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Today’s Sermon

Hello again!

Today the pastor preached on Mark 10:17. He had two main points on the topic, and they were:

  1. Good people don’t go to Heaven. He told us here that the majority of people believe good people go to Heaven.-”I’m going to go to Heaven, because…”
  2. Forgiven people go to Heaven. People who try to be good for their salvation will inevitably fail, but forgiven people can never fail to pass God’s inspection.

The over all point was this: humans are, by nature, evil. Therefore, humans need to be forgiven in order to be acceptable to God, and Jesus gave us this forgiveness when He died on the cross!

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2012 in Todays Sermon

 

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The Sermon Today

Hello again!

Today the pastor preached on Ephesians 5:8-20. His topic was wisdom, and he had three points:

  1. Wisdom makes us lives wisely.
  2. Wisdom makes us redeem the time.
  3. Wisdom makes us listen to the Holy Spirit.

When he talked about living wisely, he said that living wisely meant to live for Christ; it meant to, “let your light shine.”, as he put it.

Then when he talked about redeeming the time, he reminded us that we all, “have a number”; our age. And that number, “isn’t getting any smaller.” At this point, he started preaching a little more evangelistically, saying “Your time is running out, so if you have not yet come to Christ, now is the time to do so! You may never get another chance. Now you may say, ‘Pastor, are you trying to scare me?’, well if I scare right out of Hell, yes I am.”

Then he finished up with the third point: wisdom makes us listen to the Holy Spirit. He finished up by saying, “The Holy Spirit is searching, he’s going pew to pew, and He’s calling to you. So you can either come forward to the altar now, or you squash the voice of the Holy Spirit, and leave.”

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
 

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To Each His Own Gift is Given

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:14-17)

There has been a question asked for a long time, “Are we saved by works, or by grace?” James answers this question clearly here: it is by faith that we are saved, but that faith should be clear to everyone by what we do. If we don’t show our faith by our actions, our faith is dead. Something which in turn implies that works are in fact our savior, and not faith; because, after all, without works we wouldn’t have a faith, apparently. So which is it? Are we saved through Jesus’ blood, or do we need a “faith” in Him, but in reality need to work for our salvation (or else have a dead faith)? I’ll do my best in this post to answer that question.

We can definitely say that we are not saved by works. The Bible tells us over and over that we are “saved by grace, and not by works, that none should boast.” However, we still need to answer the question of keeping that salvation; do we need to do nothing to keep our salvation, our do we need to work and do “good deeds” to keep ourselves saved? This question is easily answered: you see, if we are truly Christians, we will naturally want to tell others of our Lord; to help that old lady across that street, to feed that man and give him a coat before saying, “be warm and filled.” However, we each express this natural, God given want to help, in different ways, in accordance with the gifts which we are given (see below verse):

Where one may be given the gift of hospitality, another may be given the gift of teaching, and still another the gift of evangelism.

1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

 7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. (Ephesians 4:1-7)

To wrap up: we are saved by grace; a grace given to us by Jesus’ death. However, we should show that we are saved by what we do. What we do may be different for each of us, but we still should want, as Christians, to serve God in whatever way He has given us the ability to serve in.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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TRG; The Righteousness of God

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:19-21)

for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and… Well seeing as it’s not (perhaps somewhat obviously), “the anger of man” that produces God’s righteousness, what does? Well, as my dad has told me, when you see the word, “therefore” you need to find out what it’s, “there for”.

What does produce the righteousness of God? … From now on we’ll refer to, “the righteousness of God” as ‘TRG’ because the latter ‘righteousness of God’ is a bit of a mouthful.

Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

In this case, the “therefore” is there for the purpose of, after telling us what doesn’t work, to tell us what does.

Does the anger of man produce righteousness? No, we already know it doesn’t, so then whatever produces anger (filthiness and rampant wickedness) we need to get rid of. – Alright, we’ve found the thing that doesn’t produce righteousness and gotten rid of it. Now James tells us the thing that does produce righteousness: receiving with meekness the implanted word. And what is the, “implanted word”? (I promise I’ll stop asking so many questions soon)? We know from James it’s able to save our souls; There’s exactly one thing that can save our souls and that’s the Gospel of Jesus.

Now we’ve established several things. First, that, “the anger of man,” doesn’t produce TRG. Second, that we need to get rid of that which produces anger. The reasoning behind this is simply that if it doesn’t produce something good, it must produce something bad. In the case of anger, this can be a lot of different things (physically or verbally abusing someone is probably the most common of which). Third, that the, “implanted word” is the Gospel of Jesus. – The reasoning behind that is both that the Gospel is the only thing that actually has the power to save us and that, to my knowledge the only word implanted inside of us is the afore-mentioned. – But now before I continue babbling, so what? What does it matter if we know that, “the implanted word is the Gospel? Big whoop. Why do we even need TRG?!

I’ll put it simply: Jame’s is saying two different things here. First, he’s saying the anger of man doesn’t produce TRG. Second, he’s telling us that without TRG (the righteousness of God), we only have our anger left. Big underline there. – The husband yells at the wife, the wife yells at the husband and the kids. The kids go to school, get yelled at, yell back. The husband comes home to chaos, yells some more, then goes to bed (on the couch). Repeat, repeat again and continue repeating for the rest of your life. That’s a family without TRG, that has for the most part only their own anger. – Why is it important to have God’s righteousness? Because without it we’re left with ourselves. You want to know part of the reason why solitary confinement is such a torture? Because you’re left with yourself, just yourself, and no one else (“me, mine, and I” don’t count as other people there with you).

