Sunday, October 01, 2023



In John Bunyan’s classic novel, Pilgrim’s Progress, there is a character named Mr. Steadfast. When he came to the end of his life’s journey, he said “wherever I could see his footprints on the sands of time, there I delighted to walk”. He lived his life walking as Jesus walked. That is what Paul sets out as the solution to the problems of the church in Philippi. 

The first four verses of this chapter indicate problems in the church at Philippi. There were divisions based on selfishness, ambition, and conceit. Paul urged them to be unified by being humble.


There can be no unity in a church without the humility of its members,  because arrogance produces selfishness and ambition. So, Paul told them, and us, to have the same attitude, or mindset, in their church fellowship, as Christ. He is the ultimate example of humility. 

After giving the instruction to the Philippians, and now to us, Paul described for us what Christ’s mindset was. 

First, remember that Jesus had everything in heaven. He was deity, or God as John 1:1 tells us. He was the second person of the Trinity. 

Colossians 1:19 says the fulness of deity dwelt in him. John 17:5 tells us Jesus had glory with the Father before the world began. 

He had equality with the Father (6) because they were of the same essence. 

But Jesus did not hold tightly to his equality with the Father. He did not grasp it. (6) Notice the contrast to Adam, the first man. Adam attempted to obtain and grasp equality with God when Satan told him the he would be like God if he ate the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 3:4-5) 

But, not Jesus! Instead, Jesus made himself nothing. (7) Rather than grasp it, he relinquished the prerogatives of deity and equality with the Father to take on the nature of a human being - and not just any human being, a servant. He did this in humility. Verse 8 says: “he humbled himself” and became obedient to the will of the Father. 

In Matthew 20:28, Jesus said he came to serve, not to be served, even though he was entitled, as God, to be served. He was a servant of the Father, devoting himself to the will of the Father in complete obedience. 

In John 14:31, Jesus said he did only and exactly what the Father told him to do and said only what the Father told him to say.

And in verse 8 of our present passage, we see that he was even obedient to a horrible death on a cross.  

Can you see the enormity of his humility? Jesus went from a throne on heaven to a cross on earth. He let the men, who owed him worship and obedience, crucify him. And he did it for our benefit and to obey the Father. 

Knowing this, how can we as believers not adopt his mindset as Paul tells us to? If Jesus gave up heaven and kingship for us, can we not give up our petty desires for him and his church? That is what Paul is urging us to do in this passage. 

In light of Christ’s sacrificial humility, our desires to control the style of worship, the color of the carpet, the length of the worship service and other things seems petty and trivial. They are small sacrifices compared to his great sacrifice.

So, Paul tells us to have the same humble mindset of Christ, giving up our selfish ambitions and vain conceits to consider others better than ourselves, too look to the interests of others, and to be unified in spirit and purpose. (2) That is humility and humility creates unity.   


Many commentators believe that verses 7 through 11 are a hymn known at the time Paul wrote this letter. It is a Cristological hymn, teaching the doctrines of Christ’s incarnation and exaltation. 

Because Jesus willingly and obediently endured his humiliation, the Father exalted him to the highest place there is. (9) Jesus is enthroned at the right hand of the Father according to Hebrews 1:3. God gave him a name above every name. He is the Son of God. Hebrews 1:4 says he is as superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. 

And ultimately, everyone will acknowledge his lordship. At his name, all will bow before him and all will confess him as Lord. (10-11)


Of course, God will not exalt us, as believers, as he did Jesus. But he will bring us to himself in heaven and reward our obedience and service. If we do well, he will say those words we long to hear: “well done, good and faithful servant”. (Matthew 25:23)

But, if we spend our lives selfishly, especially in the community of the church, demanding our own way and criticizing the preferences of others, those things do not endure and are not rewarded. Paul calls them wood, hay, and stubble that will be burned up on the day of judgment. (1 Corinthians 3:12) Paul says those people will be saved but singed. (1 Corinthians 3:15) The image is a person standing there in heaven, but with smoke coming off his clothes. 

