Sunday, June 19, 2011

Back to Basics

Today is Fathers’ Day, and there are probably some of you who don’t realize that the only “seasonal” sermons I do relate to Christian holidays, such as Advent and Christmas and Lent and Easter. I don’t structure my sermon series around our cultural holidays. If I did,

But I will say something about and to fathers as I start.

Our culture consistently ridicules and devalues fathers. Find me a current TV show in which the father is recognized as smart or relevant. Children are the smart ones and moms are the wise ones, and the dads are the bumbling fools.

Fathers, whether through failure or success, pass something down to their children. It is up to each one of us to choose what it is we will pass down. And this isn’t just a message for biological fathers. Each of us has the opportunity to become spiritual parents to someone. The Apostle Paul was a spiritual father to Timothy. When Paul writes to Timothy, he calls him “My true son in the faith.” (1 Timothy 1:2a)

Who are your spiritual parents? Turn to someone and tell them who your spiritual parent is or was.

What makes a spiritual parent? If Paul is Timothy’s spiritual father, then he probably has something to say on the subject. Will you turn with me to 2 Timothy 3?

You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Paul was a spiritual father to Timothy, so Timothy knew all about his teaching and the way he lived. God is calling each one of us not only to have spiritual parents, but to be spiritual parents. Do you know how to be a spiritual parent? It all starts with relationship with God. Anyone can be a parent, but to be a spiritual parent requires something more. Timothy saw Paul’s life, full of purpose, faith, patience, love, and endurance through persecution and suffering. Paul didn’t just all of a sudden exhibit these traits; they are fruit of the Spirit.

There is only one way to have fruit – it’s by cultivating the Spirit of God living in you. Jesus said it in an analogy: “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5).

There is no shortcut to having the character God desires in you. It doesn’t happen by working harder. It happens by remaining in Jesus. I like the way the King James Version puts it “abide in me.” It’s not just a passive “sitting there” but an active abiding in Him.

You can’t abide in Jesus without being with him, and there are two ways we primarily interact with him: through the Word and through prayer. Paul points Timothy toward the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:15). Are you daily in the Word? If not, you’re not abiding in Him, and you’re ignoring the vessel by which God calls you toward wisdom, salvation, and faith. I can’t stress enough that we as Christians absolutely must be in the Word of God. Why? Because All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Scripture is God-breathed. It is God’s life, poured into us. Think of it this way: we’re all on life-support, and Scripture is our breathing tube. God has breathed His breath into it, and through it, into us. Without it, we do not have life. Plain and simple. So if you’re away from Scripture, don’t expect to live the abundant life God has in store for you. Expect, instead, to be wheezing and hacking, trying to breathe.

And please, don’t even try to teach, rebuke, or correct anyone aside from Scripture. If you’re not in the Word, you don’t have any right to tell anyone else what to do. None. If we’re not getting our authority from Scripture, which is breathed by God Himself, then we have no leg to stand on. If we’re deriving authority from anywhere else, it’s your authority against mine, and we’ve got to figure out some other way to determine whose way is followed. The usual way is might makes right, meaning bullies get their way. Sometimes a vote is taken, which can sometimes provide a decent outcome, but just because something is popular does not make it right.

Scripture also equips us for every good work. Can you imagine what would happen if we read the Scriptures and actually believed that they were true? If we actually believed that we have the same power that the Apostles did? If we believed that God might actually work through the weak and powerless to show his power and might? If we believed that God would actually take care of us, that money or armies will not save us?

The Bible equips us for every good work by telling us who God is – how powerful and mighty and awesome and loving and caring he is – and by telling us who we are. Genesis 1:27 tells us that we are created by God in God’s image. Psalm 139 tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, that God knows us completely. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Have you ever felt unworthy to do something? Well, you’re not unworthy. In fact, God made you on purpose, for a purpose. Anyone who works with tools knows that there is a right tool for every job. God made you precisely to do good works, and you’ll know that if you’re in the Word. You will know that you’re a new creation. You’ll know that you are loved. You’ll know that there is no condemnation for you if you’re in Christ Jesus.

Satan is always active, and his job is deception. The scripture I read earlier tells us that imposters go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. Of course they will, because we all imitate our father, whether our father is God or the father of lies. And without a thorough knowledge of the Bible, it’s hard to tell when you’re being deceived. Cults love to quote the Bible, but they won’t give you the full body of Scripture, just a verse here and a verse there, just enough to justify their position. If you don’t want to be deceived, get in the Word! There is no excuse not to be in the Word. None at all.

