Sunday – August 2, 2020 Book of Acts – Acts 17:1-15 “What Is Our Goal”

Sunday – Sunday – August 2, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – Sunday – August 2, 2020

Acts 17:2-4a
And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded

The general malaise and moral confusion of the culture reminds me of Saint Francis’s claim that he would go to the city center in Assisi and stand on his head to see the world aright. The early Church was given credit for turning the world upside down. The Christian worldview required everyone outside of the Christian faith to stand on their heads to make sense of things. But now, the world is back where Christians found it. Now we find ourselves standing on our heads to see it aright. Light has been declared darkness and darkness declared light. Right is wrong, wrong is right, up is down and down is up. The old greeting, “What’s Up?” requires the answer, “Who knows?”

For 50 years, the Church has held a false idea that there are two optional tracks in the Christian life. One track is the committed discipleship track, for gung-ho types. They give up the comforts of life, giving large portions of their income to the cause of Christ and they devote themselves and their time totally to Jesus. But if that track is a bit much for you, then you can choose the comfortable Christian track. Comfortable Christians usually go to church on Sundays, unless one of their hobbies has a big event that day. They give a bit to help out the church and volunteer some time to the cause, when time permits. For them, Christ and the church are a nice slice of life that help to make life more pleasant. But I never find Jesus offering this second track to any of His followers.

In our Christian apathy, we have failed to see the war around us. It is a cultural war, but, more profoundly, it is a war of ideas. Behind those ideas are persons and, finally, only two persons, God and Satan. Why would we, the church, dirty our hands and join the fight? Because our disciples have failed and we have lost the culture. We’ve been making our kind of disciples for the past fifty years and look at what we have accomplished. The disciples we have produced have allowed the culture to be taken over by leftist ideology that is clearly anti-Christian, anti-gospel, and has cut off at least two generations from the biblical, literary, social, and cultural foundation of a working society. Those young people tearing down statues are our disciples. We must make different disciples in order to get a different result and the church must take some responsibility.

Perhaps you do not share this urgency concerning this war for the minds and souls of others because you have not come to grips with the urgency of your receiving Jesus Christ as your Savior. Apart from Him, you will die in your sins and spend eternity apart from God in eternal suffering. The gospel of Jesus Christ informs you that God has provided for the forgiveness of your sins through the death of Jesus Christ in your place, bearing your condemnation, and offering you His righteousness. Time is limited. He may return at any moment, or you may die before He comes. Accept Him today.

Sunday – December 1, 2019 Book of Acts – Acts 2:1-13 Pt 1 “The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament”

Sunday – December 1, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – December 1, 2019

Acts 2:2-3
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.

When the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles and the other believers on the Day of Pentecost, those who heard them speaking in tongues were perplexed and asked, “What does this mean?” (2:12). The question persists in our day. Many claim that the meaning of Pentecost is that we should have the same experience as the disciples, namely, to speak in tongues. You have probably had other Christians ask you, as I have, “Have you spoken in tongues?” If you have not, they are eager to help you have this experience for yourself. We all need to answer biblically, in light of the context: What is the meaning of Pentecost?

Acts 2 must be interpreted in light of Acts 1:4-8, where the risen Lord Jesus instructed the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit. Jesus explained that they would “be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (1:5) and they would receive power to be Christ’s “witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (1:8). Just as the ministry of Jesus depended on the Holy Spirit descending on Him at His baptism, so the ministry of the disciples depended on them receiving the Holy Spirit and relying on His power. While they had experienced a measure of the Spirit’s power before (John 20:22), now He would come to dwell in them permanently.

We need to be careful to distinguish several terms that are often confused. In Acts 1:5, Jesus said that the apostles would be baptized by the Holy Spirit, which occurred on the Day of Pentecost. Baptism refers to being totally identified with the Spirit and to the initial reception of the Spirit. Paul tells the Corinthians, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). If the baptism of the Spirit were a special experience for the spiritually elite, Paul would not have said such a thing to the Corinthians. Nowhere does the Bible command believers to be baptized with the Holy Spirit, since it is not an experience we are to seek, but God’s action performed on the believer at the moment of salvation.

