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By Bob Cowles 18 Feb, 2017

1 John 2:15-17

 

1. Very soon after you become a Christian you discover that the Christian life is not a playground, it is a battleground.

2. These verses focus on the world and Bible. The Bible says clearly that we are not to love the world.

3. The central theme of our passage is that the love of the world and the love of God are

incompatible. If we try to negotiate with the world, we will always lose. Remember the Bible

says in 1 Pet.5:8, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about

like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."

4. This sermon is not about adding more do’s and don’ts to anyone’s list.

 

I. A Word of Exhortation. 1 John 2:15, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

A.This exhortation is a command, “Do not love the world or anything in the world.”

B.Let’s move from definition to John’s description (v. 15).

C.The principle is that one cannot love the world and God.

1." If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

2. “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” Matthew 6:24

 

II. A Word of Explanation. 1 John 2:16, “For everything in the world-the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world.”

A.The “lust of the flesh.”

B.The “lust of the eyes.”

C.The “pride of life.”

1. “I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us.” 3 John 9

2. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”1 Corinthians 8:1

 

III. A Word of Exclamation. 1 John 2:17, “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”

A. “The world and its desires pass away...

B.The reward of obedience is eternal.

By Bob Cowles 10 Feb, 2017

1 John 2:3-11

 

If you were asked, "Do you love God?" How would you answer? I think most of us would answer, "Why, yes. I love God."

2 Corinthians 13:5. Paul is writing to the church at Corinth, to people who claim to love God but who are having a lot of problems getting along with each other, and he says, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you - unless, of course, you fail the test?” I don’t want to fail that test. I don’t want to come to the end of my life and discover that I’m not “in the faith.” I certainly don’t want to be one of whom Jesus spoke when he said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21) He said next, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you…!’” (Matthew 7:22-23)

That passage really bothers many because Jesus is saying that on Judgment Day. There will be people claiming to be Christians who will hear Him say, “I never knew you.”

Today we’re going to look at three tests so that we can determine whether our spiritual walk is pleasing to God.

  I. Test One: Loving Obedience. 1 John 2:3-6, “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

A.The authentic believer keeps God’s commandments (v.3). John says " We know that we have come to know him ."  What is the mark? How can we know? "… if we keep His commandments ." Our obedience to God proves our authentic faith in God. Faith always comes first but faith is always validated by our obedience. Jesus said in Jn.14:15 , "If you love Me, you will obey what I command.” In 14:21, He amplifies, "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.”

B.The counterfeit believer ignores God’s commandments (v.4) . John says that the counterfeit Christian says, "I know Him" but "does not do what he commands is a liar.”

C.The authentic believer is being changed (v.5). Not only "keep His commands" but "keep [obey] His Word." This refers to the general content of God’s Word. Basically, the genuine Christian has a desire to know and do God’s will. John also says, "God’s love is made complete in him.”

  II. Test Two: A Commitment to Truth. 1 John 2:7-8, “Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard.”

A.John thinks about the greatest command, the command to love each other. John 13:34-35“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 15:12 -- “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

B.This leads John to discuss the spiritual darkness of this world. 1 John 2:8 “Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.”

III. Test Three: Sacrificial Love. “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.” 1 John 2:9-11

A.Now talking about this command to love brings John to the third test in vv. 9-11 . It seems to us that John is speaking in extreme terms here, opposites of love and hate, light and darkness.  Our love for our fellow Christian is evidence that we’re walking in God’s light. 1 John 2:10 “Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.”  

B.The churches John was writing to were being torn apart by division and controversy. Some of the former members were now denying that Jesus was truly God’s Son, but now those who remained in the churches were fighting and criticizing each other.

C.John’s setting is not unlike many today, in which difficult relationships within the church have paralyzed the church’s mission.

  Conclusion:

 Take sin seriously- it is open rebellion against the Lord. There is a hardening effect on the heart because of sin (Heb 3:13; Matt 13:22). We are not to play at sin or take it lightly. Do you truly love God? Do you really? Well if you do, these results will be a part of your life.

