Monday, March 18, 2013

Living in the Forgiveness of Christ

I AM The Way, The Truth and The Life: LIVING IN THE FORGIVENESS OF CHRIST!
Rom. 5:8-11

Rom. 3:10-12 “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
-Wow! That’s quite an indictment, isn’t it? NO ONE WHO DOES GOOD! 
Rom. 3:23 “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

➢ Let’s be honest and admit it. WE’VE ALL BLOWN IT BEFORE GOD! Think, for example, of the worst sin you’ve ever committed. 
I know you’ve tried to forget it, but think of it just for a moment.

-Do you realize that in Jesus Christ that terrible sin that you committed is completely forgiven? GOD WILL NEVER HOLD THAT SIN AGAINST YOU AND IT’S ALL BECAUSE OF JESUS!

ILL.- I read a true story about a priest, a beloved man of God, in the Philippines who always carried the burden of a secret sin he had
committed many years before. He had repented of the sin but still had no peace, no sense of God’s forgiveness.
In his church was a woman who loved the Lord and claimed to have visions in which she spoke with Christ. The priest, however, was
skeptical. To test her he said, “The next time you speak with Christ I want you to ask him what sin your priest committed while he was in
seminary.” The woman agreed.
A few days later the priest asked, “Well, did Christ visit you in your dreams?” “Yes, he did,” she replied.
“And did you ask him what sin I committed in seminary?”
“Yes.”
“Well, what did he say?”
“He said, ‘I DON’T REMEMBER.’”
-Brothers and sisters, when God forgives us our sins, He also forgets them!

Heb. 10:17 “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” 
-Hey! What do you say to this? Thank you, Lord! Bless you! Praise you!
-What forgiveness! What grace! What love! We are forgiven in Jesus Christ!

I. WE NEED TO BELIEVE in FORGIVENESS!

➢ Some things are hard to believe, but some things should never be doubted! AND ONE OF THEM IS THE FACT THAT WE HAVE FORGIVENESS FOR ALL OUR SINS IN JESUS CHRIST! That’s a fact and you should believe it!

Eph. 1:7 “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”
Col. 1:13-14 “For He (God) has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
I Pet. 2:24 “He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed (or forgiven).”

➢ One of the reason some people have trouble believing that complete forgiveness is available through Jesus Christ is because they have a wrong image of God.

ILL.- Dr. David Seamands is a counselor at Asbury College. He tells about a seminary student who was struggling with guilt about his past. He was an “A” student but was an emotional wreck.
Seamands asked him, “What is your view of God?” The young man said, “I’ll bring you a picture of God to you tomorrow.”
Dr. Seamands said he could hardly wait. He was very much interested in seeing a picture of God. The next day the young man came in with a picture of Ebenezer Scrooge. He said, “That’s my view of God.”

-No wonder the young man had a difficult time believing in God’s forgiveness and forgiving himself! Here’s a better view of God.

ILL.- Richard Hofler, in his book, WILL DAYLIGHT COME, tells about a boy who went to his grandparents’ farm for the summer. Jimmy made a slingshot one day and practiced shooting it, but he couldn’t hit the side of a barn.
One day his grandma’s pet duck was in the backyard. Just for fun, he aimed at the duck, shot at it, and lo and behold, he hit the duck in the head and killed it. He panicked, took the dead duck behind the barn and buried it under some straw.
His sister Sally came up to him and said, “I saw what you did with that duck.” And he begged her not to tell.
That evening when Grandma asked Sally to do the dishes, Sally said, “Oh, I think Jimmy would like to do the dishes, wouldn’t you, Jimmy?” And she whispered in his ear, “Remember the duck.” AND JIMMY DID THE DISHES.
Later that night, Grandma asked Sally to carry some clothes upstairs for her. She said, “I think Jimmy would probably do that for you.” AND JIMMY CARRIED THE CLOTHES UPSTAIRS FOR HIS GRANDMA.
For a day and a half, Jimmy was Sally’s slave, until finally he couldn’t take it any longer. In tears, he went to his grandma and said,
“Grandma, I’ve got to tell you what I did. I didn’t mean to do it, but I hit your duck with my slingshot and killed it.”
His grandma said, “Jimmy, I was watching out the window and I saw what you did, but I love you and I wanted to hear you say that you
were sorry. It’s all right. You’re forgiven.” AND JIMMY WAS SET FREE.

