Saturday, July 30, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
1 John 4:8 “He that loveth not knoweth not God: for God is Love.”
There are some quite tragic accounts about in the world, where a man and a woman are in love... the man is a Christian, the woman is an atheist, but the man decides he can’t be with her because it could mar his relationship with God and his religion. They’re both really sad for the rest of their lives following that, wondering all the time what it might have been like had it worked out between them, of if He would just give up his religion, or made some compromise.
There’s another story too... Another man and another woman are in love, the woman is a Christian, and so is the man, but the man is a divorcee, and so the woman decides it would be against the wishes of her God that she should be with this man, and that it would be blatant adultery. So the two live the rest of their lives in misery wondering what it could have been like had everything worked out alright.
These two stories are tragic right?
You know what I’m going to say right? I’m going to tell you that God is much more important that fulfilling all your selfish lusts. That’s what I’m going to say isn’t it?
No you are wrong!
Now I have shocked you!
In the first story the man should have stayed with the woman, and in the second story the woman should have stayed with the man.
Now you are thinking that Michael Buckingham has gone crazy... maybe he doesn’t even believe the Bible any more... could it be that Michael thinks that sensual love is more important that the love of God.
No. I’m not crazy. I do believe the Bible. And the love of God is far higher than and sensual love could ever be.
So it seems that I have made some kind of logical error?
You see, in both the first and the second stories, neither the man of the woman had the love of God. They would never think back over a sensual marriage, Lot’s wife looked back... looking back is a sure sign that you are not really saved and you are still part of the world from which you have just left.
Before I go on, I would just like to clarify that it is an admirable thing for a sinner to live as a Christian, but to say you love God and you don’t that is a lie.
So let me rewrite those two stories where the spouse really does love God.
There is a man and a woman who think that they are in love... Christians often get mistaken, but this kind of love is no love at all.
The man is a Christian, the woman is an atheist. The choice is extremely heart-rending, but because of the man’s love towards God, he is able to make the right choice and he parts ways with the woman before any kind of immorality occurs.
Time goes by, sure the man thinks about his former lover, but he never regrets his decision, because although, he never married in the end, he found where true love lives, in the bosom of love itself: GOD.
Remember our text? “God is love”
I’ll let you rewrite the second story in your own time.
On my mind for quite some time now, is what it says in Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always”. Always? That’s kind of hard to do isn’t it... don’t you sometimes feel down, and sad? But God said we have to be joyful all of the time. It was actually Paul that wrote the words but as we know all scripture is inspired by God.
SO here’s how we rejoice all the time, how we can be continuously happy: We think about God’s love all the time... love is never a sad thing is it?
How do we think about God all the time? That’s easy! Everything in this world should be able to remind us of God, because it was He who created all things... so right here right now, what can you see? Can you see your fingers? Can you see the sky? Trees? Are you breathing air? Yes it’s all made by God. If you are alive it’s only because of God and his undying love... so we have always something that will remind us of God, and because we are always thinking about God, we cannot but be happy can we?
So there’s 3 aspects of love that I would like to focus on today:
1. God’s love to us
2. Our love to God
3. Our love to other people
So firstly, God’s love to us.
SO how much really does God love us?
Much more than you or I can even imagine... the English language cannot do the love of God justice... the Greek language as I understand had multiple words for love, but yet it could still not do justice to the love of God.
The last part of Romans 8 has a great description of the Love of God, I advise you to read it through some time.
Maybe you have been in a similar situation to me.
There was a girl that I really liked, I wanted to marry her, but the thing is, I wanted to know if she felt the same way about me.
But that was the problem, how can you tell how much someone likes you.
To tell a person’s weight you put them on a weighing scale.
To tell a person’s height, you get a measuring tape.
But there is no such measurement for love.
But you can get some kind of idea about a person’s love for you by how much they would do for you.
Well, needless to say, it didn’t work out between me and this girl, it seemed that she probably wouldn’t go to the end of the world and back for me, and it seems that I wouldn’t for her either.
So let’s have a look at God’s love to us... how far would God go to show his love to us?
We could not begin to imagine... God is God, and God lives in Heaven, God has everything He wants when He wants, He even created the world for His own glory, man was created for His glory. Yet God leaves all that behind, and lives like a humble human being, he is born in a stable because there was no room for him in the inn... He has the lowliest birth imaginable.
His earthly father Joseph is a carpenter, so he didn’t have much disposable income... so Jesus is definitely poor.
What a drop from being supreme God of the universes!
That’s real love isn’t it?
You know if someone were to do that for me, I would love them forever and ever and ever!
But that’s not all God did for us... and this part is so unimaginable: God, who is sinless and perfect, took upon Himself all our sins and failings, and bore them all away on the cross, and dying paid the penalty that we should have paid.
And praise be to God! We are free of sin, and God has purchased our souls to reign with Him in glory!
