SERMONS & TEACHING

Jan 14, 2018
A Time for War: A Battle for Your Body
A Time for War
“The Battle for the Body”
 
1st Corinthians 6:9-20
 
A Word of Encouragement
Good morning, it is my hope and my joy to know that the battle for our time has begun in Christ. Though you may have made little steps in the past week to win the battle it is still progress worth celebrating. Some of you began devotions with your family, started praying, listening to messages, reading scripture, cutting back of social media and T.V. time, and began to look for ways to better use your time for the glory of God and sake of man. Even if you have not taken a step physically, if the idea of how to rearrange your time to make the most of it, then a victory has been won on some level. I trust each of us has a way to go to fully reclaim our time, but the battle has begun and that is better than the alternative of being captive by the will of Satan. I pray that you continue in the battle for your God given time. It is valuable, and it is worth fighting for. I also want to give a reminder that you can win your battles with Christ as the High Captain of your life. You can do all things through Christ and you are more than a conquer through Him and also where sin abounds the grace to wage war with sin abounds much the more. Therefore, we are well equipped and without excuse. You can win, so please keep winning your time for the Lord’s glory and man’s sake.
 
The Next Battle:
As we move on to our next battle let us not forget our to enemies, the “flesh” (Our fallen Ego that seeks to gratify itself at all cost) and Satan (The leader of wickedness). There is something that each person in this room has in common. It is true we differ on about every level of our being. Height, weight, eye color, body shape, hair color and length, and skin tone. But the one thing we all have in common is we have a BODY. I would also speculate we like our bodies. Sure, there are aspects about your body you aren’t crazy about, but overall, we love our bodies, and rightfully so for they are a great gift of God. Here is what we know about our physical bodies from scripture.

Your Body is in the image of God (Genesis 1:27)-
Male or female are both in the image of God. This is why marriage between male and female is correct scripture. The two together proceeded forth from God and when united show a great image of God and the sacred relationship between Jesus and His Church.

Your Body will be transformed or changed (Philippians 3:21, 1st Corinthians 15:51-52)-
The bodies we now have are marred by sin, when we follow Jesus as Savior we are following Him with the promise that our bodies will be transformed to the likeness of His glorious body. Salvation from a sin curse body and a sin cursed world awaits all believers in Jesus.

Your Body is to be sanctified and presented to God as a living sacrifice (1st Thessalonians 5:23 and Romans 12:1)-
Our personal works do not save, but God who saves also works in us to do His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). This work He does is through His Spirit, which convicts of sin and righteousness (John 16:8). The Spirit of God works 24/7 to convict us of things, which do not glorify God, and encourages toward doing what pleases God. The goal of such work is to make us a living sacrifice, or the highest quality in the fold for the glory of God.

Your Body is a temple (1st Corinthians 6:19)-
Your Body is a temple in the image of God that is being sanctified and awaiting a full-scale transformation. Your body is a place of worship. The Temple that Solomon built in the Old Testament was beautiful on the outside, but all the true splendor was on the inside. This is how it is to be with us. Our bodies are to be attractive (not as the world envisions attraction) on the outside and filled with enhanced worship to God on the inside. The outside attraction of our bodies is to be a physical mirroring of what takes place on the inside. This is what Peter had in mind in 1st Peter 3:3-5. A Temple that is inviting and worship within that is filling.

All these things about our body are amazing and beautiful. We were formed, imaged, redeemed, sanctified, and made a temple by God for a glorious purpose. Our bodies will be changed and we will live in a glorious physical body with Jesus throughout eternity. It is a gold mine of beauty and value to God and us, yet this great value makes it a great target to the enemy. Your body and the worship in it can give God glory and bring others to do so as well, Satan will not allow this without a full out war on your Image bearing self. If Satan lets you go about in the brightness of God’s glory, then many will come to know His enemy (God). Satan must fight within and without to keep your body in his clutches or he will suffer great lost. Satan will seek to kill you if you do not glorify God, and the more so if you do glorify God. Do not think you can sign a peace treaty with him and cut off the hook of his hatred against your body. You walk around as a billboard of his enemy no matter what you do. The air in your lungs means you are a testimony of God. Satan is waging war over your body as we speak. Fleshly desire is the greatest weapon in distracting men from salvation. Anything you do against to harm your body for lustful reasons pleases Satan. The church preaches being clean from addictions and vices because it is a weapon of the enemy. A holy life is preached because your Father is holy. It is time to battle addiction, lust, and the pride that fuels all sin in our body. Satan is not to win the war of your body. Your body is to be held forth as brightness for all to see and glorify God because of it.

Every Christian Can reinforce the battle for their body by reacting to the following truths;
 
Truth #1
Actions with Your Body is Revealing (1st Corinthians 6:9-11)

The Words- The words in the text describe the perpetual lifestyle that proves a person is not a follower of Jesus. We will take a quick glance and move on to better news for the believer.
The Greek word in verse 8 “you do wrong” is the same word used to translated “unrighteousness” in verse 9. The force of the sentence is “you do wrong things and expect to inherit the kingdom of God, this will not happen”. Those doing wrong are not bearing fruit of repentance that comes from salvation.

Fornicators- Single persons who give themselves sexually to another or engage in unbiblical sexual gratification.
Idolaters- Those who esteem anyone or thing higher than God.
Adulterers- Those who break their marriage vows and have sexual relations with another besides the person they are committed.
Effeminate-
Abusers of themselves- same sex sexual activity.
Thieves- Those who take things without proper permission or by violence.
Covetous- Those who love money.
Drunkards- Those who drink excessively.
Revilers- Those who rant with their tongue.
Extortioners- Those who take from another what is rightfully theirs.

The scripture is plain. Living such a life style as Paul has mentioned in the body simply proves the individual is an outcast from the kingdom of God.

Good News for the Follower of Jesus (V:11)- Paul plainly states people who use their bodies to commit wrong practices are not heaven bound, but doesn’t stop there. He goes on and reminds believers that they are not that! They are washed and redeemed. Their body, because of salvation and the work of the Holy Spirit, is against such behavior. When a follower of Jesus knows they are heading in a direction, or has committed any of the offences afore mention they repent passionately and move forward in the forgiveness and mercy of God. God has justified us (declared us innocent legally) and is sanctifying us (teaching us how to be innocent and holy lives). Society can build new houses for old men, but God can put new men in old houses! No one but Jesus can make a man new. Verse 11 declares that Jesus can take those who are not fir for the Kingdom of God save them and place a new man in a vile condemned body!
When we react to the fact we are saved and sanctified by God then our bodies will not be given to vices of Satan. One of the great ways to react to salvation is to pray we enter not into temptation but are delivered from evil.

Truth # 2
Our Body is for the Lord and the Lord is for our Body (12-14)
Because we are in Christ we are free to enjoy the good gifts of God. Paul mentions two natural desires (Sex and Eating) that can be fulfilled in Christ, yet these things can become bondage if we forget that the main purpose of these things are to glorify God.

Lawful but not Profitable (12)- Sex and food was available to Paul because of his liberty in Christ. This sounds way to attractive and pleasurable to be consider Christian right? Actually, these are things Christians can enjoy and are, in my opinion, the foundations of physical pleasure. Paul talked about sex and food in another place in 1st Timothy 4:1-5 “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: 5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”

Paul knew that false teachers were going to arise and attack freedom to marry and freedom to eat. These false teachers were seeking to make Christianity a major drag and call it holy! These things are still heresies today. Sex is sold as a cheap thrill and food is unhealthy and unappreciated. Satan is hard at work to plant an ungrateful heart in the church toward the good things God gives to the body!

It is established then that sex and food are good gifts given to people, but neither of these things come without warning. It is very possible to let these good things become a “law” that binds the followers of Jesus. Over eating or eating unhealthily can bind us. Thanksgiving can be affected even when we eat good. The gift becomes the prize and not a tool to glorify God. Feeling like marriage is a must can also be bondage, and sex in marriage can become a practice that loses Christ as its center. It becomes something to do and not a treasure to enjoy. Food and sex have a place, but that place is not the Master’s seat! Anything that keeps the body from being an instrument of glory to God is a thing that needs to be brought under control of the Spirit of God.

Refusal of Bondage- On the one hand we see a life that is not Christian and the other we see the Christian liberty that can yield bondage. Satan is not a quitter. He does not see Christian liberty and think, “there is no way I can use that”. No, Satan sees every thing good as a weapon that can be turned on believers. Paul decides nothing will master him. Good gifts are to bring us closer to God and others. Good gifts are not for self-gratification alone. Paul refuses to be in bondage to anything but Christ! Have good gifts become bondage to your body? What has you enslaved at this moment? Is it food, exercise, sex, work, or some other good gift gone bad? Pray with me that the good gifts granted to us by God will give us enjoyment, growth in our relationship to God and others, and place thanksgiving in our hearts to God! We can take this reminder with us “there are many good gifts God has given us to enjoy, but remember our bodies are for the Lord and not a slave to good gifts”.
 
Proof of God’s Love (14)- God loves us! We are weak, tempted, and tainted by sin at every turn, but God continually shows us love and favor through Jesus Christ. We are troubled on every side in our flesh, we seem to lose most battles, and beg for forgiveness for our short comings. There are habits and sins we want to kick and we try with all our might and then fall back, but we keep fighting because the Spirit of Christ is in us and we hope to push the enemy back until the day we are granted a new body. The new body will match the new man that has fought sin here on this earth. The resurrection of Jesus means total victory will soon be ours to enjoy without a fight! The Lord came to redeem and resurrect our bodies because He loves us!

Application: Since the Lord’s body is for you, will you be for the Lord?
 
Truth # 3
Remember you are a sexual creature and your sexuality is for the Lord (15-18)
 
“Sex” is taboo in church. If you talk about it too much you are sinful, and if you do not talk about it then you are out of touch with reality. But if we speak where scripture speaks then we are right about the matter and so we will speak where scripture speaks and say what scripture says. Paul leaves food behind and reminds the Corinthian believers that their bodies are one with Christ. Our bodies are to be married to the will of God. When we experience our sexuality in the context God has given us then will our sexuality be full and God glorified
.
Our body is meant for One (16-17)- Our lost nature (The fallen ego) yearns to give our body to whatever, whoever, and whenever it desires. The human sex drive is powerful, so it is married to the will of Christ so the great desire can be enjoyed completely in marriage. Since man transgressed against God our sexual desires are all over the place. Paul list the sexually immoral as unredeemed and not allowed into God’s Kingdom. Man cannot on his own will his way to a holy sex life, and so Jesus offers salvation which cleanses from sexual immorality and places in the believer the will to do right and wage war on that which is wrong. Remember your sexuality is reserved for what the Lord has commanded.