To obey is to exhibit Christ-like love.
By Bob Cowles 04 Feb, 2017

I.   God’s Nature: He is Light. 1 John 1:5 “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”

Jesus’ life was a message. Jesus’ life was a message. John tells us “this is the message we have heard from Him.”   The message is stated specifically in the last half of v.5, “God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all.” That’s what Jesus came to tell us.

 

John says that "the message" was not his or the other disciples’ creation. Rather, they "heard" it "from Him." They could "declare" it with confidence because it came from Jesus.  Since God is light, Jesus in bringing god to us has brought light, divine light.

 

John summarizes "the message" in one simple statement, “God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.”  This statement is very similar to what John wrote in John 1:4-5 “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”  Jesus declared this message about Himself in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”   John 3:19 , “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”

 

II.   Our Nature: Walking or Stumbling in the Dark. 1 John 1:6 “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.”

We maintain our fellowship by walking in the light. John seems to be appealing to a slogan used by his opponents, since in the next five verses he will cite them precisely. John is confronting three false ideas, possibly three slogans. There are six (if) clauses in (1:6-2:1).

 

(1) 1:6 If we say, we have fellowship with him, yet walk in the darkness - 1:7 But if we walk in the light as he is in the light; (2) If we say we have no sin - 1:9 But if we confess our sins... (3) 1:10 If we say, “We have not sinned - 2:1 But if anybody does sin...

 

Many people in John’s day believed that God was detached from the material world, that his holiness and purity set him above the common stuff of our existence. This explains why his opponents had such a difficult time with incarnation theology. 1 Jn. 5:12 clearly states, "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."

 

III.   The Right Goal: Walking in the Light. 1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

Walking in the light builds fellowship with God. When we "walk in the light as He is in the light" we have fellowship. Walking in the light allows us to maneuver through this world without the problems that people who live in darkness experience.

 

In verse 7 John’s point is if we walk in the light with God, we have the purification from our sins .  As the Christian strives to live in conformity with what God has said in the Bible then the blood of Jesus--which is a way of describing the significance of his death--washes away the stain caused by our continual struggle with sin. That is the life that leads to a life of joy. So John assures us we have nothing to fear by walking in the light because Christ’s death on the cross will cleanse us from what might otherwise be exposed by that light.

 

Have you come in contact with the blood of Jesus?

By Bob Cowles 28 Jan, 2017

1 John 1:1-4

John’s letter is an invitation to fellowship. We have an understanding of fellowship. We minister to each other. We meet each other’s needs. We also offer an invitation for others to come and be part of us. John invites us in v.3 to “have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” The purpose of John’s letter is fellowship.

 

John’s letter is also meant to correct error. Most likely he wrote this letter from Ephesus at a time in which the early church was rapidly expanding. At this same time there was a growing error known as Gnosticism. From the Greek word gnosis meaning "knowledge." The Gnostics claimed to have special knowledge ordinary Christians lacked. They believed that the material world, including the human body was evil and that spiritual world was pure and good. So they could do with their body what they wanted and keep their spirit pure. They denied the Incarnation and Atonement of Jesus. They believed the ordinary Christian were uninformed, backwards and superstitious.

 

John’s emphasis tells me that he is writing a community where there is considerable disunity. Factions have broken out and severe theological disagreements have undercut the church’s vitality.

 

From 1:1-4 and 4:1-3 it is clear that the Incarnation is under siege. Jesus’ incarnation is the central doctrine of Christian faith.

 

I. Our Fellowship is Eternal. 1 John 1:1a, “That which was from the beginning,”

 

II. Our Fellowship is Historical. 1 John 1:1b, “which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--”

 

III. Our Fellowship is to be Proclaimed. 1 John 1:2, “The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.”

 

IV. Our Fellowship is Intimate. 1 John 1:3, “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”

 

V. Our Fellowship is Joyful. 1 John 1:4, “We write this to make our joy complete.”

 

A. The purpose of the writing is now given.

 

B. What makes our joy complete? It is our life lived in the light, in Jesus.

 

C. John recorded Jesus’ word in John 15:11, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

 

D. Peter wrote, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9

By Bob Cowles 21 Jan, 2017

Psalm 73: When Evil Seems to Flourish

 

Faith is frequently taken to the edge in this world. Stress, heartache, loss, problems that appear to have no solution — these things challenge a believer’s faith at a very personal, very practical level.

