Lessons from a New King

1 Kings #03: an exposition of 1 Kings 3:1-28. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, January 25, 2015.

Intro:

His wisdom is renown.  It’s proverbial, “The wisdom of Solomon.”  He was a great king in Israel.  He reigned during the “golden age” of Israel’s dominance.  Foreign dignitaries sought him out.  World leaders praised him.  Yet he was a frail child of dust along with the rest of us.  This wise man was often very foolish.  The presence of God with us and the work of the Spirit of God in us does not mean that we always do the right or godly thing.  Yes we are image bears but sometimes that image is marred.  Some times the picture of God represented in us is distorted.  At other times we are splendid examples and accurate portrayals of God’s glory.  We are a mixed bag.  This evening I want us to learn a few lessons from a new king.  Our text is found in 1 Kings chapter 3.

Text: 1 Kings 3:1-28

David is dead.
Solomon is king.
There were some questionable things done in chapter 2.
Why didn’t David handle some of that while he was in power?
Were Solomon’s acts due to spiritual wisdom or political expediency?

Now we come to chapter 3.  There are a few introductory remarks that set the historical context.  That is followed by God’s asking the new king what gifts he would like.  Then we have an example of Solomon’s new found wisdom.  As we explore this text I want to point to three lessons we learn from the new king.

  1. Political shrewdness does not equate with spiritual prudence.  (3:1-3)
  2. When given the choice seek the good of God’s people rather than person gain.  (3:4-15)
  3. The goal of a righteous life is that others take note of God’s work in us.  (3:16-28)

Conclusion:

Was Solomon a good king?
Yes.
Was he a fallen son of Adam?
Yes.
Did he at times gloriously reveal the character of God?
Yes.
Did he at times fail miserably?
Yes.

Such is our lot as we strive toward holiness, pressing toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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Making It Through, Together

Hebrews #39: an exposition of Hebrews 13:1-3. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, January 25, 2015.

Intro:

At times life is overwhelming.  Shakespeare said, “Sorrows seldom come as single soldiers, they come as a battalion!”  It’s seldom, if ever, one thing.  When life comes crashing down we usually say, “Well, what’s next?”  The little church in Rome was bruised and bleeding.  They had been through so much and there were dark clouds on the horizon.  No wonder they wanted to quit.  No wonder they questioned whether they had made a mistake in believing.  The inspired narrator pleads with them to continue in the faith.  He also makes it abundantly clear that they are not to go it alone!  They are not to, “Pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and do the best they can.”  They are to look to Christ.  They are to trust in the grace and power of God and they are to lean on one another.  The writer has gone to great lengths to show that Christ is better than the best that Judaism and the world has to offer.  We have a great high priest who has entered in, behind the veil into the very presence of God and He intercedes for us night and day.  We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses – men and women of faith whose lives testify to the power and grace of God.  Their example cheers us on.  In chapter 12 he reminds us we have not come to the fire and smoke of Sinai but to Mt. Zion, the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem where we find grace and forgiveness through our mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our text this morning in found in the 13th chapter of Hebrews beginning with verse 1.

Text: Hebrews 13:1-3

The consistent message throughout Hebrews is that our faith is a “communal” faith.  I’m not suggesting we go by a piece of farm land and move in together – I mean that we are part of a community.  We are a body, a family.  We are responsible to and for one another.  In the 13th chapter the writer gives a series of exhortations and concluding remarks.  It is something of a laundry list – covering a variety of subjects.  He gives moral advice related to our social life, our private life and our religious life.  The point is that our faith impacts every area of life.  We cannot compartmentalize and say well my faith impacts my family and my church but not really my professional life.  It impacts the whole of your life.

This morning I want us to focus on his admonitions found in the first three verses.
As we work our way through this text we discover that…

Thesis: Our love for Christ and our obedience to His commands is clearly seen in our treatment of others.

  1. There are 3 things I want to point out along the way.
  2. Obedience to Christ demands we chose to love one another unconditionally.  (13:1)
  3. Obedience to Christ demands we show genuine hospitality.  (13:2)
  4. Obedience to Christ demands we care for those who suffer and are mistreated because of their faith.  (13:3)

Conclusion:

This is why we need the church.  This is why you must not live this life with just you, your Bible and your personal Lord and Savior but you live this life as part of the body of Christ!

Choosing to love one another unconditionally.
Demonstrating genuine hospitality.
Caring for those who suffer and are mistreated because of their faith.

