Archive for February, 2015

Bad Leadership Lead to Judgment

February 10, 2015

Title: Bad Leadership Leads to Judgment
Text: Lamentations 2:14
Time: October 29th, 2014

 
As we look upon the landscape of our country and culture today with its sharp moral and spiritual decline we ask ourselves the question – how could this happen? How could our people fall so sharply morally and spiritually when there are churches that line the streets of our large cities, that dot the landscape in small towns and villages, and are even found often far out in the countryside. According to national polls nearly one-third of the population of the United States, or one hundred millions persons, claim to be born-again Christians; and an even larger amount claim Christianity in general. Yet at the same time when there are millions and millions of Christians and thousands and thousands of churches – some that have thousands or even tens of thousands of members – how can at the same time our nation decline so sharply morally and spiritually in the last decade or so? You’d think that with all the Christian churches and ministries and publishing houses and educational institutions and so-called para-church organizations, and so forth, you’d think that Christian moral and spiritual values would be flourishing. But it isn’t so. What can explain this lack of influence of Christianity? The best explanation is that the problem is due to lack of Christian leadership, or to put it more strongly, the problem is due to bad Christian leadership. We see the same problem in the Old Testament of the Bible among the ancient Jews during the time of the fall of Jerusalem and the exile of the people into Babylon. Jeremiah the prophet warned the Jews again and again to repent, to turn from their sins, to avoid the coming judgment of God. But they wouldn’t. Now after the fall of Jerusalem happened we read in Lamentations one of the main reasons why the nation fell and the people were exiled – because the prophets, the leaders, the teachers failed to warn the people of the coming judgment and failed to turn the people from their sins. Lamentations 2:14 says, “The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The oracles they gave you were false and misleading.” Now by analyzing this verse we can learn something today for ourselves. We can learn from the ancient Jewish mistake. We don’t have to face God’s wrath and judgment for our national sins. We still have time to turn away from sin and turn back to God in order to avoid destruction. Our nation is definitely headed towards some kind of destruction because of our grave sins – to mention only two obvious sins – the murder of legalized abortion that’s been around for decades and the new sin of so-called gay marriage that’s sweeping the nation. I could list others, but these two qualify us for God’s judgment in and of themselves. We could avoid that judgment if we would but turn away from these sins, and in order to do that we need Christian leaders to start warning the people, because as of right now not many of them are warning people. If we can learn from the Old Testament example, if we can begin to do our duty, we just might be able to avoid God’s judgment upon the United States. Let’s look further at Lamentations 2:14 for answers. (more…)

Advertisements

The Genesis of Christmas

February 10, 2015

Title: The Genesis of Christmas
Text: Genesis 1:1, Matthew 1:18, John 1:1, 1 John 1:1
Time: December 15th, 2014

 
During the Christmas season this year I was snooping around in my Greek New Testament and rereading the Christmas Nativity accounts found in Matthew and Luke. Greek is the original language of the New Testament and I feel grateful that I was able to learn it during my college and seminary days in preparation for the ministry. I’ve tried to keep up with the language ever since the days when I first learned it; I try to read a little bit every day from the Greek – I also do that too with the Old Testament Hebrew, I try to keep up with that as well, so that I don’t lose it. But this past month I was reading along in the Greek about the birth of Jesus and stumbled upon an interesting observation that I decided to turn into a sermon message. What I found was that in the first part of Matthew 1:18, which is normally translated in English as “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.” Pretty straightforward. But what I found in the original Greek language of the New Testament is this, “The Genesis of Jesus Christ was thusly.” The very Greek word used in the title of the first book of the Bible, Genesis, is used here in Matthew to describe the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. I found that very interesting. Now the word genesis in Greek can definitely mean birth or beginning or start and so forth, but it’s usually translated birth here in Matthew in connection with the Nativity Christmas account. But I began to realize that while it’s easier to translate the Greek word genesis as birth, it misses some of the richness of the word, especially its history in the Bible, beginning with the Old Testament and used throughout the New Testament. So I decided I’d put together a short teaching on why I think it’s significant that Matthew used the Greek word genesis in this place to describe the birth of Jesus. One of the great benefits of reading the Bible in the original language is that you can do a little more digging around and poking around with the words – you aren’t locked into the English words the translators give you. So I found something interesting here poking around the Greek. I’d like to share it with you today and hopefully it will build up you faith this Christmas as we think about God and the birth of Jesus. What I’m saying is there is a connection with the birth of Jesus and the Old Testament book of Genesis. I’m saying that when we celebrate Christmas we aren’t just celebrating the birth of a baby but really we should be celebrating a new beginning, a genesis. God, through the birth of Jesus, was initiating a new beginning on earth, and we need to be aware of it and walk in that newness. Let me explain further. (more…)

Contemporary Challenges to Christmas

February 10, 2015

Title: Contemporary Challenges to Christmas
Text: Matthew 1:21
Time: November 17th, 2014

