Weekly messages from the Holy Scriptures applying God's Word for God's people.
Good Morning! This is the recorded sermon from Sunday night's Graduation service for May 16, 2021. The text was Romans 12:1-2. Blessings in Christ,
18 min 29 sec
Someone who keeps their promises shows themselves to be trustworthy. No human being can do that, only God can and in this passage of holy Scripture we see such a beautiful example of God winning the battle, but doing so in such a complete way as to cause Judah to not even have to lift a finger to bring an end to the threat of the three kingdoms. This exemplary example of the LORD's love for His people is a perfect illustration of what has happened to us and for us at the cross of Calvary. The victory was and is won by Christ, and by Him alone. It can be hard for us to really come to grips with what this means, yet at the end of the day our praise of Him and thanksgiving in worship is a sign of our understanding of this great and wonderful work of salvation accomplished by our Redeemer. Let us rest and trust in the LORD our God because He alone has kept His Word and has granted to us by the gift of faith a title to the victory itself.
34 min 27 sec
This portion of God's Word has many things to teach us, but two things are of a very important practical purpose. First, we see the presence of children in the worship of the Church. At Bethany we really believe that not only has God called all of the family to worship Him, infant through great-great grandma, but that children by virtue of their place in His covenantal promise through baptism have as much right to bring praise, as Psalm 8 so wonderfully notes, as any other member of the church. Christ reminds the disciples not to bar the children from being with Him, and this especially applies to His worship. Second, in the passage for this week Jehoshaphat gives a godly example of what fathers should do. Through leading by example in his seeking out for the LORD's help and heeding the words of God's prophet the king shows the people of God what should be expected of them in times of trial and tribulation. Placing oneself in the hands of Christ and understanding His blessing and grace is how others, especially kids, learn about why they should likewise trust in God's plan and promise. The role of fathers in the Christ's kingdom cannot be overstated. This is especially the case because we live in an era where fathers are both abandoning their responsibilities as well as being downplayed by the culture. Being the spiritual leader in the home is so important to the life of the family and when this role is abdicated real, spiritual famine usually follows. As noted one of the most important ways fathers can pattern godly behavior is by being in worship every week, and not just physically being present, but engaging in singing, prayer, and attention to the means of grace. Have a blessed week!
34 min 47 sec
Some people find history pretty boring, others can't get enough of it, but regardless of how we feel about it there is one thing that is true: History matters. There is a truism that some people act like the world was created the day they were born. Part of growing up, maturing is understanding that we are but a part of a much larger reality. This is especially true for the Christian. We are what we are because of history. Of a particular event that we trust and know that actually happened as much as George Washington was a real person and the Battle of Midway was not a creation of Hollywood. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the only reason there is a Christianity and it is central to all that we hold dear, and this historical truth and its application through the power of the Holy Spirit to the believer is what enables us to stand before the Lord our God and cry out to Him when trial and trouble appear and know that He not only hears our prayers, but is already working through His providence and His grace to work all things for His glory. In today's passage Jehoshaphat finds peace because of what he knows about what the LORD had accomplished for his fathers, the way God had redeemed Israel from bondage to slavery, and how God had called Abraham His friend. This knowledge of the way that the LORD keeps His promises to His people is also what brought assurance to Jesus Christ on the cross. As he cried out the opening verse of Psalm 22 He was reminding Himself and others of God's sure word and the way the LORD who never changes will never cease watching over His people even in the most difficult of circumstances. Christian be comforted by history. By the fact that Jesus Christ is the King of History, and not only that but of the present and the future as well. Place your faith and trust in the Rock that is higher than anything else, and the only person who has saved you from your sins, given you this new life in Him, and who alone has the power to help in times of trouble.
34 min 25 sec
The Unity of the Church is so important. Making sure we are all on the same page, seeking the best for everyone in the community of faith, and that the household of God is lifting every part of the body up in prayer is how we can stand fast in the face of the enemies of God, especially that enemy which lives within us. In the passage this week we see the fruit of Jehoshaphat's campaign to teach the people of Judah to find their peace and comfort in the Word of the living God, and not just outwardly, but within their souls as well. This comes not by rash decision making, but by carefully preparing oneself to receive the blessings of the Lord in prayer. Building that foundation of faith enables you to stand fast when sin and temptation rear their ugly head. We also see in this portion of Holy Scripture an example of a Godly leader and father. Jehoshaphat leads by example and before telling everyone else to pray he himself calls out and seeks the ear of Jehovah in the knowledge that He is his hope. As we go about our business this week let us "set our hearts" on Christ and remember that we are not in this battle alone, but have brothers and sisters in Christ who love us and care for us. May we remember God's faithfulness in all things by His grace.
