Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Transforming Power of the Word of God

Hebrews 4:12

The Bible is the most published, most bought, most translated, and most read book ever written!  And if that’s not enough - it’s unlike any other book because it is holy.  It has the power to change the life of who ever reads it!

Psalm 33:6 proclaims, The Lord merely spoke and the heavens were created.  He breathed the word, and all the stars were born!”  And that is why the Bible is so powerful!  This is the Word of God - with the power the call the stars and heaven into existence!  And this power of God is available to you and I through His Word.

Let’s look at our text again this morning.  “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit,” (Heb. 4:12).  This is one of the most amazing differences this Book has over other books.  It was not written to simply increase our knowledge, but to change our lives!

How does the Word of God change us?


Have you ever read a book and been moved by the themes and characters?  Sure - most of us have.  The writing challenges your presumptions.  You identify with the characters and story, understand the motives of a villain, and even empathize with others because of what you’ve read.  Lots of classical literature does that - BUT the Bible does more!  It touches our very soul, and can change our life.  The fact that it reaches you so deeply is what sets it apart from other good books.

James 1:18, “He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word...”

Tom Smith is a Christian writer who shares an experience of a Christian from China who shared her testimony.  Her story illustrates the power of God’s Word to reach our soul and change our lives.  She grew up in an atheists home; knowing nothing of God.  She left for college to major in math and science.  While working in the library one day she decided to take a break from her studies and explore other sections of the library.  That’s when she came across the religion section and at the bottom of one of the shelves she found a large, white-covered book, with the title “Holy Bible”.  She opened it and began reading it from the beginning - Genesis 1.  She repeated this practice for a few days then stopped.  After a week or so she felt something missing was missing in her life; something was not right.  She had a strong desire to continue reading the Bible.  She made it all the way to Genesis 8:11.  At that very verse she had an overwhelming desire to become a Christian.  Now - here’s what interesting - no one told her she needed to become a Christian.  She wasn’t attending a Christian study group; didn’t have any Christian friends; wasn’t listening to Christian radio…and the subject of the verse is not about becoming a Christian.  “And the dove came to him toward evening time, and there in her beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf.  So Noah knew that the waters had abated from the earth.”

How does this happen?  The Word of God has transforming power!  It is unlike any other book in the world, because it has the power to reach our soul.


I have been so impressed with The Upper Room devotionals.  On one level they are a simple, short spiritual reading that can help get your day off on the right track.  But on another level, it is a testimonial index of Christians whose faith has been animated by the Word of God.  This is precisely why we have moved to reading them during Sunday School.  (At some point Christians have to get past wanting to gain more Biblical knowledge and begin applying the Bible knowledge they have.)

Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

August 5, 2018 devotion was a great example.  The author, Judy, wrote about an experience when she became overwhelmed about her families struggles.  She felt her faith and peace weakening.  Judy decided to pray and ask God for help.  She then opened her Bible and began reading Mark 4.  Jesus commanded the storm, "Peace!  Be still!"  A sense of peace washed over her and she realized that God was bigger than her problems.

Early Methodist used to ask John Wesley “What is the key to sanctifying grace?”  How do I get more of Jesus?  And his response was simply keep doing what your doing.  Faith in Jesus got you here, and faith in Jesus will get you there!  Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.


2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…”

Let’s look at each of these qualities a little closer.  
  • Teaching = teaching you the right path 
  • Rebuking = warning you of the wrong path
  • Correcting = instructing you how to get back on track
  • Training = enlightening you on how to stay on the right track

Thursday, August 30, 2018

You Can Trust the Word of God

John 8:31-32

Despite it’s critics, the Bible remains the best selling book year after year!  It is the most translated book in the world!  It is the most read book in the world!  Odds are you yourself own more copies of the Bible than you do any other book in your home!  It is - by far - the most influential book ever written!

Our series explores how we can learn, love and live from the Word of God.  Last week we saw that the Bible should be the foundation of our lives, and we looked at 4 ways to begin that process.  This morning we’re going to look at the trustworthiness of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, the Holy Bible.  

