- John 4:25-42 The Samaritan Woman’s Mission – audio Richard Dillon
- Psalm 139:13-17 The Gift of Life – audio Don Treadway
Text: Matthew 14:25-31
Peter is often criticized for his lack of faith.
Earlier, he did struggle to believe in the Lord. He saw Jesus walking on the water and asked to come to Him. Jesus told him to come, and he began to walk on water. However, he became afraid of the wind and began to sink. Jesus then caught him and said, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt (Matthew 14:25-31)?” Doubt can easily creep into our minds and cause us to second guess ourselves.
As our faith grows, doubts should fade and fade away.
Peter needs credit because later his doubt did fade away. After Jesus’ ascension, Peter had a vision of unclean animals let down from heaven. Naturally, they were unclean and Peter knew he was not supposed to eat them. A voice from heaven said, “What God has cleansed you must not call common (Acts 10:15).” As he wondered what this vision meant, the Spirit told him to go with men to the house of Cornelius “without doubting.” We are told Peter got up and went with them, which led to Cornelius’ salvation (Acts 10:17-23).
Just as Peter learned not to doubt God, so should we.
Living the Christian life is not always easy. We often struggle with trials and temptations that test our faith. When we need God’s help through these times, we should not doubt at all that He can help us.
James encourages Christians to “ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind (James 1:6).”
We can rise in the hope that God will help us, or sink in despair, struggling for our spiritual lives.
Will you have faith in God?
“I wouldn’t touch that with a ten-foot pole!”
I have heard that saying many times, and often wondered what was at the end of that pole. Initially, I think of a basketball goal or street light. It must have not been anything good, for one would still not touch whatever it was. However, sometimes what can be at the end of the pole is good!
The Bronze Serpent Saved Physical Life.
As the children of Israel journeyed to Edom by way of the Red Sea, they became very discouraged. Having nothing to eat or drink except the manna God provided, they began to complain. God does not like complaining (Philippians 2:14), so He sent fiery serpents among them. Many began to die, and those that remained confessed sin to Moses and begged the LORD to take away those serpents.
The LORD instructed Moses to put a fiery serpent on a pole, and if anyone looked at it when bitten would live (Numbers 21:4-9). Later, King Hezekiah had it cut down as people began to burn incense to it (2 Kings 18:4).
Jesus Christ Saves Spiritually.
As some things have a physical meaning, others have a spiritual meaning. As Jesus was teaching Nicodemus His purpose, He reminded him of the serpent Moses lifted up in the wilderness. “…Even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:12-16)…”
We often sing, ‘My Faith Looks up to Thee,’ and we should remember more than the cross itself. Jesus died on that cross for you and me! “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).”
Mark Twain famously quipped, “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me; it is the parts that I do understand.”
I’m not sure exactly how he meant that, but in some ways I agree with him. There’s a lot about the Bible I don’t grasp, but I have plenty to do just to work on the parts I get.
Here is one of the parts I do understand: God wants us to do what he says.
You already knew that, of course, but it doesn’t hurt us to be reminded. It’s easy to get lulled into a sense of complacency and forget some of the basics.
James emphasizes this point here, and his in-your-face approach shows how serious he is about making himself clear:
“But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:20-26).
It jumped out at me recently how often God tests people’s faith by telling them to do something that doesn’t make any sense at all.
In Abraham’s case, what God commanded him not only didn’t make sense, but it was also completely contrary to God’s nature. Did Abraham trust him enough to do something sinful? Did he believe in God strongly enough to offer a child sacrifice, a horrible practice he’d turned his back on when he began walking with God? Yes he did. By this point in his life he’d learned just to trust God . . . to do whatever he said.
And that’s a pretty good lesson for all of us – do whatever he says.
It’s not hard to do right when it’s relatively low sacrifice. It’s easy to follow Jesus when the road is smooth. But I think God is interested in something more substantial than that. He wants to know if our faith will lead us to do something more significant than attend church services, smile pretty, and act christianly.
I think he wants to know if we have real faith – genuine, life-changing, God-honoring trust.
He wants us to have the kind of faith that obeys even when what God said does not make sense to us. Even when it’s different from what we want to do. Even when it hurts. James’ major point in this section is that there’s no such thing as a faith that refuses obey. That’s a faith that’s dead, which is not faith at all.
