Live Vertical (Rev. 4:9-11)

Pray We and Our Children Live Vertically (Revelation 4:9-11)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, August 26, 2018

Praying Scripture Series

I read the following in the book, Vertical Churchby James MacDonald:

Something unusual captured the world’s imagination at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. If you think back and squint, you may be able to recall the surprising word hanging from the Sydney Harbour Bridge unveiled at the opening ceremony. When the torch was lit to launch this long-awaited crown for the land down under, the background sky was illumined by an Olympic display of fireworks. Just then a massive sign that hung on the bridge flashed to brilliance, and in a moment people around the globe read what God has placed inside each of us. The word was Eternity. What a strange word to select as a theme for the Olympics. Was it intended only as a motivator for the athletes soon to compete for record-book immortality? To the Aussies it was much more, as even its “copper plate” font was rooted in the history of the island continent. Understanding the word’s significance leads us to the theme of this chapter and to where every discussion of the church and its purpose in the world must begin.

“In November 1932 in Australia, a down-on-his-luck, World War I veteran named Arthur Stace was homeless and hopelessly addicted to alcohol. His life of gambling and petty crime had only worsened his poverty and driven him to suicidal depression. Having failed at everything he could think of to content the aching cavity in his soul, he stumbled one Sunday night into a church. In God’s providence, preaching that evening was a man named John Ridley, who spoke on the subject of eternity. “You’re on your way somewhere brother! And God made you to long for the place you’re headed for.” Ridley eloquently described the settled destination of every human being with the word eternity, repeating it again and again. Eternity, eternity, eternity! Those eight letters captured Stace’s mind and demanded from his life a major course correction. ”

As Ridley proclaimed the truth of every person’s march toward eternity and the only gospel that prepares a soul for that inevitability, the God of the universe invaded Stace’s soul. Conquered by the message of salvation and Christ’s provision for his own eternity, Stace dedicated the rest of his life to doing what he could to help people find the God who had found him. Every day for more than thirty-five years, Stace rose before the sun, and after a cup of tea and a few moments in Bible reading, he’d go out into the streets of Sydney with a piece of chalk and write the word Eternity. Over and over, thousands of times Stace wrote this word in the same beautiful script. As the town awoke, people would see the word everywhere: on the sidewalk outside a coffee shop, on the backside of a street sign, and on the cornerstone at the base of a building. Eternity mysteriously appeared all over town. Somehow, instead of being insulted by the overtly spiritual message, people reported feeling strangely encouraged. From all walks of life, Sydney citizens were stumbling upon eternity scrawled in the most surprising places.

Until 1956, no one knew where the writing came from. But they finally found him, Arthur Stace, and no one demanded he stop his daily discipline. Instead they supported, even celebrated, his graffitied message of the life to come. If you go to Sydney today, you can enter a particular government building and up inside the bell in one of the towers you can find the word written by Stace still legible more than fifty years later—Eternity. Stace died in 1967 at eighty-three years of age, but he left an impact that will last long after every chalk mark has faded. His gravestone reads, “Arthur Malcolm Stace—Mr. Eternity,” a word he had written more than five hundred thousand times.

Thirty years after his death, the host country chose that word to express the longings of the world at the first Olympics of a new millennium. Eternity: it’s a powerful word that penetrates deep into the soul of every human being. And every time we make a choice that detours our search for fulfillment, eternity shouts within us, “You’re getting colder.”[1]

Eternity, think about it, how important is eternity?

Do we live for eternity or do we live for now?

Do we live for God?

In September of 2012 I went and saw Pastor James MacDonald preach about his book “Vertical Church.” Seeing him speak and reading his book gave vertical a new meaning to me. Our lives must be about God and not us.

My theme today is: Pray that you and your children live vertically, pray that you live out Revelation 4:11.

Let’s read Revelation 4:9-11:

And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”

  1. Let’s talk about that passage:
    1. Who is worthy to be worshipped? God.
    2. Who created all things? God.
    3. Ephesians 1:3: Paul notes that our lives are immersed in blessings. Verse 4 even says that God chose us before the foundation of the world. “chose” this means to speak forth. Genesis 1: God spoke forth creation. Psalm 139 shows the Lord knit us together in our mother’s womb.
    4. We are not accidents.
    5. The only response is self-sacrificial worship. The only response is worship in humility.
    6. The only response is to join the elders, which we may be in that group anyways and say, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power.
    7. In this case they are worshipping in Heaven. This is John’s writing of a heavenly vision.
    8. Who is this worship about? God. This worship is all about God.
    9. We exist because God chose to create us.
    10. This is vertical worship.
    11. Verse 10 tells us that these 24 elders are falling down and worshipping. In verse 10 we see that these 24 elders are surrendering their earthly crowns to King Jesus.
    12. Who do we think we are? Who do we live for?
    13. We must live for Jesus. We must pray for God’s help so that we live for King Jesus.
    14. We must live vertically, focused on Heaven and eternity.
    15. Oftentimes we are focused on this world. Listen to this example of how we worship people and not God. I read the following:

I’m not a historian by any means, but I have long been fascinated by the Second World War. Specifically, I have studied the gradual ascendancy that led to Hitler’s iron-fisted control of all things Germany. Inflaming a common hatred of the Jews, random raids, relentless surveillance, and the beating or imprisonment of all opponents were the major factors in Hitler’s meteoric rise to absolute power. William Dodd, the American ambassador to Germany, warned President Roosevelt continuously, but most world leaders preferred a version of “facts” that discredited reports of Nazi insanity to avoid another “great war.” A final factor cannot be ignored. Even as news circulated that Hitler had ordered the murder of Ernst Röhm and hundreds more, proclaiming himself Der Führer (grand leader) upon Hindenburg’s death that summer of 1937, almost no one resisted, or even objected. Why? What kept world leaders at bay and fashioned a sterile environment for the incubation of insanity was the adoration of Hitler by the majority of the German people.

