God’s Great Gift

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

God’s Great Gift

Isaiah 9:6-7a (NKJV)
6  For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7  Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end,

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

What an exciting day it is today, the eve upon which we will gather to prepare for the celebration of the birth of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

This week for many there was a press to get to the store and to take care of last minute gifts; in fact I predict that today the malls will be over flowing with folks looking for deals, some who are planning to give gifts to others, or some who will take this opportunity to give a gift to themselves.

Gift giving is the topic that we’d like to discuss this blessed Sunday, speaking to you on the subject of God’s great gift.

We’ve accessed the prophetic writings of Isaiah who penned these words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as Isaiah looked into the future and spoke of the birth of Jesus.

And he spoke about the birth of God’s own Son and the fulfillment of a promise made long ago, to shower mankind with a great gift.

That is the title of the sermon this morning, God’s great gift and today we want to celebrate and thank him for his wonderful gift as outlined in these four brief points.

AMEN.

God’s great gift to humanity is

  1. A child born to us who is “God’s only begotten Son”

Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV)
6  For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given

Luke 1:35 (NLT)
35  The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.

John 3:16 (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.

Luke 2:11 (KJV)
11  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

We note in this first point the words of Isaiah 9:6 and the words of the Angel who announces the birth of Jesus to the Shepherds as recorded in Luke 2:11 taking note that the address and good news of the gift of God is given, to US, that is to humanity and to the world.

God’s great gift to humanity is a gift that he did not give to the Angles, nor to the

principalities of heaven, but rather he gave US the gift of HIS only begotten SON.

Think about this for a moment and embrace the massiveness of this thought that God gave his SON to us.

Isaiah said it was unto US, the Angel said for unto YOU is born, this day.

On this Christmas Eve Sunday, one might ask the reason why God would give such a wonderful gift to us.

Thought:

Earlier in the opening of the sermon, I mentioned that very likely there would be among those shopping at the mall today, a number of shoppers who would be taking advantage of the last minute sales, so that they/we could get something for our selves.

It’s not that we don’t care about our husbands or wives, it’s not that our children or grand babies are not important to us but the way that most people are wired is that there is a tendency to think about ourselves, even in this time of gift giving, in which so much love and good cheer is spread.

You don’t have to raise your hand or even nod your head, if you happened to hook your self up with a little something-something that is hidden in the closet, garage or in back of the trunk of your car, Yes while you were out there getting presents for others, you made sure to take care of yourself.

We are wired to think about ourselves so much… 

So when we think about and consider that God would give this incredible gift, how he could be so “self-less” and give such a wonderful gift for US?

John 3:16 said that God so loved the world….

This is kind of difficult to process if you really sit down and think about that and consider this great love in the light of how people in the world today reject and be-little and dismiss God.

On the eve of the celebration of the birth of that great gift, some would never think of taking the time to honor and celebrate the birth of the Christ Child, by attending a gathering at a church service such as this.

I’ll bet if you go over the Salt Creek Grill right now you’ll find the place packed out with people celebrating Christmas.

In fact the idea of going to the Lord’s house to celebrate the gift of HIS Son, never even crosses the minds of most worldly folks.

It’s difficult to process and to make it connect in your mind, why God would love a world like this, that has literally taken the Christ out of Christmas.

John 3:16 said that God so loved the world that he gave.

And this is part of Almighty God’s nature, it is part of how God is wired; because at the core of who he is, God is one who’s very nature is that of a “giver”.

God gave his SON because he was concerned about the sin that effects and infects the lives of people.

God gave his SON because he cares about those who are suffering

God gave his SON because he cares about what SIN has done to the hearts and minds and souls of men.

Thought:

Christmas time is probably not a time when most people think about Sin, but it is important for me to tell you that Sin is a great concern.

Sin is what makes us selfish even when we try to be gracious and think about others, try as we may; we are still drawn to self.

Sin is what makes us ungrateful.

It’s built into our DNA. It’s the reason why your child, who one minute seems like a joyous gift from heaven, and then like that SNAP they will turn and throw a tantrum, because they didn’t get the toy or game or gadget they demanded for Christmas.

Sin will be at the root of some arguments that burst out at the table tomorrow where hurtful things are said and tongues become deadly, having been loosed by the influence of one too many beers or shots.

Sin is at the heart of what separates man and God and the presence of the sin issue, broke our relationship with the one who created us.

You see SIN has a price and the price or wages of Sin is death.

God gave HIS son, to deal with that.

