Tag Archives: Sermon Notes

The Cross of Christ

"Look at the cross, think of the cross, meditate on the cross, and then go and set your affections on the world if you can. I believe that holiness is nowhere learned so well as on Calvary. I believe you cannot look much at the cross without feeling your will sanctified, and your tastes made more spiritual. As the sun gazed upon makes everything else look dark and dim, so does the cross darken the false splendor of this world. As honey tasted makes all other things seem to have no taste at all, so does the cross seen by faith take all the sweetness out of the pleasures of the world. Keep on every day steadily looking at the cross of Christ, and you will soon say of the world, as the poet does—

Its pleasures now no longer please,  No more content afford;  Far from my heart be joys like these,  Now I have seen the Lord.

As by the light of opening day  The stars are all concealed,  So earthly pleasures fade away  When Jesus is revealed."

Pastor JC Ryle (1816-1900)

Godly Leadership Qualifications for Elders

Titus 1:5 – appoint leaders according to Paul’s qualifications…not for other reasons.

Titus 1:8 – Elders must be hospitable, loving what is good, self controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.

  • Hospitable – loving strangers, not just friends or people in the congregation
  • Loving what is good – things/characteristics that remind you of God and does not offend his characteristics. Purity, love, holiness, etc. Not loving evil things.
  • Self-controlled – to think soundly and use common sense. To keep your head. Not given to wild or foolish ideas. Thinking unlike other people.
  • Upright – living knowing people are watching. Are you doing things that would bring disgrace on Christ’s name.
  • Holiness – truely pure, clean in private, not just in public, as what you do in private indicates your true character.
  • Disciplined – ability to control oneself. A daily surrender to God’s Spirit.
  • Titus 1:9 – Holding firm to the Word of God, as it is truely capable of changing hearts, minds and souls. Scripture is God-breathed. This is so he can exhort in sound doctrine and refute (show people their sins) those who contradict.

Leadership of the Body of Christ

Titus 1:5
This along with 1 Timothy provide 24 standards for being a leader in the Church. “Above reproach” does not mean without sin, but it means there is a clear pattern in his life focused in serving and obeying God and has a reputation for doing so. Leaders should live a life worthy of imitation. Unfortunately, the pursuit of righteousness doesn’t get headlines anymore. This leaves our society with a lot of questions for people on what is right and what is wrong. The Church has the answer and this is our opportunity to share it.

In this culture is was normal for men to have a legal wife but carry relationships with several women unapologetically. Divorce was very very common. So when Paul writes that the leader in the church was to be a one woman man, this was as rare a case as it is now. The world would tell us that monogamy is unnatural. Indeed it runs against our sinful nature. Loving your spouse unconditionally requires you to lay down your lives sacrificially. We are to love our spouse as Christ loves the Church…he died for them, even while we were sinners. We are to love our spouses even when they are sinners. That’s not a message our culture wants to hear.

Pastors have the 3rd highest divorce rate of all occupations. The powers of evil make it a high priority to attack marriages, as marriage itself is an institution from God.

Verse 6 – a leader/elder must not have children under their authority who are being disobedient or rebellious. This verse does not mean the children must be saved. The salvation of anyone is up to God, not their parent.


Letter to the 7 Churches

Revelation 1:17-20 – John says he fell down like a dead man in the presence of the Lord. He witnesses Jesus evaluating 7 churches.

Revelation 2:2-3 – The Church at Ephesus

Jesus knows our works and labors. We will be evaluated by Jesus for what we do now. Jesus has good things to say, but in Revelation 2:4 Jesus says that the Epehesian church has walked away from their first love.

Acts 19 – The church here in Ephesus starts and is growing rapidly, and doing powerful things for God. There is a massive revival. Magic Books were burned and idol makers ran out of work.

In Revelation 2 the Ephesian church had been in existence for 40 years.