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Obedience, Justice and the Kingdom

1 Kings #02: an exposition of 1 Kings 2:1-46. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, January 18, 2015.

Intro:

It was a time of transition.  King David had reigned for a generation but now he was old and somewhat detached.  His son, Adonijah, made a play for power.  He had the backing of the religious establishment and the military but thanks to the intervention of Nathan the prophet, Adonijah’s plan was spoiled.  Solomon was established as king.  In this transition we learn something about God’s kingdom.  We learn what principles govern it and more importantly who ultimately determines all things.  Our text this evening is 1 Kings chapter 2.

Text: 1 Kings 2:1-46

As part of the “former prophets” the book of Kings (1 & 2) covers that 400 years from the beginning of Solomon’s reign to the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.  It is a story filled with mystery, intrigue, power, and faith.  Throughout we witness God’s covenant faithfulness against the unfaithfulness of Israel and her kings.  Through it all the invisible hand of Providence guides the nation’s destiny.  The danger in dealing with biblical narrative is that we walk away with nothing more than a history lesson.  This is what happened back then and it has little or nothing to do with us.  Or we “spiritualize” the text and it has everything to do with us and had no meaning when it actually happened!  The goal is to understand its meaning in context and draw from what it meant then principles or truths that relate to us in our context.

As we work through the second chapter I think we come away understanding that…

Thesis: God establishes His kingdom by His own means according to His will and purpose.

In other words, God is sovereign.
History is His story.

Kings, leaders, individuals make their own choices, according to their own desires yet His hand guides all things.  Adonijah, for his own glory, sought to take the throne.  Yet his choice set in motion a series of events that eventual caused David to do what he should have done all along and Solomon (God’s choice) is declared king of Israel.
As we come to the text Solomon has been made king.
Adonijah has been granted reprieve (allowed to go down to his house; isn’t executed).

Remember the words of Solomon, “If he will show himself a worthy man, not one of his hairs shall fall to the earth, but if wickedness is found in him, he shall die.”  (1 Kings 1:51)

As we explore our text I want to point out 2 truths and then draw a couple of conclusions.

  1. A shocking yet relevant truth: obedience is the means of establishing the kingdom.  (2:1-4)
  2. A troubling yet necessary principle: securing the kingdom demands the exercising of divine justice.  (2:13-46)

Conclusions:

Such a purging may seem unthinkable to us but it will happen again with the establishment of God’s eternal kingdom.  The final Davidic King will follow the same principle in establishing His kingdom:

so will it be at the close of the age.
41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.   (Matthew 13:40-43)

God establishes His kingdom by His own means according to His will and purpose.

Another conclusion that relates directly to us.

Because the kingdom of God is established by His means according to His will and purpose we are not free to do as we please within the church.  The church is governed by the Lord of the Church.

For too long, in Baptist life, we’ve focus on democratic autonomy.
Some Baptist say, “The Baptist church is the truest democracy.”
That’s not true!

We are not governed by mob rule or the rule of the majority.
We are under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
We are bound by the Word of God.

We are not autonomous – a law unto ourselves.
We are under the law of Christ.

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Finishing Well: Part 2

Hebrews #38: an exposition of Hebrews 12:18-29. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, January 18, 2015.

Intro:

I’m convinced there is a crisis within the Church.  We live in a time when many cry out for “relevant” preaching/teaching.  “I need something practical.  Something to help me get through the day.”  The problem is, for many, that means a sermon about “how to be happy” or “how to raise positive kids” or “how to be the best you.”  I’m not saying that none of that matters.  I’m saying the need is for something much deeper and more substantial.  The truth is when your faith is under attack and your fighting for your existence being the best you is not the most pressing concern!  Contrary to popular opinion, truth matters.  Doctrine matters.  Theology matters.  The book of Hebrews was written to a church in crisis.  They have had their property plundered.  They are being persecuted.  Their lives are being threatened.  They have been rejected by their families and what does the writer do?  He gives them doctrine!  Hebrews is very theological.  He deals with weighty matters.  Why?  Because they needed to be thoroughly grounded in the truth if they were to withstand this great testing of their faith.  This is not a game we are playing.  This is life and death.  This is about eternity.  The writer of Hebrews pleads with the struggling believers to run with endurance the race that is before them.  Push beyond the pain, the struggle, the agony – not in their own strength, not by sheer determination but by faith and by the grace of God.  Our text this morning is found in Hebrews the 12th chapter beginning with verse 18.

