2017 Sermons & Evening Studies...
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How badly do you want something new? What is your life like, and what do you want to change? For Deacon Alwyn, life was hard, sad, and he wanted a way out. Tthe whole religious thing was not his first thought, but other ways out were ... more permanent and only running away, not actually changing. Then he turned to Jesus and suddenly a new thing burst forth... Deacon Alwyn encouraged us all with his explanation of the Joy and Love and Power of Jesus in his life. He shared his witness, his vision, and his strength in the Lord--and that vision, joy, and new life can be yours, too... Listen, and let the Lord burst into your life, too!
The Christmas season—a time of lights, dreams, gifts, family, and joy—for some. For others it’s a time of cold darkness, aloneness, and depression. It has become a commercial gathering time that is empty of the original event. This season, this holy day (which morphed into ‘holiday’) was a quiet remembrance for the early church, if it was celebrated at all. The point of this season is not the stuff, the gifts, the bright lights, or even the season itself. The most important part of this celebration is the Child Jesus. Who is He, why did He come, and what’s the big deal about Him being here, anyway? If he is God, why not just “fix” everything? Why come wrapped in a tiny, human body? The incarnation (which means “embodied in flesh or taking on flesh”) of our Lord is key to the Christian faith. Without His coming in human form, we could NEVER be freed from the shackles of our imperfection, our taint of sin, our lack of purity and holiness. We could never stand before the judgment seat of God and be allowed access to heaven. God in the flesh, Emmanuel, the Incarnation of the Living God is the only way through that narrow gate and the only Guide on that rocky and often difficult road to Heaven.
Election. That's a dicey subject in the Christian community. Are some chosen before time and others condemned to hell before they even are? Or, is this something we earn and therefore can make it through the gates? What is 'election', who does the electing, and what does it mean for my life today? What does it mean to 'make my calling and election sure'? Listen as Elder Justice shares his heart about this particular mystery of the Christian faith. Election, our primary source of joy.
Worry and planning, hope and fear, desire and wants--all are human emotions and each of us either engages or fights with at least one of them each day. The one thing we probably don't do is ask ourselves, "What do we need?" (not want, but really need?) So much of our worry and fear, our planning and hope, is focused on our wants without really trusting in the one Provider that can handle all our desires, our needs, and our hopeful plans. So much of where we find ourselves has to do with whether or not we trust the right source, really understand our underlying motives, and if we are truly surrendered to the King and Provider for our lives. Listen as Deacon Joshua challenges us to examine why we worry, what we really need, and how to ferret out the choices and attitudes that may short circuit our relationship with our provider, Jehovah Jireh.
In Matthew 24, Jesus said, "Be aware!" We are to pay attention to the times and seasons around us and to trust that the Lord Who went to be with the Father and is our Advocate and soon to be Groom, will be returning as a Conquering King coming for His bride. He will come “Watch, therefore” is a command, not a request...obey and be prepared. Study and stay in the Word. From our relationship with Him and our willingness to study and change to be more and more like his come the blessings, especially as we do as He has called us to do--be active and do all things for the Lord. His return will be sudden and unexpected by so many. We are not to worry for each day has its own “stuff”, but we are to diligently take care of the things of today as each right step heads off many of tomorrow’s evils. We must view ourselves as His stewards entrusted with time, money, abilities, and other gifts to be used for the Master’s Kingdom. He is coming back and we must give an account to Him as to how we used His giftings and work assignments… Listen as Pastor Billy tells us the answer to "How Can I Be Ready?" Spiritual Preparation!
The Bible says it clearly-It is a GOOD thing to give thanks unto the Lord! But often a believer may ask "Why?? Especially in the difficulties? Or, when the evil are prospering? How, Lord, can I give thanks when everything seems to be falling apart? When the selfish, the liar, the user seems to be winning, and hate and meanness seem to be so strong? " Listen as Pastor Billy takes us beyond what we can see and lifts our eyes to be above our daily divides and causes us to look from God's perspective. Once we leave ourselves and small understandings behind, it becomes obvious to those who will look beyond the moment. He is the Provider, the Creator, the All in All, and deserves every bit of praise and thanks we can offer! We lift our heartfelt voices because of Who He Is and what He has done. Best of all, He is the victor and we are His beneficiaries!
19 November 2017 The Bittersweet Gospel (or How to Balance Guilt & Grace, Sorrow & Joy) Deacon/Lay Leader Joshua Justice sermon notes Christ died for our sins. Those five words should raise up in us quite a powerful emotional response. Do we feel sorrow over the wages of our sins? Do we feel guilty that the hands holding the nails were ours? Or do we feel joy over escaping the wages of sin, & thankful for the power of God’s grace? The Gospel of Christ cannot be one or the other; it must be bittersweet or it is incomplete. Once we recognize, truly see, the harm & hurt our sin brings to those we love & to God Himself, we should be deeply grieved, not that we've been caught & have lost something because of our sins, but that we have hurt deeply the One who loves us most. We then must search for the gift of repentance which He gives to those who truly grieve at their destructive choices & their trampling of His law. Realizing that we have affronted a holy God should bring us to fear of His judgment & power. It is the fear of God, which we see in 2 Cor 7:1, which directs us towards earnestness in the faith. Knowing that the law is just & right & good & that we are violators of the law, is what keeps us reliant on Christ’s sacrifice (Rom 7:12-13, Rom 3:23, Eph 2:8-9). One could even say that without our guilt, we would not care about grace & without our sorrow, we would have no joy in salvation. This is the guilt which leads to sorrow, but the joy is overwhelming when we realize the grace He offers when we come wholeheartedly & give Him our all, not hanging on to nor any longer excusing that sin that separates us from our Father.