32 min 20 sec
In many ways discipleship is the work of repetition. It so often follows a pattern of: sin, repentance, growth, sin, repentance, growth, and on and on. This is what we are seeing in the life of Jehoshaphat. He had started out well, organizing Judah with an eye towards justice, yet when given the opportunity to "export" that justice to Israel he fell hard and sinned greatly before the LORD. In His blessed grace Jehovah had rescued the king of Judah from the consequences of his transgressions and brought him back to Jerusalem where he had spent time in reflection and the work of renewing his covenantal commitment to God through prayer, fasting, and "dwelling" in the face of the LORD. This seeking of God where He may be found is shown to be the merciful power that it is by what we see Jehoshaphat do in this passage. Much like in chapter 19 at the beginning of his story the king is active in putting Godly judges in place, but there is a difference this time. He says that these judges are to, "...act in the fear of the LORD, faithfully and with a loyal heart." What this means in practical words is that these men given the responsibility of making sure that God's people are dealt with fairly and without partiality are to always remember that at the end of the day they are not working for Jehoshaphat, but Jehovah. This is to show them that in the Day of Judgment when they have to give an account for their labors God's Word and His Law will be the standard by which they will they themselves will be judged. This teaching is meant to provide peace and comfort to the nation, as it is also meant to give the Church a word of solace, especially in a world where we do not know what will be "right" or "wrong" from day-to-day. The Christian has the knowledge that the Lord Jesus Christ has declared what is holy and righteous and good in His word, and that is what the Church must ground its teaching and its behavior. For the wisdom of our Savior is greater than anything the fickle mind of man could ever come up with, and it is the only way that Believers can know that which is honoring to God and that which brings glory to His name.
33 min 1 sec
No one likes being told they are wrong, particularly when they are wrong. Whether it is a question of fact or an action, it doesn't really matter. Our pride is often what stops us from receiving correction, even, maybe especially when we need to hear it, yet this is what the LORD does for those whom He loves. In our passage this week we see God sending a prophet named Jehu to witness to and comfort Jehoshaphat after his disastrous decision to marry off his son to Ahab's daughter and to engage in warfare at Ramoth Gilead against the counsel of the Lord. At the end of chapter 18 Jehoshaphat was saved by the intercession of God in the midst of the battle, and the King has returned to Jerusalem. When he comes back Jehu has some choice words meant to bring Jehoshaphat back into the Kingdom of Heaven, not by shaming him, but through his counsel to show him that in his distress their is hope found in repentance and faith. The church today is living in a time of a great harvest. The fields are white and ready to be brought in. The Scriptures tell us that we are to love those who hate us, and what better way can the church love their persecutors and reach those who are lost and alienated in this life than with the beautiful gospel of peace found alone in Christ Jesus our Lord. Blessings on your week!
33 min 51 sec
Repentance is hard. It involves putting to death pride and openly recognizing and admitting you sinned, have no real future in continuing in your sin, and that your sin is against a holy and righteous God without which there is no hope of salvation. Sometimes God puts us in difficult situations so that we will face up to our transgressions and deal with them in a way that brings peace and comfort out of the consequences that our sin has placed us in. Jehoshaphat in our Scripture text today was in this position in spades. The whole Syrian Army was barreling down on him, waiting for the signal to light up his body with arrows and swords, all because Jehoshaphat through his alliance with evil Ahab and his refusal to stand up for Micaiah as the LORD was blasphemed had brought himself into this time and place by his sin. But what did Jehoshaphat do and how did God respond? He cried out to the LORD in repentance and faith and his Savior and Redeemer heard his call and turned away the advancing troops thereby bringing him out of harms way. Now, the Lord may not always remove the temporal consequences of our sin, but the great truth of the Gospel is that through the shed blood of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit those who turn away from following the dictates of our pagan culture and the wisdom of the fallen mind have the assurance that they are forgiven from the real, actual serious penalty of death, and receive by faith the awesome blessings of eternal life in Christ. It is never too late to repent, to turn away from sin. The Lord Jesus calls you this day to put away the childish things and to rest and trust in the heavenly mercies and grace offered in Him alone. Blessings on your week!
30 min 8 sec
Silence in many cases can be just as dangerous as speaking out in a sinful way. It is especially damaging when you have an opportunity to speak out against something you know is wrong, but for whatever reasons you decide to keep quiet so as not "ruin" whatever you have going on. This is the sin of Jehoshaphat in the passage before us today. There is a great contrast between the boldness of Micaiah to speak the word of the LORD to Ahab and all who would listen, and then face the consequences for doing so. All the while what did Jehoshaphat do to help the man of God in his day of trial? Nothing. He just sat there in his comfy chair and contentment and allowed Micaiah to be slapped and tossed in prison. The days in which we live are not a time to be like Jehoshaphat in this portion of Scripture. The Church has a duty and a responsibility to speak the truth to a culture which has accepted a lie and attempts to shut down the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But what will we value more? This call to biblical fidelity or will we be like Jehoshaphat and hope that being not seen will allow us to go unnoticed and unchallenged by the world? It is easy to want to be like Joshua and say, "But as for me and my house we will serve the LORD!", but are we willing to become uncomfortable and lose favor with friends and wider society to do so? For the church our only hope in this fight is to remember what Micaiah says, "Therefore, hear the word of the LORD..." and speak this with boldness in the knowledge that our future is secure in the salvation we have received through Christ. What can this world do to us?
