Sunday – August 10, 2014 1John 2:7-11″The One Who Lives in the Light”

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1st John 2 verses 7 to 11 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


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1 John 3:9-10
“No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.”

John raises many questions to those who would follow after Jesus. Churches across America are filled on Sunday morning with those whose faith is fit only for bumper stickers – “I know Him, live in Him and am in the light!” But they have never stopped and examined themselves to ask how often they reflect the character of Jesus Christ. Are they known as obedient and loving or simply as religious? John challenges all of us in where we stand today.

Many of us recoil at the word obedience. We have heard the messages on obedience and righteousness and we push them aside because they seem suffocating. We say, God loves me and I want to simply enjoy Him and live my life. I often wonder if the doctrines of grace have sabotaged the call to personal holiness. The Scriptures are not a battle between law and grace nor are its teachings a debate between Moses and Jesus. Jesus endorsed no compromise to the believer’s pursuit of righteousness. Thankfully we are saved by faith alone, but never forget the Christian life must display good works which God has prepared in advance for us to accomplish. This paradox is the tension in our life and in the Scripture.

John is absolute in his proclamation of obedience. If we disobey we are liars and walk in darkness. Can the absence of obedience truly disqualify us from being a Christian? I find the conclusion of Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount to be very sobering. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (Matt 7:21) This is then followed by our Lord’s teaching about building our homes upon the rock. Hearing the words of Jesus and doing His words compares with a person whose house has an unmovable foundation.

Jesus said our righteousness must exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees if we want to see the kingdom of heaven. And yet for all the critical statements Jesus made about the behavior of the Pharisees, He also said believers are to take note of what they said. “Therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.” (Matt 23:3) This is the defining paradox for those who follow after Christ: Personal righteousness and obedience are an essential component to our faith and yet do not form the basis of our salvation. Hear the call to be vigilant, but do not sacrifice the loving character of God in our lives.

Sunday – August 3, 2014 1John 2:3-6 “Obedience is the Key”

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1st John 2 verses 3 to 6 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


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1 John 2:4-5
“The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected.”

Judas knew Christ. Lots of unbelieving scholars today know more about Christ than many Christians. There must be a different kind of knowledge than merely factual or technical knowledge. The Lord said in Hosea 4:1–2, “There is no faithfulness or kindness, and no knowledge of God in the land; there is swearing, lying, killing, stealing, and committing adultery.” So Hosea has the same view of knowing God that John has: there can’t be knowledge of God where there is persistence in sin.

When a soldier comes back from combat, he may say to those who stayed at home, “You don’t know what war is like.” He means, “There is a knowledge that only comes from experience. There is a knowing that only comes from taking a reality into yourself and tasting it fully.” So here John not only says that this disobedient person does not know God; He goes on to say, “The truth is not in him.” This is why his knowledge is not knowledge. He carries it on the surface, but it has never sunk in. He has never tasted the truth he mouths so easily. So the knowledge John has in view is an experience of Christ and God the Father in which they are taken into the depths of our life and change the way we live.

John’s whole case hangs on the certainty that knowing God produces obedience. If a person could know God and still live in disobedience, then John could not say to this disobedient man in Verse 4 that he is a liar when he claims to know God. So how does this knowledge guarantee obedience? 1 John 4:16 says, “So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love.” To know the love God has for you means to trust it. For John it is unthinkable that a person could know the love of God and not trust the love of God. Not to trust it must mean that you don’t think it is really love. All John can say to someone who will not entrust themselves to the omnipotent love of God is: You can’t know it or you would trust it.

So when God commands you to do something and you ignore it or go against it, John can only conclude one thing: You don’t believe that God is love. For if you believed that God is love, then you would believe that all his commandments were the very best thing for you and you would follow them. When you turn away from the commandments of God, you say in effect, a loving God wouldn’t command me to do that. And so our disobedience displays our lack of trust in the love God has for us. And sadly, it confirms we do not know God.