Obedience. In this freewheeling society, one that shuns rules and wants to throw off the mantle of religion, a society that fights to redefine terms and change basic agreed-upon traditions and understandings that are centuries old, "obedience" becomes an offensive word. It holds you to account. It means you owe something to someone over you, perhaps a parent or a boss or a legal system that requires you follow the speed limits or contracted agreements. In all reality, obedience to a set of rules and expectations may keep you from any number of problem outcomes--don't steal, so don't go to jail; don't pull on the wrong strap and don't end up under the load of wood; don't play with knives, and don't end up in the hospital. Obedience to workplace rules, road rules, family rules, and any other number of codes, statutes, ordinances, and laws serves to protect you and others. Following God's rules keeps our relationship with God both open and free; doing evil may get you a short goal, but brings destruction to your relationship with Him, just like breaking trust with a family member can harm or destroy your relationship with that person. Obedience. That is the fenceline of protection to keep you safe in the pasture that the Master has prepared to shelter and provide for you.
5 November 2017 Trust and Obey Deacon/Lay Leader Joshua Justice sermon notes
Judgment is often a scary thing and one that many people dread. But we have no reason to fear judgment if we simply choose to trust and obey.
I can remember as a child skipping my homework until the last 10 minutes before mom came home. Oh, how I wanted to avoid judgment! But when I had actually done my work, I could not wait to be judged!
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey. He is the judge, but that does not have to be scary. James 4:12.
29 October 2017 Dr. Cheryl Riggins, Executive Director of CARES
CARES is an organization and ministry to those who have found themselves lost in the unexpected rush of life when problems overwhelm and suddenly you find yourself homeless and even friendless. CARES is there to answer the call for help with support, guidance, and a place to land while you transition back into the mainstream of life.
CARES has a great vision, and Dr. Riggins understands the power of partnerships and various similar agencies working together. Listen closely as Dr. Riggins shares her vision, her prayer, and her love of people as she tells us about this valuable ministry and agency located in Petersburg, Virginia.
22 October 2017 Grace And Peace Of God Pastor Billy Robertson sermon notes audio
Is your life peaceful, even when storms occur or do you have nagging questions that irritate and keep you off balance? And this grace thing--what is that? Isn't that what the kids are supposed to develop when they take ballet?? No, Peace and Grace are much more than just not having problems or being able to strike a pose without falling over. The following is the Biblical definition of 'grace' (according to the book Hebrew Roots) ~ "The word 'grace' (CHEN in Hebrew, CHARIS in Greek), as it is used in the scriptures, literally means 'favour', to bend or stoop in kindness to another as a superior to an inferior. It has the idea of graciousness in manner or action. When used in reference to God, it is the benevolent action of Him stooping down to us in His kindness to reach us in our need and convey upon us a benefit. His grace has been termed 'unmerited favour' but it is more than an attitude of favour or mercy. His mercy is an expression of His compassion toward us, but His grace is an extension of benevolence translated into action that releases His enabling power into our lives. God's grace and peace is His promise and gift to all who answer His call. Listen closely, and maybe through your storm, you will hear His still, small voice calling you to His side, where He shoulders burdens and calms His children.
15 October 2017 Yes or No Deacon Joshua Justice sermon notes audio
Life throws a lot of curves our direction, and we respond with all sorts of decisions and questions. Most of us want to get through this life without much pain and with happiness, or even joy. Especially important is the joy we should have in our walk with the Lord. After a while on this walk, most of us tend to lose that spark, that first love, that joy. What if you were told you could know the secret to bring that new faith joy back into your relationship? Listen as Deacon Joshua shares the secret to joy in "Yes or No."
Okay, Lord, what am I supposed to do now? That question is a common one among believers. Aren't we supposed to know the voice of our Shepherd? Why is it we find it difficult to figure out what it is God wants us to do? Do we want too much? In Numbers 9:15-23 the folks of the Exodus were being covered by the spirit of the Lord as a cloud. They followed His commandments; the Israelites traveled and camped according to God’s guidance, not their own whims… Are you in a world of confusion and wonder what you are supposed to do? Just maybe you are looking for the wrong thing and miss the mark He has planned for you… He usually gives just the next small step, not the giant ones…So, when you find yourself camped and trying to figure out where to go, ask yourself “What do You want me to do while I am right here, Lord? What do You want me to do right now?” Listen as Pastor Billy lays out "Foundations for Guidance from the Lord."
Malachi 3:10 clearly tells us to give of our earnings into our worship home--our church, our synagogue--so that those who work there can have the support of the community they serve...The Amplified says it this way: "Malachi 3:10 Amplified Bible (AMP) Bring all the tithes (the tenth) into the [a]storehouse, so that there may be [b]food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you [so great] a blessing until there is no more room to receive it.
1. Malachi 3:10 In ancient times special storehouses were established in the temple to receive the tithes of the harvest. If the people were not faithful, the priests could not continue to serve and perform their duties.
Okay, so God tells us to support our faith leaders, that we actually owe it to His house and His workers, but what about offerings? Listen as Elder Phil gives the plain explanation of our Lord's expectations of how we are to honor and support our faith homes.
