A Lesson From Leaves

Friday, September 22, was officially the first day of Fall (or Autumn, if you prefer). Whatever you call it, it will still be about 90 degrees in South Carolina (where I live) for a while. But as I look outside, I do notice unmistakable signs that the Fall season is upon, namely, the leaves are beginning to change color.

You can usually recognize what time of the year it is by just looking at the leaves. As Autumn begins, the leaves begin to change and fall from the trees. In Winter, the leaves of many trees are gone. In Spring, different colored blossoms begin to appear, and as the Summer approaches, those different colors give way vibrant green.
Jesus used the changes of the seasons perceived in trees as an illustration in Mark 13:28:

“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. (Mar 13:28-29)

In the context, Jesus was using this illustration to teach his followers to recognize the signs of the destruction of Jerusalem which would come in A.D. 70. According to uninspired tradition, Christians did recognize the signs and got out of the city when the Romans came.

Some, however, have taken Jesus words in those surrounding passages (and others throughout Scripture) to be signs of the end of time. You may have heard about one who predicted Saturday September 23 as the end of the world, due to the positions of certain constellations and their supposed correlation with passages out of Revelation. These predictions have come and gone over the years, and none has been right so far (“No man knows the day or hour” – Mk. 13:32).

But we would do well to remember that every day is the last day for someone. Scores of people draw their last breath every day. For them, it’s as if the end has come. They’re judgment is fixed; it cannot be changed at this point.

The Scripture tells us that any day could be the last for any of us, (James 4:14, 2 Pet. 3:10) and so we must be ready. Jesus’ illustration of the fig tree was to emphasize to his followers the importance of recognizing the signs and being ready. For us, however, there may be no signs that the end has drawn near, and so, today is the day to be ready. Are you ready?

Therefore, you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Mat 24:44)

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I Want You to Know Him – Eph. 1:15-23 (sermon audio)

9/10/17 p.m. sermon

The apostle Paul was always ready to let the brethren to whom he wrote know that he was praying for them.  The letter to the Ephesians is no different as he tells them, “I never cease giving thanks for you and I am regularly remembering you in prayer.”  In particular, Paul prays for them to grow in the knowledge of God, in three specific ways that we will consider in this lesson.  He wanted them to grow in knowledge concerning their hope, concerning their inheritance, and concerning God’s power.

The Purpose of the Old Covenant – Heb. 8:7-13 (sermon audio)

9/3/17 a.m. sermon

As Christians, we live under the dispensation of Christ, in these last days, and the Law of Moses, contained in the Old Covenant is no longer binding on the Lord’s people today.  That Covenant was nailed to the cross, it was taken out of the way as the Hebrew writer notes, quoting from the prophecy of Jeremiah in Heb. 8:7-13.  For this reason, we sometimes have a tendency to ignore what God has to say to us in the first 39 books of the Bible, but in this lesson we take a look at two specific reasons why we would do well to pay attention to the Old Testament as well as the New.

Know Your Enemy

It is officially one of my favorite times of the year. College football season has begun. Saturday’s games will be here soon.  Players are currently preparing for their upcoming games in a couple of different ways.

They will prepare physically by getting out on the field and running drills and practicing plays, and many will get in the weight room to lift weights so that they can be stronger for the next challenge that they face.

One of the ways they will prepare mentally is by watching film. They will watch film of their own game, to see where they might be able to improve.  But they will also watch film of their upcoming opponent to learn how that team plays, what strategies they might use, and what kind of thing they need to be preparing for specifically to face that team.

There is great value on knowing your enemy, and not just on the football field. It is imperative that we in the church do all that we can to prepare for our ongoing fight against our adversary, the devil.  There are several things the Bible teaches us about Satan that we can be prepared to face.

He is a Deceiver.  Revelation 12:9 speaks of “the great dragon…the ancient serpent who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world.” The deceiver of the whole world, the father of lies (John 8:44) has been doing what he does from the beginning.  He has been lying and deceiving humanity into turning away from God and committing sin.

He is a Disguiser.  Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 11:14 that “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”  I would expect nothing less from “the deceiver of the whole world.”  But he’s not working alone.  He has many servants in this world and they too are often disguised “as servants of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:15).  Countless souls are being led away from the truth by these servants of Satan who look like (and make themselves out to be) servants of God.

He is a Devourer.  Many of us probably learned as children that “your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).  My cat is certainly not a lion, but she maintains some of those same basic instincts that her much larger cousins possess.  Every now and then she decides to “kill” one of her toys by lowering herself into a pounce position, waiting for the perfect moment, and then, in a flash, pouncing on the unsuspecting “prey” and delivering the “killing” blow.  In many ways, it’s not that different than how a lion hunts on the African plains. And it’s not that different from how Satan hunts, watching us and waiting until that precise moment when the time is right to strike.  And he hunts to kill.

So be on your guard brethren.  Prepare yourself for battle (Eph. 6:10-18) and know your enemy.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  (Eph. 6:11)

Making Known the Mystery of His Will – Eph. 1:7-10 (sermon audio)

8/27/17 p.m. sermon

Apologies for the late post, but in this lesson from our “The Beautiful Bride of Christ” series looking at the book of Ephesians.  Tonight we consider a little bit deeper a smaller portion of the first chapter in which we consider the blessings of redemption and forgiveness, lavished on us in God’s grace, as he has made known the mystery of his will for saving man through Jesus Christ.