Parables of the Growing Seed and the Mustard Seed

This is an exposition of Mark 4:26-34. This message was delivered by Brother Ron Lundin at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, August 2, 2017.

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Living in an Alien Environment

Living In An Alien Environment: 2017 Study of 1 Peter #12

This is an exposition of 1 Peter 4:1-6. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, July 30, 2017.

Intro:

I was so excited. For months I had anticipated the departure. I was a bit nervous. After all, we were going a long way from home. We would be gone two weeks even though I was part of a group of 40-50 people I was apprehensive. It’s not that I had not been to exotic places. I had been to Turley, Skidee and Wakinee, Kansas! But the trip to Argentina was full of wonder for me. Things had gone relatively smooth from Oklahoma City to Dallas and from Dallas to Miami. When we boarded the plan in Miami bound for South America things changed. I was separated from the rest of the group. On the flight to Buenos Aries I was surrounded by Spanish and Portuguese speaking people. That’s when it hit me. For the first time I was heading somewhere where I was going to be in the minority. I would be in unfamiliar territory. I would not know the language and would know nothing of the culture. I was going to be the foreigner!

Those were two of the most exciting weeks I have ever known. Yes, I was a foreigner; I had trouble understanding the culture. I saw all kinds of strange things. I saw things that sickened me. I saw things that angered me. Yet it was a vast mission field. Everywhere you turned there were mission opportunities. As time worn on I longed more and more for home. I developed some sweet relationships. I fell in love with the people of Argentina. But Argentina was not my home and I wanted to go home.

As a believer in Christ – this world is not my home. As the old Gospel song put it –
“This world is not my home, I’m just pass’n through.
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me to heaven’s open door
and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”

That is how we are to live in this sinful, fallen world. This isn’t it. Our citizenship is in heaven. Our home is there.

That is what Peter is trying to say to those folks so hard pressed by persecution. “Sure this world stinks. Sure you’re getting the short end of the stick – life is hard – but this is not your home. You’re on you way home but you are not there yet.”

This is a relevant message for us. Take a look around you. This is a pagan culture. We are surrounded by people who do not share our values, who openly embrace a way of life that is foreign to us. Our culture is becoming increasingly pagan and do you know why? Because the world is dominated by pagans!

Now, while that is true, we are here for a reason. There is a purpose for our being left on the planet. The question we will deal with this evening is, “How am I to live as a resident alien in this pagan land?”

Text: 1 Peter 4:1-6

Thesis: As aliens in a hostile environment, believers are called to godly living.

What does it mean to live godly? When we talk about godliness or holiness we usually think in terms of lists. We think of lists of “dos” and “don’ts”. And to be honest – those lists are usually pretty superfluous. It amounts to nothing more than “moralism.” What I mean by that is – it does not require faith. It does not require the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. It does require faith in God or even belief in a god – it merely requires a determination to avoid certain things and to practice certain things. Nonbelievers can avoid playing cards and going to movies – and yet a few years back – that was the definition of godliness! Surely to live godly, in the biblical sense, means something more. That is what our text is about.

There are three things I want to call to your attention regarding godly living.

  1. Godly living demands a clear, decisive identification with Christ. (4:1a)
  2. Godly living demonstrates a definite break with sin. (4:1b-3)
  3. Godly living divides the believing from the unbelieving. (4:4-6)

Conclusion:
We live as resident aliens in a hostile land. What does that require of us? To live godly. Godly living demands a clear, decisive identification with Christ.
Godly living demonstrates a definite break with sin.
Godly living divides the believing from the unbelieving.

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A Grateful People

A Grateful People: 2016 Gospel of Luke #67

Exposition of LukeThis is an exposition of Luke 17:11-19. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, July 30, 2017.

