Sermons by Dr. Gregory C. Magruder

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EASTER - Love Starts Here

Gregory Magruder        Parkview Baptist   Gainesville, FL   04-16-17
 
“Love Starts Here”
Jeremiah 31:3; John 3:16
 



INTRODUCTION: We have spent the last several weeks in our series 40 Days of Love based on the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Let love be your highest goal!”
(1 Corinthians 14:1 NLT). Love should be our greatest priority in life. Love is more than slogans and warm feelings. It’s more than inspiration or romantic intimacy. Love is basic to who we are and how we live in this world.  We need loving relationships. We were made for loving relationships. Love starts here. There is a reason for that. Love begins with God. 

GOD LOVES US.
 
*God designed us for loving relationships.
 
               --Creation was perfectly designed for our enjoyment. – “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).

               --God wanted a personal and eternal relationship with us. “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness’”
 
WE DENY GOD’S LOVE.                            
 
*We were made for loving relationships but instead we have brokenness in our connections
to God, others and nature.
 
               --The original break with God – Adam and Eve (Genesis 3).

               --We continue to choose our way over God’s way.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way” (Isaiah 53:6).
 
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

               --We seek answers, purpose, meaning, and life but we only find brokenness and temporary satisfaction and eventually death.

“There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough; look again—it leads straight to hell. Sure, those people appear to be having a good time, but all that laughter will end in heartbreak” (Proverbs 14:12 Message).

“The wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23).


The Good News is that God still loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives. How do we know that?
 
JESUS CONFIRMS GOD’S LOVE.                  
 
*The Good News is that Jesus restores us to our loving God.
 
                          --Jesus took care of our sin problem, conquered death, and has the power to give us eternal life.

It is this Good News that saves you…Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said” (1Corinthians 15:2-4 NLT).
 
“The Good News is about his Son... and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 1:3-4 NLT).

                       --God proves his love for us by sending Jesus. “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NRSV).

                       --
God repaired our broken relationship with him through Jesus. “He loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God” (1 John 4:10 Message).

                        --
Jesus gives us peace with God and the abundant and eternal life God intended for us from the beginning. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us” (Romans 5:1 NLT).

40 DAYS OF LOVE: The Habits of a Loving Heart

“The Habits of a Loving Heart”
1 Corinthians 13:7
 
INTRODUCTION: Today we finish our series 40 Days of Love* based on the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Let love be your highest goal!” (1 Corinthians 14:1 NLT). We have learned that patience, kindness and truth are basic marks of love. True love forgives and is not selfish. In order to practice love, we need to cultivate some habits of a loving heart. Paul wrote, “[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:7). These qualities reflect God’s love for us: “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). How do I develop and maintain a loving heart?
 
DEVELOP HABITS THAT REFRESH ME PHYSICALLY.
 
Three physical habits of a loving heart:
 
  • Rest – “It is senseless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night…God wants his loved ones to get their proper rest” (Psalm 127:2 TLB).
  • Balanced diet – “You made my body, Lord; now give me sense to heed your laws” (Psalm 119:73 TLB).
  • Regular exercise“Honor God with your body”
                                                (1 Corinthians 6:20 NLT).
 
DEVELOP HABITS THAT RECHARGE ME EMOTIONALLY.
 
Three emotional habits of a loving heart:
 
  • Solitude – “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he [Jesus] said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31).
  • Recreation – “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners’” (Luke 7:34).
  • Laughter – “Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It is slow death to be gloomy all the time” (Proverbs 17:22 GNT).
 
DEVELOP HABITS THAT RENEW ME SPIRITUALLY.
 
Three spiritual habits of a loving heart:
 
  • Daily quiet time – “For this reason we never become discouraged. Even though our physical being is gradually decaying, yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day” (2 Corinthians 4:16 GNT).
  • Small  group – “Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively. If one of them falls down, the other can help him up. But if someone is alone and falls, it's just too bad, because there is no one to help him. (Ecclesiastes 4:9 GNT).
  • Worship – Jesus said, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:28-30 The Message).
 
Which habit of a loving heart do you need to work on the most – physical, emotional, or spiritual?
 
Remember: The quality of your relationship with God determines the quality of every other relationship you have. The habits of a loving heart begin with a personal connection with Jesus Christ. Have you opened your life to Jesus and begun to keep company with him?
 

