The Omnipresence of God

The Attributes of God #5: This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, May 27, 2015.

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A Confusing Tale

“A Confusing Tale”: 1 Kings #13: an exposition of 1 Kings 13:1-34. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, May 17, 2015.

Intro:

I believe in the perspicuity of Scripture.  I like to say things like that to prove that I’ve been to seminary!  That’s your Cooperative Program dollars at work.  The doctrine of perspicuity means that the Scriptures are clear or lucid.  They are intelligible.  While a background in the biblical languages, knowledge of biblical history and interpretation are very beneficial they are not necessary to understand the Scripture.  You can read the Bible and understand it.  However there are those passages that give me pause.  Passages that leave me scratching my head and wondering, “Why in the world is that story there?  What does it mean and why do I need to know it?”  1 Kings seems to more than its share of “head-scratch’n” passages.  This evening we come to deal with another one of those passages.  Our text is found in 1 Kings chapter 13.  Again we will consider the entire chapter.

Text: 1 Kings 13:1-34

Solomon was told that the kingdom would be torn from his hand.
Due to God’s covenant promises to David this would not happen in Solomon’s lifetime.
Solomon died and his son Rehoboam became king.
Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived.
His son – not so much!

When the people asked for some relief Rehoboam rejected the advice given by the older men who served his father and went with the advice given by his contemporaries.  “You think my old man was tough wait until you’ve dealt with me.”  The northern tribes broke away and formed a rival kingdom.  Jeroboam was made king.

Jeroboam feared that if the people of the North continued to worship in the South it would lead to a reunification of the nation.  Thus he set up a rival religion in the North with a golden calf set up in Dan and in Bethel.  He appointed priest from all the tribes rather than just the tribe of Levi, he built high places throughout the land and established a religious feast.  All of this was done as he had purposed in his own heart.  In other words this was not in accordance with the will of God but all his own doing.  God had told Rehoboam that if he followed him with all his heart God would establish his kingdom.  Jeroboam thought it better if he secured his kingdom on his own terms.  That brings us to our text.

As we work through the chapter we will discover that…

Thesis: This confusing Old Testament tale of a faithful yet foolish and a lying yet anointed prophet gives us insight into how our response to the Word of God works to our good or ensures our judgment.

There are three things I want to point out along the way.

  1. Though the Word of God is merciful we can despise it assuring our own destruction. (13:1-10; 33-34)
  2. Though the Word of God provides us safety and comfort we can abandon it and thus place ourselves under its judgment. (13:11-24)
  3. Though entrusted with the Word of God we can abuse it harming ourselves and others in the process. (13:18-32)

Conclusion:
This underscores the importance and centrality of the Word of God in the life of the believer.

Receive it as merciful and do not despise it.
Understand the Word of God is our refuge.
Do not abuse the Word by seeking to use it to your advantage.

For your response to the Word of God works to your good or it ensures your judgment.

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The Great Call

“No Rivals, No Rights, No Reservations, No Regrets.” An exposition of Luke 14. This message by Roy Emmons was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, May 24, 2015.

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Come to the Banquet

The Parables of Jesus #07: an exposition of Matthew 22:1-14. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, May 17, 2015.

Intro:

“From the sound of things it must be a great party.  Listen to the laughter, the music and the singing.  My, would you look at those tables.  I’ve never seen such a feast.  The king spared no expense on this lavish affair.  Nothing is too good for his Son.  Oh look.  Over there, the King and His Son certainly seem to be enjoying the feast.  Wait a minute.  Something is not right.  Look at the guests.  How did these people get in here?  Over there, isn’t that the blind beggar who sits at the city gate?  Over there, isn’t that a leper  and there – a prostitute?  Look, no it can’t be.  A tax collector?  What is this?  I don’t believe it.  I could never imagine such a motley crew at such and elegant banquet.  Something is wrong here.  Something is very wrong.

That would have been the reaction of the religious establishment if they had walked up on a banquet like the one described by the Lord Jesus in our text this morning found in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 22.

Text: Matthew 22:1-14

Make sure you put this parable in its context.
The Jewish leaders despise the Lord Jesus.
They are determined to kill him.

They are asking questions, not because they desire to learn, but rather they are seeking to trap him.  They are wanting something they can use against him.  Something that will enable them to turn the crowd against him or something that can be used to charge him with a capital offense against Rome.

He has already told them the parable of the Tenants – 21:33-44.
Look at 21:43 – “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.”

21:45 – the religious establishment knew he was talking about them.

The context is the taking of the Kingdom from those who were “the people of God.”

