“Please God not Men”

“If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of God” (Galatians 1:10b).

When we read Jeremiah, one will find an outward difference between the prophet of Baal and the prophet of Yahweh. The two prophets speaks saying,’This is what the Lord say!’ The difference is that the prophet of Baal speaks what is heart is full of. The prophet of God speaks what the Living God puts in his mouth.

In first King 1:7, Micaiah the prophet of Yahweh had incurred the hatred of king Ahab because he spoke the words of the Lord not pleasing the king. Anyone who wants to be religious for the benefit of it should associate with the prophet of Baal. Only a true servant of God can speak the truth. In Micaiah 1:3, the prophet stood his ground to speak only what the Lord laid on his heart. It important for us to always listen to God through his Spirit and speak out when there is a moral decay. Let us not fashion ourselves after issues because it suits us.

Memory verse: 2 Chronicles 8:12

“Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have” Oprah Winfrey

“Pursue Holiness”

“Pursue Holiness”

Thursday, February 14.

“Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. Mark 10:18

Everyone remembers the excitement of getting saved. It is through grace. But being saved isn’t all that matters. It is about growing and becoming more like Jesus. It is about pursuing holiness. How can we achieve this?

We rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. It transforms us more and more to be like Jesus. this is called sanctification. When we cooperate with the Spirit, then we are pursuing holiness. In order to do this, we have to be vigorous. We have to apply sustained effort. We need to strive.

Let us not loose out on the fact that we have to let our pursuit of holiness be anchored in the grace of God. It is only by the grace of God that we can succeed. Let us strive to be holy because our God is a holy God.

Memory verse: Hebrews 12:14

“Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous act have been revealed.” Revelation 15:4

We were Created for something better

“We were created for something much better.”                                                                                                

February 12.

 I am here on earth for just a little while.” Psalms 119:9

When my dad passed in 1979, I was young. I didn’t come to terms with the reality, that I had lost a love one, who was very important to my survival in this world.  The news came, my late brother and I had to trek a mile down the road, to inform our maternal uncle.  Life went on as usual for me, for the next two weeks.  The reality of dad’s death set in, when the body was brought home for wake keeping.  I remembered, I stood by the house and realized that dad was not going to wake up again.  It was the first time I cried, since the news broke.  As I grew up, I knew that life on earth was temporal.  We will be here today, and gone tomorrow.  Death is humankind common destiny.  We will all die some day.  The Psalmist says, “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered, and that my life is fleeing away. Psalm 39:4.  While some dread the idea of death, it is important for us to remember that life on earth is temporal.  Compare to the fact that we will enjoy everlasting life with God, life on earth is brief.  Many forget that earth is not our permanent home.  Some encourage others to live recklessly.  Let us remember, that the life we have is from God.  We are only stewards of it.  Some day, God will call us home and we will be required to give an account of how we live it.  How we live life on this earth will determine our reward.  There is a better reward waiting for us: We will live with God in eternity.  Rick Warren in “the Purpose Driven Life,”  recounts a story of a retiring missionary coming to the U.S. on the same boat as the President of the United States.  There was cheering and merry making as the president was welcomed.  No one noticed the missionary.  The missionary complained to God.  God spoke to him quietly saying, “But my child, you are not home yet.”  His home was heaven.  Even in death, we will not be leaving home, we will be heading home to heaven, when Christ comes.  Friends, whenever you are down and trouble.  When death knocks on your door, and life on earth and serving God makes no sense.  Please know that your labor in God’s vineyard is not in vain, your reward is in heaven.

Memory verse:  Genesis 2:7

“Our faith gives us knowledge of something better.” E. F. Schumacher

“The Living Word”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS McCARTHY

5th SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY

FEBRUARY 3, 2019

Title: “The Living Word”

Text: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works”  (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Scripture Reading: 2 Peter 1:19-21

In 1985, for the first time in more than fifty years, Congress authorized the issue of official US government gold coins. Beginning in 1986 these new coins came on the market. Each of these American Eagles, as they are known, is guaranteed by the US Mint to contain the stated amount of pure 22 karat gold. They come in 1/10, 1/4, 1/2, and 1-ounce sizes, and buyers from around the world trust these coins because they trust the promises of the United States government that the coins are what they claim to be.