The Psalmist’s Problem : In Psalm 73, a writer named Asaph writes of his own struggle with the problem of human suffering. It is the first of eleven psalms attributed to this man about whom we know practically nothing. But he was troubled. He was deeply offended by the suffering of saints and the success of sinners. Where was the justice in it? Why did God allow it?

The serious depth of Asaph’s concern over this unsettling problem is indicated in these words:

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked (vs. 2-3).


Realizing that Asaph is writing this psalm well after a personal crisis during which he almost "slipped" and "lost my footing" on the cliff-hanging edge of faith, he tells us the two factors that almost drove him over the edge: (1) a skewed emotional reaction and (2) a limited, time-bounded understanding of how issues of injustice will be resolved.

 

The Writer’s Resolution


Asaph found his personal resolution to the problem of evil in an experience of worship . Oh, he had been tempted to give up the whole business of God and worship ( vs.13-14 ). The thing that had kept him from going over the edge was his sense of place within the community of faith. He would have "betrayed [God’s] children" ( v.15 ), if he had given vent to all his frustrations and unreconciled conflicts. So he made an all-important decision to turn outward from his self-pity and confusion to God himself! It was when he "entered the sanctuary of God" ( v.17a ) that things began to come clear for him.

Like Isaiah ’s experience (cf. Isa. 6:1ff), a glimpse of God in his majestic splendor and sovereignty put some other things in perspective for Asaph. It was in an experience of worship that Asaph realized these things: (vs.21-26).

This great statement of personal faith in verses 23-26 is one of the high points of the entire Psalter. His second reason for his change of attitude is that he knows a fellowship with God that the wicked do not enjoy. It in­cludes God's intimate care, counsel, glory, and strength.

[25] Material things no longer make him envious as be­fore. Nothing upon earth (and perhaps no pagan deity) can win his heart. He who has God has all else, save rebellion. Aspah’s condition did not change, but Asaph changed his attitude.

 

Now there’s "heaven" for you! It is constant nearness to God. " I am always with you ," " you hold me by my right hand ," and " afterward you take me into glory ." What else could Asaph want? "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you." What the New Testament describes to us is simply an attempt to fill in some of the gaps of this idea with more word pictures and metaphors. Here is a case where going back to the older Spirit-given writings actually may shed light on the newer ones. For myself, I’ll take being with God on a rainy day in a tight, musty tent than to be in a 60-room mansion without him and cut off from access to him!

The fate of those who are cut off from the Lord is certain and inevitable:

Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds (vs.27-28).

By Bob Cowles 14 Jan, 2017

Philippians 4:11-13

 

You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor (Exodus 20:17).

 

What is "coveting"? The meaning of the word used in the text is simply "a desire," and it was originally morally neutral. People have always had desires, of course, and the behavior we choose to call coveting has a great deal to do with the general thought within our culture on the appropriateness of desires. The root of coveting is dissatisfaction with God's allotment of things.

 

The Consequence of Covetousness

 

Did you notice that the tenth principle is more than just four words long? It doesn't just say, "You shall not covet"; it says, “You shall not covet your neighbor's” property. Coveting comes between us and the people God wants us to love and serve. James analyzes the problem quite concisely:

 

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures ( James 4:1-3 ).

 

Why are there wars in the world? Why are there so many fights in the world? Why is there so much violence, tension, and discord in the world? Why so many divorces? Why so many fractured families and friendships? James says the answer is quite simple: we want what we can't have; so, we fight and quarrel about it.

But not only does coveting distance us from others, it puts a gulf between us and God as well. Coveting turns goods into gods. Look at what Paul writes: "Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure man, or one who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God" ( Ephesians 5:5 , RSV).  Or look at Paul's warning to "put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming" ( Colossians 3:5, 6 , RSV).

Covetousness is idolatry because it places a substitute for God, a false god, in our hearts. So, once again, we come back to that foundation of God's principles: Put God first.

