Sermon Notes

“Bearing Light in a Dark World” – Part 12 (10/28/18)

I Corinthians 10:1-22 “The Boundaries of Fellowship”

Intro: I want to start by considering a word often used within church circles that carries a significant meaning. The word is “fellowship”. Webster lists three definitions:

  • Companionship
  • A mutual interest
  • A group of people with the same interest

One of Paul’s themes throughout the letter to the Corinthians was issues within the fellowship. Let’s look:

Read I Corinthians 10:1-4

I. The Fathers Experienced God’s Deliverance

A. They passed through the sea

B. They were baptized (identified) into Moses

C. They received food and water

D. They followed the fire and cloud

II. They Chose Fellowship with Evil

Read v.5-11

A. They lusted (v.6)

B. They denied God to idols (v.7)

C. They chose immorality (v.8)

D. They Tested Christ (v.9)

E. God judged their sin (v.5)

III. Remember God’s Faithfulness

Read v.12-13

A. Take heed (a sober assessment) (v.12)

B. Temptations are common – the world is full of distractions (v.13)

C. God is faithful (He does not forget, ignore or abandon us even if it feels like it)

D. He will make a way to endure and escape the enemy’s traps

III. Maintain Undivided Fellowship with the Lord

Read 14-22

A. We have experienced God’s deliverance

B. We are baptized into Christ (identified in baptism and communion)

C. We are not to fellowship with evil (Ephesians 5:8-14)

  • No companionship with it
  • No mutual interest with it
  • No part of a group with common evil interests

D. We must remember our weaknesses (v.22)

IV. Conclusion

Question: “Where are the boundaries of your fellowship?”


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” – Part 11 (10/21/18)

(Note: this sermon was for an abbreviated time slot)

I Corinthians 9:24-27

Intro: Imagine football without field markings or rules (chaos) or a race without course boundaries or finish line (chaos). Paul reminds us that we’re in a race. In the first part of the chapter, he describes setting aside apostolic privilege and liberty for a greater gain (reaching people). He then summarizes it all in verses 24-27 with a word-picture of the struggle of living the Christian life in a secular world.

Read I Corinthians 9:24-27

Today, three elements of the struggle:

I. The Race (v.1)

A. We are in a competition (whether we want to be or not)

  • With the worldly system
  • With ourselves (the flesh)

B. Success requires discipline (v.25 & 27)

  • The rules of the game may seem unfair (qualified – disqualified)
  • It’s up to me to choose discipline
  • It’s not really for me

C. Achievable goals are good

  • Set your sights on a nearby goal (like a 1st down mark, not necessarily the endzone)
  • With kids, set realistic goals for them, but keep them moving forward

D. Remember the witnesses (Hebrews 12)

  • We are not alone in this
  • You are not alone in this

II. The Prize

A. Perishable Prizes

  • Paul’s example (wreath that turns brown)
  • Modern day examples (titles and stuff that are not eternal)

B. Imperishable Prizes

  • From the Lord
  • Other people

III. Conclusion


  • “What prizes are you seeking?”
  • “How are you running the race?”
  • “Are you running the dace with purpose?”


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” – Part 10 (10/7/18)

I Corinthians 8:1-13

Intro: “Liberty represents freedom but must be viewed as something to be stewarded.”

Two personal examples of liberty…

Today we’re looking at being good stewards of our liberty in Christ.

Read I Corinthians 8:1-13

  • Eating meat in Corinth was mostly associated with meat prepared for, then removed from altars in the pagan temple. It was a routine economic reality that purchasing meat involved acquiring something that had once been considered sacred in a pagan ceremony
  • The question to Paul was the appropriateness and boundaries of such meat sources
  • The key verse that sets up the teaching is verse 1 and the importance of “Godly love”

I. Godly Love Builds Up (v.1)

A. Knowledge can liberate

B. Knowledge can inflate

C. Knowledge can strengthen

Read verses 10-16

II. Godly Love Sacrifices (v.9)

Re-read verse 9

A. Not everyone is at the same point of growth and maturity (v.7)

B. Just because you can doesn’t always mean you should

Re-read verses 9-10 and re-visit 6:12

Practical examples are movies, music, places, etc.