-To me, that grandma is a picture of our all-loving, forgiving Heavenly Father. Forgiveness is a fact in Jesus Christ - believe it!

II. REALIZE THAT FORGIVENESS IS A FREE GIFT to ACCEPT!

Rom. 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, BUT THE GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD!”
Eph. 2:8 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD.”

1. Some people think or perhaps even say, “God could never forgive me of my sins. Look at what I’ve done. Look at how many times I’ve blown it in life.”

-I believe it is none other than Satan who tries to convince us that our sins are so great that God could never forgive us. I’ve actually heard people say, “I have sinned too much for God to forgive me.” That’s a lie of the devil!

FACT: Have we forgotten about Moses the murderer? And David the adulterer and murderer? And Zaccaheus, the greedy cheat? And Saul of Tarsus, the people-abuser and murderer? And James and John, the temperamental sons of Thunder? And what about the story of the prodigal son who wasted his money and life in wild living? DID NOT GOD FORGIVE HIM?

➢ We must never think that our sins are greater than God’s love! THERE IS NOTHING GREATER THAN GOD’S LOVE!

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world...”
Rom. 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

➢ How could we ever doubt God’s love for us? No one loves more than He does. No one. And no one has done as much for us.

VIDEO: Check out the attached video of John 3:16
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6304WynWdhQ

III. FORGIVENESS IS A TREASURE TO PURSUE

Phil. 3:7-8 “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”

➢ Wow! What a statement of faith! Paul said he was willing to give up everything for the sake of Christ, in order to know Christ and have Christ as His Savior!

1. What have you given up for the sake of Christ? Or have you given up anything at all in to know Christ? Any money? Any time? Any hobbies? Anything at all?

ILL.- It is said that Noah Webster worked for 36 years to write his dictionary and he crossed the Atlantic Ocean twice to gather material.
He did all that just to publish the dictionary? Can you imagine the sacrifices he must have made? I can’t.
ILL.- I read that Sir Walter Scott put in 15 hours a day at his desk, getting up at 4 o’clock every morning. He averaged writing a book every two months. As a bare minimum, that man sacrificed sleep in order to write books! 
ILL.- It is said that Leonardo Da Vinci worked on “The Last Supper” painting for 10 years. He often became so absorbed with his work that he would forget to eat for whole days. What a sacrifice!
ILL.- It is said that when Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, he tried over 2,000 experiments before he got it to work. Now you know that took a lot of time and effort!

-And think of all the hard work and long hours that people have put in for various pursuits in life: to make money, to become famous, etc. 

Phil. 3:13-14 “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

➢ There is nothing wrong with having some earthly goals, whether they are in regard to our work, business, play, sports or whatever. But our major goal or pursuit in life should be Christ and His will for our lives!

-If Christ is who He claimed to be. If He is indeed the Son of the living God and offers forgiveness for all our sins and offers us a home in heaven, THEN WE MUST PURSUE HIM AND THEM WITH ALL OUR MIGHT!

CONCLUSION-------------------------------------------

ILL.- What happens when a dog enters a concert? Max Lucado tells the story about a night in Lawrence, Kansas, when the oldest continually operating orchestra in the world was playing.
It was hot that night in Lawrence, KS, so the doors were open. Hock Auditorium was not air-conditioned. Combine bright lights with formal dress and furious music, and the result is a heated orchestra. Outside doors on each side of the stage were left open in case of a breeze.
Enter, stage right, a dog. A brown, generic, Kansas dog. Not a mean dog. Not a mad dog. Just a curious dog. He passes through the basses, the violins and the cellos. His tail wags in beat with the music. Had he passed on through the orchestra, the music might have continued. Had he made his way across the stage into the motioning hands of a stagehand, the audience might never have noticed. 
BUT HE DIDN’T LEAVE. HE STAYED. At home in the splendor.
The musicians laughed. The audience laughed. The dog looked up at the conductor and panted. AND THE CONDUCTOR LOWERED HIS BATON. The most historic orchestra in the world. One of the most moving pieces ever written. A night wrapped in glory, all brought to a stop by a wayward dog.
The conductor stepped off the podium and scratched the dog behind the ears. The tail wagged again. The maestro spoke to the dog a few seconds, then led him off the stage. AND THE PEOPLE APPLAUDED.

