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Dear Brothers an Sisters:

The Lord is STILL in total control.

Although the world may be fighting to find a cure or antidote for this Corona Virus.

 We have:

 THE GREAT PHYSICIAN

JESUS


 

  Allow yourself to some Quiet time.. "Family Time"... and Rest In The Arms of our Loving Father. 

Here you'll find Comfort and Peace, as we lay it all at the feet of our loving Lord.

 

Pastor Donald Magaw is providing Weekly Online Sermon's

 


Isaiah 41:10 New King James Version (NKJV)

Fear not, for I am with you;

Be not dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you,

Yes, I will help you,

I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

 

 



 

 

Photo provided by: C.Jay McCann



 

Photo Provided By: Pastor Donald Magaw

 

 

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Sunday

September 13th 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

 

 

Title: That Which Overcomes

Text: “Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).

Scripture Reading: 1 John 5:1–12

In the section of John’s epistle that we will be studying today, John had some probing things to say about faith in the life of a believer. He gave us the preamble of faith—the foundation, the basic premise, the “launching pad” of a faith that identifies one unmistakably as a member of the family of God. Then, increasing the pressure of his spiritual scalpel, John talked about the practice of faith—that which, without words, speaks eloquently of one’s relationship with God. Finally, he gave the principle of faith, driving down some pilings on which to build the superstructure of one’s faith.

First, let’s examine John’s preamble of faith (1 John 5:1).

John stated a basic truth: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” In other words, he was saying that those who have truly experienced the new birth are those who not only have given intellectual assent to the incarnation, but who also have received in their hearts this truth. They know, with experiential knowledge, that Jesus came in the flesh and lived a sinlessly perfect life on earth.

In the last phrase of this verse, John’s underlying theme emerges. The NIV translates it, “Everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.” Here is the greatest equation in the Bible. Loving God equals loving his children! John was talking about spiritual family love—not love for the lost person, which is a redemptive, compassionate love. Rather, John was presenting a complete cycle: When I love God, I love his children.

In verses 2–5, John became very practical and talked about faith.

Here is a second equation: Loving God equals keeping his commandments. What had John done? He had taken the first equation—“Loving God equals loving his children”—and changed it from an attitude into an action. In other words, I can say to you that I love God and consequently his children, and I can fool you, but I cannot fool God. But if I “keep his commandments” and do those things he has told me to do in his Word, you can see that and know that I am sincere. That is faith in practice and not just in word. There was a spiritual song made famous by Elvis, “You may run on for a long time, but let me tell you God Almighty will cut you down.

Now let us reiterate what we have learned previously regarding this love of God in us that flows out to our brothers and sisters. It is spontaneous; that is, it is explosive, filled with joy and overflowing. Love is not done out of duty but flows naturally from the constrainment of joy.

Then John said that keeping God’s commandments is not a “grievous” experience. God’s commands are not burdensome. For most people, rules and regulations are unpleasant. We chafe under them; we resent them. But John said there is a difference with the commandments of Jesus. Because his commandments are given in love, they are a delight and not a burden!

In verses 6–12 John set forth the principle of faith.

The principle of faith in God is based on two facts about Jesus that John referred to by the use of the words “water” and “blood.” “Water” refers to Christ’s baptism by John at the beginning of his public ministry. By this act, it was declared to the world that Jesus was the Messiah. From that moment, the steps of Jesus were ever and always toward the cross. So then, if the “water” represents the commencement of Jesus’ earthly journey, the “blood” stands for the culmination of it all on the cross. Thus the principle of Christian faith has been dependent from the beginning on the saviorhood of Jesus and on his atonement for sin through his blood shed on the cross.

The victory shout comes in verse 12: “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” When we start to exercise and practice the faith God gave us when we were born again, we begin to feel a power and a peace that provides spiritual buoyancy. We can say, “This is the life!” Why? Because we have the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, living within, on the throne of our heart!

Many Christians do not “practice” their faith. It lies dormant within them. As a result, they have no joy. They cannot say, “This is the life!” in regard to their Christianity. They have no spontaneity in their love for their fellow Christians. Often they become miserable and defensive in their Christian lives—sometimes even afflicted with self-pity. The practice of one’s faith is the overcoming power in life.

BEGIN THE DAY WITH A LITTLE BIT OF COFFEE AND A WHOLE LOT OF JESUS

 





 

Sunday

September 6th 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

 

Title: Love versus Fear

Text: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).

Scripture Reading: 1 John 4:11–21

Through Jesus Christ, God revealed himself to humans. Through the Holy Spirit, God indwells humans. In today’s study, we shall see three grand and glorious things about this unique relationship between God and his people. First, we shall see the gift; then we shall discover the gain (what we have “gained” in receiving this gift); and finally, the glory, the inexpressible result of our continuing relationship with God through the Holy Spirit’s presence within us.

Let’s examine this incomparable gift of God to the believer (1 John 4:12–13).

The first part of the gift is expressed outwardly. “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us.” We prove our faith to the world by loving one another—or, more specifically, by letting God love others through us. I may “like” you or “dislike” you; that is beside the point. You may “detest” some of my ways; that, too, is beside the point.

Dr. Bob Jones senior once said in a chapel service…”You don’t have to like everyone, but you do have to love them.” This simply means that you don’t have to like what a person is doing, but you do have to love their souls! The simple, earthshaking truth John has given us is that God dwells in us only if we love one another in spite of who or what we are or who or what they are!

The second part of the gift is expressed inwardly. It concerns the assurance we need constantly that we are the children of God. How do we know that we are his? Because he has given us his Holy Spirit. Upon our repentance, God “baptized,” submerged, us into his family. Furthermore, the verb phrase, “He has given” (NIV), is a perfect tense, indicating that the gift was a permanent one, given to us at a point in the past to be forever ours.

But then, there is the gain (1 John 4:17).

What do we “gain” in this relationship with God that transforms us and makes us his children? The word is boldness, and it is one of the most important words in the New Testament. Luke said in the book of Acts that the religious authorities were amazed at the “boldness” of Peter and John (4:13). The disciples “spake the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31). We are invited, as God’s children, to “come boldly unto the throne of grace” (Heb. 4:16). And this “boldness” is neither a brashness nor a reckless presumption, but a “freedom of speech” God has given believers through the presence of his Spirit indwelling them.

Another dimension of this boldness is revealed in verse 17. Christians will have boldness “in the day of judgment.” Because of their relation- ship with God through Christ, they will have no reason to fear at the judgment. Paul said plainly in 2 Corinthians 5:10 that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”

Finally, let us see the glory of it all (1 John 4:18–21).

What kind of “fear” was John talking about in verse 18? It is possible that he was talking about fear at the thought of judgment. But where there is “perfect love” (and it is perfect because it is God’s love in us and not our own), there is trust, confidence, and assurance. Just as darkness cannot exist in the presence of light, so fear cannot reign where there is love.

There is no torment like that produced in a person who lives in fear. There is a fear of tomorrow, a fear of death, a fear of judgment. And because sin alienates people from God, it is the fear of unbelievers toward a God whom they do not know and whom they cannot call “Father.”

The glorious promise is that “perfect love casteth out fear.” When we surrender to God and are able to allow God to love through us, there can be no fear. The love of God within us destroys and dissipates fear.

If you are a Christian, you have already received the greatest gift of all— salvation by grace through faith. But have you received the gift John talks about, which ought to be operative in the life of every Christian? Are you letting Christ love others through you, and are you receiving constantly the assurance that you belong to God because of his Spirit within you? Have you gained a “holy boldness,” a freedom to share your faith with others?

Are you free from fear because God has shed abroad his love in your heart?

 

 

 





 

Sunday

August 30th 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

Title: Kept by the Power of God

Text: “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:4–5).

Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 1:3–5

As a lake reflects an image, Peter’s writings reflect his experience. Peter had lost face but not faith with his denials of his Lord. Jesus, true to his promise, had kept Peter from Satan. Peter is now busy strengthening the followers of Christ (see Luke 22:31–32).

Who are the kept?

Certainly not:

Those on whom worldly fortune has smiled.

Those who are politically powerful.

Those exempt from earthly ills and misfortune.

But these are kept:

Scattered, persecuted Christians in the provinces of Asia Minor (1 Peter 1:1–2, 6–8).

The elect. This is a term for saved persons. God, to be God, must be sovereign. Humans, to be humans, must be free. God has provided a way of salvation by which a person is free to accept or reject his grace. God does not elect that some will be saved and some lost; but he “gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” ( John 3:16).

You can “make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). Follow the instructions in 2 Peter 1:1–10. “Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” (1 John 2:3). One simple explanation of election is: “God votes for you. The devil votes against you. You and you alone cast the deciding vote.”

Who keeps them?

God, by his power. God pledges his power, as manifested in raising Jesus from the dead, to keep the elect (1 Peter 1:5). Peter had learned to trust God. So had Paul (2 Tim. 1:12) and Jude (Jude 24–25) and Jesus ( John 10:27–30).

From what are they kept?

From spiritual defeat. For example:

Peter (Luke 22:31–32; Acts 4:3; 5:17–42).

Stephen (Acts 7:54–60).

Paul (2 Cor. 12:7–10).

From the devil’s power. Satan has no power except by God’s permission (Job 1:6–12; 2:1–6; Luke 22:31–32). God can bring good out of what seems to be evil (Rom. 8:28–39).

How are the elect kept?

“Through faith” (1 Peter 1:5). Faith is a necessary condition rather than an arbitrary one. Faith is willingness to put one’s life in God’s hands. “Without faith it is impossible to please him [God]” (Heb. 11:6). Faith is willingness to be kept. The bank cannot keep one’s money unless you deposit it in the bank. God cannot keep a person unless the person is willing to be kept.

But kept for what? What is the end of our keeping?

First, “Unto salvation” (1 Peter 1:5).

Salvation as a past experience (John 3:16; Rom. 8:1; Eph. 2:8–10).

Salvation as a present experience (Rom. 13:11; Phil. 2:12–13).

Salvation as future consummation “at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (Matt. 25:31–46; 1 Peter 1:7; 1 John 3:1–3).

Second “An inheritance” (1 Peter 1:4).

That is incorruptible. Not subject to decay, as are all things on this earth (Matt. 6:19–21).

That is undefiled. The first paradise was defiled by sin. Sin will not enter the heavenly paradise.

It is a heavenly treasure that cannot fade away (1 Peter 1:4).

Let us hear Jesus ( John 14:1–3).

Let us hear Paul (1 Cor. 2:9; Phil. 3:20–21; 2 Tim. 4:6–8).

Now hear John in Revelation.

A holy place (Rev. 21:1–3; 22:1–5).
 

Exempt from weariness (Rev. 7:16).

Exempt from pain (Rev. 7:17; 21:4).

A place of service (Rev. 7:15).

God keeps the heavenly home for those who are kept for it.

When I was a boy, I went with my father to see his boyhood home on the farm, which he had not visited for many years. I had heard him describe it as a place of pure delight, so our visit was very disappointing. The house was dilapidated. My father said, “We can at least get a drink from the spring.” But we found the spring choked by debris. You see, the house was vacant. No one kept it. But we have a heavenly home reserved for us. The Lord has prepared it and keeps it for us “who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





 

 

Sunday

August 23rd 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

Title: God’s People Have a Living Hope

Text: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3 NIV).

Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 1:3; 3:15; 5:10

Hope, along with faith and love, is one of the three permanent graces of a Christian (see 1 Cor. 13:13). Peter had experienced the death of hope when Jesus was crucified and the renewal of hope when Jesus was resurrected. Peter praised God that he has “begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). Note especially the word “again.” Hope had died and was revived by Jesus’ resurrection.

We see the death of hope.

Hope died for Peter when Jesus died. Peter had affirmed Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God (see Matt. 16:16). He misunderstood the nature of the Messiah (see Matt. 16:21–23), but he was loyal to Jesus (see John 6:66–69; 13:37). During Jesus’ trial and crucifixion, “Peter followed afar off” (Luke 22:54), but he did follow. Although the look on Jesus’ face after Peter denied him (see Luke 22:61) broke Peter’s heart, he still believed and had hope. Concerning Jesus’ crucifixion, Mark 15:31–32 says, “The chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe’” (NIV). Peter probably expected Jesus to do just that. But when Jesus died, hope died. It was night. Perhaps none of the disciples expected Christ to rise again, even though he repeatedly had told them that he would.

Hope died for the other disciples when Jesus died. Note some illustrations from Scripture:

“Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. . . . They were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, ‘Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?’” (Mark 16:1–3 NIV). When the angels at the empty tomb reminded them of Jesus’ promise to rise on the third day, “they remembered his words” (Luke 24:8).
The disciples refused to believe the women’s report about the empty tomb and the angels “because their words seemed to them like nonsense” (Luke 24:11 NIV). However, Peter and John did run to the tomb to find out about the grave robbery. Peter saw “the cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple . . . also went inside. He saw and believed” (John 20:7–8 NIV). This is evidence that John had not believed before this experience.

Cleopas and his unnamed companion had no hope. Referring to Jesus who had been crucified, they said, “We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place” (Luke 24:21 NIV).

But there is the revival of hope by Jesus’ resurrection.

Jesus’ appearances:

To the women (Luke 24:1–8)

To Mary Magdalene (John 20:1–18)

To Cleopas and another (Luke 24:13–32)

To Simon Peter (Luke 24:33–35; 1 Cor. 15:5)

To all the disciples except Thomas (Luke 24:36–43; John 20:19–25)

To all the disciples the next Sunday night ( John 20:26–31)

To seven disciples by the Sea of Galilee. Jesus repeated the miraculous draw of fish, as at Peter’s call to the ministry, and reaffirmed Peter’s apostleship ( John 21).

To about five hundred, at once, perhaps at a mountain in Galilee as Jesus had appointed before his death (Matt. 28:16–20; 1 Cor. 15:6)

To James, the half brother of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:7)

To the disciples at Jerusalem, then at the Mount of Olives and the ascension (Luke 24:44–53; Acts 1:3–12)

Peter and the other disciples now knew that Christ lived. They witnessed to this truth even to the point of exile and martyrdom.
Their Scriptures had been reinterpreted by Jesus. He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He showed them in the Old Testament, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46–47 NIV).

Jesus commissioned them to preach the gospel to all nations. They were to start in Jerusalem, then go to Judea and Samaria, and then to the whole world. They were to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to inaugurate the gospel age. They obeyed, and at Pentecost the Holy Spirit came as promised (see Matt. 28:18–20; Luke 24:48–49; John 20:21; Acts 1–2). What a tragedy it would have been if they had not obeyed!

Christian hope is reasonable. Every reason for believing in God the Father and God the Son is a reason for hope. Every experience of God the Holy Spirit is a reason for hope, including one’s salvation and the witness of the Holy Spirit. And the witness of Peter and others whose hope was revived by Jesus’ resurrection is a reason for hope. We now have the hope of the resurrection….in this instance more correctly, we have the promise of the resurrection and of His return!

 





 

 

Sunday

August 16th, 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

Title: Counterfeit Christianity: Its Antidote

Text: “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father”

(1 John 2:24 NIV).

Scripture Reading: 1 John 2:24–29

The temptation to be faithless is the number one problem among Christians—and it always has been. This is the sinister counterfeit Satan has so successfully perpetrated in a variety of ways among believers. He often uses other people in his determination to weaken a Christian’s faith. One person he uses is the cynic, who raises doubts in the Christian’s mind. This person has the syrupy “Did God really say . . . ?” (Gen. 3:1 NIV) approach of the Tempter. Then there is the hypocrite who looks like a Christian and talks like a Christian but whose conduct is inconsistent. Satan also uses popular views to distort the truth. For example, “One religion is just as good as another as long as you are sincere.” Or, “You have to be realistic. The Bible doesn’t always mean what it says.” Or, “You don’t need to go to church to be a Christian.” John gave an antidote for the problem of faithlessness.

The first antidote John gave is the abiding of the Word (1 John 2:24–26).

How does Jesus become real to a new believer? Through Scripture! What are some of the first, basic truths we learn? That Jesus is God’s Son, that he died on a cross for our sins and rose the third day, and that he promised to return to receive us unto himself. Along with these great truths is the amazing realization that God knows us by name and is always available to hear our prayers and answer them according to his will. But it doesn’t take long for Satan to start whispering doubts to a young Christian.

What is the antidote for these attacks from Satan? John simply said to hold fast to that which we learned at the beginning of our pilgrimage with God. Stay in the Word! John used the word “abide,” which means to remain in the sense that one is at home, comfortable, and conversant with Bible truths. We are not merely to “taste” the Word; we are to ingest it, depending on the Holy Spirit to help us digest it so that it can be absorbed into our lives.

The second antidote John gave is the anointing of the Spirit (1 John 2:27).

John referred to “anointing” as the coming of the Holy Spirit at salvation to abide in us. This anointing, or initiation, is never repeated. Yet we may grieve the Holy Spirit by disobedience and sin, thus allowing self to usurp the Spirit’s leadership.