He sent his SON take our sins upon himself and to sacrifice HIS life on the cross, to pay the price that we should have paid, so that we wouldn’t be condemned to eternal damnation, but rather through faith in HIS Son Jesus, we who believe in him, should not perish but have ever lasting life.

God’s great gift to humanity is secondly…

  1. A Savior sent to deliver us.

Isaiah 9:6a-b (NKJV)
6  For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder

Luke 2:11 (NKJV)
11  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Matthew 1:21 (NLT)
21  And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Luke 1:69-70 (NLT)
69  He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David,
70  just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago.

God’s great gift to humanity is that he sent us a great deliverer.

This is a point that may take a little more imagination for us to really embrace and see the power of, because we live in a time of relative freedom and we might not be able to clearly see our need to be delivered.

You see in the Ancient world, government was viewed by many as a burden to be borne upon the backs and shoulders of people.

Most people in the ancient world were extremely poor and over-taxed.

The rich and powerful ruled the masses with great authority and they lorded their power over the weak and helpless.

People were oppressed and over-whelmed by kings and princes and they needed someone to deliver them, not only from the oppressive nature of world government, but people needed to be delivered from the hand of our greatest enemy who’s name is Satan.

Thought:

Christmas Eve might not seem like a time to talk about Satan, but since he has much of the world blinded to the fact that he has burdened the backs of people with such incredibly destructive weights, I feel compelled to address this.

I told you earlier that it might be hard for us to relate to the idea of needing to be delivered.

But the fact is, that we in the world today, are struggling under the oppressive weight, that comes for the very gates of HELL itself.

  • The world is full of hate and hating people who are burdened by a sense of resentment and anger towards their fellow man, that is why you see the alarming rise of hate groups today.
  • The world is burdened down by greed and a lust for power that places money and possessions over the lives of human beings.
  • The world is burdened down by hypocrisy and hopelessness; our institutions are crumbling under the weight of leaders who lack integrity.

There is fear in the streets and in our homes.

There is crime everywhere.

Folks can’t even get a box delivered to their homes without some thief waiting in the wings to steal their Christmas gifts.

We need to be delivered from the oppressive weight, that is being carried on our backs, but we cannot deliver ourselves.

That is why God gave us the gift of our great deliverer.

On this Christmas Eve morning I am here to tell you that there is only ONE great deliverer and that is Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Come on a give God some praise !!!!!

God’s great gift to humanity thirdly is….

  1. A deliverer sent to rescue us.

Matthew 1:21a-b (NKJV)
21  And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS,

Mark 10:45 (NKJV)
45  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Titus 2:14a-b (YLT)
14  who did give himself for us, that he might ransom us from all lawlessness, and might purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works;

Ephesians 1:7 (NKJV)
7  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace

In this 3rd point, I want to spend a little time talking about the name of Jesus.

Thought:

One of the things that I like about Christmas time is that the name of Jesus is spoken of by many people who never think of him at any other time than this.

Now don’t get me wrong.

I understand that for many business and various organizations, the name of Jesus is spoken or used because it’s good for business.

But on this day, on this Christmas Eve Sunday we want to embrace the gift of God and to see that in the name of God’s only begotten Son.

Thought:

The name Jesus is an Anglicized form of the Greek name that I cannot pronounce, which is derived from the Hebrew word Yeshua.

Yeshua is a verbal derivative from the word which means” to rescue”, or “to deliver”

In the previous point we talked about God’s great gift to us as sent in the form of Jesus his Son as our deliverer.

Here in this 3rd point, we want to talk about God’s great gift of sending a “deliverer” to “rescue” mankind.

Thought:

You see this world is in great danger and in dire need of a rescuer.

Man is not only oppressed by the enemy who is Satan, but he is bound and deceived as to the dangers of HELL that hang over his head each day.

Many do not believe nor understand what happens to your eternal soul if one should die in this world without Christ the redeemer.

And no matter how good you may think you are, each one of us is born with a first class ticket, which is marked and headed towards hell without the intervention of Christ.

God sent the gift of HIS Son, to redeem man and to save him and rescue him from a devil’s hell and eternal hellfire.

This was his mission; this was the plan of God who gave us HIS Son as a gift.

Jesus came to this earth as God’s great gift to ransom the souls of human beings and to rescue us from the prison we were held in.

Jesus came set things in order and to rescue us from the stain of sin that separates us from Almighty God.

Jesus came to do exactly what his name means…to rescue us and to give his life as a payment for the sins of many, so that we who were bound in chains and fetters would receive redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.

God’s great gift to humanity 4th and finally is….