One hundred years ago faithful Christians assembled for the first time on this corner (6th and Washington Streets in Marietta, Ohio). They were compelled to move from the West Side to this spot in 1913 because of one of the worst floods in the history of the Ohio Valley. The church here traces its beginnings to a handful of brethren who came together sometime around 1884. Little could they have anticipated the extent to which those initial meetings would ultimately impact this city, our nation, and the world.
In the fifth of his eight visions Zechariah saw a golden lamp stand and the two olive trees (Zechariah 4:1-14). The trees were the two anointed ones, probably Zerubbabel and Joshua, the civil and religious heads of the community. The prophet was given assurance that the temple would be completed, and that the candlestick (oil lamp) or light of the temple would not go out. Zerubbabel, who had laid the foundation, would complete the capstone (Zechariah 4:9). This would be accomplished, not by might and power, but by the Lord (Zechariah 4:6). One should not despise the day of small things (Zechariah 4:10).
The historical background regarding the day of small things is found in Ezra 3:8-13. When the foundation of the temple was completed “All the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid” (Ezra 3:11). “But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy” (Ezra 3:12). “So the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off” (Ezra 3:13).
What had appeared to some as a cause of great joy was for others a cause to weep. True, the new temple would be nothing like the old, but laying the foundation for this temple signified a rebirth of the nation and restoration of worship to God. Those who wept failed to see the big picture. Small beginnings can produce great outcomes.
Look at the trees which line the Washington Street side of our building. Each huge oak started from a single little acorn. Jesus used a similar analogy regarding the mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32). Many of today’s huge corporations got their start in someone’s basement or garage. Many of the great educational institutions of our day had very humble beginnings.
Nearly two thousand years ago, one man, Jesus Christ, baptized by His cousin, began a ministry that ultimately changed the world. Satan thought he’d won when Christ was crucified. Little did he understand the significance of the Lord’s resurrection. One empty tomb brought hope to a lost world. One person, one event, one mistake can have profound implications. Never underestimate the significance of little things.
We have come today to celebrate the past. It would be impossible to measure the good that has been done by this congregation over its storied history. But, today is not just about the past, it is also about the future! We are committed to continuing the work of faithfully preaching the gospel both here and abroad. We are resolved to speak where the Bible speaks and to be silent where the Bible is silent. It is our aim to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. These are challenging times, and we must rise to the challenge and let our light shine for Jesus.
Thank you for being here today, and sharing in this celebration with us. To those who are traveling, may God grant you a safe journey home. As we remember our past, may we recommit to the future and unswerving loyalty to our Savior. “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Have you ever heard someone tell you that they saw something, and you just didn’t believe it?
Someone may say, “There’s a zebra in the bathroom!” Naturally, a zebra would not be in a bathroom; therefore you would not believe it. When that person keeps insisting, you finally agree to go when they say, “come and see!” Sure enough, there is a zebra in the bathroom because one got loose from the zoo and happened to wander in.
John pointed out Jesus to his disciples, and they asked where He was staying. Jesus told them, “Come and see” and they followed Him (John 1:39).
Later, Nathanael asked Philip if anything good could come out of Nazareth. Philip’s response was, “Come and see (John 1:46).”
When Jesus heard Lazarus had died, He inquired where his body lay. The response was, “Lord, come and see (John 11:34).”
John was shown the seven seals, and the four living creatures each told him “Come and see (Revelation 6).”
Imagine what response you could give if someone asked about your faith:
- “Where do you go to worship God?”
- “How can I receive eternal life?”
- “Can I get to Heaven?”
A natural response could be: “Come and see!” See you this coming Lord’s Day, Lord willing!
A couple of weeks ago, everything seemed to be all worked out. The house in Alabama had a buyer, contracts were about to be signed, and we could officially close on a house in Ohio in a matter of weeks.
Suddenly, things began to take a different turn. A clause in the contract means the house has not been sold, and the buyer is walking away. However, all hope is not lost! A former interested party is still interested in the house, and a decision is forthcoming. What will happen? Only God knows.
Does this sound like you? Everything seems to be going your way, and all of the sudden – BOOM! Something happens and plans have changed. What are you to do?
Remember the words of James: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience (James 1:2-3).”
Therefore, I am glad all this is happening! My faith is being tested, and is becoming stronger every day. I am becoming more patient to endure whatever life may throw at me.
If I am found faithful, I will be rewarded. What about you?
