My Palm Sunday Sermon at Hope Fellowship Church

I am preaching this morning and unfortunately I will not have time to share this story. This story illustrates the theme of my message “Adorning the Appearing” perfectly. Read this now to get a sneak peek to the purpose of today’s message.

 

Though the gospel I learn not only of the saving works of God on my behalf, but I also learn that one of God’s key purposes in doing these works is to put me to work myself.

The Bible tells me that when Christ redeemed me, He did so in order that I might now be “zealous for good works.”(Titus 2:14) When God “works” in me day by day, He does so in order to produce in me the desire and the power to “work for His good pleasure.”(Philippians 2:12) Indeed, though I am saved by grace and not by works, I am God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that I would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Being naturally lazy, I do not normally thrill at the prospect of work; but the more I embrace the saving work of God on my behalf, the more I find myself embracing the works for which God saved me. And as I am “working hard” at doing these works for the good of others, I experience the truth of Jesus’ words: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:34) I also find myself saying with Christ, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work.” (John 4:32-34) Indeed, gospel-motivated works do for the soul what food does for the body. They bring refreshment, enjoyment, blessing, and strengthening to the doer of the deeds, even more so than to the receiver. Hence, the fact that God has prepared such works for me to do becomes a part of what makes the gospel such great news to me.

Preaching the gospel to myself each day not only reminds me of the love of God for me, but it also reminds me of the love of God for the works that He has saved me to perform. When I see the Cross, I see the premium that God places on the works that He has prepared for me. How valuable all of these works must be if Christ would die so that I might now perform them! And how precious are those for whom these works are done if Christ would die that they might be served!

- Milton Vincent A Gospel Primer

link to article: What Worship Style Attracts the Millennials?

“And you will hear Millennials speak less and less about worship style. Their focus is on theologically rich music, authenticity, and quality that reflects adequate preparation in time and prayer. But they will walk away from congregations that are still fighting about style of music, hymnals or screen projections, or choirs or praise teams. Those are not essential issues to Millennials, and they don’t desire to waste their time hearing Christians fight about such matters.”

What Worship Style Attracts the Millennials?

Ephesians1:18,19

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Check out this fascinating quote explaining the meaning of Paul’s unique phrase the “eyes of your heart.” It is more than just a misjudging of the location of one’s ocular devices. It is Paul describing the importance of the Holy Spirit’s regenerating work in our hearts allowing us to see the truth.

Paul uses a strange construction here: the eyes of your heart may be enlightened. Usually we think of the eyes as being in our head, and we connect the head with the brain and the brain with the mind. Hence we say that we understand a particular teaching with the mind. But the apostle refers to the eyes of the heart. What does he mean?
He means that by nature we are closed to the things of God. He does not mean that we cannot discuss them nor have intellectual debates about them. But the heart in New Testament terms refers to the central disposition, inclination, bent, or proclivity of the human soul. In simple terms, the bias. Everybody has a bias and prejudices. The word ‘prejudice’ is usually a pejorative term, but what it literally means is to prejudge certain things, to have a standpoint, a viewpoint.
Our natural prejudgment of reality is against God. To receive the truth of God requires that our ‘anti’ bias be changed. The key work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration is not giving new knowledge to the brain but changing the disposition of the heart. Before the Spirit turns that heart of stone into a heart of flesh, we have no desire for the things of God. We may desire the blessings that only God can give us, but we have no affection for the things of God. At the moment of regeneration, the eyes of the heart are opened somewhat, but this is just the beginning. The whole Christian life involves an unfolding and enlarging of the heart’s openness to the things of God. There are concepts, attitudes, and values in my life at present that do not please God, for there will be stony parts to my heart as long as sin abides within me. Sin clouds my thinking, my will, my desires, my affections. There will always be parts of me that need to be opened more and more to let the fullness of God’s truth dwell in me. — The Purpose of God: Ephesians

“These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own.”

G.K. Chesterton ILN 8-11-28

by John of Landsburg, a sixteenth-century Catholic monk. (Taken from A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller)

I know those moods when you sit there utterly alone, pining, eaten up with unhappiness, in a pure state of grief. You don’t move towards me but desperately imagine that everything you have ever done has been utterly lost and forgotten. This near-despair and self-pity are actually a form of pride. What you think was a state of absolute security from which you’ve fallen was really trusting too much in your own strength and ability…. what really ails you is that things simply haven’t happened as you expected and wanted.

In fact I don’t want you to rely on your own strength and abilities and plans, but to distrust them and to distrust yourself, and to trust me and no one and nothing else. As long as you rely entirely on yourself, you are bound to come to grief. You still have a most important lesson to learn: your own strength will no more help you to stand upright than propping yourself on a broken reed. You must not despair of me. You may hope and trust in me absolutely. My mercy is infinite.

 

Ephesians

The book of Ephesians can be divided into two halves.

1.Theology (Chapters 1:3–3:21)

2.Ethics (Chapters 4:1–6:24)

In the first section of Ephesians the theology of God’s plan and our response to that plan is laid out for believers. We learn about God’s spiritual blessing upon our new lives found in Christ. God is ultimately the instigator of salvation and we find our lives fully changed by the Son’s sacrifice on the cross. I found this interesting Bible Study Exercise from the Teacher’s Commentary that helps draw out our immense inheritance through our new found life in Christ because of what the Father has done. I don’t know about you but I am always looking for more interactive studies to use for messages and to help my students better understand the Bible. This study is simple but can be extremely helpful. Hope you find it of some use.

