Pray that we and our children are evangelist part II (Romans 1:16-17; 15:20; 2 Timothy 2:10)

Pray that We and Our Children Are Evangelist, Part 2 (Romans 1:16-17; 15:20; 2 Timothy 2:10)

Prepared and Preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, September 23, 2018

Praying Scripture Series


  The most popular tourist attraction in Herfordshire County, England is a graveyard. People come from all over the world to see a grave of a woman buried over 200 years ago.

  Lady Anne Grimston was a proud, wealthy, and obstinate woman who lived for this life alone.

  Toward the end friends tried to encourage her to think about what comes after we breathe our last. She would not. She believed there was nothing beyond: “It is as unlikely that I shall continue to live as that a tree will grow out of my body.”     

  She went so far as to make a challenge to Heaven, saying: “If, indeed, there is life hereafter, trees will render asunder my tomb.” [Allegedly there is the same kind of story about a local man and snakes on his grave. Can anyone confirm?]

  Lady Anne Grimston died, was buried, and forgotten. But not quite. After many years the thick marble slab over her grave was found ajar. The builders put it back and forgot her again. 

  But once more the marble slab tilted to one side, and in the middle was a crack, with a tiny bunch of leaves bursting through. The crack was sealed with cement and the slab returned to its original spot. A few years later the marble was again lifted up, the crack opened wider than before, and the trunk of a tree emerged from the opening.

  Workmen repaired the increasingly crumbling tomb and installed iron rails and rods to hold everything together. But the young tree would not be tied down. It kept making its way, breaking the masonry, destroying the walls of the tomb, and tearing the heavy iron railings out of the ground.
Today, growing right from the heart of Lady Anne Grimston’s grave in St. Peter’s churchyard is one of the largest trees in England. Because of that tree the site is a mass of twisted metal and crushed marble.

For over 200 years an old tree trunk has trumpeted: “life trumps death.”

  “Whoever believes in me will have eternal life…For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it…But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name…And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know you have eternal life” (John 3:16; 5:21; 20:31; I John 5:11-13).[1]

There is life, eternal life, and I hope that we all desire that our neighbors, friends and family know Jesus.

As you know I am preaching on Scriptures to pray. Today, I wish to talk about some Scriptures to pray having to do with evangelism.

Today, my theme is:

Pray that We and Our Children Are Evangelist, Part 2 (Romans 1:16-17; 15:20; 2 Timothy 2:10)

I want us to look at Paul’s passion for the Gospel and pray that we have the same passion.

