The Need for Biblical Faith

The Need for Biblical Faith: 2016 Gospel of Luke #43

(We are sorry, but this message did not record.) This is an exposition of Luke 11:14-26. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, January 15, 2017.

Intro:

It has happen to all of us.  At one time or another others have misrepresented what we said.  They have mischaracterized our views. They have soiled our good name.  In an attempt to elevate themselves they have sought to destroy us.  I vividly remember the first time it happened to me.  There was an honest discrepancy.  Two versions of the story were being told.  I remembered something one way.  He remembered it another.  The discussion became heated.  Soon others were drawn in.  The crowd became unruly.  The authorities were called in.  Finally Kenny Aman’s mom said, “Boys stop it!  Now, Rodney, what happened?”  I recounted the events.  That’s when it happened.  Kenny Aman, my best friend, shouted for the whole neighborhood to hear, “That’s not true you big fat fibber!”  Slandered.  I was outraged.  Why in all my nine years no one had accused me of such wickedness.  I cried all the way home.

If that had been the worst thing anyone ever said about me or to me – I would consider myself most fortunate.  I look back on that and laugh.  But the truth is when it happened it cut like a knife.  The truth is today when things are said, inside, I still feel what that nine-year-old boy felt.  You’ve been there.  They say, “Sticks and stones may break your bones but names will never hurt you.”  You and I both know that is not true.  Names can devastate you.  When someone falsely accuses you or twists your words there is anger and hurt.  And I suppose nothing is worse than doing good for another and then having your motive questioned, your actions slandered.  Such was the case for the Lord Jesus in Luke Luke 11 and beginning at Luke 11:14.

Our Lord had come upon a man who was possessed of an evil spirit.  A spirit who had robbed him of his ability to speak.  When we consider the parallel accounts in Mark and Matthew we discover that this man was both deaf and dumb.  He could neither hear nor speak.  Not everyone rejoiced in the deliverance of this tormented soul as we will see in our exploration of the text.

Text: Luke 11:14-26

Luke, the careful history and traveling companion of the apostle Paul, was writing, for his good friend Theophilus, an accurate and orderly account of the life and ministry of Jesus.  Luke wanted his Gentile friend to understand that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the Messiah of the Jews and the Savior of the world.  Thus he pulled together certain stories, events and teachings from Jesus’ life and, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, woven them together into a compelling argument.
The immediate context is our Lord’s teaching on prayer.  He concluded his teaching by saying that the Father gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.  Then Luke inserts our text to again demonstrate the growing animosity between the Lord Jesus and the religious establishment.  The Scribes and Pharisees were again present and intent on finding grounds on which to get rid of this troublesome teacher from Galilee.

There is an old adage that says, “If you can’t defeat the message, destroy the messenger.”  The religious establishment could not touch His message.  For He spoke only truth.  Truth will withstand any amount of scrutiny and attack.  The establishment recognized that the message of Jesus contradicted their message at numerous points.  Believing they alone laid claim to the truth of God, they had no option but to silence this rebel prophet.  In our own day there are those who would silence the message of the Lord Jesus.  And I am not talking about those nasty secular humanists.  Of course they want His message silence.  I’m talking about those who claim to speak for God.  Those who enjoy the respect and admiration of the world.  Those who seek a “kinder, gentler Christianity.”  One that is not so narrow minded and particular.  That places a great responsibility on those of us who know the Lord Jesus, who know the truth.  We must stand for biblical faith.  We must maintain the integrity of the message.  As we look at the response of our Lord to those who slandered Him we are reminded of an important truth:

Thesis: Every genuine child of God is called to embrace, live and declare authentic biblical faith.

It is not enough to say, “Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior of the world.”  It is not enough to intellectually know the truth.  It is not even enough to say you “believe” the truth of the Gospel.  The person who is genuinely born again, the person whose life has been radically changed by the grace of God is the person who passionately embraces the Lord Jesus Himself, lives out the claims of Christ and openly declares the truth of the Gospel.

Am I suggesting that every Christian should be seminary trained?  No.
Am I suggesting that every child of God should be in full time Christian service?  No.
Am I suggesting that every child of God should be a wild-eyed fanatic?  No.

But I am suggesting that when others find out you’re a Christian their response should not be, “You sure fooled me!”

In our text we find three aspects of this biblical faith we are to embrace, live and declare.

  1. Biblical faith affirms the power and authority of the Lord Jesus over the forces of evil.  (11:14-22)
  2. Biblical faith exhibits an unyielding allegiance to the Lord Jesus.  (11:23)
  3. Biblical faith demands a thorough conversion.  (11:24-26)
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Let All the World Sing His Praise

Let All the World Sing His Praise: Selected Psalms

The PsalmsThis is an exposition of Psalm 117. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, January 11, 2017.