The German masses worshipped Adolf Hitler with a loyalty and passion that insulated his rise from sustainable opposition. Women wept in the streets as his car passed by, men would dig and save a portion of sod upon which Der Führer’s foot had fallen.[2]

  1. Did you notice that? Did you notice the worldly and idolatrous worship?
  1. Let’s look at another passage.
    1. Exodus 33:15: Then he said to Him, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here…”
    2. I am making the case that we must live vertically. We must live for eternity. We must live for God. Notice what Moses said: “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here…”It must be all about God. It must be all about His presence.
    3. Now, let’s connect the dots with the context.
    4. Israel has deserted God. In Genesis and Exodus God had continually taken care of His people. He led them out of slavery in Egypt, He divided the Red Sea and He showed His power and might to Pharaoh with the plaques on Egypt. Then Moses goes up on the mountain to receive the law from God and you know what Israel does? They create a golden calf and worship it. What a mockery of everything the living Lord has done for them. In fact, in Exodus 32:24: Aaron says: “I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them tear it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.” Yea, right, really? Like they had nothing to do with this.
    5. So, sticking with the context, we find out that God loves the people of Israel, but they committed idolatry. So, later on in Exodus 33:3 God is not going to be with Israel on the rest of their journey. Now, know that the people have rejected God, so God is simply following what they chose. Later in Exodus 33:16 Moses basically says that God is the one who separates them from the other nations. Moses basically intercedes for the people in that He wants God’s presence with them. Moses is saying, “This is pointless without the Lord.” Isn’t that true? We need the Lord to. Why go to church without the Lord and His glory? Why live except to glorify the Lord?
    6. Do you see the point I am trying to make? It has to be all about God.
    7. We must live for God. C. S. Lewis noted:

Because God and you are two things of such a kind that if you really get into any touch with Him at all, you will, in fact, be humble—delightedly humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which has made you restless and unhappy your whole life. God’s trying to make you humble in order to make that moment possible: Trying to get you to take off a lot of silly, ugly, fancy-dress in which we have all got ourselves up in and are strutting about like the little idiots that we are.[3]

  1. Who are you living for?
  2. Do you live vertically for God?
  3. Do you want your children and grandchildren to live vertically for God?
  4. Do you pray that way?


Holy, holy, holy
Lord, God Almighty
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee

Holy, holy, holy
Merciful and mighty
God in three persons blessed Trinity

Holy, holy, holy
Though the darkness hide Thee
Though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see

Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee
Perfect in power, in love, and purity

Holy, holy, holy
Lord, God Almighty
All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea
Holy, holy, holy
Merciful and mighty
God in three persons blessed Trinity[4]

Let’s pray.

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)


[1]Excerpt From: James Macdonald. “Vertical Church.” iBooks.

[2]Excerpt From: James Macdonald. “Vertical Church.” iBooks.

[3]Excerpt From: James Macdonald. “Vertical Church.” iBooks.

[4]Songwriters: John B. Dykes / Reginald Heber / George S. Schuler

Holy, Holy, Holy lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group

Pray We and Our Children Love as Jesus Called Us to Love

Pray We and Our Children Will Love as Jesus Called Us to Love (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes on Sunday, August 19, 2018 for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH

Corrie Ten Boom in the book, Reflections of god’s Glory (page 69), wrote, “In Africa a man came to a meeting with bandaged hands. I asked him how he had been injured. He said, “My neighbor’s straw roof was on fire; I helped him to put it out and that’s how my hands were burned.
“Later I heard the whole story. The neighbor hated him and had set his roof on fire while his wife and children were asleep in the hut. They were in great danger. Fortunately, he was able to put out the fire in his house on time. But sparks flew over to the roof of the man who had set the house on fire and his house started to burn. There was no hate in the heart of this Christian; there was love for his enemy and he did everything he could to put out the fire in his neighbor’s house. That is how his own hands were burned.”

Today, I want to talk about prayer and love. I want to challenge you to pray that we love in a 1 Corinthians 13 way. Over the past few years I have been convicted to add 1 Corinthians 13 to my prayer list. Do you have a prayer list? Do you have a Scripture prayer list?

My theme today is:

Pray We and Our Children Will Love as Jesus Called Us to Love

We could use many different passages to talk about loving as Jesus called us to love. In fact, I have been convicted to pray different passages. I have been convicted to pray that myself and my descendants love God and love our neighbor and that we recognize even our enemy is our neighbor from Luke 10:25-37.

