Sunday March 6, 2022 Romans Week 44 Romans 8:31-32 “Enduring Opposition”

Sunday – March 6, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – March 6, 2022

Romans 8:31-33
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all — how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?

Confidence can be a very good thing. It can also be a mill stone around one’s neck. Being confident simply is not enough. The crucial issue is in whom, or in what, is our confidence. Ill-founded confidence is deadly. Well-founded confidence is proper and good. Some Christians have no confidence at all, believing that with one slip, one sin, they are out of the faith. Agonizing their way through life, they hope no sin has gone unnoticed and unconfessed; if so, they fear they will not get to heaven. These Christians desperately need the confidence of which Paul speaks in Romans 8.

It is not doubt, nor fear, nor guilt which should motivate our service, but a confidence in God mixed with deep and abiding gratitude. Because we are secure in Christ, we may serve. We need not focus on ourselves but on Him. Since He is the “author and finisher of our faith,” we must “fix our eyes on Him” (Hebrews 12:1-2). With God on His side, the Messiah was both willing and able to face a world that would reject and persecute Him. This confidence, which sustained our Lord, is that same confidence which is also able to sustain every saint.

We dare not be confident in ourselves. This would be folly. We dare not doubt that we shall be more than conquerors as this would be to deny His Word and to distrust God. We, like Paul, should be absolutely convinced concerning these things, based upon the Word of God. God, who has done the most for you by giving His own Son, will help you endure every trial that you go through for Christ’s sake. Because of His great love for you, He will bring you safely to glory. Our security is rooted in God, in His sovereignty, and in His unfailing love.

Today self-confidence is looked upon as a virtue and lack of self-assurance as a vice. Even in Christian circles we are being told how we can raise our children so that they feel good about themselves, are self-assured, and confident. The Bible calls for humility, not pride; for dependence on God, not self-sufficiency. Let us beware of seeking that which God’s Word condemns. Let us look to God, to God alone. He is our refuge and strength. In Him, and Him alone, is our confidence.

Sunday – December 19, 2021 Romans Week 34 Romans 8 Overview “From Agony to Ecstasy”

Sunday – December 19, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – December 19, 2021

Romans 8:3-4
For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

There is an expression that goes something like this: only two things in this life are certain, death and taxes. Now this may be true for the unbeliever, but for the true believer in Jesus Christ we must add at least one more thing—sanctification. That is the force of Romans 8. All of the struggles, all of the turmoil, all of the agony, is a part of God’s plan to conform us to Himself.

We gain a clue to the importance of this chapter simply by contrasting the conclusion of chapter 7 with that of chapter 8. Chapter 7 ends in agony, with the apostle describing the constant struggle going on within as he attempts to live a life which is pleasing to God in the power of the flesh. Those who can identify with the agony of Paul in Romans 7 will rejoice with him in the ecstasy of Romans 8. Do you desire to serve God and to obey His commands and yet find it impossible to do so? If not, then you should go back to the beginning of Romans and start reading again. If you have come to that point of despair of which Paul speaks, then you have come to the point of dependence upon God.

Paul’s approach to the spiritual life is so different from that of many today. Paul does not seek to motivate Christians by questioning their salvation or by suggesting that, by sin, they can lose it. He does not suggest that unspiritual living is the result of failing to possess the Spirit but bases his teaching on the certainty that every Christian is indwelt by the Spirit. And he does not appeal to guilt or fear but to grace and assurance. Paul assumes that his readers are genuine Christians. If they have been justified by faith, then they have the Spirit dwelling within. Christians, according to Paul, do not need to receive the Spirit, but to respond to the Spirit, in faith and obedience for assurance, guidance, empowerment, and a host of other ministries.

The Christian’s walk according to the Spirit is a walk of obedience, based upon our obligation to God, based upon His goodness and grace to us. There are no harsh words, no dictatorial commands. Paul is not a sergeant here addressing new recruits but a brother reminding us of the goodness of our Father. God’s Spirit is a gift from the Father to every Christian. He reminds us that we are sons. He leads us and empowers us so that we may act like sons to the glory of the Father.