In conclusion. The anger of man is bad and ultimately leads to no good, therefore it must be done away with (by doing away with the roots of it). We need God and his righteousness, and in general make an effort to be quick to hear, slow to speak.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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The Great Physician

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” For the wound of the daughter of my people is my heart wounded; I mourn, and dismay has taken hold on me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of the daughter of my people not been restored? (Jeremiah 8:20-22)

We were wounded, sin had left its crimson stain, but Jesus washed us white as snow. In the old testament; in the old law, we are searching for someone to save us, a “physician” or “balm”… And that’s the way it will always be if we think we can somehow stitch our-self back together, despite the fact that we’re actually dead the whole time and therefore have no control over anything we do.

1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:1-10)

The only way we can ever be whole again is if we don’t “do the stitching”. All we have to do is ask and God, the Great Physician, will stitch us back together again. We “have” both the balm (of the Gospel) and the Great Physician, but we need our eyes opened for us by God’s grace to see that we actually “have” them.

Video URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7QQGPv1Ikc

You are loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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An Eye Opening Experience

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word today:

“I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. (Isaiah 42:6-7)

We are supposed to evangelize

 will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.

So what are we supposed to do again? Oh, noting much; we just have to free prisoners from the dungeon of despair, open the eyes of the spiritually blind, and free people from the prison of self. Should be easy! Now if only we actually knew how to do it… Well according to Matthew 5:14-16 all we have to do is just let ourselves shine in the World… Should be easy right? Well actually yes and no. According to the last part of Colossians 1:27 Christ actually lives in us, and therefore it’s Christ actually doing the work. But once again according to Matthew 5:14-16 it’s us letting ourself be seen (as it were). So which is right? Well the correct answer is both.

I’ll put it this way; without Christ we can do nothing, much less tell others about Jesus. Whereas with Christ all things are possible – Including evangelization. We need Christ in all areas of our life, but we specifically need him in evangelizing. Because without him we won’t so much as glimmer much less shine with the Glory of God!

God takes us by hand

“I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you;

Alright then, but what does that actually mean? It’s not like God is going to suddenly going to appear grab my hand and stay there for the rest of my life. – So I repeat; what’s it (this part of the verse) mean? Well, I think it means exactly what it says, only not physically like you and I would think but Spiritually.

How many times in your life  have you felt even the least bit sad, or depressed? - you don’t actually have to tell me - Well Christ comes, takes you by hand, and walks you through whatever the trouble your having might be. Believe me when I say there is no better psychologist then the very one who created the brain, Jesus.

You are loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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Mere Words

Hello again!

Here is what God gave me today in his word:

Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me? (Isa 36:5)

What do you think? Will simply confessing Christ as Lord save your soul? It’s a simple yes or no answer. Please, take your time answering… If your still looking at this screen with a blank expression 30 minutes from now… Here’s the answer; No it’s not, and do you know why? Because Christianity isn’t a simple saying of a prayer! It’s much more; it’s giving your very soul to God to do with as he wishes… Which turns out to be a good thing:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

But what war are we fighting exactly? A spiritual one? And if so, why on Earth (excuse the pun), would we need battle strategy. I thought God took care of all that stuff on the cross!

1

Yes, we are fighting a Spiritual battle as shown in Ephesians (6):

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:10-12)

2

Let’s turn our attention to Hosea now to answer the question about quote and quote why we have to worry about battle strategy against the Devil when Christ  “already took care of that for us”:

1 Israel empties his vine;
      He brings forth fruit for himself. 
      According to the multitude of his fruit 
      He has increased the altars; 
      According to the bounty of his land 
      They have embellished his sacred pillars. 
       2 Their heart is divided; 
      Now they are held guilty. 
      He will break down their altars; 
      He will ruin their sacred pillars. 
       3 For now they say, 

      “ We have no king, 
      Because we did not fear the LORD. 
      And as for a king, what would he do for us?” 
       4 They have spoken words, 
      Swearing falsely in making a covenant. 
      Thus judgment springs up like hemlock in the furrows of the field. (Hosea 10:1-4)

Their battle strategy was to claim to be Christians, yet we see the result was their punishment. This is because their “devotion to Christ” was mere words. As such, they could take it back by the same means. i.e. Mere words… My point being this:

We need to have the “battle strategy” of Jesus! By that I mean simply that Jesus was/is/and will be our battle strategy. It’s true that even though, to put words to it, the snake is still writhing though it’s head has been cut off… And once again as seen in Ephesians (6) God has even provided protection (the armor of God) for us even in that!

Wrap Up

In short; because Jesus died and rose again for us, we have a battle strategy to defend against the Devil with! … If you were wondering, this battle strategy is Jesus himself. Also; “mere words” aren’t enough to fight off the Devil anymore than an ant without military grade armor – us without the armor of God – can defend against a boot crushing it.

You are loved!

Joshua Cleveland

P.S. Here’s a video about the armor of God that my siblings and I made:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhnEn-znY0E (will open in new tab)

 

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