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Showing posts from April, 2009

The Second Coming of Christ (Reading Romans 13:8-14)

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On Sunday I will be preaching a sermon entitled “Getting Dressed in the Dark.” The sermon text will be Romans 13:8-14. In this passage Paul refers to the final act of salvation when he says, "For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed." This final act of salvation will be fulfilled in the second coming of Christ. Paul says this truth should motivate us toward holy living. Below is a link to a handout sheet I will use on the Second Coming of Christ taken from the New Topical Text Book. At the very least this should give you some verses to study on an incredibly interesting topic. PDF of verses on the Second Coming of Christ

Early Risers (Reading Romans 13:8-14)

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In the agrarian society of Paul’s day rising at first light was the norm. Without the ability to significantly lengthen the day with artificial lighting, time was measured with sunlight. The day began and ended with the sun. A person who remained in bed well past first light was considered slothful and lazy. Such laziness could most often be attributed to one’s activity the previous night. If a person was given to drunkenness, parties, and chasing sensuality under the cover of darkness he would be apt to be ill prepared for first light. “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make n

I Can Drive 55 (Reading Romans 13:8-14)

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In Romans 13:10 Paul says, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” In his commentary on Romans John Stott explains this verse by saying, “Love and law need each other. Love needs law for its direction, while law needs love for its inspiration.” [i] So how are you doing with the speed limit? Nothing seems to bring out our innate desire for rebellion like the speed limit. Little women in large SUV’s are speedy rebels. There is a stretch near our church where a school intersection and two church driveways collide. The local municipality recently inserted a red light and lowered the speed limit in that area from 55 to 30. There is much rebellion going on down Deerfoot Parkway these days. I am not sure if it is my own expression of rebellion, but when I reach that section of road I abruptly lower my speed from 55 to 30 within an inch of the sign. I brake so hard that I can see nothing but pavement for a split second; then I creep along daring any

God and Government (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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The hardest part about this passage (Romans 13:1-7) is that it is so easy to understand. We understand it, but that doesn’t mean we like it. The Bible doesn’t say we have to enjoy paying taxes, but we must pay. In the most basic sense Paul instructs the followers of Christ to be exemplary citizens of the state, but what if . . .? It is the “what if’s” of God and government that make this passage hard to swallow. In this sermon we address the passage “as is”, and then answer two major “what if’s?” Was Hitler God’s fault? Is resistance ever warranted? listen to audio

Abuse of Authority (Reading Romans 13:1-7)

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The Bible makes it clear that God has a hand in government. No government exists without the permission of almighty God: And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. (Daniel 2:21) While being questioned by Pilate, Jesus indicated that Pilate would have no authority to crucify him if God did not permit it. Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin. (John 19:11)” The Bible teaches that in the apocalypse God will use government to bring about the end. He will allow an unrighteous government to rise with the antichrist at the helm. Paul reiterates this idea of God’s hand in government in Romans 13 by teaching that: 1. There is no authority except that which God establishes (1b) 2. The authorities that exist have been established by God (1c) 3. If

Respecting Government (Reading Romans 13:1-7)

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There are many “but what if” debates surrounding Paul’s instruction in Romans 13:1-7. What if the ruling government is an oppressive, blood thirsty, tyranny? Should people submit to deadly government? What if the ruling government restricts one’s right to share the gospel? What if, what if, what if? In this week’s posts, we will entertain plenty of the, “what if?” In interpreting a passage of this nature, one must determine whether the application is a general rule to be applied to the normal course of events, or is it an absolute rule that applies in all situations? The Book of Proverbs is a good example. Most people would believe Proverbs to be a list of absolute rules and promises, “if” one does this, “then” this will necessarily follow. Yet it does not take long in the course of life to experience a broken proverb. There are times when a person can do everything right and things go horribly wrong. A person can be wise with his money and lose it all. This being the case we should

Life of Christ 1 (Sermon Audio: Wed. Teaching)

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This series of teachings takes a mental walk through the life of Christ, hopefully providing a fuller context for reading the Gospels. If a person can picture the world in which Jesus is teaching and ministering, it will help him understand more of what the Bible means. This first session talks about the chronological flow of the gospels, issues of chronology, and gives a brief overview of the world into which Jesus was born with focus on Herod. Listen to audio

