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February 21, 2021
No Forgiveness, No Love
It’s important that as God’s children, we constantly ask ourselves if we are living in obedience to God. Are we seriously considering God’s guidance when we make each decision? You may think, God doesn’t care about each decision…after all, what does it matter if I wear socks or not. Actually, the socks don’t matter but our attitude does. He has given us freedom to make all of our decisions. And God has given us every resource we need to make good decision. He is even willing to forgive us when we don’t. And even better, He is willing to make things work out for our good when we trust Him with all our choices, even the bad ones, if we turn control over to Him, He will work it out for our good & His glory. The important point is that we realize He cares all about us & as the Bible tells us, in Luke 12:7 (AMPC) But [even] the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not be struck with fear or seized with alarm; you are of greater worth than many [flocks] of sparrows.
Last Sunday, Veronica shared Scriptures about God’s love & how He led her into personalizing them and hearing Him say “I love you Veronica”. After church, she shared with me the conversation she had with God as He led her through the process of realizing how the words of the Bible are God’s love letters to her.
God wants each of us to read His Word hearing Him speak to us as individuals. There was a song we sang in my youth “He’s Everything to Me” by Ralph Carmichael. “Till by faith I met Him face to face, And I felt the wonder of His grace, then I knew that He was more than just a God who didn't care, that lived a way out there and now He walks beside me day by day.” God wants a personal relationship with us. It is important for us to realize that the Bible is God’s love letters to each of us. He wants to fill us with His wisdom & He want to bless us with an abundant life.
So why do we struggle so much. Life is hard! We are not perfect and our world is far from perfect. Sin abounds. I was listening to David Jeremiah preaching about Daniel (the story is found in Daniel 10: 13, 20-21). He explained that Daniel was troubled so he prayed & fasted for 3 weeks seeking God’s answer. The angel, Gabriel, was dispatched from Heaven the first day of Daniel’s prayer. However, God’s message was delayed for 3 weeks by the prince of the kingdom of Persia. Pastor Jeremiah explained that “there is an often-overlooked truth that a battle is waging in the invisible world that powerfully influences the events of each day we live.”
Paul in Ephesians 6:12 says “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places."
I would like you to see that God has given us His Word in order for us to know Him, know His plan, His faithfulness. John 16:33 says “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Sin abounds and God has forewarned us; we will struggle with the challenges of this life. However, no matter what we experience, God has given us promises that can enable us to experience the victory He has already won as we faithfully come in agreement with Him and allow Him to infuse and empower us with His presence through His Scripture. For it is in His Word that we can learn to know who we are in Him & Who He is in us.
Last week, Steve Petit shared a powerful message with us and for those who may not have heard it, please go to the website (Parkview Baptist Church-Gainesville, Fl) and listen to it. He reminded us that Jesus presented His life to His Father for us; He was a living sacrifice, holy & pleasing to God so that we could be forgiven our debt of sin.
Paul in Romans 12: 1 reminds us that our response should be the same “Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.”
I like how Peterson put it in The Message: 12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Last week Steve also shared that there are 2 places where we learn to identify with Jesus as a man of sorrow & grief. They are in marriage & in church. I believe this is true because God established them both. And Satan wants to destroy them and take away the influence God intends for family & church to be in the world. John 13:35 (CEB) This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”
We find lots of Scriptures instructing us to love one another and to forgive one another as God first loved & forgave us. And He continues to love & forgive us, therefore, we too should continue in love & forgiveness of each other.
We all struggle with forgiveness or maybe I should say unforgiveness at times. Maybe you’ve been betrayed or rejected, perhaps someone has taken advantage of you or lied to you. You may have been told to “get over it” or “move on.” However, deep wounds don’t heal by just moving on. To move on, you have to stop & deal with the issue(s). The question is how do you deal with it?
I think it best we realize what our options are. Some suggest when trying to make a decision, especially a life-changing decision, we need to write down the pro & cons of the decision.
First, we could hold on & not let the wrong go. After all, the offender acts as if they didn’t do anything wrong & has no intentions of apologizing. So, let’s hold on & just show them that eventually they’ll be sorry they crossed our path. Sounds like we have the intention of getting even, paying them back for what they did. In the meantime, we let the unforgiveness fester within us. And just like any foreign object in our body, unforgiveness causes us dis-ease & eventually can get very challenging, as well as, potentially deadly. The infection doesn’t just attack our emotions, but our entire being…our body, our mind & our spirit, all are affected. Which then proceeds to affect our attitudes & behaviors, which then challenges our relationships, especially those closest to us.