 

Defeating Covetousness and Learning to Be Content

 

The only way the Bible teaches to remove resentment is to cultivate contentment. Paul wrote to Timothy, "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that" ( 1 Timothy 6:6-8 ). Godliness is what we strive for when we seek to live by principles one through nine. Contentment, however, is what we are shooting for in number ten. The Bible says that the formula for living a truly rich life-a life of character-is to walk consistently by God's pattern and his power, accompanied by an attitude of inner satisfaction with his will for our lives.

Paul said, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. I can do everything through him who gives me strength" ( Philippians 4:11-13 ). If we want to live that kind of life, we must set ourselves on a course of learning to live it.

What is the cure for coveting? Contentment. The key to defeating the disease is learning to be satisfied with what God has given us and not needing more than that to be happy.

By Bob Cowles 07 Jan, 2017

Exodus 20:16 Colossians 3:9, 10  Proverbs 6:16­-19 teaches:

 

There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes,  feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

 

Exodus 20:16 says: You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. Now, the specific application in the instruction refers to speaking the truth in legal matters. Of course, prohibiting perjury is essential, for no community can hope to maintain any standard of justice for its people if its courts cannot determine the truth.

 

But the under girding principle is that in all areas of our lives God de­mands honesty. God never intended his people to be involved with deceit and dishonesty. In our words, just like in every other aspect of our lives, God wants his people of character to model them­selves after him. And God Almighty never lies.

 

Proverbs teaches, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips" (Prov­erbs 4:23, 24). Also, "The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value" (10:20). And, "The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly" (15:14).

 

The apostle Paul gives us good advice when he says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" (Ephesians 4:29, 30).

 

Ephesians 4:22-24 tells us, "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." What's the first thing that happens when the Holy Spirit changes our natures? Verse 25 explains, "Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body."

 

Paul repeats this idea of exchanging the old de­ceitful nature that belonged to Satan for the new truthful one that belongs to God. He says, "Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator" (Colossians 3:9, 10).

 

People of character reflect God's character. And part of his very essence is truth. Only when we reflect his truth can we build communities and families where re­spect and trust abound.



By Bob Cowles 30 Dec, 2016

Are you closer to God today than you were last New Year?

 

The Spiritual Significance of a New Year


By God's mercy, we can make a fresh start of things. We can have clean slates. In biblical language: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Cor. 5:17).

Paul had this process of ongoing personal revival in mind when he wrote:

 

The wonderful thing is that no mistake, calamity, or sin needs to be considered final and fatal. Acknowledgment of it brings forgiveness, and forgiveness entails the change for a new beginning.

 

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7-9).

 

Challenge: Kingdom Living

 

We have lots to be thankful for today. The reality that undergirds everything that will happen in the New Year is this: If we reverence God and obey his counsel, we will fare well spiritually — in spite of any other factors. More to the point for us, what will be our concerns as a church for this year?

We will continue to worship the Lord . As a priesthood of believers, we will bring our sacrifice of praise to him and exalt his name.

Feed Your Mind with Excellence . Read the Bible. “Blessed are those…who delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on his law day and night. They are like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.” Memorize Scripture. Don’t just read it…do something. “Be does of the word, and not merely hearers.” ( James 1:22 )

 

We will continue to demonstrate the compassion of Jesus . I want us to have compassion on the people we serve , affirm their dignity as men and women in God’s own image, and give them the opportunity to know him.

We will continue to preach the gospel . I want our message to be the true gospel (i.e., Good News) of God’s love for and pursuit of people through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. 
By Bob Cowles 22 Dec, 2016

Matthew 1:18‑21

 

How did you come to have your name? Were you named for a family member? A dear friend of your parents? Some celebrity? If you have children, how did you choose their names?

The choice of a child’s name is quite important to most parents. Some names just won’t do. Judas Jones, Jezebel Smith, Adolf Hitler Williams — surely nobody in his right mind would attach those names to a child! It would be a cruel and irresponsible thing to do. On the other hand, people have been known to do some pretty weird things in selecting the names of their children.

When the time came for God to put the wheels in motion to bring his grand Scheme of Redemption to fulfillment, the naming of the child born at Bethlehem was not left for others to decide. The infant born in an animal stall was given a name from on high that would pledge and foreshadow the work he would accomplish.

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, " Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins " ( Matt. 1:18‑21 ).