40 DAYS OF LOVE: Love Is Not Selfish

Gregory Magruder        Parkview Baptist   Gainesville, FL   03-26-17
 
“Love Is Not Selfish”
1 Corinthians 13:5
 
INTRODUCTION: Today we continue the series 40 Days of Love* based on the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Let love be your highest goal!” (1 Corinthians 14:1 NLT). We have learned that patience, kindness and truth are basic marks of love. Another key mark of love is forgiveness. All of these traits rest upon the key idea that “Love isn’t selfish” (1 Corinthians 13:5 CEV). A selfish person is not concerned about being patient or kind or forgiving. A self-centered person does not really care about truth. We are a “self” conscious society. “They all turn to their own way, each seeks his own gain” (Isaiah 56:11). You cannot be selfish and loving at the same time. “Selfishness only causes trouble” (Proverbs 28:25 TEV). True love is not selfish.
 
ANTIDOTES TO SELFISHNESS
 
*Build strong relationships. “You are members of God’s very own family… and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian” (Ephesians 2:19).
 
“Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer” (Hebrews 10:25 GNT).
 
*Give yourself away.  “It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others” (Ephesians 2:10 TLB).
 
Jesus said, “If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live” (Mark 8:35 TLB).
 
*Practice self-denial. “Look out for one another's interests, not just for your own. The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had” (Philippians 2:4-5 GNT).
 
Jesus: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
 
Who will you build a relationship with this week? How will you give yourself away this week helping others? How will you deny yourself this week and follow Jesus?
 

40 DAYS OF LOVE: Love Is Forgiving

Gregory Magruder        Parkview Baptist   Gainesville, FL   03-19-17
 
“Love Is Forgiving”
1 Corinthians 13:5
 
INTRODUCTION: Today we continue the series 40 Days of Love* based on the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Let love be your highest goal!” (1 Corinthians 14:1 NLT). We have learned that patience, kindness and truth are basic marks of love. Another key mark of love is forgiveness: “Love… doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do” (1 Corinthians 13:5 CEV). Love is forgiving. The ultimate test of love is how you respond when somebody hurts you. Take this forgiveness quiz by answering True or False to each statement:
 
______ A person should not be forgiven until they ask for it.
 
______ Forgiveness includes minimizing the offense and the pain that was
              caused.
 
______ Forgiveness includes restoring trust and reuniting a relationship.
 
______You haven’t really forgiven others until you have forgotten the
             offense.
 
How did you do? Here is the answer to each True/False statement. (all answers are false)
 
A TEST OF LOVE
 
*Forgiveness is not minimizing the seriousness of the offense. Being wounded and being wronged are two different things:
 
  • Being wounded is accidental.
  • Being wronged is intentional.
 
*Forgiveness is not resuming a relationship without changes.
 
  • Forgiveness is instant, but trust must be built over a long period of time.
  • Forgiveness takes care of the damage done by “letting the person off the hook,” but does not guarantee the relationship will be restored.
 
*To restore a relationship, the offender must:
 
  • Demonstrate genuine repentance.
  • Make restitution wherever possible.
  • Prove they have changed over time.
 
If a person repeatedly wrongs you, you are obligated by God to forgive that person. But you are not obligated to trust that person. You are not obligated to let them continue to hurt you. You are not obligated to instantly restore the relationship.
 
THREE STEPS OF FORGIVENESS
 
*First Step: I relinquish my right to get even.
 
“Never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it” (Romans 12:19 TLB).
 
Three reasons to forgive others:
 
  • God has forgiven you.
  • Bitterness makes you miserable.
  • You are going to need more forgiveness in the future.
 
The Lord’s Prayer says: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12 NKJV).
 
*Second Step: I respond to evil with good.
 
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28).
 
*Third Step: I repeat the process as long as is necessary.
 
“Then Peter came to him and asked, ‘Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?’ ‘No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, ‘but seventy times seven!’” (Matthew 18:21-22 NLT).
 
Don’t try to forgive on your own power. Recognize and accept God’s forgiveness of you. Then ask for his strength and power to go through you to forgive others.
 
 
 
 
*Material based on the series by Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church in California and the author of "The Purpose Driven Life." 
 
