Testing the spirits

Here is an excerpt from a recent sermon. I felt to share it as a stand alone post…

1 John 4:1-3 NIV – “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”

John recognised that false teachers with ulterior motives were coming into the church to lead people astray. John warns us to test the spirit that is behind what they are saying.

When someone says, they have a word or teaching from God there is three places it can come from – God’s Spirit, the human spirit or Satan. 

Messages from God’s Spirit line up with Scripture and have a sense of rightness or truth about them. Messages from the human spirit feel like they miss the target and have a sense of selfishness, worldliness or ambition attached to them. Messages from Satan are designed to lead us astray and can often sound right, but are not right when tested.

So how do we test if someone is from God or not? We can observe them over a period of time and prayerfully ask these questions.

  • Does what they say line up with the Bible, or as one of my Bible teachers used to say, “Does it sound like God?”
  • Does their life and character line up with Scripture? (Titus 1:5-9, 1 Timothy 3:8-12)
  • Do they bear fruit worthy of Christ or what is the fruit of their ministry?
  • Do they respect other believers and have good standing in their previous church/es?
  • Does what they say about Jesus line up with the Bible? (v2-3)

These things, especially what they say about Jesus is key to knowing if what they are saying is from God. John warns us to test the spirit behind what people say. That is why we need to take it slow when new people come to the church before we give them opportunities to serve in a place of responsibilities and speak into the life of our members.

God Bless,

Dave

Sermon: A call to love one another and live without fear

Hello all, here are the links to my sermon from yesterday. It was from 1 John 4 and titled, “A call to love one another, watch out for false teachers and live without fear”.

The main points and a summary of each are below…

1. A warning to watch out for false teachers

In verses 1-6 John gives us a warning against teachers who speak of things not from the Spirit of God.

1 John 4:1-3 NIV – “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  2

John recognised that false teachers with ulterior motives were coming into the church to lead people astray. John warns us to test the spirit that is behind what they are saying.

2. A call to brotherly and sisterly love

In verses 7-16 John reminds us again to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is the third time in four chapters. It is something John is pretty passionate about.

Verse 12 says “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

I don’t know about you, but I want a complete love. I want to follow Christ’s example of sacrificial love and I want to help my brothers and sisters in Christ who are in need as we saw in chapter 3.

3. Perfect love drives out fear

My last point for today is perfect love drives out all fear. Tucked away in verses 17-18 is a powerful point about fear – perfect love drives out fear.

Verses 17 and 18 in today’s readings says, “In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

So, in the context of our passage today, we can have confidence on the day of judgement, because we trust Christ. We know and have experienced His perfect love that reaches out from eternity and drives out all fear. Our rewards for what we have done with our knowledge and faith in Christ will be handed out.

You can find the text here on my website here and the audio here.

God Bless,

Dave

When it is one bad thing after another


Sometimes life throws bad stuff at us that seems never ending. It seems like we take one step forward and two steps back. You have times where you wonder if it will ever end.

When suffering seems to be your daily portion, we can find comfort and hope from the Lord. Having faith in God and His help is the only thing that has got me through prolonged periods of pain, loss and suffering. 

Two things that have especially helped are two verses – Psalm 34:18 and Romans 8:28.

Psalms 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

I have had many times where I have been broken hearted and my spirit felt crushed. Knowing God is close helped.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Knowing that no matter what happens to us in this life, that God works them out to be good in the long run helps too. 

When everything seems against you, know that God can make things turn out good. Knowing that God can recycle my pain to help others has given me comfort in the middle of the storm.

Today, I would encourage you to look to God and draw on His presence and strength. Ask Him to be with you and help you through. 

I did this many years ago when I wasn’t even sure if God existed. He came through and got me through the storm. He has come through many times since too. I don’t know where I would be without Him.

God Bless,

Dave

Four things to remember when we sin

As Christians we all sin. No matter how hard we try to live right we all stumble at times. We are all human and we live in a world that is harassed by sin.

However there are four things that help me when I sin. I have shared these in my sermons over the last few weeks and I thought I would share them here.

  1. God looked for man when he sinned in the Garden of Eden – Genesis 3:8 tells us God called out to man to find him. Even after the first sin, God pursued Adam.
  2. Jesus died for our sins – Romans 5:8 says that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. He paid the price for our sin.
  3. God gave us a way to get right with Him – 1 John 1:9 tells us that God provided confession as a way to get right with Him when we fall short.
  4. We have an Advocate in heaven – 1 John 2:1 reminds us that when we sin Jesus pleads our case before the Father in Heaven.

These things help me to remember that God is on my side. He knows I will fall short at times and He has provided ways for us to be right with Him.

It started after the first sin with Adam and Even, it continued with Jesus death on the cross and when we confess it continues with our Advocate in heaven pleading on our behalf.

These four things give me comfort knowing that when I sin forgiveness and restoration is just a prayer of confession away.

God Bless,
Dave

Sermon: We are God’s adopted children who are called to live and love right

Here is a link to my sermon from today. We are up to 1 John 3 in our series and I shared three points from the chapter.

  1. We are loved and chosen by God – we are His children
  2. As God’s children we need to live right as we wait for Jesus to come back
  3. Real love is sacrificial and focuses on the good of others

You can find the text on my website here or our church website here. You can listen to the audio here.

God Bless,

Dave 

Finding sermon ideas


One of the things you think (read as earnestly pray!) about during your Bible college training is finding ideas to preach about when you get a job as a Pastor.

You know God is with you and He will guide you in what He wants said to His church, but there are times when you wonder how you are going to come up with 40 plus sermons each year.

Two things have helped me during this process of thinking it through.

1. Ask God what He wants you to say 

This may sound simple, but it is always the starting point. It is God’s church and you are speaking to God’s people and He wants to speak to them. 

We are doing a spiritual work when we preach and we need God’s help in both the deciding on what to speak about, in the preparation and in the delivery.

If we start with the foundation that God wants to speak to His people, we put ourselves in the right place to hear from God and then do what He wants.

2. Have a flexible preaching plan

As I said in a previous post, in January I sought God for some series of messages for the year. He said a series on 1 John, James and Great prayers of the Bible. These will be spread over the year.

In saying this though I think we need to be flexible to hear from God at any time and bring the message He wants each week. Last year in the middle of a series He asked me to speak on the Trinity. As it turned out it was a timely message.

Having a preaching plan for the year is vital. It saves you a lot of time (and lets be honest stress) with coming up with ideas each week. But it needs to be flexible enough to allow God to speak a message in season.

These two things have really helped me in the last six months in my role as Pastor of a small country church.

God Bless,

Dave