Sermon Notes

Gospels Graphic

A Journey Through the Gospels          5-15-22

Part 18 – Matthew 13:51-52

“Parables by the Sea-The Charge”

Intro: This time of the year, there are a lot of graduation ceremonies and commencement speeches. Some are good…some are not so good. Often the speaker will give some kind of challenge or charge to the graduates.

After Jesus had finished the “parables by the sea”, he asked a question and gave a charge to the group of disciples (the 12 and others). Let’s take a look:

READ: Matthew 13:51-52

The “householder” (or disciple) is a picture of one who draws both old and new from the treasure chest of knowledge. In order to do that, there are three activities for us to consider as we pursue our part in the Kingdom of God.

I. The Need for Discovery

A. We need to learn God’s Word for ourselves

(as opposed to second hand knowledge)

B. We need to listen to the Spirit of Truth

(discovering/learning His voice)

C. We need to leave room for new information & correction

(we must remain teachable)

(example of teacher teaching only the same lessons)

II. The Practice of Diligence

A. We must live God’s Word daily (practical application)

(does the scripture make a difference in my actions?)

B. We must resist the enemy’s lies and tactics

(schemes that are carefully planned and executed)

C. We must be growing in grace (fruits of the Spirit)

D. We must be growing in maturity (a settled peace)

III. The Process of Distribution

A. We must choose wisely when “bringing out the treasure”

(“good soil for seeds”)

B. We must maintain a balance of the “old and new”

C. We must help connect the dots for others when possible

D. We must remember the picture

(who we represent – Jesus)

(why He has us where He does-His purposes)

IV. Conclusion

The knowledge of God is rare treasure indeed. Paul wrote that we carry this treasure in “clay jars”. We may be fragile, but the treasure isn’t.

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A Journey Through the Gospels          5-8-22

Part 17 – Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

“Parables by the Sea-The Wheat and the Tares”

Intro: As we continue looking at the parables Jesus taught the mixed crowds by the sea, it’s interesting to consider that true believers and critics were both in attendance. Even His betrayer would have heard the teaching. However, knowing the finality of “the end of the age”, He never became anxious when it appeared the enemy’s schemes were succeeding. It should also be true of us today, but the enemy’s apparent wins can unsettle us. Jesus gave a reminder of the big picture and it’s still applicable today. Let’s take a look:

READ: Matthew 13:24-30

I. The Parable (v.24-30)

A. The elements of the story

The farmer sowing seed in a preplanned method

The enemy following behind according to the method

The seed was similar but different

(wheat ultimately produced food)

(tares looked the same until maturity, no food)

B. The intent behind the actions

The farmer – harvest of food, more seed for food

The enemy – subtle, malicious damage

C. The result of the two plants

Tares separated out to the fire

Wheat gathered to the barn

Let’s Read On: 36-43

II. The Explanation

A. The farmer – the Son of Man

B. The enemy – the devil

C. The field – the world (all around us)

D. The wheat – people of the kingdom

E. The tares – people of the wicked one

F. The result – angels harvest all into fire or barn

III. The Application

A. Recognize “what is”

(the reality of the presence of both)

(both will benefit from the prepared soil, watering)

(activities, beliefs, agendas will eventually diverge)

B. Consider “what to do”

We’re neither the farmer or the harvesters

We are to choose patience and wise interactions

C. Remember “what will be”

The Lord will orchestrate the separation

The Lord’s decision will be final

The enemy’s scheme will come to nothing

The Lord’s plans will be fulfilled

D. Conclusion

Remember, most of these points we have little to no control over.  Time is the great revealer, and the Lord will do the separating.

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A Journey Through the Gospels          5-1-22

Part 16 – Matthew 13:1-23

“Parables by the Sea-The Soils”

Intro: Imagine the responses to a “man on the street” type interview of people around Galilee and Judea during Jesus’ ministry to the question of “Who is Jesus of Nazareth?”

It would have varied widely. Even those listening to Jesus teach would give different answers. Now imagine the same scenario today, “Who is Jesus of Nazareth?” The responses would probably be very similar in nature.

Jesus often taught a mixed crowd, and he used the parable as a teaching method. In Mathew 13, an event is recorded where he was doing just that (teaching with parables from a boat to a large mixed crowd of people on the shore). One of the great things about this scene is that Jesus provides insight to the story and reasons for it.

Let’s take a look:

READ: Matthew 13:1-23

I. The Parable (v.1-9)

A. It was a familiar setting of a farmer sowing grain

(a path, ”tilled” areas and undeveloped edges)

B. There are two constants in the story

(the seed and the sower)

C. There is one variable in the story-the soils

D. All four results require time to be observed

II. The Purpose (v.10-17)

A. Jesus used stories with varying levels of belief present

(as opposed to direct instruction)

B. The stories gave insight to those willing to listen

C. The stories disappointed those unwilling to listen

D. The stories exposed those with unwilling hearts

(rejection of them exposing their stubborn hearts)

III. The Possibilities (v.18-23)

A. Hard path soil-solid, sunbaked walking path

(top of the soil, easy for the birds to take)

(never a possibility of a crop/harvest)

B. Shallow soil-stones underneath making the soil very thin

(plants spring up, but can’t develop and wither)       

(excitement of something new, then loss of interest)

C. The uncleared edges-presence of thorns/weeds/grasses

(cares of this world compete, entangle, overtake, kill)

D. Good soil-broken up, loosened, prepared

(growth, harvest, repeat)

IV. Conclusion

The take-aways

A. The seed is constant

(Many today think we need better seed (bio-engineered) but the soil is the focus. The seed is still as wonderful as ever!)

B. The dangers are timeless

– Hard hearts

– Shallow hearts

– Distracted hearts

C. The possibilities are endless

The harvest can carry well beyond our lifetime

(Seed/harvest/seed/repeat)

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A Journey Through the Gospels          4-24-22

Part 15 – Luke 7:36-50

“The Fragrance of Forgiveness”

Intro: I love a good story. When I was young, I enjoyed listening to the old stories told by the previous generation.

Jesus masterfully told stories and we’re considering one today. As we do, let’s consider four points about the scene:

READ: Luke 7:36-50

I. The Woman Expressed Gratitude v.36-38

A. It was an honest moment (no ulterior motive)

B. It was focused on Jesus (exclusively)

C. It was generated by change (newness)

II. Simon Had a Disposition of Pride v.39

A. There was a lack of hospitality (even basic)

B. There was an inclination to judge

(both the woman and Jesus)

C. There was blindness to the obvious (His presence)

III. Jesus Offered Truth Through a Story v.40-43

A. The story offered a gentle insight for one willing to listen

B. The story highlighted her but subtly admonished him

C. The story described both debtors needing forgiveness

(neither could pay)

IV. Jesus Disregarded the Approval of Others v.44-50

A. Jesus declared her forgiveness (the real need)

B. Jesus spoke without fear of offending some listeners

C. Jesus prioritized her peace over their acceptance

(whether from legalists or others with expectations)

V. Conclusion

In 2nd Corinthians 3, Paul described us as the fragrance of Christ to those around us. Like the woman, our debt couldn’t be paid. Does our response to His forgiveness reflect the same aroma to those around us as hers did?

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A Journey Through the Gospels          4-3-22

Part 14 – Matthew 6:1-7:29

“Fruitful Actions”

Intro: So far in the Sermon on the Mount, we’ve seen:

The Beatitudes with the Salt/Light teaching and how we are to be “active blessings” (our value/worth)

Next, we looked at the “you have heard statements”, and considered how we are to be “heart healthy” (our condition).

And today, we close out the sermon by looking at “fruitful actions”.

To facilitate the fruit, it’s helpful to spend time considering what Jesus explained about our part and God’s part.

I. God Sees Us

READ: 6:1-4

A. We are to be subtle about our acts of kindness

(motives…as to the Lord)

READ: 6:5-6, 16-18

B. We are to be subtle about our spiritual disciplines

(motives…as to the Lord)

READ: 6:19-21

C. We are to be “later” minded about treasure

(out of sight-out of mind)

II. God Provides for Us

READ: 6:25-34, 7:7-12

A. Do not let the now become too pressing (or depressing)

(or spiritualize it…creating drama)

B. Do not let thoughts of tomorrow ruin today

III. God Judges All

READ: 7:1-6, 21-23

A. We are to do self-evaluation first

B. Counsel for others only should come afterwards

(it’s then humble and not judgmental)

IV. God Anchors and Supports Us

READ: 7:24-29

A. It’s a proactive mindset (not passive)

B. It’s done ahead of time (before the storm arrives)

V. Conclusion

READ: John 15:1-8

Power to produce comes from the vine not the branches

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A Journey Through the Gospels          3-20-22

Part 13 – Matthew 5:17-48

“Heart Healthy”

Intro: We’re looking at the Sermon on the Mount in three big picture sections:

First, with the Beatitudes and the Salt/Light teaching, we saw how we are to be “active blessings” (our value/worth)

Today, with the “you have heard statements”, we will see how we are to be “heart healthy” (our condition).

-Many food products are promoted as “heart healthy”. In a physical sense, it’s the idea of good eating/lifestyle habits. In a spiritual sense, Jesus taught about healthy hearts in connection with the Law of Moses. Living up to the standard laid out in the sermon is impossible in our own ability, but as followers of Christ, we have the Holy Spirit to help us each day as we make our choices.

