spiritual warfare

Armor, 5 November 2023

Ephesians: Finding Our True Identity

Ephesians 6:7-24

Series Big Idea:
The book of Ephesians reveals our true identity…in Christ!
Big Idea: We need to fight the good fight of faith with armor…on our knees.
Today we’re finishing our series on the book of Ephesians! We’ve been looking at this letter written by Paul to a church in modern day Turkey, and it’s a doozy! If we could embrace even a fraction of the instructions, we would be a healthier, more fruitful, and more satisfied congregation…so let’s pay attention!
Two weeks ago we looked at this gem:
And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21, NLT)
We saw how that related to husbands and wives, submitting to one another. Last Sunday Sue shared how this relates to parents and children—children are to obey and fathers are to avoid provoking their children to anger. The next section relates to slaves and masters, though it’s not exactly the Civil War era antebellum slavery we imagine, but rather servants who often had to work off a debt. In our context, a parallel would be workers and bosses.
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. 6 Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. 7 Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. 8 Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free. (Ephesians 6:5-8, NLT)
Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites. (Ephesians 6:9, NLT)
Masters and slaves are hardly equals, but they are both worthy of dignity and respect if they are followers of Jesus. We could devote an entire sermon to this, but we must move on to our subject today, the Armor of God.
The Bible is filled with metaphors, parables, and images designed to help us understand spiritual concepts through the lens of physical objects. Paul’s final teaching in Ephesians introduces a battle motif.
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. (Ephesians 6:10, NLT)
We all want to be strong. Action movies are filled with men and women with bulging muscles, powerful weapons, and a mission to conquer the bad guys. Notice Paul doesn’t stop with “be strong,” but continues “in the Lord and in his mighty power.” None of us have what it takes to do battle on our own. It’s only in the LORD and in His power that we can stand a chance against the forces of sin, evil, and destruction.
Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11, NLT)
The devil is our enemy. He’s powerful. He’s very powerful. We see it in the news every day. Death. Abuse. Hunger. Corruption. Racism. Injustice. Violence. The list goes on and on.
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12, NLT)
This is where I want to focus. You can’t see the enemy, but the enemy is real. There are spiritual forces that want steal, kill, destroy, and lie and they are powerful. It says they are mighty powers. We often refer to them as demons. I’ve always found it interesting that more people believe in angels than in demons, but both are realities according to the Bible. The enemy is real, but unseen. The enemy is not flesh-and blood. That means…
-       Our government leaders are not the enemy
       The gang leaders are not the enemy
       Drug dealers are not the enemy
       Sex traffickers are not the enemy
       Abortionists are not the enemy
They are all masterpieces created in the image of God with dignity, value and worth…broken by sin, pawns of the enemy, at times, but not the enemy.
Family, we must get this. I must get this. Every time I look into the eyes of another human, I’m looking at a masterpiece. Sure, they need work. They need restoration. So do you and I. It occurred to me there may have been times when I was a pawn of the enemy, falling into temptation, failing to love others, thinking impure thoughts, dishonoring the God I claim to love and serve. Put another way, there’s a beautiful lyric in the musical
Les Miserables that says, “To love another person is to see the face of God.”
I need to linger here for a moment, especially during election season. It’s so tempting to demonize the other, whoever or whatever is the other. I expect the world to be arrogant, disrespectful, and filled with hate, but
real Christians don’t hate. Real Christians love. Who has ever changed their mind about something because someone yelled at them…or worse?
Can I be real with you? I’m so sick of politics. I’ve got people telling me we’re too political and others telling me we’re not political enough. I refuse to talk partisan politics because we serve the Lion and the Lamb, not an elephant or donkey. Here’s the bottom line: we need to follow Jesus and do what would bring him glory.
This means caring for and protecting life, from the womb to the tomb. This is why we support the fine work of Bella Vita and the Pregnancy Center, who not only provide alternatives to abortion, they equip parents with the resources they need to thrive.
This means caring for the least of these—the widow, the stranger, the orphan, the poor. This is why we support the fine work of Water for Ishmael, Cherry Street Mission, and Toledo Gospel Rescue Mission.
This means speaking up for those whose voice is not heard, whether it’s the unborn, children, the elderly, the refugee, or the disabled.
Do you want me to continue? I feel like I’m preaching to the choir!
This means loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves…in every circumstance.
Family, sin is rampant in our world, but
people are not the enemy. They are pawns in a cosmic battle between good and evil. Should you vote? Absolutely. It’s a privilege. But do your homework. Don’t blindly believe a tv commercial or lawn sign. Stand up for what is good, beautiful, and true. But no matter the results of the election, God is on the throne, fear not, and love your neighbor…and enemy.
But there’s so much more we can do…so much more we need to do…
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. (Ephesians 6:13, NLT)
We need to put on every piece. An hour on Sunday is not enough. A quick prayer before bedtime is insufficient. We’re in a war, family!
War is not a hobby or part-time endeavor. It’s a lifestyle.
Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. (Ephesians 6:14, NLT)
We need truth, righteousness (not self-righteousness!), justice. The Christian message isn’t true because it works, but it works because it’s true. Jesus declared, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)
For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. (Ephesians 6:15, NLT)
We have good news to proclaim: King Jesus is LORD! The Prince of Peace will return soon, and sent the Holy Spirit to bring comfort and peace in the midst of the chaos in this world. We bring the gospel of peace wherever we go.
In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. (Ephesians 6:16, NLT)
These aren’t just arrows from the archery range. They’re fiery! We need faith to guard against temptation, despair, adversity, lies, hateful thoughts, pride, etc.
Back in the day, the shield was made of wood, covered with leather, and about 2’ by 4’. It was common in the day for soldiers to bring their shields together, forming a wall and even a covering to defend against flaming arrows.
Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17, NLT)
The helmet protects the mind, where our actions begin. The sword of the Spirit is the one offensive weapon, piercing the heart. It brings healing and life…except when we cripple the enemy. Note there’s no covering for the back side. That means we’re to advance…never retreat! We must be strong…in the LORD…and in His mighty power!
These images are great, especially with children. Sue is probably dressing them up right now in Glass City Kids! God has given us the armor, the tools, but we must wear them. We must use them. When you put it all together, it sounds a lot like king Jesus. He is the Truth, our righteousness, our peace, our salvation, the Word of God, the faithful one. We are “in Christ” and we are to put on Christ each day, living for him and his glory, never our own. Now Paul gives us the real secret sauce.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. (Ephesians 6:18, NLT)
At all times. On every occasion. For all the saints. The real battle is fought on our knees.
Paul wrote to his apprentice, Timothy…
Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12, NLT)
We need to fight the good fight of faith with armor…on our knees.
I want to invite you to Zoom Prayer, weekday mornings at 9 AM.
I want to invite you to Sunday morning prayer here at 9:30 AM.
I want to invite you to pray with your Life Group, your spouse, your family.
I know many of you are fearful of the future. Let me restate the big idea of my first sermon here eight years ago: Fear not. Fear God.
Remember, what you fear most is your god.
Consider these profound words from one of Jesus’ three best friends…
But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. (1 John 4:4, NLT)
We’re on the winning side! We know how the battle ends. There will be casualties. There will be losses, especially if we’re not alert and armed. But we win! Our God is greater, our God is stronger, the enemy is a fraud! He has power, but can’t hold a candle to King Jesus. He proved that on resurrection Sunday!
Fear is a powerful motivator, and media is filled with hype and alarm. That’s how they make money! When you feel afraid, get on your knees and do something about it!
Paul continues…
And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. 20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should. (Ephesians 6:19-20, NLT)
When we go through a book of the Bible, I like to make sure every word is read, so here are Paul’s final greetings.
To bring you up to date, Tychicus will give you a full report about what I am doing and how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper in the Lord’s work. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you. (Ephesians 6:21-22, NLT)
One of the things I love about the Bible is it’s a library of books written by real people in real places.
Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness. 24 May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 6:23-24, NLT)

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

You can watch this video and others at the First Alliance Church Video Library

Hell is for Real, 1 November 2020

Hell is for Real
Series—Mark: The Real Jesus
Mark 9:38-50

Series Big Idea:
Mark’s gospel is the most concise biography of Jesus.