1) Christ compliments them for what they have done well. The church was working to the point of exhaustion for Christ. How often do we do that?

Revelation 2:8- Church of Smyrma

Very large city, similar to Ephesus, seaport, very wealthy, interested in arts and athletics. Known for their temples.

Revelation 2:12-17 – The church at Pergamum

Capital of region, for 400 years. Large city, had second largest library in the world, city built on a large hill overlooking a valley. Known for medicine and where parchment was invented. This church compromises their spiritual beliefs. The city had a massive alter to Zeus, that looked like a giant throne on the hillside. The city is structured as an opposition to God…Zeus being a counter to God the father, and the savior their culture was the medical community. Medical symbol of a snake on a staff comes from this city. The Christians were merging the “Satanic” culture around them with their beliefs…they were intermarrying with nonbeleivers, eating food offered to idols. Much like many churches/Christians in America, we are blending with the pagan American culture, and we are not standing out from the rest of the culture like Christians should be if they were holding true to their faith. We don’t act like were Christians – we try to have the best of both worlds….acknowledge Christ as Lord iour minds but act like any other nonbeleiver.

Revelation 2:18 – the Church at Thyatira

Smaller city, but las longest letter. Culture surrounded around guilds. Act 16:14 – Lydia that sells purple dye, was from Thyatira. The church was very large here. Jesus commends them for their love, service, faith and perseverance and that they are growing in their love, contrasted with Ephesus which was condemned for turning from their first love. But, they are condemned for allowing Jezebel to continue teach and practice false doctrine (sexual immorality and eating food offered to idols) in their church. The guilds often offered food to pagan gods and participated in drunken orgies. Jezebel was teaching in the church that this lifestyle was okay, as its just fitting in with the culture there, and is condemned for that.

Revelation 3:1 – Church of Sardis

Very rich and large, appearing to be a thriving church. The city was a major crossroads for surrounding cities, positioned up on a hill so it was easily defended, leading the Roman army to occupy the city. Jesus unloads on this church in scripture, calling them “dead” and telling them to “WAKE UP!”

We can look like good Christians on the outside to everyone ele but God sees our hearts.

Revelation 3:5 What robes connotes celebration, victory and purity for those who are with Christ during his future coming and judging of the world.

Revelation 3:7 – Letter to the church at Philadelphia

Youngest city of the others in these letters. Missionary city to draw people into the Greek culture. It was located at the corner of 3 regions. Started by people from Pergamum to reach out to Lydia and Phrygia with the Greek culture. Located in a valley I an fertile land used for farming and vineyards. Hit by frequent earthquakes. Was wealthy from selling wine to other cities.

Christ tells them in this letter that this city is an open door for them to use as a means of Christian missionary work. Since they city was strategically located for Sharing the Greek culture, God also calls the church to use this location as a means to share the Gospel to the regions that came together there.

This message applies very much to our geographical region – Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill – because this is a hub of traffic for colleges. People come here from all over the world to go to our many colleges – how should we take this opportunity to share the Gospel as Christ encouraged the Church at Philadelphia? Just as what Christ tells the church at Philadelphia, missionary work does not mean that we have to have any special credentials to share the faith…we just have to be willing and obedient. God does the saving.

Revelation 3:14 – The Church at Laodicea

The richest of all the churches in this region, very very wealthy city. Was on the road to Asia.

Christ calls the church lukewarm, even though they thought they were rich in spirit in addition to their financial wealth. In this area, they had a unique circumstance where they had hot springs. It had to be pumped in for 6 miles, so by the time it got to the city it was lukewarm which was not very good and the people did not like their water. So both hot and cold water would be better than lukewarm. This text is not saying (as many teach incorrectly) that God would rather us be unsaved (cold) than to be a lukewarm believer. The application is still the same though…we are to be “hot” for God (or cold and refreshing, also good in this comparison to water) and passionate about Him and serving him. This city started as a fortress but over time became a major trade center. Later it was decimated by an earthquake.

