Sunday – July 4, 2021 Independence Day Philippians 1:27-30 “Christian Citizenship”

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 4, 2021

Philippians 1:27-28
Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents — which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.

Paul was aware when he wrote to the Philippian church of just how important the desire to re-create a home in a foreign place was. Philippi was a colony of Rome—a part of the Roman commonwealth. This meant more than its being a subject city: Philippi was distinct from other cities in Macedonia in that it was made to be a model Roman city. In a colony one would find Roman customs, Roman architecture, Roman dress, and the prevailing language was Latin. It was, in a word, a fragment of Rome. If you were to walk into the city, you would have the feeling of entering an Italian suburb of Rome, even though it was nearly a thousand miles distant.

When Paul wrote to the Philippian Christians, he knew they would understand him when he said, “Our citizenship is in heaven.” (Phil. 3:20) There is an important difference between Paul’s calling Christians to be citizens of a heavenly kingdom and the human tendency to make a home on foreign soil by imitating the customs of the homeland. While there is a continual reminder of the alienation that accompanies having a home in a foreign land, we have the hope of going to our true homeland.

We as Christians must never forget that this world is not home. There must be a sense of alienation taken into the heart of all our experiences because the gospel has given us more than new lift-  it has granted us new citizenship. Unfortunately, adaptation is second nature to the human race. We adapt ourselves to the environment and culture in which we find ourselves until we act and think like those around us. In doing so we exchange the distinction of being a heavenly citizen for a lesser title of a citizen of an earthly nation. We lay aside the standard of the gospel in order to have room to carry the standard of the nation.

The gospel is the new and higher standard of conduct for who bear the name of Christ. The gospel is the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ; it is the declaration of how God has made it possible for people to obtain the forgiveness of their sins and the assurance of eternal life. The actions of the believer are attempts to prove to this world the real existence of another world; another citizenship. In all matters relating to the gospel, we must obey God and not men. This will cause friction with the nation in which we live. The friction caused by our spiritual loyalty to our true nation is the way we testify of another eternal world and to another glorious King.

Sunday – June 27, 2021 Romans Week 11 Romans 3:1-8 “Condemning Questions”

Sunday – June 27, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – June 27, 2021

Romans 3:1-2
Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God.

It is not difficult to imagine the response of a Jew to Paul’s words in Romans 2. “What good does it do me to be a Jew?” Paul’s response, “Great in every respect”, indicates that there are many benefits of being a Jew, but he wants to draw their attention one particular blessing. The Old Testament Scriptures were given through the Jews and to them. They did not just possess the Scriptures; they were entrusted with them. The truth of God was not given to the Jews to keep for themselves as though they exclusively possessed it. The truth was given to be used and to be shared. The Jews were granted the privilege of receiving God’s Word, of practicing it, and of proclaiming it to the nations.

Our perception of the blessedness of this gift depends upon the value we place upon God’s Word, and ultimately upon our estimation of God Himself. What good is the revelation of a God whom we dislike, whom we have rejected? What good is the revelation of His character and of His standards for our conduct if we esteem God little, and we loathe godliness? God’s Word is a blessing to those who yearn to know more of God and who wish for His Word to search them and to reveal their sins. God’s Word is a privilege to those who would desire to know Him and to be like Him.

If the Old Testament Scriptures were such a privilege and a responsibility for the Jews of that day, how much greater is our privilege and responsibility today? We have God’s full and final revelation; they had only the Old Testament. If we would know the measure of our own appreciation for the privilege of possessing the Scriptures, let us consider how well-worn the pages of our Bibles are. Do we look at the Bible only as a set of do’s and don’ts, or do we look at the Scriptures as the source and sustenance of our lives? Do we study them to know our God better so that we may serve Him more faithfully? I fear that for many of us, the Bible is viewed no differently than the Jews looked at the Scriptures in Paul’s day.

We too have been given the Scriptures as a stewardship. We are not only to possess and to practice His Word, but we are to proclaim it to those who are in bondage to sin. The paradox is this: the more we seek to hoard the Scriptures, and the blessings they offer, the more we forfeit them. The more we seek to share the grace of God with others, the more we experience it ourselves. It is not what we keep that matters so much as what we use and what we give away. The truth of God is a personal blessing, but it brings added responsibility, for “to whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48).