III. Godly Love Commits

A. Developing ‘brethren” are impressionable (v.12)

B. Mature believers are to commit to a “no harm” attitude (v.1 and v.13)

IV. Conclusion

Questions: “How do you represent Christ to those who are seeking answers about faith, young in the faith, or even simply young?”


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” – Part 9 (9/30/18)

I Corinthians 7:1-24 – “Choosing to be Content”

Intro: “The weapon of discontent”

  • The culture of Corinth preached indulgence
  • Our culture today preaches indulgence
  • According to chapter 7 verse 1 they had asked about solutions to the cultural reality that may have been “extreme”
  • Verse 26 mentions “the present distress” which gives a picture of urgency and increasing pressure on the fellowship
  • Instead of extreme measures, Paul offered well-balanced counsel
  • First, there is a principle that needs to be visited. Philippians 4:8-9,11-13 and Galatians 5:22 put together describe a mindset thinking on the right things and being fertile for good fruit

Read I Corinthians 7:1-9

I. Choose Selfless Affection

A. Appreciate the blessing of your spouse

B. Avoid “record-keeping” (1 Cor. 13:5)

C. Seek the other’s best interest (choosing contentment in the little things)

Read verses 10-16

II. Choose to Honor Vows

A. A vow is sacred (made to God)

B. Remain faithful

  • Don’t spiritualize or rationalize sin with reasons like “God wants me to be happy.”
  • God will never lead you to violate scripture…never

C. Let God work (patience)

Read verses 17-24

III. Choose God’s Direction

A. There is value in diversity

B. Unity is not uniformity

C. Seek God’s purpose (the grass is not always greener on the other side)

IV. Conclusion

Questions: “Are you content? Is there an area where sin is creeping in through discontentment? Confess it and pray for God’s purposes to be revealed.


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” – Part 8 (9/23/18)

I Corinthians 6:12-20 – “Profitable Lifestyles”

Intro: “The picture of two vines”

  • “Kudzu” is a vine that was first imported to North America in the 19th Century. During the “dust bowl” era it was promoted as a good plant for erosion control. What was first welcomed as a “good idea”, soon became a hard-to-control nuisance and destructive invader.
  • Grapevines (in contrast to Kudzu) are a food source and commercial crop. However, they require intentional planning, trellis systems, soil conditioning and patient care
  • Paul’s writing in verses 12-20 gives a picture of the difference between the “kudzu lifestyle” and the “grapevine lifestyle”

Read I Corinthians 6:12-20

I. Our Liberty is to be for God’s Glory (v.12)

A. Kudzu Approach (whatever comes naturally)

B. Grapevine Approach

  • Guided growth – gently supporting/anchoring the vines
  • Intentional pruning (although there is small “damage”, it soon heals and increases health and productivity

II. Our Bodies are to be for God’s Glory (v.13-18)

A. We have an eternal identity

  • Even physically
  • Future earthly kingdom

B. Our identity is joined with Christ (v.15)

  • There is no way to be separated
  • Christ is always “with us” whether its something pleasing to Him or not

C. We are to stay away from sinful activities

  • “Flee” is a proactive posture
  • Stay away from the dangerous edges (they are deceitfully surprising)
  • The “kudzu approach” can quickly get out of control

III. Our Passions are to be for God’s Glory (v.19-20)

A. We are His dwelling (the picture of the purposeful structure of the Temple)

B. We are His bondservants (purchased on the slave market of sin)

C. We are His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) (everywhere)

IV. Conclusion

Questions: What lifestyle are you “cultivating”? Is it one like kudzu that’s running its own way, or one like a well-kept grapevine that is cared for, conditioned, worked and occasionally pruned?