Big Idea: Hell is real…and avoidable!

Hell. There are few words which conjure up more images, more controversy, more fear. It’s a word found in English Bibles which has been used both as the name of a Michigan community and a swear word.

There are a lot of myths about hell, and while we won’t probably answer every question, our text today as we continue in the book of Mark will reveal some of Jesus’ teachings on hell.

More people believe in heaven than believe in hell.
More people believe in angels than believe in demons.
More people believe in God than believe in satan.

What does that tell you? We are optimists!

It may not be politically correct, but the Bible is abundantly clear that there are two roads, two teams, two sides, two armies at war with one another…good and evil. Spiritual warfare is real, and we’re in the middle of it every day.

However, there is much we don’t know for certain about the spiritual world. There are many things we don’t know about heaven and hell. Theories about the afterlife abound, but the Bible is not as clear about some things as we may have been led to believe.

Let’s begin with our scripture for today.

“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” (Mark 9:38)

John is worries about someone performing an exorcism. I can just see it: “Jesus, the guy is from a different denomination! He’s not on our team! He probably hasn’t even been ordained yet or gone to seminary! We need to stop this, right?”

“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. (Mark 9:39-40)

Wait, is it “whoever is not against us is for us” or “whoever is not for us is against us?”

Twice Jesus says, “Whoever is not against you/us is for you/us,” here and in Luke 9:50.

Twice Jesus says, “Whoever is not with me is against me” (Matthew 12:30, Luke 11:23).

Which is it, Jesus? Actually, the context matters. “Whoever is not against you is for you” applies to other believers, while “whoever is not with me is against me” is a reference to those who are anti-Christian. The point is, you cannot be neutral about Jesus. Are you with Jesus or against Jesus?

It’s not a question of do you like Jesus or do you believe intellectually some events in history. The question is are you with him. If so, you need to be all in…heart, soul, mind, and strength; time, talents, and treasures; 24/7/365. He’s not looking for fans. He is seeking followers. Disciples.

Back to our text, Jesus continues,

Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.
(Mark 9:39-41)

I think this is a statement of unity. As we stated last Sunday, there are theological arguments which separate followers of Jesus, yet we are all children of God. We will spend eternity with God and one another. We need to be careful about judging other believers simply because we have disagreements. But that doesn’t mean we can be careless about our theology, our study of God.

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. (Mark 9:42)

A quick read may cause you to think of children, but I think the reference is to those new to the faith. A biblical millstone was huge. Jesus is graphic about the consequence of causing others to stumble, to fall into sin. Now Jesus gets even more graphic.

If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. (Mark 9:43)

Some people have taken this verse literally! The message is following Jesus demands sacrifice. Anything that gets in the way of following Christ must go. Jesus is saying the consequences of sin are real. Hell is for real.

The original Greek word translated here as “hell” is “geena” from the valley of [ge] Hinnon or Gehenna in southwest Jerusalem, used figuratively as a place or state of everlasting punishment. I’ve been there! Gehenna was the place where idolatrous Jews sacrificed their children to the pagan god Molech, and later where bodies of the dead were disposed. In the first-century, it was a garbage dump with everything set on fire, hence Jesus’ phrase, “Where the fire never goes out.”

Does this mean hell is a literal lake of fire that will burn forever? Maybe.

Much of our understand of hell—fire and brimstone—comes not from the Bible, but rather from art and an Italian poem by Dante called Divine Comedy. Inferno is the first part, describing Dante’s journey through hell with vivid language.

Jesus spoke of the kingdom of heaven as a present reality, not merely something in the afterlife. In the same way, our choices now can create what many call “hell on earth.” Sin has consequences. Hell is real, I don’t want anyone to experience it. God doesn’t want anyone to experience it. Jesus’ friend Peter wrote,

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

C.S. Lewis said,

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done”, and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.”
All that are in hell choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find to those who knock, it is opened.”

There are so many things we don’t know about heaven and hell, but my simplest definitions are

Heaven is where God is present.
Hell is where God is absent.

To restate C.S. Lewis,

God does not send people to hell. We choose to be present with God now and for eternity or we choose to ignore God now and He will honor that choice for eternity.

Some of your Bibles are missing verse 44. That’s because many of the oldest manuscripts of the Bible lack this phrase:

“Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’
(Mark 9:44, NKJV)

This is a quotation from Isaiah 66:24. Some believe the worm represents internal suffering and the fire external. This is added detail to verse 43. Together they read in the NKJV,

It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— where
“Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’
(Mark 9:43b-44, NKJV)

Let’s look at a few more verses and you’ll understand why there are missing verses.

And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. (Mark 9:45)

Verse 46 is missing in most translations, too. The NKJV reads exactly the same:

“Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’
(Mark 9:46, NKJV)


And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where
“ ‘the worms that eat them do not die,
and the fire is not quenched.’ (Mark 9:47-48)

Verses 44, 46, and 48 are exactly the same in the NKJV. The translators likely added 44 and 46. The meaning of the text doesn’t change with or without them. It’s as if the NKJV did a copy-and-paste for emphasis. This is one of a small number of textual discrepancies in the Bible. Since we don’t have the original manuscripts, there are some variations, but virtually all of them are like this, having no bearing on the meaning. If someone tells you the Bible is full of errors, they are literally correct, but those errors are inconsequential to the meaning, reliability, and authority of the Bible. Out of 66 books, there are a few occasions where the copyist was unsure whether something was a semi-colon or a comma with a speck of dust on the page. No big deal.

To my knowledge—I am not an expert on the original, ancient documents—there are absolutely no controversies surrounding any essential truths of our faith such as the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Any problems are extremely minor such as punctuation.

Tony Evans says hands represent things we handle, the foot represents where we go, and the eye symbolizes things we look at, all potential doors to sin. Jesus continues,

Everyone will be salted with fire. (Mark 9:49)

Fire can destroy, but it can also test and purify. Salt purifies, too. Old Testament sacrifices were offered with salt, which both preserves and purifies.

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50)

So What?

The Alliance Statement of Faith says,

Man was originally created in the image and likeness of God: he fell through disobedience, incurring thereby both physical and spiritual death. All men are born with a sinful nature, are separated from the life of God, and can be saved only through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The portion of the unrepentant and unbelieving is existence forever in conscious torment; and that of the believer, in everlasting joy and bliss.

