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Message Monday: Preventing the Hardened Heart

Here are my notes from Sunday’s Message at Morningside!

Intro:

  • Have you heard the phrase, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”?
  • We seek hardened metals as essential for all kinds of tools and for building materials. We want hardened soldiers to go into battle.
  • In a world of struggles, difficulty, and challenges we take it as a badge of honor for someone to call us tough.

 

Hook:

  • Do we, in the church look at having a hardened heart as some sort of badge of honor as well?
  • While we would never call it a hardened heart, we often times commend people for “spiritual toughness”.
  • After all, church ministry is hard. Our hearts get so broken that we want to avoid more hurt. After a period of defeats, It is easy to begin thinking that things can’t ever change.
  • Even though we would not call it a hardened heart, all of us who are Christians will be tempted to allow our heart to be hardened.
  • Carey Nieuwhof a Christian pastor and blogger gives five signs of a hardened heart. Listen to them and see if they describe you?
    • Do you ever really celebrate or cry? (Romans 12:15)
    • Do you genuinely care about others? (Philippians 2:1-4)
    • Do you find yourself mechanically going from day to day instead of experiencing meaningfulness for God? (2 Cor. 5:11)
    • Do you find yourself thinking the worst of people rather than thinking the best? (1 Corinthians 13)
  • Do any of those signs describe you? While I pray not, in a room this size, I am sure that those symptoms touch any number of us.
  • Some of you may be asking yourself what’s so bad about a hardened heart.
    • A hardened heart is one that would rather rebel against God than surrender one’s life to His loving guidance and care.
    • From Pharaoh to the Pharisees those who had hardened heart were excluded from God’s kingdom.
  • So today friends, I want to offer you four God given remedies that will prevent you from having a hardened heart.

 

Message Points:

  • Remedy 1: We prevent hardened hearts as we encourage believers to hear the Spirit’s call through the Scriptures (Hebrews 3:7-12).
    • When we preach, teach, sing, pray, counsel, and discuss God’s Word, friends, we can be sure that the Holy Spirit is at work illuminating the minds of those who hear the Word. (1 Corinthians 2:13-15)
    • Notice with me  that verses 3:7-11 quote from Psalm 95. The writer of Hebrews chooses to illustrate his point by allowing the Spirit to speak to us through quoting a text and discussing it with us.
    • The writer wants us to recognize that we cannot look at this book as a textbook or some sort of guide to ancient history. This book when proclaimed is filled with the same Holy Spirit-power that raised Christ us from the dead. Yes, when believers hear the Word of Christ the Spirit stirs us just as it stirred Jesus Christ so that he could come out of that tomb.
    • You may be here this morning but do not call yourself a Christian. I am sure it is because you don’t believe things like I just said.
      • You should notice that the very root  of a sinful heart is an unbelieving heart that turns away from God according to verse 12.
      • Every one of us has from time to time experienced a crisis of faith where we were unsure as to whether we could believe God’s promises.
      • The difference between a non-believer and a believer comes down to whether or not you respond to the call or stirring inside of you.
      • Can I ask you today non-believer  if you sense some sort of call  or stirring inside to respond.
      • If you do, you are in good company, even a deistic founding father like Franklin is quoted as saying that Whitefield’s gospel preaching and pleas had a tremendous effect upon him.
      • Friend my encouragement to you is if you hear his voice calling or stirring you, do not leave today until you speak to one of the pastors or teachers here about how to be saved. Do not turn away from the living God if He is calling you today!
    • Now Christians in the room, you need to hear the Spirit’s call as well!
    • Do you neglect the Spirit’s call upon your life? Have you been lax in your devotions or you attendance at church?
    • Christian, we must be especially careful recognize our continuing need to give the Spirit the opportunity to speak in his “still small voice”.
    • We do this by filling our lives with opportunities to hear and discuss His word.
      • Perhaps as a Christian family you will seek to sit down at lunch and discuss what you learned in Sunday School or in big church. Parents give your children the floor so that you can hear how the Spirit is calling them.
      • If you are leading a program, class, or ministry in the church ask yourself if at your last meeting the Scriptures were read and discussed. Let us saturate our meetings with opportunities to allow the Word to be proclaimed and explained.
      • Maybe you would be so bold as to share with that friend over coffee, or coworker in the break room, or even that fellow patient in the doctor’s office what you have been learning from God’s Word either in your devotion or from church.
    • We fill our lives with the Scriptures friends not because we worship a book, but because the Holy Spirit promises to do his converting work when we talk about His Word. (Romans 10:17)
    • If you want to prevent a hardened heart, make every effort to fill your life with opportunities for the Spirit to call as you hear His Word!