If you have not come to Jesus in faith, you should know that this humility starts with your humble submission to him, repenting of your sin, believing in him, and trusting him for eternal life. If you have not come to that point in your life, I urge you to do so today. As our passage says, all will ultimately bow before Jesus and acknowledge him as Lord. Believers will do that joyfully and they are welcomed into a blessed eternity. 

Those who have rejected Christ during this life, will also ultimately bow and confess him, but will do so as they receive judgment and punishment for eternity. So, please trust in Jesus today.

I’m going to pray, then Bill is going to come and lead us in singing. It is a time for believers to repent of sin and recommit themselves to joyful obedience in humility. It is also a time for those who are not in Christ now to repent, believe, and commit themselves to Christ. Let’s pray. 

Sunday, September 24, 2023


 What Happens Before 


Jesus, having told the disciples the temple and the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed, now answers the disciples questions. First, he tells them of things that will happen, but are not signs of the end.This is to answer their question “what will be the sign when all these things are to be accomplished”.

First, there will be false Christ’s who appear and mislead many. (5-6) Jesus warns the disciples to resist being led astray by these imposters. This is part of Jesus’ emphasis that the key thing for them to do is  

not to speculate about the future instead of obeying\being faithful in the present.   

We know that this happened. Some of these are mentioned in the book of Acts. In the 40s A.d., a man named Theudas appeared. When Gamaliel, a great Jewish teacher, warned the Sanhedrin to be cautious in persecuting the disciples, he reminded them of Theudas. (Acts 5:36) He gained 400 followers. But he was killed and his movement died out. Josephus recounts this story as well. Gamaliel also mentioned Judas the Galilean who was also killed and his movement stopped. (Acts 5:37)

Many others would come and claim to be Christ. Jesus said they will say “I am he”, using the name of God from Exodus 3:14. This has continued until our day. One famous false Christ was Sun Myung Moon, who claimed Jesus failed in his mission and God appointed him to finish his work. He had himself appointed as Messiah and Humanity’s Savior. 

Second, Jesus said there would be wars and rumors of wars, earthquake and famines. But these do not mean the end has come. Jesus called them the beginning of the birth pains. Yet, many today still proclaim these events as harbingers of the end. 

Third, Jesus said his followers would endure persecutions. They would be delivered over to councils. (9) Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin more than once. They would stand before governors and kings to bear witness to Jesus before them. Paul certainly did this. 

Family members would even turn against their Christian family members, leading them to arrest and even death. (12)

The apostles were to proclaim the gospel to all nations. (10) They were not to hold back because of these events. And, if they were arrested and brought to trial, they need not be anxious about what they should say, because the Holy Spirit would speak through them. (11)

Jesus went on to say the apostles and followers would be hated for his names’s sake. But the call here is not to be afraid, but to endure. Enduring in faith until the end is a sign of true salvation.

The Abomination of Desolation


Jesus warned the disciples to flee Jerusalem and Judea when they saw the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not to be. (14)

Mark added an editorial comment which the English versions put in parenthesis: “let the reader understand”. This was a hint to his readers, especially the Roman Gentiles, to remember the use of that term in the Old Testament. 

The term “abomination of desolation” appears in the Book of Daniel. (Daniel 9:25-27; 11:Daniel 11:31) 

Daniel 11:31 speaks of armed forces who come from a king and profane the temple, take away the regular burnt offering, and set up the abomination that makes desolate.

The first fulfillment of these prophecies is the Seleucid king Antiochus Epiphanes IV, who ruled Palestine from 175-64 B.C. Antiochus treated Israel so badly they rebelled against him. His forces entered the temple, stopped the regular sacrifices, set up an idol of  Zeus at the altar and sacrificed a pig. We studied this in our study of Daniel.

This is an abomination because it is idolatry. It brings desolation because it defiles the temple. Jesus knew his Jewish disciples would make this connection.