Sunday – June 20, 2021 Father’s Day John 8:31-50 “Like Father Like Son”

Sunday – June 20, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – June 20, 2021

John 8:39-41
Abraham is our father,” they answered. “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did. As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the things your own father does.”

Our Lord has not yet said just who is the “true father” of these Jewish opponents. His adversaries seem well on their way to figuring that out for themselves. Almost as though they are trying to speak before Jesus can identify their “father,” they blurt out, “We were not born as a result of immorality! We have only one Father, God himself” (verse 41). They seem to be saying: “So, you think that God is your Father, but not ours. You think you can accuse us of having another “father” than Abraham. Well, since the subject of fathers has come up, let us remind you that none of us is a bastard—but you are! It is we who are the sons of God, and not you!”

Our Lord is not taken aback by their cruel accusation. Jesus bases His next words on a principle we articulate by the expression: “Like father, like son.” You know who one’s father is by his conduct as a son. A son acts like his father, and so you know that the son will imitate his father. The “father” of these hecklers in the crowd can be discerned by simply observing their conduct. Abraham believed God; the crowd does not believe in the Son of God, who was sent down from heaven and who speaks for God the Father. If God were their father, they would welcome His Son and love Him, as they think they love the Father.

Jesus concludes: “You people are from your father the devil” (verse 44). This must come as a slap in the face. These people think they have the inside track with God, that they are “sons of God” as much as men can be. Now Jesus tells them they are really sons of the devil. How can one conclude otherwise? They reject Him whose word is the truth. They are devoted to lies, just like their real father, the devil. When they seek to kill Jesus, are they not murderers, like their father, the devil?

Jesus has much to say about “fatherhood.” The Jews of that day made too much of their ancestry. They not only rightly believed that being a Jew is a privilege, they falsely assumed that being Jewish (the offspring of Abraham) was their ticket into the kingdom of God. Jesus makes it clear that Abraham must be our father in a different sense. Jesus is telling us that one’s “father” is known, not by one’s parents, or even by one’s profession, but by means of one’s practice. Our father is the one who behaves as we do. The Jews who oppose Jesus are liars and murderers, just like their “true father,” the devil. Who your “true father” is will be evident by your walk.

Sunday – June 6, 2021 Romans Week 9 Rom 2:6-16 “How Good is Good Enough”

Sunday – June 6, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – June 6, 2021

Romans 2:12-13
For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.

If you have shared the gospel with people, you’ve heard the question, “Is God fair to judge those who have never heard about Jesus Christ?” Will a person really go to hell because they did not believe in Jesus when they never heard of Him? Another variation of the question is, “Won’t those who have done the best that they could do get into heaven?”

God will judge everyone with perfect justice. Paul establishes this point in verse 11, “For there is no partiality with God.” Paul anticipates our objection because he knows we are predisposed to think more highly of our own sense of morality. We think God will treat us more favorably than others who live just as they please. We are good people who obey the golden rule and they don’t!” Or, perhaps a more agnostic person would object, “It’s not fair for God to judge me for disobeying a standard that I knew nothing about! I’ve done the best that I could with what I knew. God won’t judge me, will He?”

Paul shows that God will impartially judge everyone for sinning against the light that they were given. His line of reasoning goes like this: The Gentile sinned without the Law, so he will perish without the Law. The Jew sinned under the Law and so he will be judged by the Law. In other words, as verse 6 stated, God “will render to each person according to his deeds.” Hearing the Law isn’t good enough; you must be a doer of the Law. Although the Gentiles did not have God’s Law, they all have an inner sense of right and wrong- a conscience. And, although occasionally they may do what is right, they all have sinned against what they know to be right. Their consciences and thoughts convict them of their guilt. But whatever they may think of themselves, the day is coming when God will judge not only outward deeds, but also the secrets of men through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the gospel.

At first glance, this doesn’t sound like good news! But, if there is no judgment for all sin, then there is no need for a Savior and thus no good news. If we do not acknowledge the coming judgment and wrath of God, we do not understand the gospel at all. The gospel does not offer good people the option of going on in our sin or shrugging it off as if it will not come under judgment if we do not repent. We need to understand the bad news of judgment in order to appreciate the good news of salvation through faith in Christ.