 

  • Remedy 2: We prevent hardened hearts as we encourage believers with urgency and compassionate concern to turn away from sin (Hebrews 3:13).
    • Notice friends that this next verse is one that uses the word encourage. This is a verb form of the word translated in reference to the Holy Spirit as Comforter and Counselor.
    • The word literally means “to call alongside of”. To encourage someone, we must first come alongside of them.
    • Friends, how often do you come alongside of someone in trouble?
      • When is the last time you called those in your Sunday School classes or those who have missed church to ask if anything is wrong?
      • How regularly do you call upon those in your church family just to find out how you can pray for them?
      • Do you only call on others when you need something from them?
    • Can I suggest to you that if we are to prevent our own hardened hearts one of the best remedies is to come alongside of someone who is hurting and suffering, and sinning in order to share good news with them!
    • If we do that, as we share this good news that will set captives free and heal broken hearts, we may be surprised by how much God ministers to and through us!
    • Notice though two qualifying points about this remedy.
      • This cure is time sensitive! If will only matter if we get there in time.
        • Notice that the passage say as long as it is called today. This is a reference to the church age we are in now, before the great judgement day that is to come. We have an urgent need to encourage friends!
        • Think as well about how this verse tells us that the deceitfulness of sin can hardened hearts. As soon as we see someone struggling we need to step in and encourage them.
      • This cure must be slowly released into our systems.
        • Notice that the writer says that he wants none to be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
        • Because deceitfulness and hardness have a tendency to reoccur, we have a need to be compassionate and consistent.
        • Temptations come day by day, shouldn’t godly encouragement come in that same fashion?
      • Friends, can I tell you one way that I seek to encourage day by day in my life?
        • I use the church directory! As I have been trying to learn your names and faces, I have prayed through this directory day by day.
        • What if each of us here resolved to pray for and encourage just one person on this roll a day?
        • If there are 200 in this room today, that means we could encourage the entire Morningside roll in less than ten days. In the span of a year we could encourage every member 36 times.
        • It only takes moments for a crisis to occur. If we make it our regular practice to encourage one another, think of the greater effectiveness we can have for Christ in a moment of  crisis.
    • Friends the point is that it is hard to have a hard heart when you begin to develop Christ’s heart for others (Romans 5:8).

 

  • Remedy 3: We prevent hardened hearts as we encourage believers to hold onto their confidence in Christ (Hebrews 3:14).
    • Verse 3:14 tells us about the positive content of our encouragement. We want to encourage fellow believers to hold onto Christ all the way to the end of their lives.
    • The word confidence is a word that talks about our essential nature. In other words we are talking about what makes us a Christian – our Christian identity.
    • I was moved on Monday as I came to the Deacon’s Meeting and heard about a Morningside brother nearing his own death.
    • As the meeting began we prayed for him, but the striking thing was that someone shared about how brother Chris showed up at just at the right time to remind him to hold onto Jesus.
    • Friends we are not Christians because we have healthy bodies to serve the Lord. We are not Christians because our parents brought us to church. We are not Christians because some preacher “saved us”.
    • We are Christians because when we have nothing else to hold onto, we can cling to a Savior who shed his blood that we can be redeemed.
    • Thank you Chris for being at the right place at the right time to encourage brother Bob to hold onto Jesus.
    • And while I am at it, can I also thank Holly, Jack, Kathy, Linda, your pastor search team and so many others who have sought over these past two years to encourage you to hold onto what makes us Christians, that confidence in the shed blood of Christ alone?
    • Friends, before we leave here today, lets resolve to hold onto Jesus so that we are close to him and clean from sin, as Johnny Hunt says.
    • If we do that, I know we will have tender hearts transformed by the grace of Christ.