That’s the most beautiful act of love EVER!
Beats bringing flowers home to the wife doesn’t it?
So that’s something of God’s love to us, I don’t think I even touched a drop in the ocean of all that God’s love is about... but if you want to learn more about God’s love, I endure you to read more of your Bible, perhaps you might find a study Bible of some use.
So now we come to the second point of my sermon on LOVE.
The Second point is our love to God.
We are a fallen depraved people we sin as if we are breathing, every breath seems to be dedicated to the devil and our own selfish lusts.
We are utterly incapable of any kind of love.
But if you were listening to the last section of my sermon, you might have noticed that God bore our sins away on the Cross. So now we are saved.
God has made a show of love to us, in taking our sins, and in so doing has given us the means whereby to love Him in return.
So God has given us that initial ability to love Him, but we still have a small part to play... we have to practice loving Him.
Here’s how: we read in our Bible about how God loved us, we meditate upon it day and night, every thought should be on the love of God... and in thus feeling loved, we in return love him.
Have you ever met someone that think you are just so amazing, who dearly loves you, perhaps a spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, or maybe a son or daughter. They like you so much, and although you don’t “naturally” like them, because they think the world of you, you begin also to think the world of them.
It’s kind of like that with God, but in no way did we deserve to be loved so much... God loved us in spite of all our sins and backslidings.
So now we have looked at the love of God to us, then we looked at our love to God, so now we come to our 3rd and final point:
Our love to other people.
O wait just 1 sec... just before we look at that, just going back to our love to God, we can show our love to God by obeying His commandments, read 1 John if you have the time.
So back to our love to other people.
What is the greatest commandment? Jesus tells us in the Gospel doesn’t he? The greatest commandment is to love the Lord thy God with all thy hear and with all thy soul, and the second greatest command is like it, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
SO this is the second greatest command to love other people... if you study the teachings of Jesus you will find that this refers to the love of both Christians and non-Christians.
Now, just to clarify, when it says that we ought to love non-Christians it does not mean that we can intermarry with them... a Christian should only marry a Christian.
But what it does mean is that we should be kind to non-Christians, we should even listen to their point of view even though we do not agree. We listen out of respect, and then we tell them that we disagree, and calmly tell them about Jesus.
We do not have fellowship with Non-Christians, that is not how we show our love. We show our love to a non-Christian when we tell that about what it is that has made our life so much better: Jesus. We love them so much that we want to give them that best of gifts: Jesus!
And then our love to Christians is so important... we could so easily miss out our fellowship with the people of God by spending so much time with non-believers, even if we are always telling them about Christ.
We need that special time when we can just talk to another Christian about how much we love Jesus.
And remember the more time we spend reading the Bible, which is the one book in the world that talks about PURE love. The more time we spend reading this special book, the more we will start loving as we begin to understand what love is.
God changes a man’s heart in a nano-second, but it takes a lifetime to change his lifestyle.
Well we have only briefly touched on the matter of love... but this sermon will not be my only chance to demonstrate to others the greatness of love... I can show love every day, every waking moment, by the way I live. Yes, My lifestyle can be a manifestation of God’s love!
Well, I hope this sermon has been of some edification to someone.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Spreading the Gospel
The Idea is to build up Christian muscles which are these 6 virtues followed by a day of rest. If you have ever been to the gym to build muscles or just to tone up, you will have been given a similar workout routine, working on Back, Chest, Biceps, Triceps, Shoulders, and Legs, with some cardio and a warm-up to start with. And this new method has a similar idea.
I have called this devotional method “the Christian Workout” solely because of it’s being based on a gym workout system.
I will be giving training advice on my new Workout blog http://www.thechristianworkout.blogspot.com/ but for now here is a bit of a starter:
On Monday our theme is Love:
I’m presuming that you will all be beginners for now; perhaps you are quite new to the Christian faith.
Every morning should start off with a Bible reading and a prayer, perhaps you could read 1 Corinthians 13 which is a great chapter, written by the Apostle Paul, completely devoted to love. Then you could pray that God will teach you how to love throughout the day.
Maybe you go to work, is there anyone you don’t like at work? Someone maybe you find hard to get along with? A great show of love would be to act courteously with them, be kind, and try and show a loving spirit. Remember God told us to love our enemies!
If you have time later, maybe you could pick up your study Bible, and look at all the themes of Love.
Love is the main theme in the Bible, it was all for love that Jesus came to Earth to save us, we would do well to truly understand this principle!
And before going to bed, don’t forget to read your Bible and pray again!
On Tuesday, our theme is Joy:
A great passage to read in the morning would be the Epistle to the Philippians, it’s all about Joy. Then you can pray to God that you will be given joy throughout the day.
Then what ever you do, see if you can keep smiling non-stop throughout the day. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t succeed, it takes a long time to build up your spiritual muscles. Do the best you can this week and hopefully next week you will be doing much better.
