Radiant Confidence

The PsalmsRadiant Confidence: Selected Psalms

This is an exposition of Psalm 62. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, August 23, 2017.

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The Joy of Jesus

The Joy of Jesus

This message from John 15:4-11, by guest preacher Jim Hatcher of Greater Europe Mission was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, August 20, 2017.

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Life’s Big Question

Life’s Big Question: 2016 Gospel of Luke #70

Exposition of LukeThis is an exposition of Luke 18:9-14. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, August 20, 2017.

Intro:

It is a natural response. It is perfectly understandable. It is what anyone would do. You found out that you have greatly offended someone and you immediately begin to think of how you can make it right. Surely there is something you can say or do that will appease them. Some gesture on your part that adequately demonstrates that you are truly sorry and that you’re sincere when you say you will never do it again. We’ve all been there and done that. It makes perfect sense. But what if it is really bad? I mean really, really bad. I mean the worst possible kind of bad? What do you do when the one offended is God? How do you make it right with God? That is what our text is about this morning. As we consider life’s big question while we explore Luke 18:9-14.

Text: Luke 18:9-14

Luke the physician and traveling companion of the apostle Paul is writing to his friend Theophilus about the life and ministry of Jesus. Luke wants his friend to have an accurate account of the life of Jesus. His goal is that his friend would come to see Jesus not just as the Jewish Messiah but as the Savior of the world. His purpose is evangelistic. Throughout his gospel Luke has been showing the growing hostility toward Jesus on the part of the religious establishment. That hostility is reaching fever pitch and is about to explode in the cross.

In the preceding passage Jesus drew a sharp contrast between the character of God and that of a corrupt civil official. Demonstrating that our confidence and persistence in prayer is based on the character and strength of God. We are reminded that we are to pray and never give up. Prayer again is involved in the parable that is before us. But the issue in this parable is the larger question behind the prayers of two very different men.

Thesis: At issue in this parable is life’s most important question – “How is a man justified in the eyes of God?”

How is a man justified?
How is he made right with God?
How does a sinful man stand in the presence of a holy and righteous God?
That is life’s most important question.
That is the question everyone in this room must deal with.

We are all sinful – for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are all less than what God created us to be. We all fail to live according to God’s commands. We are sinners. What was said of the people in Noah’s day could certainly be said of us today, “Every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” That’s who we are. That is an accurate accounting of human nature. Now set that along side God’s standard of “Be perfect even as I am perfect.” “Be holy because I am holy.” We don’t measure up. We fall short. How do we remedy that? How do we make that right? That is the focus of Jesus’ parable.

Our first clue as to where this is heading is found in the opening verse. Luke informs us that Jesus told this parable to some folks who where confident in their own righteousness. The words used, mean that they were fully persuaded that they were upright and virtuous. These folks saw themselves as faultless and as pure as the driven snow. We have to add to this sense of self-righteousness a hostility toward everyone else. They not only trusted in themselves – they despised everyone else. They viewed the rest of the world with contempt! Jesus is about to upset their apple cart. He does so by telling them a story about two men. Two men who went to the temple to pray. Two men who were very different. One well thought of and admired by all. The other hated and despised by all. One went home “justified” the other went away condemned. But which is which? The answer may surprise you.

Two men – two prayers – a very surprising response.

Two things I want us to glean from this text.

  1. The example of the Pharisee serves to remind us that God in holiness rejects the pious claims of the self-righteous. (18:9-12)
    Jesus stunned that first century crowd when he said that Pharisee went home under the judgement of God. That Pharisee went home with the wrath of God hanging over his head. When did he say that? He didn’t go home justified. He didn’t go home “right with God.” He went home in his sin.
    Mark it down God in his holiness rejects the pious claims of the self-righteous.
  2. The prayer of the tax collector reminds us that God in grace responds to the humble cry of the repentant sinner. (18:13-14)
    Look at the result.
    “I tell you that man went home justified.”
    That man went home right with God.

Conclusion:

How is a man made right with God? How do you deal with your sin? It is not a matter of cleaning yourself up. It is not a matter of your performing certain acts. You can’t make it right. You cannot fix this problem. All you can do is throw yourself on the mercy of God. That’s the Gospel. That is why Jesus came.