Likewise, there’s no reason not to pray. We are really good at shortchanging God in prayer. The Bible tells us to be persistent in prayer, and at Annual Conference, Pastor Terry Teykl said we microwave our prayers when God wants us to marinate them. This isn’t the Ronco Rotisserie Oven of prayer – you can’t just set it and forget it.

Pray for leaders in our denomination, conference, and district. Someone was recently complaining about a decision the bishop made, and how could we possibly be an obedient church, and I responded by asking, “What has the Holy Spirit told you in your prayer time for the bishop?” I don’t think she had been regularly praying for the bishop. Pray for the bishop, and for the process which will bring a new bishop to the West Ohio Conference next year. Pray for our current District Superintendent, Hank Stringer, who is retiring, and our incoming District Superintendent, Barbara Sholis.

Are you regularly praying for the president?  For the election next year?

Terry Teykl introduced the conference to the concept of having a Most Wanted list. He related a story of meeting a woman and talking to her and she dropped a paper labeled “Wanted” – and it had a list of people’s names. She explained that it was a list of people whose salvation she is praying for. In college we called it the 2+ program; we each committed to pray for two people. It was the coolest thing to catch up with a couple of those guys on Facebook, some 15 years after graduation, and to find that they are living solid Christian lives, leading their families to know, love, and serve Jesus.

Who is on your “wanted” list? Whose salvation are you praying for? I am only aware of three families in the church who are actively involving others in praying for their unsaved family members. Why do we limit our prayer requests to sick people? That’s just wrong. What happens if they do get well and never know Jesus?

I have been stressing the need to reach others with the Good News of Jesus Christ – can you imagine what God might do if we start committing to deep prayer for our unsaved friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors? Terry Teykl told us: before you talk to your neighbors about God, talk to God about your neighbors. But he also related a word he received from God in prayer: “If you pray for the lost, I will give them to you.”

Are you praying for lost people? James 4:2 tells us: You do not have because you do not ask God. If you pray for nothing, what do you get?

We have had some powerful prayer meetings on Sunday evenings, but honestly it’s kind of sad that we usually only have five or six people show up to pray, especially when four of them have the same last name. With that in mind, how have you been praying for the church? I know I have been praying for God’s will in this church since before I came here, and some of you have been praying the same way for many more years. It can be easy to get discouraged, especially when numbers are down.

United Methodists are always aware of numbers. Honestly, our local church is not much different than the rest of American UM churches, where attendance is down 650,000 in the past 10 years. There are all sorts of reasons for this decline, and I can’t speak for other congregations, but locally, much of it has been pruning. There are people who have participated because of who is here. This has been the place to be and the place to be seen.

And when it’s not all about meeting Jesus, then we have horribly missed the point. I know people who have left because others in this congregation have chased them off. This is why Paul told Timothy: Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. (2 Timothy 2:16-17a). I know the gangrene isn’t completely rooted out yet, even as we have experienced pruning. Some of you are still influenced by the godless chatter.

If you’re experiencing that, it’s time to do some pruning yourself. As Christians, we are always to be reaching out to people who don’t yet know Jesus, but those who claim to know him, the ones who Eric called out last week, the ones who have been in church for years but aren’t bearing any fruit, get off the fence! Make a decision! You’re either for Him or you’re not, and if you’re not bearing any fruit, you’re against Him. Now is the time to make a decision.

Paul reminded Timothy that persecution will come to those who choose Jesus. It’s not a matter of “if” – it’s a matter of “when”. Persecution will come, because Satan doesn’t want anyone to be saved. But listen to what he wrote to Timothy about it. He said You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings – what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured.

 In Antioch, Paul preached brilliantly, but the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paula and Barnabas, and expelled them from the region. (Acts 13:50)

So they went to Iconium, and they spent considerable time there, speaking God’s Truth boldly. God enabled them to do miraculous signs and wonders, and the people were divided. Some of the Gentiles and Jews plotted together with their leaders to mistreat and stone Paul and Barnabas, so they fled, continually preaching the Good News.

In Lystra, after Paul had miraculously healed a crippled man, the people thought he was Zeus and tried to sacrifice to him, but he wouldn’t let them. Then some Jews came from Iconium and Antioch and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead. (Acts 14:19).

You might be thinking, “Wow – that’s not what I want to sign up for.” Which is a better choice: to undergo persecution now, or endure Hell for eternity?