Note: Our internet provider dropped us several times during the streaming of our video; therefore, Elder Phil's video comes in two parts.
God is not a "jack-in-the-box" to be pulled out when you are in trouble or need some reassurance. He is the Creator of our entire universe, and His power holds everything together. That power is love. His love for us is evidenced throughout the New Testament. In the Old Testament, we see His consuming fire, His authority in the storms, His victory in battles, and sometimes believers come to think of Him as a shield and tower into which we run, and not a Father who holds out His arms in tender love for His people. The strength of the Old Testament is not lost in the new, but it becomes our covering and our inheritance as we step into the grace and majesty of the New.
17 September 2017 Anticipation Deacon/Lay Leader Joshua Justice sermon notes audio only
Life is tough. This world isn’t an easy place to be. Racism and hatred, greed and selfishness, power hungry politicians around the world pushing for prestige at the expense of their fellow man. No matter your political perspective, watching the news can be a depressing exercise. How should the Christian respond to this? So many choices, so many responses, so many reactions! The Scriptures lay out some very clear guidelines and tools to properly respond to the things we face on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes the challenges will be irritating and small; sometimes huge and seemingly impossible to overcome, but the answers are there, and the hope of our future is clearly laid out, if only we will rise to the challenge and step out in faith following the transforming habits and Christ-like attitudes called for in our daily walk. Rejoice, Christian! Make that choice to rejoice!
Deuteronomy 12:2-3 God will have no other gods served in His place; rebellion against God is shown in the idols we serve… are our long terms plans and goals any different than those of the non-believer? What do we desire the most? What are we living for? There are only two types of people in the world--the saved and the unsaved. Who are we following? John 10:10 Matt5:8 We can’t access His blessings without a pure heart. “The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.” What you put in the heart--good and bad--is what comes out of your mouth. If it's not in your heart, it will not come out... “The widest thing in the universe is not space, but the potential capacity of the human heart; being made in the image of God, it is capable of almost unlimited extension in all directions. And one of the world’s greatest tragedies is that we allow our hearts to shrink until there is room in them for little besides ourselves.“ ~ A W Tozer
Acting in 'good faith' has a very specific meaning in the world of laws, contracts, and lawyers. In the everyday world, it has a similar meaning-- do you come to the table with an attitude of working towards a mutual goal, and will you put out all the effort plus some to see a successful accomplishment of that goal. Good faith--operating in “honesty or sincerity of intention.” Anything less is hypocrisy. David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22) not because he was perfect (2 Sam 12:13) but because he was honest and sincere. He chose to act 'in good faith' in his relationship with Jehovah, his God. Jesus spoke in His day of those who put on a show, knew the right words, but whose attitudes needed to be questioned or even called out. Deacon Josh is showing in this sermon how we must live prepared and always ready to act for our Father in good faith. The key to this necessary lifestyle is in understanding what it is to be perfect, like Job, like Noah, like David, and like so many of the men and women in the Bible. They were perfect before God, but not sinless. How can that be? Listen as Deacon Joshua explains what it is to live in good faith and become a man or woman God can call "perfect" and one of His that walks in the way of 'good faith.
Romans 12 gives the believer a full explanation and clear picture of the attitudes, behaviors, and characteristics we should present as our heartfelt and humble response to the sacrifice of the Risen Lamb on the altar of the cross. His sacrifice broke forever the bondage of sin over man, and no further blood sacrifices need be made for any person, living or dead. We, however, have a responsibility to daily remember this eternal gift which we did not merit, but which Jesus freely gave. Jesus, our holy sacrifice, gave not because we are worthy, but because the Eternal Triune God loves us, for no other reason that He is love itself. To reject that love, that eternal sacrifice, is a choice we make to stay in the bondage of sin and to live in the flesh. However, for those who have come to the realization that we are freed from the control of our flesh and the enemy of our souls, this redemption of our lives from that control merits a humble and continual response of thanks and awareness. God calls us to a daily giving of our whole beings as we become changed, altered, and fully transformed into His image here on earth. The promise is that eventually we shall be like Him, but that happens when we immerse ourselves in His Word and rely on Him to change us from the inside out. It takes us being willing to study and apply daily the manual He has designed for us. Through dedication, separation to the ways and will of the Lord, and transformation by the renewing of our minds, we shall indeed an answer to Hosea’s prayer that all we say and do be wholly acceptable and pleasing to God and that we be a channel of love and light to all with whom we come in contact.
20 August It's About Love... Deacon Joshua Justice sermon notes audio video (Note: it has no sound due to a technical problem, but if you wish, watch it and listen also to the audio. :-) ) The Christian is confronted often by claims that God is not a loving God - after all, if He was, why would bad things happen? But that begs the question, what is love? Certainly, it has to do with attitude and emotions and it is a gift from God Himself, and that we can understand. However, how does God define love and what does He expect of his people in showing His kind of love? Spoiler alert--it includes a and majors on a little thing called "obedience"...