It won’t hurt to smile on the day’s that isn’t Tuesday, Tuesday is just the day when we really focus on Joy, a Christian should always have each of these principles in the Christian Workout at all times! But the idea of the workout is to encourage us to focus on these topics.
A Christian is a saved soul; nothing in this world that can ever happen to them should be able to make them sad or depressed!
On Wednesday our theme is Peace:
This one is really, really hard! Peace isn’t something easily acquired, like love and joy, we might only be able to achieve a little in a day, but we must pray that although we only achieve little, that God would help us to improve every week.
Is your job stressful? This inner peace can make all the difference.
I am no expert in Peace, I do not claim to have received much of it, but if we look in the Bible, doubtless we will be able to find the answers. I recommend that you buy yourself a good study Bible, and a concordance, just look through each of those reference to peace, look at examples of how people received peace and you will find the Bible an excellent resource.
And remember always read your Bible and pray.
On Thursday our theme is Spreading the Gospel:
This is one for every Christian, it’s the great commission found at the end of Matthew, preaching is not just for preachers, if you truly love God and are truly grateful for Him dying to save you, you will want to take every opportunity to talk to people about Him. But the problem is that we are all very fearful people, and we are afraid that people will make fun of us because we are Christians. So I have devoted Thursday to talking to people about Jesus.
In the morning you could read some chapters from the book of Acts, where the apostles told people about Jesus, ask for God’s help to open your mouth.
If you are anything like I used to be, you probably never even mentioned to your friends that you are a Christian, so a great start for you would be to let it slip out in conversation that you are a Christian, they won’t tear you to pieces, the hardest bit is overcoming yourself.
If you are an experienced Christian you might want to strike up a conversation with someone, and tell them about what Jesus means to you.
And remember, a good Christian life is as good an example as any, be kind and loving to all, and be certain to never do anything that God would not approve of.
On Friday, our theme is Poor Relief:
Give money to charity, if you have a good income you might want to set aside a sum of money each month for charities. Remember God loveth the cheerful giver!
Maybe you have some unwanted items hanging around the house, why not take them down to your local charity store.
Read the Gospels, you will see what love Jesus had to the poor.
Pray for the poor, prayer can do more than all the money in the world! But don’t think that you can pray and then you are absolved from financial contribution, that’s like the Pharisees that say one thing and do another.
As always, Bible study and prayer are invaluable!
On Saturday our theme is Prayer:
Prayer is of number 1 importance, and should be exercised every day, that and Bible Study form the Spiritual cardio, while the others form the spiritual muscle building.
But, we have set aside Saturday as a special day of prayer, see how long you can pray for with feeling. Don’t just say words, you have to really mean them, you must be passionate.
Pray for those close to you, pray for your natural and spiritual teachers, pray for important people in every walk of life, pray for the week and infirm, pray that the Lord would make you grow in grace and in the knowledge of Him, and most of all pray that God would be glorified.
A couple scripture passages that you might want to focus on is The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6, and Jesus’ prayer in John 17.
There is much study that can be done on the matter of prayer, and much experience taken from simply pouring out your heart before God!
And finally on Sunday our theme is Rest:
Basically there is no theme, you just worship God as He ought to be worshipped, go to Church, sing praises just totally let God take over your life.
Remember God made the Sabbath for man and not man for the Sabbath, you should learn to enjoy your Sundays, do things that you want to do, but be certain that it’s all to do with God!
So just a few tips:
When building up your spiritual muscles, always work to your limit, love until you can love no more, be joyful until you have run out of joy, be perfectly peaceful until there is no peace left in you, and so on. Your spiritual muscles will only grow in they are pushed to their limits.
If you are new, don’t be disheartened if you feel like you are not achieving anything, everyone starts from somewhere.
And never let this workout become a burden to you, try and enjoy it. If it becomes a burden to you and makes you want to give up you Christianity it is of no use!
And remember all things should be done as unto The Lord bringing all honour and glory to His precious name!
Please check the blog mentioned above for more advice, and don’t hesitate to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you need advice or if you have any advice for me, or you just want to tell us how the workout scheme has blessed your life.
I pray the Lord would bless you,
Friday, July 15, 2011
Are you scared today? What are you afraid of? Are you afraid of the future? Are you afraid of a person? Are you afraid of dying?
Whatever you are afraid of today, I intend to help you to understand your fear and how to overcome it. Chances are I won’t address your particular need as you would like, but the principles that I will bring before you should be easily moulded so as you can apply it to your own case.
I’m going to tell you a story, but I need you to try and be scared for me, you might need a little bit of imagination as my story telling skill might not be too good!
The story starts with a boy of 12 whose name was Jim. Jim was a pleasant young lad, but one day his mother became very ill, the doctor came and saw her, and he explained to Jim and his father that in all probability Jim’s mother will die. Sad right?
