The Gospel, or The Good News! Pastor Billy Robertson
One of the basic understandings of any believer is the Good News of Jesus the Christ, also called the Gospel.
And just what is that 'good news'?
It is that God Himself, in the person of His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, allowed Himself to take on the form of sinful man, to live on this earth, tell us again of the heart of the Father, show us the way back home to Him, and then pay the price necessary for imperfect and sinful people to be able to stand in the presence of a holy, just and perfect Creator. God Himself, as Jesus, became The Peacemaker who was able to both advocate for man and reconcile us to the Father. There is no way any of us can go faultlessly into the throne room without having first turned to Jesus and His perfect sacrifice. Only the perfect sinless blood of Jesus as the Lamb of God could ever take care of our imperfect, flawed, sinful situation. The Good News is not a 'come to Jesus and He'll make you feel better and give you stuff' message. It is 'come to Jesus, and He can fold you in as His, and only then can you attain protected entrance to the throne room of the Almighty Creator and Judge of all mankind'.
The Secret (or Why Christianity is different from all other faiths....) Deacon/Lay Leader Joshua Justice C.S. Lewis quote from Mere Christianity
The Chrisitan faith... like others, it provides guidance and succor to those who follow it, but the Christian belief system rests on things very different from other systems. Yes, it answers questions, like "Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? Just what is the secret to this thing we call faith?" Deacon Joshua asks each of us now," Do you have faith? What about other religions, do they promote faith??? So what is so different between Christianity and all other belief systems, especially if they all have some sort of faith expression?" The answer is that Christianity IS different from ALL other faiths....... and we have the answer to that difference. We have the key to the answers because we have access to and can understand "The Secret".
Each of the 6 sermons in this series leads to the next. Reading the notes and listening through them in order will make the full picture clear.
Back to Basics ~ 1 The State of Man Deacon/Lay Leader Joshua Justice sermon notes
No matter how smart you are or how much you know, it is necessary from time to time to look at the big picture... Here is the beginning of the foundation of the faith~ We are the image and reflection of God Himself. Our job is to let the people around us know that we are important to the Creator of the Universe because we are His special creation, and made by His hand, not just His word! We have His fingerprints on our souls! The choices we make, now, today, show whether or not we understand that our role here is to be a picture and example of the life and wholeness of God. He didn't need us-we need Him. We are His workmanship and made to be with Him, but are full of the sin of pride and self-will and in our flesh are a mockery of the God of the Universe. Wow~ made to be His reflection in the earth, we often choose to turn our back and be a reflection of anything BUT Him... the state of man on his own is to be sinful, willful, and a rebellious creation. That does not change His love for us, but does hurt and disappoint Him deeply. We grieve Him greatly, and often draw forth His wrath. Only because of His love for us and by His great grace do continue to breathe and be. As a loving parent, He will punish to correct and draw our attention and He also continuously works to call us and to bring us back to our state of innocence so we might walk with Him as we did before sin entered the world...
Laws... every society, every group, even families...have rules or laws that govern their actions and to which the members agree. In the Bible, God lays down some very specific expectations for His people, laws or commandments to which every believer ascribes and tries to live out. We don't always do so well, and there are consequences to breaking the laws, consequences we cannot avoid. God's laws are perfect, and lay a foundation for the laws of nature as well. His laws are the highest possible "organizational rules" there can be, perfectly just and perfectly sound. From His laws we know not to take what does not belong, or to protect life, or to be able to assemble together as family honoring each other and providing comfort and covering. But, His laws are impossible for sinful man to completely and always keep. So, just what is the purpose of the 10 Commandments and other commandments He gave us through Jesus? Deacon Joshua explains that the authority of the law and the ability to keep it perfectly come from the same source...God, Himself.