God in his holiness rejects the pious claims of the self-righteous but in grace He response to the humble cry of the repentant sinner.

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The Secret of Contentment

The PsalmsThe Secret of Contentment: Selected Psalms

This is an exposition of Psalm 59. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, August 16, 2017.

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A Christian Response to Trials of Fire

A Christian Response to Trials of Fire: 2017 Study of 1 Peter #14

This is an exposition of 1 Peter 4:12-19. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, August 13, 2017.

Intro:

It’s a fun game. People love to play and it can be enjoyed by people of all ages. You don’t have to have game pieces, no dice are required and it’s not a card game. Now the game can get a little rowdy. If you’re not careful it can get out of hand. Tempers can flare but it generally is a crowd pleaser. The game is known by various names but I like to call it – “Yea, well that’s bad but it’s nothing compared to what I had to go through.” Others may call it “One Ups-manship” or “Top That” but it’s all the same game. The object is to prove that you live with greater tragedy than the other players.

Life is hard. Trials and tribulations are a common denominator. Whether you are rich or poor, black or white, republican or democrat, male or female, child or adult – there is one thing you can count on – life is going to dump on you. Life in this sinful, fallen world is filled with trouble and being a Christian does not make you immune.

Peter is writing to a group of folks who are well aquainted with trials and tribulation they are the victims of the first great wave of persecution. Many of them have lost their families and have suffered greatly due to their faith. Peter is writing to encourage and strengthen them in the midst of their struggle. In 1 Peter 4 he deals directly with living in the midst of adversity.

Text: 1 Peter 4:12-19

Peter has been called The Apostle of Hope – which is amazing in light of his record!
Old “foot in his mouth” didn’t seem like “pillar material” in the Gospels.
The Peter we meet in the Gospels does not exactly cause you to think of calm leadership in a time of crisis.

Yet after the baptism of the Spirit, recorded in Acts 2, Peter became a leader and spokesman for the church. Now as a “statesman” he is writing to believers scattered, due to persecution, and offers them hope and encouragement to stand firm.

His message is simple and straightforward:

  • We live as aliens and strangers in a hostile land.
  • Holiness matters.
  • Live transformed lives.

The context of this section deals with what Peter calls “painful trials” or in another translation “fiery ordeals.”

That is a pretty apt description of life, as we often know it.

As a child of God I view life differently. My perspective is different because I see life as God declares it and not as I understand it. This is part of what it means to be a peculiar or holy people. In fact I think the message of our text is simply this:

Thesis: The people of God see in suffering an opportunity to grow and a chance to glorify God.

Now that is radically different from the way an unbeliever responds to crisis. But please understand I’m not talking about “positive thinking” or “possibility thinking.” This is not a mind game – I’m talking about faith in action. Peter does not write these words in a vacuum. He has already established that these folks have been given new birth into a living hope…into an inheritance that is forever fixed and settled in heaven. They are a royal priesthood, a holy nation – a people of God’s own choosing.
This is the basis for their living by faith – it is not a leap in the dark. It is to rest in the arms of God. It is to trust him who is worthy.

There are two things I want us to note in our text.

  1. The people of God find in troublesome times the opportunity to rejoice. (4:12-13)
  2. The people of God find in troublesome times an opportunity to grow. (4:14-19)

Conclusion:

When suffering comes you must entrust yourself to God (4:19).

Peter, as a loving pastor, gives us very practical advise for responding to times of severe trial –
See it as an opportunity to grow/mature in your faith
See it as an occasion to glorify God.

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Persistent Prayer: The Key to Surviving the Not Yet

Persistent Prayer: The Key to Surviving the Not Yet: 2016 Gospel of Luke #69

Exposition of LukeThis is an exposition of Luke 18:1-8. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, August 13, 2017

Intro:

Do you find prayer easy? Does it come naturally to you so that you do not struggle with prayer rather you regularly, faithfully and with great boldness plead your cause before the Father? If you said, “Yes,” do you lie about other things too? It’s hard enough to pray at all, let alone to keep on praying until you get an answer. There are reasons for why we struggle (and honestly none of them are good). There is physical weakness, ever fall asleep while you’re praying? There is laziness or lack of discipline, we simple do not make time to pray. Indifference, we are callous towards the needs of others and our world. There is lack of faith in the promises of God, we just are not sure He will do as He says. Of course there is just outright rebellion. We know we ought to pray we just don’t! Then, sometimes we stop praying because we lose heart. God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we think He ought to. We pray for the sick and they are not healed. We pray that God will provide but we are still out of work. We pray for someone’s salvation and them seem to be moving further away from the Lord. Whatever the reason we struggle to pray because things are not as they should be. Life is not to our liking. It’s too painful, too chaotic, or we just can’t deal with the uncertainty of it all.

