Archive for January, 2009

Abortion — America’s Child Sacrifice

January 26, 2009

Title: Abortion – America’s Child Sacrifice

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Text: Leviticus 18:21

Date: January 25th, 2009

This past week marked the sad thirty-sixth anniversary of the Row v. Wade Supreme Court abortion decision that basically legalized abortion in all fifty states. Abortion has been legal in the United States for over three decades. Millions upon millions of babies have died as a result. To make matters worse, we’ve just elected a new president who quickly reversed all the laws against giving foreign aid to abortion providers overseas. So now our tax dollars will be going to fund abortion in other countries as well as our own. We have seen some positive developments occur in restricting and limiting abortion in the United States over the last eight years, but many of those gains might be eliminated with the new president because he is so strongly committed to abortion rights. If trends continue we will probably see more setbacks in our efforts to curtail and eliminate legal abortion. But while we struggle here on earth we have to ask the important question from time-to-time, “What does God Almighty think of all this?” After all, in the final analysis it isn’t what we as men and women think of abortion, it’s what God thinks that counts. If God’s Word is true, and we assume that it is as Christians, there will be a day of reckoning for any and every nation that permits the killing of innocent children to continue – whatever people may call it. The judgment of God must come upon the United States and other nations that permit aboard to legally continue; if not, God would have to apologize for destroying the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, as the Reverend Jerry Falwell was so famous for saying. But why would God judge America for abortion? Many people are confused as to why abortion is so wrong. To understand God’s mind in respect to abortion today, we must understand God’s mind in respect to the ancient practice of child sacrifice, because abortion is actually a modern-day version of the ancient practice of child sacrifice. I know that statement may seem outrageous and controversial, but if we think about it, if we compare what child sacrifice was in ancient times and then understand what abortion is today, we’ll see that it essentially the same thing under another name. Why is abortion so wrong? Why is God so opposed to abortion today? Because God was strongly against child sacrifice in the ancient world and abortion is a modern form of child sacrifice, and therefore, God is strongly opposed to abortion today. We should be strongly opposed to it also – strongly opposed enough to fight abortion in any and every way possible. We should never, ever vote for an abortion-supporting politician. We should never support an organization or institution that supports abortion. We should never let the abortion debate end until abortion is prohibited in the United States once again. And we should continue to pray against abortion, and we should also attempt to persuade others to oppose abortion. I’d like to take a few minutes today to demonstrate that modern abortion is the equivalent to ancient child sacrifice. Hopefully, this type of argument can convince more people to oppose abortion today. Leviticus 18:21, “Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.” Let me explain this by asking a few questions and then answering them. (more…)

The Serving, Sensitivity and Suffering of Jesus

January 18, 2009

Title: The Serving, Sensitivity and Suffering of Jesus

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Text: Matthew 9:18-26

Date: January 18th, 2009

We get to know Jesus by observing how he acts and reacts to situations in life during his earthly ministry. A famous person once said, “I’m through merely listening to what a person says, I’m now focused on what a person in fact does in order to know their heart.” There’s a lot of truth in that statement. While getting to know a person is both a combination of hearing them speak and watching them act, what a person does is probably a better guide to the person’s true character than listening to them talk. That’s why the Bible is such a valuable guide – because it not only gives us the words of Jesus but it also describes his deeds as well. Well, today we’ll be looking at mostly the deeds of Jesus rather than his words. Today, we’ll be learning from what he does rather than what he says. I remember the beginning of the Book of Acts, where Luke the author introduces it by saying in Acts 1:1, “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach . . .” Jesus did a lot of teaching, speaking, and he also did a lot of doing or acting. Today, in Matthew 9:18-26 as we continue in the study of the Book of Matthew, we’ll focus on what Jesus did because it speaks louder than words. “While he was saying this, a ruler came and knelt before him and said, ‘My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.’ Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples. Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, ‘If I only touch his clock, I will be healed.’ Jesus turned and saw her, ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you.’ And the woman was healed from that moment. When Jesus entered the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd, he said, ‘Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep. But they laughed at him. After the crowed had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. News of this spread through all that region.” We see at least three main things about Jesus in this short passage. First, we see Jesus serving – his willingness to serve – his servant’s heart. Second, we see the sensitivity of Jesus. And third, we see the suffering of Jesus, or the long-suffering or patience of Jesus with sinful people who mock or laugh at him as he ministered. These are three observations we can make of Jesus that can help us as we follow after him. These are three areas in which we should seek to imitate Christ. There is a famous classical devotional book called The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis that deals with this same subject. But we actually don’t need that book or any other book written by man when we’ve got the Bible to guide us. Let’s look closer at Jesus and see how we might better imitate him with our lives. (more…)

