Sunday, September 29, 2013

To Judge Ourselves Part 5 – Admonish: Slander

To Judge Ourselves
Part 5 – Admonish: Slander
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | www.PS127.org | www.TruthDigest.org

INTRODUCTION
We spent the last year looking at what the Book of Acts had to say about the founding, operation and behavior that the Lord expects from us as individuals, and as a church, or congregation of believers.

We then spent a few weeks looking at the letters that Jesus sent to the seven churches in Revelation, telling them where they were going right, and wrong, as well as what the punishments and rewards would be.

A few weeks ago, I took all of those letters, and compiled them into one letter from the Lord, to us.

Our new series will take a look at each of the points Jesus made in that letter, and we will not only examine our church as a whole, but ourselves as individuals.


2 Corinthians 13:5 "Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!"


1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."


2 Peter 2:4-10 "For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell[a] and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;[c] and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge[e] in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority."

We have already looked at Jesus speaking to us about hard work, not tolerating wicked people in the church, and testing those who claim to be apostles, but are nothing more than false prophets, and last week we spoke on perseverance, and enduring hardships for His name.

Last week we looked at being Spiritually Rich during times of affliction and poverty.

This week we will look at afflictions and poverty.


SCRIPTURE REFERENCE
Revelation 2:9b
" I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan."


I.         WHAT IS "JEWISH"?
a.      Being Considered a Jew by the Lord is NOT being born a Jew (by race)
                                                             i.      There are "Jews" by race
                                                          ii.      There are "Jews" by religion
                                                       iii.      To be considered "Jewish" by the Lord, you must NOT reject Christ.


b.     Being Considered a Jew by the Lord is  NOT rejecting Christ
                                                             i.      Rejecting the Lord, His Word, His teachings, is the work of Satan
                                                          ii.      To reject these, attempts to stop the work of the Cross
                                                       iii.      Without the work of the Cross, we are all lost!


c.      Being Considered a Jew by the Lord is FULL acceptance of Jesus as Christ
                                                             i.      Romans 2:28-29 " 28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly (by race or behavior), nor is circumcision merely outward and physical.(meaning it represents a spiritual truth which must take place inwardly)

29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God."





II.      WHAT IS "SATANIC"?
a.      Rejecting Christ
                                                             i.      The Lord tells us in this verse, that rejecting Him, His Work, is Satanic.

                                                          ii.      He told Peter as much as well!
1.      Matthew 16:21-23 "Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”


b.     Even your worship to God is NULL & VOID
                                                             i.      Mark 7:13 "Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down."


c.      Anything that rejects Christ, is rejected by God and considered Satanic by the Lord
                                                             i.      Here are eight things which may compel you to reject Christ
1.      Theology - The people in Nazareth love Jesus as a teacher and a healer and a feeder and a defender of the poor. But when he said, “I’m God, and I speak on behalf of God,” they said, “No, you’re Joseph’s son. You’re just a really good guy, but you’re not God.” Some of you do that. “Jesus is a good man, but not the God. He’s a good teacher, except for when he lies, saying things like ‘I’m God and savior.’” Don’t reject him theologically.

2.      Control - You can reject him because of control. This was the real conflict in Nazareth. He showed up and they said, “Here’s what we want, Jesus. You draw huge crowds. You can heal and feed people. We’re gonna set up a tent. You’re gonna be the circus act. People are going to come from miles around. You can feed us, heal us, bless us, make us headquarters. We’re gonna use you for our own mission. We wanna get rich and famous.”   It was a control issue. Jesus said, “I’m not going to do any miracles here in Nazareth. Not because I can’t do any miracles, but because if I do, you will think that you controlled me. And your motives are disgusting, and you don’t love God.” And for the widow, she got her miracle after she trusted the Lord. For the leper, he trusted the Lord and he got his miracle. Jesus says, “You guys don’t even love me, you don’t even trust me. You just want miracles. You want me to be the magic genie who jumps out of the bottle and answers all the requests. No.”  Some people are like that with Jesus. They come in to church or ministry and say, “Okay! Here’s what I want. Jesus, give it to me. He didn’t give it to me? Well, then I reject you. I’m post-Christian, anti-Christian. I’m going to find another religion or go my own way.” It’s how to reject Jesus.

