Category Archives: Christian Living

Faith

Rev. Kevin R. Airrington
www.airrington.com
11 April 2013

Numbers 12:4-9
(4) Suddenly the LORD said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!” So the three came out. (5) Then the LORD came down in the pillar of cloud and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam. And they both went forward. (6) Then He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision;  I speak to him in a dream. (7) Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. (8) I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the LORD.   Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant Moses?” (9) So the anger of the LORD was aroused against them, and He departed.

Hebrews 3:2
(2) who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house.

I am sitting here thinking how I would feel if I were in Moses’ shoes and stood accused…running for my life in the desert for killing an Egyptian.  How would you feel?  Then to hear the voice of God make a dramatic plea for my defense, saying that I was without peer amongst all people?  In other-words…no one stands in the favor of God like me…there is no one more holy than I.  God says to Moses, “There is no one like you.”  That’s IMPRESSIVE!!!  I cannot recall another time in history when this has happened.

But, on the other hand, there has only been one Moses.  God spoke to Moses personally. Moses was in a class by himself. Nobody on earth was more intimate with God than Moses, and, as a result, Moses was entrusted with God’s estate. And Hebrews 3:2 comments, “Moses also was faithful in all His house.”

“All His house” is a figure of speech, indicating that “house” is put for itself (that is, the building) and everything in it. What is normally in a house is a family. Moses, then, was faithful—he was without peer—in all of God’s Household, God’s Family.
Nobody was faithful like Moses was faithful, therefore he could interpret God’s will to Israel with full authority. God backed His prophet up, saying that Miriam and Aaron were completely out of line. This is why He says, “Why were you not afraid to speak against [or, accuse] My servant Moses?”

It is clear what set Moses apart from others: He was faithful. This can be seen when he is contrasted to the rest of Israel, the very people that he was leading, who comprised God’s Family at that time. They were anything but faithful! In fact, the reason that the Israelites failed was because of their lack of faith.

Have you failed?  If you feel like nothing is going right in your life.  When funds are low and debts are high…are you running to the next Payday loan office or are you running to one who gave you life?  If you feel like you have failed…the root…is you lack faith.  Without faith, of course, one cannot be faithful…and without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God.

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FAITH, by Rev. Kevin R. Airrington, Airrington Ministries , 11 April 2013

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Knowing Jesus

Rev. Kevin Airrington
Sunday, March 31, 2013, 6:30AM
Easter Sunrise Service
Hillcrest Cemetery, Medford, Oregon

One day a teacher asked her class if anyone could tell her what Easter was.  Little Johnny jumped up and down…”I know, I know”, he said with much excitement.  That’s the day we eat turkey and celebrate the time Columbus met the Indians.  I’m afraid not Johnny…that would be Thanksgiving.  “Anyone else?” Asked the teacher.  Becky shouted, “That’s when we get presents and candy and Santa comes down the chimney and kisses mommy under the mistletoe.  “Oh no!” shaking her head said the teacher, “That’s Christmas.”  Just about to give up…Tommy slowly raises his hand.  The teacher says, “yes Tommy?”  Tommy stands up and says with confidence, “Easter is when we celebrate Jesus dying on the cross.”  The teacher got the biggest grin…she sighed and said, “Finally and you are so right Tommy.”  She started to move on with her lesson and Tommy jumped up and said, “I almost forgot…after Jesus died on the cross they buried Him in a rich man’s tomb.”  The teacher even more impressed says, “Great job Tommy I am so proud of you.”  Tommy continued, “…then everyone stands outside Jesus’ tomb for Him to come out…if He sees His shadow there’s six more weeks of winter!”

“Imagine that some archaeologist finds positive proof that he has unearthed evidence of the resurrection of Jesus.” What would that do to your faith?”

The other day I was talking with my children about Easter.  I asked them, “What proof or evidence do we have that Jesus rose from the dead?”  My six year old son Joshua immediately said, “The big stone was rolled away.”  Leila, she’s eight, started naming all kinds of proof…over 500 people saw Jesus alive…He ate with people…the tomb was empty…the Roman guards ran away…His clothes were still in the tomb…the disciples weren’t scared anymore and they were tortured and were killed…there was no body…I mean she was rattling these off so fast I could barely keep up.   All the things you would expect to hear when you talk about proof of the resurrection.

My 10 year old Rosebud who is usually very vocal in these kinds of conversations…sat across the table from me in silence.  I finally asked her (I had to slow Leila down.)…Rosebud can you think of any evidence that Jesus rose from the dead on Easter morning.  Rosebud looked at me and said, “I can only think of one…my sins are forgiven!”  That moment…that instant the hair stood up on the back of my neck.  I have been saved for over 25 years…I have taught Bible Studies and preached sermons on this very topic and I have never thought of that being the proof of all proofs…MY SINS ARE FORGIVEN!!!

Paul answers this for us very clearly in 1 Corinthians 15:

If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain or worthless; ye are yet in your sins . . . 19 we are of all men most miserable or men to be pitied. (1 Cor 15:17,19)

Why does Paul say that?

 

Why is the fact of the resurrection central to true Christianity?

The answer to this most important question is found throughout the New Testament. This beautiful Easter morning I want to focus on the answer Paul gives in his letter to the Philippians. In chapter 3, Paul is reacting to those who say we must follow the Jewish law in order to be saved. In verses 4-9, Paul says, let me paraphrase:

I followed the Law as well as anyone, and better than any of these false teachers. No one could have looked at any part of my life and accused me of breaking the Law. I was, on those terms, perfect. But now I consider all that I did, all my accomplishments, all that striving to prove to God that I was good — I say I consider all of that garbage, as worthless as manure, compared to the greatest thing of all: knowing Jesus Christ. Indeed, I have given up everything else so I might know him. Once I know him, I will be in him, I will be part of his body, and will be declared good by him, not because of anything I have done, but because I am identified with Christ Jesus.

Paul then writes the verse on which we focus this morning:

Verse 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (verse 11) If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11)

“I want to know Christ. I want to know the power of his resurrection.” This is Paul’s primary desire, this is what Paul wants more than anything else in this life: To know the living, the resurrected Christ, and to know the power associated with that resurrection.

You see, if Christ is not raised from the dead, if his bones are buried somewhere in Palestine, then we cannot know him. That man is dead. We might read about him, we might revere him, but we cannot know him.  This is true of EVERY OTHER HOLY MAN THROUGHOUT HISTORY.  They are dead…we know where their bones are…this is not true of Jesus…we have no bones…no body!!! You and I can KNOW HIM…if you don’t know Him you can know Him today!

Furthermore, if he is not raised from the dead, then he has no power today. He is dead. His words might have some influence — but he himself has no power.

This is why the resurrection is so central to Christians: Christianity is not a religion based on abstract principles. Christianity is a relationship with a living Savior, a Savior that you and I can know, a Savior who infuses our life and empowers us, who transforms us into his likeness.

But what does Paul mean when he says he wants to know Christ? And what is this power of his resurrection? We will address these two questions during the remainder of our time together…which I am certain I should be done by lunch.

KNOWING CHRIST

First of all, what does “knowing Christ” mean?

Let us first consider whether or not this desire belongs to Paul alone. Is Paul stating a personal preference, or a truth that is central for all Christians?

The Bible, time and again, Old Testament and New Testament, portrays the right relationship between man and God as personal. In the Old Testament, for example, the Israelites’ are always seen in relationship to a living God; they are not simply followers of a legal code or believers in a Mosaic philosophy. Consider, for example, Jeremiah 9:23,24:

Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.