Elisha had returned from living at the home of the Shulamite during a time of famine in Israel. Visiting with the School of the Prophets, he asks his followers to set up a large pot and prepare a meal for the group, but something goes terribly wrong. By being open to just any fruit of the ground, and not being careful to know the properties of the gourd, the meal that should have been life-giving, now held death. One could consider this a picture of not being careful with spiritual food, and mixing into our meals false teachings and philosophies, vain genealogies, or actual heresy because we do not take the time to research and know the spiritual food that can both help and harm us... The prophet, a shepherd to these prophets in training, showed the power of their God when he provided an antidote of ground meal into the mix--a picture of the Bread of Life. It saved them from a deadly mix of a man's foolishness with the things known to be gifts of the Lord to provide health and life. When we find ourselves poisoned by the words of the world, we need to return to the Word and be washed in it and fed by the very Bread of Life, Himself.
Becky Wyatt, counselor, friend, and mentor to those who find themselves in the chains of addictions and poor lifestyle choices has walked the walk and knows the pathway home. "Ekbasis" is Greek for "the way out, the exit, a path designed to bring us to an expected end." We can unexpectedly find ourselves in situations that we realize we alone cannot fix. We turn to drugs, alcohol, wrong friends, or become workaholics driving away from our lives the people closest to us and the ones who may love us the most. People who find themselves in the throes of some addiction are often trying to find an excitement to take place of emptiness or a pain-killer to get beyond the deep hurts of life. However, in falling into that “hole” in the walk, we end up dry, desperate, and hopeless. There is a way out. There are people around that have been in that position and got out of it, people who have successfully left illness for health. Ms. Wyatt is one of those and she selflessly pours her life into others. She has walked through the wilderness, she has left her “Egypt” behind, and she knows the pathway that is open to anyone who wants to find the exit. Listen as Ms. Wyatt gives her testimony and shares "The Way Out."
Deacon Josh tells of an interesting statement he recently read by an atheist who was upset about religion. He claimed that it was detrimental, that it “does more harm than good.” You know what his reasoning was? The basis on which he made his claim? It makes you change who you are (x2!). His criticism of Christianity was a recognition of the truth of our greatest hope! What we know is good, he saw as bad. What he sees as good, we know as being bad. (Isa 5:20)
But how can we really know what is and is not good? If righteous ‘good’ is the will of God, then it makes sense for those who reject God to reject ‘good’ as well. In fact, they may argue that they are good people, and in their minds, they tell the truth. Why? Because they define good for themselves. They are their own gods (Judges 17:6, 21:25) So, how do YOU define good? Who is the 'god' at the center of your life?
Comfort, understanding, justice, and mercy are part of God’s character. When we give our hearts and lives to Him, we are called to imitate His high moral standards. We have to learn, as a child of the King, to not be drawn in by the world; we are to be set apart and different, and the Holy Spirit is right with us to give us the power to obey and the light to walk in, thus forsaking the sin & overcoming the fear of man. In this sermon, Pastor Billy gives us a clear and practical outline to follow that will provide assurance and a proven pathway to strength and peace. It is up to us to bend the knee to our Lord and Master, and when we do, the Holy Spirit will teach, lead, and guide us to greater and great faith and strength to truly show the world what it means to be a Child of the King.
Security--that is the focus of Deacon Joshua's sermon today. What makes you sure of your plans, your safety, your life? On this date in 1969, three American astronauts put their lives on the line and their faith in the engineers and craftsmen at NASA to safely lift off from Cape Canaveral and begin their flight to the moon. They trusted in the security of a well-planned but never-done experiment in space exploration. Security in human works and faith in the men and women of the program... and yet men had earlier died because humans fail... God never fails; we may not understand His purposes at the moment, but we can trust and be secure in our faith in Him. Listen as Deacon Joshua encourages us to have our security founded in the right things and the right Person. "Security!"
9 July 2017 Faith (Ineffective or Effective?) Pastor Billy Robertson sermon notes enjoy the Facebook video of the sermon--located in the Christian Character playlist Faith. That's a common word, but did you know it is an action? Your faith can be either effective or ineffective in accomplishing the action to which you put it. Faith is a gift of God. It is a living thing and grows when we work on a constant renewing of our trust in Him. In what are you trusting? Follow along as Pastor Billy explores the actions of Effective vs Ineffective Faith... and find out first in what you place your faith, and then discover if your faith is truly effective or isn't quite coming up to the action of true faith... "Faith-Effective or Ineffective?"
Fallow ground--that's what Pastor Billy is talking about today, but what in the world is 'fallow ground'? Farmers and gardeners know -- "a field that has been sown with crops in the past and has yielded much fruit but has now been left unworked for a time. It is hard and full of ruts. It yields nothing but weeds now." How much of our life has become 'fallow ground"... we've gotten used to this church habit and it has become a rote tradition; we've lost the fire to witness but still carry the label of Christian; we've neglected reading the Word and consistent, heartfelt prayer but expect the blessings surrounding us to just be there. The spiritual land that was once productive has become weedy and forgotten, and we are riding on habit, not repentant on-fire heart... How fallow is your ground?
As we prepare to celebrate the American War of Independence, I think we should tackle the difficult question; “if rebellion is wrong, was the American Revolution ok? Why or why not? Why should we, as Christians, care?” Romans 13 addresses this very situation. Politics, like so many other areas of life, impacts our ability to DO. (Jas 1:22) If you are a doer of the word, anything that can infringe on your ability to do impacts you. Thus, politics are important and inextricably linked to religion. Listen as Deacon Joshua clarifies the role of governments, kings, authorities, and rebellion vs true obedience, especially to a higher authority. Our response to any tough situtaion is "A Question of Obedience."