Hmm; do you think that maybe that is how Satan is working to destroy marriages and churches? … that when disagreements occur, or any number of possible scenarios happen, we forget that God loves each of us equally?... that Jesus died for the “offender”, as well as, for you & me?
Colossians Chapter 2: 2-3: “2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
The desired outcome is unity in love. As you think about your relationships, all relationships…family, friends, associates, & yes even strangers. Strangers that you see as you go through your day, other drivers, people you see as your shopping, even those you see on tv. Do you realize that God loves each of them? Do you realize He has instructed us to love them too?
Some people say you can love someone even if you can’t forgive them, but I don’t think so. When you truly love someone, you want to be right with them. You can’t feel truly right, deep down love for someone when you can’t forgive them. True love doesn’t make you blind to their flaws. However, it makes you forgive those flaws, accept the person with all their flaws and you have a desire to help them be their best self.
Love and forgiveness coexist. It is love that drives the wheel of forgiveness & forgiveness is an offspring of love. Bryant McGill said, “There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.” Love is a farce if it does not endow you with forgiveness. Love is divine and it empowers you with the heavenly quality of forgiveness.
Without forgiveness we end up giving control of our life over to the person that caused the pain. Forgiveness can’t be about how they will respond, or what they will say or do. We understand that forgiveness can be hard for all of us. God’s Word and God Himself are available to help us through the process of forgiveness so that we can find the freedom that God desires for us.
Colossians 3:12-14 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
What do you plan to do the next time someone offends you? There are at least 3 good reasons why forgiveness is the right answer: 1. Because it’s the wise things to do; 2. Because Jesus set the example; 3. Because God has forgiven you!
Forgiveness is a conscious decision in no way affected by feelings. If you wait until you feel like forgiving, it would be similar to waiting until you felt like paying your taxes. That moment might never come! But if you view unforgiveness as a sin against God and a self-imposed burden as well, it just makes sense to get rid of it.
There are times when it isn’t fun to forgive. But remember that forgiveness is for giving. It is a gift. Jesus encouraged us to treat people the way we want to be treated and the way He has treated us. If we make forgiveness a gift with no strings attached, we can fulfill the Scripture. Try it. It really isn’t so hard to forgive, even when the subject of your forgiveness is most undeserving. Pass on the gift that Jesus has given you. Forgiveness is for giving.
Prayer from Colossians
Dear Father, Please continually fill me with the knowledge of Your will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that I may live a life worthy of You, Lord and please You in every way: 1)bearing fruit in every good work, 2) growing in the knowledge of You, 3)11 being strengthened with all power according to Your glorious might so that I may have great endurance and patience, giving joyful thanks to You, Father, who has qualified me to share in the inheritance of Your holy people in the kingdom of light.
Dear Father, My goal is that I may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that I may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that I may know Your mystery, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 so that no one may deceive me by fine-sounding arguments. May I live in Spiritual Fullness in Christ, just as I received Christ Jesus as Lord, enable me to continue to live my life in Him, a. 7 rooted and built up in Him, b. strengthened in the faith as I was taught, and c. overflowing with thankfulness. 8 See to it that no one takes me captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. 9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ I have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11 In Him I was also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. My whole self ruled by the flesh[b] was put off when I was circumcised by[c] Christ, 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which I was also raised with Him through my faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 When I was dead in my sins and in the uncircumcision of my flesh, God, You made me alive with Christ. You forgave me of all my sins, 14 having canceled the charge of my legal indebtedness, which stood against me and condemned me; Jesus has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. May I live in the freedom You give. May I not let anyone judge me by what I eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18 May I not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify me. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. 20 Since I died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though I still belonged to the world, do I submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. May I grow & mature in the nourishment of my spirit with God’s truth, enabling me to withstand the temptations of the world and the luring of the flesh. Instead of dependency upon “rules”, may I become filled with the wisdom of God’s Word.