However, today I wish to talk about 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Let’s read that passage:

1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

  1. The Scripture passage begins “Love is…”
  2. Paul begins to write about love.
  3. In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul wrote about Spiritual gifts. In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul wrote about the Theology of Spiritual Gifts. In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul writes about the motivation behind Spiritual Gifts and then in 1 Corinthians 14 Paul wrote about the use of Spiritual Gifts.
  4. We use this passage at weddings and there is nothing wrong with that. But this passage was written to a church dealing with divisions. In 1 Corinthians 1:10 we see Paul’s thesis for the letter to Corinth: Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.
  5. The church at Corinth had great divisions. So, to site a few examples, they were divided by knowledge(1 Corinthians 1:27-31). They were divided over food sacrificed to idols(1 Corinthians chapters 8-10). They were divided over communion and worship(1 Corinthians chapter 11). They were even divided over spiritual gifts(1 Corinthians chapters 12-14). So, here in chapter 13 Paul writes about love. Paul could have put this love section after chapter 7 when he had written about marriage, but he chose to write about love here dealing with the church and spiritual gifts.
  6. If we want to pray that our descendants love as Jesus calls us to love, we must pray this passage.
  7. This passage uses the Greek word Agape to define love. Agape is a self-sacrificing type of love.They had 4 different words to describe love in Greek. Some times we make a big deal of them, but I had one Bible Scholar say that by the first century it is likely they all meant the same thing to most people.[1]
  8. Sometimes we may think we just want our children to love everyone. That is true, but do not forget, we must first love God and desire and pray that our children love God. There are a lot of people who are very loving to everyone, but NOT loving to God. In fact, they love to the point of condoning sin and that is disrespecting to God.
  9. We must be tolerant and love self-sacrificing, but that does not mean we condone sinful behaviors.
  10. So, let’s more about love.

What is love, from a kid’s point of view?

“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.”

“When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth.”

“Love is when someone hurts you, and you get so mad, but you don’t yell at them because you know it would hurt their feelings.”

“Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is okay.”

“Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.”

“Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.”

“Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.”

“Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.”

“You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.”[2]

  1. How does God define love in this passage?
  2. Love is Patient:
    1. Notice that these are examples of Christ’s character.
    2. Patient means long suffering…or love suffers long.
  • Think about this for a second, what does it mean to be patient? Now, most of us can easily think of what it means when we are not patient, right? Or, actually, I could easily say that I know what it looks like when I am not patient. When I am not patient I end up irritated and agitated, I end up yelling at those around me. I end up thinking bad thoughts.
  1. Those are all descriptive of not being patient, right?
  2. Love is patient. Do you ever try to solve arguments without patients? It doesn’t work too well, does it? No and it will not.
  3. Love is Kind: The Bible says that “Love is Kind.”
  4. The Scriptures say in Phil. 2:3-4: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
  5. This has the idea of helping or assisting.
  • We must pray that our descendants live out this passage, being kind.
  1. This means we must pray that we live this passage.
  2. Love does not jealous. This carries the idea of being envious. This has the idea of being zealous over someone in a bad sense.
  3. I do not need to park here. This is straight forward right. We probably all battle this, but where can we get if we are all always thinking about what someone else has, right?
  4. Don’t compare what you know about yourself, which is everything, with the little bit that you know about someone else.
  • Now apply this, write down one way you have been envious.
  1. Love does not brag.
  2. What good is it to brag?
  3. What good comes out of this?
  4. Love is not arrogant: and this goes along with the previous. Proverbs 16:16:

Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.

  1. Love does not act unbecomingly.
  2. This has been defined as follows: To behave in an ugly, indecent, unseemly or unbecoming manner. [3]
  3. Love does not seek its own.
  4. Love is not provoked: There may be days, right? But, anger would be passed down to the children, and we do not want that, do we?

Jay Kesler, president of Taylor University, told about a state trooper who was awarded an “Outstanding Trooper” award.

Kesler, who attended the same church as the trooper, said to him, “The governor said that in 15 years as a trooper, you haven’t once roughed up a drunk or used excessive force on anyone. How can you be a state trooper for 15 years, dealing with the kind of stuff you deal with, and have that happen?”

“Well, I guess two things,” the trooper responded. “First, if I am called to break up a fight at a tavern, I never say to myself, There’s a drunk. I always say to myself, There’s a man—someone’s husband, someone’s son, someone’s neighbor—who got drunk. So I always try to think of him as a man, not a crime.

“Secondly, the Bible says that a soft answer turns away wrath. So whenever I walk up to the window of an automobile, I always speak a little lower than the person I’m speaking to.”[4]

  1. Love does not take into account a wrong suffered:
  2. What good is this?
  3. What good does this do?
  • Whatdoes this model?
  1. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth…:

Apologist, author, and speaker Josh McDowell writes:

Tolerance says, “You must approve of what I do.” Love responds, “I must do something harder: I will love you, even when your behavior offends me.”

Tolerance says, “You must agree with me.” Love responds, “I must do something harder: I will tell you the truth, because I am convinced ‘the truth will set you free.'”

Tolerance says, “You must allow me to have my way.” Love responds, “I must do something harder: I will plead with you to follow the right way, because I believe you are worth the risk.”

