Grace Extended…The Notes

Yesterday I preached a sermon entitled Grace Extended to a Repentant Sinner.  You can listen to the sermon here.  The notes for the sermon are below.


2 Corinthians 2:5-11

1. Forgiveness isn’t weakness nor a denial of an offense. v. 5

2. Church discipline is for redemptive purposes expressing love & grace. 6-8

3. Forgiveness is the joyful side of seeing a sinner repent and is commanded by God. v. 9

4. We must be careful not to bear another’s offense after forgiveness is given. v. 10

5. Satan uses unforgiveness to destroy people and the church. v. 11


1. Unforgiveness has no place in the life of a Christian.

2. Forgiving others is a living picture of the gospel.

Luke 7:36-50

3. Unforgiveness in the Bible is spoken of in very strong terms of warning.

Matthew 6:9-15

4. Calling unrepentant Christians to repentance is love and grace expressed, not judgmental.

5. The church which guards its doctrine, protects its unity, and forgives freely is a church which is growing in grace.

Grace Extended to a Repentant Sinner

Today’s sermon from the 2 Corinthians series Grace in Real Life is from 2:5-11…

2 Corinthians 2:5-11 (HCSB)
5  If anyone has caused pain, he has caused pain not so much to me but to some degree—not to exaggerate—to all of you. 6  The punishment inflicted by the majority is sufficient for that person. 7  As a result, you should instead forgive and comfort him. Otherwise, this one may be overwhelmed by excessive grief. 8  Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. 9  I wrote for this purpose: to test your character to see if you are obedient in everything. 10  If you forgive anyone, I do too. For what I have forgiven—if I have forgiven anything—it is for you in the presence of Christ. 11  I have done this so that we may not be taken advantage of by Satan. For we are not ignorant of his schemes.

Saturday Stuff

rasalghulHere are a few items for your Saturday reading…

*Want to know about the movies that will debut this fall?

*Kind of hard to believe but a reboot of the early 80s TV series The Greatest American Hero is in the works.

*Liam Neeson played Ra’s Al Ghul in Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies.  Neeson says he would play that same role on the CW’s Arrow in a heartbeat.

*Rumors are that Joaquin Phoenix is in final talks to take on the role of Dr. Strange for Marvel Studios.

*Here’s a good article on why Marvel movies will only get better even when some actors are no longer playing iconic roles.

*And finally, check out this new trailer for the CW’s The Flash

6-String Salvo, August 29, 2014

bigstock-Guitar-950679Enjoy the last 6-String Salvo of August…

1. The trustees of the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention have elected David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills, as the new President.  Also check out what Russell Moore, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) had to say about this news.

2. Check out these important words from Randy Alcorn on cultivating your marriage and guarding it from impurity.

3. As most students have begun college classes, Sammy Rhodes shares six things every freshman needs to know.

4. Love this reminder and encouragement from Sam Storms on what happens when Jesus prays.

5. Some things to think about as Stephen Altrogge lays our four rules to simplify Christian dating.

6. How much do you know about Rabbinic Judaism?  Joe Carter shares nine things you should know.

And check out Ben Glover as he plays Whatever Happens Will

Don’t Let Sports Become Life

CFP-Diagram_140105_800x450The college football season is upon us as games will actually begin tonight and play throughout the weekend and on Labor Day.  While the NFL may be the most popular sport in America, college football is a passion for millions of fans.

Fans and advertisers have often rallied around the cry, “Sports is LIFE!”  As an admitted sports enthusiast, I can see how life can revolve around sports, especially in this social media age.  From message boards to Twitter accounts to 24 hour sports channels to fantasy teams, sports can become interwoven into all areas of one’s life.

A Cheap Substitute for Life

In reality, sports can be a cheap substitute for life, especially the Christian life.  While there are wonderful lessons that can be learned from sports, sports also elevate traits and characteristics that are completely opposite to the values championed in the Scriptures.

1. Sports values performance over character. If an athlete can contribute to the wins’ column of a team, they are valued, no matter their character. Character is often overlooked as speed, strength, size, and skills are elevated.

The Scriptures always value character first knowing that salvation is by grace through faith, not of works.  In the Bible, those whose performances seemed to be failures were elevated as examples of faith and obedience.  We think of King David as mighty king through whom the Lord is promised, but he was first the youngest son tending sheep in the field.  Whereas King Saul was head and shoulders over the others, David was a man after God’s own heart.  Character matters in the Christian life.

2. Winners are valued over losers. Sure, there’s the idea of “it’s not who wins that matters, but how you played the game.” Isn’t it interesting, though, how even in some Christian sports leagues where the score of the game isn’t kept, that coaches, players, and parents still know who won and lost?  Coaches are hired and fired based on winning.  Players are kept or cut based on winning.

The Scriptures teach us that the scoreboard in heaven doesn’t measure what the world measures.  Read Hebrews 11:35-39.  The writer of Hebrews first speaks of the winners, those who would be deemed successful in the Christian life.  But in vs. 35-39 he speaks of what we would consider losers, the ones who died for their faith.  These men and women were surely winners, and maybe more so, than those who experienced miraculous deliveries.

3. Only a few play the game while the majority are spectators. There are always more substitutes on the sidelines than those playing the game. Thousands watch the game in the stands and millions watch on TV.  While these folks can encourage and support, they never get into the game.  The greater number of spectators watching, the more successful are the teams in the eyes of people.

