Sunday May 15, 2022 Romans Week 51 Romans 9:4-23 “Glory in Judgment”

Sunday – May 15, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 15, 2022

Romans 9:16-18
It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.”

One of the key words in our passage is the word “mercy.” In tracking the use of this word in the New Testament, I learned something very significant: No one ever called upon our Lord for mercy and was turned away. No one ever came to our Lord and asked for mercy and received a response like: “Well, you are not one of the elect. I’m sorry, you’ll have to go away.” Every individual who asked Jesus for mercy in the gospels received it. Those who spurned His grace were condemned.

Some Christians seem to think God is glorified only by the salvation of sinners. This is not the case. God is equally glorified by the condemnation of sinners. Moses and the exodus of Israel from Egypt glorified God. Pharaoh’s hardened heart and his resistance against God and His people also glorified God. All of God’s creation will ultimately bring glory to Him. The ultimate question is not whether God will receive glory. The ultimate question for you is whether He will be glorified by your salvation or by your condemnation. God has nothing to lose and everything to gain. You have everything to lose or everything to gain.

The doctrine of election is not brought up by Paul until Romans 9. It is a doctrine every Christian needs to understand. It is not a doctrine every unbeliever needs to know. Unbelievers need to know that they are sinners and that the wrath of God awaits them. They need to know that God has provided a way of escaping His wrath and of entering into His promised blessings. That “way” is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). No one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ. By His death, Jesus suffered God’s wrath on the sinner. By His life, you can be given new life. Receive this gift. Call upon Him for mercy, and He will forgive; He will save.

The principle laid down by Jeremiah still holds today. God has promised to forgive and to bless those sinners who repent and who will receive His mercy. God has promised to judge those who resist and reject His grace. When the day of judgment has come or when the day of our death comes, there will no longer be an opportunity for mercy. The time when God’s mercy is extended to sinners is now. The day of judgment rapidly approaches. Do not delay, my friend. Plead for mercy, and He will grant it. God’s justice will be executed. We must not doubt this. God’s mercy is now offered. Take it, today.

Sunday May 8, 2022 Mother’s Day “A Biblical Response to Abortion”

Sunday – May 8, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 8, 2022

Psalm 139:14-16
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.

One of the greatest truths in life is that there is no escape from God. Like fugitives, we may run, but we cannot ultimately hide from the God who penetrates even the darkness with the gaze of His light. He formed us even in our mother’s womb for His purpose and ordained all of our days before we ever saw the light of day. If we manage to dodge Him in this life, we must still stand exposed before Him on that fearful day of judgment. There is no place to hide from God.

Every person has in his or her body sufficient proof that God exists. To ignore that kind of evidence renders a person without excuse (Rom. 1:18-23). Every second more than 100,000 chemical reactions take place in your brain. It has 10 billion nerve cells to record what you see and hear. That information comes to your brain through the miracle of the eye, which has 100 million receptor cells (rods and cones) in each eye. Your retina also has four other layers of nerve cells. Altogether the system makes the equivalent of 10 billion calculations a second before an image even gets to the optic nerve. That’s not to mention the miracle of the ear and how it translates sound waves into meaningful speech and sounds; or of touch, taste, and smell.

A single human chromosome contains 20 billion bits of information. How much is that if it were written down in an ordinary printed book in modern language? Twenty billion bits are the equivalent of about three billion letters. If there are approximately six letters in an average word, the information content of one human chromosome corresponds to about 500 million words. If there are about 300 words on an ordinary page of printed type, this corresponds to about two million pages. If a typical book contains 500 such pages, the information content of a single human chromosome corresponds to some 4,000 volumes.  The zygote contains 46 chromosomes, half contributed by each parent, in a unique configuration that has never existed before and never will again. It is not plant life or animal life, nor is it mere tissue like a tumor. From the moment of conception, the new life is genetically different from his or her mother, and is not a part of her body like her tonsils or appendix. This new human being is a separate individual living inside the mother.

