How Great Is Our God

Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper, Senior Pastor Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship Church

                               How Great is Our God 

Romans 11:33-36 (NLT)
33  Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!
34  For who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice?
35  And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back?
36  For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.

May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the hearing of HIS holy and mighty word.

This is the first Sunday of June 2018 AND a day of wonder and celebration as we mark the our 22nd year in Ministry.

It is also the ½ waypoint of this year AND we are continuing in our studies through the epistle written to the church at Rome.

I want to thank you again for your prayers for this church over the years and your prayers on behalf of those who are in the ministry of sharing the word of God.

Your prayers are a blessing to everyone who studies and prepares and seeks to feed the people of God and to grow in HIS word.

Keep on doing that. Keep on praying for this church. Keep praying for those who preach and teach the word.

AMEN

Today we pick up our studies, at a wonderful point where Paul teaches and speaks to the issue of God’s greatness.

You may recall that in our last sermon, entitled God’s great plan we learned of the incredible plan of God concerning the nation of Israel.

We learned that you and I as Gentiles were actually experiencing a time when we as wild olive branches would actually be grafted into the family of God.

The natural tree ISREAL, was set aside and will be set aside for a season, but this situation, this blindness in which the nation of Israel rejects Jesus as the messiah is only a temporary condition.

It is temporary, because God in his divine plan will through the great deliverer, restore the nation of Israel and there will be a great turning of the people, who open up their eyes to Jesus Christ and embrace him as Lord.

Today the topic of the sermon looks at and celebrates the greatness of our God.

Now clearly, no amount of words, nor could anything we could say or sing could capture or aptly describe him, but I believe that you will, just as I did, find a blessing in the celebration of our great God as noted in these five points, that are outlined in Paul’s letter.

If you are ready to walk with me through this, say AMEN

Our Great God is…..

  1. A God of unmatched riches, wisdom and knowledge.

Romans 11:33a (NLT)
33a  Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! 

Psalm 135:5-6 (NKJV)
5  For I know that the LORD is great, And our Lord is above all gods.
6  Whatever the LORD pleases He does, In heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places.

Psalm 147:5 (NLT)
5  How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension!

Isaiah 40:28 (NLT)
28 Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.

Our great God is a God who knows everything and his wisdom is absolute.

He is wise and complete in his knowledge about every detail.

He understands every dimension of everything that has ever started, or will start.

He knows the complete details of every beginning and every end and every pause.

He is unmatched in is wisdom.

His knowledge is unrestricted and immeasurable at level which can only be described as infinite.

He is unrestricted in every aspect of everything.

He is omniscient, which means that he sees everything and he is knowledgeable about everything

His wisdom is boundless and pervading into the smallest details.

His understanding is marvelous and excellent at a level that can only be described as impeccable, incontrovertible, faultless and un-impeachable.

A God of unmatched wisdom and knowledge concerning US, who has never the less, in spite of that knowledge, decided to love us and care for us, from the storehouse of his incredible grace and mercy.

Thought:

This brothers and Sisters, is too much for me to handle.

It’s too wonderful; it is so over whelming that all I can do is to sign deeply within myself.

God who is the maker of heaven and earth, chooses to hear our faintest cry, in spite of the fact that we are sinful and he knows everything about us.

Our Great God secondly is…..

  1. A God who is beyond our ability to understand.

Romans 11:33b (NLT)
33b  How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!

Job 9:10 (NKJV)
10  He does great things past finding out, Yes, wonders without number.

Job 9:10 (MSG)
10  We’ll never comprehend all the great things he does; his miracle-surprises can’t be counted.

Isaiah 55:8 (NLT)
8  “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.

To me this second point is both reassuring and humbling.

You see Julius A. Harper Sr. likes to think of himself as a pretty smart guy. You may be the same my brother or Sister; I know that I am not the only one in here who thinks that they can think.

Now truth of the matter is that some folks want a God that they can understand and figure out, but for me I am one who celebrates and embraces the fact that our God is a God who ways are far beyond anything we can understand.

I like what the writer said in the message translation of Job chapter 9:10. It said and I quote “We’ll never comprehend all the great things he does; his miracle-surprises can’t be counted”

That particular passage resonated with me and I believe that it also speaks to some of you here listening today, because our great God has done some things and treated you to come miracle surprises in your life that simply blew your mind.

God did some stuff that was like WOW…this is beyond anything that I could have even planned and God you just did this like…… POW

I like the fact that our great God, does things and that he operates on a level that is way up above my head.

A level that takes into account HIS unmatched wisdom and his unrestricted knowledge about everything.

Thought:

Think about that for a moment and let that sink in.

Think about HIS ability and his wisdom and his power, versus our own lack of ability to understand and the ridiculousness of our actually trying to get him to clear his decisions and his ways, through us.

It is impossible for you.

It is impossible for any human being to understand his decisions and his ways, but because he loves us, sometimes he will give insights and information.

That is what the gift of the word and the preaching of the word is all about.

It is NOT about me entertaining you, it’s about God giving us some info.

He may not give you the entire plan and all of the details associated therewith because he knows, that you and I couldn’t handle it.

He is not going to reveal things to you that are way above your head, but he will give you the tools and the ways of escape and the knowledge to keep yourself from falling into sin and judgment.

Thought.

Now this is where the issue of humility is required.

I told you that Julius Harper likes to think of himself as a pretty smart cookie, but in order for me to tie into the power of the God who’s knowledge and ability far outreaches my own, I must put my wisdom to the side and humbly submit to him, in obedience. 

The words says that we must lean not on our own understanding but in ALL our ways, we must acknowledge HIM and HE will direct our paths”

This is where the rubber meets the road for you, my upscale talented degree holding resident of this awesome town called Santa Clarita.

God is above our ability to understand him in terms of the total picture of his decisions and ways.

Even though you may not understand why he is saying NO to that relationship that you are lusting after, because he is God he simply can say no and the fact that you may not understand……MEANS nothing.

God’s wisdom and knowledge and directives are not subject to the understanding of MAN or the approval and buy-in of man.

What he calls us to “is to express faith” in his wisdom as DEMONSTRATED in our obedience to HIS word.

I like the fact that our great God, operates on a God level.

And in order for us as believers to access the features and benefits of that, we must humble ourselves and not be offended by the fact that God dismisses our wisdom, but rather we must take comfort and assurance in the fact that he operates on a level that is way, way, way, way up there, because he is God.

Our Great God 3rdly is…..

  1. A God who needs no counselor.

Romans 11:34 (NLT)
34  For who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice

Job 21:22 (NKJV)
22  “Can anyone teach God knowledge, Since He judges those on high?

Isaiah 40:13 (NLT)
13  Who is able to advise the Spirit of the LORD? Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him?

Isaiah 40:13-14 (MSG)
13  Who could ever have told GOD what to do or taught him his business?
14  What expert would he have gone to for advice, what school would he attend to learn justice? What god do you suppose might have taught him what he knows, (or) showed him how things work?

This third point is one that can pretty much preach itself.

Our great God is a God who needs no counselor, yet we often find ourselves acting in ways, praying in ways and speaking in ways, which are in complete defiance of this reality.

Thought:

I won’t ask you to raise your hand or to admit publically, that you have been guilty of trying to tell God what to do.

But God is so merciful and wonderful and patient, that he doesn’t slap us, he doesn’t get offended…and he hasn’t punished US for such arrogance YET.

Paul here in this teaching reminds us and assures us, that our great God is a God who needs no counselor.

Thought:

God can say this about himself, but no person could make such a claim.

It would be the height of arrogance and it would be completely untrue, but truth be told that this is how some folks think about themselves; they think that they know it all, but it is an arrogant lie.

I don’t care what kind of degree you have. You as a person can always be taught something and someone always knows something that you don’t

But our God because he is God, needs no counselor. He doesn’t have to bounce anything off of any body, but himself.

Who could give God advice? Who could give God insights and knowledge, since he already knows everything?

I like the message translation and how the writer points out the ridiculousness of someone actually trying to teach God about HIS business.

What school would he go to in order to learn what is just and what is fair and right?

Obviously It’s a silly question but it speaks to a truth about people who question God and try to give God advice and direction.

Think about your prayers and challenge yourself with a tough question about how much telling and advising you may be doing, as opposed to listening.

When you pray, even when you think you know what is happening or what is needed, have the courage and the faith to say Lord God, this is what I think, but I know better than to trust myself, Lord, let it be your will and NOT my will.

Let it be not according to my desires, but Father from the abundance of your great knowledge do what you know to be best and please do so independent of my words or thoughts or desires.

Let your kingdom come and your will be done on earth, in my life, in my family and let it so be Lord Jesus, according to and from the abundant resources of your unlimited wisdom and GODNESS.

Our Great God 4thy is…..

  1. A God who is not beholden to anyone.

Romans 11:35 (NLT)
35  And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back?

Job 35:7 (NKJV)
7  If you are righteous, what do you give Him? Or what does He receive from your hand?

Job 41:11 (NLT)
11  Who has given me anything that I need to pay back? Everything under heaven is mine.

Titus 3:5 (NLT)
5  he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.

Again in this 4th point I cannot help having the feeling of stating the obvious, that being that our great God doesn’t owe anything to anyone, nor can he be indebted or obligated to anyone on any level.

Paul the writer in Romans 11:35 rhetorically asks, who has given him so much, that he (meaning God) needs to pay it back.

God simply says in Job 41:11 and I quote “ Everything under heaven is mine”, and then in Ezekiel chapter 18 he says and I quote all souls are mine.

Two Thoughts:

First thought: Man can give nothing to God, which was not first given to him.

Second thought: God owes nothing to man, but man owes God big time.

He saved us not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.

He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.”

He blesses us because of HIS goodness. He prospers us, because of his unmerited favor and therefore God is not beholden to anyone.

Thought:

As I stand here this morning I am aware that not everyone who is listening to what I am saying actually believes this.

And I am particularly sensitive to the hearts and minds of the unsaved who may be sitting here in the church house or connected to us electronically.

I know the rebellious and prideful workings of your heart, so I want to make this clear to you on this Sunday morning or whatever day it may be, when you hear this word…

Don’t you think for a minute that God has got to prove himself to you?

God doesn’t owe you anything.

I praise God for allowing us to see our 22nd year in Ministry. In the 18 years that we’ve been in this location, we’ve seen thousands of folks come through those doors.

Some time you’ll see folks grace the doors of the church and they come in and sit down with their hands folded and their necks stretched out, as though they are customers at a presentation, waiting to be sold.

And to such a mindset and attitude I can tell you with 100% certainty that God is not going to sell you.

God is not here to beg you, but he is here to LOVE you.

And he offers you in invitation and a gift from the abundance of HIS great mercy.

The day that you hear his voice and the day that you are able to understand the simple power of the gospel, you must embrace that day as a blessing from almighty God himself, who is actually the one who gives you the ability to hear and understand the gospel.

If it were not for the mercy of God, you couldn’t even understand the gospel.

This is the crazy thing that we need to grasp about the entire salvation process; God himself, draws sinful men and women, boys and girls to the cross of his only Son, and he, as a gift, gives them the ability to express a saving faith in him.

He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done.

He saves unwashed sinners who belong in a devil’s hell, not because he owes us, but because of his mercy.

He washed away our sins, having done that for this US, not out of guilt or obligation, but strictly and completely on the basis of HIS love.

God loves you baby, that is why he chose and saved each of us and that is why HE is drawing you.

You didn’t come here by accident, no it was God who orchestrated time and space so that you would encounter HIS SON.

5th and finally…

Our Great God is…..

  1. A God who is the source of all and through whom all things exist.

Romans 11:36a-c (NLT)
36a-c  For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory.

1 Corinthians 8:6 (NLT)
6  But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we live for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life.

Colossians 1:16 (NKJV)
16  For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

We draw our sermon to a close, as we discuss and celebrate our great God who is the source and end of all things.

In him, says Colossians were all things created.

This is such an awe-inspiring proclamation that it defies our ability, to speak it.

Our God is everything. He is the source code, if I could use that language for the programmers and computer geeks out there.

He is the originator and the instigator, from who all spiritual and physical reality not only emerged, but also is held.

In him, the world that we see is sustained by HIS mighty power, you’ll see that idea reflected in Hebrews chapter 1:3

Without him, nothing that exists would exist.

It all came though him. It all exists for him.

For his pleasure.

Not because he needed a world, not because he needed the Angelic beings, but he simply made these things and beings for his pleasure.

Thought:

You and I as believers have got to embrace and flow in this reality; for the word tells us that it’s always been about him and his pleasure.

YES he saved you because he loved you, but HIS love expresses the grandeur and greatness of HIS glory.

He loves us and created us to exist in him.

He loved us and created us to exist in this reality and he calls us to be with him in heaven because the splendor and greatness of God’s honor would be reflected in you and I, shining like little gems and precious stones around the throne of God.

Shining, in the presence of his brightness.

Shining in the light of a glorious and splendid God.

It’s all about HIM.

He chose US to occupy a place of honor and dignity, that we might proclaim the praises of him, who has called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light.

It’s enough to take your breath away.

God …….you are the name above all names.

You are worthy of our praise

And our hearts will sing, how great is our God

Click here to view the entire service and sermon 

 

Advertisements

God’s Great Plan Revealed

Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper, Senior Pastor Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship Church

                                    God’s Great Plan Revealed

Romans 11:25-27 (NLT)
25  I want you to understand this mystery, dear brothers and sisters, so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ.
26  And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say, “The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness.
27  And this is my covenant with them, that I will take away their sins.”

Romans 11:25-27 (NKJV)
25  For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
26  And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
27  For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.”

May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the hearing of HIS holy and mighty word.

If you were here for the previous sermon entitled” a warning against spiritual pride and prejudice”, you might recall that in that teaching Paul spoke to us quite extensively about Israel’s spiritual condition.

And part of what we learned in that final point of the four-point sermon, is that the Spiritual condition that Israel is in, is a temporary condition.

Romans 11:23 said and I quote “And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.

Then the scripture goes on to say in vs 24 and I am paraphrasing now “For you, or in this case if we, by nature meaning the Gentiles, were a branch cut from a wild olive tree, who were grafted in, how much more would God be eager to graft back in the original branches back into the tree where they belong.

Today we are going to dive deeper into that subject, in this four-point sermon entitled “God’s Great Plan Revealed”

And again, we want to encourage you to embrace this teaching as a way of helping you to grow in your faith and trust in God and his love.

And this is particularly important and helpful in these troubling times when it seems as though our society is in such turmoil.

In the midst of confusion, you and I as born again children of God may take solace and comfort in the fact that God is in control. He is working it out, he is working things together for HIS plan and we will see that revealed in God’s great plan concerning the nation of Israel.

So if you are ready to learn about that say AMEN.

God’s great plan concerning Israel is revealed in the coming reality that…

  1. Israel’s current state of blindness (spiritual condition) is only temporary.

Romans 11:25 (NKJV)
25  For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.

Romans 11:25c-d (NLT)
25  Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ.

John 10:16 (NKJV)
16  And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

Revelation 7:9 (MSG)
9 I looked again. I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there—all nations and tribes, all races and languages. And they were standing, dressed in white robes and waving palm branches, standing before the Throne and the Lamb

God’s blessed plan regarding the spiritual state of nation of Israel is that the blindness that now characterizes the nation will at a future point be lifted because God’s plan is to allow that to continue…..temporarily.

Paul touched upon this earlier, but here he addresses the issue within the context of a warning against ignorance.

And the warning is directed towards those who know Christ and have been enlightened regarding the love and grace of God.

The warning and the teaching is directed to believers; to folks like you and I who would, as human’s are bound to do, might be tempted to start to feel puffed up or conceited about where we stand as enlightened believers and where the nation of Israel stands, with reference to the issues and mistakes that we have learned about in Paul’s teaching.

Here Paul pivots, not only to warn the church against conceit and high mindedness, but also to expose a blessed mystery.

And the mystery is this: The blindness and hard heartedness of Israel, is only temporary and it is only in place, so that a time of salvation could be given to us, the Gentiles.

Paul says that what he is revealing here in this writing, was previously unknown.

It was hidden, it was part of God’s plan, laid out before the foundation of the world, but it was kept secret and is now revealed to US, so that we don’t operate in ignorance.

Thought:

Ignorance will have you doing silly things and operating in foolish ways and it will have you making decisions that end up hurting yourself and those you love.

I could pause here, I could pivot if you please, I could develop a sermon based entirely on the subject of the problems caused in our lives and the regrets associated with ignorance….

Ignorance is a terrible thing; conversely knowledge is a wonderful thing.

Here Paul reveals a wonderful mystery, which is mind blowing in it’s blessedness, because it reveals the massive complexity of God’s plan, which was laid out and put into place before the foundation of the world.

This reality makes John 3:16 come into focus an entirely new light, for when I hear the words, that God so loved the world, it opens up my mind to an entirely different reality.

You see God had a special people whom he chose for himself.

He did not choose them because they were more numerous than other nations.

He did not choose them because they had some physical advantage, but he chose them because the father of that nation, believed God and trusted God at a time when faith in God was not the norm or general rule concerning man.

God chose Abraham because Abraham believed God.

Notice that I did not say that he believed about GOD. I said he believed God.

Thought:

Most of us would like to say that we too believe God; but I don’t think that very many of us here today could say that we believe God on a level like that of Abraham.

I feel like I believe God, but if you ask me to take my only SON up to the mountain top to sacrifice him, I don’t believe that I’d be capable of doing that.

There are some here today who say that they have great faith and I am the last person to challenge that, but if God were to ask them to sell their house, or to empty out their bank account and pick up all of their belongings and go down the airport and wait, such a one might not be able to pull that off today.

