Sunday – September 14, 2014 1John 2:28-29 “Are You Ready for His Coming?”

Sunday – September 14, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

1st John 3 verses 28-29 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


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1 John 2:28-29
“Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.”

Dealing with conflict paralyzes most of us. We know that if we confront people about their misbehavior it may cause a relationship and even whole communities to fracture. But we are equally aware of the warnings John has already given us about those who practice unrighteousness in the Body of Christ. So we often choose doing nothing in order to maintain unity rather than gentle correction and restoration. John is writing to a church going through this very struggle. But rather than seeing a church paralyzed by the conflict, John offers counsel on how to address it by developing a biblical eschatological climate.

Throughout the history of the church, Christians have tried to interpret their history with the return of Jesus Christ in view. When signs of persecution and trouble appear, instead of finding hope and being warned, we often hear messages of fear urging an apocalyptic message that the end is near. The Apostle John would have the church develop a climate that heightens our awareness of the last days (Eschatology) so that when troubles overwhelm us. Instead of proudly predicting the arrival of the end, we should say we are in a time that demonstrates features of the end and thus we must watch and pray to be ready. Alertness to the time is the best preparation for dealing with possible conflict in the Church.

Our Lord told us in passages such as Mark 13 that the end will be characterized by suffering such as this. While it may not be today, one day such suffering will be greeted by the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. But as we wait, we need to be equipped so that we are not discouraged when severe troubles and persecutions erupt. Having the proper eschatological readiness helps dispel the despair that accompanies turmoil. It teaches us to watch for changes in history, to be aware of “antichrists” and to be alert when history betrays elements of the return of our Savior.

The New Testament does not warn us about eschatological zeal as much as it does about losing our vision of the last days. Be ready, Jesus urges, for the end will come like a thief in the night. John reminds us of the confidence we are to have at the second coming of Jesus Christ, but he reminds us that righteousness is the defining characteristic of those who are born of Him. Our challenge is to promote a biblical eschatological worldview without inspiring doomsday apocalypticism.

Sunday – September 7, 2014 1John 2:24-27 “Avoiding Deception Part 2”

Sunday – September 7, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

1st John 2 verses 24 to 27 “Avoiding Spiritual Deception Part 2″ from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


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1 John 2:24-25
As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life.

From the earliest days, while the apostles were still living, the enemy has sown confusion in the churches about the gospel. In his last letter before his death, Paul warned Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:13, “But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” He goes on to exhort Timothy to continue (the same Greek word that is translated abide in John) in the Word, which is able to bring us to salvation. If Satan can cause confusion about the gospel, everything else is affected. It is the domino that causes all the others to fall. By the way, as John Calvin notes, it is the duty of a godly pastor to drive away the wolves and to warn the flock about those who pervert the gospel. I would not be a faithful pastor if I only spoke to you about positive, heartwarming matters, but did not also warn you of these insidious errors.

Take the error that believing in Christ for salvation does not include repenting of sin or submitting to Jesus as Lord. As a result of this teaching, there are thousands in evangelical churches who claim to be born again, but they habitually live in sin. They’ve been assured that because they received Christ, they are going to heaven. But as Paul describes such people in Titus 1:16, “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.” They will be shocked when they stand before the Lord and hear Him say, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” (Matt 7:23)

Or, take the error of the seeker churches. They take surveys to determine what people want from a church. Those who have been turned off by legalism or by guilt-producing, fire and brimstone sermons, have said, “We would like a church that is upbeat and positive. We want modern music. We want to feel good about ourselves when we leave. We want help with how to succeed in our families and our careers. But keep it light and on the short side.”

So, the church marketers have gone back to the drawing boards. They’ve devised a church service that only lasts an hour. The music is contemporary and not too heavy on doctrine. There are skits or other entertaining acts. The messages avoid controversial or difficult subjects like sin, judgment, or righteousness. The “gospel” is packaged as, “If you’ve got problems, try Jesus. He will help you become all that you’ve ever wanted to be.” But, where is the message of Scripture, that our sins have alienated us from a holy God, and that we must repent? Where is any careful, verse-by-verse exposition of Scripture? It’s not there.

 

Sunday – August 31, 2014 1st John 2:18-23 “Avoiding Spiritual Deception”

Sunday – August 31, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

1st John 2 verses 18 to 23 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


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1 John 2:18-20
“Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.”

When I read the denials of historic biblical Christianity (the atoning death of Jesus for our sins, the omniscience and sovereignty of God, the second coming of the Lord in glory) – what strikes me is the ease with which many people are deceived. Two things account for this: a lack of grounding in the Word of God and a lack of life in the Holy Spirit. Or to put it another way, when people have no theological depth and no vital experience of the Holy Spirit, they are easy marks for any deceiver and ultimately the antichrist.

1 John is written for an age like ours, and the two things John strives for are a deeper rooting in the Word of God and a deeper experience of the Spirit of God. These are two of the greatest needs of the Church today. The Word of God and the Spirit of God are our only hope for stability in a world filled with antichrists. Yet spiritual maturity and depth are rarely seen in the pulpits, much less the pews of the local church body.

John’s view of the end-times seems to be that there is a singular antichrist coming but that the spirit of antichrist is already in the world and that it produces many preliminary lesser forms of the antichrist. The essence of the antichrist spirit is to deny that Jesus was the Christ or to deny that the Christ was fully incarnate in Jesus. The spirit of antichrist does whatever it can to diminish Christ and substitute other views or other persons for the true incarnate Son of God. Consider the following texts where John refers to the antichrist. (These are the only places in the whole New Testament where the term antichrist occurs.)

John is very concerned that the church be alert to what he calls “the liar” or “deceivers.” Many such deceivers have gone out into the world. We live in a period of time where God in His sovereignty allows deception to spread. In 5:19 John says, “The whole world is in the power of the evil one.” We live in the last hours of this deception. This will be my prayer for all of us here at Sunrise Community Church – that the Word abides in us and that we abide in the Spirit. I pray that Sunrise loves the Word, and continues to gather Sunday after Sunday to worship in the Spirit and in the truth. For the Lord seeks those who will worship him in Spirit and in truth.

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”

Sunday – July 20, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

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 verses 3 and 4 “True Fellowship” from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


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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”

Sunday – June 29, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

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

Sunday – June 22, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

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”

Sunday – June 15, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

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.