Let’s Read Romans 1:16-17:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

  1. Let’s not be ashamed of the Gospel.
    1. Are you ashamed of the Gospel?
    2. Notice Paul’s words here. He is not ashamed of the Gospel.
    3. Why is he not ashamed of the Gospel? Why are you ashamed of the Gospel?
    4. He is not ashamed of the Gospel because“it is the power of God for salvation.”
    5. There is nothing else that gives the power of God for salvation. There is no salvation in any other way (Acts 4:12). The only one who can give us salvation is the Lord. For salvation we need the power of God. In the Gospel of Jesus Christ we have the power of God for salvation.
    6. There is no salvation in money.
    7. There is no salvation in possessions.
    8. There is no salvation in work.
    9. There is no salvation in knowledge.
    10. I know the NFL said they own Sundays but there is no salvation in sports.
    11. There is no salvation in fashion.
    12. There is no salvation in decorating.
    13. There is no salvation in American patriotism.
    14. There is no salvation in food.
    15. There is no salvation in good works.
    16. There is no salvation in anything, but by the blood of Jesus.
    17. Paul is not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 
    18. Salvation through Jesus is opened to all, first to the Jew and then to the Greek. This was Paul’s way of saying that anyone can be saved.
    19. Verse 17: For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous manshall live by faith.”
    20. God’s righteousness is revealed from faith.
    21. Let’s take a moment and think of some applications:
      1. We must be also eager to preach/proclaim the Gospel.
      2. We must not be ashamed.
        1. We must not be ashamed at school.
        2. We must not be ashamed at work.
        3. We must not be ashamed in public.
        4. We must not be ashamed on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
        5. We must not be ashamed at church.
        6. We must not be ashamed with our family.
      3. We must have a Gospel mindset, always praying and thinking of opportunities to share.
      4. We must recognize that the Gospel represents the Power of God. We must be compelled to worship our Mighty Savior.
      5. We must recognize that God’s righteousness is revealed. We are only righteous by faith in Christ. We are only right before God by faith in Christ (Eph. 2:8-9). This must compel us to worship.
    22. Let’s talk about Romans 15:20 and the
      1. We call them the unchurched today. In Paul’s day they would be simply those who have never heard the Gospel. In today’s day people who have not been to church in more than five years have been called unchurched. This is quite common.
      2. I don’t like to blame the world for being sinners because that is who we become without Christ. If the world does not know Jesus they are going to sin, live in sin and want to condone sin. My biggest problem is when the church tries to become like the world. The church is to evangelize the world and change the world, but far too often the world is becoming like the church. Most persecution in America happens within the church. I feel that I have faced that.
      3. The world needs Jesus. Do we believe that?
      4. Raise your hand if you believe the world needs Jesus.
      5. Eternity matters.
      6. I remember being a child and hearing my World War II veteran great uncle share a joke. He said a priest came to talk with a parishioner about the hereafter. She was upstairs and he saw nuts on the table. So he decided to help himself to some nuts. She eventually came down and he said, “I hope you don’t mind I helped myself to some nuts.” She commented back, “That’s okay, I already licked the chocolate off of them!”
      7. The priest in the story was there to talk about eternity. Eternity matters.
      8. Values have changed and they have changed because the foundation for those values was Jesus, but not anymore. They don’t know Jesus.
      9. A study showed that millennials, which are those born after 1981, no longer view premarital sex as sin. But where do they get that? I know of baby boomers that don’t see any big deal with this. I once talked with a choir director, who was retired, and he said, “I view sex outside of marriage as wrong for teenagers but not for my age.”
      10. If we want to know where things are heading look at Europe: In Europe parents can go to jail for spanking their children. There was a real case in which they took children from their parents because the parents spanked their children. Yet, there was no evidence of any abuse at all.
      11. Yet, sometimes, many times, we go after the sin(s), but not the cause. They need Jesus.
      12. I was listening to a representative of Voice of the Martyrs speak and he commented on a persecuted believer. A husband and wife were confronted by militant Islam. A man had a military weapon in a Christian’s face and when the husband did not renounce Christ the man shot him right in the face in front of his wife. Amazingly, he lived. When the Voice of the Martyrs representative was speaking to him he was missing part of his face. Listen to what he said. He said if he saw the man who shot him he would forgive him. He would forgive him because he was blinded by the devil (paraphrased).
      13. People don’t know any better, they need Jesus.
      14. So, back to the passage. Paul is saying in this passage that he does not want to build upon someone else’s foundation.
      15. Paul had experienced people messing up his foundation. Paul planted the church in Corinth and then others came and messed up his work. They harmed his foundation (see 2 Corinthians).
      16. Paul wants to take the Gospel to the unchurched, to those who never heard.
      17. Listen to Paul in Corinthians:
      18. 1 Cor. 9:19: For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.
      19. Listen to 2 Timothy 2:10: For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus andwith it eternal glory.

Dr. Tennant of Asbury Theological Seminary said that there was a study showing that 7 percent, just 7 percent, of the millennials claim Christ. If that number is less than 5 percent, we are considered an unreached people group in mission standards. I have heard another statistic that said that 15 percent, just 15 percent, of the millennials are Christian.

So, right here I have 15 popcorn kernels. These 15 kernels represent the Christian millennials. Then I have another zip lock bag with 85 kernels, these represent the non-Christians. The fields are ripe unto harvest. These non-Christians are your children’s friends, your grandchildren and their friends. They are the people you see at the store. They are the mechanic who works on your car. They need Jesus. Without Jesus they die and face God’s wrath. We will all end up in a graveyard eventually. My daughter has asked me a lot about graveyards. We were running and she asked me about the graves she sees, but she will excitedly say, “But I know Jesus so I go straight to Heaven!” Then, “Daddy, you’re a pastor so you go straight to Heaven.” I told her I have no special privileges. Paul was convicted to take the Gospel to those who have not heard. Though I talk about the millennials and have, maybe God has convicted you to take the Gospel to your neighbor who has never heard. The young adults, the millennials, are a large group who need Jesus, but not the only group. There are many baby boomers and busters who need Jesus.

There are many who have an improper understanding of the Gospel. Many think we are saved by works. They need to understand God’s grace. So, an application:

Let all that you do be about the Gospel.

You are on the frontlines of the Gospel. Many times, we think the pastors and missionaries are the only ones on the front lines. This is not true at all. In Acts chapter 8 Stephen had been stoned and the Christians flee (Acts 8:1). Later the church in Antioch forms and grows, but get this, we don’t know who planted the church in Antioch. It was not Paul or an apostle. It was the lay people. Most of the churches in history were started by lay people.

God has given you a sphere of influence. God has given all of us a sphere of influence. These are people who are in our lives and we are called by God to represent Jesus to them. We are called to share Jesus with them.

Francis Chan and David Platt were in a video talking about the Gospel. They talked about how we may say we love our neighbor or family member, yet we don’t share the Gospel with them. Francis Chan said, “Maybe you don’t love them as much as you think you do.” That stung for me.