God chose Abraham because he believed God enough to do something that made no sense from a human stand point.

He chose Abraham and called HIS descendents, Isaac and Jacob to be a special people for him.

He gave them the sign of circumcision.

He gave them his laws.

And he brought them out of Egypt with a powerful hand.

These were the people who knew and worshipped God, when folk in the Gentile world were burning their children in the fire and worshipping idols made of wood and stone.

These chosen people, even with all their mistakes were heads and shoulders above the Gentile world, but they were blinded and put on hold, so that the Gentiles could be grafted into the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Think about the power of that for a moment and let it sink in if you please.

God so loved the world. God so loved us, God loved you and God love me, so much that he cut off a place in HIS tree and he set aside the natural branch, so that there would be a time in which the Gentiles could come in.

This is what Jesus was talking about, when he spoke of the sheep which were not of this fold.

This is what John the revelator saw in the vision that was recorded in Revelation chapter 7 verse 9.

This is blessed mystery that is revealed to us, that what is happening to Israel is only temporary and it is happening for the benefit of us.

Thought:

If you are here today and don’t know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and savior I want to talk to you for a moment, even though it is early in the sermon and we typically reserve this for the close.

God so loved the world and YOU that he cut off his own people, so that he could provide an opportunity for you.

If you are a Gentile, you were outside of the commonwealth of Israel.

You and I were called the unloved.

Yet we’ve been courted and wooed and drawn, by the Spirit of God himself, who speaks to our hearts and opens up our eyes, so that we can see and embrace the very Christ, who is invisible to HIS own chosen people.

That is why the scripture says in John chapter 1:11, that…

He came to his own people, but his own received him not, but to all who receive him, to those who recognize the pull and tug of his Spirit, to all who believe on his name, HE has given them the right (though it makes absolutely no sense) to become the children of God.

My friend, if the Spirit of God is speaking to you in this first point of the sermon, make a decision right now, that when the invitation comes, that you will accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior and that you will come into his blessed family by faith.

God’s great plan concerning Israel is revealed in the coming reality that…

  1. The “nation” of Israel will be restored.

Romans 11:26a (NKJV)
26  And so all Israel will be saved

(SCREENS)

Romans 11:25c-26a (MSG)
25c This hardness on the part of insider Israel toward God is temporary

26a  Before it’s all over, there will be a complete Israel.

Isaiah 45:17 (NKJV)
17  But Israel shall be saved by the LORD With an everlasting salvation; You shall not be ashamed or disgraced Forever and ever.

Jeremiah 32:37 (NKJV)
37  Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely.

Again, thinking about the context in which Paul is addressing the church in this writing, it is helpful and mindful to embrace what Paul is sharing with us so that we be informed and not be high minded or ignorant.

Here in this second point, we are told that the nation of Israel will be restored.

Thought:

Now if you were here a couple of months ago, you might remember that I delivered a sermon entitled “who are the true children of God” and then there was a follow up sermon entitled “who are the chosen people of God”.

In those sermons, I shared with you some concepts and ideas that I had as a child, which bothered me greatly.

One of those thoughts was the idea and notion, that everyone who was born Jewish would automatically go to heaven.

As a child I did not like the idea of their being “a chosen” people, especially when I was not one of them.

That is how I felt and what I believed as a child…

But later on I learned and we learned that “not all who are born” into the nation of Israel are of Israel.

Not everyone who is born Jewish is automatically going to go the heaven.

BUT there will be a restoration of the nation of Israel in which a community of people, who are Jews and the nation of Israel as a spiritual community, will be restored.

And this is great news for ANYONE here today who may be like me and have close personal friends or family members who are of a Jewish background.

I’m encouraged by this reality.

I’m excited about the grace and plan of God.

Thought:

One of my closest friends is Jewish. He has been a friend for over 35 years.

We can talk about everything but Jesus, but in this word I am encouraged that there is hope and that nothing is impossible with God.

The same God who saved while you were yet in your sins, is able to graft the branches of the natural tree, back into the place where they belong.

That brings us to the third point…

God’s great plan concerning Israel is revealed in the coming reality that…

  1. A deliverer will turn the hearts of the Jewish people towards him.

Romans 11:26b (NLT)
26 As the Scriptures say, “The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness.

Isaiah 59:20 (NLT)
20  “The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem to buy back those in Israel who have turned from their sins,” says the LORD.

Zechariah 12:10 (NLT)
10  “Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the family of David and on the people of Jerusalem. They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died.

1 Timothy 2:6 (NLT)
6  He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.

In the second point of the sermon, we touched a bit upon this earlier and point number three is really a continuation of that.

God’s great plan concerning Israel is that something is going to happen which will cause a turning of the hearts now hardened, towards Jesus the Christ.

What this means, is that the power of the Spirit of God is going to change people’s hearts.

The mighty redeemer himself and the power of his love, is going to turn the hearts and minds of his chosen people, towards him.

Right now you cannot talk with many of our Jewish friends and brethren about Jesus, but God is going to turn their hearts and he is going to OPEN their eyes to the power and truth of the cross.

Thought:

You see right now, the message of the cross is foolishness and offensive, but one day it is going to connect.

One day the message of the redeemer who suffered, bled and died on the cross for the entire world will become clear to everyone.

Thought:

Zechariah as recorded in chapter 12 verse 10, looked out prophetically through time and space and what he saw was an absolutely astounding picture of God’s grace and his plan of restoration as it took place IN and through Jesus.

The prophet says and I quote 10  “Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the family of David and on the people of Jerusalem.

This is a powerful picture of God’s incredible commitment to keeping his word and his unwavering nature as it regards his covenant promise.

The prophet speaks further and he says of Israel “that they will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died”

And out of that awakening. Out of that realization, made possible by the Spirit of God, working through the great deliverer himself, there will be a mighty repentance in which a turning will occur.

  • A turning in the hearts of Israel unlike anything that we can imagine.
  • A shift away from ungodliness.
  • A shift away from spiritual blindness.
  • A shift towards the grace of God.

And a shift in the direction of the one they had previously rejected.

Thought:

As I think about that day, I cannot help but hear the weeping and the anguish of God’s special people.

Tears of anguish, tears of regret BUT most importantly tears of thankfulness, as they finally embrace JESUS as the one who has come to their rescue.

Thought:

The visual that is given by the writer of weeping, very likely reminds you as it remind me, of that incredible moment in which you came to realize the love and grace of God for yourself.

Those who know Jesus and are sitting under the sound of my voice, remember the moment you came to Jesus. 

You know what it is like to suddenly see and hear in a way that you’ve never seen and heard or understood previously.

You know about the blessing of having God’s own Spirit to connect with you, so that your eyes could be open to the wonder and the power of the cross.

You know what it is like to finally understand that Christ suffered and died on the cross, not for his own sins, because he had none; but he suffered on that cross for you.

You know the weight and the feeling of coming to a realization that you are lost without him.

But you also know the joy of being able to embrace and to be embraced by the deliverer, Jesus Christ himself.

God’s great plan concerning Israel is revealed 4th and finally in the coming reality that…

  1. They will receive forgiveness of sins.

Romans 11:26-27 (NKJV)
26  And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
27  For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.”

Isaiah 44:21-22 (NKJV)
21  “Remember these, O Jacob, And Israel, for you are My servant; I have formed you, you are My servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me!
22  I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, And like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”

Acts 13:38-39 (NKJV)
38  Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins;
39  and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.

It’s very likely that you already knew where the sermon would end, for the story of the people of Israel is a story that applies to all mankind.

God’s great plan is a plan of grace and mercy.

Everything that God planned and all that he did, was done as a result of His covenant and his desire to gift man, with the unbelievable gift of forgiveness.

Thought:

This word covenant by the way is an interesting word. My wife and I use it quite a bit when we are counseling couples that are getting married and often when we explain that marriage is a covenant and we tell them what the word means, it’s a surprise.

You see most people understand the idea of contract. It’s an agreement between two or more parties who come together and promise to do something.

In a contract the whole thing becomes void of one of the signatories fails to hold up their end.

But a covenant is different than a contract. It is an agreement, just like a contract is an agreement, but the difference is that in a covenant, you can’t break it just because one party didn’t keep their end of the bargain.

God was in a covenant relationship with Israel.

He promised and pledged, that he would take away their sins.

He promised that he would offer forgiveness and he fulfilled his covenant promise, regardless of the fact that Israel didn’t keep up their end of the deal.

God did what HE said he would do and he provided what he promised through faith in Jesus Christ.

Close:

God’s great plan for Israel speaks to his great love and grace towards us.

I just love the word as recorded in Romans chapter five, verse eight. It simply says 8  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:9-10 (KJV)
9  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

God’s great plan concerning the entire world is that through faith in Jesus Christ every man, every woman, every boy and every girl might be saved.

And it’s a plan that you can embrace by FAITH.

AMEN:

While all eyes are closed and heads are bowed, I wonder if there is anyone here today who does not know the pardon of your sins and the wonder of God’s incredible grace.

His great plan is a make a new nation for himself.

His great plan is to populate with a mixed multitude of Jews and Gentiles and nation of peculiar people, his own special people called forth to show and declare the praises of HIM who called us out of darkness and into HIS marvelous light.

Are you here today?

Do you hear the voice of God, calling you into HIS beloved family?

Salvation, Recommit, Baptism, Membership.

Click here to view the entire service and sermon

A warning against spiritual pride and prejudice.

                                                                                                                                                              A Warning Against Spiritual Pride and Spiritual Prejudice

Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper, Senior Pastor Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship 

Romans 11:17-20 (NLT)
17  But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree.
18  But you must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root.
19  “Well,” you may say, “those branches were broken off to make room for me.”
20  Yes, but remember—those branches were broken off because they didn’t believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don’t think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen.

May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the hearing of his holy and mighty word.

When we were last here together in the study of the epistle written to the church at ROME, we examined a lesson on the salvic future of the nation of Israel.

Paul in the portion of the letter we looked at, asked the question HAS GOD rejected the nation of Israel?

And the answer that was given was a firm absolutely not, for God himself, in spite of the fact that the majority of Jews have rejected Christ, had reserved a remnant for himself.

In that teaching Paul gave 4 powerful examples and proofs that God has not rejected the nation of Israel.

Firstly he spoke of the grace and kindness of God as evidenced in HIS own life, as an example of that.

Paul also taught us about the fact that God foreordained that there would be exceptional people, who would believe in him and have faith in him.

Our faithful God, demonstrated his continued kindness and the keeping of his promises, showing us that God’s grace and salvation through faith is still active and present in the lives of Jews and Gentiles today.

If you want to study more about that, you’ll find some interesting and very deeply complex readings in chapter 11: verses 1-16.

You can also find the sermon on our website at mysccf.com; just click on the sermons tab and scroll through the video listings.

Today, the sermon switches gears a bit, as Paul in verses 18-24 of chapter 11, gives a little warning to Gentile believers.

In this warning Paul reminds us, to make sure that we as born again Gentile children of God, keep our heads on right.

Watch your attitude, check yourself, be careful that you as a believer don’t get a big head, or start acting as if you are all that…because you now flow in the blessings of God, while Israel stumbled.

 Over the past few sermons as we’ve gone through the letter to the church at ROME, we’ve learned some pretty tough things about the nation of Israel.

We shared a sermon on how the nation of Israel actually missed connecting with God because they failed to accept that the way to connect with God was through faith, rather than works.

Israel missed it because they were determined to approach God in their own way.

They missed God, but the gentles, who were outside of the family of God….. GOT IN, because we came into the family by faith….and that was a great blessing.

But you and I understand too well, as does Paul that people because they are people, can easily take the blessings of God and turn them into a problem.

So Paul here warns the gentile nations, not to become arrogant, or to began to look down their noses at the nation of Israel but instead to remember that they are wild olive branches who have been grafted in.

In other words, Paul here is dealing with spiritual pride and prejudice.

Now this might not be an issue in your life, but the truth of the matter is that there are many in the body of Christ, who struggle with pride and spiritual prejudice.

We see that kind of problem evidencing itself, in the form of academic snobbery.

Sometimes when a person takes a couple of classes or becomes degreed (and again there is nothing wrong with that, I am a great believer in studying to show yourself approved, as a minister of the Gospel you have to study and learn) BUT you sometimes find, that there is a haughtiness or a bit of puffery if you please, in which one Christian begins to look down upon another brother or Sister who hasn’t studied or become conversant in Hebrew or Greek.

Spiritual pride and prejudice.

We see that kind of problem evidencing itself, in terms of one’s spiritual giftedness or the perception of the lack there of.

Folks who have the gift of “X” can began to become prideful and or prejudiced against those who are perceived as being less gifted, because they don’t flow in the spectacular expressions that characterize your life.

Spiritual arrogance and uppity-ness..

We see that kind of problem evidencing itself in terms of those who have been saved for a long time and that length of salvivic experience, becomes not a tool to help those who are new, but rather a measuring device, which separates and dismisses and marginalizes those who are new to the body of Christ.

Here in the passage we are examining today we are addressing those Gentles within-the-body of Christ who look down their noses at the Jewish people.

You may not have this problem, or you may not be aware of it; but the issue was important enough for Paul to write to the church about it, so let’s embrace and be open to what the Spirit says to us, in these four points of admonition and warning…

If you are ready to get going say AMEN

The Gentile Church is warned concerning our attitude towards the Jewish people.

  1. Not to fall into the human tendency to be boastful and arrogant regarding the current spiritual state of the Jews.

Romans 11:18 (NLT)
18  But you must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root.

 Romans 11:17-18 (MSG)
17  Some of the tree’s branches were pruned and you wild olive shoots were grafted in. Yet the fact that you are now fed by that rich and holy root
18  gives you no cause to crow over the pruned branches. Remember, you aren’t feeding the root; the root is feeding you.

Proverbs 16:18 (NKJV)
18  Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.

Proverbs 16:18 (MSG)
18  First pride, then the crash— the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.

John 4:22 (MSG)
22  You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. God’s way of salvation is made available through the Jews.

I found this first point to be a very interesting one, in that it was a struggle for me to embrace the applicability of this until I thought about and explored what Paul is teaching here, more deeply.

Remember now that Paul in this letter has previously outlined and highlighted the struggles of the people of Israel and he has taught us much about the wonder and blessing of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

I believe that Paul pivots here to give the reader a word of warning because he understands how easily people can take something that is a blessing and make it into a problem, especially when it comes to looking at the mistakes of others and comparing ourselves in a slanted and distorted way.

Thought:

Some times when we read about how rebellious the people of Israel were and how they turned on God and how they worshipped Baal; you look and think WOW, what were they thinking.

I would never do that.

Church folk look at what Israel did and think to themselves, no way that I would ever sacrifice my children to molech, I would never reject God if I saw him open the red sea and do all of those miracles….

Thought:

When I delivered the first part of this sermon three weeks ago, I recall the reaction that many of us had when I told you that modern day Israel was recognized by Out Magazine as the gay capital of the Middle East.

There were more than a couple of humrumps in the room and the shaking of heads as though the gentile world is NOT mired in the same thing.

Anti-Jewish prejudice. Bigotry against Jews, it’s out there in the unsaved world, but you’d be surprised that anti-Jewishness exist in the modern church.

We find Christians who don’t like the Jews, or even worse those who consider themselves superior because “we know and except Jesus and “they don’t.

Paul cautions and speaks directly to this reality and here is what he says

“You must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off”

The fact that you are now fed by that rich and holy root gives you no cause to crow over the pruned branches.

Remember, you aren’t feeding the root; the root is feeding you.

Thought:

We should never treat our Jewish brothers and sisters, as though they are inferior because they have not YET accepted Christ.

We should never harbor anti-Semitic thoughts.

Some of the most prejudice people you will find in the world today, base their hatred of the Jews on an inward pride, that considers the Jewish nation as rejected people…..

And that wrong minded thinking is completely off base AND it is an offense to God himself.

  • If it were not for the Jews being broken off, we as Gentiles would have not been brought in.
  • If it were not for the Jews, we wouldn’t have the gospel.
  • And just in case you forgot it, Jesus the Christ came through the JEWS..

Thought:

Every Gentile owes a debt to the Jewish people.

We must never project an air of superiority over the gift of grace we have received, but instead every Christian should think soberly, giving honor to God who made a place for us, thanking HIM that he has saw fit to deal us a measure of soul saving faith.

The Gentile Church is warned concerning our attitude towards the Jewish people…

  1. Not be become hard headed and self-satisfied; we must remember the lesson of Israel’s past.

Romans 11:19-21 (NKJV)
19  You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.”
20  Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith.

Do not be haughty, but fear.
21  For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.

Hebrews 3:12 (NKJV)
12  Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;

Hebrews 12:25 (NLT)
25  Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven! 

Hebrews 2:2-3 (NKJV)
2  For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward,
3  how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,

We touched upon this briefly in point number one when we spoke about the idea that Christians can sometimes be guilty of thinking of themselves as spiritually superior, because we as Christians have accepted Christ and the Jewish nation has not.

Paul here admonishes Gentile believers to make sure that they don’t become arrogant and self satisfied because of the tremendous gift of salvation through grace.

Thought:

Israel was not broken off, because God decided to replace the Jewish people with Christians.

Christians are not the NEW JEWS and there are some crazy folks out there who are teaching people that..

Christians are wild olive branches that have been grafted into the tree because one branch was broken off, because of un-belief.

Thought:

You and I as Christians have something that is absolutely fantastic, but it was undeserved on every level you could imagine.