Knowing God is more important than wisdom, or strength, or riches. Think about the people who are most admired in this world. They are admired for these three qualities, aren’t they? We tend to admire those who are bright, intelligent, and knowledgeable; or those who are physically gifted in strength, talent, or beauty; or those who have amassed great wealth.

But the Lord says through Jeremiah that none of those are of great importance. What matters more than anything else is understanding and knowing the Lord, Yahweh, the covenant God who delights in kindness, justice, and righteousness.  KNOWING GOD…not keeping some rules or being good…not going to church every Sunday.  If you go to church twice on Sunday and on Wednesday and never miss…you put 10% of your income in the plate…but you do not know Jesus…all of that is in vain.

I have often said that going to church does not nor will it make you a Christian any more than sitting in your garage will make you a car.

And this prominence of knowing God carries over into the gospels. Jesus himself, on the night prior to his death, prays for his followers, saying:

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3)

Eternal life is what? Knowing God, knowing Jesus! Without knowing him, there is no true life.

Peter also emphasizes this point:

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:           (2 Peter 1:3)

Our knowledge of him leads to his empowering us with everything we need for life and godliness.

John makes a similar point near the close of his first letter:

And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. (1 John 5:20)

John says that Jesus came so that we might know him. The purpose of the incarnation was our knowing him. This is central to the gospel.

So Old Testament, New Testament, gospels, letters, Paul, Peter, John — all agree that knowing God, knowing Jesus, is central. But what does knowing God mean? We get to know a person in part by being in his physical presence. But how do we get to know Jesus?

Knowing versus Knowing Facts

Let us first make a distinction between knowing a person and knowing facts about that person. I know a lot of facts about Abraham Lincoln — but I don’t know him. To know him, I would have to be in relationship to him.

Consider my relationship with my wife, Kathy. I know more about her than any of you. I know her height, her weight, her birthday, her college experience; I even know about her grades! I know all of the most prized accomplishments in her life, the jobs she has held; I know her brother and sister; I know where she lived growing up; I know the name of the family dogs she lived with for 12 years. I know all her deep darkest secrets.  I know all these facts about her life.

In addition to these facts, I could tell you stories that display her character: how she responded to an ill child, how God worked in her life, how she raises children. And all these stories would give you insight into who she is, more than the list of facts.

But still, even after hearing all the stories, you won’t really know her. To know her, you would have to be in relationship with her.

Furthermore, I know her not because I know all these facts about her, or because I can tell stories about her. I know her because for almost seventeen years we have been in a relationship, sharing joys and sorrows, sharing pleasure and pain — . I have seen her lift me up when I am hurt, and stand by me even when she disagrees with me. I have seen her support me with all her strength in all that I do. So I know her. Yes, I know a lot of facts about her. But knowing her is much more than knowing facts about her life.

Surely knowing God also is much more than knowing facts about God. How can we come into this deep, personal relationship with God?

How Do We Know God?

First, surely we must know about him. While knowing Kathy implies more than knowing facts, I can hardly say that I know her if I don’t know at least some facts about her life. So we do indeed need to learn about God.

How do we do this? In part, by listening to faithful preachers of God’s word. In part by regular reading and studying of the Bible. In part by witnessing the impact of God on the lives of others — others that we know, and others who we can only read about through history or biographies.

But, second, we must go beyond learning facts. We must cultivate our own relationship with him. Clearly many sermons could be preached on this topic. Here, let me briefly suggest three steps:

The first step is putting your faith in him: believing that He is the Son of God, believing that the event we celebrate today, the resurrection, really did take place, and wanting Him to make you into a new creation.

A second step is spending time in prayer. Pray alone, and with others. In prayer, you can share all your joys, frustrations, and sorrows with the God of the universe, the God who cares. Try praying through Scripture, using Psalms, or Paul’s prayers, or the prayers of Daniel or Moses. Talking to God builds your relationship with him.

The third step is following. Listen as you pray and read the Bible. Be willing to follow, even when his commands don’t seem to make sense. Depend on God when his requirements seem unreasonable. When you do this — when you step out in faith — He will be there to support you, and you will see Jesus as a living, risen Savior.

 

KNOWING THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTION

The second part of Paul’s desire is “to know . . . the power of his resurrection.” Note that Paul does not ask God for more power. Instead, he asks God that he might know the resurrection power he already has.

Paul’s first prayer for the Ephesians parallels this idea. In chapter 1 of that letter, he prays that the Ephesians might know three things. The third is:

his incomparably great power for us who believe . . . which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead (Ephesians 1:18,20)

All Christians have this power; all Christians have access to this incomparably great power, this resurrection power. Our task is to tap into it.

Let us consider four aspects of this power.

(1) The Power to Have Sins Forgiven

Remember, Rosebud told us that the only proof of His resurrection was that her sins were forgiven.  Sin has a hold on all of us. Without God, we are slaves to sin. But Christ, through his death and resurrection, frees us from the power of sin. Paul puts it this way at the end of Romans 4:

Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.  (Rom 4:25)

Christ died as the necessary sacrifice for our sins. But his being raised to life, his resurrection is absolutely vital! As Paul says, he was “raised to life because of our justification.” When Jesus died, God laid on him the iniquity of us all, the punishment that all of us deserve for all our sins. Had there been anything lacking in Jesus’ sacrifice, if his blood had lacked the power to cancel the penalty for anyone’s sin, God could not have raised him. In that case, God’s justice would not have allowed him to raise Jesus from the dead. But the very fact of the resurrection shows once and for all that Jesus’ sacrifice is all that is necessary to pay the penalty for my sin, for yours. Whenever Satan accuses us — saying, “God could never forgive you for what you have done — Think how terrible you are!” — we can say, “Jesus rose from the dead! Jesus rose from the dead because I am justified; having believed in Jesus, I am righteous in God’s eyes.” That is the power of the resurrection.

As Charles Wesley writes,

He breaks the power of canceled sin,
he sets the prisoner free;
his blood can make the foulest clean;
his blood availed for me.

 

If you are continuing to live in your sin without any remorse…there remains no sacrifice for your sins.

Hebrews 10:26, “ For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,”

GRACE…stands for GOD’s RICHES AT CHRIST’s EXPENSE.  This does not mean we can continue in our sin…Grace is an incredible gift from a loving God…it is not a get out of jail free card it is not a license to sin.

If you are willing to obey God and have your sins forgiven…you do not have to do it alone…

(2) The Power to Conquer Sin

But resurrection power doesn’t end with our forgiveness. Christ’s resurrection also empowers us to conquer sin in our lives. As Paul says in Ephesians 4:

And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.(Ephesians 4:24)

In Christ we are a new creation; his Spirit lives within us. We have been renewed, we have a new self — and the purpose of that new self is to be conformed to the image of Christ, to become like him: truly righteous, truly holy — to become what God intends humans to be!

So if this is the case, why do Christians keep on sinning? Paul gives us the answer in today’s verse in Philippians: we don’t know the power! We have all this power, but we continue to act as if we are weak, as if we are still slaves to sin. Satan tries to deceive us, making us think we are still his — and he uses habits ingrained in us over years to make us believe him.

There was a famous Russian physiologist named Ivan Pavlov.  He was born in 1849 and died in 1936.  What many people do not know about Pavlov is he was studying to be a Pastor…he gave his studies up to become a scientist.  Pavlov was made famous for his study on the digestive system in dogs.  The behavioral scientist Pavlov rang a bell prior to feeding the dogs he was studying. Every time he rang the bell, he fed the dogs. After a while, as soon as he rang the bell, the dogs would salivate. They had not seen any food, they had not smelled any food — but ringing the bell made them salivate.