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” – Part 7 (9/9/18)

I Corinthians 6:1-11 – “Healthy Disagreements”


  • The Greeks were known for their lawsuits
  • The context of chapter 6 is disagreements within the fellowship (as was discipline in chapter 5)
  • Important to note that it is within the family of God

Read I Corinthians 6:1-11

I. Disagreements are Part of Life

A. When you gather people, you gather thoughts, attitudes, ideas, and emotions

B. Acts chapter 6 as an example with widows (soon after chapter 2 & 4)

II. Carnal Solutions Render Carnal Results

A. Their approach was reflective of ch.3:1-3

B. Similar to the Jewish leadership with Jesus & Apostles

C. The goal was to win!

III. Spiritual Solutions Render Spiritual Results

A. The better approach reflects ch.2 (v.10 & 13)

B. The practical picture is Eph. 4:25-32 (the hard work of edification)

C. The goal is Galatians 5:25

  • To walk in the Spirit (His character)
  • To be led by the Spirit (His path)
  • Seeing v. 22-23 happening because of v.24

IV. The World Needs to See the Difference (v.11)

A. We are called to be different (sanctified, set-apart)

B. We must commit to an environment of truth and love

V. Conclusion

Questions: What is your normal way of dealing with disagreements? Within Christian circles? With those outside of the faith? Is there anything that needs to be improved?


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” – Part 6 (9/2/18)

I Corinthians 5:1-13 – “Healthy Church Discipline”

Intro: Have you ever seen a large ship? It’s amazing how a large vessel can be steered by a relatively small rudder. Without it, the ship only goes in circles and is subject to outside forces setting its course. In life, discipline is the “rudder” that keeps us on course (which is a common theme in Proverbs) because a life without discipline is like a ship without a rudder. Even in the life of a church, discipline is part of God’s plan to keep things on track.

Let’s consider what healthy church discipline looks like:

Read I Corinthians 5:1-13

I. Healthy Discipline Honors the Lord

A. Known, on-going sin is an offense to God (v.1) and Romans 6:1-2

B. We should grieve sin not justify it (v.2)

  • No “puffed-up”
  • No “sophia” style approach
  • Is sin!

C. We function under Jesus’ authority – more than by-laws and agreements (v.4)

II. Healthy Discipline Benefits the One Sinning (v.5)

A. Draws attention to the sin – Denials and excuses are to be expected

B. It forces a decision

  • When the process begins, it’s like a rudder turning into the water (there will be force against which is why it works)
  • It must be followed through with
  • It’s the follow-through that’s tough (like parenting)

C. It has forgiveness, correction, and restoration as its goals

III. Healthy Discipline Protects the Fellowship (v.6-13)

A. Teaches the principle of leaven (sin) (v.6)

B. Preempts further damage – could spread and get worse

C. It builds a reputation of integrity – faithfulness to the Word

IV. Conclusion

Questions: How is the rudder on your “ship”?


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” – Part 5 (8/26/18)

I Corinthians 4:1-21 – “The Visual Image of Light Bearing”

(abbreviated sermon due to planned prayer event)

Intro: Concerning church leadership, there are many books, videos, podcasts, etc. about method, style, and models. Each involves its own “vision casting” and in a loosely similar way, Paul was a “vision-caster”. However, if he’d had a conference breakout session, the room wouldn’t exactly have been packed, with his talk of becoming “the filth of the world” and so on.

Let’s consider some of his “vision casting” points:

I. The Right Measurement

Read I Corinthians 4:1-5

A. The goal is faithfulness (v.2) – the secret of goal-setting in the Christian life is Colossians 3:23

B. Eternity renders the opinion

  • We must avoid “fleshly” (ch.3) opinions of spiritual leadership (both pro and con)
  • The complete biblical standard and model is what we should look to (more than just a generic concept of Acts 2 & 4, but including the details of the epistles)

II. The Right Attitude

Read I Corinthians 4:6-13

A. Humility is a choice (Philippians 2:5-8)

B. “Status” is a design/value of the world (v.11-13)

III. The Right Model

Read I Corinthians 4:14-21

A. Seek the better influence (v.16)

B. Seek the better teaching (v.20)

IV. Conclusion

Questions: What vision are you following? In life? In your ideas of church?