9 July 2017 Hard Questions- What's with slavery in the Bible?? Deacon/Lay Leader Joshua Justice enjoy the discussion video
Note: Facebook collects all the videos on one page. You will find this video in the "Hard Questions" collection.
25 June 2017 Hard Questions-How do you deal with social constructs that clash? Deacon/Lay Leader Joshua Justice enjoy the discussion video
Northerner, Southerner, Baptist, Pentecostal, South American, Ethiopian, heterosexual, homosexual, liberal, independent, right, left... name all the labels you can name, and some will join that group, and others will be running the other direction from it. Our societies, worldwide, are so different and yet so much the same. It is finding the common ground that makes for understanding but done right the common ground will also give us a chance to ask about and maybe come to grips with our many differences. So, how should a believer deal with social expectations that clash, and where to rock-solid principles and matters of faith come into play? Join the discussion and see how you might deal with differences that clash. (Pastor Chuck gave us a whole series on identifying grey areas and maintaining our principles. You can get to that personal Bible study here ~ Negotiating the Grey Areas.)
Scripture says to go on unto perfection, Heb 6:1. Of course, this perfection does not mean the lack of sin, it means to be complete. But even at that, what does it mean to be complete? Perfect and entire, wanting nothing (Jas 1:4)? To have no lack. That is a tall order, considering that we are being measured up to the mark of Christ (Phil 3:14). Let's ask ourselves some honest questions. Do we fail? The answer is pretty obvious (Rom 3:23). So the only questions left are ‘Why do we fail’ and ‘How can we stop failing?’ (editor's note: We are still experiments/learning the ins & outs of FB live, so the video is a bit rough, but the Word of God is always true. Enjoy!)
This Pentecost Sunday, as we remember the events surrounding the group of believers whose explosive faith changed the world so many years ago with tongues of fire, we should be reminded that the basis of our faith is the inerrancy of the scriptures. After all, Rom 10:17 says “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” But is the Bible you hold today the word of God? How can we know the word of God when we hear Him? As Christians, we study the Word as well as outside references and accept that it is truth. God’s Word is indeed perfect—God breathed, God inspired---but He uses the broken tool that is mankind. Was the Word of God on the lips of an angry Moses any less true? No. We may also err, and like Moses, we will be held to account for mishandling of His principles and directions, His Word. We understand that men wrote the Bible and their personalities color the styles and stories of each book, but we also know that each book is well fit to each other and that the words within are the divinely inspired words of God, John 17:17. We, through experience and obedience, know that the principles woven throughout this Holy Book are foundational to our Christian walk.
Christian Character ~ What is it? How do you get it? How does the believer show it and live in it? Listen as Pastor Billy gives Biblical and concrete explanations of what it is, where it comes from, and how it is to be developed and maintained in the believer's life. Hint: we cannot do it on our own or under our own power, so we have to give up something in order to have true Christian character. It is well worth the trade off...
11 June 2017 Hard Questions-Is It Ever Ok to Lie? Deacon/Lay Leader Joshua Justice enjoy the discussion video
Hard Questions... sometimes we find ourselves on opposite sides of the Christian fence with a brother or sister in the Lord. Should women be pastors? What about divorced leaders? How about tithing-- is it on the net or the gross, or is it even necessary anymore? Oh, and the music! Or how about whether or not to actually 'market' your church? Deacon Joshua is opening the floor for the discussion tonight in the second of many Bible studies wherein we search, talk, and hopefully understand more fully the question and the answer from a Biblical perspective (or at least move further down the road in gaining understanding and in deepening our faith). Hard Questions...tonight's the audience asked about being in difficult straits and wondering if it is ever ok to lie to save a life, get out of trouble, etc. Hmmm... Is it??
Psalm 13 is a lament, a cry of the heart to be heard and comforted, and finally a declaration of one man's trust in a holy, sovereign God. David was going through a dry spell and poured out his heart in this song. His laments and questions could be our own. We are not the only ones who wonder where God is when we are hurt or confused or grieving. David, however, opened his heart and spirit to the witness of God in his life and came to the conclusion that when the enemy puts us on a roller coaster, there is a purpose to the times we feel in the wilderness. He is using the time when we struggle to prepare us for a particular work He has planned for us. God will not forget or leave us, but He will build us and challenge us to bring us to a place of trust and a place of experience in Him. Joseph saved a nation, Paul was a voice for the Truth, the Way and the Light, and David was a man after God's own heart, all by learning of His providence and character through the trials and situations the Lord ordained in their lives. Trust that He will do, and in fact does, the same in your life.
The very first thing one does upon awakening is to open one's eyes and deal with the light. Some of us pull the blanket back over our head to shut it out; some of us groan and stretch and have a good yawn; and some of us are grateful to see a new day, ready to go and looking forward to the opportunities and possibilities this light exposes. The world is divided into two camps--those who welcome the light and those who do not. The spiritual, eternal world is much the same in that it also has two camps--those that believe in God, face His light and embrace fellowship with Him, and those who do not, virtually pulling the blanket of deception and lies over their spiritual eyes refusing to believe that God is. In the Bible, God defines Who He is -- the Alpha and Omega, the Eternally Existing Creator of All Things, the Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Jesus came in the flesh to explain what we cannot fully comprehend, that God the Father, the Great I AM, is the eternal everything. Those who believe escape condemnation and eternal separation from God. Those who do not believe are "condemned already" according to St. John, and are actively choosing to reject the truth of God thereby rapidly running along a path that takes them eternally away from heaven and directly into the arms of the Father of Lies, Satan himself. Scripture is clear that the first thing every man, woman, and child needs is to wake up and know that there is a God in Heaven and that He is Who the Bible says He is. First, you must believe that He is. (Hebrews 11:6) Then you can embrace the light, enjoy the day, and find the way, the truth, and the life, and have that life abundantly. First Things First....