We become like Pavlov’s dogs through years of living without the power of God. Someone hurts us — and we automatically lash back. Something happens that tempts us sexually — and our thoughts automatically turn to lust.  Sexual sin is spoken more about in the Bible than any other sin.  Why?  Because of the dangers and the control it has on people.  There is a fine line between love and lust.  Sex is reserved for marriage…outside of marriage it is lust.   The Bible calls it fornication or adultery and it is sin…that can have a powerful grip on you!

God gives us the power to break those habits — but we must first know we have the power! That is why Paul has such a strong desire for this knowledge.

Donald Grey Barnhouse was an American Christian preacher, pastor, theologian, radio pioneer, and writer. He was pastor of the Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from 1927 to his death in 1960.  Donald Grey Barnhouse illustrates this point wonderfully.  Imagine yourself as a prisoner of war; Satan is your captor. He has the gun. You must do whatever he says. He is in control.

Now, God intervenes. You are saved by the blood of Jesus. Does Satan go away? No, but you have the gun! You’ve got the gun! You no longer have to obey him!

What will Satan do? He will try to convince you that the gun is not loaded, that it really has no power. He will try to convince you to put the gun down, to give up using it, and to fight him “fairly” in hand to hand combat. He will try to convince you that it is in your best interests to obey him.

But you’ve got the gun! The resurrection power is yours! You need to know it, and use it!

(3) The Power to Be God’s Agent

But Christianity is not just about forgiveness and overcoming sin. Christianity is not simply a solution to our problems. God has a positive purpose in our salvation. He has determined that we are to be his agents of change in the world.

God empowers us not only to defeat sin but also to share and display his loving message to the world. Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.” Paul says,

To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. (2 Cor 5:19,20)

God could work in the world by zapping directly each person he chooses. He could act in each person’s life the way he worked in Paul’s life — dramatically appear in flashing brilliance and overwhelm the person. But normally he doesn’t act this way. In his wisdom, God has chosen instead to work through us, weak as we are, limited as we are — and to show His power through our very weakness. Later in 2 Corinthians God says to Paul,

My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor 12:9)

That is the idea. God shows his power by working through us, by working mightily through us, even though we are weak and unworthy. Praise him!

(4) The Power to Be Conformed to His Likeness

Finally, resurrection power’s greatest accomplishment is conforming us to the likeness of Christ. We are forgiven for our sins, enabled not to sin, appointed as ambassadors — and perfected in His love. Paul says we:

are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Cor 3:18)

Into his likeness! Can you imagine what that means? Think of everything about yourself that you don’t like, all the habits, all the negative characteristics — the things you have wanted to change, have tried to change. God will deal with every one of those. You are being made into a perfect creation — you are becoming like Jesus! That is your destiny, Christian — becoming the perfect bride of Christ, spotless, blameless, loving, kind, strong — transformed into his likeness. The power of the resurrection!

Romans 8:28 reminds us that ALL things work too good for those that love God and are called according to His purpose.  Most stop there and neglect verse 29 which tells us that we are predestined to be formed in the image of His Son.  In other words God knew what He was doing from the very beginning…to mold the lives of those who love Him in the image of His Son’s.

CONCLUSION

So the fact of the resurrection is central to true Christianity. The resurrection must be true if we are to know, to have a relationship with our Savior; the resurrection must be true if we are to have access to the power which raised Jesus from the dead — power to:

  • Be forgiven from sin;
  • Overcome sin;
  • Be God’s ambassadors;
  • And to be conformed to Christ’s likeness

So what about you? More than anything else, Paul wants to know Jesus, and the power of his resurrection. What do you want more than anything else?

  • Money?
  • Fame?
  • Influence?
  • Power?
  • Thrills and excitement?

These are all worthless. In the end, all of these things that people spend their lives pursuing are unsatisfying.

Perhaps some of you instead more than anything else want:

  • A happy life
  • A good marriage
  • A satisfying job

I want to call you to something greater; I want to call you to the source of all true joy and happiness, the source of all great marriages, the source of all true satisfaction.

Some of you may be feeling smug, thinking, “More than anything else, I want to do great things for God!”

But this too misses the mark!

What did Paul want? What did he pray that others would have? To know Christ! Without this relationship, without knowing the power of his resurrection, we will never have true happiness, we will never have true joy — and we certainly will never accomplish anything of lasting value. Make knowing God and his resurrection power your aim — and all these others will follow.

So do you know this Jesus? Do you believe he rose from the dead? Has he been working in your heart? What better day than Resurrection Sunday to fall on your knees and acknowledge Him as your Savior!

Those of you who already have placed your faith in Him as a sacrifice for your sins:

Have you been trying to impress God with you religious activities? God is not interested in your religion…let me say that another way…God is not interested in your church activities and the religious things that you do out of habit or because you think it will get you a ticket into heaven one day.

Have you been putting the cares of finances, of job, of family, ahead of your relationship to Jesus?

Can you really say with Paul that you consider everything else you’ve done to be rubbish compared to knowing Him?

Do you know the power of the resurrection in your life?

Or have you allowed Satan to continue to control you, when you don’t need to?

You believers need, not a decision, but a commitment — a commitment to depend on the power of God, a commitment to knowing him better and better, so that you might be conformed to his likeness.

Christ is risen from the dead! Believe it! Know Him!

Every head bowed and ever eye closed for just a moment…no one looking around…I am not here to embarrass you…I want to take a moment and ask you a couple of questions.

People have asked me, “Pastor Kevin…How do I get saved?  What are the magic words?”  There are no magic words…what you must do publically according to Paul in Romans 10:9 boldly tells us:

 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

What do we “Confess with our mouth?”

John 3:16, “ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 

WE MUST BELIEVE

Acts 3:19, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”

WE MUST REPENT– Asking God to forgive our sins.  It’s more than that…it’s us turning from our sins and not going back.

Revelation 3:19, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Invite – WE MUST HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM…WE MUST KNOW HIM!

Do you know Jesus?  Do you believe He rose from the dead on the very first Easter Morning some 2000 years ago?  Do you believe He is the Son of God and has the power to forgive you of your sins?  Are you ready to repent of your sins?  Turn away from them and turn toward God.  Are you ready to KNOW HIM…Invite Him in and have a relationship with Him? Then right now you can…no one’s looking around…by your uplifted hand you say Brother Kevin… I say yes…I say yes I want to KNOW this Jesus you spoke about today…

I’m talking to believers now.  You have said the words…but it was so long ago.  You miss church more than you go…your Bible is lost under a pile of newspapers and the current issue of TV Guide.   By your uplifted hand you say Brother Kevin…I am ready to make a commitment…I don’t want just the head knowledge…I want to KNOW JESUS!!!!  Just slip you hand up and right back down…

Everyone within the sound of my voice…please help me by joining with me and those that have lifted their hands to God this morning…and say this little prayer with me…everyone…please repeat this after me…

Dear Heavenly Father,  I know that I am a sinner.  I have sinned against you and broken your laws.   I believe that you died for my sins 2000 years ago…on a cross.  I believe that three days later you performed a miracle and just like you said you would…you rose from the dead for the world to witness. Please forgive me of all my sins and help me not to sin again.  Lord, come into my heart…come into my life and be my savior.  I want to know you.  I want to have a relationship with you.  Thank you Jesus for dying on the cross…thank you for rising again…thank you for forgiving me of my sins and thank you for saving me.

If I can be of any help…answer any questions…help you get a Bible or help you find a good church…please let me know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 1989 - 2017 AIRRINGTON MINISTRIES | www.airrington.com |All Rights Reserved.