3.      Greed - There’s a lot of money to be made in Nazareth. If you could get Jesus to stay there and all the crowds to come to him, and you could build a huge synagogue, and you could take an offering after you heal people, you’d be doing well. They wanted to use Jesus for the money, so he uses the analogy and the illustration of the widow. She had nothing and she allowed the servant of God to live with her and to eat of her final meal before she starved to death. You don’t use God for money. That’s idolatry. You love God because he’s God. You love Jesus because he’s God.

4.      Selfishness - Sometimes it’s just selfishness. The people in Nazareth, when he showed up they didn’t say, “Jesus! This is amazing! We could reach the nations. We could spread the good news that God has come. How could we help you and serve you? How could we give our lives so that others would come to know you?” It was just all about me. “Where’s my miracle? Where’s my healing? Where’s my food? Where’s my provision? What about me?” Complete selfishness can cause you to reject Jesus.

5.      Familiarity - They say, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son? He says he’s God, Lord, Savior, Christ, King, and Prophet, but we saw him grow up. We know who he is. That’s not who he is. We know who he is.” The truth is, you can become so familiar with Jesus that you don’t even know who he is. You can grow up in church, be around Bible teaching, go to camp, go to Christian school, have Christian family, friends, relatives, co-workers, neighbors. You can even go to Bible college and get some goofy, dinky Bible college professor that gives you some weird, funky new liberal insight on Jesus and all of a sudden, you feel like you got it all nailed down and covered, and you reject him and move on and get into spiritism, demonism, and false teaching. Why? Because you’re like, “I know Jesus. I know the stories. I know the doctrine. I got it all nailed down, you know. But I’ve kind of moved on to some other things as well, in addition to or in place of him. Because I know him really well.” - You can become so FAMILIAR with Jesus, that you don't even know Him!

6.      Comfort - It’s where he uses the examples of the widow and of Naaman. Do you think it was comfortable for the widow to give what she had and her house to the prophet? No. Do you think it was comfortable for Naaman to go to another nation and another God and go down to the river and publically humiliate himself? No. Some of you, it’s just comfort. You’re like, “I would give, but it’s not comfortable. I would serve, but it’s not comfortable. I would pray, but it’s not comfortable. I would whatever, but it’s just not comfortable.” You worship convenience instead of Christ.

7.      Embarrassment - Sometimes it’s just embarrassment, because being a Christian does not get you cool points anywhere. This was my big thing as a non-Christian. All the Christians would come to me and they’d be like, “Okay, you need to give your life to Christ.” And I’m like, “I don’t want to join the team, man. The Ned Flanders society. I do not want to join the team.” And it was always the kids with the bumper stickers and the t-shirts and the permagrins and the parted hair and the wristbands, and they’re like, “We love Jesus! We love him, we love him.” I was like, “Aaaargh! Seriously, is there another team that he has? Maybe wearing black, you know? Could I join that team?” It was just embarrassing. “I love Jesus.” You know how weird it is to get converted in college and your philosophy class, when they’re like, “How many of you are Christians?” “Oh, here we go.” You know. History class. “Yeah, I love Jesus.” Sociology class. “I love Jesus.” Women’s studies class. “Oh yeah, I love Jesus.” You know? You’re just a piƱata for your whole undergrad degree. It’s embarrassing. And then every time any Christian says or does anything stupid, myself included—I am not beyond this capacity—it’s like, “You Christians.” You’re like, “There are billions of us! Just because one duffed it doesn’t mean we’re all doing it.” It’s embarrassing. Do you think it was embarrassing for Naaman to go down to the river? “Hi, I’m the mighty man, leper, help.” It’s kind of embarrassing. For those in Nazareth, it’s like, “You’re the bad guys.” “Really? That’s kind of embarrassing, because we took a vote. We thought we were the good guys.” Some of you just need to be humiliated for Christ.

