The Sovereign, Gracious Work of God

The Sovereign, Gracious Work of God: 2 Kings #07

Exposition of Second KingsThis is an exposition of 2 Kings 5:1-27. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, July 17, 2016.

Intro:

He had it all; position, power, esteem, success..and leprosy.  His condition was bad enough to illicit sympathy and to cause him to seek a cure.  In the ancient world the term leprosy was used for a number of skin diseases.  The term itself does not imply the most extreme form we think of when we hear the term.  It did not require him to live in a leprosy colony or cause him to live apart from people.  Nevertheless it was a condition from which one sought deliverance.  It was especially galling to this proud military leader.  After all he was commander of the army of the king of Syria.  A great man in high favor with his master.  At the urging of a nameless servant girl he sought relief from the man of God in Israel.  His story is recorded for us in the 5th chapter of 2 Kings.

Text: 2 Kings 5:1-27

It is the prophet Isaiah who reminds us God’s ways are not our ways.  Neither are His thoughts our thoughts.  This story is a perfect example of that principle.  A nameless slave girl taken captive plays a pivotal role in this drama.  The king of God’s people is clueless about the working of God.  The prophet snubs the official delegation from a foreign nation.  Healing comes from dipping 7 times in a muddy river.  The result is s pagan thoroughly transformed.  As we work our way through the story we are reminded that…

Thesis: The working of God’s sovereign grace is comforting and yet troubling.

There are 5 principles I want to point from this encounter with God’s grace.

  1. Our God is sovereign over all things.  (5:1-4)
  2. It is possible to be near the things of God and yet be utterly godless.  (5:5-8)
  3. The way of God is shocking and offensive to sinful minds and hearts.  (5:9-14)
  4. The work of God’s transforming grace is undeniable.  (5:15-19)
  5. Distorting God’s grace proves disastrous.  (5:20-27)Conclusion:
    The grace of God is marvelous and dangerous.  Dangerous when it is obscured.
    Thus…The working of God’s sovereign grace is comforting and yet troubling.
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Of Fruit and Foundations

Of Fruit and Foundations: 2016 Gospel of Luke #22

LukeThis is an exposition of Luke 6:43-49. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, July 17, 2016.

Intro:

Biblical faith is not about “decisions.”  It’s not a simple matter of deciding you want to change.  Deciding your life is getting nowhere so you decide to turn your life over to Jesus.  Real biblical faith is not a decision to “try Jesus.”  Biblical faith is a matter of coming to the end of yourself.  Recognizing that you are a sinner.  You are living according to your own will, appetite and desires and thus in opposition to the will of God.  Because you stand in opposition to God’s will you are rightly under His divine judgment.  Understanding that, you repent of your sin and throw yourself on the mercy of God trusting in Christ alone for salvation.  This is all due to the work of God in you and the fruit of that work is a radical transformation.  This transformation is referred to as a conversion.  Biblical faith isn’t about decisions it is about conversion.  It is not about an intellectual choice it is about a fundamental change.  Paul said, “If any man is in Christ he is new creation.  The old is passed away and everything has become new.”

As our Lord spoke to His newly appointed apostles and the disciples gathered on that level plain, He spoke to them about what it means to follow Him.  He set before them a demanding life.  A life willing to embrace poverty, hunger, suffering and rejection now in order to gain untold wealth, everlasting satisfaction, great joy and loving acceptance in the life to come.  This life demands that we love our enemies by doing good to those who hate us, blessing those who curse us, and praying for those who abuse us.  None of which we can be done in our own strength and power.  Thus this is a life utterly dependent upon divine enabling.  Only the power of God can accomplish such an assignment.

Knowing that you are called of God, empowered by His Spirit may cause you to feel you are somehow superior to others.  Thus our Lord condemns a judgmental spirit.  Calling on His own to have a big-heart, magnanimous spirit that is accepting, forgiving and giving.  A life marked by repentance and compassion.  One that regularly examines its own motives and actions.  Being a true follower of Christ demands careful, honest self-evaluation in light of God’s Word.  Our text this morning is found in the 6th chapter of Luke beginning at the 6:43.

Text: Luke 6:43-49

6:37 said, “Judge not, and you will not be judged.”
That was obviously not a ban on judgment as evidenced by the text before us.
He we are being told to take note of, evaluate life by certain standards.
Our Lord is calling us to a lifestyle of discerning, subtle, moral judgement.

As we work through this text I want us to note that…

Thesis: The true believer is not know by the truth he professes but by the life he lives.

