Behold the disciples, in a boat alone in the midst of the Sea of Galilee. I ask the question...what were they doing there? The answer...Jesus had compelled the to get in the boat and to go across to the other side. Four miles out to sea in the midst of night, a vicious storm breaks out and the disciples hit troubled waters, the Lord Jesus is no where in sight! Yet Mark tells us that from His trysting place of prayer, "he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them" (Mk. 6:48). "And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea" (Mt. 14:25).
Dear soul, you may be in troubled waters, you may be pressed sore with no one at hand to help; you may even feel that the Lord Himself has cast you off. Be of good cheer, "Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep" (Ps. 121:4). Though it may be as late as the fourth watch, behold your redeemer cometh!!
Brothers and Sisters...are you living off the fuel of yesterdays reality? When you walked with God in closeness, when your heart was full of songs to Him, when He was your cup and portion, when your talk was of Him and your love burned towards Him. Many talk of what was once upon a time...but the question must be what about now!! Before us in this sermon lies a Church that once knew the realities of spiritual vitality and had a reputation before men that they were alive. Yet the Lord Jesus said to them, "I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead" (Rev 3:1).
Dear soul, at all costs we must examine ourselves to see if the things of past years continue to be our present reality. He who searches the hearts of men stands at the door; let us labour to hold fast to true righteousness without hypocrisy and true love that we might be found among those who have not defiled their garments. May God help us all!!
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!
Dear soul, you who bend under the burden of the day, whose strength fails and wisdom perishes, pressed sore and overwhelmed by the pressures of life and the circumstances which seem to stand before you as a mountain. To you I say take courage...take courage dear soul!!
We all have times where discouragement seems to envelop us a cloud. This message is a Word of comfort and an examination of the cry of David, who proved His God in trial and found Him to be His ROCK!! Dear soul, will you not look to Christ, who bids you to come to Him that in doing so you might find rest for your soul; for His yoke is easy and His burden is light!! When our hearts are overwhelmed let us say with David, "lead me to the rock that is higher than I".
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!!
A famous hymn says, "Man of sorrows, what a name, for the Son of God who came". it goes on to say..."Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned He stood". Nailed to a cross between two thieves, counted as a criminal!! Put to open shame and ridicule, given a criminal's trial. Scoured as a criminal, mocked as a criminal, punched and spat upon as criminal, condemned as a criminal to die the death of a criminal. Led through the streets as a criminal, they led Him out to crucify Him!! If this is the path that the Saviour trod, how is it that we seek for another? Not a crown of thorns, but a crown of gold; not the strikes of sinners, but the strokes of friends; not the piercing words of our enemies, but the soothing words of peace!!
This message sets the question squarely at the feet of the Christian, are you willing to bear the reproach that comes with owning the name of Jesus Christ? To keep silent is not an option!!
This sermon begins with the question: what is the Church? The Church is not a building but a people who have been called out from the world into spiritual union with a person, Jesus Christ. The Church exists because of the head. By faith, we have been grafted into Christ's spiritual body, a living organism comprised of all who believe in Jesus. What ought that spiritual body look like when it is expressed in a local Church? Like that first Church did; "...all that believed were together, and had all things in common" (Acts 2:44).
Our Lord prayed, that they all might be one!! Then the world will believe!! Oh that we might put away division and each endeavor to preserve the unit of the Spirit in the bond of peace. It was for this that our Lord interceded, it was for this that He prayed.
Set before us in the verse at hand is the key to the Christian walk! How many books have been written, how many sermons preached, giving the five-step formula to Christian success, when the essence and heart of the matter is contained in this single verse before us. Why is it that men for the most part don’t like the key that Jesus extends, but instead prefer in vain to cut their own key? It has to do with the cost of that key!! We all want the finished product, but we don’t all want to pay the asking price!! God has a blueprint for the Christian life and it has to do with an instrument of death, upon which we are to die daily. Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it beareth much fruit.
This message explores three areas in the Christian life in which the Christian is called to deny himself, pick up his cross daily and follow Jesus; firstly in the battle against sin; secondly in sufferings and persecutions and lastly in waving our rights as believers. May God help us not only to be hearers, but doers also!!
One cannot read the passage of Scripture before us in this sermon without sensing the absolute and stupendous expression of God's love towards His backslidden people Israel. It is in the passage before us in this sermon that we shall see the heart of God not only towards Israel but also towards us!!
Is there any out of fellowship with God this hour? Any lost their footing? Any gone a whoring after the things of this world? Any who sit even now in the valley of shame and defeat saying, my strength has gone and my hope is dashed! Dear soul, be of good cheer, this message is for you!! Behold the love of God, who even cries now, 'return again to me, saith the Lord'. Your father is waiting with open arms, but the question is...will you come?
Conviction is the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit! He it is that comes to prove the guilty in his sin to the end that he might turn from his sin and in so turning to lay hold on the Lord Jesus Christ by faith. Conviction is an awesome thing, a terrifying thing, a painful thing, a sobering thing, an uncomfortable thing, a humbling thing, and a shameful thing. It is here, where so many professions are made by God's people - promises to turn over a new leaf, to forsake a particular sin, to go on in more serious endeavor in the Christian walk. Yet, as we know, conviction does not abide forever!! Sadly for many, when true conviction fades, their well-meaning professions fade with it!! Brethren, this ought not to be!!
This message challenges the believer to lay hold on God by faith, to do what one said in the heat of conviction and to make good those broken professions!!