INTRODUCTION: The Epistle of James was most likely written by James, the brother of Jesus (Gal. 2:9) and the head of the church at Jerusalem (Acts 15:13). James resisted Jesus’ early ministry (John 7:2-5) but became a follower of Jesus after the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:7). James probably led his other brothers to the Lord and was present at Pentecost (Acts 1:14). He calls himself a “bond-servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ” and writes his letter to the “diaspora,” fellow Jews scattered across the world (James 1:1). A main leader in the Jerusalem church, James headed the Jerusalem Council and supported Paul’s gospel ministry (Acts 15). Tradition has it that James was thrown down from the Temple gable, stoned, and beaten to death with a club. The theme of the letter is found in James 1:2: The trials of our faith bring us joy. James begins by explaining the difference between a test and a temptation. Trials have a good purpose but temptations pull us down.
*Trials provide a testing of our faith and challenge us to overcome trying circumstances. As we succeed, we experience joy and learn endurance. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance (1:2-3).
*Trials are a training ground for our faith development. Endurance produces maturity. The more you persevere, the more you mature. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (1:3-4).
*Trials often cause us to question God and ask why we are going through such difficulty. The best response is to ask God for wisdom and discernment in our time of trouble. We should not doubt God’s willingness to answer our requests but we should be bold and trust God to give us understanding. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything fromthe Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do (1:5-8).
*Our identity and status are not based on our circumstances and wealth. Our relationship with the Lord enables us to face any trial. We need to trust God where we are and depend upon him. Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business (1:9-11).
*God has promised a reward to those who persevere and remain faithful in all trials. Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him (1:12).
*Temptation is not from God. Temptation arises from our lusts and entices us to do what is contrary to God’s will and way. When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed (1:13-14).
*Yielding to temptation produces sin and death. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death (15).
*A warning: Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters (1:16).
GOD’S GOAL (1:17-18).
*God gives good gifts. God wants the best for you. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (1:17).
*God wants us to be born into his family. He wants our lives to reflect his goodness and his purposes. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created (1:18).
When we face our trials with faith and resist temptations to sin, we experience the joy of being part of the eternal family of God.
Gregory Magruder Parkview Baptist Church Gainesville, FL 10-01-17
You Reap What You Sow
INTRODUCTION: By any definition, growth is a miracle. A single dormant seed mysteriously springs to life and with proper nurture produces a bountiful harvest. But what we plant is important. “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow” (Galatians 6:7 NRSV). The seeds we plant determine the harvest we reap. Christians can develop (grow) in their spiritual life. There are three good seeds we can plant so we can GROW in our Christian life. The Lord causes these seeds to GROW.
SOW SEEDS OF WORSHIP.
*We can sow seeds of the flesh or we can sow seeds of the Spirit. Worship is focusing everything we do to please and honor God. “If you plant in the field of your natural desires, from it you will gather the harvest of death; if you plant in the field of the Spirit, from the Spirit you will gather the harvest of eternal life” (Galatians 6:8 GNT).
*God deserves our PRAISE. “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6 NIV).
*God chooses to DWELL where He is praised. “Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel (Psalm 22:3 ESV).
*The Lord rewards those who earnestly desire to KNOW Him. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV).
*We can GROW through worship. God rewards our worship.
SOW SEEDS OF WITNESS.
*Jesus said every one of His FOLLOWERS would be a witness. “But 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).
*A witness gives a personal TESTIMONY about what he or she has seen or heard or experienced. “The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:2-3 NIV).
*The Lord gives SUCCESS to those who tell others about Him. “So let us not become tired of doing good; for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest” (Galatians 6:9 GNT).
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:10-11 NIV).
We can GROW through our witness. God rewards our witness.
SOW SEEDS OF WORK.
*Labor is necessary for success and GROWTH. “Lazy people want much but get little, while the diligent are prospering” (Prov. 13:4 TLB).
“Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically” (Romans 12:11 TLB).
*God’s work requires WORKERS. Jesus said to his disciples: "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew. 9:37-38 NIV).