The verse used to support “the portion of the unrepentant and unbelieving is existence forever in conscious torment” is Revelation 21:8…

“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

My purpose today isn’t to debate nuances of hell, but merely to encourage you to avoid it! The Bible never describes it as a wild party for demons and rock stars. It’s the one place in the universe where God is absent. I can’t imagine how dreadful it is. You think this world is bad?! Imagine our planet without God. Literal or figurative fire, eternal or temporary…does it really matter?!
Alliance pastor Skye Jethani writes, “An afterlife in heaven or hell is the residue of tradition, but it is decidedly not the emphasis of the New Testament. Scripture has a far more physical and terrestrial vision of the future. It depicts a renewed earth in which God dwells with his resurrected people in a redeemed, glorified creation. The Lord is focused on redeeming his world, not abandoning it to the enemy. The goal of the New Testament is not disembodied souls escaping the earth and occupying a celestial heaven for eternity…Its emphasis is not heaven or hell but on a choice between life or death.”

I know this isn’t the most uplifting of subjects, but there’s good news. That’s the meaning of the word “gospel.” The good news or gospel is Jesus.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)

Without Christ, our sins would automatically condemn us to hell, separation from God. He is allergic to sin. But Jesus died to pay for our sins, to forgive us, to wipe the slate clean, to reconcile us to the Father. If we choose to follow Jesus, we will not perish, but will have everlasting life. Could there be any greater news?

Today we remember the sacrifice Jesus made, leaving heaven to come to earth for about thirty-three years to live, die, and resurrect.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)


If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us
our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Hell is for real…and avoidable…not because we are good enough, but because of Jesus.

But as I said, Jesus isn’t looking for fans. He wants followers. If you want Jesus simply for a “get out of hell free” card, you’re in the wrong place. He wants to give you life—abundant life, everlasting life, real life…now and forever. You simply need to say “yes” and respond to his gift, the gift of himself. Repent and turn away from your sins…and follow Jesus.

While there is much we don’t know about hell, one thing is certain: God will judge evil.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

You are not ready to live until you’re ready to die.

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

You can watch this video and others at the First Alliance Church Video Library

The Armor of God, 30 June 2019

The Armor of God
Ephesians 6:10-18

Big Idea:
We’ve been given armor to equip us for the everyday battle between good and evil.

War. There are few words more chilling to ponder. Ever since Cain killed his brother Abel in the first pages of the book of Genesis, our world has been filled with conflict, violence, and war.

Although our country has had numerous wars, we have enjoyed peace on our soil for many years, praise God. Nevertheless, wars are raging all over our planet today. One website, warsintheworld.com, states presently there are 69 countries involved in wars.

Jesus taught is to not only love God, but our neighbor. He went further and instructed us to even love our enemies as we love ourselves. I don’t know of any other person, religion, or teaching like that! So when we talk about war today, we’re not talking about harming people. Humans are never the real enemy. Our enemy is satan and his demons.

Before we dive into today’s text, let me set the context. Paul is writing to the church in Ephesus, a city in Turkey. All of the language in the original Greek is in the plural. He’s writing to God’s people, to early Christians. He’s been writing about how they are to relate to one another and to God, including instructions to parents and children, slaves and masters, all of whom are to be treated with dignity and respect.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. (Ephesians 6:10-11)

C.S. Lewis wrote, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve their existence. The other is to believe and feel an unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors....”

There are people today who ignore the existence of satan, demons, and evil. They never stop to realize they are real and must be opposed. Others are obsessed with darkness, either fascinated with the occult and sin or filled with fear.

The devil is real. The devil’s schemes are real. Our enemy is real.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

We’re in a war! It’s not against flesh and blood, so we don’t see tanks and guns in this battle, but there is evidence of it every day in the news. Our very real enemy entices men, women and children into greed, pride, selfishness,

But we’ve been given armor. This is God’s armor, not ours. God takes His armor and places it on us. We are His children. We don’t have much to offer God, yet He gives us everything that belongs to Him.
Story A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art. When the Viet Nam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son. About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands. He said, “Sir, you don’t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art.  The young man held out his package. “I know this isn’t much. “I’m not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.”  The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture.  “Oh, no sir. I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.” The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected. The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection. On the platform sat the painting of the son.  The auctioneer pounded his gavel. “We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?”  There was silence. Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, “We want to see the famous paintings! Skip this one!”  But the auctioneer persisted. “Will someone bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?”  Another voice shouted angrily, “We didn’t come to see this painting! We came to see the Van Gogh’s, the Rembrandt’s! Get on with the real bids!” But still the auctioneer continued. “The son! The son! Who’ll take the son?” Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. “I’ll give $10 for the painting.” Being a poor man, it was all he could afford. “We have $10, who will bid $20?”  “Give it to him for $10! Let’s see the masters!” “$10 is the bid, won’t someone bid $20?”  The crowd was becoming angry. They didn’t want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections. The auctioneer pounded the gavel. “Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!” A man sitting in the second row shouted, “Now, let’s get on with the collection!” The auctioneer laid down his gavel. “I’m sorry, the auction is over.” “What about the paintings?”  “I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!” God gave His son 2,000 years ago to die on a cruel cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is, “The son, the son, who’ll take the son?” Because, you see, whoever takes the Son gets everything. We also get God’s armor. We have access to God’s power. We’ve been given God’s authority. As God’s kids, we have been adopted into His family and have been given so much!

Sadly, many of the King’s kids live in fear and defeat. They blame everything on the devil and live weak, powerless lives.

Family, we’ve been given power and authority, not to use selfishly, but to serve Jesus. Last Sunday we looked again at a passage known as The Great Commission where Jesus said,

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Jesus has all authority, He sent His friends to go and make disciples, and He promised His presence, which has included the Holy Spirit since a day called Pentecost which you can read about in the second chapter of the book of Acts.

We have access to all of God’s power.
We have access to all of God’s provision.
We have access to all of God’s protection.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)

We are to put on God’s armor. The enemy sees the LORD because we wear His armor.

Paul was writing in the midst of the Roman empire. Their great armies had taken conquest over much of the world. When they entered a territory, they were immovable.

Stand firm then, with the
belt of truth buckled around your waist, (Ephesians 6:14a)

This is not merely a belt to hold up one’s pants, but a belt that holds a soldier together, like a weightlifter’s belt. Truth will hold us together.

Truth seems to be an endangered species in our world today. Postmodern philosophers have said, “There’s no such thing as absolute truth,” but that statement is contradictory!

We need to know the truth and stand up for what is right, even when our culture is following lies of idolatry, lust, pride, and selfishness.

Perhaps the best question in the Bible was from Pilate. Standing before Jesus, he asked,

“What is truth?” (John 18:38a)

Earlier in his book, John quoted Jesus, who said,

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

John wrote a lot about truth, which is so important in our culture where the only truth seems to be what makes people happy for the moment, regardless of the consequences.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (John 16:13)

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:17)

The next piece of armor is

with the
breastplate of righteousness in place, (Ephesians 6:14b)

Righteousness is doing the right thing, maintaining right relationships—with God and others. Matthew 18 gives us instructions on how to maintain these relationships.