The Name "Jesus"

Jesus is the Greek form of the Old Testament Jewish name Yeshua. In English, most of us know the name better in its biblical form as Joshua . This Hebrew name was translated into Greek for the Septuagint as Ihsous, from which we get our transliteration Jesus.

In its older Hebrew form, the name means " Yahweh is salvation " or " Yahweh rescues ." It testifies to the power and love of Yahweh. It points all who hear it to look to the Lord for help and redemption. The oldest name known to us that contains the divine name Yahweh, it affirms the uniqueness of Israel’s God as the one in whom humankind may safely trust for salvation. It declares that there is no one worthy of comparison to Yahweh. No other name offers what his name promises.

Once a very common name, the name Jesus had become rare as a personal name by the end of the first century. By that time, it had come to be associated with one man to the degree that it was deemed uniquely his. That man, of course, was Jesus of Nazareth , Jesus Christ , or the Lord Jesus . The name came to be held in such deep reverence by Christians that they reserved it for him alone. And unbelievers, whether Jew or Gentile, avoided the name because of its unique association with the one Christians confessed as their Christ and Lord. Here is why that happened. Here is why the name Jesus came to mean something more than its respected etymology and history.

The Name as Theological Statement

When the name Jesus was used in the context of Jesus’ birth as related by Matthew — a Jew writing the most Jewish of the four Gospels — the writer was aware of all the Old Testament background we have just traced. He knew the significance of names given to important figures in God’s sovereign agenda in history. So he certainly did not miss the significance of the angel’s words to Joseph, when Mary’s husband‑to‑be was told, " She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins ."

What significance would Matthew have seen in those words? What did he mean for his readers to see in them? Most simply stated, the theological significance of Matthew 1:21 is that the angel’s words "attribute to Jesus what was formerly reserved for God."

Whereas the name Jesus had heretofore meant " Yahweh saves ," the birth of the child Jesus would hereafter affirm that " Jesus saves ." It was as if the angel had said this to Joseph: "Joseph, you have always believed that salvation comes from Yahweh. Certain of your forebears have even testified to that fact by wearing a name that says as much. But in the unique child that Mary will bear, God will be personally present and personally active in saving people. For you and Mary, then, know the heavenly mystery that Jesus is heaven’s instrument for salvation to all who will believe in him. God will save all who come to Jesus and receive his favor. This child Jesus will be, in his own person and deeds, the savior to whom others have testified and for whom they have longed!"

Jesus is Israel’s covenant God, Yahweh, come among us. Jesus is — another name‑title Scripture applies to him — Immanuel, God with us (cf. Matt. 1:23). For Christians, then, the name Jesus does not point beyond the historical person of Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Jerusalem to an invisible, enthroned deity who can save — as Joshua’s name did. To the contrary, it names the one in whom God became visible, incarnate, and accessible. It names the one in whom alone we can be rescued from sin. As Peter would later declare to the Sanhedrin: " Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved " ( Acts 4:12 ).

A Gospel Event

Jesus was in Capernaum, and quite a crowd gathered to hear him. The house in which he was teaching a few people quickly became a house that was packed full. And that created a problem for four men who had a friend who was paralyzed. The friends — if not the man himself — had heard of Jesus’ miracle‑working power and wanted to them to meet. Their obvious hope was that the paralyzed man would be made whole.

Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, " Son, your sins are forgiven ."

Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, "Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

 

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, " Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.... " He said to the paralytic, " I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home ." He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!"

Before Jesus could go further with the man, his comment about forgiveness stirred many of his hearers to negative thoughts. "Why does this fellow talk like that?" they were saying to themselves. "Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

Jesus asked, " Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? " In order to understand his question, emphasize the word "say" as you read it. Of course forgiving sins is a greater, harder, and far costlier thing to God than healing legs. It was going to cost Jesus his life on a Roman cross! But in terms of merely "saying" those two things in that house on that day, which was easier? As a matter of fact, saying " Your sins are forgiven " was easier than " Get up, take your mat and walk " because the latter was testable in a way the former was not. The matter of forgiveness might never get beyond Jesus saying " They are forgiven !" and his critics replying "No they aren’t!" And that could have gone on endlessly. If he told a paralyzed man to get up and walk, though, he would be revealed — either as a heaven‑verified man in all he said (including forgiveness and identity) or as a fraud.