Sometimes we find parables that offer us great difficulties.
We wrestle with understanding them.
Not so with this parable.
It is plain.  Disturbingly plain!

In this parable our Lord is talking about life in the Kingdom.  In particular, about our response to His gracious invitation to life.  It speaks of God’s gracious offer and man’s arrogant indifference.  It speaks of hell and judgment.  It warns of those who would attempt to enter glory on their own merit.  It speaks of the height, the length, the breadth and the depth of the love of God.  It also speaks of the fierceness of his wrath.  All of this is necessary for the preaching of the Gospel.

As we walk through this parable one thing is unmistakably clear:

Thesis: God’s gracious invitation demands a response.

You cannot ignore him.
You cannot remain neutral.
The days of neutrality are over.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem on the back of that donkey – he forced people to make a choice.  He was saying, “Behold!  I am the Messiah.”  You must either agree with him or reject him.  Neutrality is not an option.

Unless we learn this – we will never be effective in evangelism.
Unless we believe this – we will never be burdened for evangelism.

Until we learn that our King has declared, “Either you are with me or you are against me” we will not be compelled to tell his story.

Make no mistake about it – this parable makes it clear – His invitation demands a response.
There are two things I want us to note in our text.

  1. Those who reject God’s gracious offer, do so to their own peril.  (22:1-7)
    Now there are two kinds of people who refuse.
    There are those who are simply indifferent (22:5).
    These are flimsy, worthless excuses.There are those who are openly hostile (22:6).
    This is a picture of the Jews – John 1:11-12
    The natural man is at enmity with God – Romans 1:21-24; Colossians 1:21; 3:5-7.Both dishonored the king and his son with their stubborn refusal.

    Now, look carefully at 22:7.
    Note – “enraged” = Greek orge – burning anger.
    The king is furious.

    The Jesus of the New Testament makes it clear – the wrath of God abides on those who are dead in trespass and sin!
    Be warned.  Those who reject God’s gracious offer of life in the person of the Lord Jesus do so to their own destruction.

  2. Those who accept God’s gracious invitation enter into a joyous, abundant life.  (22:8-14)

This is the grace of God.
The guests are more grateful.
There is a greater joy expressed.
The event was even more famous as the story was told – everyone was talking about it.

This is the glory of the Gospel of Christ.
Note carefully it is Christ’s glory – 22:11-14.

Conclusion:
What will you do with Christ?
God’s invitation demands a response.
To reject him – is to invite the judgment of God.
To accept him – is to enter into life eternal and life abundant.

The banquet is ready – come!

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The Holiness of God

The Attributes of God #4: This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, May 13, 2015.

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That’s Not Fair!

The Parables of Jesus #06: an exposition of Matthew 20:1-16. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, May 10, 2015.

Intro:
It is a very common complaint.  It is heard daily around the world.  It is heard on playgrounds, in courtrooms, boardrooms and family rooms.  It is uttered by frustrated children, angry employees and champions of social justice.  It is the cry of, “That’s not fair.”  This is the cry of those who feel slighted, overlooked and left out.  It is the natural response we feel when someone “gets away with” something.  It’s most tragic use is when it is uttered in connection with the Kingdom of God.  Too often it is heard within the church because “someone got what I got and they didn’t deserve it!”  Such an attitude reveals a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of the Kingdom of God.

An attitude of self-interest is entirely inappropriate within God’s Kingdom.  Why?  Because the Kingdom of God is built entirely of grace.  One day Jesus and his disciples were on their way to Jerusalem when a young man approached them.  He was an intelligent, hard-working and righteous man.  He came, and bowing before the Lord Jesus, asked, “Rabbi, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”  Now he came to the right person, in the right manner, asking the right question but was totally unaware of the nature of the Kingdom and of the nature of his own heart.  Jesus, because he loved him, spoke to his real need.  “Go, sell everything you own.  Give it away, then come and follow me.”  He went away sad because he was very wealthy.  Then with a note of great sadness, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth it is hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven.”  He went on to say, “In fact it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.”  The disciples were shocked by his comments.  Wasn’t wealth a sign of God’s blessing?  If rich people can’t go to heaven who can?  Again Jesus said, “With man this is impossible but with God all things are possible.”  Then “old foot-in-mouth” spoke up.  Peter chimed in, “Lord, we’ve left everything to follow you!  What then will there be for us?”  That serves as the backdrop for our text this morning found in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 20 beginning at verse 1.

Text: Matthew 20:1-16

It is always important to set a text in its context.
To understand the parable recorded in chapter 20 you must see it connected to chapter 19.