Sunday – December 12, 2021 Romans Week 33 Romans 7:14-25 Pt 2 “This is War”

Sunday – December 12, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – December 12, 2021

Romans 7:24-25
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

I tend to think of Paul as the man with all the answers. If anyone can understand sin and my struggle with it, it would be Paul. But in our text Paul is the one struggling, and he does not offer a quick or easy explanation. This is because sin cannot be understood. Sin is irrational. We try to rationalize our sinful actions to make it appear that we have reasons, good reasons, for our sin but there is no good reason for sin. Sin is an irrational act which has no easy, rational explanation.

We have little difficulty believing we struggle with sin or that others like Peter struggled, but Paul somehow seems above it all.  Yet Paul’s struggle is a deeply personal struggle, with sin and with his own flesh. It is a war within, the result from his conversion to Christ, that did not exist until he was saved. However, Paul’s despair was legitimate and even necessary. Until we hate sin, we will not turn from it. Until we reach the end of ourselves, we will not look to God. Just as unsaved person must come to the end of themselves in order to receive God’s gracious provision of righteousness, by faith in Christ, Christians too must come to the end of themselves to find the solution, once again, at the cross of Calvary.

If coming to the end of ourselves is essential to turning to God for our deliverance, then many Christians will never turn to God for victory over sin because they do not recognize their true condition or take it seriously enough. It was the self-righteous Pharisees who did not come to Jesus for forgiveness simply because they did not think they needed it. It is the “smooth-sailing saints” who do not come to the cross for deliverance from the power of sin in their lives because they do not agonize over their condition as Paul did.

How great is our struggle? My concern is that I lack the kind of agony that Paul has. If our struggle is as great as Paul’s, we will in desperation give up all self-help efforts and turn to the cross. God has provided a righteousness through the power of the Spirit. The answer is to come in Romans 8- the very Spirit that raised the dead body of Jesus Christ from the grave is the Spirit that dwells in you and will give life to your mortal bodies. The solution for Christians is the walk of the Spirit, but we will never get to that point until we have come to the desperation of Paul in Romans 7. My prayer is that we begin to grasp the immensity of the struggle with sin and forsake all efforts to serve God in the strength of our flesh.

Sunday – December 5, 2021 Romans Week 32 Romans 7:14-25 “Who is This Wretched Man”

Sunday – December 5, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – December 5, 2021

Romans 7:19-20
For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

Paul describes in the Book of Romans a great struggle—one with which only Christians can identify and one with which all Christians can identify. The Christian’s agony comes from realizing that our sinful flesh refuses to respond to the requirements of God’s Law. Those things we as Christians despise, we find ourselves doing and those things we as Christians desire, we fail to accomplish. No matter how much we may wish to serve God in our minds, we find ourselves sinning in our bodies.

My body generally does what I ask it to do, although to my chagrin, it does it slower and not nearly as well as it used to do. It is a frightening thought that someday it may not respond to my requests at all. But it is one thing to have our body not do what we tell it to and quite another to realize that our body is very obedient to something else. Every Christian who reads Romans 7:14-25 should immediately identify with Paul’s expression of frustration and agony due to the weakness of his fleshly body: “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24). We are confronted with a dilemma as we try to live righteously. If there were no answer for this question, who would dare to press on with living a holy life?

Christians and non-Christians alike struggle, but they struggle with very different things. The non-Christian’s enemy is God and ultimately the struggle of the unbeliever is their struggle with God. Their distress and troubles are a manifestation of the wrath of God. We were born in our transgressions and sin; we were at enmity with God—sin is not the problem. For the Christian, sin is the enemy and that changes only at conversion. The struggle Paul is describing is his personal struggle with sin, as I understand it, as a believer.

Some of our most tender nerves are touched by Paul’s teaching in verses 14-25. The truths taught here could be taken as the most depressing and hopeless realities of our lives. But Paul does not dwell on the weakness of our flesh in order to discourage us. Rather, Paul exposes the weakness of our flesh as the root problem that prevent Christians from living the kind of lives God requires and which we, as Christians, desire in our innermost being. Paul exposes the weakness of our flesh to prepare us for God’s provision for godly living, the solution found in Romans 8. Those of us willing to honestly identify with the agony of Romans 7 will be ready for the ecstasy of God’s gracious provision for living righteously in Romans 8. Let us welcome these words of encouragement as a revelation from God, for these verses are God’s good news for sinners.

