot faster to get rid of me. So anyway, but I, I should know better. My wife encouraged me to wear this shirt today (Alabama shirt) and I told her, I said, look, I said, I'm not going to get a great response. And she said, well, you're just temporary. What are they going to do? Fire you? And I said, well, I really don't want to be fired today. You know, it was kind of embarrassing for the interim to get fired. So anyway, but I should have known better because I may have told some of you this story before, but my very first day in Baton Rouge, I mean the very first day that I rolled into town, I was driving at you haul truck. And I was pulling my daughter Taylor's car behind. And I was, I'm not very good mechanically. And I wanted to get that car off of the, of the tow and get it unloaded. And so, I was rushing to get here. The, the big U-Haul place on Florida closed at 10 o'clock and I was trying to make it there by then so they could help me unload it. And so, I mean, I'm just, I'm not stopping. So, you know, you need to stop from time to time when you're traveling. So, I wasn't stopping. And so I get there and I just, I just needed to go to the little boy’s room, that's what I needed to do. And so I pulled up and I said, Hey, do you have a restroom? And the guys pointed me inside. So it was December right before Christmas. And I had on a Bama jacket. Right? And so I walked in there my first day in Baton Rouge. Right. And I should have known better. And I walk in there kind of running in there and I said, Hey, do you have a restroom? And the guy old guy just looks at me. He says, yup, sure do. And he just stood there and I said, well, can I use it? And he says, yep, you sure can. And he used some other descriptive words that I won't share in church today. But basically, what he said is, is if you go take that jacket off, he described my jacket. But if you go take that jacket off and you can come back in and use my restroom. Well, I laugh because I thought he was joking, and he just stood there. And the dude made me go to my car and put my jacket up before I could use the restroom. So that was my introduction to Baton Rouge. And yet I'm still stupid enough. I'm still wearing the shirt, but anyway, we'll do the best we can. So took our daughter to college this past week. She's going to Ouachita University, which is in Arkansas. And so we're walking around the bookstore and we're thinking, you know what? We need to support our daughter. This is where she goes to school and we need to, to wear the things that she wears.

And so you know, so that we can, all our money's going here. We might as well wear a shirt or something like that. And I'm looking around. It's like you, people are basically haunting me no matter where I go, because Ouachita, their mascot is the tiger. And guess what their colors are is purple and gold. And so all they had was go tiger shirts. Of course, they spelled go right over there. But anyway, that all they had was go tiger shirts everywhere. And I just couldn't buy one. So, I just, I just couldn't make myself do it, even though my all my money is there. So anyway, so what we need to do right now is before we jump into the message is, we need to stop and pray so that you can repent of all the things that you're thinking and saying to the people around you about me.

 

But no, seriously, I do want us to, to pray before we jump into this today and on a completely serious note is that today is very simple. What I want to share with you, but it has the opportunity. I believe to be very penetrating to our hearts if we'll allow it to. But the way that we allow that to happen is by the Holy Spirit speaking to us. But before I pray for you, what, what I want to make sure that you understand is that I want to be very direct and very honest.

I believe that the words we're going to read this morning are very direct and very honest, but what I want to make sure that you don't do is that you don't hear anything I say is that will, Jeff is telling me that I have to do this today. Or Jeff is telling me that this is wrong because if we're not careful, oftentimes if we just listened to what people say to us, it can come across as very religious and very legalistic. But today is not about that. I want to be honest with you. I want to share with you what God's word clearly, I believe says to all of us. And then I want all of us to ask the Holy Spirit just to speak to us because the reason God gave us the Holy Spirit was to lead us and to guide us, direct us, to convict us when we need it, but to encourage us to be the people that he desires for us to be. And I believe that God wants to do that this morning. And so, I'm going to ask you if you would just to bow your heads and close your eyes before we jump in. And before I pray for us, would you just take a moment and just the best, you know, how, if this was your first time that you've ever been here or whether you're here every week, would you just give God the chance to speak to you today?

 

Just say, God, I opened up my heart. God, I give you the freedom to speak to me today. Lord, we love you, God, I thank you for this church and God, just for the ministry that you do in this place and through this place. And God, I pray today that for us as a body, but also for us as individual followers of you, that God, that you will just make a very simple message, very, very clear, and very, very applicable to a hearts and lives. Speak to us today. We give you our hearts. We give you this time and it's in Jesus name that I pray. Amen. Amen. Amen.

 

We're walking through the book of Ezra and just been an encouraging time for me to just study this book. And I hope that if you haven't been here through all the weeks, that you'll go back and just watch those or listen to those. And as you do that, understand that all throughout this book. And it's just seems to be the theme of this entire season for us as a church. And that is, is that God's always moving, and that God is always working. And despite the opposition, despite our own fears, despite all the stuff in life that we can always count on the reality that God is always behind the scenes doing what only he can do. And if you and I will do the hard work that he calls us to do, if you and I will do the simple things that he calls us to do, that we can trust him no matter what. And I was thankful last week I was out at the Ascension campus. And so, I went back Sunday afternoon and listened to Micah, spoke here and did the same message that I did there. And I was very thankful that more people got to hear his message than mine, because his was by far a million times better. If you didn't hear his message last week, I encourage you to go back and listen to that. Just a great explanation of what God does in chapter four, but at the end of that, and just a side note and not just because he's in the room, but I'm thankful that as a part of our lead team and as a student pastor, that God has given us a man such as him, most student pastors, I don't know if he knows this or not, but most student pastors are really good at making up games and finding ways for the church to get sued. So that's the way most student pastors are. And so, I'm thankful that we have one that not only doesn't get us sued, but also, it's just an incredible student and teacher of the word. And so, Micah, you thank you for what you do and for the way that you lead. So, and you, you don't have to pay me for both services to do that. Just want to be fine. Okay. But no, seriously, I'm thankful for that. And it really was just a great handling of that chapter. And so I hope that if you didn't listen to that or watch that or hear that you could go back and do that this week, but at the end of that passage of chapter four, it says that the building of the temple that stopped and for 16 years, nothing happened.

 

And so this morning is we pick up and chapter five. And, but if you have your Bibles, I don't want you to turn to Ezra chapter five. I actually want you to turn to the book of Haggai chapter one. And you're thinking, why are we doing that? It'll make sense in just a moment because we're actually going to spend most of our time this morning in the book of Haggai talking about the book of Ezra. If you're confused, just hang on. I promise it will make sense in just a moment. So for 16 years though, the temple stopped, and it was because of opposition. It was because of the decree of the King. It was because of people. They didn't want that to happen. And in the process of that, here's what took place. The people that had come back for one purpose, they had come back to build the team, the Temple of God for the Glory of God, that now all of a sudden, they're not doing that. And their lives have become to a place to where things are just different than what they were intended to be when they came back. And as I looked at this passage that we're going to read in just a moment.

 

And as I look at the book of Haggai, which we're going to look at that in just a moment as well, there were two questions that just, just kept rolling in my mind this week. And really these two questions are the only points that if you're taking notes that, that you, that I'll give you to write down, that there may be some other things that God gives you to write down. But I just want you, as we walk through the next a few moments, I want you to think about these two questions. And these two questions are really what we find from the prophet, Hagia and Zachariah as they come to the people of Israel during this time. And it's really very direct is really very straightforward when we titled the message to that. It's just a come to Jesus meeting and you know what that is, right? I mean that that's never a pleasant thing, but that's exactly what we find here. And throughout this come to Jesus meeting, there's two questions that basically that I believe are at the forefront need to be in the forefront of our minds today. And that is number one. What are you building? And number two, what are you ignoring?

I want you to Think about those as we walked through this passage today, when it comes to your life, when it comes to what you are investing in, what you are doing, what in your life, what are you building and what are you ignoring? So you say, what do you mean when you say that? Well, first of all, when we talk about what we are building, here's what I want you to think about what you are building represents, the things that that does that make you feel comfortable. They're the things that, that bring you comfort in life. Now I'll explain that a little bit in just a few minutes, but they're, they're the things that we, we tend to gravitate to for lots of different reasons, based on our personality, based on our convictions, based on our passions, but the things that we build, the things that bring us comfort. And so what is it that you're building in your life? What are you pursuing? What are you working for? What is it that makes you feel comfortable? What is it that feels good for you? You know, we, we oftentimes, as, as Baptists we don't want to talk about our feelings, right? Because we just want to focus on the word, but the reality is, is God gave us feelings. God gave us emotions. And a lot of times what we are building is the things that just make us feel good in life. But then also what things in your life that you should be paying attention to, are you ignoring the things that we ignore most of the times are the things that scare us, the things that make us fearful. So we just set them aside. We just kind of go the other way. It's things that we just don't want to deal with. So with those questions in mind, look at what it says in Ezra chapter five, we're going to put this on the screen, and then we're going to jump to Haggai out as chapter five in verse one. So now remembers for 16 years, there's nothing that's been built. It just stopped. So now the profits Hagia, Zachariah, the son of who prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who is over them, then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel. Jozadak and Joshua with the son of Jehoiada arose and begin to rebuild the house of God that is in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them supporting them. So Haggai and Zachariah come and speak to the people. And what we find in the book of Haggai is we find basically four messages that he gives to Zerubbabel that’s the entire book. And we're going to look at part of that in just a moment during this season. So the book of Haggai happens right here in Ezra chapter five. And so, as we look at this, what you're going to find is that the message that he gave to them is spurred them on to begin to rebuild the temple.

 

So here's what happens in the rest of chapter five and chapter six, they begin. And we're going to come back to this message because this message is where we want to focus. But the rest of chapter five and chapter six, here's what happens. They begin to rebuild. And didn't the governor that was over this region over Jerusalem. He finds out that they're re they're rebuilding. And so, he's not necessarily a follower of God. He's an acknowledged or of God, but he's not someone who is a follower or a servant of God. He finds out about this. And for most people in the political world, and even in the religious world, they were very nervous about the people of Israel coming back and rebuilding the temple because everything to them was about power. And so the governor gets nervous about them rebuilding. He doesn't want anything to threaten his power. And so he goes to the King and it’s not the same King who sends Zerubbabel back. This is a different King, but he goes to him and says, Hey, what the people told me is that God basically told them to come back and that they were sent by the King Cyrus to come back and to rebuild the temple. And I want to know whether or not this is true. So since it's a new King, he doesn't know about that decree, but he has his people go and research whether or not the people of Israel were telling the truth, the ones that were rebuilding the temple.

 

And so what he finds is that the statements that they made about rebuilding the temple, that they were a hundred percent accurate. That that is what King Cyrus had told them to do. And so this King goes back to the governor who, the reason the governor brought it up is because he wanted this movement to stop. He wanted the rebuilding to stop. He did not want them to do anything to threaten his power, but the King, when he read the decree that was given by the previous King, he says, yes, they can continue to rebuild. And I love how God works. He says, not only can they rebuild, but what we're going to do is all the taxes that you're collecting, that you've been keeping for yourself. We're now going to use that so that they can be helped and rebuilding the temple. So what this man sought to do to destroy God used it, not only to not destroy it, but to aid them in their process. And the reason I tell you all of that is because when you look at the hard words that Haggai says, and just a moment, what we need to be reminded of is the simple reality that if you and I will build the things that God calls us to build, that he will do things behind the scenes he will provide for us. And if we will get past all of our fears about following him and being obedient to him, God will do things that are far greater than you can possibly imagine, because he is always working, even when we can't see him. So even though these words are tough, that we're going to read today, they strike at the heart of where I believe many of us have the tendency oftentimes to be what we're going to find is that if you and I will answer these questions, what are you building? And what are you ignoring? And if you and I will address them head on that, God will begin to do something in your heart and life. And even though it may scare you to death, God cannot be stopped. God's plan cannot be overtaken, but the choice you have to make is whether or not he is going to use you as a part of his plan, or whether he's going to use someone else who's willing to trust him. So what are you building? And what are you ignoring? So with all of that said, Haggai out chapter one. Remember this message happens in between chapter four in the beginning of chapter five, that Haggai comes. He's one of the prophets that comes and the prophets in this day and time, that they were, they came to the people of God as the voice of God for us, God speaks to us through his word and through the power of the Holy spirit. He uses other people, but this was the primary means by the way, that God would speak to his people, this through prophets.

 

And so Haggai comes to the people of God and look at what he says, Haggai chapter one in verse one in the second year of Derrius the King in the six month, on the first day of the month. Now Darrius, the King is the one that came back. I shared with you just a moment ago. He's the one that came back and told the governor to let them rebuild. But also, at that, that they were going to use those taxes for that purpose. So he comes to the word, Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerrubble the son of Shealtiel governor of Judah. And to Joshua, the son of Jozadak, the high priest thus says, the Lord of hosts. These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord. Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet. And so the reason he's coming to them is because basically what the people that were sent back to rebuild the temple have said was now is not the time you ever heard those words now is not the time. Usually when people say those words now is not the time what they're doing is avoiding something that doesn't need to be avoided, right? They're usually in what there's happening there. Is there something that needs to be dealt with? There's an issue that needs to be addressed. There's something that should be being done, but right now is not the time. It's a statement of avoidance. And that's where the people of Israel work. So look at what it says and the next verse. Next section, there's a hint of sarcasm here. I really kinda liked this. Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore thus says the Lord of Hosts, consider your ways. You have sown much in harvested, little, you eat, but you never have enough. You drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourself, but no one is warm and he who earns wages does So to put them in bags with holes. So let's stop right there and see what he's saying here. The hint of sarcasm is, is that you're living in your paneled houses, which meant that You have these nice houses. You have spent all this time on investing in your own personal homes while the house of the Lord lies in ruins. In fact, when you look at all the history of what we believe was taking place here is that when the temple stopped being built, that people begin to settle. They begin to focus on their own lives, on their own agendas, on the things they wanted to do. And so they took the materials that were set aside for the temple, and they begin to use them to make their own homes. The things that God had given them for God's purpose, for God's agenda, they now had taken them and were using them for their own purposes and their own agenda. Sound familiar. You ever found yourself in that situation where maybe you've taken the things that God gave you for a Holy purpose, for a righteous plan or, or a mission And what you chosen to do is all the things that God has given you, that you began to use them for your own purposes, for what you desire. He says, put in doing that. What you found is it gets some of the, of the descriptors that he gives there and says that that when you consider your ways, you sewn much, but you harvest a little, in other words, you're working, you are, you're building for something. You're putting a lot of effort into it, but you're not really getting much back. You eat, but you never have enough. You drink, but you never have your fill. In other words, no matter what you get, you're just not satisfied. You ever felt that way. And listen, if you are building things that are not of the purpose of God, if that is the focus of everything that you're doing, if what your life's centered around is on saying, Hey, I need to build my financial wealth so that I can be secure. That's what makes me feel good. Or I want to, to build up my, my children, because I want them to be the greatest athletes, or I want them to be the greatest scholars, or I want them to be very successful. That all of those things, those are the things that I find comfort in. There's nothing wrong with saving for retirement. There's nothing wrong with investing in your kids. There's nothing wrong with a lot of the things that we pursue. But the reality is if that is the goal of our life, if that is the mission of what we do, if that is what we are building, what Haggai is telling the people is that, Hey, don't you recognize that it's just never enough, that you are Never satisfied. You're pursuing what you want, but it's never, ever, enough. I love the end of that section. He says he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. So thus says the Lord of Hosts. Here's what he says to them. Now, remember, this is when the 16 years where they're not building anything. And so he says, here's the, this is what you're doing. What you are building is not of God. You, you are a building the wrong thing. So here's what the Lord of Hosts. He says, consider your ways, answer those questions in other words, what are you building? What are you ignoring? Consider your ways. Go up to the Hills, bring wood and build a house that I may take pleasure in it. And that I may be glorified, says the Lord. He says, you look for much and behold, it came to little.

 

And when you brought it home, he says, I blew it away. In other words, God's not going to allow anything to stand. God's not going to allow you to ever be satisfied or to have enough. If you are pursuing the things that he doesn't desire for you to pursue, it's the blew it away. Why declares the Lord of hosts because of my house that lies in ruins. While each of you busy as himself with his own house, that's tough words. He says, my house lies in ruins in modern day for you I, it would be like us saying that the mission of God has stopped in our lives, the purpose for what he has created us to do. The things that he desires to be the priorities in our life, us living a life of obedience to him has stopped. While we busy ourselves with all the things that we want to do, what are you building? What is it that you are living for? You see, because for this group of people, there's lots of reasons why they were focused on their own homes. For many of them, they were scared to death about what it would look like if they took the risk of rebuilding, because obviously there's all this opposition. A lot of people didn't want them to rebuild. And some of them were just comfortable because it was nice to live in a nice house, right? It was nice not to have to go and work for something that wasn't going to in their minds personally benefit them. Because at the end of the day, the things that make us comfortable are the things that we desire, the things that we want, the things that allow us, that we think to have our own satisfaction. But what Haggai points out is that that's where you think you're not only your desire is, but that's where you think you want to be, but it's just never enough. So he says, consider your ways. You see, for some of the people that they were building their own homes instead of a building the house of the Lord, even though that was the, the sole reason they came back and the reason they were doing it is because they just wanted to focus on the things that make them feel good. But for others, it was more about the things that scared them. They were ignoring the house of God, because they were fearful about what that would look like. Would God provide, would I be ostracized? Would I look like a fool? I mean, just the list goes on and on and on. And the reality is, is for all of us in our lives, we find ourselves at times where we are building things that really aren't the focus of what God calls us to do. And it may be a mission, or it may be just an area of obedience in your life. But no matter what it is, if you are building the things that are not a part of what God's word says and what God calls you to do, and about being obedient to him. And if you're ignoring those things, because you don't really want to deal with them, then where are you going to find yourself in a place where you're just constantly working? You're just constantly seeking, but it's just never enough. When you look at that passage in Haggai chapter one in light of what I shared with you happens in the rest of Ezra chapter five and six. It just makes sense to say, if I'm constantly building for myself, I'm never going to be satisfied. It's never going to work out, is going to end in destruction. But when I follow the ways of the Lord, when I do the things that he asks me to do, God shows up and God provides in some absolutely amazing ways.

 

When we were in the process of moving from Arkansas to Baton Rouge. You know, one of the reasons that we moved here was to help a good friend of mine begin a nonprofit. And so when you're moving into that kind of realm, you're moving into a world of uncertainty in for lots of reasons that it was just a time for us to, to, to leave in terms of a pastor in the church that we were. And we were moving here just to kind of get a fresh start and start all over again. And our church just was such a gracious, incredible people. And so they, they wanted to, to help us in launches as we moved here. And they, they, they provided a salary for us for six months’ time, which was incredible. I mean, just w we couldn't imagine that just the generosity that they provided for us, it was also scary because you had that for six months, but then what about after that? And so I remember during that season that I went into, you know, as we often do as humans, and I think men, we probably do this even more. I went into fix it mode. Like I was going to find a way that I was going to fix everything. And I wanted, because what I was trying to build was the best amount of financial security I could for my family. And so, as a result of several different things, to be honest with you, that this, my heart was just not in a great place. And there was a lot of discouragement, a lot of frustration, just a lot of emotions that really weren't of God. And because of that, I began to turn inward and as opposed to looking for God, to God, for the answers, I began Jeff to begin to try to fix it. And so one of the ways that I decided that I was going to fix it was that I was going to make sure that we saved as much money as we possibly could over the course of that period of time. And so we, we had been giving, and I only shared this number for you for a specific reason. All right, I'm not trying to brag. I just want to share this with you because it's very relevant to the story in just a moment. But we had been giving at that point about a thousand dollars a month to our church. And so what I decided was is over that next six months as we were transitioning, we weren't going to have a church home. I just decided, Hey, we don't have a church home. So we don't have to give to any church during that period of time. And so we can save in that $6,000 that we can set aside that we can use to help us just be more financially secure. So I shared that brilliant plan with my wife, and she didn't say anything. So the next morning we woke up, I mean, I'm telling you, I just, my heart was in a place of just, just wasn't really a good place, but she looked at me and she says, you know, we can't do that. She said, you know, that we can't just ignore that. We have to give and what we don't have church. And so we're just going to give to the church that has been providing for us and taking care of us. So we're just going to give there, even though we're not even going to live in the same state. So for the next six months, we decided that we were going to give a thousand dollars a month. I was scared to death. I said, okay, now I didn't say, okay, immediately. It was like later that night that I said, okay, because I wrestled with it all day long, but really, and honestly, my heart still wasn't in a great place, but it was more out of a guilt. And I know I knew that she was right. So I gave in.

 

Next morning, comes a knock on my door. Three years ago, still just blows my mind. I answered the door and it was a lady that was living in our community. Her and her husband owned a restaurant. And she said they had recently joined the church. And I had helped them with just some different things in terms of just some counseling and stuff. And, and she said, Hey, she said, I didn't get a chance to see you the other day, but I wanted to stop by today because my husband and I, we love you. We love your family, and we want to help support you as you launch out. And so we just want to give this to you and just want you to know that we love you and that we care about you. I went back Inside. It was an envelope. I just figured they owned a restaurant. I figured like it was some gift cards to the restaurant or something like that, you know, whatever. And I sat down and opened it up and I don't know why she did it this way, except that God instructed her to do this way. But we had made the decision that starting in January for January, February, March, April, may, and June for six months, that the first of each month we were going to give a thousand dollars to the church. in that envelope were six, $1,000 checks dated January the first, February, the first March, the first April, the first may, and June the first. And I remember just sitting there and just weeping because in that simple moments, God used that woman to show us that when you trust him, he will provide, and he will. He has, he will. And when I doubt him again tomorrow, guess what? He will still be there. But my problem was in that moment before we made that decision by the Holy Spirit now also known as Wendy before I got that point, that what I was building was my own financial security. And I decided that I was going to do at Jeff's way. And what I was ignoring was the principle that God so clearly lays out in his word. And I didn't want to deal with it because that principal scared me to death, but what God taught me through that and what God has taught me time and time again, because I'm a very slow learner, is that when I build my life on what he calls me to do in this word, that the things that scare me, the things that I would rather ignore, the things that I don't want to deal with, those are the things that God wants to use to build our faith and to bring himself glory and to bring us to a place where his light can shine through us and that people's lives and the world in which we live will be changed. And, you know, what's amazing about that, that when you and I stop ignoring the things that scare us, and we begin to build the things in our lives that God wants us to build around, then what God does is that emptiness and that unsatisfaction that we felt when we were doing the other things, he replaces all of those things with a joy and a peace that is far beyond what you could ever buy or what you could ever understand, because that's the God that we serve.

 

So what are you building? And what are the things that you are ignoring that are preventing you from building the things that God wants you to build? Let's pray together today. Would you take a moment before we end today and just wrestle with those two questions? Talk to God. He knows your heart. What is the one thing in your life that needs to be different, that you've been ignoring? Would you just confess that to him right now? And as you confess that, would you make a declaration right now that you're going to take one step toward building that area of your life on the truth of God's Word and what he desires for you?

 

God, we love you. God, I thank you that you never stopped Teaching us, never stopped reminding us and you never give up on us. Lord, I thank you for the direct words from the Prophet Haggai that we see to the people of Israel, but God also to the people of Istrouma today, Lord, I pray that we will be people that are building our lives on you and your Word, God, help us this week to address the things that scare us, help us to be bold enough, but also at the same time, humble enough to confront the areas of our life that need your hand, that needs your correction, that needs your touch. And God, I pray that as we do that, that you will give us confidence that you will remind us that just as you were in the book of Ezra, you are today and the same God that provided for them and some supernatural ways desires to provide for us today. So, we ask you to do that. We thank you that we can trust you, and it's in Jesus name that I pray. Amen. Amen.

 

Well, thank you so much for being here today, and there's always that there's ways that we can help you or minister to you, We'd love the privilege to be able to do that after the services and a hope that more than anything that you will take, God's word to heart, that you will apply it to your life this week. Hope that you have a wonderful week and we'll see you back again next Sunday. Thank you.

Category:Ezra -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Aug 23, 2020

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August 23 | Ezra (BR)
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August 23, 2020  | Jeff Williams
"Come to Jesus Meeting"
Ezra 5:1-2
Haggai 1:1-9

Ezra 5:1-2
Now the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God that is in Jerusalem, and the prophets of God were with them, supporting them.

Haggai 1:1-9
In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.

What are you building?

What are you ignoring?

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“Come To Jesus Meeting”

Sermon Series: Ezra

Ezra 5:1-2

Haggai 1:1-9

Istrouma Baptist Church – Jeff Williams, Interim Pastor

 10:45 AM Sermon August 23, 2020

 

How many of you are really excited to see me right now? So, yeah, I really wouldn't expect in that response, but anyway, so, Hey, listen, here's the deal I did. I wore this shirt today as a service to Mike and the team. Cause I figured this would help you out pray a lot faster to get rid of me. So anyway, but I, I should know better. My wife encouraged me to wear this shirt today (Alabama shirt) and I told her, I said, look, I said, I'm not going to get a great response. And she said, well, you're just temporary. What are they going to do? Fire you? And I said, well, I really don't want to be fired today. You know, it was kind of embarrassing for the interim to get fired. So anyway, but I should have known better because I may have told some of you this story before, but my very first day in Baton Rouge, I mean the very first day that I rolled into town, I was driving at you haul truck. And I was pulling my daughter Taylor's car behind. And I was, I'm not very good mechanically. And I wanted to get that car off of the, of the tow and get it unloaded. And so, I was rushing to get here. The, the big U-Haul place on Florida closed at 10 o'clock and I was trying to make it there by then so they could help me unload it. And so, I mean, I'm just, I'm not stopping. So, you know, you need to stop from time to time when you're traveling. So, I wasn't stopping. And so I get there and I just, I just needed to go to the little boy’s room, that's what I needed to do. And so I pulled up and I said, Hey, do you have a restroom? And the guys pointed me inside. So it was December right before Christmas. And I had on a Bama jacket. Right? And so I walked in there my first day in Baton Rouge. Right. And I should have known better. And I walk in there kind of running in there and I said, Hey, do you have a restroom? And the guy old guy just looks at me. He says, yup, sure do. And he just stood there and I said, well, can I use it? And he says, yep, you sure can. And he used some other descriptive words that I won't share in church today. But basically, what he said is, is if you go take that jacket off, he described my jacket. But if you go take that jacket off and you can come back in and use my restroom. Well, I laugh because I thought he was joking, and he just stood there. And the dude made me go to my car and put my jacket up before I could use the restroom. So that was my introduction to Baton Rouge. And yet I'm still stupid enough. I'm still wearing the shirt, but anyway, we'll do the best we can. So took our daughter to college this past week. She's going to Ouachita University, which is in Arkansas. And so we're walking around the bookstore and we're thinking, you know what? We need to support our daughter. This is where she goes to school and we need to, to wear the things that she wears.

And so you know, so that we can, all our money's going here. We might as well wear a shirt or something like that. And I'm looking around. It's like you, people are basically haunting me no matter where I go, because Ouachita, their mascot is the tiger. And guess what their colors are is purple and gold. And so all they had was go tiger shirts. Of course, they spelled go right over there. But anyway, that all they had was go tiger shirts everywhere. And I just couldn't buy one. So, I just, I just couldn't make myself do it, even though my all my money is there. So anyway, so what we need to do right now is before we jump into the message is, we need to stop and pray so that you can repent of all the things that you're thinking and saying to the people around you about me.

 

But no, seriously, I do want us to, to pray before we jump into this today and on a completely serious note is that today is very simple. What I want to share with you, but it has the opportunity. I believe to be very penetrating to our hearts if we'll allow it to. But the way that we allow that to happen is by the Holy Spirit speaking to us. But before I pray for you, what, what I want to make sure that you understand is that I want to be very direct and very honest.

I believe that the words we're going to read this morning are very direct and very honest, but what I want to make sure that you don't do is that you don't hear anything I say is that will, Jeff is telling me that I have to do this today. Or Jeff is telling me that this is wrong because if we're not careful, oftentimes if we just listened to what people say to us, it can come across as very religious and very legalistic. But today is not about that. I want to be honest with you. I want to share with you what God's word clearly, I believe says to all of us. And then I want all of us to ask the Holy Spirit just to speak to us because the reason God gave us the Holy Spirit was to lead us and to guide us, direct us, to convict us when we need it, but to encourage us to be the people that he desires for us to be. And I believe that God wants to do that this morning. And so, I'm going to ask you if you would just to bow your heads and close your eyes before we jump in. And before I pray for us, would you just take a moment and just the best, you know, how, if this was your first time that you've ever been here or whether you're here every week, would you just give God the chance to speak to you today?

 

Just say, God, I opened up my heart. God, I give you the freedom to speak to me today. Lord, we love you, God, I thank you for this church and God, just for the ministry that you do in this place and through this place. And God, I pray today that for us as a body, but also for us as individual followers of you, that God, that you will just make a very simple message, very, very clear, and very, very applicable to a hearts and lives. Speak to us today. We give you our hearts. We give you this time and it's in Jesus name that I pray. Amen. Amen. Amen.

 

We're walking through the book of Ezra and just been an encouraging time for me to just study this book. And I hope that if you haven't been here through all the weeks, that you'll go back and just watch those or listen to those. And as you do that, understand that all throughout this book. And it's just seems to be the theme of this entire season for us as a church. And that is, is that God's always moving, and that God is always working. And despite the opposition, despite our own fears, despite all the stuff in life that we can always count on the reality that God is always behind the scenes doing what only he can do. And if you and I will do the hard work that he calls us to do, if you and I will do the simple things that he calls us to do, that we can trust him no matter what. And I was thankful last week I was out at the Ascension campus. And so, I went back Sunday afternoon and listened to Micah, spoke here and did the same message that I did there. And I was very thankful that more people got to hear his message than mine, because his was by far a million times better. If you didn't hear his message last week, I encourage you to go back and listen to that. Just a great explanation of what God does in chapter four, but at the end of that, and just a side note and not just because he's in the room, but I'm thankful that as a part of our lead team and as a student pastor, that God has given us a man such as him, most student pastors, I don't know if he knows this or not, but most student pastors are really good at making up games and finding ways for the church to get sued. So that's the way most student pastors are. And so, I'm thankful that we have one that not only doesn't get us sued, but also, it's just an incredible student and teacher of the word. And so, Micah, you thank you for what you do and for the way that you lead. So, and you, you don't have to pay me for both services to do that. Just want to be fine. Okay. But no, seriously, I'm thankful for that. And it really was just a great handling of that chapter. And so I hope that if you didn't listen to that or watch that or hear that you could go back and do that this week, but at the end of that passage of chapter four, it says that the building of the temple that stopped and for 16 years, nothing happened.

 

And so this morning is we pick up and chapter five. And, but if you have your Bibles, I don't want you to turn to Ezra chapter five. I actually want you to turn to the book of Haggai chapter one. And you're thinking, why are we doing that? It'll make sense in just a moment because we're actually going to spend most of our time this morning in the book of Haggai talking about the book of Ezra. If you're confused, just hang on. I promise it will make sense in just a moment. So for 16 years though, the temple stopped, and it was because of opposition. It was because of the decree of the King. It was because of people. They didn't want that to happen. And in the process of that, here's what took place. The people that had come back for one purpose, they had come back to build the team, the Temple of God for the Glory of God, that now all of a sudden, they're not doing that. And their lives have become to a place to where things are just different than what they were intended to be when they came back. And as I looked at this passage that we're going to read in just a moment.

 

And as I look at the book of Haggai, which we're going to look at that in just a moment as well, there were two questions that just, just kept rolling in my mind this week. And really these two questions are the only points that if you're taking notes that, that you, that I'll give you to write down, that there may be some other things that God gives you to write down. But I just want you, as we walk through the next a few moments, I want you to think about these two questions. And these two questions are really what we find from the prophet, Hagia and Zachariah as they come to the people of Israel during this time. And it's really very direct is really very straightforward when we titled the message to that. It's just a come to Jesus meeting and you know what that is, right? I mean that that's never a pleasant thing, but that's exactly what we find here. And throughout this come to Jesus meeting, there's two questions that basically that I believe are at the forefront need to be in the forefront of our minds today. And that is number one. What are you building? And number two, what are you ignoring?

I want you to Think about those as we walked through this passage today, when it comes to your life, when it comes to what you are investing in, what you are doing, what in your life, what are you building and what are you ignoring? So you say, what do you mean when you say that? Well, first of all, when we talk about what we are building, here's what I want you to think about what you are building represents, the things that that does that make you feel comfortable. They're the things that, that bring you comfort in life. Now I'll explain that a little bit in just a few minutes, but they're, they're the things that we, we tend to gravitate to for lots of different reasons, based on our personality, based on our convictions, based on our passions, but the things that we build, the things that bring us comfort. And so what is it that you're building in your life? What are you pursuing? What are you working for? What is it that makes you feel comfortable? What is it that feels good for you? You know, we, we oftentimes, as, as Baptists we don't want to talk about our feelings, right? Because we just want to focus on the word, but the reality is, is God gave us feelings. God gave us emotions. And a lot of times what we are building is the things that just make us feel good in life. But then also what things in your life that you should be paying attention to, are you ignoring the things that we ignore most of the times are the things that scare us, the things that make us fearful. So we just set them aside. We just kind of go the other way. It's things that we just don't want to deal with. So with those questions in mind, look at what it says in Ezra chapter five, we're going to put this on the screen, and then we're going to jump to Haggai out as chapter five in verse one. So now remembers for 16 years, there's nothing that's been built. It just stopped. So now the profits Hagia, Zachariah, the son of who prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who is over them, then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel. Jozadak and Joshua with the son of Jehoiada arose and begin to rebuild the house of God that is in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them supporting them. So Haggai and Zachariah come and speak to the people. And what we find in the book of Haggai is we find basically four messages that he gives to Zerubbabel that’s the entire book. And we're going to look at part of that in just a moment during this season. So the book of Haggai happens right here in Ezra chapter five. And so, as we look at this, what you're going to find is that the message that he gave to them is spurred them on to begin to rebuild the temple.

 

So here's what happens in the rest of chapter five and chapter six, they begin. And we're going to come back to this message because this message is where we want to focus. But the rest of chapter five and chapter six, here's what happens. They begin to rebuild. And didn't the governor that was over this region over Jerusalem. He finds out that they're re they're rebuilding. And so, he's not necessarily a follower of God. He's an acknowledged or of God, but he's not someone who is a follower or a servant of God. He finds out about this. And for most people in the political world, and even in the religious world, they were very nervous about the people of Israel coming back and rebuilding the temple because everything to them was about power. And so the governor gets nervous about them rebuilding. He doesn't want anything to threaten his power. And so he goes to the King and it’s not the same King who sends Zerubbabel back. This is a different King, but he goes to him and says, Hey, what the people told me is that God basically told them to come back and that they were sent by the King Cyrus to come back and to rebuild the temple. And I want to know whether or not this is true. So since it's a new King, he doesn't know about that decree, but he has his people go and research whether or not the people of Israel were telling the truth, the ones that were rebuilding the temple.

 

And so what he finds is that the statements that they made about rebuilding the temple, that they were a hundred percent accurate. That that is what King Cyrus had told them to do. And so this King goes back to the governor who, the reason the governor brought it up is because he wanted this movement to stop. He wanted the rebuilding to stop. He did not want them to do anything to threaten his power, but the King, when he read the decree that was given by the previous King, he says, yes, they can continue to rebuild. And I love how God works. He says, not only can they rebuild, but what we're going to do is all the taxes that you're collecting, that you've been keeping for yourself. We're now going to use that so that they can be helped and rebuilding the temple. So what this man sought to do to destroy God used it, not only to not destroy it, but to aid them in their process. And the reason I tell you all of that is because when you look at the hard words that Haggai says, and just a moment, what we need to be reminded of is the simple reality that if you and I will build the things that God calls us to build, that he will do things behind the scenes he will provide for us. And if we will get past all of our fears about following him and being obedient to him, God will do things that are far greater than you can possibly imagine, because he is always working, even when we can't see him. So even though these words are tough, that we're going to read today, they strike at the heart of where I believe many of us have the tendency oftentimes to be what we're going to find is that if you and I will answer these questions, what are you building? And what are you ignoring? And if you and I will address them head on that, God will begin to do something in your heart and life. And even though it may scare you to death, God cannot be stopped. God's plan cannot be overtaken, but the choice you have to make is whether or not he is going to use you as a part of his plan, or whether he's going to use someone else who's willing to trust him. So what are you building? And what are you ignoring? So with all of that said, Haggai out chapter one. Remember this message happens in between chapter four in the beginning of chapter five, that Haggai comes. He's one of the prophets that comes and the prophets in this day and time, that they were, they came to the people of God as the voice of God for us, God speaks to us through his word and through the power of the Holy spirit. He uses other people, but this was the primary means by the way, that God would speak to his people, this through prophets.