A very strong desire- Today Grandparents, parents, and children struggle with sexuality. It has been deemed normal for sexuality to be explored and abused but not commit. There are very strong desires in each person in this room that need to be crucified and raised with Christ. What can be done with our strong sexual desire?

Remember it is a gift from God
Do not “kill” it but marry it to Christ
Enjoy your sexuality in the bond of marriage
Live committed and not loose (18)
Application: Are you aware of your sexual desire? Has it over come you? Will you commit your sexuality to Christ?
 
Truth # 4
Your Body is Not Your Own (19-20)
 
When Jesus suffered He did so to obtain rights to your body. His prize was the glory of God and YOU! It doesn’t even sound like the two things should be joined in the same sentenced, but they are because it is true. Jesus redeemed your body from the power of sin to destroy it. Left to ourselves we would ruin many times over the wonderful gift of our body which is God’s image. Jesus now owns me and for that I am happy. I was not a very good master, sin was a bad master, and Satan is a murderer! Jesus being owner of me is a JOY! When I invite you to be saved make no mistake I am inviting you to turn over the rights of your life to God. I am pleading with you to be saved from self, sin, and Satan and to the Savior Jesus Christ! Now when you buy something you buy it with a purpose. You buy it for joy or work and the same is true of God. He has purchased us to worship Him and for His pleasure.

The Temple- We are God’s temple. A place of beauty and coordinated worship. The Holy Spirit shines in us and radiates into a dark world to make God known.

The Task- Our task is to make God known. We use our influence to make God stand out as God. The god of this world is blinding people to the One true God and we are to make God stand out in a positive way. How do we glorify God with our bodies? Look no further than the gospel accounts of Jesus. What did He do? Pray, serve others, teach about God, sing, be obedient, and suffer on behalf of God, give, and much more. We sum this up at Bethany with “Love God, Love Others, and Serve Both”.

Application: Are you making God known with your body? Is what you doing with your body influencing others to know God and love Him? People needed to be saved; does your body teach that?
WatchNotesDownloadDateTitle
  • Jan 14, 2018A Time for War: A Battle for Your Body
    Jan 14, 2018
    A Time for War: A Battle for Your Body
    A Time for War
    “The Battle for the Body”
     
    1st Corinthians 6:9-20
     
    A Word of Encouragement
    Good morning, it is my hope and my joy to know that the battle for our time has begun in Christ. Though you may have made little steps in the past week to win the battle it is still progress worth celebrating. Some of you began devotions with your family, started praying, listening to messages, reading scripture, cutting back of social media and T.V. time, and began to look for ways to better use your time for the glory of God and sake of man. Even if you have not taken a step physically, if the idea of how to rearrange your time to make the most of it, then a victory has been won on some level. I trust each of us has a way to go to fully reclaim our time, but the battle has begun and that is better than the alternative of being captive by the will of Satan. I pray that you continue in the battle for your God given time. It is valuable, and it is worth fighting for. I also want to give a reminder that you can win your battles with Christ as the High Captain of your life. You can do all things through Christ and you are more than a conquer through Him and also where sin abounds the grace to wage war with sin abounds much the more. Therefore, we are well equipped and without excuse. You can win, so please keep winning your time for the Lord’s glory and man’s sake.
     
    The Next Battle:
    As we move on to our next battle let us not forget our to enemies, the “flesh” (Our fallen Ego that seeks to gratify itself at all cost) and Satan (The leader of wickedness). There is something that each person in this room has in common. It is true we differ on about every level of our being. Height, weight, eye color, body shape, hair color and length, and skin tone. But the one thing we all have in common is we have a BODY. I would also speculate we like our bodies. Sure, there are aspects about your body you aren’t crazy about, but overall, we love our bodies, and rightfully so for they are a great gift of God. Here is what we know about our physical bodies from scripture.

    Your Body is in the image of God (Genesis 1:27)-
    Male or female are both in the image of God. This is why marriage between male and female is correct scripture. The two together proceeded forth from God and when united show a great image of God and the sacred relationship between Jesus and His Church.

    Your Body will be transformed or changed (Philippians 3:21, 1st Corinthians 15:51-52)-
    The bodies we now have are marred by sin, when we follow Jesus as Savior we are following Him with the promise that our bodies will be transformed to the likeness of His glorious body. Salvation from a sin curse body and a sin cursed world awaits all believers in Jesus.

    Your Body is to be sanctified and presented to God as a living sacrifice (1st Thessalonians 5:23 and Romans 12:1)-
    Our personal works do not save, but God who saves also works in us to do His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). This work He does is through His Spirit, which convicts of sin and righteousness (John 16:8). The Spirit of God works 24/7 to convict us of things, which do not glorify God, and encourages toward doing what pleases God. The goal of such work is to make us a living sacrifice, or the highest quality in the fold for the glory of God.

    Your Body is a temple (1st Corinthians 6:19)-
    Your Body is a temple in the image of God that is being sanctified and awaiting a full-scale transformation. Your body is a place of worship. The Temple that Solomon built in the Old Testament was beautiful on the outside, but all the true splendor was on the inside. This is how it is to be with us. Our bodies are to be attractive (not as the world envisions attraction) on the outside and filled with enhanced worship to God on the inside. The outside attraction of our bodies is to be a physical mirroring of what takes place on the inside. This is what Peter had in mind in 1st Peter 3:3-5. A Temple that is inviting and worship within that is filling.

    All these things about our body are amazing and beautiful. We were formed, imaged, redeemed, sanctified, and made a temple by God for a glorious purpose. Our bodies will be changed and we will live in a glorious physical body with Jesus throughout eternity. It is a gold mine of beauty and value to God and us, yet this great value makes it a great target to the enemy. Your body and the worship in it can give God glory and bring others to do so as well, Satan will not allow this without a full out war on your Image bearing self. If Satan lets you go about in the brightness of God’s glory, then many will come to know His enemy (God). Satan must fight within and without to keep your body in his clutches or he will suffer great lost. Satan will seek to kill you if you do not glorify God, and the more so if you do glorify God. Do not think you can sign a peace treaty with him and cut off the hook of his hatred against your body. You walk around as a billboard of his enemy no matter what you do. The air in your lungs means you are a testimony of God. Satan is waging war over your body as we speak. Fleshly desire is the greatest weapon in distracting men from salvation. Anything you do against to harm your body for lustful reasons pleases Satan. The church preaches being clean from addictions and vices because it is a weapon of the enemy. A holy life is preached because your Father is holy. It is time to battle addiction, lust, and the pride that fuels all sin in our body. Satan is not to win the war of your body. Your body is to be held forth as brightness for all to see and glorify God because of it.

    Every Christian Can reinforce the battle for their body by reacting to the following truths;
     
    Truth #1
    Actions with Your Body is Revealing (1st Corinthians 6:9-11)

    The Words- The words in the text describe the perpetual lifestyle that proves a person is not a follower of Jesus. We will take a quick glance and move on to better news for the believer.
    The Greek word in verse 8 “you do wrong” is the same word used to translated “unrighteousness” in verse 9. The force of the sentence is “you do wrong things and expect to inherit the kingdom of God, this will not happen”. Those doing wrong are not bearing fruit of repentance that comes from salvation.

    Fornicators- Single persons who give themselves sexually to another or engage in unbiblical sexual gratification.
    Idolaters- Those who esteem anyone or thing higher than God.
    Adulterers- Those who break their marriage vows and have sexual relations with another besides the person they are committed.
    Effeminate-
    Abusers of themselves- same sex sexual activity.
    Thieves- Those who take things without proper permission or by violence.
    Covetous- Those who love money.
    Drunkards- Those who drink excessively.
    Revilers- Those who rant with their tongue.
    Extortioners- Those who take from another what is rightfully theirs.

    The scripture is plain. Living such a life style as Paul has mentioned in the body simply proves the individual is an outcast from the kingdom of God.

    Good News for the Follower of Jesus (V:11)- Paul plainly states people who use their bodies to commit wrong practices are not heaven bound, but doesn’t stop there. He goes on and reminds believers that they are not that! They are washed and redeemed. Their body, because of salvation and the work of the Holy Spirit, is against such behavior. When a follower of Jesus knows they are heading in a direction, or has committed any of the offences afore mention they repent passionately and move forward in the forgiveness and mercy of God. God has justified us (declared us innocent legally) and is sanctifying us (teaching us how to be innocent and holy lives). Society can build new houses for old men, but God can put new men in old houses! No one but Jesus can make a man new. Verse 11 declares that Jesus can take those who are not fir for the Kingdom of God save them and place a new man in a vile condemned body!
    When we react to the fact we are saved and sanctified by God then our bodies will not be given to vices of Satan. One of the great ways to react to salvation is to pray we enter not into temptation but are delivered from evil.

    Truth # 2
    Our Body is for the Lord and the Lord is for our Body (12-14)
    Because we are in Christ we are free to enjoy the good gifts of God. Paul mentions two natural desires (Sex and Eating) that can be fulfilled in Christ, yet these things can become bondage if we forget that the main purpose of these things are to glorify God.

    Lawful but not Profitable (12)- Sex and food was available to Paul because of his liberty in Christ. This sounds way to attractive and pleasurable to be consider Christian right? Actually, these are things Christians can enjoy and are, in my opinion, the foundations of physical pleasure. Paul talked about sex and food in another place in 1st Timothy 4:1-5 “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: 5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”

    Paul knew that false teachers were going to arise and attack freedom to marry and freedom to eat. These false teachers were seeking to make Christianity a major drag and call it holy! These things are still heresies today. Sex is sold as a cheap thrill and food is unhealthy and unappreciated. Satan is hard at work to plant an ungrateful heart in the church toward the good things God gives to the body!

    It is established then that sex and food are good gifts given to people, but neither of these things come without warning. It is very possible to let these good things become a “law” that binds the followers of Jesus. Over eating or eating unhealthily can bind us. Thanksgiving can be affected even when we eat good. The gift becomes the prize and not a tool to glorify God. Feeling like marriage is a must can also be bondage, and sex in marriage can become a practice that loses Christ as its center. It becomes something to do and not a treasure to enjoy. Food and sex have a place, but that place is not the Master’s seat! Anything that keeps the body from being an instrument of glory to God is a thing that needs to be brought under control of the Spirit of God.

    Refusal of Bondage- On the one hand we see a life that is not Christian and the other we see the Christian liberty that can yield bondage. Satan is not a quitter. He does not see Christian liberty and think, “there is no way I can use that”. No, Satan sees every thing good as a weapon that can be turned on believers. Paul decides nothing will master him. Good gifts are to bring us closer to God and others. Good gifts are not for self-gratification alone. Paul refuses to be in bondage to anything but Christ! Have good gifts become bondage to your body? What has you enslaved at this moment? Is it food, exercise, sex, work, or some other good gift gone bad? Pray with me that the good gifts granted to us by God will give us enjoyment, growth in our relationship to God and others, and place thanksgiving in our hearts to God! We can take this reminder with us “there are many good gifts God has given us to enjoy, but remember our bodies are for the Lord and not a slave to good gifts”.
     