Tolerance seeks to be inoffensive; love takes risks. Tolerance glorifies division; love seeks unity. Tolerance costs nothing; love costs everything.[5]

  1. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. I find this to be a great breakdown for these few verses.
  2. Love never fails…Verse 8 says (literally) that love never falls to the ground which means that it is never defeated or that it never falls. (Witherington 270)


We want our children and grandchildren to live out the Scriptures, right?

Then we must make sure we are praying the Scriptures for them.

Every time you read the Bible, pause at passage like this and many others and pray them.

Author Ken Sande gives an example of how loving actions can communicate forgiveness:

Loving actions can do much more than change your feelings; they can also communicate in unmistakable terms the reality of your forgiveness and your commitment to reconciliation.

Thomas Edison apparently understood this principle. When he and his staff were developing the incandescent light bulb, it took hundreds of hours to manufacture a single bulb. One day, after finishing a bulb, he handed it to a young errand boy and asked him to take it upstairs to the testing room. As the boy turned and started up the stairs, he stumbled and fell, and the bulb shattered on the steps. Instead of rebuking the boy, Edison reassured him and then turned to his staff and told them to start working on another bulb. When it was completed several days later, Edison demonstrated the reality of his forgiveness in the most powerful way possible. He walked over to the same boy, handed him the bulb, and said, “Please take this up to the testing room.” Imagine how that boy must have felt. He knew that he didn’t deserve to be trusted with this responsibility again. Yet, here it was, being offered to him again as though nothing had ever happened. Nothing could have restored this boy to the team more clearly, more quickly, or more fully.[6]

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)


[1]Dr. Michael Rydelnik, Open Line radio show. I am not sure when I heard this.

[2]What Is Love—From a Kid’s Point of View, LightSinger, (accessed 3-14-02); submitted by Jerry De Luca, Montreal West, Quebec

[3]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[4]Jay Kesler, from message “Families That Succeed,” delivered on Focus on the Family Ministries; submitted by Van Morris

[5]Brett Kays, Brownstown, Michigan; source: Josh McDowell, Focus on the Family Magazine (August 1999)

[6]Ken Sande, The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide To Resolving Personal Conflict (Baker Books, 1997); submitted by: Van Morris, Mt Washington, Kentucky

As a Praying Parent Keep Your Spiritual Guard Up (Eph. 6:10-20)

As A Praying Parent Keep Your Guard Up with Spiritual Armor(Ephesians 6:10-20)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes, for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, August 12, 2018

[note: some of the illustrations make be summarized or not used.]

According to pastor and author John Ortberg, a fictitious manual for Peace Corp volunteers headed for South America offers advice on how to handle a chance encounter with an anaconda (a large type of boa constrictor). This is the list of instructions under the heading “What to Do If Attacked by an Anaconda”:

  • If you’re attacked by an anaconda, do not run; the snake is faster than you are.
  • Lie flat on the ground.
  • Put your arms tight at your sides and your legs tight against one another.
  • The snake will begin to climb over your body.
  • Do not panic.
  • The snake will begin to swallow you from the feet end. 
  • Step 6 will take a long time.
  • After awhile, slowly and with as little movement as possible, reach down, take your knife, and very gently slide it into the snake’s mouth. Then suddenly sever the snake’s head.
  • Be sure your knife is sharp.
  • Be sure you have your knife.

John Ortberg quotes these humorous instructions and then makes a serious point: “You never really know what curves life will throw at you, what’s lurking around the corner … But when you are called, and you will be called, you need to know what to do. If you wait until a crisis hits, because it will hit, you have waited too long. You need to be prepared first.”[1]

In today’s sermon I want to talk about keeping your guard up. The battles we face are spiritual. This is true for all of us, but if we are family people it is especially true. What do I mean by family people? I am glad you asked. I mean some of us are not biological parents, but we are paternal or maternal influences on people all the same. Some of us are grandparents or aunts or uncles. We have an influence.

The devil wants to divide families

Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

My theme today is:

As A Praying Parent Keep Your Guard Up with Spiritual Armor(Ephesians 6:10-20). Pray that you and your family will recognize Ephesians 6:10-12 and put on your spiritual armor.

Read with me: Ephesians 6:10-17:

Ephesians 6:10-20:

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and havingput on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

  1. The greatest parental concern is NOT physical.
    1. Sometimes we miss the spiritual like we miss other things.
    2. We think we are safe when we cannot see certain dangers. One writes:When we lived in St. Petersburg, Florida, we would go to the beach. It was always hard to relax and have a good time with our children, though, because there were too many threats: jellyfish, stingrays, sharks, undertow.  One time we had some relatives that came to St. Petersburg and brought their boat with them. We decided to go out to an island a couple of miles offshore called Egmont Key. We had a great time because we didn’t think we had to worry about the normal threats. The water was blue, the sand was white. We swam with our children carefree in the Gulf of Mexico.  A few days later we were telling some friends about our wonderful day. Being more familiar with the area, they informed us we had been swimming in one of the most shark-infested areas around! We were in danger, but completely oblivious to it.[2] 
    3. However, there are real spiritual dangers, but let’s be ready. Many times we are fighting the wrong battles. Many times we fight the wrong battles. Many times all we care about is the physical.
    4. We will come back to that.
    5. First, often times we imagine the Apostle Paul writing this passage in prison looking at a Roman soldier’s armor and writing this passage. It is true that Paul was in some kind of persecution when he wrote this, but the imagery in this passage is in the whole Bible. Let’s look at some passages:
    6. Isaiah 11:5: Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins,
      And faithfulness the belt about His waist.
    7. Isaiah 59:15-17:
      And he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey.
      Now the Lord saw,
      And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice.
      16 And He saw that there was no man,
      And was astonished that there was no one to intercede;
      Then His own arm brought salvation to Him,
      And His righteousness upheld Him.
      17 He put on righteousness like a breastplate,
      And a helmet of salvation on His head;
      And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing
      And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle.