Today, we’ll consider 6 choices Jesus presented:

I. The Danger of Anger

READ: Matthew 5:17-26

A. We are to reject holding onto anger against another

B. We are to embrace forgiveness

(it’s proactive not just reactive)

II. Lustful Looks

READ: Matthew 6:27-30

A. We are to reject entertaining lustful thoughts

(recognizing the darts)

B. We are to embrace good thoughts

(Philippians 4:8)

III. Hard-Heartedness

READ: Matthew 31-32

(He further explains it in 19:1-12)

A. We are to reject callous, self-centered hearts

(marriage was the example)

B. We are to embrace tenderness and selfless love

(in marriage and in general)

IV. Honoring One’s Word

READ: Matthew 5:33-37

A. We are to reject “casual versus real” promises

(the need for oaths)

B. We are to embrace being people of our word

(a general reputation of keeping promises)

V. Vengeance and Payback

READ: Matthew 6:38-42

A. We are to reject having a “get even” mindset

(the OT quote was for courts/settlements)

B. We are to embrace grace as Jesus modeled

(even though it goes against out nature)

 VI.  Undeserved Love

READ: Matthew 5:43-48

A. We are to reject justifying a hateful attitude

(even if the person is rotten)

B. We are to embrace love that is gracious

(it’s a decision of the will)

VII. Conclusion

This reveals our need for forgiveness/His help to succeed

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A Journey Through the Gospels          3-20-22

Part 12 – Matthew 5:1-16

“Active Blessings”

Intro: The benefits of “probiotics”

– healthy system

– sense of well-being

– stronger immunity

– today we’ll take a look at Jesus’ encouragement and challenge for those of us who are “blessed”

READ: Matthew 5:1-16

I. Understanding the Blessings (v.3-10)

A. There is heavenly awareness of each one

B. There is present value of each one

– daily-(health and well-being)

– back through the list…(3-10)

C. There is unrealized reward for each one

– future mindset (like investing)

– gain and satisfaction

Re-read: v.11-12

II. Responding to the Blessings (v.11-12)

A. We need to remember the sequence of events

– i.e. humble will inherit…process of time

B. We need to remember the context

– what causes the challenges-fallen world

C. We need to remember to rejoice

– the contrast is the evidence

Re-read: v.13-16

III. Being the Blessings (v.13-16)

A. We are to be actively preserving

– salt preserves

B. We are to be actively adding value

– salt adds flavor

– salt is a traditional healing additive

– salt has historical/current value

C. We are to be actively bringing clarity

– light reveals what is there

IV. Conclusion

The blessings aren’t for a beaten-down, hopeless people who are discouraged and need pity, they are validation of kingdom useful hearts that counter the darkness every day.

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A Journey Through the Gospels          3-13-22

Part 11 – Mark 2:23-3:6

“Lord of the Sabbath”

Intro: Story of an episode relating to Sundays of “The Andy Griffith Show”.

– over the years the general attitude toward Sundays in our culture has changed

– over the years I have been asked many times about Sunday versus Sabbath, etc.

– today we’ll take a look at Jesus’ comments about the Sabbath and how it applies to us

READ: Mark 2:23-3:6

I. Jesus was the Giver of the Law (Torah) (v.28)

A. “Moral” Laws versus “Amoral” Laws

(idolatry, lying, adultery, murder, etc. – immoral)

B. Obedience has always been the important part

– (Adam & Eve example)

II. The Sabbath was a Gift (Not a Burden) (v.27)

A. It was to facilitate rest and focus on the Lord

B. David’s example draws attention to the subject of consecration and a practical need in the same moment

– they were ceremonially clean, etc.

– they didn’t profane the tabernacle, etc.

– He maintained a respectful attitude toward holiness

III. The Gift (Sabbath) was Meant for Good Activities

(not harmful or neglectful v.4)

A. Jesus purposefully healed the man in view of everyone

B. He was grieved at their hard-heartedness (v.5)

(a sad picture-choosing to miss the goodness/joy!)

IV. The Lord’s Day (a Weekly Celebration!)

Reference: Acts 20:7 & Revelation 1:10

A. Jesus has authority over it (and the other six)

B. Sundays (The Lord’s Day-a gift to us)

C. Like the Sabbath, it’s for righteousness/good purposes

V. Conclusion

– The Lord’s Day is a gift/celebration

– The Lord’s Day is for good righteous things

– The Lord’s Day is to facilitate focus on Him (His day)

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A Journey Through the Gospels          3-6-22

Part 10 – Luke 5:17-26

“A Rude Interruption”

Intro: A 360 degree look at the event when the “roof opened”

READ: Luke 5:17-26

I. There was Interest in the Current Events

(The crowds-example of curiosity)

A. There are always those with casual interests

B. Time is what separates the casual from the committed

II. There was Skepticism of the Truth

(Pharisees & scribes-example of unbelief)

A. Their opinion was based on truth

(only God can forgive sins)

B. Their pride made no allowance for correction

(seeing the reality that Jesus is God)

III. There was Friendship Between People

(Friends-example of selflessness)

A. Their desire was for their friend’s benefit

B. Their concern outweighed potential negative results

IV. There was Faith in Jesus

(Friends-example of settled belief)

A. They determined Jesus’ ability to heal a settled reality

B. They determined Jesus was approachable

V. There was Revelation of Truth

(Jesus-example of authority)

A. Presence of power to heal (v.17)

B. Presence of power to forgive sins

VI. There was Provision for Needs

(Jesus-example of grace)

A. Healing from sin (that you may know v.24)

B. Healing from infirmity (rise up)

VII. Conclusion

  • Avoid the pride of the Pharisees that obstructed their ability to see Jesus for who He truly is.
  • Take encouragement from the friends’ example of selflessness and determination.
  • Take encouragement from Jesus’ reception of the men and their display of faith.

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A Journey Through the Gospels          2-27-22

Part 9 – Luke 5:1-11

“Markers on the Journey”

Intro: Personal story of physical marker stones.

I remember standing there visualizing the past (the ones who put them there, the circumstances of their work, and the armies that had marched out fought around them).

There was a connection to something real

On the faith journey, there are marker stones that become a connection to something real. Often times, they are built purposely by the Lord to give us a sturdy memory to have over time.

Today we’re considering one such moment for four Galilean fishermen. Let’s take a look:

READ: Luke 5:1-11

I. There was the Time “Before the Moment”

A. The ministry of John had prepared the moment

(two were disciples of John)

B. The fishermen were doing what they normally did

(daily routine)

C. Jesus used what they knew to make a lasting imprint

(fishing was what they knew)

II. There was a Time of Discouragement

A. They had fished all night without any success

(not even modest success)

B. The lack of success was not due to their lack of effort

(had fished all their life)

C. What happened next was a complete surprise

(to them not Jesus)

III. There was a Time of Reluctance

A. Jesus asked them to go against their experience

(one didn’t fish the Galilee in the day)

B. They reluctantly agreed

(no great display of faith)

IV. There was a Time of Realization

A. They realized the immediate benefit of obedience

(although His purpose was not their fishing business)

B. They realized the overwhelming presence of God

(Peter’s reaction)

V. Conclusion

– In John 21:1-14 we see this marker stone memory appear for the four fishermen

– In times of confusion, think on the marker stones

(focus on what you know to be true and real)

– Perhaps you need a marker stone…

(pray for one)

– Perhaps you need to start the journey…

(you can)

– Perhaps today you need to be reminded of yours…

(the ones He has already created for you)

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A Journey Through the Gospels          2-20-22

Part 8 – Luke 4:14-30

“When Reality Pushes Through”

Intro: In matters of scripture, faith, the discipleship journey, and other life situations, we can easily develop our own ideas that may or may not match up to eternal truth. Eventually, reality pushes through and moments of decision or even a crisis of faith come. For the ones listening to Jesus, there were often such moments.

Today we’re considering such a moment that happened in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. Let’s take it point-by-point:

READ: Luke 4:14-30

I. There was a Point of Exaltation

A. The community loved what they heard

(they wanted more)

B. The community gave praise in response to what they heard and saw

(they approved)

II. There was a Point of Communication

A. Jesus gave them the scripture

(the power of the word)

B. Jesus stopped short of reading the next line

(“day of vengeance” Is. 61:2)

(nothing given to support political deliverer)

III. There was a Point of Declaration

A. Jesus identified Himself as the one promised

(Today this scripture is fulfilled v.21)

B. Jesus connected Himself to their true needs

(gospel, heart-healing, spiritual liberty)

IV. There was a Point of Expectation

A. The listeners heard what they wanted to hear

(often is the case)

B. The listeners believed what they wanted to believe

(also often is the case)

V. There was a Point of Clarification

A. Jesus pointed out their superficial faith

(the proverb v. 23)

B. Jesus reminded them of Israel’s history of rejecting God

(Elijah, Elisha, Naaman v.24-27)

VI. There was a Point of Confrontation

A. The listeners refused to embrace the truth

B. The listeners tried to silence the one speaking the truth

VII. There was a Point of Separation

A. Jesus simply left them where they were

B. Jesus moved on to other listeners

VIII. Conclusion

Question: What do you do when reality pushes through?

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A Journey Through the Gospels          2-13-22

Part 7 – John 4:1-42

“Addressing Needs”

Intro: On the path of discipleship, there are many surprise lessons. We think linear learning (a+b+c), but God teaches us in a way that is more whole-oriented. He moves us in and out of lessons that may move us forward, to the side, looping back around again, or staying still for a time. On the road north , the disciples were going somewhere they most likely had never been…Sychar of Samaria.