 

And so Haggai comes to the people of God and look at what he says, Haggai chapter one in verse one in the second year of Derrius the King in the six month, on the first day of the month. Now Darrius, the King is the one that came back. I shared with you just a moment ago. He's the one that came back and told the governor to let them rebuild. But also, at that, that they were going to use those taxes for that purpose. So he comes to the word, Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerrubble the son of Shealtiel governor of Judah. And to Joshua, the son of Jozadak, the high priest thus says, the Lord of hosts. These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord. Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet. And so the reason he's coming to them is because basically what the people that were sent back to rebuild the temple have said was now is not the time you ever heard those words now is not the time. Usually when people say those words now is not the time what they're doing is avoiding something that doesn't need to be avoided, right? They're usually in what there's happening there. Is there something that needs to be dealt with? There's an issue that needs to be addressed. There's something that should be being done, but right now is not the time. It's a statement of avoidance. And that's where the people of Israel work. So look at what it says and the next verse. Next section, there's a hint of sarcasm here. I really kinda liked this. Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore thus says the Lord of Hosts, consider your ways. You have sown much in harvested, little, you eat, but you never have enough. You drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourself, but no one is warm and he who earns wages does So to put them in bags with holes. So let's stop right there and see what he's saying here. The hint of sarcasm is, is that you're living in your paneled houses, which meant that You have these nice houses. You have spent all this time on investing in your own personal homes while the house of the Lord lies in ruins. In fact, when you look at all the history of what we believe was taking place here is that when the temple stopped being built, that people begin to settle. They begin to focus on their own lives, on their own agendas, on the things they wanted to do. And so they took the materials that were set aside for the temple, and they begin to use them to make their own homes. The things that God had given them for God's purpose, for God's agenda, they now had taken them and were using them for their own purposes and their own agenda. Sound familiar. You ever found yourself in that situation where maybe you've taken the things that God gave you for a Holy purpose, for a righteous plan or, or a mission And what you chosen to do is all the things that God has given you, that you began to use them for your own purposes, for what you desire. He says, put in doing that. What you found is it gets some of the, of the descriptors that he gives there and says that that when you consider your ways, you sewn much, but you harvest a little, in other words, you're working, you are, you're building for something. You're putting a lot of effort into it, but you're not really getting much back. You eat, but you never have enough. You drink, but you never have your fill. In other words, no matter what you get, you're just not satisfied. You ever felt that way. And listen, if you are building things that are not of the purpose of God, if that is the focus of everything that you're doing, if what your life's centered around is on saying, Hey, I need to build my financial wealth so that I can be secure. That's what makes me feel good. Or I want to, to build up my, my children, because I want them to be the greatest athletes, or I want them to be the greatest scholars, or I want them to be very successful. That all of those things, those are the things that I find comfort in. There's nothing wrong with saving for retirement. There's nothing wrong with investing in your kids. There's nothing wrong with a lot of the things that we pursue. But the reality is if that is the goal of our life, if that is the mission of what we do, if that is what we are building, what Haggai is telling the people is that, Hey, don't you recognize that it's just never enough, that you are Never satisfied. You're pursuing what you want, but it's never, ever, enough. I love the end of that section. He says he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. So thus says the Lord of Hosts. Here's what he says to them. Now, remember, this is when the 16 years where they're not building anything. And so he says, here's the, this is what you're doing. What you are building is not of God. You, you are a building the wrong thing. So here's what the Lord of Hosts. He says, consider your ways, answer those questions in other words, what are you building? What are you ignoring? Consider your ways. Go up to the Hills, bring wood and build a house that I may take pleasure in it. And that I may be glorified, says the Lord. He says, you look for much and behold, it came to little.

 

And when you brought it home, he says, I blew it away. In other words, God's not going to allow anything to stand. God's not going to allow you to ever be satisfied or to have enough. If you are pursuing the things that he doesn't desire for you to pursue, it's the blew it away. Why declares the Lord of hosts because of my house that lies in ruins. While each of you busy as himself with his own house, that's tough words. He says, my house lies in ruins in modern day for you I, it would be like us saying that the mission of God has stopped in our lives, the purpose for what he has created us to do. The things that he desires to be the priorities in our life, us living a life of obedience to him has stopped. While we busy ourselves with all the things that we want to do, what are you building? What is it that you are living for? You see, because for this group of people, there's lots of reasons why they were focused on their own homes. For many of them, they were scared to death about what it would look like if they took the risk of rebuilding, because obviously there's all this opposition. A lot of people didn't want them to rebuild. And some of them were just comfortable because it was nice to live in a nice house, right? It was nice not to have to go and work for something that wasn't going to in their minds personally benefit them. Because at the end of the day, the things that make us comfortable are the things that we desire, the things that we want, the things that allow us, that we think to have our own satisfaction. But what Haggai points out is that that's where you think you're not only your desire is, but that's where you think you want to be, but it's just never enough. So he says, consider your ways. You see, for some of the people that they were building their own homes instead of a building the house of the Lord, even though that was the, the sole reason they came back and the reason they were doing it is because they just wanted to focus on the things that make them feel good. But for others, it was more about the things that scared them. They were ignoring the house of God, because they were fearful about what that would look like. Would God provide, would I be ostracized? Would I look like a fool? I mean, just the list goes on and on and on. And the reality is, is for all of us in our lives, we find ourselves at times where we are building things that really aren't the focus of what God calls us to do. And it may be a mission, or it may be just an area of obedience in your life. But no matter what it is, if you are building the things that are not a part of what God's word says and what God calls you to do, and about being obedient to him. And if you're ignoring those things, because you don't really want to deal with them, then where are you going to find yourself in a place where you're just constantly working? You're just constantly seeking, but it's just never enough. When you look at that passage in Haggai chapter one in light of what I shared with you happens in the rest of Ezra chapter five and six. It just makes sense to say, if I'm constantly building for myself, I'm never going to be satisfied. It's never going to work out, is going to end in destruction. But when I follow the ways of the Lord, when I do the things that he asks me to do, God shows up and God provides in some absolutely amazing ways.

 

When we were in the process of moving from Arkansas to Baton Rouge. You know, one of the reasons that we moved here was to help a good friend of mine begin a nonprofit. And so when you're moving into that kind of realm, you're moving into a world of uncertainty in for lots of reasons that it was just a time for us to, to, to leave in terms of a pastor in the church that we were. And we were moving here just to kind of get a fresh start and start all over again. And our church just was such a gracious, incredible people. And so they, they wanted to, to help us in launches as we moved here. And they, they, they provided a salary for us for six months’ time, which was incredible. I mean, just w we couldn't imagine that just the generosity that they provided for us, it was also scary because you had that for six months, but then what about after that? And so I remember during that season that I went into, you know, as we often do as humans, and I think men, we probably do this even more. I went into fix it mode. Like I was going to find a way that I was going to fix everything. And I wanted, because what I was trying to build was the best amount of financial security I could for my family. And so, as a result of several different things, to be honest with you, that this, my heart was just not in a great place. And there was a lot of discouragement, a lot of frustration, just a lot of emotions that really weren't of God. And because of that, I began to turn inward and as opposed to looking for God, to God, for the answers, I began Jeff to begin to try to fix it. And so one of the ways that I decided that I was going to fix it was that I was going to make sure that we saved as much money as we possibly could over the course of that period of time. And so we, we had been giving, and I only shared this number for you for a specific reason. All right, I'm not trying to brag. I just want to share this with you because it's very relevant to the story in just a moment. But we had been giving at that point about a thousand dollars a month to our church. And so what I decided was is over that next six months as we were transitioning, we weren't going to have a church home. I just decided, Hey, we don't have a church home. So we don't have to give to any church during that period of time. And so we can save in that $6,000 that we can set aside that we can use to help us just be more financially secure. So I shared that brilliant plan with my wife, and she didn't say anything. So the next morning we woke up, I mean, I'm telling you, I just, my heart was in a place of just, just wasn't really a good place, but she looked at me and she says, you know, we can't do that. She said, you know, that we can't just ignore that. We have to give and what we don't have church. And so we're just going to give to the church that has been providing for us and taking care of us. So we're just going to give there, even though we're not even going to live in the same state. So for the next six months, we decided that we were going to give a thousand dollars a month. I was scared to death. I said, okay, now I didn't say, okay, immediately. It was like later that night that I said, okay, because I wrestled with it all day long, but really, and honestly, my heart still wasn't in a great place, but it was more out of a guilt. And I know I knew that she was right. So I gave in.

 

Next morning, comes a knock on my door. Three years ago, still just blows my mind. I answered the door and it was a lady that was living in our community. Her and her husband owned a restaurant. And she said they had recently joined the church. And I had helped them with just some different things in terms of just some counseling and stuff. And, and she said, Hey, she said, I didn't get a chance to see you the other day, but I wanted to stop by today because my husband and I, we love you. We love your family, and we want to help support you as you launch out. And so we just want to give this to you and just want you to know that we love you and that we care about you. I went back Inside. It was an envelope. I just figured they owned a restaurant. I figured like it was some gift cards to the restaurant or something like that, you know, whatever. And I sat down and opened it up and I don't know why she did it this way, except that God instructed her to do this way. But we had made the decision that starting in January for January, February, March, April, may, and June for six months, that the first of each month we were going to give a thousand dollars to the church. in that envelope were six, $1,000 checks dated January the first, February, the first March, the first April, the first may, and June the first. And I remember just sitting there and just weeping because in that simple moments, God used that woman to show us that when you trust him, he will provide, and he will. He has, he will. And when I doubt him again tomorrow, guess what? He will still be there. But my problem was in that moment before we made that decision by the Holy Spirit now also known as Wendy before I got that point, that what I was building was my own financial security. And I decided that I was going to do at Jeff's way. And what I was ignoring was the principle that God so clearly lays out in his word. And I didn't want to deal with it because that principal scared me to death, but what God taught me through that and what God has taught me time and time again, because I'm a very slow learner, is that when I build my life on what he calls me to do in this word, that the things that scare me, the things that I would rather ignore, the things that I don't want to deal with, those are the things that God wants to use to build our faith and to bring himself glory and to bring us to a place where his light can shine through us and that people's lives and the world in which we live will be changed. And, you know, what's amazing about that, that when you and I stop ignoring the things that scare us, and we begin to build the things in our lives that God wants us to build around, then what God does is that emptiness and that unsatisfaction that we felt when we were doing the other things, he replaces all of those things with a joy and a peace that is far beyond what you could ever buy or what you could ever understand, because that's the God that we serve.

 

So what are you building? And what are the things that you are ignoring that are preventing you from building the things that God wants you to build? Let's pray together today. Would you take a moment before we end today and just wrestle with those two questions? Talk to God. He knows your heart. What is the one thing in your life that needs to be different, that you've been ignoring? Would you just confess that to him right now? And as you confess that, would you make a declaration right now that you're going to take one step toward building that area of your life on the truth of God's Word and what he desires for you?

 

God, we love you. God, I thank you that you never stopped Teaching us, never stopped reminding us and you never give up on us. Lord, I thank you for the direct words from the Prophet Haggai that we see to the people of Israel, but God also to the people of Istrouma today, Lord, I pray that we will be people that are building our lives on you and your Word, God, help us this week to address the things that scare us, help us to be bold enough, but also at the same time, humble enough to confront the areas of our life that need your hand, that needs your correction, that needs your touch. And God, I pray that as we do that, that you will give us confidence that you will remind us that just as you were in the book of Ezra, you are today and the same God that provided for them and some supernatural ways desires to provide for us today. So, we ask you to do that. We thank you that we can trust you, and it's in Jesus name that I pray. Amen. Amen.

 

Well, thank you so much for being here today, and there's always that there's ways that we can help you or minister to you, We'd love the privilege to be able to do that after the services and a hope that more than anything that you will take, God's word to heart, that you will apply it to your life this week. Hope that you have a wonderful week and we'll see you back again next Sunday. Thank you.

Direct download: IBC_20200823.mp3
Category:Ezra -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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Istrouma en Español
Aug 23, 2020

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Agosto 23, 2020
Superando el Desánimo.
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Esdras 5:1-2
Cuando los profetas Hageo y Zacarías, hijo de Iddo, profetizaron a los judíos que estaban en Judá y en Jerusalén, en el nombre del Dios de Israel que estaba sobre ellos, Zorobabel, hijo de Salatiel, y Jesúa, hijo de Josadac, se levantaron entonces y comenzaron a reedificar la casa de Dios en Jerusalén; y los profetas de Dios estaban con ellos apoyándolos.

1.    Reencontrarnos con la Palabra de Dios.

Entonces vino palabra de Jehová por medio del profeta Hageo, diciendo ¿Es para vosotros tiempo, para vosotros, de habitar en vuestras casas artesonadas, y esta casa está desierta? Hageo 1: 3-4

En el octavo mes del año segundo de Darío, vino palabra de Jehová al profeta Zacarías hijo de Berequías, hijo de Iddo, diciendo: Se enojó Jehová en gran manera contra vuestros padres. Diles, pues: Así ha dicho Jehová de los ejércitos: Volveos a mí, dice Jehová de los ejércitos, y yo me volveré a vosotros, ha dicho Jehová de los ejércitos. Zacarías 1.1-3

a.    Confronta nuestro pecado.
b.    Confirma su gracia.

2.    Regresar a trabajar para Dios.

Así ha dicho Jehová de los ejércitos: Meditad sobre vuestros caminos. Subid al monte, y traed madera, y reedificad la casa; y pondré en ella mi voluntad, y seré glorificado, ha dicho Jehová. Buscáis mucho, y halláis poco; y encerráis en casa, y yo lo disiparé en un soplo. ¿Por qué? dice Jehová de los ejércitos. Por cuanto mi casa está desierta, y cada uno de vosotros corre a su propia casa. Hageo 1: 7-9

a.    Reorienta nuestras prioridades.
b.    Restablece nuestra relación con Dios.

3.    Reconocer nuestra identidad en Dios.

Entonces respondió y me habló diciendo: Esta es palabra de Jehová a Zorobabel, que dice: No con ejército, ni con fuerza, sino con mi Espíritu, ha dicho Jehová de los ejércitos. Zacarías 4.6

a.    Confía que el cumple sus promesas.
b.    Corrobora nuestro propósito.

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Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20200823.mp3
Category:Esdras -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Ezra

Istrouma Baptist Church – Micah Cating, Youth Pastor

 9:30 AM Sermon August 16, 2020

"Opposition is real"

Ezra 4

Jeremiah 29:4-7, Jeremiah 29:10-14

 

 

Well, good morning. Hope you're doing well today. It really is great to see so many of you in the room as we begin to slowly regather back. And for those of you who are watching online, we're so grateful that you're doing that 2020, right? It's been a crazy year. I love mornings like today where we get to see people, baptize families dedicate their kids because not only is it a sense of normal, but it's just a great reminder that God is at work. Not everybody feels that way right now, though. People feel overwhelmed, stressed out, maybe opposed by different things. And I saw something the other day online. It just made me laugh. And you've probably seen it too. It's like, let's just put up the Christmas tree and call it a year. Right? Anybody seen that? I saw the other day, there's a dr. Pepper shortage. And I was like, Lord, what more do we have to give up? So it's just rough. I am experiencing virtual school in my house with our first grader, Luke, he'll be here next hour. And it's been crazy. We're so thankful his school has done a great job transitioning us to virtual school. But if any of you or anybody in that world, you've got virtual school happening at your house. Okay. We'll pray for you again later. It's crazy. Like even though it's, well-planned everything, it's just a different kind of wife and it's hard. And it reminds me that some seasons of life are just harder than others. And I read an overview of the life of a man that you'll actually know who he is when we're done with this, but he had experienced many hard times in his life. And so I just kind of took notes of some things that happened in his life. And I thought I'd share them with you. I'm not trying to depress you at the start of this.

 

I just think it's helpful getting where we're going. So this guy, when he was seven years old, his family was forced out of their home and he had to go to work to help support them. So seven years old when he was nine, just two years later, his mother died fast forward a little bit. When he's 22, he's been working as a store clerk for years. He loses that job. He wanted to go to law school, but he didn't have the education because he'd been working all of his life. So at 23, he went into debt to become the partner of a local little small store in his town. At 26, his business partner died that left him a massive debt to have to figure out on his own. At 28. I love this when he started courting a girl for four years, so thinks things are going well. He asked her to marry him and she says, no. I'm like man at 37 on his third try, he finally gets elected to Congress. But two years later, he fails to get reelected. And 41, his four-year-old son dies and 45. He runs for Senate again and he loses 47. He runs for vice president and he loses 49. He ran for the Senate again and he loses. He thinks at this point he would just give up. But at 51, he was elected president and that man was Abraham Lincoln. You know, and I've heard stories of his life all my life. And I feel like we hear so many of the amazing things that happen in his life later in life, but to see where he came from and the hardship that he went through gives a greater appreciation for some of the things that he was able to accomplish.

 

The truth is life is rarely easy. I think many of us know that right now, but one of the things that I think is important to distinguish is that a live of following the Lord doesn't really end in years of just guaranteed easy days. And it doesn't really end in a chorus of people cheering our name and saying how great we are just because we love the Lord. Especially in today's setting. I find that most of the time in today's setting, if you out to go out to honor the Lord with your life, you'll probably face numerous setbacks. And some of these setbacks are just a result of living in a fallen world, right? We live in a broken world. That's full of sin. We sin ourselves and have consequences that we face as a result of our sin. But sometimes the challenges that we face are more than just the result of being in a fallen world. Sometimes those challenges are really the outworking of a spiritual battle that rages below the surface of everything. And so, one of the things that I wanted us to think about today as we continue our series on Ezra is, I want us to think about the idea that opposition, spiritual opposition in our lives is real.

 

As we've been walking through this book, we've kind of come around three words, you've seen it at the end of our video. Maybe you've seen it on some of our social media posts, the three words of return rebuild and renew. And I think those are three great words to think about in our lives in the world that we're living in. And so, as we've looked in the book of Ezra and we continue to study this book, if you remember, we've, we've talked so far about how these people who are exiled from Jerusalem taken off in a Babel and how they've come back, they've returned. And today we're going to talk about how they're attempting to rebuild the temple. And then later they'll try and rebuild the city. But before we jump into the book of Ezra, I thought it'd be good for us to think back a little bit about where these people had been. And what they'd seen is it'll help us understand a little bit about how they face spiritual opposition. You see, it's been 70 years when we start our passage today, it'll have been 70 years since the Israelite exile had begun. If you remember it, King Nebuchadnezzar came into Jerusalem, right? He destroys the city destroys the temple. Like Rob's the temple of all of its like precious things. All these things that people would have held, dear, he would have taken like the best and the brightest from Israel and he have taken them off into exile. And what we know is that during this period of exile, there's some amazing stories that happened. The story of Daniel Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego all happened while they're in exile. And for the particular part that we're looking at today, this portion of their history is right when the story of Esther happens in scripture. In fact, one of the Kings that we'll talk about today is the same King that Esther is married to. And thing his opposition was nothing new to these people. Not at all. Jerusalem was in shambles. The temple was in ruin and the people were spread all over the world. But every time opposition rose up for these people for God's people, God's provision was there as well. And so I want to read a portion of Jeremiah 29. You probably know one verse from Jeremiah 29, but I want to put some context around it, just to tell a little bit about a message that the people of Israel receive at the very beginning of exile. So if you remember the first week of this series, when King Cyrus is sending them back, right, that's sitting in the back, I'm talking about way before that, right after Jerusalem is destroyed and they're sent off into Babylon and they’re re land in Babylon. This is the letter that they receive. It says in Jeremiah 29, verse four, it says, thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles who I'm sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon build houses and live in them, plant gardens and eat their produce, take wives and have sons and daughters take wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage that they may bear sons and daughters multiply there and do not decrease, but seek the welfare of the city where I've sent you into exile and pray to the Lord on its behalf for it's in your welfare, you will find your welfare for thus says the Lord when 70 years are completed for Babylon, and this is where we're going to be talking about today, seven years later, I will visit you and I'll fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place for, I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord plans for welfare, not for evil to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me. And I will hear you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart, and I'll be found by you declares the Lord. I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I've driven. You declares the Lord. And I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you in to exile. What an amazing thing. When I think about the people that this was written to, they had no question that opposition was real. They had seen it seen the temple of the Lord destroyed.

 

They had been separated and scattered, but in the midst of it all, they had hope. They had hope because of the promises of God. They had hoped that 70 years later, they would have a chance to return. And what I think is amazing about this is when we talk about the people of the pastors that we're studying today, they not only have hope that God might do something there. I have confidence that God might do it because they've seen it do it. They're sitting in Jerusalem; they're living there again. They're working to rebuild at this point, they have rebuilt the altar and they're actually worshiping at the site of where the temple had been. That would have been a dream for people 50 years before they've seen the goodness of God. And they're beginning to rebuild the temple. They're beginning to make efforts to do it. And they have great trust that God is at work. And that brings us through our main passes for today, which is Ezra four. And we're just going to kind of read this through in chunks as we go. And we're going to start in verse one, Ezra four verse one says this. Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin, which are two of the tribes of Israel, heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the Lord, the God of Israel, they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of the father's houses and said to them, let us build with you for, we worship your God. As you do pay attention to that for, we worship your God as you do. And we've been sacrificing to him ever since the days of Esarhaddon King of Assyria who brought us here, but as Zerubbabel, Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the father's houses in Israel said to them, you have nothing to do ,with us and building the house to our God. But we alone will build to the Lord, the God of Israel as King Cyrus, the King of Persia has commanded us to do first one really quickly establishes that the people who approach the people of God who were building the temple was people who approached her adversaries of God. And one of the things that we learned by looking at these peoples, we understand that opposition begins with compromise because what happens is these people come up and they say, Hey, we're with you. We worship the same God as you do. But the fact that verse one calls him adversaries really helps me process the response of the leaders of Israel. Cause they're pretty rude. They're like, they don't say, Hey, no, thank you. Maybe we'll call you. If it gets a little rougher, they're basically like getaway. You have nothing to do with us. You have no right to be here. You have no reason to be here, go away. God has called us to do it. Not you, which is not usually how our churches operate today, but I think we can learn something from it, but their response is harsh. And the reason it's harsh is because these people were trying to get the people of God to compromise what they're doing. Okay. You have to understand a little bit of the history of this time to understand what they're trying to do. These people, that approach are actually the forefathers of some people that you would know from the new Testament. They're the forefathers of the Samaritans because here's what happens when Israel is taken into exile, Jerusalem.

 

And a lot of that area is left. Mostly empty. People are left behind, but not a ton. And so there's a place to send people there. So the Assyrian King later sends basically immigrants into Israel and tells them to settle there. And they start marrying with the Jews that are left over in that place. And the Samaritan race is born. And one of the problems is when those people are there, there's a lot of hostilities they're trying to live there. And so the Assyrian King sends a priest out of exile back to Israel and says, Hey, teach these people the ways of God. And so he teaches them, the rituals, the routines, the sacrifices, all of the things that they would need to know. And so these people, without a temple, without an altar, which would have been blaspheme in the eyes of the Jewish people at that time, they continue to sacrifice, even though there's no temple and they attempt to worship the Lord, but there's a passage from second Kings 17, that kind of explains this history that lets us understand if those people are the same people who approach the builders of the temple. If those people actually are fully devoted to the Lord. And so second Kings 17:33 says this, these people fear the Lord, but they also serve their own gods after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away.

So these people bring their history of worshiping other gods and they just meld it together with the worship of the God of Israel sound familiar. It should have, because it happened all throughout the old Testament. And I would say it even happens a lot in our world today. And so these helpers’ approach, the temple builders, and they said, Hey, we can help you. We worship your gun too, even though that wasn't really true. And if these people would have infiltrated the building of the temple, it really could have been disastrous because not only could they have watered down the faith of the people of Israel, if they would have helped build the temple, they would have had a place in the temple worship. They had been able to say, we're a part of this process. And as they would have gathered in the temple, they would have brought their other gods, their other beliefs into that moment. But here's what I think is interesting. God's people say no, and they say no harshly, but they say no. And I think it's interesting because they could have used the help building a simple is not easy. Their progress is slow. They could have used more bodies. They could have used a strong cultural and economic connection with the people who already live there. Remember they're new back in this place. Once you come back, they're really old. They were really young when they were there. And if they're kind of middle-aged, they probably were born in exile. Like they, they need connections, but they still say no. So when I think about that, and I think about the temptation for our faith to be watered down, I'm always reminded that matters of theology are not the place to compromise what we think about God matters. What we know about how we form a relationship with God. It matters the reason behind our service to other people. When we go out into the community, it's not just being kind, it matters. It's a bridge to the gospel. So don't compromise is what I hear. When I see this passage, don't compromise to be inclusive and don't compromise to get the job done More quickly. Another thing we see about the opposition from this passage is that opposition will use discouragement and fear to distract God's people. As where four, four says, this is interesting. All right, the people have offered to help. They've been told no rather harshly. And so it says the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build discouragement and fear. And they bribe the counselors against them to frustrate their purpose all the days of King Cyrus of Persia, even until the reign of Darrius King of Persia.

 

To me, it's really amazing how quickly that turns, Hey, let's build together. We worship your same God, and now it becomes, Hey, we're not only trying to discourage you and make you afraid. We're kind of like paying lawyers to come against you and make your job even harder. And what that shows is that the true motives of the opposition are revealed. They weren't really motivated by let's worship the same God together. They were motivated by having influence and control. They were focused on themselves. And what's interesting is they were really pawns in a spiritual battle. And I don't know if they even knew it. But one good thing to remember is that the opposition we face in our lives often goes deeper than the people that we encounter. And Ephesians six reminds us of this. Ephesians six, 10 through 12, says this finally be strong in the Lord. And in the strength of his mind, put on the whole armor of God that you may be, be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. We don't wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers against the authorities against the cosmic powers over this present darkness against the spiritual forces and evil in the heavenly places. I think this happens a lot, but we can't lose sight of the fact that the enemy is at work in the world. You know, we say opposition is real. To be more clear. Satan is real. The work of evil in our world is real, but the good news is the Lord is at work in our world as well. But without a clear recognition of the spiritual battles that exist around us, we'll be tempted to overlook, maybe ignore and kind of minimize the way that we see the enemy working in our midst. So we just have to recognize that there's certain things in our life that lead us to discouragement and fear, and they might not be at the Lord. Here's what happens when praying plants, the compromise us fail. Like we see these people come into the temple when that fails discouragement and fear usually happen next. And so I wonder for you in life right now, if you're struggling at all with discouragement or fear, maybe life's been so busy and hectic and crazy that you haven't had a chance to stop and think about it, but maybe the enemy working in your life to discourage you and make you fearful.

 

Maybe it looks like questions like this thoughts like this, maybe thinking what you're doing won't make any difference in this world or any eternity. So why try, maybe you're a teacher, like we mentioned earlier, and you think, man, these kids, they don't appreciate my efforts. I'm looking at them through a screen. Why even bother, let me just float through and miss the opportunity you have to impact the next generation. Maybe you're watching online and you're like, man, I've gone this long without being a church in person. Do I really need those people? And you isolate yourself. What if you're worried about, I don't know if we have enough money to make this month's bills or what if someone, I love to get sick or maybe you're just thinking like so many, how much longer we have to live. Like this man was this over. We have to recognize that sometimes those thoughts are the enemy working in our lives to distract us from what God is doing. And we recognize that the most fearful and discouraging thoughts are often not from the Lord. We're really free then to start thinking about the things of God, because opposition uses fear, uses discouragement to distract us. The next thing is can be discouraging is that opposition doesn't disappear quickly. We've seen this in verse six and seven. Hang with me for a minute here on the history of this. I know we've dived into a little bit already, but those people opposing the building of the temple. They're so frustrated with the work that's being done, that they write a letter to King Ahasuerus. Now this is probably why they called him Xerxes. All right. He had another name and King Xerxes is the same King that we find in the book of Esther. And so they write him a letter, but the letter that's actually included in chapter four here is not the letter to Artaxerxes. You'll probably see it in your notes, in your Bible. It's a letter to Artaxerxes who reigns later on. And so the writer of this book, Ezra, who hasn't shown up in person yet at this point in Ezra, he's writing kind of the history what's happened for the people who were his contemporaries are in his life.

 

And he's trying to show his people that he's writing that even after the temple one day gets built. People are still opposing the work that they're trying to do to build the city of Jerusalem at the time that Ezra writes 80 years later. And he's trying to say, Hey, this isn't new these people from the beginning. And so the opposition doesn't go away easily or quickly and recording the opposition, how they consistently challenged God's people allowed as we're to set an example, say, Hey, here's how we can follow the Lord.

 

Well, and here's how we need to avoid struggling, but it is possible to be faithful. And so here's what you got to see. It's 80 years of opposition and Israel's people are mostly faithful to the Lord, but here's an important thing for us to know their faithfulness to God, didn't make the opposition go away, right? Their faithfulness, the Lord didn't stop it. So that's a reminder to us today, as we face opposition, to know that we have to dig in at times and we have to hold strong and do what is right, because opposition doesn't disappear quickly. And the other thing we see is that opposition will misrepresent God and his people. And we see this one begins to dig into, Hey, what did they write to the King? And what they do is they totally misrepresent the people of God. And they pull up the kind of the bad stuff from their history. And they write a very one-sided letter because we know, Oh, that opposition will say anything to stop the work of the Lord. Satan. It's not described as a truthful person. He's a liar, he's a deceiver. And so the letter that we see written here was written by really powerful and influential people that lived in Jerusalem that were Persian officers. It was the treasurer of King Cyrus. One of the Persian officials in Sumeria, these were men of renown and very famous in the government of Syria. And they used their position to stop the work of the Lord. Ezra four verses 14 through 16, gives us a little bit of what they wrote. Artaxerxes. It says this now because we eat the salt of the palace. That's them saying, Hey, we're faithful to you King, and it's not fitting for us to witness the King's dishonor. Therefore, we send and informed the King in order that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. You will find in the book of the records and learned that this the city is a rebellious city, hurtful to Kings and provinces. That sedition was stirred up in it from old. That's why the city was laid to waste. We make known to the King that the city is rebuilt, and its walls are finished. You'll have no possession in this province beyond the river. So again, you see the opposition showing their true colors, who they're really faithful to. We're faithful to the King. We're not faithful to these people building and they're troublemakers. And they tell them all about the history of bad and how it's. But what we have to see is that it's not really the whole truth because reality is especially an exile. God's people had a history of living in a peaceful existence in Babylon, and it was under God's direction. Maybe you caught it in that very first passage we read from Jeremiah.

 

Jeremiah instructed the people living in Babylon. He didn't say, Hey, rebel and tear this whole thing down. He said, be peaceful. He said, build homes, plant gardens, like your kids married each other. Let them have kids. Let's let our numbers increase, but let's pray for the welfare of the city because in the city's welfare as well, you'll find where you find your own. And I wonder if that's how we would define ourselves as people who are praying for our country, for our nation, for our city. Are we people who pray that way? Who seek the good of it? I think we are. I'm always encouraged by, but what's amazing is how the opposition at this point leaves all that out and just says, hey man, they lead to rebellion. They're going to take all your power. And the truth is twisted. In this case to make the people who are pursuing the Lord seem like the enemy there's made to seem irresponsible, irresponsible, rebellious, and dishonest.

 

And the world often twists the truth to make godly people look wicked, feel like I see that in the world today, where Christians are often labeled as bigoted and hateful and bullies. Right, I know you see that. And you sense that you see it and it comes the views on reproduction rights, sexual orientation, gender identity. I was like, man, they don't include anybody. Look how hateful they are. Look how bigoted, but the truth is opposition will misrepresent God and his people all the time. And the point is to make us the enemy. So, where does this leave us? Just a couple final thoughts? Really important thing to recognize is that opposition may slow the work of God's people, but it won't stop the work of God. Ezra four 24, it gives some sobering news. It says the work on the house of God, that's in Jerusalem stopped. And it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darrius King of Persia, work on the temple stop for more than 15 years, but it didn't stop forever and delays in God's work. It's not the same as God being defeated or God not being real or God not being there. And the truth is God has purpose and all, even things that when we see it, we go, man, I feel like the church has been defeated. I feel like God has been defeated. I feel like God may not have power to do anything, but the truth is we can be temporary print temporarily delayed, but we won't be permanently defeated. So don't lose sight of God in the waiting. Don't be tempted to compromise because things get hard or because you need the help. But here's what happens to God's people. When the work stops, they lose sight of what God had done. Like they knew that the prophecy from Jeremiah, they were the, like the living proof of it. They had returned back. And when the work stops, they just lose focus and they go settle into a new routine that loses sight on the Lord.

 

We'll talk more about this next week, but they basically take the supplies for the temple and go build houses and go, alright, well, here we are. But God was still at work. He was still in control. And so, we have to recognize that God's provision in the opposition, not to settle for good enough when spiritual opposition comes, which is what these people do. They go, man, we're back in Jerusalem. Good enough, I guess, right? The Temple's not here, but at least we came back. Maybe part of what God said is true with the most powerful King of the world, just shut us down. So I guess we're stuck here. So don't settle for good enough. And then also don't give too much credit to the opposition. I think sometimes we like credit the opposition and then instead we make it easy to justify our spiritual laziness. We say things like it must not be the Lord's will or his timing for something to happen, just because something gets hard. And in reality, God may be waiting for us to take some initiative. We say things like where God guides, he provides, which is true, but maybe our idea of provision is skewed.

 

Maybe God's providing us just what we need through the opposition that we face, because the reality is the opposition that faced the temple builders. It wasn't outside of God's knowledge, his plan or his control. And he was doing something in that opposition. But a lot of times we mistakenly assumed that if the Lord's in it, we won't have hassles, setbacks and frustrations. While we tried to get the work of the Lord done, but that's really inconsistent with scripture.

 

So let's remember something today that feels kind of weird. Opposition is a gift. It's a gift because it reminds us that, Hey, I'm not in control, but God's in control. Opposition is a gift because it reminds us not to be spiritual wimps and just give up. But to be reminded of second Corinthians four were afflicted in every way, not crushed, but not crushed perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not forsaken struck down, but not destroyed. Opposition reminds us, Hey, I'm human and frail, but God's not. And he's in control. And he's working even in the face of those who oppose him. I think back to last week, you remember Jeff Williams was teaching and he said, worship is not about us. It's about the Lord. I think that's a great thing to remember when it comes to opposition, it's not ultimately about us. It's about the work of the Lord that opposition will blow through us to try and attack the Lord, but he's sufficient and he's strong and opposition that can result in us having more dependence on him, or it can result in us, settling into complacency and building our own houses with things that were intended for the house of the Lord. So, our hope is that Istrouma would be a people that rejects compromising our faith. Then when we see people try to come into the church and change theology, or we see movements that don't embrace what the heart of the gospel is that we recognize it and we reject it, that we'd be people at Istrouma that discern where God is at work. And we want to join it, that we would endure through opposition. That comes our way. And in the end, we become people who were more like the Lord because there's a chance that opposition in our lives exist. So that we'll be more focused on the Lord and what he's doing in our lives and in the world, his opposition is real, but the good news is, so it was our God and he's in control. So let's take a minute and pray together and then you'll be dismissed.

 

Lord. We love you, God, we thank you for today. We thank you for the book of Ezra and what it teaches us God so much about your promises and your faithfulness. And Lord had even teaches us how to face opposition.

God, I pray for each one of us here, Lord that for whatever we're walking through today. And so many of us are walking through times that are hard and God, some of us are even walking through things that are real spiritual opposition in our lives. God, we pray that we would be focused on you, that our dependence on you would grow. And in the end, we would see your goodness at work in our lives and in the world around us. Lord, God, we love you, Lord. We thank you for today and we thank you for a chance to gather here in person and even online Lord.