Well, the day came for Jim’s mother to be taken from this life, and she died. Then it dawned on Jim that maybe one day he would die too. The thought really scared him!
You can imagine the sorrow in Jim’s heart when he saw him mother placed in a coffin and put in the ground, her lifeless body never to see the light of day again! Where is she now? Jim wondered whether she was in a different world. Maybe she had gone to Heaven? Is there such a place? Or maybe when you die you just stop existing? Jim decided he was going to think that his mother was with Jesus in Heaven!
That’s great! Jim’s finally come to believe in God! Or has he?
Well, the first few nights after the burial, Jim started to have nightmares about his mother dying, he told his dad, but his dad just assured him that they will eventually go, which they did. But with the passing of the nightmares about his mother, came nightmares about his own death.
Jim had once heard a preacher mention something about a place called Hell, where there are lots of flames and bad people are tortured every day. Jim started to have nightmares about Hell now, and he wondered whether, should he die, whether he would go to Heaven or to Hell.
Jim tried to think of himself as a good person and that surely he would go to Heaven. But the nightmares kept on coming.
The nightmares had a terrible effect on Jim, he began to have lots of other little fears, he began to be afraid of spiders, and afraid of heights, and he developed claustrophobia. Jim gradually began to lose friends because they thought he was a freak, no-one wanted to know him!
Jim’s in quite a state right?
So it’s time to play doctor! So Jim’s come to my little doctor’s surgery and asked for my help. I’m going to diagnose him as having multiple fear disorders. Do you agree with my diagnosis?
If yes, then please help me now to find a cure!
If you went to any normal doctor, I’m sure they would send you to a psychiatrist, and the psychiatrist would prescribe you some kind of anti-depressants, and they’ll probably do you no ounce of good, or even worse make the nightmares go away, so that Jim can live his life again just as he wanted, fulfilling all his selfish desires.
So here’s my perfect cure for Jim’s sickness, I give him a Bible, and I instruct him to read a few chapters a day.
Do you agree with my clinical judgement? Am I right to prescribe the Bible? I’m sure most of my hearers are Christian, and so you’ll probably be pleased to hear of my answer to Jim’s condition. But let’s see what actually happened when Jim started to read his Bible!
So, Jim leaves the doctor’s surgery thinking that the doctor is a complete idiot, and that any sensible doctor would have given some sort of tablet to remove the nightmares. But Jim was quite desperate, and he really wanted to be normal again and not be afraid of dying all the time.
Well, Jim opens up his Bible randomly and his eye fall on the passage in Hebrews 2 “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage”
That’s last bit really describes Jim doesn’t it? That’s what he thought too. And it was quite a relief to feel that he was not the only one like this. But he thought it quite weird that someone dies and that stops people being afraid of dying... shouldn’t that make them more afraid?
Jim decided to read a bit more of the Bible, but instead of taking away his fears, it added one more fear. Jim read about a mighty God who had the power to either save you or send you to Hell, he read that everyone deserve to go to Hell. So Jim develops yet another fear, a fear of God.
That’s terrible! So my so called “cure” has only made it worse for Jim, I’ve added yet another fear to his huge list of fears.
Have any of you read proverbs?
If so, you will know that the fear of God is a good thing, as you will see with Jim.
Jim starts to have nightmares about God being angry with him and punishing him. And Jim began to be afraid to do anything that was against what God wanted him to do, so he started reading his Bible a lot, and he soon learned that God can also be merciful, and that God is loving and pardon’s sins. And soon Jim started to think of God as his Protector, and he lost all his former fears, except for his fear of God, which looks more like love than any kind of slavish fear.
So Jim finds the fear of God and now he’s not afraid of anything.
Go ahead and try it, If you are afraid, just think about God’s might, learn about Him in your Bible, and pray that God will give you this valuable fear of God!
Maybe you are afraid of someone? Do you quarrel with your boss at work? Do you have fights with your Husband? Your wife? Are you rebellious against your parents?
Fear turns to Anger, Anger turns to Hate!
If you hate someone, it probably means you were afraid of them to start with. Just think about it. Who are you angry with? Can they seriously affect your life?
I used to fight with my boss, I was afraid that they would give me bad work to do, or even fire me. It seemed that my boss had the power to make my day go well or to make my day an absolute misery. I resented that, and soon I began to be afraid, and then angry, and soon began to hate. And hating is totally wrong, both in the Bible, and anyone will say that is bad to hate people.
So if you are a Christian, and you have the fear of God, and you don’t want to do anything contrary to the will of God, you will not be afraid of man, because it doesn’t matter if you get fired, it doesn’t matter if your husband makes your life a misery, all you are concerned about is doing the will of God, and you know if God loves you, no one can touch you.
Ever wanted to be like Superman? Get the fear of God and you’ll feel utterly invincible.
The fear of God brings Joy!