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Hard Lessons from Promising Times

Hard Lessons from Promising Times: 2 Kings #23

This is an exposition of 2 Kings 18. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, January 8, 2017.

Intro:

Christianity is no fairytale.  By that I mean it is a story rooted in the soil of reality.  It does not begin with, “Once upon a time.”  It is no myth.  It is not a morality tale.  Our faith is the story of how God created the world perfect, beautiful and holy.  The story of man made in the image and likeness of God as the crowning achievement of creation.  Man made to fellowship with God.  It is the story of how that holy creation was ruined by an act of rebellion.  Told to not eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – that is exactly what Adam did.  As a result sin and death interred the world.  Adam and Eve had been told if they eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge  of good and evil death would come.  Spiritual death, separation from God, came immediately.  Physical death would follow.  Yet God, in mercy and grace, came calling, “Adam where are you?”  The call would continue through Noah, Abraham, the deliverance from Egyptian bondage.  God continued to call through the law, the tabernacle, the sacrificial system and the prophets.  God continued to call until he came in the person of the Lord Jesus to secure our redemption.  Christ came, lived, suffered and died to restore what was lost that tragic day in the Garden.  Now by faith we enter into a new reality because of Christ.  Our redemption is complete.  It is a present reality yet we await the final restoration of all things.  We wait until our Lord comes again.

This is important because biblical faith is not magic.  Again, it is not a fairytale in which one believes and then lives happily ever after.  We still live in a fallen world.  A world that is broken and corrupt.  Every hospital, every cemetery is a reminder of that.  Contrary to what you might hear on “Christian radio” or read in a “Christian book” life for the people of God is often hard.  It is often filled with struggle and heartache.  In this world we will have tribulation.  Thus we live as pilgrims here longing for home.  The Christian life is not always lived on the mountain top.  There are the valleys.  Times of darkness and despair.  Yet always there is hope.  Hope of a better day.  Assurance of a glorious future.  

Thus as God has given us His Word He has not sugarcoated the message.  The Scriptures are clear about life in this fallen world.  Note how often the people of God lived as outcasts.  Despised, mistreated and treated as suspect by the general culture.  Feared and maligned by those who do not believe.  As we work through the Scriptures we often come across hard lessons even during promising times.  Our text this evening is found in the 18th chapter of 2 Kings.

Text: 2 Kings 18:1-37
Context:
The Northern Kingdom of Israel has fallen – 722 bc.
The Southern Kingdom of Judah is entering her last days.
Things had gotten particularly dark in Judah during the reign of Ahaz.
His son, Hezekiah comes to power and the clouds part.
A time of refreshment or revival comes to the nation.
It is a time for celebration and great joy as God’s hand is on this choice servant.
Yet during his reign dark clouds appear again.

Reminding us that…

Thesis: God’s surprising grace today is no assurance of a cloudless tomorrow.

We are not immune from struggle, heartache and pain.  There always has been, there are and there will always be those who despise the LORD and His people.  No amount of faith is going to change that.  That is why our LORD said, “They hated me, they will hate you.”  We are not better than our Master.  This is why the saints through the ages have considered it a great honor to suffer for the Name.  To suffer for the LORD.

As we work through Kings 18, I want to point out three (3) things.

  1. God sometimes brings times of great refreshing (or revival) for which our only response can be gratitude.  (18:1-8)
  2. Such times of refreshment are no guarantee against heartache and calamity.  (18:9-25)
    Your faith may cave in – (18:13-16)
    Your loyalty can be misplaced – (18:17-25)
    A devastating blow – (18:26-35)
  3. Even genuine faith can be overwhelmed by a sense of dread and devastation.  (18:36-37)

    Conclusion:
    We must not rush too quickly from Kings 18.  We would do well to sit here awhile and consider.  We ought to consider what it means to live for Christ in this world.  Consider what we have been promised and what we’ve not been promised.  We’ve not be promised only sunshine and no rain.  We’ve not been promised a life without sorrow, pain or suffering.  We have been promised the presence of a sympathetic high priest who understands our weakness.  Who promises his abiding presence no matter what comes.  Who has promised his grace is sufficient.  Who promises a future resurrection and glory – and such is sufficient!

    For this light, momentary afflictions do not even begin to compare to the glory that awaits us.
    Take heart child of God.
    Take heart weary pilgrim.
    There is untold glory on the other side and that is to be our focus in this sin-cursed world.