    Proof of God’s Love (14)- God loves us! We are weak, tempted, and tainted by sin at every turn, but God continually shows us love and favor through Jesus Christ. We are troubled on every side in our flesh, we seem to lose most battles, and beg for forgiveness for our short comings. There are habits and sins we want to kick and we try with all our might and then fall back, but we keep fighting because the Spirit of Christ is in us and we hope to push the enemy back until the day we are granted a new body. The new body will match the new man that has fought sin here on this earth. The resurrection of Jesus means total victory will soon be ours to enjoy without a fight! The Lord came to redeem and resurrect our bodies because He loves us!

    Application: Since the Lord’s body is for you, will you be for the Lord?
     
    Truth # 3
    Remember you are a sexual creature and your sexuality is for the Lord (15-18)
     
    “Sex” is taboo in church. If you talk about it too much you are sinful, and if you do not talk about it then you are out of touch with reality. But if we speak where scripture speaks then we are right about the matter and so we will speak where scripture speaks and say what scripture says. Paul leaves food behind and reminds the Corinthian believers that their bodies are one with Christ. Our bodies are to be married to the will of God. When we experience our sexuality in the context God has given us then will our sexuality be full and God glorified
    .
    Our body is meant for One (16-17)- Our lost nature (The fallen ego) yearns to give our body to whatever, whoever, and whenever it desires. The human sex drive is powerful, so it is married to the will of Christ so the great desire can be enjoyed completely in marriage. Since man transgressed against God our sexual desires are all over the place. Paul list the sexually immoral as unredeemed and not allowed into God’s Kingdom. Man cannot on his own will his way to a holy sex life, and so Jesus offers salvation which cleanses from sexual immorality and places in the believer the will to do right and wage war on that which is wrong. Remember your sexuality is reserved for what the Lord has commanded.

    A very strong desire- Today Grandparents, parents, and children struggle with sexuality. It has been deemed normal for sexuality to be explored and abused but not commit. There are very strong desires in each person in this room that need to be crucified and raised with Christ. What can be done with our strong sexual desire?

    Remember it is a gift from God
    Do not “kill” it but marry it to Christ
    Enjoy your sexuality in the bond of marriage
    Live committed and not loose (18)
    Application: Are you aware of your sexual desire? Has it over come you? Will you commit your sexuality to Christ?
     
    Truth # 4
    Your Body is Not Your Own (19-20)
     
    When Jesus suffered He did so to obtain rights to your body. His prize was the glory of God and YOU! It doesn’t even sound like the two things should be joined in the same sentenced, but they are because it is true. Jesus redeemed your body from the power of sin to destroy it. Left to ourselves we would ruin many times over the wonderful gift of our body which is God’s image. Jesus now owns me and for that I am happy. I was not a very good master, sin was a bad master, and Satan is a murderer! Jesus being owner of me is a JOY! When I invite you to be saved make no mistake I am inviting you to turn over the rights of your life to God. I am pleading with you to be saved from self, sin, and Satan and to the Savior Jesus Christ! Now when you buy something you buy it with a purpose. You buy it for joy or work and the same is true of God. He has purchased us to worship Him and for His pleasure.

    The Temple- We are God’s temple. A place of beauty and coordinated worship. The Holy Spirit shines in us and radiates into a dark world to make God known.

    The Task- Our task is to make God known. We use our influence to make God stand out as God. The god of this world is blinding people to the One true God and we are to make God stand out in a positive way. How do we glorify God with our bodies? Look no further than the gospel accounts of Jesus. What did He do? Pray, serve others, teach about God, sing, be obedient, and suffer on behalf of God, give, and much more. We sum this up at Bethany with “Love God, Love Others, and Serve Both”.

    Application: Are you making God known with your body? Is what you doing with your body influencing others to know God and love Him? People needed to be saved; does your body teach that?
  • Jan 7, 2018A Time for War: A Battle for Time
    Jan 7, 2018
    A Time for War: A Battle for Time

    A Time for War
    Ecclesiastes 3:8
    Romans 7:23
    2nd Corinthians 10:3-5
    Ephesians 6:13
    Galatians 5:1
    Galatians 5:17
    2nd Timothy 2:24-26

    It is for freedom that Christ has saved each of us. Freedom to rule and reign with Christ and where should the ruling and reigning with Christ begin? Within our own personal kingdoms that make up our whole empire of being. If we are to rule and reign with Christ in unseen heavenly places, then we are to begin our training in ruling over, with Christ, the things that pertain to this life. If Christians concede the liberty(freedom) that has been granted to them in any area of life the bright life we hold forth to the world becomes dim and our kingdom looks as theirs, full of gloom, dread, and headed to destruction. What are the “kingdoms” that constitute our own “empire” (full being)? The Sword (God’s Word mainly the gospel contained within) is the only weapon given to us in this war. Yes, we have armor that is very important, but the only weapon we wield is the bible you hold in your hand.

    The knowledge of what is contained within the blessed pages is of upmost importance. The art to communicated and desire to live it is equally important. Bethany Baptist Church is aware of how important the Word is as a weapon. This is why we are equipping families to know the word together through our “blueprint”. You need to know the word it needs to be read in our homes daily. Bethany Baptist will also launch its Bible institute in February because the Word is a necessity in this warfare. We will also apply the Word to our marriages at our Made marriage conference. There is no better way to defend and delight in marriage than through God’s Word. Bethany is aware of how important the Word is as a weapon and we intend to train each soldier how to use it properly. When the Word is put to good use we will discover how to win back and beat the enemy back from the following Kingdoms of our godly empire.
    When I think of our kingdoms that we are empowered to reign over here is what comes to mind.
    The Kingdom of time: Our time here on earth is most precious and at our redemption Christ purchased for us all the time we are to spend in this body. Our time was ruled and reigned over by our enemies prior to the Conquering of Christ. Now we stand in liberty (complete freedom) to do the will of God with our time.
    The Kingdom of Our Body: Our bodies were for sinful lust and pleasure only. We were told what to eat, drink, dress, and do to please the body. We were trapped by addictions and carnal desires, but in Christ freedom has come to do what is holy, right, and pleasing to God. The body is the place of worship and is to be holy and sacred place dedicated to God.
    The Kingdom of Our relationships: Our allegiances were dictated by our skin color, nationality, social statue, and whatever lifted up our fallen ego, but in Christ all men and women have our allegiance. We are free to love, without any measure of hate, all people.
    The Kingdom of our Spirit: The Spirit is our grand castle where the supplies for our warfare flows. When the spirit is captive the whole man is captured by the enemy. When worship flows from our Spirit in truth to God all other kingdoms are supplied for adequately.
     
    A Full Revolt
    It would be a bit ignorant of me if I did not acknowledge that many believers here today are fighting from a point of captivity. Your Time, Body, relationships, and Spirit are shackled by many satanic and fleshly chains. Your time is filled with things of no value. You have committed to things that matter none in eternity and your fallen ego tells says you cannot afford to change those things now. Your body is addicted to medication, alcohol, perversion, self-image, and social ideals. Once your time is chained your body soon falls. Relationships spin out of control.
    Today I call on a full revolt of every captured Christian. I call on you to take back each kingdom granted to you in Christ. I call on you to wage full out war on the enemy. Give your neighbors a glimpse of what a beautiful bright kingdom your life can be in Christ. Show them life and power in the Empire of your being. It is time to war for our faith with our faith. In this war you are either fighting or captured. You are beating back the enemy or being beat by the enemy.
    I call every warring Christian to take heart, reload, and guard the walls of your kingdoms. Pay the price protect the cities of your children and heritage to come. Are you tired? Then be renewed in the strength of the preaching of the gospel. STAND FAST IN THE FREEDOM CHRIST FREED US FOR. Plant your flag of freedom in the overrun kingdoms of your life put on the full armor of God and declare WAR!
    What You Need to Know About War
    War is a contention by FORCE
    War protects a way of life
    Our Enemy in this War is Our flesh and Satan
    I define the “flesh” not as the body, but the fallen ego (See Galatians 2:20)
    Paul states that one “I” was crucified and another “I” lives. There is the fallen ego that only looks after its own pleasure that needs to be crucified and the new “I” governed by the Spirit of Christ that needs to emerge. The “new man” needs to put the “old man” in submission.
    Satan is the leader of the dark forces we battle against
    There are two conditions of this war
    Warring
    Captured
    War is not pretty nor pleasant. In my office are replicas of newspaper articles from World War II. War became a way of life in order for America to be victorious. Sacrifices were made, ordinary items became useful items to build machines for war, and big and small decisions alike were made with winning the war in mind. War occupied the lives and minds of Americans to the point of obsession, but we won. As I flipped through articles there was zero evidence that the war was fought half way. You lose wars when the all-in mind set is dead. It is evident from the scriptures we read this morning that we live in an on-going war with an alliance between two major enemies “Satan” and “the flesh”. The enemy desires for the unsaved to remain captured and the saved to be unproductive and unholy; thus, rendering the mission of the Church, which is to glorify God by living holy and bring souls into Christ Kingdom, obsolete.
    During the month of January Bethany Baptist Church will be encourage and equipped to make radical changes that we reclaim the realms of life that have been captured by the enemy. The goal is to be warriors aimed at holiness and bringing souls to Jesus Christ through 2018.
    Battle for Your Time
    “You can not kill time without injuring eternity”
    Every person in here feels the stress of time. It is such a heavy wait that it gets ignored or squandered. Years of our lives are spent watching T.V., movies, and scrolling though social media. Hours a day are given to those things yet we find it near impossible to make simple things at home happen. Worship surely takes a hit. We wait till we have an idle moment then we attend church or worship God. I think most of us agree that our time is precious and that we are wasting precious time on things that are not so precious. So how do we reclaim the freedom of our time? We are not trying to create more free time, but more freedom with our time. How can we do this? We must make war with our daily schedule. Our calendar that is loaded with unhealthy, ungodly, unproductive, unsatisfying things must bleed.
    Every Believer can reclaim their time by:
    Requesting Hard Truth from God (Psalm 39:4-5)
    The Plea- Teach me that I will die. Remind me that I am very fragile and that the time I have here is precious. Put me in reality and move me from fantasy, is the plea of the song writer. Once the reality of our time running out takes hold on us in a godly way the desire of our heart leads us to war against things that would still our time. Prayer is the walkie talkie that gets us through to the Commander. Praying that our knowledge of limited time increases the quality of our lives is the first step to winning back our time from the enemy.
    Request To know the Power or Value of Your Time (Psalm 90:12)
    The Idea- The idea behind this verse is not counting, but valuing. It is very easy to fill as if your time will make no difference and will accomplish so little. We can think: The world is very large and the population very high. There are important people out there that the world needs, but is it me, of course not. Moses planned to finish his life out on the run on the backside of nowhere. God showed him the value of his days. Your days are valuable. They are very important to you, your family, friends, church, and community. Your days are powerful do not waste them. Beg God to teach you to value your days, though they be short they are powerful!
    Strip Your Calendar and Prioritize Your Time (Colossians 4:5)- Look at your daily schedule, right it down as it is, then war with the things that are not worth keeping. How do you know what is worth your time? Measure it in three dimensions to see if it has the height width and depth of value.
    The glory it brings to God- Does the thing in question bring glory to God? That is does it exercise your fatherhood, motherhood, childhood, position, or calling in such away that people are in awe of God? If you are a boss, student, employee, mom, dad, child is what you do for the benefit of gospel? Is an hour a day on social media glorifying God? If the answer is yes then keep it going and enhance it. If the answer is no remove it.
    The help it brings to man- Is what you doing with that thing at that time bringing help and hope to others? Are you spending valuable time with your wife and children? Are you working as a boss to make pay, working conditions, and training opportunities, to be the best they can be? Are you showing people through the use of your time the grace of God? Does your time help others in anyway?
    The quality of Life it gives to you- Is what you doing with your time adding value to your life. Does it give you joy and fulfillment? Are you walking carefully with your time by allowing it to add fulfillment to your life?
     