Text: Hebrews 12:18-29

At first glance it seems the author has changed the subject.
I’m looking for the transition – where is the sign saying, “Now for something different?”
He was talking about running the race what’s with this mountain you can’t touch?
How does this fit?

It fits because this whole section is about trusting God.
It is about resting in Him.
The writer is reminding them of who God is and why He can be trusted.

As we work our way through I want you to understand…

Thesis: Finishing well requires theological balance and practical obedience.

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

  1. Finishing well demands a firm grasp of the absolute holiness of God.  (12:18-21)
  2. Finishing well demands a thorough understanding of the wonder of God’s grace.  (12:22-24)
  3. Finishing well demands reverent, obedient worship.  (12:25-29)
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Ordered Chaos

1 Kings #01: an exposition of 1 Kings 1:1-53. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, January 11, 2015.

Intro:

Have you noticed things never seem to go according to plan?  It is difficult if not impossible to draw straight lines and connect things up.  Things seem to be heading this way but then something unplanned, unexpected changes everything.  Now things are heading over there.  Yet at the end of the day it ends exactly were it was supposed to.  It’s as if there is a master plan that orders all things.  There is a meta-narrative that drives the individual stories.  Of course that is what we mean when we say we believe in the sovereignty of God.  In the words of the 1646 London Confession of Faith (early Baptist confession):

God hath decreed in HImself, before the world was, concerning all things, whether necessary, accidental or voluntary, with all the circumstances of them, to work, dispose, and bring about all things according to the counsel of His own will, to His glory: Yet without being the author of sin, or having fellowship with any therein…

The 1689 London Baptist Confession states:

God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby God is neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty of contingency of second causes taken away but rather established…

All of this to say that when we speak of the sovereignty of God we mean that we make choices and thus are responsible for our actions and yet God guides all things and His will is accomplished.  This matters because the world often seems out of control.  The well being and future of the kingdom often seems in jeopardy yet the kingdom marches on and history is moving to God’s determined end.  Our text this evening is a wonderful example of God’s providential guidance.

Text: 1 Kings 1:1-53

The book of kings (as 1st and 2nd Kings appear in the Hebrew Scriptures) is part of what is called the “former prophets.”  The section that includes Joshua – 2 Kings.  Kings covers the years 970 down to 586 and the fall of Jerusalem.  400 years of history packed into 50,000 words.  The author or authors were very selective.

It is written within a theological framework.

And the LORD gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the LORD had given all their enemies into their hands.
45 Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.   (Joshua 21:44-45)

Blessed be the LORD who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant.  (1 Kings 8:56)

Throughout there is an emphasis on God’s covenant faithfulness and Israel’s and Judah’s unfaithfulness.  Along with this is God’s faithfulness is preserving a people.  Fulfilling his promise to David, assuring an everlasting kingdom.

This is particularly important for our text this evening.
As we work through the first chapter of 1 Kings I want us to note…

Thesis: No matter how uncertain the day may seem or how precarious the kingdom agenda appears – God sovereignly, wisely and effectively controls all things.

There may be chaos but it is ordered chaos.
The hand of God is guiding all things.

Let’s note 4 things.

  1. Adonijah’s grab for power reminds us that God’s kingdom, in this fallen world, often passes through precarious times.  (1:1-10)
  2. In times of great trouble God sovereignly raises up leaders who stand in the gap.  (1:11-27)
  3. Deliverance from crisis demands bold and decisive action.  (1:28-40)
  4. Godly leadership demands a firm hand and a gracious heart.  (1:41-53)

Conclusion:
In this sin-cursed, chaotic world is is comforting to note that No matter how uncertain the day may seem or how precarious the kingdom agenda appears – God sovereignly, wisely and effectively controls all things.

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Finishing the Race

Hebrews #37: an exposition of Hebrews 12:12-17. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, January 11, 2015.

Intro:

I know this will surprise many of you but I’m not a runner.  Running is not my thing.  Never has been.  Runners are a different breed.  Distant runners?  They’re just nuts!  When I was in school I considered the 40-yard sprint a distance event.  While in elementary school I remember playing Park in baseball.  We played over off 49th W. Ave.  There were several ball fields there.  We were on the field furthest south.  I was at the plate.  I smack a shot to left field.  It crossed the field to the north.  I hit a ball that traveled the distance of 2 baseball fields.  They threw me out at second base!  Did I mention I’m not a runner?  As I’ve read about running, I read about distance runners “hitting the wall.”  Hitting the wall is that point, during a distance event, when the muscles begin to cramp, the runner struggles for breath, their feet are blistered, their bodies are numb and there is 5 miles left in the race.  The runner’s body is screaming, “Stop!”  Everything in them says you can’t go on.  Yet they keep running.  Pushing beyond the pain, willing their legs to move.  They are not going to win – the goal is just to finish.

