Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday Message: Matthew 13:44-46 "A Cross Marks the Spot" (Ptr. Joey Cortes)

   Praise God for I was able to attend the Sunday Worship Service again in my home church. We have some members from the Higher Rock church as our guests. They were there to inform us of the upcoming seminar this month of June at U.P. Diliman sponsored by their church again. The speaker is Dr. Steve Lawson, and the topic is 'Sufficiency of Scripture'. I attended another seminar last year with my churchmates, and it is about 'Christian and the Workplace'. I was able to register today and I asked one of my churchmate to help me out and submitting the form. I already included the payment also.

Our church's sermon series is about the Parables. Our Scripture readings were taken from the books of Psalm 78:1 and Philippians 3:4-11 and Matthew 13:44-46. Here are some of the important points, and message that I learned from our pastor's sermon.

Ptr. Cortes, opening remarks is about an illustration regarding the Saddle Ridge Hoard that was discovered in 2013. A couple discovered coins inside the can valued to be worth 11 million. In China, they if they have the Great Wall, they also have the Great Ocean Pearl valued at 139 million. This pearl glows green in the dark. These are 2 treasures of great value for those who have found them. Just like the treasure to what Our Lord Jesus tells us in this parables. He did not mark it X for us but with His blood, by the cross. A cross marks the spot.

We will learn here what a parable is and what it is not. Three things that parable are not:
1. Parables are not just stories with good moral lesson.
2. Parables are not meant to tell us that story-telling should replace preaching.
3. The parables are not just good sermon illustration.

"When Jesus teaches a parable, he is not opening up Chicken Soup for the Soul or a fortune cookie but a window into the hidden heaven lies. He is revealing a glimpse of eternity crashing into time, a flash photo of his own wisdom brought to bear." - Jared Wilson

The 2 fold purpose that Jesus quoted in Isaiah 6:9-10:
1. To reveal the truth of His kingdom to those with eyes, to see and ears to hear.
2. To hide the truth from those whose eyes were closed and whose ears are hard of hearing.

The word parable has a wide array of meaning in the Old Testament it is called mashalim and in the New Testament it is called parabole that comes from the Greek word. What then is a parable? It is an ingeniously simple word, picture or story. A parable always makes comparison in order to explain a profound truth, There are 7 parables in Matthew 13.

What is the Kingdom of Heaven and what is the Kingdom of God. These 2 are synonymous with each other. The apostle Matthew uses the Kingdom of Heaven because he was writing to the Jews.

There are 2 views with regards to the Kingdom.
The Kingdom of Heaven refers to paradise, a celestial city. Limited view. While the Kingdom in the church, refers to the heaven and church enlisted in God's kingdom but are distinguished in each other. Simply, according to John Macarthur, "God's kingdom refers to God's reign, not a place or people. It is a spiritual dominion, not a realm or place." For us to easily remember, "The kingdom of heaven is the meaningful presence of God's reign." according to Jared Wilson.

There are 2 points in God's parable.
1. The main character or individual in the story.
2. Both treasures that they found were not clearly visible.

Most believers believe that they become a part of God's kingdom if they faithfully attend church, or worship with their families. We become part of God's kingdom when you put your trust in Jesus. Nearly all of Jesus parables has only 1 main point: Discipleship to the King. We are the lost sheep that the shepherd found not the other way around. We should also delight in Kingdom eternal.

Quoting from the Jared Wilson. The gospel of Jesus Christ solves the innate problem we have of "glory greed." We are everyone of us from birth, incompetent thieves of the glory that belongs only to God.In the Gospel of Christ, God forgives our petty theft, sets us free from the bondage of our idols, and unites us Spiritually, irrevocably and satisfyingly to himself. Now the glory we tried to steal is shared with us freely, and it is real glory this time, not these pathetic knockoffs we think will do the trick." 


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sunday Message: Deuteronomy 6:1-9 Building Relationships (Ptr. Peter Tan-Chi)

   I was unable to attend church today because I don't really feel okay. I slept late last night. I just watched the online worship service (live stream) of  Christ Commission Fellowship (CCF).