Not A Fan

Pastor Bruce Simpkins
http://renewalcommunitychurch.org/
Palm Sunday, Sunday, March 24
RENEWAL COMMUNITY CHURCH
 

Sunday; Five days before Jesus Crucifixion.  The Sunday known as “Palm Sunday”:

John 12:12-15, 18-19

12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,

 

“Hosanna!  (meaning Savior or save) Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the King of Israel!”  14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, 15 “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” . . .

(Skip to verse 18)

18 Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!

 

There were so many people praising Jesus that the Pharisees thought the whole world had gone after Him.  But 5 days later on Friday, Jesus had been arrested and abused and insulted and taken to the governor Pilate for disposition.

 

Matt 27:15-26

15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him. 19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.” 20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.  21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered. 22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate asked.  They all answered, “Crucify him!” 23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

 

24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”

 

25 All the people answered, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!”

 

26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

 

This is another side note, but I can’t let it go by without mentioning it.  Peter reminded them at Pentecost that they had said this and were cut to the heart.

Acts 2:36-39

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified , both Lord and Christ.” 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?

 

38 Peter replied, “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. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

 

They had placed a curse upon themselves and were terrified.  But Jesus is merciful and forgiving.  AND His mercy and forgiveness extends beyond just them to all who are far off and are called by Him.  That means you and me.  If you have been cut to the heart with guilt and need forgiveness, I have good news for you . . . see me after the service!

 

Now, Jesus had a crowd of fans on Palm Sunday that made it look like the whole world had gone after him . . . but fans are fickle.  Where were they when the going got tough?  Yes, Jesus’ true followers were in hiding, but at least they hadn’t turned on Him like His fans did.

 

So, instead of me stating the obvious, you tell me, what is the difference between a Jesus fan and a Jesus followerThat’s right.  A true follower does not give up when the going gets tough.

 

That’s why Jesus said, Matt 16:24-25  “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

 

That statement, “take up his cross” has lost all its impact today.  In Jesus day, that statement would send shivers down your spine.  They knew all too well, not just the pain and agony, but the indignity and humiliation that went along with it.  There was NO sympathy or compassion while you were being tortured on an instrument of death.  Even as you are hanging there dying, the guards removed all of your clothes . . . the last thing you owned . . . and cast lots to see who would get to keep them.

 

Following Jesus meant suffering physically but also facing mocking and ridicule.  It meant enduring the same things Saeed Abedini and his family are going through right now in Iran.  How can we even begin to relate to what it means to “take up our cross” in the soft and cushy world we live in?

 

I have been reading the book “Not a Fan” by Kyle Idleman.  He makes this statement:

The biggest threat to the church today is fans who call themselves Christians but aren’t actually interested in following Christ.  They want to be close enough to Jesus to get all of the benefits, but not so close that it requires anything FROM them.

 

 

A fan of Jesus is probably someone who goes to church every Sunday, puts money in the giving box, shows up for potlucks and movie night, listens to KTSY, and waves their hands at Christian concerts (as long as everyone else is).  They would say, “Hello?  Of course I’m a follower.  I don’t do all that stuff for nothing!

 

One of the core symptoms of being a fan is not knowing that you are just a fan.  Like an alcoholic is always the last to know they have actually become one.  Fans often confuse admiration for devotion, and knowledge of Jesus for intimacy with Him.  Fans assume their good intentions make up for not actually walking the walk.

 

Here is another quote I actually put on face book this last week.  I found that when Jesus had a large crowd, He would most often preach a message that was likely to cause them to leave.

 

He is not looking for fans, but followers.  Jesus will not let people stay on the fence.  He will bring tests into our lives that will demonstrate to you and everyone else if you are a fan or a follower.  He will allow us to have our own crosses to bear.  So, what does it mean for you and me in our everyday lives to take up our cross and follow Him?

 

Think about that while I share a couple of example of people who were NOT a fan.

 

This last April 21, 2012 Chuck Colson died at age 80.  For those of you too young to remember the famous Watergate scandal, Chuck was one of Richard Nixon’s closest advisors and known as the “dirty tricks” man.  Chuck was quoted saying, “I would walk over my own grandmother to ensure the reelection of President Richard M. Nixon”.  While Chuck was in prison for his part in the scandal he made a decision to become a Christian.  I heard a testimony he gave shortly after he was released and he said he thought he would just quietly live a truly changed life.  But Jesus will always bring a defining moment in our life that will determine if you are a follower or a fan.  He said a newspaper reporter managed to get a phone call into him and during the conversation Chuck knew he needed to tell the reporter he had become a Christian.  So he did.  There was a long silence and the reporter said, “soooo let me get this straight . . . you are saying you are a so called “Christian” now?”  “Yes.”  “You mean like you are . . . born again?”  “Yes.”  There was another long pause followed by a hilarious long belly laugh.  “Oh boy, have I got a scoop!  We are going to have a great time with this one . . .”  And of course NOBODY believed he had ACTUALLY become a Christian.  Everyone thought it was just another dirty trick to get something.  Chuck said he was humiliated by the press and most of his best friends but Chuck Colson went on to everyone’s amazement to really walk the walk.  He went on to found a worldwide prison fellowship ministry that has never been equaled in all of history.  His prison ministry touched every country in the world in one way or another.  It transformed and reformed prisons everywhere.  He was not just a fan . . . He died walking the walk.

 

Let me give you one more example.  Sometimes being a real follower may take you to places you never dreamed Jesus would take you.  Here is the story of Rachelle Starr:

As a girl raised in a Christian home, I had never been inside a strip club in my life.  But I felt a calling from God to reach out to women in the sex industry.  I didn’t really know how I was going to do this, but I knew that Jesus had given me a passion for these women to know how much He loves them and how precious they are in his eyes.  Still, I was definitely nervous to share the idea with others.  I mean, going to a strip club isn’t exactly “typical” for a church raised girl.  But whatever my doubts, I new Jesus was calling me to take action.  He wanted more out of me than just having a feeling of compassion for women in the sex industry.  He wanted me to DO something about it.

 

In 2008, I started Scarlet Hope.  It is a ministry that reaches out to women involved in the sex industry.  We take big, southern-comfort-style dinners to strip clubs.  Our prayer is that we are not just feeding their stomachs, but that we are feeding a deeper spiritual hunger.  In some clubs we fix hair and makeup so we can get some one-on-one time with the girls.  It gives us the opportunity to pray with women in the middle of a strip club.  How often does THAT happen?

Through this ministry, I have seen hearts changed and lives touched as many of these ladies have turned to Christ for forgiveness and a new beginning.  Honestly, my heart and relationship with Jesus have also been drastically changed.  I have seen Jesus show up many time in the back of a strip club dressing room.  Many dancers have opened up to us, sharing their struggles, asking for prayers, and some have even accepted our invitations to church.

 

It’s funny, but the dancers have taken to calling us “the church ladies”.  I never thought I would end up with such a traditional title doing such radical work for God, but I think that’s the kind of church lady God was calling me to become.  My name is Rachelle Starr, and I am not a fan.

 

What is Jesus calling you to do that requires taking up a cross?  For Chuck Colson, it was enduring ridicule from his friends and the media.  For Rachelle, it was enduring ridicule from some people inside the church and subjecting herself to an environment that was WAY outside her comfort zone.

 

What is holding you back from being the follower Jesus has called you to be?  What is it you are afraid of that keeps you from doing it?  I’m not old enough or I’m too old?  I’m not smart enough or I can’t lower myself to that level?  I don’t have enough time?  I don’t have enough money or I have too much money (like the rich young ruler)?  I wasn’t raised in the church or in a church family?  How about, I don’t look right or I’m not healthy enough?  I’m too bald or too short or I have tattoos?  There is no end to the things that hold us back from following Jesus.  Throw away those restrictions and just get busy doing the impossible.