READ: John 4:1-6

I. The Needs of Jesus (v.4)

(He needed to go through Samaria)

A. He needed to arrange a meeting (timing)

– may appear to be coincidence but not

B. He needed to orchestrate teaching moments

– may appear random but not

C. He needed to reveal Himself to the city

– immediate and future results

READ: John 4:7-26

II. The Needs of the Woman

A. An experiential need: To encounter authenticity

B. A theological need: Clarification of truth (v.22 & 24)

C. A spiritual need: Personal need of redemption

READ: John 4:27-38

III. The Needs of the Disciples

A. They needed a lesson on race/gender relations

B. They needed a visual of better objectives

– sowing/reaping as the true goals

C. They needed to see honest responses to Jesus

READ: John 4:39-42

IV. The Needs of the Samaritans

A. They needed acceptance

-right where they were

B. They needed to hear the truth articulated

– without sophistry

C. They needed a chance to respond

– to make their own decisions

V. Conclusion

Question: What are your needs?

– Are they similar to the woman?

– Are they similar to the disciples?

– Are they similar to the town?

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A Journey Through the Gospels          2-6-22

Part 6 – John 3:22-36

“The Greatest Approach”

Intro: The mention of “John the Baptizer” evokes colorful images. He was the rugged wilderness prophet speaking bold words that people loved to hear but were afraid to say themselves. However, we must not let the unusual nature of his ministry overshadow his message. Jesus strongly affirmed John and even called him “the greatest born of women”, but his humble approach to serving Christ is his true legacy.

Let’s take a look at “The Greatest Approach”:

READ: John 3:22-36

I. John Held Firm to the Truth of God (v.22-29)

(the context of baptism-message of repentance)

A. The truth of God comes from heaven (v.27)

B. The truth of God challenges assumptions (purification)

C. The truth of God requires a decision (accept or reject)

D. The truth of God clarifies our vision (v.29)

II. John’s Hope was in the Lamb of God (v.30-32)

A. His joy was in the arrival of the “Bridegroom”

B. His desire was to point people to Christ

C. His method was deference to Christ

– decrease (v.30)

– authority/supremacy (v.31)

III. John’s Goal was the Work of God (v.33-36)

A. He pointed out the words of the Son (v.33-34)

B. He pointed out the Father’s love of the Son (v.35)

C. He pointed out the salvation of the Son (v.36)

D. He pointed out the results of rejecting the Son (v.36)

IV. Conclusion

Question: What is your approach to the Christian life?

– Is it humility? (John was strong, but humble)

– Is it deference? (John was popular, but not prideful)

– Is it focused? (John had goals, but not his own)

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A Journey Through the Gospels          1-30-22

Part 5 – John 2:13-3:21

“The Kingdom of God”

Intro: The idea of “The Kingdom of God” captivated many of Jesus’ listeners. There was great anticipation of its arrival, however, not only was the nature of the kingdom misunderstood, the underlying need for it was also.

It was within that context that Jesus arrived in Jerusalem for Passover in his first year of public ministry.

Let’s take a look at it:

READ: John 2:13-35

I. The Kingdom of God is Holy

A. God is Who He Is

– regardless of our preferences/practices

– regardless of our attempts to redefine Him

B. God’s righteousness has not diminished (at all)

C. God still expects a sacred/serviceable temple (us)

READ: John 3:1-19

II. The Kingdom of God is New Life

A. Condemned is an inherited status not a future decision

– the gospel is not a “neutral +” proposition, its “– or +”

B. “Born of water” is repentance (John/Jesus’ preaching)

C. Believing is trusting (3:16)

D. Born of the Spirit is regeneration (not of our own power)

READ: 3:20-21

III. The Kingdom of God is Light

A. God is Light with no darkness (I John 1:5)

B. We are to have fellowship with the Light (I John)

C. We are not to have fellowship with darkness (Eph. 5:11)

D. Our deeds are to be clearly seen as light bearing (v.21)

IV. Conclusion

– Do you look at God’s kingdom as sacred and holy?

– Have you been “born again”?

– Are you walking in the light?

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A Journey Through the Gospels          1-23-22

Part 4 – John 1:35-51

“Follow Me”

Intro: The context of “Follow me”

Now, let’s take a look at how it applies to us:

READ: John 1:35-51

I. Jesus Expects Active Followers

A. Followers investigate to learn more

B. Followers commit to being a disciple

C. Followers bring others along with them

– physically

– spiritually

II. Jesus Expects Reactive Followers

A. Followers embrace being transformed (Simon to Peter)

– He sees us as we will be

B. Followers embrace the revealed truth (His word)

C. Followers embrace on-going change

– stay teachable as life-long learners

III. Jesus Expects Exclusive Followers

A. Followers reject other doctrines

B. Followers reject distractions (people, causes, etc.)

C. Followers reject settling for good over the best

– Mary compared to Martha

IV. Conclusion

What expectations do you see for your life?

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A Journey Through the Gospels          1-16-22

Part 3 – Matthew 3:11-17

“Resisting Temptation”

Intro: In a fictional movie about “Indiana Jones”, the main character has to pass through several challenges to get to the room where the “Holy Grail” is kept. Once in the room, there is also the challenge of choosing which cup is the real one among many.

At the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He was led into the wilderness to be challenged physically, mentally, and spiritually. If He was to be the perfect sacrifice and savior, he would have to pass the testing of temptation. Let’s take a look at what happened and see how it applies to us:

READ: Luke 4:1-13

A. There was Temptation to Disobey (v.1-4)

A. The physical challenge was real

– Jesus was/is fully God and fully human

– the circumstances affect both body/mind

B. The item in the offer was amoral (bread)

 – Under the circumstances, the offer was “rational”

C. The battle was one of trusting God (being led)

 – Adam/Eve faced a trust challenge

D. We can face similar challenges

– A question of obedience vs. something amoral

II. There was Temptation to Take a Short-cut (v.5-8)

A. Jesus’ victory/glorification was reserved for later

B. The offer was made in private away from His followers

C. The context of the offer was “just once”

D. With the end result “being the same” (rationalization)

– without pain to Him/confusion of the people

E. We can easily rationalize ourselves into short-cuts

III. There was Temptation to Focus on Himself (v.9-13)

Note: The Temple Complex was the Jewish “HQ”

A. The need to be validated was real

– practical rationalization

B. The plan to gather a following was real

– logistical rationalization

C. The misapplication of scripture is the enemy’s “MO”

D. We often face challenges of pride/need to be validated

IV. Conclusion

Jesus modeled the perfect response to the enemy’s clever and underhanded tactics

– He kept to the solid foundation of scripture

– He resisted the invitations to rationalize

– He maintained solidarity with the Father’s plan

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A Journey Through the Gospels          1-9-22

Part 2 – Matthew 3:11-17

“Preparing for a Test”

Intro: John as Prophet/Herald

– traditional practice of baptism for proselytes

– transitional time of John’s baptism (Jews baptized)

READ: Matthew 3:11-17

I. There was Preparation to be the Final Sacrifice

A. The Day of Atonement – role of Priest

– The High Priest was to be ritually bathed/clean

B. The Day of Atonement – role of Lamb

– The Lamb was to be perfect (no exceptions)

– The Lamb’s origin was clean-no privilege/exception

(Luke 2:51-52, Phil. 2)

II. There was Clarification of John’s Identity

A. John spoke boldly by the Holy Spirit’s leadership

B. John kept the focus on the Messiah and not himself

III. There was Identification with John’s Ministry

A. Jesus endorsed John’s calling/ministry

B. Jesus repurposed baptism a symbol for all believers

IV. There was Affirmation by the Father

A. Voice from Heaven/Spirit like a dove (Trinity)

B. The words highlight “pleasing the Father”

– His consistent goal was to do the Father’s business

– contrasting our human nature of pleasing self

– would be soon tested in the wilderness

V. There was Indication of a New Harvest

A. There was a spirit of entitlement among the Jews

B. There was a separation of a wheat/chaff to come

C. There is an on-going separation between wheat and chaff

VI. Conclusion

What are the wheat/chaff questions for today?

– What’s in your heart? Have you trusted Christ as Savior?

– Are your goals “wheat” type goals or “chaff” type goals?

– Are you investing in people that produce a “wheat” harvest?

– Who influences you? “Wheat” type people, or “chaff”?

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A Journey Through the Gospels          1-2-22

Part 1 – John 1:1-5

“Logos and Light”

Intro: The subject of origin stories (with examples from fictional characters and historical figures) are always helpful.

Before we launch into the details of Jesus’ ministry recorded in the gospel narratives, it’s important that we consider and understand “the story before the story”.

Note: Our passage choices will follow the chronological order of events, which means we will be visiting all four gospels during the series, but today we will read a portion of John’s account.

Note: Starting around 500 BC in Ephesus with Greek philosopher Heraclitus, there was a philosophical teaching around of the logos (or word) being a “unifying ordering principle”. In other words, it was the idea of an impersonal, universal source of understanding, reason, physics, morality, etc.

John opens his gospel account answering key life questions about the subject of origins. Let’s take a look:

READ: John 1:1-5

Two answers for today:

I. Jesus is the Word (Logos) (v.1-3)

A. The Word (Logos) pre-existed time

B. The Word (Logos) co-existed with God

C. The Word (Logos) is God

– Everything true of each is true for the other

D. The Word (Logos) is a Person and is personal

E. The Word (Logos) created everything that was made

– And importantly, He was not created

II. Jesus is the Light (Illumination) (v. 4-5)

Note: A common word-picture used to communicate the idea of “understanding” across cultures for many generations has been light, which is connected to enlightenment, clarification, etc. As John continues his introduction of Jesus, he says that He is the Light (illumination).