Jesus meant there would be another event in the disciples’ future that would be similar. When they saw that, they should immediately flee the city. If you come down from the roof, don’t go into the house and get anything. If you are working in the field, don’t go back for your cloak. It will be hard for pregnant or nursing women to flee. 

This tribulation will be very bad, worse than any they have seen. God would cut it short for the sake of the elect, believers. If he did not, no one in Jerusalem would survive it.

It makes sense that Jesus was warning his followers to be ready to flee when they see Roman armies attacking Jerusalem. The parallel account in Luke says: “when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies . . . flee to the mountains” (Luke 21:10-24). 

The great historian of the church, Eusebius, wrote that many Christians did flee and survived. Jesus told the first Christians how to survive this tribulation. The temple was destroyed and desecrated with Roman idols and sacrifices.

The Return of Jesus In Glory


Although the wars and earthquakes are not signs of the end of this age, Jesus said there will be signs. “In those days” does not refer to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. It is Old Testament language for the last days or the Day of the Lord. (Joel 3:1) 


The signs are cataclysmic. The sun and moon are darkened, stars fall, powers in the heavens are shaken. Then we will see Jesus coming in clouds with great power and glory. “Coming in clouds” signifies the arrival of deity, of God. 

When Jesus appears, he will send out angels to gather the elect from all over the earth. 


Don’t waste time trying to predict when Jesus will return.

Do remain faithful no matter what happens.

Know the Bible and be discerning, not fooled by false prophets. 

Rejoice, knowing Jesus will return. 

Saturday, September 23, 2023



We are here today to celebrate the life of Don Barnard, both the life he lived on earth and the eternal life he now enjoys in heaven. 

Don lived a good life on earth. He was a good husband, good father, good church member, and good friend. Don and Peggy were friends with my parents. When my father died, they were both very supportive of my mother and I appreciate that very much. 

When I was a young man, I saw him as a rock, one of those quiet but steady guys that did it all the right way. He was an inspiration. 

Don was a good Christian. I was so happy to see from Cheryl that he wrote: “I’m saved!” in his Bible, then listed 9 verses about salvation and assurance. I was glad to read through those verses, seeing that Don thought about his salvation and what it meant. And those verses were an encouragement to me as well. 

It is the last of those passages, 1 Peter1:3-5, I want to address with you today in the hope of reinforcing your own assurance of salvation and eternal life, as well as comfort in knowing that Don is in heaven and enjoying the benefits of being in the presence of the Lord and experiencing the communion of the saints of all ages. But I am going to add verse 6 to this sermon. 

[Read the passage - note from English Standard Version]

Peter begins the passage by praising God. That is what he means by saying “blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”. And Peter is specifically blessing God because he has saved us from sin and death and given us eternal life through Jesus Christ. 

Peter then goes on to tell us several things about our great salvation.

First, this salvation is from God. He has “caused us to be born again”. It is not a matter of our works. Peter said God saved us according to his great mercy. Mercy means not getting what you deserve. We, as sinners, deserve death and hell, as Romans 6:23 tells us. None of us has done anything on our own to get past that. 

But God is merciful, giving a living hope to those who, like Don, believe in his Son. This living hope is eternal life. 

Peter calls it our inheritance. In the Old Testament, inheritance was tied to a person’s allotment of property in the land of Israel. 

But, for the Christian, the definition is greatly expanded. It is a place in heaven now, then in the new heavens and earth after Jesus returns and all things are made new. Our life on earth may be full of suffering and trouble, but our living hope for our inheritance is undimmed because it is eternal. 

Second, our eternal life cannot be taken away. It is imperishable, which literally means enduring forever. In fact, it cannot even be diminished. It is undefiled. It cannot be made less pure or beautiful than it is now. 


Things on earth get defiled. Have you ever bought a container of your favorite berries and put them in your refrigerator, only to come back to eat them in  a couple of days only to find them molded?That ugly white mold growing on those formerly gorgeous berries? The berries have become defiled and you can no longer enjoy them. But our eternal life, our inheritance, is never defiled. 