God’s purpose at Pentecost was to equip His church with the mighty power of the Holy Spirit so that we would be His witnesses to all the nations, resulting in His eternal glory. We need to ask ourselves is my daily desire to bear witness of Christ to those who are lost and perishing? The power of the Spirit isn’t given just to make me happy. It is given to make me holy so that my life and my words bring glory to God as I bear witness to His saving grace. That should be the meaning of Pentecost for you and me.

Sunday – November 10, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 24:36-53 “Invisible, No Invincible”

Sunday – November 10, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 10, 2019

Luke 24:36-38
While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?

One of the strongest proofs of the resurrection is the fact that the disciples were so prone not to believe it at first. If they had immediately jumped to the conclusion that Jesus was risen, we could think that their testimony to the resurrection was just wish fulfillment. They wanted it so badly that they convinced themselves that it was true, apart from solid evidence. But the gospel narratives show clearly how slow all of the disciples were to believe that Jesus really was risen. They were not gullible men, prone to superstitious ideas, who were easily persuaded to believe. Even though, just before Jesus appeared, they were saying, “The Lord has really risen” (24:34), when they see Him in their midst they immediately conclude, not that He is risen, but that they are seeing a ghost. And when the Lord confronts them regarding their doubts, “they still could not believe it for joy” (24:41).

I can understand why they were troubled. It would be startling to have someone instantly appear in a room without walking in through the door! Jesus, however, is trying to calm their hearts so that they can think more clearly. But they weren’t just troubled; they also were doubting. The Greek word for “doubts” refers to inward reasoning and disputing. Because of our fallen human nature, we all are prone to doubt the things of God, revealed to us in His Word.

God does not expect us blindly to believe without thinking matters through. He gave us the capacity to reason and He expects us to use our minds. But we need to be careful, because of our sinfulness, not to go to excess and to demand unreasonable proof for that which God has plainly revealed. To continue raising objections and disputing about matters that God has made reasonably clear is to yield to our fallen nature, not to rise above it by faith.

It really is true that Jesus Christ died for our sins, that He was raised bodily from the dead, and that He offers forgiveness and eternal life to every sinner as a free gift. And, it really is important for you to believe the testimony that He gave to His disciples. It will flood your soul with eternal peace, knowing that He has forgiven your sins and accepted you because of Christ’s righteousness. It will give you joy and hope, even in the most difficult trials, knowing that His resurrection guarantees your resurrection when He returns. It will make you “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). Even though at times you will be tempted to doubt it, thinking, “This is too good to be true, that Christ died for my sins,” the Lord wants you to know, “It is true!” It’s far better than the news that you have won the Reader’s Digest Sweepstakes! Believe God’s Word about Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, and rejoice!

Sunday – November 3, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 23:54 to 24:36 “From Heart Break to Heart Burn”

Sunday – November 3, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 3, 2019

Luke 24:25-27
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”

Jesus’ words to these two men were not flattering. They were a rebuke for their spiritual dullness and for their failure to believe all that the prophets had spoken. The word “all” is an important one. It indicates that the belief of the disciples was selective. They believed part of the prophets’ revelation, but not all. Which part did they believe, and which part did they not believe? The message of the prophets concerning the coming Messiah was a blending of suffering and glory. The prophets spoke in what appeared to be a contradiction in terms. They spoke of Messiah’s rejection and suffering, as we see in Isaiah 52 and 53, yet they also spoke of His triumph and glory.

The prophets accepted God’s word as it was revealed, even though they did not understand how it could be true. But most of the Israelites chose to reject the suffering side and only to focus on the glory dimension. They did this not only with respect to the Messiah, but also with respect to themselves. The false prophets were those who gave warm, reassuring, promises of peace and prosperity, while the true prophets spoke of suffering and of tribulation.

