We’ve got to come to the realisation and acceptance (even in our comfortable 21st Century Western surroundings), that it’s not when everything is going well that our faith is refined; it’s in the fires of affliction! It’s here where our faith is tested and refined!! Dear soul, when you first put your hand in His and told the Lord that you would follow Him wheresoever he goes, you may not have fully realised all what that would entail. So many make a snap decision to follow the Lord based on the prospect of good times ahead, but I seem to remember the Lord instructing us that there’s a cross to bear and he that would seek to save his life shall lose it! Nowhere perhaps is the temptation to save one’s life more keenly felt that when found in the midst of trial—when all that can be shaken will be shaken. We must settle this matter now and determine in our hearts that come high water or low, we’re not turning back from following the Lord!
It’s not until you squeeze a fruit, that one discovers its true taste! On the surface, the grapefruit and the orange both look alike, in size and in shape; however, upon closer inspection one quickly discovers that they’re radically opposite when it comes to taste! One is bitter, and the other is sweet. It’s not until we’re squeezed that we find out what’s really inside us, not least by the words that issue forth from our mouths. When you’re squeezed, what comes out? Is it bitter or is it sweet?
In this sermon, we learn the pattern of meekness from the perfect example of Jesus. May the Lord minister to each heart and use this sermon to provoke us onto perfection.
1 Corinthians 1:10-17
Of all the many sins that abounded in the Corinthian Church, there was one sin in particular that Paul felt the need to first address. It wasn’t their toleration of false teachers, nor was that one had his father’s wife while the Church allowed this evil to reign unchecked in their midst! It wasn’t Brother taking Brother to court or drunkenness at the Lord’s table. Paul gets onto these things in due course. However, the very first thing he addressed was the divisions and contentions that existed among them on account of the carnal preferring of one leader over and against another.
In some circles of the so-called remnant Church today, whole ministries exist as personality cults to set one faction against the other! YouTube has become awash with this type of evil. Brother shooting down Brother over the smallest technical matter of doctrine. When Christians do this one to another, it is bad enough, but when ministers of Christ take to social media to vent their petty squabbles for all the world to see—I make no reservations in saying that his is a work of the flesh and is a sin against Christ and His Church! This sermon is a warning to the Body of Christ, to be on guard and not to get caught up with divisive factions.
If ever there was an example (outside of the life of our Saviour), of single-minded devotion to the high calling of God, it was the life of Paul the Apostle!! While many today are busy about their own business, Paul was busy about His Masters. From the moment of his conversion, a cry arose in his heart, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”. Brothers and Sisters, when a man or a woman asks a question like this, there’s no knowing how God will answer it!!
This sermon is a call to Christian ministry…a call to the service of the Saviour in the service of others! Who will respond? Who is willing to count the cost? Who is willing this day to say, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? May the Lord be glorified in raising up a people of service in this day in which we live.
There are some Christians who never mention the name of our adversary, for fear of giving him undue attention. You’ve all heard I’m sure, the well-meaning sentiments of a dear soul that has said in their enthusiasm; “I don’t give HIM any glory by even mentioning his name!”. Now I do understand the thinking behind such a statement, but the question is, is it Biblical? I was a teacher for a number of years, and when a pupil was playing the fool in class—seeking for attention and would-be followers—I usually didn’t give them the satisfaction of playing their game by bringing “undue attention” to them. Instead, I would choose at times to employ the strategy of “ignorance”, and sure enough, they soon got tired of the show when they saw that they were not getting the crowd they’d hoped for! However, what if, that pupil was to pull out a knife, am I still going to play dumb? It’s one thing to have an irritant in the class, and quite another to have a potential murderer!! The Bible doesn’t portray the devil as an irritant (far from it!!). Jesus called him a “murderer” in Jn. 8:44, and identified him as the “wicked one” in Mt. 13:19. Peter tells us that he’s a “roaring lion”, roaming about, seeking whom he may devour! (1 Pet. 5:8).