      1. This is about the Lord’s arm bringing salvation.
      2. The Lord’s righteousness is in this passage.
  • He put on righteousness like a breast plate.
  1. He put on the garments.
  1. Isaiah 61:10:

I will rejoice greatly in the Lord,
My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Psalm 28:7:

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart exults,
And with my song I shall thank Him.

  1. These passages are not New Testament only passages. They are throughout the Bible.
  2. We must have God’s armor, and this also means we must recognize the real battle.
  3. As parents we think what is needed is the best education, sports and athletics, college and teaching our children other responsibilities. These are not bad things. As parents we often think what is needed is that our kids have good days but remember we do not only learn from good days, we need bad days. As parents we think what is needed is that our children have a good-esteem. As parents we want so many good things for our family, but when we miss the spiritual we miss the most important.
  4. The devil wants to take down our families and he will do it but making us think he does not exist.
  5. I have read stories about real spiritual warfare in the United States and other countries. These are especially true in other countries. I wonder if the devil has a different strategy in America. In America he wants us to think he does not exist. In America he wants us to focus on the wrong things.
  6. I remember talking with Meagan’s step dad about dating Meagan. We were all nervous. I love the idea of intimidating men at some point who want to date my daughters, but by that time it is really too late. If my daughters wish to date men that I am concerned about I have waited too long.
  7. You see, that goes back to making the battle physical when it is spiritual.
  8. We think the answer with teenagers and dating is birth control, safe sex, intimidating the boys, setting up standards. Certainly, setting up standards is a good thing, but isn’t it better to raise your daughters with a Biblical worldview so they agree with the standards we set?
  9. Jen Wilkin shares:

I have two teen-aged daughters, so it was with some interest that I read a recent post entitled “Application to Date My Daughter.” It was pretty funny, playing on the idea of the stereotypical shotgun-toting father and the mortified daughter as they negotiate the tricky terrain of a first date.  Then Christian bloggers grabbed the concept, and for the most part, these versions were funny, too. There were some common themes: slouchy-panted unemployed suitors, dads breathing out Chuck Norris-inspired threats. I didn’t lose my well-developed sense of humor until I made the tactical error of glancing at some of the comments. And then I was just flat-out sad.

Here is the comment that made me the saddest, posted by a well-meaning young Christian father:

“Bro, this is awesome. My daughter’s only 2, but I am printing this for my fridge. Thanks for your godly example.”

Oh dear.

Okay, joke’s over. Bro. Let’s talk strategy for a second. Is that all you’ve got? You need a better plan than these low-level intimidation techniques. After all, she’s your DAUGHTER, for Pete’s sake. So let’s talk frankly about what you need to do to guard her interests when it comes to dating. Instead of brandishing a shotgun or breaking out an application, you need to build a wall.

That’s right, you heard me – build a wall. Go all “Rapunzel.” Build it so high that only the strongest of suitors can scale it. But don’t wait until your baby girl is a teenager, Bro  – start now. Start yesterday. There’s no time to waste.

Build a wall

In Song of Solomon 8:8-9 we hear a family’s hope that their young sister will grow into a woman of strength and dignity. Can you guess what metaphor they use to describe that kind of woman? A wall. Their sister assures them in verse 10 that she is indeed a wall, complete with towers. Her statement indicates an assurance that she is not only strong, but able to defend herself against any unworthy suitors. That’s what you want, Bro – you want a wall.

Here’s the problem with shotgun jokes and applications posted on the fridge: to anyone paying attention, they announce that you fully expect your daughter to have poor judgment. Be assured that your daughter is paying attention.  And don’t be shocked if she meets your expectation. You might want to worry less about terrorizing or retro-fitting prospective suitors and worry more about preparing your daughter to choose wisely. And that means building a wall.