Many of the oldest denominations have a history of keeping their membership under control by keeping them ignorant of what the Bible actually says.
Prior to the Protestant Reformation, Bibles were literally chained to the pulpits of churches and were considered to be objects of mystery by the laity. Even the oldest of the Protestant denominations continued to make the Bible the exclusive property of the clergy by teaching their membership that it was just too mysterious for them to understand, and that one must be “ordained” before he may even begin to understand its secrets. Even in the twenty-first century, there remain those who never call into question what their preacher tells them, because they have been taught not to study the Bible for themselves and to depend completely upon the clergy to tell them what to believe.
This is not in accord with the will of God!
As a matter of fact, the Bible teaches Christians to be skeptical of what they are told, and to demand proof of the veracity of what is preached to them. “Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me [Jesus]” (John 5:39). “These [the Bereans] were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). These are only a few of the Bible verses, which help us to understand that skepticism is a desirable quality in every member of the Lord’s church.
Some argue that having faith means that you cannot have answers to some of life’s essential questions.
But the Bible describes faith differently. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The text does not say that faith is something we have, in spite of a lack of evidence, but rather that faith is something we have because of the evidence. Whereas one might say, “I don’t know if God is out there, but I have faith,” a New Testament Christian says, “I know that God is out there—therefore I have faith.”
Many point to Second Corinthians 5:7 as proof of the assertion that faith is some kind of an ethereal feeling we have, rather than a firm conviction. But, when the text says, “For we walk by faith, not by sight,” it is not saying that we walk by faith because we have no sight. Rather, it is declaring that faith is superior to sight. Our sight may be deceived, but our faith cannot be deceived, because it is based upon substantial evidence (Hebrews 11:1).
Faith is not a blind leap in the dark.
It is a kind of trust that we have in God, because we know that we have good reason to trust in Him “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Faith is about being convinced of the reality of God, and then putting complete trust in Him. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Being a skeptical Christian does not mean that one has no faith.
As a matter of fact, it is absolutely essential for every Christian to have strong faith. As questions of your preacher and your Bible class teacher, when you do not understand what they are saying to you. Look up the passages of Scripture that they cite and see if what they are telling you is true. Preachers and Bible class teachers can make mistakes and they can have sinister agendas, so do not simply accept everything you are told about religion, without question.
If the people in your church are discouraging you from asking questions and searching the Scriptures, then it may be time for you to seek a church where the pursuit of Bible knowledge is encouraged, rather than discouraged. At the churches of Christ, skepticism is a virtue, rather than a vice.
People learn the truth by seeking answers to their questions.
It is my sincere hope and fervent prayer that you will find the truth you seek.
Go ahead and step outside. Take a look around. Inhale, and then exhale. What do you see? What do you feel?
God’s creation is all around us. Hebrews 11:3 states: “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”
What we see is evidence of the God we do not see. Paul said, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:20).”
How did God create the world? Remember, “…the worlds were framed by the word of God…” The very first thing God said was, “Let there be light (Genesis 1:3)!” What happened? There was light!
We know Jesus also had a part in creation, because He is the Word of God in the flesh that was in the beginning (John 1:1-5,14). Without Him there was not anything made that was made.
Later in John 1, we learn that no one has seen God at any time (John 1:18). Even though we do not see Him, we have faith that He is here! Faith is necessary to come to God (Hebrews 11:6), and it comes from hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17).
Let us share God’s Word with others, so they can know Him too!
During David’s reign, the Ammonites, assisted by the Syrians, confronted the army of Israel. Joab, captain of Israel’s army, with the Syrians on one side and the Ammonites on the other, divided his forces between himself and his brother Abishai. He then said to Abishai: “If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me, but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will come and help you. Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him” (2 Samuel 10:11-12).
I’m particularly struck by the phrase “may the Lord do what seems good to him.” In addition to their personal courage, they were dependent on God’s help, whatever that might entail. They simply asked that God do what seemed good to Him. Do you sometimes find yourself at a loss to know what to pray for, or how to put it into words?
Maybe we should just ask God to do what seems good to Him.
If you are like me, you have prayed many times for someone’s health to improve, only to watch them slowly decline. I know we should pray for the sick, and I know that God hears and responds to those prayers (James 5:14-16). Yet, His response is often not the one we were seeking. I don’t question it for I know He knows best.
