How To Relate To Other Believers

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

How to relate to other believers 

Romans 12:9-13 (KJV)
9  Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
10  Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
11  Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
12  Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
13  Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

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

This is the 3rd sermon in the mini-series within the series we have been working through from the epistle written to the church at ROME.

If you were here last week you may recall that the topic of the sermon was entitled “ Understanding The Gifts”.

Paul taught us in that portion of the letter, about some of the various Spiritual gifts that God provides for the body of Christ, within the context of our interconnected relationship as members of the body, who are connected to each other.

The teaching that we shared, was actually part of a larger conversation in which Paul was exhorting the church to embrace the wonder and blessing of learning to function together as one.

So we being many, says the word of God, are one body in Christ and everyone members of one another, having then differing gifts, according to the grace that is given to us.

Paul went on to teach us about those gifts and to exhort us to use those gifts, not to compete with each but to exercise these gifts for the benefit of the body.

Now the teaching that we share today is a perfect transition into the broader subject of how to function “relationally” within the body of Christ.

Again, remember now we as believers are functioning within the context of Spiritual as well as human dynamics.

We all love the Lord. We’ve come together in a local church setting, being drawn by God the Father to the same Lord by the Same Spirit

But we are not robots, nor are we immune to the realities and stresses that are associated with people.

So as we work together, we must strive against, we must overcome the issues of the flesh and press towards the operational reality of living out and functioning within the context of our blessed position as members of the body of Christ.

In other words, we must continually be taught and embrace what the word of God teaches us, not only about how to love and relate to God, but how to love and relate to each other as fellow believers within the body of Christ.

This is the topic of today’s sermon addressing the practical lessons on Christianity.

And today we are going to begin the first of a number of sermons on how to relate to and how to treat other believers.

Four points to the sermon this morning, if you are ready to proceed say AMEN.

As believers each of us for the benefit of our brothers and sisters in Christ should 

  1. Love one another without hypocrisy.

Romans 12:9 (KJV)
9  Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

Romans 12:10 (NKJV)
10  Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;

Romans 12:9a-b (NLT)
9  Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.

Romans 12:9a-b (MSG)
9  Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it.

1 John 3:18-19 (NLT)
18  Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.
19  Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.

As believers, as born again Christians who are functioning within the context of a co-joined Spiritual relationship, you and I are called to love one another and to do so without hypocrisy.

Paul begins this portion of his teaching on the practical aspects of how we should relate to each other within the body of Christ, by taking head on, if you please, one of the most glaring issues of complaint and dissatisfaction from inside the church and from critics outside of the church.

Thought:

You’ve probably heard it said before and maybe even said it yourself in anger ….folks will say I don’t like the church….I stay home and watch it on TV….If I do come, I try and get out as quickly as possible because I don’t want to deal with those phonies at the church.

Now make sure that you get this 100% clear. This sermon isn’t about Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship per se, but what we are learning here applies to every church bar none.

We are NOT ragging on God’s church, nor are we joining in with the chorus of unbelievers and critics who are constantly bad mouthing and berating God’s people.

Instead, we are simply acknowledging that hypocrisy is something that affects all human beings.

As believers, as members of the body of Christ, you and I are called to relate to each other in a way that is void of “dissimulation”

The word that the passage uses here refers to the idea of play-acting.

It speaks of a kind of pretense, in which there is the human tendency to project a false face, or to have hidden motives in our dealings and or relationships with others.

Paul is teaching us and exhorting us to relate to each other and to guard against this human tendency, because we are members of the body of Christ.

We must respect each other and love each other enough, to care more about others than we do about how we look, or how we are perceived, which is why as human’s we often project these false images of ourselves.

We must love and relate to our fellow congregants by honoring them with the reality of presenting ourselves as we are, “without the act” or the “front” or the hidden agenda, so that they too, may be encouraged to show the same care and concern and respect for you.

In other words if you love your brother or sister, you will demonstrate your love for them, not simply with words, but by actions which show that you love them enough to take off the mask.

Thought:

Let’s be honest for a moment together, can we. Let’s tell the truth, for the mask and the projection and the managing and wearing thereof takes a lot of work.

And the truth is that as believers we have a lot more serious issues and struggles to deal with, because we are in a war.

  • We are fighting a battle every day with the onslaught of the world system with it’s various temptations and distractions that are pressing in on the lives of every Christian in the body of Christ.
  • We are fighting the weakness and confusion of our own minds and beating this flesh down daily to keep it in line with God’s will.

It takes a lot of work to live and walk right with God day after day, so instead adding another layer of work to do on Sunday morning, by having to make sure that the mask is on right, why not give each other a break.

Why not “let your hair down” by sharing the truth concerning your victories and your struggles so that we can help and encourage each other.

In other words, we most love and respect each other by keeping it real, by encouraging each other in times of struggle AND by exhorting and challenging our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to cleave to that which is good.

That is how it really works in a healthy family.

You don’t put on a mask at home. You don’t pretend to be someone that you are not when you are at home; instead you are your self, with your pimples and curlers and your beat up tee shirt…and your worn out slippers.

Thought:

Now as I teach you about the freedom and wonder of this first point and I encourage you in the area of respect and honesty, I also need to balance the point here with a word of caution and clarification.

Earlier I said that we ought to keep it real and we absolutely need to respect each other and love each other enough to do that…. AMEN

Now where the mistake comes…is in the human tendency…to be tactless….or loose in our words….or disrespectful….and to just cut loose and let it all hang out under the guise of “keeping it real”, when what the scripture actually calls for is having a heart that gives preference, that takes delight and gives primary consideration to others.

So be clear; there is a balance between keeping it real and being honest enough to take off the mask….and being hurtful or inconsiderate to others, under the guise of realness.

As believers each of us for the benefit of our brothers and sisters in Christ should

  1. Make a personal commitment to excellence in service for the Lord.

Romans 12:11 (KJV)
11  Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Matthew 25:21 (NLT)
21  “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

Hebrews 6:10 (NKJV)
10  For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Colossians 3:23 (HCSB)
23  Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men,

As believers for the benefit of our beloved brothers and sister in Christ, we care about each other and we care enough to make sure that our love is real; that is the first point that we just shared together a moment ago.

This second point is very practical and relevant because it speaks to the every-day realities of service OR MINISTRY…SAY THAT WORD MINISTRY

Thought:

Now when we speak of the word ministry or minister there is a tendency to break that idea or definition into something that we think applies to the Minister or Pastor or preacher.

Brother So and So is the Pastor, he is the minister of First Church of Santa Clarita and he is in charge of ministering or serving.

He is the one who does the ministry and or does the serving. He’s the one who works in the ministry as THE MINISTER.

Here Paul is giving us a teaching that reminds us, that ministry and or service isn’t a job that belongs solely to the minister, but rather ministry is service to the Lord, which is done by the believer, as part of his or her co-joined status within the Spiritual collective known as the body of Christ.

Now remember the context of Paul’s earlier teachings which we learned about in Romans chapter 12:5-8.

Paul was teaching us about the various gifts that God had allocated to members within the body and the teaching that Paul shared with us, said that God has dealt to each of us a measure of faith, or giftedness.

All of the gifts are not invested solely in the person who occupies the official “leadership” of the church.

God has given gifts, through his people and he has allocated gifts to the various parts of the body, in order for the church to function properly.

We’ve all been given gifts AND as believers in Jesus Christ and as members of his body, each of us for the benefit of our brothers and sisters in Christ, should make a personal commitment to excellence in the application and exercise of whatever gift the Lord has delegated to us.

This is how we show that we care about each other.

We show that we care, not just with words, but by doing whatever God has called us to do, in terms of service to him, at a level of excellence, for the benefit of HIS church, the body of Christ.

Now notice what the scripture says here….and underline or highlight it in your bible…

Not slothful, not sluggish, not half, not hesitating, not half committed, not lazy, not slow, not lethargic or delaying in earnestness, but….. FERVENT.

The word fervent is taken from the Greek word ZEO. It means to burn so hot and to have such intensity that you literally boil.

It means to be set aflame, to have zeal and an enthusiasm for Christ and the things of Christ.

Thought:

Now lets take our time here, because we want to extract all of the juice from this point.

Remember the context of the teaching; we are learning how to relate to and to treat others within the body of Christ and within this co-joined spiritual family called the church.

Here is a Thought for you to consider…

Being slothful and slow and reluctant and half, hurts the body of Christ because it hurts God’s business.

Thought:

When Cecile and I first moved to California back in 1980, we loved the atmosphere out here, because folks in California were “laid back”

They didn’t pressure themselves much at all.

They were chilling and maxing and relaxing.

The attitude generally was, hey it’s not my problem.

It will get handled, I’ll get to it, don’t hassle me with expectations and or pressure.

Serve me. Cater to me, make it easy….Sound familiar ?

It’s a wonderful philosophy if you are a customer, but it is a destructive mentality if you are member of the body of Christ.

For the benefit of our brothers and sister in Christ, to whom we are co-joined, we ought to be the complete opposite of laid back, but rather for the sake of love, we ought to be fired up and enthused in the use of our gift at a level of excellence for the Lord.

In other words God deserves so much more than 1/2

I don’t know about you my friends, but I want to be fired up and committed to excellence when it comes to the things of the Lord.

I want his church and each member of this church, to be on fire for excellence.

I want HIS church and each member of HIS church to have a level of zeal and fervency, which puts the world to shame.

I want HIS church and the members of this body, to see the calling of God as a unique and privileged blessing, that is so valued and honored in our minds, that it eclipses the excitement that we have for our jobs and the money or power we obtain in the world.

Most of all, we should desire to hear those blessed words from Christ himself.

To hear him say “Well done, my good and faithful servant.

You didn’t approach my business with a sense of lag and reluctance.

You were not hoarding your time and putting your job or career ahead of me and the body to which I called you to be apart of.

But instead you realized that what I gave you was needed for the body and you put that gift to use, so that the others within my body could flow in the fullness of their gifts.

