no way but up

     Life is difficult to cope with and complex to understand. Life beats everyone down, to some even very roughly. It is rare that you will find a person without complaints in this life. Thank God this earth is not the permanent home for those who have placed their faith and trust in Christ and while on earth, every Christian has direct access to the seat of grace and mercy. This is the message of the Bible that we want to share with everyone: When life beats you to the ground, even when you hit rock bottom and there seems to be no way out, in Christ there is no other way but up!

     Upon the Council’s direction, the 2014 sermon series, titled “No Way But Up”, will focus on messages related to the “How to Grow”, discipleship book that we have started to use. The series will expand the twelve lessons contained in that book into every Sunday’s sermon except for a few series breaks on special occasions. It is intended that the new series will enhance the equipping for the discipleship tasks that everyone is encouraged to embark on. Together let’s take on the challenge of discipleship and become effective witness for the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

I.  HOW TO KNOW YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN

We have always believed that there is God, and that God forgives sins. Tradition dictates that we do penance, do good, avoid evil, obey the Ten Commandments in order to avoid sinning, or be forgiven when we do. This supposition is true for the most part, yet the information is likely handed down from our parents and religion teachers. We swallow those teachings hook, line, and sinkers, without studying for ourselves directly from God’s own words in the scripture. It is time to know why and how our sins are forgiven.

January 12  |  Fallen to Rise Again | Romans 3:9-12

January 19  |  Faithful to Forgive  |  1 John 1:5-10

January 26  |  The Testimony  |  1 John 5:6-12

February 2  |  As Far as East is from West  |  Psalm 103:8-12

 

I.  HOW TO READ THE BIBLE

“I try to read the Bible but I can’t understand it.” This is a common complaint by people which is sad yet true. This is because the Bible is not to be read the way other books or literature are read. While many are likely to glean helpful insights for living, the fullness of His grace will only be received by those who “have ears to hear” (Mark 4:9). This is why there are those who become proud, arrogant even, as they gain knowledge of the Word — far from becoming like the Person that the Bible teaches about. In times past, God spoke audibly to His people; now He still does, but through His written word. 

February 9  |  Delighting in the Word  |  Psalm 1:1-6

February 16  |  Handle with Care  |  Matthew 22:23-30

February 23  |  The Word of Life  |  2 Timothy 3:10-17

March 2  |  Word Hidden in My Heart  |  Psalm 119:9-16

 

III.  HOW TO PRAY

A cute three year-old boy said an equally cute prayer when his Dad brought him along to visit a boy who was sick. Under early Christian training, Dad asked his son to pray for the sick boy, and pray he did: “Lord, thank you for this food, amen!” Hilarious! It’s an understandable and excusable gaffe by a charming, innocent tot. I was about seventeen when asked to lead a prayer for a Christian group for the first time. Being more familiar with the repetitious prayer from my former traditional religion, I struggled to start the prayer, and struggled even more trying to end it. I did not know yet the usual concluding line, “In Jesus’ name, Amen.” Now I know there is much to know about the Christian prayer.

March 9  |  Intentional Prayer  |  Hebrews 4:14-16

March 16  |  Watchful Prayer  |  Matthew 26:36-41

March 23  |  Wise Prayer  |  James 1:1-11

March 30  |  Persistent Prayer  |  Matthew 7:7-11

 

IV.  HOW TO BE FILLED WITH HOLY SPIRIT

“As the Spirit leads…” is a phrase that is supposed to be a statement of conviction, of faith that the Holy Spirit leads best, thus all must yield. However, lest the phrase degenerates into a cliché or a copout, a clear, biblical understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit is needed.  Christians, evangelical or traditional, or no matter what denomination they belong to believe in the Holy Spirit as the Third Person in the Trinity. While co-existing with the Father and Jesus Christ, the Spirit became primarily involved in the life of believers since Jesus Christ ascended back to heaven. As the sealing of the Spirit is in regard to salvation, the filling of the Spirit is for the purpose of sanctification. 

April  6  |  He Lives in You  |  1 Corinthians 6:19-20

April 13  |  He Sanctifies  |  Ephesians 5:17-18

April 20  |  Easter (Series Break)  Christ Appears  |  1 Corinthians 15:1-4

April 27  |  He Causes You to Bear Fruit  |  Galatians 5:22-23

May 4  |  He Wants You to Surrender   |  Romans 12:1-2

 

V.  HOW TO WITNESS EFFECTIVELY

 The church has been entrusted with the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) summarized in terms of ‘winning souls and building lives for the kingdom”. The church is not the building or the property but the individuals whose souls have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Redemption came about when Jesus preached the gospel message, followed through by the disciples, and such message continues to be preached and taught to this day by the Lord’s “witnesses” – you and me. We have a task to attend; let’s do it well.

May 11  |  Mother’s Day (Series Break) Mothers’ Day Message  |  1 Corinthians 13:4-7

May 25  |  Witness by Your Life  |  Ephesians 4:1-3

June 1  |  Witness by Your Spoken Word  |  Acts 26:12-23

June 8  |  Witness by Sharing the Written Word  |  Romans 3:23; 6:23; 5:8; 10:9

June 15 – Father’s Day (Series Break) Fathers’ Day Message  |  Deuteronomy 6:6-9

 

VI. HOW TO OBEY

Since the Fall, it has become unnatural for man to obey God. The enemy, Satan, has succeeded in making man to believe that happiness and success come from man’s self-direction, doing things without direct consideration of God’s statutes. However, God says we will succeed if we obey His word. Obedience is necessary for victorious Christian living. It is also an indication that a person is truly saved. A true believer stops living for himself. Instead he begins living for the Lord.  If we address the Creator “Father”, “God”, or “Lord”, it should follow that we obey Him.

