About sarhodes

I serve as the Pastor at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, Ohio. I am married to Meagan and we have been married since 2003. We have two children, Mercedes Grace and Abigail Elizabeth. Mercedes was born on September 1, 2011 and Abigail was born on December 4, 2013. I graduated in 2000 from Northmont High School in Clayton, Ohio (just northwest of Dayton). I graduated with a BA in pastoral studies from Cedarville University in 2006 and the an M.Div. from Asbury Theological Seminary in 2010. I enjoy movies, especially action moves like Braveheart, the Patriot and Gladiator. I especially enjoy historical movies. I also enjoy documentaries. I enjoy reading: I love historical books, especially Revolutionary War biographies. I enjoy reading theological books as well. I enjoy spending time with Meagan, Mercedes and Abigail. I also enjoy fishing and watching football.

Knowing Jesus Through Scripture Meditation

Knowing Jesus through Scripture Meditation (Psalm 119:9-15)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, January 19, 2020

I once came across a powerful quote by Daniel Webster that illustrates this topic. In the presence of Professor Sanborn of Dartmouth College, Mr. Webster laid his hand on a copy of the Scriptures as he said, “This is the Book. I have read through the entire Bible many times. I now make it a practice to go through it once a year. It is the Book of all others for lawyers as well as divines; and I pity the man who cannot find in it a rich supply of thought, and of rules for his conduct. It fits man for life—it prepares him for death.”[1],[2]

With that in mind, turn to Psalm 119. I read the following:

The anonymous psalmist who wrote this longest psalm sought refuge from his persecutors and found strength by meditating on the Word of God. This psalm, the longest chapter in the Bible, is largely a collection or anthology of prayers and thoughts about God’s Word. C. S. Lewis compared it to a piece of embroidery, done stitch by stitch in the quiet hours for the love of the subject and for the delight in leisurely, disciplined craftsmanship.

This psalm contains a reference to God’s Word in almost every verse (except verses 84, 90, 121, 122, and 132). (The Jews claimed that only one verse did not refer directly to God’s Word: verse 122.756) The psalmist used at least eight synonyms for the Word of God, each of which conveys a slightly different emphasis. However, sometimes it appears that the writer chose a synonym simply to avoid repetition. “Way” and “ways” (Heb. derek) describes the pattern of life God’s revelation marks out. It occurs 13 times in the psalm (vv. 1, 3, 5, 14, 26, 27, 29, 30, 32, 33, 37, 59, 168).[3]

We are in a sermon series in which I am talking about knowing God. How do you know God? One way to know God is to know His Word. One way to know His Word is to read His Word. A way to go deeper in His Word is to memorize His Word. While we memorize His Word, we are meditating on His Word.

Let’s read verses 9-16 because the Hebrew Bible would consider that a section, the Beth section.

My theme and application is:

Challenge yourself by meditating on Scripture.

Psalm 119:9-16:

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.

12 Praise be to you, Lord;
teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.

16 I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.

Think about what this passage says, Hide the Word in our heart:

“The act of ‘hiding’ God’s word is not to be limited to the memorization of individual texts or even whole passages but extends to a holistic living in devotion to the Lord (cf. Deut 6:4-9; 30:14; Jer 31:33).”[4]

Other responses to God’s Word that the writer mentioned and that occur first in this section are “rejoicing” (vv. 14, 74, 162), “meditating” (vv. 15, 23, 27, 48, 78, 97, 99, 148), and “delighting” (vv. 16, 24, 35, 47, 70, 77, 92, 143, 174).[5]