The Hebrew church had “hit the wall.”  The struggle was too great.  The pain too intense.  They couldn’t go on but they had to go on.  No one would blame them for quitting.  It seemed logical.  It was the sensible thing to do yet the writer of Hebrews continues to admonish – “Run!”  Our text this morning is again found in the 12th chapter of Hebrews.

Text: Hebrews 12:12-17

The chapter opens with this image of the arena.
Because you have all these great examples – run.
Cheered on by the men and women of faith who’ve gone before – run.
Fix your eyes on Jesus and run.
The Christian life is not a sprint it is a distance event.
It is a marathon, a struggle, an agona.
Throughout, the writer’s emphasis is on finishing well.
Anyone can start the race – finishing the race is what matters.

The writer now returns to that theme.

In our text the writer gives us some specific instructions.  If we are to finish well there are some things we must do and some things we must guard against.

As we work our way through the text we discover that…

Thesis: Finishing well demands unity, determination and vigilance.

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

  1. Finishing well demands we strive together toward the goal.  (12:12-13)
  2. Finishing well demands a determined pursuit of peace and holiness.  (12:14)
  3. Finishing well demands constant vigilance against personal sin, corporate unrest and gross immorality.  (12:15-17)

Conclusion:
The word to that struggling, first century church and to us is that we are called to finish well.  Finishing well demands unity, determination and vigilance.  We have a responsibility individually and corporately to strive toward the goal of peace and holiness; while guarding against personal sin, corporate unrest and gross immorality.

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Hardship and Holiness

Hebrews #36: an exposition of Hebrews 12:4-11. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, January 4, 2015

Intro:

I have a natural aversion to pain.  I don’t like it!  In any form.  I don’t like hardship.  I want life to be smooth with as little interruption and change as possible.  All of this to say, “I’m regularly disappointed.”  Life in this sin-cursed world is often everything I don’t want it to be.  I’m often surrounded by pain and heartache.  I regularly deal with people who are in crisis and faith in Christ does not change any of that.  Faith in Christ is not a magic potion or talisman warding off pain and heartache.  As long as we live in this world there will be sickness, disease, pain, disappointment and heartache.  “Thanks pastor, nothing like starting the year off on a positive note.”  My intent is not to sound a sour note but to inject a little reality.  Too often it is assumed that faith is like a good luck charm.  If you hold on tight and say the magic words, bad things won’t happen to you.  There is a whole strain of theology that believes if you exercise faith you will walk in health and experience prosperity.  I’m not sure those folks have read Hebrews 11 or 12.  At the end of chapter 11 we read about men and women of faith who were tortured while others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.  Some were stoned, others were sawn in two, or were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated…wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth (11:35-38) all the while “walking in faith.”  Not exactly your best life now.  Then in chapter 12 we learn that suffering and hardship or normal even necessary components of the Christian life.  Our text this morning is found in Hebrews 12 beginning with verse 3.

Text: Hebrews 12:3-11

I’m not a masochist – I don’t like pain.
I don’t suffer from a guilt complex and feel the need to be punished.
I am convinced that the Scriptures teach that God is sovereign even over my pain and heartache.  Further, that God lovingly and sovereignly works all things to my good and His glory.

Specifically we discover in this passage that…

Thesis: Suffering and hardship are normative in Christian living and necessary for growth in holiness and righteousness.

There are three things I want to point out as we explore this text.

  1. The Christian life always involves struggle and hardship.  (12:3-4; 10:34; 12:11)
  2. God is not a passive observer of your struggle.  (12:5-8)
  3. Our loving Father sovereignly uses your struggle to your good that you might grow in holiness and righteousness.  (12:9-11)

Conclusion:

I still don’t like pain.  I do not enjoy heartache but I’ve come to see that suffering and hardship are normative in Christian living and necessary for my growth in holiness and righteousness.  Therefore I’m going to trust in God’s sovereign, providential hand.

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The Life of Faith, part 3

Hebrews #35: an exposition of Hebrews 12:1-3. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, December 28, 2014.