Amen

 

have a great day.

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Aug 16, 2020

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August 16 | Ezra (BR)
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August 16, 2020  | Micah Cating
"Opposition is real"
Ezra 4

Jeremiah 29:4-7, Jeremiah 29:10-14
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

“For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

Ezra 4:1-3
Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the Lord, the God of Israel, they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers’ houses and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we worship your God as you do, and we have been sacrificing to him ever since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria who brought us here.” But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of fathers’ houses in Israel said to them, “You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we alone will build to the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.”

OPPOSITION BEGINS WITH COMPROMISE

2 Kings 17:33
So they feared the Lord but also served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away.

OPPOSITION WILL USE DISCOURAGEMENT AND FEAR TO DISTRACT GOD’S PEOPLE

Ezra 4:4
Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build

Ephesians 6:10-12
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

OPPOSITION DOES NOT DISAPPEAR QUICKLY

OPPOSITION WILL MISREPRESENT GOD AND HIS PEOPLE

Ezra 4:14-16
Now because we eat the salt of the palace and it is not fitting for us to witness the king’s dishonor, therefore we send and inform the king, in order that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. You will find in the book of the records and learn that this city is a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and that sedition was stirred up in it from of old. That was why this city was laid waste. We make known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls finished, you will then have no possession in the province Beyond the River.”

OPPOSITION MAY SLOW THE WORK OF GOD’S PEOPLE, BUT IT CANNOT STOP THE WORK OF GOD

Ezra 4:24
Then the work on the house of God that is in Jerusalem stopped, and it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

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Ezra

Istrouma Baptist Church – Micah Cating, Youth Pastor

 9:30 AM Sermon August 16, 2020

"Opposition is real"

Ezra 4

Jeremiah 29:4-7, Jeremiah 29:10-14

 

 

Well, good morning. Hope you're doing well today. It really is great to see so many of you in the room as we begin to slowly regather back. And for those of you who are watching online, we're so grateful that you're doing that 2020, right? It's been a crazy year. I love mornings like today where we get to see people, baptize families dedicate their kids because not only is it a sense of normal, but it's just a great reminder that God is at work. Not everybody feels that way right now, though. People feel overwhelmed, stressed out, maybe opposed by different things. And I saw something the other day online. It just made me laugh. And you've probably seen it too. It's like, let's just put up the Christmas tree and call it a year. Right? Anybody seen that? I saw the other day, there's a dr. Pepper shortage. And I was like, Lord, what more do we have to give up? So it's just rough. I am experiencing virtual school in my house with our first grader, Luke, he'll be here next hour. And it's been crazy. We're so thankful his school has done a great job transitioning us to virtual school. But if any of you or anybody in that world, you've got virtual school happening at your house. Okay. We'll pray for you again later. It's crazy. Like even though it's, well-planned everything, it's just a different kind of wife and it's hard. And it reminds me that some seasons of life are just harder than others. And I read an overview of the life of a man that you'll actually know who he is when we're done with this, but he had experienced many hard times in his life. And so I just kind of took notes of some things that happened in his life. And I thought I'd share them with you. I'm not trying to depress you at the start of this.

 

I just think it's helpful getting where we're going. So this guy, when he was seven years old, his family was forced out of their home and he had to go to work to help support them. So seven years old when he was nine, just two years later, his mother died fast forward a little bit. When he's 22, he's been working as a store clerk for years. He loses that job. He wanted to go to law school, but he didn't have the education because he'd been working all of his life. So at 23, he went into debt to become the partner of a local little small store in his town. At 26, his business partner died that left him a massive debt to have to figure out on his own. At 28. I love this when he started courting a girl for four years, so thinks things are going well. He asked her to marry him and she says, no. I'm like man at 37 on his third try, he finally gets elected to Congress. But two years later, he fails to get reelected. And 41, his four-year-old son dies and 45. He runs for Senate again and he loses 47. He runs for vice president and he loses 49. He ran for the Senate again and he loses. He thinks at this point he would just give up. But at 51, he was elected president and that man was Abraham Lincoln. You know, and I've heard stories of his life all my life. And I feel like we hear so many of the amazing things that happen in his life later in life, but to see where he came from and the hardship that he went through gives a greater appreciation for some of the things that he was able to accomplish.

 

The truth is life is rarely easy. I think many of us know that right now, but one of the things that I think is important to distinguish is that a live of following the Lord doesn't really end in years of just guaranteed easy days. And it doesn't really end in a chorus of people cheering our name and saying how great we are just because we love the Lord. Especially in today's setting. I find that most of the time in today's setting, if you out to go out to honor the Lord with your life, you'll probably face numerous setbacks. And some of these setbacks are just a result of living in a fallen world, right? We live in a broken world. That's full of sin. We sin ourselves and have consequences that we face as a result of our sin. But sometimes the challenges that we face are more than just the result of being in a fallen world. Sometimes those challenges are really the outworking of a spiritual battle that rages below the surface of everything. And so, one of the things that I wanted us to think about today as we continue our series on Ezra is, I want us to think about the idea that opposition, spiritual opposition in our lives is real.

 

As we've been walking through this book, we've kind of come around three words, you've seen it at the end of our video. Maybe you've seen it on some of our social media posts, the three words of return rebuild and renew. And I think those are three great words to think about in our lives in the world that we're living in. And so, as we've looked in the book of Ezra and we continue to study this book, if you remember, we've, we've talked so far about how these people who are exiled from Jerusalem taken off in a Babel and how they've come back, they've returned. And today we're going to talk about how they're attempting to rebuild the temple. And then later they'll try and rebuild the city. But before we jump into the book of Ezra, I thought it'd be good for us to think back a little bit about where these people had been. And what they'd seen is it'll help us understand a little bit about how they face spiritual opposition. You see, it's been 70 years when we start our passage today, it'll have been 70 years since the Israelite exile had begun. If you remember it, King Nebuchadnezzar came into Jerusalem, right? He destroys the city destroys the temple. Like Rob's the temple of all of its like precious things. All these things that people would have held, dear, he would have taken like the best and the brightest from Israel and he have taken them off into exile. And what we know is that during this period of exile, there's some amazing stories that happened. The story of Daniel Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego all happened while they're in exile. And for the particular part that we're looking at today, this portion of their history is right when the story of Esther happens in scripture. In fact, one of the Kings that we'll talk about today is the same King that Esther is married to. And thing his opposition was nothing new to these people. Not at all. Jerusalem was in shambles. The temple was in ruin and the people were spread all over the world. But every time opposition rose up for these people for God's people, God's provision was there as well. And so I want to read a portion of Jeremiah 29. You probably know one verse from Jeremiah 29, but I want to put some context around it, just to tell a little bit about a message that the people of Israel receive at the very beginning of exile. So if you remember the first week of this series, when King Cyrus is sending them back, right, that's sitting in the back, I'm talking about way before that, right after Jerusalem is destroyed and they're sent off into Babylon and they’re re land in Babylon. This is the letter that they receive. It says in Jeremiah 29, verse four, it says, thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles who I'm sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon build houses and live in them, plant gardens and eat their produce, take wives and have sons and daughters take wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage that they may bear sons and daughters multiply there and do not decrease, but seek the welfare of the city where I've sent you into exile and pray to the Lord on its behalf for it's in your welfare, you will find your welfare for thus says the Lord when 70 years are completed for Babylon, and this is where we're going to be talking about today, seven years later, I will visit you and I'll fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place for, I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord plans for welfare, not for evil to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me. And I will hear you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart, and I'll be found by you declares the Lord. I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I've driven. You declares the Lord. And I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you in to exile. What an amazing thing. When I think about the people that this was written to, they had no question that opposition was real. They had seen it seen the temple of the Lord destroyed.

 

They had been separated and scattered, but in the midst of it all, they had hope. They had hope because of the promises of God. They had hoped that 70 years later, they would have a chance to return. And what I think is amazing about this is when we talk about the people of the pastors that we're studying today, they not only have hope that God might do something there. I have confidence that God might do it because they've seen it do it. They're sitting in Jerusalem; they're living there again. They're working to rebuild at this point, they have rebuilt the altar and they're actually worshiping at the site of where the temple had been. That would have been a dream for people 50 years before they've seen the goodness of God. And they're beginning to rebuild the temple. They're beginning to make efforts to do it. And they have great trust that God is at work. And that brings us through our main passes for today, which is Ezra four. And we're just going to kind of read this through in chunks as we go. And we're going to start in verse one, Ezra four verse one says this. Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin, which are two of the tribes of Israel, heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the Lord, the God of Israel, they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of the father's houses and said to them, let us build with you for, we worship your God. As you do pay attention to that for, we worship your God as you do. And we've been sacrificing to him ever since the days of Esarhaddon King of Assyria who brought us here, but as Zerubbabel, Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the father's houses in Israel said to them, you have nothing to do ,with us and building the house to our God. But we alone will build to the Lord, the God of Israel as King Cyrus, the King of Persia has commanded us to do first one really quickly establishes that the people who approach the people of God who were building the temple was people who approached her adversaries of God. And one of the things that we learned by looking at these peoples, we understand that opposition begins with compromise because what happens is these people come up and they say, Hey, we're with you. We worship the same God as you do. But the fact that verse one calls him adversaries really helps me process the response of the leaders of Israel. Cause they're pretty rude. They're like, they don't say, Hey, no, thank you. Maybe we'll call you. If it gets a little rougher, they're basically like getaway. You have nothing to do with us. You have no right to be here. You have no reason to be here, go away. God has called us to do it. Not you, which is not usually how our churches operate today, but I think we can learn something from it, but their response is harsh. And the reason it's harsh is because these people were trying to get the people of God to compromise what they're doing. Okay. You have to understand a little bit of the history of this time to understand what they're trying to do. These people, that approach are actually the forefathers of some people that you would know from the new Testament. They're the forefathers of the Samaritans because here's what happens when Israel is taken into exile, Jerusalem.

 

And a lot of that area is left. Mostly empty. People are left behind, but not a ton. And so there's a place to send people there. So the Assyrian King later sends basically immigrants into Israel and tells them to settle there. And they start marrying with the Jews that are left over in that place. And the Samaritan race is born. And one of the problems is when those people are there, there's a lot of hostilities they're trying to live there. And so the Assyrian King sends a priest out of exile back to Israel and says, Hey, teach these people the ways of God. And so he teaches them, the rituals, the routines, the sacrifices, all of the things that they would need to know. And so these people, without a temple, without an altar, which would have been blaspheme in the eyes of the Jewish people at that time, they continue to sacrifice, even though there's no temple and they attempt to worship the Lord, but there's a passage from second Kings 17, that kind of explains this history that lets us understand if those people are the same people who approach the builders of the temple. If those people actually are fully devoted to the Lord. And so second Kings 17:33 says this, these people fear the Lord, but they also serve their own gods after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away.

So these people bring their history of worshiping other gods and they just meld it together with the worship of the God of Israel sound familiar. It should have, because it happened all throughout the old Testament. And I would say it even happens a lot in our world today. And so these helpers’ approach, the temple builders, and they said, Hey, we can help you. We worship your gun too, even though that wasn't really true. And if these people would have infiltrated the building of the temple, it really could have been disastrous because not only could they have watered down the faith of the people of Israel, if they would have helped build the temple, they would have had a place in the temple worship. They had been able to say, we're a part of this process. And as they would have gathered in the temple, they would have brought their other gods, their other beliefs into that moment. But here's what I think is interesting. God's people say no, and they say no harshly, but they say no. And I think it's interesting because they could have used the help building a simple is not easy. Their progress is slow. They could have used more bodies. They could have used a strong cultural and economic connection with the people who already live there. Remember they're new back in this place. Once you come back, they're really old. They were really young when they were there. And if they're kind of middle-aged, they probably were born in exile. Like they, they need connections, but they still say no. So when I think about that, and I think about the temptation for our faith to be watered down, I'm always reminded that matters of theology are not the place to compromise what we think about God matters. What we know about how we form a relationship with God. It matters the reason behind our service to other people. When we go out into the community, it's not just being kind, it matters. It's a bridge to the gospel. So don't compromise is what I hear. When I see this passage, don't compromise to be inclusive and don't compromise to get the job done More quickly. Another thing we see about the opposition from this passage is that opposition will use discouragement and fear to distract God's people. As where four, four says, this is interesting. All right, the people have offered to help. They've been told no rather harshly. And so it says the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build discouragement and fear. And they bribe the counselors against them to frustrate their purpose all the days of King Cyrus of Persia, even until the reign of Darrius King of Persia.

 

To me, it's really amazing how quickly that turns, Hey, let's build together. We worship your same God, and now it becomes, Hey, we're not only trying to discourage you and make you afraid. We're kind of like paying lawyers to come against you and make your job even harder. And what that shows is that the true motives of the opposition are revealed. They weren't really motivated by let's worship the same God together. They were motivated by having influence and control. They were focused on themselves. And what's interesting is they were really pawns in a spiritual battle. And I don't know if they even knew it. But one good thing to remember is that the opposition we face in our lives often goes deeper than the people that we encounter. And Ephesians six reminds us of this. Ephesians six, 10 through 12, says this finally be strong in the Lord. And in the strength of his mind, put on the whole armor of God that you may be, be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. We don't wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers against the authorities against the cosmic powers over this present darkness against the spiritual forces and evil in the heavenly places. I think this happens a lot, but we can't lose sight of the fact that the enemy is at work in the world. You know, we say opposition is real. To be more clear. Satan is real. The work of evil in our world is real, but the good news is the Lord is at work in our world as well. But without a clear recognition of the spiritual battles that exist around us, we'll be tempted to overlook, maybe ignore and kind of minimize the way that we see the enemy working in our midst. So we just have to recognize that there's certain things in our life that lead us to discouragement and fear, and they might not be at the Lord. Here's what happens when praying plants, the compromise us fail. Like we see these people come into the temple when that fails discouragement and fear usually happen next. And so I wonder for you in life right now, if you're struggling at all with discouragement or fear, maybe life's been so busy and hectic and crazy that you haven't had a chance to stop and think about it, but maybe the enemy working in your life to discourage you and make you fearful.

 

Maybe it looks like questions like this thoughts like this, maybe thinking what you're doing won't make any difference in this world or any eternity. So why try, maybe you're a teacher, like we mentioned earlier, and you think, man, these kids, they don't appreciate my efforts. I'm looking at them through a screen. Why even bother, let me just float through and miss the opportunity you have to impact the next generation. Maybe you're watching online and you're like, man, I've gone this long without being a church in person. Do I really need those people? And you isolate yourself. What if you're worried about, I don't know if we have enough money to make this month's bills or what if someone, I love to get sick or maybe you're just thinking like so many, how much longer we have to live. Like this man was this over. We have to recognize that sometimes those thoughts are the enemy working in our lives to distract us from what God is doing. And we recognize that the most fearful and discouraging thoughts are often not from the Lord. We're really free then to start thinking about the things of God, because opposition uses fear, uses discouragement to distract us. The next thing is can be discouraging is that opposition doesn't disappear quickly. We've seen this in verse six and seven. Hang with me for a minute here on the history of this. I know we've dived into a little bit already, but those people opposing the building of the temple. They're so frustrated with the work that's being done, that they write a letter to King Ahasuerus. Now this is probably why they called him Xerxes. All right. He had another name and King Xerxes is the same King that we find in the book of Esther. And so they write him a letter, but the letter that's actually included in chapter four here is not the letter to Artaxerxes. You'll probably see it in your notes, in your Bible. It's a letter to Artaxerxes who reigns later on. And so the writer of this book, Ezra, who hasn't shown up in person yet at this point in Ezra, he's writing kind of the history what's happened for the people who were his contemporaries are in his life.

 

And he's trying to show his people that he's writing that even after the temple one day gets built. People are still opposing the work that they're trying to do to build the city of Jerusalem at the time that Ezra writes 80 years later. And he's trying to say, Hey, this isn't new these people from the beginning. And so the opposition doesn't go away easily or quickly and recording the opposition, how they consistently challenged God's people allowed as we're to set an example, say, Hey, here's how we can follow the Lord.

 

Well, and here's how we need to avoid struggling, but it is possible to be faithful. And so here's what you got to see. It's 80 years of opposition and Israel's people are mostly faithful to the Lord, but here's an important thing for us to know their faithfulness to God, didn't make the opposition go away, right? Their faithfulness, the Lord didn't stop it. So that's a reminder to us today, as we face opposition, to know that we have to dig in at times and we have to hold strong and do what is right, because opposition doesn't disappear quickly. And the other thing we see is that opposition will misrepresent God and his people. And we see this one begins to dig into, Hey, what did they write to the King? And what they do is they totally misrepresent the people of God. And they pull up the kind of the bad stuff from their history. And they write a very one-sided letter because we know, Oh, that opposition will say anything to stop the work of the Lord. Satan. It's not described as a truthful person. He's a liar, he's a deceiver. And so the letter that we see written here was written by really powerful and influential people that lived in Jerusalem that were Persian officers. It was the treasurer of King Cyrus. One of the Persian officials in Sumeria, these were men of renown and very famous in the government of Syria. And they used their position to stop the work of the Lord. Ezra four verses 14 through 16, gives us a little bit of what they wrote. Artaxerxes. It says this now because we eat the salt of the palace. That's them saying, Hey, we're faithful to you King, and it's not fitting for us to witness the King's dishonor. Therefore, we send and informed the King in order that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. You will find in the book of the records and learned that this the city is a rebellious city, hurtful to Kings and provinces. That sedition was stirred up in it from old. That's why the city was laid to waste. We make known to the King that the city is rebuilt, and its walls are finished. You'll have no possession in this province beyond the river. So again, you see the opposition showing their true colors, who they're really faithful to. We're faithful to the King. We're not faithful to these people building and they're troublemakers. And they tell them all about the history of bad and how it's. But what we have to see is that it's not really the whole truth because reality is especially an exile. God's people had a history of living in a peaceful existence in Babylon, and it was under God's direction. Maybe you caught it in that very first passage we read from Jeremiah.

 

Jeremiah instructed the people living in Babylon. He didn't say, Hey, rebel and tear this whole thing down. He said, be peaceful. He said, build homes, plant gardens, like your kids married each other. Let them have kids. Let's let our numbers increase, but let's pray for the welfare of the city because in the city's welfare as well, you'll find where you find your own. And I wonder if that's how we would define ourselves as people who are praying for our country, for our nation, for our city. Are we people who pray that way? Who seek the good of it? I think we are. I'm always encouraged by, but what's amazing is how the opposition at this point leaves all that out and just says, hey man, they lead to rebellion. They're going to take all your power. And the truth is twisted. In this case to make the people who are pursuing the Lord seem like the enemy there's made to seem irresponsible, irresponsible, rebellious, and dishonest.

 

And the world often twists the truth to make godly people look wicked, feel like I see that in the world today, where Christians are often labeled as bigoted and hateful and bullies. Right, I know you see that. And you sense that you see it and it comes the views on reproduction rights, sexual orientation, gender identity. I was like, man, they don't include anybody. Look how hateful they are. Look how bigoted, but the truth is opposition will misrepresent God and his people all the time. And the point is to make us the enemy. So, where does this leave us? Just a couple final thoughts? Really important thing to recognize is that opposition may slow the work of God's people, but it won't stop the work of God. Ezra four 24, it gives some sobering news. It says the work on the house of God, that's in Jerusalem stopped. And it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darrius King of Persia, work on the temple stop for more than 15 years, but it didn't stop forever and delays in God's work. It's not the same as God being defeated or God not being real or God not being there. And the truth is God has purpose and all, even things that when we see it, we go, man, I feel like the church has been defeated. I feel like God has been defeated. I feel like God may not have power to do anything, but the truth is we can be temporary print temporarily delayed, but we won't be permanently defeated. So don't lose sight of God in the waiting. Don't be tempted to compromise because things get hard or because you need the help. But here's what happens to God's people. When the work stops, they lose sight of what God had done. Like they knew that the prophecy from Jeremiah, they were the, like the living proof of it. They had returned back. And when the work stops, they just lose focus and they go settle into a new routine that loses sight on the Lord.

 

We'll talk more about this next week, but they basically take the supplies for the temple and go build houses and go, alright, well, here we are. But God was still at work. He was still in control. And so, we have to recognize that God's provision in the opposition, not to settle for good enough when spiritual opposition comes, which is what these people do. They go, man, we're back in Jerusalem. Good enough, I guess, right? The Temple's not here, but at least we came back. Maybe part of what God said is true with the most powerful King of the world, just shut us down. So I guess we're stuck here. So don't settle for good enough. And then also don't give too much credit to the opposition. I think sometimes we like credit the opposition and then instead we make it easy to justify our spiritual laziness. We say things like it must not be the Lord's will or his timing for something to happen, just because something gets hard. And in reality, God may be waiting for us to take some initiative. We say things like where God guides, he provides, which is true, but maybe our idea of provision is skewed.

 

Maybe God's providing us just what we need through the opposition that we face, because the reality is the opposition that faced the temple builders. It wasn't outside of God's knowledge, his plan or his control. And he was doing something in that opposition. But a lot of times we mistakenly assumed that if the Lord's in it, we won't have hassles, setbacks and frustrations. While we tried to get the work of the Lord done, but that's really inconsistent with scripture.

 

So let's remember something today that feels kind of weird. Opposition is a gift. It's a gift because it reminds us that, Hey, I'm not in control, but God's in control. Opposition is a gift because it reminds us not to be spiritual wimps and just give up. But to be reminded of second Corinthians four were afflicted in every way, not crushed, but not crushed perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not forsaken struck down, but not destroyed. Opposition reminds us, Hey, I'm human and frail, but God's not. And he's in control. And he's working even in the face of those who oppose him. I think back to last week, you remember Jeff Williams was teaching and he said, worship is not about us. It's about the Lord. I think that's a great thing to remember when it comes to opposition, it's not ultimately about us. It's about the work of the Lord that opposition will blow through us to try and attack the Lord, but he's sufficient and he's strong and opposition that can result in us having more dependence on him, or it can result in us, settling into complacency and building our own houses with things that were intended for the house of the Lord. So, our hope is that Istrouma would be a people that rejects compromising our faith. Then when we see people try to come into the church and change theology, or we see movements that don't embrace what the heart of the gospel is that we recognize it and we reject it, that we'd be people at Istrouma that discern where God is at work. And we want to join it, that we would endure through opposition. That comes our way. And in the end, we become people who were more like the Lord because there's a chance that opposition in our lives exist. So that we'll be more focused on the Lord and what he's doing in our lives and in the world, his opposition is real, but the good news is, so it was our God and he's in control. So let's take a minute and pray together and then you'll be dismissed.

 

Lord. We love you, God, we thank you for today. We thank you for the book of Ezra and what it teaches us God so much about your promises and your faithfulness. And Lord had even teaches us how to face opposition.

God, I pray for each one of us here, Lord that for whatever we're walking through today. And so many of us are walking through times that are hard and God, some of us are even walking through things that are real spiritual opposition in our lives. God, we pray that we would be focused on you, that our dependence on you would grow. And in the end, we would see your goodness at work in our lives and in the world around us. Lord, God, we love you, Lord. We thank you for today and we thank you for a chance to gather here in person and even online Lord.

Amen

 

have a great day.

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Istrouma en Español
Aug 16 – 17, 2020

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Agosto 16, 2020
Bajo fuego enemigo.
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Esdras 4:1-5
Cuando se enteraron los enemigos de Judá y de Benjamín de que el pueblo del destierro estaba edificando un templo al S EÑOR, Dios de Israel, se llegaron a Zorobabel y a los jefes de casas paternas, y les dijeron: Vamos a edificar con vosotros, porque, como vosotros, buscamos a vuestro Dios, y le hemos estado ofreciendo sacrificios desde los días de Esar-hadón, rey de Asiria, que nos trajo aquí. Pero Zorobabel y Jesúa y los demás jefes de casas paternas de Israel les dijeron: No tenéis nada en común con nosotros para que juntos edifiquemos una casa a nuestro Dios, sino que nosotros unidos la edificaremos al S EÑOR, Dios de Israel, como nos ordenó el rey Ciro, rey de Persia. Entonces el pueblo de aquella tierra se puso a desanimar al pueblo de Judá, y a atemorizarlos para que dejaran de edificar; y tomaron a sueldo contra ellos consejeros para frustrar sus propósitos, todos los días de Ciro, rey de Persia, hasta el reinado de Darío, rey de Persia.

Siempre que te comprometas con el Señor, prepárate para enfrentar a un enemigo que intentara hacerte retroceder.

1.    Nuestro enemigo espiritual se opone a todo intento de avance espiritual.
2.    Formas incorrectas de responder a los ataques del enemigo.
3.    Formas correctas de responder a los ataques del enemigo.

La oposición puede retrasar la obra del Pueblo de Dios, pero no puede detener la Obra de Dios.

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Aug 9, 2020

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August 9 | Ezra (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
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August 9, 2020  | Jeff Williams
"Starting Right"
Ezra 3:1-6

Ezra 3:1-6
When the seventh month came, and the children of Israel were in the towns, the people gathered as one man to Jerusalem. Then arose Jeshua the son of Jozadak, with his fellow priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel with his kinsmen, and they built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. They set the altar in its place, for fear was on them because of the peoples of the lands, and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, burnt offerings morning and evening. And they kept the Feast of Booths, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number according to the rule, as each day required, and after that the regular burnt offerings, the offerings at the new moon and at all the appointed feasts of the Lord, and the offerings of everyone who made a freewill offering to the Lord. From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord. But the foundation of the temple of the Lord was not yet laid.

Worship focuses our attention

Worship strengthens our hope

Worship aligns our priorities

Ezra 3:10-13
And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments came forward with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, according to the directions of David king of Israel. And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.” And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.

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Istrouma en Español
Aug 9 – 10, 2020

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Agosto 9, 2020
“Lo primero es lo primero”
==========

Esdras 3:1-13
Cuando llegó el mes séptimo, y los hijos de Israel estaban ya en las ciudades, el pueblo se reunió como un solo hombre en Jerusalén. Entonces Jesúa, hijo de Josadac, con sus hermanos los sacerdotes, y Zorobabel, hijo de Salatiel, con sus hermanos, se levantaron y edificaron el altar del Dios de Israel, para ofrecer holocaustos sobre él, como está escrito en la ley de Moisés, hombre de Dios. Y asentaron el altar sobre su base, porque estaban aterrorizados a causa de los pueblos de aquellas tierras; y sobre él ofrecieron holocaustos al S EÑOR, los holocaustos de la mañana y de la tarde. Y celebraron la fiesta de los tabernáculos como está escrito, con el número diario de holocaustos, conforme a lo prescrito para cada día; y después ofrecieron el holocausto continuo, y los de las lunas nuevas, los de todas las fiestas señaladas del S EÑOR que habían sido consagradas, y los de todos aquellos que ofrecían una ofrenda voluntaria al S EÑOR. Desde el primer día del mes séptimo comenzaron a ofrecer holocaustos al S EÑOR, pero los cimientos del templo del S EÑOR no se habían echado todavía. Entonces dieron dinero a los canteros y a los carpinteros, y alimento, bebida y aceite a los sidonios y a los tirios para que trajeran madera de cedro desde el Líbano por mar hasta Jope, conforme al permiso que tenían de Ciro, rey de Persia. Y en el segundo año de su llegada a la casa de Dios en Jerusalén, en el mes segundo, Zorobabel, hijo de Salatiel, y Jesúa, hijo de Josadac, y los demás de sus hermanos los sacerdotes y los levitas, y todos los que habían venido de la cautividad a Jerusalén, comenzaron la obra y designaron a los levitas de veinte años arriba para dirigir la obra de la casa del S EÑOR. Entonces Jesúa con sus hijos y sus hermanos, Cadmiel con sus hijos, los hijos de Judá y los hijos de Henadad con sus hijos y sus hermanos los levitas, se presentaron todos a una para dirigir a los obreros en la casa de Dios. Cuando los albañiles terminaron de echar los cimientos del templo del S EÑOR, se presentaron los sacerdotes en sus vestiduras, con trompetas, y los levitas, hijos de Asaf, con címbalos, para alabar al S EÑOR conforme a las instrucciones del rey David de Israel. Y cantaban, alabando y dando gracias al S EÑOR: Porque Él es bueno, porque para siempre es su misericordia sobre Israel. Y todo el pueblo aclamaba a gran voz alabando al S EÑOR porque se habían echado los cimientos de la casa del S EÑOR. Pero muchos de los sacerdotes y levitas y jefes de casas paternas, los ancianos que habían visto el primer templo, cuando se echaban los cimientos de este templo delante de sus ojos, lloraban en alta voz mientras muchos daban gritos de alegría; y el pueblo no podía distinguir entre el clamor de los gritos de alegría y el clamor del llanto del pueblo, porque el pueblo gritaba en voz alta, y se oía el clamor desde lejos.

1.    La adoración enfoca nuestra atención.

2.    La adoración fortalece nuestra esperanza.

3.  La adoración alinea nuestras prioridades.

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Istrouma en Español
Aug 2 – 3, 2020

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Agosto 2, 2020
Constructor Divino
==========

Esdras 1:1-6
En el primer año de Ciro, rey de Persia, para que se cumpliera la palabra del S EÑOR por boca de Jeremías, el S EÑOR movió el espíritu de Ciro, rey de Persia, y este hizo proclamar por todo su reino y también por escrito, diciendo: Así dice Ciro, rey de Persia: «El S EÑOR, el Dios de los cielos, me ha dado todos los reinos de la tierra, y Él me ha designado para que le edifique una casa en Jerusalén, que está en Judá. El que de entre todos vosotros pertenezca a su pueblo, sea su Dios con él. Que suba a Jerusalén, que está en Judá, y edifique la casa del S EÑOR, Dios de Israel; Él es el Dios que está en Jerusalén. Y a todo sobreviviente, en cualquier lugar que habite, que los hombres de aquel lugar lo ayuden con plata y oro, con bienes y ganado, junto con una ofrenda voluntaria para la casa de Dios que está en Jerusalén». Entonces se levantaron los jefes de las casas paternas de Judá y de Benjamín, y los sacerdotes y los levitas, y todos aquellos cuyo espíritu Dios había movido a subir para edificar la casa del S EÑOR que está en Jerusalén. Y todos los que habitaban alrededor de ellos les ayudaron con objetos de plata, con oro, con bienes, con ganado y con objetos preciosos, además de todo lo que fue dado como ofrenda voluntaria.

1. El Propósito de Dios en la historia.
“En el primer año de Ciro, rey de Persia, para que se cumpliera la palabra del Señor por boca de Jeremías.”(v. 1ª)

2. La Providencia de Dios en corazones.
“…El Señor despertó el espíritu de Ciro, rey de Persia.” (v.1b)

3. La Provisión de Dios en sus manos.
“Entonces se levantaron … todos aquellos cuyo espíritu despertó Dios para subir á edificar la casa de Jehová, la cual está en Jerusalén.” (v.5)

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Aug 2, 2020

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August 2 | Ezra (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

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August 2, 2020  | Jeff Williams
"Starting Over"

God is never distracted or defeated

Jeremiah 29:10
“For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.

Isaiah 44:28
who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfill all my purpose’; saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’”

Isaiah 45:1
Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed:

Ezra 1:1-5
In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel— he is the God who is in Jerusalem. And let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted by the men of his place with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.” Then rose up the heads of the fathers’ houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up to rebuild the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem.

God is not nervous or fearful about your mess

Ezra 2:64-69
The whole assembly together was 42,360, besides their male and female servants, of whom there were 7,337, and they had 200 male and female singers. Their horses were 736, their mules were 245, their camels were 435, and their donkeys were 6,720. Some of the heads of families, when they came to the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem, made freewill offerings for the house of God, to erect it on its site. According to their ability they gave to the treasury of the work 61,000 darics of gold, 5,000 minas of silver, and 100 priests’ garments.

God takes whatever we have to offer and multiplies it for His glory

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Istrouma en Español
Jul 26 – 27, 2020

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Julio 26, 2020
Esperanza en tiempos de crisis.
==========

1 Pedro 1:3-9
Bendito sea el Dios y Padre de nuestro Señor Jesucristo, quien según su gran misericordia, nos ha hecho nacer de nuevo a una esperanza viva, mediante la resurrección de Jesucristo de entre los muertos, para obtener una herencia incorruptible, inmaculada, y que no se marchitará, reservada en los cielos para vosotros, que sois protegidos por el poder de Dios mediante la fe, para la salvación que está preparada para ser revelada en el último tiempo. En lo cual os regocijáis grandemente, aunque ahora, por un poco de tiempo si es necesario, seáis afligidos con diversas pruebas, para que la prueba de vuestra fe, más preciosa que el oro que perece, aunque probado por fuego, sea hallada que resulta en alabanza, gloria y honor en la revelación de Jesucristo; a quien sin haber le visto, le amáis, y a quien ahora no veis, pero creéis en Él, y os regocijáis grandemente con gozo inefable y lleno de gloria, obteniendo, como resultado de vuestra fe, la salvación de vuestras almas.

1. Las pruebas tienen un propósito.
   Existe una recompensa, una promesa. v. 7-8.

2.  No nos vamos a hundir, Dios nos sostiene.
   Una actitud activa en medio de las dificultades. v. 5-6.

3.  La esperanza no es una imaginación.
   Jesucristo es nuestro ejemplo. v. 3-4.

4.  El me aliviara,
Vengan a mí todos los que están cansados y llevan cargas pesadas, y Yo los aliviare. Mateo 11:28.

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Jul 26, 2020

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July 26 | Travel Light (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

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July 26, 2020  | Dwayne Pitre
"Letting Go of Hopelessness"
1 Peter 1:3-9

1 Peter 1:3-9
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1. Hope is God’s _______ (v3)
According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope.
a. _______ by Him
b. _______ by Him

2. Hope is a _______ (v3)
According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
a. Know _______, know _______
b. New _______ brings new _______

3. Hope is a _______ (v5)
Who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
a. His _______
b. Our _______

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Istrouma en Español
Jul 19 , 2020

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Julio 19, 2020
Cómo dejar ir la culpa
==========

Romanos 8:1-6
Por consiguiente, no hay ahora condenación para los que están en Cristo Jesús, los que no andan conforme a la carne sino conforme al Espíritu. Porque la ley del Espíritu de vida en Cristo Jesús te ha libertado de la ley del pecado y de la muerte. Pues lo que la ley no pudo hacer, ya que era débil por causa de la carne, Dios lo hizo: enviando a su propio Hijo en semejanza de carne de pecado y como ofrenda por el pecado, condenó al pecado en la carne, para que el requisito de la ley se cumpliera en nosotros, que no andamos conforme a la carne, sino conforme al Espíritu. Porque los que viven conforme a la carne, ponen la mente en las cosas de la carne, pero los que viven conforme al Espíritu, en las cosas del Espíritu. Porque la mente puesta en la carne es muerte, pero la mente puesta en el Espíritu es vida y paz;

1. El hecho de la culpa (v1)
“Por lo tanto, ahora no hay condenación para aquellos que están en Cristo Jesús…” (v.1)

a.    Somos culpables por el pecado
b.    No somos condenados por gracia

2. El sentimiento de culpa (13)
“porque si vivís conforme a la carne, moriréis; mas si por el Espíritu hacéis morir las obras de la carne, viviréis.” (v.13)

a.    Culpa Verdadera
b.    Culpa falsa

3. La función de la culpa (v6)
“Porque poner la mente en la carne es muerte, pero poner la mente en el Espíritu es vida y paz.” (v.6)

a.    Prepara tu mente en el Espíritu
b.    Prepara tu corazón para confesar

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Jul 19, 2020

==========
July 19 | Travel Light (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

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July 19, 2020  | Jeff Williams
"Guilt"
Romans 8:1-4

Guilt is an emotional experience that occurs when a person believes or realizes - accurately or not—that they have compromised their own standards of conduct or have violated universal moral standards and bear significant responsibility for that violation.
(Source is great theological resource...wikipedia)

How do we cope with guilt?
Ignore
Rationalize

The facts of guilt. There is a...
Debt
Debtor

Romans 8:1-4
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

You are guilty but not condemned
When I see you I don’t see that

Confess it.
Receive it.
Walk in it.