Sunday – July 4, 2021 Independence Day Philippians 1:27-30 “Christian Citizenship”

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 4, 2021

Philippians 1:27-28
Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents — which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.

Paul was aware when he wrote to the Philippian church of just how important the desire to re-create a home in a foreign place was. Philippi was a colony of Rome—a part of the Roman commonwealth. This meant more than its being a subject city: Philippi was distinct from other cities in Macedonia in that it was made to be a model Roman city. In a colony one would find Roman customs, Roman architecture, Roman dress, and the prevailing language was Latin. It was, in a word, a fragment of Rome. If you were to walk into the city, you would have the feeling of entering an Italian suburb of Rome, even though it was nearly a thousand miles distant.

When Paul wrote to the Philippian Christians, he knew they would understand him when he said, “Our citizenship is in heaven.” (Phil. 3:20) There is an important difference between Paul’s calling Christians to be citizens of a heavenly kingdom and the human tendency to make a home on foreign soil by imitating the customs of the homeland. While there is a continual reminder of the alienation that accompanies having a home in a foreign land, we have the hope of going to our true homeland.

We as Christians must never forget that this world is not home. There must be a sense of alienation taken into the heart of all our experiences because the gospel has given us more than new lift-  it has granted us new citizenship. Unfortunately, adaptation is second nature to the human race. We adapt ourselves to the environment and culture in which we find ourselves until we act and think like those around us. In doing so we exchange the distinction of being a heavenly citizen for a lesser title of a citizen of an earthly nation. We lay aside the standard of the gospel in order to have room to carry the standard of the nation.

The gospel is the new and higher standard of conduct for who bear the name of Christ. The gospel is the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ; it is the declaration of how God has made it possible for people to obtain the forgiveness of their sins and the assurance of eternal life. The actions of the believer are attempts to prove to this world the real existence of another world; another citizenship. In all matters relating to the gospel, we must obey God and not men. This will cause friction with the nation in which we live. The friction caused by our spiritual loyalty to our true nation is the way we testify of another eternal world and to another glorious King.

Sunday – May 2, 2021 Romans Week 6 Rom 1:18-23 “The Present Wrath of God”

Sunday – May 2, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 2, 2021

Romans 1:18-20
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

God is doing a work today, and few even know He is doing it. He is presently revealing His wrath on “all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Romans 1:18). God is judging men for their sin today, and few even know it is happening. Unbelievers are unaware of God’s judgment, because they do not know God, nor are they alert to His presence and power in the world today. This is to be expected. But many Christians are equally ignorant of God’s present judgment of sin. They think of God’s judgment only in terms of the future. And they think of the sinner’s present self-indulgence in terms of pleasure, not punishment.

Many Christians look upon the sinfulness of our culture in about the same way one of the psalmists of old looked upon his culture—with envy. Instead of grieving over the sins of others, as Lot did over the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, we are tempted to envy sinners, as though they are privileged to enjoy pleasures we Christians are denied. And so, very much as Satan implied that God was withholding good from Adam and Eve, we are tempted to believe that God is withholding something good from us. We try to console ourselves with the thought that though we must suffer now, we do so in order to enjoy better pleasures in heaven.

In the time of the great tribulation, God will allow men to do as they please. He will remove all restraints. But men will learn that there is no joy or pleasure possible when each seeks his own pleasure at the expense of others. Men want God to leave them alone; they want none of His controls. When God removes His controlling and restraining hand (Colossians 1:16, 17) the universe will begin to fall apart at the seams (Matthew 24:29). Men wish God to leave them alone, and God will give them an eternity of separation from Himself (2 Thessalonians 1:9). What an awesome thought. Hell is getting exactly what we want. And on the reverse side of the coin, how grateful we Christians should be to our heavenly Father Who has and will withhold much of what we ask for, for our own good.

Paul’s words may take many of us by surprise. We are not inclined to believe that God’s judgment has a present, as well as a future, manifestation. And even if we do believe in a present judgment, the form which this judgment takes, according to Paul, is not that which we would expect. The Book of Romans will force us to re-evaluate much of our thinking on the judgment of God. We must have the Holy Spirit illuminate His Word to understand it, and we must have divine enablement to apply it. Let us petition God for the ministry of His Spirit, as we approach our study in Paul’s letter to the Romans.