Fasting and Other Forms of Devotion to God

January 13, 2009

Title: Fasting and Other Forms of Devotion to God

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Text: Matthew 9:14-17

Date: January 11th, 2009

After the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s break, we are back in the Book of Matthew continuing verse-by-verse in chapter nine. A couple of months ago I finished with the passage describing the calling of Matthew the tax collector, and now I’d like to pick up with the passage of Jesus being questioned about fasting. Matthew 9:14-17, “Then John’s disciples came and asked him, ‘How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?’ Jesus answered, ‘How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from the; then they will fast. No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.’” When we read a passage like this we finish with the feeling that something profound has been said, we just don’t understand what it means. We are tempted to nod our heads in agreement and then leave shaking our heads and saying, “I should know what Jesus is talking about but I don’t.” In our age today we are likely to grown impatient because the teaching isn’t automatically and obviously “relevant” to our daily lives. Even in the church, the trend today is to “dumb down” every biblical teaching to some immediate and practical application that can give us success or advantage in modern life. If this is the case, the teaching that Jesus gives us today in this passage will disappoint us because it’s dealing not with some principle of success in life for us to master and apply for better living; it’s dealing with the whole topic of how to express devotion to God. Why is our particular expression of devotion to God important? Because in every age and in every cultural context each individual must figure out a way to express himself or herself to God. Language is obviously an important part in expressing devotion to God, but it doesn’t stop there. Other cultural forms are important as well. What we see in this passage is Jesus explaining how time and place and situation and circumstance effects how one expresses devotion to God. In this particular instance, fasting – or the practice of going without food or water or something for the express purpose of focusing attention on God – is used as an example of a particular form of expression of devotion to God. But Jesus shows that this important devotion form, fasting, isn’t always appropriate; sometimes other devotion forms are better. Jesus teaches us the important lesson to keep the main thing the main thing – devotion to God — and not get fixed on a particular form to express that devotion. We need to be flexible in our forms of devotion, but absolute in our devotion to God in whatever form best accomplishes that. What Jesus teaches us is extremely relevant for our devotional lives, inside and outside the church. Let’s look at three points about expressing devotion to God. (more…)

The Very Strange Prophecies of Christmas

January 8, 2009

Title: The Very Strange Prophecies of Christmas

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Text: Matthew 2:13-23

Date: January 4th, 2009

Today is the very first Sunday in the New Year 2009, and before we leave the Christmas season I’d like to give one more Christmas message on the very strange prophecies of Christmas. Have you ever hear of the really strange prophecies of Christmas? Probably not, but if you examine the Christmas accounts in the New Testament Gospel of Matthew you’ll find three very strange prophecy fulfillments towards the very end of the Nativity passage. Why are these three prophecies and their fulfillment different from all the other prophecies given and fulfilled around the Christmas event? Because these three have peculiarities that cause us to stop and think a little bit, they have a strangeness to them that makes us scratch our heads, and they require a little bit more digging under the surface to fully appreciate them; more so than the other prophecies presented in the Christmas accounts in the New Testament. The first very strange prophecy and fulfillment is Matthew 2:14-15, “So he (Joseph) got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’” The second very strange prophecy and fulfillment is Matthew 2:16-18, “When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave order to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.’” And finally, the third really strange prophecy and fulfillment is Matthew 2:23, “And he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: ‘He will be called a Nazarene.’” Now we’ve all read these prophecies and fulfillments so many times in our reading of the New Testament Christmas accounts that we don’t think anything of them, but if we scratch below the surface or dig deeper into them we find that they are very odd prophecies and very odd fulfillments indeed. So I’d like to take this first Sunday of the New Year 2009 as the last and final message of the Christmas season and explore the very odd and strange prophecies at the end of the Matthew Christmas account. It’s very interesting and I hope it teaches us more about the way God works as we examine these three prophecies. Some of you still don’t see how these three prophecies differ from any other prophecies in the New Testament, but I’ll explain all that in a moment. It just goes to show how God works in mysterious ways, and how we need to be ready for God to work in mysterious ways in our lives. Whenever we get to the point that we think we’ve got God all figured out, he’ll throw us something strange and mysterious just to show us that he’s in charge of things, not us. Are you ready for God to work in your life in mysterious ways? It’s a New Year; we need to be ready for anything! Let’s examine the prophecies. (more…)