You did good my child, come on in and let’s celebrate together!’

As believers each of us for the benefit of our brothers and sisters in Christ should 

  1. Be prayerfully committed to partnering with others when trials come.

Romans 12:12 (KJV)
12  Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

Matthew 18:20 (NKJV)
20  For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

Ephesians 6:18 (NKJV)
18  praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints–

1 Peter 4:12-13b (NKJV)
12  Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;
13b  but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings

This third point really speaks to a reality that is prevalent and pervasive in the lives of the members of the body.

In point number one we spoke about the realities of the masks that we sometimes wear that keeps us separated from our brothers and sisters within the church.

It is a mask that we want others to see which projects a false sense of prosperity and wellness, but it is also a mask, which robs us of the much-needed resource that God has provided, in the form of partnership and prayer.

Thought:

As believers in Jesus Christ, as members of his beloved body each of us for the benefit of our brothers and sister should be prayerfully committed to partnering with others when trials come.

Notice that I did not say “IF” they come, but when they come.

Thought:

Trails and struggles and problems and challenges and tests are going to happen in life and the fact that you may be saved and know Jesus as Lord, is not a guarantee that your life will be a walk in the park.

In fact I can tell you with 99% certainty that you are going to go through some stuff at some point in your life.

  • You as a person may experience trauma, or disappointment or some life- changing ordeal.

And the devil is so tricky, that he will try to isolate you, by separating you, from other believers and from the life of the body.

He uses the mask that we designed to conceal our true self from others and he takes that mask and makes it into a weapon.

HE exploits our weaknesses, in order to keep us off balance, so that when the trial comes, we won’t have anyone to partner with us or to stand with us, or to pray with us, or to fast with us, at the time we need partnership the most.

To overcome that, not only do you have to take off your own mask, but you must also be personally committed to being there for others in the body when they need your help.

You have to personally make a commitment, not the prayer team, not the visiting angels, not the ministers alone, but YOU personally, must make a commitment to being there for others, for Jesus himself has declared and I quote”

20  For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

Thought:

What a powerful promise.

Jesus is in the midst.

Jesus is at work in the context of your commitment and there is spiritual power that is released within that dynamic.

God himself has promised that he will empower you and equip you and enable you, when the fiery trial comes and you’ll be able to deal with it and come through it with victory, as you stand together and partner with one another as A FAMILY.

As believers each of us for the benefit of our brothers and sisters in Christ should …4th and finally..

  1. Be dedicated to generosity in order to meet the needs of others.

Romans 12:13 (KJV)
13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

Romans 12:13 (NLT)
13  When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

Romans 12:13 (HCSB)
13  Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality.

This 4th and final point is a teaching on the subject of distribution and hospitality.

Again as we come to a close it is very important that you embrace this teaching within the context of the topic of this sermon, that speaks to the issue of how you and I as believers in Jesus Christ, are to relate to other believers within the body.

For the benefit of our brothers and sisters in Christ, we each must be generous and willing to distribute and share what we have, in order to meet the needs of others within the body of Christ.

Thought:

In an earlier sermon we taught about the person who is gifted with the gift of giving.

And we shared a bit about the type of person who seems to be wired toward meeting the needs of others in the area of giving.

If you say, hey we have need for “X” they are happy to just donate something because they are wired that way.

Here we are talking about Paul’s teaching on how and why it is important to recognize that the entire body is called to meet the needs of it’s self.

Notice very simply the straightforwardness and clarity of Romans 12:13 the ‘a” portion of the passage which says “distributing to the necessity of the saints”

The message translation says, “help needy Christians”

The Holman Christian bible says, “share with the saints”

Thought:

Now a lot of folks don’t like the idea that you can be a Christian and not be financially prosperous.

And many within the body of Christ actually think that something is wrong with you, if in fact you as a believer do not have the outer trappings of financial success and prosperity.

Here in the bible and in looking at Paul’s teaching we see a challenge to that notion, because the bible refers to those who may be needy, as “saints”

In other words, it is possible that a person can be just as saved as you are.

Just as justified as you are.

Just as loved by God and as forgiven as you.

They can be as dedicated to the Lord as you are……..yet have needs and be lacking in the area of financial resources.

Watch this….the fact that they may lack the kinds of resources that others may have, does not make them less of a saint or less of a sincere believer than you.

It simply means that YOU have been placed in the position of having resources, that are given you to, for the purpose being a conduit of distribution, to see to the needs of “ the saints”

And that can be in the form of money, it can be in the form of opening your home to others, or sharing your God given resources when you see that there is a genuine need within the body of Christ.

This is how we should relate to each other as brothers and sister in Christ, these are the keys to flowing in the reality of living in a way that presents our every-day-lives as living sacrifices to the Lord and speaks of our connectedness in HIM.

  1. Loving each other without hypocrisy.
  2. Serving the Lord at a level of excellence and doing our best for him.
  3. Being available to pray and fast and partner with our Brother and Sisters when trails come
  4. And sharing the responsibility of seeing that our collective needs are met, by being conduits of what God has allocated to us.

AMEN.

Today we shared a sermon in which we spoke about the blessed body of Christ, that group of chosen believers who have come together as a result of our shared faith in God’s own Son Jesus Christ, the Lord of our lives.

I wonder today if there are any here today who are on the outside of God’s family.

Now understand that when I say that, I’m not talking about whether or not you were raised in a Christian home or if you went to church or bible class or catechism.

I’m talking about whether or not you know Jesus Christ as Lord of your life, because you’ve made a decision to accept by faith his death on the cross, his burial and his resurrection from the grave as being true and personally applicable to you.

Do you know and understand and believe that Jesus died to pay for prices for your sins.

Do you know personally what it means in John 3:16 where it said that God so love the world that he gave his only begotten son, so that whosoever believes in him, should not perish but have every lasting life.

Have you done that have you come to the place of giving your heart and life to Christ ?

Have you been born again?

Well if the answer is NO and you would like to say YES to Jesus this is the day and now is the time.

While all eyes are closed and heads are bowed…

click here to view the entire service

 

 

 

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Understanding the Gifts

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

         Practical lessons on Christianity: Understanding the gifts

Romans 12:5-8 (KJV)
5  So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
6  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
7  Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
8  Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

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

We are continuing through this mini-series within the series taken from the epistle written to the church at Rome and we are doing so, by reason of the inspiration and the blessed help of the Holy Spirit of God, in answer to your prayers on my behalf.

The last two sermons, in this mini-series were especially helpful and instructive to us, as Paul talked about and exhorted us, in terms of the practical day-to-day aspects of our reasonable service.

He exhorted us to present our bodies as living sacrifices.

He called us as Christians to present our every day lives, to him.

We were also treated to a much needed and challenging teaching on the issue of attitude.

Paul wrote specifically about how we as believers are to adopt a mindset in which we reject the insanity of thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought.

But rather we our to see our selves as being part of a body and part of a co-joined and interconnected group of believers, who function and flow within the context of our gifts and abilities, which were given to us by God.

As it says in Romans chapter 12:3 that God has dealt to every man, a measure.

We’ve all been given some sort of gift by God and since we are members of one body, that is the body of Christ, we ought to use those gifts in cooperation with one-another, for the glory of God.

Today we are going to learn about some of the gifts that God has provided for the church and the operation of those gifts in relation to each other, as part of our co-joined relationship within the body of Christ.

Now several of these “gifts” are noted in this passage, although there are other gifts that are spoken of which you can find written about in Ephesians and also in 1st Corinthians.

So understand that what we are doing here today is not an exhaustive study of the spiritual gifts, we are simply exploring a teaching about the gifts, within the broader context of Paul’s teachings about how you and I as believers, should relate to each other AND how these gifts, which are allocated to us by God, can and do benefit the body of Christ.

If you’ve got that say AMEN. (Make sure that everyone has an outline)

God has given us gifts to benefit the body of Christ and among these gifts are the gift of…..

  1. Prophecy

Romans 12:6 (KJV)
6  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

Romans 12:6 (NLT)
6  In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.

Acts 21:8-9 (NLT)
8  The next day we went on to Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven men who had been chosen to distribute food.
9  He had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophecy.

1 Corinthians 14:3 (NKJV)
3  But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.

Paul begins his teaching here concerning spiritual gifts, beginning with the gift of prophecy.

It’s interesting that Paul leads off his teaching by tackling the subject of prophecy, because this is a subject that is a hot topic in today’s church world.

In the Old Testament the term prophet referred to a person who proclaimed and declared the will of God.

Such a person would speak on God’s behalf, declaring verbally the will of God concerning present and future events.

When you think of a prophet, you might think of Jeremiah or Isaiah.

In the New Testament you find instances of people who were identified as prophets.

For example in Acts 10, you you’ll find that it was prophesied by Agabus that Paul would be bound and handed over to the Gentiles, if he should go to Jerusalem.

Agabus took Paul’s belt and he bound his hands and feet and he said, Paul if you go up there this is what is going to happen to you.

This is what we often think of when we hear the term prophet. 

But for the most part in the New Testament, what you find is that the gift of prophecy is manifested within a PERSON “who proclaims and explains the word of God.

Thought:

We read earlier from 1st Corinthians 14:3, which says “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.

The message translation of 1st Corinthians 14:3 says speaking of prophecy and I quote “you’re letting others in on the truth so that they can grow and be strong and experience HIS (meaning Christ’s) presence within you.

WOW, this is a fascinating thought, because what we learn here in point number one is that God has gifted certain people within the body of Christ with the ability to proclaim and declare God’s word in a way that edifies, exhorts and comforts the members of the body.

Now does a Pastor do that, YES he does?

Does a preacher do that, yes he or she does, but it is also possible that such a gifting is in you and you can have that gift and flow in that gift without having the title of pastor or elder or preacher. 

You see, I believe the gift of prophecy in the New Testament sense of the word, is all about, helping to declare the truth.

It’s about encouraging others and building up fellow believers, with the truth that is contained in his word and the testimony of your faith and what you’ve learned and can share and proclaim as a result of your walk and experience with Christ.