If you have a problem, don’t tell me…unless it’s with me. Go to the person with whom you have a problem. If that doesn’t work, take someone else. If that doesn’t work, bring it before the elders.

Righteousness is being honest, humble, good, and fair to others. It may also mean standing up for the weak. It is being morally right, virtuous, goodness, and integrity. Servants of God seek to do the will of the Father. Jesus is not just Savior, but LORD. They obey. They love God and others. They make disciples.

and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the
gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:15)

I don’t think this is a reference to flip flops…or even shoes. I envision boots! You need sturdy footwear to stand firm. The Greek here for peace also means unity or blessing. Jesus said,

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9)

This is not only peace with one another, but peace with God.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:16)

A shield protects the front of a soldier. Note there is nothing for the back of this soldier. Running away is not an option. We are to stand firm. Our enemy loves to attack with flaming arrows. We might call this temptation. Every day we face lies of the enemy trying to deceive us and cause us to sin.

Our shield is a shield of faith. Faith is being sure God will keep His promises. It protects us when we are tempted to fear and doubt.

We often think of s
hields as something an individual uses, but the Roman soldiers would gather together and make a wall of shields that was almost impossible to penetrate. The Roman shield wall conquered the world.

When our faith connects with others, the flaming arrows of temptation and sin are extinguished. This is why we need one another. We need to pray for one another. We need to confess our sins to one another—not to receive shame, but grace; not judgment, but forgiveness.

People often ask if you can follow Jesus and not go to church. First, I tell them you don’t go to church. You’re a part of the church. You don’t say you go to family. You’re a part of a family, and that’s what the church is, a family. But this photo illustrates how important it is to have family, to have church, to have brothers and sisters with whom to journey through life. We need one another. Forget the cultural lies of rugged individualism. We need one another. I need you. You need me. That’s family. It’s God’s design. We need to lock our shields together to both defend ourselves from satan and also to advance, taking new territory for King Jesus.

Take the
helmet of salvation…(Ephesians 6:17a)

Our salvation comes because of the historical events of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Our head, our mind is protected by the helmet of salvation, keeping our priorities in order and reminding us of our position in Christ with a hope, a future, eternity with God.

…and the
sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17b)

This is our only offensive weapon, the word of God, the Holy scriptures. We must know the Bible. Our enemy does, and he tries to twist it and deceive us. We fight by knowing God and His word. We’re even told…

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

We have power in the name of Jesus, in the word of God.

pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:18)

We are the only army advancing on our knees, engaging in spiritual warfare through prayer. God has all power, all authority, all protection. We do not fight with our own strength, but His. We must seek Him in prayer. We must listen to Him in prayer. We must pray blessings and peace over others. We are to pray for one another, all the Lord’s people.

I often say the most important event on our weekly church calendar might not be this gathering or small groups or Dinner Church…but our three prayer gatherings. Sundays at 9 AM, Tuesday morning for men at 8:30 AM, and Thursdays at 7 PM. Prayer is the fuel that propels us forward. The Alliance says,
“Prayer is the primary work of God’s people.”

Prayer is the primary means of communication during spiritual conflict. We pray to the King of kings, seeking orders, asking for wisdom and reinforcements, expressing to Him our fears, and celebrating our victories. When we pray, we reaffirm our allegiance to and declare our dependence on Him. When we don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit expresses our incoherent thoughts, desires, and needs. It’s quite amazing.

So What?

Family, we are in the midst of a war. Our city is being ravaged by poverty and homelessness. The opioid epidemic is literally killing people. Families are crumbling. Violence is reported daily in the news. People are divided about so many things. Chaos is all around us.

But there’s no need to worry. Fear not. God is in control…and He wants us involved. We are to be soldiers, standing up to the death and lies and evil of satan, battling with faith, hope, and love. We’re seeing victories all over…in every salvation, every baptism, every answered prayer, every act of kindness, every meal delivered, every child taught, every word of encouragement spoken, every dollar invested in God’s Kingdom, every Bible studied, every song sung, …every masterpiece restored.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. (Ephesians 6:10-11)

And never fear. The God of angel’s armies is always by our side.

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

Supernatural: Exorcism & Healings

Supernatural: Exorcism & Healings
Mark’s Gospel: The Real Jesus
Mark 1:21-34

Series Big Idea: The shortest gospel is filled with good news about Jesus!

Big Idea: The supernatural world is real, and so is the Holy Spirit.

Who is Jesus? This is the question we’re asking in our series on the gospel—or good news—of Mark.

In the first verse of the book we see Jesus introduced as the Messiah and Son of God. Then we examined John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin who prepared the way for His arrival. Next we discussed Jesus’ preparation for public ministry through baptism and temptation. Last week we looked at an invitation from Jesus, an invitation He is still making to us thousands of years later, to follow him.

I want to make a brief addendum to last week’s message.

I’ve become frustrated by those who communicate the gospel is about praying a prayer to avoid hell and go to heaven when you die.

The gospel is Jesus. The gospel is Jesus is LORD. Christ is not his last name. He is the Jesus the Messiah. He is King Jesus.

I mentioned John 3:16.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, NIV)

I listened to Scot McKnight’s Kingdom Roots Podcast last week and he did a fascinating interview with Matthew Bates, author of Salvation by Allegiance (KR 51).

The question is,
“Who are you believing in?”

If Jesus is Savior, then faith means trust in his saving work or trust in him who can save
If Jesus is LORD, then faith means submit or to bow down to
If Jesus is King, then faith means a declaration of allegiance and loyalty to serve that king and to serve in that king’s army

What does it mean when you say you believe in Jesus? You believe in the historical figure and that he died and rose again…or he is your LORD and King and you submit to him and declare your allegiance to serve him?

Remember, believing that there is a God is no big deal. Even the demons believe that, we’re told in James 2:19!

We are to submit, serve, and declare our allegiance to King Jesus.

The Supernatural. Does it excite you? Does it scare you? Why? In our passage for today, we get a front-row seat to see the authority and power of Jesus.

He has just asked two pairs of brothers to follow him.

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. (Mark 1:21)

What did he teach? We’re not sure. How did teach? With authority! With power!

The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. (Mark 1:22)

This is Mark’s first hint that Jesus will face opposition—opposition that will claim his life. He would be crucified because of the envy of religious leaders.

Mark continues…

Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1:23-24)

He was possessed by an impure spirit. What do we make of this? A man cries out in the synagogue, identifies Jesus, speaks in the plural, and is obviously threatened. The “us” is a reference to all the demonic forces. This wouldn’t be the last time Jesus would have conflict with demons.

I’ve preached hundreds of sermons. I’ve been interrupted, but never like this!

Mark clearly shows us the world of the supernatural is real. And it submits to Jesus.

“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. (Mark 1:25-26)

What is this? The people asked the same thing!

The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.”  News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. (Mark 1:27-28)

Many of you have read this story, but imagine you know nothing about Jesus, you attend synagogue, his teaching amazes you, and then he exorcises an impure spirit before your very eyes.

No wonder news traveled fast about Jesus…and they didn’t even have CNN! This was the first miracle Mark mentions. Jesus had authority and backed it up with power. But there’s more!

