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Stand Your Ground

The following are notes from Pastor Tapp’s sermon review for July 27, 2013.  His primary texts were 2 Samuel 23:8-12 and Ephesians 6:13.

Introduction

There has been a great deal of debate and discussion in the new lately regarding the “stand your ground” laws of our country; which by the way has caused a lot of division along racial lines.  I’m sure that many of you are familiar with the old adage that says, “If you’re not willing to stand for something, then you will fall for anything.”  Although I’m sure there is some truth to that, I believe what’s even more important is not merely “standing your ground” but it’s knowing that the ground upon which you have chosen to stand is “solid” ground.

  • Many times choosing to “stand our ground” as disciples of Jesus will place us in opposition with the very culture that we have been called to serve.   We must never lose sight that the true goal of Christianity is not to make friends or garner fans, but it is to make disciples of Jesus.  Matthew 10:34-37; 7:13-14; 12:36; Luke 14:25-35; Mark 10:17-27; John 6:60-66
  • It is imperative, as believers, that we understand that due to the nature of our battle, our enemy is not our brother or sister that may not be in agreement with out stand; rather it is one of a spiritual dimension.  Ephesians 6:10-13; 2 Corinthians 10:1-6.
  • The ground that we have been called to protect as followers of Christ should never be confused with some personal agenda that we might feel compelled to share, but it is the true nature and image of God that the enemy fights so desperately to distort.  John 10:10; Exodus 20:7; 1 John 4:8.
  • Although there will be times when we will have to stand our ground alone, we must never forget that the stand we take will have an impact on all who bear the name of Christ. 2 Samuel 23:9-12; Galatians 6:9
  • If we are to be victorious in our battle against the onslaught of the enemy, then we must be as determined as David was to make our stand on the strength of the “Rock of Israel” and not on our own strength.  2 Samuel 23:3; Psalms 22:1-2

Conclusion

The culture that we have been called to serve and to save has made it abundantly clear upon what ground they are willing to stand, but unless we as the church are willing to do a better job in making our position better understood, then we stand in jeopardy of losing the very one s that Christ has called us to win.

Question for Reflection

If you were to take an honest audit of your witness as a follower of Christ in the various arenas in which you live, would you be able to say that you have been faithful in “standing your ground,” or have you buckled when confronted with the pressures of the culture that is diametrically opposed to your stand?

Quotes of the Week

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.–Martin Luther King Jr.

 

The greatest want of the world is the want of men–men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.–Ellen G. White, Education, p. 57

The Intolerance of Jesus

The following are notes from Pastor Tapp’s sermon review for September 15, 2012.  His main texts were John 14:1-6 and Matthew 12:30.

Introduction

There are many today, including well-meaning Christians who have a one-sided view of Jesus.  There seems to be a conspiracy of sorts to ignore the Jesus of the Gospels by presenting Him as merely being compassionate loving and inclusive, someone that will accept just about any type of behavior as long as it is done sincerely.  But this one-sided view of Jesus robs us of the ability to see Christ for whom He really was; one of the most intolerant people that the world has ever known.

  • There is pressure within many churches today to present a politically correct Jesus that will appeal to all parties involved.  But by Jesus’ own confession, His goal was never to bring a message of peace, one that would bring everyone together, but instead a sword, a message that would potentially divide even the closest of families.  Matthew 10:34-37; 7:13-14;12:36; Luke 14:25-35; Mark 10:17-27; John 6:60-66
  • The true nature of Jesus’ intolerance could clearly be seen especially when He would find Himself at odds with those whose intolerant spirit was aimed against those with whom Jesus was most tolerant.  Matthew 23:13-15
  • Jesus’ tolerant spirit, that allowed Him to eat and visit with those that many of the religious elite refused to tolerate, should never be misconstrued as an acceptance of their way of life, but instead as a way of presenting the lost with the alternative Way to their prevailing way of life.  2 Peter 3:9; Romans 12:2; 2:4; John 14:1-6; 17:14-15
  • The intolerant nature of Jesus’ message was not because He possessed an uncaring heart, but just the opposite.  Jesus’ intolerance was merely a by-product of His unwavering faith and love for the Father as well as His abiding love for all who claim Him as Lord of their lives.  Proverbs 3:11-12; Romans 5:6-10
  • Despite God’s willingness to be longsuffering with mankind in the hopes that he will find his way, eventually His tolerance for man and his sinful ways will ultimately run its course.  Genesis 6:1-8; Matthew 7:22-23; Romans 1:26-28; 2:8; Revelation 22

Conclusion

The tolerance that Jesus displayed for sinners, as well as His intolerance for sin, should serve as a shining example for those who claim to be one of His committed followers.  We should never shun anyone simply because his or her lifestyle does not meet our standard of “holiness”, but we should by our own way of life demonstrate the Way that will lead them to righteousness.

Questions for Reflection

  1. What is your definition of intolerance and how does it measure up with how Jesus demonstrated intolerance in His daily life, including His teaching and preaching?
  2. In what ways can you demonstrate a love for those that have chosen an alternative lifestyle to yours without giving them the impression that you accept their way of life?

Words of the Week

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”–Evelyn Beatrice Hall “Truth cannot be sacrificed at the alter of pretended tolerance.”–Ravi Zacharias “Don’t be in a hurry to condemn because he doesn’t do what you do or think as you think or as fast.  There was a time when you didn’t know what you know today.”–Malcolm X

Recommended Reading–The Intolerance of Tolerance–D.A. Carson (William B. Eerdmans Publishing)

Raise the Roof

The following are notes from Pastor Tapp’s sermon review for September 22, 2012.

Introduction
The Gospel of Mark, not unlike the others, reveals that in many circles, Jesus was a man of great popularity, although primarily due to His ability to heal people of their infirmities.