Well, now here are just a few examples from the Bible of people who had fears.
David. David said in 1 Sam 17:1 “And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand.” He was afraid that Saul will kill him, he didn’t seem to remember that God had anointed him king of Israel, and that if God promises something He will keep his promises!
Has God given you any promises? Don’t doubt God, and don’t be afraid of man!
“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Esther. Esther was asked of Mordecai to go to king Xerxes to save to Jews, but to go in to the King without him calling you was a penalty of death unless the king spare you, and you might remember Esther’s famous words “if I perish, I perish” she went in not fearing the king who could kill her, but God who could destroy her soul!
There are many more examples in Scripture, Jonah fled to Tarshish, the disciples all forsook Jesus when He was arrested, Peter denied Jesus with an oath.
But if we have the fear of God we will be able to look at death in the face and laugh saying: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
There are stories told of martyrs that went to their deaths singing. I pray that when the time comes that God will give each of us the strength to go equally joyful to our deaths however they occur!
Now I pray that we will be given this great gift of the Fear of God and that, we will not be afraid of man!
May God add His blessing on what has been said, and pardon anything that I have spoken amiss.
May all be done to His honour and glory!
Friday, July 8, 2011
The title of my sermon today is taken from the visual puzzle where you are given 2 pictures very similar, but there are a few subtle differences in the pictures. Doubtless you have all at one time in your live done one of these puzzle, probably as a child, and today we are going to do something very similar. I’m going to call this “Christian spot-the-difference”. And the idea is that we are going to look at humanity as a whole and look at how different people groups differ from each other, and what differences, if any, there are between people who profess to be Christian. Then to conclude, I intend to draw some spiritual application as to how we should treat people, whether the same as us, or different from us.
So here’s our first spot the difference, it’s a very easy one: first picture we have is that of the non Christian, he’s out partying every night, he rolls in drunk and starts beating his wife, he has utter hatred for everyone. In our second picture we have a kind-hearted Christian, he cares for other people, he laughs, he smiles, and we see him giving money to a starving African child, he’s just so full of love!
So, SPOT THE DIFFERENCE! The difference is striking the two seem like definite opposites, like love and hate, cold and hot, and like God and Satan. See I told you it was easy!
OK, here’s our second spot the difference: In the first picture again we have our kind hearted Christian who loves everyone and he gives money to the poor. And in our second picture we have another man he look similar, he wears the same kind of clothes, he goes around telling everyone that God is Lord and that God loves you and wants to save you, and that’s so great, I think I’m really starting to like this guy. But then if we take our focus off the man for a moment, we might look at the background and see that he is in a pub drinking beer and having ‘fun’ with his mates.
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE! This one might seem a little harder, the two pictured men look very similar they wear the same clothes, but they are found in different backgrounds. You may remember that I preached a sermon called “Birds of a Feather”, and in it I warned you that if you mix with unbelievers and do the things unbelievers do, however Godly and good you might be, you are bound to fall into sin. This might be the first time the man has been out with his mates having fun and drinking beer, but it makes no difference, if you act like the world you will soon become the world.
So we come to our 3rd Spot the difference: in our first picture we have a young Christian man, he loves God, he smiles, he laughs, he talks about God as if He was a close friend, he sounds like he has recently been called to Grace! Then in our second picture we see a girl of the world wearing sensual clothing, showing of all the curves of her body, but she has a sweet smile on her face. Then if we take a step back and look at both pictures together, the picture of the Christian young man and the worldly girl, we see that the two are holding hands.
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE! The two pictures separately look so different, but are they? The girl is obviously sinning, but maybe the guy is too? I’ll let you think over this one, see what differences there are between the man and the women and pray to God about it and read His Bible!
Now I have got a 4th Spot the difference for you: In out 1st picture we see a mighty preacher, shouting at the congregation below him, exhorting them to forsake the error of their ways, and come to Jesus who is the only way of Salvation, his only desire is that God should be glorified. Then in our second picture we see a quiet lady who is sitting in the congregation, looking up at the preacher smiling, loving all that is spoken.
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE! The two are husband and wife, they love each other. The only difference between the two is the same difference that is between a hand and a foot, both have different functions, but both need each other so much. The preacher would not be able to continue preaching like he does if he wasn’t coming home every night to a wife that loves him and can give all the emotional support that he needs. A minister’s wife is just as important as the minister himself!
Ok, here’s our 5th Spot the difference, are they getting harder? In our first picture we have again our fiery minister, shouting out the Gospel of salvation. And in our second picture we have a young doctor praying for God’s assistance in the upcoming surgery.
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE! The two men are obviously both Christian, and they both feel to have found their calling in life. Christians are all put on this earth to fulfil some kind of calling, whether it is to preach the everlasting gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, or two be a minister’s wife, or to save people’s lives as a masterful surgeon, or even just to clean toilets. There is a purpose on this earth for you, maybe you don’t know what that is or maybe you do, just be certain of one thing whatever you do, you know that it is God’s will that you do all for His honour and His glory!