The Jewish people had a history with God and they were given the words and commandments of God, directly to them; our ancestors and forefathers were heathens who were steeped in idol worship and spiritual debauchery.

  • We were the unnatural branches, who through faith have become acceptable to God and have been adopted into HIS family and that feels wonderful.

But we are people. And like all people, we can very easily fall into complacency.

This is a problem in every church, including this one.

The modern church today is confident. Happy. Easy going. Self Satisfied. And ………….Unconcerned.

Thought:

This is at the core of what Paul is trying to communicate to us in this second point.

You see we feel safe in the beauty and simplicity of Grace.

We’ve become dull and self satisfied in our-selves, even to the point of becoming people who are merely listeners of the word and not doers.

We can begin to abuse the grace of God, by allowing sinfulness to take over our lives.

And so the modern church as become a church of lazy and listless people who don’t heed the word of God, who don’t respond to sound doctrine, who’s ears are always itching, and who’s ears are dull.

Like ancient Israel, who responded to the challenge of Jesus by declaring their Abrahamic pedigree, we too can fall into the trap of feeling safe and secure in our superior Christianity.

Yet, hear the caution my friends, YES fear if you have the sense enough to do so.

For the word of God says

“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;

“Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking.

For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven!
For if the word spoken through Angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward.

How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?

We must learn from Israel’s past

For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.

The Gentile Church is warned concerning our attitude towards the Jewish people…

  1. Not to forget that there are two sides to God: do not forget the lesson of Israel who failed to abide in God’s goodness.

Romans 11:22 (NKJV)
22  Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.

Romans 11:22 (NLT)
22  Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in his kindness. But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off. 

Romans 11:22 (MSG)
22  Make sure you stay alert to these qualities of gentle kindness and ruthless severity that exist side by side in God—ruthless with the deadwood, gentle with the grafted shoot. But don’t presume on this gentleness. The moment you become deadwood, you’re out of there.

2 John 1:8-9 (NKJV)
8  Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.
9  Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.

In this third point we want to focus on the concept of abiding and the lesson that we as Christians must learn, as we look at and remember what happened to Israel.

Now in point number two we spoke about the danger of arrogantly becoming self-satisfied; this third point is somewhat related to that.

We in the modern Christian church, sometimes think that we have it better in terms of the simplicity and gift of the gospel regarding salvation through faith in Jesus Christ…and I believe that too…yes.

But we also sometimes have a wrong-minded notion concerning the God of the    “Old testament” versus the “God of the New” testament”

There are even some places where the Old Testament isn’t read because folks don’t like to think about that Old Testament God.

And here is what we need to understand my friends; Listen closely now; are you ready.

The God of the Old Testament and God of the New Testament is exactly the same God.

The God who opened up the earth and swallowed people alive.

The God who burned up people with fire that came down from heaven.

The God who sent the children of Israel into 70 years of captivity because they disobeyed him; IS the same God who said that you had better follow all of my commandments.

That God is the same God, who says “ I’ll accept you and declare you to be in right standing with me, not because of your works but because of your faith in my Son Jesus Christ.

The same God who burned folks alive is the same God who grafted us in with loving-kindness.

…..but you need to understand that God STILL expects us to continue.

Thought:

Make sure you get this, because this was one of the problems with Israel.

They were given the relationship, they were given a special connection with God, but they failed to abide in his goodness, by keeping his commandments and honoring him as God.

Thought:

Now I know that I am rocking some folks in terms of your personal theology; you’d like to think that God doesn’t expect a child of God to live like a child of God and to obey his commandments.

And you can reject what the word says here if you want, but I believe that we have got to remember that God is NOT A TOY.

The scriptures teaches us, that we must remain, we must abide, or we too can be cut off.

Now you can go ahead and find yourself a different translation if you want to, but my bible says, you’d better consider both his goodness AND his severity.

The Gentile Church is warned concerning our attitude towards the Jewish people…4th and finally..

  1. Not to count Israel out, for the same God who grafted in the wild branch is able to graft in, the natural branch.

Romans 11:23 (NKJV)
23  And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.

Romans 11:24 (NLT)
24  You, by nature, were a branch cut from a wild olive tree. So if God was willing to do something contrary to nature by grafting you into his cultivated tree, he will be far more eager to graft the original branches back into the tree where they belong.

Jeremiah 3:22 (NLT)
22  “My wayward children,” says the LORD, “come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts.” “Yes, we’re coming,” the people reply, “for you are the LORD our God. 

Romans 11:25-26 (MSG)
25  I want to lay all this out on the table as clearly as I can, friends. This is complicated. It would be easy to misinterpret what’s going on and arrogantly assume that you’re royalty and they’re just rabble, out on their ears for good. But that’s not it at all. This hardness on the part of insider Israel toward God is temporary. Its effect is to open things up to all the outsiders so that we end up with a full house.
26  Before it’s all over, there will be a complete Israel. As it is written, A champion will stride down from the mountain of Zion; he’ll clean house in Jacob.

Wow….God has a master plan, to fill up his house and the house will be comprised of Jews and Gentiles.

God has always reserved a remnant for himself and his grace and mercy will be seen, in the reality, that he is able to graft in the natural branch.

As we learned in a lesson earlier, this does not mean that everyone who is born Jewish will automatically get into heaven, but what it does mean is that in the future there will be a tremendous turning that will take place in the hearts of many, many Jewish people.

John 3:16 said that God so loved the world; don’t think for a moment that his love does not extend without reservation to the people of the covenant.

God is able because he is God.

He knows the heart of man. He knows the longing need of man. He knows that the power of the cross and the message of salvation through faith in his beloved Son.

The Gospel might sound like foolishness to some folks today.

But that word is going to find it’s mark and many JEWISH people will turn TO CHRIST and be grafted in once again, where they belong.

God can make it happen.

He can change hearts just as he changed your heart and gave you who are in the church today; the ability to respond in faith to HIS son.

AMEN.

Today we’ve shared a sermon about the nation of Israel and God has spoken to us through this word, concerning the wonder and blessings of what we have been provided in HIM and through the Jewish people.

This book is full of lessons to be learned about God, especially if you look back at the Old Testament.

Earlier in the sermon, I made a point of telling you that The God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament is exactly the same God.

God is a HOLY God.

He’s a righteous judge.

He’s merciful and he is kind.

But he is also an executer of punishment on those who disobey and reject him.

Reading through the book of Leviticus and many writings contained in the law, is something that I personally found to be overwhelming.

I couldn’t get it right. We couldn’t get it right. Every single day we’d be guilty of offending God and therefore would ultimately be condemned to eternal death.

I’m glad that today, we live under the dispensation of Grace, where we have an opportunity to come in relationship with God, through Jesus his Son who paid the price for our sins.

Through faith in his Son who suffered, bled and died for our sins, we who cannot qualify on our own can be accepted into God’s family.

The good news is that Christ came to this earth, that he died on the cross and rose again, so that you by believing in him as Lord of your life, can be saved and thereby grafted into the family of God.

To you my dear friend, the question simply is this….do you know this reality for your self.

Have you come into the forgiven family of God by faith in Jesus Christ?

Have you been born again?

If the answer is no and you want it to be YES, then the Spirit of God is calling you to come.

WHILE ALL HEADS ARE BOWED AND EYES ARE CLOSED AND CHRISTANS ARE PRAYING.

Salvation

Recommit

Baptism

New Memberships

DON’T FORGET COMMUNION

Click here for the full service video

Has God Rejected His Chosen People?

 Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper, Senior Pastor Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship

                              Has God Rejected Chosen People?

Romans 11:1-5 (NLT)
1  I ask, then, has God rejected his own people, the nation of Israel? Of course not! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham and a member of the tribe of Benjamin.
2  No, God has not rejected his own people, whom he chose from the very beginning. Do you realize what the Scriptures say about this? Elijah the prophet complained to God about the people of Israel and said,
3  “LORD, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”
4  And do you remember God’s reply? He said, “No, I have 7,000 others who have never bowed down to Baal!”
5  It is the same today, for a few of the people of Israel have remained faithful because of God’s grace—his undeserved kindness in choosing them. 

May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the hearing of HIS holy and mighty word.

We are returning to our studies through the epistle or letter written to the church at Rome and we again find the Apostle Paul’s extended teaching regarding the nation of Israel.

Earlier we learned about the nation of Israel and their rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul taught us about how that rejection actually made it possible for us who are Gentiles to be grafted into the family of God.

We shared a sermon back in February entitled “ How to Miss connecting with God”

In that sermon, Paul showed us how Israel failed to connect with God, not because they lacked sincerity or effort or zeal, but rather they failed to connect with God because they refused submit to God’s way of making people right with HIM, which is not of works but rather is by faith.

It is by faith that God accepts a person.

Abraham, the father of faith was counted as righteous by God, not because of what he did, but because of his faith.

He believed God and it was accounted or credited to him as righteousness.

Israel didn’t get this. Even though they were God’s chosen people, they failed to connect with God because they rejected the way of faith and instead pursed God with a righteousness of their own making.

That is why the scripture says in John chapter one that “ he came to his own and his own did not receive Him.

The chosen people of God, ended up missing God and the Gentiles who were outside of the family of God, where then grafted in, as wild olive branches and we became heirs of the promises of God, by faith in Jesus Christ.

Thought:

Now this reality of course was good news for us.

We got in; we obtained a blessing that was totally undeserved.

But this reality and this blessings associated therewith raises a question in our minds and here it is…

Did this blessing and our entrance into the family of God mean that Israel had been totally rejected?

Because we got in…… is Israel now out ?

We’ll that is a question that Paul answers for us in this teaching regarding Israel’s future and God’s incredible grace…

So let’s get started, let’s look at and celebrate the goodness of God and HIS grace as demonstrated towards the nation of Israel in these four biblical proofs.

Has God completely rejected His chosen people? Absolutely not and here is the first point of proof.

  1. Paul himself was evidence that God has not utterly rejected Israel and that HE (God) is true to his promises.

Romans 11:1 (NLT)
1  I ask, then, has God rejected his own people, the nation of Israel? Of course not! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham and a member of the tribe of Benjamin.

Philippians 3:5a-b (NKJV)
5  circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews;

Acts 9:17 (NLT)
17  So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

1 Corinthians 15:9-10a (NKJV)
9  For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
10  But by the grace of God I am what I am

Israel, as we learned in previous lessons, was a nation that was defined by rebellion and obstinacy.

Reading through the Old Testament, you will find story after story, after story of Israel’s rebellion and disobedience towards God.

God had rescued them with his powerful hands; he had led them in the wilderness and fed them with manna from heaven.

He had brought them into the Promised Land that was flowing with milk and honey.

He had given them his laws and statues and set them up to be an incredibly blessed nation, but they turned on God and rebelled against him and worshipped idols in defiance of the living God.

And instead of living under the blessings of God, the nation of Israel came under HIS punishment.

At the time of the words that were written by Paul, the nation of Israel had been held under Roman bondage. They had rejected the Messiah; they had rejected Jesus Christ God’s own Son and they had plotted and conspired in his death.

Yet to the question of whether this meant that God had rejected and cast away his people, Paul responded with an emphatic declaration “that God forbid that he would utterly reject his people”

In fact from Paul’s perspective the notion that God would utterly reject his people was impossible.

And the first proof that he offers….. is the grace of God as evidenced in himself.

Thought:

Paul was a true son of Abraham who was circumcised on the 8th day of his life.

He was a Jew of Jews, he was a member of the tribe of Benjamin, he himself was part of the group of people, called the Pharisees who were actually in rebellion towards God.

Yet God showed through Paul, that he would extend his grace towards Israel, in keeping with his promise, so that through his GRACE there would always, evidence of his promise, as seen in the lives of individual people.

Paul was perfect example and a living proof-answer which showed us that God kept and keeps his word.

Even though Paul was formerly an enemy of the church.

Even though he stood by and witnessed the stoning of Stephen

Jesus himself appeared to him and called him to salvation.

Even though the Jews as a group of people, had rejected Christ himself, he still reached out in grace to fulfill his promises to all who are willing to believe in him and obey him.

Thought:

I believe this is why Paul was constantly overwhelmed and over powered by the grace and mercy of God.

He was from his perspective the least of the Apostles.

He was part of the sect of Israelites who had rejected God, yet by the grace of God he was accepted as one of God’s chosen and beloved.

Thought:

Paul in his personal experience with God, was proof that God’s grace and His determination to keep His promises, can never be over come or overwhelmed by the sins and failures of man.

This is something that I want to make clear to every listener today.

This is something that I want you to grasp and hold on to as an unchanging reality, that God himself always keeps His word and he extends his grace.

You and I who are saved today.

You and I who have the blessing of being grafted into the family of God, are living proofs of evidence, that we can be accepted, we can be brought in, we can be the beneficiaries of God’s incredible grace and mercy, because nothing of our sinful past can overwhelm the grace and mercy of God.

Has God completely rejected His chosen people? Absolutely not and here is the second point of proof.

  1. God foreordained that there would be exceptional people.

Romans 11:2a-b (NLT)
2a-b  No, God has not rejected his own people, whom he chose from the very beginning. 

Romans 8:29 (NLT)
29  For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

1 Peter 1:2a-c (NLT)
2a-c  God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:2 (NKJV)
2  elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.

In this second point I want to try to unwrap the complexity of the language here, by focusing on the issue of foreknowledge.

Say that word. Foreknowledge

Foreknowledge tells us that God knew in advance.

He had foresight.

He had precognition; he had divine providence regarding the fact that there would be those among the people of Israel who would not reject him in spite of the fact that the nation as a whole would turn their backs on God.

In other words, God foreknew that there would be exceptional people within the nation of Israel overall.

In answering the question as to the salvivic future of Israel, we learn that God has absolutely not rejected and utterly cast out the Jewish people, because he has always known that there would be exceptional people who would respond to his love and grace,.

And this is the message that we can celebrate today.

For in God’s dealings with the Jewish people, he is also speaking to the Gentile world.

In his actions of grace towards the Jewish nation, he is speaking to and picturing the reality of the marvel of his grace and love and mercy, which God has towards us.

You see, the nation of Israel in many ways is merely a microcosm of the sinful and rebellious Gentile world.

The world we live in rejects God in favor of man made idols.

The world we live in is steeped in pride and arrogance.

The world we live in, is dominated by self-righteous folks who want to design their own God and to dictate the terms of the relationship.

But because of God’s grace and love and mercy, he has not rejected all people, but in his love he gave the world his only begotten SON.

And in that giving he also knew and foreknew, that there would exceptional people like you in this world.

People who in spite of all of the confusion and sin that is present in this world, would respond to Jesus his Son, and who as the scripture said, would become like his Son.

And so he chose them and he is choosing YOU.

He knew YOU my unsaved friend.

He knew who would be listening to this sermon today and he knows who will respond to his offer of love and grace and peace.

Has God completely rejected His chosen people? Absolutely not and here is the 3rd point of proof.

  1. Scripture points to and confirms that God always has a remnant. 

Romans 11:2-3 (NLT)
2c  Do you realize what the Scriptures say about this? Elijah the prophet complained to God about the people of Israel and said,
3  “LORD, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

1 Kings 19:18 (NLT)
18  Yet I will preserve 7,000 others in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!”

1 Kings 19:18 (KJV)
18  Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

1 Kings 19:18 (MSG)
18  Meanwhile, I’m preserving for myself seven thousand souls: the knees that haven’t bowed to the god Baal, the mouths that haven’t kissed his image.”

For this 3rd point, I choose three confirming scriptures which are based on the same passage, yet have three different translations and I have done so in order to drive home a point that has to do with God and his sovereignty.

In thinking about and answering the question as to where Israel stands in relation to the salvation of the Jewish people, it is imperative that we embrace and understand, that the question of where Israel stands and the thought of God having abandoned his people, is not one which should be processed in terms of our thinking about what Israel has done, but rather the question needs to be looked at in terms of God’s predetermined purpose and plan and HIS will.

Let me repeat that again for clarity…

Scripture points to and confirms the reality that God always has a hand in AND is always in control of the events and lives of people, so that HIS will and His purpose and His word will always come to pass.

Notice a key thought in those three confirming scriptures;

The new living translation says “yet I will preserve” the King James version says “ yet I have left me” and the message translation says I’m preserving for myself”

In other words, God has not cast Israel off nor has he completely rejected his chosen people, because his commitment towards them was not about them and their actions.

God’s commitment was about His word.

God’s commitment was about HIS purpose.

God’s commitment towards Israel was about HIS love and His covenant grace, which flows not out of what they deserved, but rather it all flowed out of who God is.

Thought:

Again, I want to make sure that you grasp the relevance here for us today.

God is communicating to us, a message concerning HIS sovereign will and grace in that he will always reserve for himself a people who will be the recipients of his tender mercy.

And he does that not because of what people do, but because of HIS “GOD-NESS”

When Elijah was complaining to God about the state of the nation of Israel, he was living in a society in which the majority of people at that time were living lives of total rebellion and sin.

They had killed the prophets. They had torn down God’s place of worship and from Elisha’s perspective, He was the only one left.

But God says NO.

You don’t get it Elijah. I’m not depending upon people, but I am taking care of things for MY names sake.

I’ve got some folk reserved for me.

I am going to make sure that for my names sake, that some folks will get the BLESSINGS of MY promise because I am GOD.

And that is the same truth that is in operation today.

Even though this nation, the UNITED STATES is going down the drain.

Even though man is rejecting God.

God is always involved and super-ruling in the affairs of man, to see that there will always be a few.

That is why today, perhaps even at this very moment, he may be reaching out and drawing you to HIS Son.

And so he orchestrates time and space, to bring you into contact with his beloved Son.