I pray that all of us can be like Paul and desire to take the Gospel to those that don’t know Jesus.

Pray that you and your descendants live these passages.

Do you know Christ?

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)





Pray that we are evangelist

Pray that We and Our Children Are Evangelist, part 1 (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8)

Prepared and Preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, September 16

I heard a story about D.L. Moody.

D.L. Moody was getting on a train and the train was crowded. A man moved over to give D.L. Moody space to sit. Moody sits down and looks at him and asks, “Are you right with God?” The man says, the only person I would talk about the spiritual with is D.L. Moody.”[1]

Now, just think about that a minute. D.L. Moody was so known for sharing the Gospel that people were opened to talk about the Gospel with him.

D.L. Moody once shared to a critic:

It is clear you don’t like my way of doing evangelism. You raise some good points. Frankly, I sometimes do not like my way of doing evangelism. But I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.” [2]

In this sermon, or any sermon when I say “evangelical” what I mean is “one who shares the Gospel.”

I want to submit to you that the church across America has NOT been evangelical. Even the most conservative churches across America have not been evangelical. We criticize the methods people use in evangelism, but we do not share the Gospel anyway.

We are quite comfortable to let people go straight to hell.

Please understand, I do not want to be too “preachy” or critical. I do not want you leaving feeling bad. I love you, all of you. I love you and I love God and I am supposed to love everyone, and this means I have to declare the truth about the Gospel.

I have been preaching on Scriptures that I have been convicted to pray for myself and my descendants. Today is a two-part message on praying Scriptures about evangelism.

Please listen to my disclaimer:

I know you may believe you have heard me preach and teach on sharing the Gospel before. That is true. You will hear me preach the theme of sharing the Gospel again and again and again and I hope eventually we are all preaching this theme in our lives.

As I talk about evangelism today, my main focus is your sphere of influence. I am NOT talking about sharing the Gospel with strangers, though that is a good thing. Plus, we all should be trying to get to know people and then share the Gospel with them.

 My purpose is to challenge you to pray evangelically and have an evangelism mindset.

