His Love Has No End

His Live Has No End: Selected Psalms

The PsalmsThis is an exposition of Psalm 136. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, May 24, 2017.

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A Call to Holiness

A Call to Holiness: 2017 Study of 1 Peter #6

This is an exposition of 1 Peter 2:11-23. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, May 21, 2017.

Intro:

What image comes to your mind when you hear the term holiness? Is it the image of a lady in a long skirt or dress with her hair in a bun? Maybe it is the image of a worship trict and serious. Some think if you are holy you need to look like you’ve been baptised in pickle juice. Some think of holiness as a synonym for nasty or cranky!

Holiness is not a “hot” topic in today’s church. We talk a great deal about being “spiritual” but not holy. Holiness just doesn’t meet any “felt needs.” The average person in today’s world does not sense an overwhelming need to be holy. Sin, in the minds of most, either does not exist or is nothing to be worried about. “People are basically good, most are trying to do what is right – so don’t hit them with this holiness stuff – just love them and stay positive,” seems the attitude of most churches. That sounds wonderful but what do you do with Leviticus 11:4“I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy for I am holy?”

Oh, that’s right. That’s Old Testament stuff. We are New Testament believers. But then what about 1 Peter 1:14-16“As obedient children, do not be conformed t the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct. Since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy?’”

Romans 6:12“Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.”

Romans 6:14“For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.”

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor…”

It seems holiness is consistently God’s message to his people in both Testaments. If it is so prevalent – why the silence?

Jerry Bridges suggests two reasons:
One, we don’t want to face up to the responsibility. If we talk about holiness then I have to own up the fact that I am accountable to someone else for my lifestyle. I have to take responsibility for my life and my choices. I would have to accept that someone else sets the standard – most are not willing to concede that point.

Second, we are confused about the distinction between God’s provision for us and our responsibility for holiness. I’m saved by grace alone, through faith alone because of Christ alone. Yet holiness is a life-long pursuit and struggle.

Try as we might, we cannot ignore the fact that we are called to a life of holiness. But what does that mean and what does it look like? That is the focus of our text this evening found in 1 Thessalonians 2 of Peter’s first epistle.
Text: 1 Peter 2:11-23
Peter is writing to struggling believers.
Trying to live out their faith in a hostile environment.
At the beginning of the letter he reminded them they were aliens and strangers.
As such, their identity and worth comes from Christ.

He then reminded them of the glory of the Gospel.

In the first part of chapter two he lays out a biblical doctrine of the church.

Now, following his doctrinal teaching, Peter says, “So what?”
What does all this mean?

Thesis: As the people of God we are called to a life of radical holiness.
The point is holiness is both a private and a public matter!

What does this holiness look like?

Peter calls the church to live with a heart focused on Christ, behavior focused on love and obedience, and a lifestyle impeccable in the sight of non-Christians.

  1. Biblical holiness willingly submits to authority. (2:13-15)
  2. Biblical holiness plays by a different set of rules. (2:16-20)
  3. Biblical holiness consistently reflects the life of the Lord Jesus. (2:21-23)

Conclusion:
We have been called to a life of radical holiness.
That holiness is both private and public.
We abstain from the passions of the flesh – both privately and publicly.
And we consistently live above reproach before an unbelieving world.

  • Willingly submitting to authority
  • Playing by a different set of rules
  • Reflecting the life of the Lord Jesus
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A Loving, Unrelenting Savior

A Loving, Unrelenting Savior: 2016 Gospel of Luke #59

This is an exposition of Luke 15:1-7. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, May 21, 2017.

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 15:1-7.

Text: Luke 15:1-7

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.

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.

Thesis: The biblical gospel tells the story of the Savior’s loving, unrelenting pursuit of the lost and dying.

The image of God as a shepherd is well established in the Old Testament. We go back to David the Shepherd King. It is David who wrote, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.” The 23rd Psalm is that beautiful statement of the loving, gracious care of God for his own. We also find it in the prophets. Isaiah says, “He (God) will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” Ezekiel scolds Israel’s religious leaders, their shepherds, for failing to care with the weak and for scattering rather than gathering the flock. Then he says, “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.”

He is the fulfillment of that promise. There are three things I want us to note in our text.

  1. The biblical gospel depicts the Savior’s unrelenting pursuit of the lost. (15:4)
  2. The biblical gospel presents the compassionate Savior bearing the burden of the lost. (15:5)
  3. The biblical gospel reveals the Savior’s great joy in the recovery of the lost. (15:6)

Conclusion:
Remember the context.
The “sinners” where coming to Jesus.
The “righteous” were complaining.

Jesus says there is rejoicing in heaven in response to the sinners and no rejoicing over the so-called “righteous.”

