Beloved, there is a natural progression for every believer. It begins with our conversion when we give our hearts and our lives to Jesus Christ. Conversion is when we say, “yes” to Jesus and “no” to ourselves. It continues with our commission, which comes from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Christ has gifted each believer with spiritual gifts and natural abilities, which are to be used for the glory of God. Each of us has been commissioned to be ambassadors of Jesus and commissioned to serve Him, His church, and the world. Beloved, we have been commissioned or “saved to serve,” so to speak.
Thirdly, as a believer we need to learn to “finish the play”. When we live with commitment, it will help us to persevere under duress and to continue to follow Christ at all costs, we will “finish the play”.
Therefore beloved, it begins with conversion, which is followed with our commission and is completed with a commitment to Christs’ call. May each of us move forward in our call from the Lord with the conviction to persevere!
Beloved, would you stand alone for Christ, even if it meant your life? It was CT Studd, an English missionary to China, India and Africa who said: “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”
In fact, when his critics told him to go home, that he had done enough, he replied, "God has called me to go, and I will go. I will blaze the trail though my grave may only become a steppingstone that younger men may follow."
As we consider today’s study, we must understand that the Apostle Paul, like CT Studd considered no sacrifice too great for his loving Savior. Paul understood that people’s eternal destiny was in danger if they did not receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Therefore, Paul was always ready to share the Gospel as 1 Peter 3:15-16 tells us, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”
Paul would stand alone if need to. May the same be true of us!
Beloved, as Christians we are called to live in two places at the same time. We are called to live in the world though we are not part of this world. Jesus mentioned this when He prayed to our Father saying in John 17:14-18, “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”
Beloved, since we are not of this world, yet since we still live in this world, there are many times when one world collides with another. I call this, “When Kingdoms Collide.”
When kingdoms collide is a battle, which all Christians face. Whether it is dealing ethically, honestly, and faithfully with the finances God has given us or whether it is submitting to authority or obeying the Law, as believers the Kingdom which we belong to, the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of this world are at odds.
My prayer for us is that we would be sanctified by His truth and that His truth would set us free to live a life honorable for Him! May we always seek His kingdom first as Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Beloved, seemingly everywhere Paul went he faced hostility, opposition and outright persecution. Most of the opposition came from unbelieving Jews—a fact that deeply grieved him. At other times it came from Gentile followers of false religions. In this latest episode, Paul is standing before Festus, the new Roman governor of the area, who was a member of Roman nobility.
The Jews who had accused him over two years ago of sectarianism (against the law of the Jews), sacrilege (against the temple) and sedition (against Caesar) were demanding a new trial in Jerusalem. It was all part of their plot to assassinate Paul. In the midst of all this chaos was God’s will that Paul be taken to Rome.
Remembering and focusing on the will of God allowed Paul to appeal his case to Caesar. By doing so, Paul’s case would be brought before the Emperor Nero in Rome and the fulfillment of God’s will in Paul’s life.
Like his ancestor Abraham, Paul “considered him faithful who had promised” (Hebrews 11:11b). Paul’s job was merely to walk in faith what the Lord had promised to him.
Beloved, remember that we walk by faith and not by sight!
Beloved, it was the CEO of Digital Corporation who, when presented with a personal home computer said, “no one would ever want one of those things in their home.” Digital could have been…well you know what I mean.
We have all missed opportunities, which we could now kick ourselves. I remember standing on an open lot in Rio Rancho, New Mexico and contemplating buying a few. They were at the time $300.00 a lot. $300.00! I figured, why would anyone want to live up here. I mean, why would any New Yorker want to live in a place where the sun shines 300+ days a year, with little humidity and seasonal temperatures. I could have made a killing on those lots just by sitting on them for a few years; easily 100 times my initial investment.
But the biggest missed opportunity hasn’t been financial or physical; it has been personal with eternal consequences. The biggest missed opportunity is an opportunity, which every human being gets; the opportunity to receive, Jesus Christ. Don’t miss out on this opportunity!
Beloved, have you ever had to defend yourself? Paul's trial before Felix at Caesarea helps us understand how to properly defend ourselves against false accusations.
The first thing we need to do is tell the truth. So often it is so easy to place the blame elsewhere or to blame someone else for our ills but telling the truth makes everything easier.
Secondly of course is the fact that if we are living a life unto the Lord, it does not matter what others bring against us. Living a pure life before the Lord is our defense.
Thirdly and maybe more importantly is the fact that we need to have patience. Paul would remain at Caesarea for two years before he was sent off to Rome. Two years incarcerated over a false allegation gives a person much to consider.
Beloved, if you find yourself in some type of trial remember to speak the truth, live the truth, and wait for the truth. Consider the following scripture as you persevere awaiting the Lord’s deliverance from your current situation.
James 1:2-4, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Beloved, so often life does not turn out exactly how we expected it to turn out. There are twists and turns which we never anticipated but over which we see the fingerprint of God. Thies was true in Paul’s life as it is true in our lives!
The Apostle Paul was on a course for Rome. The Lord had planted that promise in his heart and was going to fulfill that promise but maybe not in the manner in which Paul thought it was going to be fulfilled for you see, Paul was going to Rome as a prisoner. This reminds us of Proverbs 16:9 which says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”
Beloved, ultimately the Lord is in control of our life as His fingerprint is all over our Life. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Beloved, The Lord controls the logistics of our lives. Our pleasure is to trust Him to determine our steps as we follow Him! To Him be all the glory!
Beloved, as we begin this New Year, I have chosen Mark 10:43-45 as the theme verses for this year, 2024. We will find these verses to be both comforting and challenging. Comforting knowing that Jesus willingly took the cup of sacrifice and suffering, to die for the sins of the world, which enables us to live free in Christ Jesus.
But challenging because we also have a cup that we must also accept. Acceptance of the cup given to us and specifically for us individually allows us to grow as a servant of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is not easy, but it is wonderful! It is because Jesus came to ransom us, to set us free from the bondage of sin and self that allows us to mature into the Christian God desires us to become.
Therefore, I pray that each one of us would be challenged to become more like Jesus Christ. That each one of us would be a servant at home, in our community and in our fellowship. That we would remember that “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” May our lives emulate our Savior! To God be the glory!
Beloved, this morning Pastor Jimmy and the Youth will lead service. We do this to encourage the youth and the use of their spiritual gifts. We plan on doing a Youth led service every month that has a fifth Sunday. The following Sunday, the first Sunday of the Year- January 7, 2024; I will be teaching a special sermon on our verses for the year which are Mark 10:43-45.
Please also remember tonight as we have our “For Him” talent show and potluck. We look forward to seeing you tonight. Until then I pray that you will have a blessed and safe New Year in Christ.
Beloved, there is no peace or joy without Christ. If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist. If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer; but our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.
Have you ever wondered how your life would be if Christ had not come?
You would still be in your sins.
You would still be living the same lifestyle.
You would have no hope or purpose in this life.
There would be no message of consolation, no hope of heaven.
But because Christ has come- we have hope and comfort and peace and joy to the world!
Truly we have Good News of Great Joy!
My dear family and friends I pray that you will have a blessed week in the Lord! May the love, grace, peace and joy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ flood your hearts this week! Merry Christmas!