It seems to me that Jesus and the early disciples had a pretty good grasp of this idea. It is repeatedly expressed in their plans and petitions. They sought the Lord’s will, and not their own. In the garden Jesus begged the Father for a way out of His impending crucifixion, yet said each time, “your will be done” (Matthew 26:39, 41, 44). Paul often spoke of his plans for ministry, but acknowledged that all such plans were subject to the will of God (Acts 18:21; 1 Corinthians 4:19). James admonished his readers to make all their plans submissive to God’s will (James 4:15).
God knows best, even when we cannot see it.
I look at the turmoil in our world, man’s inhumanity to man, wars, famine, disease and I am compelled to respond, “May the Lord do what seems good to Him.”
I look at those battling cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other physical problems and pray, “May the Lord do what seems good to Him.”
I look at those struggling with financial burdens, a lost job, a bad investment, a failed business and ask, “May the Lord do what seems good to Him.”
I look at a world similar to the one Paul confronted in the first century when men worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25), and can only respond, “May the Lord do what seems good to Him.”
I look at souls who are lost, some having heard the gospel repeatedly and others not at all, and I pray, “May the Lord do what seems good to Him.”
Yes, we must be strong and courageous, but remember that God is stronger, and He knows best.
May we always pray that God will do what seems good to Him!
One verse that has been on our hearts lately is Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
We can see this applying right this very minute. Our house in Alabama is being sold, the ministry I will give up has been taken care of, and opportunities abound to where I am going. Please notice a few things about this verse…
- We know! Let us not doubt God, but be confident that He is able to do more than we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).
- All things work together for good. Not just some things, but everything we do God can use for His good! It is a good God that we serve, and He has always been good to us.
- God knows we love Him when we keep His commandments (John 14:15). When we do what He says, He will take care of us! Thus, God has a purpose for all of us.
Let us not doubt God, but follow His lead. If we do His will, He will take care of us. Let His purpose be done for us, not our own. “…Not My will, but Yours, be done (Luke 22:42).”
Growing up, my favorite author was Franklin W. Dixon. The Hardy Boys was my favorite series, and I soon collected the entire set (including the handbook).
Carolyn Keene is just as popular with girls for penning Nancy Drew. Many authors wrote classics, fiction, nonfiction, and biographies that thrill many readers. They create characters and expound upon their adventures.
The greatest author of all, however, is Jesus Christ! Jesus is the author of “eternal salvation to all who obey Him (Hebrews 5:9).”
No one else can create anything as wonderful! He even tells us how to receive it – by doing what He says! In order to come to God, we do so through faith in Jesus (Hebrews 11:6). Thus, Jesus is “the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).”
There is a lot of confusion in the world, especially regarding matters of faith. But, this confusion did not come from God! He is “not the author of confusion, but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33).”
What is your favorite book to read? I hope and pray it is the Bible. After all, God is its author (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Everything you read there is true, and you will be prepared for living now and in eternity.
Haddon Robinson tells the following story. I hope you appreciate it the way I did.
It was New Year’s Day, 1929, and Georgia Tech and UCLA were battling it out in the Rose Bowl. Georgia Tech fumbled the football late in the first half. Roy Riggles recovered for California. Picking up the fumbled ball, Riggles became confused and ran 65 yards in the wrong direction. Benny Lom, another UCLA player managed to tackle his teammate before he scored for Tech. Now, with the ball deep in Georgia Tech territory, UCLA was forced to punt. The punt was blocked, and Tech scored a safety, which, as it turns out, was the margin of victory for the Yellow Jackets.
Riggles went into the locker room at halftime a very dejected young man. He sat down in a corner, head in hands, and cried like a baby. UCLA’s coach, Nibbs Price said little in the locker room that day, perhaps not knowing what to say. Finally, just before leaving the locker room to return to the field, Coach Nibbs said, “Men, the same team that played the first half will start the second.”
The players headed for the field, all but Riggles. “Roy, didn’t you hear me? The same team that started the first half will start the second.” “Coach,” he said, “I can’t do it. I’ve ruined you. I’ve ruined the University of California. I’ve ruined myself. I couldn’t face that crowd in the stadium to save my life.” Then Coach Price put his hands on Riggles’s shoulder and said, “Roy, get up and go on back. The game is only half over.” Riggles returned to the game and played like he’d never played before.
