Delivered May 29 2016,
22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
Confident access to God is a priestly privilege reserved for those who have been purified from sin’s pollution by the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. The inner cleansing of conscience that makes Jesus death superior to the sacrifices under the law, is visibly symbolized in baptism. As the high priests washed his body with water in preparation for entering the The Most Holy Place, so we may enter now as priests into God’s presence through our identification with our Lord Jesus, who has entered there. This identification is visibly signed and sealed in the washing of a christian baptism.
In another Hebrew passage mentioning the house of God, ( Chapter 3:1-14 ) there is a similar exhortation to be firm, and a similar assurance that Christ is faithful. Probably our original confidence, like the confession of our hope, refers to the time of baptism, ( note the term water on verse 22 ) and entrance into the church, and into the presence of God. Being confident the God will remain faithful!As we go through the message tonight, let us focus on two different facts. Being faithful, and obedience to Gods commands are different from our faithfulness in believing who our God is. Many believe in God, but not all believes in the same God that we do. What separates us from other christian sect are our walk with our Lord. How we live our lives.
1. O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
There are times in the Christian life when we make foolish decisions. And when we do, our Father will promptly address those actions! Some believers in Galatia had made some foolish decisions and here in chapter 3 the Apostle Paul vigorously addressed those actions.
There may be some of you who have made some foolish decisions, if so it is very possible that they will be addressed today! In the first 2 Chapters of Galatians Paul has defended the Gospel of Grace. He has shared with the believers at Galatia that man is “justified in Christ alone”
This was the message he had received, this was the message that he was called to share. This was the message that the people needed to hear.
This was the message that he had preached to them, and it was the very message that they had heard and accepted. And today people need to hear the message of grace through Jesus Christ. Also true is the fact that there are many who have heard the Gospel, surrendered to Christ and for one reason or another have turned away. Why? Is it sin? If so... “ i have been crucified with Christ, i no longer live but Christ lives in me” ( Gal 2:20 ). If i no... longer live, how can i turn away? Is it by my power that i remain in Christ?
This should be the case for every child of God. Every person here who has been “born again” has every opportunity to live an abundant life in Christ. But we know that is not the case. Chances are that there are some people present today who have made the foolish decision to turn from Christ and take control of their own life. “a little leaven, leavens the whole lump”. But remember God is faithful to forgive.
We can all agree that there are times that we have seen people (in this church) whether during a church service, in their home or in my office, turn to Christ for salvation. We all have watched these same people stand and make a profession of faith, go through the baptism , begin to walk with the Lord and join the church. We have seen them become active in their walk with Christ, begin to serve the Lord faithfully and even share their faith with others.
Somewhere along the way something happened... all of the sudden their church attendance begins to slip, their service for the Lord begins to suffer, they are less willing to witness to others, their personal walk is affected, they no longer read the Word, they rarely if ever pray to the Lord. Then, inevitably they begin to venture back into the sins that they have been delivered from. Just as the Galatian believers returned to the bondage of the Law, some have returned to the bondage of sin. This is a tragic situation, and it is far too common. It is safe to say that nobody here believes that they can be saved by good works? We are all mature enough to know that! So...it has to be sin! We are putting the chains back on... The same chains that Jesus removed by going to the cross. Why? Did we miss it that much?
Paul describes the act of turning away from Christ as “foolish”. As mentioned on verse 3. He is not referring to the level of intelligence, rather he speaks of a lack of obedience. If you are here and you refuse to obey the TRUE gospel and if you have returned to the bondage of sin, then Paul is addressing that as foolish! Some translations use the words "thoughtless" or "senseless", or even the word, excuse my language, “stupid”. “You stupid people of Galatia!”. That may be bold and blunt but it is a fitting description of those who would turn from the Gospel of grace... It’s just STUPID!
Now please forgive me for using that word, it just makes a bigger impact to the hearer. I can only imagine how the true translation of this word is. You know when you literally translate our language into English, at times it just wont make any sense,or it may come out to be harsh! But, regardless of which word you choose, it will hurt, and should make an impact. Because its true. And only you can answer that by examining your walk with the Lord.
If you are one of those “returned to the bondage of sin”, as recalled on verse 1. I have some questions for you...Have you been deceived, or who has deceived you? Is it so powerful that its enough to ignore your calling? Is the lust of the flesh so powerful that it can overtake the power of Christ that is in you?
Paul was concerned, confused and at the actions of the Galatian believers. When reading through these verses you can hear his frustration. After calling their actions as foolish, Paul then asks a direct question… “Who has bewitched you?” He implies that someone had come along and “cast an evil spell on them”. Paul seems to be genuinely shocked by their departure from the truth.
Like the Galatians, some have been “bewitched, deceived”. Perhaps acting so foolish because someone has had such an influence on your life that you are now following another way instead of the way of Christ? Keep in mind what Jesus said, “the Truth shall set you free”. You fell? get back up, admit you’re failure, and turn back to Christ. “He is faithful to forgive”.Don’t put those chains back on.