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” – Part 4 (8/19/18)

I Corinthians 3:1-23 – “Choosing the Spiritual”


Previously we looked at Paul’s comparison of a spiritual person versus a natural person (“Natural” as not knowing Christ and the “spiritual” as redeemed and led by the Holy Spirit). Next, he says that he wishes he could write to them as spiritual but he cannot because they are “carnal” (fleshly and not following the Holy Spirit).

Illustration: (Personal story of a church conflict and deacons meeting where a person is lobbying with a fleshly motive).

Today, we’re looking at “Choosing the Spiritual”:

A. Defining the Spiritual

Read I Corinthians 3:1-4

To defined as spiritual:

A. There is maturity (v.1) – growth beyond basic needs

B. There is an advanced diet (v.2)

  • More substantial food items
  • No longer satisfied with Bible “stories” only, but wanting the meat of the Word

C. There is growth beyond childish interests (v.4)

II. Identifying the Spiritual

Read I Corinthians 2:5-17

A. An attitude of co-laboring (v.9)

  • There was cooperation and no interest in getting the credit for it
  • Quote: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” – Harry S. Truman

B. Submission to God’s authority (v.6,9,11)

C. The willingness to pursue the better (v.12) – the work of mining gold, silver and precious stones

III. Measuring the Spiritual

Read I Corinthians 2:18-23

A. Willingness to measure (v.18a) – “don’t be deceived”

B. Willingness to be different (v.18b) – chances are you will be viewed as odd (ch.2)

C. Willingness to submit (v.23) – follow Christ’s example

IV. Conclusion

Paul describes three people:

#1 The Natural – not in the family of God

#2 The Spiritual – in the family of God and following the Holy Spirit

#3 The Carnal – in the family of God but following the flesh

Question: “Which describes you?”


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” – Part 3 (8/12/18)

I Corinthians 2:1-16 – “Sharing the Light”

Intro: (Personal story of being mocked for having a southern accent).

  • Corinth was a city culture that valued “sophia” (clever logic and arguments which we get modern words like “sophisticated” and “sophistry”)
  • Paul entered that context to “share the light” of the Gospel as an unknown foreigner with a Hebrew accent
  • The natural temptation would have been to mimic their style and method, but he didn’t
  • Paul’s desire was to faithfully deliver the message as God had instructed him to

I. The Approach

Read I Corinthians 2:1-5

A. Ambassador versus Salesman (v.1-2)

B. Demonstration versus Persuasion (v.4)

C. Faith versus “fanfare” (v.5)

II. The Revealed Mystery

Read I Corinthians 2:6-10

A. Redemption was God’s plan

B. The Enemy couldn’t see it (v.8)

  • The “rulers of this age”
  • Spiritual ones (demonic)
  • Physical ones (civil)

C. We are the recipients of the plan (v.10)

III. The Results

Read I Corinthians 2:11-13

(Illustration of the World War II German “Enigma” machine versus the Navajo “Code Talkers”, one just a mechanical code versus a living language that represented a culture)

A. The Holy Spirit knows (v.11)

B. The Holy Spirit teaches (v.13)

C. The Holy Spirit clarifies (v.13)

IV. The Reaction

Read I Corinthians 2:14-16

A. The “Natural Man” doesn’t understand the spiritual or the “Spiritual Man”

B. The “Spiritual Man” understands the natural and the “Natural Man”

C. Conflict often exist in the misunderstanding of what we’re saying or doing

V. Conclusion

Question: “What are your goals when “Sharing the Light”? Your motives?”


