Who Will Be First?

Luke 9:33 They came to Capernaum; and when He [c]was in the house, He began to question them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. 35 Sitting down, He called the twelve and *said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, [d]he shall be last of all and servant of all.”

“Confused by Jesus’ prediction of His death, the disciples turn to a subject they know well, their own greatness.  Jesus show then that true status is found in serving those whom God values.  When we are tempted to debate who is the greatest, we should instead look to where the Master hangs on the cross.” The Lutheran Study Bible

Whose most important in the Kingdom of God?  The least of us.  It is those who serve behind the scenes.  The ones who make the coffee for fellowship time.  The one who cleans the elements of the Lord’s Table, the one who mow the church lawn. the ones who visit the sick. etc.

 

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Baptism Which Saves

Matthew 3:5-7 Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins., he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Mark 16:15-17 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. 17 These [a]signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues;

Acts 2:38-39:  “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

Romans 6:3-5 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become [a]united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be [b]in the likeness of His resurrection,

Colossians 2:11-12 11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

Acts 22: “A certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing near said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And [h]at that very time I looked up at him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an [i]utterance from His mouth. 15 For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard.16 Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’

Titus 3:4-7: But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs [a]according to the hope of eternal life

Ephesians 4:4-6: There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

1 Corinthians 12:12-14

12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For [a]by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

1 Peter 3:20-22: 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the [a]water.21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God [b]for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him,

John 3:5: Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

 

The Altar Call

February 2017

About a year ago my husband and I were looking for a church in our area, so I dragged him to the First Baptist Church about 12 miles from our home.  Everything was going pretty well until the end of the sermon; que sappy music, Just As I Am.  I am not exaggerating.  The pastor kept telling the worship team to sing it again, and they literally sang the song at least 15 times.  FINALLY, a couple went to the front to join the church.  I was thinking, “They went down so the worship team would STOP singing.”  OH MY WORD!  We left the minute after the pastor prayed the benediction, and needless to say we never returned.

I was practically born at the Assemblies of God church.  During my lifetime I made so many decisions for Christ because I was never sure of my salvation.  I sinned all during the week, in one way or another, and every time there was an altar call I went down.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altar_call

“An altar call is a tradition in some evangelical Christian churches in which those who wish to make a new spiritual commitment to Jesus Christ are invited to come forward publicly. It is so named because the supplicants gather at the altar located at the front of the church building. In the Old Testament, an altar was where sacrifices were made. So, the name “altar call” refers to a believer “offering” themselves on an altar to God, as in Romans 12:1:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.[1]

Congregations often sing a hymn, usually with a theme of invitation or decision, during the altar call.”

The more moving the music is, the more likely it is that people will have their emotions moved to come to the altar. When I helped with the music I would choose the altar call hymns or choruses with the most beautiful melody and the most persuasive words to encourage people to make a decision for Christ.

Now for the truth.  WE DO NOT MAKE DECISIONS TO FOLLOW CHRIST.  The truth is found in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ.” And again in Romans 10:14, ESV “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”

 

THE ALTAR CALL is NOT in the Bible, anywhere.  The Apostles preached the Gospel, and then the hearers asked, “What must I do to be saved?”  

Acts 16:14-15 says, “One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.  And after she was baptized, and her household as well.”

The jailer, after the earthquake in Acts 16, said to Paul and Silas in verse 30, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” and they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.” Acts 31-33.

In Acts 2:37-39, on that awesome day of Pentecost, we learn that after listening to Peter’s sermon the people “were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”  

Peter had the perfect opportunity to answer the “What shall we do?” question by inviting everyone forward for an “altar call.”  Instead, he invited them to BE BAPTIZED!  The Apostles said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.”

Confessional Lutherans believe that whoever has faith in Jesus Christ ALONE for the forgiveness of their sins WILL receive salvation as a FREE GIFT from God.  If someone were to receive the gift of Faith when they went down to the altar it would be BECAUSE they heard the Word rightly preached by their Pastor while sitting in the pews, NOT because they walked the aisle and kneeled down.