33 min 14 sec
Living in a time of great apostasy is very difficult for the honest Christian. It is especially hard for those tasked with leading the people of God, who are to be an example to others of holiness and exemplifying the walk of the narrow path. This is what makes this particular passage one of the sadder ones in the whole Bible. Jehoshaphat is a Godly man who has allowed his heart to walk away from the promises of the LORD and His Word. The beginning of the portion of Holy Scripture before us notes once more that Jehoshaphat has everything that he needs. He has "riches and honor in abundance", but he makes a tragic decision: to compromise his faith by going into an agreement with the despicably evil Ahab, King of Israel. He does this because he is not satisfied in the blessings that the LORD has provided him. This is a great, and ever present danger for the believer. Everything about the culture around us today is encouraging us to make deals with the world, to compromise the clear teaching of God's Word with what is common and encouraged in 21st Century America on everything from sexual/marriage ethics to financial wisdom. Our Churches and Christ's sheep cannot do this. We must stand strong against the rising tide, even if we are like Micaiah and outnumbered 400-1. The only way this can happen is if we guard our hearts from the temptations of the flesh, and we can only do that unless we are satisfied in Christ and His Gospel Truth, and if we make use of the means of His grace to fight the good fight of faith against the old man within us. Revival and Reformation are much needed today. However, that work must begin in the heart of every Christian Believer, if we want to see that renewal take place in our nation, in our communities, and in our families. Have a blessed week in Christ!
33 min 49 sec
This week we continued our look at Jehoshaphat and some of the things that made him a Godly ruler over the kingdom of Judah. As he takes over for his father Asa, who had fallen short and turned away to idols at the end of his life his son Jehoshaphat had much to do to right the ship. One of the first things he does is bring the civil kingdom into order by sending out judges to make sure the nation is orderly and under control. The reason for this is that as long as a nation remains organically weak and chaotic there is much difficulty in making the other, necessary progressions in moral order. This is why after the sending of the judges Jehoshaphat next has the priests and Levites go out with the Book of the Law of the LORD (the book of Deuteronomy) to re-teach the people what God would have them to be and to do. The church of Christ can learn much from these reforms of Jehoshaphat. We must be people of the Book and we must be those who are teaching only that which Jesus as Prophet has revealed to us. When we turn aside to other gods for wisdom and direction it will always lead to trial and tribulation. Next Lord's Day we will see in stark contrast to his activities in this passage how this good king failed to follow in his own footsteps.
34 min 3 sec
As we begin this series through the life and kingship of Jehoshaphat the Chronicler introduces us to this leader of Israel as a man who "walked in the former ways of his father David". This description points us to a man who delights in the LORD, but most especially understands who he is in light of who God is. As we will discover in our time in 2 Chronicles 17-21 Jehoshaphat has clay feet, he's a sinner who falls short of the glory of God as all men do. However, what garners him this title of David's son is the fact he "walked in the commandments". In other words he did not give the word short shrift, but lived out his faith in obedience to God's grace. It is part and parcel of the heart of a true Christian that they see not the law as a burden, but as something to find joy and comfort in. As Jesus says, "If you love me you will keep my commandments". This doesn't mean of course that we are saved by this keeping, but that the believer who has been awakened by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit will find in the ways and means of the LORD beauty and peace. Can this be said of you? Do you delight in the way God has established relationships between men and women? Do you delight in the Lord's Day and the worship with God's people? This is a serious question all those claiming the name of Christ must ask, as they make their calling and election sure. Is our assurance and comfort in what Jesus has promised and provided? By God's grace it was for a man like Jehoshaphat and we will see more next week about how he put this faith into action. Have a Blessed Week in Christ!
32 min 35 sec
In our last sermon from our December series through the 2nd chapter of the Gospel of Luke we looked at a very important time in the life of Christ, His education. Now, we may not often think about the fact that Jesus had to learn, but it is central to our salvation that He was in every way a human like we are, even in regards to His learning more about Himself through the reading of the Scriptures and His regular attendance at Sabbath worship. It can be confusing to think about how God Incarnate, Jesus who is both very God of very God is also very man of very man learned, yet in this passage we see that as He "grew in understanding" He also showed His understanding in that He was "subject", that is obedient to Mary and Joseph in all things pertaining to their authority as mother and father, thereby in keeping with His keeping of the law in every way for our redemption. At the end of the day the practical application of this passage is two-fold for us. Firstly, if Jesus needed to learn the Bible in His humanity how much more so do we need to? It is pretty arrogant to think at any point in the Christian life that we have arrived at a place where we know enough about God and His Word. It is part and parcel of a true faith that we desire to learn more and more about our Savior and His work for us as His sheep. Secondly, the faithful example of Mary and Joseph who raised up the Son of God in regular Church attendance and in the fear and admonition of the Lord is a vital lesson for all parents everywhere. The only person responsible for the raising up of your child in the knowledge of the truth is you and there is great need that we not allow the things of the world get in the way of creating this foundation of faith in our kids. Blessings on your week in His Grace!
32 min 45 sec
As Luke continues to prepare the reader to learn more about Jesus Christ and His work we have two stories of people whom the world would think to be of a lesser value. Simeon, the elder man who served in the Temple is paired with an older lady, a widow of 84 years named Anna. One of the things that tie these two dear saints together is that they are "just and devout" and "serve God in prayer and fastings". Their gentle, ordinary faith has prepared them to meet their savior, the Consolation of Israel, and the Redeemer of Jerusalem. Often we make Christianity far more difficult than God has made it to be. A quiet, normal life of prayer, bible reading, and regular attendance at worship are powerful weapons against the works of darkness and the trials of life.