The opening part of the worship service after the praise & worship song, a video was shown dedicated to all the mom's out there. Happy Mother's day to all mom's! Ptr. Peter Tan-Chi shared a very nice quote "No man is poor, who has a godly mother", - Abraham Lincoln. We are told to love our mothers, and for the husbands and kids to love their wife and mom. A short prayer was said for all mothers. I thank God for giving me a mother, even if like me, she's not that perfect, I thank God that I have a mother beside me. Ptr. Tan-Chi just came from Mafra, Syria. We should pray for Syria, a lot of Syrians had fled their country, and have become refugees. A lot of families were separated because of the tumult, and chaos there. How blessed we are who has a complete family. Thank God for that. Family is important because God has planned the family to pass on the spiritual truth. He enumerated the problems we are facing today, social media, pornography, addiction to drugs and to anything, teen pregnancy, suicide, fatherless homes, depression. How many hours do we spend with God's word compared to the time we spend with social media?

Ptr. Peter Tan-Chi gave advice how to influence your family. Remember, MRI.

Modelling
Relationship
Intentionality

Through these 3 ways we are going to influence the heart. The foundation of these 3 are from the bible found In Deuteronomy 6:1-2. "So that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.Our children will copy us by the things that we do. Parenting is about the heart. If you love the Lord will you study the Word of God? Yes! If you don't love the Lord everything will fail. If you teach your child legalism you should connect it with the Lord. They should see you emulate in your life the Christ-like way so they should do the same. Time with our children is important, To those who are single,  apply the same principles. Ptr. Tan-Chi talked about King David, who blew everything, he failed to be a good parent to his children. Parents if your children are acting in a funny way then there's no relationship between you and them. Just like what happened to David. David did not learn how to communicate with his son Absalom. Parents nowadays did not take time to disciple their children. When we don't like somebody we become judgmental. Just like children are with their parents when they don't like them. The message today is to influence your family positively. Begin with a relationship with your wife, children, and children build a relationship with your parents.

The closer the relationship, the greater the influence. The bible tells us bad company, corrupts good morals. What kind of company do you spend time with?. The power of influence is proportionate to the relationship. If parents have close relationship with their children, their friends would have less influence. People join fraternities because they look for relationship outside the home. They want to feel they belong, and they want to feel loved. Relationship outside the home is something that people long for, they long for love, attention etc. How do you build relationship?

There are 3 things we need to remember. Remember, ACT.

Affirm
Communicate 

Time 

Ptr. Tan-Chi's wife Deonna spoke about the importance of affirmation. We need to encourage and not to discourage. We need to affirm the character also. Not just affirm or praise someone's looks/appearance. We should teach our children about 'God-confidence'. Just like what the bible verse Philippians says. "I can do all things through Christ". Death and life are in the power of the tongue. So we should be careful with words that we speak. We are told in James 1:19-20, we need to learn to listen to others.

What are the challenges to communication? It is by not listening. We should learn how to truly communicate. One of the best way to communicate is to listen. Lastly, time. We should have time with our family. The next speaker were the pastor's son and daughter-in-law. The two told about their arguments before about Paul having no time for her and the kids. He played computer games and his wife, Jennifer likes to do her artsy jewelry stuffs. Instead of fighting, we should listen and stop. Go ahead and tell your partner what your really want to say, instead of nagging etc. Paul said he fell in love with his parents because his parents spend time with them. Use your time wisely because the time we spend on certain things can never be brought back again. One time, out of the blue, Paul's daughter asked him a question, what is love? He answered, we can know true love when we look to God, and when we get to know Him by reading the Scriptures. We know God is love. It is not like what the Hollywood movies tells us about love (that is selfish and worldly love). There's an illustration that Ptr. Tan-Chi gave us about, marbles in a big jar. The marbles represent the time our kids spend with us. Each time they spend with us, a marble is taken out. The amount of time we have with our children is not infinite. We only have so much time with our children, and same with us, with our parents.