The real proof of discipleship is not whether you have heard or even understood what Jesus has said but whether you actually do what He said we should do.  The proof is that you live out the commands of the Lord Jesus.  The Pharisees who despised the Lord Jesus knew the Scriptures.  They could quote Bible all day.  The devil himself knows the Scripture he quoted it to Jesus during the wilderness temptations.  The genuineness of your faith is not determined by how well you know the Scripture or your firm grasp of systematic theology but does your life reflect the truth of God?  Are you living the truth you profess?

One of the keys for this section is found in 6:46, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do what I tell you?”  It’s not just what you believe, what you know but rather obedience.  It’s about living the truth.

Our Lord speaks of fruit inspection and home construction while driving this point home.  there are two things I want to point out from this text.

  1. A man’s conversation reveals the condition of his heart.  (6:43-45)
  2. A man’s obedience reveals the genuineness of his faith.  (6:46-49)
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It Must Have Been an Incredible Sermon

cropped-theplowman512x512.jpgAn exposition of Psalm 16. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, June 29, 2016.

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Lessons from Church Potlucks Gone Bad

Lessons from Church Potlucks Gone Bad: 2 Kings #06

Exposition of Second KingsThis is an exposition of 2 Kings 4:38-44. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, July 10, 2016.

Intro:

I generally like church potluck dinners.  The food is great, the fellowship sweet and what’s better than time together with church family around the table.  Of course there are times you wish folks were required to put their name on their dishes.  I don’t mean “Rod’s pie plate” I mean “Rod made this meatloaf.”  I did hear about a church once that made sure they label a certain member’s dish.  I imagine it was some coded message that clued people in without it being obvious.  The practice was born out of an unfortunate incident and no, I’ll not elaborate!  But the incident did come to my mind this week as I was preparing this evening’s message.  In 2 Kings 4 we have this story about a church potluck gone bad.  There was this deadly pot of stew served to the sons of the prophets causing some to cry out, “There is death in the pot!”  Not what you want to hear at the potluck social.  That story is followed by another involving another meal for the group.  This time someone generously supplied the food but the provision was not adequate to feed the crowd.  In both cases Elisha, empowered by God, saved the day.  I must admit when looking at our text it caused me to question if Paul really meant that all Scripture is profitable.  I thought maybe Paul didn’t read all of 2 Kings 4.  Maybe that’s a text he just skimmed.  But on further reflection I think it is indeed profitable.  Our text is 2 Kings 4:38-44.

Text: 2 Kings 4:38-44

I want to remind you that Scripture is the revelation of God.
It is God’s revelation of himself.
God is the focus of the Scripture.
So as we read we should be asking, “What does this reveal about God?”
What does it say about his character?
What does it reveal about his power?
What does it say about his attitude toward sinners?
What does it say about his attitude toward his people?

We do need to use caution when working with biblical narrative.  We do not want to “spiritualize” the text.  We don’t want to make the text say something it does not.  We do not want to read into the text and we don’t want to force some great spiritual truth onto a text where it does not belong.

With that in mind I want to walk through this passage and point out a few principles that I believe can be legitimately drawn from these two stories.

  1. Even the godly suffer when God judges a godless nation.  (4:38)
  2. God cares about the common, ordinary and everyday struggles of His people.  (4:38-41)
  3. God’s grace overcomes our ignorance and failings.  (4:39)
  4. God ensures the presence of faith even in the midst of a faithless nation.  (4:42)
  5. When faced with a choice between what you know to be true and what God says…go with what God says!  (4:43-44)

Conclusion:
So what do we learn from these church potlucks gone bad?
In this world we will encounter trials and tribulations
God cares about every detail of our lives.
The grace of God overcomes our ignorance and failings.
God will always preserve a people for his glory.
Always trust the word of God.

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The Transformed Life

The Transformed Life: 2016 Gospel of Luke #21

LukeThis is an exposition of Luke 6:37-42. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, July 10, 2016.

Intro:

It was at Antioch where the name first came into use.  “Christian.”  One who is like Christ.  A Christlike attitude or action.  It was mean as a derogatory remark.  To call someone a Christian was to slander or to defame them.  Of course to those who followed Christ it became a badge of honor.  One aspired to achieve the name.  We seem to be heading back in the other direction.  To be labeled Christian is to be berated, ridiculed or even despised.  To many the name is given simply because you are in some fashion connected to Jesus.  You are a member of a Christian church or attend one.  You identify with some of the teachings of Jesus, no matter how remotely.  But what does it mean to genuinely bear the title?  What does it mean to genuinely bear the title of Christlike one?  What characterizes a genuine Christ follower?