I’m not a big football fan, and not terribly impressed with the conduct of most coaches today, but I like Nibbs Price. He gave Roy Riggles a second chance, and Riggles made the most of it. He may have wanted to quit, but he couldn’t, and Coach Price knew that!
All of us have run the wrong direction at one time or another in our lives and God knows it. But, His message is the same. Don’t give up, get back in the game. What’s done is done. We cannot live in the past. Let’s put our mistakes behind us and go on to finish the game.
Paul wrote: “…this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward to the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13,14).
We would do well to follow his example.
Never give up!
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to everyone that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).
Is faith a reasonable thing? There are those who would have us believe that our faith is built around a fallacy. The Bible, they argue, is not the word of God. Our world was not created, it just happened. Jesus Christ, if he lived at all, was nothing like the picture painted by today’s preachers.
TIME (April 8, 1996) focused on the debate. Jesus made the cover. In the past the magazine had drawn attention to the liberal claims of the Jesus Seminar (a self-appointed panel of so-called experts who deny any measurable historical content to the New Testament). This time, however, they offered at least a token response to the outlandish claims of this Seminar, and it was about time!
Is there any real reason for us to question the validity of the Biblical record, and especially the New Testament account of Christ and His church? Frankly, research into the past is not as easy as we would like. There are no old newspapers, file footage of events, or tape recordings to be consulted. It is impossible to verify the gospel story with these modern methods. Obviously, we cannot go back and interview the main participants in the saga. There is not that much extra-biblical material from that period to be examined. But, what does exist in no way destroys the creditability of the Scriptures.
Among the earliest believers, however, there would have been opportunity to consult with eyewitnesses, to verify facts, to determine truth. And, there is no doubt that such was done. The writers of the New Testament claim to have been eyewitness of the things which they describe. Peter wrote: “We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). John said much the same thing (1 John 1:1-3).
The antiquity of the Bible, and in particular the New Testament, is undeniable. Given the age of Scripture and the events described, who would be in a better position to accurately represent the true Jesus, His contemporaries, or a group of self-appointed liberals in the twentieth century with an agenda to destroy the credibility of the Bible and Christianity?
Be assured, there are many, many highly educated, scholarly men and women who accept the historical reliability of the Scriptures. Our faith in Jesus Christ is built on a solid foundation. Those who take the time to learn the facts, if they are fair minded, will have no trouble accepting the fact that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and that the Biblical record of His life and ministry is true!
Jesus indicted the Pharisees saying: “All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers” (Matthew 23:3-4). The rules they made for others were much stricter than the ones they made for themselves. That is often the case with religious men.
D. R. Dungan, in his book, HERMENEUTICS, observed: “I knew a man who had a hobby on marriage. He was of the opinion that no man could marry twice without being a polygamist–in heaven, if not on the earth. His wife might die, but that had nothing to do with it; if he married again he would be guilty of polygamy. You could not talk with him five minutes without having his hobby brought out and made to canter in your presence. But his wife died, and in less than a year from that time his theology changed on that point. Almost anything that men want to do, they can find some text of Scripture that will sound like giving it support. And it is exceedingly difficult to make any man see that he has been preaching that which is not true. He has posed before the people on the subject, and is not willing to incur the humiliation of saying, ‘I was wrong, and my opponents were right.’” A man’s wishes sometimes blind him to the truth.
Why do men draw such varied conclusions from the Scriptures?
I think the answer is found in their approach to Bible study.
- Some people go to the Bible to discover what God has revealed on a particular subject
- Others go to the book in search of proof for what they want to believe
Conclusions should not be formed and then Scriptures sought to validate them. We should look to the Scriptures and form our conclusions based on what is revealed in them.
Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
Paul admonished, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
It is only when we do this that we can have confidence in our faith!
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Text: 1 Peter 1:6-9
1. One of the many blessings available to us as the elect of God is a very special kind of joy
a. For reasons we shall notice in our lesson, Christians are able to greatly rejoice – 1 Peter 1:6
b. We have access to joy that is inexpressible and full of glory – 1 Peter 1:8
c. A joy so great, so glorious, that it is impossible to truly express with words!