Our media and outreach pastor, Paolo Esposito, preached today’s sermon while our senior pastor is with his wife on vacation celebrating their wedding anniversary.  The following are his sermon notes.

Main text: Jonah 1-4

  1. God calls us, and when He calls us He has a plan.
  2. You can run, but you can’t hide.
  3. When we turn away from God’s call, the only way to go is down, we put other lives in danger.  We start “playing with fire.”
  4. Sometimes it takes a storm to get us to testify.
  5. People are often more willing to repent and believe than we are to testify and witness.
  6. Many times, “gentiles” are more sensitive to God’s voice and exhortations than His own people.
  7. Many times we love ourselves, or other things more than God’s own children.
  8. God is merciful, even with the most stubborn of His saints.

If God used a stubborn and angry prophet like Jonah, what is stopping Him from using us today?

The Enemy of Our Faith

Our senior pastor, Charles A. Tapp preached on how our emotions can be the enemy of our faith this Sabbath.  The following are his sermon notes.

Main texts: Proverbs 3:5-6, Mark 5:35-43

Introduction

There is an enemy that we as Christians confront on a daily basis who is more powerful and more deceptive than the enemy called the devil, or Satan.  If we are not extremely careful, this enemy will place us on a path that will ultimately lead to the destruction of our souls.

  • Because making decisions is always connected to the unstable and dangerously unreliable nature of our feelings, the enemy’s strategy is to tempt God’s children to rely completely upon them in navigating through their Christian experience instead of relying wholly upon a “thus saith the Lord.” Matthew 4:1-4; Habakkuk 2:1-4
  • The danger of relying solely upon one’s feelings is that due to the impact that sin has had on the totality of man’s depravity, they cannot be trusted. Proverbs 14:12;  28:26; Jeremiah 17:9-10; Romans 1:21; Ephesians 4:17-18
  • Relying completely on our feelings as an indicator of whether God is at work in our lives is a dangerous course of action for the Christian to follow because they are not always an accurate indicator of the spiritual reality that may exist.  Genesis 17:15-17; Romans 8:35-39; Mark 5:35-43; Ephesians 2:7-9
  • God’s Word, and not one’s feelings, has to be the definitive factor for the Christian in making day-to-day decisions that will ultimately impact one’s eternal destiny.  Proverbs 3:1-7
  • Although our feelings can lead us astray at times, they are an integral part of who we are as beings, created in the image of God.  Feelings are a part of man’s character because they are a part of God’s character.  Matthew 21:12; Hosea 11:8
  • If we are going to successfully coexist with our feelings that have been  “darkened” by the impact of sin, then we must be willing to place our lives under the complete submission of the transforming power of the Word of God.  Romans 12:1,2

Conclusion

Faith is taking God at His word, regardless of the nature of the circumstances that might surround us.  What’s import is not so much how we feel about God, but how or what we believe about Him.

Questions for Reflection

Are there areas in your life where you have been guilty of feeding your feelings more than you have been feeding your faith?  What are some of the areas in your life that may help contribute to this?

Words of the Week

First faith matters more than feelings; faithfulness to the high and hard standards of Christian behavior matters more than doing what you feel like at the time. –N.T. Wright

Those who would not fall a prey to Satan’s devices must guard well the avenues of the soul; they must avoid reading, seeing, or hearing that which will suggest impure thoughts.  The mind should not be left to wander at random upon every subject that adversary of souls may suggest.  “Gird up the loins of your mind,” says the apostle Peter, “be sober, … not fashioning yourselves according to the former lust in your ignorance: but as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of living.” — Messages to Young People, p.285

Recommended Reading – Feelings and Faith: Cultivating Godly Emotions in the Christian Life–Brian S. Borgman (Crossway Books)

The book above is also available at Amazon.

Beyond the Sermon Notes

Our hymn of response today was My Hope Is Built.  Pastor Tapp explained the phrase “I dare not trust the sweetest frame” to mean frame of mind, or feelings.

 

 

 

The Heart of the Matter

Our senior pastor, Charles A. Tapp, preached on the tenth commandment this Sabbath.  The following are his sermon notes.

Main texts: Psalms 37:1-4, Exodus 20:17

Introduction

There is a well-known American proverb that states, “the grass always looks greener on the other side.”  The problem with this statement is that it is true.  The grass does “look” greener on the other side.  But the sad reality is that most times this reality isn’t discovered until you have actually made it to the other side.

Conclusion

The key to overcoming the sin of covetousness is by allowing ht empower of God to gain full access to the recesses of our hearts (minds).  Jeremiah 31:33; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Isaiah 55:7-9; Hebrews 4:12; 1 Corinthians 9:27; Hebrews 12:1-2; Ephesians 6:10-18; Romans 7:24-25

Weeding the Garden

Unifiers and purifiers are two types of people you will find in every church. I referred to the latter last week as gatekeepers.

Pastor Roberts attacks the myth of the perfect church by using the parable of the wheat and the weeds. He gave a lot of examples of how our church has ignored that advice.

He described modern Christianity as having developed a mean streak, amplified in part by the relative anonymity the Internet provides. I believe Pastor Roberts is right not only about our church, but about another sphere he didn’t discuss–our politics. We hear far too much from far too many members of our political class about faith and how we should live and see far too little of that faith demonstrated in how they treat their colleagues and opponents (much less in how they live). Because of this, I don’t blame anyone who has a skeptical or hostile view of Christianity–we’ve done (and continue to do) more than enough to earn it.

Pastor Roberts ended his sermon with this challenge to his congregation:
1. Follow Jesus fully
2. Interact with each other kindly
3. Stand humbly for truth

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