Category Archives: Preaching

But the Church Prayed

It Happened In Acts

It may come as a shock to some of you, but, believe it or not, there’s a lot more to the book of Acts than chapter 2.

As a matter of fact, the book of Acts is full of exciting, foundation-rattling accounts of God moving through the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit. Chapter 12 is no exception.

In Acts 12 we read Luke’s account of how Herod Agrippa (the 1st) thought he’d found a way to demoralize and ultimately defeat the young Church. After seeing that killing the apostle James made the Jews happy, he then arrested Peter with the intent of doing the same. It seemed like a fool-proof plan…

…but prayer was made without ceasing by the church unto God for him” (Acts 12:5).

That was the hinge on which the door swung…the church prayed.

Think of all the insurmountable obstacles we’ve encountered. How many times have we (as the Church or individuals) been faced with situations where there seemed to be no way out, no positive solution, no hope? What has been our usual response? Has it been fervent, unceasing, continual prayer? Not usually.

Imagine what would have happened to Peter had the story been more like: “Herod was going to kill Peter, but the church hired the best Gentile lawyer from Rome.” Or, maybe Acts 12:5 could have read like: “Herod was planning on killing Peter, but the church hatched a full-proof escape plan.”

No, the Bible says that the church in Jerusalem did what all of us should do – but we usually don’t – they prayed without ceasing.

If Acts is supposed to be an example of how the Holy Spirit can work through the Body of Christ (the Church), then I have a feeling we’ve lost a lot of battles by ignoring our most powerful weapon – PRAYER.

It’s Happing in Soddy Daisy

Well, my friends, I pastor a small church in Soddy Daisy, TN, that needs a few miracles. We need some locked doors opened…some chains to fall off…some manna from heaven…some pioneering workers for the field.

We need people who will work. We want to see souls saved. We want to make an impact on our community. We want to build the Kingdom. We want God to receive the glory for rescuing what many have deemed a lost cause.

So, we’re praying.

Every evening we are meeting to pour our hearts out in prayer. Every evening we are asking God to meet our needs. Every evening I am hoping others will join us, preferably in person. You are invited.

This past Sunday (May 6) I preached a sermon that laid out the context for Acts 12:1-5. I then called upon our congregation to join with me in serious, desperate, concentrated prayer for the rest of the month. You can listen to the sermon by clicking on the link below or the picture of our church sign.

Let us look forward to what God is going to do, but don’t be too surprised if He answers in a way that has never even crossed our minds.

“Now About This Time: The Church Prayed”

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Filed under Church, community, Prayer, Preaching

Arguments for Eternal Security

My Outline

bibleBecause I just commented on a post by a fellow blogger who believes one can lose his salvation, I am re-posting this sermon outline.

The following is an outline I used a couple of years ago. It starts off with some arguments against the “once-saved-always-saved” position. The next part lists six basic arguments in favor of the eternal security of the believer.

Of course, this is only an outline, not the sermon. However, you can click below for a link to the audio.

“Eternal Security” 

Arguments Against “Once Saved, Always Saved”

  1. Observational – How people live that believe it.
  2. Free Will – We are created with a will; we’re not slaves.
  3. Scriptural (Hebrews 6; 1 John 3:9; 5:18)

Arguments FOR “Eternal Security”

  1. Creational Argument: We are New Creations (2 Cor. 5:17)
    1. It took a supernatural act to change us
    2. We can’t act supernaturally to change us back
  2. New Birth Argument: We are Born Again (John 3:7,16)
    1. By the Spirit – Jn 3:6
    2. By the Word of God – 1 Peter 1:23
    3. We are not God, so we must remain “born again”
  3. Children of God Argument
    1. Born that way – 1 John 5:1; 1 Peter 1:23
    2. Adopted – Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5
    3. Abba – Gal. 4:1-7
  4. The Possession Argument – We belong to Christ
    1. Purchased – 1 Cor. 6:19-20; 7:23 (Bought with a Price)
    2. Given by the Father – Jn. 6:37-40; 10:28-30
    3. Will never be separated – Rom. 8:35-39
    4. Romans 14:8 – For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.
    5. He can keep what is His – 2 Tim. 1:12 “…for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” See also: 2 Timothy 4:18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve [me] unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen.
  5. The Marriage Argument
    1. Ephesians 5:25-28, 31-32 – Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church…This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
    2. He is faithful, even when we are not.
      1. 2 Timothy 2:11-13 “…if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful…”
      2. He is God, not man! – Hosea 11:7-9
  6. It’s a Gift
    1. 2:8-9 Gift of God, by grace
    2. Romans 11:29 KJV – For the gifts and calling of God [are] without repentance (irrevocable)

