Are You Shifting The Blame?

“The people spoke against God and Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.” (Numbers 21:5)

Numbers 21:4 says the people of Israel “became impatient because of the journey” in the wilderness. But as people often do, they vented their anger in the wrong direction. Continue reading

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Stubbornness or Perseverance?

Reading Numbers 23 I thought, “Man, Balak just isn’t getting it … he’s already asked Baalam three times to ask God curse Israel and He said He is NOT going to do it!” How stubborn mankind can be — always struggling against the ways of God. It’s a good lesson: if God is closing a door, don’t keep trying to open it!

But then I wondered: isn’t there is a balance here somewhere? Sometimes persevering is the thing to do: keep asking; keep knocking, and so on. But at the same time, you don’t want to be found struggling against God’s will. 

So what is the difference? Continue reading

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“Testing The Fruit Of Your Salvation” (James 1:21-27 sermon)

For Mothers Day we got some things for Cheryl for the garden. She loves to garden outside — and I love to go out and walk through the garden with her for 5 minutes before I go inside to read! The other day we had just finished looking at her raised beds with the corn and squash and peppers, and we had gone over to the strawberry patch, where there are a thousand blooms, and some little green strawberries! But while we were looking, all of the sudden Cheryl saw something that wasn’t right, and she pulled up this one plant. I said, “Why’d you do that?” It had a little red berry on it. She said, “This isn’t a strawberry.” At first glance I thought it was — but when I looked at it more closely, I could see that the little red fruit on there was NOT actually a strawberry; it was something else that didn’t need to be in the strawberry patch. You could tell it wasn’t a strawberry by its fruit.

Which reminds us of an important spiritual principle. Jesus said: “You will know them (His true followers) by their fruits.” Many people want to claim to be Christians, but Jesus said that genuine Christians will bear certain fruit in their lives, and by that fruit you can tell them apart from those who just “say” they are following Jesus but are not really.

Our passage for this morning, James 1:21-27, spells out for us what some of that fruit is. Jesus said in :21 that “the word implanted … is able to save your souls.” That is, the word of the gospel can come and be “planted” into your life, and it can save you — IF it finds good soil to grow in (like Matthew 13 talks about). But how do you KNOW if the gospel has found good soil in your life? How do you know if you are really following Jesus, and not just making an empty claim to be a Christian (like so many people do)? This passage shows us at least three things that will be present in your life if you are really a Christian:  Continue reading

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“What Jesus Came To Do For You” (I Peter 3:18 sermon)

For the last several years, the social media platform “Twitter” has been gaining in popularity over “Facebook,” although the two are very different. 

One of the interesting things to see on Twitter is the biography that each person uses to describe themselves on their home page. You have just a few words to tell about yourself, so it has to be very brief:

— Josh & Libby’s pastor in Indianapolis, Mark Vroegop’s, is: “Jesus lover, married up, Lead Pastor … wannabe triathlete and coffee roaster.”

— Michael’s college, North Greenville University’s Twitter bio is: “Dedicated to making Christ famous to the ends of the earth.”

— Bill Elliff: “A contented follower of a matchless God.”

— Ronnie Rogers: “I knew all the letters of the alphabet by the 4th grade; I could say them in order by the 7th grade. No brag, just fact.”

Well, of course there was no Twitter in the first century, and we might debate whether Jesus would have used it if they had, but IF He had, He could have taken a verse like the one we are looking at this morning for His “Twitter Bio.” It is a great summary, in one little verse, of what He came  to do: 

“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God …”. (I Peter 3:18)

This such concise summary of Jesus ministry. It would make a great “Twitter Bio.” It tells us very simply: WHAT He did; WHO He did it for; and WHY He did it. It’s just a very simple message today, but I hope you’ll listen to what God is showing you this morning about “What Jesus Came To Do For You.”  Continue reading

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“Grace That Is Greater Than The Inexcusable” (Mark 14:32-42 sermon)

C.S. Lewis wrote “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” That is a great statement, and very convicting regarding our attitude and practice towards others — but the power of it depends on whether we really understand what it means that “God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” Our passage for this morning helps us understand what it means that God has “Grace That Is Greater Than The Inexcusable.”  Continue reading

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The Sin of Indignation

“Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James & John.” (Mark 10:41)

This verse highlights a danger that good Christians need to beware of. James and John had just asked Jesus that they might sit on His right and left in His glory. This was over-ambitious, prideful, and over-reaching. Jesus dealt with them graciously (thankfully He does the same with us!) but :41 indicates that the fallout from their request was now infecting the other ten disciples in dangerous way: Continue reading

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“When You Follow Jesus” (Mark 10:29-30 sermon)

I saw an ad the other day which indicated that a subscription I am very interested in was only $2 for two months — which was a very good deal! But when I read the fine print, it said that after that initial time period it goes up to $37 a month! So I’m glad I read the conditions. You don’t want surprises like that; even if you are willing to pay it, you want to know what you’re getting into up front. 

Well Jesus was very “up front” with those He called to follow Him. He did not just “lure” people in with glowing promises. He always told His hearers what they could expect as His disciples, both good and bad. We see that here in Mark 10:29-30: 

“Jesus said, ‘Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.”

Jesus shows us “up front” here what we can expect when we follow Him: Continue reading

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