Besides, when Paul is writing to Timothy, he didn’t stop at persecution. He went on to say: Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. (2 Timothy 3:11b)

Maybe you need some rescuing today. Maybe you’re in the midst of something. I think it’s appropriate to finish up this morning in prayer for one another.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bold Words from a Young Preacher

This week our congregation had the privilege of hearing Eric Hoover preach. Eric is a member of our youth group and he will be starting his freshman year of high school in the fall. Below is Eric's sermon - I have included it verbatim and have only edited to highlight Scripture. I hope it touches you like it did our congregation. Blessings, Brian.

Good morning! My name’s Eric Hoover, for those of you who don’t know me. The sermon that I’m about to preach, I did come up with on my own, but some of the material was inspired by three of the greatest influences in my Christian walk right now, John Piper, Mark Driscoll, and Paul Washer. I would encourage everybody, Google them, Youtube them, go buy books by them, John Piper, Mark Driscoll, and Paul Washer. They’re amazing pastors and authors and they can really help you in your walk with God. Alright, I’ll open with some Scripture, and then we’ll pray.

Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

Pray with me: Father God, thank you for your presence here today. I humbly ask that you use my words to change people’s lives for your glory. Use me, a humble servant, to communicate truth so that no one in this building will walk out unchanged. Give me the right words to say through your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Now before I begin today, I want to make sure that I don’t come across as a judgmental, pharisaical, freak, but just come across as a person telling the truth. For your information, I hate religion! Religious people like to talk a lot about other people’s sin but they don’t deal with their own sin. So I confess, I’m no better than anybody else, I’m just as bad as everybody else, and I pray that you would see me as that! Not as some judgmental dude looking down on you. My job is to tell you the truth. Your job is to make a decision.
So are you a Christian? Think about it. I think that everybody in this building would claim to be a Christian. 

Well obviously, that’s probably not true, that everybody in this building is a real Christian, regarding the Bible verses I just read at the beginning. To refresh your memory, It said “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” That’s not popular. It’s not popular to say that, 100 years from now, possibly even some of the people in this building will be suffering in hell. So how do you know that you’re a true Christian? I mean, we’ve all said the sinner’s prayer at sometime in our life. Most of us were baptized as infants. But neither of those save you!  The problem is, we don’t understand the Gospel, and we don’t trust in Jesus – that’s why might be on our way to hell. We are sinful. Human beings are fallen. We are imperfect. Genesis tells us how God created humans in His image and likeness, and we rebelled against him. Adam sinned against God. As a result, all human beings, including you and me, are sinful and undeserving and unworthy of God. 

Sin is plainly rebellion against God. We have sins of omission, where we do not do good, and sins of commission, where we do do bad. Sin is lying, cheating, stealing, lusting, committing adultery, murdering which is even hating someone in your heart, etc. etc. We are all sinful, fallen, and guilty. God’s standard is perfection. Matthew 5:48 says “Be perfect, as I am perfect.” A good Judge has to declare guilty people guilty! And if you don’t think you’re guilty, if you don’t think you’ve ever sinned and if you think you’re perfect, then you are prideful, which is the worst sin of all! That’s what got Lucifer, the devil, kicked out of heaven. 

This is what Romans 3:23 says. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” “All” includes you and me. There are no exceptions. You are guilty. I am guilty. We are all guilty. We have all sinned and rebelled against God – we have done what He has told us not to do, and not done what he has told us to do! So get it out of your mind that we are basically good people, who do a few bad things – contrary to what our culture tells us. We are bad people. We are sinners by nature. If you think that you are a good person, then read Romans 3. I don’t have time to read the whole chapter, but part of it, starting at verse 10, says “None is righteous, no not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” And on to verse 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood, in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”  So it’s pretty clear that we’re sinful and rebellious against God.

God hates sin. God has to punish sin. Isaiah 13:11 (this is God speaking) “I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity.” Nahum 1:2, 8 says this. “The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and wrathful; the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies…With an overflowing flood he will make a complete end of the adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into darkness.” We, by nature, since we are sinful, are God’s adversaries, or his enemies. God has to punish our sin. Habbakuk 1:13 says “You (God) who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong.” Romans 2:8 reads “But for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.” 

God’s wrath is spoken of more than 600 times in the Bible. It is spoken of more than the love of God. And that’s not popular in our culture. The wrath of God the punishment of sin and evil. Ultimately, the wrath of God is hell. As I speak about hell, I do so not to scare you, but to warn you. Some say “If he really loved me, then he wouldn’t talk about this.” Or “Isn’t your faith supposed to be kept to yourself and not to be made public?” 