After a night of prayer the Lord Jesus set apart 12 men to be his apostles.  These were chosen to be set apart for a unique purpose.  They were to be “with” him, to learn from him, to be equipped by him for a work ordained for them.  Having called the 12 he gathered them along with his disciples and a large crowd of on-lookers and began to teach them about what it means to follow him.  His message was startling.  To follow him was to embrace a life of poverty, hunger, suffering and rejection.  Yet such a life would ultimately lead to wealth beyond measure, great satisfaction, joy and loving acceptance.  This life would demand that you love your enemies; doing good to those who hate you, blessing those who curse you and praying for those who abuse you.  But living this sort of life demonstrates that you are indeed a son of the Most High, who is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  These are hard truths.  This is a demanding lifestyle.  Yet our Lord does not let up.  He continues with this straight forward teaching.  Our text this morning is found again in the 6th chapter of Luke beginning with the 6:37.

Text: Luke 6:37-42

The crowd must be getting “punch drunk” from taking blow after blow.
This is contrary to all they have believed.
This is contrary to the natural way of thinking.
This demands more than anyone could possibly do.
Just when they think they’ve heard it all – they get hit again!

At first glance this section reads like a loose collection of teachings strung together.
But on closer examination these are related and speak to the heart of what it means to follow Christ.  This passage speaks to the spirit or disposition of the Christ follower.  The material will be familiar to you as it is often quoted and most often misapplied!

[Read Text]

As we work our way through this passage we are reminded that…

Thesis: A true follower of Christ manifests the life of one genuinely transformed by the grace of God.

Paul said, “If any man is in Christ he is a new creation.  Old things have passed away and all things have become new.”  As people of God we are different.  We’ve been changed, transformed by God’s grace.  It affects the way we think, the way we act and react.  Everything is different.  This passage speaks directly to those differences.

There are three (3) things I would have us to note.

  1. Such a life possesses a magnanimous disposition.  (6:37-38)
    Such a person is accepting.
    Such a person is forgiving.
    Such a person is giving.
  2. Such a life possesses spiritual insight and sets a godly example.  (6:39-40)
  3. Such a life is marked by repentance and compassion.  (6:41-42)
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Hope for the Weary

Hope for the Weary

cropped-theplowman512x512.jpgThis exposition of Psalm 13 was delivered by Pastor Rod Harris at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, July 6, 2016.

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A Stark Contrast

A Stark Contrast: 2016 Gospel of Luke #20

LukeThis is an exposition of Luke 6:27-36. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, July 3, 2016.

Intro:

You find yourself in 1st century Palestine.  It is a beautiful sunlit day.  The birds are singing, there’s not a cloud in the sky, a gentle breeze is blowing and all is right with the world.  You are walking through the country when you notice a group of people gathered on a plain.  As you move for a closer look you realize you’ve stumbled upon a traveling preacher.  The crowd seems to be hanging on every word he speaks.  You decide to settle in and see what this guy is all about.

At first you are startled.  “This guy is crazy.”  You cannot believe what you’re hearing.  “This can’t be right.”  You want to leave; you want to write it off as the ravings of a lunatic; but there is something about him, even though everything he says violates everything you’ve ever believed.  You have the uneasy feeling that he’s right!

By the time the preacher has finished you have become convinced that he is right.  His message is still startling.  It demands that you rethink all you’ve believed.  It would require a radical change but you can’t shake that feeling.  There was a definite authority behind his words.  He spoke as one who had authority in himself.

Such was the reaction of the crowd gathered that day 2000 years ago as the Lord Jesus spoke to his followers about what it means to follow him.  Our text this morning in found in the sixth chapter of Luke’s gospel.

Text: Luke 6:27-36

Our Lord has just called the 12.  Out of the many disciples who were following him, he set apart 12 to be apostles.  These ambassadors, these sent out one would carry his message and perform miracles in his name.  Having called the 12 he then instructed his disciples in what it meant to follow him.  Last time we learned that a life of genuine discipleship demands nothing less than the radical recording of life and loyalties.  It is a life grounded in the call of God and utterly dependent upon divine enabling.  It is a life that is to be rooted in and reflective of the ministry of Jesus; and a life at odds with the world’s agenda and contrary to the natural instincts of the disciple.  This text continues along the same line.

From this text we discover that…

Thesis: A life of genuine discipleship stands in stark contrast to the unbelieving world.

To be a Christian, a follower of Christ is to be called out from the world.  “Come out and be separate” is the call of God.  Our lives are to be different from those of unbelievers.  We are a peculiar people.  A people set apart, consecrated to the Lord.   A people in the world but not “of” the world.  As the people of God we see the world differently.  We react to the world in a different way.  We march to the beat of a different drummer.  His agenda has become our agenda.  His will is our command.  His will is contrary to this world.