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Istrouma en Español
Jul 12 – 13, 2020

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Julio 12, 2020
“Dejando ir la envidia"
==========

Salmo 73:1-5
Ciertamente Dios es bueno para con Israel, para con los puros de corazón. En cuanto a mí, mis pies estuvieron a punto de tropezar, casi resbalaron mis pasos. Porque tuve envidia de los arrogantes, al ver la prosperidad de los impíos. Porque no hay dolores en su muerte, y su cuerpo es robusto. No sufren penalidades como los mortales, ni son azotados como los demás hombres.

1. Mirando a los demás.
"Pues tuve envidia al ver cómo prosperan los orgullosos y malvados.” (v3)

a.Indignado por su prosperidad.
b.Irritado por su falta de problemas.

“No puedes cumplir el propósito de Dios para tu vida mientras
estás distraído por el propósito de Dios para otra persona.”

2. Mirándonos a nosotros mismos.
“¡De nada me sirve tener limpio el corazón y limpiarme las manos de toda maldad!” (13)

a.Somos autosuficientes
b.Somos autocompasivos

“Cuando la envidia gobierna mi corazón,
lo que tengo nunca es suficiente.”

3. Mirando al Señor.
“…hasta que entré en el santuario de Dios; allí comprendí …” (17a)

a.Su fidelidad.
b.Su presencia.

“Podemos “saber” de Dios, pero “entenderlo”…
solo cuando hay comunión”.

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Jul 12, 2020

==========
July 12 | Travel Light (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

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July 12, 2020  | Jeff Williams
"Envy"
Ecclesiastes 4:4, 6-8

Ecclesiastes 4:4, Ecclesiastes 4:6-8
Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind. Again, I saw vanity under the sun: one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.

Envy is about me and what I want

When envy rules my heart what I have is never enough

Proverbs 14:30
A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.

When envy rules my heart I am constantly examining, comparing and wanting what others have.

You cannot fulfill Gods purpose for your life while you are distracted by Gods purpose for someone else

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"Dejar ir el peso de la duda"

Mateo 11: 2-6

“ Juan estaba en la cárcel, y al enterarse de lo que Cristo estaba haciendo, envió a sus discípulos a que le preguntaran:—¿Eres tú el que ha de venir, o debemos esperar a otro? Les respondió Jesús:—Vayan y cuéntenle a Juan lo que están viendo y oyendo: Los ciegos ven, los cojos andan, los que tienen lepra son sanados, los sordos oyen, los muertos resucitan y a los pobres se les anuncian las buenas nuevas. Dichoso el que no tropieza por causa mía.”

 

 

  1. Admitamos nuestras dudas.

Juan estaba en la cárcel, y al enterarse de lo que Cristo estaba haciendo, envió a sus discípulos a que le preguntaran.” (V2)

 

  1. Cuando estamos solo.
  2. Cuando estamos en aflicción.

 

 

  1. Ataquemos nuestras dudas.

“—¿Eres tú el que ha de venir, o debemos esperar a otro? (v3)

 

  1. Definamos las dudas.
  2. Dudemos de las dudas.

 

 

  1. Aceptemos Su respuesta.

Jesús les dijo: —Regresen a Juan y cuéntenle lo que han oído y visto: los ciegos ven, los cojos caminan bien, los leprosos son curados, los sordos oyen, los muertos resucitan, y a los pobres se les predica la Buena Noticia. Y díganle: “Dios bendice a los que no se apartan por causa de mí” (4-6)

 

  1. Jesús nos responde desde las Escrituras.
  2. Jesús nos responde con una bendición.

 

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Jul 5, 2020

==========
July 5 | Travel Light (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

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July 5, 2020  | Jeff Williams
"I Can’t Believe It"
Mark 9:14-29

What we believe is influenced by our intelligence and our emotions

Mark 9:14-29
And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”

Life circumstances brought this father to a place of desperation

His belief was grounded in His need for Jesus.
He was strong enough to look for Jesus

His unbelief was marked by honesty.
He was humble enough to admit that his faith was weak

How do we attack our doubt?
Obedience - do whatever Jesus says

Steps of Faith - jump into the deep end

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Jun 28, 2020

==========
June 28 | Travel Light (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

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June 28, 2020  | Micah Cating
Hurt & Forgiveness
Matthew 18:21-35

Matthew 18:21-35
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

#1 – FORGIVENESS IS GENEROUS

#2 – FORGIVENESS DEMONSTRATES OUR FAITH

#3 – EMPATHY & COMPASSION LEAD TO FORGIVENESS

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Istrouma en Español
Jun 28 – 29, 2020

==========
Junio 28, 2020
Soltando la falta de perdón,
Una Carga Innecesaria
==========

Mateo 18:21-35
Entonces se le acercó Pedro, y le dijo: Señor, ¿cuántas veces pecará mi hermano contra mí que yo haya de perdonarlo? ¿Hasta siete veces? Jesús le dijo*: No te digo hasta siete veces, sino hasta setenta veces siete. Por eso, el reino de los cielos puede compararse a cierto rey que quiso ajustar cuentas con sus siervos. Y al comenzar a ajustar las, le fue presentado uno que le debía diez mil talentos. Pero no teniendo él con qué pagar, su señor ordenó que lo vendieran, junto con su mujer e hijos y todo cuanto poseía, y así pagara la deuda. Entonces el siervo cayó postrado ante él, diciendo: «Ten paciencia conmigo y todo te lo pagaré». Y el señor de aquel siervo tuvo compasión, y lo soltó y le perdonó la deuda. Pero al salir aquel siervo, encontró a uno de sus consiervos que le debía cien denarios, y echándole mano, lo ahogaba, diciendo: «Paga lo que debes». Entonces su consiervo, cayendo a sus pies, le suplicaba, diciendo: «Ten paciencia conmigo y te pagaré». Sin embargo, él no quiso, sino que fue y lo echó en la cárcel hasta que pagara lo que debía. Así que cuando vieron sus consiervos lo que había pasado, se entristecieron mucho, y fueron y contaron a su señor todo lo que había sucedido. Entonces, llamándolo su señor, le dijo*: «Siervo malvado, te perdoné toda aquella deuda porque me suplicaste. ¿No deberías tú también haberte compadecido de tu consiervo, así como yo me compadecí de ti?». Y enfurecido su señor, lo entregó a los verdugos hasta que pagara todo lo que le debía. Así también mi Padre celestial hará con vosotros, si no perdonáis de corazón cada uno a su hermano.

1.-Todos nos encontramos en la vida en uno de los personajes involucrados:

a.  el Ofendido
b.  el Ofensor

2.- La Palabra de Dios tiene al “PERDON” dentro de esa lista de demandas.

Como son:
a. Amad a vuestros enemigos.
b. Haced bien a los que os aborrecen.
c. Bendecir a los que os maldicen.
d. Orar por los que os calumnian.
e. Al que te hiera en la mejilla, preséntale también la otra.
f. Al que te quitare la capa, ni aun el sayo le defiendas.
g. (37)…perdonad y seréis perdonados

3. La Falta de Perdón es una Carga Innecesaria.

a.  Cuando no perdonamos hacemos lo mismo que el deudor de  la Historia.
b.  Cuando no perdonamos estamos aumentando nuestra carga.
c.  Cuando no perdonamos abrimos puertas al enemigo para que nos saque del camino correcto. 2 Corintios 2:4-11.

Conclusión:
Antes sed benignos unos con otros, misericordiosos, perdonándoos unos a otros, como Dios también os perdonó a vosotros en Cristo. Efesios 4:32.

Perdonar es: disculpar a alguien la deuda, dejar pasar, cancelar una deuda, liberar, dejar ir, eximir.  

a. El perdonar nos Libera a nosotros mismos.
b. El Perdonar nos hace mejorar personas.
c. Él perdonar traerá salud y paz.

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Istrouma en Español
Jun 21, 2020

==========
Junio 21, 2020
Dejando ir el orgullo.
==========

Santiago 4:5-10
¿O pensáis que la Escritura dice en vano: El celosamente anhela el Espíritu que ha hecho morar en nosotros? Pero Él da mayor gracia. Por eso dice: D IOS RESISTE A LOS SOBERBIOS PERO DA GRACIA A LOS HUMILDES. Por tanto, someteos a Dios. Resistid, pues, al diablo y huirá de vosotros. Acercaos a Dios, y Él se acercará a vosotros. Limpiad vuestras manos, pecadores; y vosotros de doble ánimo, purificad vuestros corazones. Afligíos, lamentad y llorad; que vuestra risa se torne en llanto y vuestro gozo en tristeza. Humillaos en la presencia del Señor y Él os exaltará.

1.    Nuestra p_______ del orgullo,

a.    Lo vemos en otros.
b.    No lo vemos en nosotros.

2.    La p_______ de Dios sobre el orgullo.

a.    Dios odia el orgullo.
b.    Dios castiga el orgullo.

3.    P___ para dejar ir al orgullo.

a.    Someternos a Dios.
b.    Acercarnos a Dios.
c.    Humillarnos ante Dios.

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Jun 21 – 22, 2020

==========
Junio 21, 2020
Dejando ir el orgullo.
==========

Santiago 4:5-10
¿O pensáis que la Escritura dice en vano: El celosamente anhela el Espíritu que ha hecho morar en nosotros? Pero Él da mayor gracia. Por eso dice: D IOS RESISTE A LOS SOBERBIOS PERO DA GRACIA A LOS HUMILDES. Por tanto, someteos a Dios. Resistid, pues, al diablo y huirá de vosotros. Acercaos a Dios, y Él se acercará a vosotros. Limpiad vuestras manos, pecadores; y vosotros de doble ánimo, purificad vuestros corazones. Afligíos, lamentad y llorad; que vuestra risa se torne en llanto y vuestro gozo en tristeza. Humillaos en la presencia del Señor y Él os exaltará.

1.    Nuestra p_______ del orgullo,

a.    Lo vemos en otros.
b.    No lo vemos en nosotros.

2.    La p_______ de Dios sobre el orgullo.

a.    Dios odia el orgullo.
b.    Dios castiga el orgullo.

3.    P___ para dejar ir al orgullo.

a.    Someternos a Dios.
b.    Acercarnos a Dios.
c.    Humillarnos ante Dios.

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Jun 21, 2020

==========
June 21 | Travel Light (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

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June 21, 2020  | Jeff Williams
The Weight of Pride
Philippians 2:3-11

Philippians 2:3-11
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Pride weighs us down, destroys relationships and leaves us feeling empty and alone

Pride is rooted in a ...
Pursuit of what I
“deserve”

Focus on how others
see me

The cure for pride is a proper view of ourselves and a proper view of God

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Istrouma en Español
Jun 14 – 15, 2020

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Junio 14, 2020
“La Ansiedad ¡Déjala ir!”
==========

Mateo 6:25-34
Por eso os digo, no os preocupéis por vuestra vida, qué comeréis o qué beberéis; ni por vuestro cuerpo, qué vestiréis. ¿No es la vida más que el alimento y el cuerpo más que la ropa? Mirad las aves del cielo, que no siembran, ni siegan, ni recogen en graneros, y sin embargo, vuestro Padre celestial las alimenta. ¿No sois vosotros de mucho más valor que ellas? ¿Y quién de vosotros, por ansioso que esté, puede añadir una hora al curso de su vida? Y por la ropa, ¿por qué os preocupáis? Observad cómo crecen los lirios del campo; no trabajan, ni hilan; pero os digo que ni Salomón en toda su gloria se vistió como uno de estos. Y si Dios viste así la hierba del campo, que hoy es y mañana es echada al horno, ¿no hará mucho más por vosotros, hombres de poca fe? Por tanto, no os preocupéis, diciendo: «¿Qué comeremos?» o «¿qué beberemos?» o «¿con qué nos vestiremos?». Porque los gentiles buscan ansiosamente todas estas cosas; que vuestro Padre celestial sabe que necesitáis de todas estas cosas. Pero buscad primero su reino y su justicia, y todas estas cosas os serán añadidas. Por tanto, no os preocupéis por el día de mañana; porque el día de mañana se cuidará de sí mismo. Bástele a cada día sus propios problemas.

1.    R_______ nuestra identidad
Miren los pájaros. No plantan ni cosechan ni guardan comida en graneros, porque el Padre celestial los alimenta. ¿Y no son ustedes para él mucho más valiosos que ellos?
30 Si Dios cuida de manera tan maravillosa a las flores silvestres que hoy están y mañana se echan al fuego, tengan por seguro que cuidará de ustedes. ¿Por qué tienen tan poca fe? (26,30)

a.    Somos sus creación

b.    Somos sus hijos

2.    R_____ nuestra perspectiva
Miren los pájaros. No plantan ni cosechan ni guardan comida en graneros, porque el Padre celestial los alimenta. ¿Y no son ustedes para él mucho más valiosos que ellos?
30 Si Dios cuida de manera tan maravillosa a las flores silvestres que hoy están y mañana se echan al fuego, tengan por seguro que cuidará de ustedes. ¿Por qué tienen tan poca fe? (26,30)

a.    Dios provee

b.    Dios es fiel

3.    R______ nuestras prioridades
33 Busquen el reino de Dios por encima de todo lo demás y lleven una vida justa, y él les dará todo lo que necesiten. 34 »Así que no se preocupen por el mañana, porque el día de mañana traerá sus propias preocupaciones. Los problemas del día de hoy son suficientes por hoy. (33,34)

a.    Algo que debemos hacer
b.    Algo que debemos dejar de hacer

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Jun 14, 2020

==========
June 14 | Travel Light (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

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June 14, 2020  | Micah Cating
Anxiety
Philippians 4:4-9 ESV

Philippians 4:4-9
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

#1 - FIND YOUR JOY IN THE LORD
“Rejoice in the Lord always…”

#2 – PRAYER RELIEVES ANXIETY
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

#3 – THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Matthew 6:25-34
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

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Light in the Darkness

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Kingdom of this world is temporary and will be destroyed

 

Kingdom of God is eternal and victorious

 

Matthew 6:33

 

Do what pleases the King

 

Do what grows the Kingdom

 

John 17:15-18

 

Matthew 5:14

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Istrouma en Español
Jun 7 – 8, 2020

==========
Junio 7, 2020
Luz en la oscuridad
==========

Ester 9:18-28
Pero los judíos que se hallaban en Susa se reunieron el trece y el catorce del mismo mes, y descansaron el día quince y lo proclamaron día de banquete y de regocijo. Por eso los judíos de las áreas rurales, que habitan en las ciudades abiertas, proclaman el día catorce del mes de Adar día festivo para regocijarse, hacer banquetes y enviarse porciones de comida unos a otros. Entonces Mardoqueo escribió estos hechos, y envió cartas a todos los judíos que se hallaban en todas las provincias del rey Asuero, tanto cercanas como lejanas, ordenándoles que celebraran anualmente el día catorce del mes de Adar, y el día quince del mismo mes, porque en esos días los judíos se libraron de sus enemigos, y fue para ellos un mes que se convirtió de tristeza en alegría y de duelo en día festivo. Los harían días de banquete y de regocijo, para que se enviaran porciones de comida unos a otros e hicieran donativos a los pobres. Así los judíos llevaron a cabo lo que habían comenzado a hacer, y lo que Mardoqueo les había escrito. Pues Amán, hijo de Hamedata, agagueo, enemigo de todos los judíos, había hecho planes contra los judíos para destruirlos, y había echado el Pur, es decir, la suerte, para su ruina y destrucción. Pero cuando esto llegó al conocimiento del rey, este ordenó por carta que el perverso plan que había tramado contra los judíos recayera sobre su cabeza, y que él y sus hijos fueran colgados en la horca. Por eso estos días son llamados Purim, por el nombre Pur. Y a causa de las instrucciones en esta carta, tanto por lo que habían visto sobre este asunto y por lo que les había acontecido, los judíos establecieron e hicieron una costumbre para ellos, para sus descendientes y para todos los que se aliaban con ellos, de que no dejarían de celebrar estos dos días conforme a su ordenanza y conforme a su tiempo señalado cada año. Así estos días serían recordados y celebrados por todas las generaciones, por cada familia, cada provincia y cada ciudad; para que estos días de Purim no dejaran de celebrarse entre los judíos, ni su memoria se extinguiera entre sus descendientes.

1.  El poder del odio y del prejuicio

2.    El creciente deseo de venganza

3.    La Salvación demanda Celebración

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Istrouma Baptist Church
May 31, 2020

==========
May 31 | Esther
We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

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May 31, 2020  | Jeff Williams
Promise Keeper
Esther 8-10

Esther 8:3-11
Then Esther spoke again to the king. She fell at his feet and wept and pleaded with him to avert the evil plan of Haman the Agagite and the plot that he had devised against the Jews. When the king held out the golden scepter to Esther, Esther rose and stood before the king. And she said, “If it please the king, and if I have found favor in his sight, and if the thing seems right before the king, and I am pleasing in his eyes, let an order be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the provinces of the king. For how can I bear to see the calamity that is coming to my people? Or how can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred?” Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows, because he intended to lay hands on the Jews. But you may write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king, and seal it with the king’s ring, for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s ring cannot be revoked.” The king’s scribes were summoned at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day. And an edict was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded concerning the Jews, to the satraps and the governors and the officials of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, 127 provinces, to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, and also to the Jews in their script and their language. And he wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed it with the king’s signet ring. Then he sent the letters by mounted couriers riding on swift horses that were used in the king’s service, bred from the royal stud, saying that the king allowed the Jews who were in every city to gather and defend their lives, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, children and women included, and to plunder their goods,

Esther 9:1
Now in the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king’s command and edict were about to be carried out, on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them.

Boldness comes in promise of eternal life

Confidence comes in the promise that God has already been wherever I am going

Joy comes in the promise that God is with us

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Direct download: IBC_20200531.mp3
Category:Esther -- posted at: 3:59pm EST

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Istrouma en Español
May 31 – Jun 1, 2020

==========
Mayo 31, 2020
Dios Cumple sus Promesas
==========

Ester 9:1
En el mes doce (es decir, el mes de Adar), el día trece cuando estaban para ejecutarse el mandato y edicto del rey, el mismo día que los enemigos de los judíos esperaban obtener dominio sobre ellos, sucedió lo contrario, porque fueron los judíos los que obtuvieron dominio sobre los que los odiaban.

La valentía viene de la promesa de la vida eterna.

La confianza viene de la promesa de que Dios ya estaba allí.

El gozo viene de la promesa de que Dios está con nosotros.

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Category:Ester -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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Istrouma en Español
May 24 – 25, 2020

==========
Mayo 24, 2020
De las cenizas a la Victoria
==========

Ester 4:12-16
Y contaron a Mardoqueo las palabras de Ester. Entonces Mardoqueo les dijo que respondieran a Ester: No pienses que estando en el palacio del rey solo tú escaparás entre todos los judíos. Porque si permaneces callada en este tiempo, alivio y liberación vendrán de otro lugar para los judíos, pero tú y la casa de tu padre pereceréis. ¿Y quién sabe si para una ocasión como esta tú habrás llegado a ser reina? Y Ester les dijo que respondieran a Mardoqueo: Ve, reúne a todos los judíos que se encuentran en Susa y ayunad por mí; no comáis ni bebáis por tres días, ni de noche ni de día. También yo y mis doncellas ayunaremos. Y así iré al rey, lo cual no es conforme a la ley; y si perezco, perezco.

La providencia de Dios
1.    No podemos comprenderla

2.    Nada sucede sin que Dios lo permita

3.    Incluye a todos por igual

4.    No nos libra de nuestras decisiones

5.    Nos anima en situaciones difíciles

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Category:Ester -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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Istrouma Baptist Church
May 24, 2020

==========
May 24 | Esther
We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

Update
Update:
https://mailchi.mp/istrouma/istrouma-update-april-577421?e=%5BUNIQID%5D

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May 24, 2020  | Jeff Williams
Miracle Worker
Esther 3-7

Esther 4:12-16
And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”

Esther 6:1-10
On that night the king could not sleep. And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. And it was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. And the king said, “What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” The king’s young men who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.” And the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him. And the king’s young men told him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.” So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” And Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown is set. And let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble officials. Let them dress the man whom the king delights to honor, and let them lead him on the horse through the square of the city, proclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.’” Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.”

Esther 7:10
So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the wrath of the king abated.

This moment in time does not define you.

This moment in time is a part of God’s story

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and watch God work

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Direct download: IBC_20200524.mp3
Category:Esther -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Istrouma Baptist Church
May 17, 2020

==========
May 17 | Esther
We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

Update
Update:
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May 17, 2020  | Jeff Williams
Waymaker
Esther 1 - 2

Esther 2:1-23
After these things, when the anger of King Ahasuerus had abated, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what had been decreed against her. Then the king’s young men who attended him said, “Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king. And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in Susa the citadel, under custody of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women. Let their cosmetics be given them. And let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This pleased the king, and he did so. Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite, who had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away. He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. So when the king’s order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in Susa the citadel in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken into the king’s palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women. And the young woman pleased him and won his favor. And he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and her portion of food, and with seven chosen young women from the king’s palace, and advanced her and her young women to the best place in the harem. Esther had not made known her people or kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her not to make it known. And every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her. Now when the turn came for each young woman to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women— when the young woman went in to the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. In the evening she would go in, and in the morning she would return to the second harem in custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch, who was in charge of the concubines. She would not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name. When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her. And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. Then the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther’s feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity. Now when the virgins were gathered together the second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. Esther had not made known her kindred or her people, as Mordecai had commanded her, for Esther obeyed Mordecai just as when she was brought up by him. In those days, as Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. And this came to the knowledge of Mordecai, and he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in the name of Mordecai. When the affair was investigated and found to be so, the men were both hanged on the gallows. And it was recorded in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king.

God is not always seen but He is always working

God chooses to use us to make His story come to life

God works through our gifts, passions, and experiences

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Direct download: IBC_20200517.mp3
Category:Esther -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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Istrouma en Español
May 17, 2020

==========
Mayo 17, 2020
Dios abre caminos
==========

Ester 2:2-21
Entonces los cortesanos al servicio del rey, dijeron: Búsquense para el rey jóvenes vírgenes y de buen parecer. Y que el rey nombre oficiales en todas las provincias de su reino para que reúnan a todas las jóvenes vírgenes y de buen parecer en la fortaleza de Susa, en el harén, bajo la custodia de Hegai, eunuco del rey, encargado de las mujeres, y que se les den sus cosméticos. Y la joven que agrade al rey sea reina en lugar de Vasti. Y esto le pareció bien al rey, y así lo hizo. Y había en la fortaleza de Susa un judío que se llamaba Mardoqueo, hijo de Jair, hijo de Simei, hijo de Cis, benjamita, que había sido deportado de Jerusalén con los cautivos que habían sido deportados con Jeconías, rey de Judá, a quien había deportado Nabucodonosor, rey de Babilonia. Y Mardoqueo estaba criando a Hadasa, es decir, Ester, hija de su tío, pues ella no tenía ni padre ni madre. La joven era de hermosa figura y de buen parecer, y cuando su padre y su madre murieron, Mardoqueo la tomó como hija suya. Y sucedió que cuando el mandato y el decreto del rey fueron oídos, muchas jóvenes fueron reunidas en la fortaleza de Susa bajo la custodia de Hegai; y Ester también fue llevada al palacio del rey, bajo la custodia de Hegai, encargado de las mujeres. La joven le agradó y halló favor delante de él, por lo que se apresuró en proveerle cosméticos y alimentos; le dio siete doncellas escogidas del palacio del rey, y la trasladó con sus doncellas al mejor lugar del harén. Ester no dio a conocer ni su pueblo ni su parentela, porque Mardoqueo le había mandado que no los diera a conocer. Y todos los días Mardoqueo se paseaba delante del patio del harén para enterarse de cómo estaba Ester y qué le sucedía. Cuando le tocaba a cada joven venir al rey Asuero, al cumplirse sus doce meses, según las ordenanzas para las mujeres, pues los días de su embellecimiento se cumplían así: seis meses con óleo de mirra y seis meses con especias y cosméticos para las mujeres, entonces la joven venía al rey de esta manera: cualquier cosa que ella deseaba se le concedía para que la llevara consigo del harén al palacio del rey. Ella entraba por la tarde y a la mañana siguiente volvía al segundo harén, bajo la custodia de Saasgaz, eunuco del rey, encargado de las concubinas. Ella no iba otra vez al rey a menos que el rey se complaciera en ella y fuera llamada por nombre. Cuando a Ester, hija de Abihail, tío de Mardoqueo, que la había tomado como hija, le tocó venir al rey, ella no pidió cosa alguna sino lo que le aconsejó Hegai, eunuco del rey, encargado de las mujeres. Y Ester hallaba favor ante los ojos de cuantos la veían. Ester fue llevada al rey Asuero a su palacio real el mes décimo, que es el mes Tebet, en el año séptimo de su reinado. Y el rey amó a Ester más que a todas las otras mujeres, y ella halló gracia y bondad con él más que todas las demás vírgenes, y él puso la corona real sobre su cabeza y la hizo reina en lugar de Vasti. Entonces el rey hizo un gran banquete para todos sus príncipes y siervos, el banquete de Ester. También concedió un día de descanso para las provincias y dio presentes conforme a la liberalidad del rey. Cuando las vírgenes fueron reunidas por segunda vez, Mardoqueo estaba sentado a la puerta del rey. Ester todavía no había dado a conocer ni su parentela ni su pueblo, tal como Mardoqueo le había mandado, porque Ester hizo lo que le había dicho Mardoqueo, como cuando estaba bajo su tutela. En aquellos días, estando Mardoqueo sentado a la puerta del rey, Bigtán y Teres, dos eunucos del rey, guardianes del umbral, se enojaron y procuraban echar mano al rey Asuero.

1.    Asuero: Rechazar el camino de Dios lleva a una sociedad enferma.

“Y que el rey nombre oficiales en todas las provincias de su reino para que reúnan a todas las jóvenes vírgenes y de buen parecer en la fortaleza de Susa, en el harén, bajo la custodiade Hegai, eunuco del rey, encargado de las mujeres…” (Ester 2.3)

2.    Ester: Tu pasado no determina tu futuro.

“…La joven era de hermosa figura y de buen parecer, y cuando su padre y su madre murieron, Mardoqueo la tomó como hija suya. (Ester 2.7)

3.    Mardoqueo: La persona correcta, en el lugar correcto, en el momento correcto.

“Y había en la fortaleza de Susa un judío que se llamaba Mardoqueo…7 Y Mardoqueoestaba criando a Hadasa… 21En aquellos días, estando Mardoqueo sentado a la puerta del rey...” (Ester 2.5,7,21)

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Category:Ester -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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Istrouma en Español
May 10 – 11, 2020

==========
Mayo 10, 2020
Una madre llamada por Dios
==========

Lucas 1:34-38
Entonces María dijo al ángel: ¿Cómo será esto, puesto que soy virgen? Respondiendo el ángel, le dijo: El Espíritu Santo vendrá sobre ti, y el poder del Altísimo te cubrirá con su sombra; por eso el santo Niño que nacerá será llamado Hijo de Dios. Y he aquí, tu parienta Elisabet en su vejez también ha concebido un hijo; y este es el sexto mes para ella, la que llamaban estéril. Porque ninguna cosa será imposible para Dios. Entonces María dijo: He aquí la sierva del Señor; hágase conmigo conforme a tu palabra. Y el ángel se fue de su presencia.

1.    Una madre llamada por Dios ________________

“María respondió: —Soy la sierva del Señor. Que se cumpla todo lo que has dicho acerca de mí...” (Lucas 1.38)

2.    Una madre llamada por Dios _______________

“Mujer, ¿eso qué tiene que ver conmigo? —respondió Jesús—. Todavía no ha llegado mi hora…” (Juan 2.4)

3.    Una madre llamada por Dios ________________

“Junto a la cruz de Jesús estaban su madre, …”. (Juan 19.25)

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Category:general -- posted at: 1:55pm EST

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Istrouma Baptist Church
May 10, 2020

==========
May 10 | Mother's Day
We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

Update
Update:
https://mailchi.mp/istrouma/istrouma-update-april-577361?e=%5BUNIQID%5D

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May 10, 2020  | Micah Cating
"We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you"
2 Chronicles 20:1-30

We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.
- 2 Chronicles 20:12b

1. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR NEED
“We don’t know what to do.”

2. RECOGNIZE WHERE YOU PLACE YOUR TRUST
“But our eyes are on..."

3. DECLARE YOUR DEPENDENCE ON GOD
“Our eyes are on you”

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Direct download: IBC_20200510.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:42pm EST

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Mayo 3, 2020
Lo que enferma a Dios
==========

Apocalipsis 3:14-22
Y escribe al ángel de la iglesia en Laodicea: « E l Amén, el Testigo fiel y verdadero, el Principio de la creación de Dios, dice esto: “Yo conozco tus obras, que ni eres frío ni caliente. ¡Ojalá fueras frío o caliente! Así, puesto que eres tibio, y no frío ni caliente, te vomitaré de mi boca. Porque dices: ‘Soy rico, me he enriquecido y de nada tengo necesidad’; y no sabes que eres un miserable y digno de lástima, y pobre, ciego y desnudo, te aconsejo que de mí compres oro refinado por fuego para que te hagas rico, y vestiduras blancas para que te vistas y no se manifieste la vergüenza de tu desnudez, y colirio para ungir tus ojos para que puedas ver. Yo reprendo y disciplino a todos los que amo; sé, pues, celoso y arrepiéntete. He aquí, yo estoy a la puerta y llamo; si alguno oye mi voz y abre la puerta, entraré a él, y cenaré con él y él conmigo. Al vencedor, le concederé sentarse conmigo en mi trono, como yo también vencí y me senté con mi Padre en su trono. El que tiene oído, oiga lo que el Espíritu dice a las iglesias” ».

1.    El P______ de la iglesia.
“15 Yo conozco tus obras, que ni eres frío ni caliente. !!Ojalá fueses frío o caliente! 16 Pero por cuanto eres tibio, y no frío ni caliente, te vomitaré de mi boca. 17 Porque tú dices: Yo soy rico, y me he enriquecido, y de ninguna cosa tengo necesidad; y no sabes que tú eres un desventurado, miserable, pobre, ciego y desnudo. (3.15-17)

a.    Como nos vemos _______
b.    Como nos ve el _____

2.    El P___ para la iglesia.  
18 Por tanto, yo te aconsejo que de mí compres oro refinado en fuego, para que seas rico, y vestiduras blancas para vestirte, y que no se descubra la vergüenza de tu desnudez; y unge tus ojos con colirio, para que veas. 19 Yo reprendo y castigo a todos los que amo; sé, pues, celoso, y arrepiéntete. (3.18-19)

a.    El _____ del Señor
b.    El _____ del Señor

3.    La P______ para la Iglesia.
20 He aquí, yo estoy a la puerta y llamo; si alguno oye mi voz y abre la puerta, entraré a él, y cenaré con él, y él conmigo. 21 Al que venciere, le daré que se siente conmigo en mi trono, así como yo he vencido, y me he sentado con mi Padre en su trono. 22 El que tiene oído, oiga lo que el Espíritu dice a las iglesias.(3.20-22)

a.    La ________ del Señor
b.    El ________ del Señor

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Category: Las siete iglesias de la revelación -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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Open the Door

 

Revelation 3:14-22

14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation.

 

 

Jesus is paying attention

15 “‘I know your works…”

 

What He sees…

            Activity that has no purpose

            15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!

16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

 

            Success that has no value

17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

 

What He wants to see…

 

            Trusting in what He provides

            18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white

garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen,

and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.

 

            Pursuing Him as Father

            19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

 

20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

 

Direct download: IBC_20200503.mp3
Category:The Seven Churches of Revelation -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Apr 26, 2020

==========
April 26 | The Seven Churches
We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

Update
Update:
https://mailchi.mp/istrouma/istrouma-update-april-577325

Connection Card
https://istrouma.org/myinfo

April 26, 2020  | Jeff Williams
"An Open Door"
Revelation 3: 7-13

Revelation 3:7-13
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. “‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

God’s promise...
God has not forgotten you
The future is bright
Don’t give up

My response...

I am Surrendered to the King
--------------------------------------------------
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
Psalm 46:10

My Confidence is in the Lord
--------------------------------------------------
And they were to stand every morning, thanking and praising the LORD, and likewise at evening,
1 Chronicles 23:30

I will Wait for my Provider
--------------------------------------------------
Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?
2 Samuel 7:18

I am Desperate for the Savior
--------------------------------------------------
Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. And the glory of the Lord appeared to them,
Numbers 20:6

Pastor Updates
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Direct download: IBC_20200426.mp3
Category:The Seven Churches of Revelation -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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Istrouma en Español
Apr 26, 2020

==========
Abril 26, 2020
Filadelfia: La Iglesia con el verdadero poder.
==========

Apocalipsis 3:7-13
Y escribe al ángel de la iglesia en Filadelfia: « E l Santo, el Verdadero, el que tiene la llave de David, el que abre y nadie cierra, y cierra y nadie abre, dice esto: “Yo conozco tus obras. Mira, he puesto delante de ti una puerta abierta que nadie puede cerrar, porque tienes un poco de poder, has guardado mi palabra y no has negado mi nombre. He aquí, yo entregaré a aquellos de la sinagoga de Satanás que se dicen ser judíos y no lo son, sino que mienten; he aquí, yo haré que vengan y se postren a tus pies, y sepan que yo te he amado. Porque has guardado la palabra de mi perseverancia, yo también te guardaré de la hora de la prueba, esa hora que está por venir sobre todo el mundo para poner a prueba a los que habitan sobre la tierra. Vengo pronto; retén firme lo que tienes, para que nadie tome tu corona. Al vencedor le haré una columna en el templo de mi Dios, y nunca más saldrá de allí; escribiré sobre él el nombre de mi Dios, y el nombre de la ciudad de mi Dios, la nueva Jerusalén, que desciende del cielo de mi Dios, y mi nombre nuevo. El que tiene oído, oiga lo que el Espíritu dice a las iglesias” ».

1.    El Dios de las puertas abiertas.
“Yo se todo lo que haces y te he abierto una puerta que nadie puede cerrar. Tienes poca fuerza…” v. 7-8.

a.    Fe y Firmeza.
b.    Es Dios quien me fortalece.                                            
       2corintios 12:10.

Para nuestro Dios, el “poco poder” y los “muchos adversarios” no son mas que puertas abiertas para manifestar su gloria.

2.    Hay que leer la Palabra Cristocéntricamente.
“…has obedecido mi palabra y no negaste mi nombre” v. 8.

a.    La palabra nos lleva a Cristo.
b.    Cristo nos envía al mundo para mostrar fidelidad.

Si alguien quiere sentirse orgulloso de algo, que sea de conocerme. 1corintios 1:31.

3.  Hay una recompensa: Un lugar en el Reino de Dios.

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Category: Las siete iglesias de la revelación -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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Istrouma en Español
Apr 19 – 20, 2020

==========
Abril 19, 2020
Viva o Muerta
==========

Apocalipsis 3:1-6
Y escribe al ángel de la iglesia en Sardis: « E l que tiene los siete Espíritus de Dios y las siete estrellas, dice esto: “Yo conozco tus obras, que tienes nombre de que vives, pero estás muerto. Ponte en vela y afirma las cosas que quedan, que estaban a punto de morir, porque no he hallado completas tus obras delante de mi Dios. Acuérdate, pues, de lo que has recibido y oído; guárda lo y arrepiéntete. Por tanto, si no velas, vendré como ladrón, y no sabrás a qué hora vendré sobre ti. Pero tienes unos pocos en Sardis que no han manchado sus vestiduras, y andarán conmigo vestidos de blanco, porque son dignos. Así el vencedor será vestido de vestiduras blancas y no borraré su nombre del libro de la vida, y reconoceré su nombre delante de mi Padre y delante de sus ángeles. El que tiene oído, oiga lo que el Espíritu dice a las iglesias” ».