Dear Father, Since, I have been raised with Christ, I set my heart on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. I set my mind on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For I died, and my life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is my life, appears, then I also will appear with Him in glory. 5 I put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to my earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, Your wrath is coming. 7 I used to walk in these ways, in the life I once lived. 8 But now I must also rid myself of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from my lips. I will not lie, since I have taken off my old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen child, holy and dearly loved, I clothe myself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bearing and forgiving others when I have any grievance against someone. I will forgive as You forgave me. 14 And over all these virtues I put on love, which binds me with all others together in perfect unity. 15 May the peace of Christ rule in my heart, since as a member of one body I am called to peace. And being thankful, 16 let the message of Christ dwell richly in me and my family of faith as we teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in our hearts. 17 And whatever we do, whether in word or deed, may we do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to You, our Father, through Him. I lift all our relationship to You. May18 Wives, submit themselves to their husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. May 19 Husbands, love their wives and not be harsh with them. May the 20 children, obey their parents in everything, for this pleases You. May 21 fathers, not embitter their children, so they will not become discouraged. 22 May we obey our earthly supervisors in everything; and do, not only when their eye is on us and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for You, our True Lord. 23 Whatever we do, May we work at it with all our heart, as working for You, our Lord, not for human approval, 24 since we know that we will receive an inheritance from You, our Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ we are serving. 25 And anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.
Dear Father, As You children with responsibilities of leadership, may we provide others with what is right and fair, because we know that we also have You, our true Master, in heaven. May we 2 devote ourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for each other that You may open a door for Your message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which we are committed. 4 We pray that we may proclaim Your Truth clearly and 5 be wise in the way we act toward outsiders; making most of every opportunity. 6 May our conversations be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that we may know how to answer everyone.
by Dr Gregory Magruder | August 16, 2020
INTRODUCTION: In August of 2000 I became the pastor of Parkview Baptist Church. Now today in August of 2020 I am preaching my final sermon as your pastor. My first sermon as your pastor twenty years ago had the following outline: First, let me do all I can for you. Second, do all you can for me. Third, let us do together all we can for the Lord. I can honestly say that we have accomplished those goals. In Philippians 4:20-23, the Apostle Paul said farewell to the church at Philippi. He stated two truths that I want to leave with you as I say farewell. You will do well as a church when you give glory to God and receive God’s grace.
GIVE GLORY TO GOD.
To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen
*How do you give glory to God?
- Believe in Jesus and trust God’s Word.
- Follow God’s lead. Find out where God is at work and join him. So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing” (John 5:19-20).
*Parkview has a new time and a new situation. Parkview has new adventures ahead. Give glory to God. “Our God and Father abounds in glory that just pours out into eternity. Yes” (Philippians 4:20 Message).
RECEIVE GOD’S GRACE.
Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. “The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar's household. The
grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit” (Philippians 4:21-23).
- Preach the gospel of salvation. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
- Preach the good news of compassion and mercy. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).
“Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster” (Joel 2:13).
- Love one another. Love God, love others. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”(John 13:34-35).
- Forgive as you have been forgiven. “Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:12-14).
*I pray that Parkview will continue to be a place of grace and compassion, a safe place for all who are hurting and need God’s love. Preach grace. Practice grace. “Receive and experience the amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, deep, deep within yourselves”(Philippians4:23 Message).
Parkview, give glory to God. Receive God’s grace.
“And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).
by Dr Gregory Magruder | August 9, 2020
INTRODUCTION: The Lord Jesus said that “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). The church at Philippi had demonstrated that in their support of the Apostle Paul. Paul closes his letter with gratitude for their support and general instructions on giving and receiving. We read his comments in Philippians 4:14-20.
SHARE GENEROUSLY TO SUPPORT GOD’S WORK.
*Giving sustains the work and workers of Christian ministry. Paul describes giving as a fellowship. It is a partnership of sharing in God’s work. The Philippians had consistently participated in Paul’s ministry from the beginning. “Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again” (4:14-16).
*The practice of giving is a spiritual investment with eternal dividends. Generosity is a Christian virtue and it increases love and compassion in the giver. "Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit” (4:17).
RECEIVE GRATEFULLY THE GIFTS OFFERED TO GOD.
*The recipient of the gift must recognize with gratitude the source of the gift. A gift given to God’s work and workers is really an offering to God. “I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God” (4:18).
TRUST GOD TO MEET YOUR EVERY NEED.