When it comes to the topic of Biblical truth, it really does matter who you listen to. Time Magazine, December 1995 - quotes John Van Seters of the University of North Carolina.  “There was no Moses, no crossing of the sea, no revelation on Mount Sinai.”  These types of stories should not worry or trouble us.  A book this influential is guaranteed to have nay sayers and critics.  This should not be a surprise to us.  

Timothy warned the Church long ago, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths,” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).



Why is the Bible accurate?  Because God cannot lie!  Hebrews 6:18, “It is impossible for God to lie.”  Psalm 33:4, “The word of the LORD is right and true.”

Jim Wallace is a retired Los Angelos Cold-case Homicide Detective - who decided to use his investigate skills to determine if he could trust the Bible.  So he did.  He applied adductive reasoning, the nature of circumstantial evidence, eye witness testimony, language, and chain of custody - and he concluded that the Bible is historically reliable. 


While the Bible is not a science textbook, and doesn’t use scientific language - it never gives bad science!  And there’s a very simple explanation for this - the laws of the universe are God’s laws!  Psalm 148:3-6, Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies.  Let them praise the name of the Lord, for at his command they were created, and he established them for ever and ever—he issued a decree that will never pass away.

Science is always changing.  The Louvre Library has 3 1/2 miles of old, out dated, obsolete science books.  In 1861 the French Academy of Science published “51 Incontrovertible Scientific Facts that prove the Bible is Wrong.”  Today, all 51 facts have been proven wrong by Science!


By authoritative, we mean the Word of God.  Now, folks say “how can God be the author, if Matthew, Mark and Luke are the authors?”  It’s called dual authorship - the idea that the Bible was written by both God and humans.  It’s a divine-human collaboration.  Each book has it’s authors unique style, flavor and phraseology - but the content is God’s.  This is how Timothy and Peter - two different people - can say the same thing with their own unique style.   2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in at righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  2 Peter 1:21, “For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

The Bible is one book containing 66 books.  It was written - by 40 different authors, over 1,600 years, in over 12 countries and 3 continents, in at least 3 languages, by people of all walks of life (farmers, kings, soldiers, shepherds, princes, priests, historians, fisherman, tax collectors, scholars, businessmen, MDs), and in a variety of places (caves, ships, palaces, prisons and deserts) - AND YET IT IS AMAZINGLY THEMATIC.

It is the most miraculous book in existence!  It’s consistency and theme are attributed to the fact that it was influenced, inspired and directed by God Himself!


Nothing can change your life like the Word of God.  Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” (John 8:31-32).  Do you believe everything you read online?  No, of course not.  The reason the authority and inerrancy of God’s Word is so important is because your salvation depends on it!  

Next Sunday we will dive deeper into the transforming power of the Word of God.  But this morning, let me leave you with a challenge.  What do you trust to be the authority for your life?  The world of man or the Word of God?  Everyone - whether they realize it or not - is putting their trust in something or someone to shape their worldview.  Paul reminds us in Romans 12 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Living My Life from the Word of God

James 1:19-25

In Matthew 7 Jesus tells a parable of building a house on a solid foundation verses a not-so solid foundation.  He ends the parable by relating it to our life and the Word of God.  If we build out life on the Word of God we can survive anything that comes our way.  Our new sermon series is designed to help with just that - we will be encouraged to learn, love and live the Word of God.


RECEIVE IT - James vv 19-21 “listen” and “accept”

Why are Grainger County tomatoes so good?  Because the soil is prepared to receive the tomato seeds.  Same seed planted in different location yields different results.  Why?  Some soil is prepared to receive it, some not.  Same is true of the Word of God. 

READ IT - vv 22-25 “looks intently into the perfect law”

Two ways to look at yourself in the mirror - quick glance or long stare…

There is a difference in the time we give ourselves to read God’s Word.  There is a difference between squeezing in a reading and reading to know what God is saying to you.  If we are going to love, learn and live the Word of God, we need to create a habit of lingering with God’s Word.