Life is made up of time. Spend time with your family. Do things together. Worship together. Eat together, play sports together. Ptr. Tan-Chi closed the sermon with a poem written by her daughter, entitled 'Your Eyes Open Up Like Windows'. To sum up the message, the secret to being a good mother or father is by knowing God.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Sunday Message: Hebrew 10:19-25 "Living the Christian Life" (Ptr. Jayrus Asuncion)

We are thankful to God for the safe arrival of Ptr. Nathan Hutchison, his wife Mabel and their 3 kids in the U.S. We continue to pray for their ministry in the U.S. as they visit their supporting churches, and for their son’s Luke’s adjustment in his life there as he prepares for his college life.

Our sermon series in Nehemiah was finished last Sunday, and today we had a guest speaker, from the Higher Rock church, Ptr. Jayrus Asuncion. The main theme for today’s Sunday message is about ‘Living the Christian Life’. The Scripture Readings were taken from the books of Amos 5:18-24 and Hebrews 10:19-25.

Today’s Sunday message is in 2 parts. The first part is about the Christian’s Confidence, and the second part is about Living the Christian Life with sub-points namely, Drawing Near to God, Holding Fast to Our Confession, and Loving One Another.

The preacher started his sermon by asking, after professing our faith in Jesus, and becoming a believer in Christ, “How then should I live?”, or for us all Christians we could ask ourselves “How should I live as a Christian?” A fast reply should be turning away from sin and live a life for God. Being a Christian is a call to action.

The author of Hebrews is an anonymous writer. He wrote it mainly for people with thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. (Torah etc.). The book of Hebrews focuses on the superiority of Jesus Christ. It teaches that Jesus is superior over all angels, Moses, priests, and the Old Testament and the covenant. Christ Jesus is a perfect sacrifice once and for all for the forgiveness of sins. The grace of salvation we have received through Christ Jesus.

Hebrews verses 19 to 21 teaches us two things that we need to take note of.
1. The blood of Jesus
2. Jesus as our great High Priest

In the Old Testament not everyone can enter the Holy of Holies, only the priest can do that. But because of Jesus Christ we are not only forgiven from our sins but we also have a right standing before God. We can come to God because of the perfect work of Christ. The shedding of the blood of Christ cleanses us from all our sins. He has great mercy and love for us, and that is shown by giving us His Son, Jesus. Some find confidence in their righteousness through their works and not because of Christ. May we find our confidence in Christ alone. It is important to remember that we can come to God not because of what you’ve done, but what Christ has done for you. Jesus is the great High Priest over the house of God, and He mediates for us. Jesus came down to fulfil the duties of a High Priest. He reconciled us to God by offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice.

Our response to God in living a Christian life is by Drawing Near to Him. The author of Hebrews urges us to draw near to God. We can draw near to God because of the sacrifice of Christ. We are made clean inwardly and outwardly. The author adds that we should have a good motive, a true and genuine heart, that has a full assurance of faith. Oftentimes we forget the blessings we have received from Christ. We draw near to God but we have doubts. If we are to come close to God then we must not doubt Him. Many Christians fear to draw near to God because they feel they are not fit to get close to got because of the sins they have committed, and because of guilt, but it should not be like that.

There are 3 reasons why we should draw near to God. First, is that we may know God all the more. Second, To continuously receive God’s mercy and grace. We must realize that we are and will always be dependent on Him. Third, in order to receive forgiveness. Quoting the words of a pastor, “The Christian life is a life of repentance.” Fourth, to grow in Christ-likeness. God’s plan for us is to conform us in the image and likeness of His Son. There are students of theology who studies theology because they want to fill their minds with knowledge, and not to know God more. They are filled with pride. Quoting from a verse in the bible, “Knowledge makes arrogance but love edifies.” Let us ask ourselves, ‘What is our true desire, is it to know God more or just to gain knowledge?”

By what means can we come and draw near to God?
1. By prayer
2. By reading the word of God/Sciptures

Jesus lived a life of prayer, and during times of temptation He uses the Scriptures.

Next, is let us Hold Fast to Our Confession. We live up to the confession that we profess. It must be seen in our lives. We proclaim and testify that we have died with Christ on the cross and that we now live for Christ. As Christians we should live the life of Christ before men so that they will see Christ in our lives. We should stand firm to what we believe.

