The Empty Promises of Easter

I have had requests to begin posting my outlines here so you can have them during worship or when listen online. Enjoy!
 

The Empty Promises of Easter-Outline

Matthew 28:1-10

A. The empty cross.

  1. Because the cross is empty, we have the full promise of eternal glory with God.
 
B. The empty tomb.
  1. In the knowledge of the empty tomb we find the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the promise to every one of us that we too will be raised to eternal life.
 
C. The empty burial clothes.
  1. It was in the emptiness of the burial clothes that they found they could still have the promise of personal fellowship with the Lord Jesus.


Christmas, a Time to Proclaim God’s Salvation

Luke 1:57-80
 

In times of trouble, we all need a strong and mighty Savior, who is able to hold us close and lift us to a place of safety and rest.

Christmas time, is a time we need to proclaim that our Salvation has come. 
 

Too often, we get distracted from the real meaning of Christmas and get caught up in all the hype and all the gifts and the food. We forget that Christmas is all about the salvation which God is offering to us, and to those around us.

Zechariah’s Prophecy: The Horn of Salvation

Zechariah’s song is a song of praise because God has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David. The key word here is – redeem. It is a – salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. Zechariah has in mind that this Messiah will come and save them from the Roman oppression. 
 
Notice that this Messiah was going to be a horn of salvation. Zechariah was saying that there would be incredible power in this salvation which would reside in the person of the Messiah. He would have the power to save the nation of Israel from their oppressors. He was the horn of salvation in that he conquered the greatest enemy of all – sin and death. He did it to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant.
 
The second reason he offers salvation is to keep his word. God promised long ago, that he would offer a blessing to all nations through his servant Abraham. He is now keeping his word by sending the horn of salvation to seek and save the lost. There is nothing better than having a relationship with the almighty God. To be his servant is to hold an incredibly privileged position. But before we could be his servants, we needed to conquer the sin and death issue. Here in Zechariah’s song, is the gospel message presented even before Christ was born. 
 
John’s Part
 
John was the prophet who would prepare the way for the Horn of salvation. He would prepare the way so that people could gain knowledge about the salvation Christ was bringing. It was not just a political salvation, but it was a spiritual salvation which would be accomplished by the forgiveness of their sins.
 

Lastly Zechariah closes with a wonderful image of what Christ will do for the world. Zechariah pictures him as a rising sun. Literally, a “rising up” of light which will come from heaven. This light will bring light into a dark world.

Christ came to shine his light on those living in darkness without hope and those living in this shadow. He wants to bring peace to people living in the darkness and in the shadow of death this Christmas by offering them his salvation. We often talk about peace at Christmas time, but think of it as a quiet relaxing day or contented stomach. But that is not correct. Christmas is all about bringing God’s peace into the world by restoring relationships with him. 

People need a John who will prepare the way for Jesus’ salvation. I believe that God is calling each one of us to be Johns this Christmas. The Horn of salvation has come, but there are plenty of people out there who still living in darkness and the shadow of death. They need someone to go before the Lord and prepare the way for him. God wants us to be a candle if you will, who will go into the darkness to prepare the way for the glorious light of Christ.



Ready for Christmas

Are You Ready for Christmas?
 
Luke 1:5-25
 
 

Luke begins the account by telling us that Zechariah lived in the time of Herod the Great. Herod was placed on the throne not by royal succession as a descendant of David; rather Herod was on the throne because the Romans had appointed him a puppet king. Not only was he a puppet king for Rome, Herod had no religious convictions and so the act of worship in that day had become an empty form of rituals and ceremonies with very little meaning to the people of God.

Yet in the midst of this spiritual darkness, there were a group of priests devoted to God who longed for the coming Messiah. Zechariah was one of those priests. Zechariah was described as upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly.

Still, there was a problem, he and his wife were childless. In the OT to be without children was viewed as a sign of God’s displeasure. Every Jewish family had hoped for a son who would be the deliverer, the Messiah King. So, to be childless meant you were out of God’s divine plan. Not only were they childless, verses 7 tells us they were both well along in years – childbirth opportunities had passed them by.

Despite their disappointments, they faithfully served God. They were barren, outside of God’s plan, but they never succumbed to bitterness. Our pain may not be the absence of children, but there are many things that bring disappointments to our life…
 

God never guarantees a life without pain or disappointments. When life hits us with disappointments we have two options, we can become bitter or we can become better.

Bitterness brings forth anger and frustration robbing us of the joy of life, but we can become better by trusting and depending on God to find our fulfillment.