So Jesus turned to the man, told him he was healed, and sent him home. The once‑paralyzed man stood up, picked up the mat on which he had been carried, and walked out through the crowd. Jesus wasn’t a fraud. He was a healer. He was a truth‑teller. He was anything but a blasphemer in saying he could forgive sins. He was deity among humankind who could save people from their sins!

Another way of saying all this about him is simply to quote the angel’s words to Joseph: " You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins ." Yes, Yahweh saved. And he does so in Jesus. That is why the church in Acts and believers today preach salvation " in the name of Jesus. "

Conclusion

The very name of Jesus proclaims his deity. It declares that God loves us — not from a great, safe distance but — up close and personally. It means that we understand much more now about God’s nature and saving work. And it means that we can know God.

By Bob Cowles 17 Dec, 2016

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us ( Rom. 5:6-8 ).

These verses stress the degree of sacrifice heaven made for us in history. Everything from the Incarnation to Calvary is surveyed in those three verses.  It should inspire us to go deeper in our faith.

 

First , the verse says: “ Christ died for us .” What does that mean?  He took our place as a sin offering.


Second , there is a threat in this text: Christ died in our place “ while we were still sinners. ” Because of our sins, we deserve to die. Because he traded places with us that day, we can live. “ The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord ” ( Rom. 6:23 ). We didn’t deserve it and hadn’t asked for it. It was a gift to us in our pathetically dark, stained, sinful lives.

Third , there is a golden thread of divine love: “ God demonstrates his own love for us in this .” If you have been moved to see what Jesus did for us on the cross, those words ring true! They hold the prospect of forgiveness and the beginning of a brand new life.

 

Our forgiveness of sins accomplished in the death of Jesus is just the beginning of the new identity and new life we are invited into.

 

The final proof of God’s love for you is the cross of Jesus Christ . “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” ( 1 John 4:10 ).

If you believe Jesus died for you, you are challenged to believe that he is now alive for you. And that if he died for you while you were still his enemy, he certainly will not hold back anything you need in the risen, reigning life he shares with you as his friend.

 

How can I be sure? It’s written in blood at the cross of Jesus.�|�q�g�{�
By Bob Cowles 10 Dec, 2016

Keep "Things" in Perspective

Exodus 20:15 Ephesians 4:28

 

Stealing is a part of the American culture, and, unfortunately, it's invading the church. But God's instruction for people who seek his character is quite clear: You shall not steal ( Exodus 20:15 ). When God says, " Don't steal ," he's also talking about the kind of dishonesty that lives in your heart and mine.

 

Things Own You

We live in times when "things" define our personal value, and, if we buy into this materialistic value system, we will inevitably want more and more things. Eventually we will reach the point that we are tested morally as to what we will do in order to get more "things." Scripture, on the other hand, urges us to keep "things" in a proper perspective. These verses illustrate:

 

"What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?" (Matthew 16:26).

 

"Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:15).

 

For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that (1 Timothy 6:7, 8).

 

In Ecclesiastes 5:10 Solomon says, "Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income."

 

A classic example of this connection between dissatisfaction and theft is recorded in 1 Kings 21 . In this passage, King Ahab , the richest man in Israel, is upset because a poor man named Naboth won't sell his garden. Ahab is frustrated. He cannot rest or sleep; he can only sulk because he believes he needs this one additional thing to make him happy, and he can't get it. His desire for this property so over­whelms him that his wife, Jezebel, plots and orders Naboth's murder in order to get the land. For their wickedness, God condemned this couple. Speaking for the LORD, Elijah said,

 

“I have found you ... because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord. ‘I am going to bring disaster on you. I will consume your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel-slave or free. . . .’ And also concerning Jezebel the LORD says: ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel’” (verses 20b, 21, 23 ).

By Bob Cowles 03 Dec, 2016

Exodus 20:12, Colossians 3:18-21

 

In Exodus 20:12 God says, Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you . A nation is without character when it fails to give honor to whom honor is due. And the fifth principle in God's Code of Ethics for building charactering in his people says God thinks honor is due our parents.