Back to Basics ~ 3 The Nature of God Deacon/Lay Leader Joshua Justice sermon notes
To fully understand the vast measure of His grace, you need to have at least a rudimentary understanding of the nature of God, Himself. He is more than we can ever understand, but He does not withold all knowledge from us, and in fact tells us to ask Him for wisdom which will lead to understanding which will lead, if you are honest with yourself, with a deep and soul-shaking revelation of our place in the universe... He gives to us both specific and general grace. Do you know the difference? If not, learn it. Do you understand grammatical tenses? "I AM" is in a tense we almost cannot explain in English... Do you know what that tense means? If not, learn it. Do you know the size of the cosmos? where does life really come from? what is the true meaning of life? the power it takes to direct the Almighty? or just what is the most meaningful thing you can do in life? So many questions! So many answers that elude mankind, unless they choose to learn of God and His nature... Of His nature, the Bible says that God is good, so here is something to remember ~ if God is good, then being good is, therefore, being Godlike.... Deacon Josh explores and explains the foundational nature of God. We are challenged to understand and be like Him. If you do not understand, and you do no know His nature, if you are struggling with meaning in life, if you do not have an answer for even one of the above questions, listen and learn ~ it will make all the difference in your walk here on earth, and maybe even for your eternity.
Back to Basics ~ 4 The Meaning of Grace Deacon/Lay Leader Joshua Justice sermon notes
Questions every Christian should consider... How much do you need to do to earn God’s approval? How much of the law must we as Christians live up to? Do we need to do anything or can we simply choose to believe? What are the right reasons for us to take action? Think these through, and once you've decided on your answers, compare them with the thoughts and directions from Scripture as Deacon Josh walks us through "The Meaning of Grace."
Back to Basics ~ 5 Understanding the Spirit Deacon/Lay Leader Joshua Justice sermon notes
Often people might ask the Christian "Just what is this 'holy ghost'?" The better, more accurate question is "Who is the Holy Ghost?' He is a member of the Godhead, along with the Father and the Son, and has a very real, very tangible presence among His people. His presence, His comfort, His power is available to us as He resides within and communes with and enables us to do the tasks our lives require we do... The Holy Spirit is God... and once we realize He is, and therefore is wholly worthy of our adoration and worship, life gets clearer... and choices become more clear cut. One of His tasks, as the spirit of wisdom, is to give us both comfort and wisdom and will teach us all things.... It is HE who has the authority and responsibility to school us and to Whom we must turn for wisdom and growth. So, now it's time to question yourself ~ have you been giving the Holy Spirit the time of day? the respect, the honor, the worship He is due? It is He Who resides within. Take the time today to walk and talk with Him, and He will comfort, teach, and guide you on your way. He is how we put on the mind which is in Christ Jesus. The Spirit of God... fully due all adulation and worship and He is God within.
NOTE: part way through the sermon, we had a technical failure... therefore you will experience a blank spot about 27-28 minutes in. After the minor blank area, the sermon continues and finishes. Our apologies for the blank section that represents about 5-10 minutes of the sermon. His last scripture reference before the failure was Romans 1:18-32 . Much of the discussion of that scripture was missed. Please read the whole passage to understand where the audio picks up, then continue with the rest of the sermon which starts with Romans 2:14-16, the next scripture reference in the sermon notes. Thank you for understanding. editor
"When we forget where we come from, we lose where we are headed." Deacon Joshua's final sermon in his "Back to Basics" series ties together the various facets of the foundations of the Christian faith. He explains how these facets become like steps along a road that moves us from unbelief and emptiness, even despair, to hope and life and an expectation of peace and joy for eternity. These faith tenets are simple, understandable, and absolutely essential to understand if you call yourself a Christian ~ man's sin-prone nature, the clear defining of sin through the Law, the mercy and holiness of God, God's infinite grace, the ability to know the next right step and how to access the power to take it, and the gift of eternal life because our debt has been paid and we have been purchased from the slavery of eternal death. Yes, the Law is important for us to know the heart and mind of God, and now can be written on our hearts. when we walk in the Spirit, we show our love of God by doing the things that He would do, and loving the things that He would love...but it is not hard, nor complex, although some would make it so--these principles show the simple steps of obedience and belief that make up the Christian faith.
The Preacher of Ecclesiastes, after a lifetime of experimentation, finally declared that all of life if vanity... if we live it without the focus/goal that God has laid out to be like/emulate/grow to become "the perfect man"... Deacon Josh points out the way to honor the goal of perfection and thereby leave vanity in the dust.... You want peace? happiness? a fulfilled life? It might be wise to find out God's idea of perfection ~ He clearly says. "Mark the perfect man..."