Because of the anointing of the Holy Spirit we receive at salvation, John said, “You do not need anyone to teach you” (v. 27 NIV). He meant that we do not constantly need to be taught the elementary truths of the gospel, for that is one of the Holy Spirit’s vital ministries. Also, the Holy Spirit provides a glorious “check and balance” within us. He is always present to verify the teachings we do receive from others.

The third antidote John gave is the coming of Jesus (1 John 2:28–29).

John reminded his readers that the next great event on eternity’s calendar is the second coming of Jesus. He did not set any date; rather, he was saying, “Whenever he comes—and it could be at any moment—be found living in such a way that you will not be ashamed to stand before him!”

Actually, Christians should live before God as Enoch did. The Bible says that Enoch walked with God, and he was not found, for God took him (Gen. 5:24). Enoch lived in such close and constant communion with God that his transition from earthly existence to heavenly existence was a very simple thing. This is how we should live.

When Ananias was told by God to seek out Paul, he was afraid for he had heard how Paul was persecuting believers….but the Lord said “Go and do what I say for Paul is my chosen instrument to take the message to the nations.”

When David Livingston was asked about sending him some help, they asked “Have you found a good road to get where you are?” He replied that if “you have men who will join me only if they know there is a good road, I don’t want them. I want men who will come even if there is no road at all.”

Jesus did not say “Come unto me and get it over with…” but he did say that “if any man would come after me, let him take up his cross daily and follow me.” Daily is the key word.

We must have commitment….take a blank sheet of paper, write across the top “My contract with God.” Then go to the bottom of the page and sign your name. Then let God fill in the details, including the fine print. That is the kind of commitment God wants.

What part does God’s Word play in your life? Does it “abide” within you? And what about the Holy Spirit? Does he have complete control in your life? Do you anticipate Jesus’ coming with joy? Are you living so close to him, consistently walking by his side, that his coming will be a welcome transition?

You have heard this before, but I want each of you to ask yourself today….If I was on trial for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict me?

 

 





 

Sunday

August 9th, 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


Title: Counterfeit Christianity: Its Results

Text: “They went out from us, but they did notreally belong to us. For if they had belonged to

us, they would have remained with us; but theirgoing showed that none of them belonged to us”

 

(1 John 2:19 NIV).

 

Scripture Reading: 1 John 2:18–23

Today’s advertisers use newspapers, magazines,billboards, radio, television, and the internet to increase their share of the market by showing the superiority of their products over those of their competitors. In a sense, that is what John did in the latter part of 1 John 2.

As we discovered in our last study, starting at verse 15, John referred to false religions, or “counterfeit Christianity.”

He had already identified the parts of a false religion, showing how the very love of God is counterfeited.

Now, beginning at verse 18, John was holding up “Brand X” and exposing its inferiority to real Christianity.

He also described those who promote such sinister deception. The enemy is plainly revealed before the church (1 John 2:18–19).

Paul warned in 2 Thessalonians that the “man of sin” (the Antichrist of whom John spoke) will be revealed in the last days (2:3–12). Probably this is what John was referring to in verse 18. But lest the readers think there will be no satanic opposition until that time,

John said, “Even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour” (v. 18 NIV).

In other words, John meant that those with the spirit of the Antichrist were already at work in the world.

In verse 19 John was painfully explicit in regard to these pretenders. He revealed that they hold membership in the church.

They go through the motions of worship and participate in church events, but theirs is the spirit of Judas Iscariot, who was so deceptive in his role as a disciple that none of the other eleven disciples suspected that he was an enemy of Christ until the night before the crucifixion. The time had come for these impostors to separate themselves physically from the church because they were never part of the body spiritually. At some point they had given intellectual assent to the lordship of Christ, but their hearts had never confirmed their profession.

These people were “apostates.” They were unbelievers who had mentally adopted the doctrines of the Christian faith but had never been united to the church by a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. John said, “They were not of us” (v. 19).

Their source was not in the body of Christ, which is composed of true believers only. Disciples are reminded of who they are and what they possess (1 John 2:20–21).

John reminded believers, “You have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth” (v. 20 NIV). He was elaborating on a certain ministry of the Holy Spirit—that of enlightening believers concerning the meaning of God’s Word. John was basically saying, “As for you (as opposed to antichrists), you are anointed by the Holy Spirit, and you know the truth.” In verse 21 John merely expanded on what he had just said. This was his purpose in writing—not to instruct the ignorant but to remind believers of what they already knew.

The traitor is identified clearly and unmistakably (1 John 2:22–23). The Bible teaches that Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). His approach is always based on what is false and misleading. The greatest lie Satan has ever perpetrated is that Jesus is not the Christ. He tries to spread this lie in many ways. In our day, he takes the intellectual, rational approach by denying the virgin birth of Christ. But what about these blessed names, Jesus and Christ? The name Jesus comes from a Hebrew word, Yeshua, which means “Jehovah saves” and proclaims the deity, humanity, and vicarious atonement of our Savior. Christ means “the anointed one” and is a translation of the Hebrew word from which we get Messiah. Jesus was anointed by the Father and designated as Savior; he was the acceptable sacrifice for the sins of the world.

What are the results of “counterfeit Christianity”? The denial that Jesus is the God- man, born of a virgin, who was crucified for our sins and rose the third day to overcome death. Those who deny these basic cardinal truths about Jesus Christ have a counterfeit religion.

I have a dear friend who once told me that he was not sure about the resurrection because he was not there to witness it.

I told him I didn’t witness Pearl Harbor, but it happened!

Without the resurrection we are hopeless and have no need to worship Christ at all.

 





 

Sunday

August 2nd 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

Title: Counterfeit Christianity: What Is It?

Text: “All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16).

Scripture Reading: 1 John 2:15–17

One of the most distasteful and unpleasant words in the human vocabulary must be the word counterfeit. We usually think of that which is counterfeit as being something purposely designed to deceive. Even more devious than those who ply their counterfeiting trades in the marketplaces of the world are those guilty of counterfeiting in the spiritual realm. The tragedy connected with this kind of counterfeiting is that many times those involved are victims rather than agents! For Satan is the master counterfeiter of all time. He seizes vulnerable people, deceives them by his devilish wiles, and victimizes them in this business of counterfeiting spiritual realities.

In today’s Scripture reading, John exposed the essence of counterfeit Christianity.

John introduced a strange kind of love.

What “world” was John talking about? It was not the world of nature, the beauty of which often defies the descriptive powers of the most gifted poet. Rather, John was speaking of the “world system,” the total of human life that exists apart from God, alienated from or hostile toward God. The forces of evil in this world system seduce men and women away from God and righteousness. The system is ordered, not haphazard. Much of it is cultured, intellectual, even religious.

John was aware of the evil power of the world system. Throughout his gospel and letters, John repeatedly dealt with this subject. In his gospel, he said that the world is in the dark. He quoted Jesus’ words “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” ( John 8:12). The world is in the dark because it does not know God ( John 17:25); it does not know Christ ( John 1:10); it does not know the Spirit ( John 14:17); and it does not know or understand Christians (1 John 3:1).

What “love” for the world was John talking about? Surprisingly, it was agape love—a self-sacrificing kind of love. This is an example of how Satan can counterfeit that which is spiritual. Just as Christians who are filled with agape love offer themselves to God’s perfect will, so those who are victimized by Satan offer themselves to the false brilliance of the world. A sad example of this kind of love is seen in the
case of Demas, one of Paul’s coworkers (see 2 Tim. 4:10). Paul used the word agape to describe Demas’s love for the world.

John talked about a strange manifestation of this love.

Verse 16 briefly defines the world system, the kosmos. First is the desire to have things—“The lust of the flesh.” “Flesh” refers here to the depraved human nature that governs a person’s will, reason, and emotions. As desperately as unbelievers may try to please God, they cannot. Paul said, “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:7–8 NIV).

Second is the desire to have whatever attracts the eye. John called this “the lust of the eyes.” It may express itself in an inordinate desire for fine clothes, a new car, a larger home, or power to control all that one sees. Slaves to this sin worship at the altar of mammon!

Third is the desire to be—“The pride of life.” The word translated “pride” is the same word used in James 4:16 and translated “boastings.” It amounts to the arrogant, proud dependence on one’s own achievements, intelligence, resources, or wealth. These sins are always surrounding us. James said, “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death”

( James 1:14–15 NIV).

John summarized, “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17 NIV). John meant that the world would pass in a futile show. In spite of its glitter and appeal, it will not last; it is headed for destruction. But those who continue to do God’s will because it has become their lifestyle will abide forever!

Christianity is 24/7. It does not begin and end when you walk through the doors of the church. One person can make a difference…..Jesus did.

Remember it all began with Jesus, 11 men and one woman.

 

 





 

 

Sunday

July 26th, 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

 

 

Title: Upper Room Lessons on Relationships

 

Text: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 NIV).

Scripture Reading: John 15:1–27

Slip into the upper room where Jesus and his disciples are spending their last moments before Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. First, put yourself in Jesus’ place. Suppose you are about to leave your disciples and you must give them last-minute instructions on how to carry on your work—and they are slow learners, sometimes a little dense. What would you say to them? Or suppose that you are one of those disciples and you are heartbroken at the thought of your Lord going away. You are confused, frustrated, and overwhelmed by all that is happening.

In the upper room, Jesus tells his disciples that they must not only understand the meaning of love, but they must love one another as he has loved them. He promises them a home forever with him. In the meantime, he will be with them every step of the journey. In their future hours of discouragement, they will remember his gracious promises. He wants them to comprehend the blessings, privileges, and responsibilities resulting from their personal relationship with him. This love thing is the hard part, not the kind of love the modern song writers describe, but the Christ kind of love….for Christ so loved the world that he died that we might live. This is the kind of love that will solve the whole issues our nation faces today.

Let’s look at the disciples’ relationship with Christ (John 15:1–11).

Jesus used many metaphors to illustrate himself, his work, and relationships. For example: light, John 8:12; door, John 10:7; shepherd, John 10:11; vine, John 15:1.

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches.” He wanted his disciples to understand that no external qualifications can set a person right with God—only a personal relationship with Jesus Christ can do that. Grape vines are common in Israel. Each year the vines are cut back to conserve the plant’s life and energy. Branches not bearing fruit are cut off. The main point Jesus wanted to get across was that his disciples had to draw strength from him and him alone. He said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (15:5 NIV). In verse 7 he indicated that those who abide in Christ and have Christ’s words abiding in them may ask what they want and it will be done, simply because they will ask nothing out of accord with the mind of Christ. Jesus then called them to remain in his love and keep his commands.

What are some results of this vine-branch relationship?

We will bear much fruit (vv. 4–5).

We will receive prayer power (v. 7).

We will glorify the Father (v. 8).

We will 0bey his commands (cf. Ex. 20; Matt. 5–7).

We will become full of joy (v. 11; cf. John 1:1–4; 2:1–6). There is no worse Christian than having a Christian with a “long face.” God wants us to be happy and joyful. Does God have a sense of humor?...sure does….just look at some of the different animals He created. I know He has a sense of humor whenever I look into a mirror.

Our happiness can reach no higher than when we share the joy that Christ felt because of being loved by his Father and doing his will. For Christians, all of life’s relationships must grow out of our personal relationship with Jesus.

That brings us to the disciples’ relationship with one another in Christ (John 15:12–17).

These disciples had a common tie—Jesus.

They were chosen by Christ (v. 16). The 12 were hand-picked by Christ. And what an assortment...a tax-collector, a doctor, and a bunch of common folks….fishermen. We are God’s people. Later the apostle Peter, who was in the upper room that night, wrote to discouraged Christians, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9 NIV).

But their relationship was characterized by genuine love (vv. 12–13, 17). In the New Testament, individual Christians could not describe their lives without the term “one another.” They were to bear “one another’s” burdens (Gal. 6:2); admonish “one another” with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Col. 3:16); comfort “one another” (1 Thess. 4:18); exhort “one another” (Heb. 3:13); pray “one for another” (James 5:16); and love “one another” (1 Peter 1:22). For enrichment and stability, you must experience the fellowship of your local body of Christ— your church. Someone once asked me what kind of church do I have….I answered that I don’t have a church,…I serve a congregation but it is His church.

Their relationship was characterized by obedience to Christ (v. 14).

They were friends, partners with Christ (v. 15).

They were continuous fruit bearers (v. 16).

And the disciples had a relationship with the world (John 15:18–27).

Jesus knows what lies ahead for his disciples, and he warns them. Jesus tells his people what they can expect. The Gospel of Mark records just a sample:

“You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (13:9–13 NIV)

Jesus told his disciples that the world hated him first ( John 15:18, 22–25). He explained that the world’s hatred of them was proof that they were not of the world (v. 19). He further conveyed that they were sharing their Master’s lot. Later Peter wrote, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12–13 NIV).

Then Jesus told his disciples that their suffering would bear good witness to Christ (John 15:27). The time would come when Christians would be called to burn a pinch of incense and say, “Caesar is Lord.” But they would refuse to do this. Instead, they would testify, “Jesus is Lord.” And persecution would follow because Christians put Christ first.

Jesus knew that if people were permanently bonded together by him, he could trust them with his work until he came again.

Go to your spiritual upper room and learn the lessons Christ Jesus has for you to learn!

The world always places an emphasis on an individual’s final words. I constantly refer to my parents and the effect they had on me, but the one thing that drives my ministry were the final hours of my dad….the day he went home, he was sitting on the edge of his hospice bed with mom….singing at the top of his lungs, “I am sheltered in the arms of God.” His nurse told me he was delusional….he kept saying “I want to go home.” And she kept saying, “You are home.” And he would reply “No.” I told her that she just did not understand. Later that night dad called me to his bed….he said, “Preach the truth no matter what.” A little later he said to me his final words…”Son I love you, keep looking up, Jesus is coming soon.”

Christ’s final words were “Go tell everyone about me!” This is not a multiple choice command. We don’t have a choice!

 





 

 

Sunday

July 19th, 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

 

Title: Upper Room Lessons on Jesus’ Promises

Text: “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work”

(John 14:10 NIV).

 

 

Scripture Reading: John 14:7–31

Jesus had been preparing the disciples for his imminent departure, and he told them why he was going—to prepare a place for them ( John 14:2). His assurance of coming back for them calmed their hearts, but at the same time they wondered how they would cope during his absence. Every day Jesus had been with them answering their questions, directing their thoughts, settling their arguments, and strengthening them by his presence. Now he would be leaving them. They would be like helpless orphans. As a partial explanation, Jesus told his disciples, “You know the way to the place where I am going” (14:4 NIV). But Thomas asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (14:5 NIV).

Jesus gave a more complete answer, which contains many promises.

The promise of knowing the Father through Jesus (John 4:5–11).

If you know Jesus, you know God. The knowledge of Jesus that stops with the man and the martyr, the teacher and the brother, is only a partial knowledge of him. In Jesus we see the Father.

You probably have seen a little boy who looked, talked, and walked like his father. What do you say about the boy? You likely remark, “He is the spitting image of his daddy.” To see Jesus is to see the Father.

If you want to know how God feels about fallen humanity, see Jesus as he talked with the woman at the well. If you want to know how God feels about those who are sick and suffering, see Jesus healing the blind, the crippled, and the leper. If you want to know how God feels about grief, see Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus. If you want to know how God feels about children, listen to Jesus say, “Let the little children come to me” (Luke 18:16 NIV). If you want to know how God feels about sinners, see Jesus dealing with Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1–10.

The promise of greater works (John 14:12–14).
The disciples had seen Jesus do many miraculous works, but he encouraged them by saying that they would do even greater works. Did they? Yes, look at what happened on the day of Pentecost. Jesus wanted them to know that his power would reside in them.

The promise of a helper, the Holy Spirit (John 14:15–24).

Jesus promised not to leave the disciples as helpless orphans. He promised that through the Spirit he would come to them. He promised them an abiding presence that would bring love and obedience (14:21–24; cf. Acts 1–3; 1 Cor. 3:16–17).

The promise of blessings through the Holy Spirit (John 14:25–26).

Jesus promised the Holy Spirit as the Advocate (v. 26). An advocate is one who is summoned to assist someone in a court of justice. The Advocate was to be Christ’s representative—in his place. He would guide the disciples into truth and help them recall everything Jesus had told them (v. 26). During the events that unfolded in the lives of the apostles, they did remember the words that Jesus had spoken to them before his crucifixion—and they understood them in a new light.

The promise of peace (John 14:27–31).

Jesus did not promise his disciples that their lives would be easy. The peace Jesus promised was a triumphant overcoming of difficulties and problems. The world thinks of peace as being where there is no war or pain or sorrow—a peace of escape. The peace Jesus gives is shalom, which means everything that makes for our highest good. It is a peace that is independent of our outward circumstances.

Archibald Rutledge visited an old man living alone in an isolated area. He said to the man, “You must mind being all alone like this.” The old man looked up and answered, “Mr. Rutledge, I’m not exactly alone. I miss all who are gone, but I’m not alone.”

Rutledge replied, “Someone else has been here to see you then—I’m mighty glad to hear it.”