Revelation 3:18 – there was a special breed of sheep in this area that were violet/black and brought a lot of wealth with the sale of their wool. Many wore these fine dark clothing, but Jesus tells them to robe themselves in white. They had a large medical center known for their eye and ear salve. Jesus also tells them they are blind, despite their notoriety for healing eyes.

Revelation 3:20 – this church was backsliding and turning from true faith (they were becoming junked up by their culture), and Jesus says that he is standing at the door and knocking. They need to repent and turn back to him. The reward in doing so is ruling and reigning with him one day.

We are to analyze our hearts, in reflection of these letters to the different churches and see where we fall short and respond with a renewed passion for following Christ and serving Him.


The Gospel Changes Us

1 Timothy 3

1) 1 Timothy 3:14-15 – God makes us into a household.

2) 1 Timothy 3:15 – God gives us life. Hearts of stone become flesh. We were dead prior to God saving us.

3) 1 Timothy 3:15 – God gives us a purpose. We are to teach and hold up the truth, like a pillar. Like the pillar of fire in the wilderness that the Jews followed for 40 years, a pillar is meant to be seen and followed.

4) 1 Timothy 3:16 – God unites us with a confession. All true believers believe some core truths:

A) Jesus came in a physical body

B) Was vindicated (revealed to be true) by the Spirit

C) He was seen by angels

D) He was announced to the nations, as in Acts where many nations heard the message in their own tongue. It is one gospel for all nations

E) He was believed on by the world – this is the only appropriate response to the Gospel

F) He was taken up to heaven to sit at the right hand of God the father – there is a real afterlife

What step can you take this week to make your body of believers a closer family?

Are you spending time in prayer and meditation on who God is and what He’s telling you?

Is your faith a secret or on display at your workplace?


How do you define “Christian?”

During the rule of Aurelious, it was illegal to be a Christian. During this time, Sanctus was under trial and during the questioning, his captors tried to determine from his faith…Sanctus only response was “I am a Christian.” Even as he was sentenced to be killed by wild animals.

What does it mean to be a Christian? Many people call them selves Christian, but do not follow Christ, or study the Bible. There is a lot of confusion in our culture as what it means to be a “good Christian.” Theology is constantly debated even within the church. Values of the world are starting to invade the church and change what it means to be a Christian.

You can believe anything you want and feel pretty confident that you are right….until you open the Bible. Examining the scriptures is key to understanding God. Without that, our own imaginations will never lead to truth. Truth is absolute. Just because someone believes that the way to heaven is by feeding the hungry or bowling the perct game, that is not true unless God has made it so. And the way to know what God says is true is in the Bible.

Paul means “small.” He is an old man, with much experience as an apostle when he writes to Titus. Titus was on the island of Crete, which was known for the dishonesty of its inhabitants.

Titus 1:1 – Paul calls himself a bond servant (“Dulas” or slave) of God. He was owned by God…with no rights of his own. This is a far cry to how most people in our day would define what it means to be a Christian. We tend to make church and our faith about US more than about God, which is idolatry. But was have been purchased at a great price (the crucifixion of Gods own son) out of slavery to sin, and into slavery to God.

In our country we stand on the thought of liberty. But liberty does not mean doing whatever you want….it is doing what you ought to do. That is the liberty produced when you become a slave of God.


New Year’s Resolutions

We tend to make resolutions at the beginning of each year, and often we fail to stick to that vow each year. This year, in 2012, we should make a resolution to be in service to Christ.

Philippians 3:4-7

1) The future is not dictated by the past. It’s not about what you did 10 years ago. Paul had a strict Jewish background, heredity and education to boast of to his peers, but he put that all behind him to follow Christ, as it did not bring him salvation. He says later in Ephesians, that it’s not about your works, that we would boast. What are you doing now?