Spiritual Growth Pastor Billy Robertson
"Forgetting those things which are behind...I press on..." St. Paul strongly encouraged those with whom he worked to set a forward-looking goal of being more and more Christlike. Problems become opportunities ~ opportunities to see God's strong hand, to set aside our pride, to spend quality time with the Father, and to send a message to the world that you have truly committed all you are and all you are going to be to the Lord of all creation. Run the race, Paul tells us, to obtain that incorruptible crown of heaven as home and Christ as brother and King. If we want "truth" growth, we accept what comes with the anticipation that everything that is sent our direction is useful to cause us to be more and more like Him... that is the purpose of maturity in the Lord, to continually look and be more and more like our adopted family. The more we behave like Christ, the more we become like Christ. Problems? Whoo Hoo! Another opportunity to overcome!!
Endurance! A listing of 89 verses to help you understand the breadth and scope of what the Lord expects from us and help us to attain...
Count It All Joy Guest Speaker Pastor Steve Dyson
"James1:2 "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations." Pastor Dyson takes us through the first part of James' letter to the Universal Church. He lays out seven attitudes that will lead the Christian to "count it all joy". James had seen plenty of political intrigue and downright meanness in his time as a church leader, and yet he admonished his flocks to return to the basics and to choose to understand that even in the worst of times, there is a place of joy.
Being Confident! Pastor Billy Robertson downloadable scripture list
Not every stance we take as a Christian is well received, nor easy. One of the biggest doubts thrown at a Christian, is often "how can I know I am truly saved? And what about my family, will they come along, too?" Solid assurance is a prize the enemy of our souls wishes to kill, steal and destroy in us. Phil. 1:7 reminds us that we have a solid reason to not ignore, but also not give into the very real "shakiness" we might have as a human response to being rebuffed, ignored, made fun of, or even attacked. Paul encouraged his many followers that he was "confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you shall perform it (continue the work; make it the best work it can be; tweak and polish it to a high and excellent product) until the day of Jesus Christ (His glorious return)". Might words; mighty faith; mighty strength and a mighty reminder that we have been bought with a price and that price includes a long and cherished "remaking" into the image of the Man who bought and thereby salvaged us from a deadly, horrifying end.
There is no possible way to go through life without having disagreements, problems, and even confrontations Just how do you maintain civility when you are being attacked for your faith? Or, maintain a strong positive relationship when offenses come and the hurt is deep? The Bible speaks to how to work with others, and how to address difficult situations... especially when those situations are based in opposing world views... Deacon Joshua uses examples from his own life to share and outline the two different approaches the Bible gives... dealing with problems between believers, and dealing with problems between a believer and a non-believer. The ways are a bit different, but the goal is the same ~ to come to an understanding and develop a relationship of mutual agreement and respect, with both focusing on defining and working on the original "problem" as a team.
Sometimes life just gets hard, especially when hurting from stinging words, personal attacks, abandonment by friends, or someone at work is doing his or her best to destroy your reputation and maybe even get you fired. Those are just a few things that can upset your day, but whatever it may be, the big question now, is what do you do with all that??? How are we supposed to handle the little stings as well as the huge life-changing attacks? Deacon Joshua takes us through the steps outlined in the Bible in simple, practical terms, steps that can keep the Christian from becoming embittered at difficult situations, steps that cause us to be free and clear before the Father. There is no promise that life will suddenly become all sunshine and easy pleasure, but there are promises that our internal tormentors can and will cease, that our relationship to the Father can be restored without guilt, and that there is a day coming when all will make sense and be made right. Hurts? There are things a Christian is supposed to do... and then the healing can begin.
Heresy can come disguised as a small change and denial of foundational beliefs or they can be huge changes, but do you know the foundations well enough to know when the change is introduced? Deacon Josh takes us through several predominate errors and then quizzes his listeners to see if they can spot them. Join him, as he shares about heresies and how to spot them. (At the end, he shares a "funny" but had a tech glitch.... watch the video, "St. Patrick's Bad Analogies", a satire.)
Threads of History~ A Study in the Origins of Today's Church Traditions.
The Threads of History series by Deacon/Layleader Joshua Justice explains some of the most basic "habits" of the born-again, committed to Christ believer...
Deacon/Lay Leader Joshua Justice
The Scripture is full of suggestions and shadows and clues and threads...a tapestry of colors and times and nations and people... all pointing to one unified story of the nature of God and of His love and mercy towards His creation and the people that follow Him. In this, perhaps the first of a series, Deacon Josh explores the thread of mercy shown in every church via the sacred act of communion. From Genesis to Revelation, the tapestry of the nature of God is shown through many similar and sacred acts. The more we know of him, the more we will understand the rumbling of the past and discern the whispers of the future.