Eternal life is also unfading. Its beauty and perfection never fades. When I was young, clothing would often fade when you washed it. I hated getting my favorite shirt out of the wash to see it was no longer the exact color it was when it was new. After the wash, it was a lesser, faded version of it. 

Well, the beauty of eternity will never fade. It will be as perfect and beautiful a thousand years from now as it is today. 

Third and finally, your eternal life cannot be taken away from you and you cannot lose it. The fact that it is “eternal” should tell us that. “Eternal” means lasting forever unchanged. 

And, Peter tells us that you cannot lose it because you are not the one who keeps it. If we were responsible for keeping our salvation, we would lose it because we sin. But, God keeps it in heaven for you. God guards you because of your faith so that you will experience his promised eternal life. 

How should this make you feel? Verse 6 tells us we rejoice in this knowledge of our eternal life. We rejoice even though we have trials. And we all have trials. Don experienced trials in the illnesses of his beloved wife. He experienced the physical diminishment of his own body. We will all have some trials. 

Yet, Peter tells us this is for a little while. From our viewpoint, trials often seem to last a long time. But, compared to eternity, they are a short while, a mere blip in the life we will live in Christ throughout eternity.

I am sure that, if Don could speak to us today from heaven, he would say don’t get lost in what is going on today, whether it is good or bad. Because it is nothing compared to the wonder and beauty of eternal life with God. 

We can see that Don had assurance of salvation and joy in it. I hope this is an encouragement to all who grieve his passing. And I pray that you all will have this same assurance and joy as you reflect on this passage.

Let me give you Romans 15:13 as a benediction and blessing. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope”. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2023


 Jesus said the second most important commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. The New Testament has a lot to say about love between believers. 

For example, 1 John 4:7 says: 

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does to love does not know god, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent in only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loves us and sent his So to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loves us, we also ought to love one another."

One of the signs of genuine conversion is love for each other. There should be no room in the church for hate, enmity, antagonism, backstabbing, gossip, and ill treatment of brothers and sisters.

It is also not possible to say you love a brother or sister in an abstract sense, but are mean to them or talk bad about them behind their back. Paul makes it clear that the fruit of the Spirit, which every believer has, is love. (Galatians 5:22) In contrast, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions and envy are fruits of the flesh, not to be manifested by believers.

Paul even tells us what this love looks like. It's patient and kind, not envious or boastful, not arrogant or rude, not irritable or resentful, and not insisting on its own way. (1 Corinthians 13)

If our lives do not demonstrate this kind of love, it is time for some self examination leading to confession and repentance. Imagine how wonderful our fellowship would be if love dominated all of our actions. 

Monday, September 18, 2023


 Jesus Warns of the Scribes


Jesus was teaching in the temple courts. He had just engaged the scribes. Next, he warned the crowds about the scribes. 

First, he warned that the scribes had an unseemly need to be recognized as important. They wore long robes. These robes would not be worn by working class guys, as they would get in the way. They also wore long prayer shawls that had tassels on the end. 

They showed all who saw them that they were above the common man. Maybe an equivalent today would be wearing an expensive suit and tie and a shirt with cufflinks while going to the market. 

Second, they liked to be acknowledged and greeted in the market place as an important person. They would be addressed as rabbi or teacher. 

Third, they got the best seats in the synagogue, sitting up front.They got seated near the host at feasts. They were seen as important spiritual leaders and received privileges for their positions. Yet, they took advantages of widows, even taking their houses from them. (40) 

This is the opposite of “love your neighbor as yourself”, part of the greatest commandment. James 1:27 also says “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world”. Deuteronomy 10:18 says God executes justice for the fatherless and the widow. Clearly, the scribes were hypocrites in this area. 

They also prayed long prayers designed to make them look spiritual when they were not. That reminds us of the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14. The Pharisee used his prayer to say how good he was, bragging about all the good things he did. The tax collector repented and asked for mercy. 

Jesus said the tax collector, and not the Pharisee, went home justified. And the reason is, those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but those who humble themselves will be exalted. 