Captives are everywhere, not just in jails… The Church is called to work the fields both in the world and “behind the bars.” These are people in need of a Savior, Whose name is Jesus the Christ. With preparation, purpose, and passion, you can reach them with truth and give them a way to walk away from the bars that hold them into their jails, be they literal bars or jails of sin, poor choices, and emotional devastation. The harvest is ready and all around us. Do you have the heart and compassion to reach out, to witness, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ? Remember that our job is to tell the world what we know to be the truth. that freedom and a relationship with the God of Creation is available to any and all. Whether the person responds to our witness is up to them. We are called to tell then and God is responsible for the outcome-- we are just responsible to go.
7 May 2017 The Balance (between Prudence and Boldness) Deacon/Lay LeaderJoshua Justice sermon notes
The prudent man forseeth the evil and hideth himself but the simple pass on and are punished (Prov 22:3). Yet when confronted with the evil of today’s religious repression, is hiding yourself an option? Do not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation. After all, if we are ashamed of Christ in the wicked time, He will be ashamed of you on judgment day (Mark 8:38). How do we find the balance between the boldness that wants to obey God by standing in the day of evil and the prudence that wants to obey God by hiding from the evil instead of playing the fool? Just how do we stand against the darkness without being an idiot?? Listen as Deacon Josh explains how to keep it all balanced...
Mothers. They come in all shapes and sizes. They are the foundation of a home, the first teacher of their children, the comforter and provider of help and mercy, even often after administering needed correction and judgment. Motherhood has been called the most important job on earth. President Teddy Roosevelt believed it was mothers who work to raise and train honest and strong men and women to be the next generation and who were the most important citizens in society. According to Proverbs 31:10-31 The description of a Godly wife and mother is as follows: 1) a devoted wife, with her husband’s confidence, 2) a diligent partner, willing worker, wise shopper and planner, 3) a dutiful servant to the needs and poor with a vision of ministry to family and society, 4) a dependable mother devoted to her family, and 5) she is doctrinally oriented and full of God’s wisdom willing to teach and train her family and her sphere of influence in Godly ways. Godly moms are the glue that holds a family together and provides the foundation of a successful society-2 Timothy 1:5
Not every woman can have children, but many a woman has been a step-mom or a spiritual and/or emotional 'mom' to others. They, too, when they walk in Godly pathways, provide the needed comforting and love a mother gives her own. Mothers. They truly are a divine design.
More like you and less like us…. You can hear the prayers of the saints over the years calling on the Lord to cleanse and repair their souls, minds, attitudes, and behaviors from what they were to what they should be. We are the inheritors of that legacy, and when we cry out in hope and pain as we see ourselves in the mirror of His face, we should also know that we are reaching not only to a Holy God and the Judge of all the earth but a Friend Who sticks closer than a brother, a Friend that desires and calls for us to meet Him daily and face to face. According to Genesis 1:26, God initiated fellowship with us. He made us in His image and personally intervenes, leads, and directs on our behalf; He shows us continuously that He made us for a relationship with Him. What should be our response? Listen as Pastor Billy describes what it is to be “A Real Friend.”
Expectations.... Just what do you assume are the requirements to achieve security, obtain goods, grow in status or wealth, be recognized, be treated, or even to win? What is it that makes you the hero or heroine of your own story? Christians have a story, a walk, an expectation as we progress through this world. On thing to consider is our part in the story being written across time. Are you, as a Christian, improving, tempering the flesh and reaching that point of perfection you read about in the Bible? Are you using the same definitions the Lord did? Our expectations, either temporal or spiritual, are framed by our understanding of the definitions of the behaviors and/or the goals as well as who we put as the central character of that story. Listen as Deacon Joshua brings us to the understanding of God's definitions and His expectations of us as we walk this walk of faith. By understanding God's expectations, we can have peace, joy, and realize the truth of being a part of His family. Expectations--it all rides on the framework (and the One Who designed it).
The people were rejoicing at Jesus' entry into Jerusalem that fateful Passover week, yet He spent much of that week in work, prayer and tears. He warned His followers, but they did not hear what He was saying. They somehow did not understand that He was the final Passover Lamb, and when the time came to celebrate this week with all its promises and hope, Jesus continually reminded them that one more painful sacrifice had to happen to make those promises reality and to fulfill that hope into the tangible fact of perfect redemption. The Un-triumphal entry, when Jesus came not to throw off the Roman rule, but to die and eventually throw off the slavery and bondages of sin.
We are called to be ministers of peace, and comforters of others in 2 Cor 1:3-4. Christ both told us that obedience was the way to peace and comfort (John 14:15-21), and demonstrated that himself (John 14:30-31. There is much that is uncomfortable in being obedient. Sometimes it is even painful especially when reaching out to the hurting and the lost. There are mistakes, and you might find yourself in situations you would rather avoid. Some of the 'rules' may not make sense. And sometimes it just seems too hard. Staying in for the 'long haul' becomes tiring and 'hanging in there' continuing to follow those commands can seem overwhelming. Life is not always easy, even if we wish it so. There are easier ways than following in Jesus' footsteps, ways that less draining and 'more fun', so you have to ask yourself, "Is it worth it? Is being obedient to the Word of God and to the commands of Christ worth it?" Listen as Deacon Josh encourages us to take a look at Christ’s example, and find out how we can follow suit (Eph 5:1-2).