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Genuine, Heaven-Touching Prayer

Genuine, Heaven-Touching Prayer: 2016 Gospel of Luke #42

This is an exposition of Luke 11:1-13. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, January 8, 2017.

Intro:

They had seen it before.  It was nothing new or novel.  In fact it was a regular occurrence.  Often He left them and went aside, alone to pray.  He sometimes spent all night in prayer.  And when He prayed it was far different from anything they had ever heard.  Not that the words were all that different.  Not that the form itself was strange or innovative.  It was an intangible thing.  They couldn’t put their finger on it – they didn’t know how to evaluate it – it was just different.  Higher.  Grander.  Loftier.  More powerful.  They just knew that when He prayed Heaven took note of it.  One day, after He prayed, one of His disciples said, “Lord teach us to pray.”  That is the backdrop for our text this morning found in the 11th chapter of Dr. Luke’s Gospel.

Text: Luke 11:1-13

Prayer is beyond question the highest activity of the human soul.  Man is at his greatest and highest when he is on his knees before his God.  In prayer we come face to face with the living God.  We enter into the throne room of the universe and stand before the awesome, majestic God, Lord of heaven and earth.  We all acknowledge that prayer is a lifeline.  We acknowledge that our souls are fed, strengthened and encourage when we spend time before the Father.  We just as quickly acknowledge that we have much to learn regarding the disciple of prayer.  We all must acknowledge that we spend far to little time in prayer.  We have all felt the same urging as this disciple.  We’ve all found ourselves saying, “Lord, teach us to pray.”  And this is important, “Teach us to pray” doesn’t mean teach us the words to say.  It doesn’t mean teach us a formula, teach us the tricks of the trade.  The disciple was asking, “Lord teach us to pray.”  Teach us to desire prayer, teach us to be persistent in our praying, teach us have the same passion for prayer that You have.  He is asking, “Lord teach us to touch heaven with our praying.”

Thus our text serves as a pattern for “Heaven Touching Prayer.”

In responding to the request, our Lord provides us with three principles of “heaven touching prayer.”  Three principles that, when followed, can make a profound difference in our prayer lives.

  1. Heaven touching prayer follows a divinely established pattern.  (11:1-4)
  2. Heaven touching prayer demonstrates a determined persistence.  (11:5-8)
  3. Heaven touching prayer is anchored in the goodness of God.  (11:9-13)

Conclusion:
Do you desire that your prayer life take on new dimensions?  Do you want to know that your prayers touch heaven?  Learn and apply these three principles from our Lord.  

Heaven touching prayer:

  • Follows a divinely established pattern.
  • Demonstrates a determined persistence.
  • Is anchored in the goodness of God.
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Praise to the Only True God

Praise to the Only True God: Selected Psalms

The PsalmsThis is an exposition of Psalm 115. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, January 4, 2017.

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Don’t Neglect the Greater While Doing the Good

Don’t Neglect the Greater While Doing the Good: 2016 Gospel of Luke #41

This is an exposition of Luke 10:38-42. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, January 1, 2017.

Intro:

You can understand why she was a little upset.  It’s not that she minds having guests.  Especially this particular guests but when He comes there’s always a crowd.  Still, she loves to entertain.  Nothing quite satisfies like warm fellowship around a table with good food and good company.  But she could use a little help.  She finally couldn’t take it any longer.  She burst into the other room and was mid sentence before she realized what she was doing.  She was rebuking the King of the universe!  Awkward.  I’m sure there was a moment of stunned silence.   A moment that seemed to last an eternity.  Then there came a loving response.  Our text this morning is found in the 10th chapter of Luke’s gospel beginning with the 10:38.

Text: Luke 10:38-42

You probably don’t know this but churches sometimes have fights.  Church arguments can get pretty heated.  I remember hearing about a Baptist business meeting that got so out of hand members were throwing hymn books at each other!  I supposed the reason churches have disagreements is because churches are made up of people.  You heard about the man who was shipwrecked.  He lived for 20 years on a deserted island.  When he was finally found he had made quite a life for himself.  When asked about the three structures he had built he said, “Well this is my house and over there is my church.”  When asked about the third structure he said, “That’s my other church.  I had a fight.”  The little “dust up” between Mary and Martha is instructive for us as the church.  If we look carefully at the story we find some important lessons that just may help us avoid a few of those petty squabbles.

[Read Text]

This brief passage serves to remind us…

Thesis: We must not get so caught up in service and good works that we neglect the greater thing, communion with Christ through His Word.