 

The good news for Renewal is the our church is FILLED with true followers and I am so proud of you all.  I am not doing this to embarrass anyone, but let me just highlight a couple of examples inside Renewal.

 

Hannah, is not too old at 97 to be here every week and to show up for the Nick Vujicic gathering.  Cathy is not too old to learn to play piano in church after 32 years of marriage.

<< Randomly select a few other people as examples >>.  I praise God for you all.  You can’t lose with God!  We are so blessed.

 

Do not let the cares of the world turn you into being just a fan.  Be encouraged that even though it doesn’t get a lot of attention or thanks, Jesus has a reward waiting for you that is beyond anything you could ever ask for or even imagine if you will take up your cross and follow Him.

 

Let’s pray.

 

I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

 

Jer 29:11-13

 

Go in peace.

 

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Should Christians Drink Alcohol?

A Biblical Study…

Reverend Kevin R. Airrington
December 10, 2011
Saturday Morning Bible Study
Community Bible Church

The World is a system opposed to God.   We profit from the Word when our eyes are opened to discern the true character of the world.

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” Proverbs 20:1

There is a high death rate as a result of alcohol-related accidents in this country.  Daily you can pick up a newspaper and read scads of stories of families that are destroyed due to a drunk driver.   According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a person dies every 33 minutes in an alcohol-related accident.  And that’s not all.   There is an estimated alcohol-related injury every two minutes.

Consider these additional statistics from the United States Justice Department: Nearly 4 in 10 violent victimizations involve the use of alcohol.  Also, victim reports show, on average each year about 183,000 rapes and sexual assaults involve alcohol use by the offender, as do just over 197,000 robberies, about 661,000 aggravated assaults, and nearly 1.7 million simple assaults.

Many people have told me that drinking has nothing to do with DUI’s or tragic deaths due to alcohol.  I beg to differ.  Say what?

The Scriptures are true! “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” Proverbs 20:1. 

Alcohol is at the root of all kinds of problems in our country today and it has been for hundreds of years.  Proverbs 23:31-32 is a powerful injunction against drinking alcoholic beverages. It says, Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.  At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.

There is clear evidence in the Scriptures that believers should not drink alcoholic beverages.

There are 637 references to wine, drink, and drinking in the King James Translation of the Bible.  Most people think in today’s terms, believing that when the word “wine” is mentioned in the Scriptures it refers to alcoholic wine.  Actually, that is not necessarily true. Thirteen different words are translated “wine” in the King James Version of the Bible.  The word “wine” has a wide range of meaning in the Bible, covering everything from grape juice to concentrated grape syrup to alcoholic wine.  To understand what the Bible has to say about drinking, we need to look at several of these words.  

OLD TESTAMENT HEBREW WORDS FOR WINE

“Yayin” — It is a general term for grape beverages and it includes all classes of wine, non-alcoholic or alcoholic; unfermented, in the process of fermentation and fermented. (Proverbs 31:4) Usually, the context will show whether it is alcoholic wine or not. Yayin, when used properly was always diluted with water.

“Shekar” — It is the word for strong drink, unmixed wine.  The 1901 edition of THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA says, “Yakin, wine, is to be distinguished from Shekar, or strong drink.  The former is diluted with water; the later is undiluted.”  Shekar was not diluted with water.” (see Numbers 28:7)

“Tirosh” — This word refers to fresh grape juice. It is referred to often as new wine or sweet wine. (see Proverbs 3:10; Deuteronomy 7:13)

NEW TESTAMENT GREEK WORDS FOR WINE

“Oinos” is the counterpart to the Old Testament word Yayin. It is a general term for grape beverages and includes all classes of wine, non-alcoholic or alcoholic; fermented or unfermented.  The context has to be used to determine whether the drink was intoxicating or not. (Luke 10:34; Ephesians 5:18).  Oinos, when used properly was always diluted with water.

“Sikera” is the counterpart to the Old Testament word Shekar.  It is the word for strong drink, unmixed wine. (Luke 1:15)

“Gleukos” is the counterpart to the Old Testament word Tirosh.  Dr. Paul Dixon says “It refers to fresh wine, a new wine” or freshly squeezed grape juice.

8 REASONS CHRISTIANS SHOULD NOT DRINK

 

INTRODUCTION

And we know that we are ___ ________, and _______ ____________ ____________ lieth in wickedness.  1 John 5:19

And he said unto them, Ye are they which _____________ ____________ before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is ___________ ___ ____ _____ of God. Luke 16:15

The World is an enemy to be resisted and overcome.  As Christians, we are commanded to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12) and to be a good testimony to the world.  THEY ARE WATCHING!  as there is the Holy Trinity The Father, The Son, and the Holy Ghost — so also there is an evil trinitythe flesh, the world and the devil (Not to be confused with the Holy Trinity discussed in the book of Revelation by Pastor Joh.

The world has turned its back on Jesus Christ, and through His Name is professed in many places (even church), the world will have nothing to do with Him.  All the desires and designs of worldliness distract us from Christ and can cause each of us to stumble.  Christians are in the world and cannot get out of it; we must live here until we die or Jesus returns to take us home.  While we are here we have to earn a living, support our families and attend our worldly business.  BUT WE ARE FORBIDDEN TO LOVE THE WORLD AND THE THINGS IN IT!

  1. Can I as a Christian, fraternize or seek pleasure in the things of this world? James 4:4, John 2:15

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

  1. What did Jesus say about worldliness? Mathew 15: 8   ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    1. Mathew 16:26 For what a man profited, if he shall gain the ________ ________ and _________ _______ ______ _______? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
    2. Luke 21: 34-36 __________ __________ _________
  2. Can giving into the world mold our activities and plans of life? Ephesians 2:2

While there are many things in the world that can distract us from our walk with Christ; let’s look at just a couple.  We shouldn’t have to eat the whole pie to know it was made with rotten apples.  How big is your God? ____________________________________________________________________________

  1. Should Christians watch rared R movies? Psalm 101:3 ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  2. As Christians is it important how the world looks at us? 1 Thessalonians 5:22  ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    1. Why is this important? Matthew 5:13-16 ______________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

  1. Pliny, a Roman Officer and historian said, “Without salt human life cannot be sustained.” How might this apply to our Christian Life and those around us?  _________

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

There is clear evidence in the scriptures that Christians should not drink  Over the years I have heard all the arguments as to why it is ok to drink and to be honest…not one single case holds up to the Bible.   I have even heard that Jesus Himself drank.   In this study, we will discover that not only did Jesus not drinkHe refused it when it was offered to Him and as a king, He was forbidden to drink.   To say that Jesus drank alcohol is just heretical in its purest form!

I have said it before, “I am not the wine police.”  If I am at your house you have a six-pack of beer in your fridge or a jug of wine that is your business.   My job, just as your job is to show you what God’s Word has to say on the matter.  After, learning the truth if you wish to continue drinking…that is between you and God.

ONE THING I WILL ESTABLISH IN THIS STUDY IS THAT THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO BIBLICALLY SUPPORT FOR SOCIAL DRINKING IN THE BIBLE.  If you think you have found it…let’s look at the evidence together.

Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

 

  1. What does Jesus tell us people were involved with prior to the flood? Matthew 24: 38-39 _____

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Jesus is telling us that just as people before the flood…so shall people be caught off guard when he returns.