As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. (Mark 1:29-31)

Jesus heals the Peter’s wife’s mother. Notice we don’t even know her name, but she has a fever—which was actually a very big deal back then, more than a symptom but a serious condition. Notice Mark’s details. Jesus goes to her, takes her hand, helps her out of bed, and it says the fever left her. Did he pray? Exactly when did the fever leave her? When he touched her? When she stood up? We don’t know.

We do know she went straight to the kitchen, made a batch of chocolate chip cookies, and served them with glasses of cold milk. Ok, we don’t have those details, but Jesus actually benefits in small way from healing her. I’m sure that wasn’t his motivation, of course.

Jesus teaches with authority.
Jesus casts out impure spirits with authority.
Jesus heals with authority.

What a day! And he wasn’t done.

That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. (Mark 1:32-34)

If you were with Jesus and didn’t believe in the supernatural in the morning, you surely did by the time you went to bed.

The demons knew Jesus. Do they know you?

So What?

I know some of you are looking for simple answers and resolve everything. I’ve got to be honest and say this text actually raises several questions for me.

Why are exorcisms common in the New Testament and we rarely see or hear about them today, unless it’s Halloween? Where did all the demons go? No, mental illness is not a sure sign of demons.

Should we be performing exorcisms? I actually participate in one in college. It was low-key but very cool. I would love for our church to do whatever it takes to help people experience joy, freedom, peace, and life. If that means exorcisms, let’s do it—carefully. The supernatural is not something you mess around with, but it is a reality we must accept an experience. We have been given authority from Jesus. We often forget the beginning of the famous Great Commission text:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20)

Why doesn’t God heal today? Oh wait, he does! There is power in the name of Jesus.


Jesus had authority and power. All authority—in heaven and on earth! The exciting news is he said it was good that he ascended so the Holy Spirit to come. In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit arrived! Jesus said,

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)

The supernatural world is real. We can engage it, but we must do so wisely. Demons are real and powerful. But God is greater. The Holy Spirit is available to each of you, but you must surrender. You must repent and believe, as we noted last Sunday. You must let go and let God…be your Lord and King.

Jesus had power and authority. We have been given authority. Let’s use it…wisely.

Credits: some ideas from NT Wright, J. Vernon McGee, and David Garland.

  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.
  • God is Love, 1 John 3, 31 May 2015

    Big Idea: We are in the midst of a battle fought with love and prayer.

    What is your favorite book of the Bible? Why?

    What is your favorite chapter in the Bible? This may be a less popular question.

    As we continue our series “Love Illuminated” on the book of 1 John, we come to the fourth chapter of this essential letter from one of Jesus’ three best friends, John. While this may not be my favorite chapter in the Bible, few are loaded with more incredible, memorable verses. It’s packed with theology, challenge, encouragement, and insight.

    Its overarching theme is a four-letter word which best summarizes the entire Bible.
    It’s a four-letter word which best summarizes God.
    It’s a four-letter word which best summarizes what we are called to be as followers of Jesus and as the Church, the Body of Christ. The word is…love.

    Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. (1 John 4:1-3)

    There were and are false prophets, false teachers, false teachings. Test the spirits. Test me! The Bible is our authority. Jesus is our authority. The reason cults exist is people follow leaders that are not following Jesus.

    The question isn’t do you believe in God, but what do you believe about God. What do you believe about Jesus? We note previously how there were those in John’s day—and ours—who believed Jesus to be human but not God or God but not human. He is uniquely fully God and fully human.

    This the the third time John mentions antichrist (1 John 2:18, 22). We said antichrist can mean against Christ or instead of Christ. Jesus said many would come in His name and also there would be opposition. There are many antichrists but they are not the antichrist mentioned in Revelation.

    You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because
    the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. (1 John 4:4-6)

    The spirit of antichrist is in the world. We are engaged in a real, cosmic battle between good and evil. Can I let you in on a little secret? We win!

    The Holy Spirit is given to all believers. The Holy Spirit teaches through the Word of God, the Bible. Believers have the Holy Spirit living inside of us, but unless we surrender to God we can still sin and rebel against God. If, however, we remain or abide in Christ (John 15) and invite the Holy Spirit to fill and guide us, we will have the mind of Christ and act like Jesus, bearing fruit.

    Imagine you’re in a bicycle race, hot and sweaty. You just happen to have a bottle of ice cold water, but never reach for it and drink it. Does it help you? No. Is it available? Yes. Would it be foolish to not take advantage of it? Absolutely! It’s not enough to have the Holy Spirit, which all believers do. We are to let the Spirit take control. Hands off! That’s hard for many of us who want to be in control. It’s not whether you have the Holy Spirit, but whether or not the Holy Spirit has you!

    Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)

    Believers are to love one another. This is not sentimental, sexual, or social love but supernatural, unconditional agape. It says, “I love you. Period.”

    In 1984 the band Foreigner had a huge hit that said, “I Want To Know What Love Is.”

    When I was in high school our youth leader told the story about proposing to his wife. He knew he had feelings for this woman but struggled to define love. He was reading 1 John 4 and saw this verse (and verse 16).

    God is love.

    One of my greatest fears for us is that we become so familiar with the
    idea of love without actually receiving and/or giving it. We know about love, but do we love?

    Love is not being nice.

    Love is not avoiding conflict.

    Love not the absence of hate. In fact some have said the opposite of love is indifference, not hate, since love and hate are both intense. How often are we indifferent?

    Love is a verb. It requires action.

    This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4:9-12)

    He is the propitiation for our sins. The word means mercy seat, the place where the priest met God in the Old Testament. The word atonement means to cover. Jesus is the mercy seat for our sins. He died. He conquered sin and death so we can come boldly into the presence of Almighty God.

    Do you love?
    Do you love believers?
    Do you love unbelievers?
    Do you love your enemies?

    The question is not can you but do you. The test of our faith is not our knowledge but our love.

    Don’t miss the last verse. No one has seen God but people can see God’s love in us, through us. This is what it means for us to shine, to reflect God’s love like the moon reflects the light of the sun.

    This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. (1 John 4:13-16a)

    This is not a human love. The fruit of the Spirit is love…Some believe love is the fruit and the rest of the fruit of the Spirit emerges from love.

    Who is Jesus? This question is hugely important! He is the Son of God. If Jesus is not who He claimed to be, His death was useless. He was arrested and crucified for claiming to be God…and He proved it by the resurrection!

    God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:16b-18)

    Here John says again, “God is love.” Love is made perfect or complete.

    1 John 4:8 God is love
    1 John 4:16 God is love

    You can’t say God is mercy or grace or justice, but God is love. God reveals His love at the mercy set, Jesus.

    I love the phrase, “Perfect love drives out fear,” but this is not any fear (although love probably has the capacity to drive out any fear). This is about fearing judgment, something we need not fear because Jesus died for us and showed us His love…in action.

    We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (1 John 4:19-21)

    God loved us first. He took the first step, made the first move. Our love for God and others is always a response to knowing and experiencing His love for us. If your love tank is empty, only God can fill it up. He has plenty to share, just ask!

    How many claim to love God yet hate others?

    Love is a command.

    Do you love?

