Sunday June 5, 2022 Romans Week 53 Romans 9:30:33 “The Right Way to God”

Sunday – June 5, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – June 5, 2022

Romans 9:32-33
Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written, “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”

Romans 9 has the dubious honor of teaching one of the most emotionally volatile doctrines of all the Bible, that of election.  “What shall we say then?” (9:30) serves both to draw a conclusion and to introduce a new section- more on this next week. The question that Paul has been focused on is, “If God is faithful to His covenant promises to His chosen people, then why are most of the Jews rejecting Jesus as their Messiah and Lord?” Paul has given several explanations for the condition of Israel in his day and in ours as well. Israel’s widespread unbelief and rejection of Jesus is explained by the doctrine of divine election. God did not promise to bless every descendant of Israel but only those to whom He gave the promise. Not all the physical descendants of Israel are true Israelites but only those whom God has chosen as such (9:6-23).

The salvation of the Gentiles is also explained in that God had both purposed and promised to save some Gentiles as well as some Jews. God’s promise to Israel through Hosea was also a promise for the Gentiles, who like Israel, are “not God’s people,” due to their sin, but who can become God’s people by His grace (9:24-26). The small number of believing Israelites is no problem to God or to the fulfillment of His promises. God promised to judge the sins of His people, and in so doing many Jews were destroyed. But God also promised to restore and to bless His people, and consequently He has assured the Jews that He will preserve a remnant, insuring the fulfillment of His promises (9:27-29).

The salvation of the Gentiles and the failure of the Jews is also explained in the Old Testament. God has always saved and blessed men by faith and not by works. Believing Gentiles have been saved by faith in Jesus Christ. Unbelieving Jews are condemned for their lack of faith and for their determination to be declared righteous through law-keeping. For those who believe in Him, Jesus is God’s rock of salvation. Jesus is, for those who reject Him, God’s “stone of stumbling”.

What kind of a “stone” is Jesus to you, my friend? Is He the rock of your salvation, or is He a stone of offense? Is Jesus the basis of your stumbling or the source of your salvation? Do not leave this passage without making your decision about this most crucial question. It matters not whether you are Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, but only if you are trusting in Jesus alone for salvation and not in your own merit and works.

Sunday May 22, 2022 Romans Week 52 Romans 9:24-29 “Fulfillment in Failure”

Sunday – May 22, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 22, 2022

Romans 9:23-24
What if He did this to make the riches of His glory known to the objects of His mercy, whom He prepared in advance for glory— even us, whom He also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

When someone succeeds without even trying, we try to be gracious, especially if we have failed with great effort. We are naturally inclined to resent the success of those who do not strive for it. This is precisely the case with the Gentiles and the Jews. In Romans 9, Paul summarizes the state of affairs with both Israel and the Gentiles. He says that the vast majority of the Jews have labored hard to earn their own righteousness while the Gentiles have attained righteousness with no effort at all. Does this make sense? Does it seem fair? Romans 9 was written with this dilemma in mind.

Paul is dealing with the difficulty of the widespread unbelief of the Jews. Only a small minority of Israelites have believed in Jesus as their Messiah, contrasted with a larger number of Gentile saints. How can it be that God has made so many promises to the nation Israel which have not been fulfilled and which appear at the moment to have little hope of fulfillment? Does Israel’s failure to trust in Jesus not only mean that the Israelites have failed but that God’s promises have failed as well? Is Israel’s failure also a failure of the Word of God? Is God’s Word reliable? Can we stake our eternal future on the promises of God in His Word?

Just as individual salvation is based upon the promises of God, Israel’s hope as a nation is based on God’s Word. God has made promises to the nation which may appear to have failed in the light of Israel’s unbelief. In chapters 9-11, Paul sets God’s promises to Israel and Israel’s history side-by-side. His whole purpose is to show the reader that all that has happened to Israel is in complete harmony with God’s Word concerning Israel. Israel’s present condition does not prove to be an embarrassment to anyone who believes God’s Word. Israel’s condition is evidence of the faithfulness of God’s Word and of His sovereignty in history as He brings about the fulfillment of His every promise.