  • This is the longest chapter in the Bible and it is all about God’s Word, the Bible.
  • The Psalms have been called the Jewish Hymnbook. Interesting that the longest is all about God’s Word. We have Psalms in the book of Psalms that they would sing on their way to Jerusalem for certain feasts, called Psalms of ascent. These are Psalms 120-134. I find it interesting that these Psalms follow the masterpiece on the Bible. Therefore, I believe meditating on the Scriptures is pivotal in worship.
  • There are verses in Psalm 119 that specify praise: See verse 164: Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws.
  • Consider this, the Psalmist is praising God for His righteous law. The Law is the Word, the Bible. In fact, terms used for the Word or what we would call the Bible are:
    • Law,
    • Testimonies,
  • Precepts,
  • Statutes,
  • Commandments,
  • Rules,
  • Word
  • The Scriptures are our base in our spiritual life. They are our guide. We must have God’s Word in our head.
  • Think of paint, the base is critical. I worked at Lowe’s and I went to a paint certification class. In painting they taught us something like 90% of painting is surface preparation. Not only that, there are base paints which we used to mix paints.
    • Our surface prep for spirituality is being in the Bible. Reading the Bible having the Bible handy.
    • The Bible is our base. Just like I could not mix paint without the proper base paint, we cannot grow spiritually without the Word of God.
  • Think of a building’s foundation. I am not a master-builder, but I have dug holes and we are supposed to go a certain depth. Foundation is important and the Bible is the foundation for us spiritually.
  • There was a wonderful family in my youth ministry in Cincinnati. So, I was disappointed to see that the mother posted an article on Facebook, or, rather linked an article, that references things the author wished Christians admitted about the Scriptures. This article had a negative view of the Scriptures. However, the more I study, the more I learn, the longer I am a Christian I am realizing that every Word of the Bible has great value and great meaning. Jesus responded to the devil’s attacks with the Scriptures (Matthew 4; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13; John 4:6-7). The Word is the only, offensive weapon against the enemy in Ephesians 6:17, the Sword of the Spirit. People have sought out to prove the Bible wrong and they become believers.
  • I believe the Bible leads us into worship.
  • How can we study the Bible, study the promises of God, and not worship the One those promises are about? I believe the Bible is written about a Big God. Tony Campolo was once confronted by an atheist who was one of his students. The young man told Campolo, “For me to believe in God, I have to have a God that I can understand.” And Campolo replied, “God refuses to be that small!”[6]
  • I believe the Bible leads us into prayer.
  • In Eugene Peterson’s book called Answering God, He makes a strong case that we only pray well if we are immersed in Scripture. We learn our prayer vocabulary the way children learn their vocabulary—that is, by getting immersed in language and then speaking it back. And he said the prayer book of the Bible is the Psalms, and our prayer life would be immeasurably enriched if we were immersed in the Psalms. [7]
  1. So, we need to have the Word, the Bible, in our head, we do that by meditation.
    1. Let’s walk through the passage:
    2. Verse 9 the way for a young man to stay pure by living according to God’s Word.
    3. Notice that verse 9 is a question and an answer.
    4. I don’t believe the author is a young man and so I don’t think the author is talking about himself right here. I think the author is advising young people on how to stay pure.
    5. What does it mean to be pure? The verb translated as “pure” always means a moral sense. It can mean to be justified, to be righteous before God, to be clean in the sight of God.
    6. Don’t we all want to be right in God’s sight? Don’t we all want to be clean? Psalm 51 was written right after David, the King of Israel, had sinned by committing adultery and murder. In verse 2 of that Psalm he says, “Wash away all my iniquity, and purify me from my sin.” David had this sin before him and he wanted to be clean.
    7. David had already committed the sin. But in the passage before us this morning the point is preventive. How can a young person keep his/her way pure?
    8. The answer: by living according to God’s Word.
    9. There is something unsaid in this verse. It is implied and will be stressed more in verse 11 and the rest of the Psalm. Listen: a young person or anyone else cannot live according to God’s Word if they don’t know it.
    10. Think of the Bible as a filter for your life. I have had aquariums for half of my life. An aquarium needs a filter. The filter takes out the impurities and cleans the water. The Word of God is your filter for your life. It is the parent’s responsibility, under God, to teach their children God’s Word. At a certain point, as the child grows up, it is their responsibility to start teaching themselves. God has given us a filter for our life, but it requires that we spend time studying this filter and how to use it. Many times we let the filter sit on a shelf.
    11. It is not enough to take our filter off the shelf and read it, we must memorize it. We must know the Word of God when it is not in front of us. We must know the Word of God as second nature.
    12. In the original language the text says, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By ‘keeping or ‘guarding’ his way according to your word.” Notice the difference? The NIV says by living according to God’s Word.
    13. The importance is that in the original language the idea of guarding our life and the guard is God’s Word. We have a guard watching out for evil and sin. Back in Bible times they had watchmen who stood on the city’s wall and watched for invaders. That is what this word means.
    14. How can a young man keep his way pure? By using the Word of God as a guard against evil.
    15. Although this is directly to young man or woman, this is not limited to a young person. The very next verse will make that clear.
  • Notice in verse 10 the Psalmist changes from a young man to himself.
    1. He says, “’I’ seek you.” How much does the Psalmist seek the Lord? With every bit of his being, with his whole heart.
    2. This verse has two parts. The first part is a statement of what he is doing and the second part is a plea.
    3. Can you say that? Do you want to be able to say that? We all can, but we have so many distractions. Start by making the Word of God a guard for your life. Start by reading it, meditating on it, memorizing it. And start by having a fear of sin.
    4. Look at the second half of this verse. It is a crying plea. “Please, please do not let me stray from Your commands!”
    5. There seems to be a fear of falling away, of backsliding.
    6. I must ask myself, “am I scared of falling into sin? Am I scared like that of going into situation where I may gossip, lie, or sin in another way?”
    7. If so, meditating on Scripture is the way to purity.
  1. Verse 11 comes back to the preventive idea.
    1. It is simply a short sentence: Your Word I have hidden in my heart… this means meditating on it. Thinking about it when you drive, or do other monotonous tasks. Memorize it.
    2. Why did he hide the Word in his heart? So, he doesn’t sin against the Lord.
    3. First, we read the Scriptures, then we memorize them, then we meditate on them. That is the way to sin free living. As we meditate on them, they are always before us in thought. As they are before us in thought they are a filter to keep our life pure.
    4. There is a Campus Crusade for Christ missionary, he memorizes whole books of the Bible. He memorizes the shorter, New Testament books. You know how he does it? When he jogs he takes his Bible and reads them over and over again.
    5. Ponder this: why are the Scripture worth reading, meditating on and even memorizing?
    6. These are the words for eternal life. These Scriptures are illegal in many countries. They may be illegal in the US some day. People have died to get you these Scriptures. Truly, people have been burned at the stake for translating the Bible. These are the Words to a full life.
    7. These are the words by which we can live a pure life. Use the Scriptures as a filter.
    8. Meditate is used 18 times in the N.I.V. translation of the Old Testament and 16 times in the Psalms. Meditate is used a total of 8 times in Psalm 119. Of course, what does the verb mediate have to do with the Bible.
    9. I once heard that the Hebrew verb “to meditate” has to do with chewing on something over and over again. From the Hebrew word ‘meditate’ we get our English word “ruminate”. It literally means ‘to chew the cud’. It’s like a cow that chews and re-chews the cud to extract all the nutrients from it. We need to approach God’s word at times and chew the cud.
    10. The idea of meditation is not necessarily memorization, but making the Scriptures a part of us. This means that we will reason differently, think differently, live differently. The promises of God, the actions of God are a part of us. Then we have the language of God a part of us.
    11. Look at verse 15: 15 I meditate on your precepts
      and consider your ways.
    12. I have been talking about knowing God and making the case that we know God by meditating on His Word. How do we meditate on the Word?
      1. Make it your goal to memorize the Word.
      2. Choose a Modern translation as it will be easier if you can understand the language.
  • Select a verse relative to your needs/life.
  1. Read a passage several times to understand the full meaning.
  2. Begin one verse at a time per passage
  3. List the verbs in the passage/verse in order- ask what is next, add the rest of the verse to the verbs.
  • Visualize the sequence of events.
  • Carry memory cards.
  1. Strive for word perfect memorization.
  2. Practice reciting to a friend.
  3. Remember you will learn it if you just keep ruminating on the passage.

