A Pattern for Heaven-touched Prayer

This is an exposition of Matthew 6:9-13, delivered by Pastor Rod Harris at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, August 24, 2014.


It is a given.  If you want to learn to do something – find someone who is “good” at what you want to do and watch them!  Follow them around and absorb everything you can.  Ask questions.  Discuss concerns.  Learn why they do it the way they do it.  Ask them how they came to do it that way.  Early in my ministry I had men like Paul Cooke and others who allowed me to tag along and pester them.  In my first pastorate I was a frequent visitor to the First Baptist Church of Pawnee.  Dr. Tom Owens talked me through my first funeral, my first wedding, my first baptism and numerous “crisis” moments.  I sought out the input of men I respected – something I continue to do.  That’s how I know that the followers of Jesus locked in on his voice when he said, “This is how you should pray…”

Often he left them and went aside, alone to pray.  He sometimes spent all night in prayer.  And when he prayed it was far different from anything they had ever heard.  Not that the words were all that different.  Not that the form itself was strange or innovative.  It was an intangible thing.  They couldn’t put their finger on it – they didn’t know how to evaluate it – it was just different.  Higher.  Grander.  Loftier.  More powerful.  They just knew that when he prayed Heaven took note of it.  So when he talked about prayer – they listened.  Our text this evening is found in Matthew 6:9-13.

Text: Matthew 6:9-13

Prayer is beyond question the highest activity of the human soul.  Man is at his greatest and highest when he is on his knees before his God.  In prayer we come face to face with the living God.  We enter into the throne room of the universe and stand before the awesome, majestic God, Lord of heaven and earth.  We all acknowledge that prayer is a lifeline.  We acknowledge that our souls are fed, strengthened and encourage when we spend time before the Father.  We just as quickly acknowledge that we have much to learn regarding the discipline of prayer.  We all must acknowledge that we spend far to little time in prayer.  When we come to Christ and seek to be instructed in prayer it is not just a matter of a “formula” or even “words to repeat” – it is about understanding what prayer is.  It is about understanding the nature of prayer, itself.  It is about grasping what matters in our praying.

Our text is often called “The Lord’s Prayer.”
But he never “prayed” it!
The Lord’s Prayer is found in John 17.
There he prayed to the Father on behalf of his children.
In fact, I find it ironic that this prayer is so often used in worship services and other context for folks to pray.  As if the repetition of this prayer builds spiritual character and godliness.  Look at the context!!

Matthew 6:7
Our Lord was speaking against the “meaningless” repetition of certain prayers.

The key to understanding this passage is at the beginning of verse 9.
“This, then is how you should pray…”
How not what.

This is a model prayer.
A model is a pattern or an example.
When you pray it is to be along these lines.
These are the kinds of things your praying should be concerned with.

From this model we discover that:

Thesis: Heaven touching prayer follows a divinely established pattern.

There are two things I want us to note about Heaven touching prayer.

  1. Heaven touching prayer is concerned first and foremost with the glory and honor of God.  (6:9-10)
  2. Heaven touching prayer is concerned about the needs of God’s people.  (6:11-13)


Would you like to touch heaven with your prayers?  You had best follow the divinely established pattern that is concerned first and foremost with the glory and honor of God but second rests in the assurance that the Father cares about the needs of his children.

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Looking to Christ: the Key to Perseverance

Hebrews #19: an exposition of Hebrews 8:1-13. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, August 24, 2014.

Do you ever get discouraged?  Do you sometimes find it hard to believe?  Ever have those times when so many things go wrong that you wonder if maybe, just maybe, it isn’t true?  God isn’t really there.  Or at least He’s not that interested or concerned about your struggle?  Never?  Do you lie about other things too?  Living for Christ in this sin-laden world is a struggle.  Ordering your life according to the Word of God is not easy – especially when it seems you’re the only one doing it!  Living out the truth of our faith is difficult because it holds us to a higher standard.  It makes demands that are difficult to fulfill.  Love your enemies?  Pray for those who persecute you?  Turn the other cheek?  Deny yourself?  In a world that is clamoring for personal rights and personal choice and freedom we are told, “Count others as more important than yourself.”  So what do you do when the world around you is perfectly happy with the idea of your dying?  How do you continue on in the faith when the culture is bent on stamping out your faith?  How do you remain faithful when your faith is labeled “dangerous,” “subversive,” or “criminal?”  This is nothing new for the people of God.  It began early in the life of the church and continues to this day.