And then he generates faith in your heart, so that you can believe in His Son and be forgiven and reconciled and made right with God, through faith.

Has God completely rejected His chosen people? Absolutely not and here is the 4th and final proof.

  1. God’s grace and salvation through faith alone, is still active and present today.

Romans 11:5 (NLT)
5  It is the same today, for a few of the people of Israel have remained faithful because of God’s grace—his undeserved kindness in choosing them.

Romans 8:30 (NKJV)
30  Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Ephesians 1:5 (NLT)
5  God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

As we close our thoughts today, we’ve already looked at some convincing evidence of God’s love and grace, as expressed towards the nation of Israel in the previous three points.

Today, in our modern times, we can clearly see that the nation of Israel is evidencing many things that do not reflect the chosen status, which is often referenced in the bible.

I was looking on-line the other day to learn some facts about modern day Israel.

Just last year, Out Magazine named Tel Aviv as “the gay capital of the Middle East,” a place where the gay flag flies high and where the colors’ of the rainbow adorn Israel’s gay clubs, beaches, and café’s.

Just as sin and rebellion is currently active and growing in Israel so also is SIN active and growing throughout the gentile world.

But in the midst of all this, the answer to the original question that formed the basis of this sermon today is NO.

God has not cast off the Jewish nation completely, because his grace is still active.

His mercy is still extended.

His arms are still opened wide because of God’s grace and his underserved kindness in choosing them.

It’s the same today for the gentile world.

Even though the modern world in which we live in does not merits God’s attention….HIS GRACE, HIS LOVE, HIS MERCY and his kindness, is still being extended.

Not because we would qualify on any level, but gift of salvation is extended through faith in Jesus Christ, because of God’s goodness and GRACE.

CLOSE:

My friend, if you are here under the sound of my voice and the Spirit of God is speaking to you through this sermon today, I want to encourage you to embrace the kindness of God and the mercy of God and the grace of God which is being extended to you.

The purpose of this message today, was not just to give you a history lesson on the nation of Israel, but it was offered as a statement and an example of the grace of God.

Those of us who are sitting here in this place with you.

The person next to you, the person in the row in front and behind.

The person, who is standing here behind this lectern, has come into the family of God by faith.

And we are PROOF that God accepts the dirtiest and filthiest people you could think of.

We were enemies of Christ, who lived and breathed and were steeped in SIN just like you my unsaved friend.

But Jesus himself met each of us in the middle of our sins one day and he called us into the brotherhood of born again believers.

Every person who is sitting here this morning, has come into God’s family because HE foreordained us and chose us before the foundation of the world to be conformed to the image of HIS son.

My closing question to you this morning is simply this; do you know THIS REALITY as a defining fact in your own life?

Do you know that you’ve been forgiven and accepted and declared right with God, because you have placed your faith in God’s only begotten Son Jesus the Christ?

  • Do you hear HIS voice?
  • Do you feel his tug upon your heart….because if you do,
  • that my friend is the evidence that God almighty is calling YOU.

While all eyes are closed and heads are bowed and Christians and praying.

Click here to view the service and sermon on-line

 

Why did Jesus come to the earth?

Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper, Senior Pastor Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship Church

                                    Why did Jesus come to the earth?

Matthew 21:1-5 (NLT)
1  As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead.
2  “Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me.
3  If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.”
4  This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said,
5  “Tell the people of Israel, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt.’”

May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the hearing of HIS holy and mighty word.

Today we are entering into the week known as Holy week, in which we prepare to celebrate the tremendous resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, as he demonstrated his power over sin and death.

Matthew records the approach of Jesus as he drew near the city of Beth-phage, which was a suburb of Jerusalem.

Scripture records that Jesus sent two of his disciples to go and pick up a donkey and her colt and to bring them back for the Lord’s use.

Now the day that Jesus rode into to town was a day of an incredible celebration.

Numerical details on the size of the crowd are not indicated here in the passage, but if you read down to verse 9 it says that there was a multitude.

A deeper study of the passage indicates that the Passover event attracted at least two million visitors.

Most of the pilgrims were in town for the Passover but many were gathered to see Jesus.

They wanted to see the man who had been the subject of so much speculation; they wanted to see the man who was credited with the raising of a man from the dead, they were excited about Jesus but most did not understand why he really came.

As I prepared for the sermon today and tried to determine the message that would be delivered, it occurred to me, that the question of why Jesus came and what his mission was, is a question that is still valid for examination today.

Why did Jesus come not only to Jerusalem but why did Jesus come to the earth.

What was his mission, what was his purpose and what can we learn about the love and grace of God as revealed in the coming of Jesus Christ on this wonderful Palm Sunday?

Let’s look to the scriptures, to answer that question in these four simple points

Now if you are ready to do that say AMEN.

Why did Jesus come to Jerusalem and why did he come to earth?

  1. To fulfill biblical prophecy.

Matthew 21:4-5b

4  This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said,
5  “Tell the people of Israel, ‘Look, your King is coming to you

Zechariah 9:9 (NKJV)
9  “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.

Matthew 1:21-22a-d (NKJV)
21  And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”
22  So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet…

Deuteronomy 18:15 (NLT)
15  Moses continued, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.

In the opening passage we read together, we noted that Jesus sent two of his disciples to go into the city and to secure a donkey and her young colt.

We read a bit earlier from Zechariah 9:9, where the prophecy noted in exact detail the manner in which Jesus the Messianic King would enter into the city of Jerusalem.

Scripture records that he rode on a donkey, coming as a humble servant, not riding upon a powerful steed, not coming with the trappings of power and human might, but coming with salvation and coming to bring peace.

In our confirming scriptures as recorded in the gospel of Matthew chapter 1:21, we note that the name Jesus was given to the Christ child, prior to his birth.

The name Jesus means rescuer.

He was given that name because his mission and purpose was to save people from their sins.

Jesus came to Jerusalem and he came to the earth to fulfill biblical prophesies.

Thought;

Doing a quick Google search, asking the question as to how many prophesies there were in the bible concerning the Christ, the answers given were wildly different, some said as high as 400.

I don’t know the exact number but what I do know is that Jesus came to fulfill each and every one.

All that he did during his earthly walk, all of the people that he healed, every word he spoke was designed to proclaim and offer undeniable proof that Jesus was the Messiah, savior of the world and God’s only begotten Son.

Thought:

Moses spoke of Jesus Christ prophetically by the Holy Spirit when he looked into time and space.

He saw that God would raise up a prophet like himself.

He saw that this prophet would have a word from God.

And the word that the prophet would deliver would be a wonderful message.

It would be the gospel, it would be the good news that salvation and a right standing with God would be available to all who would listen to the good news and embrace it by faith.

This is what Jesus preached when he preached the gospel.

He declared and proclaimed the gift of God that would be available through HIM to all who believe.

The challenge to you my unsaved friend is that you don’t want to just be a watcher.

You don’t want to just to be among the crowds of people who simply look at Jesus. 

The challenge is to hear the gospel and to respond to the gospel by believing not only the prophetic scriptures concerning Jesus, but to actually believe the gospel and the good news that he declares.

Why did Jesus come to the earth?

  1. To seek and the save those who were lost.

Matthew 21:9 (NKJV)
9  Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!”

Matthew 18:11 (NKJV)
11  For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.

Luke 5:31-32 (NKJV)
31  Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
32  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

1 Timothy 1:15a-c (NKJV)
15  This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners

In the opening of the sermon I mentioned that at the time of the event when Jesus entered into Jerusalem, the Passover feast and celebration attracted as many as two million people.

Lots of folks came for the Passover, but there were a great number of people who had been drawn by the incredible stories and events surrounding Christ.

The news about Lazarus was a hot topic. Folks wanted to see the man who had raised someone from the dead.

I’m sure that folks heard about the fact that Jesus was known for feeding people and you know how powerful news of free food can be.

And then there was the unspoken yet all too real underpinnings within the hearts and minds of the people, who were looking for the promised Messiah to save them from oppression and to restore the nation of Israel to it’s place of prosperity and power.

Reading from Matthew 21:8 we note the following.

Matthew 21:8 (NKJV)
8  And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road.

If you’ve ever wondered why we have the palm branches as part of our Palm Sunday celebration, this is the reason why.

Thought:

Palm branches and folks laying down their clothing to form a walk way for Jesus, is important.

Laying palm branches and putting your clothing down to form a walk way was something that you did for a king.

They were shouting SON of David, which is a Messianic title and they were shouting HOSANNA, which means “God save we pray”

Thought:

In answering the question that we posed to form the basis of the sermon today, the answer that we learn here is that Jesus came to save the lost

  • He came to this world to save a world of lost men and women.
  • He came to save boys and girls.
  • He came to save YOU.

Thought:

Now you need to understand that the folks out there that day didn’t get it.

They didn’t understand what Jesus was doing, because were thinking about a kind of deliverance that would meet their physical needs and desires.

They were crying out HOSANNA, they were declaring a need for salvation, but they didn’t understand that the need that Jesus came to fulfill was spiritual.

This is something that is often a point of confusion today, because sometimes you’ll hear Jesus presented as someone who is coming to hook you up and to take care of your physical needs and desires.

Jesus didn’t come to town to hook them up, he came to save them from their sins.

1st Timothy 1:15 says that Christ came into the world to save SINNERS.

Matthew’s gospel records the words of Jesus Christ himself, who proclaimed and declared that he had come to save that which was lost.

He didn’t come to see that you had a better job.

He didn’t come to this world, to pay your bills.

He didn’t come to make you happy and solve all your problems, he came for the same reason that a Doctor comes to your house when YOU ARE SICK and that is to heal those who are sick.

And that applies to each and every human being who was ever born or will be born upon this earth.

That applies to all mankind because MAN is born in a state of sinfulness.

That applies to all people, because people are born with a sickness called SIN.

Thought:

Maybe you are here today and didn’t expect the preacher to bring up the subject of sin.

Maybe I offended someone with what I just said, but before you mentally just pack up your stuff and leave, hear me out.

Everyone one has a sin problem.

I have a sin problem, the person next to you, who looks so great in their Palm Sunday best, has a sin problem, but Christ remitted and paid the penalty for my sins, that is the only difference between the saved and the unsaved.

My unsaved friend, you may be someone who never broke a law, but I doubt it.

The fact that you may have told yourself that you are better than the bum down the street, makes you a prideful liar in God’s eyes and I can talk to you about that, because we each were right where you may be today. 

We didn’t like it when someone pointed out the ugly truth about Sin.

We bristled at and struggled with the notion that there was nothing in us that would qualify us in God’s sight.

We had to accept the truth about ourselves, in order to see and appreciate the power of the cross and the reason why Jesus came. 

You may not see yourself as a sinner and the idea may offend you, but if I started taking you through the Ten Commandments right now, I could not get halfway through the list without finding that you’ve broken at least one commandment.

You may have never stolen a thing in your own mind, but if you took one paper clip from your office, you stole it.

If just one time, you used the copy machine and didn’t pay the company for the copies you made on their dime, you are guilty of being a thief, the same way that a person is guilty who stole a car.

If you fibbed just once you lied.

If you told a little white lie just once, you are a lair and if said in your heart that you never lied, that was lie and that makes you just a guilty of lying as someone who told a great big lie.

We all have a sin problem and because of that we are all in need of a savior.

We are all in need of a physician.

We are all in need of Jesus who can cleanse us from the stain of sin, which separates us, from almighty God.

He came to seek and to save that which was lost and that applies YOU and me.

Why did Jesus come to the earth?

  1. To reveal the Father and to show us his love

John 3:16-17 (NKJV)
16  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

John 1:14 (NKJV)
14  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 12:45 (NLT)
45  For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me.

John 14:9a-d (YLT)
9  Jesus saith to him, `So long time am I with you, and thou hast not known me, Philip? he who hath seen me hath seen the Father;

Earlier in the sermon, we talked about the way and manner in which Jesus entered into the city of Jerusalem that day.

We talked about how the Lord came in riding upon a donkey.

Jesus came in humility.

Jesus came without pomp and material trappings, but that doesn’t mean that when he came he came, baring nothing of value.

Thought:

Jesus in fact came to this earth to reveal to us, the most important message that we could ever see or hear.

In fact Jesus came to this earth to deliver a message of God’s love and grace.

He came as a conqueror not of men’s properties, or cities or nations but rather as a conqueror of men’s hearts.

Thought:

On this Palm Sunday morning, I’d like you to picture in your mind for a moment, Jesus riding into town on little donkey

Very likely you’ve seen some sort of depiction of this event, in a movie or maybe in a book when you where a child.

When you look at someone riding on a donkey, it’s really looks kind of funny.

Lot’s of times when you see a person riding on a donkey, it looks like the donkey is too small to be carrying a man.

Lots of times when you see a person riding on donkey, they don’t have a fancy saddle made of expensive leather, more than likely it’s just a blanket or a burlap bag

You wouldn’t be threatened by someone riding on a donkey’s colt.

You wouldn’t be impressed with the physicality of such an animal, in the same way that you might be impressed by someone who was sitting on top of a pure-bred racehorse or stallion.

In fact very likely you would ignore such a person. And that is the response that some folks had when it came to Jesus, personally…

There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.

But when he began to preach and teach, folks would listen.

When he began explain the scriptures, he taught in a way that was different than the scribes and Pharisees, because he taught them as ONE having authority.

And as he taught and as he ministered and healed and fed He began to reveal the Father’s love and grace.

And that drew people to him because he honored and glorified God.

His purpose and his plan was not to draw attention to himself for himself, but rather his purpose and his plan and his mission in coming to the earth, was to reveal the love and grace of the Father to us.

When Jesus healed, when Jesus spoke when Jesus ministered to people, his every action was designed to show us the Father.

That is why in answer to the inquiry of Phillip Jesus would respond by saying “

“So long time am I with you, and thou hast not known me, Philip? he who hath seen me hath seen the Father”

Jesus became Flesh so that we could see and understand something about the one who sent him.

And ultimately God the Father’s great love and grace, would be demonstrated to us in the giving of his only begotten SON, who one week after his entry into the city of Jerusalem, would hang on a cross between two thieves, giving his own life and in that ultimate act of love, the love of the Father for us would be displayed.

Thought:

I believe that there may be someone under the sound of my voice, who is either sitting here with us, or connected to us electronically, who has never heard this explained to you.

Maybe you’ve never understood what is meant when God said that he loved the world so much that he gave.

God’s love for us isn’t about a feeling or an emotion; it’s about taking an action to for you love.

Jesus came to this world, to let us know that God the Father loved us so much, that he would do anything to save us, even giving us his SON, to pay for our sins through the giving of HIS life as a ransom, on the cross at Calvary.

If this is not a reality that you know for yourself, I want to encourage you to make the decision to embrace it.

If this is not a reality to which can rest in knowing that Jesus is Lord and master of your life, I want to encourage you to open your heart to him today.

And when you do that, not only will Jesus save you and wash away the stain of sin from your life, but also he will bring you into a personal relationship with God.

Why did Jesus come to the earth?…4th and finally

  1. He came to bring us safely home to God his father

Matthew 21:10-11 (NKJV)
10  And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?”
11  So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.

1 Peter 3:18 (NLT)
18  Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.

John 10:14-16 (NKJV)
14  I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.
15  As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
16  And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

Matthew 1:21(NKJV)
21  And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”

CLOSE:

Everything that happened that day, as Jesus entered into the city was planned and done in deliberate fashion and in preparation for a celebration that Jesus already knew would take place.

He knew, that there would be a man who would release the donkeys to his disciples.

He knew that the people would herald and welcome his entry, even though they didn’t understand it.

He knew that the city would be moved, with great excitement, because Jesus “that prophet from Nazareth was coming to town.

But he also knew that they did not know where he was going and what would happen to HIM, on that Friday to come just a few days later.

That prophet from Nazareth of Galilee was the savior of the world who had come from the Father with the mission of taking US safely home to God.

But in order to do that, the sin issue that separated us from God had to be dealt with once and for all.

Romans 6:23 tells a sobering truth and here it is…., it said that the wages of SIN is death.

Jesus gave his life on the cross, to settle this issue by paying the wages for our sin with his life and shed His blood on the cross at Calvary.

Jesus died to pay for your sins, but you have to embrace this reality and make it apply to yourself, by placing your faith in him and surrendering to him as Lord of your life.

The question that I pose to you today is this….. what are YOU going to do, now that YOU know the truth about why Jesus came?

Are you going to simply look and say WOW, that’s the prophet Jesus, let’s go and check him out and see the big show.

Are you going to be one of the crowds who applauds his message and says how well it was presented but then does nothing to embrace it?

Are you going to be one of those folks who say, that is interesting, let me think about it is and I’ll get back to you next week.

Or are you the person who is going to recognize his mission and his plan and his purpose and ask him into your life as Lord.

Do you hear his voice?

Do you hear the savior calling you?

Do you recognize the voice of the good shepherded who calls you on this day, into his beloved family.

Do you feel the Spirit of God moving upon your heart?

If you hear HIM, if you feel HIM bidding you to come then, this is the greatest day of your life.

For when God calls you and your respond to HIS Son in faith, that is the day you can be born again.

While all eyes are closed and heads are bowed…

 Click here to see the entire service and sermon

Why some good Christian kids do bad things?

 

Youth Message: Why Do Some Good Kids Do Bad Things?

Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper, Senior Pastor

(Based on notes from Harry Walls/ Alistair Begg)

Proverbs 7:6-10, 21-23

Proverbs 7:6-10, 21-23 (KJV)
6  For at the window of my house I looked through my casement,
7  And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,
8  Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house,
9  In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:
10  And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtle of heart.
21  With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him.
22  He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks;
23  Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.