Dating back to the earliest days of the church there had been a tendency to regard Mary and Martha as two different approaches to religious devotion.  Martha, the way of active service and Mary, the way of the contemplative life.  Some serve God by doing others by prayer, study and meditation.  The problem is this way of interpretation sets up a false dichotomy.  A false choice.  This is not a matter of either or but rather both and.  Both these women are faithful servants of Christ.  Both have noble characters and both have much to teach us.

There are three things I want to point out as we walk through this passage.

  1. It true, love and devotion are often expressed in different ways.  (10:38-39)
  2. The bitter fruit of distracted service.  (10:40)
  3. Whatever you do, however you serve give priority to the Word of God.  (10:41-42)

Conclusion:
By the way, Martha “got it.”
That’s evident by what happened some time later.
At the death of her brother Lazarus.
You remember – he was dying and they sent for Jesus.
He waited and then went.
By the time he arrived Lazarus was dead and buried.

Listen to the exchange – John 11:21-27.
Some old Martha, blunt and to the point – “If you had been here he would not have died!”
But note the confession – 11:27 – “You are the Christ, the Son of God…”

Mary got it too – John 12 – Mary anointed our Lord for burial.

Mary and Martha, before the apostles confessed belief in the cross and the resurrection.
I think we need both Mary and Martha in the church.
What do you think?

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A Light Has Dawned

A Light Has Dawned: Christmas 2016 #3

This is an exposition of Isiah 9:2, 5-7. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Chruch on Christmas Morning, Sunday, December 25, 2016.

Intro:

Christmas and lights – they just go together.  As a child I remember the excitement of my dad pulling out the ladder and stringing the lights on the house.  I remember going down to Utica Square for the annual lighting service or driving around town to see the Christmas lights.  With our kids it was the “lights on” at Rhema and now with our grandkids the lights on the hill at Chandler Park.  Of course there is those frustrating lights on the Christmas tree.  There is always that one stubborn bulb the renders the whole string worthless!  That of course was the beauty of our modern aluminum tree with its magical color wheel!  Whether on the house or the tree, whether a star or candle, Christmas needs lights.  No doubt the tradition goes back to that star that led the wise men to Bethlehem and to the glory of the Lord that set the shepherd’s field ablaze with light.  But it is more basic than that.  It goes back to the child himself.  Our text this morning is found in the 9th chapter of Isaiah.

Text: Isaiah 9:2, 5-7

Eight centuries before Christ the prophet, moved by the Holy Spirit, wrote about hope overcoming hopelessness as he spoke of God’s anointed coming into the world.  It began centuries before when God created man in His own image and likeness.  As the crowning achievement of creation man was created out of the dust of the earth and fit for fellowship with God.  To be created in God’s image meant to be made to interact with God.  It meant to have the capacity to know God.  The human family, man and woman were created in God’s image and fit for an eternal relationship of love, fellowship and harmony with God and with each other.  But something went terribly wrong.  Through the temptation of the Evil One Adam rebelled against God and thus sin, death and corruption entered the creation.  Man was separated from God and the evil now present in man would set him against his fellow man in the days to follow.  The result?  A world plunged into moral and spiritual darkness.  And there it would remain until God stepped in to change everything.  That’s the message of Christmas.  God has acted on our behalf.  God has stepped in (literally) to restore what was lost.

[Read text]

As we explore this text this morning we are reminded that…

Thesis: The true beauty of Christmas is found in the glorious news that Christ has come bringing light and hope to our dark and sin-cursed world.

There are three great, foundational truths that must be understood if you are to know the true beauty and wonder of the Christmas story.

  1. We live in a world of moral and spiritual darkness.  (9:2)
  2. The light of Christ has dawned bringing life and hope.  (9:6-7)
  3. This gift of light must be received with humility and honest confession. 

Conclusion:

How does this light become yours?  Note again, “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given.”  A son is given.  It is a gift!  Like all gifts this one must be received.  Some gifts are hard to receive because they demand we acknowledge a need or a weakness.  I’m going to be ticked off if one of my gifts today is a gift certificate to some “weight management specialists.”  Some gifts force you to admit you have a problem.

No gift is quite as humiliating is this one.  To receive this gift you must admit that you are lost and that you can do nothing about.  It demands the acknowledgment that you are rightly the object of God’s eternal wrath.  You must admit you are a sinner.  And you must trust in Christ and Him alone.

But if you will do that you are assured of life eternal and abundant.  Let’s go back to John Isaiah 1 and pick up where I left off earlier.  I ended with, “He came to his own and his own people did not receive him.”  But listen to the very next verse, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

The true beauty of Christmas is found in the glorious news that Christ has come bringing light and hope to our dark and sin-cursed world.