The sacredness of life demands far more of us than merely prohibiting murder. It demands that we seek to save the life of those who are in danger of death, those whose lives we are able to spare. It means we cannot stand idly by without attempting to stop abortion on demand. It means, just as much, that when a person is dying of starvation, disease, or natural disaster, you and I are obligated to do everything in our power to save their lives. If life is sacred, then we must seek to save the lives (and the souls) of all men and women, not just those who seem innocent, or helpless, or socially desirable. May God give us the ability to grasp the sacredness of life, and to have an attitude of being willing to lay down our lives for the benefit of others.

Sunday – January 9, 2022 Romans Week 36 Romans 8:5-8 “Siding with the Spirit”

Sunday – January 9, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – January 9, 2022

Romans 8:5
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”

There is a popular but mistaken view that there are two optional tracks for the Christian life. If you’re prone toward hard work, you can sign up for the discipleship track. Under this plan, you give up everything to follow Christ. You have to deny yourself and take up your cross daily and endure hardship and sacrifice. The other track, the “cultural Christian track,” is for the rest of us more “ordinary” believers. Under this plan, you can accept Jesus as your Savior (to make sure that you’ll go to heaven), but also pursue your dreams for success and personal fulfillment in this life. You get the best of both worlds without needing to be gung-ho, like those on the discipleship track.

The idea that discipleship is optional or a spiritual perk for those who have the inclination is a myth. Jesus’ mandate to make disciples goes beyond informing the mind; it aims to shape the character.  It encompasses tutoring the heart to forge godly character as well as training disciples in practical ministry skills.  New Testament discipleship targets the head, the heart, and the hands.

The process of sanctification (what God does) is inseparably related to discipleship (what we do).  Sanctification is only possible when this process is initiated and infused with the Holy Spirit who comes to live in the heart of a believer.  Christianity is not hard; it’s impossible.  You can’t live a Christian life apart from the Spirit of Christ. Discipleship is not a matter of turning over a new leaf, but rather, receiving a new life. God, by His Holy Spirit, comes to live in the heart of the believer.  He creates new affections (new loves, new desires) that inform the mind and empower the will. Paul captures this idea when he says: “…continue to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.”  (Phil 2:12)

Note your work and God’s work.  You (the believer) are to work out your salvation.  Not to work for your salvation but to work out what God has already worked in as a free gift.  I understand what a “workout” is and does.  A physical workout takes time, energy and effort and over time will reshape the body.  Likewise, spiritual practices take time, energy and effort, but over time will reshape the soul. This happens as God does His work in this – “to give you the desire and power to do what pleases Him.” Embrace the Good News.  Jesus came into this world to die for our sin and to be resurrected to new life, so you can encounter Him and let Him empower you to live the life He calls you to.  Then prompted and empowered by the Holy Spirit, commit yourself to the things Jesus calls you to do.

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 – November 7, 2021 Romans Week 28 Romans 6:12-18 “Stop It”

Sunday – November 7, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 7, 2021

Romans 6:13-14
Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

Freedom is difficult to obtain and even more difficult to maintain. Political liberation neither immediately nor automatically leads to democracy. Once a dictator is overthrown and his government toppled, the newly liberated people often find they are not equipped to handle freedom nor the governing of themselves. The Christian life is something like this. Salvation brings immediate forgiveness for sin but not immediate freedom from sin. When a person is “born again,” or justified by faith in Jesus Christ, they are loosed from the bondage of sin. And yet sin soon seems to gain the upper hand once again and reigns in the life of the believer.

Romans 6 provides a biblical basis for turning from sin to godly living, from the practice of sin to the pursuit of righteousness. In this text, Paul provides evidence in support of godliness. Paul calls the Christian’s attention to their “baptism into Christ,” which unites them with both His death and His resurrection. Our union with Christ prohibits us from living in sin, because this would be inconsistent with and contrary to the work of Christ on the cross. In Christ we died to sin, and thus we must not continue to live in sin. In Christ, we were raised to newness of life, and thus we must live a new and different life in and through Him.

