A Graciously Good Father

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  1. God is good to the wayward child (vv. 12-24)

    1. God is good to the wayward by His generosity. (v.12)
    2. God is good to the wayward by His patience with them. (v. 12, 20).
    3. God is good to the repenting wayward child because of His compassion for them (v. 20-21)
    4. God demonstrates his goodness by graciously restoring the wayward son. (v. 22-24)
  2. God is good even to the self-righteous child. (v. 25-31)

    1. God is good to the self-righteous child by his generosity too. (vv. 12, 31)
    2. God is good to the self-righteous child because He offers compassion too. (v. 28)
    3. God is good to the self-righteous child by having patience too. (v. 31)
  3. Whether we admit it or not we are all wayward children.

This sermon originated from the pulpit of West Green Baptist Church in West Green, Georgia where Kevin Bounds serves as Senior Pastor. Did you enjoy the message? Let us know in the comment section below. Also, please feel free to like and share with friends and family.

Preacher or Writer? The Internal Struggle

Am I a preacher who writes? Or a writer that preaches? To some, this may be an unnecessary division, but for many, this is a serious question of calling. I know it has been for me. This post will explore this question and give my personal reasoning of why I am a preacher who writes. (Notice, the emphasis on the word personal. Every person has a particular calling they must find and embrace. This post is my take on my unique calling.)

I desired to be a writer long before being called to the public proclamation of God’s Word. It’s hard to believe at one time; I was terrified of public speaking. I recall standing behind a podium at a technical college shaking with fear before an audience of about ten peers. I am confident my fingernails left indentions in the podium. It was the longest five minutes of my life.

I feared public speaking because I fumbled with words (I still do). I could always express myself better through the medium of writing. I am no longer afraid of speaking in front of a crowd, but I still feel like I write better than I talk.

In the third grade, I was nominated to attend the Young Author’s Conference. Although tonsillitis forced me to leave the meeting early, I was able to hear the children’s author, Avi, speak. This experience planted the idea of me becoming an author. (On a side note, I think my wife attended the same conference.)

During High School, I was an awkward fellow. Antisocial and bitter, I spent time writing poetry. It was my therapy. It helped make sense of all the thoughts and emotions in my brain. My mother took noticed and encouraged me to submit my work to a poetry contest. In the end, one of my poems was published in a collection album.

These events, along with others, made me think I would live with paper and pen in a remote cabin. However, God had other plans. God’s ways do not always make sense to us ( see Proverbs 3:5-6).

When I dedicated my life to Christ, on December 16, 2001, I assumed I would begin to write as a Christian writer. I desired to be a novelist (I still do.) As I started surrendering my plans to God’s sovereign rule, I felt the Spirit press me to preach and lay aside my dreams of becoming an author. I was not to write (or not yet). God even lead me to burn a book of poetry I penned before my conversion. I was no longer the person who wrote these pieces. These poems were, in a sense, the old me.

There was a time whenever my eyes closed; I would see the word, PREACH. I knew God was calling me. Kicking and screaming I submitted to God’s prompting. However, I knew God would somehow give me the go-ahead to writing…one day. It wasn’t until pursuing my undergraduate degree that I felt a release to write. I am convinced God led me to lay, my Isaac of writing, down on His altar. I was to write, but solely for his glory. My motive changed from seeing my name on a book cover to glorifying  Him.

So why do I feel that I am a preacher who writes instead of a writer who preaches? Again, this may be a trivial distinction to some, but in my case an essential difference. I wish I could find the words to convey how I know that I am to pursue preaching over my writing but I cannot. All I can say is, it’s about obedience for me. 

Last week, in my reading of Haddon W. Robinson’s Biblical Preaching, I came across a paragraph that spoke volumes about this topic. He writes,

Paul was a writer. From his pen we have most of the inspired letters of the New Testament, and heading the list of his letters is the one to the Romans. Measured by its impact on history, few documents compare with it. Yet when Paul wrote this letter to the congregation in Rome, he confessed, “I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” (Rom.1 :11-12 RSV). Paul realized that some ministries simply cannot take place apart from face-to-face contact. Even the reading of an inspired letter will not substitute. “I am eager to preach the gospel to you… who are at Rome” (1:15 RSV). A power comes through the preached word that even the written word cannot replace. 1 [Boldened emphasis mine]

I consider myself a preacher-writer because the primary medium for salvation is through the foolishness of preaching (See 1 Corinthians 1:21). Nevertheless, I will preach, and I will write all for the glory of God.

What about you? Do you preach and write too? How do you distinguish the two? Or you may have another calling altogether. I would like to hear your thoughts. Please comment below.