Instead of intimidating all your daughter’s potential suitors, raise a daughter who intimidates them just fine on her own. Because, you know what’s intimidating? Strength and dignity. Deep faith. Self-assuredness. Wisdom. Kindness. Humility. Industriousness. Those are the bricks that build the wall that withstands the advances of old Slouchy-Pants, whether you ever show up with your Winchester locked and loaded or not. The unsuitable suitor finds nothing more terrifying than a woman who knows her worth to God and to her family.[3]

  1. I love that illustration and it is so true.
  2. We want our children to have good judgment. Listen, if we focus on the world, so will they. If our focus is on money and affluence and education and sports and career and all these things so will they. If these things trump the spiritual they will for them too. The battle is spiritual.
  3. Allow me to take a few minutes and give some background to this spiritual battle.
  4. In Revelation 12:3 the writer gives indication that at some point there was a cosmic struggle and satan, who was then an angel, rebelled and fell from Heaven with 1/3rd of the angels. Revelation is written looking backward in this case. We don’t know exactly when satan led this revolt, but Scripture makes it clear that he did lead the revolt. We know that satan rebelled sometime between Genesis 1 and Genesis 3. The 1/3rdof the demons could have followed him all at once or over time that by the end of time 1/3rdof the angels had rebelled and become demons. Isaiah chapter 14 and Ezek chapter 28 both give more indication about satan’s fall from Heaven. He was an anointed angel, but he had some pride and tried to take what was God’s.
  5. So, satan fell from Heaven.
  6. But just because satan fell from heaven and took 1/3rdof the angels don’t get the idea that satan is simply an opposing force to God. Satan is no equal. In Luke 10:18 the disciples had been sent out to heal people, cast out demons, etc and when they came back they said, “Lord, the demons obey you!” To this Jesus responded, “I saw satan fall from Heaven like lightning.” God sent the devil down to earth as fast as lightning hits the ground. So, the Lord Jesus is clearly ruler and satan is no equal, yet there is a battle.
  7. In 1 Chronicles chapter 21 the text says that satan rose up and incited David to do something that was sinful. Satan incited David to take a census. This census was sinful because it made David have faith in his army instead of faith in God. Satan wants us to do things that make us doubt the power of the Lord.

One writes about his son:

One summer Aaron went to a youth camp. He was just a little guy, and I was kind of glad because it was a church camp. I figured he wasn’t going to hear all those ghost stories, because ghost stories can really cause a kid to have nightmares. But unfortunately, since it was a Christian camp and they didn’t tell ghost stories, because we don’t believe in ghosts, they told demon and Satan stories instead. And so when Aaron got home, he was terrified.

“Dad, don’t turn off the light!” he said before going to bed. “No, Daddy, could you stay here with me? Daddy, I’m afraid. They told all these stories about demons.” 

And I wanted to say, “They’re not real.” 

He goes, “Daddy, Daddy, would you pray for me that I would be safe?” I could feel it. I could feel warm-blanket Christianity beginning to wrap around him, a life of safety, safety, safety.

I said, “Aaron, I will not pray for you to be safe. I will pray that God will make you dangerous, so dangerous that demons will flee when you enter the room.” 

And he goes, “All right. But pray I would be really, really dangerous, Daddy.” 

Have you come to that place in your own life where you stop asking God to give you a safe life, and make you a dangerous follower of Jesus Christ?[4]

  1. Put on the spiritual armor.
    1. So, we must pray that we and our descendants take seriously the spiritual war. We can summarize Ephesians 6:10-12 in our prayer life, then we must put on the spiritual armor.
      1. The belt of truth: truth is Scripture
      2. The breastplate of righteousness
  • Shield of faith
  1. Helmet of salvation
  2. And the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God: this is the only offensive weapon.
  3. Pray
  4. The Battle of Antietam in 1862 lasted for 12 hours and ranks as the bloodiest day of the Civil War, with 10,000 Confederate casualties and even more on the Union side. “At last the sun went down and the battle ended,” wrote one historian, “smoke heavy in the air, the twilight quivering with the anguished cries of thousands of wounded men.”  Though militarily a draw, the mediocre Union General George McClellan was able to end the brilliant Robert E. Lee’s thrust into Maryland, forcing him to retire across the Potomoc. How was this possible? Two Union soldiers had found a copy of Lee’s battle plans and had delivered them to McClellan before the engagement. In some respects, we are no match for our adversary, Satan, whose wiles we are told to be wary of. But as with General McClellan, our enemy’s plans have fallen into our hands. We know his usual strategies—to entice us with lies, lust, greed, and the like. With such knowledge, given us by God’s Word, and God’s Spirit within, we too can resist the enemy’s advances.[5]
  5. On December 8th, 2004, a single question from a young soldier touched off a media firestorm. U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had come to deliver a pep talk to the troops at Camp Buehring in Kuwait. But the usually unflappable Secretary found himself blindsided by a bold query. As news cameras rolled, Army Specialist Thomas Wilson of the 278th Regimental Combat Team asked Rumsfeld, “Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?”  Specialist Wilson clearly felt vulnerable, as if he were being sent into battle without proper protection. As Christians, however, we shouldn’t have that fear. Our Supreme Commander generously equips with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. But it’s up to us to put them on and put them to use.[6]


The Hibernia oil platform in the North Atlantic is 189 miles (315 kilometers) east-southeast of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. As a fixed structure, it sits in 88 yards (80 meters) of water fastened to the ocean floor. The total structure is 246 yards (224 meters) high from ocean floor to the top of the derricks.

Unlike the fated Ocean Ranger, a platform that sank in 1982 with all aboard (84 men) lost at sea, the Hibernia’s design incorporates a GBS (gravity based structure) which anchors it to the seabed. The structure does not move. It is an artificial island.

The Hibernia was built as a stationary platform because it sits right in the middle of what scientists call “iceberg alley”—the icebergs that ply these waters can be as large as ocean liners.