Our world is broken. It is not the world as God created it. It is a world corrupted by sin and distorted by the fallen sons and daughters of Adam. A world where a gunman opens fire following a prayer meeting. A world were gang violence is not just a problem on the Coast. Scandal and corruption are common place. Terrorist’s threats abound around the world. Meanwhile our faith is attacked here at home. The Christian worldview is fast becoming the minority opinion. Once the dominant worldview we are becoming the Kook fringe! Sure, as a believer, I can set back and declare with confidence “I know who holds the future!” “I am resting in the strong arm of my Savior.” Then I lay my head down on my pillow at night and my mind is flooded with anxious thoughts about tomorrow because being a child of God does not make me immune from the cares and worries of this fallen world. How are we supposed to live?

The Kingdom of God is here! It has been here since the Lord Jesus died on Calvary and rose triumphantly from the dead. The Kingdom of God is a present, spiritual reality. So why are we in this mess? Because while the Kingdom is a present reality, we are living in the “not yet” before the ultimate fulfillment of that Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is the people of God in the place of God under the rule of God. As believers who place our faith and trust in Christ and live under the lordship of Christ we experience the peace and blessing of the Kingdom but not everything is in obedience to the Kingdom. That awaits the return of the great King. Yes, every knee will bow in heaven and in earth and every tongue will confess Jesus is Lord – when He comes. In the mean time we live in the tension between the now and the not yet. So how are we to live in the mean time? What “gets us through” these difficult days? That is the focus of our text this morning found in Luke Luke 18.

Text: Luke 18:1-8

Jesus is moving steadfastly toward the cross.
The time determined by the Father has come.
Halfway through Luke 19, Luke begins his narrative of the Passion Week.
In the last half of Luke 17 is Jesus’ teaching on the Kingdom.
I’m convinced that the opening words of Luke 18 are best understood in that light.

(Read the text.)

The message of Luke to his friend Theophilus and to us is clear:

Thesis: Living in the “not yet” of the kingdom demands a life of consistent, persevering prayer.

The reason I’m so confident about that interpretation is that it is precisely what we are told in Luke 18:1! I didn’t go to four years of college and three years of seminary for nothing you know! The key for unlocking this parable is in the lock.

“Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”

Let’s take a look at the parable itself.
First the characters.
We are introduced to two characters:

  1. A corrupt judge
  2. A wronged widow

Our Lord’s Interpretation.
Now Jesus makes the application and here is where so many interpreters miss the point. Look carefully at Luke 18:6 through 8.

Listen to it in the NLT

Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this evil judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end, so don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who plead with him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when I, the Son of Man, return, how many will I find who have faith?” (Holy Bible, New Living Translation, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 1996.)

This is a parable of contrast!
God is not an evil judge!

We are not defenseless, helpless widows – we are beloved sons and daughters, joint heirs with Christ – that is the focus of this parable.

There are two things I want us to note quickly in light of this passage.

  1. Our confidence in prayer rests on the beauty of God’s character.
  2. Our persistence in prayer rests securely on the strength of God’s character.

Why do we keep coming to him in prayer?
Because this loving, caring, gracious God has power sufficient to meet our every need.

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A Passion for Justice

A passion for Justice: Selected Psalms

The PsalmsThis is an exposition of Psalm 58. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, August 9, 2017.

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Living in Light of His Coming

Living In Light of His Coming: 2017 Study of 1 Peter #13

This is an exposition of 1 Peter 4:7-11. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, August 6, 2017.