James, the brother of Jesus, specifically condemned giving rich people the best seats at church and making poor people sit on the floor. He called partiality a sin. (James 2:1-9)  

The Bible is clear that God does not approve of human pride. Jesus stands on that truth.

And so Jesus said “They will receive the greater condemnation”. (40)

The Widow’s Offering


In stark contrast to these pretentious scribes, Jesus presented a poor and humble widow. He sat in the treasury where there were boxes for the offerings. They were called shofar boxes because of the horn shaped device on top of the box where people dropped in their coins. 

As he watched people put their offerings in the treasure boxes, he pointed out the widow. She put in two small copper coins (lepta) which, together, made a penny. They were the smallest denomination of money, worth 1\64 denarii. So, the amount of money she gave was insignificant compared to the offerings of the rich people.

But that is not how Jesus saw it. He measured the sacrifice, the cost to the giver. A rich person could give a lot and not be affected by it. But this woman put in all the had to live on. It was a great sacrifice. 

So, the poor woman is a model of discipleship. She gave everything. Jesus told the disciples to follow him, which meant leave your world behind, including your job or business, and follow me. He told the rich young man to give away all his possessions and follow Jesus. Being a disciple means devoting all of yourself to Jesus.

This story is the end of Jesus’ public ministry.

Prophecy Concerning the Temple


Mark 13 is a sort of farewell discourse, and the longest teaching of Jesus in Mark. It is a collection of teachings that Mark gathered into one place, as evidence by the fact that these teachings appear in different contexts in the other gospels. Because of this, it is difficult to interpret the chapter. 

The central idea is the destruction of the temple. It seems to be both an actual event and a sign of the end of the age.

So, the chapter begins with Jesus leaving the temple and the disciples pointing out to Jesus the beauty of the temple. Mark does not tell us why the disciples felt the need to do so. Maybe, not being from Jerusalem, they were in awe of the structures. Or maybe, since Jesus had been pointing out the flaws in Jewish religious practice, they felt he did not give the temple the appreciation he should have. 

Beginning in chapter 11, Mark has shown Jesus at odds with the temple and those who are in control of it. His first acts after arriving in Jerusalem are to disrupt the temple proceedings, driving out the animals for sale and turning over tables where money was exchanged. 

There is no question the temple and its grounds were beautify and impressive. Herod spent a fortune expanding and beautifying the temple in order to curry favor with the Jews. The work had gone on for decades.

And the stones were impressive. Some were 40 feet long, 12 feet high, and 18 feet wide. There was lots of gold covering the walls. It was an amazing structure. 

The “Western Wall” or “Wailing Wall” in Jerusalem today is a retaining wall built to stabilize the temple grounds. It is the closest a Jew can come to the site of the second temple today 

Jesus’ response to the disciples was terse and shocking. He basically said all these great buildings will be torn down and completely destroyed.

The Disciples’ Questions


Naturally, the disciples had questions. To their credit, they did not act in disbelief.

The setting is back on the Mount of Olives. From there you can look down on Jerusalem. Jesus and the disciples would be able to see the temple complex in all of its splendor.

The two sets of brothers, the first apostles called, approached Jesus privately (away from the other disciples). Peter and Andrew were brothers. James and John were brothers. 

They asked two questions: (1) when will these things (destruction of the temple) be and (2) what will be the sign that this is about to happen. 

These are logical questions to follow up on Jesus’s statements. They want to know when it will happen and how can they know it is about to happen, so they can not be there when it happens. 

The rest of the chapter is Jesus’ answer. But, he answers by telling them of the destruction of the temple and the city, but also to the time of his return. That may be because the disciples would likely have associated the destruction of the temple with the end of the age. Matthew’s account bears this out. (Matthew 24:3) 

Here is an outline of Jesus’ response:

1-13 - destruction of the temple and the city

14-27 - tribulation and return of Jesus

28-31 - destruction of the temple and the city

32-37 - Jesus’ return and the call to watchfulness. 

We will study Jesus' prophecies in detail next week!