It is a gift that God bestows upon and through people, which is given for the benefit of the body.

God has given us gifts to benefit the body of Christ and among these gifts we find 2ndly the gift of….

  1. Ministry

Romans 12:7a (KJV)
7  Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering:

Romans 12:7a (NLT)
7  If your gift is serving others, serve them well.

Galatians 6:10 (NLT)
10  Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

Here in this second area of discussion, the King James Version of the passage uses the word Ministry. The New Living Translation uses the word serving.

The Greek word used here is Diako-nia; this is a term that is often used in reference to a person who serves others.

If you research the subject on-line, you’ll also see that it is a word, which speaks to those who execute the commands of others.

Bible-study-tools.com indicated specifically that such persons would execute the commands of those who proclaim the gospel.

The word Deacon, has it’s roots in this word, but for the purposes of our discussion, we are not going to limit our discourse to teaching on Deacons, because this very practical and most needed gift, is not just for those who hold the office of a Deacon, but it is a special spiritual gifting, that can be in operation and flow through many, different people in the body of Christ.

Thought:

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.

And If your gift, says the word is serving others, serve them well.

The message translation says, if you help…just help.

Thought:

Most of us know some folks who are not wired to be helpers.

Most of us know someone who has a Spirit of helpfulness; and you can see that in them because they are always willing to help.

They are wired that way, there is an unusual willingness and an openness to be the kind of person who just says, hey just tell me how I can help, just tell me what you want me to do.

THOUGHT:

You may be one of those kinds of people whom God has gifted in this way.

AND In your eyes your gifting may not be very glamorous, but I am here to tell you that God has gifted you with a WONDERFUL gift and he has given you a heart for service, because he has dealt a measure to you, of something that is very needful and pertinent.

You are the one who helps to make things happen and you are a major blessing from God, because you are gifted with a heart for service, that does not require you to get your name of the program, in order for you to do your job.

You are gifted and you walk in the same Spirit of Christ himself, who made himself of no reputation and took upon himself the form of a servant.

So understand and embrace the blessing of this word of encouragement; for you my friend are flowing in the same ministry that Christ Jesus flowed in; in other words, you are doing just like Jesus did.

God has given us gifts to benefit the body of Christ and among these gifts is the gift of….

  1. Teaching

Romans 12:7c (KJV)
7  Or he that teacheth, on teaching;

Romans 12:7c (NLT)
7c If you are a teacher, teach well.

 Ephesians 4:11-12 (NLT)
11  Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.
12  Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.

John 21:17a,d (KJV)
17aHe saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me ? d Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

God has given believers, spiritual gifts in order to benefit the entire body of Christ and among these gifts are the gift of teaching.

The Greek word used here is Did-ask-on

 Now the gift of teaching is a gift that is evidenced in the Spiritual ability to explain and make clear, God’s word and God’s truth.

Thought:

Teaching is not like giving a speech, or having the gift of gab.

It is a gifting that gives the person the ability to go beyond just sounding good or being able to speak well.

A spiritually gifted teacher can take the word of God and make it come alive, so that you become stronger in ways that you never thought were possible.

Thought:

Now the truth of the matter is that there are SOME folks who are gifted in this area, but they are not teaching because they believe that you need to be a PREACHER in order to get people to accept you as a teacher.

But that is wrong….

You see in the modern church there is so much attention and focus given to preaching that there is a tendency to diminish this most needed gift.

That is why you hardly find that folks who aspire to be a teacher; they want to be Reverend, or Elder, or Pastor, but the truth is that God’s word needs to be proclaimed by the preacher or prophet YES, but it also needs to be explained by gifted teachers.

Every church and every local congregation within the body of Christ, is in desperate need of solid bible teaching, so if you are watching on-line, or if you are here listening to this sermon today, I want to encourage you to embrace this gifting and to share that gift with the body of Christ, if in fact God has allocated it to you.

God has given us gifts to benefit the body of Christ and among these gifts is the gift of….

  1. Exhortation

Romans 12:8a (KJV)
8  Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation:

2 Timothy 4:2 (KJV)
2  Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

2 Timothy 4:3 (NLT)
3  For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. 

Titus 1:9 (NLT)
9  He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong.

The materials that I used in preparation for this sermon were very generous in giving the Greek words associated with each of these gifts; here in this 4th point the Greek word used here is Para-kal-a-e-s-i

God has gifted believers within the body of Christ, to have a special ability to motivate and encourage folks to do better or to change.

Now in today’s church, the primary source of exhortation mostly flows from the pulpit.

And for those of us who preach God’s word and especially for those who operate in the office of the pastorate; the need for and the call for effective exhortation is very urgent.

We need exhortation, we need motivation, for as the scripture says, the time is coming and indeed has come when people will no longer listen to sound doctrine.

And that is surely true today, for folks don’t want to hear correction, they don’t want to be admonished and warned, yet I firmly believe that the call and need for this gifting is imperative and urgent and needful.

Tell your neighbor, folks need EXHORTATION…

Thought:

There is a thought that I’d like to share with you and it is one that you may not have considered….

And here is it….the most effective type of exhortation; isn’t done from behind the pulpit, it’s done peer-to-peer.

It’s done by people, in their relationships with their peers; it’s done in a Spirit of love and humility from those in the body who are Spiritually strong, who are loving and caring enough, to come along side of the weak and rebellious ones who are a part of the body and to encourage others, by example, by challenging, motivating and YES even warning our brothers and sisters to do better and to change.

It is imperative to understand that a preacher or Pastor or teacher can flow in this gifting, but it is NOT reserved only to those who stand in the pulpit.

God has given us gifts to benefit the body of Christ and among these gifts is the gift of….

  1. Giving

Romans 12:8b (KJV)
8b  he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity

Romans 12:8b (NLT)
8  If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously…

2 Corinthians 9:7 (NLT)
7  You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”

For this 5th area of discussion the gift that we are examining is the gift of giving; and to make this practical gift more relevant to the life of our congregation, I’ve accessed one of the key scriptures we use here at the church, which is noted on the back of the offering envelopes.

The Spiritual gift of giving is a gifting from God that has do with having a heart and mind that is operationally inclined towards generosity.

It is being gifted in such a way, that you respond to the opportunity to meet a need or to be generous, in the same way that the person who is gifted in the area of service, just wants to serve.

Now here Paul says, that if you are a person who is gifted with the gift of giving, do it with simplicity.

Thought:

Several thoughts I’d like to share with you today, first to those who may be gifted in this way.

Being gifted in the area of giving has nothing to do with the amount of money that you give or the amount of money you make.

You don’t have to be RICH in terms of having major bucks in order for the Lord to bless you with the gift of giving.

Being gifted with the gift of giving has to do with having a singleness of heart and a willingness to give and share or bless others, with what you are able to do.

Some of the most generous people in the church are the people who are of relatively modest means.

They are not rolling in the major donut, but when they see a need, they are often the first ones to be generous.

Second thought:

Be careful not to make the mistake of telling yourself, that since giving isn’t your gift, you don’t need to give.

The bible says give willingly, not grudgingly or in response to pressure, it doesn’t say don’t give if your gift isn’t giving.

When we honor the Lord in the tithe and with the free will offerings we are engaging in worship, by returning a portion of what HE has given us, as an acknowledgment that He is the source of our blessing and supply.

Being gifted with the gift of giving has to do with having a special inclination and willingness to give and share or bless others.

God has given us gifts to benefit the body of Christ and among these gifts is the gift of….

  1. Ruling

Romans 12:8d (KJV)

8  Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence

Romans 12:11 (KJV)
11  Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Ecclesiastes 9:10a (KJV)
10  Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.

1 Peter 5:2 (NLT)
2  Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.

Here we see in point number 6 that Paul speaks to us of the gift or RULING.

A better word to use here would be the gift of leadership. SAY THAT WORD, LEADERSHIP.

The New Living Translation says and I quote If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously”

Again, I am drawn back to the original thought that Paul was trying to communicate in this writing, when he speaks of the concept and reality of our interconnectedness and inter-dependency, within the body of Christ as born again believers.

We are of one body and we have many parts with differing functions.

God in his incredible grace and mercy, has dealt to us, he has apportioned to us, various gifts, for the purpose of making sure that the body is healthy and works together as one functioning unit.

And in order to do that, God has gifted certain members of the body with the gift of being able to lead.

Now the GREEK word for ruling that is given here is Pro-is-temi, which means the ability to flow in the area of leadership and administration and authority.

This gifting that NOT about being bossy, but rather it is a gifting which blesses the body because the person who is gifted in this way, is able carry things out, or direct things, or order things and or people with zeal and effectiveness.

People within the body who are spiritually gifted in this way, have a zeal for getting things done, because they want to see God’s business getting handled in a way that reflects the excellence and greatness of God.

With all of the gifts that God allocated among the people of HIS flock, there has to be someone who helps bring order and focus and determination.

Thought:

The apostle Peter had some important words of direction and clarification for those who are leaders within the body.

The New Living Translation says “Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.

Romans 12:11 says “not slothful in business”

Ecclesiastes says that whatever you do, do it with might.

Thought:

Now again you may be here today thinking that leadership and this kind of gifting may be ONLY housed within the office of the Pastor or Elder or Minister.

And there may elements of that gifting in some people who hold those positions, but to think that God only calls and gifts Ministers with leadership ability is wrong.

Remember now that God has given US a measure, he has dealt a measure of gifting and the Pastor or Elder may likely not have the entire allocation, of all that is required to fulfill the leadership needs within your local congregation.

 So if this point speaks personally to you, listen and embrace it and hear it for God is talking to you.

He is saying that he has invested something in you. He has gifted you with something unique, which was put into you for the benefit of the body.

You have a zeal for getting things done and today I want to encourage you to use that gift for the benefit of the body, because God deserves someone who is passionate about seeing that HIS business is handled in a way that reflects the excellence and greatness of God.