8.      Religion - Lastly, sometimes it’s just good old-fashioned religion. Perhaps that is you? Before you met Jesus, you may have been a religious guy or girl. You may have thought, “Okay, I believe in God. I’m a good person. Good enough.” Didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, didn’t do drugs, most likely to succeed, student body president, four-year letterman, man of the year, holier-than-thou. Just kind of that attitude. Better than everybody. And you know what? That’s religion. Sometimes it’s just religion. Religious people don’t think they need Jesus because they think they’re doing fine without him and they don’t realize that they’re in worse shape than the widow and the leper. The truth is, we’re as needy as the widow. We’re as hopeless as the leper. We’re sinners by nature and choice.



III.  SO WHAT ABOUT SLANDER?
a.      Slander is the fruit of Satanic, Christ-Rejecters
                                                             i.      Galatians 5:13-14 " 13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

                                                          ii.      Galatians goes on to list some of the "fruits of the Flesh", such as hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy...any of which may cause you to slander another person.


b.     We are warned against slandering in scripture
                                                             i.      In fact, Galatians warns us that this type of behavior WILL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD! (Galatians 5:21)


c.      It is a fruit of the flesh




CONCLUSION
So, Jesus tells us in His letter to us, "I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan."

We need to be sure that WE are not the ones producing the fruit of slander, ensuring that we have allowed the Holy Spirit to do a work in us, purifying our hearts, making us TRUE JEWS, who have NOT rejected Christ, turning away from Satanic behavior.

Accepting Christ Theologically, allowing Him to control our lives, instead of us trying to control Him. Making sure that we do not allow greed or selfishness to cause us to reject Him.

We must also be sure not to be too familiar with scripture, become too comfortable (or complacent), or allow embarrassment to keep us from the Lord.

And most importantly, we need to be sure we do not allow religion to keep us from following Christ.





Want to learn more about Salvation and Getting Saved?    CLICK HERE!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

To Judge Ourselves Part 4 – Admonish: You Are Rich

To Judge Ourselves
Part 4 – Admonish: You Are Rich
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | www.PS127.org | www.TruthDigest.org

INTRODUCTION
We spent the last year looking at what the Book of Acts had to say about the founding, operation and behavior that the Lord expects from us as individuals, and as a church, or congregation of believers.

We then spent a few weeks looking at the letters that Jesus sent to the seven churches in Revelation, telling them where they were going right, and wrong, as well as what the punishments and rewards would be.

A few weeks ago, I took all of those letters, and compiled them into one letter from the Lord, to us.

Our new series will take a look at each of the points Jesus made in that letter, and we will not only examine our church as a whole, but ourselves as individuals.


2 Corinthians 13:5 "Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!"


1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."


2 Peter 2:4-10 "For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell[a] and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;[c] and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge[e] in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority."

We have already looked at Jesus speaking to us about hard work, not tolerating wicked people in the church, and testing those who claim to be apostles, but are nothing more than false prophets, and last week we spoke on perseverance, and enduring hardships for His name.

This week we will look at afflictions and poverty.


SCRIPTURE REFERENCE
Revelation 2:9a
"I know your works, tribulation and your poverty—yet you are rich!"


I.         I KNOW YOUR WORKS, TRIBULATION AND YOUR POVERTY
a.      Smyrna's works
                                                             i.       It was not easy for Christians in Smyrna, but Jesus let them know that He knew what they are going through
1.      Hebrews 4:15 "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin."

2.      This shows Jesus' care and concern for His people. No matter what you may be facing right now, Jesus knows about it. He is concerned about it. What a source of comfort and assurance this is for Christians.

                                                          ii.      He knew their "works." This refers to their way of life - their faithfulness in serving God.
1.      Matthew 5:16 Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
a.      This is NOT doing "works" for the praise of men, rather, doing good works which glorify God in the presence of men!

2.      The works of the Christians in Smyrna were evidently good works. Their lives glorified the Father. Their persecution was brought about because of their faithful works. On one occasion the Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus and "Jesus answered them, 'Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?'" John 10:32

3.      Every work that Jesus did was a good work. And, although the Jews denied it John 10:33, Jesus was persecuted because of His teaching and good works.

