Monday, March 19, 2018

Maintenance of a Christian Life

5th Sunday in Lent.

     A.   If you went to every house in Marble Hill or the
surrounding area you would find several people that
professed to be Christian but didn't go to church!
          1.   Or you would find those that weren't active in
          2.   They would say they went to such and such church,              but you would find that they didn't go much! You
might ask their pastor’s name and find they
couldn’t tell you!

     B.   Why do people do this?  You will find several reasons         and excuses!
          1.   Some will be mad at someone or have had a bad
experience with church.
          2.   Some will say they are just as good as those that              do!
          3.   Some just feel they don't need it!

     Trans:    A lot of people have just failed to Maintain
their Christian lives!  Lent is about getting in
shape spiritually.  Let's look today at the
"Maintenance of a Christian Life."


                           Titus 3:8

KJV says, “maintain good works.”

I.   What does it mean to maintain?
     A.   Def.  Maintain = To keep an existing state, to
                          continue, carry on.
          1.   You have to maintain a house.
          2.   You have to maintain a car.
          3.   It is the same with your Christian Life!

II.  Three steps to maintain a Christian Life!
     A.   Pray -    No substitute for it!  If we want to
Maintain a Christian life we must talk to
God.  It is important!

          Jer. 33:3 "Call to me and I will answer you, and will
                   tell you great and hidden things that you
                   have not known."

          James 5:16b   "The prayer of the righteous is
 powerful and effective."

          James 4:2&3   "You want something and do not have it;
                        so you commit murder. And you covet
                        something and cannot obtain it; so you
                        engage in disputes and conflicts.  You
                        do not have, because you do not ask. 
                        You ask and do not receive, because you
                        ask wrongly, in order to spend what you
                        get on your pleasures."

          It's just like a relationship with ones spouse.  If we         want to have one we have to communicate!

     B.   Bible Study and Reading - This is God's word if we
                                   Want to know God, we must
 open it and read it!

          II Tim. 3:16a "All scripture is inspired by God …."

          John 17:17    "Sanctify them in the truth; your word
                        is truth."

          1.   This is how we draw closer to God.
          2.   This is how we know what decisions he'd have us
              make in life!  The Bible has been called the text              book of life, a guidebook, and a road map because             it shows us the way.  It is said that John Wesley
was a man of one book!

              II Tim. 2:15  "Study to show thyself approved
                             unto God, a workman that needeth
                             not to be ashamed, rightly
                             dividing the word of truth." KJV

          3.   We might find that if we actually read the Bible
              we might change our attitude and opinions about
              some things!
              a.   There was a time in church history when most
                   people couldn’t read and they had to rely on
                   scriptures read to them in worship.
              b.   That isn’t the case today.
              c.   I have changed in my beliefs and
                   understandings from those I had when I
                   started ministry 30 years ago.  I believe
                   different about some things than I did 20
                   years ago.
              d.   If you still hold the same beliefs you did
when you became a Christian or that you did
10,20, or 30 years ago, you probably aren’t
reading the Bible and allowing it to
transform your life.  The Bible will Change
you to be more like God!

     C.   Seek out fellowship!
          1.   Is it possible to live a Christian Life and not
go to church?  Maybe possible but not probable!!
          2.   As a Christian we will usually want to go to
              church; we will want to remain in fellowship with              other Christians!
              a)   We need that!  We need the encouragement!
We need the instruction!
              b)   If we were out on a deserted Island, God
                   would be there and make a way, but we
                    aren't, and God expects us to make use of
                   what we have!
                   1)   Since we aren't on a deserted Island we                       have people around us!  But we must
                        seek out those who will encourage and
help us with our walk with God?
                   2)   If you were trying to dry out from
                        alcohol or drugs.  AA and other groups    
                        will sometimes encourage finding a   
                        church family.  Get around the right
          3.   The writer of Hebrews instructs us not to forsake              the assembling of ourselves together!
              a)   He or she realized the need!
              b)   The Early Church joined together often in
                   strong fellowship.  We need that today if we                   are to be strong in the Lord!

     A.   Don't forget to maintain your Christian life!
          1.   Watch over it and take care of it!
          2.   Live the way God wants us to live!

     B.   If we don't we will wind up like a car that has been
          let go until so much is wrong with it and it is ready    
          for the junk yard!  But if you maintain that same car
          it will give you many years of service.  Are you    
          Maintaining your Christian Life?