Sixteen concrete teeth surround the Hibernia. These teeth can distribute the force of an iceberg over the entire structure and into the seabed. The Hibernia is built to withstand a 1,000,000 ton iceberg (expected every 500 years), and designers claim it can actually withstand a 6,000,000 ton iceberg (expected once in 10,000 years) with repairable damage.

Even with all these protection measures, Hibernia’s designers take no chances. Radio operators plot and monitor all icebergs within 27 miles (45 kilometers). Any that come close are “lassoed” and towed away from the platform by powerful supply ships. Smaller ones are simply diverted using the ship’s high-pressure water cannons or with propeller wash. As rugged and as strong as this platform is, and as prepared as it is for icebergs to strike it, Hibernia will never allow an iceberg even to come close. Procedures are in place to ensure that all the safety devices never get used.

One thing seems obvious: The engineers of this oil platform are not guilty of the kind of false security that may have contributed to the sinking of the Titanic.

Christians need to take spiritual threats just as seriously.[7]

We must put up our guard.

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)




[1]John Ortberg, “The Daniel Project—Part 3,’ (November 15, 2009); submitted by Kevin Miller, Wheaton, Illinois

[2]Barry Merritt, Toledo, Ohio


[4]Erwin McManus, “Seizing Your Divine Moment,” Preaching Today, Issue 252

[5]Mark Galli, managing editor of Christianity Today; source: Thomas Bailey and David Kennedy, The American Pageant, ninth ed

[6]“Troops Put Thorny Questions to Rumsfeld,” (12-9-04); submitted by Jim Bennett, Little York, Illinois

[7]Todd Dugard, St. Thomas, Ontario; references Robert Kiener, “Marvel of the North Atlantic,” Reader’s Digest (December 1998)

Jesus reconciles us (Col. 1:15-20)

Pray We And Our Children Value Proper Theology and Soteriology(Colossians 1:20)

Prepared and Preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, August 5, 2018

Praying Scripture Series

In July 2009, Parade magazine ran an article entitled, “The Race for the Secret of the Universe.” It focused on Fermilab, a four-mile-round particle accelerator that resides west of Chicago. The scientists gathered there are searching for the ever-elusive Higgs boson, also known as “the God particle.”

The article explains more: “Physicists believe that this special subatomic particle allows all of the other particles in the universe to have mass and come together to form, well, basically everything that is around us. [According to one Fermilab theorist], without so-called God particles …. ‘atoms would have no integrity, so there would be no chemical bonding, no stable structures—no liquids or solids—and, of course, no physicists and no reporters.'”

While it’s certainly possible that God built such a tiny particle into the deepest part of his creation, it isn’t the God particle. The God particle that holds all things together—actually, the God person—is Jesus Christ. Consider what Paul writes in Ephesians 1:10: “[Christ] bring[s] unity to all things in heaven and on earth.” Consider also Colossians 1:16: “for in [Christ] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.”[1]

Today, I want to talk about our soteriology. Soteriology is the study of salvation.

I have been convicted to pray a number of Bible passages and the number keeps growing. I have been convicted to pray that my children and descendants recognize proper Theology and Soteriology. This means that they understand we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-10) and that Jesus holds all of creation together. I have been convicted to pray that my descendants understand Ephesians 2:8-10 and Colossians 1:15-20. I encourage you to pray these passages.

My theme is:

Pray We And Our Children Value Proper Theology and Soteriology(Colossians 1:20)

Let’s read Colossians 1:15-20:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

  1. Theology matters, Christology matters.
    1. We must know God. We must study God.
    2. You know that I preached a sermon series on the Study of God.
    3. In this passage in Colossians Paul is combatting erroneous Theology.
    4. But Theology matters.
    5. Tozer writes:

Now, the Bible has a great deal to say about the manner in which sinful man may come into the fellowship and the presence of God, and it all has to do with forgiveness and grace and regeneration and justification in Jesus Christ! It all boils down to the teaching that Jesus Christ is everything that the Godhead is! The image of the invisible God, the brightness of His glory, the express image of His person—all of these we find in and through Jesus Christ!

We believe with rejoicing that Jesus Christ was the begotten of the Father, before all ages, that He is God of God, Light of light, very God of very God, begotten and not made, of one substance with the Father, and it is by Him that all things were made!…

He was and is and can never cease to be God, and when we find Him and know Him, we are back at the ancient fount again! Christ is all that the Godhead is! ITB020–021[2]

  1. I desire that my descendants recognize and submit to proper Theology.
  2. This whole passage is about the supremacy of Christ and I have preached on it before so I will not today.
  3. Let’s jump ahead to verse 20, I want to focus on that verse for the rest of this sermon.
  1. Jesus reconciles the world.