Lastly, is consider how to stir up in love for good deeds, and to love one another. One way of showing this to our brethren, is by attending the worship service, and other activities of the church. How can you show love to one another as brother and sisters’ in Christ? You should ask yourselves, ‘Do you pray for one another?”, “Do you serve one another?” As a church member are you involved in a ministry? Whether it be big or small, there is no small service to God. When done in the service for the Lord, we are indeed serving God. Another way that we can minister to one another is by listening to the other person. All of us have struggles, and we really do need someone to listen to us. We should also not forget to pray for our church leaders, and pastors. Listen, Pray and Encourage one another.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sunday Message: Nehemiah 11 and 12. "Righteous Reform" (Ptr. Nathan Hutchison)

Today our sermon series in Nehemiah ends. Today’s Sunday theme is Righteous Reform. We tackle Nehemiah chapters 11 to 13. Our Scripture Readings were from Exodus 32:1-6 and Romans 12:1-6.

The introduction of our pastor began by showing us a photo of this famous German monk, Marthin Luther, posting his 95 theses. He combats the wrong teachings of the Catholic church particularly about indulgences. Like in Luther times there is severe problems in his church, and even today our church has problems. Problems will always exist in today’s churches because were sinners. There is no perfect church here on earth.

Here are 10 thoughts on Godly reform:

1. Chapters 11 and 12 marks the high point.
2. The long list of names represents real names.
3. God’s work should be done orderly and in an organize manner.
4. Nehemiah II calls people to volunteer for God’s work.
5. Good organization is an important blessing.
6. Nehemiah took time for dedication service.
7. Anti-climactic ending of this book is a blessing.
8. Godly leader need to address problem.
9. God is continuing renewal in our lives. 10. There will always be sins that need to be addressed in the church.

The main points are:
Organize God’s work (11:--36)

Praise God for volunteers (11:1-24)
Work for the common goal (11:25-36)

Support God’s work (12:2-47)

Thank God for the faithful servants (12:1-26
Praise God for the ministry successes (12:27-47)

III. Strengthen God’s work (13:1-31)

Mark reform based on God’s word (13:1-6)
Use your time for God’s glory.

Praise God for I was able to do my ministry duties. The work for the Lord is bigger than any person’s ministry. Organization is important in the church. Ptr. Hutchison mentioned his co-elder Ptr. Joey for being a great organizer. Coinciding with our pastor’s preaching about Nehemiah, this book reminds us to do all things decently and in order. Everything is important in the church like all the parts in our body. We should also praise God for volunteers. Our description of living out faith is Romans 12:1-6, also it is one of our Scripture readings. We must be willing to do what God wants us to do. Willing to do God’s will in our lives even if that is not our first choice. As church members we should also work for the common goal. In chapter 11 we can also see the list of the places, so we also learned a lesson there in geography. This also reminds the Jews of their inheritance, want the Lord God promised to Abraham.

God’s work is done by God’s people on earth. We should put great organization in our gatherings. We must use our gifts well for the Lord has given gifts to all Christians. We should continually thank God for our ministry’s successes. Every success in ministry comes in the grace of God. We should make reform based on God’s word. We must be also reminded that we can praise God one time and then we can disappoint God with our actions the next. Just like what happened to God’s people. If we have problems, or an issue, we should deal with it promptly for if we fail to deal with that sooner or later bigger problems will arise. Remember there will always be problems in local church because we are all sinners. We should also live out God’s commandment, to love Him, and to love others (1 John 4:20-21). We are a liar then if we say we love God but we hate our brother or sister.

Let us pray that we may live in the obedience of the gospel always.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday Message: Nehemiah 10 "Renewed Resolutions" (Ptr. Joey Cortes)

Today’s Sunday message is the continuation of our church sermon’s series in Nehemiah. We are now in Nehemiah chapter 10. Last Sunday we had a break from this study since we celebrated the remembrance of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus, more popular known as Easter Sunday. Ptr. Joey Cortes is the church’s speaker for today, he and his wife, Sis. Xandra just came back from the U.S. after attending the Gospel Coalition seminar, and they ministered
also to the Sovereign Grace Bible church in Arizona.