God has given us gifts to benefit the body of Christ and among these gifts 7th and finally is the gift of….

  1. Mercy

Romans 12:8e (KJV)
8d he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

(SCREENS)

Luke 6:36 (NKJV)
36  Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

James 3:17 (NLT)
17  But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.

Coming to the conclusion of these thoughts today, we find ourselves wrapping up the sermon this morning, talking about the gift of mercy.

Ele-on, is the word that is used here and within the body of Christ, this spiritual gifting is a vital and a much needed component.

Thought:

Earlier we talked about some of the other gifts, such as the gift of prophecy and exhortation and leadership or ruling, these dynamic gifts are there to build up and challenge the body, but there also needs the balancing gift of someone who is full of forgiveness and comfort and compassion. 

These are people who are GIFTED with a heart of mercy and they are quick to extend forgiveness and compassion to others.

When someone needs help, they don’t come up to criticize, when a person has gone through tough times, they are not the kind of person to says, get your act together brother; but rather they are gifted with a spirit of gentleness and mercy…and God knows that we need compassion along with exhortation and correction and so he provides balance in the allocation of the gifts

If you are gifted in the area of mercy, some folks might think that you are weak, but the fact is that your gift is a gift that reflects the very heart of God himself, for each one of us, is living and breathing and walking example of God’s great mercy.

  • If God had not extended his great mercy to us, we would have been consumed a long time ago.
  • If God had not been merciful to us, some of us would have been rotting in our graves right now.
  • If God had not looked upon us, with his love and mercy, there is NO way he would have chosen to save us

So my dear friend, if you are gifted in this area, let it show. Be the gift to the body that God has called you to be

Don’t worry that some hard headed person thinks that you let folks walk all over you, be happy, be cheerful, be proud that God is gifted you in this way, because he did it for the blessing and benefit of HIS body.

AMEN…come on and give God some praise.

Today, we’ve talked and looked at what the word of God says, concerning these wonderful gifts that Christ has poured out upon HIS body, the church.

This should be no surprise to us, as we serve a mighty God, who is the ultimate gift giver of the ultimate gift and that is the gift of HIS only begotten Son Jesus Christ.

If you died tonight and every person here is a candidate for death, can you say with 100% certainty, that you would open your eyes in the kingdom of heaven?

Can you say YES, I’ve come into the family of God by confessing Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and I have placed my faith in him as my Savior and therefore I know that I know, that I know, I’m right with God.

IF you cannot say YES, I am a born again child of God, I am here to tell that you are facing eternity in a devil’s hell without hope.

God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten SON, that whoever believes in him should not perish but instead have every lasting life.

To come into God’s family you must accept what he did for you on the cross. 

You must embrace that he died for you.

You must believe that he was buried

You must believe that he rose again

And you must ask Jesus to come into your life and be Lord.

HAVE YOU DONE THAT?

If you haven’t done that, then today is the day that you can come into his blessed family by faith.

WHILE ALL EYES ARE CLOSED AND HEADS ARE BOWED…

Click here to view the sermon on line 

 

 

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 

 

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

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 live our your position in Christ Part II

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

              How to live out your position in

                            Christ Part II

Romans 6:14-23 (KJV)
14  For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
15  What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
16  Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
17  But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
18  Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
19  I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
20  For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
21  What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
22  But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

If you were with me for part one of this two part mini-series, you will remember that I told you that I originally taught from this passage in 2001 on the topic of holiness and sanctification.

Now that we are walking through the epistle to the church at Rome we can revisit this passage and tie into the teaching that revolved around the knowledge of who you are in Christ positionally. I gave a two part sermon on that topic starting on the first of this year; and the focus of that talk revolved around allowing knowledge of who you are in Christ to transform or elevate your understanding in such a way, as to motivate you not to give into the appeal of sin.

The key focus of that teaching was to motivate you to understand and embrace who you are in Christ;

You as a believer are dead and buried with Christ so now you must flow in the reality “practically” by living your life as one who is dead to SIN.

When you died in Christ the old man and the power of sin over the old man, died.

It’s power over you was nailed to the cross and buried in the grave, no longer are we who are dead to sin to live any longer therein, but rather we are to live out the reality of who we are in Christ.

And that is what we talked about in Part 1 of the sermon. You can get it on-line and I encourage you to do so.

Today we are going to continue looking to the word of God to help us live out our blessed position in Christ. And you’ll see that in these 4 additional points.

If you are ready to do that say AMEN.

You and I are to live out our position in Christ by

  1. Embracing the reality that we are no longer under the dominion of sin, but instead we are under God’s grace

Romans 6:14-15(KJV) 

14  For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
15  What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid 

Romans 6:14 (NLT)
14  Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.

Romans 7:24-25b (NLT)
24  Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?
25  Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 John 1:9 (KJV)
9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 Romans 6:12-13b (KJV)
12  Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
13  Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin..

Two thoughts we want to explore here, the first having to do with the concept of dominion and second having to do with a misapplication of grace.

As we are living out our blessed position in Christ and are seeking to show forth the spiritual reality of our position in a practical sense, we often are confronted with a struggle in our bodies in the area of sin.

 This may not be something that you deal. And if you have no struggle with this in your own life you are the exception.

But most of us struggle from time to time with the misery and labor and pressures of our flesh; and part of the misery and struggle and stress and guilt that comes with our failures and repeats, has to do with the feeling and reality that we are falling short of God’s Holy standard.

The Apostle Paul said in relation to this reality that he was a miserable person.

 He likened this struggle with being tied to the yoke of a dead body that leached it’s poison into his body daily.

He likened this reality to being a slave to that dead body.

And this is often what is happening in the lives of believers in Christ, sincere as they may be.

And because of this there can be within the heart and mind of the child of God, a feeling of unacceptability before God and such feelings can leave you feeling defeated.

And in the face of that feeling, the believer has got to remember that even though you fail from time to time, that you have been transformed spiritually and that the transformation that God wrought within you by reason of the gift of his grace, is not dependent upon nor connected to the measure of your human excellence.

You may feel guilty about your failure, but the law has no power to condemn you, because you are under Grace, but for the unsaved sinner who does not have the grace of God through Jesus Christ as part of his or her life, there is accountability to the law and the requirements there of as well as the wages that are earned for the breaking of it.

But for the child of God, who has been transformed and made new by the blood of Jesus Christ, there is no longer the dominion of sin and the law, but there is grace and forgiveness and the on-going cleansing and guilt releasing power we can access through confession.

Yes you can still be influenced by Sin.

Yes you still have the capability and the ability to slip, but because you are under grace and not under the law, the role of the law as a pointer out of guilt and the wages of sin, that directs the sinner to a devil’s hell, no longer apply to you.

 And to remind you of that, God has put into place a mechanism, that is available to you day or night and is available to you continually, in which you may apply this mechanism, in those times that your find your FLESH fails you….watch this, that when you apply this mechanism, as instructed by God he will immediately reset the situation to that of forgiveness and cleansing AND the slate is wiped clean.

1st John 1:9 says….

9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Now the challenge here in flowing correctly in this reality is that we do not take this to mean that we have a license to sin.

You are no longer under the heavy hand of conviction, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you should continue to sin and just play God for a chump.

Thought:

You may have entertained the thought that, Oh well I will just go ahead to do “X” and God will forgive me when I come back to him tonight and confess.

You may have entertained the notion that God understands that a brother or sister has needs, so after I’ve taken care of this need here, I’ll just say a prayer afterwards ..

But I want to caution you in the strongest of terms, to not forget that God is a Father and he is different than your Father may have been who let you get away with murder and walk all over him…

God is a Father who will chastise and discipline and wear your back-side out, even as he is forgiving you and wiping the slate clean.

God is a Father who will deal with you and correct you and take you to the woodshed for sure, not because he’s taking out his anger on you for your sin, but because he wants to correct you and will correct you, so that you as his child do not fall into the trap of practicing that which does not reflect the reality of who you are.

Hebrews 12:6 says “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son whom he receives”

You and I are to live out our position in Christ by

  1. Making a conscious decision each day and in every area of your life, to whom you will yield.

 Romans 6:16(KJV)

16  Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

1 Kings 18:21 (NLT) 

21  Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent.

In point number one what we were talking about is an internal attitude and mindset. This second point is related to that, but is based in a more practical application as it regards the choices you make every day.

 

I choose the scripture from 1st Kings 18:21 and the New Living Translation of that passage because it used the words waver and hobble or hobbling.

 

The word hobble means to proceed with a sense of irregularity. In the case of a horse for example if you were to tie a length of rope around two of his legs, he would be impeded, he would be hampered he would hobble, rather than walking with purpose and progress.

To waver means to show doubt and indecision; it means to vacillate, to flutter to show hesitation between two choices.

This cannot be nor should it be part of the every-day reality of the child of God, who knows who he or she is IN CHRIST, because he or she is firm in their determination as to who they are to obey.

 Thought:

You are in charge of who will be your boss, as it regards your practical day-to-day walking here on planet earth.

You either make a daily decision to hate sin and fight against it and instead engage in a daily crucifying of the flesh, seeking to make God your boss, or YOU CHOOSE to yield to SIN and embrace it as your Master

There can’t be two; there can only be one Master

And so day-by-day you have to make a plan about what you are doing to do, to prevent yourself from sinning.

So you plan it out and say today, I am not going to attend “X” event, because I’m not going to yield my body in any way that causes me to be a servant of something that I’m free of.

I’m not going to hang out with X or Y..

I’m avoiding Z

I’m going to study God’s word and be a slave to the word of God instead of filling my head with mess and worldly stuff.

I’m not going to waver, halting between two lifestyles in which I attempt, to straddle the church and the things of God and mix it with the goals and pull of the world.

God has given me the power of the Holy Spirit to determine my own destiny today and I declare that I will not serve two masters.

You have got to say TODAY I will not vacillate between what God’s word says and the FLESH wants.

You are either going to be a slave to SIN or a slave to God and in this life, there can only ONE.

