“Marriage Matters” – Exodus 20:14

Command 7

This Sunday, in our journey through the Ten Commandments, we’ll arrive at commandment seven, “You shall not commit adultery.”  I just want to warn you up front, I will be dealing with more sensitve content than in a usual Sunday sermon.  I don’t intend to get overly specific or graphic, but adultery, and all it entails, will be more difficult for some than others.  So, I’d like to put you at ease right now and let you know that I understand I’ll be talking to some who are married, some who were, and some who never have been.  I know I’ll be talking to those who have commited adultery and those who have been the victims of it.  I understand that children will be present as well as non-Christians.  I know some attending on Sunday may have committed adultery in the actual act or, at the very least, in their hearts during this past week.  And since all of that includes just about everyone in the congregation (forgive me if I’ve excluded you), I’m asking God to speak to grace and truth to all our hearts as I preach on this very important seventh commandment.

The seventh commandment is important because marriage is a reflection of God’s relationship with His people.  God established the institution of marriage at creation and it serves as an illustration, for those married and those who are not, of the various aspects of a Christian’s relationship with God.  Not only is God jealous for His people, He desires their security, their intimacy and their willful submission.  If you’re concerned about being beat up by this week’s passage, then you especially need to come and hear the offsetting weight of God’s grace available through Jesus Christ.   Join us this Sunday at 9 AM!

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“Life Matters” – Exodus 20:13

Command 6

This Sunday we’re past the half way mark in our journey through the Ten Commandments, reaching commandment six, “You shall not murder.”  Surely, who could object to such a commandment?  Even the ethics of most atheists would heartily agree, murder is not morally permissible.

But it seems, the command is not quite as simple or straight forward as it appears.  Everyone would not necessarily agree to the full moral implications of the sixth commandment.  Jesus, the Apostle Paul and the Bible reveal that this command has practical implications far beyond murder as we think of it.  The main point of the passage is that God wants every human life to matter to you.  And this Sunday, we’ll look at four or five of the best reasons why.  They are compelling, convicting and life changing.

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“Resting” – Exodus 20:8-11

Command 4

Wouldn’t it be nice to have just one more day in the week?  Think of all you’d get done!  You may even think of how much more you’d be able to grow spiritually, if you just had one more day.  You’ve probably even said, “I’d read my Bible more if I just had more time.”  It seems, in our day and age, the most precious commodity we have is time.  We muse, “When I retire, I’ll have time to……”  Have you asked a “retired” person lately how they’re doing?  Most will respond to the question saying, “I’m busy!”  We’re all so busy!!!

If you think you’re busy, just imagine how busy Jesus must have been?  The crowds constantly followed Him, thronged about Him and begged Him for healing and deliverance. And then He had to deal with the the disciples, who needed a lot of hand holding and supervision.  Add to that the badgering of the Pharisees, Sanhedrin, scribes and others.  You think your time is in demand?!  Put yourself in Jesus’ sandles.

My point, in all of this, isn’t that you should get over yourself and embrace busyness because Jesus’s demands were far greater than yours.  My point is that Jesus embraced the Sabbath rest, given by God in the fourth commandment, despite all the demands on His time.  He found time to rest in God’s grace.  God has given us one day in seven to rest in His grace.  This Sunday, we’ll look at what the Sabbath is meant for and what it’s not.  And we’ll learn how you can find the ultimate Sabbath rest in Jesus.

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The Name – Exodus 20:7

Command 3

Do you ever wonder why God spoke and wrote the Ten Commandments?   You may be inclined to think He gave them to make Christians boring or make sure we don’t have too much fun.  Maybe you think God provided them to see who is in and who is out of the kingdom of God.  But neither of these are reasons God gave for issuing the Ten Commandments.

God gave His people the commandments AFTER He provided salvation from the Egyptians (Exodus 19).  God lovingly saved His covenant people and deemed them, of all the people of the earth, His treasured possessions.  The Lord is making His people into a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.  The Ten Commandments were given to establish and set apart the people of God’s affection, and when you keep those commandments, it testifies to your intimacy with God.

This Sunday we take a look at the third commandment, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”  This commandment is about so much more than using the Lord’s name as an expletive or an exclamation.  Expressed positively, you might rephrase it, “The Lord’s people will honor His name.”  In what ways do those deemed God’s “treasured possessions” desire to honor His name?  That’s the question we’ll seek to answer together this week.

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“Meant for Good” – Genesis 50:1-26

Christ carrying cross

This the last Sunday in our journey through the book of Genesis.  This last chapter is the exclamation point to the entire book.  Genesis has told us so much about God, who we are, and the world in which we live.  The underlying message of Genesis is just as life changing for the people of God today as it was for the people of God included in that first book of the Bible.

Mankind’s most pressing needs and most troubling questions are addressed in Genesis, and this week’s passage pulls it all together.  Life in this world is not easy.  In fact, much of the time it is hard.  Despite what the popular t-shirt and bumper sticker claims, life doesn’t always seem “good.”  There are lots of times and seasons when life’s good, but if you wait long enough, there will be times and seasons when life seems bad.  When life’s good, we’re apt to say, “Life is good, therefore God is good.”  But what about those moments when life doesn’t seem all that good?  Can you say, “Life is bad, but God is good?”  Do you find it hard to believe in God when the walls are caving in and life seems really bad?  Well, despite how life might feel at any given moment, God means all circumstances, even the evil intentions of others, for good.  How can you know for sure?  Because God provided the evidence, which we’ll look at together this Sunday.

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Destiny – Genesis 49:1-33

cross and crown color

There are only two more Sundays to go in our journey through the book of Genesis.  I can hardly believe it’s coming to an end.  And what a finish!