I’ll just share the important points that I have written down awhile ago. Ptr. Cortes
introduction was the summary of our study in Nehemiah. Chapters 1 to 6, Nehemiah led the rebuilding despite the conflicts he encountered. Chapter 7 is the lists of all the returning exiles. Chapter 8, Ezra reads the book of the law and they celebrated the Feast of Booths. Chapter 9 is about the people humbly confessing their sins and they expresses praises for the Lord. In this chapter they renew again their covenant with the Lord or Amanah as they call it.

The Scripture readings were taken from the books of Exodus 12:21-28 and Revelation
20:11-15. The main points of this chapter are:

I.The Gravity of the covenant is spelled out (v.28-29)
A. The Separation was the parents responsibility (v.28)
B. They marked their sincerity with an oath (v.29)

II.The Terms of the Covenant are specified (v. 30-39)
A. We will re-focus on our love lives (v.30)
B. We will re-align our commitment in church.

III. The Signatories to the Covenant are named (v. 1-27)
A. Leaders take the lead (v.1)
B. Every name on the list it important. (v.2-27)

Verses 1 to 27 gives us the list of the name. Chapters 28 and 29 tells us how serious are the people about their covenant with the Lord, and the rest of the covenant that they will commit. The mindset of the people at this time refers to all what they have said in chapter 9. It is about learning to look at our past but never looking at it for a long time. We do it to learn to avoid the past mistakes that we did. At this point God’s people were thinking about all their tomorrow in light of yesterday, quoting from Alistair Begg. As they say, “Glance back but don’t stare for too long.” Ptr. Cortes tells us about the analogy here. It’s like the driver of a
vehicle looking the rearview mirror. He must look at it from time to time, but he must not stare at it for a long time or it will cause an grave accident. Same as not looking at it.

Talking about verses 28. The Separation was the Parent’s responsibility. This is very important especially to parents with children. As Begg have said, “Children cannot make spiritual discoveries in a vacuum.” The task of the parents is to facilitate their growth in being more
Christlike. Teaching children is beyond telling them or reading to them bible stories. If we want to teach them moral lessons, then there are a lot of resources and stories available around. We must teach them how these stories from the bible point to Jesus. One great resource for the kids is Sally Lloyd Jones, The Story of Jesus.

Do you have answers to given
when your children asks you what is the the Lord’s table, what is baptism, and why do we go to church? It really boils down to this, what does the gospel means to us? Are we mindless about our faith? Then if we are, we are no different from the pagans. Paganism is mindlessness as mentioned in the book of Isaiah. The word of God needs to be studied. Christianity demands serious thought. Parents should acknowledge their God-given task to lead. With regards to refocusing our love-lives, we must take at look at these following verses.Deuteronomy 22:9-10 and Leviticus 19:19 and Corinthians 6:14-16, in summary these verses talks about our love life, our commitment to the church and managing our finances. We must not look at this in a legalistic way, but we should keep in mind we follow these commands toshow our repentance. Obeying God’s command is the fruit of repentance. Our pastor talked about being unequally yoked, and marrying someone who is not of the same faith. There is truth to the saying, “You can’t marry an unbeliever without having your heart turned away from God.” When we sin, it is not just God and ourselves that we hurt, but also the church and our fellow believers. Quoting from Kathy Keller, “An unequally yoked marriage is not just unwise for the Christian. It is also unfair to the non-Christian and will end but a trial for them both”. Next is our service to the Lord. We must keep in mind that in serving the Lord our God, there is no big or small task, only unfaithful ones (servants). In giving our offerings to the Lord, we should give our best. We should give God our best fruits. We will not sacrifice to
God what costs nothing.

Lastly about the names listed, or the signatories to the covenant. It is the list of names of the leaders, Nehemiah and Ezra, priests, Levites and all the various chiefs and leaders. Every name on the list here is significant even if we do not know them or what they have done. But we can be sure that these names were important because the Holy Spirit has inspired the writers of the Bible to put the names on this book. Leaders should take the lead because our Lord Jesus did the same. What’s really important is that our names are listed in the Book of Life. It doesn’t matter if we are not on the Dean’s List, or the list for the Rich and Famouspeople. Only one list will matter, and that is the Book of Life. On what list will your name be
recorded?