The matter of the faithfulness of God’s Word is not important only to the Jews. The Christian serves the same God of the Old Testament. The Christian receives God’s promised blessings as a true son of Abraham. We who are Gentile believers are blessed by God’s grace in bestowing on us those things which He promised the true Israelite. If God’s Word, as revealed in the Old Testament, has proven to be unreliable, then His Word in the New Testament is unreliable as well. Every Christian should be convinced of the faithfulness of God’s Word.

Sunday April 3, 2022 Romans Week 47 Romans 9 “Why Write Romans 9 to 11”

Sunday – April 3, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – April 3, 2022

Romans 9:3-4
For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.”

If Romans 8 has the distinction of being the high-water mark of the New Testament, chapter 9 has the dubious honor of teaching one of the most emotionally volatile doctrines of all the Bible, that of election. This chapter is so troublesome to some Bible teachers that they would prefer it not to be in Scripture. And yet Romans 9 is vitally important to the Christian, not only in the sense that it provides a basis for the theological doctrine of election, but in that it has great bearing on our spiritual life.

If salvation finds its origin in the will of the creature, rather than in the will of the Creator, then we could never be fully assured of salvation. The maintaining of our faith would then be a work required for salvation. In fact, if the salvation of others is not in the control of God, then what reason do I have to pray for the salvation of the lost? But if salvation finds its origin in the will of God, then I know that I am forever secure, for even though I may change, God is immutable. Since it was He Who purposed my salvation and He cannot change, then my salvation is as certain as the One Who is its source.

I certainly understand why the doctrine of divine election troubles many Christians, but I believe this is a doctrine that can neither be dismissed nor denied. All the questions of Paul in chapter 8 find their answer in election. Can God work all things together for our good? Will the predestined be called and the called be justified and the justified be glorified? Is there really now no condemnation, and will there be none tomorrow? Romans 9 comes after Romans 8 for this crucial reason: it shows that the word of God’s covenant with Israel has not failed, because it is grounded in God’s sovereign, electing mercy. Therefore, the promises to the true Israel and the promises of Romans 8 will stand!

Romans 9 and the doctrine of election is indeed a glorious text, a text which should lead us to rejoice. When understood correctly, in relationship to other biblical truths, this doctrine provides great confidence, great humility, and great gratitude for the Christian. Because salvation is determined by God, then I may come to Him in prayer with the confidence that He is both able to save, and He takes pleasure in saving as well as in answering my prayers. Let us set aside our preconceived prejudices and emotions, and seek to know God as He is. Let us rejoice and be glad, for He is God, the sovereign God of the universe! Who better to be in control of our lives?

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 – June 16, 2019 – Father’s Day – Reconciling Families

Sunday – June 16, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – June 16, 2019

Malachi 4:4-6
Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel. Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.

It is not news that American families are fracturing at an alarming rate. Only 34 percent of all children born in America will live with both biological parents through age eighteen. Seventy percent of African-American babies and 19 percent of white babies in the United States are born out of wedlock. Most will never know their fathers, let alone experience their love. Sadly, evangelical Christians don’t fare much better than the world when it comes to fractured families. That’s tragic, in light of the fact that the second great commandment is to love one another! What good is our faith if it doesn’t result in daily loving relationships in our families?

Sin always results in alienation, both toward God and toward one another. When Adam and Eve sinned, they hid from God and they suffered distance in their own relationship. Adam began to blame Eve (and God) for his problems (Gen. 3:12). Sin leads to guilt; guilt not properly dealt with leads to blame; blame leads to anger and alienation. Pride causes us to justify ourselves and to attack the other person. This is a basic pattern that applies to all relationships.

What is the solution? God says (4:4), “Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statues and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel.” God didn’t give Moses some helpful hints for happy living. He commanded Moses statutes and ordinances for all Israel. God’s moral and relational commandments are not just for the Old Testament era. Living under grace does not mean living without commandments. Believers under grace are given all sorts of commandments, including the oft-repeated command to love one another. If you are not acting in love toward your family members, including your church family, you are sinning! Obedience to God’s commands should stem from the heart because of His grace and love toward us. But the point is, loving one another is not just a nice thing to do when you feel like doing it. It is God’s commandment.