*The generous person opens the door to the riches of Heaven. God blesses those who love God and their fellow man. God will meet their every material and spiritual need. You can’t out-give God. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen” (4:19-20).
by Dr Gregory Magruder | August 2, 2020
INTRODUCTION: We cultivate the presence, peace, and power of God through prayer. In Philippians 4:4-7, Paul says everything we do should be done in prayer. Relief from anxiety begins with prayer. We replace anxiety through meditation. Every Christian believer can practice biblical meditation and experience God’s peace (4:8-9). Prayer and meditation lead to contentment. We can learn how to be content in all circumstances. The Apostle Paul shares his journey to contentment in Philippians 4:10-13.
THE EVIDENCE OF CONTENTMENT IS JOY AND GRATITUDE.
*Paul was thankful for God’s provision and grateful for his Christian friends’ concern. He had joy in the Lord even though he was in prison chained to a guard. A contented person expresses joy and gratitude. “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no
CONTENTMENT DOES NOT DEPEND ON CIRCUMSTANCES.
*The contented person has the perspective that God is in control no matter what my situation may be. This insight only comes through a steady, consistent walk with God through the ups and downs of life. Whether rich or poor, hungry, or full, we know and learn that God is for us and not against us. “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (4:11-12).
THE SECRET OF CONTENTMENT IS CHRIST.
*”I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power” (LB). Christ lives in me and empowers me to do what he wants me to do. Paul could have joy and gratitude in prison and be content when he faced the extremes of life because Jesus gave him strength. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (4:13).
Are you relying on Christ or circumstances today?
by Dr Gregory Magruder | July 26, 2020
INTRODUCTION: We cultivate the presence, peace, and power of God through prayer. In Philippians 4:4-7, Paul says everything we do should be done in prayer. Relief from anxiety begins with prayer. We replace anxiety through meditation. Different forms of meditation have become popular. Mindfulness is a buzz word now used in schools, businesses, and self-help books. Eastern meditation has been popularized in the media and biofeedback has been a staple of scientific research into relaxation techniques. Is there such a thing as Christian meditation? Christianity has a long tradition of Christian mystics who practice meditation. Current studies have shown that biblical meditation consisting of prayer and devotional study produces the same benefits and peaceful results as other forms of meditation. Every Christian believer can practice biblical meditation. So, what is Christian meditation? How do we meditate? Paul gives us the answer in Philippians 4:8-9.
WHAT IS CHRISTIAN MEDITATION?
*Christian meditation is focusing on things that are good and godly. It is like the cow’s process of mastication, chewing the cud. The believer mulls over and reflects on God’s Word and truth until it is fully digested. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (4:8).
*Christian meditation has content that becomes the focus of the thoughts. Eastern meditation and other secular forms of meditation aim to empty the mind. Christian meditation replaces the bad with the good, the impure with the pure, the lies with the truth, etc. - if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (4:8).
*The best resource for meditation is the Bible, God’s Word. The Psalms are good content for meditation. For example, Psalm 136 shows us how to dwell or think on good things using biblical content.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever (136:1)
*Any subject matter that builds good character and promotes healthy thinking is good for meditation. Paul uses common moral virtues praised by the pagan philosophers of his day as worthy of meditation and reflection - whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable… think about these things (4:8).
HOW DO WE MEDITATE?
*Focus your mind on these virtues and God’s Word.
- True – true to fact and reality. Thy word is truth (John 17:7).
- Honorable – worthy of respect, has dignity and is seriously noble.
- Just – right, righteous, in perfect harmony with God’s standards.
- Pure – chaste, undefiled by sin, morally clean, stainless, innocent.
- Lovely – winsome, endearing, gracious toward someone like Jesus.
- Commendable – good repute, highly regarded, well thought of.
- Excellence – the best, not the worst; superior quality, purposeful.
- Worthy of praise – admirable, commendable, deserving applause.
*Follow biblical principles and godly examples. Hear, meditate, and put God’s Word and the good virtues into practice. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you (4:9).
*As you meditate and apply the Word of God in your life, the God of Peace will be present and manifest his power - practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you (4:9).