Let’s consider what that means:

A. In Genesis 1, Light preceded the physical sources of it

– The Earth was formless, with no order

– God spoke His illumination into the emptiness

B. His light is sufficient in heaven, (Revelation 22:5)

C. The darkness doesn’t understand the Light (v.5)

D. The darkness hasn’t (and will not) overcome the Light

III. Conclusion

What difference does it make?

A. As the source of life, He is the definer of life.

– values, morals, etc.

B. To understand Who Jesus is:

– I need to see the two Testaments as one story

C. Knowing God only comes through the person of Jesus

– always was (He was the one creating/interacting)

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Previous Series-Romans:

Truth as it Really Is  11-21-21

Part 30 – Romans 16:17-27

“Final Thoughts”

Intro: This has been a great journey through Paul’s masterpiece called “Romans”. We’ve considered much truth regarding salvation and how to walk daily as “living sacrifices” with “transformed minds”. Now that we have reached the end, Paul gives some final thoughts with his greetings. Let’s take a look:

READ: 17:17-27

First,

I. Recognize the Dangerous Poisons (v.17-18)

divisions and offenses (which are obstacles)

– contrary to the doctrine already received

A. Observation is a discipline of the spiritually mature

         (scopeō – like microscope, telescope)

         (it is wise to develop a sense of awareness)

B. People are the carriers of the poison

         (it doesn’t just happen)

C. It’s usually subtle, smooth, attractive, and hidden

         (they may not even know they’re a carrier)

D. Confront them with a prayerful, careful approach

E. Avoid them/minimize their influence

         (usually not the enemy, just used by the enemy)

II. Embrace the Timeless Truths of Scripture (v.19)

A. There are Biblical precepts defining what is good

         (don’t shy away from articulating them)

B. We are to be versed in good more than evil

         (wise in good habits, ideas and pursuits)

C. We are to be “innocent” or (intact) toward evil

         (our beliefs and practices should be consistent)

         (minimal spiritual dissonance)

III. Remember Who We Serve (v.20-27)

A. Our purpose is His glory…not our own

B. He alone can properly establish us on the truth

         (a solid foundation)

C. The proper foundation is based on Christ

D. The manifest/revealed Christ has always been the plan

E. Faith is the only way (obedience to the faith)

F. God is the only wise God

         (other belief systems are not viable alternatives)

IV. Conclusion

Are you able to recognize the dangerous poisons?

Are you embracing the timeless truths of Scripture?

Are you daily remembering who we serve?

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Truth as it Really Is  11-14-21

Part 29 – Romans 16:1-16

“7 Reminders from Paul’s Greetings”

Intro: The past couple of weeks have been emotional (to say the least), and I have been personally reminded of verses 30 & 32 (from chapter 15) and chapter 16 that we are considering today.

         – you’ve “striven together” with us

         – you’ve “refreshed” us

         – you’ve loved us “in a manner worthy of the saints”

Today I want to consider this beautiful (and personal) passage Paul wrote to greet his fellow believers in Rome.

READ: 16:1-16

There are seven reminders for us that come from Paul’s relationships with the twenty-seven people included in the greeting.

First,

I. A Worthy Fellowship has Awareness of Others

A. There are personal connections & a spirit of family

B. Love is shown to the noticeable and the marginal

II. A Worthy Fellowship Expresses Appreciation

A. It is an attitude of esteeming others

B. It is freely spoken to each other

C. It is written to each other

III. A Worthy Fellowship Accepts the Risks

A. There is relational vulnerability (personal level)

B. There is associational vulnerability (social level)

IV. A Worthy Fellowship Pursues Growth

A. There is appreciation for “firstfruits” (v.4)

B. There is appreciation for discipleship growth

V. A Worthy Fellowship Values Unity

A. There was a willingness to overcome cultural divisions

B. There was a diversity of backgrounds and statuses

         (unity not uniformity)

VI. A Worthy Fellowship Experiences Commonality

A. There is a common purpose (honoring/serving Christ)

B. There is a common Spirit within/between us

VII. A Worthy Fellowship Serves Together

A. That includes task related things

B. That includes prayer for each other and support

VIII. Conclusion

Prayer and Commitment

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Truth as it Really Is  10-31-21

Part 28 – Romans 15:17-33

“4 Applications from Paul’s Journey”

Intro: I love biographies. There are so many stories of people to read of and learn from. For example, we can be inspired by those who have overcome adversity, we can gain knowledge of what to avoid, and we can see elements to incorporate into our own lives.

Paul was one we can learn from as a role model along with contemplating his writing. Today, we’re considering six points of application from Paul’s journey at the point of writing Romans.

READ: 15:17-33

First,

I. The Bondservant Mindset (ch1:2, v.17-21)

A. Paul deliberately maintained a bondservant attitude

         – as notoriety increased, he avoided the “trappings”

B. He chose to highlight the true work of God’s hand

         – which is sufficient

C. Application: Non-compartmental application

         – all areas of life equally subject to bond-service

II. The Spirit of Generosity (v.27)

A. Paul personally modeled a spirit of generosity

B. The Macedonian believers displayed generosity

C. Application: A realistic assessment renders generosity

III. The Unity of the Spirit (v.30)

A. Jesus and the Holy Spirit unify us

B. Paul asked for them to “strive” with him in prayer

         – battle together in the spiritual realms

C. Application: We are to do battle on behalf of each other

         – we have a common Savior and Spirit

         – we have a common enemy

IV. Purposeful Prayer Efforts (v.31-33

A. Paul asked to be delivered

– He pointed out those working against him

         – We must be aware and willing to admit the same

– The outcome may not be expected (Acts 21-28)

B. Paul asked for the gift to be well-received (favorable)

         – bridging gaps are part of fostering unity

C. Paul asked for God’s provision of joy and refreshment

D. Application: Maturing believers pray specific prayers

V. Conclusion

Question: What is one thing in today’s examples that you want to see incorporated or strengthened in your life?

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Truth as it Really Is  10-24-21

Part 27 – Romans 15:14-16

“5 Qualities of Christian Maturity”

Intro: Personal story-pothole in the road (experience, time, determination)

READ: 15:14-16

First,

I. A Mature Believer is Full of Goodness (v.14)

Quote: “Goodness is not a native disposition, but the moral excellence wrought into the texture of life by the Holy Spirit’s indwelling.” – E.F. Harrison

A. Our flesh’s natural tendency is unrighteousness

B. “Wrought” describes the daily transformational process

         – Holy Spirit is the Master Craftsman

         – Romans 12:1-2 is still the framework

C. “Goodness” is the picture of righteousness

         – morally (not just “right”, but “Godly right” conduct)

         – ethically (not just legal, but right in God’s eyes)

         – motivationally (what’s behind our goals/methods)

II. A Mature Believer is Filled with Knowledge (v.14)

A. It’s the integration of truth into the fabric of our mind

B. It’s a keen awareness of our cultural surroundings

C. It’s a mature approach to reconciling the two

III. A Mature Believer is Able to Admonish (v.14)

(it’s often translated “impart” or “instruct’ because it’s literally the placing of information into the mind of another)

A. “Able” has the root we’re considered before, “dynamis” (powerful, explosive)

         – to powerfully place information (timely, effectively)

B. It’s a style that is constructive (not condescending)

         – asking good questions/apprenticeship mindset

C. It includes willingness to articulate a standard

         (personal story of scissors placed in a designated place)

         (they were trained to do that)

IV. A Mature Believer Purposes to be Acceptable

A. There is an expectation upon us (12:1)

         – holy and acceptable

B. We are the “proof” and “living examples of grace” (12:2)

         – of the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God

V. A Mature Believer is Empowered by the Holy Spirit

A. Enabled (in ability)

B. Steadied (by a ballast that’s the presence of God)

         – like a ballast for a ship in the wind/waves

C. Overflowing (with joy, peace, and hope-v.13)

VI. Conclusion

Challenge Questions:

– Are you filled with goodness?

– Are you filled with knowledge?

– Are you able to admonish?

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Truth as it Really Is  10-17-21

Part 26 – Romans 15:7-13

“Goals and Motives”

Intro: As we near the end of the last section of Romans that focuses on a transformed mindset, Paul reminds us of Godly goals and motives. He references Jesus as the example, but before we consider the details of what he wrote, it is beneficial to remember that Jesus was often misunderstood by the spiritual leadership and those following Him. For example:

– Jesus always did the right things

– Jesus always did things right

– Jesus didn’t always do things as expected

In other words, whatever He did or said, it was because it was intrinsically right and not because of “virtue signaling”.

READ: 15:7-13

The order Paul constructed his point was basically to say

“Do this as Jesus did”.

For us however, I want to first consider what Jesus did and then how it applies to us.