Link to Life Bible Study

Divide into pairs. Give each member a NEW IDENTITY chart. Each pair is to find in Ephesians 1 and 2 evidence of what God has done, and of what we now have and are in Christ. When the passages have been studied, each should individually write out which of the findings seem most significant to him or her and why.

 

My New Identity

Portrayed in Ephesians 1 and 2
 
What God has done
 
What we now have
 
1:5
 
1:6
 
1:8
 
1:7
 
1:13
 
1:7
 
1:13
 
1:9
 
2:5
 
1:13
 
2:6
 
1:18
 
2:8
 
1:19
 
2:13
 
1:23
 
2:19
 
1:23
 
2:22
 
2:4
 
 
 
2:5
 
 
 
2:13, 18
 
 
 
2:14
 
 
 
2:16
 
 
 
2:19
 
 
 
2:20
 
 
 
2:22

Faith or Works?

jordantmoody —  February 25, 2014 — Leave a comment

J.C.Ryle

Moreover, the Scriptures nowhere teach us that faith sanctifies us in the same sense and in the same manner that faith justifies us! Justifying faith is a grace that “worketh not,” but simply trusts, rests, and leans on Christ (Rom. 4:5). Sanctifying faith is a grace of which the very life is action: it “worketh by love,” and, like a mainspring, moves the whole inward man (Gal. 5:6). (Holiness, xviii).

Here are some of my thoughts as I pondered this quote by J.C. Ryle.

  1. Justification is by faith alone. 
  2. Sanctification is made possible through faith and evidences itself through action. 
  3. One ought to question original justification if  there is no outward workings of your sanctification. Saving faith moves your entire body, livelihood, and lifestyle to worship and adorn the gospel to the betterment of Christ’s name. We do not do these things to be saved but because we are saved. The old man is passed away behold and the new has come. Being new requires a turning from something and changing into something else.(alternative lifestyle) Without any change we are viewed as dead for no outward metamorphosis has evidenced itself and therefore no visible witness can be shared to others. 
  4. Sanctification should not be considered legalistic but rather the natural out working’s of your changed desires over time.  

 

Faith Without Works Is Dead (James 2:14-26)

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good[a] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

The book of Ephesians is a thrilling account of what believers inherit “in him.” Paul reminds believers that we were dead in our sins, but by God’s grace and mercy, we have been made alive. The book closes with a call for believers to live a life worthy of their calling. – Journible Commentary

Synopsis of Ephesians

G.K. Chesterton Quotes

jordantmoody —  February 18, 2014 — 1 Comment
Here is a quote from my nightly reading of G.K. Chesterton’s Everlasting Man. His writing intrigues me. He is thought provoking and witty. The more you read him the more you understanding his style and his purpose. This quote speaks of valuing Christmas for what it really is besides just a nice winter story and an excuse to give presents to each other. It is a story of a revolution.
“Unless we understand the presence of that enemy, we shall not only miss the point of Christianity, but even miss the point of Christmas. Christmas for us in Christendom has become one thing, and in one sense even a simple thing. But like all the truths of that tradition, it is in another sense a very complex thing. Its unique note is the simultaneous striking of many notes; of humility, of gaiety, of gratitude, of mystical fear, but also of vigilance and of drama… There is something defiant in it also; something that makes the abrupt bells at midnight sound like the great guns of a battle that has just been won. All this indescribable thing that we call the Christmas atmosphere only hangs in the air as something like a lingering fragrance or fading vapor from the exultant explosion of that one hour in the Judean hills nearly two thousand years ago. But the savor is still unmistakable, and it is something too subtle or too solitary to be covered by our use of the word peace.” — G.K. Chesterton #gkchesterton The Everlasting Man

Who is G.K. Chesterton?

It is the birthday of English writer G.K. Chesterton (1874), a prolific author who wrote more than 80 books, 200 short stories, 4,000 essays, and hundreds of poems. Chesterton was best known for his witty philosophical commentary and his formidable cases for Christianity, laid out in his Orthodoxy (1908) and The Everlasting Man (1925). Orthodoxy was really an account of how he came to see Christianity as the answer to natural human needs. In it, he makes the case that it is the answer not only for him personally but for all of mankind. He wrote The Everlasting Man as a rebuttal to H.G. Wells’ Outline of History (1919), disputing Wells’ portrayal of Jesus Christ as merely another charismatic figure. Chesterton is also known for a series of detective stories featuring Father Brown, a stumpy parish priest whose powers of intuition and understanding of the criminal mind (through hearing confessions) serve him well to solve murders. The 52 short stories in the series were compiled into five volumes, The Innocence of Father Brown (1911), The Wisdom of Father Brown (1914), The Incredulity of Father Brown (1926), The Secret of Father Brown (1927), and The Scandal of Father Brown (1935). Chesterton was a friend of Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Clarence Darrow, and Oscar Wilde, with whom he delighted in engaging in friendly but always respectful philosophical debates. In Orthodoxy, Chesterton wrote of making sacrifices for the gift of creation: “Oscar Wilde said that sunsets were not valued because we could not pay for sunsets. But Oscar Wilde was wrong; we can pay for sunsets. We can pay for them by not being Oscar Wilde.”