May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the hearing of HIS holy Word.

Marcus was a typical good kid from a Christian home.

He was one of three children raised by his loving parents in a blended family.

Marcus and his Sister Jenice had always been in and around the church.

They were part of the youth ministry.

Marcus served as a Junior Deacon and Jenice was on the praise team.

All the family was very blessed; both Son and Daughter had good grades and were well on their way to establishing successful college careers, when all of a sudden Marcus got involved in drugs and Jenice had to drop out of school because she got pregnant…..

Now of course this is only a fictional story. And these are fictional characters.     We don’t have any children named Marcus or Jenice, but we use this fictional story as representative of what happens sometimes in the lives of Christian families today.

Why do children, who know better, end up doing bad things?

This is the topic of the sermon this morning and it is a redo of a sermon I first brought to our youth back in 2003, some fifteen years ago.

When I first heard from Rev. Winston, that he would be unable to be here today, I scrambled a bit trying to think about what would be shared on this youth, SUNDAY.

And as I looked through my archives, I realized that this sermon, though written some 15 years ago was very much needed today and so I am here to share it with you.

The message today is entitled with this question; Why do good “Christian Kids” end up doing bad things.

Now I am going to tell you in advance, that this is a challenging sermon, but I want you to keep an open mind and I want you to think and listen, because those of us who are grown have already made some incredible mistakes and the last thing we want to do is to see you, messed up and bound up by some of the same things that messed us up.

So if you are ready to roll say AMEN

Why do good Christian kids end up doing bad things?

  1. Because they are often neglect God’s word.

Proverbs 7:1-3 (KJV)
1  My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.
2  Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.
3  Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.

Why do good Christian kids often end up doing bad things and or making bad decisions in life?

Point number one says that this happens “Because Christian kids often neglect God’s world.

Notice if you would please the action words that are contained in the scripture we just read together. Particularly I want you to note where it says, keep my words, lay up my commandments, keep them with thee, bind and write.

Thought:

Very often when a young person who has been brought up in a Christian home; lapses into SIN you will find many times that the person has failed to retain in their hearts, what they have been taught and instructed, during their years in the church as a child. 

Such a person has been taught. They have attended bible study and youth training classes and that is great to have that in your life, but sometimes we find that there is something about being around church for all of your young life, that can actually make a young person….lazy and neglectful when it comes to the word of God.

In other words there is a danger of becoming too familiar with being around the word, because you become “so use to the word”, that you no longer work at nor take responsibility for retaining the word of God your minds.

Now how does that happen, well it happens when we become lazy and complacent.

Notice again the action terms that are broken out here in the passage.

It says keep my commandments and my law as “the apple of thine eye”

The new living translation says 2  Obey my commands and live! Guard my instructions as you guard your own eyes.

Tie them on your fingers says verse 3….

Get to know the commandments as well as you know your best friends, treat the word of God as the apple of your eye.

Thought:

When we were coming up as kids there was a little trick we use to do in order to remember something important and it involved tying a string around your finger…do you about that ?

What are you doing as a person who values God’s word, to retain what the word says and to keep that in your mind ?

How familiar are you with the word of GOD.

How often do you review the notes from the YOUTH bible study, or the notes from a SERMON.

Do you write his word down in your phone or i-pad

How often do you take the time to proactively do what is necessary in order to retain the word of God in your heart ?

Or are you happy to sit and fiddle on your phone, while someone else teaches us.

Young folks who have grown up in the church are comfortable because they’ve always been in church as long as they can remember; and that is dangerous because we can fool ourselves into thinking that just because we are around the word of God, that we know it.

I am here to tell you that you are s a sitting duck for the devil, because you are living under the illusion that you know the word of God, based on a casual experience with it, or even worse, based on the relationship that you mother or father has with the word.

Thought

In 2003 (which is before many of our young folks were even born) there was a study that indicated that over 80% of Christian children leave the faith when they grow up.

Because when they get to college or meet any person or join a frat or encounter a professor that can challenge their faith with a good argument or a put down….off to sin they go, because the word wasn’t deeply engrained in them, it was only surface.

Why do good Christian kids end up doing bad things….reason number 2….

  1. They fail to learn lessons from life (“it” won’t happen to them)

Proverbs 7:6-7 (KJV)
6  For at the window of my house I looked through my casement,
7  And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,

The New living translation said and I quote “I saw some naive young men, and one in particular who lacked common sense.

Here we see a picture of a young man who fails to see what is happening around him and he is ignorantly missing the lessons in life.

It is not that he lacks intelligence but rather he is just like many people today young and old alike, who walk through life, not observing what is happening around them, not taking life seriously, allowing themselves to be blown in whatever direction the wind goes.

As adults, we know people like that.

As young people you have friends like that; folks that are living in a fantasy world; they don’t connect life with reality; they are just floating along in a cloud oblivious to what is going on around them.

Now when we look at this young man in the story, I want you to understand that this young fellows wasn’t stupid, or mentally challenged; he may have like many of you had a good GPA, but the problem was that he simply lacked understanding and experience in life.

Thought:

Now this may be a surprising thought to some folks here today, but for others, this is something that that you personally know and have already learned…You see you can be SMART and be a Christian and still lack basic knowledge and common sense.

There is no lack of intelligence among most of the young people, but for some reason there is often a disconnect when it comes to learning lessons from the lives and mistakes of others.

Have you as a Christian learned anything from what you seen happening to folks in the world as a result of the choices they have made?

Has the reality of life had any real impact on you in such a way, that you are not merely floating through life; but rather you are intelligently making decisions about how you are going to avoid doing the same dumb thing that someone else has done ?

If you float through life la-de-da, without paying attention to what is going on around you, you can be saved, you can love the LORD, and you can born again and a nice Christian girl and YET find yourself, in a situation you didn’t expect to get into.

My friends, I want you to know that there are lessons to be learned all around us each and every day.

This young man was void of understanding, just floating through life, not learning, not understanding and not processing reality.

Why do good Christian kids end up doing bad things ?

  1. Because they fail to make wise choices in advance of the situations that life presents them.

Proverbs 7:8-9 (NLT)
8  He was crossing the street near the house of an immoral woman, strolling down the path by her house.
9  It was at twilight, in the evening, as deep darkness fell.

Notice if you would please the words, strolling down the path near her house.

The king James version says
8  Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house,

Those words in-and-of-them-selves are power packed, because they speak to the lack of boundaries.

You see when you don’t have standards and boundaries in your life; which have been set up and committed to ahead of time; you are ripe for a fall.

This young man in the story was walking along near the corner where this sleazy woman lived…..

More than likely HE did not wake up that morning and decide that he would take a walk down danger lane.

More than likely he did not wake up that morning and plan to be near the house of this woman; instead the issue is that he did not decide in advance, that he was going to avoid being around HER HOUSE.

In this life, you have got to have STANDARDS.

You’ve got to have BOUNDARIES that are totally non-negotiable which say YES I can go here or NO, this is NOT for me..

Good Christian kids end up doing bad things and getting into trouble because they don’t understand the purpose of boundaries.

We think that boundaries cramp our style, but boundaries are all about protection.

When you go out into the world, having not decided in advance; that there are certain things that are not going to be a part of your life, you are in danger of falling into SIN.

If you are going to avoid doing stupid things in your life, YOU must set limits and personally enforce those limits on yourself, because your parents cannot always be there to watch you.

That means for example; that if you want to avoid getting into trouble, that you decide in advance, that you won’t have a girl up in your bed room.

That means for example that you have to decide in advance that you won’t be alone in the house with a boy, or alone with him in a car.

That means for example that if go on a date; you decide and are firm in your mind that his hands can’t touch certain areas, nor can her hands, touch certain area if you are a boy.

Good Christian young people like you, fall into horrible trouble, when they fail to set limits on where they can go and what they should do.

This young man didn’t set limits for himself; he opened himself to the opportunity and the opportunity made the decision for him.

Why do good Christian kids end up doing bad things ?

4     Because they live life on the edge; they allow themselves to be in the wrong places at the wrong times. 

Proverbs 7:8-9 (KJV)
8  Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house,
9  In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:

Here in this picture; here in the scripture, here in the word of God we see the young man, void of understanding, hanging around the wrong place, exposing himself to, the wrong influences, late in the evening….

Now the first thought that comes to mind is this…What was he doing there and why was he there, late at night?

We know the answer; that is he was being a kid, playing with something; dabbling with something forbidden, because it was dangerous and exciting…….

This is one of the MAIN reasons WHY good kids end up doing bad things…

Thought:

It’s been many, many, many years since I was in college, but I can pretty much tell you that the way that the game was played and how it was played is pretty much the same as it was yesterday…

You see I had some buddies who were “hounds”, they liked to get a hold of the good girls who were fresh out of Catholic school or the Christian girls who had just gotten out from under their parents thumb….and there is a very good reason for that.

You see Christian youth often have a perverse fascination with the idea and appeal of playing with that which is dangerous, for example the BAD BOY or the BAD girl, or the BAD friend is attractive to them; Good girls like that, and they are attracted to these types because they do it out of silliness, out of immaturity or out of rebellion.

Back in 2003 when I wrote this sermon, they use to have something called MYSPACE.

And at the time I lamented about the mess that I’d seen on the MYSPACE pages of believing Christian young folks who were a part of this church.

Now MYSPACE is out of business, but now you’ve got FACEBOOK and I’ve got to tell you, that the mess that is on the pages of young folks in this church is even worse.

I’ve seen some of your pages, and quite frankly, I have been embarrassed beyond belief.

I’ve seen pictures of folks hanging out with a drink in their hands and their skirts up to their backsides.

I’ve seen our young folks down at the mall, walking with that gang walk, with the pants hanging down.

I understand what is going on.

We are often just like little children who for some strange reason like to play with matches; but the problem is that matches will burn you

We play with fire, we go for the bad girl or the bad boy, we like to do what is dangerous because of a desire to live life on the edge and to get a thrill from playing with the forbidden.

And when we end up getting burned, we are quick to come up for prayer and thank God for his willingness and merciful attitude, but how much better it would be for us, if we simply stayed away from the edge.

Why do good Christian kids end up doing bad things ?

  1. Because they are deceived by the “cover “of darkness.

Proverbs 7:9 (KJV)
9  In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:

John 3:19 (KJV)
19  And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Here in the story we see this truth reflected in the timing of this young man’s trip down to the woman’s house. He wasn’t doing this in the day, but instead he waited for the cover of night.

Young Christians, especially thinking now of those who go off to college and are away from the eyes of their parents or others who know them, often get into trouble because they foolishly believe that no one will see what they are doing, under the cover of darkness.

This is not just a problem with young folks by the way, there are some old folks, who are fooling around in the dark too.

The scripture tells us that our SINS will find us out.

It is an illusion to believe that we can get away with things, because no one “sees us” this young man went down there at night…

Thought:

Darkness and the idea that we can get away with things, often lands a young Christian in trouble.

Sooner or later what you are involved in get’s exposed, it is a deadly trap and an illusion to believe that it is safe to do it, because no one can see.

Nine months later the evidence is going to be seen; the lie will be exposed.

Darkness is a trap, it is not a cover and the sooner the Christian learns about the truthfulness of this reality, the better off you’ll be.

Why do good Christian kids end up doing bad things ?

  1. Because of a failure to guard against and respect the appeal and power of SIN.

Proverbs 7:10,13,15-16 (KJV)
10  And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtle of heart.
13  So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him,
15  Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.
16  I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt.

Here in this 6th point, we see the picture of sin personified in the aggressiveness of this woman, who comes out of her house to find herself a victim.

Good kids end up doing bad things because they don’t understand the unrelenting nature of sin’s desire to have and control the child of God.

SIN is just like this woman in the story; it comes out seeking you.

It comes out wrapped up in a beautiful package.

It comes out wrapped up in a fine looking you man, who has all the smooth words.

This is what the woman was talking about when she told the young man, I’ve been looking for you baby.. I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt……it’s all for you, here it is,,,

This is HOW sin works. This is something we need to keep in mind, every day we walk out the door, we need to understand that SIN’s desire is to have us; that SIN it is there waiting.

You don’t have to go looking for it; it will come looking for you.

And don’t believe for a moment that the offer won’t look good or even feel good, for the devil will design something that specifically appeals to your personal appetites, that is the reason WHY we must keep our guard up, at all times.

Why do good Christian kids end up doing bad things?

  1. Because they fail to see beyond the here and now.

Proverbs 7:21-23 (NKJV)
21  With her enticing speech she caused him to yield, With her flattering lips she seduced him.
22  Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, Or as a fool to the correction of the stocks,
23  Till an arrow struck his liver. As a bird hastens to the snare, He did not know it would cost his life.

Young people who know the LORD and were raised in good Christian homes, end up doing bad things, because of the appeal……..of the COME ON.

Notice if you would please that in the example sighted above, there is an offer of some kind of immediate gratification that hides within it a life destroying danger.

In most cases, no one who makes a stupid decision does so, because they want to get pregnant, or end up in jail, or catch VD, or get expelled from school.

They do so because in a split moment, they evaluate the appeal of the come on; let’s try it just a little, you’ll feel cool, let me do it just a little bit, just take a hit, just bite the apple one time, it will make you wise……but behind the come on, there is a death TRAP waiting to take you into the PIT of HELL.

NO ox would go to the slaughter house, if the person who was going to butcher him up said, he come on pal, let’s go in here and I’m going to slice you up into steaks….

No OX would go strait to the slaughter house if he knew what was coming, no instead they hold out a carrot, or they send some other kind of come on and the OX can’t see beyond the opportunity to get his teeth into the carrot and by then it is too late. 

If you could go and ask someone who messed up big time and now has to live with the consequences; if they were thinking beyond the next few minutes of pleasure, or the thrill of the event before they did what they did, they would tell you, that long term thoughts never crossed their mind.

They would tell you that they acted and made their decision in the moment, without a thought to what would happen five years later

Ask the young lady who gave away her flower to some pimply faced, no account drop out who lived at home with his mamma, ask her if she thought about the impact that such a person would have on her life, before she did it……see what she says.

If you asked the young man who had to give us his opportunity to go to college because he impregnated his 16 year old girl friend, if he was thinking beyond the next three minutes when he made that decision that changed his entire life.

If you ask them where they thinking, the answer would be no.

Disaster strikes good Christian kids and it destroys the dreams and hopes of their parents, and it is happening in churches and homes and families across this nation.

CLOSE:

To young and old alike, my word to you today is that we have to make the right choices NOW.

You have to be totally serious about doing the things that are needed to protect yourself.

And we have to be committed to the Lordship of Christ like never before.

All eyes closed and heads bowed.

Click here to view the entire service and sermon

 

 

The beauty of the universal gospel

Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper

The Beauty of The Universal Gospel

Romans 10:12-13 (NKJV)
12  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.
13  For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the hearing of HIS holy and mighty word.

We are continuing in our studies from the epistle to the church at ROME, picking up here in chapter ten.

I want to thank you so very much for your prayer on my behalf, for I am certain that your prayers have been instrumental in helping me to embrace what the Spirit has for you and me together in this series.

In our last sermon, we shared a message entitled HOW to connect with God.

Today’s lesson is also salvivic in nature, in that it speaks to the beauty of the gospel message, specifically highlighting the fact that the gospel message and the gift of salvation, through faith in Jesus Christ is available to everyone.

The sermon this morning will communicate and celebrate, that we serve a God who loves all people and wills that all people regardless of their race, creed or national origin, be saved and come into the knowledge of the truth.

So let’s move forward with that…If you are ready say AMEN

The Beauty Of The Universal Gospel Is Seen In The Fact that …

  1. God treats all people the same.

Romans 10:12 (NKJV)
12  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.

Acts 10:34-35 (NLT)
34  Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism.
35  In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.

Deuteronomy 10:17 (MSG)
17  GOD, your God, is the God of all gods, he’s the Master of all masters, a God immense and powerful and awesome. He doesn’t play favorites, (he) takes no bribes,

Romans 2:9 (NLT)
9  There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile.

This first point for me is very encouraging and uplifting, because it speaks of a God who is completely different than people.

In God’s eyes, all men, all women, all boys and all girls, regardless of who they are, exactly the same. 

God doesn’t reject a man, because of where he comes from.

He doesn’t show favoritism to a person because of their attractiveness or lack thereof. God doesn’t care if you are blond or brunette, he doesn’t care if you are tall or short.

God has no favorites.

He sees all men and women equally, and he loves every person and wants everyone to be saved.

Thought:

Here in the main scripture text, we see the term Jew and Greek.

This of course is language that would make sense to the reader who was reading the words, in that time, for the language that is being used, points to the fact that in the mind of the Jewish reader, there were two types of people.

The world was divided up into two groups JEWS were in one group and the rest were Greeks or Gentiles, which covered everyone else.

We read just a moment ago from the words of The Apostle Peter, as recorded in Acts chapter 10.

Peter was a Jew by birth and background and HE had a problem that he was struggling with.

He was struggling with racial prejudice, because the Jews thought that they had a special place of favor and higher position with God, because of their ethnic heritage.

So when Peter was told to share the gospel with non-Jews, he resisted.

And that prejudice; that wall of mental resistance was so strong that God himself had to show Peter that such ideas and thoughts were inconsistent with the heart of God.

Therefore when the eyes of Peter were opened, he declared as we read in Acts chapter 10 and I quote “Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism”

Paul in writing to the church and speaking to us, wanted to communicate and drive home the wonderful reality, that God loved the world and all of the people in that world.

The scriptures says that “He is rich in mercy to all those who call upon him”.