“Captain,” said the old man, “you know who I mean. He was my first Friend in life and he will be my last—same as he is to you. Jesus doesn’t come to see me; he stays with me all the time. I’m not lonely.”

The abiding presence of Jesus in your life brings peace.

Today by faith you can appropriate the promises Jesus made to the disciples in the upper room.

Allow Jesus, through the Holy Spirit take control of your hearts and lives and you will have abiding peace!

 

 

 





 

 

Sunday

July 12th, 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

 

Title: Upper Room Lessons on Heaven

Text: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going”

(John 14:1–4 NIV).

 

Scripture Reading: John 14:1–15

We often face the age-old question of life after death. Deep down in every heart this question must be answered in order for one to prepare to live.

The story is told that when the gospel was first carried into Britain by the messengers of the cross, a striking incident took place at the court of Edwin, the king. The great hall was lighted with torches and a crowd had gathered to hear what the teachers of this new religion had to say. A grim earl asked, “Can the new religion tell us what lies beyond death? Man comes out of the mystery of eternity, passes through the light of this world, and disappears into the mystery of eternity beyond. Does this new religion tell us what lies beyond death?” Job asked this same question. And in the New Testament, Paul gave the answer: “Christ Jesus . . . has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10 NIV). Jesus’ disciples were also troubled about what happened after death, for Jesus had been telling them that he was going to die on a cross and that the Father would glorify him. In the Gospel of John, Jesus said, “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come” (13:33 NIV).

In John 13:36 Peter asked Jesus, “Where are you going?” John 14 is Jesus’ answer. He sought to comfort his disciples about what was soon to take place. He wanted to strengthen them for the difficult times in their future.

He promised them a home with him forever.

Now let’s note five simple facts.

Jesus never promised his disciples an easy way of life. In fact, he told them that following him would bring many difficulties.

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Jesus also said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24 NIV).

But at the same time, Jesus informed his disciples that their trials would be worth it all. And as we go through hardships in this life, we must keep our eyes on Jesus and completely trust him.

“I am going there to prepare a place for you.” Jesus was blazing the way for the disciples. He cleared the way so they could follow in his steps. The author of Hebrews spoke of Jesus as “our forerunner” (6:20). In the Roman army, they had the reconnaissance troops. They went ahead of the main body to blaze the trail and make it safe for others to follow. Jesus explained to his disciples that he was blazing the way to heaven so his disciples could follow in his steps. And his resurrection and ascension prove his point.

Jesus encouraged his disciples by telling of his ultimate triumph.

“I will come back. . . .” History will have a consummation—that being Jesus’ final victory.

Listen to Revelation 1:4–8:

John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

“Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” (NIV)

Jesus promised his disciples that they will be with him forever.

In Revelation 21:1–4 (NIV) John said:

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Jesus told his disciples that he is the way to heaven (John 14:4–6).

Jesus is the way—the only way. Jesus is the truth—the only truth. Jesus is the life—the only life. Jesus alone is the way to the Father. He alone can lead us into God’s presence without shame or fear.

Jesus’ promise to prepare a place for us is made certain by his resurrection. In a way, Jesus’ resurrection is the pledge of our own resurrection. We are linked to him forever.

He has gone to prepare a place for those who trust and believe in Him….and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

 





 

 

 

Sunday

July 5th, 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

Title: The Center of the Circle

 

Text: “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Scripture Reading: 1 John 1:5–10

“Light” is a favorite word of John’s—used not only in his letters, but also in his gospel. He saw God and light as inseparable. He literally illuminated his letters and gospel with light as again and again he used that symbolism for God and truth.

As we consider 1 John 1:5–10, we find that John, in effect, drew a circle with God at the center. He is the source of the light that fills the circle; dark- ness, with its evil, is beyond the circumference of the circle. Then, with the compassion typical of his great heart, John invited sinful humanity, by nature prisoners of darkness, to enter the circle of light and approach God at its center.

Let’s examine the light and its source (1 John 1:5).

Where do we find the first manifestation of God as “light”? We must flip back to Genesis 1:3: “God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” What preceded that light? The emptiest, most hopeless scene the human mind could ever conjure. The author of Genesis wrote, “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep” (1:2). Then what happened? God’s very presence, which is light, enveloped that murky chaos and creation began.

Listen to John’s words in the prologue of his gospel. “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:4–5). The Old Testament revelations of God as light were but fingers pointing to the perfect revelation of God in his Son, Jesus Christ.

What did people see when Jesus came to earth? As their eyes were opened to the truth, they saw his glory. And what was that glory? The glory of the Father in heaven, and that glory was overflowing with grace and truth. That “light,” which is synonymous with Jesus, pierced the darkness, and evil forces of darkness tried in every way to put out his light. But they could not! Even when Jesus was dying on the cross and they thought his light would fade away, it shone all the brighter, for it lightened the dark chasm that had separated people from God. So the Bible’s victory shout is, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all”!

Let’s discover the darkness and its expression (1 John 1:6, 8, 10).

Whenever Scripture says that people walk in “darkness,” it refers to sin—that which separates people from God. In verse 6 John declares that if any one claims to have fellowship with God while simultaneously living in habitual sin, he is a liar in both word and deed. The tense of the verb “walk” speaks of habitual action, something done repeatedly as a lifestyle. Christians may temporarily step into darkness, but because of their new nature, they are miserable until they return to the light.

John teaches an elementary lesson in verse 8. The very first step to God that a sinner must take, which is the hardest step of all, is to say, “I am a sinner.” Such an admission goes against the grain of human nature. Yet anyone who refuses to admit that he or she walks in darkness is without hope in this world and in the world to come. Note also that the word is “sin,” and not “sins.” God is not so much interested in an unbeliever’s specific acts of sin as he is in the sinful human nature that separates the unbeliever from God.

Verse 10 contains John’s most serious statement regarding sin and its expression in human nature. A person who says that he or she does not sin is calling God a liar, for as Paul said, “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Such a deceived person does not comprehend God’s truth at all.

Let’s hear the invitation and its results (1 John 1:7, 9).

The word “walk” expresses habitual action. Someone who has formed the habit of daily walking “in the light” as Jesus is in the light gives evidence of a radical change in lifestyle. No longer is there a compatibility with darkness in daily conduct. In verse 7 John teaches an amazing reciprocity: Not only can we have fellowship with God, but he can have fellowship with us!

In verse 9 John tells Christians what to do about sin in their lives. They are not to despair or to believe that they will be lost again because they have sinned. Rather, they are to confess their sins. Unbelievers are instructed to “believe” ( John 3:16), but Christians have already believed. When they sin, they are to “confess”—agree with God about their sins. As a result, God will “forgive us our sins, and . . . cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” John was talking about receiving forgiveness after committing a specific sin. After Christians confess, fellowship is restored and God cleanses them from all defilement accompanying the sin.

A circle of fellowship is illumined by God’s pure light. In the circle’s center is Jesus Christ. When we repent of our sin and believe that Jesus died for our sin and rose from the dead, we are admitted to that circle. We do not become perfect. Sometimes we wander to the circumference and temporarily step into darkness. But all is not lost! There is a way back to the center of the circle.

Remember and say to yourself: I am an imperfect person…..loved by a perfect God.

May God bless

Pastor Don

 





 

Sunday

June 28th, 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


The basis for this sermon was written by Hugh Wamble….but it totally fits our society today so I thought I would share his thoughts with you today.

Text: “Stand fast . . . in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage . . . ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Gal. 5:1, 13).

Scripture Reading: Galatians 5:1–3, 13–16

Nearly two and a half centuries ago, a few men assembled in Philadelphia endorsed the words of Thomas Jefferson that prefaced one of the major political revolutions in human history, words that stir the feelings of people who seek and value freedom: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Freedom is the ideal in every age. Where do we seek it? How do we exercise it? Let’s consider some forms that peoples’ quests for liberty take.

Some seek freedom by force.

People who want freedom for themselves seek it through force. What they want, they take. They respect neither the person nor the property of others. Their sole intent is to satisfy their own lusts, whatever their nature.

The philosophy of this quest is that “might makes right.” It is the philosophy of the bully who demands that others give in to his wishes. He uses verbal force or threats when possible, physical force or violence when necessary. Force cannot bring freedom. When people get on top by force, they become the victims of two forces against which they have no protection—a lust for more power and a fear of those below them who aspire for freedom through the overthrow of those in power. Lust and paranoia hold the bullies captive. The bullies gain deliverance from lust and paranoia only as they succumb to another bully. As Jesus said: “All they that take [or live by] the sword shall perish with the sword” (Matt. 26:52). The “fastest gun in the West” was a wanted man—wanted by every gunman who wanted the reputation of being the fastest. Likewise, the team that brags about being number one is the one other teams want to beat.

The exercise of raw force inspires in its victims a yearning for real freedom. When English officials used imprisonment in 1667 in an effort to force William Penn to give up Quaker views, he said, “The jail will be my grave before I’ll change one jot. . . . The Tower was the worst argument to use against me; for whoever may be right or wrong, those who use force can never be right.”

Most seek freedom through law.

Civilized society cannot exist where each does what is right in his or her own eyes (Judg. 21:25), where personal whim and force are the only guides to social conduct. One theme of human history is the futility of force, the law of the jungle. Another is the quest for rules or laws for ordering society.

The Declaration of Independence is history’s best-known statement of this quest; the US Constitution and its Bill of Rights are the most celebrated expressions of its achievement. One states, the other assumes, that “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle” people to the equality to which all people are created; that government’s purpose is to secure human rights; that government derives its just or lawful powers “from the consent of the governed”; that public officialdom, which is insensitive to human rights and humane laws—in 1776, a king—is a threat to freedom, as a train of twenty-seven abuses and usurpations proves; and that lovers of freedom through law look “to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of . . . intentions,” rely “on the protection of divine Providence,” and “pledge to each other . . . Lives . . . Fortune and . . . sacred Honor.” The Constitution rests on the premise that government’s powers are dangerous when concentrated, so it distributes them: the legislature has the power to make laws; the executive, to administer them; and the judiciary, to interpret them. The Bill of Rights rests on the premise that some rights are beyond the reach of government’s power.

The philosophy of freedom through law is, as President Gerald R. Ford phrased it in his inaugural address, that “right makes might”—that is, right laws are a beneficent force, essential to civil tranquility, domestic peace, and social harmony.

Law provides limited freedom at best. It marks the boundaries within which one can operate freely but beyond which one cannot go. Often it appears in the negative: “Thou shalt not. . . .” For law to work, all must be equally subject to it; also, officials must administer it even- handedly. We are not free to obey the laws we like and transgress those we dislike. Whoever seeks freedom under law—whether it be the Jewish law, which Paul, in Galatians, contrasted with the gospel and viewed as a tutor preparing for the gospel, or some other law— “He is a debtor to do the whole law” (Gal. 5:3). Sometimes we yearn for more freedom than law can provide, and we feel like applying to law what the song applies to other things—“Don’t Fence Me In.”

Anyone acquainted with the changing concept and practice of law in the last two and a half centuries cannot avoid the conclusion that law is capable of abuse and that it can be a force that tyrannizes peoples’ persons and spirits. Law is no better than those who make, execute, and interpret it, supported by people who have confidence both in the laws and in public officials. The US system rests on the view that God implanted a law in nature and that government’s laws are to be consistent with it. In the mid-1800s, the “historical school” viewed law as the expression of folk custom, a view that served nationalism—one law for the English, another law for Germans, another law for the French, another law for Americans, and so on. Later the “analytical school” viewed law as something consciously created by lawyers, the state as the entity with sole power to create law, individual “rights” as nothing more than concessions granted by the state, and compulsion, not justice, as the criterion of law. Still later, the “pure theory” school emphasized the procedure by which the state enacts law, not the substance of law, as the clue to law; if lawmakers employ the “pure” procedure or form, law is valid, whatever its nature. Such a view of law provided the basis for several twentieth-century dictatorships, one of them being Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich, which acted according to positive or government-made law in all matters but violated elemental laws of nature.

However essential good laws, applied equally to all and administered even- handedly, are to ordered society, law cannot give people the full freedom for which they yearn. So one prays as Katharine Lee Bates prayed for America: “God mend thine every flaw, confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.”

Anyone can find freedom in grace, available through faith and expressing itself in love.

Freedom is available to anyone who believes in the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the theme of Galatians, a letter written in the heat of controversy between those who tried to make Gentile Christians observe Jewish Levitical and ceremonial laws (Judaizers) and those who insisted that God’s grace, which leads one to believe in Jesus Christ, frees one from law’s tyranny and liberates the spirit so that he or she can voluntarily accomplish only what law cannot achieve because of compulsion (Paul’s party).

Spiritual freedom can exist even when human law constricts. When Paul wrote in prison, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am [abasement or abundance], therewith to be content” (Phil. 4:11), he was a freer man than Emperor Nero, who was torn between his own ego drives and his fear of enemies. Madame Guyon, imprisoned by Louis XIV for ten years (1695–1705), said it well:

Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage;

Love is the companion of faith. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18). Where there is no fear, there is freedom.

Love fulfills what law at its best can only aim at. Law and officials are a terror to evil works, not to good works (Rom. 13:3). The ideal which the best of laws seeks to attain by observing negative prohibitions (“Thou shalt not . . .”) is attained only by observing the positive demands of love: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Gal. 5:14; Rom. 13:9).

If the Son of God makes us free, we are free indeed! (John 8:36) And from that time on, we are never the same. For, like our Master, we then minister as servants to others (Matt. 20:28).

If you want freedom, seek it where it can be found—not in force, however strong; not in law, however good; but in faith, which expresses itself in love…..the kind of love that is only found through Jesus Christ.

My wife will tell you that the first thing I open in the newspaper is the comics…..for the most part, it is all you can believe. Mom said that 60 years ago.

Believe whatever you want from the news media, but Soros said years ago he would destroy the US if he had to spend all his millions to do it….the media would have us believe that we are all responsible for the sins of our great-great grandparents, they would have us believe that the civil was fought over slavery….study history….it was fought over state’s rights to rule themselves.

My grandparents had nothing to do with slavery, they immigrated from Poland and Alsas Loraine and Scotland. (yeah, I am a mutt.) So how is my family responsible for slavery?

And contrary to the news media….the democrats did not free the slaves….Lincoln did….a republican.

Yes, the actions of a couple of police officers is repulsive and uncalled for….but there are two sides to every coin.

This BLM movement is not about black lives, it is anarchy that will destroy the United States and is being funded (as one arrested protestor told authorities “I’m being paid $15 per hour to be here.”)

The latest is that the leader of BLM wants all churches destroyed, their stainglass windows smashed and any depictions of Christ destroyed.

All lives matter….check out the statements (google) of Mumahamad Ali, Jr. his language is course and gruff, but he makes the point,

Stevie Wonder said it best….if black lives matter, when are blacks going to stop killing other blacks?

 





 

 

Sunday

June 21st, 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

 

Text: “Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him” (Matt. 1:24).

Scripture Reading: Matthew 1:19–25

When Christmas rolls around, the spotlight settles on baby Jesus; his mother, Mary; the shepherds; the angels; and the Magi. Have you ever heard a sermon about Joseph, Mary’s husband, who functioned as Jesus’ human father? In my entire library, I have only one printed sermon on him.

The Roman Catholic Church has canonized Joseph, calling him St. Joseph. But Protestantism has virtually ignored him. He deserves better. He must have been a remarkable man of God to be chosen from all men on earth to serve as Jesus’ earthly father. Let us use the occasion of Father’s Day to give him honor.

Matthew recorded the most information about Joseph. He was a descendant of David, so royal blood coursed through his veins. He maintained a dignity and kindness that reflected his family heritage. He witnessed Jesus’ birth, saw the shepherds’ adoration, and led Mary and the baby to Egypt to escape Herod’s slaughter of infants. Joseph took Jesus to the temple at least twice—once in his infancy and again when he was twelve years old. Jesus called Joseph “father” and was subject to his authority. Joseph feared God and worked hard to support his family in a rustic town disdained for its obscurity and provincialism.

Joseph disappeared from the historical accounts of the Gospels. It is likely that he died when Jesus was a young man; and Jesus, as the oldest son, assumed the responsibility of Joseph’s carpenter shop and the support of his family. He did not stop working as village carpenter until his younger brothers were old enough to take over. Then he entered his public ministry.

Although little is written about Joseph, we find plenty of facts to know that he was a great man.

Joseph was a just man.

“Then Joseph her husband, being a just man . ..” (Matt. 1:19). The Bible tells us with frankness and tact of Jesus’ conception by the Holy Spirit.

Joseph was sensitive to society’s moral standards. He could not ignore what people would think and say. All his life he had been abiding by this high standard. Apparently Joseph had no dynamic, overwhelming personality. He was a good man with ordinary abilities, but he put those abilities in God’s hands, and God used him. God wants to use you in the same way.

Joseph was sensitive to his own reputation. When people say, “I don’t care what people think as long as I think I’m right,” they are only trying to fool themselves. Being right is most important, but what others think of you is also important. You truly may be right, but if people think you are wrong, you may have lost your opportunity to help them. A godly person’s reputation is very important.