REMEMBER IT - v 25 “continues to do this, not forgetting”

A couple in their nineties are both having problems remembering things. During a checkup, the doctor tells them that they're physically okay, but they might want to start writing things down to help them remember.  Later that night, while watching TV, the old man gets up from his chair. "Want anything while I'm in the kitchen?" he asks.  "Will you get me a bowl of ice cream?”  “Sure.."  "Don't you think you should write it down so you can remember it?" she asks.  "No, I can remember it.”  "Well, I'd like some strawberries on top, too. Maybe you should write it down, so as not to forget it?”  He says, "I can remember that. You want a bowl of ice cream with strawberries.”  "I'd also like whipped cream. I'm certain you'll forget that, write it down?" she asks.  Irritated, he says, "I don't need to write it down, I can remember it! Ice cream with strawberries and whipped cream - I got it, for goodness sake!”  Then he toddles into the kitchen. After about 20 minutes, the old man returns from the kitchen and hands his wife a plate of bacon and eggs.. She stares at the plate for a moment. "Where's my toast?”

Remembering God’s Word is a big deal.  The opening chapter of the the book of Psalms begins with a call to remember.  “Blessed is the person who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked…But delights in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night.”  Receive it, read it, and remember it - those are the first three things we need to do with God’s Word in order to create a solid foundation for our lives.

RESPOND TO IT - v 22 “do what it says”

James wonders what it profits a person to know all of God’s Scriptures, but do absolutely nothing about it!  How different would that person be from Satan and the demons?  We know from the Bible that the demons could readily identify Jesus - they know His identity and are afraid.  And we also know that Satan knows Scripture - quoting it when he was tempting Jesus.  The difference is in faith, believe and application!

John Wesley was asked about the character of a Methodist and his answer hinged on the Methodist being a Christian who could apply God’s teachings, not just recite them.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Untroubled in a Troubled World

Matthew 24:6-7

In his book, The Millennium Matrix, futurist and consultant Rex Miller says that North America is headed for rough times.  In he wrote,
I was raised in a world that changed more than it stayed the same, with the certain knowledge that tomorrow’s news would bring some new jolting crisis or accomplishment.  Today, I have great concern about the world my children will inherit.  I wonder more than once where the rule book went that seemed to work so well for past generations.
He goes on to describe this as sort of a cultural vertigo - the sensation that the external world is spinning out of control.  He said these things in 2004!  And he argued that no one will be spared - individuals, families, churches, schools, colleges and universities, businesses, and politics - everything will spin from in these turbulent times!

And, our response should be - duh!  Can you say that with me - duh.  “Duh” was introduced into the dictionary in the 1960’s and its used to express something that is obvious.  It’s obvious because we have read the Book - and we not only know how it all ends, but we also know that from time to time things will get pretty rough…pretty scary…down right terrible.  Jesus said that you and I will hear and see things that will make us thing the end is near, but, he said, these things will normal, the end is yet to come.  See to it that you are not troubled.

So, that’s exactly what we’re going to do this morning - we are doing to see to it that we remain untroubled in a troubled world.  And, we are going to do this by remembering three very important secrets.


This is the first and perhaps most important point.  Our times are in God’s hands.  Ed Chinn, from Focus on the Family, said, “God orders and administrates life on this planet with a full and varied palette of times and seasons.”

One of the apostle Paul’s most famous sermons was given on Mars Hill at the city council of Areopagus.  This was the same council that listened to Socrates just before they sentenced him to death.  The council had a membership of roughly 100 philosophers; and Paul stood to address the court in Acts 17.  And in his remarks we have something very important about world events and history and divine providence.

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.

We might be tempted to think that the world is spinning out of control.  Facebook has tanked, California is on fire, the middle east is still at war, hurricanes are brewing, Russians are meddling, the mid-west is having record heat waves, and tomorrow a new crisis will be upon us!  But guess what?  The sky is not falling.  The world is not ending.  We need to speak truth to chaos like David did in Psalm 31.  “I trust in You, O Lord…my times are in Your hand.” 