Deacon/Lay Leader Joshua Justice
The Scripture is full of suggestions and shadows and clues and threads...a tapestry of colors and times and nations and people... all pointing to one unified story of the nature of God and of His love and mercy towards His creation and the people that follow Him. In this, the second of the series, Deacon Josh explores the thread of mercy shown in every church via the sacred act of baptism. Deacon Josh's study notes
Deacon/Lay Leader Joshua Justice
The Scripture is full of suggestions and shadows and clues and threads...a tapestry of colors and times and nations and people... all pointing to one unified story of the nature of God and of His love and mercy towards His creation and the people that follow Him. In this, the third of the series, Deacon Josh explores the history, role, laws regarding, and impact of, tithes and offerings. He challenges our responsibility to be willing to give, share, and do without the onus of force, and yet points out the commands and expectations of the Lord that we support those who work for Him. Commands, expectations, support, voluntary and demanded by law, and each is a thread of history throughout both the Old and New Testament and each for which every believer is responsible to both understand and do. Deacon Josh's sudy notes
Types & Shadow ~ the Rumblings of the Past, the Whispers of the future, part 4 ~ Why Sundays? And, What's With Sunday School??? Deacon/Lay Leader Joshua Justice
Ever wonder why Christians meet on Sunday? Is there any smidgen of truth to this whole "Lord's Day" thing? and what does that mean anyway? Oh, and what's up with Sunday School? Where did that come from?? Deacon Josh uses his knowledge of history to give us a basic understanding of the truth and traditions of meeting on Sundays and on just how important God sees our "assembling of ourselves together". Then he draws in the reason we also have lessons geared just for the true learners among us... are you one?
Types & Shadow ~ the Rumblings of the Past, the Whispers of the future, part 5 ~ About Prayer... Deacon/Lay Leader Joshua Justice
Prayer. Just what is the right way to do this thing we call prayer? Standing? Sitting? Kneeling? Eyes closed? Hands folded? Hands lifted? and just why do we do what we do when we do pray?? Deacon Josh explains some of the history of the art and positions of prayer, and then issues a challenge to realize when you pray to the God of the Universe, you should always remember you are in the audience of the King, and that should mightily affect that communication we call "prayer."
Deacon/Lay Leader Joshua Justice 28 January 2015 Deacon Josh's notes on both sessions
Deacon Joshua loves history, and especially loves sharing what he finds with others. This first, of two parts, on fasting, can give a background to one of the most shared behaviours across religions. For the Christian, fasting is a powerful tool and a way to develop a depth and breadth of understanding and closeness to God.
Deacon/Lay Leader Joshua Justice 4 February 2015
In Part 2, Deacon Josh picks up where he left off on the history of fasting throughout the years of the Christian church. He ends with an admonition to seriously consider this sanctioned-by-the-Lord activity, and to use it as the powerful tool it is for cleansing, focus, penitence, and personal development.
Deacon/Lay Leader Joshua Justice 8 February 2015
Deacon Josh now tackles the practice of ordaining priests and preachers. It has a background in wanting to maintain the beliefs of the denomination, but is it actually Scriptural? And even more so, has the practice morphed into something that moves the emphasis away from each believer being accountable to the Lord as a "priest and king" by putting the emphasis on institutional training? Follow along, as Deacon Josh explores the history of church ordination.
Types & Shadow ~ the Rumblings of the Past, the Whispers of the Future, part 8 ~ Ordination, Session Two, and the series wrap up... Deacon/Lay Leader Joshua Justice 25 February 2015
In this last of the series, "The Threads of History", Deacon Josh concludes his two-part discussion on the practice of ordaining clergy, which was a construct that grew out of the church's need to set in place men or women documented by a group which would oversee their training. That practice originated from a need to organize large groups, but was not in the original structure of the Christian church. Deacon Josh draws the picture of a local pastor and a minister vs. someone who has had institutional training and is sent in to take the controls of a church. As this series comes to a conclusion, final comments and thoughts are shared among the folks in the class which touch on the various subjects covered. Threads of History~ a study in the origination of today's church traditions.