Again, Jesus said if you are going to follow me – “Put your hands on the plow and do not look back.”

If you are my disciple – “Take up your cross daily and follow me.”

As our Lord made clear in Luke 6:20-26 the disciple’s life is one that embraces poverty, hunger, sorrow and rejection.  Yet it leads ultimately to a life of great wealth, overwhelming satisfaction, laughter and reward.  Now, that seems contradictory but you ain’t seen nothing yet!  Just as his hearers regain their balance and are striving to make sense of what he said, our Lord lands another blow even more startling.

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

  1. A life of genuine discipleship demands a profound love born of grace.  (6:27)
  2. This profound love expresses itself in undeniable ways.  (6:27-30)
  3. Such a love radically alters your entire approach to life and faith.  (6:31-36)

Conclusion:
This is the love we’ve been called to demonstrate.
You want to be my disciple?

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you…you will be called sons of the Most High, for his is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

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The Life of Genuine Discipleship

The Life of Genuine Discipleship: 2016 Gospel of Luke #19

LukeThis is an exposition of Luke 6:12-26. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, June 26, 2016.

Intro:

What does it mean to belong to Jesus?  What’s the Christian life about?  What does it mean to follow Jesus?  Are we all to be disciples or was that just a select few?    There are any number of answers to these questions.  If you listen to Christian radio or read much of what’s available in your local Christian Bookstore you may be more confused that ever!  Those answers are all over the map.  Some will answer the question by demanding certain doctrinal distinctives.  Others will demand the manifestation of certain spiritual gifts.  Some will answer with fashion advise – as if it is a matter of hairstyle or clothing choice.  Some will demand you rigidly follow accepted standards while other insist there are no standards.  Who are we to believe?  I’m the first to admit that being a follower of Christ is something that touches every area of your life.  Being a Christ follower is an all inclusive matter.  It touches every area of life, affecting every relationship and impacting every decision.  The answer to the question of what it means to follow Christ or what it means to be a Christian is simpler than most recognize and yet more profound that many will admit.  As with all such question we must turn to the Scripture.  Our text this morning is found in Luke Luke 6 beginning with Luke 6:12.

Text: Luke 6:12-26

We are still in the beginning of our Lord’s public ministry.
He is enjoying his “Galilean Spring” – that time of great popularity with he multitudes.
I say with the multitudes because there is the growing tension with the religious establishment.
Don’t forget the Pharisees were “filled with fury” (6:11) after the healing in the synagogue on that Sabbath day.
In our text this morning we discover our Lord has a number of disciples.
A disciple is a “learner” or “follower.”
These are folks who identify with or attach themselves to a certain teacher.
Out of these disciples he calls 12 for a unique role.
After calling out the 12 he then demonstrates what his work is all about.
Then he lays out for them the life of those who desire to genuinely follow him.

[Read Text]

As we work our way through the text I want you to note that…
Thesis: A life of genuine discipleship demands nothing less than the radical reordering of life and loyalties.

You cannot read the gospels and not understand that the call to follow Jesus is a demanding call.  Jesus said things like, “Once you put your hand to the plow you cannot look back.”  On another occasion he said, “If you’re not willing to hate father and mother, you cannot be my disciple.”  Of course he famously said, “To follow me you must pick up your cross daily.”  The call to follow the Lord Jesus demands that you die to yourself, your wants, your will, your desires.  His agenda becomes your agenda.  His will becomes your command.

To follow the Lord Jesus, to be a Christian, to be his disciple, his learner/follower is to enter the service of the King and to adopt his agenda as your own.  The fundamental confession of the Christian life is that Jesus is Lord!  On the one hand that is thrilling beyond description.  There is no more glorious assignment in all the world.  There is no higher joy or honor than to be called into the service of the king of the universe.  As his disciple you are involved in an eternal work.  What you do has eternal significance.  You talk about your life counting?  Your life counts for now and forever.  Yet, it puts you at odds with this world’s agenda.

With this in mind I want to point out three things in our text.
Things you need to know, understand and embrace.

  1. A life of genuine discipleship is grounded in the call of God and dependent upon His divine enabling.  (6:12-16)
  2. A life of genuine discipleship is rooted in and reflective of the ministry of Jesus.  (6:17-19)
  3. A life of genuine discipleship embraces a lifestyle at odds with the world’s agenda and counter intuitive of the disciple’s own instincts.  (6:20-26)

Conclusion:
What does it mean to be a Christ follower?  It means to joyfully embrace the radical recording of life and loyalties in the certainty that in the life to come there is joy unspeakable and full of glory.  It means to ground your life in the call and enabling of the Lord; to seek to reflect his life and ministry in all you do; and embrace a life that is at odds with the world’s agenda and your own natural instincts.