Intro:

We, as the people of God, are to be a separate people; distinct and different from the world around us. Set apart for God’s purposes and God’s glory. As such we are to see life from a different perspective. We are to respond in a different way from those who do not know God. One of those distinguishing characteristics is a sense of genuine gratitude. We are to be a thankful people. Grateful for every act of kindness we experience. Thankful for the slightest blessing. Humbled by simplest gift. Regrettably, that is too often not true of us. We are like the woman whose son was swept up in the tornado. The storm blew up quickly. The woman grabbed her young son, who was playing in the yard, and began to run for the shelter. The winds overtook them and the son disappeared into the swirling debris as he was sucked out of her arms. The woman feel to her knees and cried, “Dear God, bring back my boy. He’s all I’ve got. I’ll do anything to have my boy back.” She began to sob. Suddenly her son dropped at her feet. She jumped up, took the boy in her arms and began to dance with joy. Abruptly she stopped and stared at her child. Then she glared into the heavens and said, “Lord, he was wearing a hat!” Some people just can’t be pleased. No matter how much they are given – it is not enough. Ingratitude is an ugly thing especially when considered from the vantage point of faith.

Biblically, we know everything we have and all that we are we owe to the grace of God. Ingratitude is born in the heart that believes God owes us something. The truth is God doesn’t owe us a thing. Yet we owe Him everything! Our text this morning is found in the 17th chapter of Luke’s Gospel.

Text: Luke 17:11-19

Our Lord is on his way to Jerusalem. He is going there to die. To give his life a ransom for many. He is marching to the cross. Along the way he has been teaching, preaching and healing. Hostilities are mounting as he continues to engage with the religious establishment. They are determined to find cause to get rid of him. Meanwhile he popularity is growing among the people.

In the immediate context he has been talking with his disciples about the demands of the Christian life. This is what I expect of you because you belong to me. He lays out for them in the first 10 verses of Luke 17 requirements of “normal” christian living. Cause no sin, confront all sin, forgive any sin. That’s awfully demanding. In fact it is well beyond our abilities. We must trust the grace of God to do the very things he demands of us. This is crucial to our understanding what it means to be Christian. The christian life demands exacting obedience fueled by total dependance. Apart from his enabling we cannot even do the basic things required of us. Thus Jesus said, “I am the vine and you are the branches. Apart from me you can do nothing.”

Following that teaching session our Lord continues his journey toward the holy city. Along the way he encounters a group of lepers. It is here we discover another of the marks of genuine faith.

[Read the text]

This encounter serves to remind us that…

Thesis: Profound gratitude marks the heart genuinely transformed by the touch of God’s mercy.

We are to be a grateful people. In our text we discover three characteristics of genuine, biblical gratitude.

  1. Gratitude begins with an understanding of just how desperate the need. (17:11-13)
  2. Gratitude sees Christ as the only hope of relief. (17:14)
  3. Gratitude expresses itself with praise and thanksgiving. (17:15-19)

Conclusion:
Note Luke 17:18 – this foreigner. Only use of this word in the NT yet a prominent word in that day. It was on a sign warning Gentiles not to enter the temple. This cleansed leper would not have been welcomed at the temple but he was welcomed at the feet of Jesus!

He is told his faith has made him whole. His faith saved him. This one had saving faith. He was made well, made whole. All were cleansed but apparently the other 9’s healing was only skin deep! This one was made whole evidenced by a grateful heart overwhelmed by the grace and mercy of God.

Profound gratitude marks the heart genuinely transformed by the touch of God’s mercy.

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Trusting God and Fearing Man

Trusting God and Fearing Man, from Selected Psalms

The PsalmsThis is an exposition of Psalm 56. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, July 26, 2017.

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Living the Faith

Living the Faith: 2016 Gospel of Luke #66

Exposition of LukeThis is an exposition of Luke 17:1-10. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, July 23, 2017.

Intro:

How would you describe the Christian life? You’re in a conversation with a coworker and you’re attempting to share your faith and talk with them about the meaning of the Christian life – how would you describe it? What are the requirements of the Christian life? Are there any requirements? What is it you are supposed to do as a Christian? I’m not asking what does it require to be saved, I’m asking what is required of you once you are saved? How are you to live?