Though Zechariah was disappointed he was not bitter – he remained faithful in spite of circumstances. This Christmas you can be prepared for the season if you will focus on God and not your circumstances, focusing on God will make us better, focusing on circumstances can make us bitter. Because Zechariah focused on God an amazing thing happened.
 

When the angel appeared, Zechariah was faced with many emotions. Obviously, he was afraid. Wouldn’t you be? It was believed of the OT if you saw God you would die. He had lived for the moment of leading in worship, and now he is afraid he is about to die. But the angel tells him not to be afraid.

Why? – His prayers had been answered. Imagine the faith of this man, his wife is barren, they are long past the age of having children, but he continues to pray. Maybe he recalled the story of Abraham – even in his age, God gave him a son – Isaac.

Zechariah knew what people of faith know,  God is not bound by circumstances.
 

When God finds people who are committed to Him, he is ready to unleash the power of heaven to accomplish his purpose. That is exactly what He was doing with Zechariah. Here was a man who sought to be blameless, upright and keeping all of God’s commandments and how is he rewarded? your prayer has been heard.

Important thing to remember: Zechariah was rewarded on God’s timetable.
 
This year as you prepare for Christmas, I hope you will seek out the greatest gift, and friends you will not find it in a department store or under a tree rather the greatest gift is to seek God this Christmas. He is waiting to listen to you!
 
A quick lesson to be learned – Unbelief always carries with it serious consequences. Because Zechariah refused to believe, the angel silenced him for nine months, he was speechless.
 

What does the account of Zechariah and Elizabeth teach us about preparing for Christmas this year?

Circumstances do not determine our faithfulness.

Circumstances are not a sign of God’s displeasure with you.

God is faithful regardless of the circumstances.

 


New Testament Worship

John 4:1-26
 
What is worship? We should expect considerable confusion in this matter of worship from those who have departed from the central truths of the Scriptures. Most distressing of all is the confusion which exists within the Protestant, evangelical, fundamental Christianity concerning the meaning of worship. 
 
Some may wonder why all the fuss over this matter of worship. Simply stated, we need to study worship because there is so much confusion and so little understanding and practice of worship. Also, it is because of the severe consequences of false worship. The third reason, and by far the primary one for considering the subject of worship worthy of our consideration is because worship is of great importance to God. 
God is seeking men and women to be worshipers of Himself
. But this worship must be worship that is “in spirit and in truth.” It is not enough to be a worshiper of God; God is seeking true worshipers. 
 
There are a number of Greek and Hebrew words which are rendered ‘to worship’ or ‘worshiper.’ In the Scriptures, there are three pairs of words which underscore for us the three primary elements of true worship. 
Humility
Reverence
Service
Response
Adoration
Sacrifice
Proclamation
 
A definition of worship: 
 

 

Worship is the humble response of regenerate men to the self-disclosure of the Most High God. It is based upon the work of God. It is achieved through the activity of God. It is directed to God. It is expressed by the lips in praise and by the life in service.
 
Prayer
Testimonies
Singing and Music
Preaching


Unity in the New Testament Church

Ephesians 4:1-16
 
This passage can be logically divided into three parts, all of which relate to the central theme of Christian unity. The first six verses deal with the fundamental unity which exists between all believers in Jesus Christ.
 
Fundamental Christian unity Is to be preserved. This unity of which Paul wrote is not one which the Christian needs to create, but one which already exists and must be diligently preserved. It is based upon our sharing life in one body, the universal church, the body of Christ. 

Unity, although it cannot be created by the Christian, must be preserved by him. This is to be diligently pursued (vs. 3) by an attitude of humility (seeing ourselves as God does, unworthy recipients of His grace). Our humble spirit should be demonstrated by a gentleness and graciousness in our dealings with others. 
 
Unity does not imply uniformity. It does not mean that all Christians will think alike or perform identical ministries. It does imply a common purpose and interdependence within the body of Christ. To every individual within the body of Christ is given a particular capacity for ministry. This capacity (or capacities) is commonly called a ‘spiritual gift.’ Although the particular function involved may not appear to be particularly ‘spiritual,’ the outcome is spiritual benefit to the body of Christ. 
 
Far from undermining the fundamental unity existing between individual Christians,
the diversity of spiritual gifts enhances, even necessitates unity. While in verses 1-6 the basis for Christian endeavor was fundamental unity, in verses 12-16 functional unity is the goal of Christian endeavor. We might call the unity of verses 1-6 positional and that of verses 12-16 practical.
 