Friends, it is because I love you that I’m about to speak these words. If I didn’t tell you about hell, I wouldn’t be loving you. My job is to tell you the truth. Your job is to make a decision. And also, as we talk about hell, we have to be sure not to become callous and heartless, because real people are actually going there to spend eternity! The problem is, we do not understand how severe and damnable our sin is. Jesus, the most loving person who ever lived, spoke of hell more than anyone else in the Bible. Hell is conscious. You can feel incredible, horrific pain – that’s what the Bible says. Hell is eternal torment. It’s forever and ever and ever. Once you get in, you don’t get out. In the Bible, it is described as fire, darkness, weeping, and gnashing of teeth. Hell is real. Judgment is real. Death is real. Friends, you are going to die! You don’t know when you will die. A 16 year old friend of mine who was on my brother’s soccer team got killed in a car accident this past March! Nobody saw it coming except for God. Death is real! Some of you have many years left, and some of you might not make it through today.

So how is it possible to not go to hell? Well, let me just introduce that by saying this again. I HATE RELIGION. Religion is a list of do’s and don’t’s, saying “if you are a good enough person, you’ll get to heaven.” No, that’s not true at all! Religion also says “You really want to do evil and do the wrong thing, but we’re going to make you do good.  Even if you don’t like it. I’m going to talk about hell, and get all spooky, to scare you into doing the right thing.”

 That’s not true at all! That’s not why I’m talking about hell. I’m talking about hell because I’m warning you, and because I love you. Well, it’s clear in the Bible that doing good things doesn’t save you. Galatians 4:11 says “Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for the righteous shall live by faith.” Isaiah 64:6 says “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” That means if you try to get to God by doing good things, then that’s even worse, because you’re prideful. No matter how many good things we do, there is no possible way we can meet God’s standard – which is perfection. We are all full of sin. 

So, if doing good things doesn’t save us, then what does? How are we justified in God’s sight? How is it possible to be declared holy, innocent, and righteous in God’s eyes when we are undeniably not innocent, unholy, and unrighteous? 

Friends, the answer is Jesus. Too many people make the mistake of treating Jesus like a good moral teacher, or a good example to live by, or a person with good quotes to use. Too many people treat the God-man like just a good-man. Jesus is God. He came to earth and lived a perfect life – He didn’t sin – and then died for our sin on the cross. Now, you need to know this. This is important. Jesus died for my sins in my place when He was crucified. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” This is what Martin Luther calls the Great Exchange. 

Jesus takes our sin, guilt, death, and condemnation, and punishment that we all rightfully deserve – we all deserve hell – and He gives us righteousness, justification, and a new life. 1 Peter 3:18 – For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. Through Jesus’ death on the cross, we are justified, or made righteous, in God’s eyes. 

Friends, somebody has to pay for your sin. God is a just and holy God. Somebody has to take the wrath of God. You’ve sinned. You deserve condemnation. Jesus took the condemnation for you. That is what we believe! That is the very center of Christianity! Some of you have been going to church your whole life, and you’ve just missed the point! The whole point of Christianity is Jesus! It’s Jesus – he’s God, he comes to earth as a man, lives a perfect life, dies for our sins on the cross, takes the punishment that we all deserve, and then rises from the grave to triumph over Satan and prove He’s God. 

All that’s left is to have faith in Christ – to trust in Jesus, and repent and turn from your sin! That is the Gospel. That is what we believe! 1 John 2:2 – “He (talking about Jesus) is the propitiation for our sins.” “Propitiation” is just a fancy word for payment.  God punished Jesus instead of punishing us. It’s not fair. It’s a gift. It’s called grace. Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works so that no one can boast.” Jesus already paid for your sin. 

John 3:16 says “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.” The Greek word for “believe” does not mean “believe that He exists.” The “believe” in John 3:16 means “to trust in” or “to rely on”. Turn from your sin, and trust in Jesus!

True faith in Christ is preceded and followed by repentance. Jesus says twice in three verses in Luke chapter 13 “Unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Everybody that has ever lived has two options – Repent and turn to Jesus, or perish! Friends, those are the only options! Either repent, or perish! 

What is repentance? Repentance is three things. Number 1, it’s confession. It’s just confessing your sins to God. 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Repentance is confession. Number 2, repentance is contrition. It is actually being sorry about your sin. It’s being contrite. You can confess your sin and not be sorry about it! Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart.” Repentance is being deeply sorrowed by your sin. Number 3, repentance is also change. It’s turning from your sin and trusting in Jesus. The thing that I love about Jesus is that, once you meet him, once you say “Jesus, I’m sorry, I’m unworthy and deserve hell, please justify me by your blood on the cross, please save me!” 

