Jim Cottington Pastors a Church in West Sussex and is a council elder for Christian Ministerial Fellowship International (CMFI). In this sermon, Jim gives great encouragement and an exhortation to believers to stand fast and firm in the last days in which we find ourselves. May the Lord minister to you through this sermon and provoke your heart to seek His face of the Lord in these difficult times! Be encouraged dear Saints!!
1 Peter 1:13
The great commentator Albert Barnes in commenting upon the Christian's war against the prince of this world, wrote:
"Satan does not carry on an open warfare. He does not meet the Christian soldier face to face. He advances covertly; makes his approaches in darkness; employs cunning rather than power, and seeks rather to delude and betray than to vanquish by mere force. Hence, the necessity of being constantly armed to meet him whenever the attack is made. A man who has to contend with a visible enemy, may feel safe if he only prepares to meet him in the open field. But far different is the case if the enemy is invisible; if he steals upon us slyly and stealthily; if he practices war only by ambushes and by surprises. Such is the foe that we have to contend with - and almost all the Christian struggle is a warfare against stratagems and wiles."
On of Satan's master stratagems as a deceiver and a lier, is to trick us into thinking that the thoughts he plants into our minds are really our own thoughts so that the lie becomes the truth!! If ever there was a need to gird up the loins of our minds and to be sober in our thinking so as to discern the thoughts of the wicked one it is now!! This sermon brings out three chief areas where this great battle for the mind is fought; in discouragement; by distraction and by division!! May God give us the grace to war so as to win, through the strength and grace of Jesus Christ!
The common notion held by many when it comes to belief in God is "seeing is believing". The cry goes forth, "show me and I will believe". Many hold faith to be simply a leap in the dark; but the Bible rejects this idea and rather teaches that faith is a firm persuasion based upon an encounter with the living God!! Faith is a conscious decision to place ones trust and confidence in One who is trustworthy; to place one's faith in One who is faithful!!
This message seeks to bring out the root of the sin of unbelief. The children of Israel beheld the terror and glory of God firsthand; they heard His voice as thunder and beheld His gory as a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night!! They saw the manifest power of His might as He parted the Red Sea and they saw His tender kindness as He fed them with Manna from heaven!! Yet in spite of this, they refused to be persuaded of God's goodness and faithfulness and refused to be convinced of God's trustworthiness. Through their hardened hearts, they tempted the Lord again and again, charging Him with evil and saying, is the LORD among us, or not? A solemn warning goes forth in this message; "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God"
As Christians, we are duty bound and under solemn command by the King to keep the records clean when it comes to our debtors. We are called by the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive those who have sinned against us and the Bible makes no allowances and no apologies. Yet, there are many professing Christians who Sunday after Sunday, pour into Churches shouting hallelujah's with hands raised and yet are harbouring unforgiveness in their hearts towards others. The Lord tells us plainly that our horizontal relationships with men affect our vertical relationship with God and that if things are amiss with our brother, things are amiss with God and we need first to sort things out with our Brother before offering worship to God!!
This sermon brings a challenge to the Body of Christ and seeks to bring out the nature of true forgiveness, and the wickedness of unforgiveness. May God grant us grace to ponder this message and to be not hearers only but doers of His Word!!
The Bible speaks of a particular member of our body, so small and yet so powerful; "a little member, and boasteth great things...a fire, a world of iniquity...setteth on fire the course of nature; and is set on fire of hell...an unruly evil, full of deadly poison" (Jms. 3). Which member is this the Bible alludes to? The tongue!!
We are exhorted, "If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain" (Jms. 1:26). As believers bound to the royal law of love, the word of God charges us strictly that we should not give ourselves to gossip and slander but rather we should love our fellow man!! This message cuts to the very heart of the matter and exposes the malicious spirit behind gossip and slander. The challenge goes forward with conviction calling believers to abstain from such talk. May God give us grace to heed!!