*God honors our EFFORTS for Him. “So then, as often as we have the chance, we should do good to everyone, and especially to those who belong to our family in the faith” (Galatians 6:10 GNT).
“Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain”(1 Corinthians 15:58).
*The best work is TEAMWORK. Paul wrote: “God is important because he is the one who makes things grow. Apollos and I are working as a team with the same aim, though each of us will be rewarded for his own hard work. We are only God’s coworkers” (1 Corinthians 3:7-9 TLB).
We can GROW through our work for the Lord. God rewards our work.
Gregory Magruder Parkview Baptist Church Gainesville, FL 09-24-17
How to Survive a Hurricane and Personal Storms
Psalm 46:1-3; Galatians 6:9-10
INTRODUCTION: Jamie Aten and his family moved to Mississippi six days before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. They evacuated during the storm but Jamie soon began to help with the relief efforts. The experience led him to study the role of faith and the church in disaster relief. He became Director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College. He soon faced a personal storm in his life, stage 4 colon cancer. His study of hurricane response helped him respond to his cancer with faith and resolve. We have faced Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria in recent days. Some have been more impacted than others but all of us have had our lives disrupted in some ways. All of us at times face personal storms that challenge us. Professor Aten’s faith principles of surviving disasters can help us overcome life’s storms.
*All of us will face trouble in life. The search for meaning in the midst of the storm helps with recovery and stress. God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging (Psalm 46:1-3).
*Giving up control to God in our circumstances enables us to face reality as it is and to reconcile our losses. Letting go let’s God do his healing work. God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…(Psalm 46:1-2).
* People recover better from disaster and personal loss when they have strong spiritual and community support. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers (Galatians 6:10).
*Perseverance through adversity trusts that God can work through our brokenness and loss. Hope moves us forward to full recovery. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9).
Gregory Magruder Parkview Baptist Church Gainesville, FL 08-13-17
INTRODUCTION: Santa Fe College and the University of Florida will have their convocations soon. The leadership gathers the faculty and students to challenge them to reach new goals and to work together to build a successful school year. Convocation means “to call together.” I am calling us together today to rally us to our cause and to remind us of our common purpose and goals. I want us to remember our reason for being. Why are we here? What are we called to do? There are three essentials for a healthy church. They show us why we are here and what we need to do. The Three Essentials Triangle shows us how we can move people into our fellowship and become committed followers of Jesus. The three essentials of Contact, Connections and Consistency will lead us to grow. Acts 2:37-47 describes the three essentials at work.
A HEALTHY CHURCH MAKES CONTACTS.
*Principle: The more people you reach, the more people you retain. When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day (Acts 2:37-41).
*Our motivations for outreach are the Great Commandment and the Great Commission:
Love God and Love Others - Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-40).
Make Disciples – Jesus said, “Therefore 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. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
*The basic functions of the church spring up from the two commandments:
Evangelism, Discipleship, Fellowship, Ministry, Missions and Worship.
*A healthy church constantly looks for ways to make contact with others.
A HEALTHY CHURCH CREATES CONNECTIONS.
*Principle: Connected people stay. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need (Acts 2:42-45).
*The process of growth requires Making Disciples, Maturing Believers, and Multiplying Ministries. People will stay when they connect to a small group and make lasting friendships. People will stay when they serve a common cause. People will stay when someone cares for them.
*A healthy church helps people connect and build relationships.
A HEALTHY CHURCH PROVIDES CONSISTENCY.
*Excellence breeds loyalty. Regular, reliable and stable programs create an atmosphere of trust and commitment. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:46-47).
*The steady process of growth will lead to Numerical Growth, Spiritual Transformation, Ministry Expansion and Kingdom Advance.
*A healthy church consistently brings people in, builds them up, trains them for service, and sends them out.
Let’s agree together this year at Parkview Baptist Church to contact people, connect them to small groups and consistently provide them with opportunities to be renewed and to serve.