And now here’s our 6th and final Spot the difference. In our first picture we have a man who is most definitely a Christian, he talks about God all the time, he walks with God and he talks with God, and one day, early on in his Christian walk God came to him and spoke the words “I’ll never forsake you”, and he has never forgotten those words, and he says that it’s his “assurance of faith” it is how he knows that he will one day be brought to glory to be with God! Then in our second picture we see yet another man filled with the Holy Spirit, full of love and grace, he reads the Bible and prays every day, his whole delight is in the Lord, but he cannot claim any Assurance of faith, he cannot be certain that in the last day that God will bring him home to glory, but he hopes for it with all his heart and daily prays for it!
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE! This is my favourite one. The only noticeable difference between the two men is that one has the assurance of faith while the other doesn’t.
Hebrews 10:22 says: 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.
That’s the full assurance of faith, is it required that we should have this full assurance of faith to know of a certainty that we are one of the Lord’s people? Those that do not have this assurance, are they damned?
To answer these questions honestly, I will have to reply that I don’t really know. Some people report that it was some time after their conversion that they received this assurance of faith, some people say that it came when they were converted
The majority of Bible believing Baptists seem convinced that God has given them an assurance of faith and that will be their key to Heaven. Some Christians have no assurance, but just hope that they are one of the elect, crying day and night unto the Lord.
I hope that whether you have this assurance of faith or not you will, whatever happens, cry day and night unto the Lord.
So are there differences between our two men? Can we categorise people into Christian or non-Christian? Which one will they that have no assurance fall into? Or should we make 3 categories, Non-Christian, Christian with assurance, or Christian without assurance? Or maybe they are not Christians, but righteous non-Christians?
I’ll tell you one thing, if I am a non-Christian, I’d rather live my days in obedience to God, because God blesses those that obey His voice, it beats living in a bad relationship, having broken families, and no purpose to your life. And nothing beats the joy of hoping in God!
So in conclusion, we have seen 6 different Spot the differences and we have seen that there are differences between the Christian and the non-Christian, I would like to have compared a few different types of non-Christians, but I didn’t really get round to that, but I will warn you, some non-Christians can look very much like Christians, but the Bible says “BY their fruit ye shall know them”.
We looked at a few difference between different groups of Christians. Even though people may not be exactly the same as you, they are still Christians, don’t make it look like you are better than they because God has given you a more frontline or public calling. Don’t despise the minister’s wife because she lives under the shadow of her husband, he would not be able to continue without her!
So we know that there are differences between Christians. Let me tell you about a very common mistake: You may think that because someone is a Christian they can take the same kind of criticism you are able to bear, you may rebuke them very bluntly, and they make be a lot weaker in heart than you are, and really resent being rebuked in such a manner. Don’t get me wrong, in is important to point out each other’s faults, but does it hurt to do so softly?
Anyone you meet on the street, you don’t know anything about them, everyone is different, be kind and courteous and don’t get caught up in discrimination. We all subconsciously stereotype people, but there isn’t one person in the world that fits perfectly into a stereotype. You might see a homeless person on the street, you immediately think, he’s a down-and-outer, he’s been on drugs, and it’s his own fault that he has no place to call home, you pass by without a smile or a hello. Later on you hear about the missionary from church who gave up all his possessions to live with the homeless people and to tell them about Jesus, you can’t help but think maybe this was the man you saw on the street!
Well I hope there has been something in this sermon that has made its way down into your heart. And I pray that if God has planted the seed of His word today that He will water it and nourish it.
May God add His blessing! Amen!
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
This sermon is mostly targeted at young people who are trying to make some headway in the dating world.
I am not really qualified to advise young people on this dating matter, as I am also a young person trying to make my way through the tangled mess which we refer to as the dating world
I am 22 years old, I am not married, and I have very little experience of dating. But I hope it may be of some encouragement to other young people that there is another going through what you are going through.
I would however advise that you talk to older people who have already dated and married, rather than taking my advice and experience as solid truth.
In my experience dating and relationships have played a major part and still are a lot of what I think about.
I’m sure that your own personal experience will be quite different from mine and you will have to rely on what the Lord tells you as regards finding that perfect soul mate, but here follows my own experience:
I was the age of 12 when I passed puberty, and started looking at girls in a different way. I wasn’t aware what was happening to me at the time, I only knew that I thought about girls a lot and desired their company. I sometimes wish I had had some proper sexual education, because I did some very strange and shameful things which were mostly part of ignorance, but I will not tell you about them… I’m sure maybe you have done things that you are too shameful to tell another person.