How to Win a Church Fight (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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There will be conflict. Nothing can dismantle your Sunday experience like a serious challenge to your faith on Monday. This world is full of less than ideal people that know how to push your buttons. How you handle yourself in these situations says a lot about your faith. Even worse, there will be conflict in the church. How does Paul teach the people of God to handle not only conflict with those antagonistic to faith, but with those of the community of faith? Paul’s answer is fight back! Yet, do not punch for retaliation, but for reconciliation. Listen to audio

The Right to End It (Reading Romans 12:14-21)

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Does a church congregation have a right to end its relationship with certain people? In Romans 12:18 Paul says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Paul implies that certain situations and people may simply be impossible. Yet before the point of “impossibility” is reached, Paul calls the follower of Christ to go to extreme ends to reach peace. Reconciliation is always the first goal of the believer in conflict. I could spend a great deal of time writing on this principle alone, but I want rather to write on the ignored element of the equation. Many people presume upon the grace of the church. Because they know the church should and will go to extreme ends to reconcile conflict they assume they can say almost anything, behave in almost any manner, and it is the responsibility of the church to accommodate them. This is not true. The church congregation has a right to end its relationship with divisive people. Here are several passages that demonstrate

Mean Spirited Liberals

I feel very political today as I send in my check. For several years we have heard about the "mean spirited" conservatives; narrow minded, name calling, right wing extremists. Let's play a little game. Count how many mean spirited, narrow minded comments you can count in just the half of this article I copied from Paul Begala on CNN.com. Paul Begala is a Democratic Strategist and CNN contributor. He has a nice smile, but quite a bite! I marked some comments in bold to make it easier for conservative right wing cranks and clowns to read. Happy Tea Party Paul. You have a way with words. ________ So why are a bunch of Fox News clowns and right-wing cranks hosting "tea parties" all over the country? The Boston Tea Party, in case the clods at Fox didn't know it, protested "taxation without representation." Note the second word: without. The goofballs tossing tea bags today have representation. They voted in the election; they lost. That

Tea Please!

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Church Terrorism (Reading Romans 12:14-21)

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I am writing this week with the utmost care (I hope), exercising grace as I trample through thorns. Conflict in the church is a sore subject. Yet, it must be dealt with for two reasons. One, conflict in the church exists. Two, the Bible gives us instruction on how to deal with it. My next post will ask the question of whether the church congregation has the right to end its relationship with certain people. Does the church ever have the right to ask anyone to leave? Today I want to trudge towards that topic by dealing with the matter of impossible people. Paul says in Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” The positive principle of this passage is that we should pursue reconciliation at all costs. The negative principle we can draw from this passage is that some people and some situations are simply impossible. Certain situations simply cross the line. Church terrorism is an “across the line” sort of issue. What is church terrorism? In my

How to Have a Proper Church Fight (Reading Romans 12:14-21)

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In previous posts I have already established that the church is not an ideal community. The church has an ideal purpose, an ideal goal, but it is comprised of less than ideal people. Let’s all sing together, “I am one of them, and so are you. . .so let’s just praise the Lord!” Because of the less than ideal nature of the church, conflict cannot be avoided. Most people would say that within the church conflict should be avoided at all costs. I am not sure if you have ever thought about that sort of statement, but if you are avoiding conflict, doesn’t that mean there is conflict? Just because you avoid something doesn’t mean it isn’t there. I rest my case. Conflict cannot be avoided. So how do you have a proper church fight? Paul says to counter punch. Instead of taking a defensive posture, take an offensive one. Be a blessing in the conflict. Punch back for the sake of reconciliation instead of retaliation. Huh? It’s true. If someone insults you, counter punch with honor. Paul’s posi

Enter Hope, Never Leave (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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There is a great chasm between what we know God could do, what we want Him to do, and at times what He actually does. There are many moments in life when we realize life, with the help of God, could be far different than it is. We enter into those moments with great hope knowing that with God all things are possible; but nothing happens. In time our faith moves from “what if” to “yeah right.” Hope leaves. Can God do something to regain our trust that truly all things are possible? Is there hope that never leaves? Listen to Audio

Do Miracles Work?