Joseph was sensitive to Mary’s plight. “While he thought on these things . . .” (Matt. 1:20). He delayed any rash judgments and did not want to believe the worst. He kindly considered Mary’s dilemma and was willing “to put her away privily” (Matt. 1:19) if that would protect her from the cruel gaze of hostile neighbors. His emotional balance in this crisis is amazing.

Joseph was sensitive to a heavenly vision.

Like Paul, Joseph was not disobedient to his vision from heaven. A super- natural birth required supernatural proof. After his dream, he had no further doubts and unreservedly accepted Mary as his wife. They had perfect faith in each other.

Joseph was a faithful father.

He provided Jesus with a human example for his sublime teachings about God as our heavenly Father. John Stuart Mill could not pray the Lord’s Prayer because he had experienced brutal, unreasonable discipline by his callous father. To think of God as a Father like his father was uncomplimentary to God.

Jesus seemed to warmly remember Joseph’s generosity to his children: “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matt. 7:11 NIV).

Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11–32) is perhaps most revealing. This moving story could also be called “the parable of the loving father.” The best part of the story is the boy’s return from a far country. We know that the father never ceased to watch for him, for “when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him” (v. 20). The father “ran,” denoting his own eagerness for reconciliation. He joyfully welcomed his son back home with a robe, ring, shoes, and a joyous feast. The father said to his other son, “Thy brother . . . was lost, and is found” (v. 32).

Jesus said that God is like that. Though you may have wandered away from him, he is a loving Father who longs for your return. He will forgive you and restore your place as his son or daughter if you will turn from your old life and look to him.
Remember: God wants full custody, not just weekend visits.

 





 

Sunday

June 14th, 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

Title: Upper Room Lessons on Love

Text: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34–35 NIV).

Scripture Reading: John 13:31–38

Today we enter into the sacred place of the upper room where Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper. Here Jesus taught his disciples just before his crucifixion ( John 13–17), here the devil won a victory over Judas, here Jesus met with his disciples after the resurrection, and here the disciples prayed and the Holy Spirit set the fires of Pentecost. My message today will be confined to John 14–17, the account of Jesus’ last evening with the Twelve.

We see in our reading that Jesus was facing the agony of the cross, and it is evident that the disciples were not ready for the work he was committing to them. They were dense, thick headed, weak, jealous of one another, and hungry for power. Judas was struggling with Satan. The disciples still didn’t understand about the Messiah or their mission (cf. Matt. 16). They had to learn quickly and adequately. The first lesson they needed to learn was the meaning of love ( John 3:1–31)—Jesus’ love and their love.

Jesus explained the relationship between love and service (John 13:1–5). In the upper room during the passion meal, Jesus demonstrated his love. John 13:1 in the New International Version says, “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” His hour had come. Here was Jesus, “the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world,” ready to die a redemptive death. He would soon no longer be with his disciples physically. He needed to show them that “He loved them [and continuously loves them with His perfect love] to the end (eternally)” (John 13:1 AMP). Compare Romans 5:6–8 and Ephesians 3:14–19. So Jesus did the work of a servant as he washed their feet. John 13:6–11 gives Peter’s reaction, as he misunderstood the Master’s actions. Jesus then interpreted the meaning of his actions (13:13–17). A servant must not expect better treatment than his Lord. There is only one kind of greatness, the greatness of service—true humility. Our love is shown by our willingness to do whatever is necessary to advance Christ’s kingdom—even if it involves humiliating service.

Jesus appealed to Judas with longsuffering love (John 13:18–30).

Judas must have been the perfect actor and the perfect hypocrite—he deceived everyone but Jesus. After revealing that a disciple would betray him, Jesus gave a morsel to Judas. To give a morsel at a meal was a mark of goodwill. Judas must have been on Jesus’ left, the place of highest honor kept for the most intimate friend. Again and again Jesus must have quietly appealed to Judas, but Judas remained unmoved, impervious to this appeal of love. This scene beautifully displays the attitude Jesus expects us to have. Real Christ-like love always seeks the best for everyone.

Jesus taught them that love meant going to the cross, which would be followed by great glory (John 13:31–33).

The disciples had to learn that the Christian way is not the easy way. To bring redemption to the world and glory to God, Jesus had to bear a cross. Soon the disciples would see Jesus dying on the cross, for he was now seen as a God who was not only concerned about people but was actually involved with people. God would glorify Jesus through the resurrection and his return to glory. And the disciples would often face a cross as they carried on Christ’s work—and Jesus would glorify them.

Jesus gave his disciples a command to love one another (John 13:34–35).

This was Jesus’ farewell command. We are to keep on following his examples of love (agape).

Jesus loved his disciples selflessly and sacrificially. Sometimes we think love is meant to give us happiness. In the long run, it does, but it may bring pain or demand a cross. Jesus also loved his disciples understandingly. He knew them and he still loved them. Jesus loved his disciples forgivingly even when Peter later denied him and the others forsook him in his time of need. They were blind and insensitive, slow to learn, and lacking in understanding, but there was no failure in them that Jesus could not forgive. As he loved, so are we to love.

Love for everyone no matter what their race. The other day I was at Shop Rite and an older negro woman was trying to load a case of water into her car….she looked sort of frail so I said to her, please let me help you….to that she replied, “Why do you a white man want to help me a black woman?” I simply replied, I didn’t realize you were black, I just thought you were a human being who needed some help. That brought a smile to her face. Just a simple act of kindness is sometimes all it takes.

Jesus knew the future of the kingdom depended not on the brilliance and greatness of his followers, but on their loving one another as he loved them. So it is today. The first lesson in the upper room is love.

I want to be so filled with the love of Christ that if I am bitten by a mosquito he will fly off singing…”there is power in the blood, wonder working power in the blood of the Lamb.”

 





 

Sunday

June 7th, 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

 

Let Us Encourage One Another

Text: “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24 NIV).

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 10:19–25; 12:1–2

In a sermon titled “The Need for Encouragement,” Dr. W. Truett declared that no one is exempt from the need to be encouraged by others. This is particularly true in family circles. Husbands need encouragement from their wives and vice versa. Mothers need encouragement from their children. Children need constant encouragement from both parents.

It is interesting to note how our text is translated by various versions. The King James Version puts it, “Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Heb. 10:24). Provoke means “to arouse to action, to excite, to stir up the feelings.” The word is often used with reference to arousing one to anger, but in our text it is a strong word used to encourage love and good works.

The Revised Standard Version translates the verse, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” “Stir up” means “to move, to excite, to agitate.”

The Good News translation translates our text, “Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good.” To be concerned is to show interest or care. To help is to provide assistance.

The New International Version puts it, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” To spur is to prompt or motivate.

Whatever the version used, the verse urges us to help one another practice self-giving love and perform good works for God and others.

Let us encourage one another.

This imperative is all inclusive in its necessity. Every one of us will need encouragement during the coming week as we attempt to achieve various goals. Achievement is always the result of overcoming obstacles.

This imperative is all inclusive in its application. God’s will is for each of us to be a cheerleader for others.

Husbands and wives should encourage each other as they work toward a happy and successful marriage.

Parents should encourage their children, especially through words of appreciation. Too often parents are overly generous with criticism and stingy with encouragement.

Children can greatly encourage their parents by their choices and their conduct.

Teachers have a marvelous opportunity to encourage students to achieve excellence, and students also can be a great encouragement to their teachers.

In employer-employee relationships, there is much room for improvement in encouraging each other.

Good coaches are those who can encourage their team as a whole to strive for excellence.

All Christians should consider themselves part of God’s cheering squad to encourage other Christians.

So why is continuous encouragement needed?

An illness that often goes undetected afflicts many of us. It is called depression. People have a tendency to become discouraged even while doing helpful and significant work. Why is this so?

Some reasons within ourselves make living by the principle of love and helpfulness difficult. By nature we are immature and self-centered. We find it easier to hate than to love. We find it easier to quit than to continue. We must overcome these inward inclinations. The right kind of encouragement can help us.

Some reasons outside ourselves make living by the principle of love and helpfulness difficult. We live in a self-centered world that measures success largely in terms of having and acquiring and accomplishing. There is not much encouragement for people to be anything other than self-centered.

Some reasons even within the Lord’s work make it difficult for us to devote ourselves to a life of loving helpfulness to others. The sinful world in which we live provides no encouragement. The devil will do everything he can to create discouragement, despair, and defeat. Spiritual progress is always an uphill experience. The prevailing spirit of the world urges us to float downstream, and it is always hard to swim upstream.

The author of Hebrews marshals the spiritual leaders of the past in chapter 11, which has been called faith’s Hall of Fame, so that they may cheer us on as we run the race that has been set before us (Heb. 12:1–2).

Let us encourage one another to have greater faith in God. Let us share with others our relationship with Jesus Christ so that we might impart to them the benefits of our faith.

Let us encourage one another to make a sacrifice for God and for others. The measure of our sacrifice is the measure of our love and our faith. Until we are willing to sacrifice for our God and for others, our faith will not have much opportunity to develop.

Let us encourage one another to dedicate ourselves to spiritual values. We live in a world that emphasizes materialistic values. The greatest values, however, are in the heavenly realm. It has been said that one’s interest will always follow one’s dollars. Let us encourage one another to live with eternity in mind rather than living with no thought for tomorrow.

Let us encourage one another to be concerned for others’ souls. We can witness to those who come into the circle of our personal influence. We can pray for other organizations that take part in bringing men, women, and children to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Let us encourage one another to involve ourselves in loving service so that we will truly be worth something to God and to others.
May the Lord enable us to cheer one another onward as he seeks to encourage us. And may he always put his Spirit within us and on us. Remember, no one will have their own little corner of heaven. Someone once said, that when we get to heaven we will be surprised at who we see, and maybe even more surprised by those we don’t see.

 





Sunday

May 31st, 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

Title: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Text: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20 RSV).

Scripture Reading: Luke 14:15–24

A 1967 Academy Award–winning movie was titled Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. The film portrays the story of a girl from a wealthy white family who becomes engaged to a black man. The parents consider themselves to be very liberal-minded but at times appear otherwise, making for both some painful and some comical aspects.

How would you respond if someone invited you to a dinner where the special guest was Jesus Christ, the Son of God? How would you react to the possibility of inviting him into your home for a meal? How would you react if you received an invitation to attend a banquet at which Jesus Christ was serving as the host?

It is interesting to note in the words of our text that Jesus Christ invites himself to come into our lives. He offers to sit as a guest at the table that we would place before him. In turn he would serve as the host for a banquet that he would provide for us.

It is significant that our Lord would describe conversion and the Christian life in terms of a banquet experience in which both he and the guests would enjoy feasting and fellowship together. How tragic it is that many look upon the Christian life as a famine instead of a feast.

There is a stranger at the door.

The door is pictured as the entrance into one’s heart and life. Each of us as individuals have control over that door. We can open the door, or we can keep it closed. To each of us is given the privilege and the responsibility of choice. This person, should be no stranger. The passage in Revelation was written not to the unsaved but to the churches of Jesus Christ.

We need this stranger in the house of our life as much as we need health, and even more.

We need this stranger in the house of our life as much as we need wealth, and even more.

We need this stranger in the house of our life more than we need friends, as important as they are.

We need the stranger in the house of our life as the dominant member of our family. He can greatly enrich our family life if we will let him in.

Who is this Stranger who wants to come to dinner?

He who stands at the door of our heart repeatedly and patiently is no figment of human imagination. He is no fictitious character from some religious novel. The Stranger at the door is the man of Nazareth whose claims, character, and conquest of death and the grave prove that he is the Son of God. He came in human flesh to reveal God’s grace, love, and power. This Stranger at the door is the creative Lord who comes for his own place in the center of the heart of his creatures. He comes not as an intruder, but as the One who has the privilege of ownership by right of creation and preservation. He wants to claim his own by virtue of his redemptive love.

What does this Stranger at the door want to do?

This divine Stranger wants to come into your life. He wants to come in through the door. He is not satisfied merely to look in.

This divine Stranger wants to be your Savior and Lord. He wants to bring you the gift of forgiveness and bestow on you the gift of eternal life. He wants to bring into your innermost being his precious Holy Spirit to be your Teacher, Guide, and Helper.

This divine Stranger wants to become your friend. Christ takes the initia- tive in coming to us in order that he might get acquainted with us, but even more so in order that we might become acquainted with his transforming and enriching presence.

This divine Stranger wants to make our life complete. From the days of Adam, people have been but a fraction of what the Creator God meant for us to be. The living Christ came to heal the wound inflicted by sin. He came so that by his death and resurrection he might return us to our Creator. Life without him is incomplete, unhappy, unfruitful, and unsatisfying.

This wonderful Stranger wants to reclaim you for God’s glory and to recreate within you the nature of God. He wants to rescue you from the sin that is so destructive to you and to restore to you the joy and happiness that God meant for you to have.

What must you do regarding this Stranger?

You may decide simply to ignore him and to have nothing to do with him.

You may decide to neglect or postpone making any decision concerning this divine Guest who wants to come into your life.

You may deliberately decide to reject him and have nothing to do with him. Most likely this would be your reaction if you consider him to be some kind of thief who wants to rob you and take something from you. You will probably reject him if you consider him to be some kind of bully who wants to mistreat you and subordinate you to his selfish will.

The way of wisdom is to recognize this Guest at the door as the divine Son of God who comes with the gifts of heaven for you.

With an ear attentive to his knocking at the door, respond with the faith that is willing to accept him and with the joy that is willing to welcome him into your life. This divine Stranger alone can bring to you the gift of forgiveness that is full and free and forever. He alone can bring you the gift of eternal life and make you a member of God’s family. And he alone can teach you the truth of God that will help you to live an abundant life in the here and now. Treat him not as an enemy who wants to invade your life with destructive purposes. Instead, welcome him as the Friend who loves you so much that he was willing to die for you. Accept him as being so divine that he conquered death and the grave and lives forever to be the loving Lord of your life.

 





 

Sunday

May 24th, 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

Title: What Is a Born-Again Christian?

Text: “Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God’” (John 3:3 RSV).

Scripture Reading: John 3:1–15

The term “born-again Christian” has had national and even international attention since former US president Jimmy Carter acknowledged publicly that he is a born-again Christian. Since that time there have been many commentaries on what it means to be a born-again Christian. One curious writer addressed a letter to Ann Landers with an inquiry, “In plain barroom language, explain what it means to be a ‘born-again Christian.’” Ann Landers, who was Jewish, replied as if she were an evangelical Christian with the answer, “It means that you have let Jesus Christ come into your heart.”

Not all people who think they are born-again Christians are born-again Christians.

To merely believe in God does not mean that you are a Christian. Remember, Satan believes that there is a God.

To live a morally upright life and be a decent neighbor does not mean that you are a born-again Christian.

To be reared in a godly Christian home does not mean that you are a born-again Christian, for physical birth and a good environment do not bring us into God’s family. I was raised in a very “Godly family” but it did not save my soul, I had to make that decision on my own, until then, I was a sinner bound for hell.

To be baptized does not mean that you’re a born-again Christian.

To be a church member, even a very good one, does not guarantee that you are a born-again Christian.

What is the birth from above?

The new birth is a divine change wrought in the heart of a believer by the Holy Spirit of God.

The new birth is a complete change wrought in the innermost being of a believer by the Holy Spirit. This change is not a partial or installment event. It is not a “Sunday morning”, once a week event.

The new birth is a permanent change wrought in the heart of a believer upon entering into a new relationship with God. It is a 24/7 everyday experience.

Why does everyone need the new birth?

Jesus said that it was absolutely essential if one would see and enter into the kingdom of God. He spoke these words to Nicodemus in John 3.

Our present spiritual condition requires that we experience this birth from above. Until this birth is experienced, one is spiritually dead, being devoid of the spiritual life of God.

God’s holy nature requires that we experience this birth from above so that we might have fellowship with him. It is in the new birth that we become partakers of the divine nature. Apart from this new birth, we do not have a nature that would enable us to love God and enjoy his fellowship.

What does the new birth do for or to a person?

Most definitely the new birth does NOT make one perfect or infallible. We are human and will make mistakes, but God will forgive those who ask for His forgiveness.

The new birth introduces one into the family of God (John 1:12; Gal. 4:6; 1 John 3:1–2). We become part of a human family by physical birth, and we become part of God’s family by spiritual birth.

The new birth brings eternal life as a present possession to the believer (John 3:36; 5:24). Eternal life is not a reward that is bestowed on us at the end of the way as a result of great faithfulness and sacrifice. Eternal life is the gift of God through faith in Jesus Christ, and it comes to us in the moment of our faith response to Christ (Rom. 6:23).

The new birth brings the Holy Spirit of God into the heart of the believer (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; 1 John 4:13). The Holy Spirit takes up residency within the heart of a believer at the moment of new birth so that he might direct the believer in God’s great redemptive work and reproduce within that believer the character of Jesus Christ.