I. What Jesus Did (v.8-12)

A. He served the Jews by modeling a perfect Jewish life

         – everything that was given of God (Himself)

         – He did not concern Himself with going beyond it

B. He endorsed “the truth of God”

         – the scripture was highlighted by Jesus (OT)

         – He didn’t lower its value, He highlighted its value

         – He confirmed the promises to the Patriarchs (v.8)

C. He facilitated the opportunity for Gentiles to glorify God

         – (“w/ His people” v.10, and “all the peoples” v.11)

The second part is:

II. What we are to Do (v.7)

A. First, understand that we are “received” or “accepted”

         – we have been and are extended grace

B. Second, understand that we are to “receive” or “accept”

         – we are to extend grace to the weaker ones

C. Third, understand the purpose is “the glory of God”

         – the purpose was always to glorify God (OT)

D. Fourth, understand the method is to do what is right

         – the intrinsically right things (things of God)

         – not virtue-signally which is self-serving in its nature

Lastly, there is:

III. What happens in the process (v.13)

A. The God of Hope fills us with joy

         – not from what we do, but from Him

B. The God of Hope fills us with peace

         – not from the results, but from Him

C. “As we believe” is the key

         – not because of what we’re doing…but believing

D. It’s “abounding” or “overflowing” in nature

         – beneficial to others

E. The power of the Holy Spirit is the source (joy/peace)

         – His indwelling IS the difference

         – without His presence it’s all of minimal value

IV. Conclusion

Challenge: May we do as Jesus did

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Truth as it Really Is  10-10-21

Part 25 – Romans 15:1-6

“Others as a Mission”

Intro: Over the last two weeks we’ve considered the principle of liberty in Christ and how various preferences should be viewed. Today we’re looking at the first of two parts concerning our mandate to be mission-minded toward those described as “weaker” in the faith.

Consider math teachers. We’ve all had some who were better than others. Teaching the ones who naturally get it and “see” the numbers is easy. It’s the ones who need help putting the pieces together that need instruction and more patience. In the Christian life, it is much the same way. Some grow quickly and somewhat independently, while others may take a bit longer to mature.

Paul reminds us to be proactive when we find ourselves in the position of influence regarding one needing patience, grace, and time.

READ: 15:1-6

The first part is:

I. The Mission to Bear and Build Others Up (v.1-3)

A. There are expectations of “the strong

         (we then who are strong- “dynatoi”)

B. It is an “others” mindset (v.1-3)

         – Paul consistently taught the premise

         – Paul describes Jesus as the model in v.3

C. Remember, the subject is often morally neutral

         – For example, recycling (can on the driveway)

The second part is:

II. The Guidelines are the Scriptures (v.4)

A. The word is for our learning

         – we are to apply ourselves

B. The word solidifies an attitude of perseverance

         – we understand the big picture

C. The word provides a source of comfort

         – a source like no other (Psalms, Gospels)

D. The word frames an essential value system

         – maturity includes discerning what essentials are

         – maturity includes less focus on the non-essentials

E. The word provides hope is a world without it

         – a hope filled life is a non-conforming life (12:1-2)

Lastly,

III. The Empowerment Comes from God (v. 5-6)

A. He is the “God of patience”

         – we are daily beneficiaries of His patience

B. He grants like-mindedness “according to Christ”

         – it is a distinctly Christian like-mindedness

C. He builds unity, not uniformity

         – it is first Christian, then fit together like a body

D. He is to be glorified through united “minds and mouths

IV. Conclusion

Challenge: Pray for opportunities to build-up another person this week.

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Truth as it Really Is  10-3-21

Part 24 – Romans 14:13-23

“Liberty in Love”

Intro: Last week we considered liberty in Christ and how various preferences should be viewed since there are some who are mature in their faith (strong) and those who are in earlier stages of development (weak).

In Paul’s day the big issues were

         – clean/unclean food

         – Sabbath vs. Sunday

         – general consumption of food/wine
Today, we finish the subject by coupling it together with the core Christian principle that Jesus often talked about…love (which also echoes v.9)

READ: 14:13-23

The first is:

I. The Resolve for Practicing Liberty in Love (v.15)

A. Resolve to not be a stumbling block (tripping hazard)

         (crushing the joy for an excited believer)

And also,

B. Resolve to not be a “cause to fall (a trap/snare)

         (reckless habits that can derail believer/onlooker)

The second is:

II. The Reasonable Nature of Practicing Liberty in Love

A. The purpose is edification/building others up (v.19)

B. The standard we measure by is love (v.15)

C. The kingdom purposes are (v.17):

         – righteousness (doing the right thing)

         – peace (being a person of peace and not division)

         – joy (choosing joy each day and letting it show)

Lastly,

III. The Reminders for Practicing Liberty in Love

A. The preferences are between you and God (v.22)

B. Practices/choices for peer-approval is sin (v.23)

C. Be mindful of the on-going work of God (v.20)

IV. Conclusion

Challenge: The Christian life is not “believer-centric” but “Christ-centric”

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Truth as it Really Is  9-26-21

Part 23 – Romans 14:1-13

“Liberty in Christ”

Intro: We talk of liberty…

Biblical example here (and throughout)

Liberty + Unity = Church

READ: 14:1-13

5 Points

I. Weak versus Strong (v.1)

– Explanation

         – Receive

II. Food Should be Divisive (v.2)

         – Explanation

         – Modern equivalent – product or place

III. Routine Should be an Idol (v.5-6)

         – Explanation

         – Modern equivalent – Sunday and rest

IV. God is the Master of All (v.4)

         – Explanation

         – The One in charge of the maturing process

V. We All Will Give an Account for Ourselves (v.7-13

         – Worrying about our own business is enough

VI. Conclusion

Question: How can we help the “weak” by being “strong”?

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Truth as it Really Is  9-19-21

Part 22 – Romans 13:8-14

“Catalytic Influence”

Intro: Imagine being in a position of really needing to start a fire (like survivor man, wet and cold). You have wood and good tender, but you need a third thing (a spark)

         – the spark is what’s called a “catalyst”

         – the result is warmth and life

As Paul finishes his flowing thoughts on 12:1-2 (the premise of living sacrifice and being transformed daily in our thoughts), he writes about what I’m calling

         “Catalytic Influence”

READ: 13:8-10

Today, we’re considering five principles of catalytic influence

First, there is:

I. The Default Mindset (v.8)

A. Fulfilling our obligations must be a general approach

However,

B. The obligation of love is never fulfilled

The second is:

II. The Consistency of Love (v.9-10)

A. The love in this passage is “God-love”

         – Agape type love is “no pretense”

B. We are to “agape” one another (show God-love)

– which means “the same kind”

C. We are also to “agape” our neighbor (show God-love)

         – which means “a different kind”

D. (v.10) Basically, we are demonstrating love by

“doing right by them” through God’s love

READ: 13:11-14

The third principle of Catalytic Influence is:

III. A Diligent Posture (v.11)

A. Wake up from sleepy indifference

B. The “Day of the Lord” is coming

         – giving an account

The fourth principle is:

IV. We are a Living Contrast to the Culture (v.12)

A. Paul frames it as night vs. day

B. We are to be clothed with light

And the finally, the fifth principle of Catalytic Influence is:

V. To Live with Resolve (v.13-14)

A. We are to walk properly (decently)

B. We are to reject worldly norms

C. We are to be “clothed” with Christ

         – which has to do with identity (clothing/status)

D. We are to give no provision or quarter to the flesh

         – a ruthless battle resolve toward the flesh

VI. Conclusion

Question: Are you a catalyst?

– You can be the spark that creates a life-giving fire

– “Wake up” to being a living sacrifice…

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Truth as it Really Is  9-12-21

Part 21 – Romans 13:1-7

“The Utility of Government”

Intro: Last week we considered what “Defining the Win” looked like and the challenges of “overcoming evil with good”. Today we continue on with Paul’s instructions concerning civil government and our place in a civil society.

First, personal note – historical patriotism, 9/11, recent events

         – these verses (like last week) can be challenging

Second, (as mentioned last week) the “goalposts” are rapidly changing and most of what’s happening has to do with utility and agenda more than the basic premises of civil government.

Let’s take a look and see what Paul was led to write:

READ: 13:1-7

First, I see three principles at work:

I. Principle I. God is Ultimately the Authority Over All

A. Regardless of acknowledgement or not

         – He’s sovereign (that reminder is for us not them)

B. God’s plans always involve many moving parts

         – some seen, but most unseen

C. His plan is long term and not beholden to anyone

         – we were raised up as a nation for His purposes

II. Principle II. The Rule of Law is Biblical

A. Crime and punishment

         – historically for us – Judeo-Christian

B. Legally, you are assumed to be innocent

         – the idea of “minding your own business

         – blind justice (the right premise)

C. Our primary purpose is live Christlike lives

– “As much as depends on you” (12:18)

III. Principle III. Government is for Functional Purposes

A. Basic services – a primary benefit (water service, etc.)

B. General safety – a primary benefit (police, military)

C. Legal/Commercial Systems – a primary benefit

– contracts, property rights, worker safety, etc

D. Problems arise when those are coopted for their utility to further a specific view (the more narrow the more problematic)

         – legal (now often about preferential treatment)

         – regulatory (now about outcomes not what is right)

         – education (now a heavily progressive agenda)

         – speech (now protecting the hearer not speaker)

IV. Our Response and Mindset

A. We are to be engaged

         – Teach the next generation historical truth

         – Vote and teach the next generation to vote also

         – Speak the truth in love with the right motives

         – Litigate when necessary (for the right purposes)

         – Don’t give up, (and redirect conversations)

V. Conclusion

Challenge: Remember 12:18 & 21

         – If at all possible…

         – overcome evil with good…

         – our primary purpose is to be witnesses of Christ

READ: I Peter 3:15

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Truth as it Really Is  9-5-21

Part 20 – Romans 12:17-21

“Defining the Win”

Intro: In the culture around us, the “goalposts” of what is good and admirable keep changing. In other words, “what’s right” is not necessarily tied to traditional understandings of Judeo-Christian teaching anymore.

