Sunday – January 23, 2022 Romans Week 38 Romans 8:14-17 “Assurance in the Spirit”

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Word On Worship – Sunday – January 23, 2022

Romans 8:14
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”

The exhortation of Romans 8 is that the Christian is living out our lives in the Spirit to be far from passive. We are not to be striving to be righteous in the strength of our flesh, but we are to be putting to death the deeds of the flesh through the Spirit. There is no peaceful co-existence with the flesh; we must choose sides. We will either walk according to the Spirit or according to the flesh. If we walk in the Spirit, we will wage war against the deeds of the flesh. This is a struggle every Christian must take seriously.

The Christian’s walk according to the Spirit is a walk of obedience, based upon our obligation to God, according to 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.

The challenge in our walk is usually not in what we do, but how and why we do it that makes something of the Spirit or the flesh.  We falsely assume certain activities (like prayer, worship, and Bible study) are spiritual, but others (like washing dishes, changing diapers or the oil in the car) are not. Whether we work at preaching or teaching in secular schools, the issue is whether we are doing it by means of God’s Spirit or by means of the flesh. Some of the activities which appear most spiritual are those which can be, and often are, done in the flesh. For example, James warns us prayer can be accomplished in the flesh, or in the Spirit: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3). Even Paul experienced that preaching the gospel can be done in the flesh or in the Spirit: “Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will” (Philippians 1:15).

The great danger faced by the church today is not that of “secular humanism” but that of “religious humanism”—seeking to serve God and to please Him in the power of our own flesh, rather than “according to His Spirit.” The greater danger is that of appearing to be spiritual and religious in the power of the flesh. Take note of the strong distinction which the Scriptures make between that which is of the flesh and that which is of the Spirit. May God grant us the ability to distinguish the two and to choose to walk according to the Spirit putting to death the deeds of the flesh.

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 – June 20, 2021 Father’s Day John 8:31-50 “Like Father Like Son”

Sunday – June 20, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – June 20, 2021

John 8:39-41
Abraham is our father,” they answered. “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did. As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the things your own father does.”

Our Lord has not yet said just who is the “true father” of these Jewish opponents. His adversaries seem well on their way to figuring that out for themselves. Almost as though they are trying to speak before Jesus can identify their “father,” they blurt out, “We were not born as a result of immorality! We have only one Father, God himself” (verse 41). They seem to be saying: “So, you think that God is your Father, but not ours. You think you can accuse us of having another “father” than Abraham. Well, since the subject of fathers has come up, let us remind you that none of us is a bastard—but you are! It is we who are the sons of God, and not you!”

Our Lord is not taken aback by their cruel accusation. Jesus bases His next words on a principle we articulate by the expression: “Like father, like son.” You know who one’s father is by his conduct as a son. A son acts like his father, and so you know that the son will imitate his father. The “father” of these hecklers in the crowd can be discerned by simply observing their conduct. Abraham believed God; the crowd does not believe in the Son of God, who was sent down from heaven and who speaks for God the Father. If God were their father, they would welcome His Son and love Him, as they think they love the Father.

Jesus concludes: “You people are from your father the devil” (verse 44). This must come as a slap in the face. These people think they have the inside track with God, that they are “sons of God” as much as men can be. Now Jesus tells them they are really sons of the devil. How can one conclude otherwise? They reject Him whose word is the truth. They are devoted to lies, just like their real father, the devil. When they seek to kill Jesus, are they not murderers, like their father, the devil?

Jesus has much to say about “fatherhood.” The Jews of that day made too much of their ancestry. They not only rightly believed that being a Jew is a privilege, they falsely assumed that being Jewish (the offspring of Abraham) was their ticket into the kingdom of God. Jesus makes it clear that Abraham must be our father in a different sense. Jesus is telling us that one’s “father” is known, not by one’s parents, or even by one’s profession, but by means of one’s practice. Our father is the one who behaves as we do. The Jews who oppose Jesus are liars and murderers, just like their “true father,” the devil. Who your “true father” is will be evident by your walk.

Sunday – April 7, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 16:19-31 “Lazarus and the Rich Man”

Sunday – April 7, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – April 7, 2019

Luke 16:30-31
But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.”

How can people be so careless about their eternal destiny? The great deceiver, Satan, gets them focused on the here and now. Every once in a while—when a friend dies or when a major catastrophe claims many lives—they think briefly about death. But they figure, “I’m a basically a good person. God is loving; He wouldn’t condemn a decent person like me.” And, they put it out of their minds and get on with pursuing the good life.