Sanctification is the lifelong process of spiritual growth which takes place in the life of the Christian resulting in the glorification of God. By inference, our text teaches us that sanctification is surely not automatic. Once we have been saved, we are not predisposed to always do God’s will. Growth does not occur by accident. The Christian is faced with decisions and choices. While there is boasting and great confidence, there is also agony and struggle. The struggles and tribulations are a part of the process.

Sanctification is not immediate, and it is not easy, but it is remarkably simple.  We do not struggle with sanctification because it is so hard to understand, but because it is so hard to do. Sanctification is rooted in the cross of Jesus Christ. We were saved from sin and unto righteousness. Our sanctification is grounded in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He died not only for sin, but to sin. Since we have been baptized into Christ, we must not live in sin; we must die to sin. Our lifestyle must radically change as a result of our union with Him and His work at Calvary. Our sanctification is necessitated by the cross, and it is provided for by the cross. The cross of Christ is the key to our salvation and our sanctification.

Sunday – October 31, 2021 Romans Week 27 Romans 6:4-11 “Are You Alive to God”

Sunday – October 31, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – October 31, 2021

Romans 6:4
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

As Paul concluded his instruction on justification in Romans 5, he spoke of the identification of all mankind with Adam, with his sin, and with the penalty of death which God pronounced as the penalty for his sin. He also spoke of Jesus, the “last Adam”, and the salvation which He accomplished for all whose identity is found in Him, by faith. Paul now plays out the implications of the Christian’s union with Christ, which is initiated by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, publicly professed in water baptism, and which is to be lived out in a radically different lifestyle.

Fundamental to understanding Paul’s teaching in verses 3-11 is knowing what he means by baptism in these verses. By and large, the New Testament writers speak of baptism in two ways. First, there is the physical rite of water baptism. John the Baptist required men and women to be baptized as an outward evidence of their repentance. Jesus’ disciples likewise baptized men, those who repented of their sins, in preparation for the coming kingdom of God (John 3:22). Those who came to faith in Jesus as the Messiah were baptized as a testimony to their repentance and faith in Jesus.

Baptism, according to Paul here, brings about identification or union with Jesus Christ, in His death, burial, and resurrection. To be baptized into Christ is to be baptized into His death. The “old man”—the person we once were in Adam—died in Christ. Our body, in bondage to sin, was rendered ineffective by our death in Christ. Our Lord’s death at Calvary was not only a death for sin, but a death to sin. His death for our sins accomplished propitiation and the forgiveness of our sins. His death to sin achieved a separation from sin. Sin has no power over one who has died. We died to sin in Christ, and thus sin has no claim on us.

The death of Christ ended an era in our lives. It closed that ugly chapter of our lives marked by sin and destined us for death. It was but one event, ending the death-grip of sin on our lives. But the resurrection of Christ commenced a whole new and eternal life. The death of Christ was one event in history, a death to sin “once for all.” The life of our Lord is for all time, an endless succession of living toward God. This is why living in sin is entirely inconsistent with the work of Christ on the cross of Calvary. Just as we must receive the atoning work of our Lord as His act accomplished for us, personally, so we must also accept His death to sin, resurrection, and life toward God personally. We must regard ourselves as dead to sin and alive toward God. To continue to live in sin is inconceivable, in the light of our death to sin and resurrection to life, in Christ.

Sunday – August 15, 2021 Romans Week 17 Romans 4:9-15

Sunday – August 15, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – August 15, 2021

Romans 4:13
It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.

Many Christians today are divided with regard to assurance of salvation. The Roman Catholic Church declared, “No one can know with a certainty of faith, which cannot be subject to error, that he has obtained the grace of God”. Among Protestants, those from the Armenian wing (Wesleyan, Holiness churches, the Nazarene Church, Pentecostal churches, etc.) argue that true believers through sin can lose their salvation and fall from grace. Although, some Armenians, inconsistent with their own view of saving grace, do hold believers are eternally secure. Those who hold the Reformed view believe that those whom Christ has genuinely saved, He will keep unto eternity.

