Sermon Series "I Believe in God But"
This series examines some questions and doubts that people have about their belief in God.
How Can I be Sure?
July 22, 2018
We may have many questions about God and Christ. But the most urgent is "How can I be sure of my salvation?" Ultimately as many have found; its much more a matter of the heart than of the mind. Using the story of the conversion of the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:16-34 we find there are three simple steps in the process. They must be: A-admit our need. B-believe in Christ C-commit your life to Christ. They must be in this order!
A. ADMIT OUR NEED.
The jailer. "What must I do to be saved?" He sensed his real need.
Sensing our need: Lostness, sin, helplessness, need for God's love. This must be admitted ; we must ask, need for repentance
B. BELIEVE IN JESUS.
Paul's answer. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved."
The need is to believe in- not just about Jesus. This involves trust; entering into a love relationship with Him. The experience of salvation. An old hymn says it well.: "What a wonderful change in my heart has been wrought; since Jesus came into my heart."
The jailer and his family were baptized. A new lifestyle began for the jailer and his family as a result of his conversion.
Like marriage begins a new life for a couple.
A desire to get to know the other better, and learn how to grow in our love relationship.
A desire to know God better through scripture, prayer, worship.
A desire to please him through obedience and service.
The three ABC steps are necessary throughout our life as a Christian.
Call to commitment: Have you, are you willing to do this?
16 Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” 18 And this she did for many days.
But Paul, greatly [a]annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour. 19 But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.
20 And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, “These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; 21 and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.” 22 Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. 23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. 24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 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 chains were loosed. 27 And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. 28 But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”
29 Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 Then 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 stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. ~ 2 Tim. 4:6-8 NKJV
12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. ~ 2 Tim. 1:12 NKJV
Christians are Intolerant
August 26, 2018
Responding as Mature Christians
When you are confronted about my faith.
When you are dealing with sin.
The Gospel of Jesus is for everyone.
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” ~1 Peter 3:15-16
“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” ~Ephesians 4:14-15
“Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.~Colossians 3:11-12
I Just Want to have Fun
July 29, 2018
Joy is better than just Fun
God can’t care about petty rules.
We must take our pleasures now.
Jesus offers a life full of purpose.
“It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.” ~Acts 15:28-29
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” ~1 John 2:15-17
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” ~John 15:18-19
“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” ~John 15:9-11
No Absolute Truth
August 12, 2018
Who determines Truth
Relative truth brings more freedom.
Be careful you are not following a lie.
The Truth is known to us in a person.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” ~Galatians 5:13-15
“Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” ~2 Corinthians 3:15-18
“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free… So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’” ~John 8:31-32,36
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’” ~John 14:6-7
Aren't all Religions the Same?
September 2, 2018
Aren't All Religions About The Same
There is now a Hindu temple a few miles from a church I once served at many years ago. It was then rural, now its sub-urban so the vicinity has really changed. We are being thrust into contact with other world religions. This reality has lead some to say: "Aren't all religions about the same?" Don't they all have the same goal of helping us live better so we all get to heaven?
A. Some similarities:
A goal to help us understand life and how to live it better. How to be good! All have certain beliefs, scriptures or writings, symbols, ceremonies and special leaders.
B. Some differences:
Number of gods, if any. Some are more philosophies than religions. Magic, May the "force" be with you.
C. This is not a subject for a sermon.
It would make a good study for a class.
Like a universal family or like the father and sons in the Parable of: "The Prodigal Son" ~Luke 15:11-32
God as Father. (Not a king or potentate.)
A loving Father, who cares for his children, and acts out his love, especially through Jesus. "God so loved the world, that he gave us his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life."~John 3:16
In the parable; God showed his love by:
Giving both sons, free-will: the power to choose to love him in return. The younger son chose to neglect the father at first and left home; but later returned in a humbled and penitent spirit.
Then offering the younger son, forgiveness for his sin & reacceptance back into the family.
Our God is a God of LOVE, ACTION through Christ, and FORGIVENESS. A Christian uniqueness!
The younger son.
After his original pride (I can do life by myself) cost him everything,
"He came to himself -Developed a spirit of humility ( a sense of need)
Returned home in a spirit of repentance' saying "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants." Luke 15:21
He was forgiven for his past sin but also received back not as a slave or hired servant but as a SON.
To symbolize this - He was given the best family robe (a robe of righteousness) He was given a family ring ( the credit card making the resources of the family available to him). He was given shoes . (Only children wore shoes.) This was to more adequately help him face life.
This was to aid him in living the present and to fully prepare for and live in the future as a son, not a slave.
A TRANSFORMED LIFE.
Experiencing The Uniqueness Of Christianity
What it offers
A God who loves us, acts through sending his son Jesus, and willingly forgives those who repent.
A new transformed life.
This is meant to be lived. (Not just a good idea but a guide for a life.)
Other religions don't really offer this. (For them its all up to us.)
The older brother: Portrays those who don’t experience this blessing.
He never really became humble so he felt no need for repentance, trusting in his own faithfulness at his task at home. He thus never experienced forgiveness and as a result of that, LOVE. He hated his "no-good" brother who had left home and was jealous of the warm reception back by the loving father. He felt like a slave. "Look all these years I have slaved for you and you never gave me anything”
Some professing Christians feel and live like that. More slaves than children of the heavenly father. In that spirit they are little different than people who follow other religions or even no religion.
They don’t know or experience, LOVE, FORGIVENESS AND A NEW LIFE which are Christ's unique gifts to us.
No wonder there is so little joy in their religion. Our sinful life has nothing to celebrate.
Which son better describes you today? Are you experiencing the blessing of truly being part of God's transformed family? Or is your religion most duty or drudgery?
Holy Communion is a good time for spiritual self-examination. As you kneel at the communion rail after receiving the symbols of Christ sacrifice, take time to seek God's help in making needed changes in your life!
I Don't Need the Church
August 5, 2018
Life in the Body of Christ
Why people don’t like the church.
It is hard to grow in your faith alone.
You are a vital part of God’s mission.
“I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” ~Amos 5:21-24
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” ~Hebrews 10:24-25
“If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” ~1 Corinthians 12:17-20
“So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” ~Romans 12:5
I'm Not Sure About the Bible
August 19, 2018
Is the Bible Reliable?
What make a story believable.
The Bible is historically accurate.
Living your life in in God’s Word.
“When your words came, I ate them;they were my joy and my heart’s delight,for I bear your name,Lord God Almighty.” ~Jeremiah 15:16
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” ~2 Timothy 3:14-17
“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; will be exalted among the nations,I will be exalted in the earth.’ The Lord Almighty is with us;he God of Jacob is our fortress.” ~Psalm 46:10-11
“How can a young person stay on the path of purity?By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart;do not let me stray from your commands.I have hidden your word in my heartthat I might not sin against you.” ~Psalm 119:9-11”