 

40 DAYS OF LOVE: Love Tells the Truth

Gregory Magruder        Parkview Baptist   Gainesville, FL   03-12-17
 
“Love Speaks the Truth”
1 Corinthians 13:6
 
INTRODUCTION: Today we continue the series called 40 Days of Love based on the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Let love be your highest goal!” (1 Corinthians 14:1 NLT). Last week we learned that patience and kindness are two basic hallmarks of love. Another basic mark of love is truth. “Love…rejoices with the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6). Most people misunderstand the phrase “keeping the peace,” and think it means avoiding confrontation. But repressing the truth rather than dealing with the truth causes trouble. “Someone who holds back the truth causes trouble, but one who openly criticizes works for peace” (Proverbs 10:10 GNT). Love speaks the truth. “We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ” (Ephesians 4:15 NLT). How do we go about speaking the truth in the spirit of love?
 
HOW TO SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE
 
*Check your motives. What is the right motive? To help, not to hurt.
“Perhaps you think we’re saying these things just to defend ourselves. No, we tell you this as Christ’s servants, and with God as our witness. Everything we do, dear friends, is to strengthen you” (2 Cor. 12:19 NLT).
 
  • To go from shallow to intimate relationships, you need to go through the “tunnel of truth” where you deal with issues you really don’t want to deal with.
 
*Plan your presentation. “Intelligent people think before they speak; what they say is then more persuasive” (Proverbs 16:23 GNT).
 
Keys to presenting the truth in love:
  • Plan when you are going to say it.
 
>Don’t say it when the person is tired, under pressure, in a hurry.
 
>Do say it when…
--It is the best timing for the person
--The person is rested and ready to hear it
--You both are at your best
--You have privacy
 
  • Plan what you are going to say. “The right word at the right
 time is like precious gold set in silver” (Proverbs 25:11 CEV).
            >Introduction: How you introduce a touchy subject will determine whether it’s going to be received well or rejected.
 
                        #Don’t start with sarcasm or anger.
                        #Do start with humility and gentleness.
 
            >Illustrations: Help the person to picture what you want to say.
 
                        #Do choose illustrations the person understands.
                        #Don’t just choose illustrations you like.
 
  • Plan how you are going to say it. “Thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword, but wisely spoken words can heal” (Proverbs 12:18 GNT).
 
A soft answer turns away wrath…” (Proverbs 15:1 NKJV).
 
>Don’t say it …
 
            --Thoughtlessly, or it will hurt the person.
            --Offensively, or it will be received defensively.
 
            >Do…
 
                        --Lower your voice.
                        --Say it in a gentle and humble way.
 
*Give them affirmation.  Anxious hearts are very heavy, but a word of encouragement does wonders!” (Proverbs 12:25 TLB).
 
Affirm that:
  • You deeply love and care for the person.
  • You will pray for them and help them.
  • You believe they can change.
  • The relationship can be better and that you can be even closer as a result of this confrontation.
 
*Risk their rejectionApostle Paul risked rejection and it turned out well:
 
“I know I distressed you greatly with my letter. Although I felt awful at the time, I don’t feel at all bad now that I see how it turned out. The letter upset you, but only for a while…You were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God…And that is what I was hoping for in the first place when I wrote the letter (2 Corinthians 7:8-9, 12 MSG).
 

40 DAYS OF LOVE: Love Is Patient. Love Is Kind.

Gregory Magruder        Parkview Baptist   Gainesville, FL   03-05-17
 
“Love Is Patient. Love Is Kind”
1 Corinthians 13:4
 
INTRODUCTION: Today we continue a new series called 40 Days of Love based on the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Let love be your highest goal!” (1 Corinthians 14:1 NLT). Last week we learned that love needs to be our number one priority in life. Nothing we say or do matters without love. So how do we define love? What does love look like? Paul begins to list several characteristics that define love. Patience and kindness are two basic hallmarks of love. Paul writes, “Love is patient, love is kind” (1 Cor. 13:4). How do we practice patience and kindness?
 
THE SECRET TO PATIENCE.
 
*In order to be a patient person, you must cooperate with God.
 
  • God’s part is to provide the circumstances.
  • Your part is to provide the response.
 
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady” (Romans 5:3-4 TLB).
 
*Three things will help you respond with patience:
  1. Discover a bigger perspective. A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense (Proverbs 19:11).
  2. Deepen your love. When you are filled with love, almost nothing will irritate you. But when you are filled with anger, almost anything will irritate you.
  3. Depend on Jesus’ power. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy (Colossians 1:11 NLT).
 
THE SECRET TO KINDNESS.
 
*Kindness is love in action. Let’s consider four lessons from the Good Samaritan:
 
*FIRST, start seeing the needs of people around you. Kindness begins
with the eyes. “A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him” (Luke 10:33 MSG).
 