“When you have the secure mind, the peace of God guards you (v.7) and the God of peace guides you (v.9)” – Warren Wiersbe, Be Joyful, p.126.
by Dr Gregory Magruder | July 19, 2020
INTRODUCTION: Paul encouraged the Philippians to persevere and stay on track in their faith in the Lord. They needed to stand firm in the face of all obstacles and opposition. They needed to work together in the Lord and help one another to live in harmony. They needed to let the joy of Christ rule their lives and be gracious, considerate, and unselfish in their interactions with others (Philippians 4:1-5). The only way we can do these things is when we are in constant connection with God through prayer. We cultivate the presence, peace, and power of God through prayer. In Philippians 4:4-7, Paul says everything we do should be done in prayer.
WHY SHOULD WE PRAY?
The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer…let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God… will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (4:5-7)
- We should pray because the Lord is near.
- We should pray because life has worries and anxieties.
- We should pray because we have needs.
- We should pray because we need peace in our lives.
HOW SHOULD WE PRAY?
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice…But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (4:4-6).
- Praise - Begin your prayer with praise to the Lord.
- Prayer and Supplication - Turn to God in humble reverence and ask him to meet your personal needs.
- Petition – Ask God to intervene in the lives of others and to answer specific, definite requests.
- Thanksgiving – Pray with gratitude for all that God has done and with full assurance that your prayers will be answered.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE PRAY?
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (4:6-7).
- Anxiety is contrary to faith. Faith trusts that God is in control. The cure for worry is to turn to God in prayer.
- God’s unfathomable peace mounts guard over your feelings (heart) and your thinking (mind) when you pray in the name of Jesus Christ.
We cultivate the presence, peace, and power of God through prayer. Let’s pray!
by Dr Gregory Magruder | July 12, 2020
INTRODUCTION: Paul writes: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20). We represent the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth while we look for the soon return of Christ. Jesus will bring about a new Heaven and a new Earth. He will give us new bodies fit for eternity. Therefore, we need to live in such a way that we please the Lord and invite others to follow him. Paul expresses his love for the Philippians and urges them to “stand firm in the Lord” (Phil. 4:1). We must persevere in our faith and stay on track in the Lord. How do we do this?
WORK TOGETHER IN THE LORD.
*Settle your differences for Christ’s sake. Be in harmony and unity even if you disagree. “I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord” (4:2).
HELP ONE ANOTHER IN THE LORD.
*Be a peacemaker for the sake of the body of Christ. “Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life” (4:3).
ALWAYS BE JOYFUL IN THE LORD.
*Let the joy of Christ rule in your life despite difficult and unsettling circumstances. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (4:4).
BE GENTLE TOWARD EVERYONE.
*Time is short. Stand firm and treat others well. Be gracious, considerate, and unselfish in your interactions with others. “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand” (4:5).
by Dr Gregory Magruder | July 5, 2020
INTRODUCTION: This is Independence Day weekend. We celebrated our nation’s birth on July 4th with fireworks, family outings, and good food. While America has many problems and people are protesting to correct those problems, we still have much to be thankful for living in a land that promotes “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Citizenship in the United States of America carries privileges and rights that few people experience anywhere else in the world. “Proud to be an American” is an apt phrase for this Independence Day weekend. But the Apostle Paul states that there is something even greater for Christians in any nation: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20). Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). We represent the Kingdom of Heaven. How are we to live as citizens of Heaven while we reside here on Earth? Paul explains this in Philippians 3:17-21.
FOLLOW THOSE WHO EXEMPLIFY CHRIST.
*All Christians are on a journey. We are in a race aiming for the finish line and the prize that awaits us. We are striving to be like Jesus and be with him forever. Paul says we need to imitate godly believers who set a good example for us. “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” (3:17).
AVOID THOSE WHO EXPLOIT CHRIST.
*Paul had warned the Philippians of the legalists who demanded rituals instead of the freedom found in Christ (3:2-3). Now he warns them of libertines whose immoral lifestyles mock the name of Christ. They abuse the freedom in Christ to satisfy their personal desires. “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ (3:18).
*The libertines are sexually unrestrained, indulge their appetites, and celebrate shameful behaviors. Their destiny is eternal loss and separation from God. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things” (3:18-19).
LIVE AS THOSE WHO EXPECT CHRIST.
*Christians have a dual citizenship. We are citizens of this world and the nation we live in, but we are also citizens of heaven. We have all the rights and privileges of a child of the King. We represent the Kingdom of Heaven as we live in this world. Our conduct should match our heavenly citizenship. “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (3:20-21).