I’d like to share one of my favorite illustrations that exemplifies what this looks like in real life.  In Jan 1974, Guidepost interviewed Hollywood’s greatest cowboy - John Wayne!

Are times scary?  Sure.  Are we living in a bit of a cultural vertigo?  I think so.  But the real question is do we trust God?  Do I trust God’s ability to administer life on this planet; on this continent; in our times?  If you and I are going to remain untroubled in a troubled world, then the answer to these questions has to be YES.  My times are in His hands, and I trust God.


Now, the first point was the most important, but this one is the most difficult.  It’s difficult because it’s hard to accept that troubling times are beautiful.  But the king Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…He has made everything beautiful in its time.
Everything under heaven has its place - and God has made it beautiful.  I want to show you something that will make you sad.  

Honestly, it’s hard for me to see the beauty in the decline of the church in America.  The Church has been the mother of my Christian faith.  It is here that I have learned how and why to pray, to sing, to serve, to grow in the Holy Spirit.  If you’re like me, and you have a hard time seeing beauty in it - then we could probable use some good ole Job humility.  Do you remember Job?  He and his friends questioned God as to why he was suffering.  God waited until he was finished, and then he reminded Job that if he wanted to see from God’s view that he would need a lot of humility.  God reminded Job that it was Him who created this planet; set the stars in the heavens; and created all the plants and animals.  And that before we - part of the created order - try to question the Creator, we might want to humbly consider whose design this is.

The most difficult point this morning is seeing that our times are beautiful - but with a little humble faith we can recognize that God’s design allows for different seasons and each is beautiful.


This point brings us full circle - back to Jesus’ teaching that we should not be troubled in a troubling world.

I want to show you a picture.  Is it a picture of a log sticking out of the lake, or a tree?  A better question might be why is that tree growing there?  

That tree has decided that it doesn’t matter what’s going on around it - he’s going to grow anyway.  Adapt and overcome is key to surviving and weathering troubling times.  Don’t be gullible or allow yourself to be taken advantage of.  Judge our times with your eyes wild open.  And not being troubled with help you have more patience with others.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Everybody is Somebody to God

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Most of the time my views of self worth are influenced by society and culture - without me even realizing it.  

I read an article of a young lady named Kate who feels the same way.  Kate lives in Florida, and for months her friends has been on her about upgrading her phone to the new iPhone.  Finally she did, and she says that it was the best thing that happened.  She fell in love with the iPhone.  She said that after a week of app-ing and texting like crazy she was hooked.  And then, one day it hit her why people love their smartphones - “it makes them feel important; it makes them feel needed; it makes them feel that they are a supply in demand.”  

This happens to me all the time!  Has it ever happened to you?  Do things ever make you feel important - smartphones, clothes, shoes, hair, relationships, cars, house, career?  If you don’t have the right one…well then you’re a nobody.  And nobody wants to be nobody. Society is really good at picking winners and losers - nobodies and somebodies.  And if we are not careful our views of self worth will be influenced by society and culture - without us even realizing it.

But when we turn to God’s Word, we realize something different…we realize that everybody is somebody to God.  God’s Word helps us find the truth about self worth.  The truth about self worth is that…

It’s already here (Genesis 1:27)

We were created in the image of God.  And that means that every person - man, woman and child (and even unborn child) bears the image of God, and therefore has no more or less of that image than anyone else.  The basic desire for self worth - to be more than we are - is in each of us because we were created to be more.  We were created with self worth.  But sin has tainted that image; it has created a barrier between us and God.  So we search for worth in all the wrong places.

This was the issue the Christians in Corinth faced.  Corinth was a proud Roman city.  A place where is was easy to pick winners and losers - somebodies and nobodies.  Lines were drawn, groups were formed, and labels were assigned.  Paul was teaching them that they were missing the point.  They were searching for self worth in all the wrong places.  They had forgotten that the truth about self worth is that its already here, and can be discovered through a relationship in Jesus.