Points to Ponder: Will your name be listed in the Lamb’s Book of Life?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunday Message: Psalm 16 "Easter Song" (Ptr. Nathan Hutchison)

   Happy remembrance of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus! Happy Easter everyone! There are a lot of posts that I read online regarding Easter eggs, that it is pagan in origin. If that is the case then we can change the way that people think. I read another Christian article that says eggs are a symbol of new life, and we can connect it through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ!

I thank God for today because I was not really feeling well this morning. Anyway, I was still able to go to Sunday school even if I'm late, and I was able to attend the worship service. Anyway, our Sunday message is again very timely. We must not worry of the future, and we must not fear death, for our Lord Jesus has triumphed over the grave.

Today's Sunday Message was taken from the books of Psalms. Our Scripture readings were taken from Psalm 23 and Acts 2:25-28. Our church choir had a mini-cantata and I would like to take this opportunity for commending them. Such beautiful performance, all for the glory of God! Today's message theme is the Easter Song. Here are some thoughts on the song of resurrection.

  • Psalm 16 and Psalm 23 go together.
  • David expresses his confidence in God.
  • Psalm 16 warns us of 2 common dangers.
  • We can doubt God at our time of death.
  • The practice of syncretism in life.
  • New Testament and Psalm 16 applies to Jesus.
  • Psalm 16 is about Jesus' resurrection.
  • Jesus wants us to trust in Him at the hour of death.
The main points of today's message on Psalm 16 are:

I. Seek Refuge in God's Loving Arms (16:1-4)
A. Remain loyal with God's people. (16:1-3)
B. Refuse to join with apostates (16:4)

II. Find Joy in God's Bountiful Blessings (16:6-8)
A. Drink Deeply from God's Cup of Blessing (16:5-6)
B. Treasure Your Relationship with God (16:7-8)

III. Rest Secure in God's Eternal Protection (16:9-11)
A. Trust God in the hour of death (16:9)
B. Sing the song of Christ's resurrection (16:10-11)

Our pastor's opening introduction was about Marcus Borg. It was my first time to hear about this person. According from what I read online he's an American New Testament scholar. He was a fellow of a group called Jesus Seminar, members consisted of scholars and laymen. According to him 18% of the sayings attributed to Christ were truly that of Christ only. He is an example of someone who denies God. 

Like David, in this psalm. We should always pray to God to protect us from false teachings. Same with the prayer of our pastor everyday. We should pray this prayer not only when we are in times of trouble. Jesus prays for us in the earliest gospel of John. Jesus prays that we be protected, so all the more we should also pray to our God for protection. David recognized that without God his life is meaningless. The first part of the psalm also talks about in delighting in God's people like what David did. Here David explains the true meaning in life of God's people. Saints are those who trust in God.I heard our pastor mention a quote about Jesus. "If Jesus did not rise from the dead we are the biggest fools in history." In connection with delighting in God's people. We should consider fellowship with one another. My pastor's quoted another quote, maybe one of his favorites from G.K. Chesterton, "There are 2 ways of getting home and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk around the whole world until we come back to the same place." When we become lost, we should always go back to God. Go back to our home church. 

Another important point is we must not join with apostates. Sadly, Marcus Borg is an example of someone who denies the truth, who denies God. David says in the Psalm that he will not join with those who deny God. It is foolish to think that we can have 2 masters at the same time, as Jesus have said on the sermon of the mount. As Spurgeon have said, "Sin and Savior has no communion." Moving on, David also tells us that God is his inheritance. For us Christians, poverty is not lacking in material things but those who are truly poor are those who don't possess God or those who doesn't have or know God and Jesus in their life. Is Jesus your inheritance? David found the greatest relationship with God. We don't have to fear death if we have Jesus. A quote from my pastor, "The future is your friend if Jesus is Your Lord."  David treasures his relationship with God. We should be like David who always keeps his eyes on the Lord not only in time of tranquility, but also in times of crisis, danger and difficulty. 