Jesus directed the parable of the rich man and Lazarus to the Pharisees, who thought that they would get into heaven because they were good men. They were the religious leaders, at the synagogue every time the doors opened. They studied the Law and the Prophets and participated in all of the annual feasts and holy days of the Jewish faith. They even called Abraham their father. But their religion was outward, designed to impress others. But God was not impressed because their hearts were full of pride and hypocrisy (16:15). They would have protested that they kept the Law, but they were not concerned about inner, heart righteousness before God. Like the rich man in the parable, they were living the good life, assuming that they would go to heaven. Their love of money had blinded them to God’s perspective.

As far as we know, the rich man in the parable was not guilty of any gross sin. His fault was in living for himself and for this life only, with no view to eternity. His sin was not in having money; Abraham was a wealthy man. His sin was that he did not use the mammon of unrighteousness to make friends for himself so that when it failed, they would receive him into eternal dwellings (16:9). He failed to lay up treasures in heaven, even though the opportunity to do so literally lay at his doorstep every day. Even having Abraham as his father (16:24, 27, 30) wouldn’t help him on judgment day, because he had neglected the true message of Moses and the Prophets.

The story of the rich man and Lazarus concludes in such a way as to indicate what really justifies a man. The rich man was not condemned because he was rich, any more than the poor man was justified for being poor. These outward conditions (riches and poverty) were fundamentally irrelevant to the eternal destiny of these men. A godly rich man would have used his wealth differently, but it was not his works that would have saved him. The real basis for justification or condemnation is to be found in the context of the rich man’s concern for his lost brothers. The issue was whether or not these men were rich or poor, but whether or not these men believed the Scriptures. It is not riches nor poverty which determines one’s destiny, but belief or unbelief.

Sunday – March 10, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 15:1-31 “Lost and Found” Part 2

Sunday – March 10, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – March 10, 2019

Luke 15:31-32
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'”

The Bible is like a mirror. At first, we look into it and think that we are reading stories about others. It’s interesting to see how they are portrayed. We may chuckle at their antics or shake our heads in disbelief at their stupid ways. But the longer we look, the more we begin to notice that those characters in the Bible look more like us! Gradually, we begin to realize (with some embarrassment), “That is me!” The parable of the prodigal son is like that mirror. At first it just seems like an interesting and touching story. But the more you look, the more you begin to see your own heart either in the prodigal or in his older brother, or in both.

But the Bible not only reveals what we are like, it also reveals what God is like. This is important, because we cannot know what God is like apart from His revealing Himself to us. We can speculate on what we think God is like, but such speculations don’t mean anything, because they are just our opinions, not based in fact. Jesus Christ reveals to us what God the Father is truly like. While it is not a comprehensive picture, the father of the prodigal son gives us an important aspect of God’s character, namely, His abundant mercy toward all who will repent of their sins.

At the end, Jesus leaves the story hanging, with the older brother outside. We don’t know if he ever came in to join the party, in spite of the father’s gracious and gentle appeal. Jesus leaves the story there to make us consider our own response. If we are like the older brother, if we pride ourselves in being good, church-going people, if we see ourselves as better than prostitutes and drug dealers and thieves and other obvious sinners, then we need to judge our self-righteous pride. In the same way, we would be greatly wrong to go out and join in the sins of the prodigal, so that grace might abound. Neither son was right in their response to the abundance of their father.

We’re all sinners, desperately in need of mercy, not justice. Perhaps we started laboring in God’s field at sunrise and someone else comes in at 5 p.m. and gets the same pay as we do. Don’t begrudge him; just be glad that God is a God of great mercy, even toward the proud if they repent. If you, like the prodigal, have rebelled against God and have come to see your wretched condition, your response should be like his: Get up, leave your sin, go to the Father and appeal for His mercy. You will find it in abundance.

Sunday – November 4, 2018 Gospel of Luke – Luke 11:1-13 “Teach Us How to Pray”

Sunday – November 4, 2018

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 4, 2018

Luke 11:9-10
So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.”

All of us who are Christians have struggled with the problem of unanswered prayer. In fact, that problem can discourage us so much that we start thinking, “What’s the use?” and we even quit praying. We hear stories of how God answered prayer for others, but for us it just doesn’t seem to work. Sometimes we may try again, but we’re like boys who ring the doorbell and run away. We don’t stick around long enough to find out if God is home and if He is going to open the door and answer our request.

The strong emphasis in this whole section is on receiving answers to our prayers. The friend at midnight did not go away empty-handed. He got the bread that he came for. The application emphasizes that one who keeps asking, seeking, and knocking will receive what he is after. The story of the father and his son makes the same point: the boy will get what he asks from his father. The final application drives it home again with force: How much more will the heavenly Father respond favorably to those who ask Him? Our Lord wants us to come to the Father and keep on coming until He gives us what we need to see His kingdom come.