  • Why don’t we see the wounds of the people around us? Busyness. Look out for the good of others also” (1 Corinthians 10:24 NCV).
 
RATE YOURSELF: Do I see the needs of others? (SENSITIVITY).
1 No    2 Rarely    3 Sometimes    4 Often    5 Yes
 
*SECOND, sympathize with people’s pain. “when he saw him, his heart was filled with pity” (Luke 10:33 TEV).
 
  • Sympathy begins with the ears. “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
 
RATE YOURSELF: Do I listen to the needs of others? (SYMPATHY).
1 No    2 Rarely    3 Sometimes    4 Often    5 Yes
 
*THIRD, seize the moment. “Kneeling beside him the Samaritan soothed his wounds with medicine and bandaged them” (Luke 10:34 TLB).
 
  • The Good Samaritan did what he could with what he had at that particular moment. “Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God’s hand for that person. Don’t tell your neighbor “Maybe some other time” or “Try me tomorrow” when the money’s right there in your pocket.” (Prov. 3:27 MSG).
  • To be a kinder person like the Good Samaritan you must be willing to be interrupted. You must be willing to take risks. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18 NASB).
 
RATE YOURSELF: Do I quickly respond to a need when I see it? (SPONTANEOUS KINDNESS).
1 No    2 Rarely    3 Sometimes    4 Often    5 Yes
 
*FOUR, spend whatever it takes.
  • There is always a cost to kindness. “Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here’” (Luke 10:34-35).
  • Kindness is doing something for somebody without expecting anything in return (Isaiah 58:7-11 NCV). “The Lord is merciful! He is kind and patient, and his love never fails” (Psalm 103:8 CEV).
 
 

40 DAYS OF LOVE - Love Matters Most

Gregory Magruder        Parkview Baptist   Gainesville, FL   02-26-17
 
“Love Matters Most”
1 Corinthians 14:1
 
INTRODUCTION:  The most important things in your life are the relationships you have and the love that binds those relationships together. When asked one day “what is the greatest commandment,” 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 22:37-39). The Bible can be summarized in one word: relationship. Love God. Love your neighbor. Today we begin a new series called 40 Days of Love* based on the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Let love be your highest goal!” (1 Corinthians 14:1 NLT). Love needs to be your number one priority in life. Why?
 
LOVE IS THE SUPREME VALUE IN LIFE.
 
*Love governs our relations with God and with each other. Relationships are built on trust and commitment. “‘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 22:37-39).
 
* Relationships – love – are what matters most in life. “For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14).
 
Human love wears out, but God’s love lasts forever.
 
LOVE IS THE PRIMARY OBJECTIVE OF LIFE.
 
*First Corinthians 13:1-3 says, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
 
*If I don’t live a life of love…
 
  • Nothing I say will matter (13:1). Words without love are worthless.
  • Nothing I know will matter (13:2). Brilliance without love equals zero.
  • Nothing I believe will matter (13:2). Faith without love does not matter.
  • Nothing I give will matter (13:3). Giving is not necessarily loving.
  • Nothing I accomplish will matter (13:3). Relationships are more important than accomplishments.
 
LOVE IS THE GREATEST POWER IN LIFE.
 
*God has shown us how to leave a lasting legacy – fill your life with love
 
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
 
*God wants us to live a life of extravagant love and love like Jesus loves.
 
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that” (Ephesians 5:2 MSG).
 
Love needs to be your number one priority in life.
 
*Material based on the series by Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church in California and the author of "The Purpose Driven Life."  
 

WHY DO I NEED CHURCH? You Need Frequent Celebrations of God

Gregory Magruder        Parkview Baptist   Gainesville, FL   02-19-17
 
“Why Do I Need to Go to Church?
You Need Frequent Celebrations of God”
Habakkuk 3
 
INTRODUCTION:  Why do I need to go to church? What difference does it make? The prophet Habakkuk discovered that we need a fresh word from God in the middle of everyday problems and national crises. Regular worship provides us with new insights into who God is and puts life’s problems into perspective. Habakkuk learned that we may not get all the answers but “the righteous person will live by his faithfulness” (Hab. 2:4). Habakkuk ended his book with a prayer (Hab. 3:1). Chapter 3 has several musical notations (Hab. 3:1, 3, 9, 13), was written to be played on stringed instruments, and was given to the music director for the choir to sing (Hab. 3:19). The prayer is a hymn of worship and praise to God. Habakkuk encouraged his people to worship. Why do I need to go to church? You need frequent celebrations of God.
 