    I confess

    • not loving my enemies
    • not loving my friends
    • making it about me and my name rather than the Name of Jesus
    • failing to share God’s love with the lost


    Two weeks ago the Christian & Missionary Alliance held their General Council in Long Beach, California, a national gathering that occurs every other year. Viewing it online I heard President John Stumbo share for the first time as President his report, his state of the denomination address. His first word to us was simple: love.
    I realize this isn’t fancy, complicated, or trendy, but Jesus loves you and, therefore, you are to love Jesus and people, those Jesus loves.

    But what is love? God is love, but who is God? Love!

    Twenty five years ago this past week I said “I do” to my bride, and she returned the favor! During our ceremony, we had a chapter of the Bible read aloud. It was not written for a wedding. It is not about romance. It does not discuss eros love. It’s a great description of agape, however.

    These words were read that day:

      If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
      Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
      Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
      And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13)

    You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

    Children of God, 1 John 2:28-3:10, 24 May 2015

    Big Idea: We are children of God…or children of the devil.

    Scripture: 1 John 2:28-3:10


    My name is Kirk. Most people call me Kirk. Some call me Pastor Kirk. Three very special people call me Daddy or Dad. I love to hear that word. I have three adult children presently in three different states and I love being their daddy. I must admit in addition to great joy, there is great challenge involved in being a dad, not the least of which is calibrating invitation and challenge, encouragement and discipline, good cop and bad cop, warm love and tough love.

    As we continue our examination of John’s first letter about twenty years following his biography of Jesus—the Gospel of John—we see John speaking like a dad, a shepherd, a pastor who has great concern for his sheep, his flock, his disciples. He showers them with confidence and challenge and provides for us an incredibly relevant message two thousand years later.

    And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. (1 John 2:28)

    John refers again to the “little born ones,” his precious followers, believers in Jesus. He echoes Jesus’ words in John 15 about the vine and the branches were Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Remain in Me. Abide in Me. Continue in Me.” The quality of fruit is directly related to the health of the branches and their connection to the vine and the roots. Good fruit cannot come from a dead tree.

    Why remain and do life with Jesus? He’s returning and we want to be ready. We want Him to know us, to welcome us, to say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” This life matters. Our actions count. This is preparation for the future. When Jesus returns it will be both wonderful and woeful. If we know Him, it will be a wonderful reunion. If we have rejected Him—and I don’t just mean in our head, but with our life and deeds—great peril awaits.

    We don’t know when He is coming but we know He is coming and we’ll all have to give an account for our lives. Are you ready?

    If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him. (1 John 2:29)

    Children look like their Dad. Have you noticed? This is not only true physically but also in mannerisms, habits, and actions.

    God is righteous. His kids are righteous. It’s one thing to know Jesus but another to act like Him. Righteousness runs in the family!

    One feature of this passage is the subject “everyone who” which appears nine times.

    everyone who acts righteously has been born of God

    See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1)

    This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. Although the NIV translation omits it, may read, “Behold, what manner of love the Father has lavished on us.” Lavished!

    We don’t expect to be God’s children, we don’t hope to be…we are His children! This is fantastic!

    This love is great. It is special. It is unusual. This isn’t “I love ice cream” love or even “I’ll love you as long as you make me happy” love. It’s agape. It seeks nothing in return. It’s unconditional. It’s real! He proved His love by sending Jesus to die for us.

    Keep in mind John is writing to believers, to children of God. He is inviting them into a deeper relationship with God. He is encouraging them. He is increasing their confidence in God and their adoption into His family in the midst of opposition, skepticism, and religion which says we’re saved by our works rather than the work of Jesus. Neither religion nor the world understands grace, unmerited favor. Our identity is given to us by God as we follow Jesus and are adopted into His family.

    Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)

    God sees what we will be. He knows the future. Jesus is returning and there will be a new heaven and a new earth, we will have new bodies like Christ’s body, and we will see the glorified Christ and be like him. These are encouraging words. If you’re a follower of Jesus today, you are a child of God. You can be confident and secure.

    All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:3)

    everyone who has this hope based on Jesus makes himself pure

    Following Jesus is just that…following, imitating, becoming like Him. This requires action. It doesn’t say all who think purity is a good idea are pure. It doesn’t say if I pray a prayer to accept Jesus into my heart I’ll live a pure and righteous life. It means if we follow the pure One we will live increasingly pure lives that reflect Jesus.

    Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. (1 John 3:4)

    everyone who acts sinfully is really doing sin

    This is a reference to habitual sins. Anything contrary to the will of God is sin. It’s serving our old nature. Sin will disrupt our relationship with God. Since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, we have been battling the allure of sin. Isaiah said

    We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)

    We all sin and fall short of God’s glory, His purity, His perfect standard of holiness. We need Jesus not only to forgive us but also to model for us what it means to be human, what it means to be pure and righteous.

    But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (1 John 3:5-6)

    everyone who abides in Him does not commit sin
    everyone who commits sin has never seen Him

    Jesus came to take away our sins—plural. He never sinned. If we know Him, love Him, and follow Him we will not sin. This does not mean we will never sin, but it will be a regretful mistake rather than a prideful habit. If sin is rebellion against God, we can’t follow God and sin.

    The believer who remains/abides does not practice sin. We do sin, and God can deliver us from sin. Jesus died to forgive us and allow us to be reconciled to our Dad.

    When believers sin, there is sorry and remorse. If you keep on sinning and don’t feel guilt or conviction you’re in deep trouble!

    Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. (1 John 3:7)

    God’s children look like God’s Son. The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree!

    Everyone who acts righteously is truly just

    Now John gets clear. Crystal clear. He shifts from invitation to challenge, from encouragement to warning.

    The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. (1 John 3:8)

    everyone who acts sinfully belongs to the devil

    These are strong words! You are either a child of God or a child of the devil. You can’t be both. Who’s your daddy?

    Jesus died to take away the sin of the world, to put an end to sin and death and broken relationships. That was His mission, His purpose. I love what Paul wrote to the Colossians:

    When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:13-15)

    This discussion of sin is challenging because we do sin but we don’t want to sin when we are following Jesus. We have two natures, the old and new. They are in constant conflict. Paul described it this way:

    We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (Romans 7:14-20)

    That’s the definition of frustration, right there! He continues:

    So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. (Romans 7:21-23)

    John continues:

    No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. (1 John 3:9)

    everyone who has been born of God does not act sinfully

    We must be born again! The new nature will not commit sin. The Prodigal Son left his life of sin and came home to his father.

    This doesn’t mean we never sin but we don’t live in sin. Remember earlier John said

    If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)

    Have you been born of God?

    J. Vernon McGee said he believed in the security of believers and the insecurity of make believers!

    When we are helpless and hopeless, He’s able to take control. You can’t do it yourself. We need help. We need the Holy Spirit. We need God. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. We must remain/abide/be with Him if we want to emulate Him.

    This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. (1 John 3:10)

    everyone who acts unrighteously does not belong to God

    It’s pretty simple. We are children of God if we do what is right and children of the devil if we live in habitual sin and fail to love others.

    What fruit are you bearing?
    Do you do what is right?
    Do you love your brother and sister?

    So What?

    Perhaps the great question is not do you sin but do you want to sin? Do you
    want to do what is right and love you brother and sister. If so, call upon the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth and keep you from sin. God’s children are not perfect, but they are unconditionally loved, and with that love comes the Son and the Holy Spirit to offer salvation, forgiveness, sanctification, power, love, and hope.

