Welcome to the first Sunday of 2019 here at the Signal Mountain Church of Christ, and good morning!
God calls us to be a seeking, saving, serving church: seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness first, saving the lost by His grace as we share His word second, and serving like Him with His love as His hands and feet third.
As we launch into this year our theme is: Serving like Jesus with His love. Jesus told us plainly that He did not come here to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for us. Just think of it: God’s Son, sent to earth as a servant! And what was the greatest service Jesus performed for us? Was it not His sacrifice for our sins? Jesus, born as our king, lived among us as a servant who suffered and died in innocence so that we who are guilty might receive forgiveness of our sins and inherit everlasting life. What an amazing kind of service!
And why do we need this service from our Lord and King? Jesus said, “Everyone who sins is a slave of sin.” Is this true? Does sin hold the world in slavery? God’s word says that all of us sin and fall short of the glory of God, and the wages of sin is death. Why is it hard to see sin as that serious?
I heard about a prisoner who had been incarcerated a long time, and when he was released, he quickly committed crimes that put him right back in prison. He said that life behind prison walls does strange things to you. First, he said, you hate these walls, they strip you of freedom and dignity. They keep you from living like you were made to live life, and you hate them. But after a while you get used to them. You learn how to deal with being trapped. And then… he said, after a while you begin to need these walls because you forget what life is like without them.
How many people are like that with sin? Do people become so used to sin that they can’t imagine what life is like without sin and think they need their sin and only grow deeper into its clutches. That’s what we saw in Genesis 6 this week. God, who had created us in His own image and likeness, saw how deeply entrenched in sin and evil humanity became and regretted that He had made us. He then cleansed the earth with a flood, but rescued Noah and his family. But it didn’t take long before we were at it again, incarcerated in sin’s grip and behind sin’s walls. But God’s word to the serpent that her seed would ultimately crush his head could not be thwarted. God’s redeeming plan would continue to unfold. 2 Chron. 16:9 says, “The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth strengthening those whose hearts are fully devoted to Him.” Psalm 1 says, “The Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked shall perish.” Jesus said, John 4:23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
God’s gift of Jesus Christ like a door to freedom from the walls of sin. God’s word is the book of life showing us how to live life the way we were meant to live it.
If God created us in His likeness and image, we were meant to live like Him. Jesus Christ shows us how this is done. He’s the way, the truth and the life! No one comes to the Father but through Him. Behind the walls of sin there are temporal pleasures. It’s a very popular place to be and many seem to love it there. The majority of this world will spend their lives there and will die there. Satan always seems to whisper that you will not die, God is keeping something from you. His lies are easy to believe. Temptations are his tool to deceive the world. But the truth is, sin leads us to death and ultimately to eternal condemnation in hell. Jesus commanded us, “Enter the narrow gate, for broad is the gate and wide is the path that leads to destruction and many go that way. But narrow is the gate and difficult the path that leads to life, and only a few find it.” What percentage of the earth’s population were saved in the days of Noah?
This church has heard the call of God. We have read the word of God, and we know the gospel of Jesus Christ. Your baptism into Jesus Christ was in His name for the remission of sins, to set you free from sin. You were buried with Christ through baptism into His death, and were raised up from the waters of baptism into newness of life. The blood of Jesus Christ poured out on the cross was applied to you! God set you free from sin and death, and transferred you from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son! Sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law but under grace! Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? God forbid! How can we who died to sin live in it any longer? Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death? Do not let your freedom become a license for sin! Do not be like the dog that returns to its vomit! Do not be like the pig that is washed but then goes right back to wallowing in the mire! Do not be a traitor to your Savior! Your citizenship is now in heaven. Your glory is now in His name. Do not drag the name of Jesus Christ through the doors of evil. Your very body has been purchased by God through Jesus Christ and you do not belong to yourself, you belong to Him who created you and redeemed you. Therefore, glorify God with your body. Clothe yourself with Christ. Take off the old nature of sin and put on the new spiritual character of Christ. Let love and fellowship in Christ become your companionship. Look upon those lost in sin as deceived and trapped in the jaws of death and hell. Fear for them, reach out to them with the gospel of Jesus Christ, being careful not to fall into temptation.
Rejoice in the Lord and renew your devotion to Him every morning. Open the eyes of your heart to see God’s handiwork in all of His creation and listen to God’s word revealing His will and ways. Surround yourself with Christians who are devoted to Christ with fullness of heart and mind. Pray for the lost and share the gospel with those in darkness without expecting approval or applause from men. Instead, expect mockery, rejection and even persecution, but do not give up! Do not quit! Remember Jesus! Keep your eyes on Him! Listen to His words of truth and commit them to memory. Meditate on them.
My son, Timothy was visiting us this week and Tim told me that he bought the NASV Bible on Audible and has been listening to it just about every day now since last July. Tim said, that at first it was hard to keep focused, but after a while it became better and better. He said, now that he’s heard the entire Bible through going on the third time, it’s getting so good he anticipates each day’s portion with anxiousness and hates to have to stop. He’s found he can listen to it at one and a half speed and sometimes double speed to get more in for the 45 minutes to an hour a day that he’s devoted to it.
Let’s close with a look at Psalm 1. (Say together)
Here we have God’s word instructing us in how to be blessed. It involves what we do NOT do as well as what we DO. Avoid godlessness, sinfulness and mocking. Embrace with delight the words of God. Fill your mind and heart with them. Meditate on them all the time. Your life and eternal future is sure to be blessed by God in doing so.]]>