  1. A mighty God to be with us forever.

Isaiah 9:6c-7b (NKJV)
6 c And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 b Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end,

Matthew 1:23 (NKJV)
23  “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

John 14:23 (NKJV)
23  Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

We close our Christmas Eve sermon today, celebrating God’s desire to be with us.

If you have not already come to the conclusion or recognized it from the previous points, let me make sure that I state it plainly.

God loves us and wants to be with us. He wants to be with you.

This is the message that is contained all through out the bible and it is the reason why he gave us the incredible gift of HIS Son.

To us he was sent and to us he was given and to us he shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace

CLOSING:

In Matthew’s account of the birth of our Lord he said that they shall call his name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

John records the words of Jesus, who spoke of a relationship that would come together in which The Son and the Father would join with the person who believes in the Son and that these would make a home with that person.

For those of you who know Jesus as your personal Lord, let this day be to you a reminder of the great gift that God bestowed upon an undeserving world.

His grace and his love was so incredible, that he chose us and drew us to the SON before we were born.

To those of you who may be here or are listening on line the invitation on this Christmas Eve Sunday is to come to know God’s great gift for yourself.

Come and get to know HIS only begotten Son for yourself.

Come and embrace by faith the great deliverer, our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

Come into that blessed relationship of cleansing forgiveness and peace with God, though the SON who he sent to rescue you and bring you safely home to him.

AMEN.

While all eyes are closed and heads are bowed…

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Paul’s Great Love for Israel

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

                           Paul’s Great Love for Israel

Romans 9:1-5 (NKJV)
1  I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit,
2  that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart.
3  For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,
4  who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises;
5  of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.

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

The sermon we delivered two weeks ago, which closed out Chapter 8, was one of great encouragement to the child of God.

If you were not here for that teaching I strongly encourage you to go on-line to our you-tube channel and listen to it.

In that sermon we learned that Paul declares and affirms our position in Christ as believers, noting specifically that nothing can separate us from God’s love; not Angels, nor powers nor people, NO nothing can separate us from the love of God, for Christ died for US and was raised to life for US and praise God our Lord is seated at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for US…AMEN.

Today the topic and the subject of Paul’s letter mark a very stark and striking change.

In the next few portions of the letter he turns from talking to the believing Church, to addressing his concerns and cares regarding the challenges and issues of HIS brethren the Jewish people.

Paul loved the people of Israel, not only because he was born as one of their own brethren who shared a cultural and spiritual connection, but also because the people of Israel shared and special and unique place within the plan and workings of God.

The Jewish people were God’s chosen people; AND through them had come the very messiah Christ himself.

Today, we are going to look at and explore Paul’s great love for the people of Israel as noted in these Three (3) points.

IF you are ready to go say AMEN

Paul’s great love and passion for Israel was rooted in…..

  1. The spiritually lost condition of the people of Israel and his estrangement from them.

Romans 9:1-2 (NKJV)
1  I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit,
2  that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart.

Exodus 32:9 (NLT)
9  Then the LORD said, “I have seen how stubborn and rebellious these people are.

Psalm 119:136 (NLT)
136  Rivers of tears gush from my eyes because people disobey your instructions.

Acts 23:12 (NKJV)
12  And when it was day, some of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.

2 Corinthians 11:24 (NKJV)
24  From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.

In this first point of the sermon today, we note the words of Paul, as he expresses and proclaims his great love and passion for the people of Israel.

A people who were chosen by God himself and blessed by God, yet these very people were suffering, because of the choices and decisions they had made in life.

The Israelites were an extremely rebellious people.

All through their history starting from the very days of their fathers, to the deliverance of the Jews from the hands of the Egyptians, to the Judges and kings, to the prophets that they rejected and killed; the history of the people of Israel is replete with examples of a hard headed, rebellious people who fought God and disrespected his love and blessings, time after time after time.

And then most notably as it regards the down right act of rejection; the scripture declares that having come to his own, his own people rejected him and Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, God’s only Son was crucified and killed by the leaders of the Jewish nation.

Thought:

To some, it might make sense that Paul would be an enemy of the ones who had rejected Christ.

He had every right to be angry and bitter.

When Paul was converted and became a believer in Jesus Christ, some of the Jews banded themselves together and took a vow that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul.

Paul had been the subject of hatred and physical abuse at the hands of his own people.

He was beaten on several occasions and the cumulative total of stripes he received was 195 lashes

Yet this man was in heaviness, his heart was distressed, his mind was occupied and tied up with a deep concern and HE was driven with a sense of urgency to communicate the gospel and the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ to these very same people who mistreated him tremendously.