 

 

 

 

  1. Haddon W. Robinson, Biblical Preaching. 3rd Ed. I(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic) 2014. 3

Expository Preaching: Governed, but Empowered

When I was a kid, my brother and I owned a blue one-seater go-cart with a warped frame. (Come to think about it, the brakes didn’t work. Thank the Lord for His protection.) We loved it. The dirt roads of the community that I now pastor was riddled with ruts from what one neighbor coined as “The Blue Devil.”
As I recall, behind the accelerator pedal the previous owner placed a bolt to prevent the lever from being floored. The Blue Devil was governed. I am reasonably sure, in our youthful quest for speed, that home-made safety feature met a hacksaw blade. Who needs caution when driving a go-cart without brakes called The Blue Devil,” right? We had a need for speed. We threw caution to the wind!
Earlier in my ministry, that need-for-speed-caution-to-the-wind mentality unintentionally crept into my preaching. I came from a Christian tradition that was not known for the sequential exposition of the Scripture. In fact, in some congregations, expositional preaching was viewed as lacking in the Spirit.
In this environment, I was pressed to preach hard, fast, and with a great deal of charisma, which is not all bad advice. However,  I see how as a young minister, I drifted into a performance trap. I thought I needed a new and fresh word that others had not heard yet. (By the way, that’s a recipe for heresy.)
In those days, my sermons were topical, which again isn’t necessarily wrong. But I selected passages  I thought would “preach.”  I was looking to impress the congregation (and possibly God too.) My sermons were ungoverned. Often, they would race in a direction the original authors never meant them travel. My sermons were always about the Word of God, but they weren’t always the authoritative Word of Lord.  There is a difference!
Now, I see the importance of a governor (maybe not on go-carts called the Blue Devil), but on sermons for sure. All preaching should be governed by the Spirit-inspired author’s original purpose for writing the passage being considered. This is the goal of faithful biblical preaching. This is expositional preaching. A biblical expositor mines the Scriptures for this original meaning and then moves to apply it to modern life. As John Stott stated, the preacher “stands between two worlds.” A preacher should hold firm the with one hand the ancient world of the original authors and with the other hand grasp the congregation’s world.
What about the Spirit? Isn’t expositional preaching boring? It can be. But it doesn’t have to be dry as cracker juice. Although this method of preaching is governed by the text, it is empowered by the Spirit. By staying tight to the text, we safeguard ourselves from speeding away from what God’s intended message.
If you are unfamiliar with the expositional method here are some great videos on the topic.

The Gospel Coalition

The Front Porch

3 Truths Learned from Peter’s Denial

Read Matthew 26:57-75

Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed. Matthew 26:74 (NLT)

The air was crisp. Peter shivered. Was the tremble from the biting wind or the ice revealed in Judas’s silver-lined veins? Was it a physical or spiritual chill on the night Jesus of Nazareth faced fate? Indeed, the whisp of frolicking demon’s wings could be felt. The Shepherd was to be struck down. His sheep fled. Even those that declared allegiance would falter that night.

Peter nestled to the warmth of the fire, wrestling with the idea of his Lord being betrayed by that…that… Zealot. Peter watched from a distance. Was he looking for an opening, an opportunity for an escape? It’s possible. But more than likely the range was to disassociate himself from the Wonderworker from Nazareth.

Peter was the outspoken disciple, but fear gripped his tongue. He cared for Jesus but was his affection enough? A few hours before, he had declared his unwavering loyalty. However, a mere servant girl’s question paralyzed this rugged fisherman that once dared to step on to a raging sea to follow Jesus.

What would cause Peter’s loyalty to wane? Some may say it was meant to be this way. And in a sense, they’re correct. Nevertheless, if we look closely, we can find at least three truths that we can relate to as followers of Christ. For Peter’s story, often is very much our own story.

  1. Peter was following Christ from a distance.

Matthew writes,  “Meanwhile, Peter followed him at a distance and came to the high priest’s courtyard. He went in and sat with the guards and waited to see how it would all end.” Matthew 26:58 (NLT) Although Peter was bodily close to the heat of a fire, his soul’s temperature declined because he was away from the one that fans the flames of men’s hearts. If we neglect to draw close to Christ through prayer, Scripture, and corporate worship, we will go the way of Peter. We might not verbally admit our backsliding, but our actions will tell the tale. We must always draw near to Christ and depend on him to keep our hearts ablaze. 

2. From this distance, Peter slipped into greater denial.

Peter’s denial was gradual. In his first encounter, Peter merely shrugged off the servant girl’s comments by saying, “I don’t know what you’re talking about” (26:70). Peter was trying to get the heat off of him by changing the topic. Next, Peter denied knowing Jesus (26:72)! Finally, Peter began to bring a curse on himself declaring …” a curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man…” (26:74). Do you see the progression? People never wake up and say I plan to deny Christ today. It’s a slow fade brought on by a smoldering heart.