Intro:

It used to be commonplace; it dominated the preaching of Baptists a generation ago. Pulpits across the land thundered with the announcement of the coming judgment. Sermons warning of the coming Day of the Lord when divine justice would call to account the wicked and the godless. Today we are too sophisticated for such things. The culture, and it would seem the church, no longer believes that history will climax in a day of judgment. In fact many believers seem embarrassed by such notions. Images of red-faced preachers shaking their fists and calling down fire from above must be avoided if we are to be taken seriously by today’s enlightened culture. Modern man has replaced the notion of final judgment with the myth of endless progress. After all, the world is a better place today than it was 100 years ago. Look at our progress. Because of advances in science and medicine diseases that once devastated entire continents have been virtually eradicated. Technological advances have made work easier and more productive. Technology has managed to “shrink” the world. A journey that once took months now takes hours. The Internet puts the world at your fingertips.

The downside is that such advances have encouraged the notion that given time, techniques and the right leadership – we can make the world a better place. If we just take the right path we will create a utopian society. The problem is – though we are living longer and easier – we are not living better! Replacing the fact of final judgment with the myth of endless progress has not served our best interest.

While I’m not suggesting we return to the “sawdust trail” or begin a picket ministry in downtown Tulsa announcing the coming doom – I am suggesting that we return to the biblical pattern of declaring the end of all things is near. The aged apostle Peter was writing to a group of folks who were facing desperate times. Their faith was costing them dearly. Many had died – others would follow, yet Peter was not compelled to sugarcoat the message in order to help them feel better about their circumstances – he set forth the truth in plain language. He reminded them of their need for the Gospel – not just to be saved but also to live. He admonished them to live lives of holiness. He spoke of the need to submit to those in authority; the proper relationship between husbands and wives; the fact that at times it is necessary to suffer for the sake of righteousness – he reminded them of the judge who is ready to judge the living and the dead – then he said, “By the way, the end of all things is near.” Our text this evening is found in 1 Peter 1 Peter 4.

Text: 1 Peter 4:7-11

This text is about living in light of the return of Christ. We have a natural curiosity of the future. We want to know what is coming and we’d like to know when. But let’s be honest – some of the most outlandish things in the world have been done because “the end is near.” You remember all the panic related to Y2K. Some of you will remember the suicidal end of the Heaven’s Gate Cult and the fiery end of the Branch Dividians. I remember the fury of activity and predictions in the late 70’s and early 80’s as prophecy preachers made bold predictions. I remember reading 88 Reasons Why Christ Will Return in 1988 and its sequel – I Meant 89! I don’t have a problem with people who study prophecy, who diligently search the Scripture and try to make application – I just don’t feel that its all that helpful. In fact if we are not careful it can be harmful and lead to the attitude Peter addresses in 2 Peter 3.

2 Peter 3:3-4
I want us to note Peter’s approach to this subject in our text. His advice is straightforward and basic. He doesn’t beat around the bush and he doesn’t get theoretical. From Peter we learn:

Thesis: In an age dominated by the myth of social progress and unlimited potential believers must live lives focused on the fact of the coming judgment.

Now, don’t confuse basic with easy.
Peter demands some things from us that are difficult.

There are two things I want to point out in our text.

  1. The urgency of the hour simplifies our options. (4:7-11a)
    Survival mode calls for simplicity.
    Peter says four things are necessary in light of our Lord’s coming:
    A sober mind and a calm spirit – for the purpose of prayer – 4:7
    A fervent love for one another – 4:8
    A hospitable attitude – 4:9
    A servant’s heart – 4:10-11a
  2. The urgency of the hour reminds us of the goal of our living. (4:11b)

“So that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

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Thy Kingdom Come and Come Again?

“Thy Kingdom Come and Come Again?”: 2016 Gospel of Luke #67

Exposition of Luke

This is an exposition of Luke 17:20-37. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Batptist Church on Sunday morning, August 6, 2017.

Intro:

It’s a classic routine. I must have heard it a hundred times and I laugh every time I hear it. Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s On First?” The routine involves a reporter talking to a baseball player about the strange names of some of the ball players. He asks about some of the fellas playing on this team. Costello replies, “Who’s on first, What’s on second, I Don’t Know’s on third.” “What’s the guys name on first?” “No what’s on second.” “I’m not asking who’s on second.” “Who’s on first.” “I don’t know.” “He’s on third!” It is a masterful routine that goes on for several minutes and becomes very confusing. To watch or listen to that is fun. To have that happen to you is not so fun! Have you ever had one of those conversations that somewhere in the middle of it – you found yourself wondering if you and the other person were engaged in the same conversation? The same words are going back and forth – but you’re not communicating?