Paul felt an intense pain and longing within himself, because he understood the heart of God towards the people of Israel and towards the people of the earth.

Thought:

As I look at and process the intensity of Paul’s concern here, I cannot help but be reminded and moved by what must certainly be the heart of God and the love of God and the passion of God towards the unsaved world that we live in.

Israel in many ways is simply a microcosm of the people of the world at large and an example of the sinfulness that plagues and defines this world.

And Paul with his incredible passion and desire for the people of Israel, for me pictures God’s great love and passion for a world full of people who reject him.

That is why it is hard sometimes to process the bold statement of truth as recorded in John 3:16 which declared that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but instead have everlasting life.

Vs 17 would go on to say, that God did not send his SON into the world to condemn the world, but rather that through his Son the world might be saved.

Thought:

I as a preacher of the gospel I have a concern and indeed I have a passion and great sorrow for people who are lost today.

You and I my friends are living in a desperate world of lost people.

It is painful to see young folks who are confused and lost and who have given up on life, even though they haven’t lived very long.

It is painful to see men who lack purpose and direction, struggling to find themselves and to find meaning in life, frustrated by pursuing money and pride only to find an empty pot of nothing at the end of their pursuits.

It is painful to see, families broken and destroyed by substance abuse.

When you hear the stories of children as young as 9 years old, being strung out on drugs, looking for attention, looking for validation, looking for love in a pill or bottle, or pipe when you hear about that it just breaks your heart.

It is painful to see people’s marriages struggling, because of the choices that people make, wives don’t know what to do, husbands don’t know what their role is, and children don’t know, what they don’t know, they only know that they hurt.

I have a passion to preach the gospel to the lost because I know that the only thing that can help this world is Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten SON.

I believe that we as Christians ought to be moved with great passion and heaviness.

I believe that we who know Jesus as Lord ought to have a burning desire to see that our kinsmen, our children, our spouses our brothers, our sisters, our parents, our aunts and uncles and neighbors and every person we meet, we ought to have a burning desire to see that they come into a saving knowledge Jesus Christ and his shed blood on the cross at Calvary.

  • Only the blood of Jesus Christ, the precious SON of God the Father, can save this lost and dying world.
  • Only faith in Jesus and Jesus Christ alone can set men and women free.
  • Only Christ himself can solve the incredible challenge of saving NOT only Israel, but of saving lost sinners who are living in the world today without hope.

And for every preacher in the house today and for those listening online, I’m here to issue a challenge, because the word of God says in Romans chapter 10 verse 14…
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?

If you are a preacher the word to you today is that we must stir up a passion within ourselves, even to the point where it becomes for us a personal issue of great heaviness and sorrow.

Paul’s great love and passion for Israel was rooted in…..

  1. His deep love & great concern for their need of salvation.

Romans 9: 3 (NKJV)
3  For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh.

Exodus 32:32-33 (NKJV)
32  Yet now, if You will forgive their sin–but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.”
33  And the LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.

Galatians 3:10 (NLT)
10  But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.”

Romans 10:2-3 (NKJV)
2  For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.
3  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.

We kind of explored this a bit already in point number one, but there are details here in the declaration of Paul which bring his passion and concern to a more intense picture or illustration and we want to dive in and explore that further.

Notice if you would please the words from Romans 9:3, the a-c portion Paul says, that he’d be willing to be accursed from Christ, if that would lead to the salvation of the people of Israel.

The New Living Translation says … 3  for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them.  

Paul I believe was speaking here, from the depths of his intense emotion; I don’t believe that he wanted to be separated from and or cursed in the eyes of the Christ he loved, but he had an intensity of desire and he was extremely motivated.

We read a passage taken from the book of Exodus, where the words of Moses were recorded and we see in the person of Moses, that same passion and level of emotional connectedness to the people.

Moses petitions God to forgive the people and their sins and in that petition Moses simply says God please forgive these people and if you won’t forgive them, blot my name out of your book.

Paul’s passion and love for the people of God and his concern for their salvation was not just an intellectual thing, it wasn’t just because he understood the theology of the need, but his concern was based on love and what he knew in his heart.

Paul understood the Spiritual realties and the hopelessness of living life under the law.

He understood the frustration of trying to obtain favor with God by works, declaring in Galatians 3:10 that those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law

Paul understood that on some level the people of Israel had zeal for God but not according to knowledge for they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.