     
     
     
  • Dec 31, 2017New: A Prelude to “A Time for War”
    Dec 31, 2017
    New: A Prelude to “A Time for War”
    New: A Prelude to "A Time for War"
    Joshua 4:18-24
     
     
    Introduction:
    Here we are at New Year’s Eve again. It is an exciting time where people have a chance to set the pace for a New Year. Many people set new goals and then make resolutions to help accomplish the goals. With that being said getting something new is generally exciting and fun, but doing something new, well that can be a whole other story. Learning a new language would be a wonderful challenge this year, but just thinking of the time, energy, and money that would cost is exhausting! Many times, the thought of what it cost to do something new stops me from ever doing it. I would like to get in tip top shape, the image in my head of a healthy muscular little man looks good, but thinking about running, sweating, high heart rates, and being short of breath is more than I can bear. Doing new things takes work, a lot of work and dedication. Today we will look at the new things that the children of Israel were facing when Moses died and Joshua became the new leader. It is my hope that this message is good prelude to our January Series “A Time for War” by laying out the foundations that makes doing new things as a believer possible.
     
    What New things were Happening in the life of Joshua?
    When we open the bible, and begin reading in Joshua chapter one we learn the Moses is dead and now Joshua has charge over a multitude of people that are on the brink of the promised land (Joshua 1:1-2). Joshua is now a new leader, and before him new challenges. Jericho’s walls and Jordan’s overflowing waters are on his desk when he starts the job. He crosses the Jordan into the promise land which is also enemy territory at this time. There he circumcises the children of Israel, again this is something new for that generation (Joshua 5:2). Finally, God is going to change how he feeds the people. The manna was to stop and the people were going to take responsibility to feed themselves (Joshua 5:12). There was more change facing Joshua then in his life than any of us are facing today. But God had a game plan built into all these changes. He had ways that would encourage His people to make good decisions that would change their lives and bring new things to pass.
     
    E/c Can do things that glorify God in 2018
    By laying the following stones as foundation to accomplish new things
     
    I. Remember (4:21)-
    Memory is a powerful thing. It can motivate you or it can detour you. Moses had recently died, but it was not the memory of Moses’s death that God sets as a foundation to do that which is new. No God decides to take His people across the Jordan and set up a memorial of His power, grace, and justice to the living generation. He wanted them to remember Him at every turn of their journey. God decided to use stones to arouse the memory of all those present and to come. God has done much for each of us this past year and we can stack those memories up to remind us of God. It is not any old stone that will do, just like there is not just any old memory that will do. God has specifics when it comes to things He wants us to cling to. Not every stone, not every memory will help new things happen.
    The Place of the Stones (4:3)- God wanted the stones collected from “where the priest’s feet stood firm”. God wants us to go to the place where faith conquered fear and did not waiver. Our memories that push us forward are to come from the place where faith stood firm. It may not be where or feet stood, but it needs to be where someone’s feet did! Collect stones and memories from the victories of faith.
    The people of the Stones (4:6)-12 men were selected to get the stones. The stones mattered to the generation present and the ones to come. Natural curiosity would cause the next generations to ask “what do you mean by these stones”. Our children and grandchildren need to be evoked to serve and worship God by what we pull out of our present. There is noting more motivational to me than to see and hear from the more seasoned believers how God wrought wonderful things in their life. It reminds me God can do it for me as well.
    Illustration: I recently read about the last days of William Tyndale. William suffered unto death for translating the bible into English. His faith and work created a new thing that earned him death. Reading the last letter William wrote gave me strength and encouragement in the ministry. The letter was not long and complex, but it was real and carried with it the spirit of a warrior for Christ. The “stone” he left was his letter and martyrdom. It is such memorials that give me courage to continue in service to Christ and the desire to do more.
    Application: What are you remembering today about God that pushes you forward, what are you leaving today to push others forward in the future?
     
    II. Recalibrate (5:2)-
    Joshua led his people across the Jordan with collected stones to commemorate the event. Once settled on the other side of the Jordan the people were commanded to be circumcised. Their faith and commitment would have to be adjusted to a higher level. They had just witnessed the power and care of God toward them and now they would be commanded to give flesh off their body in keeping the commands of God. Their faith was called to an Abrahamic faith (Genesis 17:10-12). It was no small request to ask that all the men be circumcised. Once in the history of Israel a whole group of people died when the fighting men of the city were circumcised. Joshua would know the story very well because it was his ancestors that did the massacre (Genesis 34:18-29). What God asked seemed very untimely, but it is never timely to serve God. Serving God always cost and it cost dear. When transitions are happening and new things are to be accomplish be prepared to be obedient to God on a higher level. Christian new year’s resolutions should be more than diets and work outs. It should begin with a desire and then design to grow in Christ and serve God to a higher degree. Doing new things for God is possible when our faith is adjusted to a higher temperature.
     
    Illustration: Zell Kravinsky knew he wasn’t cut out for the wealthy way of living. Sure, he had made millions investing in real estate in his native Pennsylvania, but Kravinsky decided his dollars had a grander purpose than just fattening his bank account. In 2001, he began donating money and land to various charities until his contributions reached $45 million dollars. By then, his family and friends thought that he was being too impulsive, but Kravinsky brushed their reservations aside and said that he could always earn more money—though he’d likely give it away as well.
    However, Kravinsky still felt that donating money and land wasn’t enough. He decided up the ante and gave his kidney to a total stranger. His move was met with mixed views, ranging from praise to disbelief. Even his wife threatened to leave him, although that was later defused thanks to famous singer Pat Boone, who knew what Kravinsky did and urged her to forgive him for being too generous. As for Kravinsky, he said that he would readily give any of his body parts again for any who need who needed it.
    We should continually adjust our faith toward God until we will give anything for Him. This is love without limits.
     
    Application: What has God ask of you to adjust your level of faith?
     
    III. React (Joshua 6)-
    Joshua 6 is about the fall of Jericho. The people watched the wall fall only after the obeyed the Lord. The people under Joshua’s command showed their reaction to who God is and what He says makes the impossible possible. The stones lay in another place to remind them that God can do the impossible, their circumcision proved they were committed, and their marching showed that it was not all for naught.
    What were the people reacting to?
    The people were reacting to God’s desire for them. God’s people had wanted to return to Egypt. That was their desire. They wanted to be continually fed with manna and not have to worry about crops and harvest and the such. Their own desires were carnal and deadly. But when the people reacted to God’s desire for them the walls of a great city fail before their feet with a few days march. As a father, mother, employ, or boss whose desires are you reacting to?
    It is now time to react to God’s desire toward you. He desires that you love Him with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.
    Application: Will you react to God’s desire for you in 2018?
  • Dec 27, 2017An Unselfish Spirit
    Dec 27, 2017
    An Unselfish Spirit
     
    An Unselfish Spirit
    James 1:22-27
     
    Every Christian can have an unselfish spirit by applying the following three actions.
    I. See What God Sees

    The disciples saw a hungry crowd, but Jesus saw sheep not having a shepherd.
    The disciples saw a storm, but Jesus saw a lesson.
    The Pharisees saw a sinful woman as a pawn in their game, but Jesus saw a candidate for forgiveness.
    Saul saw a little boy who needed lots of armor, but God saw an able warrior!
     
    a. By being honest with yourself
    James 1:22-27; 1 Samuel 16:7; Galatians 6:7
    Your sin may not bother you, but it bothers God.
     
    b. By being compassionate with others
    Mark 6:34

    The priest and the Levite saw the man on the side of the road, but didn’t SEE him.
     
    II. Go Where God Goes

    God goes to the blind, thirsty, hungry, hurting, lonely, and lost.
     
    a. By emptying
    Philippians 2:4-8; 2 Corinthians 8:9
     
    b. By entering
    John 18:4

    To visit, in their afflictions.
     
    III. Do What God Does
    James 1:22
     
    a. By bringing relief
     
    b. By bringing reconciliation
    2 Corinthians 5:17-18
     
  • Dec 24, 2017Christmas @ Bethany: Beholding Christ at Christmas
    Dec 24, 2017
    Christmas @ Bethany: Beholding Christ at Christmas
    Beholding Who Mary Held
    Hebrews 1:3
    Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
    Luke 2:7
    And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
    Today is Christmas Eve and I will spend the morning and afternoon hours with my church family. Tomorrow like most of you I will be with my immediate family. Last night I was with my extended family. I am truly blessed to be wrapped up with each of you. God has been very good to me by allowing me to be packaged together, by His grace, with so many that love God and my family. My Christmas experience is great, because it flows from the God of greatness. All of my enjoyment this time of the year is because Jesus was born and still lives till this day. All the blessings I receive overflow from the Son of God. Christmas is wonderful! The next couple days will be packed with excitement. A trip to grandma’s house, a cooked ham, presents, movies, sleeping, and any other good thing seems to happen near and at Christmas. It is for this cause that I come to you today.
     