He is merciful and long-suffering, good, gracious and kind to all who call upon him.

Thought:

Now that is important my friend to those who are outside of the family of God.

It is important to those who may be here today personally or connected to us electronically; it’s important to you my friend, if you’ve ever wondered if God would accept you if you reached out to him.

I’m here today and very excited to let you know that YES, you can have a relationship with God almighty and it doesn’t matter where you came from, it doesn’t matter what your previous affiliation may be, for God’s desire is to save. 

Thought:

Earlier in the sermon, I stated that in God’s eyes, we all look the same.

Now obviously there is physical differences, so don’t get the idea that God can’t tell the difference between what you look like and what another person looks like.

The sameness that God sees has to do with what is deep on the inside of you.

God looks down upon us and see us as the same, because all men and women have a sin problem.

God looks down upon all boys and girls and he sees that all are living under the cloud of calamity and danger and trouble.

All men, in their hearts and actions are evil, all men and women all boys and girls are on a cataclysmic path towards death and eternal destruction.

The same fate, the same future, the same destination awaits sinful men, who die in this life, without the saving power and protection of Jesus Christ, God’s only son.

Therefore the heart of God, loves all men equally and his desire is that all humanity be saved.

The Beauty Of The Universal Gospel Is Seen secondly In The Fact that…

  1. God’s promise to save and how he saves, is the same for every person.

Romans 10:13 (KJV)
13  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 

John 3:16 (NLT)
16  “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 10:9-10 (NLT)
9  If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.

John 7:37-38 (HCSB)
37  On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink!
38  The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.”

For this second point, the thought that I’d like to focus on is WHO-SO-EVER.

Earlier in point number one we spoke about the wonderful reality that God has no favorites. This is imperative and important because the lack of favoritism is directly related to the “whosoeverness” of God’s promise.

Who-so-ever is the great equalizer when it comes to Christianity and a relationship with the creator of the universe, because it actually means exactly what it says.

A few weeks ago, I delivered a sermon entitled How To Connect with God.

In that sermon we spoke in great detail from Romans 10:9-10, which we recalled and presented as one of the GO to scriptures when it comes to salvation.

The who-so-ever nature of the gospel and God’s commitment to extending HIS promise and how HE saves men is Universal, because salvation is through faith.

And the beautiful thing about that is that every person, no matter where they come from or what their level of education is or is not, is cable of exercising faith and believing the gospel message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

Thought:

That means that your life could be totally jacked up. You could be a hot mess.

You could be a person who has the kinds of hidden sins no one knows about, like pride and a crazy view that you are somehow better than other folks.

You could be the filthiest creature that ever walked the streets of Santa Clarita.

But when it comes God’s love and his mercy, his invitation is universally open to everyone.

That means that YOU, with all of your mess, can be saved. 

That means you with your prideful arrogance, though offensive to the holiness of God, won’t stop God from saving you right in the middle of your sins. 

That means that YOU in the midst of your immoral relationship, or your filthy mouth, or your abusive personality, can be saved.

If you call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and believe with all of your heart, that he died for you, that he rose from the grave and you embrace Jesus declaring from your mouth, that Jesus is your Lord and Savior and God, you shall be saved.

The promise is made universally, that who-so-ever will…… let him come to Jesus.

Thought:

Now I am going to tell you straight up and I want to make this perfectly clear, that God will save you, but don’t get the idea that he is going to leave you and let you comfortably live in the same mess you are living in.

Once you become saved, having been washed in his blood and freed from the penalty of your sins, then the SIN in your life has got to go.

Once he saves you, once he buys you with HIS blood, you from that point forward belong to HIM.

When Jesus comes into your life, he comes in as LORD. He is in charge and he comes to save you and change you and clean you up.

So if you want to keep on living in SIN AND being Lord of your own life, you are not ready.

But if you are thirsty for change, if you hunger for a Lord who will take control and set you free from the evil which has bound and controlled your life, then Jesus says come to him and drink of the living streams of water, that over flow to eternal life.

The Beauty Of The Universal Gospel Is Seen In The Fact that…

  1. God has determined to use the same method to communicate the gospel to all people.

Romans 10:14 (NKJV)
14  How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?

Romans 10:15 (NKJV)
15  And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

1 Corinthians 9:16d (NKJV)
16d   dwoe is me if I do not preach the gospel! 

1 Corinthians 1:21b (NKJV)
21b it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

The universal nature of the gospel message and the willingness of God to make sure that everyone can be exposed to it, is seen in his choosing mere human beings to be the instruments through which the gospel is communicated.

As a minister as a preacher, as a presenter of God’s word, I am reminded of the importance of preaching, when it comes to salvation and the responsibility of men’s souls.

God has determined that he wants to save who-so-ever, but a person cannot come to the point of hearing the good news and exercising faith in Jesus Christ, unless the word is communicated to them.

In other words, folk cannot call upon or believe on the Lord unless another person shares the good news with them.

And to make sure that the message is universally available to who-so-ever, God has chosen preaching and preachers to bring the gospel to the people.

Thought:

Now that may seem to be an obvious statement to many, but it is important that we talk about this, in light of the realities of our changing modern world.

Thought:

You see, the “ business” of church is going through a metamorphosis in our world today.

Folks want to have a round table discussion group.

People want a therapy session, or just to have someone to stroke his or her egos from the pulpit.

You didn’t make me feel good today preacher, I didn’t “enjoy” being told that or being challenged in that way.

Your illustration wasn’t funny.

The sermon wasn’t relevant to me.

The seminaries and pumping out pulpit-tiers who can give a weekly joke and an illustration that makes you laugh.

But I am reminded that the word of God says WOE unto me if I preach NOT the gospel.

Woe if we as preachers just entertain you on Sunday morning.

If the who-so-ever-ness of God’s word is to be brought to a dying world, then it will have to preached with passion and persistence.

That means that it’s going to take all kinds of preachers, to reach the who-so-ever folks of this world.

That means that it will take some bookish preachers, who only speak very softly

That means that it will take some loud and crazy preachers.

That means that it will take some young preachers who can preach through rap and poetry to reach the young folks who will never hear what an older person has to say.

That means that it will take some street preachers, who can go on the corners and preach to the pimps and pushers and dope addicts.

That means that it will take some women preachers, because there are some folks that can never be reached by a man, and there will be some places that a man can never get to.

God has chosen the foolishness of preaching. He has chosen to take broken human beings, to be the conduits of the gospel.

He has chosen the message of the cross.

He has chosen the crazy idea of a man dying on a cross to pay for the sins of the world; it sounds crazy, but it is IN FACT the power of God unto salvation.

So to you my preacher friend or to you who may have been called but you are still running from the call, the word for you today is get to preaching and the warning is WOE.

Don’t wait for someone to give you an assignment.

Don’t wait for someone to invite you to preach at his or her seminar or gathering or church.

Just get to the corner.

Get on down to the liquor store.

Get to the park where the homeless hang out in the wash under the bridge.

Get to your face book, where you can talk to the folks in your network.

Get to the person that is in your field of vision.

Get to the young folk who you have an opportunity to speak to.

Get to the ladies that you hang out with, get to where ever you are and start PREACHING.

Because without YOU the who-so-ever, that God has called you to reach, stand on the precipice of hell and eternal damnation.

Thought:

And let me say this to drive home the point even more powerfully. On the day that you stand before almighty God, the conversation will not be about your salvation. Your are saved. Your are good. The conversation is going to be about the call…and Woe, unto you my friend; if you heed not the voice of God, who has called you into his kingdom to preach his mighty word.

The Beauty Of The Universal Gospel Is Seen In The Fact…

  1. God has determined that faith is required (without exception) by everyone who wants to be saved.

Romans 10:16-17 (NLT)
16  But not everyone welcomes the Good News, for Isaiah the prophet said, “LORD, who has believed our message?”
17  So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.

Acts 8:37 (NKJV)
37  Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

Hebrews 11:6b-d (NLT)
6 b-d  Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

This 4th point builds upon some concepts and realities that we discussed in point number three

We read together just a moment ago, from Romans chapter 10 verse 17.

I quote this passage in practically every sermon I give, which says “so then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God”

God has determined that the gospel message must be presented to everyone, but the message having been presented, watch this, must be responded to UNIVERSALLY by faith.

In other words, God has determined that it is a universal requirement for salvation, that who-so-ever hears the preacher must welcome and believe the gospel if he wants to be accepted and saved. 

Here in Romans 10: 16 Paul quotes the prophet Isaiah and he takes note of the fact that even though Isaiah preached the word to the Jewish people, they did not welcome it.

Thought:

This is vital and absolutely imperative that the unsaved listeners, who may be here or connected electronically, get this clearly and understand exactly what is being shared.

You see it’s not enough to just be exposed to the gospel.

It is NOT enough just to like the presentation and or the Preacher.

It’s not enough to agree that the message seems reasonable or even that you think that what is being shared is true.

Liking the sermon, liking the service, liking the message isn’t going to cut it.

When you hear the gospel YOU must respond with FAITH.

And that faith will evidence itself, not by just liking the sermon or taking notes, but by believing in a way that results in a change internally which evidences itself in the action of commitment.

This is what was happening in Acts chapter 8:37

Phillip had shared the gospel message with the Eunuch who listened and embraced what was being shared and as they traveled along the road they came to some water and the Eunuch said, look here is water, what stands in the way of me being baptized Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”  

And then he went into the water and was baptized and from that point forward, something changed within that man and we walked away from that encounter having surrendered his life to Christ

Who-so-ever will come to God must believe and commit themselves to faith in Jesus Christ and that faith is not just an ear faith, but rather it is a faith that is based in a decision to make a personal commitment to believe on Jesus Christ by placing ones life in surrender to him.

That is a universal requirement for everyone without exception.

The Beauty Of The Universal Gospel Is Seen 5th and finally In The Fact that…

  1. God applied the same standards to his chosen people, when they failed to believe the gospel.

Romans 10:18, 21 (NLT)
18  But I ask, have the people of Israel actually heard the message? Yes, they have: “The message has gone throughout the earth, and the words to all the world.”
21  But regarding Israel, God said, “All day long I opened my arms to them, but they were disobedient and rebellious.” 

John 1:11-13 (NKJV)
11  He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.
12  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
13  who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 

Romans 9:31-32 (NKJV)
31  but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness.
32  Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.

In the opening of the sermon, we talked about how the Gospel is a message that is extended and offered to everyone.

The gospel has no special class of people who get to the front of the line or get a pass, based on race or gender or social economic status; the good news is universally available to all people and God showed it when he held and holds the very people who were chosen as his oracle people, to the same standard.

The Jews had the inside track. They had a history with God and when Jesus came to this earth he came, came directly to the Jews.

God is so fair and so just and so without prejudice and favoritism, that he held his covenant people to the same standards as everyone else.

It didn’t matter that the Jews had the law.

It didn’t matter that they had a history with God.

They were required to believe the gospel, just like everyone else.

He came to his own but they did not receive him; because he did not come in a way or manner that met their expectations

They were sincere in their efforts but they missed him and I am here to tell you this morning that the same thing can happen to you my unsaved friend.

You can remain disobedient.

You can respond with stubbornness, you can refuse to embrace the need to repent and change and give your life to Christ.

You can harden your heart to the Spirit of God as he knocks on the door and I can guarantee that you won’t get any special treatment.

If you reject the gospel and die without a saving relationship with Jesus as Lord, you will die in your sins and be lost in a devil’s hell.

For me I’d rather embrace the universal good news, than to face eternity without hope.

I’d rather accept the love and mercy and provision of Christ and all that he desires for us.

AMEN.

While all eyes are closed and heads are bowed.

Click here to view the entire service online

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to connect with God

Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper, Senior Pastor Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship Church

Romans 10:8-11 (NKJV)
8  But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):
9  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
10  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11  For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

 Romans 10:8-11 (NLT)
8  In fact, it says, “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” And that message is the very message about faith that we preach:
9  If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.
11  As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”

May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the hearing of His Holy Word.

If you were with us in our last sermon from the epistle written to the church at Rome, you may recall that we shared a sermon in which we addressed the issue     of failing to connect with God

I shared with you a personal story about how Sister Cecile and I missed a flight when we were very young. We showed up a Logan, International Airport with the intention of going on a trip but we missed the flight because we didn’t understand that an 11am departure meant that you had to be there at 9:30am.

We missed it; we failed to connect because we were ignorant of how things worked.

In that teaching Paul took us through a diagnostic analysis of how the nation of Israel actually missed connecting with the God of their fathers.

It was both interesting and upsetting to learn that a group of people, actually ended up missing God, because they failed to understand and were blinded to the truth of who God is and how he operates.

In their human efforts at connecting with God through the keeping of their laws, they failed to grasp the fact that man in his own efforts, no matter how sincere, can never work his way up to God.

They had zeal and a desire to connect with him, but they were untutored, they were unlearned, they were ignorant says Paul of God’s way of making a person righteous.

Ultimately their efforts and their commitment to those efforts caused them to reject the Messiah, Jesus Christ God’s own Son.

If you were not here for that sermon, I very much want to encourage you to take the time to request the notes by e-mailing me at Pastorjharp@gmail.com, or going on our you-tube channel to watch the sermon.

Today we are going to talk about how to connect with God and we are coming from one of the most well known passages in the bible.

Now this passage is really the crème de la crème of salvivic scriptures.

It is a clear and no none-sense answer to the question of what it takes for a person to be saved.

In fact I would urge each and every one of you to take copious notes and to keep these notes in your bible, because these doctrinal truths, will keep you grounded AND they will help you to share the gospel with anyone who asks you, what it takes to become a born again child of God.

So let’s walk through these 4 points

How do you connect with God (How does a person become accepted by God/saved/born again)?

  1. A person must believe that Jesus Christ came down from heaven to save men from their sins.

Romans 10:8 (NKJV)
8  But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):

Psalm 14:1-3 (NKJV)
2  The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
3  They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.

Romans 6:23a (NKJV)
23  For the wages of sin is death,

John 3:17 (NKJV)
17  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

John 6:38a-b (NLT)
38a-b  For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me

Matthew 26:28 (NKJV)
28  For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

In this first point of the sermon, we want to look at and answer the question that is posed today within the context of the title of this teaching and we also want to examine the comparison between what we learned in the first part of this sermon in which took a look at how Israel actually missed connecting with God.

Now in the Jewish approach to reaching and or connecting with God, the focus was upon man’s efforts as evidenced in the zealousness of the nation of Israel, as it pertained to the LAW.

Remember now, we learned a few weeks ago that there were over 613 commandments and or directives that were on the books.

The concept that one could qualify; the notion that one could obtain the acceptance of God by reason of effort, was rooted in the notion that if you were really serious and really focused and really intense and committed to the law, that you could literally scale the heights of heaven and be accepted by God as a result of your own works.

Paul in his teachings knocks that notion out of the water, and he says that the way to connect with God and the way to become acceptable to him, was literally and I quote “in their mouths and in their hearts”

All that they needed to do was to hear and believe the core message of the gospel, which declared that Jesus came down from heaven, to save men from their sins.

That is what Paul meant when he said and I quote ““The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):

In order to be saved, in order to connect with God and become acceptable to him, the first thing that a person has to do is to believe what is being preached or shared with you, concerning who Jesus is and the purpose of his coming.

You as a listener have got to believe that what you hear IS TRUE.

Israel for the most part could not accept this, no matter how hard Paul preached, they rejected the gospel and responded to it by trying to kill Paul.

Everything that they had in their customs such as the sacrifices and atonement, was pointing to Jesus and the need of man, to have a SAVIOR who would be the sacrificial lamb who paid for their sins, it was all pointing to Jesus but they missed it.

Thought:

People today can miss the simplicity of the gospel, by failing to believe the good news about why Jesus came.

You see gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ must be responded to not with doubt, or skepticism, but by faith.

You don’t have to know the bible.

You don’t have to agree with everything in the bible, you don’t have to be able to access the Greek and Hebrew text to be sure that King James got every word correct, all you need to do is to embrace the simple message of the why Jesus came and what he did for you.

You must believe that man is a sinner, who always falls short in terms of measuring up to the righteous standards of God. When God looked down from heaven, he sees that there is NONE righteous no not one.

You must believe that man is a sinner, who has earned a wage for HIS sins, which is death. This is why every man, women, boy or girl is born with a death sentence on their lives.

You must believe that God so loved the world and he loved man so much that he sent his SON Jesus to pay the wages of sin. He sent Jesus to die on a cross as a sacrificial lamb who would take upon himself, the sins of all man.

That is the reason why Jesus came to the earth, to shed his blood for many, as a payment for US, so that our sins might be remitted.

To be saved, to be born again, to be accepted by God, You have to respond in faith to the gospel (good news)

Thought:

Now for some here today who are sitting in the sanctuary and perhaps for some who are tied in to the video stream, this is where you get stuck.

It’s too simple and you won’t accept it. It doesn’t sound appealing or you won’t believe because you want to argue and keep on searching on line.

You won’t accept the gospel because in order to do that, you’ve got to admit that you are a filthy sinner, just like the rest of us.

In fact you didn’t even react, because as soon as you heard the word sinner, you shut your heart and mind down.

You want to be stroked. You want your ego lubricated. You want to be sold, you want to be pampered and I understand why the flesh needs that, but I am here to tell you this morning that the good news is about Jesus redeeming you from YOUR sins.

It is not about him getting you a job, or making you feel good about yourself.

The message of the gospel it is about the unmitigated act of love and mercy, where God himself, sent HIS sinless SON, to die on a cross and the ugliness of that event, which was caused by each one of us.