 

  • Remedy 4: We prevent hardened hearts as we encourage believers to trust and obey Christ’s call through the Scriptures. (Hebrews 3:15-19)
    • Now you may think this is the same as point one. But notice the writer chooses to bring this point back up by quoting Psalm 95 again in verse 3:15.
    • In the following verses 3:16-19 he offers us a little history lesson. He tells us that those who hardened their hearts in the rebellion are like that generation that came out of Egypt only to die in the desert.
    • Jeremiah 17:5-8 contrasts these two paths. Forsaking God in favor of human ways leads to a parched thorny land without refreshment. Trusting God leads to refreshment and fruitfulness even in difficult times.
    • So the most important way that you can prevent a hardened heart is to heed the call you are hearing! Turn away from you selfishness and sin. Turn to Jesus Christ!

 

Conclusion:

  • Maybe you came to this service today and you have sensed the Holy Spirit calling out to you as I have preached. Friends do not leave here this morning without responding to him. Come to the altar and pray or grab the hand of a pastor and ask them to pray with you.
  • Maybe you came here today discouraged, and in need of a fresh confidence in Jesus. Let me encourage you to trust him today! Obey him every day! Seek him and you will find him. This altar is open for you as well.
  • Maybe you are here this morning and realize that you have been a spectator or sideline Christian too long. The Lord may be calling you to begin praying for and encouraging one fellow member a day. Make that commitment before the Lord today.
  • Today if you hear the Lord calling you do not harden your heart! Respond to Him!
 
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Posted by on June 14, 2016 in Ministry of the Word

 

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Message Monday (on a Wednesday): When God Asks for What is Precious…

I have fallen a bit behind in posting my message notes, but want to make sure that I try to catch up today. I only had a very short outline and message for this past week’s message, so I will try to post it later this week. Today, I am posting my message from 05/22/16.

quietIntro:

  • Milestones are difficult for all of us because they mark the moment when things change from that point forward. Some milestones are
    • Births
    • Graduations
    • Starting Jobs
    • Leaving Jobs
    • Getting Married
    • Having Children
    • Death
  • Even though milestones are difficult because change is real, that same sense of frustration can occur anytime we begin to experience major changes in our lives.
  • It is the frustration with change that we will talk about today.
  • Change frustrates us because in many ways it reminds us that no matter how hard we try, we cannot hold onto what we value as precious.

 

Hook:

  • That friends is where we must realize God’s part in change.
  • God challenges us to give him everything we call precious.
  • He does this because He does not want us to be crippled or crushed by holding onto something too long.
  • If we will trust God, even when he calls us to give up what is precious he promises to provide us with something far better.
  • Today, I want to show you the four provisions of God that are better than what we call precious.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2016 in Ministry of the Word

 

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Message Monday: Handling Conflict God’s Way – Does it Matter What Bathrooms Christians Use?

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I delivered this message to our congregation yesterday May 15, 2016. As you read it, pray for school administrators, teachers, parents and students. Pray for those who struggle with gender confusion and those in their families. Pray that our nation would remember the importance of a person’s religious identity even as they recognize the importance of every person’s unique sexual identity.

Intro:

  • On Friday our government chose to advise every school in the United States that they must accommodate the desire of a student to use the bathroom or locker room of the gender they identify with most.
  • This move of course came to the lament of Christians who see this kind of action as a overreach into an area of privacy and modesty that Christians are commanded to protect and share with their spouse.

Hook:

  • Some Christians reacted immediately to say that they were going to pull their children out of public schools.
  • To be honest most of us probably had that knee jerk reaction.
  • The question for us today is how God wants us to respond to this situation and to the number of situations that occur as our government makes decisions that conflict with our faith.
  • Even though our county’s First Amendment ensures that we have right to freely exercise our religion, such a right has no power if we cannot practically live out that right.
  • Our passage today shows us how Abraham dealt with a similar situation in which he was given an expansive right from the king of his land.
  • From this passage we will learn four strategies Abraham uses to sojourn in the land of a foreign king.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2016 in Ministry of the Word

 

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Worldview Wednesday: Praying for the Nation

Worldview Wednesday: Praying for the Nation

There can be not doubt about it, erotic liberty is here to stay no matter how much believers might bemoan it. Whether it is the now year old Supreme Court decision for same sex couples to pursue marriage, or the push now to have transgender bathrooms, or the emerging call for polygamy and other alternative sexual lifestyles to be recognized; the momentum of the government to protect public expressions of erotic liberty has increased.

At the same time, the willingness of the government to protect religious liberty has eroded. In essence believers in all religions, but especially Christianity have been told that their religious liberty only extends so far as the door of their homes and houses of worship. Public persecution in the form of legal action against believers for expressing any public dimension to their faith has increased.