Look at 19:27-30 – Then Peter said in reply, See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have? 28 Jesus said to them, Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

Peter’s attitude of one of “What’s in it for me?”
The Rich Young Ruler walked away – we gave up everything – our reward must be great!

A parable is an “earthly story” with a “heavenly significance.”
It is the use of something common or ordinary to explain something that is not so common or ordinary.  I’m convinced that this parable is a warning against an attitude of self-interest.  This is a strong antidote to a “what’s in it for me” attitude.

Thesis: The grace of God permeates every aspect of life within the Kingdom of God.

This is a familiar parable.
Familiar and troubling.
Not troubling because it is difficult to understand or to interpret.
It is really self-explanatory.
The problem is that some have felt it necessary to justify what it teaches.
Even a casual reading of the text can leave you saying, “That’s not fair.”
Some worked 12 hours others just 1 hour and they all got paid the same?
Where was the union?

Let me quickly call your attention to three principles about the Kingdom of God drawn from this parable.

  1. God’s grace calls us to life in the Kingdom.
  2. God’s grace sovereignly rewards those who are in the Kingdom.
  3. God’s grace motivates us in our service to the Kingdom of God.
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Our Sovereign God

The Attributes of God #3. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, May 6, 2015.

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Stupidity vs. Sovereignty

1 Kings #12: an exposition of 1 Kings 12:1-33. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, May 3, 2015.

Intro:

I was just trying to be funny.  It was my first church.  Our first time together as pastor and congregation.  I was 25 years old.  Just a few months out of seminary.  I’m on the threshold of greatness (so I thought) as pastor of my own flock.  The question came, “What should we call you?”  I said, “Great One seems appropriate.”  I drove around for a year with a personalized license plate that read, “Great 1.”  “Who’s that arrogant jerk?”  “That’s our pastor.”  Probably not the best way to start off my service as the loving, humble pastor of that gracious fellowship.  Young people, in their first role in leadership often do stupid things.  We have a glaring example of that in our text this evening found in 1 Kings chapter 12.

Text: 1 Kings 12:1-33

Things are moving quickly in the story.
In chapter 10 Solomon is at his zenith.
It’s Israel’s golden age – he is at the height of his fame and popularity.
In chapter 11 everything changes.
Solomon loved many foreign women.
These foreign wives turned his heart away from God.
He built high places and participated in the worship of pagan gods.
So the Lord was angry (snorting mad) with Solomon.
He declared that he would, “tear the kingdom from him.”

Because of His covenant with David he would not do it during Solomon’s lifetime but during the reign of Solomon’s son.

Chapter 11 ends, “Solomon slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David his father.  And Rehoboam his son reigned in his place.”

Chapter 12 opens and it doesn’t take long before God fulfills His promise.

12:16 -20 – And when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, David. So Israel went to their tents. 17 But Rehoboam reigned over the people of Israel who lived in the cities of Judah. 18 Then King Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was taskmaster over the forced labor, and all Israel stoned him to death with stones. And King Rehoboam hurried to mount his chariot to flee to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day. 20 And when all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. There was none that followed the house of David but the tribe of Judah only.

As we work our way through the 12th chapter we find that…

Thesis: The sad tale of Rehoboam’s folly, the division of the kingdom and the sin of Jeroboam makes it abundantly clear that man’s sinful, corrupt heart is no match for the Sovereign God.

There are three things I want to point out from our text.

  1. The foolish, arrogant boastful heart of man serves God’s Sovereign purpose.  (12:1-15)
  2. The heart of man fights God’s purpose until brought in humility to surrender to the Word of God.  (12:16-24)
  3. When driven to preserve one’s own agenda the heart of man constructs a religion to serve his own corrupt purpose.  (12:25-33)

Conclusion:
Jeroboam had been given a wonderful promise from God.
The same as was given to Solomon – follow me and I will establish you.
Jeroboam did think he could trust God to fulfill his promise so he sought to secure it himself.

We all know politicians are not above using religion to further their own ends.
But such sin is not the sole possession of politicians – we all are guilty.
Thus Calvin said the heart of man is an idol factory!

This chapter and its sad tale is a vivid reminder of the wicked, desperate heart of man.  Our only hope is to throw ourselves on the mercy of God in Christ.  To trust Christ and him alone.  To cling to the promise of God.

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The Heart of God in Salvation

The Parables of Jesus #05: an exposition of Luke 15:1-24. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, May 3, 2015.