 

  1. Proverbs 20:1, “________ is a ___________, __________ _____________ is ___________: and whosoever is ___________ thereby is not _________.”
    1. What are some of the affects on the human body? Proverbs 23:29-35

v.29 _______________________________________________________________

v.30_______________________________________________________________

v.31_______________________________________________________________

v.32 _______________________________________________________________

v.33 _______________________________________________________________

v.34 _______________________________________________________________

v.35 _______________________________________________________________

The first effects of alcohol on the brain is to dull the capacity for self-criticism and the sense of caution.  A lessening of care and anxiety follows this.  The checks on irresponsibility and unreasonable behavior are also curtailed.  Actions follow impulses, which is dangerous.  Reaction time becomes slower; coordination is disturbed; drowsiness follows.

  1. Does drinking make you forgetful? Proverbs 31:5 ______________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

 

  1. Does drinking affect our judgment? Isaiah 28:7 ______________________________________
  2. Is it okay for Christians to drink one or two beers or a

glass of wine (in moderation)?  *Ephesians 5:18 ______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

  1. Why does Paul tell us not to drink wine? Romans 14:21 _________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

Some Christians claim their “Christian Liberty” when it comes to social drinking.  In order to do that, they must turn their backs on this portion of scripture.  It is a fact that drinking causes some to stumble; others to be influenced, some to be offended and many to be weakened.  The number one reason teenagers drink is their parents drink.  What kind of example are you setting for your kids?  One day, I called one of my older children, I think he was 18 or 19 at the time, a jackass.  As in a goofy donkey.   Definitely, not a bad word…but perhaps a word, as Christians we should not make it a part of our regular vernacular.   My youngest, 5 year old Joshua, heard his daddy say this abouot his brother.  A few weeks later, Joshua called his sister, Leila a jackass.  Our children are watching and so is the world!

  1. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 True or False, Paul warns us to abstain from evil? ___________________

______________________________________________________________________________

  1. 1 Corinthians 6:12d, “…but I will not be ______________________________________________

of any.”  (The only exception is the Holy Ghost, Ephesians 5:18)

 

  1. Is alcohol addictive? Proverbs 23:35 _________________________________________________
  2. Does drinking lead to drunkenness? Isaiah 5:11 _______________________________________
  3. It is clear from scripture that drinking sets off a domino effect; if we give the devil a foothold and we rebel against God and drink what is the effect?  Isaiah 30:1 ________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

  1. Why else are Christians forbidden to drink? 1 Peter 2:9 _________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

  1. Should we even look at wine (Alcohol)? Proverbs 23:31 _________________________________
  2. I have a little wine left over; I will just give it to a friend of mine who is not a Christian, after all this stuff is expensive so I will just pass it on. Habakkuk 2:15  ____________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

 

Drinking, even social drinking cannot be legitimately supported by the Bible.  Every drink that is available today, even beer, falls into the category of unmixed or strong drink.  Drinking socially is a worldly activity and in light of the fact that believers are neither to be conformed to the world (Romans 12:2) nor love the world (1 John 2:15), our choice should be clear.  Perhaps social drinking has enhanced the acceptability of Christians in society, but it has not advanced the cause of Christ, and it does not glorify God!  Social drinking is simply a means which the devil uses to blunt our testimony for Christ and squeeze us into his mold.

 

MEMORIZE   1 John 2:15, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

 

* The word excess is translated from the Greek word asootia which means “Riot”.  In otherwords, drinking can lead to rioting.

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The Hunter

Don’t Eat Blood Or Meat Sacrificed to Idols

When the Jerusalem council met regarding what to require from the new Gentile believers, they basically summarized the requirements from Leviticus 17–18.  Leviticus 17 deals with the sanctity of blood and idolatry (offerings to demons) while Leviticus 18 focuses on forms of sexual immorality.  In this essay we will look primarily at Leviticus 17.

Leviticus 17:1-7 basically teaches that all clean animals must be brought as korbanot (offerings) and must be offered in the Sanctuary.  The location of the Sanctuary varied in the early days but eventually, the only place sacrifices could be made was in Jerusalem.  If anyone killed a clean animal and didn’t offer it to the Lord, he was guilty of bloodshed.  Sacrifices could not be made in the open fields or somewhere in the camp other than the Sanctuary.  These sacrifices were offered to goat-demons.  Since the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., no sacrifices to the Lord have been made because of this commandment.

Deuteronomy 12:13-16 re-emphasizes this commandment but gives permission to slaughter and eat clean meat in a manner similar to gazelle or deer whereas previously, the Israelites had to offer peace offerings when they wanted to eat meat.  From this point on, no matter where the Israelites lived they were permitted to eat meat whenever they wanted as long as they didn’t eat the blood.

Even though people could slaughter and eat meat where they lived throughout the Promised Land, offerings were still brought to the Temple in order to draw near to God.  You may be surprised to know that as Jews became believers in Jesus Christ, they still offered sacrifices at the Temple and made pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the feasts until it was destroyed in 70 A.D.  This was long after Christ’s death and resurrection.  This is evident in Acts 21 when Paul purified himself and took the men into the temple so they could finish their period of purification.


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As church history evolved, anti-Semitism sprang up and Constantine’s creed forced Gentile Christians to renounce and stop observing the new moons, Sabbaths and the Feasts of the Lord.  Gentiles also had to stop performing purifications, saying the Jewish prayers, and fellowshipping with Jews.  All of this did not end with the Reformation which was started by Martin Luther.  His writings indicate he was anti-Jewish as well.  This separation of Gentile Christians from Jewish practices has continued through the Reformation to the present.

Today, Christians have begun seeking their Hebraic Roots.  God is moving His people to read the Scriptures for themselves so they will choose to obey them despite the errant teachings of Christian churches.  Christian pastors can either find their Hebraic Roots and lead their congregations back to the truth of God’s word or continue to deceive their laypeople by continuing to teach what the seminaries and numerous commentaries have errantly taught them.

We should constantly seek the truth now because during Christ’s reign, God’s commandments will be regularly performed including sacrifices which will be offered only in the Temple.  They will not be performed in vain but with a sincere heart full of love and devotion to the Lord while remembering the sacrifice that Jesus made for the sins of mankind.  If you doubt this, read the description of the third temple shown to Ezekiel for more details.

As previously mentioned, the Israelites were commanded not to commit idolatry or offer sacrifices to demons (Leviticus 17:7-9).  In Acts 15:29, the Gentiles were specifically commanded by the Jerusalem council not to eat meat which had been sacrificed to idols.  In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul emphasized that non-believing Gentiles participating in idolatry were really sacrificing to demons and not to God.  This was probably because the new Gentile believers were still somewhat ignorant of the Torah.

Paul said some people had the knowledge that idols did not have any real existence in the world nor could they affect the meat which was sacrificed to them while others believed differently.   Paul suggested that believers should not eat meat sacrificed to idols so they won’t cause someone else with a weak conscience to stumble; however, this was not the primary reason to avoid meat sacrificed to idols.

Many Christians believe that believers are free to knowingly eat food sacrificed to idols when someone weaker in their faith is not around.  This could not be further from the truth.  Paul finally gives a better reason to avoid meat sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians 10.  In this chapter, Paul equates eating food sacrificed to idols to having fellowship with demons.  Clearly, we are not to eat at the table of demons.

Is this something we should be concerned about today?  Some think not.  Without the knowledge of the general public, meat packers in America are putting out meat that is ‘halal’ (lawful).  What is this?  This is meat that has been ritually slaughtered according to Islamic law – slicing the jugular vein with a sharp knife while reciting the name of Allah and allowing the blood to drain from the animal.  Even though a portion the meat was not burned as a sacrifice, shall we consider this a sacrifice to Allah?  It is obviously slaughtered in the name of Allah.  You will have to decide for yourself.  While you are at it, let me know what you think.