When you begin to obey God by judging your anger, by demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit towards your family, and by setting an example of walking with God, He will bring healing into your home. It won’t happen all at once, but it will begin. If you have been sinning against your wife and children by not loving them, first ask God’s forgiveness. Then ask your family’s forgiveness, and begin to obey God by walking in love, just as Christ loved you and gave Himself up on the cross.

Sunday – August 27, 2017 Genesis 49:1-28 “The Purpose of Prophecy”

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Genesis 49:1-2
Then Jacob summoned his sons and said, “Assemble yourselves that I may tell you what will befall you in the days to come. “Gather together and hear, O sons of Jacob; and listen to Israel your father.”

I have always found it interesting that both Christians and non-Christians are fascinated with prophecy. To be interested in prophecy is good, since much of the Bible is prophetic. But the point of Bible prophecy is not to speculate on various details, such as the identity of the antichrist or the date of Armageddon. The point of prophecy is to motivate us to purity and holy zeal for the things of the Lord in light of His soon coming. And there is a point to these prophetic words of Israel to his son’s. And not just them, but for the first generation who read these words recorded by Moses as well as you and I.

To understand these words, we need to see God has a plan for history. I know this is obvious to some but I lose sight of it so easily in my daily routine and pressures of life. Even as the Lord’s people, it’s easy to fall into the daily schedule of going to work, taking care of the kids, and dealing with all the hassles of life that we lose sight of God’s great purpose for history and how we fit into it. We become spiritually dull, so that we miss opportunities to further God’s plan.

In God’s time and way, these prophecies about Jacob’s sons would be fulfilled, but the individuals within the tribes had a choice about whether they would help to fulfill them through obedience to God or fight against their fulfillment through disobedience. It’s the same with us: God’s plan for the ages will be accomplished, but we have the choice either to be involved in fulfilling that plan or in resisting it. The personal history of Judah ought to encourage us. He was a man who had a dismal beginning, but who repented of his sin and inherited a great future. God offers that same blessing to each of us. If we will turn from our sin and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, sent from God in fulfillment of this prophecy uttered by Jacob, God will bless us beyond measure.

These prophecies of Jacob remind us that while we may not understand all the details of the plan, God does have a plan. He is moving history ahead right on schedule toward the grand climax when Jesus Christ shall reign supreme, when every knee shall bow to the Lion of the tribe of Judah. We need to live each day in light of God’s great plan for history.

Sunday – August 13, 2017 Genesis 47:13-31 “Poverty & Prosperity”

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Exodus 1:8-10
Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we. Come, let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply and in the event of war, they also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us, and depart from the land.” 

Israel prospered in spite of the famine and the poverty which Egypt experienced. While the Egyptians were fainting under the famine, the Israelites were flourishing. Egypt’s loss, to some degree, was a gain for the Israelites. This small, select group prospered while the mainstream of Egyptians were impoverished. This raises some questions about the prosperity of the Israelites during the famine. Was it wrong for them to be prosperous while others were doing without? Was it right for them to buy land while others had to give up land?

Before we become too smug, let me ask you a question. Have you ever gone to a “going out of business” sale? And did you insist that the business sell you its merchandise at full retail price because times were hard? No, you delighted at getting something drastically marked down. That business’s loss was your gain, and you went away proud of the bargains you found. Lest we lose our sense of perspective, let me also remind you that the prosperity of Israel at this time paved the way for its future persecution.

A little lesson in history will help put this section into perspective. Before Joseph or Jacob entered the land of Egypt, there had been a large influx of Asiatic Semitic slaves into Egypt. They congregated largely in the Delta region of Egypt, the same area where Goshen was located. Over a period of time these Hyksos land owners formed a political coalition which gave them great power in the Delta. At a weak point in Egyptian political power, the Hyksos coalition overthrew the throne, and a Hyksos Pharaoh was installed. It is most likely that the Pharaoh under whom Joseph served was a Hyksos. This explains, at least in part, why a Pharaoh would install a Hebrew slave into such a high office. A fellow Palestinian would be trusted more than a native Egyptian. This situation might also explain why the Pharaoh would encourage the immigration of Hebrews from Canaan. They could enhance his political position and be potential allies if and when the Egyptians attempted to regain power.