6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
Maybe you have been influenced by a friend or a co-worker who is an unbeliever. Or Even one who bares the name Christian? They are opposed to the Bible and the things of God. And you have spent so much time listening to their point of view that you begin to have questions yourself.You must understand that the enemy is using that person to plant seeds of doubt in your heart and mind. “prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour”. ( From our message last week )
“Him who called you in the grace of Christ”. You are saved by Grace, and not by works”. That saving Grace is eternal, and has no end. Your chains have been removed when you were drawn to Christ. Do not put those chains back on, do not be like “the dog who goes back to its vomit”. If you are saved you are a child of the most High God who has all power at His disposal. “He saved you From Himself, He saved you by Himself, and He saved you for Himself”. ( Paul Washer ) God will never let you and I wonder so far off that we should loose focus on Him. Loose focus on the fact that we are saved, from what? Sin... We have been forgiven. God has all the power, because God is faithful!!!
Have we forgotten the Gospel? Have we forgotten the true meaning of the Gospel? Have we forgotten the price for our salvation? The Gospel is the “good news of Jesus Christ” Involved in the gospel message is the great price that Jesus paid.... “The price that Jesus paid”. “Jesus Paid”. Not you, not me...Jesus. Our walk with the Lord can show so much of how much we believe in Him. Keep in mind, there are many churches out there that carry the name christian, yet live their lives caught up in doing good works. Thinking by being good, without Christ can earn them a passage to heaven.
25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
If you have been saved it is because of your faith in the finished work of Jesus at Calvary. Somewhere along the way someone shared with you about the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior. You believed the account of the crucifixion and trusted in Jesus to save you! But if you have retreated…somewhere along the way you have lost your focus on Jesus,you put the chains back on, then obviously you have forgotten the PRICE OF YOUR REDEMPTION! You were bought with a price… you were redeemed by the blood of the Lamb! Turn back to Christ...He is faithful! Or maybe you were not truly saved...God is faithful, He cannot fail in saving you! So...let me ask you the same question that Paul asked the Galatians. “Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth?”
9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
Just as they returned to the bondage of the Law,( Galatians ) some of you may have returned to the bondage of sin? Why? Just like what Paul said “foolish”. And could it be that the foolish choices we have made caused as to forget the gospel, forgot who we belong to? I beg you to remember what Jesus has done for you! As we move further there is a another question I would like to ask you. Are you facing some suffering in a personal level, are being ridiculed to the point that, why isn’t God doing anything? ( Home, family, friends, work place )
We live in America where we are free to exercise our religious beliefs and at least for now we are culturally accepted as Christians. We may face some ridicule, some suffering in certain places but chances are we have not experienced any physical pain as a result of our faith in Christ. We are not being persecuted yet for following Jesus. Not yet!
So the question that I have for you is this “why would you come so far in your walk with Christ just to retreat to the life that He delivered you from?” The Christian life is not an easy one but I have never met anyone who was truly saved who would say their life was better before they met Jesus! Have you?
We all face the same challenges in life to a certain degree since our conversion, but never yet to the point that we have shed blood. And yet we are still here, by Gods power we have remained faithful to our Lord! It is a little sad to see those who have faced difficulty or some deeper level of challenges to just throw their hands up and walk away. Church, when trouble comes in this life, and it will come, it is easy to give up and walk away…
( Rom 8: 9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.) God is faithful!
1 Peter 4:12-13
12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
Like i said earlier, trials and persecution will come, and should not be viewed as unusual. Don’t tell me that before you were drawn to the Son, you have never faced any sort of trials-challenges. Of course you did, we all did. The only difference now is that we are not alone. Jesus is with us every step of the way. Christians share in Christ’s sufferings, not by contributing to Christ’s finished work of atonement for sin, but by experiencing similar mistreatment because we are identified with, and united in Christ.
Maybe you are here tonight and you began to walk with the Lord and somewhere along the way you turned away. Perhaps you, like the believers at Galatia have lost your focus. Instead of focusing on the glorification of the Savior you are more concerned with gratification of self. Maybe instead of building His Kingdom you are now focused on your own...Falling on the lusts of the flesh. Remember... “a little leaven, leavens the lump”. The Holy Spirit inside will remind you who you belong to. And will convict you quick enough, before you infect those around you. And also strong enough to protect you from the “lion that prowls around you”. God is Faithful!
I would like to share with you a story of a man who was once extremely devoted to God. He was obedient, faithful and walked with the Lord daily, In fact God called him “a man after His own heart” God blessed him with a beautiful wife and several healthy children. After many years of devotion to the Lord he made a very foolish decision. He faced temptation and did not even put up a fight. He committed adultery with another man’s wife. Bathsheba became pregnant and David was in trouble. He arranged the murder of her husband Uriah. He spent a great deal of time away from the Lord. He had ample opportunity to repent and be restored but he continued in his rebellion. As a result of his sin, great trouble came into his life. His sins did not just impact him, they affected his entire family. Even though he made SEVERAL FOOLISH DECISIONS, the Lord still loved him!