It is imperative that we understand the wiles of our enemy and prepare ourselves for the day of his attack in order that we might not give him any place!
The Father’s Pruning Shears – Paul M. Williams
On a traditional vine that has been trained, there is a main with thick horizontal branches coming off from the trunk. All along the branches, at regular intervals are knuckles (spurs), out of which grow pencil-like stems called canes. It is on these canes that the grapes will grow; however, grapes will only grow on canes that are one year old which means there is a need for pruning every single season to remove the old wood. It’s been said that grapevines are probably pruned more extensively and more aggressively than any other crop. When farmers prune, they remove the majority of wood produced the previous season – up to 90 percent is pruned away!! Last year’s season of fresh long canes (of many feet) will be trimmed right back to several inches and the older canes bearing the fruit which grew the season before that (i.e. those that are now two years old) are completely removed from the branch! As one walked by at pruning season, the untrained eye would think that a massacre had taken place! Heaps of old cane lies strewn along the floor in mounts and the poor plant looks barren — from a distance, all one can see is a trunk and branches! Yet to the trained eye, the job has been well-done in order that the branches might go on to bring forth more fruit!!
Jesus said that He is the True Vine, we are the branches and His Father is the husbandman. Without the Father’s pruning in our lives, (the trials and afflictions that He allows to come upon us), we would reach a ceiling in our spiritual lives. It is not the Father’s will that we should be diminished in fruit and so He prunes us that we might bear more fruit!!
I’m sure that you’ve heard of the cat with nine lives – so the old English proverb goes, “For three he plays, for three he strays, and for the last three he stays". One news story reported how that a cat in the US city of Boston survived a fall from a 19-storey window, only bruising her chest! It’s one thing to talk with lightness about the nine proverbial lives of the kitty, but the man with two lives, is no joking matter – multitudes of Churches up and down the land are plagued by this blight. As one understands correctly the title of this sermon; the man with two lives has nothing whatsoever to do with the concept of staying alive, but instead, speaks of duplicity, of feigned living, of hypocrisy and two-facedness.
In this featured sermon, we look at the lives of the Scribes and Pharisees and in so doing, we discover the nature of their hypocrisy. This is a very searching and challenging sermon, yet one that is most needful if we are to really go on with the Lord. May God give us grace to be honest before Him, that we might be found sincere in our worship of Him.
A heard is cry coming from heaven; “...the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready”. This, to the Western mind, seems strange language upon first sight. In what sense are we to understand this seeming conundrum? How can the Church be identified as the wife of Christ before the marriage? In order to understand this, we must understand marriage in the context of Jewish culture. In this 28th teaching part, we turn our attention to this great marriage supper and the need for the bride of Christ to make herself ready for her Bridegroom’s coming!
The Christian soldier is never stationary in His efforts to hold the ground of victory taken for Christ in His life. He knows full well, that yesterday’s victories could well turn to tomorrow’s defeat. We are in a war and this is no time for lightness, nor is it time to be found sleeping at the post of duty. The Word of God charges us to take to arm us for the fight, the whole armour of God that we might be able to withstand in the evil day of Satan’s special assault! Of all the armoury listed in that great chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians, there’s one piece of the armour that is distinguished from the rest “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Eph. 6:16).
This sermon is an exhortation to faith! An exhortation to not allow the lies of the enemy to penetrate our minds. God has promised to keep those in perfect peace, whose mind are stayed on Him, because they have placed their trust in the Lord!!
1 Corinthians 13
Of all the many attributes of love, the one element that I have chosen to focus on in this sermon is the selflessness of love!! Well, I could have picked any one of the other colossal pinnacles to climb—the longsuffering of love or the kindness of love; the courtesy of love or the humility of love—any one of these would have been more than a well-served meal and would have satisfied to the full our spiritual appetites. Yet, it is this one aspect of love; this one pinnacle amongst the mountain range, that I want in this sermon to explore. “Charity...seeketh not her own”.