 
There’s a new movie out called “Saving Christmas” put out by Christian actor and TV personality Kirk Cameron. I haven’t seen it yet but it’s one of those movies I have on my “to see’ list this year. It deals with the whole topic of how Christmas has been hi-jacked by secular culture and the message of Christ has all but been extinguished in popular culture. I can’t go into much more about the movie because, like I said, I’ve not seen it. But the topic of Christmas and its relation to culture has been a growing concern for many Christians for at least a few decades now here in the United States. Just in my short lifetime I’ve seen how the secular forces of society have slowly but surely taken more and more away from the spiritual aspects of Christmas. Today, we’ll be looking at different aspects of the diminishment of the true spiritual meaning of Christmas and what forces are involved in stealing away the biblical understanding of this most important holiday. But before I talk about how the true meaning of Christmas is being hi-jacked by hostile secular forces, let me first quickly summarize what is the true meaning of Christmas. Matthew 1:21 sums it up quite nicely, “She (Mary) will give birth to a son, and you (Joseph) are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” These are the words spoken by the angel of God during the first Christmas season back in the first century. The reason for the season is Jesus Christ. His birth began the way of salvation for all who believe the gospel. This is the essence of Christmas, and this is what is being lost in all the other things us moderns put in its place. Before our world found clever ways of hi-jacking the Christmas season it used to be that every December 25th was one big evangelistic sermon proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. But now it’s possible to go through the entire season without really encountering the true meaning of Christmas. Shall we allow this trend to continue? Will we simply let culture rob us of the reason for the season? No, we should definitely push back against the destructive forces of secularism. And a key beginning in doing so is understanding the chief challenges to Christmas today. I’d like to offer three main forces that are slowly but surely hi-jacking the true meaning of Christmas and turning the holiday into something far less. First, there is the force of commercialism that threatens to swallow everything in its massive presence. Second, there’s the sentimentalism of family, friends and the social aspects of the holiday. This isn’t bad in itself, but it’s a case of something good replacing the best. And third, there’s the secularizing force of the general “holiday season” that is attempting to relativize and water-down the distinctively Christian truths of Christmas into a general religious holiday. There are other threats to the real celebration of Christmas but these are the three main challenges as I see it. Let me explain further. (more…)

Demonic Activity In The World Today

February 10, 2015

Title: Demonic Activity in the World Today
Text: Luke 11:24, Matthew 4:1-3, 10-11, Luke 5:1
Time: October 28th, 2014

 
We’re in the Halloween season this year and unfortunately we have to be reminded again and again about the demonic world. It’s particularly bad this year because retail stores have figured out that they could turn a somewhat amusing holiday, Halloween, into a full-blown season through the use of pumping up the sale of products, costumes, candy and decorations. I’ve noticed over the last few years that more and more Halloween decorations are appearing in the stores and also consequently in the neighborhood, in yards and on houses. Halloween used to be a kind of fun day, but today it’s an entire season of occult symbols all over the place in public. We shouldn’t be happy to see this development because whether people know it or not, it introduces them to the world of the occult, which is the realm of Satan. Now most people don’t take the devil so serious today but that’s because they are truly ignorant of his reality. If people really understood the dangers of the occult and the demonic spiritual world, they wouldn’t decorate their homes or decorate themselves with occult symbols. There is also the question of mental health. What are the effects of promoting the scary, the frightening, and nightmare-like images among children? I don’t hear much discussion or talk about this concern. If we can believe the mental health statistics, we’ve never had so many people on psychiatric drugs as today. People suffer from depression in record numbers. Anxiety is a major mental health problem. And on and on the list could go. All the while, we give the Halloween season a free pass in culture, with its awful dreadful images, outright gruesome figures, and demonic inspired sights and sounds. It isn’t any wonder that mental health problems are multiplying. As they say in the computer field, GIGI – garbage in, garbage out. If we pump devilish images into our minds, we’ll get devilish results in our lives. To be honest, if I were a parent, I wouldn’t allow my child to participate in devilish activities and decorate the yard or house with the symbols of the devil. As Christians we know from the Bible that demons are real, and we also know that they can cause great harm to individuals. The reality of Satan and his demons is nothing to play with, even during Halloween. So while we’re on the subject, I’d like to go over again just a few areas that demons are active in the world today; or you might say, the major ways they show themselves to be active. First, there is demonic activity in the form of infestation. They can dwell in certain places or specific locations, such as a house or area. Second, there is demonic oppression, which is where a demon or demons attack an individual or individuals. People can come under mild to severe demonic attack, which is called oppression. And finally, third, there is the reality of demon possession where a demon or demons actually take over control of a person’s mind and body. Thankfully, this last case is not common, but it’s always a danger that must be recognized. So let me review these three basic forms of demonic activity. (more…)