A small group of Hebrew believers were struggling to hang on to their faith.  Abandoned by their families and declared enemies of the state they faltered.  The biblical writer, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote to encourage them.  To give them reasons to believe.  Reasons to remain faithful.  Consistently he called on them to look to Christ.  He pled with them to fix their eyes on the Lord Jesus.  Consider what He had done.  What He had accomplished.  What He continued to do on their behalf.  His first century advice is just as valid today.  Our text this morning is found in the 8th chapter of Hebrews.

Text: Hebrews 8:1-13

When you falter – how do you go on?
When tempted to away from the faith – how do you continue on?
When discouragement becomes your constant companion – what enables you to believe?

Hebrews chapter 8 beginning with verse 1…

Thesis: When overwhelmed by life’s heartache and struggles; when you are tempted to walk away from your faith; look to Christ and find reason to continue on in the faith.

As we look to Christ in our text I want to point out 3 important realities.

  1. Look to Christ and consider the glory of His finished work. (8:1-2)
  2. Look to Christ and be amazed by what He has done. (8:2-7)
  3. Look to Christ and rest in the wonder of what His work has accomplished. (8:8-13)


When overwhelmed by life’s heartache and struggles; when you are tempted to walk away from your faith; look to Christ and find reason to continue on in the faith.

See Him seated at God’s right hand praying for you.  Understand that He bore your sin in His own body and has transferred His righteousness to your account.  He has become your God and you are His child.  You have been forgiven and cleansed from all unrighteousness and have been assured His continued mercy and grace.

Is your marriage in trouble?  Look to Christ.
Do you have a wayward child?  Look to Christ.
Are you burdened about your finances?  Look to Christ.
Worried about your future?  Look to Christ.

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Our Confident Hope

Hebrews #18: an exposition of Hebrews 7:20-28. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, August 17, 2014.

Depression made the news this past week with the tragic death of Robin Williams.  Reminding us again that there is a great difference between being successful and being happy.  It also served to remind us of just how vulnerable we are.  It is said a person could live up to 3 weeks without food and a week without water but I’m wondering if you can survive a day without “hope.”  When hope is gone people “give up.”  Hopelessness kills the spirit.  This is what concerns me most about our present condition.  Even as people of God without hope we quit striving.  We stop believing.  We think defeat is inevitable.  When you think you are alone in your striving for holiness you think, “What’s the use?”  When you sense you are the only one concerned about the things of God you think, “Why bother?”  The tide has turned.  Our faith, once dominant in our culture, is waning.  We are losing ground.  At times it seems we are living in another place.  This is not the world I grew up in.  These are not the attitudes we once held.  We look at certain indicators and we think, “We’ve lost the fight.  It’s time to retreat, huddle with our remaining few and await the inevitable.”  But that is not the Christian response.  The Christian response is, “Our God is sovereign.  He is still on His throne and the world is ‘on schedule’.”

The writer of Hebrews is writing to a struggling church in Rome.  The blush of new-found faith has faded.  Times have gotten difficult.  They have experienced the rejection of their families.  The government has come against them in a wave of persecution.  For many, it seemed the battle had been lost.  They cut their loss and returned to their former faith.  Others continued to believe but their faith was wavering.  The writer seeks to strengthen their faith and urge them to continue in belief.  Consistently he points them to Christ.  Christ is better than the best that Judaism or Rome has to offer.  He is God’s final and ultimate word.  He is the the shining forth of God’s glory, the exact imprint of His nature.  In chapters 5-10 he points to Christ as our great high priest.  Our text this morning is found in Hebrews 7 beginning with verse 20.

Text: Hebrews 7:20-28

At the end of chapter 4 he introduced the notion of Christ as our high priest.
In chapter 5 he tied our Lord’s priesthood to Melchizedek (Genesis 14; Psalm 110:4).
In chapter 7 he began laying out our Lord’s qualifications as a superior high priest.
That continues with our text this morning.