Click on the link below to listen to the audio. As you might be able to tell by the opening remarks, I believe it was a sermon we needed, but the devil was opposing. Nevertheless, hearts were encouraged.

https://riversidesermons.sermon.net/main/main/20657994

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Filed under Bible Study, Preaching, salvation

A Sermon On Legalism

You can go to other posts I’ve written and read why some people choose to be legalists. This, however, is a message I preached this past Sunday morning.

Maybe some of you will find it encouraging or helpful.

Click here to listen to “Romans 14: A Sermon On Legalism”

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Church, legalism, Preaching

He Lives!

We celebrate many holidays in this world, but one stands out among the rest…

Easter.

Now, I know that some of the more legalistic among us will label all the celebrations “moot” because of certain “pagan” links, like that to Ishtar and fertility rites. The unbelievers will laugh off this day with arrogant disdain (especially with it being April Fool’s Day).

But for the majority of Christians around the world, this day is a day to rejoice in the Son of God’s victory over the grave.

We are prone to celebrate many things, like who won a game, that new promotion, or a birthday. We throw parties when political candidates squeak out a win, or when that big contract gets signed. Some will even fire thousands of AK-47 rounds into the air while shouting “Allah Akbar!” at the top of their lungs. But nothing is more worth celebrating than Jesus keeping His word and rising from the dead to secure eternal life for those who trust in Him.

Today, as I stand before a congregation, I will attempt, in the power of the Spirit, to stir the imagination, to take us back in time, to recreate a fraction of the excitement that must have been felt when those who were convinced of defeat were shocked by the greatest come-from-below victory of all time.

Today, before all those present, whether in flesh or spirit, I will celebrate victory over sin, death, and hell. The Enemy has been defeated, his tools are obsolete, for Jesus died and rose again.

He Lives!

Click on the link to listen to my favorite Resurrection Day song, “Gone!” (sung by Teddy Huffam).

Also, here’s a group that’s new to me singing a medley of Easter-related songs (none of them about a bunny).

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Filed under Easter, Faith, God, Preaching, salvation, worship

Barriers to Church Growth. #2

A very revealing study was done, leading to a book detailing how 300 churches went from declining or dying, to growing. In Comeback Churches, written by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson, there is a list of 30 different barriers to church growth. Having received permission from the publisher (B&H Publishing Group), I would like to discuss some of these barriers.

“Pastors are more concerned about self-interests than about God and His people (Philippians 2:21).”

 “For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” – Philippians 2:21

How sad is it to think that you can’t trust a man of God? Very! But, obviously, there are many men out there who care more about their own interests than for the church.

In the second chapter of Philippians, Paul was faced with this problem. According to the Apostle, Timothy was the only one he could trust with the care of this church, because all the others sought their own, “not the thing’s of Jesus Christ.” Imagine, there were others capable of doing the work, but only Timothy proved selfless.

What an indictment! What a troubling accusation to cast upon men of God! Shouldn’t the very fact that we are called and equipped for the task of shepherding sheep qualify us for the work? Not if the work is only a tool for self-gratification or gain.

Humility Needed

What kind of pastor was Paul looking for when he finally decided on Timothy? All one has to do is examine the previous verses and see that he was looking for a man with a heart and mind like that of the Savior. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who…made himself of no reputation, and took upon the form of a servant…humbled himself…unto death (2:5-8).”

Jesus was the highest example of a man who could have taken advantage of His position; yet, He was the one who washed others’ feet; wore the same clothes; never demanded special treatment; allowed Himself to be abused and mistreated; even went to a cross. How would modern pastors fare if asked to be more like Him?

The Man Paul Picked

Think about Timothy for a moment. When you do, what kind of mental picture comes to mind? Did he wear the nicest suit? Did he drive a new car? Did he publish a new book every week, or host 15 conferences listing his name on neon parchment?

Did Timothy get offended when not addressed by the correct title? Did Timothy have an “earned doctorate?” Would you have had to make an appointment to see him in his office? If you did, would you have felt intimidated by his presence and demeanor? I don’t get this picture when I think of Timothy, but I do about a lot of preachers.