If you don’t know whether or not your meat was offered to idols (demons), don’t ask.  Just eat it with thanksgiving to God.  If you hear your meat was offered to idols, don’t eat it. Whatever you do, do everything to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:27-31).

Leviticus 17 also prohibits Israelites and foreigners living with them from eating blood.  This is because blood sustains life and it is to be used to make atonement for sin.  Blood is contained within our circulatory system.  Normally, it is circulated through our bodies and is not eliminated.  The cells carry oxygen to the cells to sustain life while the plasma carries other substances necessary for life.  The kidneys filter the waste products from the blood which pass out of the body in urine while the clean blood re-circulates to continually give life to other parts of the body.  Blood was not intended to be eaten and eliminated by our intestinal tract.  When life-giving blood is destroyed and excreted from the body this way, it is a picture of blood-loss and death.

You might be surprised to know that ordinary people eat blood in various places around the world.  Some people actually make sausage out of it.  I understand that it tastes very good but I have never eaten it.  Many eat blood without realizing God has forbidden it.  On the other hand, those who are involved in demon worship drink blood as part of their Satanic rituals.  Those who eat blood regardless of the reason will be cut off from the community of God’s people.

Remember, hunting and killing clean animals to eat is fine but the blood must be completely drained onto the ground and covered with dirt.  I suspect this is because God formed Adam from the dust of the earth.

Leviticus says that if someone eats meat from an animal that died naturally or that was torn to death by wild animals, he will be unclean.  Israelites or foreigners who became unclean because of what they ate had to be extremely careful to immerse themselves and wait for evening to come in order to avoid defiling the temple.  If they didn’t they had to bear the consequences of their wrongdoing.

All of this comes down to the letter of the Jerusalem council to the Gentile believers which upheld the Levitical laws:

But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that [they should observe no such thing, except that (this phrase is not in the Greek text)]they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality (Acts 21:25).

Since the phrase “they should observe no such thing, except that” is not included in the Greek text, we should understand that since Paul kept Torah, Gentile believers should also be free to observe Torah (Acts 21:24), especially Leviticus 17-18 which is the core of Torah.

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Jesus and the Truman Show


Does it really matter if the resurrection of Jesus is a total lie?

One Easter, a relative cornered me at a family dinner and wanted to talk about the resurrection of Jesus.  Let’s just call her my dear Aunt Sally. Some people try to stay away from politics and religion at parties. Not Aunt Sally. 🙂

Aunt Sally she started off by telling me that Jesus didn’t come back from the dead in any real sense–that the story of Jesus’ resurrection just emerged over decades after the crucifixion. She said that Jewish peasants who missed Jesus and needed a Messiah figure basically made the whole thing up–probably because it helped them feel better emotionally and things like that.

But she said something else, too. She said that it doesn’t really matter if the resurrection of Jesus actually happened. After all, can’t we draw inspiration from a story even if it’s not true?

 

How do you respond to these two challenges?

  1. It doesn’t matter if Jesus really rose from the dead
  2. The story of the resurrection of Jesus emerged over decades after the crucifixion

 

Does it really matter if the resurrection of Jesus is a total lie? I’ll bet you’ve heard this kind of question before: “Can’t we draw inspiration from a story even if it’s not true?”

Jesus and the Truman Show

This reminds me of an old Jim Carry movie: “The Truman Show.” If you’ve seen the movie, you might remember that Truman basically lived the perfect life. But he had no clue that he was part of this fantasy world that was made up by the people who produced the Truman Show. Truman had no clue his view of the world was built on a total lie.

Now I guess you could say, “What does it really matter?” I mean, he’s happy, right? But Truman got suspicious and he tried to figure out what’s going on. And I don’t blame him. I mean, what would you do?  Wouldn’t you want to know if your best friends were a bunch of fakes; if your idea of the world was based on a total lie? I would. That’s because the truth really matters–especially when we’re talking about spiritual stuff.

The apostle Paul thought so, too. Here’s what he wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:14-17:

“And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.  Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.  For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.”

Paul wasn’t a fan of drawing inspiration from fiction.

Paul was convinced that if Jesus didn’t come back from the dead in any real sense, the entire faith tradition is a waste of time–and that the Christian religion is based on a total lie. As a Christian, I’ve got to be OK with saying that if the resurrection of Jesus was faked, we’re in the same kind of spot that Truman was. We wouldn’t have hope in anything real. In fact, we’d be totally hopeless. Our worldview would be based on a total lie.

Sharing the Truth

You might consider sharing this illustration and idea with a skeptical family member who asks something like, “Can’t we draw inspiration from a story even if it’s not true?” on Easter Sunday.

It’s interesting that virtually every critical scholar believes that 1 Corinthians is an authentic letter of Paul. Even more, that Paul’s conversion is a fact of history.

Your personal production show

I want to ask you a more personal question.  Is your personal walk with Jesus a fake?  Do you really love Jesus or have you made a few changes on the outside in order to look religious?  Perhaps, it doesn’t really matter to you if you are religious or if you have changed on the inside to look more like Jesus.  If you are faking your Christianity and your whole Christian walk is just a production show like The Truman Show, I would challenge today to look to Jesus as the author and finisher of your faith.  Shed the religious skin that you have on like a snake sheds its skin and start making changes on the inside in order to look more like Jesus.  And, if you have not asked Jesus to come into your life you can do that right now.

Romans 10:9 says that we must confess with our mouth that we believe (John 3:16) that He died and rose from the dead and that we must repent and ask forgiveness of our sins (Acts 3:19) and finally we must invite Him in and have a personal relationship with Him (Revelation 3:20).

Welcome to the family of God…pray every day, read your Bible every day (start with the book of John (4th book of the New Testament) and find a good Bible preaching church in which to fellowship with other believers.

Copyright ©2011 Pastor Kevin R Airrington

Copyright © 1989 - 2017 AIRRINGTON MINISTRIES | www.airrington.com |All Rights Reserved.

Living Stress Free In Today’s World

Pastor Kevin R. Airrington

I.  Introduction

Just over 25 years ago, I wrote my first sermon.  It was entitled, “Why Worry?” I was excited to preach it.  When the day arrived, I am not certain if all the words came out right and at least one point my nerves got the best of me and even though I had notes in front of me…I completely lost my place.  Ironically, I began to worry, worry mostly about what others thought.   Sensing my distress, friend and mentor, Alan Baker of Medford, Oregon looked me in the eye, let a out a chuckle…then smiled and said, “You stinking devil!”   I heard a couple of Amen’s and suddenly, what the devil tried to rob…I was back in control of.

Worry and stress is part of life.  But is there a way we can recognize stress and attempt to minimize it?  Let’s find out.

Is it possible to live stress free in today’s world?  That’s a good question we should all ask ourselves, because stress is one of the prevailing characteristics in today’s world.  We live in a tension-charged, fast-paced world that is full of demands and complexities that have caused the stress level of the people of our society to reach epidemic proportions.

A couple of questions we must ask ourselves are, “Does Jesus offer us a stress free life?”  And does the Bible offer us solutions to living a stress free life?  I believe the answer to both of these questions is yes and that’s what I want to look at in this essay.  We will be looking at the subject of stress and the constructive solutions we can apply for living successfully in an environment that fosters stressful living.

1.  A Biblical Picture Of Stress Free Living.

Let’s begin by looking at a portion of scripture found in Matthew’s Gospel that shows us very clearly that Jesus intended for us to have a stress free lifestyle.