WORSHIP PROVIDES A PLACE OF PRAYER.
 
*The prayer of petition asks God for something. In this case the prophet asks God to intervene in the present day like he did in the past. He asks for a fresh manifestation of God’s power and deliverance. He asks for mercy in a time of judgment. A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth.
Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy (Habakkuk 3:1-2).
 
It is okay to ask God for help. Church is a place to pray.
 
WORSHIP PROVIDES AFFIRMATION OF GOD’S TRUTH.
 
*We gain answers to our prayers and new insights into who God is when we enter his presence in worship. God answered Habakkuk’s prayer with a vision of a future intervention by God to deliver his people (Hab. 3:3-15).
God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth (Hab. 3:3).
*Worship leads us to change our attitude and will to align with God’s truth and promises. Habakkuk learned submission to God’s will. He accepted God’s verdict and timing. Faith requires patience as well as obedience.
I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay
crept into my bones,  and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us (Hab. 3:16).
 
God reveals himself to us and gives us insights into his purposes when we take time to wait for him in worship.
 
WORSHIP PROVIDES A SETTING FOR PRAISE & TRUST.
 
*The worship experience leads to confession of faith, repentance, commitment and renewal. Habakkuk moves from complaint in chapters 1 and 2 to an unconditional trust in God in chapter 3. He is willing to trust in God no matter what the circumstances.
 
Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior (Hab. 3:17-18).
 
*Joy and strength for living are found in God alone. Worship gives us the opportunity to express our thanks and praise to God for his goodness and blessings. I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights (Hab. 3:18-19).
 
We can express our thanks to God for his blessings and commit ourselves to his service as we celebrate in worship.
 

WHY DO I NEED CHURCH? You Need a Fresh Word from God

Gregory Magruder    Parkview Baptist   Gainesville, FL   02-12-17
 
“Why Do I Need to Go to Church?
You Need a Fresh Word from God”
Habakkuk 1-2
 
INTRODUCTION:  Scripture says, Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing” (Hebrews 10:25, GNT). Many people today are asking why. Why do I need to go to church? The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk provides a good example of why we need church. The Book of Habakkuk struggles with theological issues, examines God’s character, and reveals a fresh word from God. A good church provides the opportunity to do all of those things. Church is the one place today where we can ask the tough questions and expect to hear some solid answers. Life is complex. Problems are real. God seems absent. We need a fresh word from God. Church is where we hear it.
 
“The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him”
                                                                        -Habakkuk 2:20
Habakkuk addresses the issues of his time in the context of a holy God in a heavenly temple overseeing earthly events. Recognition of God’s presence and power prepares us to face earth’s struggles and despair. The place of worship provides the setting for a fresh word from God and the celebration of God’s presence.
 
Habakkuk was a temple priest. He waited for a word from God. He interpreted current events through a theological lens. He responded by proclaiming the revelation from God (1-2) and by praising God in prayer and song (3). Let’s see how his circumstances relate to our times today.
 
WHY DO WE NEED CHURCH?
 
WE CAN ENCOUNTER GOD AT CHURCH (LAMENTATION).
 
*Church is one place we can lament. Lamentation is an expression of sorrow, complaint or grief. Habakkuk cried out to God about evil and evildoers. Church provides us with a place to cry out to God and ask the tough questions about life. “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?” (1:2).
 
*Church is the place we can listen to God. The worship setting allows us to commune with God and experience his presence. “Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.  I am raising up the Babylonians…(1:5-6).
 
*Church is where we learn about God and gain new insights into who God is and how he operates. “Lord, are you not from everlasting?  My God, my Holy One, you will never die. You, Lord, have appointed them to execute judgment; you, my Rock, have ordained them to punish. Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?” (1:12-13).
 
WE CAN HEAR GOD’S WORD AT CHURCH (PROCLAMATION).
 
*We should come to church expecting to hear a message from God. Habakkuk waited on the watchtower anticipating a reply from God. “I will stand at my watch… I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint” (2:1).
 
*Church is the place where a fresh word from God is preached. Proclamation is a declaration of truth that is expected to be carried out. The picture here in Habakkuk is of a messenger announcing news to the public as he runs along. God’s word provides life and hope and a strategy for living.  Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it” (2:2).
 