31 min 30 sec
As we continued to walk through the second chapter of Luke we came to the story of Simeon. Simeon is described as "just and devout" and there are several references to the Holy Spirit having spoken to him, even moving him to go to the Temple that day and what does Simeon discover? That the Messiah, the one he has been waiting his whole life to see is there present with his parents. Rejoicing he says, "Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word.", and this is the key phrase in our sermon today. Are we preparing ourselves as we approach the Holy Scriptures to listen to what God is saying in His written revelation to His people? Do we take seriously this awesome gift of the Creator of the heavens and the earth giving to His people His very word? A wise man once said that if we want to hear God talk then all we need to do is read His word out loud! 😃 The reason why Simeon knew that the time had come and who the "Consolation of Israel" would be is because he read the Scriptures and believed what they said. In submitting himself to the word he was showing himself to be much wiser than the "teachers of Israel" and the Pharisees who knew the Bible well, but knew nothing of what it said. This is why Simeon was ready to see Jesus and someone like Nicodemus at first totally missed what was right in front of his face. We all know people with lots of head knowledge and little ability to put that understanding into real life action. For Christians it is very important that we come to the Bible with humility, ready to listen, ready to put into practice what we read, and ready to rest and trust in the blessed truth that the salvation of all men has come in Jesus Christ, the very son of the living God, revealed in the word, who has laid down his life for sinners.
33 min 6 sec
What can we learn from the old covenant rites for a New Testament faith? Well, in this week's message from Luke 2:21-24 we looked at how the purification of Mary, Christ's circumcision, and His being presented to the Temple all teach us much about our salvation and the love that God has for His people.
33 min 41 sec
Coming to a passage of Holy Scripture that everyone is familiar with can be a dangerous proposition. Not dangerous like "in danger of harm", but dangerous because our familiarity can breed a lack of focus on the text. Reading this portion of the Bible is especially fraught with this issue. We've all heard the story of Caesar Augustus calling for a census a million times. Christ being wrapped in swaddling cloths is almost second nature to us as is the Shepherds keeping watch over their flock by night. So what can we do to bring fresh eyes to Luke 2? The answer is simple, by looking at the response of these men as they come into the presence of their savior as He lay in a manger we can be refreshed and renewed in our amazement at the beauty of the coming of Christ for sinners. The Shepherds cause the people gathered around this Child to marvel and be amazed at what Jesus, the Son of God, the Son of Mary and Joseph will do for them. Upon leaving His presence they cannot contain their joy and excitement to share the good news, the goodwill that has been born in Bethlehem that no more shall the people wonder when the King shall come and bring victory over death. Let us as we come to birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ not allow ourselves to bring an "of course" attitude to the praise and worship of our glorious Redeemer, but no matter the circumstance always have the eyes of faith that these Shepherds carry with them in their sharing of the gospel given that we shall be saved.
32 min 22 sec
Every year we have a special service to give thanks for the Lord's mercy and grace in the past year. This November we went to an Old Testament example of the free will thanksgivings that the people of God were called to give to Jehovah at the day of the completion of a vow or for any other reason they were moved by the Holy Spirit to return thanks for His blessing. One of the many things we can learn from this particular offering is that feasting and joy are to be part of our return thanks unto Christ for His work and for His comforting grace. Whenever we stop to think about everything that the Lord has done for us we cannot but be moved to a heartfelt rejoicing in all Jesus's love in the giving of Himself for our sins.
27 min 18 sec
As we closed out our sermon series on "Improving Your Baptism" with a look at selections from Hebrews 13:20-25 and Hebrews 10:26-31 we thought about ultimately what it means to call ourselves Christians. While Baptism is the outward sign of our place in the Kingdom of God what is the real benefit of living in light of this sign and what are the ways whereby we can grow because of it? The warning of the Apostle Paul in both of these passages is that if we are going to say we believe in Jesus and tell others about this hope our lives must show the fruit of this faith. If we are those who have been given the knowledge of salvation, but we do not rest in this justified peace, instead looking to the sign instead of the thing signified then we will face the same condemnation as people who have never even heard the word of truth, in fact we will be judged the more harshly. Fruit of faith matters, and we cannot grow in that faith unless we are making use of Christ's means of fertilizing and pruning our walk. We cannot call ourselves Christians and despise His holy Scriptures, nor can we say we are of His family if we do not stir up love for one another in prayer and Godly fellowship. At the end of the day we need one another and cannot stand in the face of trial without the means of God's grace founded in the Gospel and in the Cross.