You choose. I don’t choose for you. Putting OIL on you won’t make the choice for you.

To live out your position in Christ, you must choose day-by day, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute, to whom you will yield.

You and I are to live out our position in Christ by…

 

  1. Obeying Godly doctrine and pursuing holiness with the same vigor that you pursed sin in your prior life.

Romans 6:17-19(KJV)

17  But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
18  Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

19  I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

Thought:

Paul says, I speak after the manner of men.

 A more modern translation would be, YO…I’m keeping it real; I know about your flesh, I know what some of you all, have been yielding yourselves too and you need to make a choice

We have to choose to obey godly doctrine, which are principles and practices and tools fro God’s word.

 We have to choose holiness not as a means of salvation, but as a life-choice that reflects a desire to present ourselves as children of God, as living sacrifices.

  • We as a result of the love of God, made a choice.
  • We choose to believe.
  • We choose to embrace by faith that God counts us righteous.

We choose to embrace the gospel of justification by faith alone in Jesus Christ and his completed work on the cross, and this choice to obey and embrace the word of God in it’s entirety has to be a driving force in our lives continually and it must be done so with the same enthusiasm that we pursued sin in our former lives.

You must be as serious about living out this reality as you were about pursuing X

Thought:

As aggressively as our bodies pursued sin, when we were in the world we now must put everything that we have into becoming servants of righteousness.

Where do you get that thought from preacher, it sounds like you are pushing works or religion on me…

No….I’m not pushing works, I am speaking to you after the manner of men, I am keeping it real and I am pressing you and challenging you and encouraging you, because of the weakness of your flesh.

It is so easy to yield our bodies and become complacent, so the word tells us in Romans 6:19c for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

 You have to work just as hard as you did chasing X and doing Y, when you were in the world. You have to get after HOLINESS with the same VIM and Vigor.

That is why it is important that we immerse ourselves in his word

Thank God for the changes that we’ve seen in our lives as a result of having obeyed the doctrines that have been given to us from the word of God.

Thank God for opening our eyes to the reasonability of presenting our bodies as living sacrifices holy unto him, which is our reasonable service.

Thank God for the doctrine of justification and the transforming mind-blowing change that such doctrine makes if we understand and embrace God’s incredible free gift.

Having received these doctrines, once embraced by the believer, how can we live in sin, how can one who really sees what God has done, live any longer there in.., but instead God said that we are to put on the new man, that he created in righteousness and true holiness.

4th and finally you and I are to live out our position in Christ by…

  1. Keeping in mind (and allowing that reality to check us) the wages of sin and the fruits thereof.

Romans 6:21-23(KJV)

21  What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
22  But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Thought:

As a child of God, we have been freed from guilt and shame.

No longer does God look down upon us with a convicting eye, as a harsh judge ready to pounce, so understand that what I am sharing here in this 4th and final point, isn’t about having a sense of remembering the realities thereof, as it regards the condemnation of a holy God.

What I am talking about here is keeping in mind, a personal check on your self, in order to avoid the trap of complacency and laziness.

Thought:

There is practical wisdom in being tough on your self and in keeping a clear mind about the seriousness of sin and the wages thereof.

There is a practical wisdom in not being too easy on your self and treating your self like a powder puffy wimp when it comes to the seriousness of sin.

There is nothing good about sin at all.

There is nothing good about the things that I engaged in when I was in college; those memories can’t be looked at with a romantic eye toward the fun we have and the good times with friends.

The life you lived and people that you fornicated and hung out with should not be remembered with a sly smile, but rather with shame

Because the life that we lived outside of God was full of nothing but deadly corruption.

Sin destroys and never forget that, or you will be an easy target for falling into a trap where you wake up and realize that you allowed something to get a hold of you, because you thought you could play with it.

You are to live your position as a chosen child of God, by never forgetting that the wages of sin is death.

Sin can’t take your soul to a Devil’s Hell, because God has cleansed you up, but it can earn a wage and destroy your life and cause you to fall into the life of a backslider.

You can become a backslider and find yourself in the mud by taking your eyes off of the realty of what sin can do.

As the laborer gets paid for what he invest in, so surely will sin produce a wage in the life of the believer who fails to keep the reality of sin and the wages thereof in the forefront of his or her mind.

I believe that I am talking today to some believer somewhere maybe tied in electronically, maybe here in the sanctuary; maybe someone gave you a copy of the CD, maybe you clicked on the website by mistake, whatever the case may be hear this child of God.

Don’t believe the lie of the devil.

Don’t give in to the sirens song of sin.

Sin destroys.

He or she wasn’t as good as you remember.

Sin destroys and those who eat of the fruit thereof, will experience the bitterness of its effects down to your very soul.

Don’t’ forget where God brought you from.

Don’t forget what he delivered you out of.

But instead consider God’s incredible grace and mercy towards you.

Instead of the sin that tempts you each day, consider the gift of God, which is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

That’s how you live it out my friend that is how you keep sin from having control by remembering, that the most valuable possession is not wages, but God’s incredible gift.

AMEN

God’s Great Love: The Work of Reconciliation.

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

Romans 5:10-11 (NKJV)
10  For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
11  And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

May the LORD add a blessing to the reading and the HEARING of HIS holy word.

In our last sermon entitled the way we were, we looked at the awesome love of God as demonstrated in the fact that he choose us and saved us and justified us by his incredible grace, in spite of the way were.

When we were without strength, when we were ungodly, in our sinfulness as enemies of God, in due time God sent his SON Jesus Christ to die for us.

Today we pick up the scripture at a place, which provides for us a launching point for a teaching on the subject of reconciliation.

The term reconcile or KAT-ALL-ASSO means to bring together or restore or reunite two persons.

The term is even more impactful because in the biblical use of the word, we understand the bringing together of the two parties is designed to do something that needed to be done and that should have been done because the two parties belonged together.

The thought would be along the lines of a restoration not between folks who were natural enemies but rather between two parties that had become enemies because of a breach of some sort, which had created an unnatural divide where there should have never been one in the first place.

This is what God did for us, he reconciled us to bring us back into the right relationship for which we had been created and God always intended for us.

We were enemies says Romans 5:10A but we were reconciled.

That is the focus we want to keep in mind and always remember that salvation is about God’s work and God’s love and God’s desire the bring us back to where he wants us to be.

AMEN

So that is what we are going to talk about. Let’s learn about RECONCILIATION as we review the following FOUR POINTS.

Reconciliation is about God doing something special for us….

  1. Because man broke the relationship.

Romans 5:10a (KJV)
10  For if, when we were enemies,

Genesis 3:3 (KJV)
3  But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

Genesis 3:6 (KJV)
6  And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Genesis 3:24 (KJV)
24  So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

In the opening of the sermon, I spoke about how the term reconcile was related biblically to the idea of their having been a BREACH that was created between two parties, that once were united in a relationship together.

In the case of the breach that was created between God and man, it was man who was the responsible party who caused the break up to occur.

The thing that broke the relationship between God and Man was Man’s disobedience.

It was man’s turning away from God that caused the enmity; it was man who caused the breach.

Thought:

God had created a world for man and given him the perfect environment.

The weather was perfect. There was no pollution. There was no sickness or disease. There was no labor or toil. The animals all got along with each other and we had daily personal communication with God talking with him one-one-one, without any fear.

Everything was perfect between God and the man he had created, but man decided, to do his own thing and break God’s commandment, concerning one simple tree.

God put everything that we needed at our fingertips.

Man could eat of EVERY tree in the garden. It all belonged to man, but HE did it, he broke the relationship by disrespecting God through rebellion and disobedience.

Because of SIN, instead of us being friends with God, man instead became an enemy.

Thought:

Now you and I in our human frailty and ego centric way of thinking, might not be able to accept the idea that disobeying and rebelling against God was an act of war and it might seem harsh to think that God sees it that way, but the reality is that when the creature rejects to creator by failing to acknowledge his superiority over him and instead declares HIMSELF to be God, by doing his own thing as though God does not matter, that my friends is a declaration of war. 

And this ladies and gentleman is the state of affairs which exist today between God and man.

A world that rejects God and disobeys God and fights against HIM as HIS enemy.

We are antagonistic toward God, we oppose all that God stands for, yet God in his incredible love, reached out, as a function of the love he had for us and put in place a plan to reconcile us to himself. 

Thought:

Picture this for a moment in your minds eye if you please and think about any relationship in your own life in which YOU were the injured party and how YOU responded.

They jerked you around, they disrespected you, they bad mouthed you, they injured you, they stole from you, they even tried to take your life; imagine what it would take for YOU to be the person, to reach out to your enemy and to do what it took to restore that relationship, even as the object of your efforts at restoration, fought you, rebelled against you, and cursed you every day of his life.

This is how man reacted to God’s loving outreach..

But God, because of HIS incredible love reached out to reconcile us to himself because he knew what he created us for.

He sees and still sees the vision of what man should be. He still remembers and never forgot, the days that he and Adam use to walk together in the cool of the day.

Child of God I want to remind you to never forget that God’s love is demonstrated toward us in that even though we were the causers of the breech, he continues to reach out and take responsibility for bringing us back to him; and he makes it so simple, that all we have to do is accept the gift and embrace what he did though Jesus Christ, by faith. 

Reconciliation is about God doing something special for us….

  1. Through the DEATH of his SON Jesus Christ

Romans 5:10b (NKJV)
10  For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son,

2 Corinthians 5:18b (NLT)
18  And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ.

Colossians 1:20 (NLT)
20  and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

Ephesians 1:10 (KJV)
10  That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

Ephesians 2:16 (KJV)
16  And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

Though we did it, God took the responsibility to fix it. This is what we saw in the scriptures and was in his plan from the very beginning

His plan to reconcile us to himself, involved Jesus his Son.

Though we saw his plan played out through the events of history, time and space, it was planned from the very beginning that the process of reconciling us to himself would involved his precious Son.