Let me give you a brief overview of my understanding of the basis for assurance of salvation. There are three aspects to it: First and foremost, have you trusted in Jesus Christ alone and His death in your place to forgive all your sins and clothe you with His righteousness? If you answer “yes,” then there is a secondary basis for assurance: What evidence of the new birth do you see in your life? While we never will be perfectly sanctified in this life, there should be some definite signs of the new birth: a growing love for God, a desire to know Him through His Word, a desire to please Him by keeping His commandments, a growing love for others, a growing hatred of sin, etc. The “tests” of First John fit into this category, along with the character qualities of 2 Peter 1:5-11.

Third, there is the witness of the Spirit, who “testifies with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:16). While this aspect of assurance is partly subjective and therefore subject to error, I understand it to be based on the objective promises of God. This inner witness of the Spirit is when He takes the promises of salvation in the Bible and testifies to your spirit, “Yes, these are true and by God’s grace I rest on them!” Or, the Holy Spirit assures you by reminding you of how He has worked the signs of new life in you.

Paul states it as a given that those who have received this reconciliation now exult in God. But do we? Have you spent any time this past week exulting in God because of all that He has freely given to you through the Lord Jesus Christ? I encourage you to make time each day to open God’s Word and pray, “Lord, show me today some of the unfathomable riches of Christ so that I may exult in You. Thank You that I have been justified by Christ’s blood! Thank You that while I was Your enemy, You reconciled me to You through the death of Your Son!” The fact that you are saved for sure—justified by Christ’s blood, saved from God’s wrath, reconciled to God although you once were His enemy—ought to cause your heart to exult in God.

Sunday – January 10, 2021 Job 1 “Christian Thinking Durnig COVID 19” Pt 2

Sunday – January 10, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – January 10, 2021

Job 1:9-11
Then Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing? “Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. “But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.”

Satan is no stranger to anyone who is familiar with the Bible. His origins are described in Isaiah chapter 14 and Ezekiel chapter 28. We are first introduced to him in Genesis chapter 3, where he deceives Eve, resulting in the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. It would seem that some of Satan’s fallen colleagues are involved in the corruption of the human race as described in Genesis chapter 6. In 1 Chronicles 21:1 Satan prompts David to number the Israelites. And in Zechariah chapter 3 he makes accusations against Joshua the high priest.

In the New Testament we find Satan at the temptation of our Lord (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13). In John 13:25-27 Satan entered into Judas, prompting him to betray the Lord Jesus. In Acts 5:1-11 Satan corrupts the hearts of Ananias and his wife Sapphira, so that they lie about the amount of their contribution to the church. In 2 Corinthians we read of Satan’s schemes (2:11) and later in the book we are told how Satan works through others, and also disguises himself as an angel of light (11:3-15). In 1 Thessalonians 2:18 Paul writes that Satan hindered his attempts to visit the Thessalonian saints. Peter likens Satan to a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). Finally, in the Book of Revelation Satan appears as God’s adversary at the end of this age. At last, Satan is defeated and cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:7-10).

From Satan’s perspective, Job’s commitment to trust and obey God was easily explained on a human level. Who would not serve God if this was rewarded by good health and wealth? (Prosperity preachers, beware!) And so Satan challenged: “Let Job’s prosperity and easy life be taken away, and then see how faithful he is.” Satan was convinced that Job would curse God when his enjoyment of the good life was taken away. Isn’t what Satan is saying to God in our text what he really believes?  In effect, Satan reveals his own limitations.

There is no greater advocate of “the prosperity gospel” than Satan, who seeks to convince us that God is not really good, especially when He withholds something we desire or delight in. When Satan (ultimately God) took away “the good life” from Job, with all of its material and physical blessings, he believed that Job would forsake his faith, and curse God. Satan could not comprehend why men and women would follow God, even when He brought them into great suffering and adversity. He could not grasp that God is worthy of our trust and obedience because of Who He is, rather than because of what He gives.