I drink coffee most days. I love coffee. You know what? I absolutely hate it when I get grounds in my coffee. The grounds look like dirt and so I want my coffee filter to do its’ job and keep the grounds out of my coffee. Likewise, the Bible will help you keep dirt out of your life. Read it, memorize it, and meditate on it! Because meditating on Scripture is the way to Holy Living, the way to purity sin-free living! Try it. This week, memorize Romans 12:1-2 and then come to me and I will recommend another passage to memorize. Maybe there is a group of you that will want to memorize Scripture together?

Do you know Him?

Luke 9:23

Confess, believe, trust, commit

Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.




[1]Charles R. Swindoll, Insight for Living devotion on Psalm 119:97 (I think)

[2] 1. Daniel Webster, quoted in Stephen Abbott Northrop, A Cloud of Witnesses: The Greatest Men in the World for Christ and the Book (Fort Wayne, IN: The Mason Long Publishing Co., 1894), 491.


[3] http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/psalms.pdf

[4] http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/psalms.pdf

[5] http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/psalms.pdf

[6] (From a sermon by Jeff Strite, Trusting in Ravens, 8/8/2011)

[7] Tim Keller

Knowing Jesus through Spiritual Disciplines

Knowing Jesus through Spiritual Disciplines (Philippians 2:13; 1 Timothy 4:7; 2 Peter 3:18)

Spiritual growth takes time and discipline, but we can only know Jesus through spiritual growth just like we can only know a person through investing in the relationship.

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, January 12, 2020

I wonder who you have a relationship with, do you know anyone?

Remember last week I talked about whether you know famous people. Recently, I heard a message in which someone shared that they were at a restaurant and Johnny Depp walked in. Johnny Depp walked in and went to a table at the back of the store and a bodyguard walked in with him. The bodyguard sat facing everyone else basically to say that there is no access to Johnny Depp.[1] There is no relationship with Johnny Depp. But you know what, we can have a relationship with Jesus. I would recommend choosing Jesus over Johnny Depp. Think about it, would you prefer a relationship with the creator and sustainer of the world or with an actor. Most reject the Creator and go after the actor. I exhort you to seek Jesus.

Okay, so do you have a relationship with anyone? I am sure that you do, so do you know them? How do you really know someone? Does it take effort? Does it take time spent together?

I wish to talk to you about knowing Jesus. I wish to begin a new sermon series related to knowing Jesus.

I read the following:

“Much of the history of Christianity has been devoted to domesticating Jesus—to reducing that elusive, enigmatic, paradoxical person to dimensions we can comprehend, understand, and convert to our own purposes. So far it hasn’t worked.”[2] I love that.

When the Bible scholar N.T. (Tom) Wright was asked what he would tell his children on his deathbed he said, “Look at Jesus.” Tom Wright explained why:

The [Person] who walks out of [the pages of the Gospels] to meet us is just central and irreplaceable. He is always a surprise. We never have Jesus in our pockets. He is always coming at us from different angles … If you want to know who God is, look at Jesus. If you want to know what it means to be human, look at Jesus. If you want to know what love is, look at Jesus. And go on looking until you’re not just a spectator, but part of the drama that has him as the central character.[3]

We have the opportunity to know Jesus, but most do not. Even many of you, I dare say, do not know Jesus. Sure you made a commitment to Him, but do you know Him? Do you really have a relationship with Him? How is your prayer life? How are your devotions? How are your corporate and individual spiritual disciplines? If they are weak, I am here to help you and more than that, God wants to help you.

My theme and application is:

Knowing Jesus through Spiritual Disciplines (Philippians 2:13; 1 Timothy 4:7; 2 Peter 3:18)

Spiritual growth takes time and discipline, but we can only know Jesus through spiritual growth just like we can only know a person through investing in the relationship.

Read with me Philippians 2:12-13:

12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

  1. Work out your salvation, what does that mean?
    1. Relationships take time. Do you know your children if you do not spend time with them? Do you know your spouse if you do not spend time with them?
    2. Anyone seen Fiddler on the Roof? There is a clip where they sing “Do you love me”? Watch this.
    3. Play clip
    4. Now, they had arranged marriages, they may not have known each other when they got married, but they did by this point. They grew together and served together. They had a relationship. But it was work, or at least at times it was work.
    5. Love is a choice. Sometimes we may not feel the love for someone else, but we choose to love them because they are our spouse or child or parent or another human being, then we work on the relationship.
    6. Do you work on your relationship with your Savior?
    7. So, you just read that passage, now let’s think about it.
    8. If we read the whole chapter of Philippians 2 it is a marvelous chapter. Paul talks about looking unto others needs before our own. Paul talks about considering others more important than ourselves. Paul talks about having the mindset of Christ. Paul talks about how Jesus came to earth and died for our sins and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord. Now, Paul says to work out our salvation.
    9. “Work out” that is a mining term, imagine miners digging out precious metals.
    10. But does this mean we are saved by works?
    11. It says to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, does this mean we have to earn our salvation? What do you think?
    12. Well, when it comes to that we must examine Scripture with Scripture and we will do that in a minute.
    13. In this case, just look at the context. Look at the next verse. It says, “God is working in you…” So, God is working in you so you must let it flow out of you. There is more we can say about that passage, mainly notice the reverence. “Work out your salvation with ‘fear and trembling…’” That is powerful!
    14. We are freely saved, we know this by Ephesians 2:8-9 which says that we are saved by grace.
    15. We have salvation freely given to us by Jesus, but we must grow spiritually, not to earn our salvation, but to foster a relationship with God.
  2. Look at 1 Timothy 4:7-8:

But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

  1. This is another passage about building a relationship with Jesus.
  2. Instead of being caught up in worldly things discipline yourself.
  3. What are we disciplining ourselves for?
  4. The purpose of godliness.
  5. Look at verse 8: godliness has much profit for this life and the life to come.
  6. But do you see what it takes? Discipline.
  7. There is no instant Discipline is the key to spiritual maturity.
  8. The word “discipline” actually means “train or exercise.” Paul uses a Greek word from the athletic arena; we also derive from it the word ‘
  9. We have the Revealed Truth (Bible) + Disciplined Obedience+ The Power of God’s Spirit Within = Change & Growth& Maturity& Godliness.
  • Let’s apply
    1. Most of us want a relationship with God that we do not have to invest in; therefore, it is one-sided. It sucks the life out of me as a pastor. Let me be personal, it is draining trying to shepherd people that do not care.
    2. I want to challenge you to have godly habits. This week begin devotional habits.
    3. Aim to read one chapter of the Bible a day and make an application. Aim to spend 5-15 minutes in devotions. Read the Bible, apply the Bible and then pray about what you read. Pray the Scriptures. If you need help contact me. Also, you can read along as I share on my podcasts and Facebook devotions, actually you can just listen to the Bible if you want. There are many ways to have access to the Scriptures if you want to.
    4. It takes 3 weeks to form a habit, so dedicate the time and make it a point to have a relationship with Jesus.
    5. Remember you do not have a relationship with someone who you do not spend time with. If you do not spend time with God are you saved? Good question.
  1. Let’s go deeper in applications.
    1. We must view our relationship with God as a relationship and therefore, we must put time and effort into our relationship with God.
    2. We must discipline ourselves unto godliness (1 Timothy 4:7).
    3. We must understand spiritual growth takes discipline.
      1. We must discipline ourselves to spend time with the Lord.
      2. We must discipline ourselves to pray (1 Thess. 5:17).
      3. We must discipline ourselves to deep prayer (Ezra 9:5ff; 1 Kings 8:22ff).
      4. We must discipline ourselves to corporate prayer (Acts 4:24-30).
      5. We must discipline ourselves to pray instead of worry (Phil. 4:6-7).
      6. We must discipline ourselves to spend time reading the Scriptures (Psalm 119:9-11 and 105).
      7. We must discipline ourselves to spend time with the corporate church (1 Cor. 12).
      8. We must discipline ourselves to make Jesus our Lord (Luke 9:23; Romans 10:9-10; Gal. 2:20).
      9. We must discipline ourselves to pursue godliness so that out of that relationship with God flows fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
    4. We must spend time working out our relationship with God for the joy of knowing Him (Phil. 2:12-13).
    5. We must work out what God is working in us, we must let our relationship with Jesus flow out of us (Phil. 2:12-13).
    6. We must obey Peter’s command to grow (2 Peter 3:18).
    7. We must grow in the grace of our Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:18).
    8. We must grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:18).
    9. In our spiritual growth and our relationship with Jesus we must aim to glorify Him now and forever (2 Peter 3:18).


I began the sermon talking about Johnny Depp. Let’s think of another famous person, what about Elvis Presley. I have heard that in the 1950’s the women would scream out these deafening screams to get to him. So, obviously Elvis had body guards, there was no access to Elvis, but you can have access to Jesus.

Oswald Chambers writes on the February 13th date of My Utmost for His Highest:

 The destiny of my spiritual life is such identification with Jesus Christ that I always hear God, and I know that God always hears me (John 11:41). If I am united with Jesus Christ, I hear God by the devotion of hearing all the time. A lily, or a tree, or a servant of God, may convey God’s message to me. What hinders me from hearing is that I am taken up with other things. It is not that I will not hear God, but that I am not devoted in the right place. I am devoted to things, to service, to convictions, and God may say what He likes but I do not hear Him. The child attitude is always “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.” If I have not cultivated this devotion of hearing, I can only hear God’s voice at certain times; at other times I am taken up with things—things which I say I must do, and I become deaf to Him, I am not living the life of a child. Have I heard God’s voice to-day?[4]

Do you know Him?

Luke 9:23

Confess, believe, trust, commit

Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.




[1] Randy Hechert shared this at Alliance Friends on Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019

[2] Andrew Greeley, “There’s No Solving the Mystery of Christ,” Chicago Sun-Times, (1-16-04)

[3] Marlin Whatling, The Marriage of Heaven and Earth (CreateSpace, 2016), page 129

[4] Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986).

Are You Lost? Are You Saved? (Matthew 7:21-23)


Sunday, January 5, 2020: Are You Lost? Are You Saved? (Matthew 7:21-23)

Communion this Sunday, January 5

Prepared and Preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, January 5, 2020

Sometimes people send me these emails. They are forwards that people pass on and this is one that I thought might be an appropriate opening for this topic:

I was testing the children in my Sunday school class to see if they understood the concept of getting to heaven. I asked them, “If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale and gave all my money to the church, would that get me into Heaven? “NO!” the children answered. “If I cleaned the churchevery day, mowed the yard, and kept everything neat and tidy, would that get me into Heaven?” Again, the answer was, “NO! “By now I was starting to smile. Hey, this was fun! “Well, then, if I was kind to animals and gave candy to all the children, and loved my husband, would that get me into Heaven?” I asked them again. Again, they all answered, “NO!” I was just bursting with pride for them. Well, I continued, “then how can I get into Heaven?” A five-year-old boy shouted out, “YOU GOTTA BE DEAD.”

I want to talk this morning about knowing Jesus. Most of you think, “I know Jesus.” Well if you are thinking that please keep listening. I hope you still say that at the end of this message.

How many of you know of an actor? An actress? Do you know an athlete? Do you really know them? No, you just know of them. If you tried to call them you could be labeled a stalker and thrown in jail.

  • Do you know Christ or just know of Christ? We can know all His teachings and everything He did and not really know Christ.

 Today, I am launching a series titled: Be Contagious Christians in 2020. But the first step is making sure that you know Christ.

My theme today is:

Examine yourself and make sure you are saved.

This sermon may be a downer since I am talking about a passage where Jesus says some are not really saved. How can you be encouraged today? How does this help hurting people?

