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. Continue reading “The Christian’s Struggle Against Sin”
(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. Continue reading “Children of God”
(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. Continue reading “Anointed by the Holy One”
(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? Continue reading “Do not love 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.”
(Revelation 21:1-5, ESV) Continue reading “The New Jerusalem”
“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. Continue reading “Looking Forward (part 1) – an Ikthus East Sermon, December 2018”
TEXT: Isaiah 1:10-20
Is the Lord pleased with our worship?
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. Continue reading “The Seriousness of Worship”
You have no right to give up on yourself when God has no intention of giving up on you.
19 And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.”
20 And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart.
21 And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty.
22 For the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself. – 1 Samuel 12:19-22
Introduction: Christian Realism
The fact that we are now Christians does not mean that we can no longer sin. It is true that if anyone is in Christ the old has gone (i.e., it is on its way out) and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17), but we are not yet perfect (Philippians 3:12).
8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. – 1 John 1:8-10
21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.
22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,
23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. – Romans 7:21-23
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. – Galatians 5:17
Steps to Dealing With Spiritual Failure
Remain Positive. “Do not be afraid.” (Verse 20a)
“The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? Israel has sinned . . . Get up! Consecrate the people…’” (Joshua 7:10, 11a, 13a)
Our sins should grieve us but not discourage us. “A living dog is better than a dead lion.” (Ecc. 9:4)
You may be a filthy cur, but at least you’re still alive. And the fact that you are still alive means that God is still giving you a chance to repent. Therefore, instead of wallowing in despair, get up and make things right! The thief on the cross was at the very brink of death but even he had a chance to repent. God is merciful. Do not be afraid! Get up! Your sins are great, but God’s grace is greater (see Romans 5:20).
Acknowledge Your Sin. “You have done all this evil.” (Verse 20b)
“Return, faithless Israel, declares the LORD. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the LORD; I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt…” (Jeremiah 3:12)
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)
Don’t Give Up. “Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord.” (Verse 20c)
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, – John 6:68
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. – John 6:37
Keep on Serving. “But serve the Lord with all your heart.” (Verse 20d)
“What God has made clean, do not call unclean.” (Acts 10:15)
“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”
Guard Yourself Against Idolatry. “And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty.” (Verse 21)
“All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame. Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing?” (Isaiah 44:9, 10)
“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord!” (Isaiah 31:1-2)
“For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)
“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21)
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
“Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things.” (Psalm 119:36-37)
Conclusion: The Lord Will Not Forsake His People
You have no right to give up on yourself, for the Lord has no intention of giving up on you.
For the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself. – 1 Samuel 12:22
What is at stake in our holiness is the greatness of God’s name. If God gives up on us and leaves us in our sins, then it is not only us who fail, it is God himself who fails. But God will not allow his name to be besmirched by failure. He will not allow himself to fail! He will save his people from their sins: completely from the penalty of sin, gradually from the power, and ultimately from the presence of sin.
22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came.
23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.
24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land.
25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. – Ezekiel 36:22-28
Sermon preached at Ikthus East
The Porch, Lopue’s East
Bacolod City, Philippines
May 13, 2018 Sunday 10:00 a.m.