The Helper, the Comforter, the Teacher, the Guide, the One Who Comes Beside--all of these phrases touch on the Third Person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit. He works within us to point us to Jesus the Christ and to bring us to knowing God in a whole and complete way. He is the unveiler of mysteries and the One that reproves, encourages, and tells us the truth about things to come. He is our connection to the Creator of the universe and will teach and empower us to do the work we are called to do. Listen as Pastor Billy takes us through the many tasks of the Holy Spirit and His quiet and personal work in growing us from faith to faith, glory to glory, and gives us the opportunity to live in victory in this fallen world.
Opportunities…“When God closes a door, He opens a window.” Most of us have heard that saying. Opportunities in life seem to show us what life might be like, windows or doors into potential futures for us and our loved ones. Should I take that job? Should I marry this person? Does God want me to join this church? Opportunity is defined by the world as “a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.’ But, how do we know it is God setting the stage and opening that particular door? As Christians, yes, we should turn to the scriptures when making decisions, but we must also recognize God’s principles and the principles here are stubbornly unyielding. Listen as Deacon Joshua explains how not every open door is necessarily from God…
Scripture describes us as the body of Christ. “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor 12:12-13). It also describes us as the family of God (1 John 3:1-2). I find that the two are very similar. The family is an organism that thrives on the communication and cooperation of its members. No surprise, since the family unit was designed by God and modeled off of our own relationship with Him (Heb 1:1-4, Rom 9:8). As a church, how does this impact our relationships with each other as opposed to those with the outside world? Listen as Deacon Joshua explains our place and responsibilities in the Family of God.
Why would anyone want to put hot coals on someone's head? What exactly is Paul trying to tell us to do to those who oppose us? Aren't we supposed to do all things in love, decently and in order? Perhaps a brief history lesson would help here. Quoting Kenneth S. Wuest, (1893-1962) from hIs work His Kingdom Prophecy, "In Bible times an oriental needed to keep his hearth fire going all the time in order to insure fire for cooking and warmth. If it went out, he had to go to a neighbour for some live coals of fire. These he would carry on his head in a container, oriental fashion, back to his home. The person who would give him some live coals would be meeting his desperate need and showing him an outstanding kindness. If he would heap the container with coals, the man would be sure of getting some home still burning. The one injured would be returning kindness for injury." Listen as Pastor Billy gives us the Christian responses and guidelines to "heaping coals of fire" onto someone's head.
The Lord has called us to go into all the world and share the good news of His coming and His sacrifice to bring us home to the Father. But, do you know the folks you are dealing with? We are charged to share our faith, but not throw pearls before swine so how do we discern the difference between those who are open to His call and those who have become enemies of God Himself, refusing His grace, His gift of salvation, and choosing instead to follow their lusts and own 'gods'. Although we are dead in our sins before we return to the Lord, most of us still have doubts, questions, and a desire to understand more that --we have a curiosity and a spark that others can see. What is the light of their eyes? We have a hint in this--Those who have no spark in their eyes truly are dead men walking (Luke 9:60, Rev 3:1). They have lost their God-given passion for life, but those who know the truth and yet replace that spark with a love of sin and evil are enemies of God. (Col 1:21) When you learn to know the difference between them, you truly can then share and live in the Light of His eyes!
Many Christians today speak only of the blessings of God and reject the persecution we go through. We know persecution is part of the Christian walk, but does it mean that we can’t have blessings? Where do we draw the line between prosperity and persecution? Doing well with all life’s bounty surrounding you and getting attacked at the same time… that doesn’t seem to be much of a blessing, but a closer look at the Scriptures may tell a different story, depending upon your focus. The key is how you define “prosperity”, “blessing”, and “persecution.”
According to the world, prosperity is wealth, health, and fine foods. At your hand is all you can buy and the money to do so. Persecution, on the other hand, is all the attacks and opposition that comes to tear you down, steal your ‘stuff’ and keep you from prospering. It might be motivated by be jealousy or hard feelings. It may be just an angry person taking their problems out on you, but have nothing to do with you.
Many Christians today speak only of the blessings of God and reject the persecution we might go through. However, Jesus tells us a different motive for persecution, IF we are walking according to His righteousness and His direction. He warns us that as we become more like Him, others will react. Listen as Deacon Joshua challenges today’s accepted definitions of prosperity and persecution, and see if you might just have accepted as truth the wrong definitions….
5 March 2017 Hypocrisy Pastor Billy Robertson sermon notes
Glory-according to Strong's concordance the original Hebrew indicates honor, weight, splendor and abundance. So, just what is God's glory? It is so much more than just abundance. It is the splendor of the Creator of the Universe! On the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter saw Jesus in a dazzling white light. Saul was knocked off his horse, heard the Lord's voice and was surrounded by a deafening noise and a dazzling white light. In the wilderness and in solomon's temple, the presence of the Lord was so strong, no one could stand... God's glory--it is majesty, light, provision, and a power so awesome that in its presence sinful man trembles and falls on his face, fearing to look at the unshielded face of the King of the Universe. And yet, Paul tells us that once we have bent the knee and fully given our hearts to the Lord Jesus, this power, this light, this holiness now resides within us. Just as He protected Moses when He walked by him and put him in the cleft of the rock, God protects us and through His Holy Spirit works within us to be a channel of His light to those around us. He molds and makes us to be His best representative in this dark world. We may be weak vessels, but the Lord does not make mistakes, and He chooses us to share His power, His mercy, His light to all the nations. We have a work to do and through Him we have the power to do it. Glory-splendor greater than our sun and yet given to man...