The good news is that in spite of that reality, WHILE WE WERE yet sinners; Jesus came down from heaven to do something incredible for the benefit of those who could not appreciate it, nor in any way deserved it.

If you want to be saved, if you want to connect with God you must believe that Jesus came down from heaven to save men from their sins.

How do you connect with God (How does a person become accepted by God/Saved/Born again)?

  1. Declare (confess) your spoken acknowledgement that you truly believe that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Romans 10:8-9a (NKJV)
8  But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):
9a  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus

John 6:38 (NLT)
38  For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.

John 6:33 (NKJV)
33  For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

John 16:30 (NLT)
30  Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.”

John 1:1-2 (NKJV)
1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2  He was in the beginning with God.

I really enjoyed preparing for this sermon that we are sharing today, because I have found that some of the most interesting and enlightening things we learn together, often come from scriptures that we are already familiar with.

This passage from Romans Chapter 10:9 specifically looking at the “a” portion is a perfect example of that.

Now from time to time I’ve heard Pastor Winston refer to this particular web-site called got-answers.org and I was directed there by a Google search.

When I asked the question as to what exactly what was meant by that portion where it says that a person must confess that Jesus is Lord, I found some interesting information.

Now in the scripture we see the use of the word confess.

I’ve added the word declare, based on what I learned from my research.

I did that because the word DECLARE helps to communicate the necessity of acknowledging him verbally and doing do in a way that makes it clear that you understand and believe in Jesus as GOD.

I also looked at and did some research on the word LORD.

In the bible the word Lord isn’t used only in reference to Jesus.

The term Lord can apply to ordinary human being.

If you own property and your rent your property to others you are a Landlord.

If you are a member of the House of Commons in England, you might have the title of Lord.

But when it comes to declaring and acknowledging Jesus as Lord, it means more that just giving him a title of respect.

When you declare that Jesus is LORD you are acknowledging to others and declaring to others that you understand and embrace the deity of Christ and that you acknowledge Jesus as God.

Jesus isn’t just another prophet.

Jesus isn’t just or another religious leader, like Muhammad or Buddha.

Jesus is the bread of God who came down from heaven.

Jesus is the WORD of God, who was with God and is God, and was from the beginning.

I don’t know how it works. I don’t fully understand the complexity of the Godhead.

I only know and believe with all of my heart and I am willing to confess and declare it to anyone, that Jesus is God and God’s own Son who came down from heaven and that he is LORD, Master, creator and sustainer of the universe and that he came DOWN from heaven to do HIS Father’s will.

Thought:

This my friends is non-negotiable.

You can’t soft peddle his LORDSHIP when it comes to salvation.

You can’t be saved by any one else other than Almighty God.

If you are still struggling with seeing and believing that Jesus is GOD, my friend, I am here to tell you, that you are not ready.

You can’t come to him as a fan of Jesus.

You can’t come to him as an admirer.

Jesus cannot be just another great historic figure that you have decided to become acquainted with.

Jesus won’t fit on your shelf right next to the other mere men, whom you look to for advice or direction or suggestions.

Jesus must be God and LORD of your life.

Thought:

This by the way is why a lot of folks lack passion and love and fire when it comes to Jesus

It’s the reason why there is a lack of Joy. It’s the reason why, you cannot be thrilled and in love with Jesus, because he is NOT your LORD.

It’s not that lack of preaching, it ‘s not programs, it’s not doctrines; it’s that Jesus doesn’t occupy that place of deity in your life; he’s an action figure that we’ve placed on the shelf, along with our other self-help books and advice.

When Jesus is embraced and taken into your heart as LORD and GOD, it overwhelms you.

  • He fills you.
  • He thrills you.
  • He turns you upside down

Thought:

Paul was an example of that; he was a person who was overcome, with the awesomeness of having Jesus as GOD in his life.

It’s not just saying the words, “ Jesus is LORD”, but it is believing in your heart, that Jesus is GOD and then you speak, you declare, you confess out of your mouth, what is in your heart.

Thought:

Have you done that my friends? Have you gotten to the place, where Jesus is the LORD who has completely taken you over.

Does your heart still skip a beat, when folks start calling his name?

Do you get dizzy, when you think about Jesus?

Do you know him as LORD and God…..or are you just an admiring a fan

How do you connect with God (How does a person become accepted by God/saved/born again)?

  1. Believe in your heart, that Jesus died to pay for the sins of mankind, that he was buried and that God raised him (Jesus) from the dead.

Romans 10:9a-b (NKJV)
9a-b  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead

Isaiah 53:5a-c (NKJV)
5a-c  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

Romans 4:25 (NLT)
25  He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.

1 Corinthians 15:4 (NLT)
4  He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. 

Hebrews 10:4-5 (NKJV)
4  For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
5  Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me.

A person connects with God; a person becomes born again, by believing in what God did for them, through the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ HIS Son.

That is how a person gets saved.

Earlier in point number one we spoke about the reality of man’s sinfulness and the actions needed in terms of the salvivic process, whereby the issue of sin and the payment for the wages of sin, were dealt with through the process of payment and remittance, by reason of a blood sacrifice.

Someone had to pay the price for our sins and Jesus did it.

Thought:

The nation of Israel was familiar with this principle.

In their laws and customs, there was an established formula of dealing with the issue of sin.

When a sin was committed or when a person offended God, they would offer the bodies and blood of bulls and goats and doves, as a payment for their sins.

Now problem with that was, that these offerings never did the job; because they would find themselves coming back year after year, time after time, offering that which clearly could not completely nor once and for all, take away the stain of their sins.

A person connects with God, by hearing the gospel message and by believing that Jesus was born into this world, that he lived on the earth as a man and that he went to the cross and was crucified “as the sinless lamb” of God, who gave his life as a sacrifice to take away the sins of the world.

In other words, a person must believe that Jesus was crucified.

A person must believe that Jesus died, not that he fainted. Not that his disciplines hid him away for a few days, until he recovered.

A person must believe, that Jesus died AND that GOD raised him from the dead and in that raising HE signaled an acceptance of what Jesus did on the cross as a PAYMENT IN FULL.

And once you have that settled into your heart, it becomes a reality that transforms your heart and mind completely.

That is why you see folks shouting. That is why you see them getting happy at the funeral of a loved one who has died in Christ.

Folks act like that because they have placed their FAITH and trust not in a new or interesting idea, but rather they have placed their FAITH in the power of almighty God, as evidenced in the reality of the risen Lord. 

This is another area, where we must stand and believe in a non-negotiable reality.

Jesus died and he rose again, and he GOT up with all power in his hands.

This is where the rubber meets the road baby, this is where faith in Jesus makes all the difference between what other folks says about their faith.

This is what I am hanging my faith on. This is what you must believe and know as a reality in your heart.

That Jesus died and he stayed in that grave for three days. They beat him, they killed him, but he got up, with all power in his hands…. 

How do you connect with God (How does a person become accepted by God/saved by/born again)?…4th and finally you ..

  1. Place your faith and trust in him Jesus as the one who has secured a right standing of acceptance with the Father.

Romans 10:10-11 (NLT)
10  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with

God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.
11  As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”

John 7:37 (NKJV)
37  On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink

1 Peter 3:18 (NKJV)
18  For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,

Romans 5:1 (NLT)
1  Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.

CLOSE:

In the beginning of the sermon, I told you that it was important that we have an opportunity to compare and contrast the response of Israel to the gospel and to look at that as a model for how a person can miss God.

Israel missed it on several levels. Firstly they missed understanding that the key to a right standing with God was not by works but by faith.

Israel also missed the message because of their pride and their prejudice.

They missed the messiah, just like people today can miss HIM because of pride, or arrogance or just being rebellious.

The scripture says “ that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
10  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11  For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame

To be accepted by God you have to, humble yourself, you have to accept the truth about who you are as a sinner and you have to embrace the gospel and believe in Jesus as Lord with all of your heart.

You have to abandon the notion that you ever can save yourself and instead you must place your faith AND trust in Jesus, believing, counting on, putting your firm confidence in God’s love as expressed in the life of and in the work of JESUS the

SON of righteousness who has secured for you a RIGHT STANDING of acceptance with the Father, NOT because of YOU, but because of HIM.

And when you do that, you can rest and have complete confidence that you will never be left hanging and never be put to shame

That is HOW you connect with God that is how you get born again, that is how you become saved and accepted, NOT through works but through faith.

AMEN.

While all eyes are closed and heads are bowed….

Click here to view the service and sermon

How to miss connecting with God

Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper                  

How to miss connecting with God

Romans 10:1-4 (KJV)
1  Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
2  For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
4  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the HEARING of HIS Holy and mighty word.

We are delivering a sermon today, that will in some places sound familiar to some of the doctrines and truths that were shared in our sermon last week which was entitled who are the children of God.

As we go through this letter, I get the impression that Paul teaches us sometimes by repeating and or bridging certain concepts and molding them together, so that we will often find ourselves, being reminded of points and or of thoughts we’ve learned about earlier, which in fact work together, very much like what happens when you are dealing with mathematics.

You learn addition and subtraction, but then those principles are molded into and Algebra and calculus, so when you hear things that you’ve learned about before, just embrace them as being part of what is required to help you as you move into more detailed teachings….if you follow what I am saying here say AMEN.

Today as we continue our studies through the epistle written to the church at ROME, we enter into this 10th chapter starting with part 1 of a two-part sermon, having to do with the issue of missing or failing to connect with God.

When my wife and I were very young, I remember the first time that we missed an airplane.

Our intention was to connect and get that flight, but being new to air travel we were ignorant of the rules and realities of the airline business.

We didn’t understand that an 11am departure meant a 9am arrival and so because we were ignorant of how the airlines operated we missed connecting with the airline.

Paul here in this teaching uses the nation of Israel to help us understand the realities and truths concerning God and how he operates.  

Paul shows us in these first verses of chapter 10 how it is possible to actually miss connecting with God and his righteousness.

Paul as we learned earlier was very concerned for the salvation of the nation of Israel.

In fact he was so concerned that at one point Paul states that he would be willing to be accursed and cut off from Christ, if it would save his Hebrew brethren.

Now as he begins this portion of the letter, he paints for us a very powerful and tragic example of how the nation of Israel actually missed connecting with the very God that they loved.

And for us there are some cautionary notes in looking at the example of Israel, which can speak directly to us.

So that is what we want to focus on today in this 4-point sermon entitled, HOW TO MISS CONNECTING WITIH GOD.

Israel shows us how a nation (or a person) can miss connecting with God by…..

  1. Having an enthusiastic desire and effort without correct knowledge.

Romans 10:1-2 b-c (KJV)
1  Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
2  For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

Romans 10:2 (NLT)
2  I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal.
Romans 10:2 (Weymouth New Testament)
For I bear witness that they possess an enthusiasm for God, but it is an unenlightened enthusiasm.

John 16:2b-c (NKJV)
2  yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.

In this first point of the sermon, I’d like to talk about how a person can have a sincere effort and desire for God, yet miss connecting with him.

Paul in his writing is giving us a bird’s eye view of one who would be personally and intimately be familiar with the Nation of Israel’s enthusiasm and desire to please and to connect with Almighty God.

Before Paul was converted he himself was a Pharisee, he was a Jew of Jews, he know about the law, he knew about the passion that the Jewish people had for God.

These were the oracle people who had a great deal of knowledge about God.

They had the law of God, they had the prophets, they had personal history with God and they had committed themselves to applying a level of attention to the matters of God, which were totally heads and shoulders above other nations.

They were Zealous for God.

They had a burning passion, they had an enthusiastic and YES even fanatical level of interest in God, but Paul says that they were lacking because their knowledge was misdirected and incomplete.

And because their knowledge was incomplete, as fired up as they may have been, it was not enough to enable them to connect with God.

Thought:

This is something that brings three thoughts to mind and these thoughts may challenge you and the may even make us uncomfortable.

Here is the First thought.

Being zealous for God and having a strong desire to connect with God, without actually knowing the one true God, will not get you anywhere.

This is a word that applies specifically to those who rely on their religion, whatever that religion may be.

Thought:

I have members of my own family who are very devout and sincere in their Mohammad-dean beliefs.

I believe that those who follow the Prophet and the Koran are incredibly sincere and zealous for God at level, which puts to shame, the devotion and fervor of most western Christians.

These folks are serious. I remembered the first time I encountered that particular branch of the family.

My own cousin cannot shake my hand because she isn’t allowed to touch any man but her husband.

These folks pray like no ones business. Their prayer regimen is based on FIVE prayers a day; pre-dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset and night, where ever you find these folks from Mecca to Michigan; you’ll find them on their faces with their mats laid out every single day, if you go to the mosque; no one is sleep while the I-man is giving his sermon.

Yet their zeal, because it is a misdirected zeal will never connect them to the one true God.

Admirable as they may be, it is zeal without correct knowledge.

Second thought:

There are many folks who are trying to connect with God, through a pursuit of knowledge and they are doing so by studying and checking out all kinds of religions.

This of course is a phenomenon that is active across our nation and it is rampant in our information over-loaded society.

People are sincerely looking for him and are doing so, by reason of their own personal quest for knowledge.

And so you have people with all kind of messed up and mixed up concepts and beliefs.

You have people who search and constantly ask questions.

You have people who read the latest books and pursue the latest fad and philosophy, pursing God with zeal and intensity that puts a lot of believers to shame.

These people are serious.

And while it sounds good to say that all paths lead to God and that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere, when you end up standing before God on that great day, you’ll find that you were sincerely wrong.

Third thought:

You can be religious and have a zeal for the things of your religious organization and still miss God.

You can study books, you can listen to all kinds of teachings, you can enroll in a college or special university and be the most ardent dedicated student.

But if that organization is relying on anything other than salvation through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Chris all of your ZEAL, all of your memorization of the special books of revelation, will mean absolutely NOTHING.

For in-spite of the doors that you knocked on doors and the tracks you handed out, in spite of the fact that you were up bright and early on Saturday morning; on that day when you stand before Almighty God, Jesus himself will say I don’t know you, depart from me you who work iniquity, I never knew you and you certainly didn’t know me.

Look at Israel; hear what God is saying to us.

Hear what God is saying in his word to you.

Israel shows us how a nation (or a person) can miss connecting with God by…..

  1. Failing to understand (being ignorant) of God’s righteousness.

 

Romans 10:2-3a (KJV)
2  For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3a  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness..

Isaiah 51:1-2a (NLT)
1  “Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance— all who seek the LORD! Consider the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were mined.
2a  Yes, think about Abraham, your ancestor, and Sarah, who gave birth to your nation.

Romans 1:17 (NIV)
For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed–a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Romans 4:3 (NKJV)
3  For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

Now we touched on this thought just a little bit last week, but here the thought that we want to focus upon today is the issue of ignorance.

Ignorance is a word that many people find insulting, but it really isn’t meant to insult, but rather it describes a state of being.

It means untutored, untaught, unlettered or uneducated, lacking not intelligence, or sincerity, or desire, or good intention, but rather lacking in an area of knowledge or understanding.

Paul said that Israel was ignorant of God’s righteousness, because they did not understand that this righteous God, embraced and accepted people (Abraham and Sarah being examples) who would be seen and accepted as righteous, not because of what they did, but because of what they believed.

We read from Isaiah chapter 51 verses 1-2a and let me just quote that again; it’s there on the screen and you can read it too

Isaiah 51:1-2a (NLT)
1  “Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance— all who seek the LORD! Consider the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were mined.

2a  Yes, think about Abraham, your ancestor, and Sarah, who gave birth to your nation…

In other words, the prophet Isaiah is telling the people of Israel to recognize the patterns and examples set by Abraham and Sarah.

The scripture declared in Romans 4:3 that “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

Now according to the Apostle Paul, this is where Israel missed it.

They were untutored, untaught, unlettered, ignorant of the fact that the righteousness that God gave was a free gift given in response to a man’s faith and trust in God.

Israel had the law, but they didn’t trust and have a loving faith in the God of that law.

Israel provides and example of how a nation (or a person) can miss connecting with God by…..

  1. Trying to establish your own way of reaching God.

 

Romans 10:3a-b (KJV)
3  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness,

Isaiah 64:6 (NKJV)
6  But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousness are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.

Amos 5:21-22 (NLT)
21  “I hate all your show and pretense— the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
22  I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.

Romans 9:31-32a-c (NLT)
31  But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded.
32  Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in him.

Very likely most if not all of you here today are familiar with the TEN commandments.

Now we know that God gave Moses a set of TEN commandments that were written in stone and then there were many rules and regulations that were built up, over the years.

My research indicated that there are over 600 laws in the Talmud, which is the body of Jewish civil and ceremonial law and traditions.

248 of those laws are positive commandments and 365 of the laws and directives are negatives, or do not do X or Y commands.

Over time the Jewish system of laws ballooned to become a massive system, in which they attempted to establish their own righteousness, through rules and regulations and festivals and activates.

In other words it was a man made ball of wax.

God looked at all that STUFF and he rejected it, because he realized that no where in all that man made stuff, was the kind of righteousness that he desired.

No where among all that MAN stuff was thing that he wanted and that was faith and trust in HIM.

He God hated the pretense.

He hated the hypocrisy, he hated the legal approach of doing things, while inwardly the heart was wrong, it turned his stomach, it repelled him, so much so, that he said that their attempts at approaching him with their own righteousness, offended him and looked degusting.

It was so distasteful that he likened it to a used menstrual cloth.

Thought

To me, this thought troubles my mind tremendously because; there is a part my flesh that struggles with religiosity.

And if you are honest about it, you’ll admit that this may be a problem in your life too.