I’m afraid that is often the case as believers engage in conversation regarding certain doctrines. This confusion has led many to believe that doctrine should be avoided because it is too confusing or divisive. The truth is there are some doctrines that we do struggle to understand. There are aspects of the truth that we will never fully grasp. The Christian life is one of continual study and growth. We never “arrive” we are always in pursuit. But that is not an excuse to “blow it off” and say, “Leave that for the theologians to argue.” Every believer has a responsibility to “study to show themselves approved unto God. A workmen who doesn’t have to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth.” That is not reserved for the pastor, theologian, teacher or church leader – but every child of God.

One of those “confusing” areas of doctrine is the focus of our text this morning. What about the Kingdom of God? Jesus, in the model prayer, told us to pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” John the baptizer came preaching, “Repent for the kingdom of God is near.” Jesus went forth preaching the good news of the kingdom. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus talked about kingdom living. One day Jesus said to a group of people “there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Matthew 16:28). And yet there are other passages in which we are told that when Jesus comes the whole world will know it and no one can deny it. It’s all very confusing. Did the kingdom come in the first century? Is it here now? Is it coming in the future? The answer is yes! It came. It is here and it is coming later. Our text is found in Luke 17:20-37.

Text: Luke 17:20-37

Luke is narrowing the focus of his Gospel.
We are in the final months of our Lord’s earthly ministry.
He is moving steadily, decisively toward the cross.
He is focused more and more on the kingdom.
He is concentrating more and more on his followers, preparing them for his departure.

One of the problems with the passages dealing with the kingdom of God is that often different but related questions are being dealt with within the same text. That is what we have in the text before us. Often, in our attempt to define the trees, we fail to see the forest! We can become so fixated on the details we fail to see the grand scheme. I’m confident that God has a very detailed and exact plan and program scheduled. I’m less confident about our ability to decipher that plan! I’m also convinced that there is plenty of room for discussion and disagreement among believers on the details. What is essential is that we understand the larger issue.

I am convince from our text that:

Thesis: When it comes to the Kingdom of God believers must learn to live in the tension between the now and the not yet.

This is not a matter of compromise or semantics.
This is not a clever attempt at fence straddling.
This is the biblical understanding of the kingdom of God.

For years there has been a running feud between those who saw the kingdom as a present reality and those who saw it as entirely future. Both sides have had to engage in theological gymnastics in order to get around certain troublesome passages. I once had a discussion with a man I love and respect, that was greatly concerned about how to teach the January Bible Study. The study that year was the Sermon on the Mount. I asked him, “What is your problem?” His reply shocked me. “I want to be practical. That passage is about life in the kingdom. It doesn’t relate to us. It is for the kingdom age.” Now he was consistent in his dispensational approach to Scripture, I’ll grant him that. But he was wrong! At the same time I know others who feel that everything related to the kingdom is here present. That there is no future fulfillment. There is no kingdom yet to come. That’s wrong as well. It is not a matter of either or. It is both and!

There are two things I want us to glean from our text.

  1. The believer lives in the confident assurance that the kingdom of God is a present reality. (17:20-21)
  2. The believer lives in the confident hope of the ultimate fulfillment of the Kingdom with the return of Christ. (17:22-37)

Then our Lord reveals three things about His coming.

When He comes – no one will have to speculate as to whether or not He has come.
When He comes – He will come in judgement.
When He comes – we must have the proper focus.

Conclusion:
In the days before the flood and the days before Sodom was destroyed – it was business as usual. They were consumed with the mundane as if that was the profound!

How do we avoid that mistake?
Live and walk in the knowledge that the kingdom of God is here now and in the confident hope that its ultimate fulfillment is yet to come. A biblical understanding of the kingdom of God demands that you live within the tension of the now and the not yet.

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Parables of the Growing Seed and the Mustard Seed

This is an exposition of Mark 4:26-34. This message was delivered by Brother Ron Lundin at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, August 2, 2017.

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