Sunday – July 27, 2014 Signs in the Heavens Part 2

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Signs in the Heavens Part 2

Romans 1:20 
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

Paul is reminding us that no one has an excuse for not responding to God. It reminds me of students who claim they did not know an assignment was due even though the teacher put it on the board, reminded the class orally and even covered specifically elements to be included in the assignment.   The student may claim, “I didn’t hear you say anything about the assignment. Nobody told me personally. I had an ear problem so I didn’t hear what you said.” Those of you who are teachers or know teachers have probably heard many more excuses.

When it comes to the things of God, people have the same kinds of excuses. I can imagine the Great White throne judgment where those on trial will claim many excuses to justify their name not being in the Book of Life. I think the major excuse will be “no one told me.” While it is the purpose of every believer to share the good news of reconciliation to the living God for everyone through Christ’s payment for sin on the cross and relationship with Him; the Lord has revealed Himself exquisitely through the things He has made. One cannot look at the complexities of the human body or the intricacy of the universe without recognizing someone with the creative power far beyond man-made all things.

So why do we have a problem with recognizing and then seeking a true relationship with Him? Just like the students, we do not “hear” because we choose to put our attention on ourselves, what we want, and when we want it.   Our society reinforces our self-centeredness. How many commercials say ‘get this because you deserve it.” How many times a day do we hear ‘it is my right to have …’, you fill in the blank. Our government has decided people “need” certain things, so we give, for example, free cell phones and service – because everyone has the right to a cell phone.

The message who God is and His desire for relationship with people is still available today through the Bible, people, and radio and TV programs that proclaim the true gospel. Even if the government/society succeeds in outlawing Christian teaching or expression in any form, the things that God has made continue to reveal who He is so that there will be no excuse for not responding to Him.

Sunday – July 20, 2014 1st John 2:1-2 “The Key to Holiness”

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1 John 2 verses 1 and 2 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


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1 John 2:1-2
“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”

The Apostle John has spent the first chapter of his letter exhorting us to live in the light as God is in the light. As a person who wants to please God, I find these to be some of the hardest words in Scripture. I want to please Him and yet I know how far short of this simple command I live every day of my life. Then John graciously adds, “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father.” In other words, don’t despair when you sin; there is hope in Jesus Christ.

You may ask why John would say this if his aim was that we not sin. It’s as if he has just succeeded in creating such an impression of the seriousness of sin that we begin to flee from it the way we should, and then he blows it, by giving us an out when we do sin. Instead of calling his wisdom into question, we should humble ourselves and learn from him. The strugglers among us might wish that John had never said in 1:7, “If we walk in the light . . . the blood of Jesus cleanses from sin.” And the strong among us might wish that John had never said in 2:1, “But if you do sin, we have an advocate with the Father.” The struggler may feel John makes the ongoing experience of forgiveness dependent on walking in the light, so the gospel is conditional and leaves them in despair. The strong person may feel that when he stresses the advocacy of Christ to Christians who sin, he cheapens the gospel and turns it into license to sin.

So let the struggler and the strong learn from John. For the way of God is not either-or. It is both-and. We must walk in the light if we are to go on experiencing the cleansing of Jesus. And if we sin, we do indeed have an advocate with the Father. There is sin that is unto death and there is sin that is not unto death. And the reason there can be sin that is not unto death is because we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. But not only that, we need to include the first half of Verse 2 in order to understand why we should not despair. “He is the propitiation for our sins.” More literally: He is the payment for our sins.

John’s message to us today is clearly, don’t sin! It is tremendously and terribly serious, causing great pain and hurt in your life and the life of the Church. But if you do sin, don’t despair because your attorney is the Son of the Judge. He is righteous and he makes his case for you not on the basis of your perfection but on his propitiation. Be of good courage, don’t hog Jesus for yourself alone, go and make disciples and tell them the good news – Jesus Christ lives!