Let’s back up and begin our reading at verse 17…

From this text we are reminded that…

Thesis: Our hope and confidence rests securely in the Lord Jesus, our superior Great High Priest.

The author continues to point to Jesus.  And he will continue to do so until he says in Hebrews 12:2, “…looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith…”

  • How do we continue on in the face of great adversity?
  • How do we continue to believe against all odds?
  • We fix our eyes on Jesus our trailblazer.
  • He is our hope, our confidence.

There are three things I want to call to your attention out of our text.

  1.  Our confidence is born of the sovereign promise of our God.  (7:20-22)
  2.  Our hope is secured by the glorious work of Christ.  (7:23-25)
  3. Our assurance is bolstered by our Savior’s unblemished character.  (7:26-28)
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Genuine Righteousness

This exposition of Matthew 6:1-8, 16-18 was delivered by Pastor Rod Harris at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, August 10, 2014.

John Bunyan in his immortal classic, The Pilgrim’s Progress, has a character he calls, “Mr. Looking Both Ways.”  Bunyan describes him as a saint at home and a devil on the road.”   Unfortunately that fits many who call themselves followers of Christ.  It seems some do not realize that Christian living is a full time commitment.  It is not just for Sunday morning from 9:30 to noon!  It is a 24/7 commitment.  It touches every aspect of life.  It is to permeate all that we are and all that we do.  That is the resounding message of the New Testament and in particular the message of the Sermon on the Mount.

We are called to a dynamic, living, vibrant faith.  It is no exaggeration to say that the church today is suffering from an anemic faith.  Words like “dynamic” and “vibrant” are hardly apt descriptions of most churches.  If fact, in some instances, comatose may be more appropriate!  In Matthew chapter six I’m convinced we find a possible diagnosis and cure for what ails us.

Text: Matthew 6:1-8, 16-18

Context of the SOM
The focus throughout is on genuine righteousness.
Righteousness that is born in the heart and transforms the believer from the inside out.
Keys = Matthew 5:20 & 5:48.
In our text our Lord deals with how that righteousness expresses itself.
He states the principle in verse 1 and then illustrates it in 2-18.

This is not an easy chapter to read.  It’s not because the concepts are difficult to grasp or understand.  In fact it is easy to understand what our Lord is saying – in fact that is the problem!  Our biggest problem is not in discerning the will of God but in doing the will of God.  This passage causes us to look closely at our lives and examine our attitudes and motives.

To the Jew there were three great cardinal works of religious life.  Three great pillars on which a good, moral life were built.  The giving of alms to the poor, prayer and fasting.  These were the keys to godly living.  Our Lord address these three pillars and calls his followers to genuine righteousness.

As we explore this text we will discover that:

Thesis: Kingdom living demands a sincere expression of genuine righteousness.

Notice verse 1 where he lays down a principle.  “Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before me, to be seen by them.  If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

“Be careful”, “beware”, “look out” – these words serve as a red flag or warning.  When the Scripture tells you to beware you had best take notice.  Our Lord is telling us it is a “dangerous thing” to practice our faith for the express purpose of being seen by others.  Did you hear that?  It is a dangerous thing to do the right thing in order to be seen by others and gain their admiration.  The Greek word translated, “to be seen”, is the word from which we get the word “theatrical.”  It means to play the part or to put on a show.

Jesus said, “if you do these things in order to be seen by others – do not expect any reward from your Father in heaven.”

Some would object and say this contradicts Matthew 5:16.
But this is no contradiction.
The issue in our text is motivation.
Why are you doing these things?
Is it because it is the sincere desire of your heart to honor God or is it to be seen?

There are three things I want us to note from our text.

  1. Genuine righteousness demands honest, sincere giving.  (6:1-4)
  2. Genuine righteousness demands humble and sincere praying.  (6:5-8)
  3. Genuine righteousness demands that we deny ourselves in order to focus more on Him.  (6:16-18)

Kingdom living expresses itself in acts of genuine righteousness.  That righteousness expresses itself in honest and sincere giving, humble and sincere praying and denial of self in order to focus on the will of God.