**based upon Kingdom-Focused Church Model and Process (Mims)
INTRODUCTION: Hosea married a woman who eventually became unfaithful and left him. His relationship with his wife was broken. God used Hosea’s marriage as a symbol of the broken relationship he had with his people Israel. Could Hosea’s marriage and God’s covenant with his people be restored? That is what we all ask when our relationships break down. Whether it is in the marriage bond, family ties, work associations, friendships or neighbor contacts, we all have had broken or strained relationships. How can we repair or restore broken relationships? Hosea chapter 2 is a poem that describes how God restored his broken relationship with Israel. We can use the same process to reestablish and repair our relationship breakdowns.
RECOGNITION OF THE BROKEN RELATIONSHIP (2:2-5).
*First, you must identify and admit that there is a problem in the relationship. “Rebuke your mother, rebuke her, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband. Let her remove the adulterous look from her face and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts…She said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my olive oil and my drink’” (2-5).
RESULTS OF THE BROKEN RELATIONSHIP (2:6-13).
*Every action has consequences. You either live with the results or learn from the consequences. Firm boundaries can reset the relationship. “Therefore, I will block her path with thorn bushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now’” (6-7).
RECONCILIATION OF THE BROKEN RELATIONSHIP (2:14-23).
*Time, tenderness and trust can rebuild a broken relationship. God has restored us and we must work to do the same in our relationships with others. “Therefore, I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her…I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord” (14-20).
“God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
INTRODUCTION: Twenty years have passed since Hosea was told to “go and take a woman” (1:2). Now he is divorced, older, with grown up children and God tells Hosea to “go and love a woman” (3:1). Hosea is told to love an unfaithful, adulterous, former wife. He is told to “love one who is unlovely, unloved, and who loves others” (Peter Craigie). This is unheard of. Gomer left Hosea, committed adultery, became a prostitute in the Baal worship cult, and finally ended up a slave in a relationship with another man. She was the lowest of the low and certainly did not deserve a second chance. Yet Hosea is to learn how to love as God loves. Hosea’s unheard-of love for Gomer reveals the heart of God for his wayward people and for you and me. Hosea learns how to love the unlovable and restore that one to a loving relationship. We are to love as God loves. Hosea’s story reveals God’s love.
GOD’S LOVE RESCUES.
*Show your love unconditionally. Love seeks and reaches out to those who do not deserve or even desire to be rescued. Hosea loves because God loves. The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes” (3:1).
*God loves us unconditionally and demonstrated it by sending Jesus. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus said, For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
GOD’S LOVE REDEEMS.
*Show your love in actions of reconciliation and redemption. Love acts and takes the initiative even at great cost. “So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley” (3:2).
*Jesus Christ voluntarily laid down his life for us so we could be redeemed and become part of the family of God. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16).
Jesus Christ…gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good (Titus 2:13-14).
GOD’S LOVE RESTRICTS.
*Healing love involves rebuilding trust. Boundaries must be set to regain trust and bring healing. The restrictions are temporary and designed to reestablish the bond of love. Discipline, repentance, and faithfulness restore the broken relationship. Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.” For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or household gods (3:4-5).
*God sets us free from sin so we can live abundantly. We are to put off the old way of life and put on the new way of life in Christ. “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:11-14).
GOD’S LOVE RENEWS.
*Renewal means a complete restoration of the relationship. Remove all substitutes and return to a right relationship. Divorce becomes remarriage. Mercy replaces wrath. Grace replaces judgment. Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). Trust brings healing and hope. Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days (3:5).
*God gives us new birth in Christ and makes us completely new. He restores us to a right relationship with himself through the finished work of Jesus. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).
“Love conceived in the heart of God triumphs over faithlessness and broken relationships” – Roy Honeycutt
INTRODUCTION: The prophet Hosea preaches the judgment of God and the love of God. God will judge the sin of the people but God will provide mercy and salvation because of his great love for his unfaithful people. Hosea’s personal story reflects God’s story. God told Hosea to marry an unfaithful woman. Gomer represented the people of Israel who were committing spiritual adultery against God. Hosea’s children became living symbols of the spiritual decline of Israel. Their names tell the tragic progression of sin and God’s growing impatience and ultimate punishment of that sin. The people broke their covenant with God but God in his mercy promises a future hope for reconciliation and forgiveness. God always finds a way for the sinner to return to him.