The new birth makes spiritual growth possible (1 Peter 2:1–2). Until the new birth has been experienced, it is impossible to grow spiritually.

The Holy Spirit brings us under the correction and chastisement of our Father God (Heb. 12:4–10).

After we become the children of God, God deals with our sins as a father would deal with the sins and mistakes of his child. Because he loves us, he chastises us to bring us into conformity with the image of his Son, Jesus Christ.

How can we be sure that we are born again?

Are you trusting Jesus Christ as Savior? Have you put your trust in him and in him alone for your salvation? Or are you trusting yourself to get the job done? You cannot do it on your own. You can only be sure of a born-again experience if you are trusting Jesus Christ.

There are some distinctive marks of the twice-born. Do you have these characteristic features?

Do you have an appetite for the things of the spiritual life? Do you hunger for the Word of God? Do you hunger for fellowship with the people of God? An absence of these would indicate either spiritual illness or the absence of life.

Do you love God and God’s people (1 John 3:14; 4:19)? If you do not love God and his people, you should be disturbed about your spiritual condition.

Do you have an aversion for sin? Do you want to avoid sin and eliminate it from your life (1 John 2:1; 3:9)? If you find deep within your heart a sincere aversion for doing that which is wrong, this is one of the evidences that you have been born of the Spirit and that God’s nature dwells in you.

Do you have an ambition to please God in all of your life? If you can honestly answer in the affirmative, these are evidences that indeed you have experienced the new birth.

How can one experience the new birth?

You must come to Jesus Christ in faith that trusts him. Accept him to be what he claims to be. Decide that you will depend on him to do what he offers to do and what he has promised to do.

To come to Christ means that you turn from a life of selfishness, sin, and self- destructiveness and that you make the decision to let Jesus Christ become Lord of your life. Turn from self-righteousness and from the wickedness that will destroy you, and commit your life to Jesus Christ. Claim him as your very own. Confess him before others and identify yourself with him.

But the key is that you, yourself have to do it. Mom and Dad cannot do it for you. No one else can make the decision for you. So how do you do it? By a simple prayer….”Lord Jesus, I am a sinner and I need you, come into my heart and cleanse me from all my sin.” It is that simple!

Nicodemus, a very good man, needed the new birth. The Samaritan woman, described in John 4, a very fallen woman, also needed the new life that the new birth brings. All of us are somewhere between these two extremes. And between these two extremes, all of us can come to Christ and experience the new birth.

If you are already a born-again believer, then you are obligated to tell others about Him.

 

 





 

Sunday

May 17th, 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

Title: Christ—The Humiliated One

Text: “We do see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9 NIV).

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 2:1–18

The new covenant could be established only by the death of Christ (Heb. 9:16). God is the one establishing the new covenant. The God of heaven cannot die. For the covenant to become effective, God left the safety and glory of heaven in the person of Jesus Christ and took on himself the form of man. God as true man could die. This is what happened to Jesus at Calvary.

The taking on of human form was a humiliating experience for Jesus Christ. Yet he did it so that we might have eternal life. In this particular chapter of Hebrews, the humiliation of Jesus Christ is vividly brought home to the reader: How?

First, by the passiveness of humankind (Heb. 2:1–4).

God’s position is that of glory and honor. Everyone should respond to him in reverence and worship. When Jesus appeared in human form, this perplexed the minds of his day. Jews were tempted either to neglect or to reject this historical Jesus as the true God. Shame was inflicted on Jesus as the Jews failed to accept him as God’s Son. The writer of Hebrews dealt with the problem of apathy toward Jesus Christ.

Sometimes we neglect the message (2:1). Christians are challenged to give special attention to the message of God. To ignore the message is, in essence, to declare it of no importance to the soul.

Sometimes men reject the validity of the message (2:2). In building his case against those who neglect Jesus, the author maintained that the law of judgment and wrath had been properly applied by God in the past. God’s message is valid.

There is a warning in the message (2:3). People may humiliate the person of Jesus Christ by ignoring the entire fact of his death, burial, and resurrection. Yet God is not the one who suffers; it is people who suffer. This message has been confirmed by the testimony of first-century believers and should not be rejected by present readers. Beware of any message that does not stress His death, burial and resurrection…without these we have absolutely nothing on which to base our faith.

We cannot ignore the proof of the message (2:4). Along with the introduction of Jesus Christ and the new covenant, God gave additional signs and wonders to prove that the message was from him.

How? First by the position of angels (Heb. 2:5–9).

The author went to special lengths in chapter 1 to reveal Jesus’ superiority to the angelic world. In this chapter on the humiliation of Christ, the author mentioned that Jesus was made “a little lower than the angels” (2:9).

We see the original relationship (2:5). In preparing readers for the position of humiliation that our Lord assumed (“lower than the angels”), the author emphasized that the future was placed in the hands of Jesus and not the angels. This humiliation was temporary.

Christ took a place of humility (2:9). The process of humiliation was accomplished by the voluntary will of Jesus Christ. He endured this shame by the grace of God.

What was the purpose of humiliation (2:9). Jesus’ crucifixion was recognized by a crown of glory and honor. Jesus tasted death on behalf of all humankind so that those who believe in him do not have to face eternal death.

Let us now look at the participation of Christ (Heb. 2:10–17).

Jesus willingly participated in the humiliation process that caused him to become flesh and blood and to die a vicarious death. Several matters are detailed in this passage that reveal his desire to secure salvation for humankind, even through humiliation.

Christ is the captain of salvation (2:10). Jesus desired to lead many people to the way of salvation. He had to become the captain of their salvation. To carry out this role, he had to suffer.

Christ had to identity with humankind (2:11–13). The author of Hebrews drew an affinity between the Sanctifier and the ones sanctified. Jesus is pictured as being in total identification with people, as “he is not ashamed to call them brethren.”

Christ’s submission to death (2:14–15). The ultimate in Jesus’ humiliation came when he submitted himself to death. He had to enter the realm of death, or kingdom of darkness, to destroy it from within.

It was a voluntary activity (2:16). This verse literally means that Jesus took on himself the care and concern of “the seed of Abraham.” He could have been indifferent, but his very nature compelled him to take action. As the song writer aptly put it, “He could have called ten thousand angels, but……he didn’t!

Christ became the priest of reconciliation (2:17). It was necessary for Jesus “to be made like unto his brethren” so that he could be our faithful and merciful High Priest. This was the only way he could secure reconciliation for humankind.

Think about this: No only was the crucifixion a painful way to die, but the Romans had to add to this torture by stripping the crucified one naked, true humiliation! Our beautiful pictures of Christ on the cross do not show the true image of the Christ crucified, probably because the scene was so horrendous that mankind could never look on it….a battered, bruised, tortured man hanging naked on the cross…..why??? Simply put….because He loved us so much He was willing to die a terrible death for us!

The humiliation process gave Jesus the opportunity to experience the same temptation that people face (Heb. 2:18). Consequently, he is able to come to people’s aid, not on a theoretical basis, but on an experiential basis. He encourages his followers to a life of victory because he won total victory for them as he experienced life and death in the flesh, and praise God, He defeated death with His resurrection.

 

 





 

Sunday

May 10th, 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

 

Today is Mother’s day, a day society sets aside to be “nice” to mom….I don’t know why we need a special day to be nice to our mothers….we should be caring and loving every day. Okay, a day when we are extra special to mom, but mothers are special every day not just one Sunday a year because there will be a time when we will wish mom was still here for us to enjoy. I know, my mom is with her heavenly Father, but I still miss her….

And so now, my mother’s day message:

Text: “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you”

(Luke 1:28 NIV).

Scripture Reading: Luke 1:26–35, 46–56

We should look for models to imitate in the Scriptures. Today, on Mother’s Day, let us look at Mary, the mother of our Lord, as a great model of motherhood. Let us discover something about her faith and faithfulness. Let us consider the fruit of her motherhood so that we may identify some factors that contributed to her success as a mother.

Mary was chosen for a mission (Luke 1:28).

Mary became the mother of Jesus by way of a miraculous conception. Jesus was born of a virgin. He had an earthly mother without an earthly father.

Because of his love for us, God chose to become flesh and blood, and to do so, he came as a baby, born by a miraculous virgin conception. But it was not Mary’s virginity alone that qualified her uniquely for becoming Jesus’ mother.

Mary was a devout worshiper of the true God.

Mary was pure in mind and heart and body.

Mary was humble, realizing her dependence on God.

Mary was obedient to God’s will.

Mary was willing to do what God had planned for her.

Mary had an attitude of gratitude. She was thankful that God used her to further his work.

Mary was consistent and self-controlled. These are qualities needed by modern mothers as well as by the mother of Jesus.

Mary was chosen to be a model.

Mary was not just chosen for a mission; she was also chosen to be an example for other mothers.

Mary responded positively to God’s plan for her life. Once she knew God’s will, she desired to participate as God had planned.

Mary magnified the Lord in song for his goodness and mercy. God puts a song in the hearts of those who trust him.

Mary worshiped the mighty God of Israel (Luke 1:49). Mary’s God was no weakling. He was the great God, the creator of the universe. He was God on the throne, and she responded to his authority.

Mary worshiped the merciful God (Luke 1:50). Humanity needs mercy more than justice. God is eager to forgive and to help the undeserving.

Mary worshiped the helping God (Luke 1:54). God’s love expresses itself in a persistent attitude of goodwill and helpfulness to his people. The psalmist described the God of Israel as “a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). Mary felt this assistance from God, and she became a helper to him in his work of helping others.

Mary suffered the pains of motherhood.

Much pain is associated with the birth experience. Even greater pains lie along the pathway of life for some mothers, and Mary endured these pains. The joke in our family centered around me…..I was born on my mother’s birthday, weighed over 10 pounds and was a breech birth….the joke was that even though she endured all that when I was born, she still talked to me.

When Jesus was twelve years old, Mary found it difficult to understand him (Luke 2:49–50). Mary could sympathize with modern mothers of teenagers. Proverbs says to train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it…..it says nothing about teenagers.

Later Mary’s other children were indifferent to Jesus’ true identity. They did not accept him to be who and what he really is until after his resurrection.

Mary no doubt felt much pain when Jesus was rejected by the people of his hometown, Nazareth (Luke 4:28–29).

Mary suffered the horrible shame of seeing her Son arrested, falsely accused, convicted, condemned, and crucified. “There stood by the cross of Jesus his mother” (John 19:25).

In no way can we fully comprehend the agony in Mary’s heart during these terrible hours of Jesus’ suffering.

Mary worshiped a risen and ruling Savior.

After Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, Mary was present with those who had rejoiced in his victory over death. She was with them as they prayed in anticipation of the Holy Spirit’s coming (Acts 1:14).

Mary is an excellent model for contemporary mothers.Hers was a life of great faith, made evident by her song called the Magnificat, which was recorded by Luke (1:46–55).

Mary’s heart was in tune with God as she was constantly open to his will.

Her prayer was dialogue rather than monologue.

Mary believed that God’s will was good, and that it was something to desire instead of something merely to undergo.

Mary, as a good role model for mothers everywhere, encourages us to purity, prayer, and participation in God’s will.

 





 

 

Sunday

May 3rd, 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

Title: Christ—God’s Messenger

Text: “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Heb. 1:1–2 NIV).

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 1:1–14

The letter to the Hebrews was written to prove that the new covenant in Jesus Christ is superior to the old covenant of Mount Sinai. God sent his messenger, Jesus Christ, to establish the new covenant. This introductory chapter to Hebrews is filled to overflowing with spiritual facts about Christ—God’s messenger.

God was active in human affairs before he sent his Son. The author of Hebrews gives a summary of divine dealings prior to “these last days” (1:2).

The revelation of God was directed to fathers, the ones who would respond to responsibility by faith, in order for society to have spiritual guidance.

The message from God came in a variety of ways. God spoke through a “burning” bush, political decrees, meditations, miracles, natural disasters, and a number of other ways.

The author specifically notes the prophets’ role in presenting God’s Word to the fathers.

A concise theological treatise concerning Jesus Christ is given in the next two verses of this chapter. He is presented in three realms:

Christ is revealed to be more than flesh and blood. He is the “cosmic” Christ, and he has complete rule over the physical universe.

Jesus Christ is the heir of all things. This heirship is shared with those who are born again (Rom. 8:17).

The role of creator of the universe is attributed to Christ. This is not an uncommon New Testament teaching (John 1:3, 10; Col. 1:16).

God’s Son is declared to be the One upholding all things by the power of his Word. There is an obvious force at work in the physical sustaining of the universe that the scientific world has not yet recognized (note Col. 1:17).

The world of spiritual reality is controlled by Christ. The author of Hebrews gives three major truths regarding the messenger in the spiritual realm.

The transfiguration (Matt. 17:1–13) gave us a brief glimpse into the inner glory of our Lord.
The New Testament speaks of Jesus as being the physical image of the invisible God (John 1:18; Col. 1:15; 2:9). Those who have seen Jesus have seen the Father (John 14:9).

As royalty (1:3). As Christ finished his earthly service, he took a seat “on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” This phrase does not imply that there are three Gods on three thrones in heaven. Rather, it simply means that Jesus Christ shares in the royalty of the Trinity.

In the human realm. Since it is impossible for people to escape sin by their own power, God sent his Son to purge humanity of all iniquity. It seems that the purpose of Jesus’ activities in both the cosmic and spiritual realm is fulfilled as he works with people in the human realm. He has once and for all delivered humankind from their enslavement to sin.

The author of Hebrews was aware that his recipients were steeped in Old Testament history and theology. They would be tempted either to reject Jesus as being inferior to the angels of Old Testament fame or to categorize him as being “one among many.” The author presented Jesus as God’s superior messenger. This highly exalted Person has a superior name (1:4) that should invoke a response of adoration. The author presented Jesus as being superior to God’s angels in three ways.

At no time has God spoken to angels as he did to Jesus when he said, “Thou art my Son,” this is a very personal relationship.

God directs a statement to society as a whole as he addresses Jesus in the third person. God wants the world to know that Christ is his Son. “I will be to him a Father.” No angel has ever received this recognition from heaven.

The theological word “first- begotten” expresses Christ’s supremacy as he relates to all creation. He is superior to angels.

The book of Hebrews refers to him as a king, and that he is superior to angels.

The holy Father declared his Son’s rule to be of eternal duration.

The chief characteristic of his kingdom will be righteousness. Biblical history gives a record of certain angels who have fallen into evil (Isa. 14:12). Not so with Christ.

Christ imparts gladness to the people he rules.

As God, he is superior to angels.

Christ is the agent of creation while angels are results of creation.

The eternal Christ as compared to the temporal universe points out his superiority to creation (including angels).

A capstone in the comparison of Christ to angels is found in the verse regarding his position in “court.” The enemies of righteousness will serve as his footstool. No angel can ever attain this position of glory.

Though angels are inferior to Jesus, that certainly does not mean they are without purpose. God planned for angels to be ministering servants to those who become heirs of salvation. God has a plan for every member of his creation. Though we might think of ourselves more highly than we ought, we find peace when we adapt our wills to that of Christ.

I’ve said it before, if God is your co-pilot…..try changing seats.

 

 

 





 

Sunday

April 26th, 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

 

Title: Coming to grips with the Resurrection

Text: “As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him….. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him” (Luke 24:15–16, 30–31 NIV).

Scripture Reading: Luke 24:13–35

When looking from the standpoint of the two disciples who walked with the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus, our Scripture reading is the most beautiful story in the world. Luke told it simply and in great detail because the experience of these two disciples was representative of all of Jesus’ followers. This story illustrates that it is possible to see yet not perceive, to behold but not recognize, to have the risen Christ walk beside us without realizing it is truly him. These disciples could not see the forest for the trees, their mindset was “I cannot see the trees….all the leaves are in the way.”

This story turns on two key verses—Luke 24:16 and 31. There is a dark side to this story: “They were kept from recognizing him” (v. 16 NIV). But there is also a bright side: “Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him” (v. 31 NIV). Heartbreak and sadness gave way to joy and gladness. As clearly as in any record in the New Testament, here are two sides of a coin.

First the dark side of the coin.

“But they were kept from recognizing him.” Think about this! These disciples were walking beside their risen Lord and did not realize it! What is the fact here? Simply that these disciples were in the presence of the greatest reality in history, the reality of the risen Christ, but they did not know it. Can we sit in judgment on them? Sometimes our own eyes are so often dimmed by unbelief that we fail to realize his presence.

What explains this fact? The statement “They were kept from recognizing him” does not mean that their physical sight was in any way impaired. Nor does it mean that God had blinded their eyes. Their failure to recognize him was a judgment they had brought on themselves.

They were victims of their preoccupation with other thoughts, other things. Obviously they did not expect to see Jesus. They were absorbed in their grief, their frustration, their disappointment….the one whom they thought would overturn Rome was gone from their midst.

They were victims of their own presuppositions. They said, “We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21 NIV). Here they reveal the popular misunderstanding of the role of the Messiah of their hopes. The crucifixion of Jesus was seen as fatal to the hope that he would prove to be the Christ…..the one who would liberate them from Rome.