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Greater Access Through Our Greater Priest

Hebrews #17: An exposition of Hebrews 7:11-19. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, August 10, 2014.

It was perfect.  That is the only word to describe it.  The beauty of the place was beyond description.  The Creator and His creature walked together in the cool of the day.  They lived in perfect harmony.  There was glorious unity.  There were no cemeteries.  No junk yards.  It was perfect.  Then it happened.  The beauty was destroyed.  Unity was broken.  That perfect world was shattered.  The creature had become the rebel.  Now chaos and confusion reigned.  Love and fellowship were replaced by fear and separation.  Distrust took the place of trust.  All because sin had entered the world.

Man was now less than human.  We say, “To err is human.”  Well not really.  To be human is what we were intended to be.  Man and woman were created in the image and likeness of God.  Both were without sin.  Both walked in fellowship with God.  But when Adam rebelled against God’s command he became less than what he was.  Ever since then we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.  Every man, woman, boy and girl is marred by sin.  We are “radically” sinful.  Meaning we are sinful to the core.  Sin has affected everything.  Our mind, our will, our emotions and our spirit.  So that our righteousness is as filthy rags in the sight of God.  While we are radically sinful God is radically holy.  Holiness is at the core of His being.  He is transcendent, other, distinct and different.  Because God is holy and we are sinful the only way we relate to one another is as Righteous Judge and condemned sinner.  Because I am radically sinful I can never “clean up” my act.  I can never overcome my sin by self-effort.  I need a deliverer.  I need someone from outside to rescue me.

Religion is an attempt to bridge that gap.  It is a means by which sinners can have access to God.  A means of fellowship or relationship.  The Gospel is the good news that God has bridged that gap.  That God has made it possible for sinners to enter the presence of God.  Our text this morning is found in the 7th chapter of Hebrews.

Text: Hebrews 7:11-19

This book was originally written to encourage struggling believers.
1st century Jewish Christians who were tempted to abandon the faith.
Due to rejection and persecution many walked away from the faith.
The writer urges them to continue in faith – there is no other way to God’s presence.
Christ is better than the best that Judaism has to offer.
Christ is God’s final/ultimate word.
He is the effulgence, the shinning forth of God’s glory, the exact representation of His nature.
Christ is better than the angels.
He is a superior high priest.

This again is the subject of our text this morning.  Look at verse 11 and then verse 19:
11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron?

19 (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

“Perfected” in the context means presentable to God.  Given access to God’s presence.  Made fit for the presence of God.

From this text we discover that…

Thesis: Christ does for us what the law could never do, usher us into the presence of the Living God holy, accepted and dearly loved.

Verse 11 speaks of what the old system, the law, could not do – make perfect.
Verse 19 speaks of our better hope through which we draw near to God.

“Draw near” implies love, acceptance and intimacy.

I want to point out 2 things in our text.

  1.  The inadequacy of the old system demonstrated by its limited access to the presence of God.  (7:11-14)
  2.  The superiority of the our High Priest in guaranteeing our acceptance before God.  (7:15-19)

The old order was incapable of making perfect (7:11).
What about the Lord Jesus?
He entered behind the veil – into heaven itself.
Do you remember from the cross he cried, “It is finished!”

In the temple – the curtain or veil that separated the holy of holies was torn in two – top to bottom.  Laid open.  Now all may come into God’s presence through the Lord Jesus who made the once and for all sacrifice.  Because of Christ we are accepted and beloved.

Through Christ a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

  • Fellowship restored.
  • The curse is broken.
  • Sin has been removed.

That’s the gospel and it is glorious!

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The Gospel in the Old Testament

Amos #12: an exposition of Amos 9:11-15. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, August 3, 2014.

We all know the power of music.  Music has power to lift the soul.  Music inspires.  Music is capable of expressing the deep longings of the human soul.  Music expresses those thoughts and feelings that escape our power to comprehend.  Music has marched us to war.  It has comforted in times of great sorrow.  Great movements are often identified by a song that served as its anthem.  It was near the end of the turbulent sixties that I first heard it.  A song that was haunting in its ability to sum up the intricacies of life.  It was a simple song yet it spoke eloquently of the human struggle.  Though I heard it many years ago – the words still echo the harsh realities of life in this troubled world:

“O gloom, despair and agony on me.
Deep, dark depression – excessive misery.
If it weren’t for bad luck – I’d have no luck at all.
O gloom, despair and agony on me!”