What causes a celebration in heaven? Not your goodness or your righteousness – that’s filthy rags. The celebration comes as those who are unworthy come acknowledging their need and cry out for mercy. When a lost one is found – not through their efforts but through the work of the shepherd who diligently pursued.

That is the good news – that is the Gospel. The biblical gospel tells the story of the Savior’s loving, unrelenting pursuit of the lost and dying.

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Living in Community

Living in Community: Selected Psalms

The PsalmsThis is an exposition of Psalm 133. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, May 17, 2017.

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I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

I Have Decided to Follow Jesus: 2016 Gospel of Luke #58

This is an exposition of Luke 14:25-33. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, May 14, 2017.

Intro:

The year was 1845; Sir John Franklin and a crew of 138 set sail from England to find the Northwest Passage across the high Canadian Arctic to the Pacific Ocean.  The voyage was estimated to take 2 or 3 years.  They sailed in three ships, each of which carried an auxiliary steam engine.  The problem was that they only took enough coal for twelve days.  The reason for so little coal was that they made sure they had enough room for a 1,200-volume library, a hand-organ that played fifty tunes, china place settings for all 138, cut-glass wine goblets, and sterling silver flatware.  They took no special clothing for this Arctic expedition but they were sure to take their dress uniforms from Her Majesty’s Navy.

The ships set sail amid enormous glory and fanfare.  Two months later a British whaling captain met them in Lancaster Sound and reported back to England on the high spirits of the officers and crew.  He was the last European to see them alive.  For the next twenty years search parties recovered skeletons from all over the frozen sea.  Sir John Franklin and 138 men perished because they underestimated the requirements of the Arctic exploration.  Instead of recognizing the treacherous conditions that lay ahead, they ignorantly imagined a pleasure cruise.  They exchanged necessities for luxuries and it cost them their lives.

Tragically many have made shipwreck of their souls because they refused to count the cost.  They set sail on a great adventure with no idea of what was required of them.  Others have run aground because they were urged to “try Jesus” and never told of the cost of following Him.  Like a boy watching a military parade who is carried away by shining guns, bright medals and impressive uniforms.  He was eager to join but gave no thought to war, blood, pain, suffering, death or unmarked graves.  Oh there is joy and peace, meaning and purpose in following Jesus but there is also a price to be paid.  One thing is certain – Jesus made it clear to those who wanted to follow Him, it comes at great cost.  That is our focus this morning as we consider Luke 14:25-33.

Text: Luke 14:25-33

Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem.
The time has come – the time for which he came into the world.
The crowds are still flocking to him.
The religious establishment is becoming increasingly furious.
Tensions are mounting.

Jesus is just leaving the home of a Pharisee following an interesting and revealing dinner party.

His words to the gathering multitude serve as a sobering reminder:

Thesis: Discipleship demands wholehearted devotion rather than a token commitment.

This is an important and timely word for us in our culture of “easy-believeism.”  Too much of what goes on in evangelism today could be described as “Burger King evangelism” – evangelism that says, “have it your way!”  But when it comes to salvation and discipleship, there is only one way – his way!

There are three things I want us to note in our text concerning the nature of wholehearted devotion.

  1. Wholehearted devotion sets proper priorities.  (14:25-26)
  2. Wholehearted devotion embraces a lifestyle of continual sacrifice.  (14:27)
  3. Wholehearted devotion gladly surrenders all for the sake of the call.  (14:28-33)

Conclusion:

So, you call yourself a disciple of Christ, a Christ’s follower?

What are your priorities?  “If you don’t hate father and mother, wife and children, brother and sister, even your own life – you cannot be my disciple.”

What about your life?  “If you do not carry your cross and follow me – you cannot be my disciple.”

What about your all?  “If you do not give up everything you have – you cannot be my disciple.”

It cost to follow Jesus.  The call to be a Christ follower is exceedingly great but it is well-worth the cost because to have Christ is to have everything.  Life without Christ is to have nothing at all.

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Our Heritage: Our Hope

Our Heritage: Our Hope: Selected Psalms

The PsalmsThis is an exposition of Psalm 132. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, May 10, 2017.

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An Open Invitation

An Open Invitation: 2016 Gospel of Luke #57

This is an exposition of Luke 14:15-24, This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, May 7, 2017.

Intro:

“Boy from the sounds of things – they must be having some party in there.”  Laughter and music fill the air.  “Look at those tables.  Have you ever seen so much food in your life?”  The king had spared no expense in this banquet in honor of his son and his bride.  “Oh look, there is the king and his son.  They are beaming – I’d say this banquet is a complete success.  And look the guests seem to be enjoying themselves.  Hey, wait a minute.  Something is wrong.  Look at the guests!  Over there is that blind beggar who usually sets near the market.  And over there, is that…it is… a leper!  I can’t believe this.  And over there, no it can’t be.  It is – it’s a tax collector?  What are they doing in there?  If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes – I never would have believed it.  I never thought I’d see such a motley looking crew at such a fine banquet.  Has the king lost his mind?  Something is wrong, very wrong.”