When it comes to Scripture, we have something far more reliable than the guarantee of a government—we have the promises of Almighty God that His Word is perfect and pure. God promised to preserve His Word for us. That means that, according to the promise of God, we can have complete faith that every word in the Bible is there on purpose. Psalm 12:7 affirms, “Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”  The wise man in Proverbs also caution, “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.” Proverbs 30:5

What should be one’s attitude toward the Bible? Some have made a sacred fetish out of the Bible.  People worship the book rather than the Christ it portrays. Others feel that there is some magical value in having a Bible nearby, regardless of whether it is read or studied.  These attitudes are dangerously close to bibliolatry. Bibliolatry is the worship of the Bible as a book rather than understanding the Bible as a divine Word of God and the expressions of God’s plan for people’s lives.  

Before we can properly assess our attitude toward the Bible, we must discover what it is.  We call it the Word of God, the living Word, the Law of life. All of these definitions are valid.  But what we do mean by them? To answer this question, let us look at few things we can consider the Bible to be.

    The Bible is a specific revelation.  People decide that they are going to “study the Bible” and master its contents just as they would study American history, anatomy, philosophy, or any other subject.  They immediately become frustrated and convinced that the Bible is nothing more than a mass of unrelated material filled with contradictions. What is their problem? It is simply that they are natural people attempting to understand spiritual things.  Paul commented on this problem to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 2:14).

On the other hand, when people are filled with the Bible, they find an inexhaustible source of truth opening up before them.  They discover an amazing unity and a beautiful symmetry in its message. They see a magnificent interrelationship between its sixty six books, each making a contribution toward the overall theme of God’s redemptive purpose for the fallen, sinful humanity, as that purpose is culminated and revealed in Jesus Christ.  That makes me to ask the question, what do we mean by the term revelation?

    The word itself means “drawing back the veil,” signifying that an obstruction must be removed for a person’s vision to be complete.  It means to make known that which was once concealed from view. Divine revelation is disclosure by God of truths that one could not know otherwise.  Therefore whatever people discover about the truths of God must come by divine revelation. So then, what do we mean by illumination?

If a specific revelation by God to a person is to take place, that person’s understanding, which has been darkened by sin, must be illuminated.  Spiritual illumination means the bringing of heavenly light into the soul of a person who was born into spiritual darkness and who has lived in that darkness.  This is one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit. This is to illuminate the minds of believers so they understand God’s Word. In honesty and sincerity, the true believer prays, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Psalm 119:18).

    To receive illumination from God in regard to the meaning of the Bible, we must be faithful to the light, or understanding, that we receive.  If the motive of our study of the Bible is spiritual pride, causing us to be “puffed up” with our intellectual grasp of the Bible, we grieve the Holy Spirit within us.  We must carefully apply the spiritual knowledge we receive to our everyday lives.

    The Bible is a progressive revelation.  Not only is the Bible a specific revelation of God to humanity, but it is also a progressive revelation.  When Christian begin a systematic study of the Bible, they discover that it is a gradual unfolding of God’s plan and purpose.  

    When children are in kindergarten, they aren’t given Shakespeare to read and algebra problems to work or solve.  Rather, they learn how to write the alphabet and how to count. The progressive development of their minds and understanding begins here.  So it is with God’s Word. God started with people, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little,” until Jesus came and lived with symbols, or “pictures.”  The Old Testament is a great picture book filled with symbols that lead us to Jesus as he is revealed in the New Testament.

    For example, there is a ‘scarlet thread’ that runs through the Bible.  It begins in the garden of Eden, where the blood of an innocent animal was shed to provide coverings for the nakedness of Adam and Eve after they had sinned.  From that primeval incident, God began to show that people cannot hide their sins from him nor remedy the condition of sin in their lives. Only God can do it.  Thus the ‘scarlet thread’ has woven its way through the Bible. Finally, in glorious climax and culmination, it flows forth on Calvary to fulfill every symbol in the Old Testament.

    One would see how the New Testament as a book is bathed in blood, the vicarious, redemptive blood of our crucified Lord.  Natural people are repulsed by this; the critics of Christianity turn away from it. But without the power of God progressively revealed in the Scriptures, flowing forth in the shed blood of his Son, there is no power to save people from their sins.  Therefore God has progressively “turned on the lights” of understanding. The first promise of God in Scripture (Genesis 3:15) has in it the anticipation of a completed redemption; and the first act of worship looks toward God.

    Finally, the Bible is an inspired revelation.  In addition to being a specific and progressive revelation of God to humanity, the Bible is also an inspired revelation.  Without an acknowledgment of the divine inspiration of Scripture, the Bible becomes little more than the study of history, myth, and superstition.  The word inspired is found twice in the King James version of the Holy Bible. It is found in Job 32:8 and 2 Timothy 3:16. The job reference refers to God’s authorship of humanity’s intelligence, while Paul’s word in 2 Timothy means “God-breathed,”  suggesting that God imparted his Word directly into the minds of the authors.