Intro:
The year was 1981.  The place Omaha, Nebraska at the Pepsi Challenge, a 10,000 meter race.  The thing that made this race unique was one of its participants.  Ten years earlier Bill Broadhurst had surgery for an aneurysm in his brain.  The surgery left him paralyzed on his left side.  But on that misty July morning he was one of the 1,200 runners straining at the starting line anticipating the start of the race.  The gun sounded and the crowd surged forward.  Bill threw his stiff left leg forward and began his slow plop, plop, plop rhythm as the pack disappeared over the horizon.  Most of the runners had finished within the first hour.  Two hours and twenty nine minutes later Bill reached the finish line.  One lone figure approached Bill.  Bill recognized him from his picture in the paper.  It was Bill Rodgers, the world famous marathon runner.  Bill Rodgers removed his newly won medal and placed it around the neck of Bill Broadhurst.  The real victory that day did not belong to the world class athlete but to the “plodder.”  The one who overcame through dogged determination and endurance.

The Christian life is not a sprint it is a distance event.  It is not about how you start it is about how you finish.  It is easy to begin the race but difficult to see it through.  “Flash in the pan” is the way we refer to those who start off with a bang – full of promise – but soon fade.  Those who have no staying power, no endurance.  The writer of Hebrews is addressing those struggling saints who want to throw in the towel and walk away.  The race has become too difficult.  Their legs are quivering and their hearts are faint.  The writer reminds them, they are not alone.  They are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, “Now, run!”

Our text this morning is found in the opening words of the 12th chapter.

Text: Hebrews 12:1-3

I said a few weeks ago, in regards to the book of Hebrews, that it is a balanced book.  In chapter 11 we are told of the great examples of men and women of faith.  Men and women who overcame incredible odds and thus inspire us to continue.  But the writer also spoke of those who were tortured, sawn in two, who were afflicted and mistreated.  They too were approved of God because of their faith.  Sometimes God delivers us and sometimes faithfulness leads to martyrdom.  The promise is not your best life now but the grace and presence of God to endure and a future glory beyond compare!

In chapter 12 we find more “survival” truth.  Truth we need to face what lies ahead.  From this section we are reminded that the life of faith is a demanding life.  Somethings are required of us if we are to be faithful to the life to which we’ve been called.

Thesis: The life of faith is a motivated, focused and determined life.

There are 3 demands set out for us in our text.  Now, these are not things we are to accomplish on our own by our own means but 3 things required of us that will be accomplished by the grace of God.

  1. The life of faith demands an appropriate motivation and a steadfast endurance.  (12:1)
  2. The life of faith demands a singular focus.  (12:2)
  3. The life of faith demands an informed determination.  (12:3)

Conclusion:

The life of faith is not a stroll in the park.  It is no sprint.  It is a long, difficult, endurance event.  You need sufficient motivation, fueled by a singular focus resulting in an informed determination.  The life of faith is a motivated, focused and determined life.

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Christmas Is About the Gospel

A Christmas message from 1 Timothy 1:12-17. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, December 21, 2014.

Intro:
Christmas is one of those times when nostalgia reigns.  As our thoughts turn toward Christmas we are magically transported through time to enjoy more innocent and carefree days.  Images of Christmas past warm our hearts.  I remember sleepless nights as I dreamed what would be under the tree the next morning.  I remember my excitement when I opened that G.I. Joe complete with scuba gear!  I remember the year Christmas was spent at my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Ed’s.  That’s the year I got the peddle-car with the red racing stripe.  Of course I also remember the sting of my brother’s grenade launcher when he beaned me while I was making laps through my Uncle Ed’s laundry mat!  I remember the year we were awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of breaking glass.  My brothers and I rushed into the living room to find Dad standing in the doorway looking down at the shattered glass from the storm door, as he was holding a large piece of plywood on which was mounted the track for a miniature train.  When we asked what happened he shouted, “I’m helping Santa Claus – now go to bed!”  I think of cousins assembled from Washington D.C., Atlanta, Little Rock and Houston.  I remember the laughter, the practical jokes and the joy that was shared.

I remember the joy and excitement of the first Christmas Zac was old enough to know what was going on.  I’m sure I was more excited than he was.  I remember the year Zac got his first bicycle and Jessie got her first tricycle.  Zac said excitedly, “Hey Jessie, that’s just like my tricycle.”  Not knowing it was his tricycle with streamers and a basket!  Of course not all of our Christmas memories are joyful.  We are, at times, haunted by the ghost of Christmas past.  I remember my first Christmas without my mother.  That reminds me that memories can warm and they can wound.  While it is often good and helpful to remember we must look beyond our memories to the reality of Christmas.