WE CAN EQUIP FOR SERVICE AT CHURCH (REVELATION).
 
*Church is the place where we can discover God’s revelation. A revelation is a new truth or fact that is made known in a surprising way. Divine revelation discloses new understanding about how humans are to live in this world. God revealed to Habakkuk that evil will self-destruct but integrity and faithfulness will lead to abundant and eternal life. “See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright—but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness”(2:4).
 
*The righteous that live out their faith can rest in the knowledge that evildoers will be punished and that God’s kingdom will prevail. Habakkuk includes 5 taunts that expose and ridicule the sins of the nations (2:6-19). Justice will be restored one day across the earth. For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (2:14).
 

OVERCOME UNHEALTHY FEARS AND FEELINGS IN 2017: Overcome the Feeling of Shame

Gregory Magruder    Parkview Baptist   Gainesville, FL   02-05-17
 
“Overcome Feelings of Shame”
2 Corinthians 5:17
 
INTRODUCTION:  We conclude the series today on how to “Overcome Unhealthy Fears and Feelings.” The fear of failure and the fear of rejection often govern our relationships with God and others. Feelings of guilt lead us to blame others or condemn ourselves for our mistakes. Another feeling that often grips us emotionally is the feeling of Shame. Fortunately, the Cross of Jesus Christ provides the remedy for unhealthy fears and feelings. Let’s see how the Cross helps us overcome feelings of shame.
 
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GUILT AND SHAME?
 
*Guilt has to do with behavior. Guilt comes when we know we have done something wrong or failed to do something right. We have violated a God-given standard. Guilt is a positive emotion that leads us to change our behavior. Paul experienced guilt: “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19).
 
*Shame has to do with being. Shame is more than remorse for bad behavior. Shame is an internal sense of self-worthlessness, a sense of being a failure as a human being. It is self-torment for being an awful person. Paul said it this way: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Romans 7:24). Shame leads to a cycle of wretched (hopeless and joyless ) living.
 
WHAT IS SHAMEBASED LIVING?
 
*The Shame Cycle is an “I give up” syndrome.  “Shame is a painful emotion caused by an awareness of guilt, shortcomings, or improper behavior” (McGee). 
 
*Shame says “I am what I am.  I can’t change.  I am hopeless.”
 
*Some common results of shame-based living are inferiority, habitual destructive behavior, self-pity, passivity and co-dependency.  Shame often leads to chronic depression.
 
*Adam and Eve experienced shame after they sinnedThe man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame...When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good…she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband…and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves... and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 2:25 – 3:8). 
 
*The cycle of shame goes like this: Guilt breeds shame which feeds bad behavior which produces guilt which creates shame.  
 
HOW DOES THE NEW BIRTH REMOVE MY SHAME?
 
*The Cross of Jesus Christ breaks the cycle of sin – guilt – shame.
“So there is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus.  For the power of the life-giving Spirit – and this power is mine through Christ Jesus – has freed me from the vicious circle of sin and death.  We aren’t saved from sin’s grasp by knowing the commandments of God because we can’t and don’t keep them, but God put into effect a different plan to save us.  He sent his own Son in a human body like ours – except that ours are sinful – and destroyed sin’s control over us by giving himself as a sacrifice for our sins.  So now we can obey God’s laws if we follow after the Holy Spirit and no longer obey the old evil nature within us” (Romans 8:1-4 TLB).
 
*What God did through the Cross:
 
  • No condemnation in Christ (1)
  • Freedom through the Holy Spirit (2)
  • Completion of the Law (3-4)
  • Destruction of sin’s control (3)
  • Power to change and obey (4)
 
*The Holy Spirit brings regeneration through the Cross. “When someone becomes a Christian he becomes a brand new person inside.  He is not the same any more.  A new life has begun!” (2 Cor. 5:17 LB). Regeneration is a spiritual rebirth.  
 
Because of regeneration I have been made brand-new, complete in Christ. Because of Christ’s redemption, I am a new creation of infinite worth. I no longer need to experience the pain of shame.
 
CONCLUSION:  You must personally accept what Jesus Christ did for you on the Cross!  You must believe Jesus can save you and you must personally receive him as your savior.
“But to all who received him, he gave the right to become children of God.  All they needed to do was to trust him to save them.  All those who believe this are reborn! – not a physical rebirth resulting from human passion or plan – but from the will of God” (John 1:12-13 TLB).
 
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