Sunday – November 29, 2020 Elder Thom Rachford Joshua 24:14-28 “Know Your Choices”

Sunday – November 29, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 29, 2020

Luke 6:35-36
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.  36 “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

How did the obscure, marginal, Jesus movement become the dominant religious force in the Western world in a few centuries? To understand how this took place we need to explore a number of key factors—one of which is plagues. Indeed, to understand the rise of Christianity from a few followers of the Way to a faith that has changed the world, we need to understand the biblical and remarkable response by the Church to plagues of the past.  Over the next few weeks as we come to the end of 2020, I want examine briefly four pandemics in history and how the church has responded in the way of Christ. As we note their examples, let’s be inspired by their faith—even if we might make some adjustments for our own time and circumstances.

The Plague of Cyprian (249–262 AD) was a lethal pandemic that, at its height, caused upwards of 5,000 deaths a day in Rome. While the plague severely weakened the Roman empire, the Christian response to it won admiration and a greater following. Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, reported: “Most of our brother Christians showed unbounded love and loyalty, never sparing themselves and thinking only of one another. Heedless of danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy; for they were infected by others with the disease, drawing on themselves the sickness of their neighbors and cheerfully accepting their pains. Many, in nursing and curing others, transferred their death to themselves and died in their stead.

This evident Christlikeness—taking death in order to give life—stood in stark contrast to those outside the church. Dionysius continues: “But with the heathen everything was quite otherwise. They deserted those who began to be sick, and fled from their dearest friends. They shunned any participation or fellowship with death; which yet, with all their precautions, it was not easy for them to escape.” (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 7.22.7–10)

Plagues and pandemics intensify the natural course of life. They intensify our own sense of mortality and frailty. They also intensify opportunities to display counter-cultural, counter-conditional love. The church rose to the challenge in the second century, winning both admirers and also converts. While the outworking of love may look different in different ages, love must still be the aim—a love directed by the Holy Spirit, not our self-centered flesh. May we—with our own pandemic—live out the wisdom and way of Jesus before a watching world.

Sunday – November 1, 2020 Book of Acts – Acts 26:1-32 “Coming to Agrippa with the Gospel”

Sunday – November 1, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 1, 2020

Acts 26:19-20
So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.

If you’ve ever watched the Oscar Awards night on TV, you have some idea of the glitter and glamour of the rich and famous, who are all trying to impress one another and the world. Luke describes how Festus, Agrippa, and Bernice entered the auditorium amid great pomp, accompanied by the commanders and the prominent men of the city. As I see this scene play out in my mind, the words of Jesus sum up the whole story. “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36).

Into this superficial scene the guards bring a little Jewish man in chains, the apostle Paul, to speak about eternal truths. In the middle of the proceedings, after Paul had proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus, Festus reached his limit. He blurted out loudly, “Paul, you are out of your mind! Your great learning is driving you mad.” This exchange put Festus, Agrippa, and Bernice on one side, with all of their worldly pomp and show, and Paul the prisoner for Jesus Christ on the other side.

Is Paul crazy to give up all that this world offers to follow Jesus Christ? Or, are those who live for all that this world offers—riches, fame, and pleasure—crazy, who die without repenting of their sins? Martin Luther said, “I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all. But the things I have placed in God’s hands, I still possess.”  This observation makes perfect sense to the believer, and yet each of us would have to admit that this present world holds a strong attraction for most of us. Few of us who know Christ would abandon our faith in favor of the world, but many Christians try to live with one foot in each realm, hoping to get the best of both worlds.

As Paul put it in 1 Corinthians 15:19, “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” The world lives as if this life is all that really matters. The obedient Christian says, “No, if this life is all there is, I am crazy!” We put all of our eggs in the basket of eternity. We say, “If Christ is not risen, and if there is no hope beyond the grave, please pity me, because I’m nuts!” May the way we obey Jesus as Lord, spend our time, and the way we manage our finances cause a worldly person to say, “You’re a bit off top-dead center”? If not, perhaps we need to rearrange our priorities in the light of eternity. Who are the crazy ones? Those who live for this present world and all it offers. Who are the sane people? Those who obey Jesus Christ and live in light of eternity. Because Jesus is risen, it’s the only sane way to live.