    If the world sees righteous Christians, they will see Jesus.

    Followers of Jesus, be encouraged by God’s invitation for you to be His children, but also be challenged by the responsibility to follow Him, to look like Jesus, and to exhibit faith, hope and love…one day at a time.

    Credits: some thoughts from Thru the Bible by J. Vernon McGee

    You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

    The World, 1 John 2:15-17, 10 May 2015

    Big Idea: We are not citizens of this world, but citizens of heaven on God's mission in our world.

    Scripture: 1 John 2:15-17

    Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.


    Do you like to travel? What’s the most fascinating place you’ve visited? Why?

    There’s a common expression many make regarding a place. The phrase is…

    “It’s a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.”

    There are various reasons people give for their statement, but interestingly enough virtually every visited place has people that live there!

    In 1972 Christian music pioneer Larry Norman released an album called “Only Visiting This Planet.” More recently, t-shirts have proclaimed, “Don’t mind me, I’m just visiting this planet.”

    Visitors and residents live very different lives, don’t they? I was with a friend from out of town last week during the election and they weren’t too concerned about whether or not Proposal 1 was going to pass. They don’t have to drive on our crater-filled roads each day!

    Actually, it would be quite odd if they were deeply concerned about the election, aside from their interest in how it would affect me.

    This past week I joined a group of people in downtown Ann Arbor for the National Day of Prayer observance, an annual half hour of prayer at the Federal Building flagpole. While I appreciated their concerns and prayers, I was struck by how opinionated their prayers were, certain of God’s will for the United States and ever so bold in telling God how politicians and leaders should vote, with hardly a word of thanks for the freedoms we enjoy, the progress we’ve made, or even worship for God simply being God. A day set aside for talking with our Dad turned into a laundry list of fear, angst, and pleas for power.

    I’m quite sure I over-reacted to their prayers, but today’s passage from the first epistle of John reminds us not to be overly concerned with this world. I want to live in peace and freedom and smooth roads as much as the next guy, but we’re just visiting!

    Do not love the world or anything in the world. (1 John 2:15a)

    This is not a reference to creation or the planet. It’s not a reference to people in the world. It’s a reference to the world’s system, to worldly things, to temporary things.

    Since sin was introduced to our world, evil has been present, causing death, pain, and destruction…all disguised beautifully in tempting forms…like chocolate covered poop!

    Jesus spoke of this world. Although he created it, he has allowed satan and his demons to tempt and deceive, presenting us with daily choices to follow God or the world. Jesus called him the prince of this world (John 14:30; John 16:11).

    I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, (John 14:30)

    …and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. (John 16:11)

    In his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul spoke of what it was like for people before they followed Jesus.

    …in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. (Ephesians 2:2)

    Evil is real. Just watch the news! Every day we are bombarded with lies that suggest we will be truly satisfied when we have __________.

    Fill in the blank: money, sex, power, the latest cell phone, the fastest car, the best clothes, the most Facebook friends, the most encounters with celebrities, the biggest paycheck, the most prestigious job, the best grades, the finest school, the most beautiful family…

    Paul told the Galatians…

    May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14)

    The cross and the world are in tension. Good and evil are in tension. God and satan are in tension.

    Peter recognized the evil in our world.

    If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. (2 Peter 2:20)

    John continues…

    If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. (1 John 2:15b)

    This is harsh, but true. Jesus said nobody can serve two masters.

    Have you ever had two bosses?

    A few years ago I found myself driving a fifteen passenger van in Los Angeles with three navigators! I finally had to tell two of them to put away their GPS devices so I could follow one person.

    You can’t run with the devil during the week and run with the LORD on Sunday!

    You can’t love sin and God. We are in the world but not of the world.

    There is a perpetual conflict between our old sinful nature and our new, righteous nature given to us through Jesus.

    For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. (1 John 2:16)

    God gives us all desires. Those desires are not bad since they were from God, but we are often tempted to meet those desires in unhealthy, sinful ways.

    It’s like running a marathon, wanting to finish, and then taking a taxi to the finish line.

    The flesh, the eyes, and pride. Notice how these themes appear repeatedly in the Bible.

    The lust of the flesh. Our bodies have cravings. Gluttony is a real temptation. Eve was tempted by satan to eat the forbidden fruit. It wasn’t that God said she couldn’t eat, but rather she couldn’t eat from just one tree in the garden.

    Jesus was also tempted this way in Matthew 4 and Luke 4. He was hungry after fasting for forty days (duh!) and satan tempted him to turn stones into bread to inappropriately feed his flesh. He even misquoted scripture to lure Jesus into sin.

    By the way, temptation is not sin. It’s what we do with the temptation that matters. Eve said yes and Jesus said no.

    The lust of the eyes. Our eyes are drawn to attractive things. They are often the gateway to lust, pornography, or materialism. The tree looked good to Eve. The fruit looked good.

    Jesus was also tempted this way. He was taken to a high place and satan showed him the kingdoms of this world, offering them to Jesus if he would only worship satan.

    The pride of life. Eve was told if she ate the fruit she would be wise. It wasn’t simply an urge to eat something tasty, but a desire to be like God.

    Jesus was also tempted this way. He was told to jump off the top of the Jerusalem temple and show his superiority by summoning angels to protect him. Jesus never performed a miracle to impress people.

    The stomach, beauty, and even religion can be deadly and of the world when we give into sinful temptation. Here’s why:

    The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:17)

    The Roman Empire, Michael Jordan’s athleticism, the wealth of many who invested in Enron and Radio Shack, …

    It All Goes Back In The Box

    Author and pastor John Ortberg tells a great story about learning to play Monopoly from his grandmother. She repeatedly beat him and finally said John needed to risk it all, go for broke, buy every house and hotel possible and accumulate as much wealth as possible. She said, “One day you’ll learn to play the game.”

    So he played with a neighbor all summer long, understanding money and possessions were the way to keep score. That fall he sat down to play with grandmother and ruthlessly beat her, taking every last dollar she had! She had one more thing to teach John. She said, “Now it all goes back in the box. All of the houses and hotels, railroads and utilities and money goes back in the box. None of it was really yours. It was here before you came along and it will be around after you’re gone.”

    So What?

    This world is not our home. No matter how exciting it can be to experience money, sex, power, fame, and comfort, the thrill will eventually wear off. Then what?

    What really matters?

    We are just visiting this planet.

    As odd as that may sound, we’re not the only ones. Jesus made a visit, and He set for us a great example of how to live here while being citizens of heaven. He only visited for about 33 years. He said to give to Caesar’s what is Caesar’s and to God what belongs to God. He never demonstrated fear, even when seemingly most of the world wanted him dead. There is no record of him campaigning for a candidate or even a political issue, though his sermons were loaded with radical commands and ideas no politician would dare utter.

    Some Christians are so heavenly minded they’re no earthly good. We need to be involved in this world, but only to the extent that we’re on mission, that we are obediently following our assignment to make disciples, to love others, to lose our lives for God’s sake.

    A growing trend in travel is eco tourism where people do more than visit and consume; they serve the residents, perhaps through digging a well or volunteering at a soup kitchen. They are on a mission, but permanent residency is not part of the arrangement. The tourists know they will eventually return home.