1 Peter 2:11
The largest Christian newspaper in the world "The Christian Post", in an on-line article dated October 28th 2011, titled "Pornography in the Pew - A Hidden Sin, reported from leading surveys that 50% of Christian men and 20% of Christian women are addicted to pornography, 60% of Christian women admitted to significantly struggling with lust. 37% of pastors admitted that they struggle with internet pornography and 51% said that its a source of temptation. More than half of pastors surveyed (57%) said that addiction to porn is the most sexually damaging issue in their Church. 56% of divorces involved one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.
Brethren there is a pandemic of sexual lust sweeping the evangelical Church ranging from the pulpit to the pew!! Lust dear soul is a beast, that if not slain will destroy all in its path and take a soul down into hell!! A sobering call goes forth in this message calling the Body of Christ to sexual purity both in thought and in deed. "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul" [1 Pet. 2:11].
There is today in the West, what some call the “dream”, but I call deception and God calls wickedness!! It is the sin of covetousness. Behold how it has slain its ten thousands. See the miserable plight of those leaving the poor habitations of the developing world and coming over to the West, chasing the dream and the lie that promised wealth brings with it, promised happiness and fulfilment. Behold the faces of the rich and wealthy, see their countenances; ask them if you will…”has money, wealth and material possessions brought to you that which your heart longs most for? They will answer with a resounding NO!! Jesus warned us: “Take heed, and beware of covetousness”!!
This message is an exhortation to the body of Christ, to flee from the sin of covetousness. In this sermon we break down what covetousness is, what lies at the heart of it and its relationship to idolatry. We take a look at the seriousness of this sin called covetousness which has become common place in our Western culture and sadly in many instances, common place in the lives of professing Christians. May God give us the grace to recognise this sin at work in our lives and to repent of it, confessing our sins and turning our hearts back to our first love!!
If we could truly see how many have been slain and homes destroyed; the strife, the rivalry, the bitterness and resentment resulting from the sin of jealousy and envy we would be lost for words!! Whole Churches have been split and homes left in tatters under a false guise and pretext, when the real issue underlying the destruction is the spirit of jealousy and envy!! King Solomon put it fearfully in Proverbs 27:4 when he said: Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy? Though envy often wears the guise of a smile and a hug, it has concealed in its hand a dagger, which it seeks to drive into the very back of the one it so embraces!!
How do you respond when a friend is exalted in place of you? How do you respond when you are greeted with the news of the success of your fellow neighbour? How do you respond when a thing you so desire, another from your own midst receives in your place? Is your countenance one of favour towards such or one of suspicion? Are your thoughts warm toward such a one or do you find feelings of resentment and bitterness rising up instead? If so, then the wicked sin of jealousy is most probably at work in your life and its desire is to master you!! The call of this sobering message is that honest search would be made to see if indeed this sin is at work in your life and if so that true repentance and confession would be made. May God give you the grace and courage to obey!!
It has well been said that the sin of pride is first and chief among all other sins and indeed is the very root of all sin!! Pride simply put is having an inflated view of our own worth; it's arrogance and haughtiness; it is to usurp the throne of God which is His rightful seat alone. How so you say? In essence, pride says: "I will do what seems best by me" or in the word's of Satanist Aleister Crowley, "do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law". Though the clear command and express will of God has gone forth, pride asserts that it will nonetheless do what is best in its own eyes!!
This message calls those who have lost their way in going away from God to return again to the LORD. God promises, "...return unto me and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts" (Malachi 3:7). The problem is; this response is one which only the humble in heart can make. The question is, will you humble your heart and return again to you first love?
Spiritually, what sort of year has 2014 been for you? Have you grown in spiritual maturity? Have you deepened and maintained spiritual disciplines? Have you been the spiritual shepherds of you home? If the answer is an honest no, then it is more than likely that leaven has made its way into your home and has begun its corrupting influence in your life, the lives of your family and the life of the Church!! In the New Testament, leaven is a symbol of sin. Due to the powerful property changing properties of leaven the Scripture warns believers of the dangers of allowing sin to go unchecked in their lives and the need to purge it out from their midst.
As we close out this year, an exhortation is given in earnest, calling every Christian to make a diligent search for any traces of leaven, beginning first in their own life, with the end purpose in view of purging their house of leaven!! May God give us the grace to heed and to act upon what we hear in this message!!