Notice what the Lord said to David...
2 Samuel 12:7-9
7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.9 Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.
Do you realize that if you are one of God’s children and you have made some foolish decisions of your own, that He still loves you and I as well? Now...this is not a license to sin, there are consequences for our foolish actions. “Do not despise the word of the Lord”. Turn back to God, for “God is faithful”
Delivered May 29, 2016
Joke – A church had a bulletin board decorated with pictures of soldiers who had been killed in service to their country. The board was trimmed in red, white and blue and had little flags on it. A little boy was looking up at the board when the pastor came up. He asked the little boy how he liked the board. The boy asked what it was about. The pastor explained that the pictures were the men from their church who had died in the service. The little boy said, “The morning service or the evening service?”
2 Timothy 2:1-4
2 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.
Good morning, My name is Richard Santos, I am the pastor for the Filipino Mission Church here at First Baptist Church. I was born in 1972, at Manila Philippines. My sisters and i, came to America when i was about 10, or 11 years old? A few years after that we became American citizens. I grew up here in Reno. Went to school here, grew up here. A couple of times i left Reno to try, to be on my own. Lived in California for 2 years, that didn’t work out, came back to Reno. Tried living in Chicago for about 6 years, because my ex girlfriend lived there, she is now my wife. Moved back here around the year 2000. Each and everytime i leave Reno, i always tell myself that i would never come back. But of course, Our God had other plans. This is where He wants us to be.
Growing up i never really realized how important this day truly is ( Memorial Day ) Back then it was just a reason to get together, have a party, barbeque, three day weekend, for some, and so on...
On May 30th in America, we observe a day called “Memorial Day.” It is marked by parades, speeches; flags and flowers are placed on the graves of many servicemen. It was first observed on May 30, 1868, for the purpose of decorating the graves of the Civil War Dead. Now, it remembers all of those who died in the wars our nation has fought.
It has become an effective way of helping us remember those who had made it possible for us to be where we are and have what we have today -- those who paid the supreme sacrifice. Memorial Day is actually a day of remembrance...Remember the men and women of our American military who laid down their lives for the cause of freedom in our land. Remember if it were not for our courageous soldiers, we wouldn’t have the freedom we enjoy today in America. The men and women who had given their lives for America in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force are the heroes of today…
In fact, every American ought to recognize this day as out of their patriotic duty to this country and honor those who spilled their blood to make America what it is today...free, strong, and a nation worth fighting for.
Because of the soldiers who have died for this country, we have the liberty to preach Gods words freely. We have the right to live at peace in our own homes...we have the rights to pursue peace, and happiness. And thank God for each and every one of them!
As we prepare to enter into a day to remember those who have died for liberty, It is fitting that we remember the One who died to set us free from spiritual tyranny. Jesus fought the battle to set sinners free. Jesus alone did that for you and I. Everyday to a Christian should be a day to remember why, he or she lives and breathes. Being thankful to God for sending His One and only Son to die in our place, it is not a one time thing...giving thanks, giving praise, it should be a daily thing, its an act of worship. Giving honor to our Savior, our Lord, our King.
Memorial Day...a day to remember those who have died for our freedom that we are still able to assemble here today. A freedom given that we can still preach “Jesus and Him crucified”. We are still free to do so...for how much longer? That is in Gods hands. While we honor and remember our heroes for protecting our liberties, which includes our religious freedom, we also need to follow in their footsteps and stand for what we believe in... For the Christian faith, that is the battle that we face now.
Scripture is filled with men and women, who fought the good fight. Ordinary people, just like you and i, who stood firm till the end. The heroes that we are remembering today, are the same...ordinary people just like you and I, with one thing in common. We fight for what we believe in, they are faithful, obedience, and Just like Jesus, they made the sacrifice.
34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.
A good soldier for Christ is the same as those who we are remembering today, “an obedient follower”. No one can be a good leader who cannot first be a good follower. In the military there is almost always someone in rank above you, whose orders you must follow. Following Jesus is no option, it is a command. In the military refusal to obey an order is not allowed. Court martial will follow; yet we take obedience to God so very lightly in our daily lives. Instead of a court marshal, we get disciplined.
He Is A Fighter. He is trained and taught to be aggressive when necessary. He will not cower or retreat in the face of the enemy. He will defend his own honor and that of his country. The Bible tells us to “Fight the good fight of faith” 1Tim. 6:12. “ Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses”. The verb “fight” in the Greek N.T. is present tense (suggesting not letting up) and is in the imperative mode (which means it is a command and not a suggestion). One who never gives up, never quits.
He Is Familiar. First, he is familiar with the strategy of the enemy,
2 Cor 2:11, “ in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes”.
Secondly, he is familiar with the skills concerning his weaponry. Eph.6:10-18. “10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand”.
Thirdly, he is familiar with the shadows of his friends,
Heb 10:25 “25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching”. A good soldier is not only looking out for himself, but also for his neighbor–there is a mutual need for being close to other soldiers as they fight the enemy.