They were victims of their own unbelief. Their words to Jesus were a confession of sheer unbelief. They did not expect their Lord to fulfill his own promises, and they refused to believe the word of cheer sent by heavenly messengers.

Jesus rebuked them, saying, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” (Luke 24:25–26 NIV). Jesus chided them primarily for not believing the Old Testament. They had failed to believe all that the prophets had spoken, particularly his atoning death and his return to heavenly glory.

What resulted from this fact? What were the consequences of not recognizing their Lord? How dark is the picture! Because they did not believe in their hearts that the resurrection had truly taken place, they had not experienced its uplifting power.

Sadness still ruled their hearts. As the two disciples were talking with each other, Jesus asked, “‘What are you discussing together as you walk along?’ They stood still, their faces downcast” (Luke 24:17 NIV).

They had abandoned all hope. “We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21 NIV). Note the past tense: “We had hoped.” Now their hope was gone.

The fact that the disciples did not recognize Jesus demonstrates the extreme darkness of unbelief. They continued their speech sadly: “And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us.

They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus” (vv. 21–24 NIV). “It is the third day since all this took place.” They did remember Jesus’ promise, but they did not recognize him as the risen Christ. To paraphrase their thoughts, “We remember his promise to rise on the third day, but as you can see, he didn’t keep his promise.” Being disappointed in Jesus is like dwelling in a pit of darkness and doubt.

But now we see the bright side of the coin.

“Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him” (Luke 24:31 NIV).

What led to their opened eyes, their recognition of Christ? It happened in a second, but it had its steps.

First came the revelation of Scripture. Luke reported, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:27 NIV). When finally they recognized him, they said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32 NIV). Under the magic touch of the Bible’s central figure, the Scriptures they had known from childhood were coming alive with light, and they saw the Suffering Servant of the prophet’s vision as the very Jesus to whom they had grown close. He who offered himself to God without flaw has a rational claim to be Scripture’s best interpreter and translator.

First came their burning hearts. How do you define the inspiration of the Scriptures or the quality that makes the Bible different from all other literature? It defies human definition, but the witness of God’s Spirit in our hearts is the inward glow that confirms the outward revelation. After these two disciples had joined the others in Jerusalem that night, had given their witness, and had heard of the Lord’s appearance to Peter (Luke 24:34), Jesus himself appeared in their midst. Luke wrote, “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45 NIV). An open Bible and open minds result in passionate hearts.

First came the breaking of bread. The simplicity of Luke’s narrative here is instinct with reality and truth: “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, it was like a light being turned on in a dark room… and then he disappeared from their sight” (24:30– 31 NIV). Was it that familiar, characteristic gesture that gave them their clue, some mannerism reminding them of an unforgotten meal with the Master? A symbol is an interpretation to the heart. Our Lord’s symbolic act in that Emmaus cottage was certainly an interpretation to the heart, and two hearts leaped to meet it.

What resulted from their opened eyes, their recognition of Christ? This was a joyous event. When they did recognize him, when they realized that the resurrection truly had occurred, all of life was changed by the experience. Every shattered hope was reborn. Even uncertainty vanished. The disciples’ smoldering hearts burst into flames of joy, and all of life took on a different meaning.

The Bible states that they wasted no time…. “They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them” (Luke 24:33 NIV).

The disciples were in the grip of the most delightful feeling in the world. Something had happened to them. They had wonderful news to tell, news that would set the hearts of all who heard it on fire with joy; and they couldn’t wait to reach Jerusalem so they could share it. In the intense excitement of great joy, they met the Eleven and the others: “Have you heard? Do you know? Isn’t it wonderful?” And the disciples replied, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon” (Luke 24:34 NIV).

Someone has defined the Christian life as a long Emmaus pilgrimage. This is true, for now that he is risen and ascended, geography no longer exists in God’s kingdom. A believing heart has everywhere as the Holy Land. Emmaus is anywhere when we meet the risen Lord and welcome him into our hearts. And when we meet him, we will know him, for we will see him as he is.

The resurrection is a historical fact. May God help us realize this fact. And now that you realize it…..

What are you going to do about it?

Who do YOU SAY that I am??????

 

 





 

Sunday

April 19th, 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

 

(Note from Pastor Don….the basis for this sermon is “borrowed” from my dad’s files. Original author unknown)

Text: “When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, ‘Who is this?’” (Matt. 21:10 NIV).

Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:1–11

On that first Palm Sunday, Jesus, surrounded by a great crowd of followers and others, entered Jerusalem as the King in exact fulfillment of prophecy (Isa. 62:11; Zech. 9:9) to make a final appeal to his own nation. This was his royal entry, and it caused quite a sensation. Matthew said, “The whole city was stirred and asked, ‘Who is this?’” (21:10 NIV). For two thousand years, this same Jesus has been invading our complacent little Jerusalem, causing considerable disturbance, and many have been pondering his true identity, asking, “Who is this?”

On the evening of Jesus’ resurrection, he appeared to the disciples behind closed doors. He stayed until they recognized him. He came to the Roman Empire and overthrew the Caesars. During the Dark Ages, he came in power to scattered groups. He fortified sorely pressed followers as they proclaimed his truths. He was present during the Protestant Reformation. He came to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with stirrings of power and progress. He confronted the twentieth century, and the question was asked, “Who is Jesus?” Now, in the twenty-first century, this amazing man still disturbs us.

Who is this man who examines our policies and motives and dealings with one another? “Who is this?” This question was relevant two thousand years ago, and it is relevant now. There is no easy answer, but we will consider five roles of this mysterious Jesus.

Jesus was, and is, a man.

Jesus was born a Jew. His parents were called humble peasants, but they were “of the house and lineage of David” (Luke 2:4). This means that when God became incarnate, he did not assume human flesh in the abstract; he became part of a family. Family membership cuts two ways, so when God came into the world, he entered in such a way as to experience our problem—the family problem. He knew the problem of illustrious relatives, of disgraceful relatives, the problem of “the skeleton in the closet,” the problem of mediocrity. Though born in Bethlehem in fulfillment of prophecy, he grew up in Nazareth in Galilee in a large, devout Jewish family. He had a normal boyhood. He learned his father’s trade and was called “the carpenter” (Mark 6:3). He assumed responsibility for the family at his father’s death. He learned the lore of his people and the Law and the Prophets as taught by the rabbis. At about thirty years of age, he was baptized (Luke 3:23) and entered into his ministry. Never did a man teach as he taught or live as he lived.

Jesus’ body and mind obeyed the laws of normal human development. He met temptations, pondered the cross, slept from weariness, and, exhausted at midday, sat beside a well. Like other men, he had times of great rejoicing, times of hot indignation, and times of deep compassion. At times he was astonished by the people’s lack of faith, at other times by their great faith. His soul was nourished by secret prayer, his power was replenished by quiet retreats, and always he lived in humble filial dependence on his Father.

What about Jesus’ physical appearance? We have no actual description, but since he worked in a rough occupation, he was probably hard and bronzed. We see in Jesus the type of manhood we admire: the courage of a valiant soul, the chivalry of a soldier, the genuineness of a true gentleman, and the purity we want to see in our children. Athanasius said, “Christ became human that men might become divine.”

Jesus is God.

The night before Jesus died, he said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9 NIV). Jesus is God. A distinguished Jewish rabbi wrote, “For Christians Jesus was born divinely and lived humanly; for Jews he was born humanly and lived divinely.” But this is a false distinction, a play on words. Jesus is man. Jesus is God. In the Son, the Father not only acts and speaks, but he is present. Jesus Christ is God himself, uniquely present in human life. The mysteries surrounding the birth, life, and death of Christ are the mysteries of God. The power of his miracles is God’s power. Jesus said, “The works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing— testify that the Father has sent me” ( John 5:36 NIV). His preaching was the Word of God. His healing hands delivered the infinite mercy and health of God. The forgiveness that Christ imparts is the eternal

Jesus is God.

Jesus is head of the church.

Jesus asked his disciples about the current ideas of his identity. “‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’” (Matt. 16:15 NIV). Peter’s confession was, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16). Jesus was so pleased with Peter’s answer that he said, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (vv. 17–18). These are controversial verses about which the Christian world is somewhat divided. But it seems that emphasis has always been placed on the wrong issue. The important thing is that Christ built the church and is therefore its head. Paul told us that Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25) and purchased it with his own blood (Acts 20:28). In Colossians 1:18 Paul said, “He is the head of the body, the church.” In Romans 12 Paul used the physical body to describe the church. He also did so in

1 Corinthians 12, with verse 27 as the key verse: “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

Christ is the head of the church. This means three things.

Christ has absolute primacy in his church. The members of the body exist to serve the interests of the head.

Christ has supremacy over his church. Just as the whole government of the body is in the head, so all authority in the church belongs to Christ. He is the supreme ruler of his church on earth. No one else could ever rise to his position.

Christ’s church has complete dependence on him. Just as the human body is lifeless apart from the head, so the church is lifeless apart from Christ.

Another thought, the church of Jesus Christ is not a building of wood, stone, precious metals or anything else. While there are ornate edifices, and simple wooden building (such as ours), it is made up of the believers in Him.

Jesus is the Savior of the world.

The entire New Testament stems from this fact.

There is no question about Jesus’ mission. Jesus never left the world in doubt about his purpose: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10 NIV; see also John 10:10; 1 Tim. 1:15).

There is no question about Jesus’ motive. Christ is the sole mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5). John 3:16, the heart verse of the New Testament, expresses his motive clearly: “For God so loved the world. . . .”

There is no question about the early disciples and their faith. Arrested for preaching Christ after healing a lame man at the temple gate, Peter and John were thrown in jail for the night. The next morning the rulers would have released them in exchange for their promise to keep silent. Instead, Peter preached to the Sanhedrin, charging that they crucified Jesus. Peter affirmed that Jesus was the stone rejected by the builders, which had been made head of the corner. His climax was, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 NIV).

There is no question about Jesus’ method, then and now. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NIV).

Jesus is the Savior of the world. Today many names are associated with security and salvation. Communism has its plans. Socialism has its doctrines. Democracy has its ideals. Politicians have their promises. The military has its mobile power and its missiles. But humankind can only retrieve; we cannot redeem.

Jesus is the constant companion who enables us to serve God and others.

Christ’s transforming power has changed lives, and it still changes lives.Christ helps us understand the Bible. His Spirit guides us into all truth ( John 16:13). He is the key to the Scriptures.

Christ is our model, our example in all things. Paul told the Corinthians, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1 NIV). Did anyone ever display the qualities or meet the standard set forth in the Sermon on the Mount? Yes, one did—Jesus—and we are to follow his example.

Christ is our constant companion along life’s pathway. He promised his disciples, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” ( John 14:18 NIV). He still does.

Christ’s power transforms us into servants of God and others. To know Christ is to travel a hard road. He does not lead us into a cloister. He will take us by the hand and lead us to trials and tribulations of our own in his service.

There are many groups out in the world who would try to have people believe that no one will go to hell…they say a loving God would never send anyone to hell. God does not send anyone to hell….they choose to go there.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth on him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

To those who obey him, Christ will reveal himself in the conflicts they encounter, and they will learn in their own experiences who he is.

Do you know who he is?

 If you truly know who He is, what are you doing about it?

 

 





 

Easter Sunday

April 12th, 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

EASTER Sunday Morning, April 12

As stated once before, “The church may be empty on Easter Sunday morning……but so was the tomb!!! Praise God!!!!

This sermon is based on one found in my father’s collection…I am not sure of the author but like the farmer who was asked about the butter he had for sale….he said, “I milk a lot of cows, but I churn my own butter.” That being said, I believe this message has a lot for all of us.

God bless,

Pastor Don

Title: The Resurrection of Christ and Our Great Salvation

Text: “Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Heb. 7:24–25 NIV).

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:1–5, 12–20

If Jesus had not conquered death and the grave, we would not be worshipping today, we would have no need to worship. Christianity is the only faith that has a living founder. His disciples come together regularly for worship to experience his living presence in their midst (Matt. 18:20).

Christianity is not just good advice; it is good news from a cemetery. It is good news about God for sinners everywhere. To miss this point is to miss the heart of the gospel. The resurrection of Jesus Christ not only makes possible our great salvation, but it also makes it certain (Heb. 7:25). It is interesting to note how this verse is translated in some modern versions. The Good News translation has, “He is able, now and always, to save those who come to God through him, because he lives forever to plead with God for them.” J. B. Phillips has this beautiful paraphrase: “This means that he can save fully and completely those who approach God through him, for he is always living to intercede on their behalf.”

These inspired words affirm both the ability and the determination of the living Christ to fully save those who come to God by him. This possibility is based solidly on the fact of his conquest of sin, death, and the grave. He will abide forever as our living High Priest in the presence of the Father. Dr. Robert G. Lee, for many years pastor of the Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, preached a sermon he called “The World’s Blackest Assumption.” This black assumption—that Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead—is discussed in Paul’s epistle to the believers at Corinth.

If Jesus Christ is not risen, the church has no message for a lost world (1 Cor. 15:14).

If Jesus Christ is not risen, Christians have nothing to believe (15:14).

If Jesus Christ is not risen, the apostles and all subsequent preachers have misrepresented God as having raised Jesus Christ (15:15).

If Jesus Christ is not risen, your faith is an empty, worthless shell. (15:17). Did you ever pick up a box of candy only to find out the box was empty? That is a picture of your faith if Jesus Christ is not risen.

If Jesus Christ is not risen, you are still guilty and under the condemnation that results from sin.

If Jesus Christ is not risen, those believers who died with faith in Jesus Christ are perished (15:18). They are gone forever, and we are but whistling and stumbling in the dark—if Jesus Christ is not risen.

If Jesus Christ is not risen, we are very sad creatures because we have built our lives on an illusion.

Thank God that the world’s blackest assumption is a falsehood, for in fact Jesus Christ is gloriously risen from the dead.

The empty tomb declared to Jesus’ disciples, the Jewish leaders, and the Roman authorities that something had happened to the body that had been buried there. It was the repeated appearances of the risen Christ that completely transformed the hearts and lives of the apostles. They became flaming evangels of the good news that the penalty of sin had been paid, death had been conquered, and Jesus Christ is alive. The risen Christ appeared to his disciples at least ten different times. The thrilling truth of his resurrection gave them a message of hope for a world that was facing despair.

The apostles went out to proclaim that Jesus Christ is alive. This was no figment of their imagination. It was no illusion under which they labored. It was no mirage for which they died. They were able to touch Him. (Remember Thomas)

The resurrection vindicates Jesus of Nazareth as God’s unique Son (Rom. 1:4).

Before his resurrection the apostles believed Jesus to be the Son of God. Following his resurrection and many appearances to them, now they knew he was the Son of God to the extent that they put their lives on the line to tell others of his saving grace. Jesus’ resurrection proved that his crucifixion was a revelation of divine love for sinners.

When Jesus was crucified, the apostles considered it a personal catastrophe. For their leader it was a public disgrace. For all of them it was a tragic political disappointment.

Only through the doorway of an empty tomb from which Jesus had been raised could God reveal that his Son’s death on the cross was a revelation of his great love for sinners.

Christ’s crucifixion demonstrated God’s boundless love for unworthy sinners. This love is not something we can buy or earn. It is God’s free gift. So many people desperately need to be told about the greatness of this love. Without being aware of it, many people are like Juanito Piring, a former hoodlum who wanted to make up for his sins and had himself nailed to a cross each Good Friday for twelve straight years. Piring, a former gangster and street brawler from the slums of Manila, said he was reenacting the crucifixion for a twelfth year to compensate for the errors of his youth. He said, “I subject myself to this torture to make up for my sins and the sins of others.” This sincere but misguided man was seeking to earn something that cannot be earned and to make atonement for sin that has already been atoned for in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

The resurrection enabled Jesus to intercede for us in God’s presence.

The apostle John mentioned this fact when he wrote to encourage his spiritual children to avoid living in sin. “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1–2 NIV). The author of Hebrews wrote of Christ as a mediator who acts on our behalf (9:24). The writer further asserts that Christ has offered himself and continues to offer his sacrificial death as an atonement for the sins of those who accept him as Lord and Savior (10:10–14).

It is by Christ’s victorious resurrection from the dead that his ministry of intercession is made possible. He is able to be our Savior from the penalty of sin, from the practice of sin, and eventually from the very presence of sin because he is a living Savior.

The resurrection gave believers a living Lord and companion for the road of life.

Jesus Christ is much more than an inspirational memory of one who lived in the past. In the forty days between his resurrection and his ascension, he gave the disciples many indisputable proofs that he had conquered death and the grave (Acts 1:3). He repeatedly encouraged them to wait for a precious gift from the Father God (vv. 4–5).

In the Gospel of the Spirit, as the Gospel of John has been called, Jesus had promised at a time when his disciples could not fully understand his words, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” ( John 14:18 NIV). He was to fulfill this promise on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit would come to reside in the church.

With Peter, we should hear Jesus saying, “Follow me” (John 21:22 NIV).