                  Altar Prayer of Confession

Almighty and Loving God, we confess that sometimes we have not maintained our relationship with you as we should.  We have failed to pray as we should.  We have failed to read your Word as we should.  We have failed to attend Church and seek out Christian fellowship as we should.  Forgive us we pray.  Help us from this day forward to maintain our Christian lives so that we are filled up and ready to share your love with others.  For it is in the name of Christ we pray, Amen!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Baptism of Jesus

               (Baptism, Reaffirmation, and Church Membership)

                         Matt. 3:13-17

What we are doing this morning is keeping with the early church tradition of bringing people into the church during Lent.

I.   Jesus was God and as God had no sin.
John 1:1  "In the beginning was the word and the word was
 with God and the word was God."

II.  Yet, Jesus saw the need to be baptized.
A.   "for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all

B.   Jesus did it simply because he felt it was the right
     thing to do if one were going to serve God.

C.   Here Jesus institutes baptism as something that we
Should do!

III. What is baptism?
A.   It can be said to be the beginning of ones ministry or life in Christ.
1.   It did mark the beginning of Christ's ministry.
2.   It can be an outward witness to the world that we  are beginning our life in Christ.
3.   Even for babies, it can be a witness that says
this baby is going to be brought up in the Lord:
he/she is beginning a life in Christ!

B.   Baptism has two parts: the vows and the actual
Baptism. The vows we make are our witness to the world
of what we are doing or have done in our heart; for
babies, as the vows are renewed at Confirmation, they
become for them a witness of the commitment they are
making in their hearts to God.

C.   Mostly, The baptism itself is a witness to the grace
of God.
1.   It is saying to the world that God's grace has
saved me.
2.   There is nothing that I have done; God has done
it in sending Christ.
3.   Jesus had no sin, but he could be baptized as a witness to the grace of God that would see him  though life.
4.   Babies can be baptized because we believe that God’s grace has saved them.  They are saved until they reach an age of deciding for themselves, so they can be candidates for baptism.
a.   Babies should only be baptized that have parents or sponsors who will stand for them and commit to bring them up in such a way that they will want to follow through in Confirmation.  Also, ones who will create a memory for the of the day!  Pictures are fine and good.  They can help you to tell the story and create a memory!
b.   Otherwise, their baptism could become a
     stumbling block if they are not taught they
need later make a commitment and say their vows for themselves in Confirmation.
5.   Since it is a witness to the grace of God, we do
not re-baptize.  To rebaptize someone is to say that God's grace has failed.  God has not failed.
6.   If we feel that we have failed and wish to
rededicate our lives to Christ, we can choose to renew our vows in a reaffirmation of baptism.  It can be done just for an individual, or it can
Be done congregationally which is what I sometimes lead us in on Baptism of the Lord Sunday.
7.   We also renew our vows during church membership when folks have been baptized at an earlier time in their lives, which is what we are going to do this morning.  It becomes a special time of renewal and remembering our journey this far.
a.   We don’t want to rebaptize them, but we want them to remember their journey that has brought them to this place in their lives.  Remember God’s grace that has always been there on their journey. 
b.   We want them to remember their journey and in renewing their vows commit to go deeper with Christ as they unite with this body of Christ.


A.   Today, as folks reaffirm their vows and we baptize these small children, we too will reaffirm our commitment to God and the church. 

B.   For all of us, this can be a fresh start in the Lord; it can be a time of growth.  It can be a time of a deeper commitment!  Amen!  Thanks be to God!

Service of Baptism, Reaffirmation of Baptism, and church membership!

Monday, March 5, 2018

A Growing Faith!

                                             3rd Sunday in Lent

A.   It is very interesting to watch young children grow.

B.   They are very eager to do new things and to grow.
1.   They want to be big!
2.   It seems they are afraid of nothing!
3.   If they have seen someone else do it, especially mom or dad, they are ready to try it!
4.   They may not get it right, but they will try!

Today, we have the opportunity in the scriptures to watch the growth of a spiritual child in his faith.  Let's look for signs of a weak faith and signs of a strong faith as we watch this person develop in his spiritual life.