  1. The high importance of sharing the Gospel.
    1. Sharing the Gospel is a command from Jesus. He commanded us to share the Gospel with others.
    2. Matthew 28:19-20: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
    3. This a command from King Jesus.
    4. You do not make disciples unless you talk about Jesus with people. Also, disciples make disciples. In other words, we could think we are doing everything Jesus asks of us, but if we are not making disciples we are missing something very important. If we are not making disciples we are also in sin, or if we are not sharing Jesus with others we are definitely in sin.
    5. Next year’s vision for Bethel will include a heavy emphasis on evangelism. Why do you think that is?
      1. Evangelism is commanded by Jesus.
      2. The United States is the number one mission field for many countries.
  • Bethel needs to grow.
  1. But most of all people need the Lord.
  1. Mark 16:15: And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
  2. Let’s look at one more Scripture about evangelism for today.
  3. Acts 1:8: “…but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
    1. Notice the Holy Spirit empowers us to share the Gospel.
    2. We make the Holy Spirit’s empowerment too much about us and too little about God’s Kingdom.
  4. Evangelism begins with Prayer.
    1. Dwight L. Moodyshares:The Christian on his knees sees more than the philosopher on tiptoe. God sends no one away empty except those who are full of themselves.”[3]
    2. Pray these passages. This sermon series has been all about Scriptures to pray. Pray that you live out these passages.
    3. Pray about sharing the Gospel.
    4. Pray for opportunities.
    5. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s lead.
    6. Pray that your children value sharing the Gospel.
      1. If you or your descendants do not value sharing the Gospel you may not really know the Gospel.
      2. If we really know Jesus it matters when others do not know Jesus.
    7. Look at Paul’s prayer in Eph. 6:19: and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel…
    8. In the New Testament they spoke out boldly with the Gospel:
      1. In Antioch Pisidia, Paul and Barnabas “spoke out boldly” when the Jews publicly reviled them (Acts 13:46)
      2. In Iconium, they were also vigorously opposed, “so they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord” (Acts 14:3).
      3. In Ephesus, Apollos spoke “boldly in the synagogue” (Acts 18:26).
      4. In Ephesus, Paul taught in the synagogue “and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God” (Acts 19:8).
      5. In Caesarea, when Paul was imprisoned, he spoke “boldly” to King Agrippa (Acts 26:26).
      6. And the last thing we know about Paul is that, while under house arrest in Rome, he went on “proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance” (Acts 28:31).[4]
  • Applications: have an evangelism mindset.
    1. The devil does not want you to share the Gospel and will work against you in this way. The devil will make you think about anything other than sharing the Gospel.
    2. L. Moody shared: “I believe Satan to exist for two reasons: first, the Bible says so; and second, I’ve done business with him.”[5]
      1. The devil will make you think that it is good enough just to be nice to others and maybe they will ask about your faith.
      2. The devil will make you think someone else will share the Gospel.
  • The devil will make you think that all you have to do is invite them to church and then they will hear the Gospel.
  1. The devil will make you think all you have to do is serve people and they will ask you about the Gospel.
  2. The devil will make you think that you do not know them well enough to talk about the Gospel.
    1. I know the devil works this way because he does it to me.
    2. Seriously, the devil does this to me as well.
  3. Suppose you know someone with cancer. Suppose that you know there is a cure for cancer. Now, let’s apply all the excuses the devil gives us for not sharing the Gospel to not sharing about the cure for cancer.
    1. It is good enough just to be nice to others and maybe they will ask about your cure for cancer.
      1. Why would they ask?
      2. Do they know that you have the cure?
    2. Someone else will share the cure for cancer with them.
      1. Maybe, but why not you?
      2. Why make them wait for someone else?
  • All you have to do is invite them to church or a seminar and they will hear about the cure.
    1. But you know the cure, why wait for the seminar or church service?
    2. They know you and they trust you.
  1. All you have to do is serve people and they will ask you about the cure for cancer.
    1. Again, why would they ask?
    2. Do they know that you have the cure?
  2. You do not know them well enough to talk about the cure for cancer.
    1. When someone is giving something away that is good and free does it matter?
    2. Would you hesitate to give away something else that is free and good?
  3. Do we desire that we are obedient to Christ?
  4. Do we desire that our descendants are obedient to Christ?
  5. Do we desire that we are loving?
  6. Do we desire that our descendants are loving?
  7. We are not being loving to God and our fellow man when we do not share the Gospel.
  8. We could make the case that we are being hateful when we do not share the Gospel.
  9. Refusing to share the Gospel is a sin against God and our fellow human beings.
  10. It is a sin of omission to NOT share the Gospel.
  11. It may be a sin of commission to NOT share the Gospel because we are not being obedient to Christ.
  12. In the beginning of this sermon I shared, “even the most conservative churches across America have not been evangelical. We criticize the methods, but we do not share the Gospel anyway.”
  13. I want to prove my point, when was the last time you used your words to share the Gospel in verbal or written form?
  14. Again, it is not my goal to make you leave feeling bad. I love you, and we are also to love everyone else and when we do not share Jesus we are hateful.
  15. What did I mean by “evangelism mindset”? What I mean is that every day you are thinking about the high importance of the Gospel.
  16. I believe when we pray these Scriptures and when we are thinking about the Gospel you will eventually end up sharing the Gospel.
  17. Your actions will follow what you are thinking and meditating on. If I do not want to eat ice cream I should try not to think about it. If I sit in my chair thinking about ice cream all night, eventually I will end up eating ice cream.
  18. So:
    1. Meditate on the Word of God.
    2. Meditate on your relationship with Christ.
    3. Meditate and think on how important it is to share the Gospel with others.
    4. Think about who you know that does not know Jesus and pray for them daily. Pray for opportunities to share the Gospel with them. Don’t pray that someone else shares Jesus with them. Pray that God will use you.


Greg Stier is founder of Dare2share ministries. As a youth pastor I heard him speak to youth pastors on multiple occasions. On one occasion he challenged us to write a letter to our family members sharing our faith in Christ. Greg has been a writer, pastor and Promise Keepers speaker. He is all about sharing the Gospel. Greg was saved as a teenager and he came from a really rough family. Still, as a teenager he wrote a letter to his relatives about his faith in Christ. One by one his family members were saved. Many of them were in jail, but God saved them.

I am going to challenge you today. I challenge you to write a letter. I will do it as well. This week go home and write a personal letter sharing your faith with someone. It can be something like this:

Dear aunt __________,

At church my pastor talked with us about the high importance of sharing our faith. I already thought this was important but for various reasons I have not talked about my faith that much with you. However, I would like to share with you how Jesus has impacted my life and encourage you to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Here is how I came to know Jesus as Lord and Savior:

Insert testimony here:

Life before Christ

How I met Christ

How Christ has changed my life

I would like to talk with you more about Jesus. Even if you are not ready to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, I would still like to talk about Jesus. I may not be able to answer all your questions, but we can consider them together.

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]Jack Hibbs shared this on his radio message.

[2]D.L. Moody to a critic

“Real true faith is man’s weakness leaning on God’s strength.” Dwight L. Moody.