For example, in a very short time, we’ve heard the calls for tolerance become demands for celebration and progressive philosophies become proponents of radical history revisionism.

Where does that leave us as those wanting to carry truth and show the love of Christ at the same time?

Well, our verses for today give us guidance and defines the “win”. Let’s take a look:

READ: 12:17-21

– Remember the premise of 12:1-2

         – Proving (giving evidence of)

good, acceptable, and perfect will of God

I. Be a Producer of Good

(“regard” v.17b is to look for it beyond the immediate)

A. Having a sober view of self (humility) (v.3)

B. Displaying genuine love (v.9)

C. Having a kind demeanor (hospitable-v.13)

D. Seeking to teach/develop good (diligence-v.11)

II. Deny Evil a Foothold

(desire to give evil for evil)

A. Remember our enemy is active/scheming (Eph. 6:11)

B. The heart is the key to the challenge

(yours/mine, not theirs)

C. Freedom comes through forgiveness

Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of someone else’s sin. You’re going to live with those consequences whether you want to or not; your only choice is whether you will do so in the bitterness of unforgiveness or the freedom of forgiveness”

                  – Neil Anderson

III. Think Long-term over Short-term

(vengeance is natural but transformed thinking is not)

A. Identify what the “depends on you” part is (v.18)

         – where are the boundaries

B. Peaceable is the goal, not a result of peace

         – because some are never at peace

C. The LORD is in the unique position to decide

         – the only one that is pure, righteous and just

II. Conclusion

Challenge: Define the wins in your life

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Truth as it Really Is  8-29-21

Part 19 – Romans 12:10-16

“Connecting the Dots-Daily Reboot to Fruit”

Intro: Booting up a computer (old MS-DOS vs. now)

Today, we’re considering verses 10-16, which read like a list of directives because…they are.

However, in the scriptural big picture of maturing as a disciple of Christ, there is the daily (not weekly, monthly or yearly, but daily) connection between two points

(holding arms out to the side, “the prep” & “the result”)

I. The Daily Boot-up (left side)

READ: 12:1-2 (as a reminder)

A. A “living sacrifice” is the overall process

B. The non-conformity/transformation are the “updates”

II. The End Result is a Fruitful Day

READ: Galatians 5:16-26

A. First, it is fruit of THE SPIRIT (v.22)

B. Second, it is contrary to the flesh (v.17)

C. Third, it comes by being led by the Spirit (v.16 & 18)

III. The Connection Between them is the Daily Choice

READ: Romans 12:10-16

A. v.10 Honor others (value them)

B. v.11-Serve diligently

C. v.12-Appropriate hope (through patience/prayer)

D. v.13-Give to others

E. v.14-Bless others

F. v.15-Affirm others (rejoice/weep)

G. v.16-Lower self (humility)

IV. Conclusion

Challenge: May we remember that all three are connected.

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Truth as it Really Is  8-22-21

Part 18 – Romans 12:9 “Proof”

Intro: “How do you prove a masterpiece”

         – Material and method

Today, we’ll be considering the subject of love in light of verse 2 and seeing how our life gives evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence and work in us

Read: 12:9

I. We Give Evidence by Loving Without Hypocrisy

A. It’s a cognitive decision (to love)

B. It’s genuine (not just words without meaning)

C. It’s truthful (one of the toughest aspects)

II. We Give Evidence by Detesting Evil

A. It requires discernment

B. It’s more than mere preference (it’s proactive)

C. It includes misplaced love (of self or other sin)

III. We Give Evidence by Holding onto What is Good

A. It’s the concept of being “joined together”

B. It reveals what is “good and acceptable” to God (v.2)

         – I Corinthians ch.13

         – Philippians 4:8

C. It’s a daily discipline (meditate – Phil. 4:8)

IV. Conclusion

Question: What would a heart analysis reveal?

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Truth as it Really Is  8-15-21

Part 17 – Romans 12:3-8 “An Accurate Understanding”

Intro: “inventory and evaluation”

         – (normally) proper accounting of assets

         – (also) a proper accounting of people

Read: 12:3-8

I. Grace is the Framework (v.3)

A. “Through the grace” is the premise (v.3a)

         – important to remember the “Saul” years

B. “Everyone” is the audience (v.3a)

– Equal need among all

– Equal challenge (leaders/members, male/female)

II. Sobriety is the Mindset (v.3)

A. A real understanding of our current status (v.3b)

         – strengths/weaknesses, ability/non-ability

B. A correct “accounting” (placement) of credit (3.b)

         – Misplaced credit produces pride & arrogance

C. We have equal need for His working in us (v.3b)

         – “measure of faith given to all”

III. Service is the Response (v.4-8)

A. There are diverse gifts according to God’s plan/design

         – unity is not uniformity

B. We’re to serve as acts of worship (v.6)

– not as a response to compulsion/debt repayment

– serve “as to the Lord” (not people) (Col. 3:23)

C. We’re to see them fully functional and growing (v.6)

IV. Conclusion

The key take-away:

No one is left out of this list

         – “to everyone who is among you” (v.3)

_________________________________________

Truth as it Really Is  8-8-21

Part 16 – Romans 12:1-2 “A Call to Action”

I. Purpose to be a Living Sacrifice (v.1)

Note: “bodies” physical in nature with five key elements:

A. It is by “the mercies of God” (v.1)

         – cooperative and not dictatorial

B. It is for God’s glory daily (v.1)

“living” – not just once as a dead sacrifice is

C. It is a consecration to the Lord (v.1)

         – “holy” to the Lord only and no other

D. It is to be our best (v.1)

         – “acceptable” – no blemish or second rate quality

E. “logikos” – it is reasonable/rational/logical (v.1)

         based on everything in ch.1-11

Second part of the call to action is to:

II. Reject the World’s Standards (v.2)

“syschēmatizō” – mold or schematic (v.2)

Three key elements to remember:

A. We are products of this world (in our nature)

         – The call of the Spirit is counter to “the flesh”

B. The world system demands conformity to its values

         – What are the world’s answers to the big questions?

  • What is the meaning of life?
  • Why am I here?
  • What does it mean to be a man or woman?
  • What is family supposed to look like?
  • What are relationships supposed to look like?
  • Who defines right and wrong?
  • What value does life have?
  • How are we to treat the natural world?

C. The Holy Spirit and the Word have different answers:

  • What is the meaning of life?
  • Why am I here?
  • What does it mean to be a man or woman?
  • What is family supposed to look like?
  • What are relationships supposed to look like?
  • Who defines right and wrong?
  • What value does life have?
  • How are we to treat the natural world?

Lastly, the third part of the call to action is “the how?”

III. Commit to On-going Transformation/Renewal (v.2)

“metamorphoō” – metamorphosis

A. It begins with the mind (cognitive decision)

B. The Holy Spirit is the “change agent” doing the work

C. The result is the “proving” (something tried/tested)

  • The will of God that is good
  • The will of God that is acceptable
  • The will of God that is perfect (compete)

IV. Conclusion

The key take-away:

Being a living sacrifice is a yielding of the will to the process of transformation through the power of the Holy Spirit

_______________________________

Truth as it Really Is  8-1-21

Part 15 – Romans 11:11-36

Intro: Walking the gardens of Biltmore

         The design/cultivation (shapes, color, etc.)

         The cultivating hand of God

His creation-v.35 & Job 40-41

READ: Romans 11:11-36

Paul is continuing to use references to Israel and their journey as illustration of God’s working and overarching grace to mankind.

Today we’re considering: “God’s Grace Over Time”

First,

I. The Promise to Abraham

A. The root of faith (v.16)

         – dual meaning with Rev. 22:16

B. Their original purpose still exists (v.12)

(even while under discipline)

C. Israel’s pruning was due to unbelief/disobedience

         (the goodness & severity v.22)

II. The Gracious Grafting

A. Gentiles were grafted in by faith in Christ (v.20)

B. Gentile inclusion was a reconciling of the world (v.15)

C. Gentile purpose is the abiding/fruit

         As Jesus taught in John 15 (which leads into ch.12)

D. Gentile presence is subject to belief as well (v.22)

III. The Faithful Redeemer

A. Israel’s presence status is not forever (v.25-29)

B. God’s promises will stand (all of them) (v.29)

C. Humility and gratitude should be result (v.33)

         (same as the reaction of Job)

IV. Conclusion

The Take-away: Grace is to be appreciated and shared

___________________________________

Truth as it Really Is  7-25-21

Part 14 – Romans 11:1-10

Intro: Have you ever wondered…

         God, where are you?

         What are you up to?

         Why don’t you do something about…?

God’s workings are often different than we expect or understand. In chapter 10, Paul explains the concept of “the remnant” of Israel and today we’re going to consider what that teaches us.