Romans 10:13-16 says, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

John 6:44 says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

John 14:6 says, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

I have had a friend for 36 years.  I met her in Guam in 1980, and she is 17 years younger than me.  Recently she told me that she has never seen me so sure of my salvation and so at peace with God.  I told her that it is a marvelous thing to know that I can receive the gift of salvation through the body and blood of Jesus, through baptism, and through the Word.  I am overwhelmed each time I go to the Lord’s table to receive the bread and wine, knowing that I can have the certainty of my salvation is the greatest gift ever.

 

Am I A Soldier of the Cross?

These are notes I took from Pastor Barry Schwiesow’s sermon at St. John Lutheran Church on Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Armor of God Ephesians 6:10-20 NASB 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against [a]flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 [b]in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 [c]With all prayer and petition [d]pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, [e]be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in [f]chains; that [g]in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Who are our enemies?  vs 11-13 The devil, 12 For our struggle is not against [a]flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

How do you get ready for something you cannot see?

  1. Fasten on the belt of truth which is the WORD.  In Roman times the wide belt protected vital organs. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Remember how Jesus defeated Satan during His 40-days of temptation?  “It is written”  Jesus simply used the Word of God against Satan!
  2. The breastplate of righteousness covers our heart.  Jesus makes us righteous through His shed blood on the cross.
  3. We need shoes to give us a firm foundation.  15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace …. peace prepares us for battle.
  4. Shield of faith.  The shield was a 4-foot tall shield which covered the body.

What is the evil day?  The ties the spiritual forces mount an attack against you.  They attack you when you are the weakest.  a.  when you are ill.  b.  when tragedy strikes c.  the spiritual forces put doubts in your mind.  (These are my own notes:  I remember when I was struck with cancer, not only did I have to deal with that but our daughter started using drugs, my husband lost his job over a frivolous matter, we had to file bankruptcy and the list goes on.  I told God that I hated Him and my daughter told me that she no longer believed in God.  One day as I was simply walking through the living room I heard a preacher say, “God is a good God all of the time and the devil is a bad devil all of the time.”  THAT released me from bitterness and I asked God to forgive me.”)

If God is truly a love God, why do terrible things happen?  We live in a broken world which is caused by Adam’s fall.

Note:  I do not claim to be an expert writer and these are what I gleaned from Pastor Schwiesow’s sermon

 

Furtick Keeps Demonstrating He is Unqualified.

Dumbest thing that I have heard since noon today.

We welcome another new contributor, Edward Benitez, as he biblically critiques a sermon given by Steven Furtick…

“In a recent sermon given by Steven Furtick of Elevation Church around Christmas 2016, Furtick continues to demonstrate that John Macarthur is right in his assessment that Furtick is indeed ‘unqualified to be a pastor by not properly handling God’s word’ (2 Timothy 2:15).

In a sermon titled “By Invitation Only,”  Furtick focuses on John 2:1-11, which relates the story of Jesus turning water into wine. Furtick gave this sermon to talk on (to quote Furtick) “What to do when your joy is running low” and to show that “God has something special in store for you, but it’s by invitation only.”

This interpretation, it appears, comes from Furtick’s understanding that wine represents joy in the Bible as well as the word ‘invitation’, found in John 2:2.

“On the third day a wedding…

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The Altar Call

altarcall

 

About a year ago my husband and I were looking for a church in our area, so I dragged him to the First Baptist Church about 12 miles from our home.  Everything was going pretty well until the end of the sermon; que sappy music, Just As I Am.  I am not exaggerating.  The pastor kept telling the worship team to sing it again, and they literally sang the song at least 15 times.  FINALLY, a couple went to the front to join the church.  I was thinking, “They went down so the worship team would STOP singing.”  OH MY WORD!  We left the minute after the pastor prayed the benediction, and needless to say we never returned.