When we speak of inspiration of the whole Bible, we refer to those original documents as they came from the pens of the various authors.  We no longer have the original manuscripts, but of one thing we can be certain: the same Holy Spirit who inspired the writers in the beginning will preserve the truth of the Scriptures.  Translators are not inspired in the sense that the original authors were , so their choice of words and phrases may not always be completely accurate.

God’s Word was inspired not by ‘common inspiration’ or in the same way that human literature geniuses are inspired.  Rather, God gave his thoughts to the individual writers, and they then expressed them within the framework of their unique personalities.  Holy people of God spoke in old times as they were “moved,” or inspired, by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).

Since John penned Revelation, God has not given any new pr further revelation to humanity.  His will for people and for the ages is contained in the Bible. Everything people need to know to be saved from their sins and to live a Christian life is in God’s Word.  It tells people that they are lost and condemned in their sin. It also tells people that God loves them and that he demonstrated his love in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  All they need to do is accept by faith the message of the living Word of God.

“Importance of Prayer”

“Importance of Prayers”

Thursday, February 7.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests…” Ephesians 6:18.

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, Satan considers you armed and dangerous.  He will treat you as the enemy. And he won’t fight fair. The devil is the ultimate terrorist. He will attack when you least expect it. God’s word reveals to us certain patterns in Satan’s tactics.  Satan does not attack us when and where we are strong, but he waits for moments of weakness. When we stumble, he is right there. We as Christians need to remember those times in our lives when we can expect Satan to attack us.  

When our Lord Jesus Christ was hungry Satan showed up and tempted him.  In Matthew 4:1-11 the record tells us that Jesus Christ, after fasting forty days and forty nights, the devil showed up and tempted Him. It was a time of weakness because Jesus was hungry and He was tired.  But, Jesus waged spiritual warfare against Satan. In such time, Christians ought to use the only weapon available to us: Prayer. Do you know how to use your spiritual equipment and weapons? Prayer is your spiritual weapon.

Memory verse: Ephesians 6:10.

“To be a Christian without prayers is no more possible than being without breathing” Martin Luther.

Prayer as a Foundation

“Prayer as a Foundation”

“…and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4)

Wednesday, February 6.

One of the first administrative decisions by the apostles was to give their attention to prayers and preaching the Word of God. This yielded dramatic results. The accounts in Acts tells us that the Word of God spread .

Making strides in the life of the church isn’t easy. The people of God must be awakened to the importance of prayer; then they need to be equipped in prayer. Prayer is the foundation or blueprint for building a church of prayer. Prayer leaders must be selected. Do you feel called to a life of prayer in the church? If you feel call, visit the prayer room in the church and pray. it is also good to get involved in constant fasting and praying. Let us remember that intercession is an integral part of the church life.

Memory verse: 2 Corinthians 1:11

“Prayer is the breath, watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honor of a Christian.” Spurgeon

“House of Prayer”

“House of Prayer”

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

“It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you are making it, ‘a den of robbers'” (Matthew 21:13).

When Jesus Christ pointed out how the church shall be a house of prayer, He was telling folks that the church ought to be a place of prayer. You see, when a church is a praying church, it prays about what it does. it prays about problems, blessings for what it is doing, and the list goes on.

It is impossible to be successful in this Christian life if we do not pray. A powerful house of prayer is a church that understands that prayer acts as an oil upon it. Prayer will build all of its ministries. Prayer acts as a shield against enemy attacks on ministries and relationships.

Let us continue to live a life of prayer in our church and in our homes. God will surely answer, for God always answer the fervent prayer of the righteous.

Memory verse: 1 Timothy 2:1)

“Prayer is the passport to spiritual power.” Spencer W. Kimball

“A Unique Birth Certificate”

“A Unique Birth Certificate”

Monday, February

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:23)

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a small town. If archaeologists had a dig in that town, they could probably find Jesus birth certificate. Wondering what would be written in the space for father’s name? Would it be blank? Jesus Christ was conceived of the Holy Spirit. It would be a strange birth certificate.

One thing a birth certificate prove is the reality of life. It would show that Jesus Christ really walk the earth. We would also learn the characteristics of his life. We would also learn his family association. Above all, we would learn some important information about the greatest man who walked the earth. Let us be eager to know about the man Jesus.