But that part of my life is of no importance, only suffice it to say, that I was a sinner and I have since then repented of my sins and come to Christ. I came to Christ at the age of 14, I was a Mennonite at the time, and it was quite clear that the girl I was going to marry was a girl I went to school with… she was about the same age as me and we liked each other so that just seemed to be final. And if you know anything about Mennonites they are quite a close community, and they don’t share much in common with the outside world. So I went to an exclusively Mennonite school, and the girl I seemed destined to marry was Christian and very beautiful, sounds like we could have been the ideal couple right?
Well if you are so certain about a girl and if she loves God, talk to your parents about her (girls too talk to your parents about a guy you like), your parents were given to you by God so they might advise you.
I must say though, that my relationship with my parents has become so bad that I have never been able to talk to them about a girl, which may be part of the reason that I am struggling. God can help me and He can help you to talk!
And then with your parents blessing I think that you have the basis for a perfect household. Just remember one thing, God always comes before family, and if that’s understood by all, I’m sure that God will bless your marriage!
Well, it wasn’t in God’s plans that I should marry this Mennonite girl. I God’s providence, my father was offered a job in Oxford in England, which he took, and so we moved away from Canada, and away from the Mennonite church. I didn’t look on it as providence at the time, I kicked up quite a fuss, and I am now ashamed of that. But it is a great blessing if something bad happens in providence and you are given the grace to accept that the Lord is sovereign!
I was at a loss for quite a while not knowing who or which girl I fancied. One day I thought I was madly in love with one girl, next day I was thinking about a different girl.
It seems like I think about girls 90% of the time, and yet how little of Scripture is devoted to teaching how to find the right wife, Is that because it is not so important? Or maybe it’s because it only needs to be mentioned once and clearly?
One girl I was dead certain that I was attracted to had no idea that I was a Christian, in meeting her I never bothered to mention that I was Christian, because I thought if I told her that, I might lose my chance with her. But should Christians really marry a girl who wouldn’t like them if they knew that they were Christians? I think not. And we know that no marriage or relationship should be built upon a lie, even Hollywood recognizes that. So obviously that relationship was doomed to fail.
Don’t make the same mistakes that I did, be truthful and honest with the girl or the guy who you have an attraction to, tell them that you are Christian and that you love God!
I’m still very mixed up at the moment, I have my eye on 5 possible girls, 3 of them are non-Christian, and 2 of them are. Perhaps I should forget about the girls that are not Christian and just pick one of the 2 Christian girls. It doesn’t seem all so clear as all that… I am obviously attracted to these 3 non-Christian girls, and did not God create us? Then did He not give us this attraction to the opposite sex? I don’t know the answer to these questions so there are a few things I am doing so that I can discern what the will of The Lord is. I believe firmly that if God will have me be with a certain girl, He will manipulate providence in such a way that I will not have any choice but to marry that girl.
As I said at the beginning of my sermon, I think that we should look to the older ministers for advice on dating, they have trodden the path, I haven’t! In particular I would recommend Paul Washer and Voddie Baucham, both have sermons available on Sermon Audio, and you will find quite a very dedicated to dating and marriage. They have been a blessing to me, and I hope that God will also bless them to you.
If a relationship is not based with a view to Marriage it is wrong. Premarital sex is wrong. And if you look through history marriage to a non-believer is like torture to a true Christian!
I just sometimes wish that one of these girls I like will come to Christ and become a Christian. I want to live happily ever after, I’m sure you do too, and that really is a possibility if you whole-heartedly serve the Lord!
So I need to listen to the voice of God when He tells me who I should date. So to be able to listen to the voice of God, we must commune with God, and to do that we must often read the Bible and pray, and that is what I do very often, and I recommend that you do that too.
Please learn from my mistakes, be honest, and look to your elders to give you advice, there is so much false teaching on relationships. Stay close to God and He will never fail you!
The Lord bless you.
Friday, July 1, 2011
The saying, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is reported to have first appeared in 3rd century Greek writings, and has found its way into many famous writings throughout history, including the writings of Shakespeare.
The concept of the phrase basically means that when someone finds something attractive, it is not necessarily that that thing has a natural beauty, but it is the way that that person views that object which defines its beauty. That is why sometimes you might see something that you think is so beautiful it even takes your breath away, and you point it out to a friend, but they seem not to be as affected as you were... they just didn’t see it in the same way!
OK, let me tell you a story... there once was a young man in his early 20s who I shall call Peter... Now Peter was one of those young men that you often see around the mall, you know, those young men that are always slumped against the wall, they never smile, and they always look like they just want to vandalise or bust-up something. This was just the kind of young man Peter was...
Then one day Peter’s mates asked him if he wanted to do something fun for a change.
“What is there fun to do?” Peter said in a care-free tone.