And it was from that burning emotional connectedness, that he would declare his willingness to give up his own relationship with Christ, if it would save the people of Israel.

Thought:

I want to take you back to point number one for a moment and the place in which we spoke about the pain that people are going through in the world today.

My friends I believe that many of you here identified with that, many of you know and understand that pain.

But here as I examine Paul’s words more deeply, I am convinced and convicted that it is going to take more than just reacting to or being sympathetic towards the pain of others.

In fact if we do nothing more than do what Bill Clinton did…and just say hey I feel your pain, then we in fact will miss the mark.

If you as a child of God simply clap your hands and so GO preacher, go tell “those people” about Jesus, I feel you bro, I feel the pain, then we have fooled ourselves and have fallen into the modern trap of having feelings with out action. 

We need to have a passionate fervor that is willing to put ourselves and our time and our resources and our schedules at risk.

If you are an altar worker, it is going to take more than an encounter on Sunday morning.

If you are a preacher, it is going to take more than just a sermon delivered at a time and at a setting that feels good to you.

If you are a church member, it is going to take more than just handing out an invite card, or putting a flyer on someone’s windshield.

We need to challenge and ask ourselves to be willing to risk it all.

What would we be willing to give up if it would help save the souls of our loved ones and friends and neighbors?

From what…… would we….. be willing….. to be accursed?

Paul said that his passion was so great that he’d be willing to give up his relationship with Christ.

Again as I said earlier, I believe that those words were spoken emblematically, but we too ought to be willing to give up __________X, to go beyond sympathy, or empathy, to do everything in our power to see that those who are bound and under the curse of sin and death are instead set free.

God help us to move beyond the surface and the low hanging fruit and the easy convenience of a microwave Christianity.

Paul’s great love and passion for Israel was rooted in 3rd and finally in…..

  1. His great respect for Israel and their place in God’s plan.

Romans 9:4-5c(NKJV)
4  who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises;
5  of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came,

Romans 11:17 (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.

We close our thoughts this morning with the words of Paul who wrote about his love and respect for the people of Israel and the role that they played in God’s redemptive plan.

Paul understood that in spite of the sinfulness of Israel, that these were special and chosen people.

Israel was the name of Jacob the father of the nation, who received that special name when he wrestled with the Angel of the Lord.

This name Israel means Prince with God or one who rules with or contends with God, this would indicate that the people of Israel were to be respected and that they were to be honored with a great sense of worth and value.

God chose Israel out of all of the people of the earth, not because they were more numerous, not because they were better than other people, but he called and declared his love for them, because of the faith of their father Abraham.

  • The Jews were chosen.
  • The Jews were given the law and through the law, we came to know the will and love of God.
  • The Jews were given the privilege of serving and worshipping the one true God.
  • The nation of Israel hey saw things that no other nation had ever seen.
  • They saw the pillar of smoke in the day and the fire by night.
  • They saw the Shekinah glory of God that covered the tent of meeting.
  • They heard the voice of God when he came down on mount Sinai.

And then of course there was the reality of the blessing of Jesus Christ who came in the flesh.

From the Jews came Jesus Christ, Son of Abraham, Son of David, and Son of God.

Paul never forgot, that in spite of their back-slidden and spiritually blind condition, that these were special people who were to be loved and respected.

And so also must we never forget to love Israel too.

Thought:

From Romans chapter 11:17 I harvested these words as noted in the New Living Translation because these words speaks so strongly to us today.

And I’ll read them again.

Romans 11:17 (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

You see, you and I are the wild ones.

We are the branches that have been grafted in.

Israel was swept aside, to that you and I might be given a place and a chance to obtain salvation.

Think about the wonder of this and let it sink in for a moment.

That God so loved the world, he so loved US that he broke off a place to graft us in.

We who were not a people have become a people, because he loved the world so much, that he opened a place for us in his family, that we who were not a part of the commonwealth of Israel, might come into HIS family of beloved and chosen people.

This Christmas season, as you are scurrying along and engaged in gift giving and gift receiving, stop for a few moments and give into the passion, stir up a desire within yourself, to see men and women, boys and girls…..to be grafted into his blessed family, for this is the heart and will of God.

AMEN.

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God’s Great Assurance Part 2

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

God’s Great Assurance to Believers

Part 2

Romans 8:31-38 (NLT)
31  What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?
32  Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?
33  Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.
34  Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
35  Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?
36  (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)
37  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

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

We are returning with part II of our previous sermon, which was entitled God’s Great Assurance to believers.

In that sermon there were three points we explored which were incredibly uplifting and encouraging.