If we do not pray daily to God as our Father for these needs, or if we pray only for some of them, it may be because God is not a Father to us, but our foe. Only the one who knows God as their Father can pray to Him as their heavenly Father and do so expecting Him to hear and to answer with good gifts. Some things the true disciple is instructed to pray to come to pass would be viewed as distasteful, even dreaded by a non-Christian. What unbeliever would pray for the coming of the Lord’s kingdom, knowing that it would not only spell the end of their sinful lives, but also their damnation? Who would pray for forgiveness of sins, if they denied that they were sinners?

If you lack the confidence to come to Him as your Father, then God has a way for you to become His child. That way is through God’s Son, Jesus Christ. He has come to the earth and has died in your place. God’s anger toward your sin has already fallen on Him. All that you must do is to receive God’s gift of forgiveness and of eternal life through His Son, and through His death on the cross of Calvary. Come to the Father as your Father, now.

Sunday February 18, 2018 Gospel of Luke – “The Last Temptation of Christ” Luke 4:9-12

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Luke 4:9-12
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here.  For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'”

Jesus answered, “It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”

Have you ever watched a small child learn to trust its father? When Gwen was younger we would sometimes visit a swimming pool. With a little persuasion, I would entice her to jump into my arms in the pool. After a few experiences, no coaxing was needed. In fact, sometimes she would leap when I was not looking, bobbing to the surface with the greatest of delight. It is not difficult to imagine that the Son of God could have felt the same way about jumping from the pinnacle of the temple.

Sonship really was the issue of the third temptation. Israel had failed to grasp what sonship entailed, and rebelled when they became aware of its price. Our Lord understood fully what sonship was all about, and thus each of His responses to Satan came from the one place in the Old Testament which most emphatically taught the meaning and implications of sonship.

We must remember that as Christians we are also “sons of God,” who are to reign with Christ. And as “sons of God,” we are subject to testing and discipline (Heb. 12), although maybe not in the exact ways as our Lord. We are also susceptible to the same temptations to which Adam and Eve and Israel (and all mankind) have failed. Thus, the test of our Lord’s sonship is very relevant to “sons of God.” The father-son relationship is one with a clearly defined chain of command. The father is in authority over the son. The child is to trust and obey the father.

For a “son of God” to put God the Father to the test is to reverse the authority structure which God has established. It is to forget that it God tests us; we are not here to test God. We need proving, not God. We are here to serve God; God is not our servant, standing by ever ready to do our bidding. Was this not the essence of God’s rebuke of Job? All too often, Christians are representing God as the servant of man, who is so eager to have followers that He is ready to do our bidding. Wrong! Sonship means that we are the ones to obey, to serve, and, if it pleases the Father, to suffer according the example of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is God who tests us; we do not test Him.

Sunday February 4, 2018 Gospel of Luke – “Can God Be Tempted?” Luke 4:1-4

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Luke 4:1-2
“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil.”

Have you ever wondered what the difference was between being tempted and being tested? The Bible speaks of both, but does that mean the two are interchangeable? Does it make a difference if Jesus was tempted by Satan or only tested in the Wilderness?

Temptation is, on the one hand, a solicitation to sin, to do that which is contrary to the will and the word of God. Temptation is an attempt to cause a person to sin. Satan’s efforts at temptation always fall into this category. But “temptation” when viewed from God’s point of view is a “test,” an opportunity for one to be proven righteous. In the case of Job, Satan sought to bring Job to the point of forsaking his faith, but God’s purpose was to deepen Job’s faith, as well as to demonstrate to Satan that Job’s love for God was not based upon the material blessings that God had bestowed upon him.

In the same way, Jesus was “tempted” in two senses in our text. From the vantage point of Satan’s intended purpose, our Lord was tempted. Satan wished to prompt the “Son of God” to act in disobedience to the Father, thus terminating His ability to fulfill His mission. From the viewpoint of God, this was a “test” of Jesus Christ, proving Him to be suited and qualified to fulfill His mission as the Son of God.

This temptation struck at the very heart of the gospel, for the Lord Jesus had come to the earth in obedience to the will of the Father, to die on the cross for sinners, so that they might be forgiven and have eternal life. Would Jesus save His own life, contrary to the will of His Father? Then He could not achieve eternal life for all men. Would Jesus act on His own behalf, distrusting and disobeying the Father? Then He would pursue the path of death, not life, for life requires obedience to God, even more than feeding the body. To have turned the stone into bread would have been to have turned from the path that led ultimately to the cross. The rejection by Jesus of Satan’s proposition meant that He was determined to accomplish the will of God, even unto death, which paradoxically, was the way to life, for Him and for all who are found in Him.