I think that is an important question and an increasingly necessary question in our age of self-centered religion. What does it mean to be Christian? How does a Christian conduct himself? What characterizes the life of a follower of Christ? Most often the Christian life is described in terms of personal fulfillment. As if the reason for our Lord’s mission was to make us healthy, wealthy, and wise. He is a means to self-fulfillment. I watched a program the other night about a popular entertainer and in the course of the program they spoke of his drug and alcohol addiction and a near death experience. When he didn’t die the nurse working with him said, “I guess God isn’t finished with you.” That lead to a “spiritual awakening.” He referred to that experience as a turning point in his life. He never referred to an awareness of sin or a need to repent and trust in the grace of God in Christ. But he did refer to his “spirituality” and how the great thing about it is that it taught him to love himself. “If you can love yourself – then you can love others.” What concerns me is that this not the exception – this is the standard understanding of the Christian life. The idea that the Christian life is all about me. My wants, my desires, my happiness. The second person of the godhead – the Lord Jesus is reduced from the sovereign Lord and Savior of the world to the means to an end. A way to get you what you want. That is a far cry from the teaching of the New Testament. Let’s listen in as the Lord Jesus talks with His disciples about the requirements of Christian living. Our text this morning is found in Luke Luke 17.

Text: Luke 17:1-10

Background of Luke
Purpose = evangelistic
In the last 6 months of ministry
Increasing hostility
Lengthy debate with the religious establishment
He has just told the parable of the rich man and Lazarus

Now He turns to His disciples and talks to them about their responsibility. What is required of them as His followers? This is their duty. They are not to do these things in order to be acceptable to Him but rather they are to do these things because they belong to Him. This is what is to mark them as His children. Called out – separated from the world.

In many respects it is a strange message. In fact it seems even contradictory.

Thesis: The Christian life demands a life of exacting obedience fueled by absolute dependence.

In other words the demands made on the child of God are impossible for him to fulfill in his own strength and power. He must depend on the strength of another. The message of the New Testament is that what God commands – He enables. Read the Sermon on the Mount. You can’t possibly live up to that – only Christ can. G. Campbell Morgan said there is only one who ever lived the Christian life and he does it over and over again in us! Now, while I cannot do it in my strength – I am responsible to live in obedience to God’s command through the enabling of the Holy Spirit.

As we explore this passage we will discover an impossible demand, an enabling gift and a humble reminder.

  1. An impossible demand. 17:1-4
    1. Requirement #1 – Cause no sin. 17:1-3a
    2. Requirement #2 – Confront all sin. 17:3b
    3. Requirement #3 – Forgive any sin. 17:3b-4
  2. An enabling gift. 17:5-6
  3. A humbling reminder. 17:7-10
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In Torment: The Awful Truth of the Gospel

In Torment: The Awful Truth of the Gospel: 2016 Gospel of Luke #65

This is an exposition of Luke 16:19-31. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, July 16, 2017.

Intro:

It is not a popular theme. I understand that it is not a pleasant subject and there is a sense in which I understand the lack of discussion. It is unsettling and disturbing, so most folks would just as soon not deal with it. But the fact is death comes to all. Death is the most democratic institution on earth. It allows no discrimination and tolerates no exceptions. The mortality rate is a solid 100%. One in one dies! The Bible is clear – death is not the end of personal existence. Life does not end at the grave. That makes the big question – “What then?” What happens after death? According to Jesus the fate awaiting those who reject the Gospel is as bad and terrifying as can be imagined and everyone needs to be told. Yet the doctrine of hell has fallen on hard times. Baptists who were once known as those “hell fire and brimstone” folks have become too sophisticated to talk of such “old fashion” notions.

According to a nation wide survey in 1968, 70% of Americans believed there was a literal hell. Eleven years later, in 1979, Newsweek conducted another survey and found that only 58% believed in a literal hell. A 1988 survey found only 39% thought hell might exist and a year later; a Gallop poll found only 24%. In 20 years the numbers fell from 3 out of 4 to only 1 in 4. Martin Marty, in preparing a series of lectures on the subject of hell for a presentation at Harvard, surveyed the major theological journals of the past 100 yeas and failed to find a single entry dealing with the subject of hell.