To God Be the Glory is a well-loved hymn of the Christian church, but just what does "giving God the glory" mean? How does a mere human ‘give’ glory to God? And what does giving glory to God have to do with our daily walk, our health, our sins and everyday choices? Is it only when happy answers to prayer occur that we give praise and adulation to the Lord? What about terrible circumstances or illnesses? How do we ‘give glory’ to the Lord in these situations? Listen as Deacon Joshua explains just how a mere human can give God the honor and praise due Him in every circumstance.
The law is often thought to be dry and tedious, but Jesus broke it down into just two phases.... Elder Phil takes us through the depth and meaning of "love your neighbor". It is so much more than just a few kind words or a nice gift once in a while, and it stands on the first great commandment to love God with everything in you and all you have. The "Second" is the evidence and out-working of the first, and these two commandments provide the hinge and key that opens the door to understanding all the law and the prophets. Without properly following these two commandments so clearly explained by the prophets and the apostles, we lose our true purpose and we cannot be what God has created us to be.
19 February 2017 Resting In God's Sovereignty Pastor Billy Robertson sermon notes
What are laws, and why do they exist? Did laws exist even in the Garden of Eden? Good laws are structured to draw a difference between chaos and harm vs order and peace. God's laws are written in the stars, are evident in nature, and hold the whole universe together. What about man's laws? What are their purposes? And, just how are we who are believers supposed to judge between "good" and "bad" laws? Listen as Deacon Joshua explains the character of God and the nature of His Creation, including us, as we explore the reason and purpose of laws according to a loving and gracious Father God.
12 February 2017 The Throne of Grace Pastor Billy Robertson sermon notes
Due to a technical failure, we lost the audio... however the notes are a great place for a personal study on the Throne of Grace!!
Once we are committed to following the Lord and His way, we become sometimes confused as how to do that. We tend to echo the Prophet Ezekiel when he asks, "How then should we live?" There is a single path of righteousness and light, but the flesh, the world and the enemy often send messages of confusion and lying choices. It is "the world in reverse". We don't realize we are dead already, and we automatically accept the lies as normal. It is really all we know before Christ shows us how we might live His life versus blindly accepting the lies of the enemy. Jesus said He came to tell us truth and to show us how we tend to see things backwardly and through confusion. He provides for us light and truth and gives us a heart to live in abundance by understanding His Word. Listen as Deacon Joshua shows us exactly "how we should then live."
How many opportunities have we not recognized because we are not focusing on the moment and the offerings laid out for us, but are occupied with other thoughts and bend to other demands or situations? Often God sends a direction through an unexpected moment, but we miss it... Pastor Ken tells the story of Hobab, Moses' brother-in-law, who had the opportunity to go into the Promised Land and share in the blessings that would come, but did not because he just did not recognize (or perhaps believe) the future God was building for His people. How often are we in Hobab's position? How many times have we brushed off the blessings God wants for us, and walked away from the call He has sent through His Word or His people? We have much to share with those around us, but all we can do is offer and demonstrate through changed lives the provision God has for us. It is up to them to make the decision to come along and share in the divine opportunity or choose to miss that divine appointment and return to their own and unchanged pathway. We must issue the invitation, but always remember that the choice is theirs.
Pastor Billy's sermon, "Pursuing Spiritual Maturity", lays out clearly the steps of wisdom and righteousness each believer needs to consider and take should they actually want to be more Christ-like, To be better tomorrow than we are today should be the heart cry of every believer. We can be IF we rely on the Lord and do follow His precepts and His ways, which include a constant communication and growing relationship with Him, His Word, and His character. It is hard work, much like the athlete that works daily to be stronger, faster, better and ready for the next race, the next high jump, the next competition. Living in this world is like a race. We must run the race and run it well by His rules. Then we can be assured of crossing that line and getting the crown of blessing and the Master's approval.
The world does not want to see a weak and ineffective deity and will challenge whatever you share until you can truly show that the relationship you have is vital, real, and powerful. Your daily lifestyle, your conversations and the words you use, the pictures you paint, and the activities in which you participate tells volumes about your character and beliefs. If you believe you are commissioned to share the Gospel, how do you do it? Do you depend on reason? Argumentation? Just good ol' blind faith? What important changes are you willing or unwilling to face? Can you lose what you have by ignoring the clear truth of the Word? What is your life and lifestyle showing those who have questions or have been hurt by today's church or even have been taught that we are nothing more than a collection of stardust that will go back to nothingness? Just what kind of God do you show the world? Is He just a fluffy love, or just a severe judge? Or, is He truly a Holy and Just Father and Final Authority that will not excuse willful ignorance but is also strong and mighty to help any and all who call on His name and walk in obedience to His word? Is He sitting on the throne of heaven and is Lord over your life? Or is He only an easy "daddy" who is supposed to fix your hurts and make life the way you want it? Think and decide what kind of God are you sharing and decide where now IS God in your life?