33 min 48 sec
As we came before our God yesterday in worship from Hebrews 12:25-29 we touched on a very sober, and a very serious subject. The doctrine of Hell is not something that can be approached with lightness or flippancy. Understanding the real consequences of dying outside the covenant family of God, loving sin more than salvation, is a matter that every human being must come to grips with. One of the things we noted was that no person talks more about this unquenchable fire and everlasting judgment than the Lord Jesus Christ. As He says in the Sermon on the Mount, "And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into Hell" and the Apostle Paul succinctly marks out in Romans 6:23 the two realities for all men and women, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." The truth of God's Word is that our Triune God is a consuming fire and He will bring to all those who desire to remain in their sin eternal death. However, the hope and assurance of the Gospel is that when the Father poured out His wrath upon the Son, as He paid the penalty for the transgressions of His sheep, the consuming fire of God accepted the sacrifice of Jesus and through this mighty work all those who place their faith and trust in Him shall not only be forgiven their sin, but shall have everlasting peace and comfort in the Heavens.
This weekend we were mightily blessed to have our former pastor, Rev. Billy Barron, with us for our annual Family Retreat. He led us through five sessions thinking through what it means to walk with God in Christ. This last message was given during our Lord's Day morning worship service.
34 min 59 sec
This week we looked at the closing part of Paul's famous "hall of faith" chapter in the book of Hebrews. In that chapter the apostle lays out a number of examples from the old testament of those saints who exemplified the kind of hope that Paul wants to see from his fellow brothers and sisters. His point there is not to make us strive after an unattainable goal, but to remind the people of God where there strength and comfort lies, in their trusting in the sure promise of the LORD God in and through the grace of Jesus Christ. That is why we spent some time thinking about the beauty of Jesus and the way that our "running the race" to the finish line is only accomplished because Christ is the author and finisher of our faith. We lay aside every weight of sin and misery and look unto Jesus, because of the glory that He gives to each and every one of His flock. Our success in life only comes because Christ has run the race, gained the victory over death and sin, and we have reaped the benefits of Jesus's righteous work as our own through our spiritual union with Him and the continued labors He works in the heavenly places for His bride, the Church.
31 min 45 sec
The way in which God provides for the needs of His people never ceases to amaze. Even in our weakness the LORD never forsakes or forgets the promises He has made. In the passage today the Apostle Paul reminds the Hebrews that just as Jehovah had remembered His covenant to Abraham that He would make him a father of multitudes God has provided the sacrifice for sin in His Son Jesus Christ. They are to look unto this blessed Redeemer who is the anchor of their hope and peace. God had provided Abraham a visible sign in circumcision for him to have a constant reminder of this reality and assurance. In Baptism God has done the same for us. As we think about our membership in the family of God through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the sure hope we have in Him let us not be troubled by the fallen world which tries to turn us away from a life dedicated to obedience to His word and Word, but always keeping Christ first let us run this race of faith with strength and purpose in light of the immutable oath made by God to us in Christ.
30 min 11 sec
Good Morning! Have you ever forgotten about God? Thought because He was taking too long that He had forgotten about you? Well, one of the great blessings of the Christian life is that while we in our weakness can sometimes doubt the goodness of the Lord and wonder where He is our Father will never forsake us. His promise is forever sure. In this week's passage from Genesis 17 we saw Jehovah remind Abram of His covenant promise, that He would be His God and that Abram would be the father of many nations. Yet, this comes in the context of the birth of Ishmael, who was born because of Abram's impatience with the sure word of God. He had turned to Hagar, instead of resting and trusting in what God had said would come from the womb of his wife Sarai. This encounter is another way that God shows us that while we may sin and fall short in obedience, our God has mercy on us because of His covenant assurance. We stand and fall not based on what we do, but what our loving Father has done in the sending of His Son Jesus Christ. Remember what Jesus told the disciples, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you". Our being called by Jesus out of darkness and into the marvelous light of the gospel of truth is grounded in the fact that our God never changes and that His promise is without fail. So as we go through this life and as we are tempted to forget what Jesus Christ has said to us and our obedience to His commands waver let us remember again His promise: "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand."
31 min 20 sec
This week in worship we looked at the radical change that happens to true believers when they rest and trust in the gift and grant of faith. John is speaking in a similar way to Paul in Romans 8 where both Apostles explain the difference between a "carnal" faith and a "spiritual" faith. One is only skin-deep and is the gateway to sin and destruction, whereas the other lives and breathes the righteousness which comes from Christ Alone. The Believer is said to be "without sin" because He is no longer in bondage to the desires of the flesh, but seeks the goodness and the blessing which comes from seeing the rightness of God's wisdom and truth. All men and women who confess Christ with their lips need to examine themselves to see whether God is first, or last in their lives. Do they love the Word of Truth, or do they see the demands of the Scriptures towards Holy Living as "backwards" and "restrictive"? Well, for the true believer they understand how much joy and comfort comes from practicing righteousness and loving God the Father through the shed blood of God the Son in the power of God the Holy Spirit.