We learned firstly as Christians that we can be assured that God is working all things together for our good.

All things, mean that whatever twists and turns and unexpected developments that may come into your life, no matter what it looks like, will be handled and managed by God himself.

And that is a word that we want to hold on to in good times and bad, so that as you navigate through the treacherous waters of life, you can take peace in that reality.

We learned secondly that God has a plan to fulfill his purpose in you, for the scripture declares in Romans 8:29 that he predestined us to be conformed to the image of his Son.

We learned 3rd and finally, that the believer should be assured that God is going to bring us to glory.

I want to encourage you to review and or pick up that sermon on our you-tube channel and be blessed by the word.

AMEN.

This morning, there are four points to the sermon, regarding God’s great assurance to the believer and again these are very practical and relevant to the trials and struggles that we go through today.

God’s great assurance to the believer number one is that…

  1. God is on your side and the evidence of his favor is overwhelming.

Romans 8:31 (NLT)
31  What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

Romans 5:8 (NKJV)
8  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 Romans 8:32b-c (NLT)
32b “he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all”

 1 Corinthians 6:11 b-d (NKJV)
11 b-d But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

In this first point of the sermon this morning, I’d like us to talk about the concept of EVIDENCE and to do so within the context of something that Christian’s sometimes struggle with, yet this struggle and fear is rarely addressed openly and taught about or discussed with others.

Paul here is teaching and assuring the believers in the early church that they had favor with God.

And he offers a series of evidentiary statements of fact, for the purposes of doing just that and the first three points that we discussed last week should be considered as part of the evidence that Paul presented, that documented and confirmed our status with God.

Remember now that Paul is writing and speaking to Christians in the early church who were going through tough times, and persecution and struggles.

Paul writes of calamities and hunger and threats, as you saw just a moment ago in Romans 8:35

And he is talking to them about that, because he doesn’t want them to be overwhelmed by those things.

You and I don’t have the same kind oppression that the early church was going through but we do have our day-to-day struggles and stresses in modern life.

Thought:

First of all there is often the struggle to survive. Now this may not apply to some of you here today, but I want to let you know that not everyone in the church today is sitting pretty, some folks who look good and who have a talent for covering up the realities in their life, are in fact struggling to survive,

Some struggle in the church today with hunger, some with calamities or troubles in this life of one sort or another.

Some folks struggle with the flesh and the mind and these issues can become to you….. overwhelming.

And finally there is a constant struggle and the trick of the enemy, who is very crafty and works on the mind and emotions of the believer, so that he or she begins feel weighed down as though it’s not just the world that is against you, but a person can feel as though God himself is also against you.

Thought:

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this in your life, but I feel that many believers today can relate to having a sense of carrying a load and that load at times seems so heavy, that it feels overwhelming.

And here is where the trick of the enemy comes in…

If you are not careful you can start to believe that God is part of what makes life tough, because God is always stretching and challenging you.

We can become confused, we can become discouraged and insecure thinking that God really doesn’t favor or find favor in us, but instead he’s just another bell that we have to ring, another task you must meet, another set of accusing and condemning eyes that you need to think about along with the other mountains and issues of life.

And to that perception Paul assures the believer that NO, that is not what the evidence says.

He is not against us, we don’t have to strive to be accepted by him, we don’t have to worry about our standing or favor with him, in fact the evidence is over-whelming that God is FOR US and he is completely on our side and with him we have tremendous favor.

Romans 8:32 declared that God didn’t even spare his own Son.

He favored us so that he gave up his only begotten Son for us.

Romans 5:5 said that God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 8:33 said that God has chosen us for himself.

Don’t forget what we learned in the sermon, last week.

You’ve been washed.

You’ve been sanctified.

God has given you right standing with him, not because of works of righteousness which you have done.

Not because you hit another goal in the list of biblical deliverables.

Not because you’ve rung another bell or hit another mark.

He is on your side and in your corner because you’ve been given a firm standing with HIM and you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

God’s great assurance to the believer 2ndly is that…

  1. Christ does not condemn the believer, in fact his actions demonstrate the very opposite of condemnation.

Romans 8:34 (NLT)
34  Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

1 Peter 2:24a-d (NLT)
24a-d  He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right..

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 John 2:1 (NLT)
1  My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.

In point number one we were talking about the weightiness, the struggle, the feeling that leads us to began to relate to God as though we have to make sure that he’s stays on our side and to somehow have to earn that.

Here in this second point, I want to address the idea of living and existing as a Christian, and the reality that we as Christians are often living under the feeling of being condemned.