1.    El elogio a la iglesia
“Yo conozco tus obras…”
…¡No hay elogio!

2.    El Problema de la iglesia.
“Conozco tus obras; tienes fama de estar vivo, pero en realidad estás muerto.”(3.1b) …”pues no he encontrado que tus obras sean perfectas delante de mi Dios” (3.2b)

a.    Viva a los ojos de la gente
b.    Muerta a los ojos de Dios

3.    El Plan para la iglesia.  
“¡Despierta! Reaviva lo que aún es rescatable, … Así que recuerda lo que has recibido y oído; obedécelo y arrepiéntete.” (3.2-3ª)

a.    Despierta
b.    Reaviva
c.    Recordar
d.    Obedece
e.    Arrepiéntete

4.    Las Promesas para la Iglesia.
a.    Hay una advertencia
“Si no te mantienes despierto, cuando menos lo esperes caeré sobre ti como un ladrón…” (3b)

b.    Hay una recompensa
“Sin embargo, tienes en Sardis a unos cuantos que no se han manchado la ropa. Ellos, por ser dignos, andarán conmigo vestidos de blanco. El que salga vencedor se vestirá de blanco. Jamás borraré su nombre del libro de la vida, sino que reconoceré su nombre delante de mi Padre y delante de sus ángeles. El que tenga oídos, que oiga lo que el Espíritu dice a las iglesias” (3.4-5)

“El que tenga oídos, que oiga lo que el Espíritu dice a las iglesias” (3.7)

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Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20200419.mp3
Category: Las siete iglesias de la revelación -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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April 19, 2020  | Jeff Williams
"Dead or Alive"
Revelation 3:1-6

Revelation 3:1-6
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

'...I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead

Dead: /ded/
separated; having no ability

The church at Sardis...
• Overestimated their significance
• Had more memories than dreams

Istrouma's impact depends on my commitment to the mission

Are you passionate about the mission or thankful for the institution?

Pay attention to the warning signs
---------------------------------------------
2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.

Remember who you are
---------------------------------------------
3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent.

Don't be afraid to change
---------------------------------------------
3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent.

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Direct download: IBC_20200419.mp3
Category:The Seven Churches of Revelation -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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Istrouma en Español
Apr 12, 2020

==========
Abril 12, 2020
Easter / Pascua
Fe en tiempos de confusión
==========

Juan 20:11-18
Pero María estaba fuera, llorando junto al sepulcro; y mientras lloraba, se inclinó y miró dentro del sepulcro; y vio* dos ángeles vestidos de blanco, sentados donde había estado el cuerpo de Jesús, uno a la cabecera y otro a los pies. Y ellos le dijeron*: Mujer, ¿por qué lloras? Ella les dijo*: Porque se han llevado a mi Señor, y no sé dónde le han puesto. Al decir esto, se volvió y vio* a Jesús que estaba allí, pero no sabía que era Jesús. Jesús le dijo*: Mujer, ¿por qué lloras? ¿A quién buscas? Ella, pensando que era el hortelano, le dijo*: Señor, si tú le has llevado, dime dónde le has puesto, y yo me lo llevaré. Jesús le dijo*: ¡María! Ella, volviéndose, le dijo* en hebreo: ¡Raboní! (que quiere decir, Maestro). Jesús le dijo*: Suéltame porque todavía no he subido al Padre; pero ve a mis hermanos, y diles: «Subo a mi Padre y a vuestro Padre, a mi Dios y a vuestro Dios». Fue* María Magdalena y anunció a los discípulos: ¡He visto al Señor!, y que Él le había dicho estas cosas.

1.    Jesús es la respuesta para nuestra ______

a.    Jesús nos c______
b.    Jesús nos c______

2.    Jesús es la respuesta a nuestra _______  

a.    Debe ser p______
b.    Debe ser p______

3.    Jesús es la respuesta para nuestra ________  

a.    Debemos a_____
b.    Debemos a_____

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Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20200412.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Apr 12, 2020

==========
April 12 | Easter
We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

Coronavirus Update
Update:
https://mailchi.mp/istrouma/istrouma-update-april-577297

Connection Card
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April 12, 2020  | Jeff Williams
"Good News"
Romans 5:7-8

Romans 5:7-8
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God’s love is not based on how good you are

God’s love is because of how good He is

There is nothing He ______ do
There is nothing He ______ do

What should be my response?
______
______

Pastor Updates
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DON’T BE MORE TOLERANT THAN JESUS (that’s the title)

     - Rev 2:18-29 (ESV - all the text)
 
CHRIST

     - Colossians 2:6-8 (ESV)

COMMENDATION
 
CORRECTION
 
CHRISTIAN TOLERANCE
 
CONSEQUENCE
Direct download: IBC_20200405.mp3
Category:The Seven Churches of Revelation -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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Istrouma en Español

Apr 5 – 6, 2020

 

==========

Abril 5, 2020

UNA IGLESIA BAJO LA MIRADA DEL SEÑOR

==========

 

Apocalipsis 2:18-29

Y escribe al ángel de la iglesia en Tiatira: « E l Hijo de Dios, que tiene ojos como llama de fuego, y cuyos pies son semejantes al bronce bruñido, dice esto: “Yo conozco tus obras, tu amor, tu fe, tu servicio y tu perseverancia, y que tus obras recientes son mayores que las primeras. Pero tengo esto contra ti: que toleras a esa mujer Jezabel, que se dice ser profetisa, y enseña y seduce a mis siervos a que cometan actos inmorales y coman cosas sacrificadas a los ídolos. Le he dado tiempo para arrepentirse, y no quiere arrepentirse de su inmoralidad. Mira, la postraré en cama, y a los que cometen adulterio con ella los arrojaré en gran tribulación, si no se arrepienten de las obras de ella. Y a sus hijos mataré con pestilencia, y todas las iglesias sabrán que yo soy el que escudriña las mentes y los corazones, y os daré a cada uno según vuestras obras. Pero a vosotros, a los demás que están en Tiatira, a cuantos no tienen esta doctrina, que no han conocido las cosas profundas de Satanás, como ellos las llaman, os digo: No os impongo otra carga. No obstante, lo que tenéis, retenedlo hasta que yo venga. Y al vencedor, al que guarda mis obras hasta el fin, LE DARÉ AUTORIDAD SOBRE LAS NACIONES; Y LAS REGIRÁ CON VARA DE HIERRO, COMO LOS VASOS DEL ALFARERO SON HECHOS PEDAZOS, como yo también he recibido autoridad de mi Padre; y le daré el lucero de la mañana. El que tiene oído, oiga lo que el Espíritu dice a las iglesias” ».

 

1.- LA IGLESIA RECIBE UN RECONOCIMIENTO.

 

A. DIOS CONOCE SUS _______

B. DIOS CONOCE CUANTO LE ______

C. DIOS CONOCE CUANTO _______

D. DIOS CONOCE HASTA DONDE PODEMOS ________

E. DIOS CONOCE NUESTRO NIVEL DE _______

 

2.- LA IGLESIA TAMBIEN PUEDE RECIBIR REPRIMENDAS COMO EN ESTE CASO.

 

A. TOLERAMOS LAS ACCIONES ________

B. RECIBIMOS TODA CLASE DE ________ SIN ESCUDRIÑAR.

C. NOS INVOLUCRAMOS EN ________ CULTURALES QUE PUEDEN    SER PER JUDICIALES.

 

3.- PROMESA Y PETICION DE DIOS PARA LA IGLESIA.

 

LIBERTAD DE _____ DE OPRESION.                   

AUTORIDAD PARA ______ A OTROS.

LUZ EN MEDIO DE LAS _______ DIFICILES.

 

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Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20200405.mp3
Category: Las siete iglesias de la revelación -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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Las 7 cartas del Apocalipsis

El virus en la iglesia

Apocalipsis 2.12-17

 

 

  1. Elogio para la iglesia (2:13 )

“Yo conozco tus obras, y dónde moras, donde está el trono de Satanás; pero retienes mi nombre, y no has negado mi fe, ni aun en los días en que Antipas mi testigo fiel fue muerto entre vosotros, donde mora Satanás.” (2:13 )

 

  1. Jesús conoce sus Circunstancias (2.13ª)

 

  1. Jesús Conoce sus Convicciones (2.13b)

 

  1. Exhortación para la iglesia. (14-15)

Pero tengo unas pocas cosas contra ti: que tienes ahí a los que retienen la doctrina de Balaam, que enseñaba a Balac a poner tropiezo ante los hijos de Israel, a comer de cosas sacrificadas a los ídolos, y a cometer fornicación. 15 Y también tienes a los que retienen la doctrina de los nicolaítas, la que yo aborrezco.  ” (2.14-15)

 

  1. La iglesia en el mundo (2.14ª)

 

  1. El mundo en la iglesia (2.14b-15)

 

  1. Estimulo para la Iglesia. (2:16-17)

Por tanto, arrepiéntete; pues si no, vendré a ti pronto, y pelearé contra ellos con la espada de mi boca.  17 El que tiene oído, oiga lo que el Espíritu dice a las iglesias. Al que venciere, daré a comer del maná escondido, y le daré una piedrecita blanca, y en la piedrecita escrito un nombre nuevo, el cual ninguno conoce sino aquel que lo recibe.” (2:16-17)

 

  1. Hay un precio (2.16-17a)

 

  1. Hay una promesa (2.17b)

 

 

Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20200329.mp3
Category: Las siete iglesias de la revelación -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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OUTLINE FOR WORSHIP GUIDE

March 29, 2020

Micah Cating, Student Pastor

Title: The Church in Pergamum

Revelation 2:12-17 ESV

 

Circumstance (Revelation 2:13a)

  • Pagan city

 

Conviction (Revelation 2:13b)

  • Courage to stand

 

Compromise (Revelation 2:14-15)

  • Core doctrine
  • Crumbling morality

 

Change (Revelation 2:16-17)

  • Repent
  • Reward
Direct download: IBC_20200329.mp3
Category:The Seven Churches of Revelation -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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Mike Holmes, Executive Pastor

Direct download: IBC_20200223.mp3
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Dwayne Pitre

The Seven Churches 

"The Church in Smyrna"

Revelation 2:8-11

 

  1.    He knows their condition
  2.    Their pain
  3.    Their poverty

 

  1.    He gives them counsel
  2.    Do not fear
  3.    Be faithful

 

  1.    He rewards their commitment
  2.    There is a reward
  3.    There is a promise
Direct download: IBC_20200322.mp3
Category:The Seven Churches of Revelation -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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Istrouma en Español

 

Las 7 cartas del Apocalipsis

Firmes en la Fe

Apocalipsis 2.8-11

 

  1. Elogio para la iglesia

“Conozco tus sufrimientos y tu pobreza. ¡Sin embargo, eres rico! Sé cómo te calumnian los que dicen ser judíos, pero que, en realidad, no son más que una sinagoga de Satanás.” (2:9 )

 

  1. Por su tribulación y calumnias
  2. Por su pobreza y riqueza

 

  1. Exhortación para la iglesia.

“No tengas miedo de lo que estás por sufrir. Te advierto que a algunos de ustedes el diablo los meterá en la cárcel para ponerlos a prueba, y sufrirán persecución durante diez días. Sé fiel hasta la muerte…” (2.10)

 

  1. Debemos ser firmes
  2. Debemos ser fieles

 

  1. Estímulo para la Iglesia.

“…y yo te daré la corona de la vida. El que tenga oídos, que oiga lo que el Espíritu dice a las iglesias. El que salga vencedor no sufrirá daño alguno de la segunda muerte.” (2:10b, 11)

 

  1. Hay un premio
  2. Hay una promesa
Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20200315.mp3
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Faith Not Fear

 

Direct download: IBC_20200308.mp3
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Johann Sebastian Bach was one of the world’s greatest musical geniuses. Bach’s compositions are brilliant works of musical innovation and complexity.

 

His father taught him to play the violin and harpsichord at a very early age. Orphaned at the age of ten, he went to live with his older brother who was a church organist who continued tutoring Bach. He grew to love the Lord and the scriptures. Proof of this is in the fact that he had some 80 theological volumes in his library (quite a trove in those days).  He also had a three-volume personal study Bible.  His hand written notes attest to his appetite for and love of the Word of God.

 

Music’s highest purpose for Bach was to glorify God. He attempted to please God in everything he did.

 

Before composing a single note, he would pen JJ at the top of the page. JJ is Latin for Jesu Juva which means “Jesus help.” Then he would pray, “Jesus, help me show your glory through the music I write. May it bring you joy even as it brings joy to your people.” 

 

When he completed the final note of a composition, he would then write SDG at the bottom of the page, SDG is Latin for Soli Deo Gloria, for the Glory of God Alone. His aim was that his music when played would point people to God and that God would get the glory. He once said, “My music comes from my heart as a humble offering to God.”

 

He was devoted to Christ, loved the scriptures and recognized that both life and music had a higher purpose. He said, “The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.”

 

Bach’s life is an example of what it means to live for the glory of God. It is an example that we all should follow.  That will be our theme this coming Sunday at Istrouma.  Please join us!

Direct download: IBC_20200216.mp3
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Solas

"Soli Deo Gloria"

Romanos 11: 36-12: 2

 

  1. Doctrina de la gloria de Dios.

               "Porque de él y por él y para él son todas las cosas" (11: 36a).

  1. Todas las cosas son de él
  2. Todas las cosas son a través de él
  3. Todas las cosas son para él

 

  1. Doxología para la gloria de Dios.

               “A él sea la gloria por siempre. Amén ”(11: 36b).

  1. La dirección de nuestra alabanza
  2. La duración de nuestra alabanza

 

  1. Devoción hacia la gloria de Dios.

"Por lo tanto, les pido, hermanos, por la misericordia de Dios, que se presenten ustedes mismos como un sacrificio vivo, santo y aceptable para Dios. ¡Así es como se debe adorar a Dios! No se adapten a este mundo, sino sean transformados mediante la renovación de vuestro entendimiento, Entonces aprenderán a conocer la voluntad de Dios para ustedes, la cual es buena, agradable y perfecta.” (12: 1-2).

 

  1. Comprometido con el Señor
  2. Cambiado por el señor
Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20200219.mp3
Category:Solas -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Direct download: IBC_20200202.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Direct download: IBC_20100126.mp3
Category:Solas -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

“Sola Gratia”

Sermon Series: Solas

Ephesians 2:8-10

Istrouma Baptist Church – Jeff Ginn, Lead Pastor

 10:45 AM Sermon January 19, 2020

 

 

 

Outline:

 

  1. Saved by grace

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

 

  1.    We have a problem

 

  1. We have a provision

   

           

  1. Saved through faith

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

 

  1. Faith is a response

 

  1.    Faith is a requirement

       

 

  1. Saved for works

 

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

           

  1. God works in us

 

  1. God works through us

 

 

 

Ephesians 2:8-10

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

 

 

 

 

“Amazing Grace” is, perhaps, the best-known and best-loved hymn of all time.  The beauty and simplicity of its melody (which you just heard played) is only eclipsed only by the hope and depth of its lyrics. 

 

Listen to the first stanza: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost, but now am found.  Was blind but now I see.”

 

The author of these words, John Newton, was, by his own admission, a “wretch.”  Now, that’s not a word we use every day. It means, “a miserable person; one who is profoundly unhappy or in great misfortune; a base, despicable, or vile person.”  You may think that’s an exaggeration on his part.  But he was a wretch.  He was a slave trader, a blasphemer, and a rebel.

 

You know the song, I trust, but you may not know the story of the author. So I want to tell you a little bit about the life of the man who wrote that song. John grew up in a home where his mother was an instrument maker and his father was a sea captain. His mother passed away when he was about 7 years of age, and so he was reared in those later childhood years by his father. He loved his father. He looked up to his father. His father was a sea captain, and so, get this, when he was 11 years old, John Newton went to sea. He made his six voyages across the oceans with his father before his father finally retired as a sea captain. Well, he had not gotten enough. He dreamed about the adventures of life on the open seas, but his dream was soon turned into a nightmare, and I want to tell you about it. 

 

He boarded a merchant ship and plied that trade for a while. But one day, he was in a port and he was pressed into naval service. We don't understand that term because we have an all-volunteer military. There's no draft. You volunteer if you want to serve. But back in those days in Jolly Old England, you could be pressed into service; that is, basically, you’d be captured and you would be forced to serve in the military, and so it was with John Newton. So now, he's no longer living a carefree life of a sailor aboard a merchant ship. He is now in the Royal Navy.  He kind of chafed under the regimen of that life. He ran afoul of his captain and was whipped, humiliated and demoted. He contemplated either murder of the captain or suicide. Before that could happen, he was able to escape and got aboard a slave trading ship called the Pegasus. He did not get along with the crew and was cast off in Africa. He was picked up by a slave trader, and became a slave himself in Africa until he was rescued. He said of that period that he was “a servant to slaves.”

 

Later in life he wrote, “I sinned with a high hand, and I made it my study to tempt and seduce others.” Newton lived a hard life with equally harsh consequences.

 

God got his attention though. In 1748, Newton’s slave ship was nearly wrecked by an intense storm.  Surrounded by crashing waves, ferocious winds, creaking timbers, and the cries of the souls on board, John fell to his knees and pled for grace. He was born again on board that ship that tempestuous night. 

 

He comes to know Christ and begins to learn of the word of God and how to live as a Christian, but he's still a slave trader himself. He captains a slave trading ship. He hauls many a slave across the oceans into slavery, but God begins to convict him about the wickedness of that. He becomes friends with a man named William Wilberforce who was the primary advocate in England for the abolition of slavery. John Newton became an ally in that cause, and of all things, this once slave trader, blasphemer, rebel, becomes a pastor of a local Baptist Church there in England. He began to be hymn writer, and he wrote those lyrics that we know and love, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.”  

 

God’s grace, which reaches anyone, anywhere, saved a wretch like John Newton—not just from the terror of that storm but from the grip and guilt of his sins. Newton wrote the song now known as “Amazing Grace” years later, while serving as a pastor in Olney, England. 

 

Today, his lyrics still inspire, encourage, and instruct people about the radical reality of God’s amazing grace. It gives “wretches” like us hope.  It makes blind people like us see. And that is amazing! Only grace—sola gratia—is able to save sinners. For him, grace was amazing. 

 

God help us if we ever get to a point where we're not just astounded by grace, that it would redeem wretches like you and me, friend. But that's the nature of his grace; it is amazing. We're going to look at that theme this morning in a message entitled, Sola Gratia, the Latin phrase which means “grace alone.” I'm going to base the message today out of; really, I think the classic passage in the Bible about grace. Open your Bible please to Ephesians chapter 2, and we're going to begin reading in verse 8 and carry it through to verse 10. I’d like us all as a sign of our respect for God's Holy Word to please stand as its read. Precious words are these. Give it your very best hearing.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

 

Let’s pray. 

 

[Prayer]

 

Please be seated. 

 

We're celebrating 100 years here at Istrouma this month, and as we thought about this wonderful season of our church’s life, we thought we’re going to go back to some of the foundational principles upon which this great church has been built. Jesus himself, of course, is the Cornerstone. We're going to come to him in the next Sola series message. But we're looking at some of the great foundational principles, and among them are things like Sola Scriptura, which was our opening message in the series. There, I talked about how the word of God, scripture, is our only sure and sufficient guide to all matters of faith and practice, scripture. Then, last week, we took up the theme of Sola Fide, which is the Latin phrase for “faith alone.” Remember, we talked about the Philippian jailer who was terrified, near death. He fell down and he cried out, “What must I do to be saved?” The Apostle Paul answered him with words as clear as a bell, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved and your household.” Believe. That's how we're saved, Sola Fide.

 

Now, today, we're taking up the third of these messages, and it's entitled Sola Gratia, which is the Latin for “grace alone.” By the way, if you're new to Istrouma, we don't usually work in Latin here but this is an exceptional season of our church’s life, and it's fun for you to know these terms, even if we never revisit them again in terms of the Latin terminology. But bear with us; here it is, Sola Gratia, grace alone.

 

I want to begin in verse 8 and say that we are saved by grace. That's the first point, Sola Gratia. We are saved by grace. Look at the opening words to verse 8, “For by grace you have been saved.” You'll notice Paul is actually talking about something in the past, right? He says, “You have been saved,” not “You will be” or “You are being.” He uses the past tense because he's addressing this letter to the church at Ephesus. He's talking to believers. He says if you want to know how it is that you came to have life, it's by grace that you came to this life. It's by grace you have been saved. I know I'm talking to a lot of folks here that by grace you’ve been saved. But I am talking to some, and I don’t know who you are, but I'm talking to some who will be saved by grace. I pray that even this day you'll come to know the grace of God in truth.

 

What is grace? It is one of those church words. If I were to ask you to define grace, how would you do it? What is grace? A lot of people will define it in this way, two words: “unmerited favor.” What does that mean? “Unmerited” means you don't deserve it, and grace is God's unmerited favor to us. He loves us in spite of our sin. He forgives us in spite of our rebellion. He takes us to heaven though sin once stained us. It is unmerited favor shown us because of what Christ has done.

 

I'll give you an acrostic that I learned as a kid. I've always remembered it, and I think it's very helpful. If you'll take the letters of the word “grace,” I’m defining it for you, what is Grace? G-R-A-C-E. Write down beside each letter these terms:

            G          God’s

            R          Riches

            A          At

            C          Christ’s

            E          Expense

 

Did you get that? Grace. God's riches at Christ's expense. That's what grace is. What are God's riches? God's riches would be his forgiveness; his patience with us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance; it’s heaven as our eternal home; it's abundant life, joy-filled life, peace, here and now. Those are God's riches, and they come to us at Christ's expense. In other words, those great gifts that I've named were not free. Someone paid for them that they might be ours, and it was at Christ's expense that they come to us. So that is grace. We are saved by grace.

 

I want to say two things about this. Number one, we have a problem. Houston, Baton Rouge, Luling, Lafayette, Monroe, South America, Africa, Asia, we have a problem. What's our problem? Our problem is, in a word, sin. I want to refer to jewelers for just a moment. I know we've got a couple of jewelers in our church, and I appreciate them so much, and I hope you’ll frequent their business. But these jewelers are very ingenious. If you say “I want to buy a diamond,” you know what a jeweler will often do? They'll take out a piece of black velvet fabric, and they’ll lay that black fabric down, and then upon that black fabric they’ll place the diamond or diamonds. Then they'll put a large spotlight shining down on those diamonds. Why do you think they put the diamonds against that black backdrop? It is so that you will be able to appreciate in all of their brilliance the beauty of the diamond. A diamond against a white counter may not glisten and shine as well as that diamond against a black backdrop. What's the point? You'll never fully appreciate the brilliance and beauty of grace until you see it against the black backdrop of our sin. That's why we're amazed by grace, that we, though sinners, can be forgiven and accepted by a holy and righteous God. When I see his grace against the backdrop of our filth and sin I'm amazed by it. Yes, our problem is our sin. 

 

Let me show you this in the text. If you’ll look to verse 1 of this very same chapter it'll be very clear. Let me begin reading there in Ephesians 2, verse 1: 

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked [that’s describing us, folks], following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience

 

Now, let me pause right there. He's describing humanity. You might be tempted to think that because we’re Christians we are above what he calls the “sons of disobedience.” You know, we can look down our spiritual noses at those “lesser humans.” We’re the Christians. But look at what verse 3 says. I love this. He says:

among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh…

 

Folks, look. I once walked in the passions of the flesh. I did things of which I am ashamed. Just like John Newton; he didn't have much on me, if any. I, too, am a wretch, a sinner, and when I see God's grace given me against the backdrop of my past, and how I lived in the passions of my flesh, I'm amazed and I hope you are as well. Now, that's our past. That's our problem, right? But I've come to tell you good news, not bad news. That's bad news. Let me give you some good news. Though we have a problem, it is answered by God's provision, and that's the next sub point. We have a provision. You’ll see this as we continue reading this very passage. It says, Ephesians 2 verses 4 and following:

4 But God, being rich in mercy...

 

Let me pause to ask you to do something. As I'm reading this, I want you to watch for the word “grace,” and when it occurs, I want you to count it. All right, let’s see how many times it occurs in these verses. We are sinners. We once walked in the passage of our flesh. He says, 

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses [even then, he loved us, yes, he], made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and [he] raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. [And then verse 8, our key verse] 8 For by grace you have been saved... 

 

How many times in what I just read, including verse 8, does the word “grace” appear? Three. Exactly right. Not once, not twice, but three times over he is stressing to us God's provision for our problem. Sin is addressed by grace, and by grace we are saved. 

 

I want to give you an illustration that I hope will help turn the light on in your understanding of this. I'm going to tell you a make-believe story. It's the story of a father. This father had an only son, and he loved his boy as fathers do. The boy got old enough to go out on his own. One day the boy was out, and he was attacked by some thugs. They beat him and they robbed him, and in the course of their attack the young son was killed. It was a brutal murder, and the father was heartbroken, as you can imagine. 

 

The father considered how he might deal with those who had murdered his son. He thought of four possible responses he could make. First of all, he could seek vengeance. Do you know what vengeance is? Vengeance is when you take the law into your own hands. Without police, without courts, without law, he would go and he would execute those that had killed his son. In vengeance the criminals would get worse than they deserve, because really, everybody has a right to a fair trial. Everybody has their day in court. Vengeance is inappropriate. God says, “Don't seek vengeance. Leave that in my just hands,” right? “Vengeance is mine,” the Lord's says. But he considered vengeance.

 

Secondly, he said there's another option. I could seek justice. That could be my response. Leave it to the police to find the criminals; leave it to the court to try them; the jury to decide on their guilt or innocence; and the judge to declare the sentence. Now if vengeance giving them worse than they deserve, justice is giving them straight-up what they deserve. 

 

But then he thought of a third possible response. He thought, I could show them mercy and forgive them for what they've done and plead mercy in the court on their behalf. That would be unbelievable, would it not? I think it's beyond most of us to respond in that way. If vengeance is getting worse than what they deserve, and justice is getting what they deserve, mercy would be not getting what they do deserve. Yes, they deserve a sentence. They deserve prison. They deserve punishment. Perhaps they deserve execution. But mercy would say, “No.” 

 

Then, there remained one possible response. Not vengeance; not justice; not even mercy, as great as it is. There remained the option of grace. Now if vengeance is getting worse than you deserve, and justice is getting what you deserve, and mercy is not getting what you do deserve, what would grace be? Grace would be getting what you don't deserve. What if in that story the bereaved father looked with pity upon the criminals and said, “Not only do I forgive you, I want to adopt you into my family, and I want you to inherit the riches that would have been my son’s. You say, “Preacher I can't stand the thought of that. That's unbelievable that anyone would respond in that way.” and I would say, “Yes, wouldn't it be amazing? It would. And that's why we refer to it as “amazing grace.” 

 

Friend, we are those criminals. Do you not see that? It was your sin and my sin for which Christ was nailed to the cross, not for any guilt of his own. God in love looked down at his only beloved there. God could have sought vengeance upon us. He certainly could have executed justice or stopped short at mercy, but he went all the way, and he would adopt us into his family. Are you a part of God's forever family? Friend, if you're not, you may be this very day. How do you get into his family? You’re saved by grace.

 

Now, number two. Not only are we saved by grace, but, number two, we’re saved through faith. When you read your Bible, I think you know this now, but let me just say it, every word in the Bible matters. Every word. You can't even change the prepositions. You can't say you’re saved by faith. You're not saved by faith, you’re saved by grace, but you’re saved through faith. 

 

Now, let's explore this just for a moment. Because God has been gracious in giving his son, you might be tempted to think that everybody's going to be saved. We’re saved by grace, and that's God's action in Christ on our behalf. He died for the sins of the whole world, 1 John 2:2 says. Well, if he died for everyone, and grace is available to everyone, then won’t everyone be saved? There are those who hold that position. It's called “universalism,” that everyone, universally, will be saved. Many of them will even say it’s because of Christ and his death on the cross that redeems everybody regardless of their response. But friend, I'll just say in response to that, and I don't have time to address it fully, I’ll just say they didn't get that idea from the Bible. The Bible teaches that there are two destinies, heaven and hell, and there are people who will spend eternity in heaven or in hell. So no, not everyone is saved, even by the grace of God, because you see, there is a response that is required of us, and faith is a response to God's grace. Now, if you would look there again at verse 8, “For by grace you have been saved [and we’re emphasizing those two words in bold] through faith.” Grace precedes faith, and that's very important, folks. Listen. Sometimes you’ll hear people say, “Oh, it doesn't matter what you believe, just believe.” It's as though if you had faith, regardless of in whom you put your faith or in what you put your faith, just believe, and you will be saved. You can believe in Muhammad, you can believe in Confucius, you can believe in naturalism and you can believe in pantheism and worship the trees and the rocks and the lakes, it doesn't matter what you believe; just believe. We’re saved by faith. No, friends, we're not saved by faith; we’re saved by grace, the act of God in Christ, but it comes to us through faith. That's the means by which we make it our own.

 

God alone saves, and it is through faith that that salvation comes to us. Our faith, I'll say it this way, our faith has a focus, and that focus is Christ. Remember last week when we were talking about sola fide, only by faith are you saved, and we were talking about the story of the Philippian jailer who was terrified that he might die. An earthquake had shaken the prison where he was responsible for the prisoners, and in his terror he asked this point-blank question, “What must I do to be saved?” And the answer was as clear as a bell, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Notice the answer was not, “Believe and you will be saved.” No, that would be to truncate the answer. It would be to omit the central part. It is not “Believe and you will be saved.” It is “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Take out Christ, take out his grace, his atoning death on the cross, and we will all be lost. It is grace that saves us through faith. Faith is our response to God's grace. I think of it this way, and perhaps this will be helpful to you. I think of grace as God reaching down from heaven to save a drowning world, drowning in our sins, and grace is him extending his hand to save us. I view faith as the response. Faith would be us looking heavenward and extending our hand to take the hand of grace. Here's the thing, folks, listen. When God's hand of grace is clasped by your hand of faith, salvation comes to you. His hand is extended. The only question that remains is, “Have you responded? Have you taken hold of that grace?” And you do so by faith, by entrusting yourself to him who died for your sins. That's how we get saved, by grace through faith. 


Faith is a response, and second here, faith is a requirement. You must believe. When I say sola gratia, only grace, some might misunderstand and think we're saying you don't even have to believe. Sola gratia, only grace, that's all that's needed. No, it's “only grace” in a special sense. When the reformers like Martin Luther used that term, they were referring to salvation coming to us by grace apart from works. Would you look at these verses again? Look with me. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast

 

It's in that sense that it’s sola gratia. It's not God’s grace plus your good works. You know, there are a lot of people who think that God admits people or rejects people into heaven on this basis. Watch. They think that God has this big scale in heaven, and on one side God's going to stack up the bad things you've done, the lies you’ve told, the lust you’ve felt, the immorality of your life, the dishonesty and the pride and the prejudice. He's going to stack all that up on one side. Then, bless your heart, he's going to come over here and he's going to stack up the good things you've done, and it's going to teeter. If you've done more good than bad, whew! You made it in. But if you did more bad than good, uh-oh, you’re lost. That's how most of the world thinks. The problem is, that is not what the Bible teaches. Sola scriptura teaches that it’s sola gratia, only grace through faith. We're not saved by our works. You see, if you were saved by the good things that that you did, when you get to heaven you be like this. You’d put your thumbs under your suspenders and you’d be like, “Hey, Lord. Good to see you. I got here because of the good things I did. You know, I was a good guy. I was faithful to my wife. I gave money. I was sweet to the little old lady down the street. I never robbed a bank. I'm good.” 

 

When we get to heaven, nobody's going to have their thumbs under their suspenders. You know what we're going to do? We're going to fall on our faces, and we're going to say, “God, how could you save a wretch like me? How great you are. How gracious you are that you would forgive me and save me.” It's all of grace, but it does require faith.  

 

Let me give you an illustration. I hope this will help. Can you see what this is? I got this in the mail this week from some sweet church members. They sent me this as a gift. It's a gift card for $200 to Fleming's Steakhouse. I’ll get a filet mignon with that. They sent this to me. It wasn't my birthday. It wasn't my wife's and my anniversary. I had not mowed their yard. Just out of love, they sent this to us. Do you know what you call that? Grace. You see, I have something that's valuable here and I didn't pay one red cent for it. It's grace. But is my belly full? And do you know why my belly isn't full? It’s because I have to redeem this. The way it gets redeemed is through faith. You see, I have to believe that this is not a gimmick that this is not a fake gift card. I have to believe that it’s real. I have to believe that the magnetic strip on the back is still good. I have to believe that they haven't already spent the $200 and just sent it to me as a gag. A curse upon them if they did that! No, I know, I know. I believe this is real, and as soon as my wife and I can carve out the time, we're going to go redeem this. We're going to sit down. I think I'm going to get a filet mignon. Could I get an “Amen”? Wrapped in bacon! With a baked potato, lots of butter, lots of sour cream – and no scallions. And I'm going to eat that. My wife, she’s going to get whatever she wants. In fact, I think we may even take a couple with us. Haven't chosen who it is yet; we've got $200! And I'm going to eat that meal, and they're going to bring a bill. You know what I'm going to do when they bring that bill? I'm going to slap that card down on that bill – paid in full by the merits of another!  Now, what's the point? This is grace, but I must exercise faith. I must possess it. I must make it mine, and I have to exert faith to do so. Christ offers you something much more than a gift card to Fleming's Steakhouse. In fact, I would just say pitiful in comparison. Pitiful in comparison. 

 

He offers us eternal life, and you don't pay a red cent for it. But somebody paid for it, and he didn't spend his money to do it; he did it with his blood. We were not redeemed with things such as silver and gold, but with the blood of Christ as of the spotless lamb of God. We’re saved by grace through faith. Faith is often expressed just through prayer. “Lord, I know I'm a sinner. Lord, I call on you to forgive me. I believe Christ died on the cross for me.” We make that profession through prayer and we acknowledge it and we receive by faith the gift he offers. 

 

That brings me to the last point. Sola gratia, only Grace? There are going to be a couple of people that protest what I'm preaching, and here's the way the protest goes; I know how this goes. There's going to be one group, and I'll call them legalists. They're going to say, “You mean I can be saved just by the grace of God, by putting my faith in him? You mean I don't have to do good works to save myself? That's too easy. No, no, no, they say.” They reject it. They say it's faith and works that redeem. That's the legalist. And there's another category over here, and they're going to say, “Oh, I'm saved by grace through faith and I don't have to do good works? Awesome! I'll walk an aisle, I'll pray a prayer, and then I'll just live like the devil until I get to heaven, and then I'm in by the grace of God.” That's wrong too. It’s the legalist and it’s the lawless. I'm going to do what I want.

 

How would the Bible answer the legalist and the lawless? He does it perfectly, right here in this text. Now, look at verse 10, “We're saved by grace through faith for good works.” We’re saved for works. Folks, look up here. Remember I told you every word in the Bible matters, every word? It’s not just big words like “grace, faith, works.” Those are big, momentous, weighty words. Even the little words matter – “by, through, for.” They're called prepositions. Little bitty words, but they matter. You can't switch them and have the truth. Like you can't say, “I'm saved by works unto faith or unto grace. No, you can't invert them. They are just as God gave them. So while I'm not saved by good works, I am saved for good works. 

 

Two things about this I want to stress: Number one, God works in us. I love this. This is so good! The Bible calls us his workmanship. You know, we've got some guys in our church who are craftsman. I can think of a couple of guys who do woodworking. They do some pretty exquisite work; I’ve got some of their crafts in my home. I think of some painters that we have in our church, great artists, and you know some of them. Well, did you know, we are God's work of art? The word here “workmanship” is the word poiema in Greek, and from it we get our English word “poem.” Listen, friend, listen. You are God's poem. They used it back in those days for a work of art. It could be a piece of poetry. It could be a song. It could be a painting. It could be a sculpture. We are God's – I put it to you this way – we are God's masterpiece. You’re not unimportant. You’re not without value. You’re not without gifts and talents. No, you’re the creation of God. And could I just say, we’re twice over the creation of God. I was his by virtue of creation, and now I'm his by virtue of salvation. I was a creation of God; he knit me together in my mother's womb, but I'm a new creation by means of salvation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “If any man, boy, woman or girl is in Christ, he or she is a new creation. Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” I've been made new in Christ. I am his creation and I am his re-creation. You’re God's masterpiece. You're his poem. You’re his painting. You’re his sculpture. 