30 min 50 sec
Yesterday morning in worship we celebrated the Lord's Supper. This is something that despite all of our differences that every true church of Christ does at the command of the Lord Jesus. However, what we disagree on is what exactly the Supper means and why it matters. This week we looked at the gospel of Luke and his testimony as to Christ's giving of this sacrament. But that is not all. In this current series on Improving Your Baptism we have taken time to see how our Baptism affects our Christian life from day-to-day. If we are to grow in grace in light of our being made members of the Kingdom of God than how do we do it? The Bible teaches us that Jesus Christ is the only spiritual nourishment we need. We feed on Him by faith. We are fed by His Word, through prayer, but especially through the visible words of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. 1 Corinthians 10:16 says, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?". Here we see that the Lord's Supper is the coming together with other members of the body of Christ to eat the bread, and drink the cup, in unity and with the real spiritual presence of Christ in the meal. As we commune together we are given the spiritual food we need to fight against sin, fight against the temptations of the flesh, and be comforted by the death and resurrection of Jesus for our blessing. To miss this meal is to keep necessary nourishment from our souls which desperately need it. As John Calvin notes, "If it is then so essential to salvation not to overlook the gifts which God has given us, but diligently to keep them in mind, and extol them to others for mutual edification; we see another singular advantage of the Supper in this, that it draws us off from ingratitude, and allows us not to forget the benefit which our Lord Jesus bestowed upon us in dying for us, but induces us to render him thanks, and, as it were, publicly show how much we are indebted to him." Have a blessed week in His Name!
31 min 49 sec
This week we continued to look at how baptism informs our Christian life with a talk about what it means to live in light of what Christ has accomplished for us through His life, death, and resurrection. How does this change how we see obedience to God's Law? How do we show our thankfulness for His sacrifice for sin and the victory won over the grave? Is this act of being justified by faith alone an excuse to live however we would like? The answer to all of those questions is of prime importance. For the believer the solution is not found within themselves. The Apostle Paul makes it clear in the last verse that "we walk" in newness of life together. It is one of those central truths of our faith is that we are not in this alone. Not only are we bound together in love for our brothers and sisters, but ultimately as we were "buried with Christ" in His death, we were "raised" together in His resurrection. Everything in the Christian life is grounded in who we are now because of the certainty we have in Jesus Christ. This is why we live lives in accordance with His Word. Not that we may earn the favor of God, but because we love God, trust him, and know that His way is a blessed gift.
30 min 35 sec
As we continue our sermon series on "Improving Your Baptism" this week we looked at what it means to be hidden in Christ, that is where is our identity now that we have received the sign of the covenant? For far too many believers their walk with Christ never gets passed the "I believe" stage. However, Christ and the Apostles are clear that to love God is to love His commandments. But isn't our salvation based on faith and not works? Absolutely! Our obedience to the Ten Commandments is not the way that we are saved, but are the fruits of a life lived in light of our new life found in the finished work of our Redeemer. If we are struggling in sin then one of the greatest blessings of looking back at our baptism is that it reminds us that we are a part of God's heavenly kingdom not because we "made a decision", but because God chose us to be His. This recalling of the promises made in our baptism is one of the ways the Lord spurs His people to not just do what He says because we have to, but to show our thanksgiving and love for His wisdom and truth. So truly the Christian should not lie or steal or commit adultery because they belong to Christ and out of a sense of gratitude and love we follow His Commandments and live in light of the Gospel of Grace.
32 min 13 sec
We continued this week with thinking about our baptism and how it informs our response to God's grace with a look at David's prayer to the LORD in 2 Samuel 7:18-24. The Prophet Nathan had come to David and told him about the covenantal promise that God was making with him, ensuring that the throne would never cease and that God would redeem Israel as a people for Himself. This assurance of David's place in the eternal kingdom was far more important to him than the physical kingship which he had in Israel. We are shown this by the way he responds to Nathan's words. He immediately goes before the Lord God in prayer and seeks to give thanks to Him for being a God who has not chosen him for this blessing because of who he was, but because of who God is. In other words what we are to learn from this passage about our own growth in the Christian life in regards to this is the power of our own baptism to remind us of how the grace of Christ is the source of all our strength and comfort. Through looking back at the redeeming work of Jehovah in Egypt and the implied future work of the true King and Redeemer David shows us not only how we are to pray, but the attitude through which we come before God. This humble presence is a key part of seeing ourselves without the natural vanity of our minds, but always seeing ourselves as redeemed sinners in Christ.
32 min 53 sec
This past Lord's Day we began a new sermon series asking the question, "How Can I Improve My Baptism?" Now, this may seem like a strange question to ask. How can we "improve" something that was not done by us in the first place? Well, what we mean by this is that by being reminded that we belong body and soul to God, that we have been set apart from the world around us by the sign of the new covenant, we can then "endeavor to live by faith" and "walk in brotherly love" as we remember that God who has laid His claim on our lives has called us to obedience to His Word out of our thanksgiving for His gracious gift of salvation. By looking back at our baptism and thinking about what this means we will spend the next several weeks seeking to grow in our understanding of the Christian life and the sure hope that we have in the promise of Christ Jesus. In Ezekiel 8 we saw how evil Israel had become in the days of the prophet. They had quite literally turned their back on the LORD. They brought the idols of false gods into His temple and were crying out to these statues of stone and wood. How did they get to this point? Why had they not learned from the exile unto Babylon? Well, the reason was the same one that always plagued Israel and Judah. They forgot their first love, forgot who they were in the eyes of the Creator. This is the same thing that causes us to fall away from the faith, and rely on the false prophets/idols of this age. We do not remember that God brought us out of bondage to sin through the blood of His Son, we choose to think that God cannot see us engage in sin and idolatry. Here we see why there is a need to "improve on our Baptism", to reconsider what it meant to be baptized and how meditating on the sign and what it signified can help us to grow in faith and trust in the living and true God, and how much greater are the good things that Christ has for His covenant people.