Sunday – May 23, 2021 Romans Week 8 Rom 2:1-5 “Self Righteousness is Unrighteousness”

Sunday – May 23, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 23, 2021

Romans 2:3-4
But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”

Waiting for his first orthodontist appointment, a 12-year-old boy was a bit nervous. He was completing a patient questionnaire and had high hopes of winning the dentist’s favor. In the space marked “Hobbies” he wrote, “Swimming and flossing”. We all want to make a good impression, to portray ourselves to others as better than we really are. But when we do that, we’re forgetting something important, namely, that God knows the very thoughts and intentions of our hearts. As the writer of Hebrews tells us, “all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Heb. 4:13). Someday we will stand before Him to give an account of our lives.

Paul begins to zero in on the moral Gentile or Jew in these opening verses, using the same indirect approach that the prophet Amos (Amos 1 & 2), where he begins by condemning the foreign nations around Israel. Just when the Jews are cheering him on, he moves in to hit them with their sins. Self-righteous people tend to justify themselves by blaming others. Self-righteousness is a very difficult sin to get people to see and condemn in themselves. But it’s a serious sin because it keeps people from seeing their need for the gospel. It believes the lie that we can be good enough in ourselves to qualify for heaven. “Maybe really gross sinners need a Savior. But me? Hey, God wouldn’t judge a good guy like me, would He?” Or, would He?

Paul isn’t condemning the act of judging others per se, in that he expects the moral person to agree with him that the sins of Romans 1 are wrong. The problem with judging others is when you secretly engage in the same behavior that you openly condemn. When a politician postures as standing for family values, but it comes out that he snuck off to visit his mistress in South America, he has condemned himself. Paul is not saying that it is wrong to judge others. Rather, he is saying that it is wrong self-righteously to judge others, while at the same time you’re practicing the sins that you’re judging.

The self-righteous are in error concerning divine judgment. They fail to distinguish between God’s present wrath and His coming (future) wrath. One purpose of God’s present wrath is repentance, leading to salvation. The primary purpose of His future wrath is justice. There is no turning back from this judgment. When we look upon those God has “given over to sin” as eternally doomed, we are just as incorrect as looking upon those who are presently experiencing God’s “kindness” as assured of eternal blessing. For now, both God’s kindness and His severity are directed toward man’s salvation, not his destruction.

Sunday – May 16, 2021 Romans Week 7 Rom 1:24-32 “The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same”

Sunday – May 16, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 16, 2021

Roman 1:23
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.”

If you were born after 1970, you may not realize how drastically America and the West have change. I grew up watching TV shows that depicted the typical American family where the father wore a suit, supported the family, and was looked to as the head of the home. The mother wore a dress, prepared the meals, and dispensed wisdom to the kids to help them navigate life’s normal struggles. We’ve gone down a long way since then! Some would say because of her cultural sins, America is on the brink of God’s judgment. But Paul would say, “No, America is already under God’s judgment.” When a society flaunts and gives hearty approval to sin, even applauding them as right, it shows God has already given that society over to impurity, to degrading passions, and to a depraved mind.

We might wonder when this divine judgment of giving people over to their sin took place. Is Paul describing the fall? Or does he have in mind the demise of certain cultures, such as Sodom and Gomorrah? Or is he talking about individuals who go so far in sin that God gives them over to their sins? The Bible make clear is that all three are true and have a role to play in this downward spiral.

At the fall, the human race was cut off from fellowship with the holy God and plunged into sin. We all are born in sin, alienated from God. We are not sinners because we sin; rather, we sin because by nature we are sinners. But on another level, it applies to individual cultures throughout history. At the Tower of Babel, proud sinners defied God, bringing down His judgment by confusing their languages. Ancient Greece and Rome had their times of glory, but idolatry and immorality brought them down. And this is also true on the individual level. All people without Christ are in sin, but when an individual brazenly turns his back on the light that God has given him it sets them on a path to pursue sin and give themselves over to the sinful desires of their hearts.

If only from what you have read here, you know enough understand that you are a sinner and need the gospel to be saved from the punishment your sin deserves. I must ask you this question. What have you done with what you have heard? It is not enough to know that you are a sinner, and that your deeds render you guilty of sin before a holy God. It is not enough to know and to believe that Christ died for your sins, bearing your punishment and offering His righteousness to you. You must personally receive the gift of salvation by placing your trust in Jesus as God’s provision for the forgiveness of your sins and for the righteousness you need to enter into His kingdom. If you have never trusted in Jesus Christ for your salvation, I pray that you will act on this offer now, that you will receive God’s gift of forgiveness and eternal life.