Thought:

Now again this is somewhat of a mind blower because it looks from the point of human reasoning, like God went through a whole lot of trouble in creating man, whom he knew was going to rebel against him AND that rebellion could not be dealt with unless someone paid the price for it and he KNEW who was going to pay the price.

Seems like a lot of trouble to go through when you know what is going to happen with man and who is going to have to pay the price…maybe it’s just me, but it doesn’t make any sense for God to go through all of this trouble for us…, but here is the key…

We read in 2nd Corinthians 5:18b that all of this was a GIFT from God, who planned to bring us back to himself through Christ and through the suffering of HIS Son Jesus on the cross at Calvary.

This was a gift from God

Thought:

He planned it, to make peace with his enemies. That he might bring to order the disorder that we created through our disobedience, by sending Jesus to give his life for us and to allow us to access that gift, not by earning it, which would seem to be the logical HUMAN approach, but rather for us to access this gift and the reality of being reconciled to our God…..by faith in Jesus Christ and the death he died for us. 

Through him, through Jesus the Son of God, God himself is able to see us as covered in the righteousness of his own Son.

This is what happens when you place your faith in Jesus Christ and you get born again.

Though him, through Jesus the SON of God, God himself accepts the sinner who rebelled against him and caused the breach that started the problem from the beginning.

Through the death of the SON, the wages that we earned, the death payment that was required, was paid for us that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.

Thought

We did it, we caused the problem but he took responsibility for it. In the work of Jesus Christ on the cross he not only took care of sin, but according to Ephesians 2:16, and Colossians 1:20 he made peace with us.

Thought

This is a good place for me to pivot for a moment, to speak to those of you who are in the house today, who are under the sound of my voice or to those who may be connected via electronic means, who are still in a state of war with God.

Still rebelling. Still antagonistic. Still in opposition of. Still hostile towards. Still resisting. Still living for your self. Still refusing to acknowledge him.

Man did it. We did it. You did it, you caused the problem, that destines you to eternal damnation and a Devil’s hell that God did not intend for nor create for you, but you will spend eternity there for sure as a result of your own decision and hard-headedness.

We caused the problem, but God in his incredible love still reaches out to you, with a hunger and desire save you.

What a gift. A gift that is unlike anything you could experience, available, paid for and secured by his SON Jesus, available and free to every man, every woman, every boy every girl, through the one thing that they can all exercise….faith in God and the death, burial and resurrection of his SON Jesus, as being payment for their sins.

Now he’s not going to force you to accept it.

He’s not going to twist your arm.

He’s not going to give you a car or a boat to bribe you.

He’s not going to take you and treat you like a robot, he’s going to leave it up to you, to recognize and to accept and to believe and to repent of the way you’ve been carrying on YOUR GOD DEFYING LIFE and to say to God, I surrender all.

Reconciliation is about God doing something special for us….

  1. Because man cannot do the work of reconciliation.

Romans 5:6 (NLT)
6  When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

Romans 5:6 (NKJV)
6  For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

Romans 6:23a (KJV)
23  For the wages of sin is death

Isaiah 64:6 (NLT)
6  We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.

Job 14:4 (NLT)
4  Who can bring purity out of an impure person? No one!

We were reconciled by God, we were brought back into a relationship of peace with God because man could not, nor will ever be able to reconcile himself.

Now this 3rd point might seem to be an obvious one in light of the statements and truths shared in the first and second points.

But we share this 3rd point today because of our natural proclivity towards human confidence and a warped sense of our capabilities.

Thought:

Man is a very impressive being when you consider the impact of mankind in the natural world. All of his impressive achievements in science and music and literature and engineering and medicine; his language and physical abilities are incredible, but he couldn’t fix the sin problem.

First of all, we were utterly helpless. We talked about that in an earlier sermon, entitled THE WAY WE WERE. Powerless, invalids.

We were the perpetrators of the breach. We were infected and impure, having earned with wages of our sinful rebellion against God that is Death.

Isaiah the prophet described our filthy reality in stark and startling terms, describing man as infected and impure with sin.

Our righteous deeds are displayed as being nothing more than a farce and an offense, as worthless as a menstrual cloth.

Job asked said who can bring impurity out of an impure person and the answer is no one.

Romans declared, “There is NONE righteous, no-not-one”

Man could not do the work. Man could never have enough love to give himself for another.

When ever MAN touched it, it would be infected by his own SIN.

Man could never ELEVATE himself to the level of perfection, required by God and so GOD did it himself.

What did God do ????

He wrapped himself up in a body.

He came through the portal of human flesh, born in the most humble circumstances, so poor were his earthy parents that he was born out in the back barn among the animals and laid in a manger.

He lived and walked as a mere human being entirely as an act of HIS incredible grace and love for us because we couldn’t do it.

And he gave HIS OWN LIFE for sinner who were lost.

He suffered bled and died on a tree like a common criminal, providing the shedding of blood to remit our sins

Thought:

We can solve incredible engineering problems. We can find cures to the most exotic illnesses, but only God himself could do the work of reconciliation.

It’s a mind blower. It’s a head twister, that when we were utterly helpless, God demonstrated his incredible LOVE for us to do the work of reconciliation, because we couldn’t do what needed to be done ourselves.

Reconciliation 4th and finally is about God doing something special for us….

  1. Because God desired to give us the JOY

Romans 5:11 (NKJV)
11  And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Isaiah 61:10 (NLT)
10  I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels.

Psalm 126:2 (NKJV)
2  Then our mouth was filled with laughter, And our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”

To be at ONE with God through his Son Jesus is the hearts desire of God.

To see us CLOTHED in a robe of righteousness. To fill our hearts with JOY forever more is his heart.

Thought:

For some reason many of us have the wrong idea about God. We think of God as a great big downer. This heavy force, that is clothed in anger and offense towards all humanity.

But nothing could be father from the truth.

God’s desire is that we be filled with JOY, at what he has accomplished for us through Jesus his SON and the power of God’s grace.

We ought to be overwhelmed as Isaiah the prophet declared with the Joy of our God.

Our mouths should be filled with laughter and our tongues should sing because of the great things our Lord has done for us.

God has done something incredible for us, which is superior to what was offered in the old-testament sacrifices.

The blood of bulls, goats and heifer could only offer “atonement”, all it could do was to cover your sins.

But the work of reconciliation accomplished through God via the cross of Jesus Christ, didn’t just cover sins, it erased and eradicated them, not counting them to our name, but instead counting us as righteous, reckoning our trespasses to the sea of forgetfulness.

  • He reconciled us to hear you laugh and cry out for joy…AMEN
  • He reconciled us to him to hear all of heaven give him glory.
  • He reconciled us to him because he wanted us back with him at his side forever
  • He reconciled us to him to bring us JOY.

God’s great love for us is a mind blower for sure.

When were utterly helpless.

When we were enemies.

When were sinners, God chose to commend his love for us, in that state.

Today, I wonder if there is anyone under the sound of my voice who doesn’t know this as a personal reality.

You may be here today in this building or listening by electronic means and be outside the family of God.

I’m here to tell you that God loves you.

He wants to reconcile you to himself.

He has gone through the trouble of coming through time and space to bring peace between you and him, even though you are the reason why there is enmity.

Oh ADAM may have started the problem with the first thing he did back in the garden, but you continued on with the disrespect and disobedience right to this very day.

And here is the fact; if you don’t make a decision to get right with God and take advantage of what he provides for you through faith in Jesus Christ, you will be lost.

All the work and all that he put in place, will count for NOTHING and instead of being united with the father who loves you, you will be instead lost forever.

In a moment I am going to give you the only chance I can promise you to make a decision.

Now again, you might get another chance next week, but I can’t promise you that, because we are all candidates for death and by then it’s too late.

 

 

11/6/16 The way we were

The Way We Were

Romans 5:6-9

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

Romans 5:6-10 (NKJV)
6  For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.
8  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
10  For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

 

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

 

Today we are looking at a passage in which the scripture discusses God’s incredible and unbelievable love for us.

 

The outline when we break it down speaks of the way that we were and it shows how incredible it is that God would justify such people as us, in spite of the way were

In fact I’ll go so far as to say he continues to express his grace and mercy, even to us in those times, when we remind him in our present behavior that we are still capable of being the way we use to be.

Now for the unsaved here today and even for some saved folks who may be easily offended, let me warn you, what the scripture speaks about today is not complementary, it is raw in it’s truthfulness concerning mankind and it takes that approach in order to demonstrate the depth of the justification that we are blessed to receive from God.

God’s great love if you are unfamiliar with it, will after this sermon be crystal clear; and if you are open to it and willing to embrace the truths shared with you today, these Truths will position you to make the most important decision in your life AMEN

When God demonstrated his love for us, we were

  1. Without Strength.

Romans 5:6a (NKJV)
6  For when we were still without strength,

Ephesians 2:1a (YLT)
1  Also you–being dead in the trespasses and the sins,

Ephesians 2:12 (NKJV)
12  that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

Ephesians 4:18 (NKJV)
18  having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;

God demonstrated his incredible love for mankind and the greatness of the act of justifying man on the basis of faith, by choosing the bestow his great blessing on a being who had absolutely nothing to bring the party.

The word without strength is translated from the word ASTHENON, which speaks of a state in which we were worthless, useless and unable to help our selves.

Now again this isn’t going to boost the ego of any person here today, but the fact is the God chose to impart his great work on you and I who were worthless.

Ephesians 2:1 said that we were DEAD in trespasses and sins. Now I know that when we read that, we’d prefer to look at the term DEAD as being emblematic or symbolic, but I think that the word is put there to speak of our utter worthlessness and inability. We were DEAD, we were incapable, we were invalid, irrelevant, empty, unresponsive. Ephesians 2:12 says that we were aliens, we were strangers, having no hope and without God in the world.

We were spiritually unable and incapable of helping our self yet God in his incredible love chose to select us, in this very state of being.

In the face of this realty, he appointed a time he prepared a destiny for Christ to come and save you and I, where we where capable of offering God anything.