32 min 23 sec
This week we looked at a passage that speaks to the way God uses his disciples to reach other men and women for Christ. Not everyone is called to be a preacher or a teacher, some are given gifts of hospitality and service, some are moved by the Spirit to have lives especially devoted to prayer, and others have different parts to play in God's providence. One of the most difficult things in the Christian life is humbly submitting to whatever God has called us to be and to do. This is an act of obedience to the 10th Commandment. It is worthwhile to remember that there is no "more important" believer in Christ's kingdom. As Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12 every part of the body is vital to the growth and well-being of the Church. This is shown for us in these verses that while both the healing of Aeneas and the raising of Dorcas from the dead feature Peter as the main worker of God's miraculous acts, the real focus is on how the people react to these two events. In both cases the crowds that witnessed these things are said to "turn to the Lord". What does this mean? This "turning" is an act of repentance, a renouncing of sin and death through the cleansing blood of Christ, and a resting and trusting in the real grace and mercy of God Almighty, and away from the false promises and idols of this age.
31 min 48 sec
This week in our sermon we closed out our series on Christian Service with a reminder of the free offer of the gospel. We focused on the liberality of Christ, that is the voluntary giving of himself for our sins and his grant of righteousness for our new life in him. The reality is that he is the one who has provided us with every spiritual blessing and the fullness of that gift is an encouragement to our freely serving others with the material and spiritual blessings that belong not to ourselves, but to the Lord our God.
30 min 16 sec
What Does It Mean to Be Joyful? To serve others with gladness? In this week's sermon the Apostle Paul has taken a step back and reaffirmed his teaching that the reason for the heart of our desire to Christian service is founded upon God's gracious gift of Jesus Christ and the redemption he has won for his covenant people. Until we realize that the Sower has sowed the seed of faith in our dead hearts and has awakened us out of darkness into the beautiful light of the gospel than we should not be surprised that we approach good works with grudging spirits and "I guess I should" on the tip of our tongue. Truly everything in the Christian life must be grounded in Christ and his finished work, the example of his selfless service, and the reality of his atonement for your sin by his sacrifice for your transgressions. All attempts to prove to others your righteousness by your works will lead to frustration. All of our walk with the Lord must keep him as the center and the goal.
29 min 4 sec
This week we approached the text of Scripture from 2 Corinthians 9:1-5 as we continued in our series considering the Christian life of service to one another. Paul's main concern this week was encouraging the people of Corinth to not serve out of a "grudging obligation", but out a true desire to serve the living and the true God. The Lord lets us know these things throughout the Bible. Even the Old Covenant sacrifices are only acceptable if they are done out of a love for Jehovah, and from a thankful heart. We do not do good works in order to get something from God. We do them because God has first loved us through the giving of His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
31 min 30 sec
In this week's sermon from 2 Corinthians 8 the Apostle Paul is letting them know that they will soon be able to respond to the encouragement send in the previous fifteen verses because Titus is coming soon to be with the church. He has challenged the Corinthians to stand up to their word concerning their promise to the needs of their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. Paul gave them the example of their Macedonian friends and of their Lord Jesus, he also knows from his experience of being around them that they will respond, yet the Apostle feels the need to further help them live up to their confession of faith, to show proof of their love for God. This passage teaches us much about how we are to deal with those who are slacking in obedience, or are failing to keep the vows they have made to God and man.
29 min 43 sec
This week we heard once more from the pen of the Apostle Paul as he wrote to the Corinthian Church. One of the problems they faced was that after Paul had wrote to them in his first letter about supporting their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem their excitement quickly dwindled into apathy. So in this exhortation the Apostle wants to encourage them to remember how their Macedonian friends were able to keep up the work, not by being Macedonians or through something special in their character, but by their simple faith in the risen Christ. In other words by making use of the means of grace: regular, weekly worship attendance, praying together as a body, and studying the Word of God together, they were able to stay strong and fast in obedience. This was because they did not see that obedience as a duty, or something they "had to do", rather as a thankful response to the example set by the Lord Jesus. So often we make the Christian life so much more difficult than it needs to be. By resting and trusting in the basics we can do mighty things for God. It is when we reach for the food of the flesh and the water of the world that we fall and backslide into an inability to heed the call of God on our lives. We welcome you to join with us at Bethany as we make use of these ordinary means of grace through prayer on Wednesday nights at 6:30pm (starting in August), studying God's Word on Sunday nights at 5:00pm, and worshiping together on Sunday mornings at 11:00am.
This week we began a new sermon series through 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 thinking through what it means to serve Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. In the opening portion of this chapter Paul is using the faithfulness of the Macedonians (particularly the church at Thessalonica) to entice the Corinthians to help out their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem who are facing a devastating famine. He does this by not lifting up the Macedonians as individuals, but showing how their faith in Jesus Christ, and their belief in the sufficiency of his grace and surety, is what drives them to put their own needs on the back burner in order to serve their fellow believers through prayer and works of mercy. The foundation of Christ and His love for us is what moves each of us to serve one another. We do this not for our own position in society, or for our own felt needs, but for the glory of God.