This week we’ll be greeted to a big surprise in the ending.  Humanly speaking, it doesn’t seem like it should turn out this way, but it’s been God’s plan, since before the beginning of creation, to bring about what He’ll announce to us in this week’s passage. It may just change how you think about the advancement of the kingdom of God and your role in it.

God’s kingdom is present and advancing among us, but not yet fully realized.  Christians are receiving a kingdom that can’t be shaken, no matter what the circumstances of life or how things may appear around us.  This Sunday we’ll look at four distinguishing marks of that kingdom and consider where that leaves us, both Christians and non-Christians, in the period where Christ’s kingdom is advancing but not yet fully realized.

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Moral Outlaws – Genesis 46:31-47:27

wisdom tree planted by the word

Dr. Al Mohler recently referred to Christians as the new “Moral Outlaws.”  In case you’ve been in a far away land, you can’t help but notice that American morality is shifting at warp speed.  What was the predominent view of morality, just a few years ago, is now considered outdated, intolerent and, by some, hateful.  These days, anyone with a Biblical world view is seen as out of touch.  Worse than that, Christians, holding to the authority of Scripture (is there any other kind?), are being classified by the culture as “immoral.”  The speed with which all this is happening is unprecedented in almost all of human history.

The response by American Christians has been all over the map.  Some are panicking, many are sounding the alarm and others are deciding if they can’t beat them, they’ll join them.  Yet, I don’t think any of these approaches is Biblical.  The Bible shows Christians that we are called into a world just like the one we live in.  And our passage in Genesis, this week, suggests how we may want to approach the challenges we face with our rapidly shifting and increasingly hostile environment.  Christians, I believe, have much more to offer the world than the world has to offer us.  That seems to be the overarching lesson in our passage this week.

This Sunday, we’ll look at a number of ways we might expect God’s people to function in this environment, and we’ll consider just how we can respond to our neighbors, family members, classmates and others who see us as the new moral outlaws.

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Great Mercy – Genesis 43:1-34

Lords Supper

I get panicked when we run out of ice cream, but imagine having no food in your house and knowing all the local grocery stores are sold out.  That’s the kind of the situation we see the family of Israel dealing with in this week’s passage from the book of Genesis. It’s a life and death situation.  If they don’t go to Egypt to buy food, they will surely die in the land in which God has promised them.  If they go to Egypt, they might just die unless they comply with the terms of Egypt’s second in command.  It seems like a risky situation, but the sons of Israel will soon find that the mercy of Almighty God is astonishing.

The mercy of Almighty God should be astonishing to us too.  This Sunday, we’ll look at several reasons to be astonished and find hope in God’s mercy during ordinary times and in times of great distress.

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“Guilty Consciences” – Genesis 42

Guilt

No one enjoys a guilty conscience.  If you read most self-help books or listen to motivational speakers, they tell you a guilty conscience is a bad thing.  Is it though?  In one sense, yes, but in another sense, no.  If you’re suffering from a guilty conscience, you need to ask, “Why is my conscience guilty and what is the remedy?”

God’s view on the remedy for a guilty conscience is often at odds with the surrounding culture’s view.  The culture tells you to suppress those feelings and ignore them.  It encourages you to work on your self-esteem, as a hedge against your guilty concience.  It trains you to think that your guilty conscience is a very bad thing.  The truth is, a guilty conscience is usually an indication that you’re actually guilty!  You can supress your guilty conscience all you want, but that’s not going to deal with your guilt.  This week’s passage addresses the issue of guilty consciences and points to a remedy for your underlying guilt.  God’s grace is the only cure for your guilt, and this week’s message exposes four important facts about guilty consciences, all of which will lead you into God’s graceful remedy.

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Let’s Agree on This

Unity in Christ

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. “ (Philippians 4:4)

Euodia and Syntyche were two prominent Christian women in the early church (Philippians 4:2). They were dear friends of the Apostle Paul and “labored side by side” with him in the spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Philippi. While Paul was imprisoned, for proclaiming that Christ was crucified Messiah who had risen from the dead for the forgiveness of sins, he somehow heard that these two dear partners in the Gospel were at odds with one another and creating a rift within the church. Paul does not tell us the details of their personal conflict, but it was serious. The conflict risked demolishing the church of Philippi’s witness of Christ to their neighbors.

What was the underlying cause of their conflict? They took their eyes off of Jesus. In his letter to the church, Paul pressed these women “to agree in the Lord.” Paul asked the church to “help these women” put aside their need to be right and focus on the fact that Jesus has made them right with God. Paul told them all to “Rejoice in the Lord always.” So important was the admonition that Paul followed up, “Again I will say, rejoice!”

A continuous (“always”) rejoicing in Christ is what displaces all other desires that seek to ensnare our sinful hearts. If we are always rejoicing in the fact that are names are “written in the book of life” (4:3), and see that it is Christ who has made us worthy and acceptable to God, what need is there for self-justification or pride? What need is there for rejoicing in self? When our eyes are fixed on Jesus and what He has accomplished, we see others and ourselves in the same needy state. When our eyes are fixed on Jesus and what He has accomplished, we recognize that we must forgive as we’ve been forgiven.

Are you at odds with someone? Is there a person you’re always trying to one up or best? Is there someone who you always feel the need to prove yourself to? You suffer from a lack of continuous rejoicing in the Lord Jesus Christ and what He has done for you. Jesus loved you so much that He willingly laid down His life for you. He made you right and bought you all the acceptance you will ever need. “And God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (4:19). Let’s agree on this: to remind one another, and others, of the Gospel of Jesus Christ often, that we might always rejoice in the Lord always.

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