 

Principles of Honor

 

Jesus himself lived this way. The very Son of God " went down to Nazareth with [his parents] and was obedient to them " ( Luke 2:51 ). The Son of God honored the position that God had given to his earthly parents.

 

In fact, the Bible says that parents are placed over children by God's design. Romans 1:30 and 2 Timo­thy 3:2 both contain long lists of terrible sins that are an affront to God, and in the midst of both these lists of horrible sins, there is the phrase " disrespect­ful to their parents ." Perhaps seeing how seriously God takes dishonoring parents helps us understand why for centuries the Jews have said the fifth prin­ciple belongs with the first four. To their way of thinking, if parents are by God's ordination his spokesmen for children on earth, then to disrespect parents is to disrespect God.

 

Value Their Advice

One way in which we honor our parents is by valuing their advice. Proverbs 13:1 says, " A wise son heeds his father's instruction. "  God is very clear and complete in his plans for children. For instance, he instructs, " Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord " ( Colossians 3:20 ). And the Living Bible translates Ephesians 6:1 , " Children, obey your parents; this is the right thing to do because God has placed them in authority over you ."

 

 

A Word to All: Value Family

The heart of the fifth principle is this: People of character make family a priority. It's a rather som­ber fact of life that neither children nor parents are around for long. Someday those children won't be in your home, and someday those parents will be gone as well. Life is too short and the price is too high to put off the honoring for another day. Value your family and make them a priority.

By _dm_templates 30 Apr, 2016
If you are searching for a church home, we would love for you to be a part of our family. We strive to be a group of friendly, loving servants, offering various opportunities for service and fellowship.

We are a community of believers that exists to…

• Worship – “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).
• Love - Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37).
• "Encourage all those we encounter to grow in the attributes of Jesus by equipping, teaching and serving" (Ephesians 4:11-16).
• "Reach out to all in need with the comfort of Jesus, offering support, service and involvement" (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
By Bob Cowles 18 Feb, 2017

1 John 2:15-17

 

1. Very soon after you become a Christian you discover that the Christian life is not a playground, it is a battleground.

2. These verses focus on the world and Bible. The Bible says clearly that we are not to love the world.

3. The central theme of our passage is that the love of the world and the love of God are

incompatible. If we try to negotiate with the world, we will always lose. Remember the Bible

says in 1 Pet.5:8, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about

like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."

4. This sermon is not about adding more do’s and don’ts to anyone’s list.

 

I. A Word of Exhortation. 1 John 2:15, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

A.This exhortation is a command, “Do not love the world or anything in the world.”

B.Let’s move from definition to John’s description (v. 15).

C.The principle is that one cannot love the world and God.

1." If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

2. “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” Matthew 6:24

 

II. A Word of Explanation. 1 John 2:16, “For everything in the world-the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world.”

A.The “lust of the flesh.”

B.The “lust of the eyes.”

C.The “pride of life.”

1. “I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us.” 3 John 9

2. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”1 Corinthians 8:1

 

III. A Word of Exclamation. 1 John 2:17, “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”

A. “The world and its desires pass away...

B.The reward of obedience is eternal.

By Bob Cowles 10 Feb, 2017

1 John 2:3-11

 

If you were asked, "Do you love God?" How would you answer? I think most of us would answer, "Why, yes. I love God."

2 Corinthians 13:5. Paul is writing to the church at Corinth, to people who claim to love God but who are having a lot of problems getting along with each other, and he says, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you - unless, of course, you fail the test?” I don’t want to fail that test. I don’t want to come to the end of my life and discover that I’m not “in the faith.” I certainly don’t want to be one of whom Jesus spoke when he said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21) He said next, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you…!’” (Matthew 7:22-23)

That passage really bothers many because Jesus is saying that on Judgment Day. There will be people claiming to be Christians who will hear Him say, “I never knew you.”

Today we’re going to look at three tests so that we can determine whether our spiritual walk is pleasing to God.