2. In this lesson, we shall focus our attention on Peter’s remarks in 1 Peter 1:6-9 concerning this inexpressible joy that we as Christians are blessed to have
I. THE BASIS FOR INEXPRESSIBLE JOY
A. THERE ARE PAST GROUNDS FOR REJOICING
1. We have been set apart by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit – 1 Peter 1:2
2. We have been sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ – 1 Peter 1:2
3. We have been born again to a living hope – 1 Peter 1:3
B. THERE ARE PRESENT GROUNDS FOR REJOICING AS WELL
1. We are God’s elect – 1 Peter 1:2
2. We are kept by the power of God through faith – 1 Peter 1:5
C. AND THERE ARE FUTURE GROUNDS FOR REJOICING
1. We have an inheritance reserved for us in heaven – 1 Peter 1:4
2. We look forward to the salvation which will be revealed in the last time – 1 Peter 1:5
D. All these blessings (Past, present, future) serve as the basis for inexpressible joy.
II. THE EXCEEDING GREATNESS OF THIS JOY
A. IT ENABLES ONE TO REJOICE EVEN IN TRIAL – 1 Peter 1:6
1. No matter what degree of suffering one may experience, in Christ there is joy to match
a. As Peter explains in 1 Peter 4:12-13
b. As he and the rest of the apostles exemplified in Acts 5:40-41
2. How can Christians find joy in such trials?
a. Informed Christians understand the purifying nature of such trials – 1 Peter 1:7
b. Knowing what trials can produce, it is possible to be joyful in trials – James 1:2-4, 12
B. WHAT KIND OF TRIALS?
1. The word various includes all kinds
2. Primarily, it includes those which come as a result of living for Christ – Matthew 5:10-12
3. But we can also rejoice in the everyday afflictions of life
a. For example, sickness, heartbreak, frustration, approaching death
b. For these things also provide an opportunity to test our faith, hope, love, longsuffering and patience
4. If one is able to rejoice even in the midst of such trials, surely they have a joy inexpressible and full of glory!
C. But how can Christians be sure to possess this joy?
1. For it must be admitted that all do not
2. There are times when even the best of us do not
III. POSSESSING THIS INEXPRESSIBLE JOY
A. WE MUST LOVE JESUS – 1 Peter 1:8
1. Whom having not seen you love
2. Jesus is the ultimate source for being able to rejoice in all things – Philippians 4:4
a. He has promised that if we truly love Him, He and His Father will be with us – John 14:23
b. If Jesus is with us, we can receive that joy which is inexpressible! – John 15:11
3. But can we who have never seen Jesus, love Him? Yes! – 1 Peter 1:8
4. How can we come to love Him we have not seen? Through a devotional study of:
a. The Old Testament, with its prophecies of the Messiah
b. The Gospels, with their description of His life, teachings, compassion, suffering, death, and glorious resurrection
c. The Acts, with its action-packed portrayal of the Lord working together with His church
d. The Epistles, where we learn of many blessings found in Christ, and of His ministry as High Priest interceding in our behalf
e. The Revelation, in which we learn of the glorious victory to be won by the Lamb and His followers
B. WE MUST ALSO BELIEVE IN JESUS – 1 Peter 1:8
1. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing
2. Through believing in Jesus we can rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory
3. But such faith is more than a mental assent, or academic knowledge of Jesus
4. It involves the key element of faith itself, which is trust
a. Trusting in His commands to be for our ultimate good
b. Trusting in His promises to be fulfilled
c. The kind of trust that prompts us to obey Jesus wholeheartedly
d. This kind of faith comes from the Word of God – Romans 10:17
1. When we have this kind of faith in Jesus, and when we truly love Him with our whole being
a. A blessing we receive is that joy inexpressible and full of glory!
b. A blessing that can sustain us till we reach the end (Goal) of our faith: salvation! – 1 Peter 1:9
2. And that is because this inexpressible joy
a. Is based upon many other blessings: past, present, and future
b. Enables us to joyfully persevere through all kinds of trials in this life
3. But again, this blessing is only for those who truly love Jesus and believe in Him
a. Do you love Jesus? If you do, you will keep His commandments – John 14:15, 23
b. Do you believe in Jesus? If you do, you will do what He says – Luke 6:46
4. Are there commandments of Jesus you have not yet obeyed? If so, why not obey them today so that this inexpressible joy can be yours as well!
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I. Abraham’s faith was tested.