He Is Faithful. He remains true even when he must “endure hardness” as a good soldier of Jesus Christ,
2 Tim.2:3 “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” That expression means, “to take one’s share of rough treatment; to suffer or endure affliction together.” It actually means to “suffer hardship in company with”, the good soldier is always true and loyal.
The characteristics of Christ is seen and heard, with those whom we are remembering today. A fighter, who is faithful to the end. Called for a purpose, sacrificed for our freedom. Same characters of our brothers and sisters before us...who also made the sacrifice that we are able to know our Savior, and tell the world about what they had done, and how they lived their lives in obedience to our Lord.
Our Lord Jesus, our brothers and sisters, the heroes we are remembering today. All fought the good fight, they all died unselfishly for our freedom. Each and every one of them, just so...we can live!
12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
When we think of the liberties that we Americans enjoy we must remember that these blessings came to us at the expense of the blood and sacrifice of the brave men and women who have given their lives for these freedoms we enjoy.
The well worn saying is still true..."Freedom is never free." Our liberty cost greatly, and many paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Today America is a land throughout its history that has been undeniably blessed by God. While many enemies that have come against us, God has been with us, and each time allowed our nation’s preservation. America must remain free. The liberty of our land is a gift of God, not only for our hope, but for the hope of the free world. Every citizen should love and embrace that message of liberty for it has been written in blood.
That is why it is so difficult to understand why some refuse to believe in the message of Gospel. And the message of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ offers to all who will come to Him the greatest liberty possible.
It was Christ who gave His life, and shed his blood that we might win the war over sin and gain our true Freedom. When the Bible tells us, "Without the shedding of Blood there is no remission for sins" it speaks to us of Christ’s Death on the Cross and the eternal battle that He fought and won by His own blood to purchased our soul’s salvation.
The heroes that we are remembering today, did the same exact thing. They shed blood so that we can enjoy this life, this freedom that we have as Americans. It would be incomprehensible for an American to say concerning one of our soldiers who died for our freedom: "I cannot appreciate what he did for me; I reject the liberty for which he died so that I might possess."
But people do that to Christ. He who knew no sin, bore our sin, gave His life, His blood that we might be free. And many, by word and deed say to Him, "I don’t believe in you, I reject what you did for me." How can we escape if we neglect so great a Salvation?
As we remember our men and women who shed blood for our freedom, know that...they are the reason why we live in liberty, why we enjoy this life now.
Our Savior Jesus shed blood, to free us from the bondage of sin. Jesus, who gave us this new life that will last in eternity. Do we understand the liberty that Christ purchased for you and I? ( we should )
Do we see how valuable our lives are, and how we should not take each day for granted. Our very existence as a nation was fought in blood. And our eternal salvation, also purchased by His blood, ( Jesus )
Tomorrow, on Memorial Day, we honor the sacrifices of brave men and women. Why would they pay such a valuable price? Because they were purchasing something far more valuable than life itself - liberty!
That is what sacrifice does - it gives up something valuable to gain something even more valuable!
Lastly: I will end with this poem.... “Freedom Isn’t Free”
I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze A young Marine saluted it, and then
He stood at ease. I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud With hair cut square and eyes alert
He’d stand out in any crowd.
I thought, how many men like him Had fallen through the years?
How many died on foreign soil? How many mothers’ tears?
How many Pilots’ planes shot down? How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves?
No, Freedom is not free.
I heard the sound of taps one night, When everything was still.
I listened to the bugler play And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times That taps had meant "Amen"
When a flag had draped a coffin of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children, Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard at the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington. No, Freedom isn’t free!!
This is the same truth we celebrate on Memorial Day, All are welcome here in this land of democracy because a great price has been paid!! Many men and women gave unselfishly that we might live in a free country where you are truly free!! Jesus offers us a freedom beyond freedom. It too came at a great price, the greatest price ever paid, one who knew no sin died on behalf of all sinners! What do you remember today? Will you remember those that died so we might live? Will you also remember the Gospel? The truth that Jesus paid it all that we might live not only here and now, but for eternity??
Delivered on May 22, 2016
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Jesus began His prayers for us way back in the garden of Gethsemane before His arrest. We have trusted in Jesus through the words of Scripture, and by the revelation of the Holy Spirit. And this prayer of Jesus is for us today. The Lord embraces His prayers for the whole body of believers, even to those who will be born and come to faith in future ages. Every true Christian can be assured of being included in this prayer.
This prayer for unity is not merely for spiritual or invisible unity, but for a unity that is visible for the world to see, so that the world would believe. What other prayer could Christ have prayed for in the final moments before His arrest? He might have prayed for His own strength, and that the eleven would support Him that they would not flee from Him and His teachings. Instead, His prayer was dominated by a single great thought -- the unity of the disciples.
A few verses before this one, Jesus prayed for the unity of that original disciples, (John 17:6). This was no easy task in itself, and Jesus knew it! Keep in mind, Jesus knows each and everyone of them. Jesus knows their character at heart. Remember...Jesus knows all things.