The disciples did not wish to hear of Jesus’ sufferings, but only of His triumph. Even Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked Him for speaking of His coming rejection and death. All of the disciples, including these two men on the road to Emmaus had so rigorously held to a non-suffering Messiah, a triumphant King, but not a suffering Servant, that they concluded Jesus could not possibly be the Messiah because He had suffered and died. In spite of a mountain of evidence, all of which pointed to His resurrection, they were solidly convinced it was all over, and that He, alas, was only a prophet.

When you think about it, Jesus could have identified Himself as the Lord to these two men, and then proceeded to teach them on the basis of His authority. Instead Jesus taught them on the basis of the authority of the Scriptures. Think of it, instead of teaching this lesson as the Christ, He taught this lesson about the Christ, but as a mere man, as a total stranger, even as a man who seemed poorly in tune and not in touch with what was going on. The two disciples rebuked Him for asking what things were going on in Jerusalem. They saw Him as one who was ill-informed, out of touch. And yet, Jesus taught them the most marvelous survey of the Old Testament ever taught. The men later recognized the impact of Jesus’ teaching—it set their hearts afire, not just because Jesus taught them, but because the Scriptures were taught accurately. It was the Scriptures as explained by Jesus Himself and as illuminated by the Holy Spirit, that opened the eyes of the disciples so that they were ready and able (in God’s timing) to discover who it was who was with them.

Sunday – July 7, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 19:28-45 “Un-Triumphal Entry”

Sunday – July 7, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 7, 2019

Luke 19:39-40
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

One can hardly grasp the mood of many at that moment in history. The crowds were looking for the Messiah, and Jesus was a likely candidate. The moment was right. The people looked for Him, watching carefully for any indication of His identity. In contrast, the Pharisees and religious leaders were determined that He was not the Messiah, and that He would have no opportunity to attempt to be acclaimed such by the masses who would have wished He were their King.

The problem was no one really understood the meaning and significance of what they were doing as they welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem. John informs us that even the disciples did not understand what they or Jesus were doing until after He was glorified (John 12:16). The crowds had no idea who He was, thinking Jesus was only “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee” (Matthew 21:10-11). Luke put in the picture “Jesus was praised for His miracles” (Luke 19:37). Just as Jesus could say that those who crucified Him “knew not what they were doing” (Luke 23:34), so we see that the crowds did not know what they were doing here either.

Some of the disciples did regard Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem as the entrance of Israel’s King, but they did not understand how His kingdom would be instituted. Many people simply did not know who He was, or what was happening. One wonders how many got caught up in the excitement and the activity, without knowing what was happening at all. The Pharisees and the religious leaders, of course, not only rejected Jesus’ deity, but also His identity as Messiah. How then, could they allow Him to be praised? They insisted that Jesus stop the people from praising Him. Yet Jesus refused, saying that if the people were silenced, the stones would cry out. Jesus was the Son of God. He not only deserved the praise and worship; it could not be silenced.

That is what you and I are to do now. If you acknowledge Jesus to be the Son of God, to be your Savior, then He must be praised. How is it that a rainy day can keep us from joining others in praising Him? How is it that a beautiful day can do the same, by giving us a “day out on the lake,” rather than with the saints, praising Him? It is one thing for those who deny Jesus as Lord to fail to praise Him. It is another for those who name Him as Lord and King to refuse to worship Him. Heaven is an eternity of praise. When He comes as King, every knee will bow to Him, and every tongue will utter His praise (Philippians 2:9-11). Let us not be guilty of keeping silent when we should be praising Him. And is not our bearing witness to Him a form of praise as well? Do we not refuse to praise Him when we fail to tell others of Him and of His love? Let us surpass the stones!

Sunday April 29, 2018 Gospel of Luke – Luke 6:20-26 “Defining Discipleship”

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Luke 6:20-22
Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.”