A. It took faith to leave all behind and follow God – Genesis 12:1-7
B. Abraham had faith that he would have a son – Genesis 15:1-7
C. God established His covenant to him and his generations – Genesis 17:1-9
D. Sarah was told she would have a son in Genesis 18:10-15, and it came to pass as God said – Genesis 21:1-7
E. Abraham was later asked to sacrifice the son of promise on Mount Moriah – Genesis 22:1-19
II. Abraham’s faith relates to our faith – Romans 4:16-25
A. God’s promise is of faith that it may be of grace – Romans 4:16
1. We are saved by grace through faith – Ephesians 2:5-8
2. Also, we become of Abraham’s seed through Jesus Christ – Galatians 3:16, 22-29
B. God has power
1. To give life – Romans 4:17; 8:11
2. To cause things to happen that otherwise could not – Isaiah 51:2
C. Abraham was well aware of this – Romans 4:18
D. He did not consider his own body as dead – Romans 4:19; Genesis 17:15-21
E. Sarah, too, trusted God – Hebrews 11:11-12
F. Abraham’s faith was unwavering – Romans 4:20; James 1:5-8
G. God is able to do everything, and Abraham believed that - Romans 4:21; Hebrews 11:17-19; Ephesians 3:20; Matthew 19:26
H. It was accounted to Abraham for righteousness because he believed God - Romans 4:22; Genesis 15:6
I. These things were written for our benefit, as well as that of Abraham - Romans 4:23-24
J. If Abraham believed that God could raise up Isaac, we need to believe that God raised Jesus Christ – Romans 4:25
1. This is what was preached on Pentecost - Acts 2:23-24; Isaiah 53:4-5; 1 Corinthians 15:57; 1 John 5:4-5
2. It is still preached today
III. Our faith is proven
A. God kept the promise to Abraham
1. He reminded Isaac – Genesis 26:4-5
2. He reminded Jacob – Genesis 28:14
B. God will keep His promise to us if we remain faithful to Him (Revelation 2:10)!
Salvation: Hear - Believe - Repent - Confess - Be Baptized - Live Faithfully
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Text: Matthew 7:13-14, 21-23
A. The worldview states, “It doesn’t matter what you believe; we’re all trying to get to the same place”
B. The Biblical view shows otherwise.
II. There are ways that are wrong
A. Some ways are foolish – Proverbs 12:15
B. Wrong ways lead unto death – Proverbs 14:12; 16:25
C. Thieves and robbers enter other ways than the right way – John 10:1, 8-10
III. Only one way is right
A. Jesus Christ is THE way – John 14:1-6
B. The right way is not always easy – Matthew 7:13-14
C. In order to get in the right way, we must do what Christ says
1. Matthew 7:21-23
2. Luke 13:24-28;
3. Matthew 25:1-13
4. James 1:21-25
IV. Things really do matter! It matters…
A. …Where we “go to church”
1. Matthew 16:18
2. Acts 20:28
3. Ephesians 4:4; 1:22-23
4. Colossians 1:18
5. Romans 16:16
B. …How we worship – Matthew 15:8-9
1. God did not accept Cain’s offering – Genesis 4:3-5; Hebrews 11:4
2. God did not accept Nadab and Abihu’s sacrifice – Leviticus 10:1; Numbers 3:4; 26:61
3. Jesus gives us instructions on worship today – John 4:23-24; 14:6; 17:3, 17
C. …How we live – Revelation 2:10
A. If you’re going the wrong way, make a U-turn!
B. If you’re going the right way, do not stray!
Salvation: Hear - Believe - Repent - Confess - Be Baptized - Live Faithfully
A little boy visited Sunday School for the first time. There he heard about Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea.
Back home that afternoon, his mother asked him what he has learned in Sunday School. “Well, Mom,” he said, “Our teacher told us how Moses whipped the Egyptians at the Red Sea.” “And how did he do it?” his mother asked. “Oh, it was easy,” came the reply. “The Egyptians chased Moses all the way to the Red Sea. Moses had to build a pontoon bridge across the Sea to escape. When all the good guys had crossed the bridge, Moses called in his diver bombers and blew up the bridge killing all the Egyptians!”
His mother, rather startled by the account, asked, “Is that really what your teacher told you?” Realizing mom was not exactly pleased with his account of the story, he replied, “No, mother, but if I told you what she said you would never believe it!”
A recent article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, and quoted in The Columbus Dispatch (3-14-92), argued that the biblical account of this event could have happened precisely as the Bible describes it. According to the article, “a moderate wind blowing constantly for about 10 hours could have caused the sea to recede about a mile and the water level to drop 10 feet. That would have left the land dry in the area where many biblical scholars believe the crossing occurred.”