 

This isn’t so that we can look in the mirror and admire ourselves.  Wow, aren't I amazing! I am God's masterpiece; I'm God's workmanship! No. Notice we’re created in Christ Jesus unto, or for, good works. You were created for a purpose. You were created with a plan in mind. Listen, I've been living out the plan of God in my life for many decades now, and the journey following Christ is tremendous. Oh, the things God has done. And my task in life is to listen for the voice of God and follow the Spirit’s leading, and it's your job as well. He wants to use you to change this world. 

 

I want to stress to you an opportunity coming next Sunday night. Folks, I know we normally only come here on Sunday mornings, but look at me and listen to me please, okay? I don't often ask you guys to go over and above, but I'm asking you to do it this coming Sunday. Come back to church Sunday night. Let's just repeat that together. Come back to church Sunday night. All right? 6 PM. Here's why. You're going to be equipped to do the good work of being an ambassador of the King. That's we’re made new creations. 2 Corinthians 5:17 is followed by 2 Corinthians 5:20: “We are ambassadors of Christ, and we’re making an appeal that you'll be reconciled to God.” And God wants to use you to help this world come to Christ, to know the grace of God through faith. 


I'm going to tell you one last story. There's a great preacher, and I'm going to recommend him to you. He's a black preacher. His name is H. B. Charles, Jr., and if you like good preaching, look him up on YouTube. He told a story about a lady who was heartbroken. The reason she was heartbroken was she had received an heirloom from her grandmother. It may have even been passed down from a previous generation, but what it was was very simple. It was a handkerchief, and it had been passed down to her. It was a keepsake and she treasured it. But one day, she spilled a bottle of ink and stained that handkerchief. She was really sad and she was talking to a friend of hers telling what had happened. The friend said, “Send me the handkerchief.” It happens that her friend was an artist. He got the handkerchief, and he didn't tell her what he was going to do. He got the handkerchief, and using the stain of the ink as the starting point, he painted onto the face of that napkin a beautiful image. He made it a work of art. Now, H. B. didn't say what the work of art was, but I'd like to think it was the face of her grandmother. There was a face on the face of that napkin, and what was a mess became a masterpiece. She treasured that now that the stain, the mess, had become a masterpiece.

 

Why do I tell that story? You know why? You and I are like that handkerchief. The bottle of ink has been spilled on us by our sin and our disobedience, our trespasses. We look up, despairing because of the stain, and God in grace looks down and he actually takes those stains and he covers them, and he makes a masterpiece out of our mess. And the name of that is grace. Amazing grace.

 

Would you stand? Let’s sing together. 

Direct download: 03.__Sola_gratia.__Transcript_20200119_.pdf
Category:Solas -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

“Sola Gratia”

Sermon Series: Solas

Ephesians 2:8-10

Istrouma Baptist Church – Jeff Ginn, Lead Pastor

 10:45 AM Sermon January 19, 2020

 

 

 

Outline:

 

  1. Saved by grace

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

 

  1.    We have a problem

 

  1. We have a provision

   

           

  1. Saved through faith

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

 

  1. Faith is a response

 

  1.    Faith is a requirement

       

 

  1. Saved for works

 

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

           

  1. God works in us

 

  1. God works through us

 

 

 

Ephesians 2:8-10

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

 

 

 

 

“Amazing Grace” is, perhaps, the best-known and best-loved hymn of all time.  The beauty and simplicity of its melody (which you just heard played) is only eclipsed only by the hope and depth of its lyrics. 

 

Listen to the first stanza: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost, but now am found.  Was blind but now I see.”

 

The author of these words, John Newton, was, by his own admission, a “wretch.”  Now, that’s not a word we use every day. It means, “a miserable person; one who is profoundly unhappy or in great misfortune; a base, despicable, or vile person.”  You may think that’s an exaggeration on his part.  But he was a wretch.  He was a slave trader, a blasphemer, and a rebel.

 

You know the song, I trust, but you may not know the story of the author. So I want to tell you a little bit about the life of the man who wrote that song. John grew up in a home where his mother was an instrument maker and his father was a sea captain. His mother passed away when he was about 7 years of age, and so he was reared in those later childhood years by his father. He loved his father. He looked up to his father. His father was a sea captain, and so, get this, when he was 11 years old, John Newton went to sea. He made his six voyages across the oceans with his father before his father finally retired as a sea captain. Well, he had not gotten enough. He dreamed about the adventures of life on the open seas, but his dream was soon turned into a nightmare, and I want to tell you about it. 

 

He boarded a merchant ship and plied that trade for a while. But one day, he was in a port and he was pressed into naval service. We don't understand that term because we have an all-volunteer military. There's no draft. You volunteer if you want to serve. But back in those days in Jolly Old England, you could be pressed into service; that is, basically, you’d be captured and you would be forced to serve in the military, and so it was with John Newton. So now, he's no longer living a carefree life of a sailor aboard a merchant ship. He is now in the Royal Navy.  He kind of chafed under the regimen of that life. He ran afoul of his captain and was whipped, humiliated and demoted. He contemplated either murder of the captain or suicide. Before that could happen, he was able to escape and got aboard a slave trading ship called the Pegasus. He did not get along with the crew and was cast off in Africa. He was picked up by a slave trader, and became a slave himself in Africa until he was rescued. He said of that period that he was “a servant to slaves.”

 

Later in life he wrote, “I sinned with a high hand, and I made it my study to tempt and seduce others.” Newton lived a hard life with equally harsh consequences.

 

God got his attention though. In 1748, Newton’s slave ship was nearly wrecked by an intense storm.  Surrounded by crashing waves, ferocious winds, creaking timbers, and the cries of the souls on board, John fell to his knees and pled for grace. He was born again on board that ship that tempestuous night. 

 

He comes to know Christ and begins to learn of the word of God and how to live as a Christian, but he's still a slave trader himself. He captains a slave trading ship. He hauls many a slave across the oceans into slavery, but God begins to convict him about the wickedness of that. He becomes friends with a man named William Wilberforce who was the primary advocate in England for the abolition of slavery. John Newton became an ally in that cause, and of all things, this once slave trader, blasphemer, rebel, becomes a pastor of a local Baptist Church there in England. He began to be hymn writer, and he wrote those lyrics that we know and love, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.”  

 

God’s grace, which reaches anyone, anywhere, saved a wretch like John Newton—not just from the terror of that storm but from the grip and guilt of his sins. Newton wrote the song now known as “Amazing Grace” years later, while serving as a pastor in Olney, England. 

 

Today, his lyrics still inspire, encourage, and instruct people about the radical reality of God’s amazing grace. It gives “wretches” like us hope.  It makes blind people like us see. And that is amazing! Only grace—sola gratia—is able to save sinners. For him, grace was amazing. 

 

God help us if we ever get to a point where we're not just astounded by grace, that it would redeem wretches like you and me, friend. But that's the nature of his grace; it is amazing. We're going to look at that theme this morning in a message entitled, Sola Gratia, the Latin phrase which means “grace alone.” I'm going to base the message today out of; really, I think the classic passage in the Bible about grace. Open your Bible please to Ephesians chapter 2, and we're going to begin reading in verse 8 and carry it through to verse 10. I’d like us all as a sign of our respect for God's Holy Word to please stand as its read. Precious words are these. Give it your very best hearing.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

 

Let’s pray. 

 

[Prayer]

 

Please be seated. 

 

We're celebrating 100 years here at Istrouma this month, and as we thought about this wonderful season of our church’s life, we thought we’re going to go back to some of the foundational principles upon which this great church has been built. Jesus himself, of course, is the Cornerstone. We're going to come to him in the next Sola series message. But we're looking at some of the great foundational principles, and among them are things like Sola Scriptura, which was our opening message in the series. There, I talked about how the word of God, scripture, is our only sure and sufficient guide to all matters of faith and practice, scripture. Then, last week, we took up the theme of Sola Fide, which is the Latin phrase for “faith alone.” Remember, we talked about the Philippian jailer who was terrified, near death. He fell down and he cried out, “What must I do to be saved?” The Apostle Paul answered him with words as clear as a bell, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved and your household.” Believe. That's how we're saved, Sola Fide.

 

Now, today, we're taking up the third of these messages, and it's entitled Sola Gratia, which is the Latin for “grace alone.” By the way, if you're new to Istrouma, we don't usually work in Latin here but this is an exceptional season of our church’s life, and it's fun for you to know these terms, even if we never revisit them again in terms of the Latin terminology. But bear with us; here it is, Sola Gratia, grace alone.

 

I want to begin in verse 8 and say that we are saved by grace. That's the first point, Sola Gratia. We are saved by grace. Look at the opening words to verse 8, “For by grace you have been saved.” You'll notice Paul is actually talking about something in the past, right? He says, “You have been saved,” not “You will be” or “You are being.” He uses the past tense because he's addressing this letter to the church at Ephesus. He's talking to believers. He says if you want to know how it is that you came to have life, it's by grace that you came to this life. It's by grace you have been saved. I know I'm talking to a lot of folks here that by grace you’ve been saved. But I am talking to some, and I don’t know who you are, but I'm talking to some who will be saved by grace. I pray that even this day you'll come to know the grace of God in truth.

 

What is grace? It is one of those church words. If I were to ask you to define grace, how would you do it? What is grace? A lot of people will define it in this way, two words: “unmerited favor.” What does that mean? “Unmerited” means you don't deserve it, and grace is God's unmerited favor to us. He loves us in spite of our sin. He forgives us in spite of our rebellion. He takes us to heaven though sin once stained us. It is unmerited favor shown us because of what Christ has done.

 

I'll give you an acrostic that I learned as a kid. I've always remembered it, and I think it's very helpful. If you'll take the letters of the word “grace,” I’m defining it for you, what is Grace? G-R-A-C-E. Write down beside each letter these terms:

            G          God’s

            R          Riches

            A          At

            C          Christ’s

            E          Expense

 

Did you get that? Grace. God's riches at Christ's expense. That's what grace is. What are God's riches? God's riches would be his forgiveness; his patience with us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance; it’s heaven as our eternal home; it's abundant life, joy-filled life, peace, here and now. Those are God's riches, and they come to us at Christ's expense. In other words, those great gifts that I've named were not free. Someone paid for them that they might be ours, and it was at Christ's expense that they come to us. So that is grace. We are saved by grace.

 

I want to say two things about this. Number one, we have a problem. Houston, Baton Rouge, Luling, Lafayette, Monroe, South America, Africa, Asia, we have a problem. What's our problem? Our problem is, in a word, sin. I want to refer to jewelers for just a moment. I know we've got a couple of jewelers in our church, and I appreciate them so much, and I hope you’ll frequent their business. But these jewelers are very ingenious. If you say “I want to buy a diamond,” you know what a jeweler will often do? They'll take out a piece of black velvet fabric, and they’ll lay that black fabric down, and then upon that black fabric they’ll place the diamond or diamonds. Then they'll put a large spotlight shining down on those diamonds. Why do you think they put the diamonds against that black backdrop? It is so that you will be able to appreciate in all of their brilliance the beauty of the diamond. A diamond against a white counter may not glisten and shine as well as that diamond against a black backdrop. What's the point? You'll never fully appreciate the brilliance and beauty of grace until you see it against the black backdrop of our sin. That's why we're amazed by grace, that we, though sinners, can be forgiven and accepted by a holy and righteous God. When I see his grace against the backdrop of our filth and sin I'm amazed by it. Yes, our problem is our sin. 

 

Let me show you this in the text. If you’ll look to verse 1 of this very same chapter it'll be very clear. Let me begin reading there in Ephesians 2, verse 1: 

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked [that’s describing us, folks], following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience

 

Now, let me pause right there. He's describing humanity. You might be tempted to think that because we’re Christians we are above what he calls the “sons of disobedience.” You know, we can look down our spiritual noses at those “lesser humans.” We’re the Christians. But look at what verse 3 says. I love this. He says:

among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh…

 

Folks, look. I once walked in the passions of the flesh. I did things of which I am ashamed. Just like John Newton; he didn't have much on me, if any. I, too, am a wretch, a sinner, and when I see God's grace given me against the backdrop of my past, and how I lived in the passions of my flesh, I'm amazed and I hope you are as well. Now, that's our past. That's our problem, right? But I've come to tell you good news, not bad news. That's bad news. Let me give you some good news. Though we have a problem, it is answered by God's provision, and that's the next sub point. We have a provision. You’ll see this as we continue reading this very passage. It says, Ephesians 2 verses 4 and following:

4 But God, being rich in mercy...

 

Let me pause to ask you to do something. As I'm reading this, I want you to watch for the word “grace,” and when it occurs, I want you to count it. All right, let’s see how many times it occurs in these verses. We are sinners. We once walked in the passage of our flesh. He says, 

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses [even then, he loved us, yes, he], made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and [he] raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. [And then verse 8, our key verse] 8 For by grace you have been saved... 

 

How many times in what I just read, including verse 8, does the word “grace” appear? Three. Exactly right. Not once, not twice, but three times over he is stressing to us God's provision for our problem. Sin is addressed by grace, and by grace we are saved. 

 

I want to give you an illustration that I hope will help turn the light on in your understanding of this. I'm going to tell you a make-believe story. It's the story of a father. This father had an only son, and he loved his boy as fathers do. The boy got old enough to go out on his own. One day the boy was out, and he was attacked by some thugs. They beat him and they robbed him, and in the course of their attack the young son was killed. It was a brutal murder, and the father was heartbroken, as you can imagine. 

 

The father considered how he might deal with those who had murdered his son. He thought of four possible responses he could make. First of all, he could seek vengeance. Do you know what vengeance is? Vengeance is when you take the law into your own hands. Without police, without courts, without law, he would go and he would execute those that had killed his son. In vengeance the criminals would get worse than they deserve, because really, everybody has a right to a fair trial. Everybody has their day in court. Vengeance is inappropriate. God says, “Don't seek vengeance. Leave that in my just hands,” right? “Vengeance is mine,” the Lord's says. But he considered vengeance.

 

Secondly, he said there's another option. I could seek justice. That could be my response. Leave it to the police to find the criminals; leave it to the court to try them; the jury to decide on their guilt or innocence; and the judge to declare the sentence. Now if vengeance giving them worse than they deserve, justice is giving them straight-up what they deserve. 

 

But then he thought of a third possible response. He thought, I could show them mercy and forgive them for what they've done and plead mercy in the court on their behalf. That would be unbelievable, would it not? I think it's beyond most of us to respond in that way. If vengeance is getting worse than what they deserve, and justice is getting what they deserve, mercy would be not getting what they do deserve. Yes, they deserve a sentence. They deserve prison. They deserve punishment. Perhaps they deserve execution. But mercy would say, “No.” 

 

Then, there remained one possible response. Not vengeance; not justice; not even mercy, as great as it is. There remained the option of grace. Now if vengeance is getting worse than you deserve, and justice is getting what you deserve, and mercy is not getting what you do deserve, what would grace be? Grace would be getting what you don't deserve. What if in that story the bereaved father looked with pity upon the criminals and said, “Not only do I forgive you, I want to adopt you into my family, and I want you to inherit the riches that would have been my son’s. You say, “Preacher I can't stand the thought of that. That's unbelievable that anyone would respond in that way.” and I would say, “Yes, wouldn't it be amazing? It would. And that's why we refer to it as “amazing grace.” 

 

Friend, we are those criminals. Do you not see that? It was your sin and my sin for which Christ was nailed to the cross, not for any guilt of his own. God in love looked down at his only beloved there. God could have sought vengeance upon us. He certainly could have executed justice or stopped short at mercy, but he went all the way, and he would adopt us into his family. Are you a part of God's forever family? Friend, if you're not, you may be this very day. How do you get into his family? You’re saved by grace.

 

Now, number two. Not only are we saved by grace, but, number two, we’re saved through faith. When you read your Bible, I think you know this now, but let me just say it, every word in the Bible matters. Every word. You can't even change the prepositions. You can't say you’re saved by faith. You're not saved by faith, you’re saved by grace, but you’re saved through faith. 

 

Now, let's explore this just for a moment. Because God has been gracious in giving his son, you might be tempted to think that everybody's going to be saved. We’re saved by grace, and that's God's action in Christ on our behalf. He died for the sins of the whole world, 1 John 2:2 says. Well, if he died for everyone, and grace is available to everyone, then won’t everyone be saved? There are those who hold that position. It's called “universalism,” that everyone, universally, will be saved. Many of them will even say it’s because of Christ and his death on the cross that redeems everybody regardless of their response. But friend, I'll just say in response to that, and I don't have time to address it fully, I’ll just say they didn't get that idea from the Bible. The Bible teaches that there are two destinies, heaven and hell, and there are people who will spend eternity in heaven or in hell. So no, not everyone is saved, even by the grace of God, because you see, there is a response that is required of us, and faith is a response to God's grace. Now, if you would look there again at verse 8, “For by grace you have been saved [and we’re emphasizing those two words in bold] through faith.” Grace precedes faith, and that's very important, folks. Listen. Sometimes you’ll hear people say, “Oh, it doesn't matter what you believe, just believe.” It's as though if you had faith, regardless of in whom you put your faith or in what you put your faith, just believe, and you will be saved. You can believe in Muhammad, you can believe in Confucius, you can believe in naturalism and you can believe in pantheism and worship the trees and the rocks and the lakes, it doesn't matter what you believe; just believe. We’re saved by faith. No, friends, we're not saved by faith; we’re saved by grace, the act of God in Christ, but it comes to us through faith. That's the means by which we make it our own.

 

God alone saves, and it is through faith that that salvation comes to us. Our faith, I'll say it this way, our faith has a focus, and that focus is Christ. Remember last week when we were talking about sola fide, only by faith are you saved, and we were talking about the story of the Philippian jailer who was terrified that he might die. An earthquake had shaken the prison where he was responsible for the prisoners, and in his terror he asked this point-blank question, “What must I do to be saved?” And the answer was as clear as a bell, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Notice the answer was not, “Believe and you will be saved.” No, that would be to truncate the answer. It would be to omit the central part. It is not “Believe and you will be saved.” It is “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Take out Christ, take out his grace, his atoning death on the cross, and we will all be lost. It is grace that saves us through faith. Faith is our response to God's grace. I think of it this way, and perhaps this will be helpful to you. I think of grace as God reaching down from heaven to save a drowning world, drowning in our sins, and grace is him extending his hand to save us. I view faith as the response. Faith would be us looking heavenward and extending our hand to take the hand of grace. Here's the thing, folks, listen. When God's hand of grace is clasped by your hand of faith, salvation comes to you. His hand is extended. The only question that remains is, “Have you responded? Have you taken hold of that grace?” And you do so by faith, by entrusting yourself to him who died for your sins. That's how we get saved, by grace through faith. 


Faith is a response, and second here, faith is a requirement. You must believe. When I say sola gratia, only grace, some might misunderstand and think we're saying you don't even have to believe. Sola gratia, only grace, that's all that's needed. No, it's “only grace” in a special sense. When the reformers like Martin Luther used that term, they were referring to salvation coming to us by grace apart from works. Would you look at these verses again? Look with me. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast

 

It's in that sense that it’s sola gratia. It's not God’s grace plus your good works. You know, there are a lot of people who think that God admits people or rejects people into heaven on this basis. Watch. They think that God has this big scale in heaven, and on one side God's going to stack up the bad things you've done, the lies you’ve told, the lust you’ve felt, the immorality of your life, the dishonesty and the pride and the prejudice. He's going to stack all that up on one side. Then, bless your heart, he's going to come over here and he's going to stack up the good things you've done, and it's going to teeter. If you've done more good than bad, whew! You made it in. But if you did more bad than good, uh-oh, you’re lost. That's how most of the world thinks. The problem is, that is not what the Bible teaches. Sola scriptura teaches that it’s sola gratia, only grace through faith. We're not saved by our works. You see, if you were saved by the good things that that you did, when you get to heaven you be like this. You’d put your thumbs under your suspenders and you’d be like, “Hey, Lord. Good to see you. I got here because of the good things I did. You know, I was a good guy. I was faithful to my wife. I gave money. I was sweet to the little old lady down the street. I never robbed a bank. I'm good.” 

 

When we get to heaven, nobody's going to have their thumbs under their suspenders. You know what we're going to do? We're going to fall on our faces, and we're going to say, “God, how could you save a wretch like me? How great you are. How gracious you are that you would forgive me and save me.” It's all of grace, but it does require faith.  

 

Let me give you an illustration. I hope this will help. Can you see what this is? I got this in the mail this week from some sweet church members. They sent me this as a gift. It's a gift card for $200 to Fleming's Steakhouse. I’ll get a filet mignon with that. They sent this to me. It wasn't my birthday. It wasn't my wife's and my anniversary. I had not mowed their yard. Just out of love, they sent this to us. Do you know what you call that? Grace. You see, I have something that's valuable here and I didn't pay one red cent for it. It's grace. But is my belly full? And do you know why my belly isn't full? It’s because I have to redeem this. The way it gets redeemed is through faith. You see, I have to believe that this is not a gimmick that this is not a fake gift card. I have to believe that it’s real. I have to believe that the magnetic strip on the back is still good. I have to believe that they haven't already spent the $200 and just sent it to me as a gag. A curse upon them if they did that! No, I know, I know. I believe this is real, and as soon as my wife and I can carve out the time, we're going to go redeem this. We're going to sit down. I think I'm going to get a filet mignon. Could I get an “Amen”? Wrapped in bacon! With a baked potato, lots of butter, lots of sour cream – and no scallions. And I'm going to eat that. My wife, she’s going to get whatever she wants. In fact, I think we may even take a couple with us. Haven't chosen who it is yet; we've got $200! And I'm going to eat that meal, and they're going to bring a bill. You know what I'm going to do when they bring that bill? I'm going to slap that card down on that bill – paid in full by the merits of another!  Now, what's the point? This is grace, but I must exercise faith. I must possess it. I must make it mine, and I have to exert faith to do so. Christ offers you something much more than a gift card to Fleming's Steakhouse. In fact, I would just say pitiful in comparison. Pitiful in comparison. 

 

He offers us eternal life, and you don't pay a red cent for it. But somebody paid for it, and he didn't spend his money to do it; he did it with his blood. We were not redeemed with things such as silver and gold, but with the blood of Christ as of the spotless lamb of God. We’re saved by grace through faith. Faith is often expressed just through prayer. “Lord, I know I'm a sinner. Lord, I call on you to forgive me. I believe Christ died on the cross for me.” We make that profession through prayer and we acknowledge it and we receive by faith the gift he offers. 

 

That brings me to the last point. Sola gratia, only Grace? There are going to be a couple of people that protest what I'm preaching, and here's the way the protest goes; I know how this goes. There's going to be one group, and I'll call them legalists. They're going to say, “You mean I can be saved just by the grace of God, by putting my faith in him? You mean I don't have to do good works to save myself? That's too easy. No, no, no, they say.” They reject it. They say it's faith and works that redeem. That's the legalist. And there's another category over here, and they're going to say, “Oh, I'm saved by grace through faith and I don't have to do good works? Awesome! I'll walk an aisle, I'll pray a prayer, and then I'll just live like the devil until I get to heaven, and then I'm in by the grace of God.” That's wrong too. It’s the legalist and it’s the lawless. I'm going to do what I want.

 

How would the Bible answer the legalist and the lawless? He does it perfectly, right here in this text. Now, look at verse 10, “We're saved by grace through faith for good works.” We’re saved for works. Folks, look up here. Remember I told you every word in the Bible matters, every word? It’s not just big words like “grace, faith, works.” Those are big, momentous, weighty words. Even the little words matter – “by, through, for.” They're called prepositions. Little bitty words, but they matter. You can't switch them and have the truth. Like you can't say, “I'm saved by works unto faith or unto grace. No, you can't invert them. They are just as God gave them. So while I'm not saved by good works, I am saved for good works. 

 

Two things about this I want to stress: Number one, God works in us. I love this. This is so good! The Bible calls us his workmanship. You know, we've got some guys in our church who are craftsman. I can think of a couple of guys who do woodworking. They do some pretty exquisite work; I’ve got some of their crafts in my home. I think of some painters that we have in our church, great artists, and you know some of them. Well, did you know, we are God's work of art? The word here “workmanship” is the word poiema in Greek, and from it we get our English word “poem.” Listen, friend, listen. You are God's poem. They used it back in those days for a work of art. It could be a piece of poetry. It could be a song. It could be a painting. It could be a sculpture. We are God's – I put it to you this way – we are God's masterpiece. You’re not unimportant. You’re not without value. You’re not without gifts and talents. No, you’re the creation of God. And could I just say, we’re twice over the creation of God. I was his by virtue of creation, and now I'm his by virtue of salvation. I was a creation of God; he knit me together in my mother's womb, but I'm a new creation by means of salvation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “If any man, boy, woman or girl is in Christ, he or she is a new creation. Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” I've been made new in Christ. I am his creation and I am his re-creation. You’re God's masterpiece. You're his poem. You’re his painting. You’re his sculpture. 

 

This isn’t so that we can look in the mirror and admire ourselves.  Wow, aren't I amazing! I am God's masterpiece; I'm God's workmanship! No. Notice we’re created in Christ Jesus unto, or for, good works. You were created for a purpose. You were created with a plan in mind. Listen, I've been living out the plan of God in my life for many decades now, and the journey following Christ is tremendous. Oh, the things God has done. And my task in life is to listen for the voice of God and follow the Spirit’s leading, and it's your job as well. He wants to use you to change this world. 

 

I want to stress to you an opportunity coming next Sunday night. Folks, I know we normally only come here on Sunday mornings, but look at me and listen to me please, okay? I don't often ask you guys to go over and above, but I'm asking you to do it this coming Sunday. Come back to church Sunday night. Let's just repeat that together. Come back to church Sunday night. All right? 6 PM. Here's why. You're going to be equipped to do the good work of being an ambassador of the King. That's we’re made new creations. 2 Corinthians 5:17 is followed by 2 Corinthians 5:20: “We are ambassadors of Christ, and we’re making an appeal that you'll be reconciled to God.” And God wants to use you to help this world come to Christ, to know the grace of God through faith. 


I'm going to tell you one last story. There's a great preacher, and I'm going to recommend him to you. He's a black preacher. His name is H. B. Charles, Jr., and if you like good preaching, look him up on YouTube. He told a story about a lady who was heartbroken. The reason she was heartbroken was she had received an heirloom from her grandmother. It may have even been passed down from a previous generation, but what it was was very simple. It was a handkerchief, and it had been passed down to her. It was a keepsake and she treasured it. But one day, she spilled a bottle of ink and stained that handkerchief. She was really sad and she was talking to a friend of hers telling what had happened. The friend said, “Send me the handkerchief.” It happens that her friend was an artist. He got the handkerchief, and he didn't tell her what he was going to do. He got the handkerchief, and using the stain of the ink as the starting point, he painted onto the face of that napkin a beautiful image. He made it a work of art. Now, H. B. didn't say what the work of art was, but I'd like to think it was the face of her grandmother. There was a face on the face of that napkin, and what was a mess became a masterpiece. She treasured that now that the stain, the mess, had become a masterpiece.

 

Why do I tell that story? You know why? You and I are like that handkerchief. The bottle of ink has been spilled on us by our sin and our disobedience, our trespasses. We look up, despairing because of the stain, and God in grace looks down and he actually takes those stains and he covers them, and he makes a masterpiece out of our mess. And the name of that is grace. Amazing grace.

 

Would you stand? Let’s sing together. 

Direct download: IBC_20200119.mp3
Category:Solas -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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Istrouma en Español

Solas

“Sola Fide”

Hechos 16:25-34

 

 

  1. El contexto de la pregunta más importante de la vida.

 

“Alrededor de la medianoche, Pablo y Silas estaban orando y cantando himnos a Dios, y los demás prisioneros escuchaban.” (Hechos 16:25).

 

  1. Prisión injusta
  2. Adoración inquebrantable

 

  1. La conversación sobre la pregunta más importante de la vida.

 

“Después los sacó y les preguntó: —Señores, ¿qué debo hacer para ser salvo?

31 Ellos le contestaron: —Cree en el Señor Jesús y serás salvo, junto con todos los de tu casa.” (Hechos 16: 30-31)

 

  1. Pregunta ansiosa
  2. Respuesta acertada

 

  1. El cambio después de la pregunta más importante de la vida.

 

“Aun a esa hora de la noche, el carcelero los atendió y les lavó las heridas. Enseguida ellos lo bautizaron a él y a todos los de su casa. 34 El carcelero los llevó adentro de su casa y les dio de comer, y tanto él como los de su casa se alegraron porque todos habían creído en Dios.” (Hechos 16: 33-34).

 

  1. Producido por la fe
  2. Probado por los frutos

 

 

 

Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20200112.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

What would you say is life’s most important question? 

 

Someone might say that life’s most important question is, “Does God exist?”  That’s certainly important.  Another might suggest, “How did the world come into being?” Still another might get a tad more personal and ask, “How did mankind come to be?”  One immediately pressing question is, “Will LSU defeat Clemson on Monday night for the national championship?”  O.k., so maybe that one doesn’t make the cut.

 

The interesting thing is this: the Bible (and the Bible alone—sola scriptura) answers all of these questions.  Does God exist?  Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God.”  Yes he exists.  How did the world come into being? Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” How did mankind—you and I—come to be?  Genesis 1:2, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  Isn’t that great?  God’s word alone answers the deepest questions of our existence.

 

But there is another question that is, arguably, life’s most important question. It is this: “What must I do to be saved?”  It is imminently personal and the stakes could not be higher. If there is a God (and we believe that there is), and, if there is an eternity awaiting (and we believe that there is), how can I gain that eternal life?

 

Jesus said that this is a supremely important issue.  He said, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” In other words, if you could gain the whole world—all its riches and all its pleasures, yet you lost your own soul, what have you gained?  Nothing. All the world pales in comparison to your soul.  You must know the answer to this question: “What must I do to be saved?”

 

Here’s the good news: God’s word gives us the answer to that question as well.  Our aim this Sunday is to answer that question for everyone so that we can have eternal life and abundant life.

 

Solas

“Sola Fide”

Acts 16:25-34

 

  1. The context of life’s most important question

 

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them (Acts 16:25)

 

  1. Undeserved prison

 

  1. Undeterred praise

 

  1. The conversation about life’s most important question

 

Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:30-31).

 

  1. Anxious question

 

  1. Answered question

 

  1. The change after life’s most important question

 

And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God (Acts 16:33-34).

 

  1. Produced by faith

 

  1. Proven by fruit

 

[BEGIN TRANSCRIPT]

Turn in your Bibles to Acts 16:25-34 to discover this.  Would you stand in honor of God’s word as it is read:

Acts 16:25-34

25 About midnight Paul and Silas [Now, I would interject, if you don’t know those names, Paul and Silas were early church leaders, and more particularly, they were missionaries taking the gospel where it had never been known. So, Paul and Silas] were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them [Again, I’ll interject, yes, they were in jail, and I'll tell you how they ended up there in just a moment, but Paul and Silas are in jail. They’re singing praises to God; the prisoners are listening to them. Now, verse 26], 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” [Now, again, I am suggesting, that that is life's most important question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Now here comes the answer, verse 31] 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

 

Let's pray.

 

[Prayer]

 

Please be seated. 

 

As a church, we are celebrating 100 years of shared life. As an element of that celebration, we're revisiting some of the bedrock principles upon which this church is founded, and it's in a sermon series called “Solas.” Now that is a Latin word. Really, it's an anglicized version of it, and the word sola means “only.” There are some solas in the life of the Christian church that stand preeminently. We looked last week at the first of them, sola scriptura. Today, we're going to learn about sola fide. Sola scriptura, only scripture, is our guide to faith and practice. And now today, sola fide, only faith, brings salvation; faith in Christ. Sola scriptura teaches that sola fide is the only way to be saved. These two principles, Sola scriptura and sola fide, are intimately related to one another, and I want to demonstrate this by reminding you of the text we looked at last week, 2 Timothy 3:16 and 17. You'll remember this:

All Scripture is breathed out by God [inspired by God] and [is] profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God [the people of God, if I could extend it in that way, that all of us] may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 

 

This was our passage last week, and it establishes the principle of sola scriptura. Now, I want you to see the verse that immediately precedes these two. Look at verse 15. Notice that it teaches that sola scriptura leads to sola fide. It says, verse 15, Paul speaking to Timothy, his young protégé, he says: 

[Timothy], from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings [sola scriptura, the sacred writings, and notice what they have done. He says, so, the sacred writings] are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  

 

Do you follow that? There it is in verse 15, sola scriptura; sola fide. You have known the sacred writings; that is, God's word, and they have led you to have faith, sola fide, in Jesus for salvation. So, there are the two principles related closely to one another. Salvation comes to us through faith in Christ Jesus. That's the answer to life's most important question. No passage makes this any clearer than Acts chapter 16 where we find ourselves this morning.


I want us to consider life’s most important question in three steps. Number one, we're going to look at the context in which life's most important question was asked. Secondly, we're going to listen in on the conversation where life's most important question was asked and answered. And then, finally, I want to show you the change that knowing the right answer to life's most important question brings, the change in life that it brings. 

 

All right, so let's go back to the first of these points, the first step. I want you to see the context in which this question was first posed. Here in Acts 16, Paul and a group of his coworkers are on a missionary journey. Things are going well. People are saving saved. They’re following the Lord in believer's baptism. A church is being planted there in Europe for the very first time. Paul and his team are experiencing the joy of seeing God at work. There's one particular life to which I want to allude that plays into our passage this morning. It's the story of a little girl. I call her little; she was probably a teenager. This girl had an unusual power. This girl could tell foretell the future, and the Bible explains how it is that she could foretell the future. She was actually possessed by a demon, and by virtue of this supernatural power, she could foretell the future. 

 

Paul and his partners met up with this young girl. I won't tell the whole of the story, but I'll just say this. By the power of the gospel, this young girl was set free. I mean that in two senses. First of all, she was a slave to masters who were using her for their own profit. You see, people would pay to have their fortune told, and the slave masters had this girl in captivity, and were using her for their own profit. Again, I say that. This leads me to say a couple of things by way of lagniappe. First of all, fortune-telling is not just a thing of the ancient past. I could wish that it were so, but there still are fortune tellers in our day. I think most of these are just flat-out charlatans. They're just putting on a charade, a show. Perhaps some are demon-possessed, and they may have some capacity given them by spiritual forces.

 

I actually went on the web out of curiosity, and typed into a Google search engine “Fortune tellers, Baton Rouge.” I was curious to know, are there fortune tellers in our city today? What do you think the answer to that is? One of the responses was, “The 30 best fortune tellers in Baton Rouge.”  I clicked on it. There was a list of fortune tellers in our fair town. It included people who did things like fortune-telling, tarot card reading. There were mediums, self-identified. Some could cast spells including love spells, etc. No, this is not just something that's from ancient history. Even in our own day, there are people who dabble into these things. So it gives me a good opportunity to let you know what God thinks of these things. I want to read from the Bible, Deuteronomy 18 beginning in verse 10: 

There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer [that is, one who calls up the dead to speak with them] or one who inquires of the dead, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. . . .

 

This is from the Bible. Folks, we ought to have nothing to do with these works of darkness. Even something as what seems to be innocuous as horoscopes. I think it's terrible that papers will often include horoscopes. Worse yet, they put them next to the comics in the newspaper. It doesn't belong there, and I would encourage you not to read that. Astrology; anything of the sort, God says that is all an abomination. The work of the gospel is to set people free from these things. God doesn't want us to consult with the dead or with spiritists or with mediums. No, He has given us his word, sola scriptura. He has given us his indwelling Holy Spirit to illumine our minds to understand the things that are in the word of God. I don't need a fortune teller. I don't need a necromancer. I have all that I need, sola scriptura, to be a guide by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who illumines these truths to our lives. Now, I told you, that's just lagniappe. I just gave you that for extra.

 

I'm also reminded to say this: This poor young girl was a slave to her masters. It's very evident to me they didn't care one whit about that little girl. They only used her for their own purposes. You know, you hear a lot today about sex trafficking, pornography. Could I just remind us all, those who peddle that, who push that, they care nothing for the boys and girls whose lives they wreck. They domineer them and they own them, and anyone who participates in these things supports it. God sees it equally as an abomination. We as God's people ought have nothing to do with it. Instead of abusing people, we ought to love them and want them to be free. It's exactly what the Apostle Paul and his team were doing. They were setting people free by the good news of Jesus, and this little girl among them.