With that in mind, I began to consider the National Day of prayer that happened around a week ago asking, “For what did those who gathered pray?” Were they praying against persecution? Did they pray for a return to the more Christian America? Did some even pray for God to smite the leaders of these movements towards erotic liberty? Were they praying that God would just send the right political Savior to rescue us?

I found myself thinking about the current tension and wondered how a Baptist pastor should pray, knowing our traditional views about religious liberty as well as church and state. Over the next few weeks I want to share a little more about my thoughts on Baptist prayers for the nation, but here is a preview:

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Read more about John Leland, a Baptist pastor at the Founding of our nation.

  • Should We Pray for More Preaching or More Political Involvement?
  • Should We Pray for Liberty to Express Both Our Religious Identity & Our Sexual Identity?
  • Should We Pray for Tolerance or Transparency?
  • Should We Pray for the Government Separation or Sanction?

I look forward to sharing why I prayed this way in the next few weeks.

 
 

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Message Monday: If Mama Ain’t Happy, Can Anybody be Happy?

Message Monday: If Mama Ain’t Happy, Can Anybody be Happy?

Admittedly this post is a little late, but I thought it would be wise to share with those in the church family the rest of my message from mother’s day. This is not a full manuscript, but my bullet points.

Intro:

  • We have all heard the phrase I titled the message after. If this kind of broken relationship were the only brokenness to worry about, life would be much simpler.
  • Today we live in a world of brokenness. Carle Zimmerman in 1947 listed five characteristics of societies that fail. (Family & Civilization)
    • Marriage is devalued.
    • Husbands and Wives do not seek to complement and cooperate to build a home & family.
    • Children disrespect and defy parents and authority.
    • Sexual Promiscuity is celebrated.
    • People tolerate formerly aberrant activities.
  • A foolish mistake or intentional sin may have led to the brokenness in a person’s life; however, God gives the grace of children, relationships, churches and ultimately Christ to mend our brokenness. The only problem is that most of the time we ignore God’s gracious gifts.
  • Billy Graham said “When the morals of society are upset, the family is the first to suffer. The home is the basic unit of our society and a nation is only as strong as her homes. The breaking up of. Home does not often make headlines, but it eats like termites at the structure of the nation.” (World Aflame, 1965, 20)
  • Before we think that we have no chance of experiencing the kind of brokenness that these families endure; perhaps we need to hear this quote from biblical counselor Bob Kelleman:
  • Any one of us can experience brokenness just as Sarah, Abraham, and Hagar did in today’s passage.
  • Brokenness described by Kelleman again is,  “the result of being sinned against and the result of facing suffering ‘brokenness.'”

Hook: Since brokenness comes into all of our lives, the question for us today is how does  a Christian respond to brokenness. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2016 in Ministry of the Word

 

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When Forever Doesn’t Seem So Good…

When Forever Doesn’t Seem So Good…

Often in preaching we hear the pastor talk about living forever as if the best thing about Jesus saving us is that we get to live forever. Can we as biblical believers really understand “forever” or “everlasting” automatically as something good?

Think for example of Ecclesiastes 3:11 which testifies that God makes everything beautiful in its time. Then Solomon connects this testimony of God’s good work with the reality of the nature with which he created us. God put eternity in man’s heart. Finally Solomon contrasts the eternity set in man with the temporary apprehension man has of God’s work. In other words eternity is not good since fallen men cannot discover the fullness of God’s good work. Similarly, Is. 57:15-16 makes clear that while the Lord inhabits eternity, currently he and man seem to be at odds. The passage then testifies that He is the one who will cease the contending between Himself and men.

Eternity by itself is not good and yet we all know that Jesus promises us everlasting life. Is. 45:17 makes it clear that Israel is saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation, not to be shamed to all eternity. Romans 6:23 tells us that God gives us eternal life through Jesus our Lord. What we must never forget is that eternal life is good only if it is eternal life with God. For instance, 2 Peter 3:18 reminds believers to grow in the grace of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter points out that God deserves glory both now and through eternity. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2015 in Shepherding

 

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Perry Noble’s 10 Promises Matter Because…

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Does it Matter that Perry Noble Believes They Are the 10 Promises?

 

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2015 in Shepherding

 

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