    These good things can become sour if they snatch our attention from Jesus. Evil is simply good perverted and each of us, especially me, can make good things bad by prizing them in their wrong place. These things can also be sanctified if they are sanctified by our affections on Christ and not things of this world (Colossians 3:2). The message that is in my heart is to remind and teach church that Jesus is supreme and is to be most prized at all times. It is because other things fight for our devotion that we must preach today. It is also because we are weak and are easily misaligned in our affections that I preach today. It is my hope that through the text we have read that we can behold this morning what Mary beheld when she gave birth to Christ in order to set our affections right for the day and events to come. When we behold with earnestness what Mary held the day she gave birth to Jesus we can find true joy in Christ. During this message we will ask and answer “What did Mary see when she Beheld Jesus”?
    I. Mary Beheld the Brightness of the Glory of God
    (Hebrews 1:3a)
    When Mary gave birth to Jesus she saw what most all men in the world desire to gaze upon. She saw the God of heaven robed in flesh. She saw the splendid glory of holiness. The Washington Post on Dec 23rd 2012 posted an article that stated 84% of everyone in the world believed in a god or gods. 33% of those are consider Christians, and 33% of that is consider protestant. 90% of the world worship god/gods differently than we do. People want to see beauty, holiness, and power beyond this world so they seek God in their own way. People have sought for God since the fall of man. Monuments and temples are scattered about the globe in worship to some god. Their minds are darkened by sin and their view of god perverted to the root, yet men seek after God to their own demise. Mary saw what countless others desired. According to Scripture God elected to reveal Himself to fallen people, so He selected Abraham and his descendants from the people of the earth to reveal Himself to. God used visions, dreams, and people to teach fallen man Himself.
     
    Abraham’s descendants were delivered many times by the outstretch hand of God from enemies and their own devices, given a law, land, tabernacle, and temple. All of this was not enough to save the soul. The Nation of Israel fell to show other nations the glory of God and they fell in obedience to God. God’s glory was not recognizable to Israel and the world because the nation of Israel and all men are sinful. Then came Jesus brought into this world and watched over by Mary and Joseph. A Human that is all God brought the exact glory of God to the world. The glory of God that men desired would be delivered to them by Jesus Even when the throne of the nation was occupied by a fraud (Herod), bloodlines watered down, and traditions of true worship eroded Jesus still came into the world as the Seed of David who was the Seed of Abraham who was the Seed of Adam who was the son of God! When you behold the coming of Jesus into the world you behold the brightness of the glory of God.
     
    a. Why do when desire God- People know the world is dark and full of evil. 84% of the world agrees there is something greater out there than what we see. People want God because they want what is bright and attractive. If you are seeking for God seek no further that Jesus Christ for all that come to God through Him are forgiven and accepted before God.
     
    II. Mary Beheld the Person of God
    (Hebrews 1:3)
    When Tara gave birth to each of our 4 sons it never ceased to amaze me how she gazed at them after delivery. She was exhausted yet full of life as she looked into the faces of our children. In that moment, although in a room full of people, her child had her full affection. Her carrying and laboring to bring them into the world connected her to them in the tightest fashion. What we gaze or stare at and into has our affection.
    a. Mary labored to bring Jesus into the world as any mother- Joseph more than likely delivered Jesus with his wife. They together saw the person of God, held the person of God, and cared for the Person of God. How could Mary and Joseph long for anyone or anything than God when they were holding Him in their arms?
    b. Hope in God Causes All other desires to find their place- Mary waited with expectation to give birth to Jesus. When she went into labor she hoped in and hoped for the Son of God to be born. When our hope and expectation is in Jesus alone we can combat the things that want to battle for our affections. When we combat the things that battle for our affections we find our joy filled in Jesus.
    c. Laboring for God places Emphasis on God (Luke 2:7a)- Mary was a willing participant in the birth of Jesus. God did not give His Son to someone who did not want Him. The circumstances were labor intensive, but Mary embraced it fully and gave birth to Jesus. When all our effort and energy is placed in laboring for God things have a hard time detouring us from our joy in Christ.
    Application: What are you beholding today?
     
    III. Mary Beheld the Atonement and Resurrection
    (Hebrews 1:3c)
    Mary did the best she could for Jesus. Her circumstance limited her in some ways, but her quality of love and care for Jesus was the highest that could be found. She wrapped Jesus in strips on clothing and placed Him in a manger. When she looked at her Baby in the manger she saw the atonement for the Church of God. She would raise Him up and watch Him bleed for the sins of the World. If Jesus was not atonement then the celebration of His birth would not be great. His birth is great because His mission of atonement was great!
     
    She not only saw heartache in the atonement, she saw joy in resurrection. He purged sins with His atoning death, and sits with God the Father in the resurrection. Today millions upon millions of people are celebrating Christmas for one reason or another. Sadly, many will celebrate the day with other affections ruling their lives. Is it food, presents, family, or traditions that you look forward to the most? Have these good things become evil because they take your affection away from Jesus? Are these things great things because Jesus has your affection?
    When mother’s give birth and look at their child they are looking at doctors, lawyers, pastors, engineers, business owners, soldiers, inventors, teachers, mothers, and fathers. When I first hailed Nehemiah 18 months ago I held whatever he is to be. Mary held Jesus on the day of His birth and therefore held the Lamb and the Lion!
    This morning I challenge you to “look unto Jesus” and see “Jesus only” (Hebrews 12:2 and Mark 9:8)
  • Dec 17, 2017Christmas @ Bethany: Rachel’s Tears
    Dec 17, 2017
    Christmas @ Bethany: Rachel’s Tears

    Matthew 2:18

    “The Tears of Rachel “ (Sobering Truths for God’s Glory at Christmas)

    Christmas joy, singing, and miracles, are reminders that joy can exist and overcome the most difficult of circumstances. Jesus was born as Joy into a world of sorrow. It was not the world was doing splendid when Jesus was born. No, the world was full of sin and all the vices and troubles that follow. Christmas (the birth of Christ) is not joy upon joy, but Joy injected into sorrow. They exist side by side until the full joy of our complete glorification emerges. Christmas is real and the emotions of the time are real. Jesus entered a sin cursed world. A world of hate, thirst for power, murder, division, greed, sickness, and death. Jesus would experience the full sting and might of sin in His life. Isaiah told of a virgin who would conceive and give birth to a Son. This Son would be called the Prince of peace, Emmanuel, Counselor, and Mighty God. Isaiah also described Him as smitten before God and a Man of Sorrows. Christmas is a reminder that the world has been invaded by the dark damnation of sin, that God loves sinful people, and a suffering Savior is needed for man to come to a Holy God.
     
    “I celebrate Christmas” carries with it the implications that:
    • God is real and Just
    • Sin is real and the full wrath of God falls on sinners
    • All people are guilty of sin and deserve the wrath of God
    • Jesus’s birth is joyous because He came to stand in our place of God’s wrath on the cross and bear our punishment, while at the same time giving us His righteousness so we can be accepted by God who is the supreme Joy of all things.
    • A relationship with God is the most prized possession over all things in heaven or earth.
    When we celebrate Christmas we also embrace sorrow. We agree that it is vividly real. We fear before God, and He ministers to us in a unique way. Sorrow can teach lessons that man cannot achieve over many life times. Here is what we learn from scripture concerning sorrow.
     
    The Sorrows and Horror of Christmas are Real
    It sounds morbid to say that real infants and toddlers were murdered, mothers wept till exhaustion overcame them, screams of distress were heard through the region, pain cut to the deepest regions of the soul, fear shook families to the core. Sadly, the reality of this world is morbid. The sorrows and horror of this world are consequences of sin, which is esteeming anything greater than God. Rebellion against God to any degree is fire, though it be a spark it is still fire. Sin is what caused weeping and screaming to echo through the town streets in our text. Sin is the root of hatred, murder, sickness, death, and all other terrors of this life. Sin is so dreadful, powerful, and an offensive to God that no known power in all creation could uproot it, except for the suffering death of the Eternal Son of God.
     
    What has sin wrought (Romans 3:23)- The payment, the result, the consequence of sin is death. Death comes in many shapes and forms. The first death in scripture was caused by murder. Cain killed his brother Able. Their parents, Adam and Eve, were no doubt hurt deeply because they lost two sons that day. Scripture is not silent concerning the payment of sin. Sin separates man from God and then man slowly dies until he awakens to eternal death that does not die. Job said that people were born to live short days filled with troubles, and as sure as a spark fly upward men are born into trouble (Job 14:1, Job 5:7). James 4:14 tells us that our lives are very short lived. Sin has brought sorrow and horror to this world it guarantees nothing but a short life of pleasure and after that the judgement (Hebrews 11:25, Hebrews 9:27).
     
    What hath God Wrought (Matthew 4:16)- While sin has captured and locked man in a dungeon of torment, God has done a marvelous work that frees man from chains of damnation. Jesus came into a dark world as a great light. The darkness tried to settle itself. Herod was on the throne as the imposter king. He was a murderer and was going to murder. When Jesus was born dawn had arrived and the settled darkness began to be driven away. The dawn of salvation was upon man and darkness was uprooted. This is what God has wrought, Great Joy in our sorrow!
     
    Application: Does your heart yearn to worship in your sorrow?
     
    You do not Weep alone
    Jesus is sinless, but He was born into a sin filled world, among sin filled people, we can conclude that Christmas is not sinless, which means it is not void of sorrow and horror. The weeping in Matthew 2 is the weeping of families who experienced the results of sin (James 1:15). These people were not alone in their weeping and pain. Consider other believers who understand your weeping and weep with you and be comforted and encouraged.
     
    Rachel- Rachel is the person in our text that is said to be weeping. She is known as the lovely, bright bride, of Jacob. Jacob worked 14 years to pay her father Laban for her. Jacob underwent many hardships to obtain Rachel and all her beauty. We can see from the narrative in Genesis about Jacob and Rachel gospel shadows. Jacob labored and suffered wrong for his bride and Jesus would suffer for His bride the Church. Rachel’s beauty did not keep her from sorrow. Genesis 35:16-21 gives record of Rachel's final moments. Her last words “Benoni” which means son of my sorrows, then she died. Rachel knew and understood pain and sorrow in a circumstance that was also full of joy. The prophet Jeremiah uses Rachel as a symbol of sorrow when the nation of Israel lost people to death and captivity. Matthew uses the birth of Christ to “fill up” the meaning behind Rachel’s life. Her children were always in trouble so she wept and could not find comfort. God’s children are always in trouble in this world, and our tears should fall as we mourn tragedy and sin, while at the same time clinging to the promise that those that mourn shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4)
     
    David- David was anointed King of God’s people at a young age. I am sure it was a joy and extremely exciting to be given such an honor at a tender age. Along with David’s anointing came the hatred of Saul, the reigning king. David spent years of his life hiding because of his anointing. David’s years on the run equaled tears. He wrote heartfelt songs of pain and agony. Consider Psalm 6:6 “I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.” David was a weeping worshiper. He wept over enemies, loneliness, and his own sin. You may weep, but you weep with mothers and kings! Christmas is a reminder of tears shared among all Christians.
     