Philippians 3:7-14

2) The future is determined by what is done in the present. Paul counts all his noble background as rubbish in comparison to knowing Christ. We know Christ by studying the Bible. That is how God speaks to us. Are you spending time in the Bible each day? Perhaps that would be a good New Years resolution.

Paul also says that he wants to know Christ through his suffering. Paul knew that when you pursue Christ I your life, it will it you into opposition with this world. You should stick out like a sore thumb at your school or place of work, if you live like your life is dedicated to Christ.

Today after church, many will be watching Athletic football players give their all on the field, while they sit at home on the couch eating junk food. Unfortunately, many churches find themselves in this same position – sitting on the sidelines when we should be in the game. Serving others, sharing Christ….making a difference for Christ in our sphere of influence.

Philippians 3:12-14

3) The future demands an eternal future perspective. We should strain to reach the goal set before us by our Creator. Are our eyes fixed on the eternal prize (our ultimate destination) or are we looking at the here and now?


Christmas Cousins

Luke 2:13 a multitude of angels appear and say or sing Hallelujah! Glory to God in the highest.

Luke 1:68 – six months earlier, Zacharias sings poem/ chant, while holding his new son, John.

Luke 1:76 – you will be the prophet most high, to proclaim and prepare the way for the messiah. This is same concept as in those times cities would build a road for kings when they visit, as roads were not very good and carts would get stuck in the mud.

John announces what Malachi had foretold 400 years earlier.

John 1:10 – Jesus will come, but he will not be recognized. Ultimately he was crucified by the ones who he came to save, these same men who did not recognize him and also rejected his forerunner, John.

John 1:11 –  Most people did not receive him, despite prophesies that detailed how the messiah would come.

John 1:12 – Some did receive Him and became children of God.







What Christ Did for Us on the First Christmas

Philippians 2:6

  • This was the greatest demonstration of unconditional love ever
  • Colossians 1 – creation
  • Jesus is God – John 1:1
  • Philippians 2:6 – Jesus gave up some privileges of Godhood to come to earth to be born humble conditions to live a difficult life and die for sinners.
  • Verse 7 – Jesus empties himself, becoming a bond servant
  • While Jesus was on the earth, he was fully man but also fully God, holding the universe together.
  • Jesus (God) humbles himself, gives the ultimate sacrifice, to redeem us who he loves.



First Time Parents

Luke 1:31

Mary is told by Gabriel that she will bear a son, he will be named Jesus, he will be great, the son of God. He will rule over Israel and all the earth.

Much like Zechariah, she was uncertain at this news, but Mary was not lacking in faith, like Zechariah was, but instead ignorant the physicality of how she could bare a son, and had not been with a man. Zechariah was a priest and therefore would have known that God has done this kind of thing before.

Luke 1:36 – the news of pregnancy will end the shame of Elizabeth, having wanted a child her whole life (being barren was considered a sign of sin), but the news for Mary will create shame on Mary in the community, for being pregnant outside of wedlock.  Gabriel tells Mary about her cousin Elizabeth being pregnant,  giving her a place to go when her reputation is shattered.  Elizabeth was uniquely in a position to understand Mary’s shame.

Luke 1:38 – Mary says “here I am” use me as you see fit, to God.  This is how we should respond when we are called by God as well.

Luke 1:39 – Mary travels close to 100 miles to Elizabeth’s home, with no indication that anyone travelled with her. If Mary had become pregnant by sinful relations, the last place she would want to go is to the home of a priest, Zechariah.

Elizabeth knew that Mary was with child because she was told her son would be the forerunner of the coming messiah, and when she saw Mary, John leaped in her womb.

Luke 1:56 – Zechariah and Elizabeth didn’t tell their family of the new baby until after Johns birth. Mary does not return home until after Johns birth. Meaning she would likely have served as a midwife for Elizabeth, preparing her with an education on childbirth, that would come in very handy 6 months later when she would deliver with no one but her husband to help