  1. I hope this helps you to have confidence in your salvation. The true believer can have confidence.
  2. I hope this helps you to repent. This is important. Repent and turn to Christ.
  3. I hope you will apply this sermon with the examination test at the end of the message.

Read with me Matthew 7:21-23:

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

  1. What saves us?
    1. First, we see that doctrine alone does not save us.
      1. Now, where are we at in the Bible? This is a section at the end of the sermon on the mount. Jesus has been talking about knowing false teachers. In the previous verse Jesus says that we will know them [false teachers] by their fruits.
      2. We see in that passage that they had the right doctrine. Jesus says they come to Him with Lord, Lord… this implies they see Him as Lord.
  • There are many people who may have correct doctrine but do not know Jesus.
  1. I read about an atheist that had correct doctrine. Listen to this debate between an atheist and a liberal, supposed Christian:

Marilyn Sewell

Unitarian Universalist  Minister

 and Christopher Hitchens Author, God is NOT Good: How Religion Poisons Everything 

Sewell: The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of      various kinds. I’m a liberal Christian, and I don’t take the stories from the scripture literally. I don’t believe in the doctrine of the atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make any distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?


Only in this respect: I would say that if  you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth

was the Christ, in other words, the Messiah, and that he rose again from  the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.


I disagree with that. I consider myself a Christian. I believe in the Jesus story as story, as narrative, and Jesus as a person whose life is exemplary that I want to follow. But I do not believe in all that stuff that I just outlined.

I simply have to tell you that every major

Christian, including theologians, has said

that without the resurrection and without the forgiveness of sins, what I call the vicarious redemption, it’s meaningless. In fact, without that, it isn’t even a nice story – even if it’s true  


It doesn’t really matter to me if it’s true literally. It matters to me whether the story has efficacy for my life. 


Well, that’s what I meant to say. When

C.S. Lewis, for example, says, . .  ‘if this

man was not the son of God, then his

teachings were evil’ because if you don’t

believe that the kingdom of heaven is at

hand and you can get to it by the way, the truth, and the life, offered by the gospel, then there’s no excuse for telling people to take no thought for the morrow, for example, as he did. . . It would be an evil nonsense.

  1. So, correct doctrine does not save. Don’t get me wrong doctrine is very important. Sometimes wrong doctrine shows that one is NOT saved, but that is another sermon. Let’s get back to the text. If you keep reading, they do not submit to Him as Lord. They do not do His Father’s will.
  1. Emotions do not save us.
    1. In the passage it seems that the people who approach Jesus are quite serious. They seem very emotional. They seem very persistent. They seem like they really care. They are saying, “Lord,” twice.
    2. Still that does not save them.
  • We can have correct doctrine and be passionate about it and not be saved.
  1. At the end of verse 21 Jesus says the one is saved who does the will of His Father. We will come back to that.
  1. Then we see that actions do not save us, but right actions are important.
    1. They say to Jesus, “Did we not prophesy in Your Name?” Stop right there. We could easily think, “They did a miracle, they prophesied.” But even the demons can do counterfeit miracles. We see this in Rev. 13:13-14, which is a key passage about this. Prophesy could mean preaching the Word, or it could mean rebuking sin, or it could mean calling out the future. These false believers could do that naturally without God or they could do it by demonic forces. Jesus says they are not saved.
    2. They say to Jesus, “Did we not cast out demons in Your name?” Again, they are not saved. In Acts 19:13-16 we see false teachers, non-Christians try to cast out demons. They may cast out demons, but maybe the demons do not stay out. Of course they could be lying, maybe they never did any of these things.
  • Lastly, we see that miracles do not save us. These people tell Jesus that they did miracles in Jesus’ Name. They could be lying, or maybe they did the miracles by demonic power. Again, I refer you to Rev. 13:13-14.
  1. So, how do you know if you are saved?
    1. We will come back to that in a minute, but firstly, right here, Jesus says, do the will of His Father. This would be follow His Word.
    2. Now, we interpret Scripture with Scripture, this means that we know based on Ephesians 2:8-9 that we are saved by grace. We know based on the theology of salvation that we cannot earn our way to God. But our works validate our faith.
  • In John 15:15, Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commands…”
  1. Then we see in James 2:18-19: But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
  2. Our works validate our faith. How else can we know we are saved?
  1. Examine yourself
    1. In 2 Cor. 13:5 Paul writes that we should examine ourselves. How can we examine ourselves?
      1. Are we repentant of sin?
        1. Does sin in our life grieve us (Acts 2:38; Romans 7 Paul did not like the sin in his life)?
        2. Do certain sins grieve us, and others do not?
        3. Does sin grieve us because it grieves God or because of selfish reasons?
        4. Do we desire to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31)?
        5. Is Jesus our Lord? Do we follow Him (Luke 9:23)?
      2. Here is a breakdown of 5 things to look for:
        1. Penitence towards sin (Psalm 32; 51).
        2. Pursue righteousness (1 Tim. 6:11).
        3. Willing and joyful submission to Christ (James 4:7; Eph. 5:21) and others.
        4. Longing to obey the Word (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Psalm 119:9-11).
        5. Love for God and others (Matthew 22:37-39).

So, do you know Him?

Are you lost?

Do you care?

I think too many believers just really do not even care. I think oftentimes we really do not care. Consider this very serious story from Henry Blackaby:

The first funeral I ever conducted was for a beautiful three-year-old. She was the first child born to a couple in our church, and the first grandchild in their extended family. Unfortunately, she was spoiled. While visiting the little girl’s home one day, I observed that she loved to ignore her parents’ instructions. When they told her to come, she went. When they said, “sit down,” she stood up. Her parents laughed, finding her behavior cute.

One day their front gate was inadvertently left open. The parents saw their child escaping out of the yard and heading toward the road. To their horror, a car was racing down the street. As she ran out between two parked cars, they both screamed at her to stop and turn back. She paused for a second, looked back at her parents, then gleefully laughed as she turned and ran directly into the path of the oncoming car. The parents rushed their little girl to the hospital, but she died from her injuries. 