Sunday – March 7, 2021 1Peter 2:13 “Christian Thinking During COVID 19” Pt 10

Sunday – March 7, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – March 7, 2021

1 Peter 2:13-15
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.”

For centuries, the Christian’s relationship to civil government has been a matter of critical importance. In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel spent 400 years under Egyptian rule. The prophet Jeremiah spoke to the people of Israel, directing them to submit to Nebuchadnezzar and to Babylonian rule. The false prophets, however, promised the people that God would quickly deliver them from their bondage. As a result, over a period of time through a sequence of defeats at the hands of the Babylonians, almost the entire population of those dwelling in Jerusalem and the territory of Judah were taken as captives to Babylon. This same spirit of rebellion against foreign domination, even though divinely imposed, was evident in the Jews of Jesus’ day.

The command is given to submit ourselves to every human institution. The word “submit” is almost always taught and understood in terms of authority. Submission is the proper response of the Christian to those in a position of authority over us. In secular thinking, this may be as far as submission will go, but this is not so in the Bible. In addition to being a matter of authority, submission is also a matter of priority.

Peter calls upon the saints to “honor all men.” I believe this is a manifestation of submission. Peter commands the saints to submit to the king as the one “in authority” (verse 13). Submission is not only to be granted to the king, the ultimate authority, but to all of his agents. As I understand Peter, this not only means men in prominent positions of power such as governors but those who act on their behalf, the civil servants who carry out the functions of government on our level. Peter expects us to respond to these agents of authority as though they were the supreme human authority whom they represent.

Christians today are becoming more and more suspicious of government as it seems to encroach on our freedoms, especially during the COVID pandemic. When Christians are dominant in government, Christians breathe easily, but when “liberals” take control, we suddenly look at government differently. Let us remember that the government of Peter’s day was Rome, and the emperor at the end of Peter’s life was Nero. And yet Peter speaks of government not as our persecutor but as our protector. He speaks not of civil disobedience but of submission. He does not speak of government as our accuser but as the instrument through which false accusations are silenced. Let us look at government and respond to it as God has intended it to be, not as we fear it will be.

Sunday – February 14, 2021 Job 42:1-17 “Christian Thinking During COVID 19” Pt 7

Sunday – February 14, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – February 14, 2021

Job 42:1-3
Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. [You asked,] ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.

Our worldview is very influential in the decisions we make. However, many people do not know what a worldview is. A worldview is simply the sum total of our beliefs around the world, the ‘big picture’ that directs our daily decisions and actions.  When faced with a problem or challenge, our worldview becomes the source and foundation on which we make our response. We all have worldviews, which means that whatever content we filter into our worldview will determine how we act, speak, and think. As Christians, it is important that we craft our worldviews with information that is pure and godly and information that correlates with the Bible.

It is important to base our worldview on biblical ideas because it enables us to respond to the situations we find ourselves in on a daily basis. Society has a profound influence on everyone today. Much of what society believes and portrays rejects and contradicts the whole idea of God and the Bible. However, Romans 12:2 states, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Even though the majority of people who call themselves Christian might act in a certain manner, this does not make their actions biblical. That is why we must set our worldview in God’s Word, so that we may not fall under the influence of society.

Sadly, some Christians believe that is not important to center their worldview in God’s Word. A survey by Barna Research illustrates this point, showing that only 9% of all professing American Christians actually hold a worldview that correlates with principles found in the Bible. Without a biblical worldview, these Christians live their lives as if there are moral standards to live by but the Bible offers just one of many standards which are effective. These ideas may seem to make sense at first, however, the Bible tells us otherwise. It says in Psalm 14.1 that, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good”.

It is important for one to keep their worldview grounded in the Bible. We must hold a Biblical worldview because it helps one avoid the strong influence that society has to conform our thinking to put things of God aside. It is time for us to call into attention the importance of having the Bible as our foundation for our worldview so that we can stand against the tide of our evil society.

Sunday – July 19, 2020 Book of Acts – Acts 16:1-10 “The Sovereign Spirit”

Sunday – July 19, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 19, 2020

A Parable:

The week began and progressed as normal for the majority of Christendom. Oh, it was quite a different week, but only a few Christians would notice—far too few. One pastor reviewed the sermon that he had prepared. He would begin his message with a funny story, include a few Bible verses, the quote from Time magazine, and a story about a dramatic conversion. And, of course, he would conclude with an emotional appeal. “Yes,” he thought, “this one has been planned perfectly.” As he reread the sermon for the last time, it was obvious that he didn’t notice the difference.