Intro:

Have you ever lost something of great value to you?  Something that may not have been of any value or worthy to anyone else but it meant something to you?  I have a tendency to like “a” shirt.  And I will wear that shirt until it is worn out – then I’ll latch onto another one.  It’s a flaw in my otherwise flawless character!  One day I went to the closet for my shirt.  It was gone.  “Rheadon where is my shirt?”  “What shirt?”  “My shirt!  What shirt…what kind of question is that? She probably threw it away – she knows I love that shirt.  What did I say?  Oh, nothing dear.”  I ransacked the closet.  Nothing.  Emptied the draws in the dresser – not there.  Dumped the laundry basket.  The washer?  No.  The dryer?  Empty.  I’m going to find my shirt if it kills me.  After an exhaustive search I found it – yes where I had left it – wadded up on the floor.  I wept.

He had done it before.  It was nothing new – in fact every time he got the chance he ran away.  I never understood it.  He was greatly loved.  He was abundantly provided for but he wanted more.  He didn’t seem to care about the pain he caused when he ran away.  Our weenie dog had run away again!  I got on my bike and circled the block calling for John.  No response.  We got in the car and with great intensity and determination my eyes searched as I called out his name.  “There he is.”  As we pulled up beside him I threw open the door and he jumped into my lap.  My fear and frustration were gone.  All that matter was that he was found.

Lost things.  What happens when something that you love is lost?  And what happens when it is found?  That’s what I want us to think about this morning as we explore Luke 15.

Text: Luke 15:1-24

The Scriptures are clear – those who are “outside” of Christ are “lost.”  Those who have not repented of their sin and put their trust and confidence in Christ and Christ alone are separated from God.  They are aliens and strangers.  They are denied both the pleasure and the benefit of His presence.  They know nothing of his peace, mercy and grace.  They are, in the words of the apostle Paul, “dead in trespass and sin.”

What is the attitude of God toward those who are lost?  Many only see the response of His holiness.  They think of His wrath, His vengeance and His judgement.  While God is holy and while there is a fearful judgement that awaits those who die in their sin – that is not the whole picture.  If we want a true picture we must add to His wrath and judgement His love and grace.  That is the focus of our text.  Luke 15 is one of those mountain peaks in Scripture.  The story of the “prodigal son” is one of the most familiar texts in all the Bible but I think that it is often viewed out of its context.
Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem to die.
He’s just come from the home of a Pharisee were he has foiled their trap.
He rebuked their pride and arrogance.  (Seeking the choice seats)
He rebuked their impure motives.  (Ministering for what you get out of it)
He spoke to the multitude following Him about the cost of being His disciple.
Then comes the exchange we are looking at.

15:1-3 = the context.

Note the response to what he was doing.
15:1 – When he laid out the difficult demands those who understood their need were drawn to him.  (What does that say to the “seeker sensitive” approach?)
15:2 – those who were self-righteous were angered and offended.

This man “welcomes sinners and eats with them.”  All good Pharisees understood you don’t have anything to do with those kinds of people.  You don’t speak to them – let alone set down and eat with them.  The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law knew all about God’s justice, righteousness and holiness – but they knew nothing of his grace!

Now it is in response to all this that Jesus tells them this (singular) parable.  (15:3)
What follows is one parable.  Not three but one.  They must be taken together in order to get the whole message.  Also remember that parables were meant to be heard.  Parables are illustrative in nature.  They are teaching tools.  It is the use of something common or ordinary to explain something not so common or ordinary.  These folks were not setting around with a copy of the Scripture following along as Jesus taught, they were listening as he told a story.  Parables are meant to leave you with an impression.  As we explore this passage the message is clear:

Thesis: Salvation is the work of our great and compassionate God.

Reflected in this parable is the work of God the Son, God the Holy Spirit and God the Father.  Salvation is the triune work of God.  These are not three parables looking at one truth from three perspectives.  Rather it is looking at the one great work of God and seeing the depth of that work.  The focus of this parable is salvation.  The lost being found.  Often the lost son or the prodigal son is separated from the others and is seen as the process of rededication rather than salvation.  But that is to deny the context.  That is to make it something different from the first two.  No, all three are dealing with salvation and all three reflect that salvation is uniquely the work of God.  But each does refer to a different aspect of God’s work.

There are three (3) things I want us to note in our text.

  1. The lost sheep reveals the heart of God grieving over the one lost.  (15:3-7)
  2. The lost coin reveals God’s compassion in diligently seeking the lost.  (15:8-12)
  3. The lost son reveals the love of God joyously receiving the repentant sinner.  (15:13-24)
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God Is Spirit

The Attributes of God #2. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, April 29, 2015.

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