Thought:

We may find this offensive because we like to think of ourselves in more complementary terms.

We prefer thinking of ourselves as the pinnacle of his creation; YES we were made in his own image, but to think that he would save us and choose to bestow this great gift of salvation upon US because we are on some level deserving of his grace is an idea that is appealing to our ego, but it doesn’t speak to the reality of just how incredible his love is for us in terms of where we were…

The fact that he would choose us and justify us and send Christ to die for us when we were nothing, useless and without strength is a mind blower that speaks of his incredible grace.

When God demonstrated his love for us, we were

  1. Ungodly

Romans 5:6b (NKJV)
6  For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

Now I’ve broken this down into two subsections noting a comparison between God and man in order to make this more impactful.

Let’s look at man… 

Romans 1:29-31 (KJV)
29  Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30  Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31  Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

Genesis 6:5 (NLT)
5  The LORD observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil.

Let’s look at God…

Isaiah 6:1-3 (KJV)
1  In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
2  Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
3  And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

James 1:17 (NKJV)
17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 

Deuteronomy 32:4 (YLT)
4  The Rock! –perfect is His work, For all His ways are just; God of steadfastness, and without iniquity: Righteous and upright is He.

We use the word HOLY to describe God, because he is distinct, separate and in a class all by himself.

I gave two sets of scriptures, the first defines man and what God both sees and knows about man. It’s not a good picture, but I dare you to challenge the truthfulness of it.

The second set of scriptures was chosen, with an eye towards comparing man and God. It was hard making a choice on which scriptures to use because when it comes to taking about the HOLINESS of and the perfectness of God, it is really too large of a subject to put your arms around.

This term UNGODLY, is a terms that defines not only the way we were but defines the world in which we live.

Ungodly is translated from the word ASE-BON, it means being different from God, but it means more than that.

It speaks of a profaneness, it speaks of having a completely different style from God, of being imperfect verses his perfection, it more than just being a little different from God, it speaks of that which is totally foreign and the antithesis of God.

We use the word HOLY to describe God, because he is distinct, separate and in a class by himself. Every thing about God is good and pure and right. His wisdom is perfect, his ways are just, righteous and upright is he, says Deuteronomy. With him there is no shadow, no variation, no inconsistency.

Man is basically the UN-OF GOD.

We are not just different, but we are the antitheses of him in our sinful fallen state. Everything that God is we are UN-IT.

When God looks upon mankind, he sees and saw something totally foreign to his own character.

Genesis said that when he observed humanity that everything they thought or imagined was continually EVIL.

Every kind of malignancy, every type of violence and confusion; murders and shedders of blood, murderers with the mouth, practicers of filth, haters of God, disobedient to parents and authority, unmerciful totally evil; the complete opposite of HIM…..YET says the scripture “ IN DUE TIME” Christ died for the ungodly

Thought:

When I read through the list from ROMAN chapter 1:29-31 which outlined evil man, I guarantee you that not ONE single person in this room could not see themselves in the description at some point in their lives…even now.

Thought:

We might have thought of ourselves as good. You might even be “good” compared to the average person, but man in his sinful flesh and broken mind is the antithesis of God. 

Try to wrap yourself around the idea that God would send his SON to die for something totally alien and completely different from him, who is an offense by the very breath that he or she breathes.

And if you accept that picture for moment, the love of God and his continual outreach and mercy towards the saved and the unsaved will simply take your breath away.

We were not just without strength when God decided to put his marvelous plan into action for our benefit, we were THE UN-OF-GOD

When God demonstrated his love for us, we were

  1. Sinners

 

Romans 5:6c (NKJV)
6  Christ died for the ungodly. 

Romans 5:8c (NKJV)

8  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners,

Exodus 20:13-17 (NKJV)
13  “You shall not murder.
14  “You shall not commit adultery.
15  “You shall not steal.
16  “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
17  “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Psalm 51:5 (NLT)
5  For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.

Psalm 51:5 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

5 Indeed, I was guilty when I was born; and in sin when my mother conceived me.

You are all familiar with the Ten Commandments. I used only a few of them to make my point. They are still one of the most effective tools to point out the sinfulness of man.

From very beginning of time man rejected God’s law and functioned as lawbreaker or a sinner. David said he was BORN a sinner, from the moment he breathed his first breath.

Thought:

Flip Wilson for those of you who are old enough to remember what he said use to say…said “ the devil made me do it”

He may have tempted you, but your natural tendency was to sin, “shapen” in iniquity, a law breaker even when you don’t have to break it, a “rebel” who wants to step over the line, just because its there.

I chose to use the “d” portion of verse 6 along with verse 8 of Romans because that word “for” should be related and connected to what he did for sinners.

The word “for” HUPER means for our benefit, for the benefit of sinner, it was on our behalf, is was in place of the sinner, Christ died as a substitute for the very ones who broke his laws and “breaks” his laws from the moment he breathes his first breath.

No one had to teach us as children to lie, it was in us from the very beginning. We were sinners and transgressors.

Yet God’s love was demonstrated for humanity in spite of our law breaking tendencies, the scripture declares Christ died “HUPER” for our benefit.

For the sinner, Christ became a substitute and died as the sacrificial lamb.

1st Peter speaks of Christ being the one who bare our sins in HIS own body own on a tree.

For the sinner, Christ became a ransom, who gave himself for us says Titus 2:14, “that he might redeem us.

For the sinner Christ died to propitiate our sins. To absorb the wrath of God, that we earned, to suffer and die that our sins might be remitted, for without the shedding of the blood of Jesus, there could be no remission of sins.

This is the way were and this is the way the unsaved person is.

Thought:

When I read the commandments, just taking a few of them you heard the truth of it. Sinner man you may have never killed a person in your life, but at some point you lied and therefore are guilty of breaking his law.

Good as you may have been in your life and never stole a thing that belonged to anyone; but you disrespected your parents, or desired to the point of covetousness the belonging, the position, the achievements, the wife of the husband of, the resources of, the home of……there car , if you broke one you were a law breaker.

And then you may be guilty of the most egress, violations, involving lust, adultery, or hatred, yet God is still choosing and still calling and still loving and still declaring as JUST in his sight “ people who were guilty of the most ugly sins” yet he justifies, cleanses and declares righteous those who places their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord 

Impossible and improbable as it may seem…. It never the less is true. 

When God demonstrated his love for us, 4th and finally we were..

  1. Enemies of God….

Romans 5:10c (NKJV)

10  For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son

Romans 5:7 (KNJV)

7  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die

Romans 8:7 (NLT)
7  For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.

Romans 8:7 (NIV)

The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.

I don’t have to dig too deeply to prove the power and truth of this point as it relates to the world today, this is the way we were and the way the world is.

The love of God is so incredible and unbelievable that words cannot describe it, yet this powerful illustration as noted in verse 7 combined with how we were described in verse 10 is very effective.

A few weeks ago when I delivered the sermon entitled what faith brings, I talked about the incredibleness of God giving access to the gift of salvation through faith alone apart from works to those who were his enemies. 

The scriptures say when were ENEMIES.

This is a very powerful word here with layers and layers of meaning.

An enemy is one who fosters harmful desires against another.

An enemy has hostility and bitterness. It speaks of that which opposes or even tries to damage.

Another word we could use is “foe” or one that has malice towards another.

This is who we were when God decided to demonstrate his love for us. For we were his enemies, when he chose the life of his SON Jesus Christ to be the reconciling mechanism, to bring us into peace with him. 

This on a simply logical level makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

To send HIS only SON to give up his life for a world of enemies.

Maybe it might make sense for God to send his SON to die to a good man.

But God said I’ll do it for the folks who are hostile towards me.

I’ll send my SON to die for those who rebel against my law.

I’ll send my SON to die for folks who disrespect and disregard and use my NAME as a curse word.

I’ll send my son to die for a world that is diametrically opposed to me, … I’ll send my SON.

Thought:

This is the way that some of you are today. ENEMIES of Christ.

You’ve ignored him. You’ve locked him out of your mind.

You’ve dismissed him, as having no place in your life.

Well how did I do that preacher ?

You’ve done that each and every time you’ve said no to his invitation to accept his loving gift, as some will do today.

That he would select you to be justified by faith and faith alone when you couldn’t bring anything to the table… is incredible. YOU WERE WITH OUT STRENTH

Sinners and lawbreakers from their first breath and enemies of Christ.

It’s amazing but absolutely incredible that in spite of who were and in spite of whom man is, God demonstrates his desire to reconcile, to justify and to have peace with us through Christ.

Every child of God, ought to be reminded of the joy and wonder of God’s love, having reached out and touched us with a gift that we were so unworthy of.

For the unsaved person under the sound of my voice, there is the opportunity to respond to the love of God if you feel it as this very moment.

God commends his love toward you, in whatever state you may be.

It’s a powerful love; it is giving love that offers Christ to you as the greatest gift you can ever receive.

God wants to have peace with you starting today.

If you are willing to believe in your heart that he sent Jesus to die for your sins and that he wants to make you his child today, you can become a child of God.

By faith, he will give you brand new life and make you right with him.

AMEN.

ALL eyes closed and heads are bowed.

 

 

 

Just say no to Halloween

Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper Senior Pastor

Just say NO to Halloween

Deuteronomy 18:9-12 (NLT) 

9 “When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, be very careful not to imitate the detestable customs of the nations living there.
10 For example, never sacrifice your son or daughter as a burnt offering. And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft,
11 or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead.
12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD. It is because the other nations have done these detestable things that the LORD your God will drive them out ahead of you.

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

As we come into the holiday season there will be a number of sermons and messages that I call EVERGREEN subject which I will update and present to you.

Today we are discussing a topic that is near and dear to me, having to do the issue of Halloween.

Those of you who’ve been here for a few years have heard me addressing the issue of HALLOWEEN and I consider it a responsibility of mine, to teach you on this subject so that you don’t find yourself participating in something that is harmful on the worse side, or simply sends out a confusing message at the minimum to your children and those who know that you are a Christian.