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” – Part 2 (8/5/18)

Intro: (Personal story of buying a 1,000 piece puzzle for our family).

The puzzle picture is a cabin by a lake with an old pickup truck, trees, a dock, a rowboat, ducks and many reflections on the water. The first step I learned years ago is to start by identifying the border pieces and constructing the “frame”.

As Paul moves beyond the introduction of I Corinthians, he urges unity by constructing the “frame” of Christianity, the Cross; because the cross frames everything.

I. The Cross Frames our Identity

Read I Corinthians 1:10-17

A. Unity not uniformity – (the puzzle pieces fit together, but aren’t the same shape and color v.10 “joined together”)

B. We have the same pedigree – (“redeemed” is our label, not “of ____________”)

  • “of Paul” meant they were there from the beginning “founding members”
  • “of Apollos” meant a more sophisticated approach and demeanor
  • “of Cephas” meant a more Jewish take on everything
  • “of Christ” meant there was no need to recognize ordained leadership

C. Baptism is a visual symbol/ordinance and not a fraternal initiation rite – (who did the baptizing isn’t as important as the why)

II. The Cross Frames our Message

Read I Corinthians 1:18-25

A. Reactions don’t change reality

  • “foolishness”
  • The pieces fit together whether we see it or not
  • We often need guidance to see (like the picture included to help with the puzzle)

B. The Cross was God’s idea

–       V.19 – context was regarding Israel’s enemies

–       Read Isaiah 55:8-9

C. Christ crucified and resurrected is the power of God – (our victory over sin, death, Hell, and the enemy)

III. The Cross Frames our Attitude

Read I Corinthians 1:26-31

A. No reason for pride in salvation – (v.26 and Romans 3:10 “there is none righteous”)

B. An act of grace – (Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”)

C. We must defer all glory to the Lord – (v.31 – read the original passage – Jeremiah 9:23-24)

IV. Conclusion

Closing Question: “How does the cross frame your life?”


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” – Part 1 (7/29/18) “Introduction”

Intro: (Personal story of a former student-worker with a promising future who succumbed to the influence of negative peers)

The church at Corinth was similar. It had so much gifting and potential but was greatly influenced by the world around them. Here’s a snapshot of Corinth:

  • Destroyed in 146 B.C. and rebuilt in 44 B.C.
  • Located on the tiny isthmus between northern and southern Greece
  • Busy trade route overland N/S and between shipping docks E/W
  • Location of bi-annual Isthmian Games with a large stadium, theater and other venues
  • Banking center
  • Judicial center
  • Various temple related activities
  • Affluence, diversity and freedmen populations
  • Paul visited on second missionary journey, met Aquilla, Priscilla, Crispus, Titius Justus, Sosthenes and others.
  • Established church and stayed for 18 months (Acts 18)

Read I Corinthians 1:1-9

I. We are Called to be Saints (v.2)

A. Saints at justification – (v.6 testimony and set-apart, Romans 3:20-26)

B. Saints in sanctification – (v.6 the process of learning to live set-apart)

C. Saints for glorification – (v.8, His glory)

II. We are Part of a Common Fellowship of Grace and Peace (v.3 & 9)

A. Grace to you – (from the Lord)

B. Grace among you – (to each other)

C. Peace to you – (from the Lord)

D. Peace among you – (to each other)

III. We are Enriched by Christ (v.5)

A. Wealthy in speech – (potential to articulate and give productive oratory)

B. Wealthy in knowledge – (they had 18 months of direct teaching from Paul and he knew firsthand of their intellect)

C. Wealthy in testimony – (their faith was confirmed by changed lives after trusting Christ)

D. No gift lacking – (God insured they had the building blocks for success)

IV. Conclusion

God is faithful (v.9 and Philippians 1:3-7)

  • He has the power to complete the work
  • We must be willing to follow
  • We are to bear light in a world growing more dim around us



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