    Nehemiah- Nehemiah was a man’s man. He was a mix of a president, general, preacher, and builder. Nehemiah new how to get the job finished no matter the obstacles that faced him. I usually do not feel like I am any of those things, but I have something in common with Nehemiah, tears for God’s people (Nehemiah 1:4). At Christmas I share one thing in common with all believer’s tears of joy, sorrow, and concern. Tears are the commonality among all believers. Gifts, tradition, and location separate us, but tears bind us together.
     
    Paul- Paul’s ministry was unique. A Genius in his own right. He was a focused and fearless leader. Yet he wept (Acts 20:31). Christmas would not be reality without tears. Tears are part of our lineage and they are powerful in the economy of God.
     
    Jesus- John 11:35, Luke 19:41 confirms that Jesus was a man of tears. He wept in full compassion and love for others. He had feelings of the fullest sort. They were not numb by sin, but were in full force for others. When sorrow feels your heart, remember you do not weep alone. Joy’s existence does not mean that sorrow is extinct. Rather joy and sorrow coexist for the glory of God.
     
    Application: Will your joy and sorrow work together to glorify God?
     
    Sorrow will be blessed and Turned to Eternal Comfort and Joy (Psalm 30:5, Matthew 5:4, John 16:20, 2nd Corinthians 4:17)
    Sorrow can be so deep and so painful that is seems to be permanent, but it is simply a seed that when it is fully grown is eternal glory. Mary’s son lived and the other mothers suffered great lost, but because Jesus lived the sin that killed their children itself died. Jesus lived to die and in His death, death died. Death was swallowed up in victory.
     
    Consider these things as you await your sorrow’s transformation to joy:
     
    The pain you feel as a Christian is real- If you sorrow over sin, the lost state of a loved one, a personal failure, death, sickness, or circumstances it is real. Sorrow is important to God. Godly sorrow leads each of us to repentance (2nd Corinthians 7:10). It leads us to warn others, and to building healthy walls. I have found that real pain leads to real results.
     
    The pain you feel as a Christian is temporary- God shall wipe away all tears from the eyes of His people (Revelation 21:4). Tears will be wiped away never to return, because the former things that brought pain and affliction mainly sin and Satan are completely done away with. When pain is great remind yourself of the greater promises of God.
     
    Christ pain captured your pain and releases your Joy- Jesus knowing that He would please His Father and free people from the root cause of all sorrow was His joy through His life (Hebrews 12:2). God the Father found pleasure in the suffering and death of His Son, for it satisfied His wrath and revealed His unity and love within the Godhead (Isaiah 53:10). Jesus did not come to live an easy life and tell us all the wrongs we have committed. He came to pay for all the wrongs we have committed! He came to suffer for sin in the flesh that He might condemn and destroy sin in the flesh (Romans 8:3; 2nd Corinthians 5:21). Christ died for the glory of God and sake of man. Judgement has passed from us and soon the words will be spoken “enter into the joy of your Lord” (Matthew 25:23)
     
    Application: Will you trust in the work of Christ for your joy?
  • Dec 10, 2017Christmas @ Bethany: The Taxing Season of Christmas
    Dec 10, 2017
    Christmas @ Bethany: The Taxing Season of Christmas
    The Taxing Season of Christmas
     
    How would you like to go with me to Columbia the rest of the month of December, camp out in a barn, waiting to pay our taxes, let’s carry a pregnant lady about to give birth, and just to make it interesting let’s walk down some unpaved roads all the way there! How many of us would sign up for that? Talk about a merry Christmas. What the parents of Jesus experienced the day of His birth was not ideal. That first Christmas was great, but it was extremely taxing. Luke 2 opens with it being tax season. This meant a good journey for Mary and Joseph awaited them. Nazareth to Bethlehem could take up to 10 days. The first Christmas season was taxing financially and physically. This Christmas season can produce a taxing time for believers. Now I cannot relate with what Mary and Joseph went thorough, but I can learn from them and others that experienced Jesus with them.
     
    I. Do What is Right
    (Luke 2:1-4)
    - Life is not an excuse to do wrong. Joseph and Mary were in a fix. Young Mary, heavy with her first pregnancy, Joseph with the stress of business of life, and a week or more trip of travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Worse yet the government that ruled over them were oppressive. If I were staring this obstacle in the face getting out of it would be a priority. I have traveled a distance with a pregnant lady in a comfortable vehicle and that was no walk in the park, and she would say worse about having to deal with me! For some the circumstances of pregnancy would be reason enough to break the law, for others giving money to a government that supported everything you didn’t believe in would generate a noble excuse, and for others just not wanting anyone to command you to travel so far to register for something you didn’t want in the first place would lure you to law breaking. None of these things moved Mary or Joseph. Doing what was right was at the top of the list for them. Doing right can be very taxing, but do it regardless, knowing that there is the truth of “all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2nd Timothy 3:12).
     
    Do Right Concerning the command of God (3rd John 1:11)- John says that believers in Jesus should not imitate or follow anything that is evil. Paul tells us to avoid all appearances of evil. Good is not the mere subtraction of evil, but also the exercise of that which is good. Good is what is God approved. We know what is God approved from His Word and Spirit. Mary and Joseph are great example of avoiding evil and doing right when circumstances made it inconvenient to do. When you do right when times are taxing it truly proves your love for God. Mary and Joseph loved the Lord God with all their hearts!
     
    Do Right Concerning government (Romans 13:1, 1st Peter 2:13-17)- The church over the years has lived under governments that were unkind and unchristian, and while these institutions may have not aided the church in the mission of Christ, the Church often aided them by being obedient citizens. There are often difficulties for many Christians when it comes to politics, but for Mary and Joseph it was simple at this time. It would become more complex when they had to flee to another land because of the oppressive government they lived under. The solution that Mary and Joseph had to their governmental problem was simply to obey. They went to be registered and taxed. Their taxes paid for good things that were needed and funded things that were ungodly and abusive. Jesus taught us to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” once they turned money over to Rome it was Rome’s business. As hard and taxing as it was to do, Mary and Joseph did what was right by the government over them. Jesus was the greatest example of living righteously under an oppressive government and leadership. The mission of the church is not to overthrow the governments over us, but to teach that Christ will rule the nations and invite nations to worship Him.
     
    Do Right knowing it’s a light (Matthew 5:16)- Today Mary and Joseph are still lights to the church. The hardships that they encounter and overcame on the very first Christmas season still inspire hope in those who pay attention to the birth of Christ. Doing right produces radiant beams of hope that travels past our short lived lives.
     
    Application: What do you need to do that is right this Christmas Season?
     
    II. When it appears you don’t have anybody there is always somebody
    (Luke 2:5, Luke 1:40, Luke 2:16, Matthew 2:11)
    - Loneliness is taxing., and the Christmas season can be very lonely. Mary understood loneliness, but she did not succumb to loneliness. Here is how Mary lived in and through a happy but difficult time.
     
    She sought another Believer- There was no waiting on someone to come along and understand, instead there was hot pursuit of someone else she knew God had touched. Pursuing others does make you vulnerable. What if they turn you away, reject, or mock you? This is why you cannot just seek out any person. The person you reach out to must know God and walk with Him. This Christmas go out and seek other believers to share life with. Refuse to do loneliness alone! When Mary found out she was pregnant with Jesus it placed her in an awkward social situation. Joseph planned to divorce her, but there was Elizabeth who would understand, and Mary and Elizabeth would sing together.
     
    Trust in God’s Promise- Mary would give birth to Jesus. Joseph may not understand at first, but God will handle what she could not. God will also handle what you cannot handle. Trust in His plan and lean not into your own understanding.
     
    Mediate on God sent people (Luke 2:19)- The Shepherds came when Jesus was born. They were informed about the new born King by an angel and a multitude of heavenly creatures. Needless to say there arrival was a “God thing”. They came to worship and adore the young couples baby. There is nothing that parents like more than people who really adore their children. Mary did not forget these men and their reaction to her Son. When God sends people your way, do not blow them off, but ponder in your heart the purpose and meaning behind their arrival. God always has somebody when there seems to be nobody! When Mary and Joseph found themselves alone in a stable giving birth to their first Son, shepherds show up to worship God and were in awe of their position.
     
    Accept Good Gifts- Our level of humility can be measured by how we receive good gifts from others. Mary and Joseph were honored by a caravan of foreigners bringing good gifts to them. Receive gifts happily and humbly knowing that God will soon but those gifts to good use for His glory and your sake. When time past wise men brought glorious gifts to show their gratitude to God for the birth of His Son.
     
    Application: Will you be the somebody for the person that has nobody?
     
    III. The Season Will End, but the Story Will Continue
    (Luke 2:39-40)
    - I remembering growing up watching the Wonder Years, Full House, Family Matters, boy meets world, and Seinfeld. I remember watching the finales of these shows and feeling a bit empty and curious. I wanted to know what happened after Seinfeld and the gang were locked up in prison. I wanted to follow the cast beyond their season, but if we could truly follow all of our favorite shows past their season we would really only find death. The story would end sooner or later, but in Christ the story goes on even when seasons have ended. The birth of Christ quickly moved to the 12th year of Christ, and then He is with John the Baptist in His late 20’s or Early 30’s. Then He is leading a group of men, His fame catches on, stalls, He is betrayed, and crucified. The curtain seems to close, but resurrection burst forth and Jesus lives, and because He lives we live as well. If your Christmas season is a hard one, remember it does not last forever. If your Christmas season is a delight remember it does not last forever and enjoy it completely. The taxing times of life have a great purpose that will be in full bloom come eternity.
     
    Application: What will you do with the lessons from Mary and Joseph
     
     
  • Dec 3, 2017Christmas @ Bethany: All Wrapped Up
    Dec 3, 2017
    Christmas @ Bethany: All Wrapped Up
    John 1:6-9
    Tools, John the Baptist, and Christmas

    Presents are fun to buy for others, but let us not forget that we really like to receive presents as well. It is better to give than to receive, but to add “it’s not good to receive” would be incorrect. It is good to receive, and I do like to receive. Have you ever come down for Christmas and saw a big wrapped box? Have you ever waited patiently to open that big gift, because you wanted to exercise Christmas restraint? Along the way to opening the big box you open some little boxes. You get a flashlight, a shirt, some socks, and a tool set. Those gifts are great, but now it is time to open the big one. You begin to rip through the colorful paper that has separated you from you hearts desire and when the dust settles there stands a large box with a beautiful picture of the grill you always wanted. It then dawns on you that the flashlight and tool set have a lot to do with the big gift. You will need the tools to assemble the gift if you are going to receive it fully and you will be working through the night so the flashlight will come in handy. Now I know you are wondering what this has to do with John the Baptist, Jesus and the Christmas message. Jesus is the big gift and John is the little gifts. John is not a bigger gift than Jesus, but he is a required gift. God planned that His Son would have a “tool” set to put together His arrival and John was this tool set. John’s primary purpose was to bear witness to the coming of God’s Son. His witness of Jesus brings many men to salvation. The same is true for each of us. We are given as a gift to others that our witness may be useful in bringing other to know Jesus.
     