3. Peter repented.

In the end, Peter repented at the crowing of the rooster. God can use anything to arrest our attention and draw us back to Himself. In Peter’s case, He used poultry. King David’s heart was broken by the boney finger of a pointing Prophet. God has used family, friends, enemies, and even livestock at times to get his point across. You may have heard crowing in the distance as you’ve read this post. (It would not be the first time God spoke through an animal!)  Follow Peter’s footsteps and repent. Turn back to Jesus.

Peter’s story is our story. Often, we proclaim our allegiance to Christ, but we fail Him. It’s inevitable. We are all flawed human beings. We may not deny Him verbally, but we reject Him in action. However, Jesus’s grace is sufficient.  If we draw near to him in repentance, he will ignite our hearts again. Ask Peter. He went from cowering a the question of a servant girl to preaching on the Day of Pentecost. Ultimately, tradition tells us that Peter was crucified upsidedown because he refused to deny Christ. Will you draw closer?

 

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5 Feats of Christ’s Death

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.”

“Hosanna in the Highest!” echoed the crowd.

Some cast coats to pave the way for the miracle-worker. Others laid freshly cut palm branches to be tread on by the donkey that carried the healer named Jesus.

A “Who is this?” rippled through Jerusalem that day. Anticipation filled the air. What was happening? The entrance into Jerusalem was the beginning of the climax of the story of redemption. Jesus of Nazareth faced the Father’s will in obedience. His journey into the city would bring Him closer to fulfilling his destiny. He would give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

Holy Week serves a reminder of the pain in Christ’s passion. It is a reminder of the Gospel’s cost. It is a cue to consider the cross. We need reminders. For the enemy is a thief and will strive to make us forget the price of the Good News. We must remember the gospel and its price.

Have you ever considered the death of the Christ? Have you pondered the cross? Christ died. Christ died for us! The following is five feats Christ’s death accomplished for us.

  1. It removes our sin.

Christ’s death removed our sin. John the Evangelist writes, “The next day he [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming to him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” (NASB John 1:29). The removal of sin by Christ’s death is called expiation. Christ’s death removes our sin and guilt before God. The author of Hebrews writes, “…He [Jesus] has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (NASB Heb 9:26b).

In the Old Testament, the blood of sacrifices covered the sins of the people. Moses writes, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement” (NASB Lev 17:11). The Hebrew word for “atonement” is kaphar, which means to cover. The author of Hebrews says, “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (NASB Heb 10:4). However, Christ’s blood removes our sin!

Think about that! If you receive Christ’s atoning work, your sin has been removed! Also, Christ’s righteousness has been imputed or transferred to you! (see 2 Cor 5:21)

  1. It removes God’s wrath from us.

God is holy. Therefore, sin incurs the wrath of  God. Jesus took this wrath on Himself. In Romans, Paul writes,

“24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (NASB Rom 3:24-26)

Propitiation is the removal of God’s wrath from us. Hebrews states, “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (NASB Heb 2:17). Propitiation also has an element of satisfaction. The wrath of God is satisfied with the death of Christ. Finally, John writes, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

Can God’s wrath be on a world which He loves? Absolutely. For those who are parents, this idea is not too far from our imagination. We love our kids but sometimes they face our wrath, right?

  1. It removes our alienation from God.

Sinners are separated from God, but Christ’s death removes our alienation from God. Paul writes,

10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (NASB Rom 5:10-11)

The death of Jesus reconciles is to God! We are no longer his enemy. We are his children. We call Him, Abba (Rom 8:15)!

  1. It removes the curse of the Law.

The Law held us hostage but we are free in Christ. Paul writes,

13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”— 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (NASB Gal 3:13-14).

In the Old Testament, God made a covenant with Israel, which’s stipulations are codified in the Ten Commandments. In Deuteronomy 28, God rehearsed the blessings if Israel could keep His commands and the curses if they failed to obey. Israel failed, but Christ succeed in obedience. Those in Him, receive the blessings of redemption! It is the precious blood of Christ that ransoms us (1 Pet 1:18-19).

  1. It removed the powers of Hell

In death, Christ defeated Satan and the forces of hell. Paul writes,

13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. (NASB Col 2:13-15)

There is not a devil in hell that has a tooth left! He may roar but Satan is defanged and dethrone! (1 Pet 5:8). Christ openly defeated death, hell, and the grave.

 

When Christ died, these five feats were accomplished!

Christ died. He was buried. BUT, He didn’t stay there! This is the Gospel. We must remember the gospel is the all-important message by which God will judge all men. John writes, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (NASB John 3:36)

If you have not received this message, the bad news is that:

  1. You are still in your sins.
  2. The wrath of God abides on You.
  3. You’re alienated from God.
  4. You are under the curse of the Law.
  5. The devil still controls you.

However, the Good News is “for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” (NASB Rom 10:13)

Have you considered Christ’s cross? Have you called on his name? If not, why are you waiting?

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