Christmas is not about presents, family, food and fun.  It’s not about warm fuzzy feelings and sentimental tales.  The problem is that when we think of Christmas only or primarily in those terms we miss out on the real joy of this season.  When we fail to recognize the deep eternal truths connected to the Christmas story we miss the whole point – Christmas is about the Gospel.  Christmas is about how sinful, fallen humanity has been restored to life and fellowship with God.  The “good news” announced to the shepherds that night was that unto them had been born a Savior!  Our text this morning is found in 1 Timothy chapter 1.

Text: 1 Timothy 1:12-17

I recognize that this is not the typical “Christmas” text.  Yet I’m convinced it contains the heart and soul of the Christmas message.  For you cannot talk of the birth of Christ without speaking of the reason for his coming.  He came on mission.  He came for a specific purpose.  He was driven by a specific passion.  Jesus, himself, said, “I have not come to be served but to serve.  And to give my life a ransom for many.”  The angel said to Joseph, “Mary is telling the truth.  The Holy Spirit has conceived the child within her.  You are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:18-21).

We must never forget that…

Thesis: Christmas is without meaning apart from the Gospel.

There are three great truths concerning the significance of Christmas reflected in our text.  When we think about the meaning of Christmas we are reminded that:

  1. The love of God overcomes the greatness of our sin.  (1:12-14)
  2. The Lord Jesus came to saved sinners and make them trophies of His grace.  (1:15-16)
  3. Such a God is worthy of our praise and devotion.  (1:17)

Conclusion:

No doubts your minds are filled with memories of Christmas past.  Some of them warm your heart.  Others wound your soul.  Look beyond all of that to the reality of Christmas.  Fundamentally Christmas is about the Gospel.  It is about how God so loved, he gave his only Son so that whoever believes might not perish but rather have eternal life.

Don’t miss Christmas this year.
Come to Christ.
Come to Christ and live.

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The Wonder of Christmas

This is an exposition of Galatians 4:4-7. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, December 14, 2014.

Intro:

It is the only word that really captures the essence of this season.  It is the one expression that comes close to describing the indescribable.  It is the word – “wonder.”  Wonder refers to the cause of astonishment or surprise; the quality or state of amazed admiration; it refers to something beyond anything previously known or anticipated.”  This is a wonderful time of year.  Not because of gifts, parties, programs or “Christmas cheer.”  It is wonderful because of the one who came.  It is wonderful because the Eternal One step into time; because the creator became part of his creation; because God moved into our neighborhood in order to redeem us.  It is easy to lose sight of that in all the busyness of the season.  Too often our minds are flooding with shopping lists, decorations and social obligations.  It’s not that we don’t care or that we are indifferent – it’s just, well we’ve got so much going on.  Or maybe we have so much going on because we really don’t want to deal with the loneliness and emptiness of the season.  If Christmas is nothing more than a momentary relief from the monotony of everyday life…it is of little value or significance.  If Christmas is nothing more than a religious observance or annual feast…it is a sorry substitute for celebrating the history-altering event of 2000 years ago.

Christmas is the incredible story of how God became a man.  It is a story of love and grace.  The story of how God in his holiness made it possible for sinful, stubborn and rebellious folks like you and me, to live in relationship with him!  Rediscover the wonder of Christmas as we explore the message of the apostle Paul from the fourth chapter of Galatians.

Text: Galatians 4:4-7

The book of Galatians is a marvelous treatment of the doctrine of salvation.  Paul is answering his critics who desire to enslave people to a doctrine of works.  According to these false teachers, belief in Jesus was necessary but not enough – you must also live a certain lifestyle, you must observe all the dietary laws of the Old Testament, follow the religious calendar etc.  Paul said no, “You must trust in Jesus alone for salvation.”  As Paul deals with the joy of our liberty in Christ in this passage, he reminds us of the wonder of the Christmas season.

Thesis: “The true wonder of Christmas can only be understood in the light of God’s sovereign grace in salvation.”

What an amazing statement.  Just three brief sentences yet packed full of meaning and profound truths.  He we have this concise statement of the person and work of Christ.  Every word is packed with meaning.

This is the wonder of Christmas…

  1. God sovereignly orchestrated the movement of history to prepare for the coming of his dear Son.  (4:4)
  2. God sovereignly brought redemptive history to its climax with the coming of the Redeemer.  (4:4-5)
  3. God graciously brings us into his glorious family.  (4:5-7)
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