There has been a disturbing trend within the church in the past 30 years. Groups of scholars gather for dialogue and inevitably they manage to “talk away” any doctrine they find disturbing or troublesome. They take the Scriptures and look at each story, each event and determine whether or not it fits their view of God. If it doesn’t fit into their system it is excluded. “This must be something added later rather than a part of the original.” I’m thinking that maybe it’s time for less dialogue and more monologue, and let’s let God do the talking.

Text: Luke 16:19-31

This is a familiar passage. There has been a great deal of discussion as to whether this is a parable or an actual account. The text does not say it is a parable. Some argue if it is a parable it is the only one containing a name. I’m convinced that it is a parable. And that Jesus used it to punctuate his discussion with the Pharisees that took place earlier in Luke 16. Keep in mind a parable is meant to be heard. It is intended to drive home a point. It is not intended as exhaustive theological teaching. It serves to illustrate basic truths concerning the Kingdom of God. The thrust of this story is to drive home the point that:

Thesis: In the life to come, there is a hell to shun and a heaven to gain.

Jesus, with the skill of an artist paints for us a moving portrait of the life to come. The drama is played out in three acts.

  1. As the curtain rises on act 1 we discover a stark contrast. (16:19-21)
  2. Act 2 – A startling reversal. (16:22-24)
  3. Act 3 – A frightening reality. (16:25-31)

Conclusion:
Your future life is dependent upon your relationship with God not your works. Not how good you are or what you try to do. The issue is what have you done with Christ? Is this a message of despair? No. You’ve heard the message of the Gospel. The door is open. If you are not a believer. If you have not trusted in Christ and Christ alone, I urge you for the sake of your soul – come to Christ!

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How the New Covenant Fulfilled the Old Covenant

How the New Covenant Fulfilled the Old Covenant

This message by guest preacher Jesse Johnson was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, July 9, 2017.

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Out with the Old, and in with the New: God’s Redemptive Plan through Covenant

Out with the Old, and in with the New: God’s Redemptive Plan through Covenant

This is an exposition of Jeremiah 31:31-34. This message by guest preacher Jesse Johnson was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, July 9, 2017. Jesse grew up at First Baptist Prue. He graduated from OBU and then Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

 

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Why Don’t You Grow Up?

Why Don’t You Grow Up?: 2017 Study of 1 Peter #9

This is an exposition of 1 Peter 3:8-12This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, July 2, 2017.

Intro:

You’ve heard it said a thousand times. You’ve no doubt said it to others. Others have said it to you. “Why don’t you grow up?” But growing up is not an easy thing to do! I mean of course we all get older. That is the natural result of not dying. But growing up, that’s something else. You can get older and not grow up. Gray hair is no assurance that you have maturity. How do you determine whether or not you are maturing? How do you know if you are more mature now than you where a year ago? Has living another 12 months made any difference?

Growth/maturity is the natural course of life. If I have a plant and it is not growing – I know something is wrong. Without sickness or disease growth must come. Growing up is a stated objective in the Christian life. If you are a child of God – God intends that you grow up. How do I know that? He said so – Hebrews 5:11-6:3.

About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits…

God intends that we grow up and in fact, appears to be miffed if we do not!

Chuck Swindoll said, “Few things are as pathetic to behold as those who have known the Lord for years but still can’t get in out of the rain doctrinally and biblically.”

But beyond the fact that maturity should be the natural result of walking with Christ, is the fact that maturity is essential to life in this fallen, broken world. That is Peter’s point in our text this evening.

Text: 1 Peter 3:8-12

Peter is writing to hurting, frightened people.
The first great wave of persecution has begun.
People are dying for their faith – others will suffer the same fate.
Peter writes to encourage but also to strengthen their resolve.
After laying the doctrinal foundation he begins to apply the Gospel.
Pointing out, we have been called to a life of radical holiness.
We are a peculiar people – set apart for God’s glory.
Our relationship with Christ is to impact every area of life.
Our relationship towards authority.
Our relationship with our spouse, children, and our employers.
Our faith is to inform our decisions and our lifestyles.

But don’t remove this from the context – the context of living out the faith in a hostile environment. Living the faith in less than ideal circumstances. Living the faith when others don’t follow the rules. When others don’t play fair. Peter reminds us in this passage that:

Thesis: Maturity is essential to survival in a hostile environment.