With the disciples who were present on the mountaintop, we should hear Jesus giving a divine mandate. He commanded them to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19–20 NIV).

We should hear Jesus make a promise to those who give themselves in obedience to his command. He promised his abiding presence, saying, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20 NIV).

Yes, Jesus Christ is gloriously alive. He is standing at your heart’s door eager to bring God’s blessings into your life (Rev. 3:20). Let him come in. Let him go with you along the pathway of your life. Walk with him as he leads you in meaningful living and significant service. Jesus Christ is alive!

 PRAISE GOD!

 





 

Sunday

May 10th, 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

Today is Mother’s day, a day society sets aside to be “nice” to mom….I don’t know why we need a special day to be nice to our mothers….we should be caring and loving every day. Okay, a day when we are extra special to mom, but mothers are special every day not just one Sunday a year because there will be a time when we will wish mom was still here for us to enjoy. I know, my mom is with her heavenly Father, but I still miss her….

And so now, my mother’s day message:

Text: “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you”

(Luke 1:28 NIV).

Scripture Reading: Luke 1:26–35, 46–56

We should look for models to imitate in the Scriptures. Today, on Mother’s Day, let us look at Mary, the mother of our Lord, as a great model of motherhood. Let us discover something about her faith and faithfulness. Let us consider the fruit of her motherhood so that we may identify some factors that contributed to her success as a mother.

Mary was chosen for a mission (Luke 1:28).

Mary became the mother of Jesus by way of a miraculous conception. Jesus was born of a virgin. He had an earthly mother without an earthly father.

Because of his love for us, God chose to become flesh and blood, and to do so, he came as a baby, born by a miraculous virgin conception. But it was not Mary’s virginity alone that qualified her uniquely for becoming Jesus’ mother.

Mary was a devout worshiper of the true God.

Mary was pure in mind and heart and body. Mary was humble, realizing her dependence on God.

Mary was obedient to God’s will.

Mary was willing to do what God had planned for her.

Mary had an attitude of gratitude. She was thankful that God used her to further his work.

Mary was consistent and self-controlled. These are qualities needed by modern mothers as well as by the mother of Jesus.

Mary was chosen to be a model.

Mary was not just chosen for a mission; she was also chosen to be an example for other mothers.

Mary responded positively to God’s plan for her life. Once she knew God’s will, she desired to participate as God had planned.

Mary magnified the Lord in song for his goodness and mercy. God puts a song in the hearts of those who trust him.

Mary worshiped the mighty God of Israel (Luke 1:49). Mary’s God was no weakling. He was the great God, the creator of the universe. He was God on the throne, and she responded to his authority.Mary worshiped the merciful God (Luke 1:50). Humanity needs mercy more than justice. God is eager to forgive and to help the undeserving.

Mary worshiped the helping God (Luke 1:54). God’s love expresses itself in a persistent attitude of goodwill and helpfulness to his people. The psalmist described the God of Israel as “a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). Mary felt this assistance from God, and she became a helper to him in his work of helping others.

Mary suffered the pains of motherhood.

Much pain is associated with the birth experience. Even greater pains lie along the pathway of life for some mothers, and Mary endured these pains. The joke in our family centered around me…..I was born on my mother’s birthday, weighed over 10 pounds and was a breech birth….the joke was that even though she endured all that when I was born, she still talked to me.

When Jesus was twelve years old, Mary found it difficult to understand him (Luke 2:49–50). Mary could sympathize with modern mothers of teenagers. Proverbs says to train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it…..it says nothing about teenagers.

Later Mary’s other children were indifferent to Jesus’ true identity. They did not accept him to be who and what he really is until after his resurrection.

Mary no doubt felt much pain when Jesus was rejected by the people of his hometown, Nazareth (Luke 4:28–29).

Mary suffered the horrible shame of seeing her Son arrested, falsely accused, convicted, condemned, and crucified. “There stood by the cross of Jesus his mother” (John 19:25).

In no way can we fully comprehend the agony in Mary’s heart during these terrible hours of Jesus’ suffering.

Mary worshiped a risen and ruling Savior.

After Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, Mary was present with those who had rejoiced in his victory over death. She was with them as they prayed in anticipation of the Holy Spirit’s coming (Acts 1:14).

Mary is an excellent model for contemporary mothers.

Hers was a life of great faith, made evident by her song called the Magnificat, which was recorded by Luke (1:46–55).

Mary’s heart was in tune with God as she was constantly open to his will.

Her prayer was dialogue rather than monologue.

Mary believed that God’s will was good, and that it was something to desire instead of something merely to undergo.

Mary, as a good role model for mothers everywhere, encourages us to purity, prayer, and participation in God’s will.

 





 

 

 

Good Friday

April 10th, 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

Dear friends,

This evening, we would traditionally be celebrating Good Friday. However, as we all are painfully aware, we cannot hold services. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who is in anyway affected by this horrible virus. Our prayers are also for those who are still healthy and well and not ill.

I want to personally thank C.Jay for all the hard work he has put in to get our website up and running again and to add all my sermons, etc to the site. This is a labor of love for Christ and he has done a tremendous job. We also want to thank his wife for standing with him while he pulled his hair out (what little he had left) trying to resolve the website's issues.

Some feel that this virus will go away quickly.....I personally don't see how unless God intervenes. Rest assured, that as soon as it is safe to do so, we will reopen our doors once again for worship.

This all being said, I just want to remind everyone that the manuscripts for the sermons are published on our web page, and there is a message for Good Friday as well.

As we reflect on today's events of nearly 2000 years ago, we need to remember that God sent his Son for us. I challenge you to read the crucifixion stories in the gospels (as each one sees it from a different view). I know I have told all of you this before but as I go through my dad's things one of the things that intrigued me the most is that many of the pages of his study Bible looked like they were rained on. Then I remember my dad coming out of his study with tears running down his face (back then I did not realize why) but now I know, those "wet pages" were tear stains. As he read, and re-read those passages, tears would flow. What Christ endured at the hands of humanity is beyond human comprehension, but Christ did it willingly for you and for me!

Someone once said, "You can never look on the face of Christ and ever be the same again!" From the great song "How great Thou Art:" "And when I think that God, His Son not sparing, Sent him to die, I scarce can take it in, That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin."

God bless you all and keep you safe.

Pastor Don
 

Good Friday April 24th, 2020

 

Title: Understanding the Cross

Text: “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life”

(Matt. 16:21 NIV).


 

Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:13–24

Our text reveals that the disciples’ recognition of Jesus as the Messiah marked a new departure in Jesus’ teaching. After the disciples realized that Jesus was the Messiah, they needed to know what his true mission was. They needed to understand the cross. They had to put away their dreams of a messiah who would come for Israel alone to overthrow its enemies. It was necessary for the disciples to see Jesus as the sin bearer for all humankind and to know that he was the Messiah who would become the Savior of all humankind by way of the cross.

Did his own nation understand the cross? No, they rebelled against the idea of a messiah on a cross. Did his disciples understand the cross? No. Peter’s reaction to Jesus’ announcement of his coming rejection and death (Matt. 16:22) plainly shows this delusion. Those influenced by Greek philosophers were sure that people belittled God by saying that he could be affected by human actions or pain. Do we understand the cross? No, our understanding falls far short. But we can understand four things.

We can understand Jesus’ acceptance of the cross.

We cannot pinpoint the time when Jesus first knew that following the Father’s will would take him to the cross, but surely he knew at the time of his baptism. Just as baptism pictures a death, burial, and resurrection in our own spiritual experience, so Jesus’ baptism prefigured the cardinal events in his own redemptive ministry—his death, burial, and resurrection.

Certainly Jesus knew God’s plan for a cross when he fought that great battle with Satan in the wilderness. The devil was willing for him to be a messiah, but not God’s Messiah following God’s plan. At the time of this titanic struggle, Jesus had already accepted the cross as God’s way.

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he knew of the cross and had accepted it. Challenged to show a sign when he first cleansed the temple, he replied, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). John was careful to tell us, “But he spake of the temple of his body” (v. 21).

In Gethsemane when Peter tried to defend his Master with a sword, Jesus asked, “The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:11). Here was both the motive and the motto of his entire life. The cross was his choice. “The Son of man must suffer” (Mark 8:31); and the “must” came from God.

We can understand history’s vindication of the cross.

The cross is not simply an event of two thousand years ago; it is a spiritual fact now. We are involved. Jesus’ choice of the cross as God’s way to redeem humankind has been vindicated by human experience throughout the centuries. As the mythical mountain of lodestone was supposed to have magnetic properties so powerful that objects that came near were drawn irresistibly to it, so Christ by his cross exerted a magnetic influence on all succeeding generations. He predicted this effect: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). It is impossible to treat Calvary as just another grim episode in history. No other death has so affected us. There was and is a cosmic aspect to Calvary.

The cross reveals our sin. It reveals the tendencies, the deep-seated conditions within us that cause spiritual death. It makes the Christian gospel intelligible. It is a radical rebellion, settled deeply in human nature, and it called for the most drastic action on God’s part to meet and overcome it.

Not only does the cross reveal our sin, but it also reveals God’s love. At the cross, God meets us in love. Jesus had said in words that God is love, but it was on the cross that these words took fire and burned: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). Every generation finds the cross to be its accuser and its means of salvation.

We can understand God’s victory through the cross.

In earthly terms, the cross is not a sign of God’s majesty and power but an unforgettable reminder of the lengths to which he will go to bring people to him. To God be the glory and victory through the cross.

As great and powerful as symbols can be, the cross was more than a symbol. It was an action. Jesus did something that he alone could do. What did he achieve? He bore the shame of our sin, rebellion, and failure. In the cross, he made available forgiveness, redemption, and release. What he did in that intimate identification with humanity in its sin and sorrow, he still does.

For this reason, we have hope, confidence, and assurance. This divine Christ takes away the sins of the world by his union with every sinner who, by faith, will receive him. Humankind is not deserted. God still ministers to our need. The cross is a victorious, eternal fact.

We can understand our salvation by the cross.

Through the cross, God has given us his earnest concern to save us from sin and death. This is not just one philosophy of life among many others. This is the gospel, the good news.

Although the cross always reminds us of Jesus’ death, the philosophy of the cross is a philosophy of life. The cross is life through death. It is finding a new way of life in rejecting the way of self-trust, self-love, and self-assertion. Our salvation, our peace, our fulfillment of God’s purpose for us begins with our acceptance of him who died for us. Salvation is of God alone. As Paul put it, “All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 5:18). Salvation is not anything we can do; it is what God has done for us through the cross. God will give this gift of salvation to anyone who believes, to anyone who puts trust in the crucified Christ.

As we remember Jesus’ cross, but we must do more than remember. The cross is the most relevant, most contemporary thing in life. All people must come to terms with that cross that stands to accuse them, to welcome their return to God. Have you come to terms with the cross? Will you do it today?

The cross is not just some abstract symbol we wear around our neck or hang on our walls, it is a reminder that Jesus loved us so much he endured the cross and despised the shame to save us from our sins.

 





 

Sunday

April 5th, 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

Today, the day we call Palm Sunday is very unusual…it is the first time in the history of the church that Palm Sunday services were ever cancelled. Obviously none of us like this, but this is the safest thing for all of us. It appears that this will be the norm for at least a month. No one wants to get back to church more than I do…but we have to make the best of it.

God bless you all….I will keep all of you in my prayers.

Pastor Don


 

Sunday Morning, April 5

Title: When Death Brings Life


 

Text: “‘I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.’ He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die” (John 12:32–33 NIV).

Scripture Reading: John 12:20–36

We come today to the last week of Jesus’ life. Today, we call it Palm Sunday but let us look ahead.

Imagine with me, it is Monday, the day after he rode triumphantly into Jerusalem on the borrowed donkey. The pilgrims’ excitement about Jesus’ presence in Jerusalem was running high. They had greeted him on Sunday with palm branches, a practice that had first been used when the Jews celebrated the deliverance of the temple and the city of Jerusalem from the Syrians. Through the years the palm branch had come to be used on coins and in the temple feasts as a reminder of that great victory led by the Maccabeans. So when they waved the palm branches before Jesus, it was a symbolic way of encouraging him to conquer the Romans. They wanted him to be a military savior. They cried, “Hosanna!” which meant “Save us now!” or “Deliver us now!” But Jesus did not come on a warrior’s stallion, but on a donkey, to symbolize his mission as a man of peace.

First, let’s consider a strange request coming not from a band of Jesus’ own people, but from a company of Greeks. “Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘we would like to see Jesus’” (John 12:20–21 NIV). We are not certain what prompted the Greeks to seek out Jesus, but it is entirely possible that they had been standing in the court of the Gentiles the day before when, with fiery indignation, Jesus had cleared the court of money changers. And even though these Greeks were proselytes and had embraced the Jewish faith, they were not blind to the bigotry and prejudice of the Jews toward the Gentiles. It is possible that they were inwardly amused, as well as outwardly amazed, at what Jesus did!

Whatever the Greeks’ immediate reason for seeking out Jesus, something about him created a hunger within their hearts, driving them to find him and talk with him. They sought out Philip and said, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” Obviously he was confused by the situation, Philip left the Greeks alone until he could check with someone else. He found Andrew, who suggested that they take the matter to Jesus at once.

Not only do we encounter a strange request by the Greeks, but we are faced with an amazing revelation that Jesus gave his disciples. John wrote, “Jesus replied [to Andrew and Philip], ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified’” (John 12:23 NIV). Jesus must have been deeply moved by this request from the Greeks. He saw in their coming the beginning of an innumerable host of Gentiles who would believe in him. But before they could believe in Jesus with a true understanding of his ministry, the crucifixion and resurrection had to take place. But Jesus did not receive the company of Greeks at that time. For he was yet a Christ “in the flesh” who had come first to his own people as King of the Jews. In this role, he was not fully ready to be received by the Gentiles, although certain Gentiles, like the Syro-Phoenician woman and the Roman centurion and others, had received him. But before he turned to the Gentiles as a people, the loneliness and rejection of his own people had to occur. He had to be lifted up on the cross and accepted as a sacrifice for sin and not just as “a son of David.”

Jesus told Andrew and Philip, “The hour has come.” By this he meant the time was at hand when his mission would be infinitely expanded. For in just a few days he would die on a cross and be resurrected on the third day, providing once and for all redemption from sin for anyone who believes in him. Jesus continued by illustrating what he meant by his statement “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Remember that the Greeks wanted to “see” Jesus. They wanted to be introduced to him, to understand him, to discover his mission. But Jesus implied that they could not “see” him or comprehend his mission—not yet! Why? Jesus knew that at this point these Greeks would see him only as a miracle worker, an appealing teacher, and a potential military leader. They were unable to see him in his role as Savior of the world.

Note the figure of speech Jesus used: “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheal falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24 NIV). A kernel of wheat is a small husk covering a small piece of grain. A scientist could tell you everything that is inside that tiny kernel of wheat. But while you look at the grain, you cannot see what is inside! Andrew and Philip could have said, “But Lord, we see you! There you stand among us! We agree with Peter; we believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” But just as no one can see what is inside a tiny grain of wheat, so they could not see Jesus in the fullest sense of the word. So what do we do with this grain? We put it in the ground, and it dies, disintegrates. But that is not the end of it! Something else happens. We stand aside, and presently a tiny blade appears, then the stalk, the head, and finally the full head of grain.

Jesus’ message was that no one could truly see him until he died. The power and efficacy of his life would not be released until he experienced death. Jesus’ life was perfect and sinless, but no one is saved by Jesus’ life. He performed many miracles in his daily ministry, but there was no saving power in his ministry. It was simply a demonstration and proof of his deity. It was his death that provided salvation. The company of Greeks could not see Jesus yet, but if they waited awhile, they could see him in a way that they could never have seen him before!

Jesus had said that one cannot find eternal life until first there is a death— his death on the cross. And following this same theme, he applied the principle to those who would follow him (John 12:25–26). Here is a matter of spiritual priorities. Many Christians are completely earthbound, and their chief concern is with this life, its things, those things that are “hands on”.

Then Jesus drove his illustration even closer to home. He said, “Whoever serves me must follow me” (John 12:26 NIV). Where was Jesus going? He was going to the cross. But where beyond that? He would be resurrected in glory and in triumph! The grain of wheat would fall into the ground and die. And through that death, life would spring forth and a harvest would result.

In summary, what was Jesus saying to us? First, he was telling us that true life is released only after a death takes place. While the grain of wheat was preserved in safety and security, it was unfruitful. When it was planted in the ground, it bore fruit. It was by the death of martyrs that the church grew in the ancient past. As an old saying puts it, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Because they died, the church became the living church. Second, Jesus is saying that only by giving our lives away do we retain life. When Joan of Arc knew that her enemies were strong and that her time was short, she prayed to God, “Lord, I shall only last a year; use me as you can.” And finally, Jesus is telling us that only by service comes greatness. At another time, Jesus said, “For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest” (Luke 9:48 NIV).