    This world is not our home. We’re just visitors. Let’s live like it! In the meantime, let’s complete our mission and leave this world in better shape than we found it!

    You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast
    here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

    We Are Victorious, 13 April 2014

    Big Idea: We are victorious!


    Whether you know it or not, we are at war. It is not a war with Russia or North Korea or Iran—though that could be in our nation’s future. It is not one of the estimated 14,500 wars that have been fought in the past 5300 years (3600 BC to the present). We are at war with a real enemy, satan and demons. Ever since satan’s coup attempt to overthrow God failed, he’s been seeking every opportunity to destroy us.

    C.S. Lewis wrote “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or magician with the same delight” (C.S. Lewis,
    The Screwtape Letters). 

    Many Christians ignore satan and demons. In fact, more people believe in angels than demons. Satan is not an impersonal force or a guy in a red suit with a pitchfork! At the same time, we must not give him too much credit. He is not God. He is powerful but not all-powerful.

    How do I know satan is real? Pick up a newspaper. Check out CNN.com. Open your eyes and ears! Death and decay is all around. Homelessness, abuse, divorce, murder, violence, injustice, starvation, slavery, pride, self-righteous religion…this world is messed up!

    A few weeks ago I spoke with the father of my friend who died from cancer. He told me never before has he felt death as an enemy. It’s not right! Present reality is a far cry from the Paradise God created for Adam and Eve to enjoy. Ever since sin entered the world through satan’s temptation we have been surrounded by pain, depravity and brokenness.

    Often people talk about spiritual warfare in either a creepy or corny way. They get spooked about demons or think the armor of God is a costume for kids to wear on Halloween. Because satan masquerades as an angel of light, spiritual warfare is often subtle—so much so that more people believe in angels than demons, God than satan. Yet something has to account for the brokenness, pain, suffering and death we are exposed to every day on this planet that God originally called good.

    After spending more than five chapters telling the early church about its identity in Christ and offering instructions for Godly living he concludes

    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (10-13)

    We are to be strong not in our strength or wisdom or experience or knowledge but in the Lord and in His mighty power. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). “Be strong” literally means “be strengthened.” The battle is the Lord’s, but we are not to merely hide. The devil is real and he is scheming. He is smart and crafty. He destroyed Job. He tempted Jesus. He plots destruction. The greater your passion for Jesus and the Kingdom of God, the greater threat you are to the enemy.

    Paul wrote to the church in the city of Corinth…

    For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:3-4)

    Part of the reason people are unaware of the battle is it often rages in our minds. Paul continues…

    We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

    Paul says that battle is not against flesh and blood. People are not the enemy. Atheists or other non-Christians are not the enemy. They are merely deceived pawns of the enemy. The enemy is a spiritual creature that tempts humans to sin. There can be no greater contrast between the two sides of the spiritual battle.

    God loves you.
    Satan hates you.

    God is life.
    Satan is death.

    God is true.
    Satan is the father of lies.

    God is light.
    Satan masquerades as light.

    God is for you.
    Satan is against you.

    God forgives sin.
    Satan tempts us to sin and then accuses us of doing it.

    Why, then, are we surprised when trouble enters the lives of Christians?!

    We are at war and must know our enemy, be prepared to fight and be ready to stand.

    Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (14-17)

    belt of truth
    (against the father of lies)

    We are to have the truth wrapped around us. If you don’t have your belt, you can lose your pants! Keep it on!

    breastplate of righteousness
    (say no to sin and yes to righteousness)

    The breastplate is defense for the front torso and vital organs. It was often composed of a solid piece of metal, but it could also contain many small pieces that were sewn to leather or cloth that overlapped much like the scales of a fish. These scales could number as many as 700 to 1,000 per “coat.” When the sun shone directly on the armor, it could become very hot. So to avoid being burnt, or even pinched, by the moving metal plates, the soldiers always wore a sturdy robe under the armor. We are to wear the robe of Jesus’ righteousness.

    The breastplate covered the front, but not the back. We are to stand firm and never retreat, never run away, never surrender.

    boots of peace
    (Jesus is the Prince of peace, our most powerful weapon)

    Keep your boots on! Soldiers wear them to bed, always ready for battle.

    shield of faith
    (an internal conviction that leads to an external action)

    The shield was the first line of defense for a warrior. It could protect the entire body when the soldier crouched down. Jesus’ blood is our first defense against satan’s arrows of deception, temptation, and accusation. When temptation lodges in our body, it’s too late. We must be alert, anticipating the schemes of the enemy that will entice us toward greed, lust, envy, rage, discouragement, fear, and worry.

    helmet of salvation
    (helmets guard the mind; never forget your salvation)

    The mind controls the body. It is our most vital organ. All of our actions begin in our mind. What do you think? What do you feel? Who do you think you are?!

    The sword of the Spirit.
    The other tools shield and protect. The sword is the weapon. It is what we use to fight. The Word of God is truth. It is offensive to the lies of the world. It spreads truth and sets captives free.

    The sword of God’s Word will give the beast of Revelation 13 a deadly wound (13:3, 14).

    Some have called the two edges of the double-edged sword the Old and New Testaments. It is used against the enemy and for personal use. The Bible is a practical tool—like a Swiss Army Knife—that can be used for every area of life.

    And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (18)

    Communication is essential in any battle. We need to know what our Commander is saying. We need to listen for His voice.

    Paul ends his letter to the Ephesians by saying

    Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (19-20)

    We must pray for God to give us words to declare the Gospel, the good news, in word and deed.

    Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you. (21-22)

    This is an interesting note as Paul sends Tychicus to Ephesus. Finally…

    Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love. (23-24)




    We have come to the conclusion of the book of Ephesians, this incredible book written to instruct us on how to know and live out our identity. Paul arguably saved the best for last, reminding believers that we are not to lounge around in comfort and luxury, but instead be engaged in the battle that has been raging since the beginning of time, a battle that will someday end with a victorious God and a defeated enemy. We caught a preview of this defeat at the cross, a moment we will remember this Friday. It is called “Good Friday” because

    “Having disarmed principalities and powers, Jesus made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”

    Through sin, we all surrendered to satan and were taken as captives in war. Though we were legally satan’s possession because of our debt to him through our sin, Jesus redeemed us through his victory on the cross. His final words from the cross, “It is finished,” declared our liberation. And his resurrection to life signifies His complete victory over Satan, sin, and death in the life of all believers.

    In Christ, we are forgiven.
    In Christ, we are clean.
    In Christ, our captivity has been replaced with a new identity.

    Who do you think you are? If you love and follow Jesus, you have a new identity in Christ. serve him, follow him, and call him your Lord and Savior. There’s good news: you have a new identity…in Christ. That means we are…

    We are in Christ
    We are saints
    We are blessed
    We are appreciated
    We are saved
    We are reconciled
    We are included
    We are heard
    We are gifted
    We are new
    We are forgiven
    We are adopted
    We are loved
    We are rewarded
    We are victorious

    Grace and peace to you…in Christ.


    Some ideas from

    Mark Driscoll, Who Do You Think You Are (book and podcast series)
    GLO Bible
    J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible, http://thruthebible.ca

    You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.