Tag Archives: Bible

Fear In the Christmas Story

Christmas Sermons

You may have never considered it, but it’s a challenge to come up with Christmas sermons year after year without being too repetitive. Sure, one could simply preach through Luke 2 every year, but a little creativity can go a long way.

This year I will preach a few sermons I have preached in other places, but they will be new to the folk here at Bethlehem Baptist. Here are the notes to one that I preached this past Sunday.

To Fear, Or Not to Fear

Did you know there are actually some honest-to-goodness phobias related to Christmas? Here are just a few.

  • Selaphobia – the fear of flashing Christmas lights.
  • Ghabhphobia – the fear of presents or gifts.
  • Krikophobia – the fear of church services.
  • Cyssanophobia – the fear of kissing under the mistletoe.
  • Festivalisophobia – a phobia of the whole Christmas thing.

Therefore, it shouldn’t be any wonder that we can find several places in the Bible where angels told people to “fear not.” Folks back in Bethlehem around 2,000 years ago probably didn’t have a fear of kissing under the mistletoe, but they had every reason to be frightened by talking beings clothed in bright light telling them about babies in mangers, virgin births, and wedding plans.

The story of Christ’s birth is associated with great joy, but it was also full of great initial fear. At least one person in the story (King Herod) never got over his phobias and paranoia, but he never heard an angel tell him “fear not,” either.

Below are my notes/outline from which I will deliver this morning’s sermon at South Soddy Baptist Church. When you have a moment, read the Scriptures I reference. See for yourself what the Spirit has to say.

“Fear In the Christmas Story”

1. Luke 1:12  Zacharias (a faithful, praying priest) was “troubled” (G5015, tarasso), and “fear”(5401, phobos) fell upon him.

The angel said, “Fear (phobeo) not…thy prayer is heard.”

2. Luke 1:29  Mary (a confused young girl) was “troubled” (1298, diatarasso)

The angel said, “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God.”

3. Matthew 1:20  The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph (hurt and scared) in a dream and said, “fear (phobeo) not to take Mary thy wife…”

4. Luke 1:65  “Fear (phobos) came on all that dwelt around” Zacharias and Elisabeth when Zacharias’ “mouth was opened…his tongue was loosed, and he spake, and praised God.”

5. Luke 2:9  The shepherds were “sore afraid” (phobeo phobos megas) …see also Daniel 10:7-8 and Revelation 1:17.

The angel said, “Fear (phobeo) not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

6. Matthew 2:3  Herod, because the wise men asked, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews,” was “troubled” (taraso), and all Jerusalem with him.

7. What should we take away from this today?

  1. True holiness will expose humanity’s sinfulness.
  2. Godly fear will be answered with peace, result in obedience, and respond with praise.
  3. The fear of Christmas will manifest itself in hate, a lack of peace and joy, and no hope.
  4. If you trust in Jesus, He promises the peace of Christmas year-round. John 14:27Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Boston Psychotherapist, Dr. Karen Ruskin (an agnostic) said: “[Some atheists are] not unlike the bully who pushes other people down in order to make himself feel better. There are atheists who have a very uncomfortable belief about [their non-belief] they feel the need to push other people down. There is an emotional confusion among some atheists that drives them to promote their product on others [to make them feel better about themselves]. – From an interview on Bill O’Reilly, 12/2/14

 

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Filed under Bible Study, Christianity, Christmas, Church, Preaching

“But Some Doubted” What About You?

Doubting George?

Have you ever doubted?

If you have, you’re not alone. Sometimes it might even be the wise thing to do.

Even the most trusting puppy can have his moments. Believe me.

But did the disciples of Jesus ever doubt? Oh, you betcha!

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshiped him: but some doubted. – Matthew 28:16-17

Many people have placed faith in Jesus only to lose that faith later, like when they find out the Jesus they thought they knew was not who he claimed to be.

Are you one of those?

Believe it or not, even some of the disciples of the real Jesus found themselves doubting when they saw Him face to face after His resurrection. In the book of Matthew we read that on one particular occasion, after meeting up with the disciples at a pre-determined location, most worshiped, but “some doubted.”

But wait! How is this possible?! Weren’t these the same guys who saw Jesus appear to them when they were hiding, afraid for their lives (Luke 24:36; John 20:19)? Even doubting Thomas finally believed (John 20:28), so who were the the ones doubting in Matthew 28? Could it have been one of them? Possibly, or maybe even one of those who may have tagged along.

Here’s what I think happened…

The disciples were gathered together, Jesus miraculously appeared, and before He could speak, the crowd began to worship Him. Some, however, were a little skeptical; they had seen things before, including fakes, charlatans, and impostors. Who was to say what they saw was really Jesus Himself?

What might have convinced the doubters? I believe it was when Jesus spoke.

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. – Matthew 28:18-20 

It’s not like this was the first time Jesus appeared to the disciples, causing not only doubt, but also stark terror. Remember when He walked on the water?

And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. – Matthew 14:26

It took Jesus speaking to calm down the frightened boatmen…

But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. – Matthew 14:27

Is it possible that some of the disciples present when Jesus met up with them on that mountain had a right to be skeptical? I mean, hey, wasn’t it Jesus himself who earlier warned the disciples that “false Christs” and “false prophets” would arise, deceivers so convincing that, “if it were possible, they [would] deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22)?

Matthew doesn’t exactly say what happened to those who doubted, but I have my suspicions. I believe it was when Jesus spoke that their doubts disappeared.

