“Confidence On That Day” (II Timothy 1:12 sermon)

Author Dane Ortlund wrote: “When my two-year-old Benjamin begins to wade into the gentle slope of the zero-entry swimming pool near our home, he instinctively grabs hold of my hand. He holds on tight as the water gradually gets deeper. But a two-year-old’s grip is not very strong. Before long it is not he holding on to me but me holding on to him.” (Dane Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly, loc 807)

I love that picture of a man holding his child by the hand and keeping him safe as he wades into deeper water. It’s a great picture of what GOD does for us. If you are a Christian, you can be confident that God is holding you by the hand and He is keeping you, and NOTHING can separate you from Him. That’s the truth that is expressed in our verse for today: 

“For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.”

Paul, who was writing from prison, says he has confidence, even in his suffering, because he KNOWS God is guarding what he has entrusted to Him. How could he have such confidence? How can WE have it today?

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“Those Who Are Rich” (I Timothy 6:17 sermon)

When our son David was little, we were teaching him and his brother Paul some of the “good old kids songs,” like, “The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me!” And so one day we had them sing for the old VCR camera, and David proudly sings, “The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for YOU!”  I’ve always laughed about that, because that is exactly what a lot of people do with the Bible — they want make it apply to everyone EXCEPT themselves. It’s for “YOU” — not for “ME”!  

And some of us might be tempted to do that with our scripture passage we have today. It begins with the words, “Instruct those who are rich …” and so many of us might be tempted to think: “Well, ‘the rich,’ that’s for someone else, not for me!” But let’s look at to whom these verses are addressed, and how we need to apply them. There are some really good, practical applications for ALL of us in these verses. 

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“Justification by Faith” (Romans 1:17 sermon; Reformation Day 2021)

There are some days on the calendar that everyone knows are important:

— December 25th everyone knows is … Christmas.
— January 1st … New Year’s Day.
— December 31st? Cheryl’s birthday!

And today, October 31st, is a memorable date as well. Many people celebrate it as “Halloween,” or “All Saints Eve.” But it is also another very important day in history, that too few Christians are aware of, and that is that October 31st is also “Reformation Day.” “Reformation Day” is the day in 1517 that Martin Luther kicked off what historians call the “Reformation” of the Church in Europe when he nailed his 95 theses, or theological propositions, onto the door the Wittenburg church. He did this in response to the preaching of men like Johan Tetzel, whom the Roman Catholic Church had sent to Germany to preach and sell what they called “indulgences”: that if you paid a certain amount of money to help build the Cathedral in Rome, you could buy yourself or a loved one out of so many years in purgatory. In fact, Tetzel preached, “As soon the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs!” Martin Luther had done a lot of soul-searching, and scripture-searching (as we will see in a minute) and he believed that what Tetzel was preaching was false; that we are not saved from the fires of purgatory (or hell) by buying “indulgences” of by any other good work, but that we are saved by faith in Jesus and what He did on the cross for us, alone.

When Luther posted his challenge that day, it was an important event in Church History, and every Christian should be aware of it, because out of it came the emphasis that all evangelical churches hold to today: that we are not justified before God by our own good works and deeds, but by faith in Jesus alone. So today we’re going to be looking at the scripture that God used to change Martin Luther’s life, and give him that understanding of “justification by faith.” The scripture is Romans 1:17, where it says, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

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The Lord’s Supper: The Sacrifice Remembered (Matthew 26:26-29 sermon)

One of the newer monuments in Washington D.C. is one commemorating our soldiers who fought and won the Second World War. Among other elements, the memorial contains panels with bronze engravings of scenes from the war: soldiers loading artillery pieces, paratroopers jumping out of an airplane, troops landing at D-Day — all of which serve to remind us of the sacrifices which were made to preserve our freedom.