Do miracles happen? That is another question. I am asking do miracles work? Do they achieve the desired end or do we need something else? There are many people in the hospital today in desperate need of a miracle. A man labors to breathe. A baby fights for life. A daughter desperately needs her mother to wake up. Hospitals full of people are places full of prayer. But it is not just hospitals. Anywhere there are people there exists desperate need for miracle. God seems absentee. We know what God could do. We experience what actually happens. All too often there is a great chasm between what we want God to do and what He does. We endure enough of this and hope leaves. Faith erodes from “what if” to “yeah right.” At times God withholds miracles. Perhaps it is because miracles don’t work. In John 11 Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. In John 12 the chief priests want death to return. They plot to kill Lazarus. In Exodus 5 God gave Moses an arsenal of miracles to con

What Would Jesus Eat?

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At the beginning of the year I resolved to read Dr. Don Colbert’s What Would Jesus Eat , again. The first time I read it was about three years ago while at the beach. There is nothing better than reading a book about eating while your belly sunbathes at the beach. “Is that a solar panel or your gut badly in need of a tan?” There is no better wake up call for the human body than Destin, FL. The first time through the book I gleaned the value of grains. My wife and I immediately changed the quality of foods we were eating, mainly by ridding our home of white bread, white rice, and white pastas and replacing them with whole grains. It was not long until my colon thanked me – several times. This trip through the book I took my time. Having learned to love grains I wanted to pay attention to other aspects of the book. It is this educational approach to the book I most appreciate. What Would Jesus Eat is not a diet in the sense of The Maker’s Diet , or the Atkins Diet, South Beach , or e

Note to Self (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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The church is not an ideal community. People are given to believe that the church should be borderline utopia; relationships flow easily, people get along, an absence of conflict. Yet anyone who has been a part of a church knows this is not the case. The church is often a place of rough edges and difficulty. Why? Because the church is full of egos! This being the case Paul starts in the perfect place for church reformation, the self. In order for the church to change it must be full of changing people. Changing people have an honest and sober view of self that facilitates true Christ-like change. Audio

The Bible Is Like an Accordion (Reading Romans 12:3-21)

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The Bible is like an accordion. The text is full of folds. Within each fold there is a massive amount of information. The more you pull on it, which in the Biblical sense is known as exegesis, the larger the meaning of the passage becomes. The fact that the Bible has so much information can also be confusing. When many people read the Bible they are confronted with so many ideas so quickly they fail to see how it all holds together. As a result, when people read the Bible, they hear static instead of music. A helpful way to deal with the accordion of the Bible is to outline. Writers have a message they want to convey. In conveying the message they may reveal truths, present arguments, or illustrations to support or prove the central message. The points are not the message, but merely a part of the message. The Bible is written communication. It conveys a message. It is not a hodgepodge of ideas but a story, a letter, a teaching, that conveys a central idea. Because the Bible has so ma

People Are Impossible (Reading Romans 12:3-21)

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With God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). Yet the truth remains, some people are simply impossible. I am not sure how to reconcile the two, impossible people to an all possible God, but somehow the two coexist within the known realm of reality. Paul says, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all (Romans 12:18)." Last night I was privileged to hear a lecture by Dale Huff on church conflict. Dale Huff is the director of the office of Leader Care and Church Administration for the Alabama State Board of Missions . His title is short for "lion tamer." Dale Huff spends more than half of his time traveling around the state of Alabama as a mediator for church conflict. I cannot imagine having this man's job. I can list at least 99 things I had rather do than walk in Dale Huff's shoes. Here are only five of my least favorite things that rank right above Brian Branam doing Dale Huff's job. I would rather: 1) lick a r

Fully Engaged in God (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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If you think explaining predestination is difficult, you should know what most people deal with in their workplace! This is the very reason Paul does not end his marvelous book on how God rescues the human soul with the chapter 11 doxology. Paul now begins to teach us how we can live difficult doctrine in an even more difficult world. The only way to live the Christian life is to be fully engaged in God. Romans 12:1-12 is Paul’s Shema. We must be full participants in the Christian life or it will not work. Listen to Audio