That no doubt would have been the reaction of the religious establishment if they had walked up on the banquet our Lord described in Luke Luke 14.  Jesus was in the home of a certain Pharisee.  He had been invited to dinner but not as an honored guest.  Rather, he was intended as the main course!  They were determined to get rid of him once and for all.  This was part of the murderous plot hatched by the establishment.  Jesus and his “new teaching” was causing quite a stir among the common Folk.  It was also causing some disturbance among the elite.  He must be stopped no matter what the cost.  Things had not gone well up to this point in the dinner party.  The hunted had become the hunter.  In stead of Jesus being on the ropes – the establishment was.  Jesus took up their challenge – healed a terminally ill man and then managed to insult everyone present and they have not said one word.  Finally in desperation one of the crowd jump on Jesus’ words about a banquet and the resurrection and he shouted – “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”  Jesus’ response, in essence said, “I’m glad you brought that up.”  Let’s read about it in Luke Luke 14.

Text: Luke 14:15-24

Luke’s purpose is to bring his friend Theophilus to faith.
He wants him to understand the person and work of Jesus.
Because Theophilus is a Greek – Luke presents Jesus as the universal Savior.
He is not just the Messiah of the Jews – He is the Savior of the world.
We are in the last 6 months of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry.
The cross is on the horizon.
Our Lord set His face as a flint for Jerusalem.
There is no turning back.
All of history has been moving toward this event, this one moment.
Jesus is preaching the Gospel in very clear and certain terms.

This parable is a parable about the Gospel.  It is about the greatness of God’s grace and the wickedness of man’s heart.  It is about God’s great love and our profound indifference.  It is a humbling reminder that when all is said and done I owe my joy, my happiness and my eternal well being to the grace of God and the grace of God alone!

Thesis: The wonder of the Gospel is God’s love penetrating my cold indifference.

There is a style and method of evangelism that says the best way to win a man to Christ is to say to him, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.”  The problem is the natural man says, “Of course God loves me – why wouldn’t he?  I mean, what’s not to love?  And besides – that’s God’s job – to love me.”  While folks are quite willing to speculate on who might be outside the love of God – they assume that they, themselves, are safe.  That brings us to the crowd gathered around the table with Jesus.  They were very certain that they would be enjoying the “Great Banquet” – Jesus brought another perspective to the table.

There are three things in our text related to a biblical understanding of the Gospel.

  1. God’s gracious invitation reveals the compassionate heart of the Father.  (14:15-17)
  2. Man’s refusal of God’s gracious invitation reveals the foolish darkness of his own heart.  (14:17-20)
  3. God’s continuous grace in the face of blatant disregard reveals the depth of God’s love for us in Christ.  (14:21-24)

Conclusion:
The gospel is exceedingly wide in its appeal.  Whosoever will may come.  To reject that call is to remain in your sin and therefore under the judgment of God.  It is not merely a matter of missing a great party with wonderful food.  It is to spend eternity away from God, the object of His righteous wrath.

Are you saved?  There is nothing wanting on God’s part.  If you are not saved, the fault is not on God’s side.  The Father stands ready to receive all who come to Him by faith, trusting in Christ and Christ alone.  The table is set.  Everything is in order and in place.  Come and dine.

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A Maintenance Psalm

A Maintenance Psalm: from Selected Psalms

The PsalmsThis is an exposition of Psalm 131. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Chutrch on Wednesday evening, May 3, 2017.

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The Church

The Church: 2017 Study of 1 Peter #5

This is an exposition of 1 Peter 2:4-10. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, April 30, 2017.

Intro:

Life was getting desperate.  The threats were growing more intense.  Some were fleeing their homes in an attempt to escape.  Others were seriously thinking about turning back and denying the faith.  It was a rough time to be part of the church.  Persecution had begun.  Some had already died for the faith, others would follow.  How do you remain faithful in unfaithful times?  Where do you stand when the ground around you trembles?  When your heart grows faint and your vision grows weary?  Such was the condition of those early believers scattered throughout Asia Minor and the early 60s.  The church is still in its infancy.  The Jewish establishment is growing increasingly hostile.  The Roman Empire is growing increasingly suspicious.  New converts often find themselves ostracized by their family and friends and yet their new life in Christ called them on.  Torn between the joy and excitement of their new life and the fear of what lies ahead these early believers struggled to live out their faith.  Peter, the aged apostle, wrote to encourage and strengthen them.  He says to them, “I’ve written to exhort and declare to you this is the truth.  Stand firm in it” (5:12).

Strange that Peter, writing to a group of folks facing the greatest trials imaginable, would come at them with such heavy doctrine.  I mean surely they need something practical that will sustain them!  Well, allow me to be indelicate, if you are about to be slaughtered for your faith you need something more substantial that 10 steps to a happy life!