The Scriptures teach that no Christians are called to be spectators.  If one is a Christian, one is a disciple who does what Jesus commanded.  Christians are all active ministers of the gospel and are empowered by the Holy Spirit to do so.

4. Bragging and “swagger” are encouraged in sports. Some call it a winning attitude, some call it confidence, others call it “swagger.” Whatever one calls it, sports values those who are leaders, who play with great confidence.  And of course fans are fans because they are “fanatic” about their teams and players.  Bragging rights concerning wins and losses is a valued part of the joy of being a fan.  Older players haze younger players.  Starters feel entitled over subs.  Sports seems to encourage a “better than you” attitude.

The Scriptures value humility.  From the example of Jesus to the teachings of the Apostles, Christians are to boast in the Lord, not in themselves.  Paul asks the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 4:7, “What do you have that you didn’t receive?”  The Christian life is one of humility as we are grateful that God would pour out mercy and grace on us through Jesus.

5. Grumbling is encouraged. In this I’m thinking more about the fans. Fans yell at the officials.  Fans yell at the other team.  Fans yell at their own coaches and players.  Message boards and blogs are filled with armchair coaches who go after their team when things are going bad during the season.  The other team is the enemy.  And the officials, well, let’s just say that fans draw great joy in coming up with new ways to harass those officials.

The Scriptures encourage Christians to rejoice in the Lord, to consider suffering as a means of joy, to be grateful in all things.  Christians, more than anyone else, should know peace, joy, and satisfaction in life.

6. Ferocity and aggression are valued over kindness. This is not a knock on competitiveness. Being competitive in athletics is one thing, it’s another thing to desire to humiliate and even harm your opponent.

The Scriptures tell us to pray for our enemies, to have kindness and gentleness, to see others as created in the image of God.  Making a tackle and then standing over your opponent to add an element of humiliation isn’t glorifying to the Lord.

Sports Isn’t the Devil

As many good gifts from the Lord, I think sports, rightly understood and used, can be a great and joyful celebration of the life that He has given us.  Let’s be careful, though, that we don’t allow the gift to become more satisfying than the Giver of the gift.  Let’s also be careful that we don’t allow some of the misuses of this gift to take us away from how our Lord would want us to live life and enjoy Him.

We Get God Which Is Even Better

Yesterday morning in staff meeting I shared a brief devotional from Lamentations 3:22-24…

Lamentations 3:22-24 (HCSB) 22  Because of the LORD’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. 23  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! 24  I say: The LORD is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him.

Jeremiah and the nation of Judah were going through some very difficult times.  Jeremiah’s message of God’s impending judgment upon the nation was, as one might expect, not well received by the people.  And he paid the price for his faithfulness to the message God had given him.

Even in the midst of these difficult days, Jeremiah trusted in the Lord’s provision of mercy and His protection.  Verse 22 says, “we do not perish.”  While it seemed as if total destruction was on the horizon, Jeremiah could speak of hope because of God’s unending mercies.  I love that Jeremiah said mercies.  In fact, Jeremiah says in v. 23 that those mercies are new every morning because God’s faithfulness to His people is great.

We recognize that line from the Thomas Chisholm/William Runyan 1923 hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness.  Our staff sang this at the conclusion of our devotion.  It’s a hymn that has offered great comfort to many a Christian facing difficult days.  God’s mercies to us are never-ending because of the never-ending faithfulness of God to His people.

Verse 24 closes this stanza with a very important thought: no matter how wonderful His mercies, no matter how great His faithfulness, the Lord is our portion.  In other words, what makes God’s love, mercy, and faithfulness so great is they are expressions of God Himself.  We get mercy because we get God.  We get love because we get God.  We get faithfulness because we get God.  God is the ultimate gift to us.

I pray that today you will experience His mercies anew because great is His faithfulness.

Preaching Through Bible Books Is Topical Preaching

One of the joys of preaching through books of the Bible, as opposed to strictly topical sermons, is how the Spirit works topically in people’s lives through those books.  Preaching through books of the Bible is topical preaching.  It’s just that God’s Word is choosing the topic, not me or the felt needs of the people to whom I’m preaching.

I am often blessed to hear responses from folks after a Sunday sermon in a biblical book about how the sermon spoke specifically to them, or perhaps to someone they knew in attendance who needed to hear that sermon.  For these people, the sermon spoke specifically to their need at that moment.

Topical sermons are sometimes praised for how well they speak to the “real” needs of the hearers in the pew.  But this denies the power of the Spirit to work in the “ordinary” preaching of His Word.  I do preach topical sermons from time to time and so I’m not completely against them.  But I wonder if topical sermons can place the needs of the hearer above the beauty of the text as it was given to us.

Felt needs are real because they are felt by the hearer.  If the Father knows what we need before we ask, surely He knows what the hearers on a Sunday need before they show up.  And isn’t it good of God to allow the preaching plan of the pastor to supernaturally meet the felt need of the hearer.  In every case, God goes beyond the felt need to the real need of the hearer.  Whether the preacher’s text deals with a seemingly unneeded topic in the hearer’s life, the Spirit works through the text, the preacher, and through Himself to speak into the hearer’s need.

I’m grateful for the Spirit’s help as I prepare to preach and as I preach.  I know that He will work in a way far beyond what I could ever hope for or imagine.


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