The thing I love about Jesus is that, once He saves you, He never leaves you the same. You can’t claim that you are a Christian, and then not change! You can’t meet Jesus, and stay the exact same way for the rest of your life! Jesus changes everything! There’s no doubt that good works and doing good things don’t save you. Ephesians 2:8-10 says “For by grace you have been saved, through faith. And this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” And remember, I hate religion! Again, religion says, “Even though you want to do wrong, we’re going to make you do right!” Well that’s not true! If you truly have been saved by Jesus, you’re going to want to do good things! 

You’re not going to want to lie, cheat, steal, lust, have pride, commit adultery, hate somebody, etc. etc. You’re not going to want to do any of that because Christ gives you a new heart! Christ changes you from the inside out. Real Christians lead a life of good works and real Christians bear fruit. Jesus said in Matthew 7: “You will know them by their fruits.” So it’s impossible to truly come to Christ, get saved, and remain unchanged. So do your works show that you truly do have faith in Christ? John Piper writes in his book Don’t Waste Your Life: “I believe in justification by grace through faith. But I do not believe that the faith that justifies could ever leave people unchanged by the radical Christ they claim to believe. That is a cheap response to the Gospel.” 

So many people today are fake Christians. They were never saved in the first place. A fake Christian is a person who claims to follow Christ, but lives just as worldly as everybody else. It greatly disturbs me when I see people, especially young people, tear up at praise and worship services, and go up for altar calls and get all emotional at some Christian youth camp, and then not do a thing for Jesus the rest of their life! Such a person is lukewarm – they are neither on fire for Jesus nor working against Jesus. You know what Jesus says he will do to such people? Revelation 3:16 – “So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” If you truly have been saved by faith in Jesus Christ, you will hate the things of this world. 1 John 2:15-17 says “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world.” 

Many people today claim to follow Christ but yet love the things of the world – they act like the world, they use the same language as the world, they dress like the world, they listen to the same music and watch the same evil television programs of the world, they love so much of the world! 1 John tells us that that person is not a real Christian. The love of the Father is not in that person. James 2:14, 17 says “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” Dead faith is not faith at all. See, if you truly turn to Jesus in the first place, it’s going to show by your works. So don’t assume that you are a Christian because you were baptized as an infant, or you asked Jesus to come into your heart when you were a kid, or you said the sinner’s prayer at sometime in your life!

Do you really trust Christ, and do your works show that you trust in Christ? If you claim to follow Jesus and remain unchanged, you’re not a Jesus follower. The Bible says you’re a child of the devil.

1 John 3:6 says “No one who lives in Him (Jesus) keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” That means, if there’s a continuous pattern of sinfulness in your life, you haven’t met Jesus. If you really did meet Jesus, your works would show it. If you have a continual pattern of sin in your life, you are probably on your way to hell.

Now, I’m not saying that just because you fall and sin every once in a while that you’re not a true believer – but I am saying what I’ve already said. Real Christians bear fruit. Not that the fruit saves us; Jesus saves us.
So are you really a Christian? I’m not asking if you claim to follow Christ. I’m asking if you have surrendered everything to Him and are living for his glory – not living for retirement, not living for your reputation, not living for wealth, but living for Christ! That’s what I’m asking! Has Jesus saved you? If you’re not sure, he hasn’t. 

Turn to Jesus now! Don’t wait another day! Friends, if you do not know Jesus, if you do not trust in Jesus, if you do not love Jesus, you are in the path of the wrath of God! We are all guilty; we are all sinners. We all deserve hell. But Jesus did the most loving thing 2000 years ago when he humbly came, took our place on the cross, took the punishment we all rightfully deserve, and then he Resurrected from the grave to triumph over Satan, sin, death, demons and hell. Don’t remain resistant to the Gospel one more day. Repent and have faith in Christ; that’s the only way out of your present sinful condition. He will set you free from sin to live a new life for Christ’s glory alone.

I know that I’ve spoken some strong words today. But it takes a lot of love to not tell someone just what they want to hear. I pray that I wouldn’t come across as a judgmental Pharisee but just as the sinner that I am.

Father God, thank you for giving us the truth in your Word. Thank you for saving me, the worst of sinners, and if anybody in this room does not have you, I pray that they would be saved today. I pray for these people; I love these people. I pray for those who would see me as some pharisaical judgmental religious person – I pray that they would just see me as a sinner, trying to tell other sinners the truth. I pray that they would receive you, and that they not remain stubborn-hearted to the Gospel for one more second. And I also pray for some who have been lukewarm in their walk with You, Father God, that they would repent, and see that there is more joy in living a life for Your glory than for living for their own glory. I pray this Jesus’ name. Amen.