It has become fairly popular in today’s society to deny the historical nature of the biblical account and to belittle any who might believe in it. The story is sometimes told of a teacher who was telling her class that the biblical account of the crossing of the Red Sea was not anything like what actually occurred. She said, “We now know that they actually crossed the Reed Sea, not the Red Sea. The Reed Sea was a body of water only 4 or 5 inches deep.” At that moment, a student in the back of the class shouted, “Praise God for the Miracle!” “What miracle?” the teacher demanded. “Why, God drowned Pharaoh and all his army in only 4 inches of water,” came the reply.
The Bible is filled with miracles. To deny them is to deny God. We can be confident that they are true, or God, who cannot lie, would not have permitted them to be included in the biblical text (Hebrews 6:18). There is no need to question the accuracy of the biblical record. Those things of a miraculous nature described in the Bible can be accepted with confidence. The Bible is true. It is not too fantastic to believe.
John wrote of Jesus, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name (John 20:30,31).
Will you believe and obey?
Most acknowledge faith in a Supreme Being.
If the statistics can be believed, more than ninety out of every one hundred Americans believes in God or some higher power. When asked, most folks are quick to acknowledge faith in a Supreme Being. But, the life they live frequently betrays the faith they profess.
Folks often talk a much better religion than they live. The apostle Paul described his situation in his second letter to the young preacher, Timothy. In it he condemned those who have a “form of godliness,” but deny its power (2 Timothy 3:5). The AMPLIFIED BIBLE does a good job of conveying Paul’s meaning. It reads, “For (although) they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it—their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession.”
There is more than one kind of atheist in our world.
Sure, there are folks who deny the existence of God and belittle those who believe, but they do little harm to the cause of Christ. The real damage is done by those who claim to believe, but live like unbelievers.
The Bible makes specific demands upon those who follow Christ.
We must “follow after peace and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Paul challenged Christians to be different from the world (2 Corinthians 6:17), and urged them not to conform to the world’s standards (Romans 12:2). Everyone who follows Christ must depart from iniquity (2 Timothy 2:19). We cannot live like the devil and still be a child of God!
Do you believe in God?
You will never win the world for Christ if your preaching is contradicted by your living.
Around the middle of the 19th century Bruno Bauer, a German theologian and historian, concocted the notion that Jesus never lived. According to Bauer, Jesus was entirely mythical. He argued that Christ was simply a mental invention of a few second century Christians who drew their concepts of their “Messiah” from Greco-Roman philosophy.
Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965), a more recent German theologian and medical missionary, acknowledged the existence of a “Jesus,” but asserted in his book The Quest of the Historical Jesus (1906) that the real Jesus of history was so different from the Christ revered by Christians that the Lord Jesus of New Testament fame could not really be based upon historical fact.
Rudolf Augstein, publisher of the German Der Spiegel (Germany’s equivalent to our Time magazine), wrote a book titled Jesus, Son of Man in which he claimed that it is impossible to believe that Jesus was God the Son.
Believers in Jesus are often saddled with the reputation of being very gullible.
Christianity reminds some people of the scene in Alice in Wonderland when Alice asks the queen, “How old are you?” The queen responds, “I am a hundred and one, five months, and a day.” Alice shakes her head, “Oh, I can’t believe that.” The queen assures her, “Can’t you? Shut your eyes, hold your breath and try again.”
Faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God is not some blind leap into the dark.
The identity of Jesus is based on an historically reliable document (Luke 1:1-4). We can know with certainty who He was, what He did, and what He expects of us. Our faith is not based on hearsay testimony, but on eyewitness accounts of His life, death, and resurrection (2 Peter 2:16; 1 John 1:1-3). The events and characters in question were not removed from the mainstream of life and society, but were open to the closest public examination. As Paul said to King Agrippa, “These things were not done in a corner” (Acts 26:26).
Those who investigate Jesus are stuck by His amazing appeal. He speaks to the issues that concern us. The words of Jesus offer comfort and challenge to us:
- In the hospital
- At the graveside
- In the comfort of our own family room
The alternative, disbelief, offers nothing.
There is not the slightest reason for us to question the biblical record concerning Jesus.
We can be confident that the record is true. Our faith is not misplaced.