Lucado wrote, “Can you find you and me in this picture? I can. Just call us Fido. And consider God the Maestro. And envision the moment when we will walk onto his stage. We won’t deserve to be be there. We will not have earned it. We may even surprise the musicians with our presence.

“The music will be like none we’ve ever heard. We’ll stroll among the angels and listen as they sing. We’ll gaze at heaven’s lights and gasp as they shine. And we’ll walk next to the Maestro, stand by his side, and worship as he leads.
“He, too, will welcome us. He, too, will speak to us. BUT HE WILL NOT LEAD US AWAY. He will invite us to remain, forever as guests on his stage.”

1- Forgiveness is a fact - believe it. 2- Forgiveness is a gift - accept it.
3- Forgiveness is a treasure - pursue it with all your heart, mind and soul.

Monday, March 11, 2013

I am the Vine..Displaying God's Love

Well, I guess everyone made it through the "Spring Forward" phase of the year. As usual, I noticed a decline in worship attendance due to the losing an hour of sleep. Nevertheless, God was very generous to us in worship! His presence was felt in a great way.
Seven wonderful people were taken into the church membership as well! To God be the glory.

We continued our series called "Hello, my name is Jesus"-I am the true VINE." The message was from John 15:1-8-"I am the vine, you are the branches"

Galatians 5:22-23-"The fruit of the Spirit is LOVE"

1 John 4:7-16: 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."

Note that the love we are talking about is Agape' love, the love that Jesus has for us with no limits or no strings attached. This is the kind of love we are to have for each other. Instead of waiting for others to love us first, we are to be intentional and love others.

Romans 5:8 "Jesus died for our sins while we were still in sin." This is refreshing to know that Jesus loves us that much.

Three things jump out at me when we think about the love of God working through us to love others:

I. Accept God's love as unconditional


[A minister one day sat in the office of his church to meet anyone who might have spiritual difficulties. 
 Only one man came. 
"What is your difficulty?" asked the minister. 
The man answered, "My difficulty is the ninth chapter of Romans, where it says, 'Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated,'" 
"Yes," said the minister, "there is great difficulty in that verse; but which part of the verse is difficult for you?" 
The latter part, of course," said the man. "I cannot understand why God should hate Esau." 
The minister replied, "That verse has often been difficult, but my difficulty has always been with the first part of the verse. I never could understand how God could love that wily, deceitful, supplanting scoundrel named Jacob."] 

- The minister was right — God's love for us is hard to understand. 
- Why should He love us? We've rebelled against Him — We've slandered His name — We've refused to follow His way for our lives. 


II. See God's love in action


[Richard Armstrong, Make Your Life Worthwhile, reports the story about a man in Wales who sought to win the affection of a certain lady for 42 years before she finally said, "Yes." 
The couple, both 74, recently became "Mr. & Mrs." 
For more than 40 years, the persistent, but rather shy man slipped a weekly love letter under his neighbor's door. 
But she continually refused to speak & mend the spat that had parted them many years before. 
After writing 2,184 love letters w/o ever getting a spoken or written answer, the man eventually summoned up enough courage to present himself in person. 
He knocked on the door of the reluctant lady & asked for her hand. 
To his delight & surprise, she accepted.] 
*Now, try to imagine how God has shown mankind His love down through history 
-Time & time again He tried to get His message of love through to His human creation w/little response. 
-Finally, He wrapped up His message in person. 
-God's love for us was displayed in the person of Jesus Christ. 


III. Let God's love for you be YOUR love to others


The Greeks had 4 separate words for love:
1. Eros = passionate sexual love
2. Storge = Family love & devotion
3. Philia = Friendship & affection
4. Agape = Care & concern with no limits 

Corrie Ten Boom was a lady that certainly displayed Christian Agape' love! Here is a link to her book called The Hiding Place on Amazon...


- Agape loves even when love is not deserved.
- Agape loves w/o restrictions — It reaches out to meet the need wherever a need arises.
- Agape loves by choice & by will, not just by feeling & emotion. — it is the only kind of love that can be commanded.
- Agape loves w/o counting the cost, & w/o calculating its own profit.
- Agape loves the unlovable, expecting nothing in return.