Halloween is something that I participated in when I was a child; I remember clearly dressing up as the devil for example. I went to one event at church as a child dressed up in costume and we played a game called bobbing for apples.

This all happened in a very strict Apostolic Pentecostal home, where make up and jewelry was not worn. I never saw my mother wear a pair of pants, not even once; no-make up, no Jewelry no way.

In our home there were bibles in the bathrooms, sometimes we had prayer every morning in the summer, we only could listen to church music, we were not permitted to dance, to listen to jazz music; we didn’t play cards, we didn’t go to the movies, church services and attendance were frequent. Sunday morning started with SUNDAY school followed by morning service and back for evening service too, plus services during the week.

YET on the NIGHT of OCTOBER 31st, even though my mother was a HOLY woman, and my Jamaican Step Father wouldn’t let us play monopoly because there were dice in the game, we went out on Halloween dressed up as devils celebrating something that had nothing to do with Christ.

This is not something that upsets me, I’ve never felt angry about it or even mentioned it to her, because I understand that this done innocently, but thank GOD that today he has opened our eyes, to the inconsistency and the negative witness, such participation would bring upon the name of Christ.

The opening scripture that I shared with you from the book of DUETEROMNY, tells you all you need to know about HOW GOD feels regarding anything having to do with the OCCULT World.

GOD says that when it comes to matters of WIZARDY, DIVINATION; and WITCHCRAFT that all these things are an abomination….that word means that GOD utterly detests and rejects anything having to do with the OCCULT.

Many in our secular society and sadly even Christians, believe Halloween is nothing more than a harmless festival that allows children to collect candy, but I would challenge even the most liberal minded Christian today, to look at the pictures of HORROR and the heavy handed depiction of the OCCULT and death and murder…and be honest with yourself regarding what Halloween is really about.

In past years there have been major court battles in which the government ruled that the TEN commandments had to be removed from a courthouse in the south.

The ACLU is aggressively stripping away every symbol or item associated with JESUS Christ or GOD.

The time will soon come, when no person will be able to speak the name of the LORD in public, for fear of prosecution.

This is a reality in many workplaces today. Talk about anything, be any kind of freak you want, embrace all type of new age stuff, but don’t mention the name of Jesus or bring your Christianity into the work place, leave at the door before you come in here, or HR will be in your office QUICK.

Now what really powers Halloween in the natural sense is MONEY.

Halloween is the 2nd most popular “HOLIDAY” behind Christmas; it is a major selling opportunity for retailers.

Halloween generates billion of dollars in retail sales, it’s not just CANDY but it is costumes for kids and adults. Thrift stores get into the act too and an uptick in revenue is clocked around October 31, when people run in and buy 2nd hand clothing for costumes and parties.

Why wouldn’t any child LOVE it, it’s a day when you can eat all the candy you want…but it is our responsibility once we have the information as PARENTS to understand that beneath the candy and fun are horrible dangers, that we need to be aware of.

Now today in this sermon I’m going to access both scriptural and non-scriptural sources for you; so that you can understand fully that what I am sharing with you is true.

Five simple points, take notes study to see if what I am sharing is true and then be guided by what the Spirit of God says to you.

Christians should not participate in the celebration of Halloween because…

  1. HALLOWEEN is deeply rooted in the occult.

Leviticus 19:31 (NLT)
31 “Do not defile yourselves by turning to mediums or to those who consult the spirits of the dead. I am the LORD your God.
The practice of Halloween is deeply rooted in the black arts, having to do with various demonic systems which access or tie into knowledge related to the devil’s power and kingdom.

October 31st has long been known as “The Festival of the Dead.” The Celtic tribes and their priests the Druids celebrated this day as a marker for the change from life to death.

Let me read an excerpt from the web which had a lot of details on this subject

“Halloween is a time when the shades of the dead whisper from forgotten places, a magical time between the worlds when the spirits walk among us. The Witches of Salem honor this time of enchantment with the annual Festival of the Dead, a carnival of merriment, mystery, medium ship, and ritual where “THEY” pay homage to “THEIR” friends on the other side. This annual two-week Halloween celebration beginning on October 19 in Salem, Massachusetts, explores death’s macabre customs, heretical histories, and strange rituals.

Thought:

Now a-days, folks especially the young are fascinated with Spirits and Mediums and PARENTS don’t be fooled for a moment that the Devil isn’t tied into all of this and that he isn’t looking for an opportunity to bring folks into bondage.

If you want to know who is celebrating Halloween and why the child of God ought not to be part of it, just consider some of the promoters of Halloween.

Séances, invitations to explore messages from the spirit world, offered from various organizations of witches and warlocks abound on line and will explode on social media this week.

Freaks of every kind take an opportunity to come out and make themselves known; there is a world wide network of covens, groups and organizations that promote themselves on the internet and crazy people just trying to have a little fun end up getting trapped and bound.

On Halloween Night, the devil and his players are out there celebrating WICTHES and WARLOCKS and CASTING Spells and we as Christians want to be with associated with that?

Halloween is deeply rooted in the occult and the child of God should have absolutely nothing to do with it.

Christians should not participate in the celebration of Halloween because…

  1. Halloween is a day when the dark world celebrates“Feast of “Sam-Hain “ THE LORD of DARKNESS……

Ephesians 5:11-12 (NLT)
11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them.
12 It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret.

Most of you have noticed a change in the daylight patterns recently, where night seems to come earlier than it did in the summer. This is a natural occurrence that comes with the changing of the seasons.

The Druids a group of pagan people believed that on their New Year’s Eve, which would be OCTOBER 31st all of the people who died in the past year would rise up from their graves and search for the passageway to the netherworld.

On that night, Sam-Hain THE LORD OF the Netherworld would roam the earth in search of these souls to capture them and take them to his world of darkness.

The people in trying to protect themselves from this dark character would put….LANTERNS…and LIGHTS in their windows to help the dead find their way and keep the DARK Lord Sam-HAIM away from their homes.

They would also try to scare away the spirits by carving a frightening face into a pumpkin. Sometimes the villagers would light a candle and place it within the pumpkin and use it as a lantern (hence the name, Jack-o-Lantern).

This is the origin of carving pumpkins at Halloween and the child of God ought to think about this, whenever you are tempted to let your child go out carrying one of these.

Make no mistake about this my friends, the bible tells us clearly and you read the scripture with me, that we are NOT to take part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness, but rather we are to expose them or reprove them, which means    “to voice or convey our disapproval” of them.

Given this realty; perhaps you as a parent for example, need to rethink your plan to attend Knotts-scary night, or to have a walking dead party at your house this Halloween or to allow your kids to dress up like a ghost or witch to attend school in the costume of some zombie.

Given this reality and the admonition of God’s word, in spite of the child’s complaining or telling you that Johnny and Joey are going to the party, should you as a parent let your child carry a Jack-O-Lantern around your neighborhood, knocking on the door saying…trick or treat.

Christians should not participate in the celebration of Halloween because…

  1. HALLOWEEN PARTIES often result in Christians unknowingly participating in or being exposed to Occultism.

Leviticus 19:26 (NLT)
26 “Do not eat meat that has not been drained of its blood. “Do not practice fortune telling or witchcraft.
Leviticus 19:26 (HCSB)
26 “You are not to eat ⌊anything⌋ with blood ⌊in it⌋. You are not to practice divination or sorcery.

Earlier in the opening of the sermon, I told you a bit about my strict Pentecostal upbringing and the kinds of things that we were restricted from doing.

I won’t ask anyone to say you’ve done it, but one of my earliest memories of childhood was being at what I remember to be a Church Halloween party…and we were bobbing for apples.

Hauntedbay.com connects bobbing for apples back to the SamHain Festival celebrated by the Celts.

Bobbing for APPLES is an act of divination in which a person would try and obtain information about the FUTURE, very much like what people do when they are playing with wee gee boards or reading the horoscope…in the case of bobbing for apples, what they were trying to do was the to DIVINE….or read what was the future regarding who a person was going to marry….

In our work places there are the Halloween parties. One year I remember the manager invited a medium to the party to provide entertainment for us.

In our neighborhoods your kids get exposed to things because you can’t watch everything they do.

Having a séance; playing with the we-ge board, it’s just fun it’s only a game…things that routinely happen on Halloween……

People are messing around with the stuff, all of the time; and GOD’s word clearly is against it.

Christians should not participate in the celebration of Halloween because…

  1. HALLOWEEN has become a high holiday for alternative lifestyles that are not supported biblically.

Leviticus 18:22 (NLT)
22 “Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin.

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 (KJV)
21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

On OCTOBER 31st the streets of West HOLLYWOOD will be jammed with barely clothed men and women, parading themselves through the streets, cavorting strutting and engaging in abominable acts of semi-nudity; followed by extreme promiscuity and debauchery.

As parents you need to be careful and fully aware of the alternative agenda that is woven into “the new HALLOWEEN”

HALLOWEEN is a major coming out party for people in the community, in which teachers and business people will cross dress in the office and in the schools and your children will be encouraged…..by those with hidden agenda’s to do the same….

This is real and you’d better be able to stand up and take a position because your children (who have been taught tolerance which is great, but has now been perverted into a catch all, accept all kind of philosophy) will challenge you on this particular point. They will call you a bigot because you don’t want them to dress up like a member of the opposite sex…just for FUN, what’s wrong with it mom, you shouldn’t be like that…

When your SON wants to dress up and be TINA TURNER or your daughter wants to play HE–MAN, you’d better know and be able to stand on God’s word which says…

1st Thes 5:22, tells us to…

22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

If it looks wrong and it is wrong

No matter HOW you cut it; there are certain things that we need to avoid simply because of HOW it reflects on our witness….and NO candy or party, or being liked by the rest of the kids or being a party of what is happening with the neighbors is more important than that…

If you are still thinking that HALLOWEEN is a HARMLESS joke, you’re kidding yourself and you are saying YES to something that goes against the word of GOD.

AMEN.