Sunday – May 9, 2021 Mother’s Day Zechariah 8:1-8

Sunday – May 9, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 9, 2021

Zechariah 8:4-5
Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Old men and old women will again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each man with his staff in his hand because of age. ‘And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.’

If someone were to ask, “What does the kingdom of God look like?” we might think of heavenly choirs singing praises to the accompaniment of harps. There is no doubt that glorious worship will be an important part of God’s kingdom. But I would guess that few, if any, of us would ever think to describe His kingdom as our text does: “Old men and old women will again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each man with his staff in his hand because of age. And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets” (Zech. 8:4-5).

This is not Zechariah’s personal idea of what the kingdom of God will look like, but the direct word of the Lord of hosts (8:4). This word was intended originally to encourage the remnant that was struggling to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem after the exile. It fit into the overall theme of Zechariah, that God remembers His chosen people, and that He will bless them in His time. But the words also apply to God’s people in every generation who seek to live under the lordship of Jesus Christ as we await His glorious return and His coming kingdom.

Sadly, those words do not describe a large segment of American society. In 2018, The Office of Children and Families reported 1788 children under the age of 15 died from abuse or neglect and that number continues to rise annually. Most such abuse occurs within the confines of the home. Our streets, especially in large cities, are not safe, especially for women, children, or the elderly. By way of contrast, when the Lord will rule and reign, the elderly will be at rest and the children at play, unafraid of attack or harm. Since these two groups represent the most vulnerable in any society, if they are securely at rest, everyone else will also enjoy peace. How a society treats its elderly and its young children may be a good measure of how close that society is to the Lord. When He dwells in our midst, He describes the result as this scene of peaceful joy for the aged and the young.

The Lord taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). While the Lord’s kingdom will not come in its entirety until He returns in power and glory, we should labor for that kingdom to come in the interim. We should demonstrate, as much as possible, kingdom living in the here and now. Those who do not know Christ should be able to look at our homes and our church and get a glimpse of what it will be like on earth when Jesus reigns as King and dwells with us.

Sunday – May 2, 2021 Romans Week 6 Rom 1:18-23 “The Present Wrath of God”

Sunday – May 2, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 2, 2021

Romans 1:18-20
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

God is doing a work today, and few even know He is doing it. He is presently revealing His wrath on “all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Romans 1:18). God is judging men for their sin today, and few even know it is happening. Unbelievers are unaware of God’s judgment, because they do not know God, nor are they alert to His presence and power in the world today. This is to be expected. But many Christians are equally ignorant of God’s present judgment of sin. They think of God’s judgment only in terms of the future. And they think of the sinner’s present self-indulgence in terms of pleasure, not punishment.

Many Christians look upon the sinfulness of our culture in about the same way one of the psalmists of old looked upon his culture—with envy. Instead of grieving over the sins of others, as Lot did over the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, we are tempted to envy sinners, as though they are privileged to enjoy pleasures we Christians are denied. And so, very much as Satan implied that God was withholding good from Adam and Eve, we are tempted to believe that God is withholding something good from us. We try to console ourselves with the thought that though we must suffer now, we do so in order to enjoy better pleasures in heaven.

In the time of the great tribulation, God will allow men to do as they please. He will remove all restraints. But men will learn that there is no joy or pleasure possible when each seeks his own pleasure at the expense of others. Men want God to leave them alone; they want none of His controls. When God removes His controlling and restraining hand (Colossians 1:16, 17) the universe will begin to fall apart at the seams (Matthew 24:29). Men wish God to leave them alone, and God will give them an eternity of separation from Himself (2 Thessalonians 1:9). What an awesome thought. Hell is getting exactly what we want. And on the reverse side of the coin, how grateful we Christians should be to our heavenly Father Who has and will withhold much of what we ask for, for our own good.

Paul’s words may take many of us by surprise. We are not inclined to believe that God’s judgment has a present, as well as a future, manifestation. And even if we do believe in a present judgment, the form which this judgment takes, according to Paul, is not that which we would expect. The Book of Romans will force us to re-evaluate much of our thinking on the judgment of God. We must have the Holy Spirit illuminate His Word to understand it, and we must have divine enablement to apply it. Let us petition God for the ministry of His Spirit, as we approach our study in Paul’s letter to the Romans.