And can be discovered through a relationship in Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30-31) 

This should not be a surprise.  The logic is sound and consistent throughout Scripture.  
God created humans with ultimate self worth.
Sin has negatively affected all humans.
Therefore, sin must be removed.

Our passage this morning reminds us that through faith in Jesus our sin is dealt with once and for all - and the self worth that we were created with can be discovered through that faith.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Church Division

1 Corinthians 1:10-18

Division within the church is devastating.  Crystal Cathedral in Orange County, California is the largest glass building in the world, and has one of the largest musical instruments in the world - the Hazel Wright Memorial organ.  The congregation was founded in 1955 by Robert Schuller and grew to be a world renowned mega church.  In 2010 the church filed for bankruptcy, and in 2012 it was sold.  What happened?  Different people wanted different directions.  Division took hold and this once mega church with wonderful preaching and fantastic music went the way of many churches.  

I think sometimes we feel like those early Christian didn’t have to struggle with what we struggle with; that they didn’t have an uncle Billy or aunt Bobby Sue who always has to get their way; that they didn’t have to put up with a neighbors that were apathetic to the message, children that fought all the way to church, or visitors that decided to sit in their pew, or discussions, meetings, and committees being formed to determine the single greatest thing we will accomplish this year - what color to paint the restrooms!  

I thank God for the apostle Paul, and his decision to put pen to paper.  Because one day, while ministering to folks in Ephesus, he received word about those Christians in Corinth.  And the word was not good.  They are not united!  They are dividing along lines of personal preference, and it’s going to destroy the church.  So Paul took to writing, and we have a letter to the church in Corinth.  This morning and during the month of February we will be learning from the struggles and challenges of those Christians.  And I think part of what we are going to learn is that we are not that different.  The struggles we face they faced, and if we are open we might avoid a lot of heart ache and division among our brothers and sisters.

This text underscores the challenge of a church being effective while dealing with internal divisions.  Divisions within the church based on groups, clicks, or personal preferences weaken the message and mission.

Divisions are self-serving, v 12

To visualize just how silly division is within the Body of Christ imagine someone shopping for new clothes and only considering what the eyes finds appealing…

The most recent statistics on church closings are alarming.  In 2010, according to the Barna Research Group an estimated 75 churches closed each week.  How many church closings are related to divisions from within.  You see, this is something Paul knew 2,000 years ago.  The moment a congregation starts to move inward - groups, clicks, personal preferences - they lose touch of their message and mission.  One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a church is for it to begin to think that it exist primarily for them (their group, click or interest).  The church does not exist to house the saints; it exists to make disciples of Jesus Christ.  And that brings us to our second point.

Churches are self-giving

When you account for our message and mission we are self giving!  Our message can be found in John 3:16, and our mission in Matt 28:19-20.  The single greatest way to avoid divisions within the church - stay focused on the vision!

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Mark 16:1-2

There are seven days in a week.  Each day has a distinct character, feeling, and attitude.  But one of those days is more important than the others.

There's not many folks who enjoy Monday.  For most of us it represents back to school or back to work.  If something is going to go wrong, chances are it's going to be on a Monday - but Sundays-a-coming.

What a difference a day makes!  Just about everyone loves Tuesdays.  It has a restaurant - Ruby Tuesdays.  It has a retail store - Tuesday Morning.  It even has a book - "Tuesday's with Morrie".  Most folks like Tueaday - but Sundays-a-coming.

It is loved for its "hump".  Wednesday is "hump day".  It is the middle of the week, and therefore enjoyed by every student and weekday employee.  It's only claim to fame is one holy day - Ash Wednesday.

You get the picture...but go to bed on Saturday and wake up the next day, and you will have Sunday!

Sunday is different from any other day of the week.  It was the day that Jesus rose from the dead, and walked out of the tomb.  Of all the days of the week, God chose Sunday - the first day of the week.  That makes it special.  The hope that we have in Jesus Christ rest in the significance of that day.  The next time you are faced with a challenging circumstance or particular hardship remember Sundays-a-coming.