Sunday – July 13, 2014 1st John 1:5-10 “Fellowship with God”

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1 John verses 5 to 10 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


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1 John 1:5-7
“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

These are extraordinarily strong words. Sadly, our culture has become so emotionally fragile; everybody is sensitive to having their feelings hurt. If this were not an apostle talking, I can imagine someone today saying, “Do you have to use such harsh words when you warn people about their lifestyle?” If someone said your conduct made God out to be a liar, how would you respond? John evidently felt that so much was at stake the language, “You make God a liar,” should not be softened into something like, “You disappoint your heavenly Father.” I’m not sure the Scriptures should be adjusted to our emotionally fragile age. I think we need to get toughened up a bit.

Walking in the light is the opposite of walking in darkness. It means seeing reality for what it is and being controlled by desires that are aligned with God’s light. If God is light, and in him is no darkness at all, then he is the bright pathway to the fulfillment of all our deepest longings and desires. He is the deliverer from all dark dangers and obstacles to joy. He is the infinitely desirable One. If in His own light He shines forth as a Being of infinite worth, then He is the star of glory that we were made to admire and cherish. If God opens the eyes of our hearts to see all that, then our desires are captured by the surpassing glory of God over everything that the world has to offer, and we walk in the light as He is in the light.

There is a walk, there is a lifestyle, that necessarily results from the miracle of new birth when we are given eyes to see the surpassing worth of the light of God. 1 John is written to describe what that lifestyle looks like and how it results from the God’s light and our new birth. Walking in the light means seeing things the way God sees them and responding the way He does. We walk in the light when we hate the sin we fall into and name it for the ugly thing it is and agree with God about it and turn from it. So confessing sin is a crucial part of walking in the light. And verse 9 makes forgiveness of sin dependent on walking in the light. Therefore we are warranted in taking the cleansing of verse 7 to refer to forgiveness and not just to sanctification.

Sunday – July 6, 2014 1st John 1:3-4 “True Fellowship”

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 1 John 1:1-4
“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life — and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us — what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.”

We often hear people talking about fellowship. We hear it said that what we need is more fellowship. But our modern ideas of fellowship have become so watered down that the word no longer carries the same meaning it did in New Testament times. The Book of Acts tells us early Christians also devoted themselves to fellowship. They just didn’t have fellowship; they devoted themselves to it. This means that fellowship was a priority and one of the objectives for gathering together. They made fellowship a priority.

Today, however, we often view fellowship as what we do in “fellowship hall.” It’s the place where we have casual conversations and savor coffee and donuts. This is not bad and can contribute to fellowship, but it falls far short of fellowship according to biblical standards and according to the meaning and use of the Greek words for fellowship. In the New Testament, what is shared in common is shared first of all because of a common relationship that we all have together in Christ. Koinonia was an important word to John, but it is never used in merely a secular sense. It always had a spiritual significance and base.

The idea of an earthly fellowship founded upon just common interests, human nature, physical ties like in a family, or from church affiliation was really rather foreign to the apostles. In the New Testament, believers can have fellowship and share together because they first of all have a relationship with Christ and share Him in common. Fellowship is first the sharing together in a common life with other believers through relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Fellowship is first and foremost a relationship, rather than an activity. The principle is that any activity that follows, should come out of the relationship.

Fellowship in the body of Christ is certainly no side issue. It was one of the four things the early church devoted itself to, and from this brief study, we can see why. It is a means of support and encouragement to others and of ministry in the Savior’s enterprise on earth.