  I. Test One: Loving Obedience. 1 John 2:3-6, “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

A.The authentic believer keeps God’s commandments (v.3). John says " We know that we have come to know him ."  What is the mark? How can we know? "… if we keep His commandments ." Our obedience to God proves our authentic faith in God. Faith always comes first but faith is always validated by our obedience. Jesus said in Jn.14:15 , "If you love Me, you will obey what I command.” In 14:21, He amplifies, "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.”

B.The counterfeit believer ignores God’s commandments (v.4) . John says that the counterfeit Christian says, "I know Him" but "does not do what he commands is a liar.”

C.The authentic believer is being changed (v.5). Not only "keep His commands" but "keep [obey] His Word." This refers to the general content of God’s Word. Basically, the genuine Christian has a desire to know and do God’s will. John also says, "God’s love is made complete in him.”

  II. Test Two: A Commitment to Truth. 1 John 2:7-8, “Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard.”

A.John thinks about the greatest command, the command to love each other. John 13:34-35“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 15:12 -- “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

B.This leads John to discuss the spiritual darkness of this world. 1 John 2:8 “Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.”

III. Test Three: Sacrificial Love. “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.” 1 John 2:9-11

A.Now talking about this command to love brings John to the third test in vv. 9-11 . It seems to us that John is speaking in extreme terms here, opposites of love and hate, light and darkness.  Our love for our fellow Christian is evidence that we’re walking in God’s light. 1 John 2:10 “Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.”  

B.The churches John was writing to were being torn apart by division and controversy. Some of the former members were now denying that Jesus was truly God’s Son, but now those who remained in the churches were fighting and criticizing each other.

C.John’s setting is not unlike many today, in which difficult relationships within the church have paralyzed the church’s mission.

  Conclusion:

 Take sin seriously- it is open rebellion against the Lord. There is a hardening effect on the heart because of sin (Heb 3:13; Matt 13:22). We are not to play at sin or take it lightly. Do you truly love God? Do you really? Well if you do, these results will be a part of your life.

To obey is to exhibit Christ-like love.
By Bob Cowles 04 Feb, 2017

I.   God’s Nature: He is Light. 1 John 1:5 “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”

Jesus’ life was a message. Jesus’ life was a message. John tells us “this is the message we have heard from Him.”   The message is stated specifically in the last half of v.5, “God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all.” That’s what Jesus came to tell us.

 

John says that "the message" was not his or the other disciples’ creation. Rather, they "heard" it "from Him." They could "declare" it with confidence because it came from Jesus.  Since God is light, Jesus in bringing god to us has brought light, divine light.

 

John summarizes "the message" in one simple statement, “God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.”  This statement is very similar to what John wrote in John 1:4-5 “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”  Jesus declared this message about Himself in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”   John 3:19 , “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”

 

II.   Our Nature: Walking or Stumbling in the Dark. 1 John 1:6 “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.”

We maintain our fellowship by walking in the light. John seems to be appealing to a slogan used by his opponents, since in the next five verses he will cite them precisely. John is confronting three false ideas, possibly three slogans. There are six (if) clauses in (1:6-2:1).

 

(1) 1:6 If we say, we have fellowship with him, yet walk in the darkness - 1:7 But if we walk in the light as he is in the light; (2) If we say we have no sin - 1:9 But if we confess our sins... (3) 1:10 If we say, “We have not sinned - 2:1 But if anybody does sin...

 

Many people in John’s day believed that God was detached from the material world, that his holiness and purity set him above the common stuff of our existence. This explains why his opponents had such a difficult time with incarnation theology. 1 Jn. 5:12 clearly states, "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."

 

III.   The Right Goal: Walking in the Light. 1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

Walking in the light builds fellowship with God. When we "walk in the light as He is in the light" we have fellowship. Walking in the light allows us to maneuver through this world without the problems that people who live in darkness experience.

 

In verse 7 John’s point is if we walk in the light with God, we have the purification from our sins .  As the Christian strives to live in conformity with what God has said in the Bible then the blood of Jesus--which is a way of describing the significance of his death--washes away the stain caused by our continual struggle with sin. That is the life that leads to a life of joy. So John assures us we have nothing to fear by walking in the light because Christ’s death on the cross will cleanse us from what might otherwise be exposed by that light.

 

Have you come in contact with the blood of Jesus?

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