*We look forward to the coming of Jesus Christ to establish a new Heaven and a new Earth. He will transform our earthly bodies into immortal bodies fit for eternity. Until then we are to live as the people of God on this earth. “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (3:20-21).
*The Christian hope and motivation: “For there will be a trumpet blast from the sky, and all the Christians who have died will suddenly become alive, with new bodies that will never, never die; and then we who are still alive shall suddenly have new bodies too. For our earthly bodies, the ones we have now that can die, must be transformed into heavenly bodies that cannot perish but will live forever…
So, my dear brothers, since future victory is sure, be strong and steady, always abounding in the Lord’s work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever wasted as it would be if there were no resurrection”
1 Corinthians 15:52-58 TLB
by Dr Gregory Magruder | June 28, 2020
INTRODUCTION: Paul wrote “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (3:8). Paul’s goal was
to “know him and the power of his resurrection” (3:10). But Paul made it very clear that he had not yet achieved his goal: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (3:12). True spirituality does not rest on regulations, rituals, and creeds like the formalists practice and teach. True spirituality is an on-going walk with Christ that continues to strive to be like Jesus. Paul likens the Christian life to a runner in a race aiming for the finish line and the prize that awaits her. How are we to run that race?
FORGET THE PAST.
*Athletes have intense concentration. They cannot be swayed from the task. They cannot think back to past failures or victories. They must focus on the race or event at hand. “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” (3:13).
*Runners must strip off everything that will hinder them from running the race. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
*The Christian life should always make progress There is no room to rest on our laurels or sit out the race. Christians are in an onward and upward race to the end. We must make every effort and exertion to strain and stretch beyond where we are spiritually. “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” (3:13).
KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE GOAL.
*All Christians are in the race. We are at different stages of maturity. We are to maintain what we know, and we are to press on to gain more in our relationship with Christ. Our goal is to finish the race. A prize and reward await us. “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained” (3:14-16).
*Our prize is Jesus Christ and eternal life. We need to fix our eyes on Jesus and keep on going until we cross the finish line. “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
by Dr Gregory Magruder | June 21, 2020
INTRODUCTION: Father’s Day is a good time to recognize godly fathers and godly men. Men play such an important role in the lives of their families, society, and the life of the church. The attributes of our Father in heaven should play out in the lives of his people. Men of God should look for ways to please the Father and offer a worship that God accepts. The Book of Amos was written by Amos. It was written sometime before 760 B.C. It was written to the Northern Kingdom of Israel and to Judah. It is written as a rebuke of the lack of justice and righteousness in the land. The people worshiped God, but their lives did not honor God or show concern for others. So, what kind of worship pleases the Father?
Amos 5:21-24 details godly worship and the lives that please the Father.
MOVE AWAY FROM WORSHIP THAT DEEPLY DISPLEASES THE FATHER.
*God is displeased with meaningless assemblies. “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies (5:21).
*God is displeased with worthless offerings. “Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them” (5:22).
KNOW THAT THE FATHER REJECTS NOMINAL WORSHIP.
*God does not accept mindless worship. “Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them” (5:22).
*Worship that only happens externally is not accepted. “Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen” (5:23).
HEAR AND DO WORSHIP THAT PLEASES THE FATHER.
*Instead of looking religious and pious, let us do justly and rightly. “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (5:24).
*Let us lend our voice, support, and efforts to the eradication of injustice.
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).
CONCLUSION AND CURRENT APPLICATION:
- God does not accept their (Israel’s) worship, because it is not from the heart. They had grown complacent and comfortable with their wealth and status. They had begun drifting away from God and were becoming a more pagan nation. There are startling similarities between the church now and Israel then. We cannot be so comfortable in our own positions that we fail to honor God by loving our neighbors as ourselves.
- Let us practice being an advocate for the downtrodden and broken-hearted. Specifically, let’s speak out against overt, covert, and systematic racism and oppression aimed at African-Americans and people of color.
- Let us no longer be comfortable being indifferent and unbothered by the sin of racism and preferential treatment because God is not unbothered.
- Let us honor our One Father by honoring the Imago Dei in each one of us. Basic respect for the dignity and humanity of another is crucial for a follower of Christ.
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