“We’re gonna get really wasted [drunk] and we’re gonna clime up the statue in the town square”
“Sounds kind of lame” Pater said “but I guess it’s better than just staying here all the time”
So that’s exactly what they did, and as a viewer on, I must say it certainly did look like they were enjoying their fun. But something terrible happened, something that changed Peter’s life forever... as he was climbing that great statue in the town square, he slipped and fell, and falling he fell on something really sharp, and he felt like there was something sticking into his eyes. Peter’s friends helped him to his feet, but Peter asked them why it was so dark... yes, you know what happened, Peter had become blind.
Peter was never the same after that, he would never be able to hang out with his friends, in fact he didn’t really have any friends at all except for relatives that would help him to eat his dinner, and even then he felt like he was an unnecessary burden on them. I reckon that there were times that Peter wished that he had used the days that he had sight in some better way rather than wasting it all...
But the point of my story today, isn’t to tell you not to waste your time and not to go drinking, although it goes without saying that you shouldn’t really do either...
So let’s carry on Peter’s story a bit longer:
Peter spent a few years trying to cope with his blindness, learning ways of looking after himself so that he wasn’t so much a burden upon his family, although they still continued to visit on the odd occasion, apparently he also learned how to read Braille.
Then one day he was informed that there was a new cure for certain types of blindness, and he resolved to get some more information.
The information was found, much to Peter’s joy, that it could possibly work on him, although there was no guarantee that is would work. But Peter felt that it was well worth the try, for what would he not do to get his sight back? So he booked an appointment with the surgeon.
There was much time spend in waiting and much anxiety, but the day finally came for the dreaded operation. And to cut a long story short, the operation was a success and, to an extent, Peter had regained his vision, he could see again.
Peter was a new man; he saw the world in a completely different light. He woke up looking at the young nurse that was looking after him; he thought she must be the most beautiful girl in the whole world. Then another nurse walks in asking how he feels, and he thinks that she too looks so beautiful, surpassing the beauty of all other women.
Soon Peter is taken outside, and he sees the trees, the flowers, the blue sky, he sees people with smiling faces, and he feels like he has died and gone to Heaven. He even asked the nurse, “Am I in Heaven?”
You see what’s happened, all has been dark to Peter, but now he sees the light and everything looks beautiful!
Can I remind you of what the Hymn writer John Newton said in his well-known hymn:
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.
The blindness that John Newton here is talking about is the time when we were non-Christian; we walked around in darkness, not knowing that there was a God in Heaven that saves. And then when God saves us we see all the beauty of that salvation, and then there is no face like the beautiful face of the Lord!
Now, if you are sad, I want to tell you that you are sinning!
That’s a bold statement to make, I know, but it is true...
It is a sin to be sad!
Firstly, I would like to clarify what I mean by sad. I do not mean that Christians will always be going around laughing and telling jokes... indeed there are times when that is most definitely inappropriate, for instance, when we are talking about the death of Christ, NEVER make a joke about something as solemn as that. You can be happy and solemn at the same time!
Philippians 4:4 says: Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
Alway means all the time, and to quote a fellow preacher: “’All’ means all, and that’s all ‘All’ means”
And if you have really been saved from eternal condemnation what really is there to be sad about?
So to rejoice in the Lord all the time means that we are always thinking in the back of our mind that we are so pleased about being saved, and that we should always be happy about that. And when someone is talking about the death of the Lord we solemnly think about that, but always keep in mind that there is always a silver lining to every cloud!
I beg you to try out this new lifestyle: give it some time, and come back to me and tell me how you have gotten on... I assure you, that you will come back to me like Peter in our story, telling me how you are looking at the world now that you have sight. Isn’t it beautiful? My God that saved my soul from Hell is that same God who made the beautiful flowers, the trees, the birds and the beasts!
Life really is beautiful when you have God in your life and controlling all your thoughts.
Don’t you think that maybe this change of lifestyle might do much more for people suffering from depression than all those anti-depressants that they are taking?
Recently I have been very interested in a girl; I think that she is the most beautiful girl in the world. I have never seen a girl in that way before. You know why? Because she was made in the image of God, and I am seeing God handiwork there.
Have you ever received something hand made by someone very close to you? Is that not one of your most prized possessions? If you then gave it to a complete stranger, would it mean so much to them? No it wouldn’t, because they have no care for the person that made it. That’s why we as Christians will see all the beauty of creation and love it, and yet a non-Christian would care nothing for it because they know not the Lord who created all things.
I love my life, my life is beautiful. Don’t believe those people that say Christians don’t have fun, because those people don’t even know the meaning of fun. Christians don’t have a horrible life now, so that they can have a nice afterlife. Christians have the best possible life now, followed by an absolutely perfect afterlife.
And that after life will be amazing! I’m not just going to be content looking at the beautiful things in the world that remind me of God... I am going to be able to look on the face of The Lord throughout eternity and admire the beauty of redeeming grace.
My hope and prayer is that you will all become beautiful people who joy in the beauty of an ever merciful, compassionate, redeeming God!
God bless you all!