Peter comforts and encourages with sound biblical theology.  A theology that will under gird and sustain them no matter what is thrown at them.  For that reason his words remain a source of encouragement and hope for the child of God.  Peter has been called “the apostle of hope”

The thrust of Peter’s message is summed up in 1 Peter 4 and 1 Peter 2:19“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”  In other words, “trust and obey.”

This evening I want to focus our attention on 1 Peter 2 1 Peter 2:4-10.

Text: 1 Peter 2:4-10

When writing to these troubled believers Peter makes it clear that:

Our identity comes from Christ.

  • Our hope is born in redemption, fortified through adversity and secured by faith.
  • We are called to holy living, which requires deliberate, conscious effort and divine focus.
  • And we need each other.   
  • And that our Christian unity:
    • flourishes in an atmosphere of genuine love
    • and is built on common experience and belief

This sounds strange to our ears.  To talk about the church in the context of suffering and struggle.  But that is because we often lack a sound biblical doctrine of the church.  
We tend to think of the church as an entity that is there if I need it – but not as something vital to my existence.

Our text reminds us that:

Thesis: Godly living is rooted in a sound, biblical doctrine of the church.

All of this is foundational to what Peter is going to demand of these believers beginning in 2:11.  Peter is laying the biblical foundation for the exhortations he is about to bring.

There are three things I want us to note in our text regarding a biblical doctrine of the church.

  1. A sound, biblical doctrine of the church sees Christ as the church’s sure foundation.  (2:4, 6-8)
  2. A sound, biblical doctrine of the church sees the church as made up of transformed people engaged in a spiritual task.  (2:5, 9a, 10)
  3. A sound, biblical doctrine of the church understands that the church exists to declare the greatness and glory of God.  (2:9b)

Conclusion:
In order to live the life God has called us to we have to know who we are, where we come from and what we were made for.  That is why a sound, biblical doctrine of the church is necessary for godly living.

  • A sound, biblical doctrine of the church sees Christ as the church’s sure foundation.
  • A sound, biblical doctrine of the church sees the church as made up of transformed people engaged in a spiritual task.
  • A sound, biblical doctrine of the church understands that the church exists to declare the greatness and glory of God.
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What’s for Dinner? Looks Like Humble Pie

What’s for Dinner?  Looks Like Humble Pie: 2016 Gospel of Luke #56

This is an exposition of Luke 14:1-14. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, April 30, 2017.

Intro:

“This is going to be great.”  “Are you sure he doesn’t suspect anything?”  “Of course he doesn’t we’ve thought of everything.”  “Boy is he ever going to be surprised.”  “Well it is about time he got his!”  That must have been the talk around the room.  A careful plan had meticulously been put into motion.  No, it’s not the crew of one of the endless “real life” programs on Cable or the Jerry Springer Show preparing for a taping.  This happened long before either of those.  This goes way back.  A couple of thousand years back!  This was the talk in Palestine of some religious leaders who had planned a dinner party.  Of course the meal itself was merely preliminary.  The main course was the trap that had been set for that trouble making Galilean – Jesus of Nazareth.  You see he just had to be stopped.  The “whole world” was going after him.  This new message of his is gaining popularity and he must be stopped – no matter what.  He must come to an end – no matter what it takes!

Text: Luke 14:1-14

We are in the last days of the earthly life and ministry of the Lord Jesus.
In that period of time when he set his face as a flint for Jerusalem.
Hostility is mounting on the part of the Scribes and Pharisees.
Determination is increasing in the heart of our Lord.

In each event, with each passing day it is becoming more and more apparent that no one takes his life from him but he lays it down.  He is the Sovereign One in charge of his own destiny.

As we explore this text we discover that this was no informal gathering.
Each person present had been invited.
And they had been invited for a reason.
For months the religious establishment had been scheming.
No detail was left to chance.
They were determined that this would finish him.
Often he had healed on the Sabbath and once more would be the final nail in his coffin.
This would prove to be an interesting evening!

Thesis: You and I are called to faithful and effective ministry after the pattern of the Lord Jesus.

Our life and ministry is to reflect his values.  It is to be in keeping with his character.  In his handling of ambush, our Lord passes on to us so valuable lessons for faithful and effective ministry.  I want us to note three of them from this text.

  1. Faithful and effective ministry focuses on the needs of others.  (14:1-6)
  2. Faithful and effective ministry counts others as more important than ourselves.  (14:7-11)
  3. Faithful and effective ministry expects nothing in return.  (14:12-14)

Conclusion:
We’ve been called to be like Jesus.
We are to caring on His ministry.

To do that we must focus on the needs of others, count other more valuable than ourselves and expect nothing in return.  That is the path to faithful and effective ministry.

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