Among the Apostles there were incredible tensions. For example...tensions created by James and John when not long before that they had asked for the seat at the right and left hand of Jesus in heaven which caused an outrage of jealousy among the other disciples. Among themselves, they were probably saying, “what made you two so special that you deserve those seats”. Thinking highly of themselves. That is normal among church members, every church will go through something similar.
Earlier on this same evening, the disciples were fuming with rage because there had been an argument among them as to who was the greatest. Somewhat of a competition. I’m sure you are familiar with their story. Now, Jesus moved beyond the eleven and prayed for the generations to come. In verse 21, “That all of them may be one”,what He prayed for them,(the Apostles) He then prayed for all believers. You and I, and future disciples. The prayer was for unity among believers, among the saints.
Let me give you a short story...
“A father asked his young son to break a bundle of sticks. He returned a little later to find the boy frustrated in the task. He had raised the bundle high and smashed it on his knee, but he only bruised his knee. He had set the bundle against a wall and stomped real hard with his foot, but the bundle barely bent. The father took the bundle from the child and untied it. Then he began to break the sticks easily; one at a time. So it is with the church: united we are strong, divided we can fail or be broken.”
Don’t forget what Jesus had prayed for... “that all of them may be one, and also, that they may be brought to complete unity”.
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
The logic of this is that, if two are good, as in the examples above, then three or even a community is far better, and has its benefits. There is strength in numbers, and if we desire to make an impact in our community, and our church. If we are truly one with Jesus Christ, just as what Jesus prayed for in our earlier verse,then we need to take this information to heart. Remember the message from last week, when Peter was all alone, he denied knowing the Savior that he loves. “united we stand, divided we fall”.
1 Corinthians 1:10
10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.
Just like the prayer of Jesus, here we can see the Apostle Paul writing to the church of Corinth the same exact thing, “to be one”. We are members of Gods family. Jesus had prayed for the unity of His followers before His arrest and crucifixion, and Paul is also making the same appeal here as we can see in this verse. A frequent appeal to Gods people to become one. The apostle Paul provided us with a message on church unity, and he emphasized that a church which is divided will fail to function properly; or perhaps, even fail to survive. If we desire to be useful to the Lord in the task of winning souls to Christ, building each other up,then we need to listen carefully to Paul’s words and heed his advice. Not only do we have to deal with the enemy, and be involved in a spiritual warfare, we also face battling the sinful nature. We tend to neglect also the fact that... when we are in a state of emotions, we tend to despise each other. Which entails, giving the enemy a foothold.
1 Peter 5:8
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
An opponent in the faith, “the enemy”. The father of lies, the accuser, slanderer, the deceiver, the tempter, the devil! There is a lot of words in the bible about him and his works. We should all be familiar with his tricks, and deception. He is real, and he is also defeated. Let us not give him, the or any satisfaction. “What does light have in common with darkness”. “ he prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour”. Remember Peter, satan asked for you, but i prayed for you. Don’t let the enemy use you as a tool to be the one to cause the division in the church. Or even your household. Pastor Morley delivered a great message last week in regards unleavened bread, “a little yeast works through the whole lump”. A little sin can work its way through the whole church. “your enemy, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”. This same exact tactic is also done by his followers, wolves in sheep’s clothing. They slowly creep in, a little whisper here, a little there. Lets have coffee, have lunch, hang out. Then slowly the deception comes in. You took the bait, and infect those that are close to you. Church divided, marriages wrecked, fellowship broken! Be alert is the given warning. This is a serious warning that we need to take seriously. It is no joke! Lives are broken once we play with the enemy on his terms. Don’t even entertain the thought. Rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance to discern. “My sheep knows my voice, and they follow Me”. Learn to tell the difference.
“that you be perfectly united in mind and thought”. From our previous verse 1 Corinthians 1:10. There must be unity of thought if a local church is to have an effective impact for God. Once again, unity and uniformity are not the same thing. God has given all of us different perspectives to bring to the table. That is why we have meetings, suggestions, voting, each and everyone one of us is joined together in Christ. He is the One who formed this church, this body of believers for His purpose. We are all different, but one common goal. “To abide in Him”. Abiding in Christ is how we will remain as one. Is Christ divided? No! If we claim to have Christ, then the goal is to be one. Remember Jesus prayed for that!
1 Corinthians 12:12-20
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
Paul sought unity, so he used the illustration of the church as a human body.
This refers to all the people who belongs to the Lord, those who have been purchased by His blood. The church is called the Body of Christ, the family of God, the people of God, the elect, the bride of Christ, the communion of the saints, and so on...In the human body there are many different body parts, but there is an underlying personality that unifies them all. The same is true in the church. There are many different church members, but the underlying personality that unifies the members is Christ. The church is, therefore, called the body of Christ. “there are many parts, but one body”.
Paul said, “God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased”. And if they were all in one [particular] member, where would the body be?” We are not a part of any common family, we are children of God. Because each of us have a totally different function to perform in the body. Your function is not less important, we need each other, remember, “God has set the members each one of them”.God loves you and i equally. No... one part of the body is greater than the other. We need to learn from the Apostles mistake, that there is no one here greater that the other. “God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased”.