4.      The sins of the apostate Jews and the pagan Romans were clearly evident. Likewise, the good works of the Christians were clearly evident.  These good works were one of the reasons they were being persecuted. Jesus knew their works.

5.      Galatians 5 tells us that the evidence for good works (works of the Spirit glorifying God), and the evil works (works of the flesh glorifying sin) are plain to see in man. You will know what tree they are by the fruit they bare.
a.      Scriptures go on to say, all trees baring bad fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.


b.     Smyrna's tribulation
                                                             i.      Jesus also knew of their tribulation. He knew the persecution they were facing and would face in the future. Jesus promised His apostles that they would have tribulation John 16:33.

                                                          ii.      He told them, "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you." John 15:20.

                                                       iii.      When Paul and Barnabas returned to some of the places where they had planted churches they told them, "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22; see also 2 Timothy 3:12). 

                                                         iv.      We need to realize that the Jews and Romans persecuted Jesus. They hated Jesus and so they hated His disciples. We can expect nothing less. We must have the attitude that the apostles had when they were beaten by the Jewish council: "So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name" (Acts 5:41).

1.      This persecution did not stop the apostles from teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ (Acts 5:42) and we must not let it stop us.



c.      Today in Peshawar, Pakistan
                                                             i.      There is a small Christian church, run by a Pakistani Pastor, who is a friend of mine named Robin Raz.

                                                          ii.      At 5:50am this morning (our time), a bomb was detonated there, killing 43 Christians, and wounding 80 others, including women and children.

                                                       iii.      Officials say that two bombers exploded themselves among worshippers coming out of Sunday services at the historic Pakistan Church.

                                                         iv.      Are you facing tribulation because of your faith?
1.      Do we even have an excuse?


d.     Smyrna's poverty
                                                             i.      He knew their poverty. The Christians in Smyrna were poverty stricken because of their stand for the faith. This means they had few material possessions.  It may be that their property had been confiscated (Hebrews 10:34). 
1.      It is also likely that they were robbed of the ability to work and support their families because they refused to align themselves with either the pagan emperor worshippers or the apostate Jews (Revelation 13:16-17). 

                                                          ii.      Yet, in their poverty Jesus says they were rich. 



II.      YET, YOU ARE RICH!
a.      They were "rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him..." (James 2:5) 

b.     They had nothing, but possessed all things 2 Corinthians 6:10

c.      They were rich spiritually. They enjoyed blessings beyond what it was possible for the pagan Romans and apostate Jews to even imagine Proverbs 10:22; 11:25; 13:7; 28:6.

d.     By the way, there was no sin in the congregation...
                                                             i.      Smyrna and Philadelphia were the only two churches not condemned for having sin in the congregation.

e.      The Christians of Smyrna were "rich toward GodLuke 12:21
                                                             i.      Jesus had become poor so that they could become rich 2 Corinthians 8:9.

                                                          ii.      They had the hope and promise of eternal life 1 John 2:25

                                                       iii.      If we remain faithful, the trials we face will help us experience the greatest wealth that anyone can experience - spiritual wealth. We will lack nothing James 1:2-5.



III.  ARE YOU RICH?
a.      Jesus knows your works, and whether they are good or not.
b.     He knows your tribulations, the troubles you face in this life.
c.      And He knows whether or not you Spirit is RICH in faith, or poor.




CONCLUSION
I sometimes wonder how I would bear up under the kind of persecution that the Christians in Smyrna faced.
Would I be able to stand strong as they did? Would I be willing to die instead of renouncing Christ?
 I'm not sure any of us can answer these questions until we face the same kind of circumstances. Unfortunately, and to my shame, I know I have sinned under far less severe circumstances.
Let us follow the example of the Christians in Smyrna. Let us do all we can for the cause of Christ and when we face persecution because of it, let us endure to the end and receive the crown of life promised to those who love Jesus.




Want to learn more about Salvation and Getting Saved?    CLICK HERE!