The week continued on flawlessly. The church raised enough pledges for the down payment on the new sanctuary. The Wednesday evening prayer meeting also went on as usual, the few who came prayed that God would bless all of the missionaries. But no one noticed the difference. A few church members even got to witness at work that week. They pulled out their pocket Bibles and read to co-workers. Although no one seem very interested, they plowed through the entire presentation and encouraged them to pray the prayer at the end to invite Christ into their heart. But they didn’t notice. In fact, few Christians would have noticed, even in an entire year.

But there were a few Christians that had a most frustrating week. One pastor sat and stared at his Bible, but couldn’t get anything out of it. He knew the Bible and he knew how to prepare biblical sermons. But the Bible had become a dead book to him. He was frustrated and perplexed. But he noticed the difference! Some other believers also noticed. One man kept succumbing to lusting and couldn’t get the victory, no matter how hard he tried. A small group that normally was overflowing with joy in the Lord and love for one another found themselves depressed and bickering. Several other Christians found themselves doubting their salvation, and even wondering if God existed. These believers were defeated, frustrated, and confused. But, they definitely noticed the difference!

What was there to notice as different about this week? God decided to see which Christians were living in dependence on His Holy Spirit, and which ones were just depending on their own intellect and human plans to live the Christian life. So, He withdrew His Holy Spirit from the earth for the week! Think about it—would you notice the difference?

It is easy to fall into routine Christianity, where we function in the flesh instead of walk in vital dependence upon God’s Spirit. One of the main lessons of the Book of Acts is the expansion of the early church was due to the working of the Holy Spirit. He was directing, moving, and empowering the apostles as they responded to His leading. If we want to see God working today in a similar fashion, we need to fight routine Christianity and rather, seek daily to submit to and follow the sovereign Spirit.

Sunday – July 12, 2020 Book of Acts – Acts 15:36-40 “Can Division Multiply”

Sunday – July 12, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 12, 2020

Acts 15:39-40
They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.

There is a story that he tells in it of two porcupines in the freezing north woods that huddled together to keep warm. But when they got close, their quills pricked each other and they had to move apart. They needed each other for the warmth, but they needled each other with their sharp quills. Church members often are like those porcupines: we need each other, but we needle each other! There are many “porcupine” Christians—they have their good points, but you can’t get near them! It doesn’t sound very spiritual to admit that there are Christians that we just don’t like. But you cannot get involved in the local church for very long before you run into someone whose personality clashes with yours.

Paul and Barnabas had a long history of serving together. It was Barnabas who had gone to Paul and listened to his testimony when every Christian in Jerusalem was holding him at arm’s length. It was Barnabas again who went to Tarsus to look for Paul and brought him back to labor with him in the ministry at Antioch. The two men had been set apart and commissioned together to go out on the first missionary journey. Both men had a heart for the wellbeing of the churches. And yet these two teammates, who had labored together and suffered together for many years in the cause of Christ, clashed. Spiritual maturity does not erase personality differences that can lead to strong clashes.

There is a lot of muddled thinking about Christian unity. Unity does not mean that we all have to work closely with one another. While we need to be careful not to go our separate ways too quickly, without working through differences, there are times when two strong leaders need to recognize that God is calling them to different spheres of service. Unity does not mean that we all have to agree on every doctrinal or practical matter. There are many issues where godly Christians, committed to the Scriptures, disagree. We must be charitable toward one another on these matters.

The Bible recognizes two kinds of unity. In Ephesians 4:3, Paul mentions the unity of the Spirit, which he says we must be diligent to preserve. This implies that it is a spiritual fact, based on shared life in Jesus Christ. If a person has been born again into the body of Christ, then we are members of one another, and we must be careful not to damage that unity. Then, in verse 13, he mentions the unity of the faith, which he says we are to attain to as we mature in Christ. This is the oneness of shared light regarding biblical truth. It is the fellowship that deepens as we mutually grow to understand and love the great doctrines of the faith. Christian unity does not require that we all work closely, but it does require a shared life and shared light in the Lord.