[4]This list is from:


Pray for the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23)

Pests—bugs and rodents—even the thought of them makes our skin crawl. But pests find their way into everyone’s home at one time or another. The question is, do we hate these pests enough to do what it takes to get rid of them? One survey says that depends on what sort of pest is in the house. Researchers found that people will dish out their hard earned money for an exterminator—meaning they are really serious about getting results—when the following pests are in their home:

Twenty-four percent of adults—that’s one in four—will pay an exterminator to kill spiders.

Roughly the same number, 27 percent of adults, will pay to annihilate ants.

With the next pest the percentage jumps to just over half, as 56 percent will pay to banish bedbugs.

The same percentage, 56 percent, will pay to get rid of rodents. (That’s mice and rats. This is getting creepier and creepier!).

Fifty-eight percent will pay to kill cockroaches. (Maximum creepy!)

And then the number jumps again when we talk about the bug that can bring the house down: termites. Eighty-seven percent of adults—that’s 9 out of 10—will pay to terminate termites.

Notice that except for termites, almost half of adults will live with some very unpleasant creatures rather than pay a professional to ensure the pests are eradicated. This survey also showed that many people are willing to endure a certain kind of pest, but not others.

Take that concept to a spiritual dimension and the same thing holds true. Many people are willing to live—or feel they have to live—with spiritual ants, spiritual spiders, spiritual bedbugs, spiritual cockroaches, spiritual mice, spiritual rats, or spiritual termites. Some sins we tolerate in ourselves; others we won’t.[1]

Why do we do this?

As Christians we are called to walk in the Spirit. We are called to live by the Spirit and we know this by checking to see if we have the fruit of the Spirit.

Today, my theme is that we pray that we and our descendants will have the fruit of the Spirit.

[Bring up a house plant with an apply in it or hanging from it.] What is wrong with this picture? Apples don’t grow on house plants, do they? No.

Likewise, Jesus produces fruit.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:16

You will know them by their fruits. 2Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?[2]

We are known by the fruit that we produce. The Holy Spirit produces fruit.