On the other hand, if they still doubted, maybe they were only there for the bagels and mountain air.

Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. – John 10:25-28

It was never Jesus’ plan to convince the world of who He was by physically appearing to everyone. As a matter of fact, Jesus told Thomas, “because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

Are you one of the “blessed”? Do you believe? Are you having doubts?

The Word made flesh (John 1:1) gave us His Word (the Bible).

So, when in doubt, read His voice.

 

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Filed under Apologetics, Christian Maturity, cults, Faith, God, worship

What All Scripture Can Do

In preparation for an upcoming sermon from Jeremiah 38, I went back to the following verse for focus and direction:

2 Timothy 3:16 – All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine (teaching, instruction), for reproof (a proof, that by which a thing is proved or tested, conviction), for correction (a straightening up again), for instruction in righteousness (how to live right before God). [emphasis mine]

Whenever you are stumped, whenever you find yourself wondering “what is this passage telling me?”, understand that God does not lie, and ALL Scripture, properly exegeted, should be able to offer the following 4 things:

1. Doctrine. Simply put, there is something teachable from every passage of Scripture, even though sometimes the lesson might be difficult to determine.

2. Reproof. On what do you base your convictions? The Bible is what you use as the standard against which all things are tested. It is also what you fall back on when “proof” is what you need.

3. Correction. Too often the Bible is used as a tool with which to beat people over the head. As a “recovering legalist,” you might imagine that is not what I’m about. No, the word correction in this verse is a word that means “restoration to an upright or a right state; correction, improvement” (Strong’s). Some verses may be good for use as a “rod of correction,” but not all. However, ALL Scripture is profitable for instruction in putting someone upright. In other words, there is hope in every passage. 

4. Instruction in Righteousness. Jeremiah 38 is a tragic story, but there are strong lessons to learn. There are lessons of bravery and compassion; lessons of hope in the midst of the most dire circumstances; and most of all, the lesson that we should listen to and obey God rather than rebel against His commands. Instruction in righteousness means, if nothing else, that all Scripture can teach us how to live right with God in a world that hates Him.

Whether you are preparing a sermon or just doing your daily Bible reading, use 2 Timothy 3:16 as a guide to help you understand what God is saying. With the help of the Holy Spirit learn, develop strong conviction, be encouraged and directed, and find guidance for the path ahead.

Sufficient is His Word.

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Recommendations for Non-Calvinist Works

I’ve been pretty busy and unable to finish anything new to post today. However, I found something worthy of sharing, something I know many of you will appreciate.

Check out the information in the video I’m attaching and let Dr. Flowers know I sent you 🙂

Have a great Monday!

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, grace, salvation, Theology

Get Jesus!

Each Wednesday night at our church I conduct what we call “Proverbs, Prayer, and Praise.” It is a unique study through Proverbs, one chapter a week.

One of the things I encourage our congregation to do is take the places where Wisdom is personified and replace the word and associated pronouns with the name of Jesus (See Col. 2:1-3 and 1 Cor. 1: 24 & 30).

This week we are working through chapter 4, so I thought I would share this example with you. When you remember that Jesus said all Scripture spoke of Him, it’s not a stretch, but a blessing!

Get JESUS! Get understanding [OF HIM]! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake HIM, and HE will preserve you; Love HIM, and HE will keep you. JESUS [is] the principal thing; [Therefore] get JESUS. And in all your getting, get understanding [OF HIM]. Exalt HIM, and HE will promote you; HE will bring you honor, when you embrace HIM. HE will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory HE will deliver to you.” – Proverbs 4:5-9 NKJV [edited]

If you would like additional information on this study, feel free to contact me.

Have a great weekend!

Anthony

 

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Determined to Share a Mustard Seed

Honestly, I don’t know if the problem is with my computer, the internet, the way we’ve got our blogs set up, or WordPress. All I know is that Jill over at Mustard Seed Blog wrote a about hiding God’s Word in our hearts, and I want to share it with you!

I mean, here I was, excited about how I could post something really encouraging without having to spend any significant time writing, and now look what I am doing!

So, as I wrap some some things here in Chattanooga before starting my first official day at Bethlehem Baptist Church on August 1st, take the time to plant this little mustard seed from a lady with some helpful, godly wisdom, and click on the link below.

Time For a Heart Clear-Out?

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Filed under Bible Study, blogging, Struggles and Trials

It’s the Bible, Not a Telephone Game

Dear friends,

This afternoon I was skimming through posts on Facebook and came across a discussion on the reliability of the Bible. A lady named Shannon questioned the claim that the Bible we have today is the same scripture from thousands of years ago.

Shannon asked, Ever play the game telephone? Try doing that over a course of a couple of centuries and a few languages.” 

Well, I felt I should engage Shannon, so I offered her some resources I thought might be helpful. I want to share them with you guys, too.

First, please try to find a copy of the book God’s Word In Our Hands: The Bible Preserved for Us. I have a copy in my library and let me tell you, it is an invaluable resource.

Click on the picture of the book for a link to Amazon.

Secondly, if you can take the time, watch this lecture by Dr. Sean McDowell (son of Josh McDowell) on the reliability of the Bible.

Yes, we may disagree on what some of it means, but it would be intellectually silly to write off the Bible as nothing more than the result of 2000-year’s worth of playing “telephone.”

Essentially, I am fully convinced that what we have today is the preserved Word of God, regardless of how long it’s been since the originals were penned. The textual evidence is overwhelming that what we have in our hands is reliable.

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Filed under Apologetics