Memory verse: Matthew 12:50

“And know that I am with you always: yes, to the end of the earth.” Jesus Christ

“Spiritual Eyes”

“Spiritual Eyes”

Thursday, January 24.

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. Text: 1 Corinthians 2:14

 

During a period of rush hour traffic, an elderly lady made a decision to go across the street.  Because of the fast flow of vehicle, she was fearful, confused, and therefore hesitant to cross by herself.  In the end, a gentleman came up to her and asked if he could cross the street with her. The lady was grateful and very relieved.  She took his armed and stepped into the busy intersection. As the pair went down the street, the lady got progressively alarmed. She was alarmed because the gentleman zigzagged across the street to the blare of horns and screeching brakes.  They finally reached their destination. Instead of the lady telling the gentleman thanks, she turned to him and said, “You almost got us killed! You walked like you are blind.” I am,” he replied. “That’s why I asked if I could cross with you.”  

Like we do sometimes, the lady did not make the best choice.  The man she thought would guide her with a steady arm and wisdom to avoid them being killed could not guide them both. He desperately needed guidance himself. Jesus Christ talked about the blind leading the blind.  He said, “When the blind leads the blind, they both end up in the ditch.” In our world today, we need spiritual guidance.  We live in a fast paced, fast changing culture. Ours is a world where many do not believe in God or the Bible. Ours is a world where folks depend on natural, worldly knowledge as opposed to spiritual knowledge.  Living in Post-Christian America, we are constantly blitzed by powerful influence such as the media, peer pressure, social trends, culture driven religion and cults. In our everyday life, we hear things like, “All religion leads to the same god, If it feels good, it must be right. as the right to tell you how to live your life. Women should have the choice to abort their babies. If what I am doing does not hurt anyone, it’s okay.”

But the most alarming and dangerous part is the reality that there is a growing lack of discernment among Christians.  Why is that so? We as Christians today lack discernment because of our failure to see the issues clearly, to think things through the eyes of God and Scriptures, failure to see the implication of actions, choices and decisions.  And also failure to rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance. 

In Matthew 7:6, Jesus Christ admonishes His followers to exercise discernment when it came to the things of God.  Jesus says, “Give not the things that are holy unto dogs, neither cast ye your pearls unto swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”  Jesus here is saying we must use discernment when it comes to God’s possessions. It is possible to waste God’s possessions by casting them unto people or influences that can contaminate them.  This tells us that it is very important to be people of spiritual discernment.  Why do we need spiritual discernment?  Let us rely on the Holy Spirit to help us discern spiritually.

Memory verse:  Psalms 1:1

“Sound judgement, with discernment is the best of seers.” Euripides

 

“The Necessity for Rest”

“The Necessity for Rest”

Wednesday, January 23.

Text: “And he said to them. ‘Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest awhile’” Mark 6:31

Scripture Reading Psalm 46:8-11.

The story is told of how one man challenge another man to a wood chopping contest.  The man who challenged his friend worked very hard, stopping only on occasions. The other man took many breaks and had a good lunch. When the day came to an end, the challenger was surprised and annoyed to find that the other man had chopped more wood.  “I don’t get it,” he said. Every time I checked, you were taking rest, yet you chopped more wood than I did. “But you didn’t noticed,” said the winning woodsman, “that I was sharpening my ax when I sat down to rest.” It is easy for one to think that by being busy a lot is being accomplished. It is good to take a break occasionally to reflect and evaluate our progress.

It is easy for a person to conclude that the Bible is all about work.  It speaks against sloth and idleness (Proverbs 6:6-11), but speaks positively about work and labor (Ephesians 4:28)  On the contrary, our text today talks about rest. Jesus is telling His disciples to come with Him to a lonely place to ‘rest awhile.’  This signifies the importance of rest. In fact, the Old Testament is filled with illustrations of God’s instruction to the nation of Israel about rest, solitude, or privacy.  God Himself rested after He labored for six days creating the universe and humankind. The Scripture tells us that God rested on the seventh day (Sabbath) and blessed it (Genesis 2:1-2).  Verse three of Genesis 2 clearly points out that the Sabbath was meant for rest. God instructed the children of Israel to observed the Sabbath as a weekly observance for rest (Deuteronomy 5: 12-15).  It is obvious that God approved rest on a regular basis. We need to find time for rest for ourselves, to allow for sober reflection and communication with God.

Memory verse: Leviticus 23:1

“Rest when you are weary.  Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit.  Then get back to work. Ralph Marston