  1. Christians have different fruit.
    1. The fruits of the world are in Galatians 5:19-21: Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry,sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, cdisputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.[3]
    2. In his bookThe Obedience Option, David Hegg illustrates what he calls “overwhelming faith.” Hegg was talking to a young man who claimed that he couldn’t stop his pattern of sleeping with different women. The young man knew it was wrong, but he also claimed that his sexual lust was inevitable. Therefore, it wasn’t his fault, especially since God had created him with such strong desires and urges. Finally, Hegg interrupted the young man and said, “Suppose that I came into your room and caught you and your girlfriend as you were just starting this ‘inevitable’ process.” Suppose I took out ten one-hundred-dollar bills, and told you that they were yours if you [stopped]. What would you do?” When the young man quickly said that he’d rather have the cash, Hegg asked, “So what happened to the irresistible force of lust?” Then Hegg concluded: We both realized a very simple truth: one passion may seem irresistible until a greater passion comes along …. If we take this principle into the arena of righteous living, it comes out like this: the only way to overcome a passion for sin is with an overwhelming passion for righteousness. This overwhelming passion for righteousness is actually a mindset that the Bible calls faith. Here is a helpful definition of this kind of overwhelming faith: Faith is a life-dominating conviction that all God has for me through obedience is better by far than anything Satan can offer me through selfishness and sin.[4]
    3. We need to let the Holy Spirit in and let God’s ways push out the ways of the world.
    4. We are not going to talk about the fruit of the world today but know that there is a major contrast between Jesus’ people and the world. That list includes who we are without Christ. People with these characteristics do not go to Heaven. They can’t, this fruit is against God. This means we must be different.
    5. We get rid of darkness by letting light in. We get rid of sin, by letting the Holy Spirit in.
    6. The fruit of the Spirit is in Galatians 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.[5]
    7. We are going to talk about these.
    8. Living this way makes us a witness.
    9. The idea of “putting on” certain fruits is used more often in the New Testament (Col 3:12.)
    10. Notice it says the “fruit” of the Spirit. This is singular. The Holy Spirit produces one fruit and it consists of these nouns: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The fruit is singular otherwise it would say “are” as in “Fruits are,” we can’t say, “fruits ‘is.’ No, it is one fruit that the Holy Spirit gives us.
    11. Many have written that it could say, “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” This love is defined by joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Let’s break them down with “mental or God-ward qualities, interpersonal or other-ward qualities and general or self-ward qualities.
    12. Mental or God-ward qualities (v. 22)
      1. “Love” (agape, self-sacrificing affection for others)
      2. “Joy” (chara, deep-seated gladness regardless of circumstances)
  • “Peace” (inner quietness and repose regardless of circumstances)
  1. Interpersonal or other-ward qualities (v. 22)
    1. “Patience” (forbearance even under provocation)
    2. “Kindness” (benevolence and graciousness)
  • “Goodness” (constructive action reaching out to others)
  1. General or self-ward qualities (vv. 22-23)
    1. “Faithfulness” (reliability, trustworthiness)
    2. “Gentleness” (acquiescence to authority and consideration of others)
  • “Self-control” (ability to master oneself)
  1. Let’s take a moment to apply:
    1. One writes: My five-year-old daughter, Barbara, had disobeyed me and had been sent to her room. After a few minutes, I went in to talk with her about what she had done. Teary-eyed, she asked, “Why do we do wrong things, Mommy?” “Sometimes the devil tells us to do something wrong,” I replied, “and we listen to him. We need to listen to God instead. To which she sobbed, “But God doesn’t talk loud enough![6]
    2. We all mess up. We will all be lacking in the Holy Spirit’s work one day. We will be lacking in one of the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit someday. Simply own up to it and apologize. Simply tell someone that you were unloving in a comment. Acknowledge to yourself that you are lacking joy. Acknowledge and ask God to help you with peace.
    3. We all lack on at least a few aspects of the fruit of the Spirit. It could be patience, it could be self-control, it could be goodness, it could be faithfulness or you name it.
    4. Imagine the witness if Christians were more gentle.
    5. Imagine the witness of Christians were known as those having self-control. Imagine if people thought of us as not those that are flying off the handle and ready to blow. Imagine if people knew Christians had power under control. Imagine the witness if Christians had more control in eating alone. Think about self-control.
    6. Remember the Lays potato chip commercial that used to say, “You can’t eat just one!” We need self-control with our eating and I don’t know if that is as bad of a witness as a lack of self-control with our temper or with our sexual appetites. But we need self-control. Trust me, I can lose my temper as quickly as you can, I can eat as many dips of ice cream as you can. I am working on this, I am praying about this.
    7. Imagine the witness if Christians were known as kind.
    8. Imagine if Christians were known as faithful. We need to be faithful to God and to others. Imagine if we were known as faithful to our family.
    9. I was listening to a series of podcasts called “Presidential.” I am listening on my phone. They are made by the Washington Post. Turns out Warren Harding had an affair, actually many of them. Many, many years after his death many love letters were found. The family released them, I think to the Library of Congress, as long as they weren’t public for something like fifty years. I don’t know whether or not he was a Christian but imagine if Christians were known as faithful.
    10. What a witness is a Christian dad who is faithful to his wife and his children.
    11. What a witness is a Christian mom who is faithful. I was listening to someone who wrote a book which included information about the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger. She was not faithful, she ran off on her husband many, many times. Despite her unfaithfulness, her husband remained faithful.
    12. What a witness Christians can be when the fruit of the Spirit reigns in our life.
    13. Imagine the witness.
    14. People will ask us why we are different.
    15. Maybe you already get this. Maybe you are different, and people have asked.
    16. But we can always grow.
    17. Funny thing about fruit, though, it only takes one bad fruit to ruin others. One Christian who cheats on his wife does more damage than 10 faithful Christians.
    18. Okay, so, don’t diminish the witness that your lifestyle can be.
    19. You are a witness when you strive to love like Jesus.


One writes:

Henri Nouwen once said in a Leadership journal interview:

I cannot continuously say no to this or no to that, unless there is something ten times more attractive to choose. Saying no to my lust, my greed, my needs, and the world’s powers takes an enormous amount of energy. The only hope is to find something so obviously real and attractive that I can devote all my energies to saying yes. One such thing I can say yes to is when I come in touch with the fact that I am loved. Once I have found that in my total brokenness I am still loved, I become free from the compulsion of doing successful things.[7]

The fruits of the Holy Spirit are, it seems to me, largely fruits of sustained interaction with God. Just as a child picks up traits more or less simply by dwelling in the presence of her parent, so the Christian develops tenderheartedness, compassion, humility, forgiveness, joy, and hope through “the fellowship of the Holy Spirit”–that is, by dwelling in the presence of God the Father and Jesus Christ his Son. And this means, to a very large extent, living in a community of serious believers.[8]

One person writes:

On a recent visit to two California vineyards, author Margaret Feinberg discovered that vintners must adopt a long-term approach to their work. According to Feinberg:

The first year a vintner plants shoots of vines rather than seeds because these yield the strongest vines. At the end of the first growing season, he cuts them back. A second year passes. He cuts them back again. Only after the third year does he see his first viable clusters of grapes. Serious vintners leave those clusters on the vines. For most vintners, it’s not until year four that they bring in their first harvest.

For those growing grapes for winemaking, they’ll bottle their harvest, but won’t taste the fruit of their labors until year seven or eight. Most vineyards in Napa Valley won’t reach a breakeven point for their investment until year fifteen, eighteen or beyond.