First, let’s read: Romans 10:14-21

The first thing it teaches us is…

I. The Historical Significance/Context

A. Israel was raised up for a purpose…with promises

B. There were many occasions of only a faithful remnant

         – The years of the Judges

         – The kingdom years (many moments)

         – The Southern Kingdom remaining alone

         – The exile

         – Time of Jesus (spiritual remnant like Zacharias)

C. God always had a plan (v.2) (& still does-Revelation)

Second thing it teaches us is…

II. The Precepts that Transcend Time/People Groups

A. Preservation has always been by grace (v.5)

– As opposed to being earned or leveraged (v.6)

B. God patiently lets people and groups make choices

C. Our understanding is limited (v.2-4)

– Elijah (I Kings 19:11-18)

D. Rejection/disobedience has consequences:

         – Isaiah 29:9-12

E. The consequences of:

         – Hard heartedness

         – Spiritual blindness

         – Inability to “read” the truth

The third thing it teaches us is

III. The Applications to Us

A. Our way of life/preservation has always been by grace

B. God patiently lets people and groups make choices

         – Such as abandoning the scriptures/historical truth

C. Our understanding is limited

         – We can’t fall into Elijah’s mindset

D. Rejection/disobedience has consequences:

         – Hard-heartedness

         – Spiritual blindness

         – Inability to “read” the truth

IV. Conclusion

Challenge: Focus on God’s faithfulness

_________________________________

Truth as it Really Is  7-18-21

Part 13 – Romans 10:14-21

Intro:

God is good. He is by default, always good. His intentions are always good. His decisions are always good. His plans are always good…which means trusting is always good.

For example, consider what Jeremiah said to the people of Israel in Jeremiah 17:5-8

         – lasting good

In the Romans passage we are considering today, Paul continues to make references to Israel, and the points are applicable to both the nation of Israel and the gospel message or “good news”.

Read: Romans 10:14-21

I. The Contents of the Message (v.14)

Paul mentions three elements

A. First, it is a specific message about him (Christ)

B. Second, it involves belief in Him (Christ)

C. Third, it involves calling on Him (Christ)

II. The Beauty of the Message (v.15)

A. The message is about “gladness”

B. The message is about “good things”

C. The message beautifies the bearer (feet)

III. The Reception of the Message (v.16-18)

A. The message is specifically the Word (v.17)

B. Faith comes by hearing the Word (v.17)

C. It is a consistent word over the centuries (v.18)

         – Not to be changed for cultural shifts

IV. The Results of the Message (v.19-21)

Many “likely ones” will resist and reject it

Many “unlikely ones” will receive and embrace it

V. Conclusion

Question: When you think of the gospel message, what specifics do you think of?

         – May we think beauty

         – May we think specifics

         – May we think results

_________________________________

Truth as it Really Is  7-11-21

Part 12 – Romans 10:1-13

Intro:

There are many systems and methods for presenting the gospel, but today we’re considering four key elements Paul includes in chapter 10 and the changes that come with each.

Read: Romans 10:1-13

I. Submission – The Change of Perspective (v.3)

A. Step 1 – Seeing God as He really is

B. Step 2 – Seeing ourselves as we really are

II. Righteousness – The Change of Heart (v.4)

A. The intrinsic drive to be justified, right,

B. Comes from Christ…period…(need for submission)

III. Salvation – The Change of Status (v.9-10)

A. Belief is the start (where the business takes place)

B. Declaration is the confirmation (public baptism)

IV. Acceptance – The Change of Identity (v.12-13)

A. The universal components of belief

  1. Universal need (Romans 3:21-23)
  2. Universal opportunity (v.4)
  3. Universal inclusion (the church, v.12)

V. Conclusion

Challenge/Reminder:

         – To see ourselves this way

         – To discuss the gospel this way

         – To see other believers this way  

_______________________________

Truth as it Really Is  7-4-21

Part 11 – Romans 9:1-33

Intro:

– Last week we looked at “The Purposeful Working of God”

– This week, we begin chapters 9-11 which is a sort of a “by-the-way” concerning Israel and God’s sovereignty

– To begin, consider the “spirit of Nimrod” (Gen. 10-11)

Read: Romans 9:1-21

I. God is Sovereign

A. He is all-knowing (omniscient)

         – It is impossible for Him to not know

B. He is all-powerful (omnipotent)

         – He has chosen/chooses His limits and actions

C. He is the supreme authority

         – It’s not about me/us (even if many teach like it is)

II. God is Consistent

Read: 9:22-10:3

A. He has always desired faith (trust) (Hebrews 11:6)

B. He has always rejected pride (I Peter 5:5)

C. He has always focused on the heart (I Samuel 16:7)

III. God is Gracious

A. Grace by definition is undeserved (Jacob v.12)

B. God consults no one before showing it

– and is righteous in it (v.14)

C. His view of grace often varies from ours (v.22-23)

IV. Conclusion

Challenge: Acknowledging God’s sovereignty in prayer

_______________________________

Truth as it Really Is  6-27-21

Part 10 – Romans 8:28-39

Intro: Review

– Sin

– Need

– Faith

– Law’s inadequacy

– Living to God

– Freedom in Christ

– Adoption (heirs)

– Groanings (creation, us, Holy Spirit)

Read: Romans 8:28-39

Today “The Purposeful Working of God”

I. The Pattern of Christ is the Model

Illustration of a “manufacturing pattern”

A. The image of Christ is the pattern (v.29)

B. We are being fashioned “like siblings” (v.29)

C. There are certain “family traits”

II. The Process of Redemption is God’s Gift

A. We are called

         – The Holy Spirit prompts

B. We are justified

         – legal, “above board”, not a cheap technicality

C. We are glorified

         – with Christ

III. The Practical Application is God in us

Re-read v.31-39

A. There is protection (v.31)

B. There is blessing (v.32)

C. There is honor (against false accusation, v.33)

D. There is empowering (v.37)

IV. Conclusion

Challenge: May we live as those “persuaded” (v.38)

_______________________________

Truth as it Really Is  6-20-21

Part 9 – Romans 8:18-27

Intro:

– The rapport of shared experience

(ex. School, community, military, job, etc.)

         – there is an understanding of terms

         – there is historical context

         – there are components beyond words

Read: Romans 8:18-27

Paul identifies the groanings (or utterances) as a result of sin in the meantime of waiting for the culmination of God’s redemptive work

Today, I want to consider the commonalities of the “the groanings”:

I. Historical Groanings of the Creation

A. It has always been a temporary condition

         – even though it seems permanent (in hope v.20)

B. Certain contrasts exist between original and fallen

– peace vs. violence

– beauty vs. blight

– life vs. death

– order vs. disorder

C. There is a growing anticipation of “the day” (v.22)

II. Personal Groanings of the Believer

A. We’ve experienced the “first fruits of the Spirit” (v.23)

         – (v.10) – Spirit is the presence of righteousness

         – it is representative of what is to come (first fruit)

B. We’re waiting for the finished adoption process (v.23)

C. We are saved in hope (something yet unseen v.24)

and lastly,

III. Heavenly Groanings of the Holy Spirit

A. He bears witness with our spirit (v.16)

B. He also groans over the practical realities of sin

         – John 11:32-37 (Jesus displayed this)

C. He strengthens us when & where we are weak (v.26)

D. He directs our petitions and conversations (v.26)

E. He takes over at the end of our ability to speak (v.26)

F. He ultimately guides according to the will of God (v.27)

IV. Conclusion

Question: Are you enjoying or ignoring the Holy Spirit’s presence? 

______________________________

Truth as it Really Is  6-13-21

Part 8 – Romans 8:1-17

Intro:

– Last week we finished with “newness of the Spirit” and “oldness of the letter”.

– Next, Paul gives a raw personal testimony of what he’s learned in 7:7-25:

– the difficult journey from Saul’s approach to pleasing God to Paul’s approach to being led by the Spirit

– Saul’s approach (story of a pond with a sign)

– He then declares 8:1-2

Read: Romans 8:3-17

Three Parts of “The Walk”:

I. The Status of the Walk

W/O Christ there is condemnation

READ: John 3:16-19

In Christ, there is:

A. Freedom (v.2)

         – The release from eternal death

B. No condemnation (v.1-4)

– declared free and clear and not released on a technicality with a cloud remaining

C. Sonship – (v.14)

         – Male represents heir, not generic “child”

B. The Approach of the Walk

“to be led by the Spirit” (v.14)

A. A rejection of carnal reasoning (v.7-8)

         – can be works-based logic

         – can be deconstruction theology

B. A rejection of fear (v.15)

– including the culture’s attempt to define what it is to be a Christian and a member of God’s family (they have no right to do so)

C. An appropriation of confidence (v.15)

Lastly,

III. The Result of the Walk

“life and peace” (v.6)

A. A disposition of peace (default position)

B. An influence of a peaceful life (led by the Spirit)

C. A life with Him as our Witness 24/7

         – SO MUCH TO THIS (more next time v.23-27)

D. A hope for more than we can imagine (v.17)

IV. Conclusion

What is the nature of your walk?

_______________________________

Truth as it Really Is  6-6-21

Part 7 – Romans 7:1-6

Intro:

– 77 years ago, a decision was made to liberate France from Nazi occupation even though the cost would be high. Today is remembered as D-Day, and we honor the sacrifice of so many that gave up their life for the sake of others.

– In a spiritual sense, the Lord’s sacrifice was for the liberation of others…all of us who have and will place faith in Him. It was the only method for breaking the legal claim on fallen humanity.

– Last week we considered reconciliation and what it looks like. This week, we begin considering Paul’s points on liberty.

Read: Romans 6:1-13

A Picture of Liberty:

I. The Two Premises (v.1-4)

Paul uses marriage to illustrate a legally binding contract that is only broken at death.