Matthew 6:25-33  “…do not worry about your life… Look at the birds of the air… why do you worry about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field… if God so clothes the grass of the field… will He not much more clothe you… but seek first the kingdom of God… do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

This passage of scripture offers us some real hope in today’s tension-charged, fast-paced world that is full of the many complexities of modern life.

2.  Defining Stress.

Stress is simply defined as “a factor that creates a mental, emotional, or physical strain.”  It is “a state of unresolved tension arising from the pressures, irritations, and demands of life.

In biblical terms, the word “affliction” is the closest equivalent.  Affliction can also be defined as “the pressure which affects a person’s life.”  It is a broad term which includes many factors which contribute to stress.  Affliction in the Greek means anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulations, and trouble.

Keep in mind that God did not promise us that we would be exempt from the things that cause stress and anxiety, but rather He would enable us to live in such a way that these things would not affect us.

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Stress is a universal problem which periodically troubles Christians and unbelievers alike.  Even Paul referred to the stress he experienced when he wrote: “We were pressed out of measure”.

2 Corinthians 1:8 “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.”

II. Common Symptoms Of Stress.

How do you know whether you are experiencing stress or not.  Maybe you are and you are not even aware of it.  You may think that what you are experiencing is the normal function of life.  Stress can breed a host of destructive symptoms which affect us mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Here are some of the symptoms:

  • mental and emotional fatigue
  • drug and alcohol dependency
  • loss of appetite
  • physical weariness
  • high blood pressure
  • frequent headaches
  •  stomach problems
  • heart problems
  • migraines
  • ulcers
  • insomnia
  • hypertension

Stress often produces a sense of anxiety, irritability, frustration, restlessness, and depression.  It creates a feeling of hopelessness and disillusionment which undermines a person’s sense of purpose, direction, and meaning in life.  Stress can keep you from fulfilling God’s purpose for your life.

III. Common Causes of Stress.

What are some of the common causes of stress in our lives?  There are a number of things that contribute to stressful living, especially in our society today.  The unrelenting pressures of contemporary life, the constant challenges and deadlines of our fast-paced society, the ever-changing state of our unstable world, and the pressures of fear and uncertainties concerning the future all contribute to stressful living.

  • the tempo of life the strain of demands and responsibilities
  • a failure to seek adequate rest and relaxation
  • a poor use of time
  • a poor diet
  • vitamin deficiencies
  • wrong priorities
  • spiritual conflicts
  • a tendency to overextend ourselves
  • lack of exercise
  • insufficient communion with God
  • unresolved inter-personal conflicts
  • emotional problems
  • procrastination
  • unresolved sins

How to Join the Coronary Club: Membership Requirements

  1.  Never say No to a request ‑ always say YES.
  2.  Your job comes first; personal considerations are secondary.
  3.  Accept all invitations to meetings, banquets, committees, etc.
  4.  Go to the office evenings, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
  5.  Golf, bowling and hobbies are a waste of time.
  6.  It is a poor policy to take all the vacation time which is provided to you.
  7.  Never delegate responsibility to others; carry the whole load at all times.
  8.  Do not eat a restful, relaxing meal ‑ always plan a conference for the   dinner hour.
  9.  If your work calls for traveling ‑ work all day and drive all night to make your appointment for the next morning.
  10. 10. Fishing and hunting are a waste of time and money ‑ you never bring back enough fish or game to justify the expense.
  11. Take the briefcase home on the evenings when you do not go to the office.  This provides an opportunity to review completely all the troubles and worries of the day.

Unresolved stress can become an extremely destructive condition.  The accumulated effect of longstanding stress can eventually lead to a condition which is commonly referred to as “Burn-Out Syndrome.”

IV. Principles For Stress Free Living.

Let’s keep in mind that God desires for each one of us as His precious people to live a stress free life that is rich in God’s fulfillment.

Psalms 66:12  “…We went through fire and through water; but you brought us out to rich fulfillment.”

When we look to God’s solution in any matter that has the tendency to bring stress in our lives, He will bring us into a rich fulfillment.  The key is learning to trust Him and His way rather than our poorly devised plans.  Let’s look at some of God’s principles for stress free living.

1.  We Must See Things From God’s Perspective.

Life is filled with a wide variety of circumstances.  Some situations are positive, some are negative.  However, the circumstances we encounter, regardless of the nature, often produce feelings of stress.  This is especially true of the adverse situations which suddenly affect or alter the course of our lives.

A great deal of stress can be alleviated or minimized by viewing our circumstances from a godly perspective.  If we fail to perceive our life situations, at any point, as God perceives them, then we become susceptible to stress.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

This can be a real liberating revelation which has the potential of freeing us from much of the self-imposed stress we experience by seeing our circumstances in a negative light.

In one of Germany’s famous art galleries, a painting called “Cloud Lane” hangs at the end of a long dark hall.  It appears at first to be a huge, ugly mass of confused color ‑‑ unattractive and foreboding.  Upon closer examination, however, you see an innumerable company of angels.  Theodore Cuyler writes, “How often the soul that is frightened by a trial sees nothing but a conglomeration of broken expectations.  But if he analyzes the situation from a position of faith ‑‑ he will soon discover that the cloud is God’s wonderful chariot of providence, full of angels of mercy.”

2.  Deal With Unresolved Sins & Conflicts.

Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Sin generates inner tensions and conflicts and if it’s unresolved, whether public or private, we must sincerely seek Christ’s cleansing power and forgiveness.

Whatever your conflicts may be, learn to deal with them as they come up.  The more you put them off, and the more they pile on top of one another, the more stress you will experience.  If you are experiencing irritations in your marriage or whatever, deal with them.

Conflicts with others create incredible amounts of stress.  If we are harboring hostility, hatred, resentments, or offense, we should seek genuine reconciliation, healing, and forgiveness through the scriptural steps God provides.

Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, “leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way.  First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

3.  We Must Redeem Our Time.

Many people waste time and manage it poorly.   The inevitable result is a stress-filled consciousness.

Ephesians 5:15-16  “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

This also involves pacing ourselves in such a way that we do not take on to much in a given time, but we understand our limitations.  This also involves taking time for rest and relaxation.

4.  Give Everything To God In Prayer.

Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

A great deal of stress is the direct result of shouldering the burdens of life without turning to The Lord in prayer.  We have access to “the peace of God” when we release our burdens to The Lord.

1 Peter 5:7         “…casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

When we fail to release our problems and cares to Christ, we begin to experience increasing tension, anxiety, and fear.  Prayer is one of the most powerful remedies for stress.

5.  Trust In God’s Word.

Romans 15:4  “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

The promises and counsel of scripture provides us with a rich storehouse of stress-relieving comfort and peace.  Stress often results from failing to stand upon the absolute reality of God’s Word, in spite of our circumstances.

When we confront life’s problems, dilemmas, and uncertainties with the reality of God’s Word, we can effectively overcome a great deal of stress we suffer.

6.  Fellowship With One Another.

Romans 15:32  “…that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you.”

2 Corinthians 7:13 “Therefore we have been comforted in your comfort. And we rejoiced exceedingly more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all.”

Fellowship can often provide a potent remedy for stress. 

Studies have proven that interaction with loved ones and friends helps relieve the pressures of stress.

Those who isolate themselves and withdraw from people and relationships suffer a greater degree of stress-related problems.  Companionship with others provides access to warmth, love, understanding, comfort, counsel, and encouragement.

Copyright © 2011  Pastor Kevin R. Airrington.  All rights reserved.

Copyright © 1989 - 2017 AIRRINGTON MINISTRIES | www.airrington.com |All Rights Reserved.