                         John 4:46-53

I.   Signs of a Weak Faith.

A.   Demanding visible proof.
1.   This man wanted Jesus to come down so he could
     see Jesus perform this miracle!
2.   Jesus told him, "Unless you see signs and
wonders, you will not believe." (vs. 48)
3.   People with weak faith want to see proof!
a.   Thus the old saying, "Seeing is believing."
b.   But we are sometimes deceived by sight
                   because things are not always as they
c.   And sometimes when we say we have to see it
to believe, when discussing spiritual
things, we probably wouldn't believe even if
we could see.  Many in Jesus' day didn't
believe even though he was living before
their very eyes.

B.   Another sign of weak faith is when we are only driven to God in times of great need.
1.   This man had probably heard of Jesus before, but
he only came looking for him when he was in great
2.   He had probably already tried everything else and Jesus was his last hope!
3.   This faith is better than no faith at all because it gives us a place from which to start in our spiritual life, but it is a sign of weak faith.

C.   Another sign of weak faith is when we pray demanding
     of God what to do; this shows a lack of our ability to trust God to do what God sees as best!
1.   This father begged Jesus to come down and heal
     his son, and when Jesus didn't immediately
     respond, he demands, "Sir, come down before my
     little boy dies!" (vs. 49)

2.   He didn't simply make his desires known to Jesus    
     and trust that Jesus would do what was best, nor    
     did he say, if it is your will, my son will live.
3.   When we grow to the place of realizing who we are in the presence of God, we realize, "Who are we to tell God what to do?"
a.   Yet we still find ourselves sometimes praying, demanding, thinking we know better what we need than God does!
b.   We need to resist this temptation!

D.   Finally, another sign of weak faith is impatience!
1.   Notice the impatience as he says, Sir, come down before my little boy dies."
2.   It's as if, if Jesus doesn't come down right now, it will be out of Jesus' control.
3.   His trust in Jesus was limited; thus is the trust factor behind impatience in prayer!

E.   Even though this man's faith was:
1.   seeking visible evidence.
2.   driven by great need.
3.   commanding.
4.   impatient.
5.   It was still within the Lord's will to heal the  child!
6.   He didn't have to have a perfect faith for his  request to be heard by God!
7.   As God honored his weak faith, his faith became  stronger!

II.  Signs of a Strong Faith!

A.   Trust in the Word of God.
1.   When Christ said, "Go your son will live," the
man took Jesus at his word and departed. (vs. 50)
a.   He didn't say, "Are you sure?"
b.   Or, "Don't you need to come to my house?"
2.   We need to have this kind of faith in God's Word
given to us through the Bible!
a.   The answers to the world's problems are in the Bible.
b.   The answers to our problems are in the
c.   The way to God is found in the Bible.
d.   Guidance for our lives is found in the
e.   It is precious and worthy to live by!
3.   During this Lenten journey, maybe we could make
daily Bible reading something that we add to our
practices in order to draw closer to God?

B.   A readiness to receive confirmation!
1.   When the father heard of the healing of his son, he was ready to give God the glory!
2.   He didn't say, "Well, if I'd known that, I wouldn't have had to go!"
3.   A strong faith gives credit where credit is due!

C.   Lastly, a sign of strong faith is willingness to receive spiritual blessings.
1.   This man didn't just leave it at the physical; we are told that he and his household believed!  (vs. 53)
2.   Too many times, when the crisis is over, we go on  our way and don't give the spiritual a second  thought, but this man did not do that!

A.   This man had a physical need.

B.   Through the process of going through this time of
need, he came to faith, and his faith grew.

C.   He came to trust in the Word of God; he was ready to     
     receive confirmation of what God had done; and he was willing to receive spiritual blessings.

D.   Can we say the same things for ourselves?

E.   Charles Finney, the father of Modern Revivalism, once

"A State of mind that sees God in everything is evidence of growth in grace and a thankful heart."

Not that God causes everything, but nevertheless, the person of growth can see God working "in everything."

F.   Do we need to grow in faith?
1.   Let's go to the Word of God!
2.   Let's receive the spiritual blessings of God!
3.   and Let's give God the credit!


Prayer of Confession
Service of Communion

Monday, February 26, 2018

I'm Alright - Compared to What?

                                             2nd Sunday in Lent

     A.   Have you ever heard someone say, "I'm just as good as         so in so; I don't need to go to church?"

     B.   Or maybe as a Christian you have sometimes felt           convicted that you should change or make some kind of          commitment to the Lord, but then remembered old Bro. so       in so, "I'm doing a lot better at this than he is;          maybe I am alright after all!"

     C.   What do we use as a measuring stick?  What attitude       does it show when we try to use people as our measuring           sticks?

