A couple of Saturdays ago, I gave a devotional on 1 John 3:19-24 to the Men’s group of my local church. Here’s the gist of it.
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him…” (1 John 3:18, 19 ESV)
One of the benefits of living a life of love – practicing the truth instead of just talking about it – is that we reassure our hearts that we really really belong to God, that we’re really Christians. But if we don’t live a life of truth and love, a sense of condemnation comes over us: our hearts condemn us and our spiritual life suffers.
My first sermon in 2020! Given during the Ikthus East-Bacolod City Midweek Service, January 1, 2020.
James 5:1-6 ESV
 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you.  Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten.  Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days.  Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.  You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.  You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Genesis 50:20)
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
This is the culmination of the series of messages given during the previous Sundays regarding the life of Joseph. The series is entitled Grace in Disguise. The message this morning is Suffering and the Sovereignty of God. Even so, this is still about grace in disguise. But this time, since we are now at the end of the story of Joseph, this is now about the unveiling of the disguise, and the revealing of the grace which was there all along from the very beginning of Joseph’s ordeal.
Romans 7:14-25 NIV  We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.  I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.
(Basis of devotional given to the Men’s Group of Ikthus East, Bacolod City; August 17, 2019)
1 John 3:1-3 ESV
 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
(A devotional given to the Men’s group of Ikthus East Bacolod.)
TEXT: 1 John 2:18-26
The apostle John wants us to distinguish between those who are truly God’s children and those who aren’t. At the same time he wants to protect us from false teachers. God’s children have received an anointing from the Holy Spirit: spiritual discernment. They are able to taste and see spiritual truth.
(This is the manuscript basis of the devotional I gave to the Ikthus East-Bacolod City Men’s group last 02 February 2019. It is part of a series of Bible studies we’re doing on 1st John.)
1 John 2:15-17 ESV
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life— is not from the Father but is from the world.  And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
The Christian life is a battle for our affections. Who will our hearts love: God or the world?
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)
2019 is upon us and we’re looking to it with hope that things will be better than they were in 2018. We make new year resolutions because we want things to be better. We want to lose that belly fat and excess weight, we want to save more rather than spend more, we want to be more action-oriented instead of being lazy and passive. Our hope is 2019 will be better.
But whether or not 2019 will be much better for us than 2018 the fact remains that so much of what is wrong with this world won’t change in 2019 and might even get worse. There will still be widespread hunger and famine and crime and corruption and oppression and disease and death. That’s because this world isn’t what it’s supposed to be. It’s a fallen world after all.
In verse 10 of Isaiah ch. 1 it is quite shocking to see God referring to his people and their leaders as of Sodom and Gomorrah – cities notorious for their wickedness, so much so that God had to destroy them with fire from heaven! What did his people do to warrant such a deplorable epithet? Is it because they despised the Word of God?
I. GOD’S DISPLEASURE WITH VAIN WORSHIP
(A) “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?” (verse 11)
So much effort, so much labor, so much costly sacrifices – all in vain! – because God did not delight in their sacrifices. It does not follow that just because we have worked so hard to have an excellent worship service the Lord is automatically pleased with us.