    John’s promised coming
    The Old Testament foretells of John’s coming (Isaiah 40:3) and the New Testament records the filling (John 1:23). John’s birth, response to Jesus, naming, and celebration are recorded in Luke’s first Chapter. Every gospel account places John in it. He was a great man that came to us through a great birth, worked in a great ministry, attracted great multitudes, died a great death, and received great esteem from the Greatest of Men. John is one of our many Christmas gifts from God. Today I am going to proclaim that you, as a Christian called and chosen of God, are a special gift to many people as well. John was unwrapped (revealed) to his parents, the people in the temple, and then to the world. His whole ministry was to go and prepare a people for the Lord. We are called to do the same. Christmas time is the perfect time to give others the gift of you.
     
    How can you give yourself as a gift?

    Take time and pray for others
    Search out opportunities to give charitably
    Seek opportunities to serve
    Be a bright light of joy and hope where you go
    Visit someone that is lonely
    Look for moments to share your faith

    Since you have so much to offer and so many opportunities to offer what you have the list could go on. Do not hide the wonderful gift you are to the world. Imagine if God withheld His elected messenger from the world.

    Dangers and delight
    For Christians I believe it is easy to get stuck in one of two places. First, it is easy to get the “I’m nothing but an old sinner” mindset to the point that little is done in the power of God’s proclamation of who you really are. Second, there is the danger of being prideful. Both attitudes are abundantly present in the Christian church. There is a third option and it’s not the middle ground between “guilt and pride”. This third option is the higher option and it is simply delighting in what God has said about you. It’s not just knowing what God has said about you and acting it out. It is delighting in God, knowing what He says about you, and doing, out of delight, His commands. This Christmas “delight” in God and sharing such delight with others.

    What makes us special gifts?
    Luke 1:11-17
    The whole idea today is to prove that you are a special gift and to do something about it. I believe once you know that you are a gift, know why you are a gift, and then you will go to others as a gift.
     
    Our Purpose that Comes from God (Luke 1:11-17)
    The worst kind of gift is a useless one. My guess is you have gotten one of these gifts. There are always those who are excited to give useless gifts. They think it funny or exactly what you need and that makes the gift all the worse. It is a nice gesture to get a gift, but when the gift is useless we smile and put it in the “re-gift” pile. When you have “one” already the gift is useless. When you have a fear of dolls and clowns and you get a ceramic clown, it’s useless. When you are given make up that isn’t your color or clothes 3 sizes too big or small, they are useless. That is not to say you are not happy that someone attempted to get something you like, but appreciative doesn’t mean useful. Christians are useful gifts with divine purpose. You are exactly what others need. You were born once with a purpose to be born again with an order to show the expression of God’s love. Here is what the Angel Gabriel said about John and how it applies to you:

    He will give joy and gladness- (14) Our good works and attitudes will do the same
    His Separation will reflect the Spirit that fills him (15)- The things we do or do not do reflect the third Person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit. This makes Christians a rare and wonderful gift.
    He will cause people to know God (16)- Our primary purpose is to worship God, from this flows our purpose, to bring people to know the God we worship. This is called missions in the church.
    His life set wrongs right (17)- Our worship and works causes brokenness in homes and society to be made right. There are results that happen when we give ourselves as gifts that we may never see here on the earth. We simply need to trust that God’s word will do its job.
    Saying you have purpose may sound redundant, but it is truth. Accept your purpose and act in your purpose so you can enjoy your purpose this Christmas.
     
    Ask yourself: Are you celebrating, living in, and sharing the Purpose God has giving you?

    Our Pleasure that Comes from Jesus (Luke 1:39-44)
    Every Christmas Tara and I buy toys for our children. They unwrap them, put batteries in them, and then slowly or quickly destroy them! The pleasure in our bought gifts is short lived. Scripture says pleasure in sin is short lived. All of our pleasures are short lived, but our pleasure in Jesus is eternal. John found pleasure in Jesus before his birth and in his death. His life long pleasure was found in preparing the way for Jesus. Here are instances where John’s pleasure caused him joy, motivated him, sustained him, and made him a gift to the world

    Before His Birth (Luke 1:41)- The Holy spirit in a person will always cause joy in that person when Jesus is brought up.
    In His preaching (Matthew 3:1-2)- John’s preaching of repentance was fueled by His joy and pleasure in the Lord.
    In His proclamation of Jesus (John 1:29)- John waited and watched with patience until the day Jesus showed up at one of his messages. Then he proclaimed “Behold the Lamb of God!”
    In His baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:14)- John stood in awe of Jesus and found pleasure in humbling himself before the Son of God. Although John was asked to do great things he never allowed pride to take place of his pleasure in Jesus.
    In the growth of Jesus’ following (John 3:29-30)- John rejoiced when people knew who Jesus was. He did not come to build his kingdom and found joy in Jesus.
    While in Prison (Matthew 11:3)- While in prison the only thing that would satisfy John was being reminded of who is. Jesus being Jesus made John’s stay in prison manageable.

    The pleasure that began before birth lasted a lifetime and left an example to all of us that there is no greater pleasure than the pleasure that we have in Jesus. Jesus called John “much more than a prophet” and “none born greater than John”. When our pleasure comes from Jesus we give a gift to others that is unique and useful.
     
    Ask yourself: Have others experienced the joy you have in Jesus?

    Our Power Comes from the Spirit (Luke 1:15)
    How did John live a holy life separate from sin, separated from God, and turn many to God? How is one man supposed to accomplish so much with so little? The answer is the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit that empowered John to be a great gift and accomplish great things is the same Spirit that has been given to each believer (Romans 5:5). We now operate in the power of the Spirit displaying the Fruit of the Spirit. What does the power of God produce that is a gift to others in us? Galatians 5:22-23
     
    Love
    Joy
    Peace
    Longsuffering
    Gentleness
    Goodness
    Meekness
    Faith
    Temperance

    We have every reason to make much of Jesus. The world needs the Fruit of the Spirit that is in the church. Such fruit can convert the soul and alter the social course of an area. If you want to change the social morality in your area, start by giving yourself as a gift. You can change the way people view and treat each other. You can affect how people go about their lives for the glory of God, but it does not begin in a march or demonstration. Such change beings in the giving of Christians to the world. Be the light, be the salt, affect the world!
    These good gifts are in us and need to be shared with others; if they are not shared then they are not what they are. This Christmas unleash the power of the Spirit of God that has been given to you.

    Who to Give Yourself to?

    My first inclination is everyone, but my spiritual inclination tells me to warn you not to cast your pearls before swine. Be prayerful and cautious but willing to give yourself to everyone. God has not given us the Spirit of fear but of a sound mind! Go forth and spread Christmas cheer for the glory of God and sake of man. Who are you giving yourself to this Christmas season?
  • Nov 26, 2017Christmas @ Bethany: Getting the Most at Christmas
    Nov 26, 2017
    Christmas @ Bethany: Getting the Most at Christmas
    Getting the most at Christmas

    Isaiah 7:13-14
    Matthew 1:18-25
     
    More to Christmas
    I love Christmas. It is a great time of the year to hang out with friends and family while making much of Jesus. I do like the things we do that brings friends and family together like decorating, eating, watching our favorite Christmas movies, shopping, going to see lights, and attending parties. All those things are so much fun! Yet if I ask if you celebrate Christmas or believe in Christmas I am not asking if you celebrate or believe in those things. I am asking do you celebrate Jesus Christ as Lord. If I told an unbeliever that those things are the elementary things of the season it would seem inappropriate and unbelievable. Unaccepted or accepted the truth is there is so much more to the Christmas season than what is nominally observed. There is so much eternal truth to receive and rejoice in. It is such a wonderful time for the church to find reason to assemble and not disassemble. When it comes to Jesus there is always more to stand in awe of, more to reverence, and more to celebrate. I pray that you will join me weekly during the month of December to get the most out of Christmas this year!
     
    God is not Weary in Pursuit of Man
    Isaiah 7:13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?
     
    One great truth to celebrate at Christmas is that God is not tired of pursuing people and God is not tired of You. At the time of Isaiah, king Ahaz had made the patience of stronger nations thin against the nation of Israel and although all the sins of Israel and their royal court deserved God to punish them, God decided to pursue them even further. Isaiah was saying “your attitude and actions can cause weaker kings to react without compassion, but the eternal King will still do as He pleases with you.” The sin of man does not dictate, nor does it manipulate the wisdom and power of God. God does what He wants and there is frankly nothing you can do about it. That means as hard as you may try to out run or out last God you cannot escape Him! You have not wearied Him, and He is not tired of you! All this is great news. Our sin, although great, did not stop God from choosing sinful people to be redeemed and placed in His family.
     
    The God who gets Very close
    Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel
    Wait there is more. What does God do instead of withdrawing from Israel and the nations of the earth? He comes close to them in a very real way. God elects to come to them. Not through a representative. God sends a Word, an angel, signs, and prophets, and now He gets even closer by sending Himself! Immanuel is “GOD WITH US”. Not God above us, below us, or around us, but “with us”! Now before we get so happy in this truth let’s answer a few questions that may come to your mind, so they will not put a damper on our party.

    How would the Creator get close to the Creature?
    First, I need to point out that God the Father wanted to get close to His creation because He has always been a loving relational God. Jesus said in John 17:24 “thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world”. God the Father is a loving and relational God. Before He created anything, He had a relationship and loved eternally in that relationship and had fellowship in that relationship. God is not God because He created. He is God because He is! The relationship between God the Father and God the Son is complete and lacks nothing. We are not the key to God’s fulfillment and happiness, but we are His choice to love, not out of some animal like natural compulsion, but from free will He loves us. God then freely chooses to come to us as we are to be as we are, so we can be as He is! He gets close to us by being born as we are through a virgin womb. There was no avenue for man to “be with God” so God came to “be with us”!
     
    How do we know that the Word “virgin” means “virgin” and not young woman?
    It would not be much of a “God given sign” if a young woman had a baby by natural means. Young women get pregnant every day, truly virgin women do not give birth to a baby. Matthew verifies Mary was a Virgin and there is zero evidence to doubt his testimony. There is no reason to believe Mary was not a Virgin and reason to believe she was a virgin.
    Could Joseph had been the true father of Jesus.
    No. Such teaching undermines teaching of scripture and wrongfully destroys Jesus’s Sonship and therefore attacks God’s Fatherhood and from there the gospel is torn to pieces and there is no good news and no Christmas. God is Jesus’s Father.

    What are the implications of “God with us”?
    Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
     
    I would like to share these implications that Christmas brings with it.