And this feeling of condemnation happens because we sometimes struggle with sin and temptation.

Now again I understand that this second point may not apply to everyone who is listening today.

I understand that there may be those among us, those who have the unusual experience of having a Christianity that is characterized by a perfect record of achievement in which everything works out.

But to everyone else including myself, the issue of sometimes feeling condemned, is what we are going to talk about here.

God’s great assurance for you child of God, is that God is not in the business of hovering over you with condemnation.

God number one is ON your side and the evidence is overwhelming, that is the first thing we need to be assured of, secondly be assured that God is not hovering over you as a God of condemnation.

Now don’t get me wrong God is not pleased when we sin or give into the weakness of our flesh, he’s not saying, YES I understand that a brother or sister has needs.

What is being shared here in this second point as noted in the words of Romans 8:34 is that he is not condemning us, but rather he has done and is doing everything in his power to keep us from being in a place of condemnation, even as the words says, that Christ is pleading for us even as he is sitting at the place of honor at the right hand of God.

Listen and embrace it and let faith fill you heart…embrace this wonderfully awesome word of encouragement.

Though you may fail and fall short of God’s desired and deserved standard for your life, there is no Lord of condemnation hovering over you; on the contrary Jesus took care of the sins and failures that He knew you were going to be struggling with and he nailed the issue to the cross, so that we could be dead to the power of sin and set free to live for God.

I like how the Apostle Peter worded this as recorded in 1 Peter 2:24, where it said that He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.

Think about this reality as reflected in the life of Jesus Christ when he came here to live on planet earth.

When Jesus lived among us, he didn’t waste his time condemning folks.

He didn’t spend his time being a policeman, but rather his placed his effort on securing our salvation.

He allowed himself to be handed over to evil men, for the purpose of securing your salvation.

When they stripped him down and tied him to a stake and began to tear the flesh off of his back, he could have stopped the entire thing.

But he humbled himself and gave his body to be slain, because it was you who was on his heart.

It was you child of God.

It was you that he saw in the realities of your struggles.

He died for YOU so that He would be raised by God and taken into heaven and HE would be seated at God’s side……to be there….at the moment you messed up, some two thousand years later…NOT to condemn you, but to intercede with the Father on your behalf.

Thought:

When the flesh fails you once again, don’t believe the lie of the devil who generates condemnation.

Yes you messed up.

Yes you missed it, but our mediator, our advocate, our attorney who represents us, is there in heaven at the side of God advocating on your behalf.

I don’t know what he is saying about you, but what I do know is that you don’t have to worry, because Jesus is there on YOUR behalf, standing between God the Father and whatever the failure may be.

I don’t know what Jesus is saying about me, but I don’t have to worry because Jesus is there on my behalf and because of that God processes me not through the weakness of my flesh, but through the goodness of HIS Son and therefore I am not rejected by him, but instead I am declared to be IN RIGHT STANDING because I’ve accepted and trusted Jesus Christ as my Lord.

The scripture says in John 2:1 “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.

Thought:

This is what it means to be born again.

It means having a right standing with God, in spite of the fact that nothing about you is worthy of being in that position.

My unsaved friend I want you to know that you too can come into this reality, by first by acknowledging your sinfulness BEFORE JESUS THE SON OF GOD; repenting of your independence; giving your heart and life to Christ Jesus as Lord, knowing and believing that he died for your sins and rose again to bring you to God.

We who are born again exist in this blessed reality, where condemnation is not a factor; but for the person, who dies in this life, without having given their heart to Christ in faith, condemnation is real and the result is eternal separation from God almighty, with life eternal in a devil’s hell.

God’s great assurance to the believer 3RDLY is that…

  1. Victory is ours through Christ and nothing can cause Christ to turn away from the one who believes in him.

Romans 8:35 (NLT)

35  Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?

Romans 8:37 (NLT)

37  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

John 10:28 (NKJV)
28  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.

Romans 10:11 (NKJV)
11  For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

This third point of assurance is written to those who are suffering.

Again there are two different ways that you can process and or think about the idea of suffering.

Suffering can be seen within the reality of the issues and things that were addressed in verse 35, where it speaks about calamity, persecution, hunger, danger and or threats of death.

Suffering can also be processed within the context of those forces within the world and in our lives, that seem to be pulling us apart and putting pressure on our relationship with Christ.

Now again, remember that I am not saying that the things we go through can in fact cause us to become separated from Christ, what I am doing is addressing the reality of the feeling and fear of the danger and struggles, that can be processed in such a way as to cause a Christian to fear, that loss.