True life is not realized until you identify with God through Jesus Christ. Then you learn that life is found in giving yourself away so that Christ may be top priority. Hear him say to you, “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”

Remember, our Lord reminded us that man cannot serve two masters. Jesus Christ must be the sole master of our lives but you must let him and make that decision for yourself. The big question is the same one that Jesus asked Peter, “Whom do you say that I am?”

 

 





 

Sunday

March 29, 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

Title: The Cross and Discipleship

Text: “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it’”

(Matt. 16:24–25 NIV).

Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:21–27

The word disciple is a rather appealing word to Christians because it brings to mind those twelve men who were chosen by our Lord for a unique task—that of being the first messengers of the good news he came to give the world. Certainly the shepherds on the Judean hills and the wise men who came from afar were “heralds” of the Savior, but they did not have an opportunity to know the very essence of his gospel.

The familiar word discipleship also carries a certain appeal, for we interpret it to be the ideal lifestyle of a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ—a lifetime of following and learning from the Master. Yet, inherent in the word disciple, and hence in discipleship, is the word discipline. We do not find the same appeal in the word discipline because it has negative overtones. Everyone is born with a tendency toward rebellion against authority.

In other words, discipline, the mortal enemy of everyone’s will, saturated the way of life Jesus came to reveal. Many who were confronted with the challenge to follow him could not accept this discipline. As the time for his crucifixion drew nearer, there was an unusual urgency in what Jesus said about the cross and about discipleship.

“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (Matt. 16:21 NIV). It was as though Jesus had “turned a corner” in teaching his disciples about his approaching death and resurrection. Several times prior to this, he had spoken of the cross by implication. That is, through parables, metaphors, and other figures of speech, he had sought to prepare the disciples for the reality of the crucifixion. But they, typical of the Jewish thinking of that time, had their hearts set on establishing an earthly kingdom then. Their minds were closed to the possibility that Jesus would die and most especially to the thought that he would die on a cross, which was an accursed thing to every Jew.

This was the appropriate time for Jesus to make this clear evaluation of his mission. Peter had just made his marvelous confession of faith (no doubt speaking not only for himself, but for all of the disciples). So with that kind of openness established between Jesus and the disciples, it was time for him to be straightforward concerning what lay ahead. They could understand what Jesus said about suffering, for already they had encountered the hostility of the religious hierarchy. But when Jesus used the word killed, they were terrified! In fact, it was such a horrifying thought that apparently they did not even hear the rest of Jesus’ statement indicating that he would be raised again the third day.

“Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’” (Matt. 16:22 NIV). Was this the same Peter who made that victorious declaration of faith shortly before at Caesarea Philippi? Note how graphically Matthew described what happened: “Peter took him aside. . . .” It was as if Peter stepped up beside Jesus and pulled him to the side as one would take a person who was upset or distressed, and led him away from the crowd. Peter “began to rebuke him.” He admonished Jesus as a schoolteacher would attempt to set straight a student who had become confused about something.

Jesus quickly and positively responded to Peter’s actions. Matthew said that he “turned,” and the Greek tense of the verb used suggests that it was a fast and immediate act on Jesus’ part. “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” (Matt. 16:23 NIV). Peter was doing the same thing Satan had done when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness. He was saying, “Bypass the cross! Take another route! You don’t have to die.” Jesus told Peter, “You are a stumbling block to me.” In other words, “Peter, you are tempting me to offend my Father by failing to do what he has purposed that I do!” Peter spoke the spirit of his age and of ours. The demand for a crossless Christ is still with us today. It is far more appealing to admire his perfect life and praise his beautiful teachings than it is to accept his bloody cross. Many liberal, so-called Christians want to do away with the emphasis of the cross….without the Cross of Christ we would have absolutely no need to worship…we might as well rip out the pews, put in tables and a pizza oven, because without the shed blood and resurrection of Christ we have no hope.

“Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it’” (Matt. 16:24–25 NIV). Literally, Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to follow me. . . .” There is no compulsion here. God has so limited himself that he will not force anyone to follow him. Jesus leaves people free to follow him in this intimate relationship or not to follow him at all. Their degree of love for the Lord determines their decision.

Jesus also spoke of self-denial. “Self” loves to be pampered, indulged, and coddled. But the Christian ideal is that when self comes under fire because of its selfishness and insubordination, don’t help it! Let it squirm! When self is tempted to pout and become oversensitive because it considers itself slighted, don’t sympathize with it! When self is withering under the searchlight of God’s truth, let it suffer and let it die!

Jesus drove home this revolutionary truth when he spoke of “taking up the cross.” Again we have the Greek tense, which suggests immediate, decisive action. “Let him take up his cross at once!” This was totally distasteful to Jews in general and even to the disciples. The cross was a Roman instrument of torture and disgrace, an accursed thing; and even to touch a cross rendered a Jew ceremonially unclean. Yet Jesus said that one must voluntarily take up a cross and bear it!

The point is that Jesus was explaining how to deny self—self must be crucified, nailed to the cross. Then he said, “. . . and follow me.” Following Jesus is the inevitable result of “denying self.” It is impossible for one to follow Christ and at the same time drag about a selfish and rebellious self.

“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Matt. 16:26 NIV). We are told that Emperor Charlemagne was buried, not dressed in grave clothes and reclining in a casket, but in the robes of state and seated upright on a throne. An open Bible was on his knee, and one of his fingers pointed to the words that spoke for him when he could no longer speak for himself: “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world yet forfeits his soul?” (paraphrase).

What is a person’s soul? It is not something hidden away inside, to be saved by attending church on Sunday while the rest of the person remains worldly and chained to material possessions. What profit is it if a person gains all the world has to offer in order to exalt and pamper self? When self is lost, what can a person give to recover it?

The world offered its rewards to Jesus, but he refused them to do the will of his heavenly Father. The world makes the same offer to us—to appease self and to say, in the words of the popular Sinatra ballad, “I did it my way.” But if we choose to follow Jesus, we must make the same choice Jesus made. We must accept the cross—not for the same reason that He did, but that we might nail self to the cross so we can follow Jesus wherever he leads.

Here is the paradox of it all: To know real joy in the Christian life, we must feel the pain of death. And, sadly, it is not a onetime experience. How wonderful it would be if we could bury self one time and it would stay dead forever! Instead, we must daily nail self to the cross. And every time we do it, we strengthen our inner self, our spiritual self, which must be controlled by the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

 





 

 

Sunday

March 22, 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

Text: “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him” (John 3:14–15 NIV).

 

 

Scripture Reading: John 3:1–21

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John 3:1-21 New Living Translation (NLT)

3:1 There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee.

2 After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”

3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

4 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”

5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.

6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.

7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You[d] must be born again.’

8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”

9 “How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.

10 Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things?

11 I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony.

12 But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things?

13 No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven.

14 And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,

15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.

16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.

19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.

20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.

21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”

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*In all the Gospels, no conversation is so carefully recorded in regard to content and detail as the one between our Lord and Nicodemus in John 3.

The reason for this thoroughness is obvious: Jesus was relating to Nicodemus the very essence of the good news. When conveying God’s truth, our words must be clear and understandable, and they must find their way into the hearts of people just as Christ’s words penetrated the heart of Nicodemus.

Christ’s words were so explicit that everyone who has read them in the generations since Nicodemus have found them to be clear signs marking the way to eternal life. Nowhere else in Scripture is there a more concise, easily understood presentation of the new birth. And, as with practically everything Jesus did, across the beauty and symbolism of these words spoken to Nicodemus, there was a shadow of the cross.

First, let’s examine the visitor who came calling on Jesus. Most often in the Gospels, we find Jesus surrounded by ordinary people—the peasants. They did not have to take care lest certain people see them in the company of such a controversial person as Jesus. But Nicodemus was associated with the aristocracy of Jerusalem.

Along with Nicodemus’s social rank, the timing of his visit was also surprising. He visited Jesus after Passover week, the first Passover Jesus had attended since starting his public ministry. Following his cleansing of the temple, Jesus had remained in Jerusalem for a time teaching and healing the people. His name had spread far and wide, and multitudes clamored to hear him, bringing their sick and afflicted for healing. Doubtlessly the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of the Jews, was seething with anger and hostility toward Jesus by now.

But because of his popularity with the people, their hands were tied, at least for the moment. It was in this setting that Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin, came to Jesus.

We know certain things about Nicodemus that we have learned from this incident and two others involving him that are recorded in the Bible. Obviously, he was wealthy. When Jesus died, John said that Nicodemus brought for Jesus’ body “a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy- five pounds” ( John 19:39 NIV).

Only a wealthy person could have afforded that much. Also, Nicodemus was a Pharisee. The Pharisees were considered by the Jews to be the best people in the land. There were never more than six thousand of them, and they had become Pharisees by taking a pledge before three witnesses that they would spend all of their lives observing every detail of the scribal law. So for Nicodemus to be a member of such an august brotherhood, and to wish to talk with Jesus at all, was bewildering.

John records that Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews. This means, as we have already noted, that Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, the supreme court of the Jews, which had seventy members. Though its powers had been limited under Roman rule, it still played an important role in the government and lives of the people. Specifically, the Sanhedrin had religious jurisdiction over every Jew in the world, not just in Palestine. One of its duties was to examine and deal with anyone suspected of being a blasphemer, a false prophet, or a heretic. And again, it is remarkable that Nicodemus, being a member of this high ruling body, would dare to visit Jesus.

John records that Nicodemus came to Jesus at night. We do not know for certain why Nicodemus chose to come at night. It may have been a cautious move on Nicodemus’s part, and he should not be condemned for this. He was a religious leader to whom many looked for spiritual guidance. Since he was an honest and straightforward man, he likely accepted his investigation of Jesus as a tremendous responsibility. He could not afford to enthusiastically endorse every prophet who came along without first investigating carefully.

There may have been another reason for this nighttime visit. Since Jesus was usually surrounded by great crowds of people during the day,

Nicodemus may have come at night so they could be undisturbed. We can sense from the course of the conversation that Nicodemus was troubled. Even though he was an expert in the law of Moses, he was not satisfied with his religion. Something was missing, and something about the authority and manner of Jesus attracted him.

Nicodemus’s opening statement to Jesus revealed his honesty. “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could per- form the signs you are doing if God were not with him” (John 3:2 NIV). No flattery was intended here; it was simply a positive statement expressing a conclusion that he had reached. There is also evidence that Nicodemus had not come to Jesus because of hearsay. It is more likely that he had heard Jesus teach and had seen him perform miracles.

Jesus did not rebuke Nicodemus as a Pharisee, nor did he soften the requirements of the new birth for this respected and venerable leader of the Jews. Jesus laid down the same requirements for Nicodemus that he would have for the most openly recognizable sinner! He did not say, “Now, Nicodemus, you are already a good man. You are sincere in what you believe and in what you are trying to do. God will honor these good works you have performed. Just keep on doing them, and God will bless you for it!” If Jesus had said that, Nicodemus would have left with the same dissatisfaction and longing in his heart that he had when he came, for his good works did not bring contentment. Therefore, plainly and to the point, Jesus said, “If you are not born again, Nicodemus, you will never see the kingdom of God!”

A lesser man than Nicodemus would have been offended by Christ’s words. He would have considered them an insult to his intelligence. Instead, Nicodemus pressed on. “How can a man be born when he is old?” Then Jesus talked to him about two births, the physical and the spiritual. Obviously, to exist, one must be “born of the flesh.” But anything that is “flesh” grows old and dies. To be “born of the Spirit,” that is, of God, is to have a new kind of life existing simultaneously with the physical life. Then Jesus shifted the analogy to the wind, of which one can see only the evidence.

Nicodemus had listened to what Jesus said about the necessity of a new birth and about the Spirit, and he was caught up in the wonder and glory of it. Perhaps half to himself and half to Jesus, he asked, “How can this be?” Jesus masterfully turned to the Old Testament Scriptures so familiar to Nicodemus. He told from the book of Numbers an account of God’s judgment that fell on the disobedient Israelites. Fiery, poisonous serpents invaded the camp and bit the people. God told Moses to make a serpent of brass and put it on a pole in the middle of the camp. He was instructed to tell those who had been bitten to look at it, and they would be healed.

The serpent was a despicable thing. It was a reminder of Satan because he appeared in the form of a snake to Eve in the garden of Eden. Jesus explained to Nicodemus that he would be lifted up on an instrument of shame, and he would be considered an accursed thing because of the cross. But because he was willing to submit to that shame, millions of people would be able to come to God! The key to God and eternal life could not be achieved by good works or by keeping rules and abiding by regulations; it would be achieved by a hated and shameful cross on which Jesus would become a sacrifice for sin for the whole human race.

In effect, Jesus said, “Nicodemus, if you will believe in me and believe that I have taken your sins on myself, you will not perish. You will be saved and have eternal life. You will be assured of living forever with God.”

Nicodemus basically exclaimed, “I would like to become a Christian, but I do not understand it!” Jesus said, “You can’t understand the miraculous workings of the Holy Spirit. When you can see and understand the wind— where it comes from and where it is going—then you can understand the Spirit of God.” But just as you can feel the wind, so you can experience the transforming presence of God in your life, if you let Him.

*(adapted from sermon by D. Jenkins

 





 

Sunday

March 15, 2020

Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw

@copyright 2020


 

 

Title: Great Crowds Followed Him

Text: “When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him”

(Matt. 8:1 RSV).

 

Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:1–2; 7:28–8:1

 

Matthew 5:1-3 Revised Standard Version (RSV)

5:1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. 

2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

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The passage of Scripture that falls between Matthew 5:1 and 8:1 is known as the Sermon on the Mount. It is significant that this message was delivered to the crowds that had begun to follow Jesus and that once he had completed this message, the crowds followed him down from the mountain. But the more significant thing is that crowds continue to follow Jesus Christ after two thousand years have rolled by. By the grace of God, we have been chosen to be among the crowds that follow him and listen to him.

What is the secret of this magnetism of the Teacher who spoke these remarkable words? What is it that causes this fellowship of the crowds after two thousand years? Why is it that you and I continue to follow him?

We follow Jesus because of who he is.

Famous celebrities attract a crowd wherever they go. To enjoy any privacy at all, they must conceal their identity and their presence.

Jesus Christ was and is the God-man, the eternal God clothed in a human body. He is the Messiah promised by the prophets, the One for whom Israel had been waiting. God revealed this truth to Peter, and Peter verbalized the conviction of his heart by declaring, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16 RSV). Jesus was more than just a good man and a great teacher. He is God in human flesh. Because of who he is, we continue to follow him.

We follow Jesus because of what he did.

We follow Jesus Christ because of what he did during his earthly life. He ministered to the sick, comforted the grieving, gave hope to the discouraged, and fed the hungry. But his greatest achievements were on a cross and in a tomb. On the cross, he took our place, demonstrating the height and depth and breadth of his love for unworthy sinners. He paid our sin debt by dying as a substitute for each of us. In the tomb, our Lord conquered death and the grave. He demonstrated that death will have no final victory over those who trust him. By conquering death and the grave, Jesus became a living Savior, able to save unto the uttermost those who come to God by him. Because of what Jesus did, we continue to follow him two thousand years later.

We follow Jesus because of what he can do.

We follow Jesus because he is able to forgive our sins and make us clean and acceptable to the Father God, because he can give the gift of eternal life and cause us to love the things that are lovable in God’s eyes, because he gives us a new quality of life, because he gives us victory over the evil within us and the evil that threatens us from without, because he is able to help us be productive and victorious as we live the abundant life he provides. We follow him because it is through him that we can achieve our highest possible manhood and womanhood.

We follow Jesus because we need him.

Children need their parents. A husband needs his wife. A wife needs her husband. We need our friends. We need certain professionals who can provide us with services in times of need. All of us are in need of others. More than anyone else in all of existence, Jesus Christ is the One we need. Thus we follow him. With selfish motives and with the best of interests, we follow him because it pays to serve him.

We follow Jesus because he needs us.

We would not be presumptuous in making such a statement, for it is in the divine plan that God uses men and women to share the good news of his love with others. God could have chosen to use the angels to tell the message of his love, but he didn’t. God could have chosen to use the sky as a great screen on which he could have revealed the message of his love, but he didn’t. We follow him because he needs us. If we do not follow him, the work he began and wishes for us to continue will come to an end.

We follow Jesus because others need him.

People have many needs. They need such things as food, clothing, shelter, education, jobs, medical care, and insurance. But humankind’s greatest need is for a right relationship with God that comes through repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We can meet their greatest need when we help them receive the forgiveness of sin and the gift of new life that comes only through Jesus Christ.

The crowds followed Jesus during his earthly ministry, and they have continued to follow him down through the centuries. You and I can rejoice over the privilege of being among the crowds that follow him. If you have not yet begun to follow him, right now would be a good time to forsake the way of life that ends in disappointment and come to him who alone can give you life and hope and peace and joy. Become a true follower of Jesus Christ because of who he is, what he has done, and what he can do in your life.

If you do claim to be a follower of Christ….what are you doing to show it?

If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

Only you can answer that question.

 





 

 

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