June 29, 2014 1st John 1:1-4 “True Christianity”

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1 John 1 verses 1 to 4 “True Christianity” from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


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1 John 1:1-3
“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life — 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us — 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

What is fellowship? Fellowship means “to have all things in common.” When you have something in common with another you can have fellowship with him. If you have nothing in common, you have no fellowship. We all have things in common. We share human life in common. Most of us share American citizenship in common. But John is talking about that unique fellowship which is only the possession of those who share life in Jesus Christ together, who have this different kind of life, this new relationship. This makes them one and that is the basis for the appeal of Scripture to live together in tenderness and love toward one another. Not because we are inherently wonderful people or that we are naturally gracious, kind, loving, and tender all the time – for at times we are grouchy, scratchy, and irritating to others. But we are still to love one another.

There is not only the horizontal relationship but that, in turn, depends upon a vertical one. John tells us, “and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” Our horizontal relationships are directly related to the vertical one. If the vertical is not right, the horizontal one will be wrong, and, if it is wrong, it is because something is wrong between us and the Father. If we want to straighten out the horizontal relationship, that of getting along with our fellow Christians and fellow-men, we must be sure that the vertical one is straight. Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

The most remarkable thing about Christian life is fellowship with Christ. It really takes two English words to bring out what this really means. There is, first of all, a partnership – the sharing of mutual interests, resources, and labor together. God and I, working together, a partnership. All that I have is put at His disposal. Well, what do I have? I have me. I have my mind, my body. True, these are gifts of God, but they are put at my disposal to do with as I please. That is what I have, and now I put them at his disposal. When I do, I discover everything that He is, is put at my disposal. Is that not marvelous? The greatness of God, the wisdom, the power, the glory of His might –- all is made available to me, when I make myself available to Him. This is the great secret of fellowship.

Sunday – June 22, 2014 Introduction to 1st John

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Introduction to 1 John from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


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 1 John 5:13-15
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”

Watchman Nee, in his very helpful book, What Shall This Man Do?, suggests that these three ministries of John, Peter, and Paul can be distinguished by, and are characterized by, the tasks that each of these men were performing when they were called of God.

Peter, for instance, was called as a fisherman, and we are told in the Gospels that the moment of his call occurred when the Lord found him casting a net into the sea. That work of fishing for men is characteristic of the Apostle Peter. He is always beginning things, initiating new programs. To him was committed the keys of the kingdom by which he could open the door to the new things God was introducing. On the day of Pentecost he used one of those keys and as a result caught 3,000 fish in his gospel net. You find that characteristic of this man all through his written ministry.

To the Apostle Paul, however, was committed a different task. When Paul was called he was a tent maker. He made things. He built things. This, then, was the ministry committed to the Apostle Paul. He is a builder. He not only lays the foundation, but he builds upon it. He calls himself “a wise master builder” and to this man, this mighty apostle, was committed the task of building the great doctrinal foundation upon which the Christian faith rests.

But John is different than both of these. When John was called he was found mending his nets. John is a mender. His written ministry comes in after the church has been in existence for several decades, and at a time when apostasy had begun to creep in. There was need of a voice to call people back to the original foundations and that is the ministry of the Apostle John. He calls men back to truth. When we begin to drift, when some false concept creeps into our thinking or into our actions, it is John who is ordained of the Lord to call us back, to mend the nets and to set things straight. The apostle John wrote the epistle First John against the backdrop of influential false teachers to help believers know that their faith was genuine and that they possessed eternal life in Jesus Christ. His great emphasis is on the differences between the genuine Christian and the spurious, and how to discern between the two. John wants us to know our salvation with certainty!

Sunday – June 15, 2014 Father’s Day “Boaz: A Mighty Man of God”

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Father’s Day 2014 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


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Psalm 78:2-4
“I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not conceal them from their children, but tell to the generation to come, the praises of the Lord and His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.”

The role of mom is pretty well-recognized by everyone (including the secular world) as vital to the family, but for some reason fathers have been relegated to the position of second class citizen, especially in our day with the active feminist movement. A well-known feminist leader has gone so far as to say, “Fathers are a biological necessity, but a psychological absurdity.”