Christmas and lights, they just go together.

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Our Awesome God

Our Awesome God: Selected Psalms, 2016

The PsalmsThis is an exposition of Psalm 114. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, December 21, 2016.

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Christmas Anticipation

Christmas Anticipation: Christmas 2016 #2

This is an exposition of Luke 2:22-38. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, December 18, 2016.

Intro:

Christmas is about anticipation.  Children dream of the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas morning.  Moms endure the endless days proceeding the return of children and grandchildren and that moment when her home will be alive again with laughter and joy.  We have a lifetime of Christmas memories.  Most of them good, a few tinged with heartache and sorrow but all of them with traditions and music.  Christmas is a nostalgic time.  A time for looking back.  Christmas has always been a part of our experience.  There has not been a time in our lives when we did not look back and consider the wonder of the birth of the Christ child.  Every year, a year for giving thanks and rejoicing in God’s gracious gift of His Son.  Every December we have declared, “Unto us has been born a Savior which is Christ the Lord.” That’s why it is hard for us to think of what it must have been like in that time before the angelic choir announced the Savior’s arrival.  Those “days of anticipation.”  We look back with salvation “in hand” but what of those days when salvation was yet future?

It was in the Garden, immediately following man’s rebellion, God first declared the Gospel by making a sacrifice and covering man’s nakedness.  Throughout the pages of the Old Testament God continually reminded His people of redemption through blood.  Through the prophets He promised a Deliverer.  He promised there was one coming who would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God and Prince of Peace.  He spoke of a virgin who would conceive and one who would be called Immanuel, God with us.  Centuries came and went.  The message seemed to fade.  Yet there were those who believed.  Through captivity and oppression, through heartache and struggle they hoped against hope that God’s Anointed would come.  With the dawn of each new year they wondered if this would be the year He came?

His name was Simeon.  He was a just, righteous and devout servant of the Lord God.  In spite of his advanced age, in spite of his failing health he continued to cling to the promise of God that he would not taste death until he saw, with his own eyes, the Lord’s Anointed, the Messiah.  He lived in anticipation of the dawning of that new and glorious day.

It was a day like any other.  Simeon made his way to the temple courts.  There he found a young couple that had come to make purification for their first-born son.  Moved by the Spirit of God Simeon took the child in his arms and praised God for light had come into the darkness.  Anticipation had given way to experience and Christmas came to Jerusalem.  Our text this morning is found in Luke Luke 2 beginning with Luke 2:22.

Text: Luke 2:22-38

Thesis: Simeon and Anna represent the wonder of God’s gracious, faithful, redeeming love.

The law commanded that offerings be made following the period of uncleanness.  According to Lev. 12:1-4, a woman who gave birth to a son was ceremonially unclean for 40 days.  When her time was up she was to come to the priest with a lamb for a burnt offering and a pigeon for a sin offering.  In this case, Mary and Joseph didn’t bring a lamb because they could not afford one.  (Another reason why we know the Magi didn’t make it to the stable!)

Leviticus 12:8 makes allowance for the poor.

They are to offer two turtledoves or two pigeons.

This again speaks to the humiliation of the incarnation.

Ordinarily the rite of purification presumed that the child was a sinner.  What made the mother unclean was the guilt of her child’s sin which was inherited from Adam.  This is why sacrifices were made.  So why did Mary need to go through this process?  Her child was no sinner!  This, like His baptism later, was to identify him with sinful humanity.  He came to take our sin upon himself.  He who knew no sin became sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).

They also came to present their child to the Lord.  This too, was part of the law (Ex. 13:2).  This was an act of setting the child apart to the service of God.

While at the temple for these two rites, Mary and Joseph encounter two godly servants of the Lord.

Both were devout.

Both were filled with expectancy. 

They believed when few others believed.

Both kept trusting, looking and longing for the Lord’s coming.

  1. Through the eyes of Simeon we behold God’s long promised Deliverer.  (2:22-35)
  2. Through the voice of Anna we hear the glad tidings of salvation’s presence.  (2:36-38)

Conclusion:

It’s Christmas and to us has been given the glorious task of telling this “good news.”  We have the privilege of declaring to the world, “Unto us has been born a Savior, who is Christ, the Lord.”  There is life and hope for all who will repent of their sin and trust in Christ.  That is the glory of Christmas.  That is the Gospel.

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Our Incomparable God

Our Incomparable God: Selected Psalms, 2016

The PsalmsThis is an exposition of Psalm 113. This message by pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, December 14, 2016.

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