    God wants to be with us- God “with us” is the opposite of what we deserve. God is full of grace and truth and we see that in Jesus Christ. His birth means that God desires you. Christmas means God desires man. God’s desire for you is seen in “the Word became flesh and dwelt (tabernacle) among us” (John 1:14). He came in such a way that His followers “Beheld His glory”. God desired man to the point that He became “the Son of Man” so that He may “seek and save those that are lost” (Luke 19:10). The birth of Jesus reveals the heart of God in a clear way. God’s choice of us is clearly seen when He became like us.
     
    God “with us” brings much to us (Isaiah 9:6 and Matthew 1:21)- Isaiah says it is “unto us a child is born, unto us a child is given”. He is born for us and brings salvation to us. Jesus has come not to observe mankind and formulate a report, He has come to bring to us Himself and with Him comes SO MUCH! He has come to set right the government by bearing it upon His shoulders. The bickering about right and wrong is swallowed up in Jesus. What He is called reflect what He is and does. He is wonderful because all that He does is mysteriously great. He is counselor in that He knows all that you need, when you need it, and He is always available. He is Mighty God and imparts strength in weakness to make our infirmities glorious. He is Everlasting Father therefore He knows how to care and give good gifts. He is Prince of Peace so in chaos you can be calm! He is with us and with Him comes all that He is.
     
    God is instead of us (Matthew 1:21)- Matthew says He shall save His people! How is the work of salvation wrought on our behalf by Jesus? Our Christ became His, our wrath His, our shame His, our rejection His, our suffering His, our sin His, and our death HIS. Instead of us it was all God! In our stead He stood bleeding and suffering. He traded to us His royalty for our poverty. Bleeding He died in our stead no greater love is known to man! God in our stead such a glorious story! God in our stead revealing His glory. God in our stead our hymns extol He carried and buried our sin and love He bestowed! What a God! What a Savior! What a gift! Thank God for Christmas.
     
     God with us for eternity (Revelation 21:3)- It is God that will be “with men” for all eternity. This planet is sin cursed and not our home, as it is. Yet it was originally our home and will become our home once again. God’s intentions are to set up His headquarters on a New, most believe, renewed earth that has been purged with a fervent heat (2nd Peter 3:10). Christmas is the gift that keeps giving us HOPE and TRUTH! God is with us, for us, in us, and is all these for eternity! Rejoice with me! Worship God with me. Sing with me!
     
    Ask yourself: Will you worship God this Christmas season? Will He be your priority?
  • Nov 19, 2017Extremely Thankful with Holy Intentions: People as God’s Gifts
    Nov 19, 2017
    Extremely Thankful with Holy Intentions: People as God’s Gifts
    Scripture: Ephesians 4:1-13
     
    Opening Thoughts
     
    The past few weeks here at Bethany I, as a pastor, have been able to truly enjoy the people of God. I have watched the word of God work in the lives of the people. There have been both small and large observations. One that is quite obvious is the giving attitude toward others. Near $4,000.000 raised for Jenna Bodiford and her family, near $2,500.00 to Honor Larry Lynch and his family with a home going service, over $250.00 to help Ms. Susan with traveling expense to go say good bye to her father in Michigan. There is also the joy of watching a large effort in a small town. Dozens of people mobilized to host a fall festival where several hundred people were blessed. Then there are the behind the scenes people that sit up for life groups, work in the office sending out letters, emailing invites to our thanksgiving tailgate, and doing many other things for the glory of God. And finally, there are the little things. The sound of fellowship in the foyer overshadowed with Wesley’s loud “welcome to Bethany” accompanied with a unique laugh. The knowledge of fellowship outside the church, the new faces that come to life groups and church, new believers, scheduled baptisms, along with shared joys, meals, concerns, and pains. It hums of holy life together. The glory in it all is breathtaking. God’s goodness is radiating through you, His people! Did you notice that the big and small things are all Giant things? Are you over joyed and extremely thankful for your God and Church? I certainly am and I want to encourage you to embrace the reality of life here at Bethany Baptist Church. I encourage attendance to worship on Sunday Mornings, evenings, and life groups on Wednesday. Life together in God’s Word and worship toward Him. I want you to cherish correctly God and His good gifts. It would be a crying shame for any of us to miss opportunities to be uniquely blessed by God What is the point in Embracing God and His Gifts:
     
    Now the question has come to my mind “why is it important to embrace God and His good gifts now”? The answer is two-fold.
     
    1) It tremendously affects your worship toward God and our worship needs to be affected greatly! How do we worship here at Bethany?
    a. We assemble together
    b. We sing together
    c. We pray together
    d. We give together
    e. We hear God’s word together
    f. We respond together
    Notice each aspect of worship begins with “we”, ends in “together”, and has an action lodged between. We then need to be affected to do all the things of worship more together! And I am very aware worship will become red hot when we become “Extremely thankful with Holy intentions”.
     
    2) It directs our intentions. It is too easy to have intentions that are not bathed in holiness and honor to God. It is normal to put on ideas of morality and forget the Holy God of worship, but when We reach an “Extreme” level of thankfulness to God much about our mission changes from the inside out. Embracing God and His good gifts gives us Holy intentions in our marriage, with our children, amongst our friends, at the work place, in school, our town, and in our finances. Every area of my life has been affected by Embracing God and His Good gifts, because my intentions have changed in every area by God!
     
    The Purpose behind the Message
     
    The message begins with its title: “Extreme Thankfulness with Holy intentions”. The purpose of such a title is to encourage each Christian to place their thankfulness in the right place for the right reasons. We have been blessed so greatly with the good gifts of God that we can lose sight on where our praise should be placed. Thanking God for the right reasons leads to a right life. This series will guide our minds toward “Extreme Thankfulness with Holy intentions” which will encourage godly living in all phases of life.
    What has God given His people that encourages Extreme Thankfulness with Holy intentions?
     
    I. Himself (Ephesians 4:5)- Extreme thankfulness with Holy intentions begins to blossom in a person’s life when they “come to God and believe that HE
    IS” (Hebrews 6:11)! God is the grand prize and provocation to be extremely thankful with holy intentions. Once we come to God we discover more about Him as we read His Word, pray, and worship with other believers. Each time we obey God we learn more about who He is.
     
    i. What motivated the Psalmists to Write, Sing, Pray, and Worship? I am currently writing devotions through the book of Psalms. Did you know it is the longest book in your bible? Did you know that it is a book of songs? Do you see why, as a pastor, I believe it important to sing? If God placed such an emphasis on song and worship shouldn’t a proclaimer of His truth do the same? That is why we place emphasis on you singing with others and not just others singing to you. What provoked the writers in the book of Psalms to write as passionately as they did? The answer is God and His revelation about Himself. Throughout the Psalms the Person of God is described as Mighty Creator, Strong Fortress, Judge, Forgiver, King, Shepherd, Warrior, Sacrifice, and Provider. The writers tap into the details of God’s strength, beauty, kindness, strictness, and creation. Belief in God equals songs to and about God resonating from the tongues of those who Believe that He IS! When God is described to people that love Him they become Extremely Thankful with Holy Intentions. How has God revealed Himself to His Church that provokes them to be Extremely Thankful with Holy intentions thus transforming their lives daily?
     
    ii. As Unified- Let us from this point forward unpacking the value of Ephesians 4:6. Paul says that there is “One God”. Paul begins to describe God and His program to invoke obedience to Ephesians 4:1-3. Here Paul calls church members to “walk worthy”, “forbearing one another”, “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit” and please take note that these are difficult things to do. Paul knowing this brings us to the reasoning for his charge, and that is “God is unified”. God the Father, Son, and Spirit are so unified they are ONE. We as church members are to work continually to be what God desires us to be one to another and the only way for us to do this is to Be Extremely Thankful with Holy Intentions that God is One! Looking at God as One as scripture describes Him releases the kind of extreme thankfulness that will make the church one. Thankfulness for God being One leads to the continual work of the church to be one.
     
    iii. As Father of All- Extreme thankfulness comes from God being Father of all. Once enemies of God by our sinful nature we are now children of God. How is such a transition possible? God gave Jesus as a propitiation for our sin. Jesus came to be the Just one given for the unjust ones. One-man Adam brought sin into the World and death to all men. Jesus came as One Man to bring life to all men who would believe. God did not become our Father by happen chance, but He divinely selected each of us by the sacrifice of His Son. Such expressed love is meant to cause each church member to become extremely thankful that God became our Father at a great cost to Him. The verse implies that believers are not alone or isolated. The word “all” expresses a complete count. This means we not only have a Father, but we have a full family. We will discuss the great gift of a gospel family next week. Marvel with me that God brings us to Him and each other. Are you extremely thankful for God’s Fatherhood being expressed toward you?
     
    iv. As Above all things- God is unified, Father, Ruler of all things, and He is our most sacred gift! He who rules over the known world has given Himself to us. When we believe that this truth Extreme overflowing thankfulness comes from our heart the Holy intentions. When the reality of God’s Rule is embraced thankfulness for the hardest of circumstances becomes real. There is no power higher than our God and He is our greatest gift. What does God rule over?
    1. 7.5 billion people
     
    2. 400 billion stars in our Galaxy
     
    3. More than 170 billion galaxies
     
    4. Possibility of infinite universes Not to mention every single atom and rock on every planet. God rules over the seen and unseen. We are more than star dust. We are creatures with emotions and thoughts. The human brain is the most complex object in the universe and God rules over it. Man is God’s most precious and complex design. He is only worthy to rule over us and He does so with wisdom and care.
     
    v. As Working in the Life of all that are His- God is vastly supreme, but He is not disconnected from His people. God is High and Lofty, but He is not hands off in the lives of lowly creatures like ourselves. He is working on us and in us to be molded to His perfect image and to perform His will (Philippians 1:6; 2:13). Salvation, sanctification, and glorification is not a hands-off work. Our experience with God is personal. When we view all our success and blessings as the work of God’s hands and not our own a strong sense of humility and glory floods our hearts for our enjoyment.
     
    vi. As the Glue that Holds Us Together- God clues each person to Himself and makes us all together. He is in each person working , ruling , and holding so that we may grow up together in Christ. The friendships I share here at Bethany Baptist church only exist with God. My marriage to a beautiful Christian woman happened through God. This week I sat and talked to every life group leader individual and sat at Al and Debbie’s house for a wonder breakfast with other Christians. This Never would have happened without God being the clue that holds us together. Look around at your friends and family and thank God that you are connected to them by His Grace. He holds us together which means we will never fall apart. The Greatest Gift Appreciated
     
    Are you extremely thankful toward God for the gift of Himself to you? Are you overwhelmed with of God is? If we are a people that appreciates God we must ask “how can we show appreciation to God”? The answer is so simple and biblical. It is something promoted here every Sunday we gather. We come together in His name, we pray together in His Name, We Give together in His name, we sing together in His name, and we go together in His name. Let us do all these things before we leave this place.