As a young pastor, this was a profound lesson for me. I realized I must teach God’s people not only to recognize His voice but also immediately to obey His voice when they hear it. It is life.[1]

Responding to Jesus and making Him Lord is serious, it is life. Jesus gives us life now and life eternal.

Do you know Jesus?                                                               

Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.

[1] Henry Blackaby, Hearing God’s Voice (Broadman & Holman, 2002); reprinted in Men of Integrity (May/June 2003)

This Will Be a Sign Unto You…the Ordinary Shepherds Meet the Extraordinary Angels (Luke 2:8-14)

Okay, the President of the United States is coming to visit Youngstown, who do you think will get the message first? He is not going to call me first, no way. Regardless of the importance of the factories, retail establishments and restaurants in town, I don’t think they will get the message first. I would think the message will come through the Mayor’s office down to the Police. I know this because I have been watching a very informative [Very informative, sarcasm] television show called Madam Secretary and that show has taught me all about the process to take place when a powerful person travels. Actually, I am really an expert on this because I watch Tom Selleck in the show Blue Bloods as well. Everywhere the President goes there is a secret service detail and motorcade. Everywhere the Secretary of State goes there are Secret Service and a Motorcade. I think the President of the United States, called P.O.T.U.S. in the show would need to work through the Mayor’s office for his or her visit.
I. Why Jesus came. Let’s not separate His birth in humility from why He did come. This is the extraordinary.

So, why didn’t the King of Kings enter the world that same way? I feel like Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men asking that, but we want the TRUTH. And it may really be that we can’t handle the TRUTH.

But let’s take a brief look at what the Bible says: John 1:14 says that The WORD, being God, took on flesh and came into our neighborhood (The Message). Philippians 2:5-11 says, in summary, that though Jesus was equal with God He became a slave and became a Human. It is because Jesus became a human that He could be our High Priest. He sympathized with us in our weaknesses. But more than sympathize, He took our place when He grew up and went to the cross. Listen to Hebrews 10:11-14 from the Message:
Every priest goes to work at the altar each day, offers the same old sacrifices year in, year out, and never makes a dent in the sin problem. As a priest, Christ made a single sacrifice for sins, and that was it! Then he sat down right beside God and waited for his enemies to cave in. It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people. By that single offering, he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process.
II. Now, let’s talk about how Jesus entered the world. This was ordinary.
We would expect that God would enter the world through Rome or through Jerusalem, or how about Alexandria Egypt, which was, after all, the intellectual capital of the world. No that is not how Jesus came.
In Luke 2:1-7 we see Jesus born of a virgin.

Listen to Luke 2:8-15:
There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
13–14 At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

This passage is pregnant with content, excuse the pun.
We have angels, we have shepherds, we have worship, we have ordinary and we have extraordinary.
But notice this. The King of Kings is entering the world. The Savior is coming.
Who was the first to get the message? Shepherds are the first to hear about this event. Shepherds were lower class. They were considered dirty and smelly. People did not like them because their sheep would graze on others property. Shepherds were the lowest class. Jesus entered the world like a shepherd. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and that is how the shepherds would do it. He was SHOCKINGLY laid in a feeding in trough. That is shocking, but I once heard Charles Swindoll say that is how the Shepherds did things. The King does not enter like royalty but identifying with the ordinary or even below the ordinary. Shepherds were ordinary. The local police did not get the message. Herod did not hear about it, nor did the emperor. No, the Shepherds got the message. Furthermore, the Shepherds saw the extraordinary. They say a myriad of angels worshipping, wow! I mean imagine walking your dog at night, or your cat or your squirrel, or your rabbit, anyways, you are out at night and you see an angel. An angel comes with a message and then you see the sky fill up with angels who are worshipping.
Most of the earth went on with our business, it was ordinary. But the angels, they knew what was going on. This was extraordinary.
Christmas is for you. Christmas is for everyone. Jesus came for all. He came to the ordinary. But Jesus came to do the extraordinary. He came to bring life eternal (John 1:1-14).
Walk away tonight with what John Newton wrote:
“Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”

Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.


Jesus came, fully God and fully man, in order to die for our sins and give us life abundantly (John 10:10).

Jesus came, fully God and fully man, in order to die for our sins and give us life abundantly (John 10:10).

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, December 22, 2019

Every year we celebrate Christmas, but what are we really celebrating? Are we celebrating Christmas?

What is the purpose of Christmas?


Jesus came, fully God and fully man, in order to die for our sins and give us life abundantly (John 10:10).


My application is that you repent and surrender to Jesus. Keep Christ the center of Christmas.

Let’s read Luke 2:1-7:

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

  1. Christmas is about God becoming a human being to save us from our sins.
    1. The passage I just read is probably familiar to most of us.
    2. It is a simple passage about Jesus’ birth.
    3. It is actually very simple. In Luke 2:1-7 we do not have any major Theological truths to explain. We do not have any issues of interpretation. Jesus is born in Bethlehem. This is not a fairy tale. Even most atheists must admit that Jesus lived.
    4. But, why was He born?
    5. To answer that question we must read to the end of the Gospel according to Luke. But we could just read Matthew 1:21-23: 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
    6. 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
    7. Jesus came to give God’s presence with us.
    8. Jesus was born, fully God and fully man. He lived a sinless life and then He died in our place.
    9. When Jesus went to the cross, He took the wrath of God upon Himself instead of on us.
    10. Jesus came to die in our place.
    11. 4:4 says: But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law…
    12. Jesus came and He lived, and He taught, and He gave us a good example, but His main purpose was to die on the cross for our sins.
    13. Some people think that you can be just a good person and go to Heaven. But realize that being good is not good enough. One sin separates you from God.
    14. The Bible teaches that God is too pure to look upon sin (Hab. 1:13).
    15. Psalm 66:18 teaches that if you hold sin in your heart the Lord would not hear your prayer.
    16. God is holy, that means set apart, perfectly pure.
    17. The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The Bible says that the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). The Bible says that Jesus is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except by Him (John 14:6). The Bible teaches that sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). The Bible says that God will not let the guilty go unpunished (2 Thess 1:8-9). Yet, the Bible teaches that God loves the people of the world (John 3:16). That is a dilemma. God can’t tell a lie or He wouldn’t be God (Numbers 23:19). God doesn’t change His mind (1 Sam 15:29). That is why God sent Jesus. The guilty must go punished. Jesus took our punishment on the cross. The penalty of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.
    18. Allow me to summarize what I just shared.
    19. The Bible can be summed up with the acronym that spells GOSPEL.
    20. God created us to be with him (Genesis 1-2).
    21. Our sin separated us from God (Genesis 3).
      1. But don’t think of God as this megalomaniac wanting to inflict punishment on us.
      2. Think of it this way.
  • Imagine you go to the roof of the empire state building and walk off the building, what happens?
  1. You fall and hit the ground, but why?
  2. Gravity.
  3. Gravity is part of the created order.
  • There is no reason to be angry at gravity.
  • There is no reason to cast blame. Gravity did not want to hurt you. It is part of the created order.
  1. Think of the wrath of God like gravity. God is holy and when we sin it is like violating the law of gravity. There is an automatic response. The response is separation from God. Hell is separation from God. But like gravity, God also does not want to hurt you. Back to the acronym.
  1. Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4).
  2. Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again (Matthew – Luke).
  3. Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life (John – Jude).
  4. Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever (Revelation 22:5).
    1. Do you know when you trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior you don’t only receive eternal life, but also abundant life?
    2. You are reconnected with God.
  • John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
  1. So, in a nutshell Christmas is all about Jesus’ birth. God became a human being so that He could die for our sins. God brought events involving kings, common people and shepherds in order to bring His Son into the world. Jesus lived among us for 33 years and then died in our place. He died for our sins. Do you believe that? I want to ask you a personal question: have you come to a point in your life where you have accepted Jesus into your heart for forgiveness of your sins. Jesus didn’t come to earth just to live with us; He came to instruct us and to die in our place.

Whether you are part of the church or not, my question for you is: Do you Know Jesus as Lord and Savior and are you committed to him?

The Bible uses four verbs to describe the Christian life, they are: Believe, confess, commit and trust. Let me explain:

  1. The Bible teaches that we must believe in Jesus. We must believe that He is who the Bible says He is. The Bible teaches that He was born of a virgin; He lived a sinless life and died on the cross for our sins and He rose triumphantly over the grave (John 3:16; 14:6; 1 Cor. 15; 2 Cor. 5:17 and 21).
  2. The Bible teaches that we must confess that we are in need of forgiveness. This means that we must confess that we are a sinner in need of a Savior. In other words, we have done wrong things and we need forgiven (Romans 3:23; 6:23 10:9-10). We tell God this.
  3. The Bible teaches that we must commit to Jesus as Lord and Savior. This means we are not simply fans of Jesus, but instead we are followers of Jesus. Fans stay on the sidelines, but Jesus calls us to be on the field with Him. Jesus told them to count the cost before committing to Him (Luke 14:27-33).
  4. The Bible teaches that we must trust The belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior is not a casual belief, but a firm trust (1 Timothy 1:15; John 3:16).

Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.

This year, don’t miss Christmas. Make Christmas your spiritual birthday.

Pray to receive Jesus as your Savior and Lord.


Cantata meditations: Peace, Love, Joy

First Meditation on Peace:

Did you notice the narration earlier?

The world waited with hope, watching expectantly for the peace promised by God in the Scriptures… Peace was brought by the Child born in Bethlehem.

 Let’s read Isaiah 9:6-7:

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

  1. This passage shows that the son to be born by the virgin cannot be a mere human son.
    1. This passage has not been fully fulfilled yet.
    2. Remember what the words of the choir anthem were saying, Born a Child to Grant Us Peace. Grant Us Peace Lord… Then Later, Peace on Earth, good will for all.
    3. Verse 6: the Government will rest on His shoulders. We get this picture in the New Testament that Jesus is reigning, but certainly not literally now, but He will be reigning over all (Rev. 21-22).
    4. Look at the names: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God: this means that He will do more than any other person can do. He will be fully God.
    5. He will be Everlasting God. I like what one source wrote about this phrase: He is said to be everlasting, just as God (the Father) is called “the Ancient of Days” (Dan. 7:9). The Messiah will be a “fatherly” Ruler. Third, perhaps Isaiah had in mind the promise to David (2 Sam. 7:16) about the “foreverness” of the kingdom which God promised would come through David’s line. The Messiah, a Descendant of David, will fulfill this promise for which the nation had been waiting.[1]
    6. He will be called the Prince of Peace: the One who will bring in and maintain the time of millennial peace when the nation will be properly related to the Lord.[2] Verse 7 again emphasizes that there will be no end to His Kingdom.

Praise God! We can experience Jesus’ Kingdom now, but we will not fully experience Jesus’ Kingdom until the end when all is made right by Jesus.


So, are you surrendered to Jesus? Where are you at spiritually? Is He your Prince of Peace?

Short prayer

End of first meditation

Next meditation, Joy:


Message on Psalm 98:


In a minute we are going to talk about Psalm 98 which is a Psalm that has frequently been used at Christmas time. It is an exciting Psalm for an exciting season.

Did you hear the intro about the angels appearing to the shepherds?

Did you notice the words to the anthem?

Listen to the sound of the angels singing, hear the joyful music fill the sky? Join with the Heavenly chorus, “Glory be to God on high.” Listen to the news of the wondrous story, echo through the Heavens clear and strong. Joy to the World, the Lord is come! Listen to the sound of the angels singing a Christmas song. See the shepherds kneeling at the manger worshipping the newborn King. Hear the bells of Heaven ringing. Hark the herald angels singing. Then: Hark the herald angels sing, “Glory to the Newborn King. Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!”

The anthem continued with other songs. As I read it weeks ago it made me think of the angels worshipping the Lord.