There are three things about Christian maturity I want us to note in our text.

  1. Christian maturity exhibits genuine grace. (3:8)
  2. Christian maturity is marked by a spirit of forgiveness. (3:9)
  3. Christian maturity is characterized by purity and peace. (3:10-12)

Conclusion:

So, you’re growing older. Are you growing wiser? You’ve gotten gray-headed, but have you grown up?

Maturity is essential to survival in a hostile environment.
Christian maturity exhibits genuine grace.
Christian maturity is marked by a spirit of forgiveness.
Christian maturity is characterized by purity and peace.

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The Uncomfortable Truth of the Gospel

The Uncomfortable Truth of the Gospel: 2016 Gospel of Luke #64

This is an exposition of Luke 16:14-18. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, July 2, 2017.

Intro:

“Can’t we all just get along?” Isn’t that what we all want? I think most of us are adverse to controversy. Oh, we all know those folks who live to argue but most of us would be content to “live and let live” but is that possible if truth really exists? If there is such a thing as “truth” with a capital “T,” that is something that is always true at all times and in all places can we say, “Live and let live?” Particularly if we are talking about spiritual matters. If what we believe is true, salvation is found in Christ and in Christ alone, and we’ve been commanded by our God to take that message to the world, can we peacefully coexist with those who reject and outright deny that truth? I’m not talking about “armed rebellion” or legislative action, when I say peacefully coexist I’m simply asking, “Can we remain silent and let folks believe and think as they wish without our saying something?” Granted it is clear our position has been losing ground for at least 20 years. The moral tide has shifted so radically in the last 5 years it makes one’s head spin but this has been coming for a lot longer period of time. In a culture that refuses to accept absolutes, that demands that truth is relative and self-defined it is considered an unpardonable sin to suggest that someone is wrong or that a belief is false. For too long for fear of being labeled a fanatic or branded a troublemaker believers have remained silent. In an attempt to be loving we instead committed a cruel act of hatred by not telling the truth. Crying, “Peace” in a time of danger is not love. It is at best cowardice and at worst hate. Love demands we speak the truth even if it is uncomfortable. Love demands we risk being misunderstand. Love demands we speak the truth of the Gospel as the only means of rescuing the lost and dying. Yes, we speak it in love and with compassion but we speak it. We declare the truth with humility and grace but we declare it. For an example of this we need look no further than to our Lord himself. Our text this morning is found in Luke Luke 16 beginning with Luke 16:14.

Text: Luke 16:14-18

The context is that our Lord is on his way to Jerusalem to die.
Back in Luke 9 he set his face for Jerusalem – he steadfastly determined to go there.
There is no turning back, the time set by the Father in eternity past has now come.
He is marching to the cross.
Along the way he is teaching and preaching.
He is, at various points, drawn into conflict with the Religious Establishment.
The Scribes and Pharisees have been plotting on how to be rid of this trouble-making rabbi.
There was that dinner party in the home of a Pharisee.
There was subsequent instruction about the cost of discipleship.
There was that rebuke of the RE’s impure motives.
He spoke of the darkness of their hearts in the parable of the Great Banquet.
There was the parable of lost things – contrasting the love of God with the coldness of the RE.
Then at the beginning of Luke 16 that strange parable about the shrewd manager.

This was a word to his “disciples” (1) about the proper use of material blessing for the kingdom purposes, the need for faithfulness and the folly of trying to serve 2 masters.

That bring us to our text. The religious establishment has been listening to all of this. They can contain themselves no longer. There is an interruption and some subsequent words. We begin with Luke 16:14

[Read Text]

From this brief exchange we are reminded that…

Thesis: Heaven is not gained through meticulous adherence to rules and regulations but by simple faith and trust in the Gospel.

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

  1. The unrighteous mock and readily dismiss the plain truth of Scripture when it contradicts their sinful desires. (16:14)
  2. Our Lord rightly rebukes any and all attempts at self-justification. (16:15)
  3. The only way to enter the kingdom is to understand the right use of the law and the absolute necessity of grace. (16:16-18)
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