A. The old – marriage to the Law (not just Jews but anyone looking to be right with God had an insurmountable standard of perfection to meet)

– Our spiritual death broke the contract (v.4)

– Our death, not the Law’s (v.4)

– The validity of the Law is still relevant

B. The new – marriage to Christ through spiritual resurrection (v.4)

– In Christ, we are taken to the point of spiritual death, but resurrected to walk in newness of life (6:4)

II. The Two Products

Paul again uses the picture of fruit to describe the product of the two different lives

A. Old – bearing fruit to death (v.5)

         – Rebellion produces things that are dying

         – Dying things may even look healthy to start with

B. New – bearing fruit to God (v.4)

         – Christ-in-us produces things that live eternally

         – Living things often start out “slow to grow”

         – Godly fruit is of His design and purpose

Lastly,

In addition to the products of Godly fruit, Paul informs us of the sources generating the different fruit…

III. The Two Power Sources

A. Old – Self-powered through “oldness of the letter”

– It also reveals our futility of setting up legalism according to our own preferences/standards

– The Law reveals the true distance between our efforts and God’s perfect standard

B. New – Christ-powered through “newness of the Spirit”

–  The Holy Spirit guides and empowers us to produce Godly fruit as ones “married to Christ”

IV. Conclusion

Christian liberty came at a price. How will we honor that sacrifice today? This week? The future?

________________________________

Truth as it Really Is – 5-30-21

Part 6 – Romans 5:1-11, 6:1-23

Intro:

– Read 5:1-5

– (looking back to last week “legal tender”)

– Read 5:6-11

– (looking forward to “walking in reconciliation”)

-Transition

– reconciliation is more than feeling or emotion

Read: Romans 6:1-23

3 Parts of Reconciliation:

I. Reconciliation Involves Identification (v.4-8)

A. We are baptized into the likeness of His death (v.4-7)

         – the release (v.7)

B. We are raised to walk in the likeness of His life (v.4,8)

         – the “if” function (v.5, 8)

II. Reconciliation Involves Reckoning (v.11-14)

Read: Romans 12:2

(an on-going mental decision)

A. Dying vs. living (v.10, 23)

B. Old Owner vs. New Owner (v.16,17,22)

III. Reconciliation Involves Purpose (v.15-23)

A. We are all made to have purpose

B. Sinful fruit vs. Righteous fruit (v.21-22)

         (our old garden at home was fruitful, but it had to be worked)

         (years later now, it is grown up with weeds and bushes)

         (something is always going to be growing, but what?)

IV. Conclusion

Challenge: Daily reckoning…12:2 (truth as it really is)

________________________________

Truth as it Really Is – 5-23-21

Part 5 – Romans 4:1-25

Intro: Illustration

– Cryptocurrency is currently all the rage

– It has no intrinsic worth

– Genuine faith in God/Christ has intrinsic worth

                  (always has)

Read: Romans 4:1-25

I. Faith Justifies the Guilty (v.5)

A.Works, wages (debt) and grace (v.4)

B. Position versus condition

II. Faith Imputes Righteousness to the Sinful (v.6)

A. Bestowed apart from works (v.6)

B. Position changes, condition remains for now (v.5-6)

III. Faith Celebrates Forgiveness (v.7-8)

A. An attitude of gratitude (rare in our entitled culture)

B. May the blessed…be a blessing

IV. Faith Focuses on God Over Circumstances (v.21)

A. Abraham considered God-not himself (v.19)

B. Experiential trust produces more trust (v.20)

V. Faith Secures a Future for the Hopeless

A. Positional hopelessness – becomes hope

         (status under the Law)

B. Conditional hopelessness – becomes hope

         (on-going personal struggles)

C. Ancestral hopelessness – becomes hope

         (being outside Judaism)

VI. Conclusion

I Peter 3:5 know the reasons for the hope yourself first, then tell others

_____________________________

Truth as it Really Is – 5-16-21

Part 4 – Romans 3:1-31

Intro: Personal Illustration

– I have a confession…tools I’ve used as a hammer

– Yes, they work…“kind of”

– But…they work a LOT better for their purpose

Read: Romans 3:1-31

I. Judaism-What Good is it?

What was the purpose?

A. It’s good (people and institution) because it carried the revealed truth of God (v.2)

B. What revealed truth did they carry? (knowingly or not)

         – We are all sinful (v.9-18, 23)

         – The Law exposes our shortcomings (v.20)

         – God is gracious (then & now v.24-26)

C. Does that mean we should sin more to get more grace? Absolutely not (v.8)

II. Three Lessons from Jewish History

A. There is nothing in possession of the Law (birth/circumcision) to be prideful about (v .27)

B. There is nothing in good works to prideful about (v.27)

C. The Law was ALWAYS been about faith (v.27b)

That’s why Paul transitions next to Abraham’s example

III. Christianity-What Good is it?

What is the purpose?

A. We carry the overarching story of revealed truth

B. We are living demonstrations of God’s grace (5:8)

C. We are to live authentically according to the revealed truth to show others (without pride or trust in works)

IV. Conclusion

How do you go about your purpose?

___________________________________

Truth as it Really Is – 5-2-21

Part 3 – Romans 2:1-29

Intro: Story “Driving Standards”

In your eyes, what makes a person a “slow-poke” or a “speed demon”?

Think about it…

– Personal story example

As we continue on into Paul’s presentation, he moves from the indictment of humanity in general to the personal level.

Read: Romans 2:1-32

  1. There is a Divine Standard of Judgement

Truth is…

  • We judge by our own preferences
  • It is the problem with “fair”
  • It is the rationale for the “rule of law”

But God operates by a Divine standard

  • Judging others reveals our sin-nature (v.1)
  • God judges according to truth (as it really is) (v.2)
  • Instead, we should look to God’s standards and see our shortcomings which leads to repentance

Let’s read on…

2:5-11

I. There is a Divine Application of Judgment

A. Pride leads to a callous heart (v.5)

– Pride builds upon pride (like compound interest)

– Lack of repentance is driven by a rebellious spirit

B. There will be an accounting of deeds (v.6)

– Yes, our words and deeds have meaning

(good and bad ripple effects)

C. God does not violate His righteousness w/ corrupt judicial partiality (v.11) (EXPLAIN)

And lastly…

III. There is a Divine Rendering of Judgement

Let’s take a look…Read v.12-29

Consider three different men in the New Testament

Saul of Tarsus, Nicodemus, Centurion w/servant

Which ones displayed a real “heart of a Jew”?

A. Possession of the truth and the practice of it are two different things

B. The heart has always been the focus

         – Matthew 22:34-40

C. The heart is still the focus after redemption

         – sanctification

IV. Conclusion

By what standard do you live?

___________________________________

Truth as it Really Is – 4-25-21

Part 2 – Romans 1:18-32

Intro: Story-“Shapes in a cloud”

In much the same way, humanity has done the same thing regarding God, and continues to do so:

Let see how scripture explains it…

 Read: Romans 1:18-32

 I. The Truth of God is Evident (v.20)

A. There is clear evidence of a Designer

(created with order)

B. We are made in His image

(how do you know that you are you?)

C. There is an instinctive compelling that there is more

However,

II. Humanity Prefers a Lie (v.25)

A. There was/is a rejection of His authority (v.21)

B. There was/is a spirit of ungratefulness (v.21)

C. There was/is a suppression of the truth (v.18)

As a result…

III. God Allowed Humanity to Choose the Lie

Let’s walk through the process…

(v.18)

– ungodliness (reverent/irreverent)

– unrighteousness (lawful/unlawful)

(v.22) Professing themselves to be wise, they became

fools “morōs” (broken mind)

(v.24) Therefore…

#1 (v.24) He gave them over to uncleanness

         (contamination as in ceremonial-defiled worship)

#2 (v.26) He gave them over to vile passions

         (degrading behavior that insults God/His creation)

#3 (v.28) He gave them over to a debased mind

         (an unrighteous moral measurement system)

IV. Conclusion

This is why “faith alone” (v.17)

___________________________

“Truth as it Really Is” Series 4-18-21

Part 1 – Romans 1:1-17

Intro: There was a time in our culture when fact and truth were considered different things but appreciated as noble study. In other words, philosophy departments wrestled with truth, and science departments pursued facts. However, as illustrated by a recent news article discussing climate science, even facts are becoming arbitrary and manipulated for political reasons.

Regarding humanity, both fact and truth are applicable discussions, but reality IS WHAT IT IS whether known, acknowledged, understood, believed (or not). For example:

  • The predisposition toward sin (selfishness)
  • The intrinsic understanding of “ought”
  • The deep need for purpose
  • The sense inside that there is more than this life

Read: Romans 1:1-17

I. The History of the Gospel (brief highlights)

A. Abraham – justified by faith (before the Law)

B. Moses – received the Law

C. Isaiah – prophecies of the Messiah

D. Habakkuk – “The just shall live by faith” (context)

E. John the Baptizer – closed the era of waiting

(transitional figure)

II. The People of the Gospel

A. Paul

– bondservant – his chosen title (socially low)

– apostle – messenger

B. Jesus

         – Son of David (physical lineage) (v.3)

– Son of God (proof through resurrection) (v.4)

C. Us

         – recipients of grace (v.5)

         – Saints (set aside) (v.7)

         – to be mutual encouragement (v.12)

         – indebted to share (v.14)

III. The Nature of the Gospel

A. It is the POWER of God (v.16)

         – righteousness revealed (God never violated His righteous character)

         – faith based

B. It is to be FRONT and CENTER (not ashamed) (v.16)

– not sneaked in or proposed timidly

C. It is for EVERYONE (v.16)

IV. Conclusion

Questions: What is truth to you?

 

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