THE TRAGICCONSEQUENCES OF SIN (1:3 – 9).
*The names of Hosea’s children reveal the steady decline of Israel and the final end of the Northern Kingdom.
Jezreel = “God sows” – Israel would be punished for its idolatry and would suffer military defeat. “So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. Then the Lord said to Hosea, ‘Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. In that day I will break Israel’s bow in the Valley of Jezreel’” (1:3-5).
Lo-Ruhamah = “No pity, no mercy” – God’s mercy was being withdrawn from the nation Israel. They had moved beyond the point of forgiveness. God’s mercy has limits when continually rejected. “Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. Then the Lord said to Hosea, ‘Call her Lo-Ruhamah (which means “not loved”), for I will no longer show love to Israel, that I should at all forgive them. Yet I will show love to Judah; and I will save them—not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but I, the Lord their God, will save them’” (1:6-7).
Lo-Ammi = “Not my people” – God dissolves his covenant relationship with Israel and gives them up to destruction. God’s judgments were designed to bring people back but they refused. The covenant formula now becomes the formula for divorce. “After she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, Gomer had another son. Then the Lord said, ‘Call him Lo-Ammi (which means “not my people”), for you are not my people, and I am not your God’(1:8-9).
*The deliberate practice of sin leads to the slippery slope of destruction. Sin progresses to the point of no return (see Romans 1:18 – 32). “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23).
The reckless embrace of sin leads to tragic consequences.
THE AMAZING GRACE AND LOVE OF GOD (1:10 – 2:1).
*Sin wounds the heart of God, but God has one more word for guilty sinners. The word is always one of forgiveness and restoration. “Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God.’ The people of Judah and the people of Israel will come together; they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.Say of your brothers, ‘My people,’ and of your sisters, ‘My loved one’” (1:10 – 2:1).
*There is a future hope for the people of God. God reverses every one of the judgments on Israel and restores his covenant with them.
The people will prosper, increase in number and return to the land.
They will be called “children of the Living God.”
They will have one nation under one Messiah.
They will flourish. Jezreel here means “God will sow in mercy.”
God will reconcile his people to himself and to each other.
*The Good News is that God always offers hope and grace and mercy and reconciliation. “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19). God provides a way of restoration.“The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
*Hosea’s prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. “But 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. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:10).
INTRODUCTION: Modern Christian scholars divide the prophets of the Old Testament into Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel) and the twelve Minor Prophets. Each of the Major Prophet books would have been written on one scroll in the Hebrew literature. All of the twelve Minor Prophet books were collected on one scroll. Hosea is the longest of the shorter books and comes first in the collection. The book is included in the Hebrew canon in what is called the “Book of the Twelve Prophets.” The Twelve cover three centuries of Hebrew history but in each book a prophet calls the people to repent and come back to God. Hosea preaches the judgment of God and the love of God. God will judge the sin of the people but God will provide mercy and salvation because of his great love for his unfaithful people. Hosea’s personal story reflects God’s story.
THE NEED FOR PROPHECY.
*Every generation needs a fresh word from God for its time and place in history. God’s word comes to every generation through his prophets. The word of the Lord that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel (Hosea 1:1).
Hosea spoke the word of God to his generation in a specific time and place. We need prophets to speak to our generation.
THE NATURE OF PROPHECY.
*Prophecy is the declaration of the word of God to the people of God. Prophecy is not primarily “foretelling” future events but rather it is “forth telling” the truth of God’s word to disobedient people.
*God speaks through his prophet not just in words but also in his experience. Hosea was sensitive to God’s call and obedient to his command. Prophecy comes through actions as well as words. When the Lord began to speak through Hosea… (1:2).
Hosea’s marriage became the means by which God spoke to his people. Hosea’s experience defined God’s pain and God’s love. Hosea’s marriage is a sign.