32 min 37 sec
There are many benefits to the gospel of grace, but one of the ones we often take for granted is hope. Far too many define that word as a blind reaching into the future unknown, "hoping" something works out, yet that is not how the Bible, nor God understands it. Hope is a sure fire knowledge that the Lord Jesus is not only sovereign over all things, but that the Christian knows these things to be so. This is especially the case when it comes to our being Justified in the eyes of God. If Christ's words on the cross mean anything ("It is Finished") they mean that our Redeemer has accomplished our salvation and that it has been applied to us by faith alone. What this looks like for the believer is that we can face the trials and tribulations of this like with the assurance that God is our God and that we are His people, and that he will never leave us or forsake us, even in death.
30 min 15 sec
What is fear? What does it mean to be afraid? These and other questions are tackled in our sermon from yesterday morning brought from Acts 9:26-31 and Saul's introduction to the saints in Jerusalem. The men and women there had heard of Paul's life and works, how he had sent their spiritual family to prison, and worse. They had many preconceived notions about who He was, and that is the beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That was who he was, but was no longer. This man who was an enemy of God, had become by His amazing grace a new creature, reborn as a lover of the Word and the word. Their initial fear was in ignorance, yet the Lord in his mercy provided Barnabas to intercede on Paul's behalf and then he was received with warmth and gladness, and the spiritual goodness of their love for one another was shown in their "walking in the fear of the Lord", that is they loved the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, strength, and mind witnessing to their faith through obedience to God's law. One of the things we can learn from this passage is that it is good to have a healthy, and rightly understood, fear of God, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, and to humbly submit to His word, and to the works of His power, even especially the conversion of those whom may have been enemies in their former manner of life, but are now blessed brothers and sisters in Christ.
31 min 19 sec
This portion of the book of Acts goes right into the first days of the ministry of Saul. He begins where he will remain for most of his earthly preaching career, proclaiming Christ as the Son of God in the Synagogues in public worship. Of the many things we can learn from this passage one of the most important principles of the life of the church in outreach is that the message we give to the world is a simple one, that doesn't need fancy gimmicks or radical programs: Preaching Christ and Him Crucified. This eternal truth answers the real problem the world has.
29 min 1 sec
What do we do with folks who have wronged us some way? What is the heart of the Christian to be towards those who have treated us poorly in the past and are now seeking forgiveness? Part of the answer to that question is always remembering who we are, and who they are in Christ. Redeemed sinners of all stripes have their identity in their Salvation and place in the Kingdom of God.
25 min 47 sec
This week we look at the conversion of the Apostle Paul, and especially considered the expression "Kick Against the Goads" in regards to the nature of sin and the rebellion of Paul in his former manner of life.
34 min 30 sec
This week we looked at the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch. This is the second of a Trilogy of individual salvation accounts, beginning with Simon the Magician and his false faith, then with the gentile court official, and closing next week with the application of redeeming grace in the heart and soul of one of the Church's most fearsome persecutors. As we think about this particular story the theme of preparation is central. The work that was done by each man guided by the providential hand of the Lord had an amazing impact on what is a great example of the blessings of day-to-day faithful obedience to the Word of God.
32 min 23 sec
The fact that not all people who confess Christ with their lips are truly saved and the question of false conversion is hard to think about, but Jesus Himself tells us this is possible in Scriptures like Matthew 7:21-23 and Luke 6:46, and our passage for this week shows us what this looks like.
32 min 23 sec
As we return back to our time in the Book of Acts with the beginning of the ministry of Saul/Paul. Now, it does not begin in a way that honors the Lord, but in God's providence we see how He is using Saul to spread the message of Christ to Samaria and other areas outside Jerusalem.
30 min 25 sec
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation of our salvation, because it is the sign of the Father's acceptance of the sacrifice of the Son. We talked this week of the application of this truth in our day-to-day life.
30 min 52 sec
This week we concluded our brief series through 1 Corinthians 15 with a look at what the resurrection means for the believer in the here and now and what effect the resurrection has on our bodies and souls in the life to come.
30 min 33 sec
Just as in Paul's day the Church is racked with those who would bring in a false understanding of Christ and His work. There are certain non-negotiables in the faith we have received from our Redeemer, and that at its base includes the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Christ is not raised, then we are still in our sin, most of all men to be pitied. However, we live in the sure knowledge of the truth of God's Word and of the blessed salvation we have because Christ was truly raised from the dead, as the first fruits of God's promise.
30 min 1 sec
The Apostle Paul introduces the question about the Resurrection by showing that the Old Testament scriptures not only prophesied about the rising of Christ from the dead, but that the Resurrection is the bedrock of the preaching of the Gospel.
31 min 27 sec
In this week's sermon we looked at the hold of idolatry on the hearts of men and how the Sanhedrin exemplifies this sinful love of material things that are passing away over and above the blessings of the spiritual life of the Christian.
33 min 8 sec