Psalm 98 goes along with Joy to the World. Actually, it seems that Joy to the World was inspired by Isaac Watts’ study of Psalm 98.

Please listen as I read Psalm 98 and as I pause to reflect on some of the words.

Psalm 98:

O sing to the Lord a new song,

  • Why? We have to keep reading…

For He has done wonderful things,
His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him.
The Lord has made known His salvation;
He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered His lovingkindness and His faithfulness to the house of Israel;
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

  • This is true. The Lord has made known His salvation. Are we not the ends of the earth? We certainly are not, in Israel are we? No, the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of the Lord. This is anticipating the Lord’s final salvation as well. Also, the Lord remembered Israel. You see all through the Old Testament The people of Israel were God’s chosen people, but they did not follow God, so God allowed them to be defeated by other nations. But Jesus came. He is the rightful King of Israel and also of the world. Let’s keep reading:

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth;
Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises.
Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
With the lyre and the sound of melody.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
Shout joyfully before the King, the Lord.

Let the sea roar and all it contains,
The world and those who dwell in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
Let the mountains sing together for joy
Before the Lord, for He is coming to judge the earth;
He will judge the world with righteousness
And the peoples with equity.

  • Jesus will come again and He will judge the earth (Rev. 11:18).

Let me read more about Joy to the World

Isaac Watts, 1674–1748

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10)

As one of the most joyous of all Christmas hymns, this carol omits references to shepherds, angelic choruses, and wise men. It emphasizes instead the reverent but ecstatic joy that Christ’s birth brought to mankind. For centuries hearts had yearned for God to reveal Himself personally. At last it happened as “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The entire Advent season should be filled with solemn rejoicing as we contemplate anew God’s great gift, providing the means whereby sinful man might live eternally.

“Joy to the World” is a paraphrase of the last part of Psalm 98:

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth; make a loud noise and rejoice and sing praise. Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills be joyful together before the Lord; for He cometh to judge the earth; with righteousness shall He judge the world, and the people with equity.

Although it was originally a song of rejoicing for Jehovah’s protection of His chosen people and the anticipation of the time when He would be the God of the whole earth, this psalm was intended by Watts to be a New Testament expression of praise. It exalts the salvation that began when God became incarnate as the Babe of Bethlehem who was destined to remove the curse of Adam’s fall. The text was originally titled “The Messiah’s Coming and Kingdom” when it first appeared in Watts’ hymnal of 1719.

Joy to the world! the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King; let ev’ry heart prepare Him room, and heav’n and nature sing.

Joy to the earth the Savior reigns. Let men their songs employ, while fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love.

Express gratitude for our Savior’s birth with these words—[3]

Short prayer

End of second meditation

Third Mediation Love

 Notice the words once again, “hope came down, too, because a Savior was given. And joy came down in the celebration of God’s gift of grace.”

Think about God’s love. A group of college students were reading through John chapter 3. They then came to verse 16 and one student said, “Everyone knows John 3:16.” The pastor leading later said, “If you think that everyone knows John 3:16, you really do not know John 3:16.” John 3:16 is powerful.

Let’s read John 3:16-18:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

  1. God loved and God gave.
    1. Notice that God loved.
    2. Notice further that God loved to the point where God gave.
    3. God loved and he loved everyone.
    4. No one is left out.
    5. God so loved the world, it is the Greek word: kósmos which means the inhabitants of the earth.
    6. God so loved the world that He gave. How are we with giving? Are we giving people? I like how Swindoll pointed out that we are never more like God than when we give.
    7. God gave his only “begotten” Son, or His “one and only Son” or His “unique” Son.
    8. God so loved the world that He gave His only “begotten” (sticking with the NASB) Son…The rest of the passage picks up the purpose: that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
    9. Salvation is opened to all people but only through Jesus. Look at John 3:18:
  2. Salvation is only through Jesus.
    1. John 3:18 says: He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
    2. We have to believe in Jesus.
    3. Salvation is opened to anyone through Jesus.
    4. Salvation is exclusive in that it is through Jesus, BUT Christianity is inclusive. Christianity is opened to anyone.
    5. I remember the 1996 presidential debates. Senator Bob Dole was debating President Clinton. The moderator asked Bob Dole about his tax cut proposal and Senator Dole instantly replied to the moderator that “he is eligible.” This meant that the moderator is eligible for the tax cut.
    6. Everyone is eligible for the free gift of salvation in Jesus.
    7. Rejecting Jesus is rejecting God the Father.
    8. Let’s look at John 14:6: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
    9. We see this idea all throughout the New Testament, actually all throughout the Bible. We need a way to take care of our sins and it is only through Jesus.
  3. Applications:
    1. Do we believe this truth?
    2. Do we care?
    3. Salvation is real and eternity is real.
    4. Do you believe in Jesus?
    5. Is Jesus your Lord?
    6. Are you trusting in Him for salvation?
    7. Do you want others to as well?

A man is rushed to the hospital where a doctor examines him and informs him that he is critically ill. The patient is told that he will die unless he gets proper treatment. The physician then prescribes medicine for the sick man and says, “If you will take this, I can assure you with absolute certainty that you will get well.” Now, what should the man do? Should he just lie there on his sickbed and believe that the doctor knows his business, that he has diagnosed his illness correctly, and that the prescription will surely make him well? No, that is not enough. If that is all he does, he will die. To live, he must take the medicine.

When a person offers you a gift that has cost him or her much, it does not become yours until you receive it from that person. The beautifully wrapped package in the outstretched hand of the giver will do the receiver no good until he or she reaches out and takes it. Likewise, reception of God’s gracious gift of eternal life is necessary before a person can benefit from it. Receiving a gift from someone else does not constitute a meritorious act or good work, and the Bible never regards it as a work. It is simply a response to the work of another.

Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.



[1] Martin, J. A. (1985). Isaiah. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 1053). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[2] Martin, J. A. (1985). Isaiah. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 1053). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3] Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1996), 368.