The church provides us with much needed spiritual nourishment. If you believe that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God then you must heed the biblical truth about the church.
The church is Christ’s presence here on earth, and if you wish to remain alive in Christ then you have to be connected to the body of Christ. I’m not talking about a building here. We can leave here, and still be a church. Where do you belong, better yet, the best question is who do you belong to?
These commands can also be used in the household. After we leave this building and go our separate ways, we still belong to the same body, and that is Christ. Same commands apply, do not let a little sin grow so big that it tears apart your family, the family that God has put together. Keep in mind, “if the enemy that prowls around like a lion looking for someone devour”, can enter the church, stalk a believer when weak, it can also enter your household. I am not trying to scare you, this is the truth. Do not give the enemy the satisfaction of breaking the unity in your household. “A little yeast works through the whole lump”. Think about this, whenever we get sick, it starts with a sneeze, a little cold, sore throat, then we get weak, sore to move. We can function...but weak! That is just like sin, it may start small, but eventually, if not checked it will get bigger. Lives ruined, family broken, fellowship gone. In can happen in your personal walk, in the church, and in the household. You’re a Christian...your a target for the enemy. Don’t be his tool.
I love this quote from Winston Churchill...
“When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”
― Winston S. Churchill
Do not let the enemy in. It breaks marriages, friendship, fellowship, homes and churches. Do not entertain the one that can hurt you or the people around you. United we stand, divided we fall. As a church and in the household. The enemy cannot fool a true believer,it belongs to God. His tactics will not work, it will only expose the wolf from within.
4 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Throughout this letter, Paul unfolds the “walk”, meaning a life of good works. This figure of speech is common throughout scriptures. Paul spoke of hope to which believers are called. He has already provided a strong indications of its shape and significance. God’s call is both sovereign and gracious.
God’s Spirit has united believers by drawing them to His Son and indwelling them as a new temple. Christians have the responsibility by Gods will to retain and express their unity through the Spirits fruit, which include humility, patience, and love. Last weeks bible study, a sister asked me, “how can we discern if the person is for real”. This is the answer to that question, the total opposite of this verse. Keep in mind that there is nothing good in the enemy. His only job is break what God has put together. There is no humility, no patience, no love for others. Its only focus is itself, and what it can take. “3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”. Unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. What are the fruits of the Spirit?
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
This is how a church stays together, this is what Jesus intended from the beginning, From the Apostles, to the disciples, to you and I, and future believers. It may not happen right away, all at once. We all have to reach a certain maturity to understand and live our lives in this category. Look at the verse, and examine yourself, can you say that... that is you? We can all learn from each, build each other up, and walk the life that we were called. Be united, and not divided. If we all claim to be in Christ, then the goal is to become like Christ, one mindset. One Father, One Son, One Spirit. We belong to One body, and that is Christ.
The closer you get to your fellow believer who truly walks in the Spirit, the better they look. Simply because you see Jesus, and not the actual person. You will never get the impression that they are hiding something, or that they have a hidden agenda. They radiate integrity, true fruits that comes from Christ. You feel that you could trust them with your inner most secrets, open up to them about your burdens, and struggles. Because you know that they can lift you up, and not tear you down. You can easily tell that they are more concerned about you, rather than themselves. You have a feeling of comfort, why? Because its Jesus...there you are receiving the feeling of the Spirits fruit. And you will know that its for real. One cannot easily act out the Spirits fruit, that will be to hard to maintain. Eventually the wolf will come out.
What will keep us together? And this is a whole...I’m not just talking about church, its members. This is about the body of believers. Even in the household, keeping the family together, when the world favors divorce. How do you do it?
9 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and long-suffering with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.
It pleases God when we depend upon His Spirit to do “good works”, It also pleases Him when we spend time in His words, learning more about Him, and His will. This is what it means to “walk worthy” of Jesus. Pray for one another. Verse 9 “ For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding”. Pray for one another, regardless if you feel that they’re in a good place in their walk. “do not cease to pray”.
You know...writing this message came with a heavy heart. Now..I have told you before that it hits the messenger first. As i am going through the Scripture, and what it all means, i started getting scared, worried. What does it all mean? Is God giving me a warning? Have i let the enemy into my house, my family? Is it coming for the church, or is it already here, and i am not seeing it? Is there someone i need to confront? Is there a family in the church who’s in trouble, and in need of help? Regardless of what it may be. May it be a warning for the future of the Fil-Am church, or our household, or even ourselves? We can always trust our God to guide us, He will always protect His own. “no one can snatch them out of My hands”. Its a good reminder, a good warning, be alert as scriptures says. Keep praying for each other...we know that our God hears all our prayers. Recognize the tricks of the enemy, don’t play in his playground...you and i have no business there.