20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

  1. That word reconcile is a very important word. It means “to reconcile, to set up a relationship of peace not existing before, in that apokatallássōis the restoration of a relationship of peace which has been disturbed.”[3]
  2. I like what MacArthur shares:
  3. Now the term, the familiar term in the Bible is katallasso, and I only mention that because I want to make a distinction in a minute. And Katallasso means “to reconcile”, among other possibilities. It can mean to change, or to exchange. It has been used in terms of exchanging coins. But basically, in the sense that we will use it in its figurative sense, it means to “reconcile”. Now that particular term is used in the New Testament only twice in the reference between God and man; that is, reconciling God to man, that term is only used two times. It occurs in 2 Corinthians Chapter 5 and verse 19. It is used in that sense there, and it occurs in Romans Chapter 5 and verse 10. And in both of those passages the general basic word reconcile is used when a man is reconciled to God, or when God and man end their battle and declare themselves partners again as they once were before the fall. But there is another term for reconcile that is used here in Colossians, Chapter 1. It is not katallasso that is used, it is apokatallassoand again I point out to you that whenever a preposition is added to the front of a word it intensifies the word, and so what you have here is the word reconciled intensified, so that it means thoroughly recon­ciled, completely reconciled, totally reconciled. And that is the termin­ology that is used here in Colossians; the word is different than the normal word reconcile. It has a greater intensity. And there is a reason for that, and I need to point that out to you.[4]
  4. Wow! What a great application. We are completely reconciled in Christ, but only through Christ.
  5. Paul had been combatting false teachers in Colossians. A Theologian named Lighfoot gives us more information: The false teachers aimed at effecting a partial reconciliation between God and man through the interposition of angelic mediators. The Apostle speaks of an absolute and complete reconciliation of universal nature to God, effected through the mediation of the Incarnate Word. Their mediators were ineffective, because they were neither human nor divine. The true mediator must be both human and divine. It was necessary that in Him all the plenitude of the Godhead should dwell. It was necessary also that He should be born into the world and should suffer as a man.[5]
  6. Those are great words about correct Theology, which is the study of God, and correct, Christology, that is study of Christ, and correct, soteriology, that is study of salvation.
  7. Notice the passage says, to reconcile “all things…” all things are reconciled.
  8. This is referring to the whole world.
  9. The whole world has been marred by sin.
  10. As regards the human world, there is the possibility of a voluntary reconciliation; but for those who are not reconciled to Christ there is the sentence of death. We must trust in Christ. But the whole world is waiting on salvation.
  11. Romans 8:20: For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope.
  12. Eric Sauer says in his book, The Triumph of the Crucified he says, “The offering on Golgotha, that’s the death of Christ, extends its influence into universal history. The salvation of mankind is only one part of the world embracing counsels of God. The heavenly things will also be cleansed through Christ’s sacrifice of Himself. A cleansing of the heavenly places is required if on no other ground than that they have been the dwelling of fallen spirits and because Satan their chief has for ages had access to the highest regions of the heavenly world….The other side becomes this side. Eternity transfigures time. The earth, the chief scene of reconciliation, is reconciled itself and becomes the palace of the universal Kingdom of God forever.”[6]
  13. Jesus reconciles us, only Jesus.
  • Applications
    1. Who or what are you trusting is for salvation?
    2. Do you recognize proper belief systems about God, Jesus and salvation?
    3. I once heard that Elvis Presley would wear a cross and a Star of David around his neck because he did not want to miss Heaven on a technicality.
    4. Though that sounds good, it does not work that way. We must be trusting in Jesus’ grace for our salvation.
    5. We must pray that we accept and understand Jesus is supreme.
    6. We must accept and understand these passages from the Bible.

In William Steig’s Yellow & Pink, a delightfully whimsical picture book for children, two wooden figures wake up to find themselves lying on an old newspaper in the hot sun. One figure is painted yellow, the other pink.

Suddenly, Yellow sits up and asks, “Do you know what we’re doing here?”

So begins a debate between the two marionettes over the origin of their existence.

Pink surveys their well-formed features and concludes, “Someone must have made us.”

Yellow disagrees. “I say we’re an accident,” and he outlines a hypothetical scenario of how it might have happened. A branch might have broken off a tree and fallen on a sharp rock, splitting one end of the branch into two legs. Then the wind might have sent it tumbling down a hill until it was chipped and shaped. Perhaps a flash of lightning struck in such a way as to splinter the wood into arms and fingers. Eyes might have been formed by woodpeckers boring in the wood.

“With enough time. A thousand, a million, maybe two and a half million years, lots of unusual things could happen,” says Yellow. “Why not us?”

The two figures argue back and forth.

In the end, the discussion is cut off by the appearance of a man coming out of a nearby house. He strolls over to the marionettes, picks them up, and checks their paint. “Nice and dry,” he comments, and tucking them under his arm, he heads back toward the house.

Peering out from under the man’s arm, Yellow whispers in Pink’s ear, “Who is this guy?”[7]

Let’s pray.

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)


[1]Lee Eclov, Vernon Hills, Illinois; source: Stephen Ford, “The Race for the Secret of the Universe,” Parademagazine (7-26-09), p.4

ITB I Talk Back to the Devil

[2]Tozer on the Almighty God : A 366-Day Devotional(Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2004).

[3]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).


[5]Joseph Barber Lightfoot, Saint Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, 8th ed., Classic Commentaries on the Greek New Testament (London; New York: Macmillan and Co., 1886), 157.


[7]Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey, How Now Shall We Live? (Tyndale House, 1999), p. 97; submitted by Van Morris, Mount Washington, Kentucky