The saints are equipped for ministry. What an amazing reversal has occurred. Christians are often not turning the world upside down, but the Scriptures upside down. This passage tells us that the ministry is the saint’s work, not the preacher’s. We say that the preacher is ‘in the ministry’ but Paul says everyone else is.
 

The ultimate measure of maturity is the standard of our Lord Jesus Christ. The second measure of maturity is that of stability. The third measure of maturity is what we might call loving truthfulness.

One final measure of maturity is unity. Our unity grows out of our mutual comprehension of those doctrines which constitute ‘the faith’ and out of our ever-increasing intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
If we are to take this passage in Ephesians chapter 4 seriously, there are a number of specific applications. The function of the pastor-teacher is to equip people for the ministry. The goal of our teaching should be maturity, growth and unity. The work of the ministry is in your hands, not in ‘the pastor’s. We are deficient in our expression of Christian unity, not just within the church, but between churches which have a like faith as ours. The Sunday meeting of the church is not designed for ministry so much as it is for the equipping of the saints for ministry and the expression of worship to our God. Find out your place in the local church and get involved.


Fellowship in the New Testament Church

Ephesians 3:8-11
1Corinthians 12
 

One such concept that has been especially warped in its biblical meaning is the concept of Christian fellowship. Today, churches have fellowship halls, fellowship dinners, and fellowship but very few have real fellowship. Yet for a church that seeks to be guided in principle and practice by the New Testament, fellowship is very important. 

I hope each of you will learn that biblical fellowship is God’s method for the outworking of His will through the church. In order for you to understand this, we will have to discover first, what true fellowship really is, second, why fellowship is important in a New Testament church, and finally, how each one of us can practice fellowship.
 
Our English word, “fellowship” is the translation of the Greek word, “koinonia.” 
This Greek word is derived from the root, “

koinos,” which was a prefix in ancient Greek. If you were to add this prefix to words meaning “living,” “owning a purse,” “a dispute,” and “mother,” you would get words meaning “living in community together,” “owning a purse in common,” “a public dispute,” and “having a mother in common.” So, we see that the root of the word, “fellowship,” means “to hold something in common.” 

From the usage of the word, we can conclude that fellowship is a word denoting a relationship that is dependent on more than one individual. It is an interdependent relationship. 
 
“Fellowship” was never used to describe man’s relationship to God before the coming of the Holy Spirit to indwell the church. It is an exclusively post-pentecost relationship. Fellowship primarily focuses on our spiritual unity with Christ, an inner relationship. fellowship does not stop with being an inner unity for it is primarily an action word! it is a unique relationship with Christ. fellowship is not just doing anything together. 
 
Fellowship Is God’s way of accomplishing His plan of glorifying Christ. You can practice fellowship by recognizing our goal and taking an active part where you can best help. People must recognize our goal.
.”.


The Church that Jesus Built

Matthew 16:13-20
 
When you start talking about the “church”, what immediately comes to mind? People immediately think you’re talking about one of many denominations, or perhaps all of the denominations put together. Most believe that “one church is just as good as another.” There are many good religious people who believe that all of these different denominations, with all of their differing names, creeds, doctrines, and man-made traditions somehow altogether represent God’s Church.
 

The basis of something is its foundation.

What is the “rock” upon which Jesus said He would build His church? What is the foundation of the Church that Jesus built? The church that Jesus built has no human foundation. the basis of the church that Jesus built is the truth that Christ is the Son of God. Our strength and safety comes when we stay riveted to our firm foundation, Jesus Christ.
 
The church is :
 
The builder is Christ.
The body of Christ.
The house of God.
The bride of Christ.
 
The Business: “Go ye, therefore.” We are to make disciples. We’ve got to get it through our heads that “Go,” means “Go, me!” There are people in this world who don’t know about the gospel. They don’t know about the love and forgiveness of Jesus. And the only way they are ever going to find out is if somebody tells them. We must do God’s will, not man’s will.


The New Testament Church Looks to the Bible

2 Peter 1:20-21
 

The Christian faith is only as certain as the Bible is trustworthy. If the Bible isn’t true, then people who call themselves Christians would have no truth to stand on—their faith would be worthless. Christians believe that the Bible was written by God through men.

Is your faith based on truth? How can you know for sure?
 
Even when the biblical writers state clearly that God was directing them, the words they write reflect their unique personality and place in history. When Jesus spoke about “the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44), listeners in His day knew what He meant—all of the Hebrew Scriptures. Today those books are known as the Old Testament. Jesus would have known about them because the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, was written about 400 years before He was born.
 