1 Thessalonians 5:14-22
14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
God’s grace ministers to different people, in different ways, depending upon what they most need at the time. Some need stern warning, while some needs comfort, some may need help, or maybe just someone to talk to. But everyone needs patience we all fall short in many ways. There will be a time when we are strong, and times when we are at our weakest. But the fact is, we belong to One body. We all need each other, simply because Christ cannot be divided. If Christ is in you and I? Then we are One. Pray for one another, together we stand, divided we fall! Jesus prayed for you, remember that, and that prayer was heard and granted!
Delivered on May 15, 2016
2 Timothy 1:8-9
8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,
Here...we see the Apostle Paul writing a letter to Timothy, encouraging him to stand firm, and not be ashamed of carrying the testimony of our Lord. Or do not be ashamed to let people know who we belong to. As human beings we have a natural tendency to feel ashamed of our beliefs or as an individual that are ridiculed by the majority. Are we so easily influenced, when we are around a different crowd, and only feel strong, and brave when we are around believers of the same faith. Our God calls us to draw upon His power to identify courageously with His Son.
Paul’s words to Timothy are equally God’s words to you and i. Our God gives you and I, “a spirit of power, and of love and of sound mind”. When fear strikes, we should immediately ask for Gods help. Tap into the power of God. Remember when Peter tried to walk on water with Jesus, he was doing fine at first, eyes fixed on Jesus, but when he found himself in trouble and fear, sinking in the sea, he had the right response. He asked for Gods help. “Lord, save me”. Is the best response anytime we feel fear, or at times when we fall. My question for you tonight is, will influence, circumstance, fear, be enough of a reason “to be ashamed of our Lord Jesus”?
The title of this message is...Fail to stand. What I’m trying to say here is, when we fail or face fear, feel defeated. Do we just stay down, or how fast can we get up and stand? Since i have mentioned Peter in this story, let us look at his story of failure, but stood proud to the end!
When we read about Peter, what springs to mind? Boastful, brave, rash personality, he was noted as someone who repeatedly put his foot in his mouth. Let us look his story, shall we. We’ll start when Peter denied knowing Jesus. We will see the pressures of influence, the fear of being in a different crowd would be enough to deny the King Of Kings.
54 Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance. 55 Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. 56 And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.” 57 But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.” 58 And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also are of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” 59 Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!”
Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 62 So Peter went out and wept bitterly.
The sense of failure is not uncommon to you and I. We...all have felt failure at one point or another. The Bible records many failures because it records life as it is. It is about real people, real circumstance. They were just like you and I. Some of the biblical failures are today only remembered for their successes, but before there was success, there was failure. One such story is before us today in the story of Peter’s fall. Put yourself in Peters place, time travel back in that very same moment, you are in Peters position, what would you do? Keep in mind...before this well known story, we all know Peter to be a tough guys, ready to fight, remember what he said...
33 But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.”
33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
A very different Peter from our previous verse...lets go back to that, and see the picture of his failure. ( Go Back To Luke 22 ) We see that Peter just wants to keep warn, moved towards the fire... Here we see a picture of influence in the midst of a different crowd.
Peter’s first denial, verse 56, “a certain servant girl”.
Peter’s second denial verse 58, a certain man approached, “Man I am not”
Peter’s third denial verse 59, another man approached, this time Peters accent gave him away, look,“this fellow is Galilean, Man i don’t know Him”
Remember, i asked you earlier to put yourself in Peters place, how would have reacted? Stood firm, or fail? It’s a hard question to answer unless we were really in his shoe! We need to be careful to not be too hard on Simon Peter. The story of the arrest of Jesus shows that he was a man of great courage, Peter is a tough guy, took on soldiers to defend Jesus, look...
10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.
When the authorities came to arrest Jesus it was Peter alone who grabbed a sword to defend Jesus. In his ill conceived attempt he not only displayed courage but in the process chopped off the ear of high priest’s servant. I really believe that Peter would have died at that time to defend Jesus...So, what changed in Peter? From a sword wielding defender, to a scared common man, who was just trying to keep himself warm?
Even after all that, the fact still remains, Peter denied Jesus. The last part of our earlier verse from Luke 22.
60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!”
Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 62 So Peter went out and wept bitterly.
How do you get up from that? After spending three years with Jesus, you know that Peter loved our Lord. Everything that Peter said, he eventually did. He did die following Jesus. What is encouraging about Peter’s story is that he learns from his failure. And because we know the story, we can also learn from Peter. Failure is not a reason to give up, at times we have to “Fail to Stand”. We have to recognize that everyone fails at one point. Nobody is perfect and everyone fails. Honestly face defeat and realize that just because we fail at one thing does not make us a failure.
Peter failed in his loyalty to Jesus at one point. He was hurt, he felt that he was a failure, “Peter went out and wept bitterly”. There are times when we wind up doing something similar in our own spiritual lives.wouldn’t you agree? We start out well. We have the best of intentions. We are excited and we want to succeed in the faith. We want to succeed in our ministry.We have a desire to be faithful disciples of the Lord. Yet, so often we become distracted from the faith. We allow the wrong influences in our lives. And then we make a bad decision and as a result we experience failure.