Later on, when Joseph had long since died and the Hyksos dynasty had been overthrown, the Egyptians were not inclined to feel favorably toward the Israelites, who had collaborated with the Hyksos and had prospered while they had been impoverished. And if another attempt were made to overthrow the throne of Egypt, the Hebrews might well be expected to become allies in such an effort. No wonder they were disliked, distrusted, and dealt with as a serious threat to Egypt’s security.

It might not be going too far to suggest the initial success of the descendants of Jacob and their later persecution provides us with a prototype of later Jewish persecution. I am not a historian, but I believe this to be evident in Germany before the Second World War. Germany’s economy had suffered greatly, and yet it was evident that Jews were the successful bankers and financial giants. The Jews then became the scapegoat for all the political woes of the nation and were severely persecuted and oppressed by the Nazi regime.

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 23, 2017 Genesis 36:1-43 “A Successful Man Who Failed with God”

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Genesis 36:31
Now these are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the sons of Israel.”

While Esau was out conquering the land of Edom, founding a nation, fathering kings, and making a great worldly success of himself, Jacob was quietly living in a land he didn’t even own, the land where his fathers had sojourned. While Esau’s descendants were mighty chieftains, famous in their day, Jacob’s descendants were down in Egypt, enslaved to Pharaoh. By Moses’ day (over 400 years later), Israel was a fledgling nation of slaves, recently escaped from Egypt, owning no land of their own. Edom was an established kingdom that had the power to refuse Israel passage over their land. But this tour through Genesis 36 shows us that God, not man, writes the final chapter of history. These men, successful by the world’s measure, passed off the scene and were soon forgotten as others clamored to take their place. Fame is a fleeting thing.

What really matters is recognition by God, not by this world. We live in a culture that worships fame. If an athlete, a musician, or an actor or actress becomes a Christian, we rush his life story into print and hustle him onto the TV talk shows. The guy may be a babe in Christ, who doesn’t know anything about the Bible, but we listen to his every word as if he’s a spiritual authority. But the recognition that counts will come soon, when we stand before the Lord Jesus Christ and hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt 25:21, 23). In that day, real success and failure will be unveiled. Until that time, we should be careful to not make a big deal about earthly success or failure. Only God knows who is truly successful and who is not.

That’s why it is so important to ask yourself the question, “What am I living for?” What a shame to live your life like Esau, wondering, “What if …?” While we still live, we all have a choice: to join Jacob and his descendants in waiting patiently for God to fulfill His covenant promises to us, as we labor for His coming kingdom, or to look over at Esau, prospering in the world, and join him in the pursuit of secular success. If we succeed by worldly standards but fail with God, we have failed where it really matters. Whether we fail or succeed by worldly standards, if we succeed with God, we will have true and lasting success.

You are writing history. Every day you live, the choices you make, the things you say, and the actions you take are becoming a part of history. You are influencing the eternal destiny of others (one way or the other). How you conduct yourself in your marriage, with your children, in your work, and in the community is incredibly important! You are leaving a legacy for those who will follow in your steps. I urge you, please live your life with eternity in mind.

Sunday – January 22, 2017 Thom Rachford

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Gen 12: 3 And I will bless those who bless you. 
And the one who curses you I will curse. 
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

Genesis 17:8  I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”

The living God made a promise to Abraham for him and his descendants. He promised them the land and through them an eternal blessing to all peoples.  God could do this because he is God and He says the land and the people of Israel are special to Him.  Many times in scripture God states his promises to Israel are forever.

Today however, the world treats Israel and her people as though they have no connection to the living God. Even some major Protestant Church organizations say that because Israel rejected Jesus as their Messiah and King at his first advent, they broke the conditions of God, negating all promises, and so Israel and her people have been swept aside. They say any promises made to Israel now are given to “the church”.  If they find it difficult to connect any specific promise to “the church” they like to say that promise was symbolic, not literal.  How convenient.

Now that they believe Israel is cast off, these major denominations believe Israel to be supremely evil and refuse to do business with Israel or any business or organization that does anything with Israel.

Is this the point of view for “born again” Christians to have? As believers in Jesus, we are directed to search the scriptures for truth rather than just accept any person or organization’s word.