Finally, we should rest secure in God's Eternal Protection. God's promises to those who confess that Christ is our Lord will take care of our body in the final resurrection. David knows that he will also die one day. In this psalm David confesses his trust in God by affirming that God will take care of his body. The resurrection is the cornerstone of our Christian faith. Jesus has triumphed over the grave. This is why, we believers have hope. 

Point to Ponder: Is the risen Christ your Lord?


Sunday, April 09, 2017

Sunday Message: Nehemiah 9 "Amazing Grace" (Ptr. Nathan Hutchison)

    Today's Sunday message is the continuation of our church's sermon series on Nehemiah. We are on chapter 9 now. The main theme is God's 'Amazing Grace'. The Scripture readings were taken from the book of 2 Chronicles 36:15-21 and 1 John  1:5-10.

The main points from today's Sunday message are:

I. Praise God for His Greatness (9:1-6)
A. Confess your sins (9:1-3)
B. Acknowledge One God. (9:4-6)

II. Honor God for His Goodness. (9:7-30)
A. Confess God's Faithfulness. (9:7-22)
B. Admit Your Failure Only to God. (9:23-30)

III. Thank God for His Grace (9:31-31)
A. Ask God for a New Beginning. (9:31-37)
B. Ask God to Help You Change. (9:38)

10 Thoughts:

1. This chapter continues to describe revival.
2. Focuses on one aspect of revival.
3. Focuses on confession of sin leading to repentance.
4. Confession of sin is corporate.
5. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is behind the prayer in this chapter.
6. Confession of sins leads repentance and change.
7. This prayer is remembering the acts of God in history.
8. This prayer is the mini Old Testament survey.
9. Prayer reveals a common spiritual pattern.
10. A Holy God desires holy people in worship.

This chapter is a review of God's people from creation up to the rebuilding/restoration of the temple. (Here are some of the important things that I remember from our pastor's preaching today). In this chapter we can see that the people after hearing God's word, confessed their sins. Mourning and humility was the reaction of the people after they hear God's word. Chapters 8,9 and 10 is the conclusion and shows the actual implementation of change. We must be reminded that even if we live in this world, we do not own this world, and that this is a temporary place only. Christian worship begins with grace and ends in grace. A Christian sermon is about the grace of God. We must bear in mind that we are a forgiven people. Our pastor shared a quote from A.W. Tozer, "The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him." This holy week our pastor encouraged us to read the Scripture or a devotional about longing for God. In today's world there is the danger of believing that the creation of God is sacred, something that people worship, that everything is God. it is called pantheism. Today's movies have polluted the mind of the people. Like the movie Avatar, and also the popular Disney animation the Lion King. It is not really bad to watch these films but we must recognize what they show is not Christian or even a Jewish belief, of believing and worshiping only the one true God.

God is a good God to His people even if we suffer. God is not a distant God. He always knows what happens to His people. When we forget about God we become spiritually lazy, and indifferent towards Him. That is the one problem that God's people in the past, and until now suffers. Forgetfulness. Do not forget about what God has done for us. God's Amazing Grace. This chapter also shows contrast the ongoing grace of God and the unfaithfulness of His people. In this chapter God did not give up on His people even if they committed awful blasphemy towards Him.The Exodus is the model of our salvation, from the freedom of slavery of the Israelites from the Egyptians, to our freedom from sin, because of what our Lord Jesus has done for us. The Israelites, even if they spoke of obedience they did not obey God and they did not have faith in their hearts. God can bring chastisements to His people in order to get their attention. That is what happens to us now. We only come to God and remember Him when we encounter trials, sickness, death of a loved one, and after that we forget about God again, and resume doing our old ways again. We must admit our fault to God. The book of Nehemiah is about knowing the grace of God again. Let us pray to God that we may start a new beginning in our life, and that we may recognize our sins. We must remember that God is using us for the advancement of His kingdom.

In closing: Have you found permanent pardon in Jesus Christ?