Applying these insights to her spiritual life, Feinberg writes,

Sometimes I look at my own life and wonder, Why am I not more fruitful? And why does pruning have to hurt so much? Why does cultivating a healthy crop take so long? Yet those questions circle around the here and now. God’s perspective is much different. Like a good vineyard owner, he knows how to bring about fruitfulness better than I ever will. And he is patient with me, more patient than I am with myself … [Also], as we fulfill our callings … we must recognize that like the vintner’s, our fruitfulness will not come overnight. The first harvest of our labors may not come for three or five years.[9]

We are in process God is working on us as long as we let Him.

You are a witness in living like Jesus.

 Do you know Christ?

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]Craig Brian Larson, editor of; source: Anne R. Carey and Keith Simmons, “Calling the Exterminators: Critters that bug us most,” USA Today Snapshots (May 22-25), 1A; based on survey of 1,253 adults by Global Strategy Group for Orkin

2Lit They do not gather

[2]New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update(LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Mt 7:16.

cRom 2:8; James 3:14ff

[3]New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update(La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ga 5:19–21.

[4]David Hegg, The Obedience Option (Christian Focus, 2011), pp. 27-28; submitted by Van Morris, Mt. Washington, Kentucky

[5]New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update(La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ga 5:22–23.

[6]Jo M. Guerrero, Christian Reader (Sep/Oct 1996)

[7]Terry Muck, “Hearing God’s Voice and Obeying His Word,” Leadership Journal (Winter 1982), p. 16

[8]Robert C. Roberts in The Reformed Journal (Feb. 1987). Christianity Today, Vol. 32, no. 10.

[9]Margaret Feinberg, “Napa Valley on Leadership,” Q Shorts,

Pray for Help to Serve and Sacrifice (Phil. 2:3-4)

There is a book called: Same Kind of Different as Me.

This book is a true story that follows two people’s paths in life until they meet up.

One person was raised in a middleclass white family. He grows up and becomes very successful and very wealthy.

The second person is a poor uneducated black man. He grew up as a modern-day slave. His parents worked a farm and he did too. He experienced heavy racism. Eventually this man ran away. However, he never had been educated. He lived homeless and learned how to fend for himself.

Eventually the wealthy white man, now married, is convinced by his wife to begin helping at a homeless shelter. They had committed their life to Christ and she wanted to go deeper. He was willing to give money, but she wanted to do more. So, they start helping at a homeless shelter. She then says that she wants to take one group from the homeless shelter to dinner and a play.

Now the relationship grows between this wealthy man and woman and this uneducated poor black man.

The wealthy white man asks to take the uneducated black man out to breakfast. At breakfast the black man asks, “Why are you doing this?” the white man says, “To be your friend.” The black man says, “I like to fish, but I notice when white people fish they catch and release. I don’t want a ‘catch and release’ friendship.”

Well, this wealthy husband and wife decided to do more than give money and because they did they touched many lives. One of those lives was that uneducated black man. Later on, they formed a friendship that will last the rest of their lives and has lasted the rest of her life, as he was there for the woman’s death.  The wealthy white man and the uneducated black man published this book together.

What I just shared with you is an example of Philippians 2:3-4 in action. That is the passage I wish to talk about today.

Today, my theme is:

Pray for help to serve and sacrifice. Live out Philippians 2:3-4.

Read with me the passage:

Philippians 2:3-4:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 

  1. Serving with the heart and mind of Christ begins in our thinking:
    1. In looking at the Philippians 2:3-4 passage I have a note in one of my Bibles: There is no main verb in this verse; (“be of the same mind”) is implied here as well. Thus, although most translations supply the verb “do” at the beginning of v. 3 (e.g., “do nothing from selfish ambition”), the idea is even stronger than that: “Don’t even thinkany thoughts motivated by selfish ambition.[1]
    2. The Christian is to think about others. It begins in our thinking.
    3. Twenty-five years ago, when the New York Yankees were the dominant team in major league baseball, the manager would say to the rookies, “Boys, it’s an honor just to put on the New York pinstripes. So when you put them on, play like world champions. Play like Yankees. Play proud.” In similar fashion, the apostle Paul is attempting to inspire and to motivate the believers at Philippi by challenging them to walk worthy of the name by which they are called.[2]
    4. I like that story. We are reflecting Jesus. We are Jesus to other people. Walk worthy of the name we represent.
    5. The following is a true story. Granted, it happened several years ago. But I wonder how often such scenarios unfold. Two pastors were at lunch together. The older pastor paid for their previous meal, so the younger pastor picked up the tab for this meal. The younger pastor paid cash for the meal, so his older friend asked if he had included a tip. He said he forgot the tip, so he put some cash on the table. As they were departing, the younger pastor said he forgot something, and returned to the restaurant. The other pastor saw him through the window. The younger man went back to the table, picked up the cash, and put it in his pocket.
    6. What a sad story. The other pastor went back later and apologized and also gave a tip. We as Christians are to reflect Christ.
    7. This starts with our thinking. My thinking must not be about me first. I must perish the “me first” thinking.
    8. In preaching this passage I know that many, if not most, if not all of our congregation are pretty good at serving others. However, we all need reminded all the time. I know that I do. I also need reminded that I first must change my thinking.
    9. The passage says, “‘In Humility’ value others above yourselves.” It starts with a mindset.
    10. As Paul writes about this he gives an example and that is Jesus. Jesus valued us and that is why He went to the cross. Later in verses 19-20 Paul gives the example of Timothy who also valued the welfare of others.
    11. So, I ask all of us and I ask myself as well:
      1. How is our mindset?
      2. When we serve others is it because we love them, or we are just duty bound?
      3. Do we look down upon certain people as “below” us?
      4. Another application is really not action oriented, but word oriented. Do we try our best to communicate love through our words and non-verbals? Sarcasm can be humorous or it can cut like a knife.
    12. I want to say something about loving others. A major goal is real love shares Jesus with people. If we really love them, we make sure we share Jesus with them.
  2. Serving with the heart and mind of Christ ends in action.
    1. A woman wanted a pet so she bought a parrot. She asked them at the pet store if it will talk and they said yea. She takes the parrot home and put it in its cage and it didn’t talk. After a while she goes back to the pet store and says, “it doesn’t talk.” They said, “Did you buy it a mirror. It must look at itself in the mirror and then it will talk.” She gets a mirror and the parrot still doesn’t talk. She goes back to the pet store and they said, “Did you buy it a ladder? Once it has a ladder it will talk.” She gets a ladder and it doesn’t talk. She goes back to the pet store. They said, “Did you get it a swing? When it swings it will talk.” She gets a swing and it still will not talk. After a few weeks it dies. She goes back to the pet store and says that it dies. They said “did it say anything before it died?” She said yea it said, “Don’t they have any food at that pet store.”[3]
    2. So, we want to make sure that people are receiving the basic needs. We want to make sure they have food.
    3. But these actions are not always material things. I know that some of us on some days do not have a penny to spare, but that is not to say we cannot love other people.
    4. Listen to this from Taylor Swift when she was eighteen years old:
    5. “I wrote that about the scariest feeling I’ve ever felt: going to school, walking down the hall, looking at all those faces, and not knowing who you’re gonna talk to that day. People always [ask], How did you have the courage to walk up to record labels when you were 12 or 13? It’s because I could never feel the kind of rejection in the music industry that I felt in middle school.[4]
    6. I believe there are little ways I think we can help people.
      1. Praying with and for people. We will never know how much of a difference this will make.
      2. Sharing the Gospel with someone. You know that is a free gift you can share with another person?
      3. Bibles: give one away.
      4. Help people with meals.
      5. Visiting shut-ins and those in the hospital. Take your children with you and visit a senior saint. Or, visit some of your own family members.
      6. Sew for someone, teach someone to sew. Teach someone to cook.


Daniel Meyer tells the story of an elderly woman who heard a sermon in which she felt God encouraging her to look for ways in which she could use her particular gifts and situation to minister to the needs of others. She thought about her gifts and realized that she’d been told by others that she had the gift of hospitality. She lived alone in a small apartment near a large university and had afternoons free. She pondered the needs around her and the people who tugged at her heartstrings. To her mind came the students nearby who were so far away from home. It was then that an idea both strange and simple suddenly arose. She got a stack of three-by- five cards and wrote on each one the following words: “Are you homesick? Come to my house at 4:00 p.m. for tea.” She included a phone number and address and then posted the cards all around campus.

After a slow start, homesick students began trickling into her house each week for tea. When she died ten years later, eighty honorary pallbearers attended her funeral. Each one of them had been a student who, once upon a time, found a hot cup of tea, a sense of home, and the gospel of Jesus in the hospitable heart of this faithful servant.[5]

Think back to the story I shared at the beginning of this sermon. Remember the story about the wealthy white man helping at the homeless shelter. I challenge you to go the extra mile in service. Serve, even during inconvenient times. That is what Jesus did. That is the example in the rest of this passage.

Phil. 2:3-4:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 

Do you know Christ?

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]Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes(Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Php 2:3.

[2]Bill Hybels, “The Certainty of Suffering,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 164.

[3]Chuck Swindoll

[4]– 18-year-old country music star Taylor Swift speaking about the inspiration for the song “The Outside”, Entertainment Weekly, February 8, 2008, pg. 42

[5]Daniel Meyer, Witness Essentials (InterVarsity Press, 2012), p. 186

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)