Death is not the end of life, rather death is the way to life. The death of Christ became the way in which men could have eternal life. His death meant that He suffered and paid the penalty for our sins. By believing in Christ we become identified with His death, burial, and resurrection, which is symbolized by baptism. But not only is death the way to life (dying in Christ to sin), it is for the Christian, the way of life. We are taught that we must daily “take up our cross,” we must die to self-will and self-interest. The way of life is death to self, that is the way of the cross.

Sunday – July 30, 2017 Thom Rachford Preaching

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The Kingdom Come

Acts 1:6-7
So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.

Jesus disciples knew the many Old Testament prophecies about a coming Kingdom. Jesus had preached that the Kingdom was at hand.  They were anxious to know if today was the day.  James and John wanted positions of authority in the Kingdom and to sit on Jesus’ right and left hand.  In Matt 6:9 Jesus even told His disciples to pray “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heavenThey were expecting a Kingdom on earth with Jesus as King and the Father’s will is done like it is in Heaven.  The time seemed right.

When the disciples asked, Jesus did not refute the idea of a restored Kingdom to Israel. He only said it was not for them to know the time.  After His death and resurrection they asked Him again.  Now, sin had been dealt with, and now death was overcome.  Everything would seem to be in place for the Kingdom to come immediately.  However, the Kingdom was postponed until the Time of The Gentiles was completed.  The Time of the Gentiles was brought on by Israel’s rebellion against God and His commandments.  Like other of God’s Judgments, the Time of the Gentiles must be fulfilled as God directs.  But the Kingdom Will Come.

Sunday – April 30, 2017 Genesis 37:1-36 “Jacob, Joseph and Jealousy”

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Genesis 37:2
Joseph, when seventeen years of age, was pasturing the flock with his brothers while he was still a youth, along with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives.”

It is impossible to live in this world and not be hurt by someone else’s sin. When you have been wounded by someone else’s sin, you’ve probably wondered, “Where is God in all this? If God is all-powerful and loving, why is He allowing this terrible sin against me? If He is in control, why do wicked men literally get away with murder? If God is sovereign, why am I in the pits?”

Joseph could have asked that question. Due to his brothers’ sin, he was literally in a pit. From there things didn’t get better. His brothers didn’t kill him, as they originally planned, but they did sell their 17-year-old brother into slavery in a foreign land. As that caravan made its way south toward Egypt, perhaps passing within a few miles of Joseph’s home in Hebron, he must have been overwhelmed with grief and loneliness as he wondered if he would ever see his father again. He must have wrestled with fear, anger, and feelings of rejection as he thought about his brothers’ cruelty toward him. A skeptic might say, “See, God isn’t there when you need Him. If He cared about you, He would stop sinful men from carrying out their terrible plans.” But God’s sovereign providence runs like a strong river through this chapter, carrying even the sinful plans of man downstream in His overall purpose.

Perhaps the most convincing evidence of God’s sovereign hand in these events is the remarkable parallel between Joseph’s history and that of our Lord Jesus Christ. Just as Joseph was loved by his father and sent to seek the welfare of his brethren, so Jesus was loved and sent by the Father. Just as Joseph’s brothers hated him because he spoke the truth about their sin and he convicted them of sin by his righteous life, so with Jesus. Just as Joseph’s brothers sold him for a few pieces of silver, so Jesus was betrayed for the same. Joseph’s brothers sought to get rid of him so that he would not reign over them, but their action resulted in that becoming true. Their rejection of him resulted in his later becoming their savior from the famine. Even so, the Jewish leaders did not want Jesus to reign over them. But their killing Him resulted in His becoming the Savior of all men, exalted in His resurrection as Lord of all at the right hand of the Father, just as Joseph was second under Pharaoh.

In various situations, we may feel that we’re in over our head. A terrible tragedy hits us out of nowhere. We lose our job, someone dies, someone wrongs us, and we feel as if we’re going to be swamped. But, the truth is, we’ve always been held up by the grace and love of our Heavenly Father. If He let us go, we’d drown even in the shallow end. If we’re in deeper waters, we’re still in His strong arms. God is never out of His depth, and so we can trust Him even when the waters seem deeper than we’ve ever been before. If you’re in the pits, remember, God is sovereign over all the details of your life. You can trust Him to work it all together for good! If you’ve never trusted Him before, why not begin now?