 

Now, you would think, would you not, that everyone is going to be ecstatic that this little girl has been set free. Oh, that it were so. It wasn't so. Her masters see that their means of ill gain is gone, and so they haul up Paul and Silas on false charges. Two things result, and I want to mention them to you. One, undeserved prison time. Undeserved prison. Paul and Silas, if you can imagine this, were cast into prison. It's worth noting, friend, that if we stand for the Lord, we're going to face opposition in this world. Not everyone is going to pat you on the back. Now you may get a fair amount of that; certainly here at church, I trust that you’re encouraged as you follow Christ. We want to do that. But it won't be so with everyone. There will be those who will oppose. I, myself, have faced occasions of great opposition. The Bible says; this is 2 Timothy 3:12, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Jesus was crucified. John was beheaded. Luther, of whom I spoke last week, was excommunicated. Jan Hus, the great Czech reformer, was burned at the stake. William Tyndale, who for the first time translated God's word into English so that all English speakers could hear the word of God in their heart language, he was burned as a heretic. Later he was exhumed and his ashes were sprinkled on the Thames River.

 

You come forward into our own day, I think about those believers in Libya not so long ago that were beheaded by ISIS because they believed in Christ. There will be opposition; there always has been, there always will be. Now it may not be as serious as these cases that I've named. Perhaps not even as serious as Paul and Silas, beaten now and imprisoned in stocks. But perhaps you'll be passed over for a promotion, or perhaps others will belittle you for your faith or some stance that you take on a moral issue, but I want to encourage us all as Paul and Silas did to remain faithful to the Lord despite the opposition that arises. 

 

So, prison is really not a surprise. But do you know what is a surprise? It's that, though they are imprisoned, undeservedly so, there arises their undeterred praise to the Lord. How do they answer the stripes that were put upon their back and their stocks in which they were bound and the prison in which they were jailed? They answered their prison with praise. You know, it's one thing to praise the Lord when the prison doors swing open and the shackles fall from our wrists. But I want you to take note, Paul and Silas were not praising the Lord after they'd been liberated, after their shackles had fallen from them. No, they are praising the Lord in the midst of their suffering, unjust though it was. No wonder, then, the Bible says that the prisoners heard them. Don't you know the prisoners heard them? Don't you know the jailer himself heard them? They were listening to them. Of course they were, because there is power in our praise, particularly when it’s in the face of hardship and difficulty. I know I'm preaching to many of you who, even today, sang songs of praise to the Lord in the midst of your trial. I want to say God is honored by that. Your witness is never more powerful than when you gladly praise Him in the midst of your trial, and Paul and Silas did. So, that is the context in which life’s most important question arose.

 

Now, secondly, I want to take you to the actual conversation in which life's most important question is both asked and answered. First, let's look at the asking of this question. The jailer discovers that Paul and Silas have been set free. They are singing, and someone said that as they sang, God took such pleasure in their song that God was tapping his foot along with the beat of their song, and it caused the earthquake. That's a little bit fanciful, but I like it, still. God sent an earthquake to that jail. The jailhouse rocked, for all of you 1950s folks. As the jailhouse rocked, the prison doors swung open. The shackles fell from their hands and their feet, if, in fact, they were shackled at both of those extremities. The shackles fell, and the jailer, realizing that the prison doors have swung open and that the prisoners have been set free, presumes that they've all escaped. You have to know that in that day, if you were the jailer, and your prisoners escaped, you would be executed for having failed at your duty. He sees this, is terrorized by it, and he draws his sword and intends to kill himself. 

 

Here's another point where I want to interject a thought. It's never right to take your own life; it's never right to take your own life. He's going to commit suicide. I may be speaking to someone this morning who is contemplating ending your own life. Maybe you're in a valley, a deep, deep valley, and it seems there's no escape from it. Could I just encourage you that suicide is never the answer? Paul and Silas, to their credit, step in and they tell the man, “Don't harm yourself. We’re all here.” Now, let's be frank. Here's the jailer who has put them into the deepest part of the prison. Perhaps he's even taken some joy in shackling them and in seeing their wounds from the beating that they took. You couldn't blame Paul and Silas if they just stood aside as the jailer killed himself, but motivated by Christ's love, they intervene and they say, “Don't harm yourself.” I'm reminded to challenge all of us, if you know of someone who is wrestling with deep depression, intervene. Speak to them. We have a counseling ministry here at Istrouma, and we can get help. There is help, and there is hope in Christ. Paul and Silas say, “Do yourself no harm.”

 

Upon their kindness, this jailer runs in before Paul and Silas and the Bible says that he falls down at their feet. You see, he's been impacted by what he's observed. He has seen Paul and Silas singing praises to God. He's heard that song. He's personally experienced their mercy when they defend him who once oppressed them. Paul and Silas could easily have escaped, but they haven't. They’re remaining there. So, impacted by what he has heard and seen, he asks life's most important question. It’s in verse 30:

Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

 

Now, some might suggest that this question is related to the temporal crisis. He knows that the prisoners might escape, that the wrath of Rome is going to fall upon him; he's going to be executed, so he's asking, “Sirs, how can I escape my impending doom?” But I don't believe that's the real heart of his question, because the prisoners have not escaped. They’ve remained. His life has been spared. There is hope temporally. No, I believe he is asking an eternal question, “What must I do to be saved from my sins? What must I do to inherit eternal life?” I believe that's the heart of his question. And I love this question. I see in it his humility. He doesn't think he has all the answers, and I tell you, that's a healthy thing. Maybe you've come in today quite confident in yourself, presuming that you have all of the answers both to life and eternity. But have you ever come in humility to ask this simple question, “What must I do to be forgiven; what must I do to be saved? I want to be instructed. I want to be taught. I want God's answer to life's most important question.” I see his humility. I see his hunger. He rushes in. He falls at their feet. He is desperate. I don't know that anyone comes to salvation apart from desperation, hunger, and humility. This man has all of those traits, and for that reason, he asks life's most important question, “What must I do to be saved?”

 

Not only is the question asked, the question is answered. For all time, we know the answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” Point-blank question; point-blank answer. What must I do to be saved? What must you do to be saved? What must all humans do if they are to be saved? The apostle’s answer: “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”

 

I want us to think about that answer just for a moment. I want us to think of what the answer was not. What must I do to be saved? Notice that he did not say, “Join the church and you will be saved.” There are a lot of people that think that. They think, “Well if I'm going to go to heaven, I've got to be a member of some church or some faith. If I have my name on a church roll somewhere, then I'm good.” No. Joining a church of any stripe does not save you. It's not the answer to the question. He did not say, “Get baptized and you will be saved.” There's nothing wrong with getting baptized. In fact, he's about to get baptized. There's nothing wrong with joining a church. He's going to become a part, I believe, of the Philippian church that started with Lydia, was joined by the slave girl who was now set free. He's going to be, I'll just say, the third member of the church at Philippi. Nothing wrong with these good deeds, but it's not by good deeds that you are saved. Good deeds are the fruit of salvation in you, not the root of it, not the source of it. How do you get saved? Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved.

 

This answer is in harmony with the rest of the Bible. Listen to John 1:12:

But to all who did receive him [that is, speaking of the incarnate Christ], who believed [there it is, who believed] in his name [What is it to receive Christ? It’s to believe in him...to all who did receive him, who believed in his name], he gave the right to become [the] children of God.

 

How do you become a child of God? How do you get saved? How do you have your sins washed away? How do you go to heaven? You believe in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. You trust in him. You receive him. 

 

John 3:16, the most famous verse in all of the Bible:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. 

 

How do you get everlasting life? How do you get saved? Believe on the Lord Jesus. 

 

Romans 1:16:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God [unto] salvation to everyone who believes...

 

Eph. 2:8-9:

For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast

 

The way to be saved is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. There are basically two systems that are put forward as answers to this question. One is faith alone, sola fide, our theme for today. The other is that you’re saved by faith and works. They often will cite, those who hold the latter position, they’ll cite James 2:24. There the Bible says:

...a person is justified by works and not by faith alone

 

So now, we’re in a quandary. Are we saved by faith alone apart from works, or are we saved by faith and works? That's a pivotal question, and we must know the answer to it. I believe that the Bible is clear that salvation comes by faith alone. How then is it that James can say that you’re saved not by faith alone but also by the works that you do? How can we reconcile these two passages of scripture?

 

James, if you read the broader text there, is talking about the faith that saves. He says, “Show me your faith without works, and I'll show you my faith by my works.” James knew well that faith alone saves, but faith that saves is never alone. I'll say it again. Faith alone saves, but faith that saves is never alone, and that our works show the reality of our faith. If you have no works to demonstrate your faith, then what kind of faith do you have? James says that you have a dead faith, and he asks, “Can that faith save?” I'll answer the question, No, that faith can't save. Someone can say, “Oh, I believe in Jesus,” but they never go to church, they never follow the Lord in believer’s baptism, they have no heart for generosity, they curse, they swear, they sleep around, they rebel and break God's law. There's no fruit. There's no demonstration of a real faith. Can that type of faith, just verbal in nature, save? No it cannot. It has to be a genuine and real faith that is demonstrated in the life that ensues.

 

That brings me, then, to the last point, and that is the change that comes to the life that answers rightly life’s most important question, when the person knows the answer, and I'll put a capital “A” on it, the Answer to life's most important question. The Answer to life's most important question is a person, the Lord Jesus, and when you put your faith and trust in him and his atoning death on the cross, you are saved. 

 

Now listen, it brings change. Would you look in your Bible again, now, to verse 33?

And he [that is, the jailer] took them [Paul and Silas] the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God

 

What a tremendous paragraph that is! You see, the change in his life was produced by faith. He embraced the gospel proclaimed to him, and the change was produced by that faith. Now, that faith is proven by the fruit of good deeds. You see his baptism. Listen; if you’ve given your life to Christ, and you've come to saving faith, you ought to follow the Lord in believer's baptism. I'm probably talking to some folks in here that have not yet let your faith be made known through baptism subsequent to your salvation. I just want to challenge you to take that step of faith and demonstrate by it that you’ve put your trust in Christ. I may be speaking to some who’ve not yet committed to fellowship in a local church. We want to challenge you to not only believe but belong. Commit yourself to membership and service in a local church. I note this man's generosity. He set food before them. I note his joy; he is rejoicing now. He went from desperation and suicidal thoughts to great joy, and what made the difference? It was Christ in him that made the difference. 

 

Have you been changed? Is your life radically different because Christ indwells you? If not, this very morning I'm going to challenge you to give your life to Christ. 

 

I'm going to tell you one last story. I’m going to put on the screen a picture of a fellow whose name is John Harper. Some of you may know his name. John Harper was born into a Christian family May 29, 1872 in Scotland. He became a Christian 13 years later and had already started preaching by age 17. He received training at the Baptist Pioneer Mission in London, and in 1896 he founded a church, now known as Harper Memorial Church in Glasgow, which began with 25 worshipers but had grown to 500 members by the time he left 13 years later. 

 

In 1912 Harper, the newly-called pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, was traveling on the Titanic with his 6-year-old daughter. After the ship struck an iceberg and began to sink, he got Nana into a lifeboat but apparently made no effort to follow her. Instead, he ran through the ship yelling, "Women, children, and unsaved into the lifeboats!" Survivors report that he then began witnessing to anyone who would listen. He continued preaching even after he had jumped into the water and was clinging to a piece of wreckage (he'd already given his lifejacket to another man).

 

Harper's final moments were recounted four years later at a meeting in Hamilton, Ontario, by a man who said “I am a survivor of the Titanic. When I was drifting alone on a spar that awful night, the tide brought Mr. Harper of Glasgow, also on a piece of wreck, near me. ‘Man,’ he said, ‘Are you saved?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I am not.’ He replied, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.’

 

“The waves bore him away, but, strange to say, brought him back a little later, and he said, ‘Are you saved now?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I cannot honestly say that I am.’ He said again, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,’ [quoting the very verse I preached to you today]. Shortly after, he went down; and there, alone in the night, and with two miles of water under me, I believed. I am John Harper's last convert.”

 

He was also one of only six people picked out the water by the lifeboats; the other 1,522, including Harper, were left to die.

 

You know, it's interesting. There were only two kinds of people after the Titanic sank – those who were saved, and those who were lost. There were no other kind of passengers aboard the Titanic; those who were saved, and those who were lost. Could I just say on the ship of earth on which we sail, there are only two kinds of people – those who are saved, and those who are lost. That's why I say life's most important question is this: “What must I do to be saved?” Friend, the gospel message is this, believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.

 

You say, “Man, is that all?” Yes, that’s all. That is all, because once you believe, it transforms life. I want to challenge you this morning to believe on the Lord Jesus.

 

Let’s stand. 

 

[Invitation]

 

[Prayer] 

 

 

 

Direct download: IBC_20200112.mp3
Category:Solas -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

“Sola Fide”

Sermon Series: Solas

Acts 16:24-34

Istrouma Baptist Church – Jeff Ginn, Lead Pastor

AM Sermon January 12, 2020

 

 

 

Outline:

 

  1. The context of life’s most important question

 

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them (Acts 16:25)

 

  1.    Undeserved prison

 

  1. Undeterred praise

   

           

  1. The conversation about life’s most important question

 

Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:30-31).

 

  1. Question asked

 

  1.    Question answered

       

 

  1. The change after life’s most important question

 

And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God (Acts 16:33-34).

           

  1. Produced by faith

 

  1. Proved by fruit

 

 

 

 

 

What would you say is life’s most important question? 

 

Someone might say that life’s most important question is, “Does God exist?”  That’s certainly important. 

 

Another might suggest, “How did the world come into being?”

 

Still another might get a tad more personal and ask, “How did mankind come to be?” 

 

One immediately pressing question is, “Will LSU defeat Clemson on Monday night for the national championship?”  O.k., so maybe that one doesn’t make the cut.

 

The interesting thing is that the Bible (and the Bible alone—sola scriptura) answers all of these questions. 

 

Does God exist?  Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God.”  Yes, he exists. 

 

How did the world come into being? Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

 

How did mankind—you and I—come to be?  Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” 

 

From the Bible, we get the answer to all of life’s most important questions.

 

But I want to make the case this morning that there is another question that is, arguably, life’s most important question. It is this: “What must I do to be saved?”  It is imminently personal, and the stakes could not be higher. If there is a God (and we believe that there is), and, if there is an eternity awaiting all of us (and we believe that there is), how can I gain that eternal life?

 

Jesus taught that this is a supremely important issue.  He said, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” In other words, if you could gain the whole world—all its riches and all its pleasures, yet you lost your own soul, what have you gained? Nothing. All the world pales in comparison to your soul.  Therefore, you and I must know the answer to this question: “What must I do to be saved?”

 

Here’s the good news: God’s word gives us the answer to that question as well.  Our aim this Sunday is to answer that question for everyone so that we can have both eternal life and abundant life.

 

Turn in your Bibles to Acts 16:25-34 to discover this.  Would you stand in honor of God’s word as it is read:

Acts 16:25-34

25 About midnight Paul and Silas [Now, I would interject, if you don’t know those names, Paul and Silas were early church leaders, and more particularly, they were missionaries taking the gospel where it had never been known. So, Paul and Silas] were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them [Again, I’ll interject, yes, they were in jail, and I'll tell you how they ended up there in just a moment, but Paul and Silas are in jail. They’re singing praises to God; the prisoners are listening to them. Now, verse 26], 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” [Now, again, I am suggesting, that that is life's most important question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Now here comes the answer, verse 31] 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

 

Let's pray.

 

[Prayer]

 

Please be seated. 

 

As a church, we are celebrating 100 years of shared life. As an element of that celebration, we're revisiting some of the bedrock principles upon which this church is founded, and it's in a sermon series called “Solas.” Now that is a Latin word. Really, it's an anglicized version of it, and the word sola means “only.” There are some solas in the life of the Christian church that stand preeminently. We looked last week at the first of them, sola scriptura. Today, we're going to learn about sola fide. Sola scriptura, only scripture, is our guide to faith and practice. And now today, sola fide, only faith, brings salvation; faith in Christ. Sola scriptura teaches that sola fide is the only way to be saved. These two principles, Sola scriptura and sola fide, are intimately related to one another, and I want to demonstrate this by reminding you of the text we looked at last week, 2 Timothy 3:16 and 17. You'll remember this:

All Scripture is breathed out by God [inspired by God] and [is] profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God [the people of God, if I could extend it in that way, that all of us] may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 

 

This was our passage last week, and it establishes the principle of sola scriptura. Now, I want you to see the verse that immediately precedes these two. Look at verse 15. Notice that it teaches that sola scriptura leads to sola fide. It says, verse 15, Paul speaking to Timothy, his young protégé, he says: 

[Timothy], from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings [sola scriptura, the sacred writings, and notice what they have done. He says, so, the sacred writings] are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  

 

Do you follow that? There it is in verse 15, sola scriptura; sola fide. You have known the sacred writings; that is, God's word, and they have led you to have faith, sola fide, in Jesus for salvation. So, there are the two principles related closely to one another. Salvation comes to us through faith in Christ Jesus. That's the answer to life's most important question. No passage makes this any clearer than Acts chapter 16 where we find ourselves this morning.


I want us to consider life’s most important question in three steps. Number one, we're going to look at the context in which life's most important question was asked. Secondly, we're going to listen in on the conversation where life's most important question was asked and answered. And then, finally, I want to show you the change that knowing the right answer to life's most important question brings, the change in life that it brings. 

 

All right, so let's go back to the first of these points, the first step. I want you to see the context in which this question was first posed. Here in Acts 16, Paul and a group of his coworkers are on a missionary journey. Things are going well. People are saving saved. They’re following the Lord in believer's baptism. A church is being planted there in Europe for the very first time. Paul and his team are experiencing the joy of seeing God at work. There's one particular life to which I want to allude that plays into our passage this morning. It's the story of a little girl. I call her little; she was probably a teenager. This girl had an unusual power. This girl could tell foretell the future, and the Bible explains how it is that she could foretell the future. She was actually possessed by a demon, and by virtue of this supernatural power, she could foretell the future. 

 

Paul and his partners met up with this young girl. I won't tell the whole of the story, but I'll just say this. By the power of the gospel, this young girl was set free. I mean that in two senses. First of all, she was a slave to masters who were using her for their own profit. You see, people would pay to have their fortune told, and the slave masters had this girl in captivity, and were using her for their own profit. Again, I say that. This leads me to say a couple of things by way of lagniappe. First of all, fortune-telling is not just a thing of the ancient past. I could wish that it were so, but there still are fortune tellers in our day. I think most of these are just flat-out charlatans. They're just putting on a charade, a show. Perhaps some are demon-possessed, and they may have some capacity given them by spiritual forces.

 

I actually went on the web out of curiosity, and typed into a Google search engine “Fortune tellers, Baton Rouge.” I was curious to know, are there fortune tellers in our city today? What do you think the answer to that is? One of the responses was, “The 30 best fortune tellers in Baton Rouge.”  I clicked on it. There was a list of fortune tellers in our fair town. It included people who did things like fortune-telling, tarot card reading. There were mediums, self-identified. Some could cast spells including love spells, etc. No, this is not just something that's from ancient history. Even in our own day, there are people who dabble into these things. So it gives me a good opportunity to let you know what God thinks of these things. I want to read from the Bible, Deuteronomy 18 beginning in verse 10: 

There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer [that is, one who calls up the dead to speak with them] or one who inquires of the dead, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. . . .

 

This is from the Bible. Folks, we ought to have nothing to do with these works of darkness. Even something as what seems to be innocuous as horoscopes. I think it's terrible that papers will often include horoscopes. Worse yet, they put them next to the comics in the newspaper. It doesn't belong there, and I would encourage you not to read that. Astrology; anything of the sort, God says that is all an abomination. The work of the gospel is to set people free from these things. God doesn't want us to consult with the dead or with spiritists or with mediums. No, He has given us his word, sola scriptura. He has given us his indwelling Holy Spirit to illumine our minds to understand the things that are in the word of God. I don't need a fortune teller. I don't need a necromancer. I have all that I need, sola scriptura, to be a guide by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who illumines these truths to our lives. Now, I told you, that's just lagniappe. I just gave you that for extra.

 

I'm also reminded to say this: This poor young girl was a slave to her masters. It's very evident to me they didn't care one whit about that little girl. They only used her for their own purposes. You know, you hear a lot today about sex trafficking, pornography. Could I just remind us all, those who peddle that, who push that, they care nothing for the boys and girls whose lives they wreck. They domineer them and they own them, and anyone who participates in these things supports it. God sees it equally as an abomination. We as God's people ought have nothing to do with it. Instead of abusing people, we ought to love them and want them to be free. It's exactly what the Apostle Paul and his team were doing. They were setting people free by the good news of Jesus, and this little girl among them.

 

Now, you would think, would you not, that everyone is going to be ecstatic that this little girl has been set free. Oh, that it were so. It wasn't so. Her masters see that their means of ill gain is gone, and so they haul up Paul and Silas on false charges. Two things result, and I want to mention them to you. One, undeserved prison time. Undeserved prison. Paul and Silas, if you can imagine this, were cast into prison. It's worth noting, friend, that if we stand for the Lord, we're going to face opposition in this world. Not everyone is going to pat you on the back. Now you may get a fair amount of that; certainly here at church, I trust that you’re encouraged as you follow Christ. We want to do that. But it won't be so with everyone. There will be those who will oppose. I, myself, have faced occasions of great opposition. The Bible says; this is 2 Timothy 3:12, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Jesus was crucified. John was beheaded. Luther, of whom I spoke last week, was excommunicated. Jan Hus, the great Czech reformer, was burned at the stake. William Tyndale, who for the first time translated God's word into English so that all English speakers could hear the word of God in their heart language, he was burned as a heretic. Later he was exhumed and his ashes were sprinkled on the Thames River.

 

You come forward into our own day, I think about those believers in Libya not so long ago that were beheaded by ISIS because they believed in Christ. There will be opposition; there always has been, there always will be. Now it may not be as serious as these cases that I've named. Perhaps not even as serious as Paul and Silas, beaten now and imprisoned in stocks. But perhaps you'll be passed over for a promotion, or perhaps others will belittle you for your faith or some stance that you take on a moral issue, but I want to encourage us all as Paul and Silas did to remain faithful to the Lord despite the opposition that arises. 

 

So, prison is really not a surprise. But do you know what is a surprise? It's that, though they are imprisoned, undeservedly so, there arises their undeterred praise to the Lord. How do they answer the stripes that were put upon their back and their stocks in which they were bound and the prison in which they were jailed? They answered their prison with praise. You know, it's one thing to praise the Lord when the prison doors swing open and the shackles fall from our wrists. But I want you to take note, Paul and Silas were not praising the Lord after they'd been liberated, after their shackles had fallen from them. No, they are praising the Lord in the midst of their suffering, unjust though it was. No wonder, then, the Bible says that the prisoners heard them. Don't you know the prisoners heard them? Don't you know the jailer himself heard them? They were listening to them. Of course they were, because there is power in our praise, particularly when it’s in the face of hardship and difficulty. I know I'm preaching to many of you who, even today, sang songs of praise to the Lord in the midst of your trial. I want to say God is honored by that. Your witness is never more powerful than when you gladly praise Him in the midst of your trial, and Paul and Silas did. So, that is the context in which life’s most important question arose.

 

Now, secondly, I want to take you to the actual conversation in which life's most important question is both asked and answered. First, let's look at the asking of this question. The jailer discovers that Paul and Silas have been set free. They are singing, and someone said that as they sang, God took such pleasure in their song that God was tapping his foot along with the beat of their song, and it caused the earthquake. That's a little bit fanciful, but I like it, still. God sent an earthquake to that jail. The jailhouse rocked, for all of you 1950s folks. As the jailhouse rocked, the prison doors swung open. The shackles fell from their hands and their feet, if, in fact, they were shackled at both of those extremities. The shackles fell, and the jailer, realizing that the prison doors have swung open and that the prisoners have been set free, presumes that they've all escaped. You have to know that in that day, if you were the jailer, and your prisoners escaped, you would be executed for having failed at your duty. He sees this, is terrorized by it, and he draws his sword and intends to kill himself. 

 

Here's another point where I want to interject a thought. It's never right to take your own life; it's never right to take your own life. He's going to commit suicide. I may be speaking to someone this morning who is contemplating ending your own life. Maybe you're in a valley, a deep, deep valley, and it seems there's no escape from it. Could I just encourage you that suicide is never the answer? Paul and Silas, to their credit, step in and they tell the man, “Don't harm yourself. We’re all here.” Now, let's be frank. Here's the jailer who has put them into the deepest part of the prison. Perhaps he's even taken some joy in shackling them and in seeing their wounds from the beating that they took. You couldn't blame Paul and Silas if they just stood aside as the jailer killed himself, but motivated by Christ's love, they intervene and they say, “Don't harm yourself.” I'm reminded to challenge all of us, if you know of someone who is wrestling with deep depression, intervene. Speak to them. We have a counseling ministry here at Istrouma, and we can get help. There is help, and there is hope in Christ. Paul and Silas say, “Do yourself no harm.”

 

Upon their kindness, this jailer runs in before Paul and Silas and the Bible says that he falls down at their feet. You see, he's been impacted by what he's observed. He has seen Paul and Silas singing praises to God. He's heard that song. He's personally experienced their mercy when they defend him who once oppressed them. Paul and Silas could easily have escaped, but they haven't. They’re remaining there. So, impacted by what he has heard and seen, he asks life's most important question. It’s in verse 30:

Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

 

Now, some might suggest that this question is related to the temporal crisis. He knows that the prisoners might escape, that the wrath of Rome is going to fall upon him; he's going to be executed, so he's asking, “Sirs, how can I escape my impending doom?” But I don't believe that's the real heart of his question, because the prisoners have not escaped. They’ve remained. His life has been spared. There is hope temporally. No, I believe he is asking an eternal question, “What must I do to be saved from my sins? What must I do to inherit eternal life?” I believe that's the heart of his question. And I love this question. I see in it his humility. He doesn't think he has all the answers, and I tell you, that's a healthy thing. Maybe you've come in today quite confident in yourself, presuming that you have all of the answers both to life and eternity. But have you ever come in humility to ask this simple question, “What must I do to be forgiven; what must I do to be saved? I want to be instructed. I want to be taught. I want God's answer to life's most important question.” I see his humility. I see his hunger. He rushes in. He falls at their feet. He is desperate. I don't know that anyone comes to salvation apart from desperation, hunger, and humility. This man has all of those traits, and for that reason, he asks life's most important question, “What must I do to be saved?”

 

Not only is the question asked, the question is answered. For all time, we know the answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” Point-blank question; point-blank answer. What must I do to be saved? What must you do to be saved? What must all humans do if they are to be saved? The apostle’s answer: “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”

 

I want us to think about that answer just for a moment. I want us to think of what the answer was not. What must I do to be saved? Notice that he did not say, “Join the church and you will be saved.” There are a lot of people that think that. They think, “Well if I'm going to go to heaven, I've got to be a member of some church or some faith. If I have my name on a church roll somewhere, then I'm good.” No. Joining a church of any stripe does not save you. It's not the answer to the question. He did not say, “Get baptized and you will be saved.” There's nothing wrong with getting baptized. In fact, he's about to get baptized. There's nothing wrong with joining a church. He's going to become a part, I believe, of the Philippian church that started with Lydia, was joined by the slave girl who was now set free. He's going to be, I'll just say, the third member of the church at Philippi. Nothing wrong with these good deeds, but it's not by good deeds that you are saved. Good deeds are the fruit of salvation in you, not the root of it, not the source of it. How do you get saved? Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved.

 

This answer is in harmony with the rest of the Bible. Listen to John 1:12:

But to all who did receive him [that is, speaking of the incarnate Christ], who believed [there it is, who believed] in his name [What is it to receive Christ? It’s to believe in him...to all who did receive him, who believed in his name], he gave the right to become [the] children of God.

 

How do you become a child of God? How do you get saved? How do you have your sins washed away? How do you go to heaven? You believe in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. You trust in him. You receive him. 

 

John 3:16, the most famous verse in all of the Bible:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. 

 

How do you get everlasting life? How do you get saved? Believe on the Lord Jesus. 

 

Romans 1:16:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God [unto] salvation to everyone who believes...

 

Eph. 2:8-9:

For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast

 

The way to be saved is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. There are basically two systems that are put forward as answers to this question. One is faith alone, sola fide, our theme for today. The other is that you’re saved by faith and works. They often will cite, those who hold the latter position, they’ll cite James 2:24. There the Bible says:

...a person is justified by works and not by faith alone

 

So now, we’re in a quandary. Are we saved by faith alone apart from works, or are we saved by faith and works? That's a pivotal question, and we must know the answer to it. I believe that the Bible is clear that salvation comes by faith alone. How then is it that James can say that you’re saved not by faith alone but also by the works that you do? How can we reconcile these two passages of scripture?

 

James, if you read the broader text there, is talking about the faith that saves. He says, “Show me your faith without works, and I'll show you my faith by my works.” James knew well that faith alone saves, but faith that saves is never alone. I'll say it again. Faith alone saves, but faith that saves is never alone, and that our works show the reality of our faith. If you have no works to demonstrate your faith, then what kind of faith do you have? James says that you have a dead faith, and he asks, “Can that faith save?” I'll answer the question, No, that faith can't save. Someone can say, “Oh, I believe in Jesus,” but they never go to church, they never follow the Lord in believer’s baptism, they have no heart for generosity, they curse, they swear, they sleep around, they rebel and break God's law. There's no fruit. There's no demonstration of a real faith. Can that type of faith, just verbal in nature, save? No it cannot. It has to be a genuine and real faith that is demonstrated in the life that ensues.

 

That brings me, then, to the last point, and that is the change that comes to the life that answers rightly life’s most important question, when the person knows the answer, and I'll put a capital “A” on it, the Answer to life's most important question. The Answer to life's most important question is a person, the Lord Jesus, and when you put your faith and trust in him and his atoning death on the cross, you are saved. 

 

Now listen, it brings change. Would you look in your Bible again, now, to verse 33?

And he [that is, the jailer] took them [Paul and Silas] the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God

 

What a tremendous paragraph that is! You see, the change in his life was produced by faith. He embraced the gospel proclaimed to him, and the change was produced by that faith. Now, that faith is proven by the fruit of good deeds. You see his baptism. Listen; if you’ve given your life to Christ, and you've come to saving faith, you ought to follow the Lord in believer's baptism. I'm probably talking to some folks in here that have not yet let your faith be made known through baptism subsequent to your salvation. I just want to challenge you to take that step of faith and demonstrate by it that you’ve put your trust in Christ. I may be speaking to some who’ve not yet committed to fellowship in a local church. We want to challenge you to not only believe but belong. Commit yourself to membership and service in a local church. I note this man's generosity. He set food before them. I note his joy; he is rejoicing now. He went from desperation and suicidal thoughts to great joy, and what made the difference? It was Christ in him that made the difference. 

 

Have you been changed? Is your life radically different because Christ indwells you? If not, this very morning I'm going to challenge you to give your life to Christ. 

 

I'm going to tell you one last story. I’m going to put on the screen a picture of a fellow whose name is John Harper. Some of you may know his name. John Harper was born into a Christian family May 29, 1872 in Scotland. He became a Christian 13 years later and had already started preaching by age 17. He received training at the Baptist Pioneer Mission in London, and in 1896 he founded a church, now known as Harper Memorial Church in Glasgow, which began with 25 worshipers but had grown to 500 members by the time he left 13 years later. 

 

In 1912 Harper, the newly-called pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, was traveling on the Titanic with his 6-year-old daughter. After the ship struck an iceberg and began to sink, he got Nana into a lifeboat but apparently made no effort to follow her. Instead, he ran through the ship yelling, "Women, children, and unsaved into the lifeboats!" Survivors report that he then began witnessing to anyone who would listen. He continued preaching even after he had jumped into the water and was clinging to a piece of wreckage (he'd already given his lifejacket to another man).

 

Harper's final moments were recounted four years later at a meeting in Hamilton, Ontario, by a man who said “I am a survivor of the Titanic. When I was drifting alone on a spar that awful night, the tide brought Mr. Harper of Glasgow, also on a piece of wreck, near me. ‘Man,’ he said, ‘Are you saved?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I am not.’ He replied, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.’

 

“The waves bore him away, but, strange to say, brought him back a little later, and he said, ‘Are you saved now?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I cannot honestly say that I am.’ He said again, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,’ [quoting the very verse I preached to you today]. Shortly after, he went down; and there, alone in the night, and with two miles of water under me, I believed. I am John Harper's last convert.”

 

He was also one of only six people picked out the water by the lifeboats; the other 1,522, including Harper, were left to die.

 

You know, it's interesting. There were only two kinds of people after the Titanic sank – those who were saved, and those who were lost. There were no other kind of passengers aboard the Titanic; those who were saved, and those who were lost. Could I just say on the ship of earth on which we sail, there are only two kinds of people – those who are saved, and those who are lost. That's why I say life's most important question is this: “What must I do to be saved?” Friend, the gospel message is this, believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.

 

You say, “Man, is that all?” Yes, that’s all. That is all, because once you believe, it transforms life. I want to challenge you this morning to believe on the Lord Jesus.

 

Let’s stand. 

 

[Invitation]

 

[Prayer] 

 

 

 

Direct download: 02.__Sola_fide.__Transcript_Only.pdf
Category:Solas -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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Istrouma en Español

 

Solas

“Solo Scriptura”

 

2 Timoteo 3.16-17

 

  1. La procedencia de las Escrituras.

 

Toda la Escritura es inspirada por Dios…” (2 Tim. 3: 16a)

  1. Su inspiración
  2. Sus implicaciones

 

  1. La practicidad de las Escrituras.

 

“…y útil para enseñar, para reprender, para corregir y para instruir en la justiciar” (2 Tim. 3: 16b).

  1. Nuestra creencia
  2. Nuestro comportamiento

 

  1. El propósito de la escritura.

 

A fin de que los siervos de Dios estén plenamente capacitados para toda buena obra” (2 Tim. 3:17).

 

  1. Nuestra madurez
  2. Nuestro ministerio

 

 

Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20200106.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Sola Scriptura

Sermon Series: Solas

2 Timothy 3:16-17

Istrouma Baptist Church – Jeff Ginn, Lead Pastor

10:45 AM Sermon January 5, 2020

 

 

 

Outline:

 

  1. The production of scripture

All Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16a).

 

  1.    Its inspiration

 

  1. Its implications

   

           

  1. The practicality of scripture

And profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16b).

 

  1. Our beliefs

 

  1.    Our behaviors

       

 

  1. The purpose of scripture

That the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:17).

           

  1. Our maturity

 

  1. Our ministry

 

 

 

 

 

 

There's a towering figure in the history of Christianity whose name you need to know. His name is Martin Luther. I want to tell you a little bit about his story. Martin Luther was born back in the 1400s, more than 500 years ago, and he was a very devout young man. He loved the Lord, and as a result, he eventually became a monk, a priest, even a professor of theology. As those callings demand, he was a student of the scripture. He loved the word of God and he voraciously and ardently studied it. In the course of studying the Bible, the scripture, he became concerned about the discrepancy, or the chasm, that existed between what the scriptures taught and what the dominant church of that age was doing. He saw errors, he believed, and he saw abuses. I'll mention one. There was the practice back in those days of selling indulgences. Let me explain this. An indulgence was a forgiveness of sins. You've done something wrong and you want to be forgiven. Well, the church taught at that time that they had the power to forgive sin, and if you would give an offering, you could, by means of that offering, purchase an indulgence.  There was a guy who was traveling around Europe selling these indulgences. His name was Tetzel, and he had a little song that he sang, and it roughly went like this: “When the coin into the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.”

 

In other words, if you’ll give an offering big enough, your mother who’s suffering in purgatory can get out. Luther was troubled, to put it lightly, by these things because you don't see any of that in the Bible. It’s like, “Where do you get this, and why are you teaching that?” He viewed it as abusing the people. He said if the pope wants to build a new building in Rome, why doesn't he just do it out of his own treasury? He's fabulously wealthy. Why is he doing it on the backs of the peasants? So, Luther was upset. 