This morning we here at First Baptist Angleton will be observing anther memorial, as we participate in the Lord’s Supper. This memorial helps us to remember the sacrifice that brought about our spiritual salvation: the sacrifice of the body and blood of The Lord Jesus Christ. Before we share in the Lord’s Supper this morning, I want us to look at some important things that Jesus explains to us about the meaning of this memorial, from Matthew 26:26-29, when He first initiated this memorial with His disciples:

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“The Lord Our Provider” (Philippians 4:15-23 sermon)

I’ll never forget the time, just after Cheryl & I had graduated from seminary; I only had a part-time job, and we didn’t have any prospects of finding a full-time church yet; we had just had our first child, and we were really struggling financially. We had just paid the electric bill — and now the rent was due, and we did not have the money for it. I had literally no idea what we were going to do. The next day, in the mail, we received a letter from Oklahoma from a high school friend of Cheryl’s. She said God had just laid it on her heart to send us a check — and that check “just so happened” to be the exact amount of the rent that we couldn’t pay!  God provided for us in an amazing way — which is just what our verse for today promises: “My God shall supply all your needs, according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” 

Philippians 4:19 is one of those verses that are so familiar to us, and which so many of us love — and rightly so.  But as we saw last week, sometimes we can take the promises of God out of context, which sometimes happens with this scripture as well. So let’s look at what God promises to us here, and then some important conditions that go along with it: 

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“Christian Contentment” (Philippians 4:10-14 sermon)

In Victor Hugo’s classic, Les Miserables, one of the early heroes in the story, whom the Lord uses to help turn around the life of the convict Jean Valjean, is Bishop Myriel. Unlike many churchmen in France at that time who were debauched and lived in luxury, this bishop was truly a man of God. When he arrived at the parish, he discovered that the “parsonage” they had for him was a luxurious stone palace with arched walks, a garden, and a huge dining hall. After seeing his new home, he went to visit the parish hospital, which was run by the church. There he found dozens of patients crammed into a little one story building. He asked the director of the hospital, “How many patients do you have?” He told them they had 26. The bishop said, it is very crowded. Yes, the doctor said, but “We must be resigned. What can we do?”  Bishop Myriel thought for a moment and said, “There is evidently a mistake here. There are 26 of you in 5 or 6 small rooms; there are only 3 of us, and space for 60. (My dining hall alone will hold 20 beds!) There is a mistake, I tell you. You have my house and I have yours.” And Bishop Myriel switched with the hospital, and lived in the one-story home, while the former parsonage mansion became the hospital. (Les Miserables, pp. 5-6)   Here was a man of God, who was content with much less than what the world said he had to have.  

Godly contentment with our circumstances a sign of spiritual maturity. And it is a RARE quality today, especially in the materialistic society in which we live today, in which we are constantly encouraged to want “more, more, more.”  But this attitude is not limited to our day. It was the same in Paul’s time in the Roman empire, which was known for luxury and excess. But in the midst of all that excess, Paul could write: “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” This is God’s goal for US as Christians too, as we mature: to learn to have a godly, Christian contentment with what we have. If we have it, we will definitely be different than those around us — but it is a difference that God wants to see in our lives.

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“Dealing With Worry” (Philippians 4:4-9 sermon)

In Amor Towles’ book, A Gentleman in Moscow, the central figure is a Russian count who has been exiled by the Soviet authorities to live within the confines of a single hotel; he cannot leave it at the risk of his life. At one point in the story, the Count is consumed with worry: “The Count closed his eyes and prepared to drift into a dreamless sleep. But, alas, sleep did not come so easily to our weary friend. Like in a reel in which the dancers form two rows, so that one of their number can come skipping brightly down the aisle, a concern of the Count’s would present itself for his consideration, bow with a flourish, and then take its place at the end of the line so that the next concern could come dancing to the fore.” (p. 267)

Some of us could say that we have had that same experience: one worry takes center stage in our mind, bows — and then the next one appears to take its place! In fact, if the truth be known, I think it might be a lot like last week, when I asked: “Who had some branches down, or lost a fence, or had power out in the hurricane?” — and the answer was, virtually ALL of us; it’s probably very similar this week. Perhaps virtually ALL of deal with worry or anxiety of some kind or another, at some time or another. But worry is NOT a state God wants us to continue in. Verse 5 says, “Let your gentle spirit be known to all men.” That word “gentle” means “mild, forbearing, moderate” — in other words, we are not going around rashly, worrying about everything. God wants us to have a “quiet and gentle spirit” that trusts Him. But how can we achieve that? How do we deal with worry? Our scripture for today specifically deals with that: 

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“Standing Firm in Difficult Days” (Philippians 4:1-3)

So: this year we’ve had COVID, and a devastating winter storm, and now the eye of a hurricane pass right over us. Add to that all of the personal and family trials we’ve each had, and I know some of us are going, “I don’t even want to know what’s next!” right? These are difficult days in which we live. But thank God, we are “not like those who have no hope”! We have an anchor for our lives in the Lord.