THE PROPHET’S BURDEN.
*The Prophet’s Burden: Faithfully obey and deliver the word of God even if it means personal pain and sacrifice. The Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son (1:2-3).
*Hosea was told to marry a “wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry” (1:2 RSV). Hosea’s first act of prophetic obedience was to marry Gomer. It was the “word” of God through Hosea. His action revealed God’s heart. God would show Israel through Hosea’s marriage what his relationship with his people truly was. God was married to an unfaithful wife. They had committed spiritual adultery.
* The command to love the sinner is the heart of God. Hosea was told to marry a woman of harlotry. Hosea’s experience with his broken family allowed him to glimpse God’s relationship with his broken people. Hosea’s marriage to Gomer was a revelation of love. Gomer was an adulteress involved in Baal fertility rites. The command to marry a harlot revealed the unmerited love of God. The Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord” (1:2).
*God continues to love the undeserving sinner and restore unfaithful people. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10).
Suffering and crisis were the means of God’s revelation to the prophet Hosea. God can use my painful experience to speak truth and bring healing to the lives of others.
INTRODUCTION: Americans have basic rights guaranteed by our Constitution: freedom of worship, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. As Americans we assume the first freedoms found in the First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press: or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. As Christians,we believe that true freedom comes through Jesus Christ who provides the basis for the freedoms we have as citizens of this world. Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32 NRSV). Religious Liberty Sunday celebrates our freedom in Christ, our freedom to worship and our freedom as citizens.
WE HAVE LIBERTY IN CHRIST.
-Jesus used the image of slavery to describe you and me. “Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. “They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, "You will be made free'?" Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin” (v. 31-34).
-Jesus has the authority to set us free from sin. “The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (35-36).
-You will find true liberty when you come to know Jesus as your Savior and Lord: “you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” Truth is found in a Person, Jesus Christ. “Jesus said to him, `I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6).
Have you discovered the freedom found in Jesus Christ?
WE HAVE LIBERTY TO WORSHIP.
-Freedom in Christ assumes personal responsibility and dignity before God. “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).
-The First Amendment recognizes our right to full religious
Liberty: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof....”
You have the right under God to worship without coercion.
WE HAVE LIBERTY TO EXERCISE OUR CITIZEN RIGHTS.
-Freedom in Christ assumes the right to know the truth and practice it. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) and “you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32).
-Freedom of the press, speech, assembly and pursuit of justice are guaranteed in the First Amendment. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press: or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
You are obligated in Christ to tell the truth and speak your mind.
Gregory C. Magruder Parkview Baptist Church, Gainesville, FL 6/11/17
Tell the World
INTRODUCTION: What is the recipe for a missional church? At Parkview Baptist Church
Every member is a missionary
Every home is an outpost for evangelism and fellowship
Every church is a mission-sending center
Our church slogan is “A Great Commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission will grow a Great Church.” How can we obey the Great Commandment and the Great Commission?
ENLARGE YOUR CIRCLE OF WITNESS (11:19-21).
*Our Mission is to lead others to Jesus. Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt. 28:19).
*The Lord blesses our witness when we stretch our personal boundaries. Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord (11:19-21).
ENCOURAGE SUCCESS AND GROWTH (11:22-24).
*We are to bring new disciples into the Membership of his church. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matt 28:19).
*Don’t try to control or contain the work of the Holy Spirit – set it free. News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord (11:22-24).
EDUCATE AND EDIFY THE BELIEVERS (11:25-26).
*Members must be brought to Maturity if they are to reflect the life of Christ. Jesus said, “And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
*Nurture new believers through doctrinal and practical teaching- orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch (11:25-26).
EXPRESS THANKS AND EXTENDHELP TO OTHERS (27-30).
*Mature believers will Magnify the Lord and find a Ministry in which to show Christ’s love to others. Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).
*Multiply ministry by loving God and loving your neighbor. During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea. This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul (11:27-30).
Are you living out the five purposes of the church?