 

I will say, Luther loved the church, and Luther wasn't looking to be a rebel or to rebel or to get out of the church. He wanted to reform it. He wanted a renewal. He wanted to take the church back to its origins, to its roots in scripture. So, he set about one day to write down some of his concerns. He did them, and when they were numbered, they were 95 in number. They are known to history by this phrase, “The 95 Theses.” You know what a thesis is, like a thesis statement in your term paper, or you write a thesis for your master's degree. The plural form of thesis is “theses.” 95 theses. There were 95 points of concern, and he took those 95 theses that he'd written out and he nailed to the door of the church where he was like the parish priest. I know that sounds like he was defacing the property; he was not. In those days, the church door functioned like a bulletin board, and if you wanted to announce something, you could tack it to the church door and it would be seen by all. So, he tacked to the door of the church his points of concern. He sent out an invitation. He said, “If you want to discuss these things, then I want to invite you to a dialogue. Let’s talk about these things, and if there needs to be change, let's make the changes.

 

Well, it caused a furor all across Europe because the church was in league with the Holy Roman Emperor. And they held the reins of power and wealth, and Luther was like a bee in the bonnet. It caused a furor. Word got all the way to Rome about what Luther had done, and so the pope initiated a church council, called together leaders from across the empire, and the emperor himself sat presiding over this gathering. They were going to discuss the points of concern that Luther had raised, and Luther had raised many significant theological points of concern. At stake was Luther's life. You know, in our culture today, it’s hard to appreciate this because in our day if we have different viewpoints, it's no big deal. It's no skin off your nose. You believe one thing, I believe another; we just live in peace with one another. We have religious liberty. It wasn't so in those days. If you took issue with the church, you would face the wrath of the empire, and Luther’s life was at stake; certainly his career and livelihood. So he was on trial, and as the trial grew to its climax, Luther was asked if he would recant what he had written. To recant means you do an about-face. You say, “I was wrong. I take back what I said.” So they said, “Luther, here's your choice. You're going to be condemned, or you can recant. Which will you do?”

 

Luther felt these things very deeply, and he said, “Would you give me an evening to pray about what I’ll say. They said, “Yes, you may have an evening.” So, Luther went back to his room. Luther played earnestly, “God what should I do”? And through that evening of prayer and counsel with friends, he came back the next day and he stood before... now, put yourself in his shoes. Could you do this? He stood before the emperor and the might of the empire, and he was asked once again, “Luther, will you recant?” I want you to hear his response:

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. May God help me. Amen.

 

When Luther said this, the fury of the empire came down upon him. He was excommunicated from the church. He was branded a heretic, and it was decreed that anyone who would take Luther's life would not be held liable for doing so. Fortunately for Luther, he had a confidant who was one of the princes of Germany, and he stole Luther away and hid him in a castle in a place called Wartburg. There, hidden away in the castle in Wartburg, Luther furiously, not angrily, but busily, set about translating the Bible into the common language of the people. The first German Bible was then published, and from it courage arose in Europe, and the first English translation by a man named Tyndale was published, and it set about a great renewal in the church, what’s known to history as the Great Reformation. 

 

Luther Stands as a colossal figure of history because of this principle, and I'm going to give it to you in two words: Sola scriptura. Sola scriptura. You see, this month, every Sunday, we're going to take a different bedrock principle of our church, and we're going to teach upon it. The first of them is this one, Sola scriptura, that is translated “only scripture.” No decree of man, no church council, no pastor can dictate anything that supersedes or takes precedence over God's revealed word. Do you want to know why Istrouma Baptist Church is a vibrant and growing church today? I'm going to tell you why. One of the primary reasons is because we stand upon this principle, sola scriptura; only God's word reigns supreme over our conscience and our faith.

 

I want to convince you of this same principle. That’s my goal this morning. To do so, I'm going to ask you to turn in your Bible to 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Let’s stand to our feet as a sign of our respect for God's word, and we’ll read these two verses: 

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work

 

Let’s pray. 

 

[Prayer]

 

Please be seated.  

 

My wife and I were on vacation last week, and we thank you for giving us some days off. We traveled to Virginia where our children and grandchildren live. We had a great time hugging all those grandkid’s necks and just being with them. I want to thank Brad who preached in my absence last week. I heard he did a great job, and I thank you, Brad, for preaching God's word faithfully. But as we were on that trip and returning, my wife saw a church sign and it said this, “Daily devotions are better than yearly resolutions.” I like that. Daily devotions are better than yearly resolutions. We're at the time of New Year's resolutions, right? Everybody's got a New Year's resolution, whatever it is; lose weight, learn to play the guitar, whatever your New Year's resolution is. Could I just challenge you to this: Have a daily devotional. Daily time in the word of God because the word of God, sola scriptura, is our daily meat. It's our food. Man shall not live on bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. I want to motivate you to this, all right? Not just to daily devotion, but to a lifetime of living out the principles of God's word. I'm going to do it in three headings. First of all, I'm going to talk to you about the production of scripture – how did it come to be? Number two, I'm going to talk to you about the practicality of scripture. And finally, I'm going to talk to you about the purpose of scripture. All right; let’s take these up. 

 

Number one, the production of scripture. How did it happen that we've come to hold in our hands this precious book here and now? I'm going to give it to you in these two words: inspiration and then implications. Inspiration and implications. “Inspiration,” what do I mean? I mean that God has given us this book by inspiration. Now the word often translated here “inspiration” is in the Greek language a very interesting word. In fact, it's a word that only appears once in all of the Bible. One time. It doesn't even occur in secular Greek literature of that day. It's a word that Paul coined. That is, Paul created this word. It didn't exist. The reason it's so unique it is because it is describing a process that is unique. The word is this: theopneustos. Theopneustos. It’s a compound word. It's got two parts to it. The first part is theos. Theos is the Greek word for God. Some of you knew that. We get our English word “theology,” the study of God, from theos. From the word theopneustos we get the root of our English word “pneumatic,” like a tire that's filled with air; that's a pneumatic tire, it’s an air-filled tire. Or “pneumonia,” when your lungs – you don't have enough respiration. It's the whole idea of breath or wind. So theopneustos is the wind of God. The breath of God. That's what is meant when it says “inspiration.” It is literally, all scripture is theopneustos; it is breathed out by God. Folks, this is phenomenal! No wonder he coined the term. There’s no other book like this book. 

 

You know, sometimes we use the word “inspired” very casually. Like you hear a beautiful song and you're like, “Oh man, that was inspired.” Handel's “Messiah” – people will say, “That was inspired.” Or maybe you read a book; let’s say Francis Chan’s “Crazy Love,” and you’re like, “Oh man, that book’s inspired!” Could I just say to you? There is no other book, there is no other song, there is no other sermon. You say “Pastor Jeff, what a sermon, he was inspired today.” Not like this. I depend upon God and I ask him to help me and fill me, but the words that I say are not perfect. God's word is perfect. I seek to be faithful to it, but I can be mistaken. Church councils can be mistaken. Popes can be mistaken. But this book, never mistaken. Why? Because it’s breathed out by God. Here's what the Bible says of the Lord in Numbers 23:19: “God is not man, that he should lie…”  We all lie. God doesn’t lie. 

 

In Titus 1:2, God is described as the one who never lies. God can’t lie. 

 

Hebrews 6:18 says, “It is impossible for God to lie.” 

 

If God can't lie and these are his words, guess what? There’s no lie in this book. There’s no untruth. That's why we call it inerrant; infallible. It is perfect. It is God's word, and you can take it to the bank. Listen, people may lie to you. People may break their contracts with you. But God will never lie to you, and his word will always prove faithful. Take it to the bank. That's the inspiration.

 

Secondly, what are the implications of this? “Okay, big deal; this is God's inspired word. What's the significance of that?” Glad you asked. Let me give you a couple of the significances of this inspiration. Number one, it's true, and that's what I was just talking about. This book is true. But secondly, it is timeless. Psalm 119:89 says “Forever O Lord your word is established in the heavens.” That is, God's word will never change. It was relevant when Jesus trod this earth. It was relevant when Abraham lived. It was relevant when Jesus and the apostles lived, and friends, it's just as relevant today. It is timeless. “Forever O Lord your word is fixed or established in the heavens.” It will never change, and I'm so glad. This book is more relevant to your life than the newspaper that you picked up off your doorstep when you came out this morning. And by the way, nowadays, the newspaper that you get on your doorstep is already out of date. You know, you’d better look at your feed on your cell phone, right, to get the most recent story as it breaks. I want to tell you something. This book is more up-to-date than your news feed on your cell phone. It is timeless.

 

Listen, this is important. You young people listen to me. We’re living in a day where they talk about the “information overload.” Have you heard that phrase? I’ve talked to you before about what's called the “knowledge doubling curve.” Remember Buckminster Fuller, that scientist who said that from the dawn of humanity to the year 1900, human knowledge would double about every 100 years. Every once in a while you'd have an invention. The Chinese would invent fireworks. Then several hundred years later Gutenberg would invent the printing press. So knowledge grew very incrementally. But he said that when you get to the year 1900, when modernity is kicking in, knowledge begins to double every 25 years. Then you come up into the 1980s when he published his book, he said that knowledge was doubling every 12 months, every year. So every hundred years, every twenty-five years, every year. They say that now, with the Internet, and AI, artificial intelligence, human knowledge is doubling every 12 hours.

 

Now, an unintended effect of the doubling of knowledge is what's called the “half-life of knowledge.” Now, stick with me on this. I'm going somewhere! Listen. The half-life of knowledge. I've got some nursing students in here. I've got some medical doctors in here, so you can back me up on this. They say that when you go to medical school and you graduate, within 24 months half of what you learned in medical school is obsolete. You're an engineering student; they say that within a matter of a very scant few years, half of what you learned in engineering will be obsolete. Think about software developers. With software, there is the initial version, typically Version 0. Then V1.0, V2.0 etc. as updates and upgrades are needed.  But look here: there’s no Bible 2.0, nor need there be. There's not going to be a Bible 10, and do you know why? Because this is inspired. God breathed it out. And because it's so, it's true and it is timeless. Because of divine inspiration there is no date of expiration!  And all God's people said [“Amen”]. Doggone Right! Doggone Right. That's the production of scripture. 

 

Now, number two, the practicality of scripture. Young people, listen to me. I'm an old fellow now, and I've learned some things across the years, and I'm going to help you. I'm not going to charge you tuition or anything. This book that I hold in my hand is practical. You say, “Man, I don’t want to listen to a sermon. That's boring. That has nothing to do with how I live.” Nothing could be further from the truth. You're not going to watch a television program; you’re not going to Netflix something (Is “Netflix a verb?). You’re not going to watch something on Netflix that's more pertinent to your life or more practical than what I am teaching you this morning and every other Sunday as far as that goes. I'm the most relevant media in your life, if I could say that; someone who faithfully teaches the word of God, and I hope that I do. And your Sunday School teachers, your small group leaders, your Bible study leaders, because they're giving you the inspired word of God, and it's practical. He says that this inspired word is profitable. I love that word. It means useful. It means valuable. This is useful, this is valuable, this is practical, all right? And he gives us four ways in which it is practical. Watch this. Four ways it’s practical: for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. Now, watch. Instruction is positive. “Here's what you ought to believe.” Reproof is negative. That's like, “Oops, you've got it wrong there; let me reprove you. Correction is also negative. And then the last word, training in righteousness is positive. So it's positive, negative, negative, positive. Do you see that? Those four characteristics are actually two pairs. The positive and negative first go together, and then the third and fourth, negative and positive, they go together. It’s what’s called in scripture a “chiasm.” Those two pairs go together. The first two pertain to our beliefs. The Bible gives us instruction as to what we ought to believe, and it reproves us when we believe anything different from that. But it's not just our beliefs that we get from the Bible. It ought to govern our behavior, and that's the last couplet. For correction; that is, when I’m off the path, and I’m behaving as I ought not, the word of God corrects me. And then it trains me in right conduct, righteousness, right living, making it practical. 

 

Let me give you a word picture that I think will help you. Every little boy's dream – let me help you with next year’s Christmas list, all right? Moms, dads, listen. You want to get your son a gift he’ll like? Get him a Swiss Army Knife if he's never had one. How many of you have ever had a Swiss Army Knife? Would you raise your hand up? Swiss Army Knife – there's nothing cooler in the world. The reason it's cool is because it's so practical. You've got a magnifying glass. You've got scissors. You've got tweezers. You've got a ruler. You've got a saw –  you can saw off a little branch. It's even got a hidden toothpick, did y'all know this? It’s pretty nasty; you can use that toothpick and put it back in the knife. That’s funny! Swiss Army Knife. But it's practical. 

 

The Bible is your spiritual Swiss Army Knife. It instructs you. It reproves you. It corrects you. It trains you in righteousness. For some of you, you're not into Swiss Army Knives. Let me just use this illustration. This is a smartphone. This is the Millennials’ Swiss Army Knife, right here. Have you ever thought about what a smartphone can do? It's crazy! It's a phone. It's an alarm clock. It's a stopwatch. It's a calendar. It's a secretary. I can speak into this, and it will transcribe in written form what I say. I can text. I can email. When we were driving from Virginia to Louisiana, I didn't have to worry about where to turn. This is a guide for me. I could go on; you get the idea. I know you love your smartphone. You wouldn't dream of going anywhere without your smartphone. You lose it, and you’d start having hives – “where’s my smartphone?” You wake up; it's the first thing you consult. It’s the last thing; you put yourself to sleep scrolling through Instagram picks. Hey, don't go anywhere without God's word. Hide it in your heart. Daily devotional in it. Live it. It is practical.

 

Now, to the end. The purpose of it. I’ll just give you these two. It helps us become mature. Do you know why a lot of people in church are immature? Because they don't know the word of God. You become mature, the Bible says, speaking the truth in love. We are to grow up into him who is the head. How do you grow up? You get the word of God in you, and then, not only will you be mature, you’ll minister. You’ll serve.

 

Our ministries grow out of our knowledge of the word of God. And, oh, the ministry that God wants to do through your life. You’re some of the most gifted, dedicated people I know, and as you imbibe the truth of God's word you're going to be equipped and strengthened to find your place in ministry, and conduct it.

 

We're going to conclude this morning by celebrating the Lord's Supper. I’m going to tell you one last story. There was once a ship in the British Royal Navy. It was called The Bounty. It had a captain who was very demanding; some say cruel, even. They were sailing in the South Pacific, and they happened into the Tahiti Islands. They set down their anchor, and they lived there in Tahiti for a period of time. The sailors, they thought they’d died and gone to heaven. They’d come from cold, wet England, and here they are in balmy Tahiti. Palm trees swaying. Gentle breeze. Beautiful island women. The sailors reveled; they loved being in those islands. 

 

The captain finally had had enough, and he said, “All right, we're going to get on board, and we're going to leave. We're going to go about our duties.” Some of the sailors decided they would mutiny; that is, turn on the captain, and they did. They put the captain and some of the senior officers into one of those rowboats, like a lifeboat on the ship, and they sent them away. They commandeered the ship. They put on board the ship a couple of dozen Tahiti people, many of them women, and these sailors sailed off into the ocean blue with these beautiful Tahiti women. They ended up finding a small remote island called Pitcairn Island. You can look it up. Pitcairn Island. They sailed into the bay of this beautiful tropical island. They took off everything of value from the ship, and they burned the ship so that they would never be discovered, they hoped. Because, look, if you mutiny against the Royal British Navy, it's a capital offense, so they're hiding for their lives. There, they think they've died and gone to the Garden of Eden. They are living ungodly lives. They discovered how to make alcohol from one of the plants on the island, and they're drinking, and they’re being sexually immoral. 

 

But as the years go by, their Garden of Eden does what the first Garden of Eden did. It goes south. The men become jealous, fighting over the women. Many of the men are killed. Finally, there's only one British man still living. A number of Tahiti women are living. Now, they’ve fathered many children; kind of a colony there. The man is distraught. He sees the ruin and chaos about him, and he's searching through the things that they got off the ship, and he discovers a Bible and a Book of Common Prayer. He begins to study the word of God, and he becomes convicted of his sin and his need to repent and get right with God and get saved. And he does. Then he takes that same word of God, and he begins to teach the women he once abused, and the children. 

 

Many years go by. In 1808, an American ship happened upon that island. They went there. They needed water, and they landed on the island. They discovered these people; now listen. Where there had once been warring and violence and crimes, there was peace. There wasn't a jail on the island. There wasn't a need for one. And the people were all Christian. How did that happen? Two words: sola scriptura, God's word transformed their lives. God intends that nothing less happen with us. He wants to transform us by his word. Do you know the primary way we’re transformed? Here I’m coming to the end. Jesus said to those who heard him; he said, “You study the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life. It is they that bear witness about me.” In other words, Jesus was saying, “It’s not enough to know scripture. You've got to know me.” He is the focal point of scripture. Do you know Christ? If not, this day, surrender your life to him, he who died on the cross, shed his blood, his body was broken for us. He arose from the dead so that we might be forgiven and transformed.

 

Let's stand with our heads bowed.

 

[Prayer]

 

[Lord’s Supper] 



 

Direct download: 01.__Sola_Scriptura.__Transcript_Only.pdf
Category:Solas -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Solas

“Sola Scriptura”

2 Timothy 3:16-17

 

  1. The production of scripture

 

All Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16a)

 

  1. Its inspiration

 

  1. Its implications

 

  1. The practicality of scripture

 

And profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16b).

 

  1. Our beliefs

 

  1. Our behaviors

 

  1. The purpose of scripture

 

That the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:17).

 

  1. Our maturity

 

  1. Our ministry

 

[BEGIN TRANSCRIPT]

There's a towering figure in the history of Christianity whose name you need to know. His name is Martin Luther. I want to tell you a little bit about his story. Martin Luther was born back in the 1400s, more than 500 years ago, and he was a very devout young man. He loved the Lord, and as a result, he eventually became a monk, a priest, even a professor of theology. As those callings demand, he was a student of the scripture. He loved the word of God and he voraciously and ardently studied it. In the course of studying the Bible, the scripture, he became concerned about the discrepancy, or the chasm, that existed between what the scriptures taught and what the dominant church of that age was doing. He saw errors, he believed, and he saw abuses. I'll mention one. There was the practice back in those days of selling indulgences. Let me explain this. An indulgence was a forgiveness of sins. You've done something wrong and you want to be forgiven. Well, the church taught at that time that they had the power to forgive sin, and if you would give an offering, you could, by means of that offering, purchase an indulgence.  There was a guy who was traveling around Europe selling these indulgences. His name was Tetzel, and he had a little song that he sang, and it roughly went like this: “When the coin into the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.”

 

In other words, if you’ll give an offering big enough, your mother who’s suffering in purgatory can get out. Luther was troubled, to put it lightly, by these things because you don't see any of that in the Bible. It’s like, “Where do you get this, and why are you teaching that?” He viewed it as abusing the people. He said if the pope wants to build a new building in Rome, why doesn't he just do it out of his own treasury? He's fabulously wealthy. Why is he doing it on the backs of the peasants? So, Luther was upset. 

 

I will say, Luther loved the church, and Luther wasn't looking to be a rebel or to rebel or to get out of the church. He wanted to reform it. He wanted a renewal. He wanted to take the church back to its origins, to its roots in scripture. So, he set about one day to write down some of his concerns. He did them, and when they were numbered, they were 95 in number. They are known to history by this phrase, “The 95 Theses.” You know what a thesis is, like a thesis statement in your term paper, or you write a thesis for your master's degree. The plural form of thesis is “theses.” 95 theses. There were 95 points of concern, and he took those 95 theses that he'd written out and he nailed to the door of the church where he was like the parish priest. I know that sounds like he was defacing the property; he was not. In those days, the church door functioned like a bulletin board, and if you wanted to announce something, you could tack it to the church door and it would be seen by all. So, he tacked to the door of the church his points of concern. He sent out an invitation. He said, “If you want to discuss these things, then I want to invite you to a dialogue. Let’s talk about these things, and if there needs to be change, let's make the changes.

 

Well, it caused a furor all across Europe because the church was in league with the Holy Roman Emperor. And they held the reins of power and wealth, and Luther was like a bee in the bonnet. It caused a furor. Word got all the way to Rome about what Luther had done, and so the pope initiated a church council, called together leaders from across the empire, and the emperor himself sat presiding over this gathering. They were going to discuss the points of concern that Luther had raised, and Luther had raised many significant theological points of concern. At stake was Luther's life. You know, in our culture today, it’s hard to appreciate this because in our day if we have different viewpoints, it's no big deal. It's no skin off your nose. You believe one thing, I believe another; we just live in peace with one another. We have religious liberty. It wasn't so in those days. If you took issue with the church, you would face the wrath of the empire, and Luther’s life was at stake; certainly his career and livelihood. So he was on trial, and as the trial grew to its climax, Luther was asked if he would recant what he had written. To recant means you do an about-face. You say, “I was wrong. I take back what I said.” So they said, “Luther, here's your choice. You're going to be condemned, or you can recant. Which will you do?”

 

Luther felt these things very deeply, and he said, “Would you give me an evening to pray about what I’ll say. They said, “Yes, you may have an evening.” So, Luther went back to his room. Luther played earnestly, “God what should I do”? And through that evening of prayer and counsel with friends, he came back the next day and he stood before... now, put yourself in his shoes. Could you do this? He stood before the emperor and the might of the empire, and he was asked once again, “Luther, will you recant?” I want you to hear his response:

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. May God help me. Amen.

 

When Luther said this, the fury of the empire came down upon him. He was excommunicated from the church. He was branded a heretic, and it was decreed that anyone who would take Luther's life would not be held liable for doing so. Fortunately for Luther, he had a confidant who was one of the princes of Germany, and he stole Luther away and hid him in a castle in a place called Wartburg. There, hidden away in the castle in Wartburg, Luther furiously, not angrily, but busily, set about translating the Bible into the common language of the people. The first German Bible was then published, and from it courage arose in Europe, and the first English translation by a man named Tyndale was published, and it set about a great renewal in the church, what’s known to history as the Great Reformation. 

 

Luther Stands as a colossal figure of history because of this principle, and I'm going to give it to you in two words: Sola scriptura. Sola scriptura. You see, this month, every Sunday, we're going to take a different bedrock principle of our church, and we're going to teach upon it. The first of them is this one, Sola scriptura, that is translated “only scripture.” No decree of man, no church council, no pastor can dictate anything that supersedes or takes precedence over God's revealed word. Do you want to know why Istrouma Baptist Church is a vibrant and growing church today? I'm going to tell you why. One of the primary reasons is because we stand upon this principle, sola scriptura; only God's word reigns supreme over our conscience and our faith.

 

I want to convince you of this same principle. That’s my goal this morning. To do so, I'm going to ask you to turn in your Bible to 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Let’s stand to our feet as a sign of our respect for God's word, and we’ll read these two verses: 

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work

 

Let’s pray. 

 

[Prayer]

 

Please be seated.  

 

My wife and I were on vacation last week, and we thank you for giving us some days off. We traveled to Virginia where our children and grandchildren live. We had a great time hugging all those grandkid’s necks and just being with them. I want to thank Brad who preached in my absence last week. I heard he did a great job, and I thank you, Brad, for preaching God's word faithfully. But as we were on that trip and returning, my wife saw a church sign and it said this, “Daily devotions are better than yearly resolutions.” I like that. Daily devotions are better than yearly resolutions. We're at the time of New Year's resolutions, right? Everybody's got a New Year's resolution, whatever it is; lose weight, learn to play the guitar, whatever your New Year's resolution is. Could I just challenge you to this: Have a daily devotional. Daily time in the word of God because the word of God, sola scriptura, is our daily meat. It's our food. Man shall not live on bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. I want to motivate you to this, all right? Not just to daily devotion, but to a lifetime of living out the principles of God's word. I'm going to do it in three headings. First of all, I'm going to talk to you about the production of scripture – how did it come to be? Number two, I'm going to talk to you about the practicality of scripture. And finally, I'm going to talk to you about the purpose of scripture. All right; let’s take these up. 

 

Number one, the production of scripture. How did it happen that we've come to hold in our hands this precious book here and now? I'm going to give it to you in these two words: inspiration and then implications. Inspiration and implications. “Inspiration,” what do I mean? I mean that God has given us this book by inspiration. Now the word often translated here “inspiration” is in the Greek language a very interesting word. In fact, it's a word that only appears once in all of the Bible. One time. It doesn't even occur in secular Greek literature of that day. It's a word that Paul coined. That is, Paul created this word. It didn't exist. The reason it's so unique it is because it is describing a process that is unique. The word is this: theopneustos. Theopneustos. It’s a compound word. It's got two parts to it. The first part is theos. Theos is the Greek word for God. Some of you knew that. We get our English word “theology,” the study of God, from theos. From the word theopneustos we get the root of our English word “pneumatic,” like a tire that's filled with air; that's a pneumatic tire, it’s an air-filled tire. Or “pneumonia,” when your lungs – you don't have enough respiration. It's the whole idea of breath or wind. So theopneustos is the wind of God. The breath of God. That's what is meant when it says “inspiration.” It is literally, all scripture is theopneustos; it is breathed out by God. Folks, this is phenomenal! No wonder he coined the term. There’s no other book like this book. 

 

You know, sometimes we use the word “inspired” very casually. Like you hear a beautiful song and you're like, “Oh man, that was inspired.” Handel's “Messiah” – people will say, “That was inspired.” Or maybe you read a book; let’s say Francis Chan’s “Crazy Love,” and you’re like, “Oh man, that book’s inspired!” Could I just say to you? There is no other book, there is no other song, there is no other sermon. You say “Pastor Jeff, what a sermon, he was inspired today.” Not like this. I depend upon God and I ask him to help me and fill me, but the words that I say are not perfect. God's word is perfect. I seek to be faithful to it, but I can be mistaken. Church councils can be mistaken. Popes can be mistaken. But this book, never mistaken. Why? Because it’s breathed out by God. Here's what the Bible says of the Lord in Numbers 23:19: “God is not man, that he should lie…”  We all lie. God doesn’t lie. 

 

In Titus 1:2, God is described as the one who never lies. God can’t lie. 

 

Hebrews 6:18 says, “It is impossible for God to lie.” 

 

If God can't lie and these are his words, guess what? There’s no lie in this book. There’s no untruth. That's why we call it inerrant; infallible. It is perfect. It is God's word, and you can take it to the bank. Listen, people may lie to you. People may break their contracts with you. But God will never lie to you, and his word will always prove faithful. Take it to the bank. That's the inspiration.

 

Secondly, what are the implications of this? “Okay, big deal; this is God's inspired word. What's the significance of that?” Glad you asked. Let me give you a couple of the significances of this inspiration. Number one, it's true, and that's what I was just talking about. This book is true. But secondly, it is timeless. Psalm 119:89 says “Forever O Lord your word is established in the heavens.” That is, God's word will never change. It was relevant when Jesus trod this earth. It was relevant when Abraham lived. It was relevant when Jesus and the apostles lived, and friends, it's just as relevant today. It is timeless. “Forever O Lord your word is fixed or established in the heavens.” It will never change, and I'm so glad. This book is more relevant to your life than the newspaper that you picked up off your doorstep when you came out this morning. And by the way, nowadays, the newspaper that you get on your doorstep is already out of date. You know, you’d better look at your feed on your cell phone, right, to get the most recent story as it breaks. I want to tell you something. This book is more up-to-date than your news feed on your cell phone. It is timeless.

 

Listen, this is important. You young people listen to me. We’re living in a day where they talk about the “information overload.” Have you heard that phrase? I’ve talked to you before about what's called the “knowledge doubling curve.” Remember Buckminster Fuller, that scientist who said that from the dawn of humanity to the year 1900, human knowledge would double about every 100 years. Every once in a while you'd have an invention. The Chinese would invent fireworks. Then several hundred years later Gutenberg would invent the printing press. So knowledge grew very incrementally. But he said that when you get to the year 1900, when modernity is kicking in, knowledge begins to double every 25 years. Then you come up into the 1980s when he published his book, he said that knowledge was doubling every 12 months, every year. So every hundred years, every twenty-five years, every year. They say that now, with the Internet, and AI, artificial intelligence, human knowledge is doubling every 12 hours.

 

Now, an unintended effect of the doubling of knowledge is what's called the “half-life of knowledge.” Now, stick with me on this. I'm going somewhere! Listen. The half-life of knowledge. I've got some nursing students in here. I've got some medical doctors in here, so you can back me up on this. They say that when you go to medical school and you graduate, within 24 months half of what you learned in medical school is obsolete. You're an engineering student; they say that within a matter of a very scant few years, half of what you learned in engineering will be obsolete. Think about software developers. With software, there is the initial version, typically Version 0. Then V1.0, V2.0 etc. as updates and upgrades are needed.  But look here: there’s no Bible 2.0, nor need there be. There's not going to be a Bible 10, and do you know why? Because this is inspired. God breathed it out. And because it's so, it's true and it is timeless. Because of divine inspiration there is no date of expiration!  And all God's people said [“Amen”]. Doggone Right! Doggone Right. That's the production of scripture. 

 

Now, number two, the practicality of scripture. Young people, listen to me. I'm an old fellow now, and I've learned some things across the years, and I'm going to help you. I'm not going to charge you tuition or anything. This book that I hold in my hand is practical. You say, “Man, I don’t want to listen to a sermon. That's boring. That has nothing to do with how I live.” Nothing could be further from the truth. You're not going to watch a television program; you’re not going to Netflix something (Is “Netflix a verb?). You’re not going to watch something on Netflix that's more pertinent to your life or more practical than what I am teaching you this morning and every other Sunday as far as that goes. I'm the most relevant media in your life, if I could say that; someone who faithfully teaches the word of God, and I hope that I do. And your Sunday School teachers, your small group leaders, your Bible study leaders, because they're giving you the inspired word of God, and it's practical. He says that this inspired word is profitable. I love that word. It means useful. It means valuable. This is useful, this is valuable, this is practical, all right? And he gives us four ways in which it is practical. Watch this. Four ways it’s practical: for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. Now, watch. Instruction is positive. “Here's what you ought to believe.” Reproof is negative. That's like, “Oops, you've got it wrong there; let me reprove you. Correction is also negative. And then the last word, training in righteousness is positive. So it's positive, negative, negative, positive. Do you see that? Those four characteristics are actually two pairs. The positive and negative first go together, and then the third and fourth, negative and positive, they go together. It’s what’s called in scripture a “chiasm.” Those two pairs go together. The first two pertain to our beliefs. The Bible gives us instruction as to what we ought to believe, and it reproves us when we believe anything different from that. But it's not just our beliefs that we get from the Bible. It ought to govern our behavior, and that's the last couplet. For correction; that is, when I’m off the path, and I’m behaving as I ought not, the word of God corrects me. And then it trains me in right conduct, righteousness, right living, making it practical. 

 

Let me give you a word picture that I think will help you. Every little boy's dream – let me help you with next year’s Christmas list, all right? Moms, dads, listen. You want to get your son a gift he’ll like? Get him a Swiss Army Knife if he's never had one. How many of you have ever had a Swiss Army Knife? Would you raise your hand up? Swiss Army Knife – there's nothing cooler in the world. The reason it's cool is because it's so practical. You've got a magnifying glass. You've got scissors. You've got tweezers. You've got a ruler. You've got a saw –  you can saw off a little branch. It's even got a hidden toothpick, did y'all know this? It’s pretty nasty; you can use that toothpick and put it back in the knife. That’s funny! Swiss Army Knife. But it's practical. 

 

The Bible is your spiritual Swiss Army Knife. It instructs you. It reproves you. It corrects you. It trains you in righteousness. For some of you, you're not into Swiss Army Knives. Let me just use this illustration. This is a smartphone. This is the Millennials’ Swiss Army Knife, right here. Have you ever thought about what a smartphone can do? It's crazy! It's a phone. It's an alarm clock. It's a stopwatch. It's a calendar. It's a secretary. I can speak into this, and it will transcribe in written form what I say. I can text. I can email. When we were driving from Virginia to Louisiana, I didn't have to worry about where to turn. This is a guide for me. I could go on; you get the idea. I know you love your smartphone. You wouldn't dream of going anywhere without your smartphone. You lose it, and you’d start having hives – “where’s my smartphone?” You wake up; it's the first thing you consult. It’s the last thing; you put yourself to sleep scrolling through Instagram picks. Hey, don't go anywhere without God's word. Hide it in your heart. Daily devotional in it. Live it. It is practical.

 

Now, to the end. The purpose of it. I’ll just give you these two. It helps us become mature. Do you know why a lot of people in church are immature? Because they don't know the word of God. You become mature, the Bible says, speaking the truth in love. We are to grow up into him who is the head. How do you grow up? You get the word of God in you, and then, not only will you be mature, you’ll minister. You’ll serve.

 

Our ministries grow out of our knowledge of the word of God. And, oh, the ministry that God wants to do through your life. You’re some of the most gifted, dedicated people I know, and as you imbibe the truth of God's word you're going to be equipped and strengthened to find your place in ministry, and conduct it.

 

We're going to conclude this morning by celebrating the Lord's Supper. I’m going to tell you one last story. There was once a ship in the British Royal Navy. It was called The Bounty. It had a captain who was very demanding; some say cruel, even. They were sailing in the South Pacific, and they happened into the Tahiti Islands. They set down their anchor, and they lived there in Tahiti for a period of time. The sailors, they thought they’d died and gone to heaven. They’d come from cold, wet England, and here they are in balmy Tahiti. Palm trees swaying. Gentle breeze. Beautiful island women. The sailors reveled; they loved being in those islands. 

 

The captain finally had had enough, and he said, “All right, we're going to get on board, and we're going to leave. We're going to go about our duties.” Some of the sailors decided they would mutiny; that is, turn on the captain, and they did. They put the captain and some of the senior officers into one of those rowboats, like a lifeboat on the ship, and they sent them away. They commandeered the ship. They put on board the ship a couple of dozen Tahiti people, many of them women, and these sailors sailed off into the ocean blue with these beautiful Tahiti women. They ended up finding a small remote island called Pitcairn Island. You can look it up. Pitcairn Island. They sailed into the bay of this beautiful tropical island. They took off everything of value from the ship, and they burned the ship so that they would never be discovered, they hoped. Because, look, if you mutiny against the Royal British Navy, it's a capital offense, so they're hiding for their lives. There, they think they've died and gone to the Garden of Eden. They are living ungodly lives. They discovered how to make alcohol from one of the plants on the island, and they're drinking, and they’re being sexually immoral. 

 

But as the years go by, their Garden of Eden does what the first Garden of Eden did. It goes south. The men become jealous, fighting over the women. Many of the men are killed. Finally, there's only one British man still living. A number of Tahiti women are living. Now, they’ve fathered many children; kind of a colony there. The man is distraught. He sees the ruin and chaos about him, and he's searching through the things that they got off the ship, and he discovers a Bible and a Book of Common Prayer. He begins to study the word of God, and he becomes convicted of his sin and his need to repent and get right with God and get saved. And he does. Then he takes that same word of God, and he begins to teach the women he once abused, and the children. 

 

Many years go by. In 1808, an American ship happened upon that island. They went there. They needed water, and they landed on the island. They discovered these people; now listen. Where there had once been warring and violence and crimes, there was peace. There wasn't a jail on the island. There wasn't a need for one. And the people were all Christian. How did that happen? Two words: sola scriptura, God's word transformed their lives. God intends that nothing less happen with us. He wants to transform us by his word. Do you know the primary way we’re transformed? Here I’m coming to the end. Jesus said to those who heard him; he said, “You study the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life. It is they that bear witness about me.” In other words, Jesus was saying, “It’s not enough to know scripture. You've got to know me.” He is the focal point of scripture. Do you know Christ? If not, this day, surrender your life to him, he who died on the cross, shed his blood, his body was broken for us. He arose from the dead so that we might be forgiven and transformed.

 

Let's stand with our heads bowed.

 

[Prayer]

 

[Lord’s Supper] 



 

Direct download: IBC__20200105.mp3
Category:Solas -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

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