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What Can the Righteous Do?

What Can the Righteous Do?

cropped-theplowman512x512.jpgThis exposition of Psalm 11:1-7 was delivered by Pastor Rod Harris at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, June 22, 2016.

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The Tragic Consequences of a False Gospel

The Tragic Consequences of a False Gospel: 2016 Gospel of Luke #18

LukeThis is an exposition of Luke 6:1-11. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, June 19, 2016.

Intro:

It’s life’s most important question  How is a man, woman, boy or girl made right with God?  The Scripture is clear, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and the wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23; 6:23).”  The apostle Paul said earlier in Romans 3, “There is none righteous, not a single one.”  We are all sinners.  We’ve violated God’s law.  We are guilty of rebellion against the Creator.  We’ve offended God’s person.  The penalty for such is death.  Eternal separation from God.  This means every member of the human family is born under the judgment of God.  That’s a problem.  What are we to do?  How do we escape God’s holy and righteous judgment?  How do we move from being the object of His wrath to being the object of His favor?  There is no more important question.  This question serves as the backdrop for our text this morning found in the 6th chapter of Luke’s Gospel.

Text: Luke 6:1-11

We again find our Lord embroiled in controversy with the Pharisees.
We most often think of them as the “bad guys.”
If the gospel was a western they no doubt would be dressed in black.
However, for the most part, these were sincere, honest men seeking to serve God.
They took God’s law seriously.
They sincerely believed they were serving God’s kingdom and God’s interests.
The problem was they had reduced faith to a cold, mechanical transaction.
For them, faith was reduced to a religion of rules.
Righteousness was determined by a checklist.
That is what put them on a collision course with the Lord Jesus.

Jesus taught that faith was a response to God in the form of loving obedience born of relationship.  The message of Jesus was that we live righteously not in order to be loved by God but rather because we are loved by God.  Both the Pharisees and Jesus taught the need to live righteously yet their messages were fundamentally different.  The Pharisees taught a rules based righteousness accomplished by our obedience while our Lord taught a righteousness given to us as a gift which causes us to live righteously out of loving gratitude and devotion.  This is essential to understanding the tension that continues to build throughout the gospels between our Lord and the religious establishment.

Luke 5 ends with the Pharisees questioning Jesus about his eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners and then a complaint about them eating at all!  “Why aren’t your disciples fasting?”  In answering that second question Jesus makes it clear that the new life born of grace cannot be contained in the old system cherished by the Pharisees.

Luke 6 opens with questions again based on a rules approach to faith.  Let’s look at our text in Luke 6:1-11.

[Read Text]

Thesis: The drama of our Lord’s encounter with the Pharisees in the opening verses of Luke 6 reveals the tragic consequences of a false gospel.

The Gospel is the good news of God’s gracious provision for us in the person of the Lord Jesus.  The Gospel is that because God loves us, He has provided for our salvation through the sinless life and sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus.  Salvation is God’s work.  Salvation is not about what you do but what God has done.  You can never do enough to make yourself acceptable to God.  God demands perfection and you are not now and never will be perfect.  That is why God made provision for you in the Lord Jesus.  The Gospel is Christ and Christ alone.  This is why Paul told the Galatians if anyone comes preaching another Gospel, let them be accursed.  Let them be damned.  Why such language?  Why so harsh?  Because to abandon the Gospel is to abandon the only hope of salvation.

With that in mind I want to consider just two (2) things from our text.

  1. The religion of rules in its fervent pursuit of religious devotion fails to understand the nature of genuine faith.  (6:1-5)
  2. The religion of rules with its rigid devotion to ritual observance destroys the heart and soul of biblical faith and damns its adherents.  (6:6-11)

Conclusion:
Our text says, “They were filled with fury.”  The word means unthinking, thoughtlessness.  It was a kind of madness.  The parallel texts says that they plotted how they might kill Jesus.  The self-righteous mind of those devoted to the religion of rules is not interested in mercy or even the truth instead it cares only for the observance of ritual.  The heart and mind so focused is damned!

It is the kind of thinking that will lead you straight to hell because it refuses the only means of salvation.  Friend, you can never earn your way into God’s favor.  Your only hope is to throw yourself on the mercy of God.  Your only hope of heaven is for you to say, “I don’t deserve heaven.  I’m a sinner, rightfully under God’s judgment.  But I turn from my sin and trust in Christ and in him alone.”

We end where we began.  Life’s most important question.  How can a man, woman, boy or girl be made right with God?  Now you know.  How are you going to respond?

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