In this third point the message that we want to communicate is a faith building declaration, which embraces the truth that victory is ours through Christ and that nothing can cause Christ to turn away from the one who truly believes in him.

Thought:

Today, I don’t know anything about the personal of your life, but based on my experience with people, I can pretty much guarantee that someone under the sound of my voice is worried that they are not going to make it.

You see the evidence from your perspective is that you are DONE and you don’t have a chance.

Maybe it is the circumstances and struggles in your life.

Maybe it is that sinful relationship that you are hiding and praying that no one knows about.

Maybe you went back to an old habit and now your life is messed up and full of troubles, that you brought on your own self.

To this reality, to this suffering, to this level of trouble in your life, I believe that Paul would say if he were standing here today…can anything separate us from the Love of Jesus Christ?

Because you messed up and did that, does it mean that God no longer loves us?

Because the pressure is so thick you can cut it with a knife, because you stopped talking to God and stayed away from the fellowship does it mean that you’ve been separated from the love of God?

Does the fact that hell is breaking loose, does it mean that the devil has won and you are on your ways to a devils hell?

To this the word of God says NO…despite all these things; victory is our through Christ who loved us.

I don’t care what you think; I don’t care what your heart says, my bible declares and documents the words of Jesus Christ himself.

Jesus said in John 10:28 “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand”

Even when you get knocked down, even if you knocked yourself down by your sinful disobedience and rebellion you my friend are not destroyed.

No devil can snatch you out of God’s hand.

No demon in HELL can take the child of God away from him who bought you with the blood of his precious Son.

Though your sins are as scarlet, Christ has already died to wash away the stain of everything you could bring to the table.

Thought:

I’ve got to tell you folks that this kind of provision, is too much for me to process because even though I am a preacher and teacher of God’s word, when it comes to the level and love towards me that God declares here in his word, my flesh cannot process it.

How could God be so good to me a filthy sinner who stinks up the room with the very breath of his thoughts?

How could God declare in such strong and undeniable terms, victory and peace for those who constantly fall short?

It’s hard for me to process it, until I bring it back to his love.

The lack of condemnation, the evidence of HIS favor and his commitment to our victory, can only be understood and embraced within the realty of God’s love.

You were NOT worth saving, I was not worth saving, he didn’t do it because there was anything worthy in US, but it was his LOVE that lifted me and lifted YOU.

4th and finally…

God’s great assurance to the believer is 4th and finally that…

  1. We will be protected and kept eternally secure; nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God.

Romans 8:38 (NLT)

38  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

Romans 8:39
39  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I kind of got ahead of myself in the previous point, but it’s ok as we close, for the word of God pretty much sums up the previous thoughts and points.

Here we see that the Apostle Paul was totally SOLD OUT and locked into this conviction with complete and unshakable faith.

To the question posed earlier in point # 3 when Paul asked about the possibility of being separated from God’s love, we see the answer broken out in the crescendo of truth.

Paul was convinced, that nothing could frustrate and or defeat God’s plan concerning the born again child of God.

He says neither death nor life can separate us.

That is extremely powerful if you are willing to embrace it, because it points to the issue of our greatest fear and our greatest hope.

Then he talks about the reality of “worries” and I love that because it speaks to the struggles we have often that people cannot see, but worrying about things are real and we are often tortured our minds and emotions, by the things we worry about.

Then he says that not even the powers of hell itself; no power in the sky, no power in the earth or below the earth, not the future not the past, not your failures not your successes, indeed NOTHING will ever separate us from the love that is revealed in Christ Jesus.

  • This is what made it possible for Paul to go through such incredible trials and still to count it all joy.

He was convinced because of the love of God that was revealed to him through and in his relationship with Christ.

Paul said in Philippians 3:10 that he counted everything in his life as worthless rubbish, that he might know Jesus Christ.

He was convinced. I am convinced; we are convinced because of what is being revealed to US in and through our relationship with Christ.

What about you my friend ?….

Do you know him as Lord of your life and as your savior  and God ?

Do you have that assurance? Do you have the right standing, do you have the favor the acceptance that we learned about today…

If you don’t have this reality you can come into it today, by making the most important decision to ask Jesus into your heart by acknowledging your sinfulness.

Then having acknowledge the sinfulness of your life you must repent of your independence; giving your heart and life to Christ Jesus as Lord, knowing and believing that he died for your sins and rose again to bring you to God.

Today while all eyes are closed and heads are bowed we are going to give you an opportunity to do just that.

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