You see the flesh likes rules and regulations and things that you can do because they provide feedback to your ego and sense of self.

As Christians we must be careful to avoid developing and or coming to rely on a set of RULES that we lean on to make us feel that we are right with God.

Now I am not saying what some bone headed person is thinking right now in their mind, I’m not saying cut loose and go PARTY…

I’m saying that we have to avoid religiosity.

We have to be careful to avoid coming to have faith in the things that we do or do not do, as evidence of our relationship with God and our right standing with him.

And we can fall into that trap very easily, because working off of a rule book is a lot easier than trusting God.

Working off a set of rules is a lot easier than leaning, searching, seeking and listening to him and HIS Spirit.

If we are not careful we can just like Israel, focus on building our own route to God, rather than flowing in the never-ending reality, that we are completely incapable of doing anything, to bring our selves up to God on our own.

Each and every day we must embrace and flow in the reality that we are the recipients of God’s unmerited grace, who loved us, called us and justified us because of faith and faith alone, in the work of his beloved SON.

Thought:

To the unsaved, to those who may be here today, or connected electronically let me also speak to you here in this point before we move to the 4th and final.

There are some of you here today; some sitting here and some who are watching by Internet or got this message from a DVD or a shared file that someone gave you.

I speak to you also my friend because you too may be in danger of missing the one true God, because you are trying to go about it in your own way.

I say that because from time to time, I meet a lot of people who are from a human perspective, quite nice and good people.

These are folks, who do not commit heinous crimes. They are law abiding people who love their families, pay their taxes, treat people fairly, give to charity; people who by most HUMAN measurements, would be the kind of folks that God would accept.

You might be one of those good people.

You’ve done all the right things, but I am sorry to tell you, that your best efforts, although laudable, will always fall short; for God knows everything about every single person and when he looks down from heaven upon the children of men, what he finds is that there is NONE righteous, NO NOT ONE.

No one can measure up to God’s righteousness as a result of his or her efforts that is not how God works.

If you believe that God will accept you because of your good works.

If you believe that you are a “good” person and that you’ll qualify for heaven based on your goodness, you are flowing in IGNORANCE and you’ll miss him and end up in a devil’s hell right along side of the worse no account bum you could think of.

I am not trying to insult you, I am simply describing your state of being and I am letting you know that it won’t work and you’ll end up missing God, even if you are the best person that you can try to be.

Israel provides and example of how a nation (or a person) can miss connecting with God 4th and finally by…..

  1. Refusing to submit to (accept) God’s way and instead clinging to your own way. 

Romans 10:3-4 (KJV)
3  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
4  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
 

John 1:11-12 (NLT)
11  He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.
12  But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.

Philippians 3:9 (NKJV)
9  and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

The tragic mistake of Israel was and is, that they had everything at their fingertips, but they missed the coming of God’s anointed one, because they were determined to do things their own way.

Pre-Close:

In the opening of the sermon, I told you a story about the time that my wife and I missed our first airplane when we were young…

It was a bad feeling, because we failed.

We didn’t understand how the airlines worked. Even though our bags were packed and we were excited to go, we missed it.

You might be one of the folks who are doing your own thing; maybe you’ve developed a cornucopia of ideas and thoughts that form your own personal religion.

Maybe you are a proud person and understandably so.

In your mind God would accept you because you are a lot better than Johnny the wino or Julie the sleaze at the office.

You can be sincere and still be sincerely wrong and miss him.

CLOSE:

Today we’ve shared some things about how God works.

You’ve been shown an example of how to miss connecting with God.

I’ve laid our all of the details so none of us have an excuse when it comes to the issue of salvation and your response to the gift of God through Jesus Christ.

Right now we Gentiles have the blessing of being able to understand and accept the beauty and simplicity of the Gospel.

And if you haven’t heard it, here is it. All people are lost in sin.

We can never reach the level of perfect required by God.

We cannot save ourselves, no matter how hard we may try.

But God loved the world so much, that he gave his only SON Jesus to die and pay the penalty for our sin.

Through faith in God’s only Son Jesus, who suffered bled and died on the cross and who rose from the grave, you as a person who is not perfect and who is guilty of sin and worthy of death, can instead be accepted as righteous and washed from your sins, by the blood of Jesus Christ.

If you openly declare with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord and you believe that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

For it is by believing in you’re heart, that you are made right with God and by openly declaring your faith in him that you are saved.

Having heard the gospel we are without excuse.

My friend if you are unsaved I am here today to tell you that we don’t have to miss God.

But rather we can all come to a saving knowledge of him through Christ…AMEN.

While all eyes are closed and heads are bowed.

Click Here to View the Entire Service and Sermon

Click here to visit our website

 

 

Who are the chosen people of God?

Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper, Senior Pastor Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship Church

                  Who Are The Chosen People of God? 

Romans 9:25-27 (NLT)
25  Concerning the Gentiles, God says in the prophecy of Hosea, “Those who were not my people, I will now call my people. And I will love those whom I did not love before.”
26  And, “Then, at the place where they were told, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’”
27  And concerning Israel, Isaiah the prophet cried out, “Though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore, only a remnant will be saved.

May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the hearing of HIS holy word.

Who are the chosen people?

Who are those who form the group of individuals whom God whom has determined will be the beneficiary of his love, grace, mercy and blessings.

This of course is a question that raises all kinds of feelings and reactions in our minds, just by asking a question about or raising the specter of “chosennes”

When I was a child I must have been exposed to and or heard something about the fact that the Jewish people were the chosen people of God.

And as a child I remember vividly that I did not like the idea of there actually being a “chosen people” especially when I was not one of them. 

It didn’t seem fair; it rubbed me the wrong way, because in my childish mind the idea that God would have a chosen people, who I presumed would all go to heaven and inherit all kinds of blessings, based on their ethnic background or racial heritage, just didn’t sit right with me.

Again, remember that I as a child presumed this.

Here the apostle Paul gives us a teaching that sets the record straight and he outlines the context and reality of God’s “choosing”, letting us know that his choosing of and or having a chosen people isn’t about playing favorites, no in fact his choosing and how he chooses is a reflection of his great love and mercy and HIS plan, laid out before the foundation of the world.

Now the subject very much seems like a repeat of the sermon I shared two weeks ago from Romans 9:6-13 entitled “who are the true children of God.

But here the Apostle Paul is teaching us more about this idea of “chosennes”

God does in fact have a chosen people.

This was part of his plan from the beginning, he has chosen, he has elected people according to his foreknowledge and that includes some people who are part of the nation of Israel, but it also includes people like you and me AND others who come from the other nations of the earth.

So let’s learn about that today; let’s get a clear understanding of the wonder and blessings of being one of God’s chosen.

Four points to the sermon today and then we are finished …AMEN.

Who are the chosen people of God? 

  1. They are a mixed group of people, chosen from among those who were called God’s people and those who were not called God’s people

Romans 9:25b-c (NLT)
25 “Those who were not my people, I will now call my people. And I will love those whom I did not love before.”

Hosea 2:23 (NLT)
23  At that time I will plant a crop of Israelites and raise them for myself. I will show love to those I called ‘Not loved.’ And to those I called ‘Not my people,’ I will say, ‘Now you are my people.And they will reply, ‘You are our God!’”

1 Peter 2:9-12 (NKJV)
9  But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
10  who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

Revelation 7:9 (NKJV)
9  After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,

In answering the question as to WHO are the chosen people of God, we find number one that the chosen people of God are people of Jewish heritage as well as those who are of a Gentile background.

Now what exactly is the meaning of the word GENTILE?

From got questons.org we harvested the following:

The word Gentile is an English translation of the Hebrew word goyim (“people, nations”) and the Greek word ethne (“nations, people groups, people”). The Latin Vulgate translated these words as gentilis, and this word was then carried over into English as “Gentile.”

The term refers to a person who is not a Jew.

During Jesus’ time here on earth, many Jews took pride in their cultural and religious heritage and they considered Gentiles as being “unclean”

In fact they looked down on non-Jews so much that that called them “dogs” and lumped all non-Jews in to a group that they simply referred to as the un-circumcision.

This may in fact explain why among people there is generally a negative reaction to the idea of a group that is identified as the chosen people.

And some folks use this as an excuse for the an·ti-Se·mit·ic, prejudice.

Now the truth of the matter is that the Gentiles, in comparison to the religious standards of Judaism, were incredibly depraved and morally corrupt on a level that was way over the top.

The Gentiles were people who practiced human sacrifices.

These were the folks who burned their children on the fire to Moloch.

These were the folks who were involved bestiality, cannibalism, and sexual perversions that defy description.

These were a group of folks who put the eeky in freaking.

Gentile societies and practices were steeped in idol worship and demonism.

Yet here we read in the word of God, that God said I am going to choose a people for myself, I am going to raise of a crop of folks, in which there will be a mixed multitude, of Jews and Gentiles.

Thought:

Now when I first got this clear in my mind, I was floored.

This new understanding made God’s grace shine even brighter.

This reality spoke to me concerning the incredible grace and plan of God, in which he determined before the foundation of the world, that his grace would be demonstrated in HIS choosing folks that could on no level qualify as being good in God’s eyes.

God is calling a NATION of chosen people comprised of Jews and Gentiles and he is combining them into one group.

We read just a bit earlier the words of the Apostle Peter who defined that group as a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, his own special people “who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

His love and mercy are so great that he “chooses” to express his great love to Gentiles, who were known to be the most morally evil people in the world.

God puts us all together AS HIS CHOSEN PEOPLE, making us ONE with the very people he had chosen and blessed to be the oracles of his word and the ones through whom the Messiah had come.

His plan was to choose, not on the basis of ethnic or racial heritage, but to create for himself a new nation, chosen to proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Who are the chosen people of God?

  1. They are group that includes a remnant of the nation of Israel (Jewish people

Romans 9:27 (NLT)
27  And concerning Israel, Isaiah the prophet cried out, “Though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore, only a remnant will be saved.

Acts 2:37-39 (NLT)
37  Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”
38  Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins, turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ to show that you have received forgiveness for your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39  This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.”

Romans 11:4 (NKJV)
4  But what does the divine response say to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”

This second point helped clear up some things that I had in my mind from the time I was a child.

Some how or another, I had lived for many years with the impression that all Jews would be saved and would automatically go to heaven.

In answering the question as to whom the chosen people of God are, we learn secondly that concerning the nation of Israel, the chosen who will be saved, are a remnant of the nation of Israel.

Thought:

Not everyone who is born Jewish is automatically going to go the heaven; just like God doesn’t have a family plan that gets you into heaven because of your parents, he does not have a plan that automatically gets a person into heaven because of his or her ethnic or racial background.

Remember now what we’ve learned in point number one.

The chosen people of God are among a group that is comprised of both Jews and Gentiles.

The prophet Isaiah declared that only a remnant would be saved.

Even though the Nation of Israel and the descendents of Abraham would be as numerous as the sands of the sea shore, not every one who is born Jewish would truly believe and trust in God and therefore not everyone who was born Jewish would be saved or counted among God’s chosen people.

Thought:

Now you might say, I’m not Jewish so WHY does this matter to me?

Well if you love people, it should matter to you.

Some of you may have Jewish friends or family members who are Jewish.

And if you listen further you’ll see that there is something for you here, no matter what your background may be.

Thought:

The passage we read from Acts 2:37-39 is an interesting passage to consider and listen to, especially if you are from a Jewish background or have Jewish friends.

You see Peter was preaching that day and speaking to a crowd, which was primarily Jewish.

After the miraculous events of Pentecost, Peter steps up and begins to preach to the crowd.

The scripture records that the words of Peter cut them or pierced their hearts and they said to him “Brothers, what should we do?”

Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins, turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ to show that you have received forgiveness for your sins.

  • Peter was preaching to JEWS who had the privilege of having the laws of God.
  • Peter was preaching to religious folks.

Peter was preaching to a group of people who were morally heads and shoulders above the Gentile world, but to these Jews, Peter would communicate the truth and reality that every one needs to repent and turn to God in order to be saved.

He didn’t tell them that they had an automatic ticket to heaven.

He told that that everyone needs to come to JESUS and embrace him as LORD by placing their faith in him, expressing by the act of being baptized and declaring publically, that they understood and believed that it was only by placing their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord, that they could be and would be saved.

Does that sound familiar to you ?

Peter told them you’ve got to make a choice to embrace the reality of what it takes to be among those who are truly God’s chosen people.

Thought:

On that day, Peter was talking to his fellow Jews, but what he said then applies right now to us GENTILES.

You see, God is still in the business of choosing a people for himself.

But each of us has to position ourselves to be chosen.

Each of us must repent of our sinful rebellion and pride.

Each of us must recognize our lost-ness without the love and grace mercy of God.

Each of us must come to the full realization that we cannot save ourselves and then having come to that realization, we must open our hearts, fall upon our knees and them come to Christ and ask him to save us.

Today and this morning, the question I want to lodge in your mind is this.

Have you done what Peter said that we must do?

Have you repented, have you declared your faith in Jesus, have you made a public declaration by being baptized according to the commandment and authority of Jesus Christ and confessing with your mouth HIS Lordship over your life.

Who are the chosen people of God?

  1. They are people who understand that they cannot pursue righteousness by the works of the law.

Romans 9:31-32c (NLT)
31  But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded.
32c  Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in him.  

Romans 3:20 (NLT)
20  For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.

Romans 10:3 (NLT)
3  For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law.

Ephesians 2:9 (NLT)
9  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

Matthew 7:22-26 (NKJV)
22  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’
23  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

For the third point of this teaching, the answer to the question of who are the chosen people of God, is given to us in the negative and it really builds upon and explains why it is that only a remnant of Israel will be saved.

Thought:

Israel was the nation that was identified as God’s own people; they had a special relationship with God.

They had the law and the prophets.

They were given the honor of being the nation through which the Messiah would come.

But they as a NATION they never succeeded at flowing in the reality of there chosen status, because they failed to trust God.

They didn’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself.

They didn’t understand the example of their father Abraham, the father of faith.

Thus in answering our main question that we posed as the basis for the sermon, we can simply say, that the chosen people of God are those who pursue righteousness by faith.

Thought:

Now there is a tough warning for us in the church today….

Tells your neighbor, hold tight, it’s toe stepping time…

What Paul teaches us about the nation of Israel is not just a teaching for the JEWS, it is a warning.

If we are not careful, we in the church can miss “God’s way”, just like Israel missed it.

This is especially true and applicable for those of us who are quite comfortable in our own religion and or self-righteousness.

The chosen people are NOT those who think that they can get into the group or be accepted by God because of their own religion.

The chosen people of God are NOT those who presume that they are in because of their spiritual pedigree.

The chosen people of God are NOT those who believe that they get in because of the good deeds or works.

And this is a warning and a danger to every one.

To Jews to Gentiles. To Christians.

To Muslims, To Baptist. To Pentecostals. To Catholics, To non-denominational Christians, In fact it is a warning to anyone who presumes to rely upon their own goodness or their own works, or thier own religion.

It didn’t work for the nation of Israel and it won’t work for you.

In that day, when we stand before God, I fear that there are going to be a lot of people who are shocked by what the Lord says.

I fear that there may be many who consider them selves to be part of those who are the chosen of God, who will stand before the master on that day.

Some will give a run down of their works and religion.

Some will give a resume of their accomplishments as preachers and teachers of God’s word.

Many will say to Jesus that day, Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in your name.

Lord have we NOT cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?’

And then the LORD himself will declare to them, ‘I never knew you.

You didn’t put your trust in me.

You didn’t learn God’s way of making people right with himself.

You didn’t learn that salvation isn’t a reward, but instead you missed it, because you failed to put your faith and trust in me.

Who are the chosen people of God, 4th and finally….

  1. They are those who embrace the “stumbling stone” and place their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

Romans 9:32d-e (NLT)
32d-e   instead of by trusting in him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path

Romans 9:33 (NLT)

33  God warned them of this in the Scriptures when he said, “I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fall. But anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” 

Matthew 13:57 (YLT)
57  and they were stumbled at him. And Jesus said to them, `A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, and in his own house:’

John 5:24 (NKJV)
24  “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

Here we come to a close, looking again at Israel and the Jewish nation, as a teaching example that speaks to us and answers the question that we posed and are addressing in this sermon today.

We learn 4th and finally that the chosen people of God are those who by faith “embrace the stumbling stone”.

Jesus came to the earth as a humble servant; born into poverty.

He didn’t have great material wealth or anything attractive about him at all.

He talked about giving up all that you had.

He talked about turning the other cheek when someone strikes you.

He spoke of forgiveness and he told people about the reality of their sins.

Instead of marching into town on a great big stallion, he came riding on a donkey’s colt.

And worst of all he died on a cross, stretched out naked between two criminals.

So when it came to embracing Jesus as Lord and savior, a lot of folks stumbled.

This is what happened to Israel.

Only a remnant could get past the stumbling block that Jesus represented and the offense of all that he stood for, when he said trust in me.

The chosen people of God, are the ones who embrace the stumbling stone, who’s name is Jesus Christ and the beauty of this blessedness is that anyone, from any background or any racial group can place their faith in and embrace Jesus Christ.

Today my friend, no matter who you are or where you’ve been, I want you to know that God is still building and planting and raising a nation of chosen ones, who will place their faith and trust in HIS precious Son Jesus Christ.

God is still seeking to save the lost.

God is still building a nation of chosen ones, called forth to show the praises of him, who has called you from darkness and into the blessing of his incredible light

I wonder this morning if there is ONE who is ready to be among the chosen.

While all eyes are closed and heads are bowed.

Click here to view our video service