June 22  |  Love and Obedience  |  John 14:15-21

June 29  |  It is Good to Obey  |  Deuteronomy 10:12-13

July 6  |  Children of Obedience and Disobedience  |  John 8:31-44

 

VII.  HOW TO DEAL WITH TEMPTATIONS

The Bible describes Satan as a “roaring lion” who is always seeking whom to attack (1 Peter 5:8). His way of attacking is by tempting a person to disobey God and to follow the dictates of the flesh. This happens moment by moment to everyone regardless of age, social standing, race, intelligence, or faith. A believer must understand how to resist temptation. Temptation is the initial urging a person feels to commit sin. In itself, temptation is not sin. However, if not dealt with correctly and quickly, it can rapidly become sin.

July 13  |  Three Vulnerable Targets  |  Matthew 4:1-11

July 20  |  Spiritual Mindset  |  Romans 8:5-9

July 27  |  Resisting the Enemy  |  Ephesians 6:10-18

 

VIII. HOW TO KNOW GOD’S WILL

If it were possible, everyone would want to have a crystal ball in order to predict and prepare for the future. Yet if this was true and common place, there would be no more need for faith. Our heavenly Father is deeply interested in people and has a good plan for us but He also wants us to have faith and practice it. He has already communicated through His written word.  We do not need to be victims of blind chance or to be dependent on our own limited wisdom for planning the future. Nor do we need to seek His will elsewhere on subjects that are clearly stated in His word.

August 3  | He Already Made the Plans  |  Jeremiah 29:11-13

August 10  |  Seeking His Will  |  Luke 6:11-16

August 17  |  Consecrated for His Will  |  Romans 12:1-2

 

IX. HOW TO GROW IN THE CHURCH

In the book of Acts, strong churches were products of faithful proclamation of God’s word. A true church is different from any social club or gathering. It is fellowship of born-again believers, those whose sins have been pardoned by Christ’s blood, and those who enjoy everlasting life. They have received spiritual gifts which they use for the purpose of giving glory to God, edifying fellow believers, and building the kingdom by sharing the gospel to others. They serve the ministries and purposes of the church, as well as allowing themselves to be placed in positions of servant-leadership, such as deacons, elders, and pastors.

August 24  |  Gifts Differing   |  Romans 12:3-8

August 31  |  One Voice of Praise  |  Romans 15:1-7

September 7  |  Growing by Serving  |  1 Peter 4:7-11

September 14  |  Growing in Grace and Knowledge  |  1 Peter 3:14-18

 

X.  HOW TO JOIN A CHURCH 

The church is not a building. Rather it is the people who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ that comprise the church. They have been ‘called out’ (ekklesia) from the multitudes to follow the Lord. The ‘universal church’ refers to all believers in the world throughout the ages. The ‘local church’ refers to the particular congregations in various locations where believers become part of to grow in the faith and to serve God through the practice of spiritual gifts. There are biblically established ways for becoming a member of a local body – a church.

September 21  |  Jesus Christ is the One Foundation  |  Matthew 16:13-20

September 28  |  Believe and Be Baptized  |  Acts 16:30-34

October 5  |  The Right Hand of Fellowship  |  Galatians 2:6-10

 

XI.  HOW TO GIVE BY GRACE 

The Christian’s relationship with God in the matter of giving is called stewardship – the proper and biblical management of the resources that God gives. Unlike traditional churches whose resources are often centralized (controlled and disbursed by an overall central authority), a biblical evangelical church like ours is self-sustaining, self-promoting, and self-propagating, even as we participate in cooperative endeavors to reach out to the world for Christ. It is said that our resources, money in particular, is the last battleground when it comes to Christian obedience. A true disciple must learn how to give by grace.

October 12  |  God Creates and Owns or Everything  |  Psalm 50:9-12

October 19  |  The Measure of Generosity, 2 Corinthians 8:1-8

October 26  |  The Test of Grace  |  Malachi 3:10-12

November 2  |  The Cheerful Giver  |  2 Corinthians 9:6-11

November 9  |  (Series BreakMusical and Dramatic Worship

 

XII. HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN THE LORD’S SUPPER

‘Sacraments’ are religious rituals believed to have salvific power by traditional Christianity. The Bible does not support such view. Biblical Christianity, on the other hand, upholds the ‘ordinances’ taught in the Scriptures – baptism by immersion and the observance of the Lord’s Table.  Those who participate do so not for the purpose of salvation; they do for the purpose of identification with their Savior, a reminder of their spiritual standing in God’s sight, and a commemoration of God’s supreme act of love towards sinful mankind. 

November 16  |  In Remembrance of Him  |  Luke 22:14-23

November 23  |  In a Worthy Manner  |  1 Corinthians 11:23-32

December 14  |  Nothing is Impossible  |  Luke 1:26-38

December 21  |  Glory to God in the Highest  |  Luke 2:1-13

December 24  |  (Wednesday Evening)  Christmas Musical

December 28  |  Jesus the Nazarene  |  Matthew 2:19-23