          Christ once told a parable that answers some of these          questions.  Let's look at it this morning and see what        we can learn from it.

                         Luke 18:9-14

I.   Let's look at the Pharisee first this morning.
     A.   Here we have a man who in his own eyes felt that he
Was alright, but Christ was plain that he wasn't the
One who was justified!

     B.   Where was he wrong?
          1.   First of all, he compared himself to people
Rather than to God. 
              a.   Compared to thieves, people that are unjust,                   or an adulterer, he was a good man!
              b.   When we gauge ourselves by people, we may
                   look pretty good, but they are an imperfect
                   measuring tool!
              c.   We gauge ourselves by God, we get a better
                   picture.  We realize how miserably we fall                    short!
          2.   Secondly, he became proud when he realized how
              much better he was than other people.
              a.   Notice how many times he says, "I."  Look
                   what I have done!
              b.   Pride becomes wrong when it exalts us above
              c.   What does the Bible say about pride?
                   "Pride goes before destruction, and a
 Haughty spirit before a fall."(Prov. 16:18)
              d.   Pride heads us for destruction because pride                   causes us to trust in ourselves for
salvation rather than in God!!
          3.   That brings us to the third way he was wrong; he
              placed his trust in the wrong things. 
              a.   In himself which we've already talked about
                   by noticing how many times he says "I."
              b.   But also in his works!
                   1)   "I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of                       all my income." (vs. 12)
                   2)   Works are good, but they in themselves
                        will not save us!

                        Read Eph. 2:8-10

                        (vs. 8)  Saved by grace through faith!

                        (vs. 10)  For good works!  The right
                                  faith will work!

                        But works without faith are just good                         works!

II.  Let's look at the Tax Collector.  Why was he justified?
     A.   This man simply saw himself the way God saw him!

     B.   He saw himself compared to a Holy God!
          1.   He saw every little flaw in his character.  He
              didn't justify them by saying, "Oh, but look at
so and so!"
          2.   He saw every time he had hurt someone.  Whether
              intentional or unintentional!
          3.   He saw that when he tried his hardest to be good
              he still came up miserably short of God's ideal!

     C.   This brought him to a humble attitude.  He realized he         couldn't be good enough in himself to straighten out
          the wrongs he had already committed!
          1.   The only chance he had was by the mercy of God!
          2.   So he cries out, "God, be merciful to me, a
              sinner!"  (vs. 13b)
          3.   And the scripture says he went down to his home

III. What does this say to us today?

     A.   Importantly!  We need to stop comparing ourselves to
          other people and be concerned about what God thinks of         us.  That is what matters!
          1.   This stands between us and God more times than
              just about anything else!
              a.   We have stopped seeing ourselves through
                   God's eyes!
              b.   We compare ourselves to other people and
                   think we look pretty good!  We don't realize                   how much we really fall short!
                   1)   This can keep us from coming to God in
                        the first place.
                   2)   And it keeps us from growing as
                        Christians because we just can't see
any place we need to improve!
          2.   We need to ask God to help us see     ourselves with
              God's eyes, and in our broken-ness ask God to
Help us to change!

     B.   We need to get our works in perspective!
          1.   We need to realize our works can't save us!
          2.   But we also need to realize that our works can
              help us to evaluate where we are, because when we              have true faith in God, we will work!

     C.   When we stop comparing ourselves to other people and
          get our works in perspective, we'll:
          1.   Realize how much we need God and trust in what
God has done for us to salvation!
          2.   Grow as Christians like we have never grown


     A.   Is the Spirit speaking to us this morning?
          1.   Are we comparing ourselves to the wrong things?
          2.   Are we too proud?
          3.   Are we trusting in the wrong things?

     B.   It is Lent when we realize our sin and our need to
          draw closer to God.  As I began last week, I am going
to ask you again to join me at the altar for a time of
silent prayer and I will close our time together with a Prayer of Confession!

     C.   If you trust Christ for the first time, let me know so         I can help you in your new walk with Christ!

                         Closing Hymn

Prayer of Confession

Almighty and All knowing God,
     We confess that sometimes we compare ourselves to others and fail to see our sins as they really are.  We confess that sometimes we are filled with pride in our own works and have failed by trusting too much in them.

     God, have mercy on us as sinners!  Forgive us where we have failed and fallen short.  Free us to live and love in you because of your never ending mercy and unfailing love!

And all God’s people said, Amen!