I was practically born at the Assemblies of God church.  During my lifetime I made so many decisions for Christ because I was never sure of my salvation.  I sinned all during the week, in one way or another, and every time there was an altar call I went down.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altar_call

“An altar call is a tradition in some evangelical Christian churches in which those who wish to make a new spiritual commitment to Jesus Christ are invited to come forward publicly. It is so named because the supplicants gather at the altar located at the front of the church building. In the Old Testament, an altar was where sacrifices were made. So, the name “altar call” refers to a believer “offering” themselves on an altar to God, as in Romans 12:1:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.[1]

Congregations often sing a hymn, usually with a theme of invitation or decision, during the altar call.”

The more moving the music is, the more likely it is that people will have their emotions moved to come to the altar. When I helped with the music I would choose the altar call hymns or choruses with the most beautiful melody and the most persuasive words to encourage people to make a decision for Christ.

Now for the truth.  WE DO NOT MAKE DECISIONS TO FOLLOW CHRIST.  The truth is found in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ.” And again in Romans 10:14, ESV “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”

THE ALTAR CALL is NOT in the Bible, anywhere.  The Apostles preached the Gospel, and then the hearers asked, “What must I do to be saved?”

Acts 16:14-15 says, “One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.  And after she was baptized, and her household as well.”

The jailer, after the earthquake in Acts 16, said to Paul and Silas in verse 30, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” and they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.” Acts 31-33.

In Acts 2:37-39, on that awesome day of Pentecost, we learn that after listening to Peter’s sermon the people “were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”  

Peter had the perfect opportunity to answer the “What shall we do?” question by inviting everyone forward for an “altar call.”  Instead, he invited them to BE BAPTIZED!  The Apostles said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.”

Confessional Lutherans believe that whoever has faith in Jesus Christ ALONE for the forgiveness of their sins WILL receive salvation as a FREE GIFT from God.  If someone were to receive the gift of Faith when they went down to the altar it would be BECAUSE they heard the Word rightly preached by their Pastor while sitting in the pews, NOT because they walked the aisle and kneeled down.

Romans 10:13-16 says, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

John 6:44 says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

John 14:6 says, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

I have had a friend for 36 years.  I met her in Guam in 1980, and she is 17 years younger than me.  Recently she told me that she has never seen me so sure of my salvation and so at peace with God.  I told her that it is a marvelous thing to know that I can receive the gift of salvation through the body and blood of Jesus, through baptism, and through the Word.  I am overwhelmed each time I go to the Lord’s table to receive the bread and wine, knowing that I can have the certainty of my salvation is the greatest gift ever.

 

Love Your Enemies

[ Love Your Enemies ] “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.”
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
We say, “But what about my rights?”  Jesus tells us, do not resist. This in no way means that you do not protect you or your family from someone trying to do harm. Give love that Christ give to us.
And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat (cloak) as well.
If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat (cloak), do not withhold your shirt from them.
In Biblical times a cloak was the one garment a person didn’t go without.  When a person was traveling, they might sleep out in the elements and they would use it to cover themselves.
A young man entered our church last week at the LMWL meeting.  He was unkempt, so angry that he was shaking and the ladies asked him if they could help him.  He said that he had just been released from prison and he was walking by our church and saw the lights on.  The ladies offered him a brownie and something to drink.  They asked if they could pray with him and he said, “Yes, but do not touch me because I just got out of prison and if you touch me I might react and hit you.”  (There was not a man in the building.)  After they prayed with him the ladies asked if he would like to talk to an elder of the church and he said, “Yes.”  They called one of the elders and he came and talked with the young man for about 30 minutes.
Sunday morning he got to church before Sunday School and Pastor saw him sitting in his car and invited him in.  The young man said that he had to go home and take a shower.  He did not come back to church; but, we are praying that he does return to hear the Gospel
This was taken from Pastor Barry Schwiesow’s sermon at Saint John Lutheran Church, Pryor, Oklahoma, February 19, 2017