At first reading the words of Jesus are incredible. It would seem as though Jesus has said that all who are poor, hungry, mourning and persecuted are blessed, while all who are rich, well-fed, happy, and honored are cursed. Living in an affluent country as we do, it raises many questions which it would do us well to wrestle in our hearts and minds. Is it a blessing to be poor, hungry, sorrowful, and rejected? Are all the hurting people of the world suddenly so fortunate, while all of the comfortable, happy people of the world are really cursed?

As Jesus frequently taught, when a choice must be made between money and God, God must come first (Matt. 6:24). Money is not evil, unless it takes the place which only God should have. The rich young ruler’s money meant too much for him. When forced with the choice of following Christ or being rich, he chose to remain rich. In the Lord’s parable of the soils, the thorny soil symbolized the “cares of this world” are that which chokes out the seed of the gospel. Luke tells us that Jesus called them “worries and riches and pleasures of this life” (Luke 8:14). When we must choose wealth or Jesus, being well-fed or Jesus, laughter or Jesus, we must always choose Him.

This raises an interesting and important point. What is it that makes following Jesus so great a blessing that men will gladly give up riches, comfort and even friends to do so? Luke’s account would supply us with a very strong reason: the blessings which Jesus gives are eternal, while those which disciples may reject are temporal. We can fill in many other answers from the gospel as a whole. Jesus gives the forgiveness of sins, peace with God, the joy of fellowship with Him and of serving Him. Discipleship leads to the greatest blessings, so great that wealth, health, and the praise of men pale in comparison with the joy of knowing Him.

Giving up lesser benefits for greater ones is not a principle known and practiced only by Christians. It is a principle practiced by all who are wise. We give up immediate pleasures to save our money to buy something that is of lasting pleasure or value. Runners give up food and even friends to maintain rigorous training, all for the joy of winning the race. Sacrifices are a blessing when they lead to greater blessings. That is what Jesus was saying in this sermon. How blessed were His disciples! True, they would become poor, they would experience hunger, and they would be rejected and persecuted. But in light of the blessings of fellowship with the Son of God these were hardly worthy of being called sacrifices.

Sunday April 15, 2018 Gospel of Luke – Luke 6:1-11 “Taking the Fun Out of Sunday”

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Luke 6:3-5
Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”  Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

The Lord Jesus and His disciples were passing through some grain fields on the Sabbath, followed by a delegation of Pharisees. The Pharisees knew the popularity Jesus was growing steadily. They also were becoming alarmed at the realization that Jesus was not in their camp, indeed, was often attacking them. They were afraid to leave Jesus to Himself, unwatched, unchallenged. Furthermore, they were eager to catch Jesus in some transgression of their rules, so that they could point their fingers at Him and accuse Him of being wrong.

Much to their delight, some of the disciples began to strip heads of grain from the field, rub them in their hands to separate the grain from the sheaf, and pop it into their mouths. This, to the Pharisee, was harvesting and threshing grain, something which one could do on any other day, but not on the Sabbath. The challenge was made, both to Jesus (Matthew and Mark) and to the disciples (Luke), “How the Sabbath be so blatantly broken by doing this?” Our Lord’s response, as outlined by Luke, is based upon a very simple premise: WHO YOU ARE DETERMINES WHETHER OR NOT YOU ARE FREE TO BREAK THE SABBATH.

Jesus’ argument was amazingly simple: “David broke the law, and if he could have done so, I all the more.” Technically speaking, David did break the letter of the law when he ate bread that only the priests were allowed to partake. David also gave this bread to his men, and was condemned for doing so. David’s actions could be justified by several lines of argument. David was hungry, as were his men. He might have died without this bread. The answer which Jesus is seeking is something different, however. Jesus wants His critics to admit that they don’t condemn David’s actions because David was so revered by the Pharisees, even though it was a violation of the law. Who you are determines what you can get away with. The central issue, then, was not whether or not Jesus broke the Sabbath, but who Jesus was.