Remember that God’s Love and Forgiveness is not dependent on our Success. No matter how many times you and i have failed, no matter what sin we have allowed into our lives, the Savior who died for you still loves you. Keep in mind, “we are saved by grace, and not by works”.The story of Christianity is the story of failed men and women who found new futures, and new beginnings.
In verse sixty-one we have a single sentence, a very powerful verse: "The Lord turned and looked at Peter." Jesus turned and “looked at Peter." The Greek word used here is a word that denotes “intense looking.” It is used in one place in Scripture to describe the very first look of a blind man who has just been healed opening his eyes for the first time. As most of us know a single look can display a whole range of emotions. Like with married couples, we know the emotions of our spouse, by just a single stare, one look and we know we messed up. “What did i do now”? Was Jesus disappointed a and sad, or was it compassion and understanding? What kind of look did Jesus give to Peter? We are not told, but whatever it was, Peter broke down afterwards. He went out and wept bitterly. It is to Peter’s credit that all that the Lord had to do was look at him to bring him to the place of recognition of what he had done, one look was enough. Jesus knew, Peter had to fail, in order to get up, be strong, Peter felt the conviction of failure.
Jesus had predicated a turning point for Peter back in Luke...
31 And the Lord said,“Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail, and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
Did Jesus know Peter was going to fail? Yes! Jesus told Peter that he was going to deny Him three times. Out of fear, Peter denied knowing Jesus. Peter failed at that. But look at verse 32 “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail, and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brothers”.
Peter may have failed, but Jesus kept his faith, how did i know that?
Look, “and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brothers”.
A time of failure, a time of conviction, the source of repentance. The strength to persevere. Just like Peter, does Jesus know each and every time that we fail Him? Of course He does! And Jesus will tell you and I the same thing, “and when you have returned to Me, Strengthen your brothers”. Return to Me, return to Jesus.
2 Corinthians 7:10
10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Sorrow that doesn’t lead anywhere, meaning no guilt, no conviction has no value. Sorrow for the sake of sorrow comes from the enemy’s toolbox, and not of God. Just brush it off, and move on. No need for repentance. Thats from the enemy. Godly sorrows leads to life, everlasting life. It is not just a one time lesson and were done. Ohh, No...we stand each and every time we fail. Part of our transformation comes with a great deal of conviction. Turning from sin, a sincere decision to forsake a specific sin or sins and to begin to obey Our God. Repentance always, accompanies true saving faith, an ongoing turning from sin in the life of a Christian. We “Fail...To Stand”
We must never use failure as an excuse for not getting up and to keep going...
For a righteous man may fall seven times,And rise again,
But the wicked shall fall by calamity.
We may not be able to reclaim the loss, undo the damage, or reverse the consequences, but we can always make a new start—wiser, more sensitive, renewed by the Holy spirit, and more determined to do what is right.
The best part of this sad story is that Peter’s story does not end in verse 62. Peter did not have to live the rest of his life with a heavy burden of sorrow and regret. Instead Jesus reinstated Peter and asked him to become a leader of the church...
15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” 16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. 18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.”
1st “do you love Me”, “Feed My lambs”.
2nd “do you love Me”, “Tend My sheep”.
3rd “do you love Me”, “Feed My sheep
Verse 15-17, Peter is grieved not because of how Jesus was speaking to him, but because Jesus repeats His question three times. Almost certainly, Peter is pained to remember the three times he denied Jesus. Jesus is giving Peter an opportunity confess his love for Him, and to reaffirm his calling to follow Christ. Three times to counter the three times of Peters denial.
Verse 18... “Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.”
The stretching out of Peters hands may imply his future crucifixion, which will be explained by Jesus on verse 19. But at the very least it implies that he will be bound and die in captivity, and will not die of natural causes.
19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”
John has used these words to call attention to the nature of Jesus execution, that is by being lifted up, on a cross. An ancient tradition states that Peter was martyred be being crucified, and somewhat later tradition says that he was crucified upside down.
You see, When Peter was walking with Jesus...Jesus had already warned him that he will deny him three times. But yet as courageous as Peter was at that time did not believe. So...learning from that failure, denying Jesus three times, Peters only response was... “you know all things, you that i love you”.
Now he believes, because it happened, and he failed. And verse 18, Jesus gave him a warning of how he will die. Do you think this time Peter would believe? Of course he will...and yet by knowing his own death, Peter still chose to continue to follow Jesus. Which he did to the point of death. Jesus allowed Peter to fall, in order for him to stand, stand stronger than before and knowing what he will face. Now...let me ask you, put yourself again in Peters place, if you knew the kind of death you will face, would you continue? Hard question to answer right? I guess we’ll never know, until we’re put in the same situation. After what we have just learned about Peter, he wasn’t a coward after all. He was obedient the whole time. Obedient to the point of death.
“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they lie in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
Failure in never the end in the life of a Christian, its just a start for a new beginning. At times we have to “Fall..To Stand”
Pastor Richard Santos
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