From the standpoint of God’s word and the evidence of research that has been done recently, such a statement is an absurdity. Dads have a vital role in bringing strength and stability to the home. Actually, both mom and dad bring ingredients into the home that are crucial to the spiritual and emotional stability of the home. Together they bring a blend of femininity and masculinity which in many ways reveal the image of God. These two influences together, especially when they are the product of godly parentage, are vital forces in shaping spiritually and psychologically healthy children.

In Psalm 78, we have the words of Asaph, a contemporary of David, who needs to be heard because he is speaking an important word from God to God’s people. It is a message that is absolutely essential to the preservation of society and the purpose of God’s people in society. When we fail to communicate God’s truth to our children, we are guilty of hiding from them the most important information in the world. We are like someone who knows where there is water, but refuses to reveal it to someone who is dying of thirst. The great mission of the psalmist (as it should be with all believers and parents) is to unveil the truth of God. Here the truth that the psalmist has in view is that which is seen in the history of God’s dealings with the nation, but the goal is for God’s truth to be communicated effectively from generation to generation.

The psalmist is aware of the ever-present problem parents have of communicating the truth of God to the next generation. By our own indifference to the things of God, by our preoccupation with the pressures of life, by our materialism, by our failure to get real in our walk with the Lord, we become guilty of concealing God’s truth because we fail to tell to the generation to come, the truth of God’s Word. The psalmist teaches that this is one of the greatest missions of God’s people. Indeed, we have in this one of the great commands of the Bible – the command for parents to teach their children and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Sunday – June 8, 2014 PENTECOST SUNDAY, Ruth 4:1-22 “Gentile Redemption!”

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Ruth 4:5
“Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of the deceased, in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance.”

Unlike some other cultures, Americans love to link romance with marriage. As the lyrics of one 1950s popular song put it, “Love and marriage … go together like a horse and carriage.” You might be disappointed in the story of Ruth because it does not contain as much “romance” as you are used to finding. Naomi sought to orchestrate a marriage between Ruth and Boaz, based on “romance.” She convinced Ruth to bathe, put on perfume and her best dress, and then crawl under the covers with Boaz on the threshing floor once he had fallen asleep. A sexual union in these circumstances would have consummated a marriage, albeit not by the most honorable means. Such a “marriage” would have been a “shortcut.”

Naomi’s scheme did not produce a “romantic evening,” or a midnight marriage. However, it did give Ruth the opportunity to ask Boaz to become her husband so as to provide protection and security for her (and for Naomi), as well as to produce a child who would carry on the family line. Boaz regarded Ruth’s actions as honorable, and assured Ruth that he would do as she asked if the nearest kin declined to assume this responsibility. They did spend the remainder of the night in close proximity, but it was far from a romantic interlude. When Ruth reported these things to Naomi, her mother-in-law assured her that Boaz would quickly bring this matter to a conclusion.

In stark contrast to the events of the previous night, we come to the seemingly unromantic legal negotiations and commitments of Chapter 4. Quite frankly, such “unromantic” dealings are a beautiful thing to behold. Chapter 4 is also a stark contrast to what we read in Chapter 1. There, Naomi returned to Bethlehem accompanied by Ruth, refusing to be called “Naomi” (Pleasant), but insisting on being called “Mara” (Bitter) instead. She sought to justify this by claiming that God had dealt harshly with her. She claimed to have gone out to Moab “full,” while returning to Bethlehem “empty.” However, when Chapter 4 draws to an end, Naomi’s arms are “filled” with the child that God has given her through Ruth and Boaz.

 I believe that both Ruth and Boaz took great pleasure in doing God’s will, even in those times when this appeared to be contrary to their own best interests. Naomi, on the other hand, could only sit back and complain, and propose actions that were contrary to God’s will. Chapter 4 of the Book of Ruth puts all the previous events and responses into a proper perspective. Understanding this chapter as we should will enable us to understand the entire book, so we should listen well to what God has to say to us in this text.