“No In Between: The Sifting of Our Souls” (Matthew 3:12 sermon)

I saw a very interesting chart the other day that listed dozens of media outlets by how conservative or liberal they were: on the left of the chart were the most wacko liberal news outlets, and on the right, the most staunch conservative. And most were somewhere in between: moderate, pretty conservative, or a little liberal, etc.

But there are some things about which there is no “spectrum”; there is no “in between.” Someone has said you can’t be “a little bit pregnant”; you are either pregnant or you are not! You are either dead or you are alive. There is no in between. You are one or the other.

There are a number of areas in life like that — and despite the way that some people try to live, it is that way spiritually as well. Jesus said in Matthew 12:30, “He who is not with Me is against Me.” There is no “in between.” You are either a genuine Christian, and you belong to Him — or you do not. And one day soon, Jesus Christ will reveal which you are.

Last Sunday we saw how John the Baptist said that Jesus, when He came, would bring the very presence of God Himself into the lives of His followers through the Holy Spirit. But that is not all that Jesus came to do, John said. In verse 12 he described His ministry further, saying:

“His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Continue reading

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The Word Was God

“… and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

Why there is any controversy among supposed Bible-believing people concerning the Deity of Jesus is puzzling. The scripture makes it so clear: “and the Word was God”! The first verses in the Book of John clearly indicate that Jesus is fully God. Continue reading

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Missions In A Nutshell

“For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.” (III John 7)

Here in an often overlooked letter, we find a little verse which succinctly defines and prescribes the work of the missionary and missions support: Continue reading

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An Important Perspective For Prayer

“In Your righteousness deliver me …” (Psalm 31:1b)

As David calls out to the Lord for deliverance in Psalm 31, this is an important little statement because of its correct perspective about our prayers and what we “deserve.” ¬†David asks God to hear and answer because HE is righteous (“In YOUR righteousness”); not because David himself is. We see the same thing a bit later in :3, when he says: “For YOUR NAME’s sake lead me and guide me.” He is asking God to do something for him which he knows that he does not “deserve”.

We need to be careful when we are praying for people — I have heard people do this, and I have to admit that I have been tempted to do the same sometimes — Continue reading

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Which Example Are YOU?

“Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.” (III John 11)

Here John encourages his readers to imitate those who do good. It is instructive that this exhortation follows his description of Diotrephes, “who loves to be first among them” (:9) and who made false accusations against John and the other apostles, and did not support the traveling evangelists (:10). THEN, Continue reading

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The Root Sin

“I wrote something to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say … He himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church.” (III John 9-10)

Talk about church problems. Here we find John condemning Diotrephes, the leader of the church he was addressing, because he would not receive and support the first-century traveling Christian missionaries (:7-8). He even put those who DID want to help them, out of the church!  What could possibly have been his motivation for such actions? Continue reading

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“The Spirit We Need” (Matthew 3:11 message)

One day last week, a woman posted a comment on my blog on the internet. She wrote:

“Shawn, I was looking at your work “being poured out as a drink offering”. I am a Christian who have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence following of speaking in tongues. I have been baptized in the Holy Spirit for 14 years now and I know its life changing. I have just one question to ask, “Have you received the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the speaking in tongues?” In (order) to be poured out as a drink offering as Apostle Paul has endured, we all must be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Only then can we truly please the Lord Jesus. I had many things going wrong with my health and would have died but because I was Spirit-filled and praying in tongues the Holy Spirit has cleanse my body from the evil that was trying to kill me. You have a health problem, well if you are Spirit-filled and pray in tongues for this health problem you will see your problem will not continue and you will be set free.”

Perhaps this woman means well, but that kind of teaching is wrong and it is hurtful to many people. But this is just an example of so much misunderstanding about “the baptism of the Holy Spirit”, so we are going to spend a few minutes more Matthew 3:11 this morning looking at this. John the Baptist said there of the coming Savior:

“As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

What does this mean? What was John saying that Jesus came to do? Continue reading

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