If Jesus has fulfilled the Sabbath by coming with a greater rest, then the commandment to keep the Sabbath can be set aside. Why work to rest under the law when Christ gives rest from the law? Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath in the sense that He is greater than the Sabbath, and thus able to set it aside. To be Lord of the Sabbath is to be Lord over the Sabbath. When Jesus claimed to be Lord of the Sabbath, He claimed to be greater than the Sabbath, in authority over the Sabbath, and thus far more qualified than David to break the law pertaining to the Sabbath.

Sunday April 8, 2018 Gospel of Luke – Luke 5:27-39 “Eat, Drink and Be Merry”

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Luke 5:33-34
They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.” Jesus answered, “Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”

Many people saw the Puritans (incorrectly) as “people who suffer from an overwhelming dread that somewhere, sometime, somehow, someone may be enjoying himself.” That definition is incorrect because the Puritans had as their purpose “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” But we all have met someone who fits that incorrect definition —a religious person who only seems to be content when everyone else is miserable. These folks are like Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon Lutherans, who are suspicious of a place like Hawaii that doesn’t have harsh winters.

Why is it that there are so many “dill pickle” Christians around, who are more like the Pharisees than those who attended Levi’s reception? It is because Satan has warped our conception of the Christian life. Jesus’ disciples, unlike the disciples of the Pharisees and even of John the Baptist, feast, while the others fast. The real issue is not stated, but it is there: “Why are your disciples able to enjoy life, while we merely endure it?” Note the contrast in the attitude of the Pharisees with that of the “sinners.” The sinners are celebrating; the Pharisees are grumbling. The sinners are happy; the Pharisees are sad. The sinners are enjoying life; the Pharisees only endure it. The sinners are “grabbing for gusto,” the Pharisees are griping to Jesus.

There are times when fasting is appropriate. There are times when the most spiritually mature Christians will be sad, when they will grieve, when they won’t be marked by joy. But Jesus is the bridegroom and when He is with His people, then we should experience the joy of the wedding feast. The joy of the Christian life is being personally related to our loving Bridegroom! If you know the joy of a personal relationship with Him, there will be times when you fast. You will discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. You will obey His Word. But your motive will not be to earn right standing with Him or to impress others with your spirituality. Your motive will be the joy of knowing and pleasing your Bridegroom.

Joy, not sorrow, not sadness, should be the dominant characteristic of the Christian. The Christian life includes sorrow and suffering and sacrifice, but these are not the melody line of our life, or they should not be. These are the harmony line. Suffering and sacrifice are means, but they should not be the end. Joy is the goal, it is the climax, it is the reward of forgiveness and fellowship with God.

Sunday – July 30, 2017 Thom Rachford Preaching

Sunday – July 30, 2017 – Read the Word on Worship

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The Kingdom Come

Acts 1:6-7
So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.

Jesus disciples knew the many Old Testament prophecies about a coming Kingdom. Jesus had preached that the Kingdom was at hand.  They were anxious to know if today was the day.  James and John wanted positions of authority in the Kingdom and to sit on Jesus’ right and left hand.  In Matt 6:9 Jesus even told His disciples to pray “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heavenThey were expecting a Kingdom on earth with Jesus as King and the Father’s will is done like it is in Heaven.  The time seemed right.

When the disciples asked, Jesus did not refute the idea of a restored Kingdom to Israel. He only said it was not for them to know the time.  After His death and resurrection they asked Him again.  Now, sin had been dealt with, and now death was overcome.  Everything would seem to be in place for the Kingdom to come immediately.  However, the Kingdom was postponed until the Time of The Gentiles was completed.  The Time of the Gentiles was brought on by Israel’s rebellion against God and His commandments.  Like other of God’s Judgments, the Time of the Gentiles must be fulfilled as God directs.  But the Kingdom Will Come.