What Jesus had to say about the Bible is very important because He is the all-knowing God of truth. 

The Bible teaches that Jesus is the Son of God, the Lord Almighty who came to earth in human form. When Jesus quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures, He validated their truth and verified their accuracy. He also looked ahead to the truthful recording of the New Testament.

 

Some people today have one basic belief about the Bible—that it should not be believed! But it didn’t used to be that way. Prior to the late twentieth century, virtually all people who claimed to be Christians had understood Scripture to be inspired and preserved—in other words, sacred. They believed God had given us His Word and that these Scriptures were to be followed. The Bible is supposed to judge us, but some people would like to judge the Bible instead.But the Bible is trustworthy, and that trustworthiness begins with the core truth of inspiration:

The Bible was written by God through men.
 
It has been preserved and is indestructible.
There is unity in the Bible.
The Bible is supported by archaeology.
The Bible has fulfilled prophecy.
 

If the Bible is God’s Word and what it says was true when it was written, it is still true today and will be true tomorrow and forever. In the most crucial issues of life—I’m talking about subjects like God, human nature, right and wrong, sin, forgiveness, death, and eternity—you can’t afford to guess what is true. Your life, now and in eternity, depends on whether or not what you believe is, in fact, true.



Victory Completed

Esther 9
 
All of us deal with tragedy at some point in our lives. It is how we deal with tragedy that determines whether it will destroy us or whether we will gain the victory over it. Someone has said that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’m not sure if that’s true or not. But I do know that if you are not dead, then you can get the victory over whatever is attempting to destroy you rather than living a tragic life of defeat. The Jews went from being a hunted people to being the favored people because of Esther and Mordecai. Those who had been mistreated and powerless to do anything about it now held all the power. The king, queen, Mordecai and all the government officials were on their side.
 
Even with all that was going against the enemies of the Jews, there were some that were so hateful and destructive that they still attacked. And when they did, they were defeated. A total of 800 men in Susa and 75,000 died in the rest of the kingdom.
 
The law gave them the right to kill women and children and to take the plunder for themselves. But they chose not to exercise either right. Instead they exercised mercy and self-control and deliberately restrained themselves from going farther than they needed to go. Just because you have the right to do something does not mean that you should do it or that it is the right thing to do. 
 
When all the killing of their enemies was over, the Jews celebrated with a day of feasting. Mordecai prescribed a certain way for them to celebrate. 
They were to give gifts of food to one another making sure that they did not forget to include the poor in their gift giving. They were to make sure that what God rescued from evil men like Haman was not to be lost to starvation. In their joy, they were to pay attention to those who were hurting all around them and help them share in the joy. That should be a message to us.
When you are enjoying life, and having a good time, spread the joy around. Recognize that even when you have cause to rejoice, there are still hurting people near you. Try to find a way to increase their joy.
 
So, what do we learn?
 
Victory needs to be anticipated.
Victory needs to be regulated.
Victory needs to be communicated.
Victory needs to be celebrated.
Victory needs to be commemorated.
 

Make sure that you don’t give the glory to chance or fate. Give the glory to God. Your goal in passing the story along is not to get them to idolize you but to get them to put their trust in God.

 


The Victory Continues

Esther 8
 
This life and death drama shows us how God often works in our lives behind the scenes. It also teaches us about our purpose in the world…About faith and the importance of family…About our need for Godly leaders, and more.
 
The Lord has promised to reward our righteousness. Sometimes, like Mordecai, we will receive the rewards in this world. But the truth is that many of the best people who ever lived were treated like dirt by the anti-God forces of the world. 

Jesus would not have informed us about heavenly rewards if He didn’t want us to know about them. He could have kept the truth about eternal rewards a big secret, which would be revealed to all on the Day of Judgment. Instead, He specifically told us that some things we do now will be rewarded in the next life.

Why did God give us so much information about rewards? — He wants us to know that another world exists beyond this life and that when we serve Him, our labor is not in vain.

 
Esther had a growing trust in the king. How much more can we trust our King!
 
Haman was the cause of all this trouble. But it never would have happened without the king’s foolish consent. Now Ahasuerus was doing the best he could to make things right. But this reminds us that at the best, earthly judges are fallible. — And in much of the world, they are as wicked as can be. Jesus Christ is “the righteous Judge!” — His rulings are always righteous. 

 

As long as we are in this world, there is a spiritual battle to be won.  They had great joy, because God had provided them the way to be saved. How much more joy can we have in the Lord who provided the way for us to be saved forever!