Self-Examination

What kind of pastor am I? Am I a barrier to church growth? This is a question I have to ask myself, even though it may dig up some stuff of which I am ashamed.

You see, the church is more important than my ego. It is more important than what people think of me. The church was not put here for my benefit. I was sent to care for them. I was sent to feed and protect the sheep, not sell them off to make a profit. They don’t belong to me. They belong to Jesus Christ.

Do I look at every church as a stepping stone? Do I view people as objects, or worse, servants? Am I willing to sacrifice my pride, even my life, for the sake of those for whom Christ died? If not, then I don’t deserve this “good work” (1 Timothy 3:1). Unless I want to be like Christ, as modeled in the life of Paul and Timothy, then I desire the work for the wrong reasons, which would make me a “barrier to church growth.”

Dear friend in ministry, whatever your role, are you more concerned with self? Go back and read Philippians 2 and see how your intentions stack up. Like me, you may find some barriers that need to be torn down.

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Filed under book review, Christian Maturity, God, ministry, Preaching, self-worth, worship

Rude Witnessing. Is It Justifiable?

Justification?

There are some people in the Christian world who think making people angry is doing God’s work. Some Christians are convinced that they are fulfilling the Great Commission by crashing public events and barking out, “Repent! Repent!” In reality, many just come off as being inconsiderate, impolite, and obnoxious.

In defense of their actions, many street preachers and their followers (but not all) have suggested the following points:

  • “The Gospel is more important than ______.” (whatever is going on that is being interrupted, such as music, fireworks, etc.)
  • “We’re here to get sinners saved, not to make friends.”
  • “100 years from now the crowd will forget [the event], but they will be happy they heard the Gospel.”
  • “The Gospel (and Bible in general) is supposed to offend. Jesus said, ‘They hated me, so they’ll hate you.’ Jesus never held back when He talked to the Pharisees, did He?”

In response, let me share…

A Few Thoughts

First. In Mark 16:15 Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” But in Romans 12:18 we are told, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Even though we are commanded to preach the gospel, we’re not commanded to stir up strife.

Second. Paul told the Romans, “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another (14:19).” Maybe that’s because Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek (Matt. 5:5),” and “Blessed are the peacemakers (Matt. 5:9).”

Third. Even though Jesus never pulled any punches with the Pharisees, it is never recorded where He went to a Pharisee picnic with a bullhorn blasting out “Repent, you serpent-breathed, white-washed tombs!” As a matter of fact, as best I can tell, it was the Pharisees who came to Jesus in order to stir up trouble, not the other way around (Matt. 3:7; 15:1; 16:1; 19:3). It should even be noted that all the words Jesus spoke to the Pharisees in Matthew 23 were spoken in the temple (Matt. 21:23), not on the street.

It’s Just Manners

Folks, it’s really a matter of decency, respect, and good manners. Emily Post said, “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others.  If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter which fork you use.” A Christian should be the most mannerly person in the world! Jesus was never rude or obnoxious, so why should we?

The English novelist and war correspondent Maurice Baring is quoted as saying, “Whoever one is, and wherever one is, one is always in the wrong if one is rude.” That should be a lesson to us.

IMG_4034

It doesn’t matter how great the message or how right the cause, rudeness is the Great Negator.

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Filed under Preaching, Witnessing

Prayer Request and Blog Suggestion

Good Friday morning, everyone! It’s a cold one here in Tennessee, let me tell you.

Anyway, I have two things I’d like to share with you if you have a second.

First, my daughter, Katie (age 22…she just had a birthday) is having gallbladder surgery today. It’s her first major surgery. I would appreciate your prayers, as I’m sure she would, too.

UPDATE: Katie is out of surgery and doing well 🙂

Second, I was glancing through some stuff this morning and came across a blog I’d never seen before. I don’t know anything about the author at this point, but if you’re a preacher or public speaker of any kind, what I read in a short time was impressive and beneficial.

It’s called BIGIDEASONLINE: Highlights From Today’s Preaching Posted Daily.  The actual web address shows a different type of title, but that’s what the blog page looks like. Check it out 🙂

But, speaking of preaching, I recently preached a sermon on biblical fasting. When you have a moment, why not take a listen and then share your own thoughts. I’d appreciate it.

God bless!

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Filed under Bible Study, Preaching