Sunday – April 18, 2021 Romans Week 4 Rom 1:8-15 “Saints Serving Saints”

Sunday – April 18, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – April 18, 2021

Romans 1:11-12
I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”

Paul is still introducing his letter to the Romans, most of whom he has never met. He knew that due to his enemies, he was sometimes portrayed as a radical who was teaching all sorts of dangerous things (Acts 17:6; 21:28). But he longed to visit these fellow believers in Rome and share together in the things of God. He is a man with a mission, an apostle with a commission to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, leading to the “obedience of faith.” He is also a man with a heart for the saints at Rome. So, Paul has the delicate task of explaining to these mostly unknown Christians, some of whom may have heard negative things about him, who he is and why he wants to visit them and preach the gospel there.

Paul shares how he has heard of their faith and how frequently he prays for them. He shares his heart about wanting to come and spend time with them, both strengthening their faith and also being encouraged himself by them in the things of the gospel. He lets them know that he has often desired to come, but thus far has been prevented. But now he hopes to come and find opportunities to preach there. So Paul wants to use his gifts to serve these people he does not yet know, and he wants to benefit from them using their gifts to serve him, as together they labor to see the gospel expand in Rome. This little snapshot of Paul and the church at Rome gives us a picture of serving saints.

God wants all whom He has saved to be serving saints. It’s obvious that Paul is not the only one in these verses who is serving. He begins by mentioning how he has heard all over about the faith of the Roman believers. He also says that he expects not only to minister to the Romans, but he also expects to be ministered to by them. As we saw in verse 7, the believers in Rome were “called as saints” and all believers are to be serving saints. Serving saints long to be with other saints for the purpose of effective ministry by and to each other.

Paul wanted to go to Rome to impart some spiritual gift to them (1:11). What does he mean? 1 Corinthians 12:11 tells us the Holy Spirit distributes gifts to each person “just as He wills.” It’s not that Paul had the ability to impart various spiritual gifts to others. Rather, he wants to impart the gift of his apostolic understanding of the gospel, which we have in the Book of Romans. As Paul exercised his gift of teaching, these believers would be more established in their faith. In turn, the saints in Rome would be able to exercise the spiritual gifts they had in the life of Paul to encourage, equip and expand his ability to minister.  This is why at Sunrise Community Church, we value ministry by and to each other.

Sunday – April 11, 2021 Romans Week 3 Rom 1:1-7 “The Gospel of God”

Sunday – April 11, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – April 11, 2021

Romans 1:2-4
“…the gospel He promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding His Son, who as to His human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.”

My fear, as we begin our study in the Book of Romans, is that we are often so familiar with certain words, such as “gospel,” or so academic in our approach, that we are not thrilled and moved to the depths of our being by the wonder of it all. The gospel of God is the theme of Romans and Paul describes it here in his introduction to the church at Rome.

God originated the gospel and the gospel is all about God. It tells us how we can be rightly related to Him through His eternal Son, whom He sent. This is not Paul’s or any other apostle’s idea. Rather, it comes to us right out of the Old Testament, which he refers to as the “holy Scriptures.” God promised the gospel in prototype in Genesis 3:15, right after the fall, when He said that the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent. The gospel was implicit in the Old Testament sacrificial system, revealed most thoroughly to Moses but even revealed from the outset to Cain and Abel. The wages of our sin is death, but God graciously would accept the blood sacrifice of an acceptable substitute. As Isaiah 53 makes plain, Jesus is the lamb of God who was wounded for our transgressions.

God’s promise in the Old Testament to send the Savior is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Although from the human perspective it took many centuries, but God always keeps His promises in His time. No doubt there were scoffers then, as there are now, who mocked, “Where is the promise of the Savior?” But there were those, like the godly Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-38), who were waiting expectantly for God to keep His promise. Although you may be tempted to despair at times, wondering, “Where is the promise of His coming?” (2 Pet. 3:4) persevere in faith. God always keeps His promises. Jesus is coming to judge this evil world and to bring full redemption to His people.

Jesus is the center of the gospel. When the gospel is shared, the discussion must center on the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus asked the disciples (Matt. 16:15), “But who do you say that I am?” That is the crucial question! If Jesus is who He claimed to be and who the Scriptures present Him to be, then He is Lord of all and we must bow before Him. Is Jesus your Savior and Lord in that sense? The gospel of God is not primarily about you and how Jesus can help you find happiness and peace and fulfillment. Rather, it is from God and about God. Is He the eternal Son, risen from the dead, exalted as Lord? If so, then make sure that He is your Savior and Lord!