So in these difficult days, God tells us here in Philippians, “stand firm.” “Stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.” He starts off this passage with the word “Therefore.” Now, nobody just starts off a conversation with “Therefore”! You use it to refer back to something that has just been said. (We saw that in our Sunday school lesson this morning in Philippians 2). Here in Philippians 4, the “therefore” points back to what he had just been talking about at the end of Chapter 3, about how we should not live just for this world, but for heaven, for eternity.  He had said, remember, our citizenship is in heaven; Jesus is coming to take us there, and He will change us, and give us eternal bodies, so that our best days will always be ahead of us forever! So then he says here, “THEREFORE — because of all that — STAND FIRM in the Lord, my beloved.” You’re going to be tempted to live for this world; DON’T give in to it. Keep your Christian testimony & convictions in this morally & spiritually decaying society.  He’s saying, live for the Lord. Live for heaven. “Stand firm”! And he shows us in the next verses, several specific ways in which we can do that:

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“Enemies of the Cross” (Philippians 3:18 sermon)

A few weeks ago, this July, a large cross that stood at the top of Mt. Tzouhalem (zoo-HAY-lem), a popular lookout spot on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, Canada, was cut down overnight, and removed from the area. No one claimed responsibility for it, but many people shared the picture of the vandalized area on social media, and applauded the removal of the cross. One man tweeted that the cross had been removed, and simply commented, “Cool.” 

You might look at the perpetrators of that crime, or at other groups which have lobbied or sued in court for crosses to be removed from public places, and say, These people are “enemies of the cross of Christ.” And in some sense they may be. But the most important issue is not what you do with any physical “cross” made of steel or wood, but what you do with the doctrine of the cross: the Biblical belief that it is the Jesus’ death on the cross that saves us from sin. That is what Paul is referring to in 

Philippians 3:18, where he writes, 

“For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ.”

When he calls them “enemies of them cross of Christ,” Paul is not saying that these people are going around removing crosses from public places. He is talking about people who are the enemies of the doctrine of the cross; that the death of Jesus alone which saves us entirely from our sins. Let’s look at several ways that we can be “Enemies of the Cross.” 

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“Which World Are You Living For?” (Philippians 3:18-21 sermon)

Bill Borden was the heir to the Borden milk fortune. When he graduated from Yale, he was offered multiple well-paying positions on boards of directors of major corporations, and he had, materially speaking, everything that a man could want. But instead he gave his money to missions. And he left to go overseas as a missionary, to an unreached Muslim people group, the Kansus, in China.  One the way, he stopped in Egypt to do some language training, and while he was there he caught spinal meningitis. Within a month, Bill Borden was dead. 

Thousands of people in America knew of Bill Borden, and the sacrifice he had made of his fortune to go on mission. And they tell us that when the news of Borden’s passing was made known in America, there was an outcry from the general public, and that outcry was: “What a waste.” What a waste of a life; of what he might have had, as the heir to the Borden fortune, to give it all up and die in a lonely Egyptian desert. “What a waste,” they said.

Was it a waste? I guess it depends on how you look at it. It depends, I would say, on which world you are living for. If all that matters to you is what you own and possess and enjoy in this life, then what Bill Borden did was indeed a waste. It was foolish to throw it all away. But on the other hand, if you’re not just living for this world; if you believe that there is a world to come, a world which will last for an eternity, compared to which the longest life here on earth is but a speck in time, then Borden’s life was not a waste. It all just depends on “which world you are living for.” 

Our passage this morning really divides up into two sections, in which we see two entirely different mindsets represented:

— it shows us that there is one type of person who “sets their minds on earthly things” (the end of :19)

— and then it shows us in :20 that there is a second type of person who says “our citizenship is in heaven.”

The question each one of us needs to consider today is: Which group do YOU belong to? “Which World Are You Living For?” 

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