Israel may have wanted to use that as their national anthem in light of Amos’ prophecy!  The future was dark.  Due to their failure to repent God was coming in a devastating, unrelenting judgment.  They would no longer exist as a nation.  The LORD said to them, “If you flee to the sky I will pull you down.  If you go down to sheol (the place of the dead) I’ll pull you up.  If you try to hide in the depths of the sea I’ll have the serpent bite you.”  They would not escape His sovereign, righteous judgment.  The picture is that of death and utter ruin.  However, the LORD did say, “Yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob.”  God promised to preserve a righteous remnant.

Amos was called to deliver a difficult message to Israel.  A message primarily of judgment.  Judgment after repeated warning.  Judgment as a result of sustained, stubborn, persistent sin.  Such a message brought no joy to the heart of the prophet.  You need to hear that message coming through a broken heart and tear-filled eyes.  But it was not all doom and gloom.  There is  some good news.

The gospel is not a New Testament thing it is a Bible thing.
In our text this evening we find the gospel in the Old Testament.

Text: Amos 9:11-15
In the closing verses of Amos’ prophecy God speaks a word of hope to His wayward people.
The same God who spoke those chilling words of judgment now speaks gracious words of hope.

With these words…

Thesis: God promises an extraordinary future to a flawed, broken, undeserving people.

That’s gospel.
That’s good news.
They are fully deserving of His wrath.

In the Old Testament covenantal system if one party fails to keep the covenant the other party is no longer obligated to fulfill his part.  Israel has clearly failed to live up to their covenantal oath.  God owes them nothing.  He would be perfectly just to walk away but God obligates himself.  He will keep His word.  He will fulfill His promise.  He will keep His oath and it is all of grace.

There are three things I want to point out about this extraordinary promise.

  1. He promises a great and glorious future kingdom.  (9:11-12)
  2. He promises a time of abundance and overwhelming joy.  (9:13-14)
  3. He promises an unending blessing – 9:15
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God’s Soereign Yet Merciul Judgment

Amos #11: an exposition of Amos 9:1-10. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, July 27, 2014.

The northern kingdom of Israel came into existence in 931 bc when Jereboam I led the 10 northern tribes in revolt against the reign of Rehoboam.  After breaking away Jereboam, in fear the people would be drawn back to Judah if allowed to worship in Jerusalem, established a rival religion in the north.  He formed 2 golden calves and said, “Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”  He set one up in Bethel and the other in Dan.  On the 15th day of the 8th month, Jereboam declared a festival and he went up to the altar at Bethel to make sacrifice.  Suddenly a prophet from Judah appeared and pronounced judgment on the newly formed nation and it’s false religious system.  Fast forward 180 years and another prophet from Judah has come to Bethel.  He too pronounces God’s judgment.  His name is Amos and he delivers a message of devastating judgment in Amos chapter 9.

Text: Amos 9:1-10

The prophet received a series of visions:

  • A swarm of desert locusts
  • A great raging fire
  • A plumb line
  • A basket of summer fruit (ripe for judgment/final judgment)

Now Amos is given a 5th and final vision.

“I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and he said: ‘Strike the capitals until the thresholds shake, and shatter them on the heads of all the people…’”

180 years earlier king Jereboam I stood by the altar and heard a message of judgment from God’s prophet.  Now the Lord God of hosts (5) stands by that same altar and declares the destruction of the nation in the presence of another Jereboam!  You will note that through the past few months as we have been working our way through this prophecy we’ve seen the same themes over and over.  The point is repeatedly driven home, “You have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; God has graciously called you to repentance; you refused; you will be judged and it that judgment will be unrelenting.”

This is not just the message of Amos to the nation of Israel, it is the message of Paul to the Romans.  Just as Paul in Romans speaks of the certainty of judgment and the promise of deliverance, Amos does the same in our text.

Amos 9 reminds us that…

Thesis: Our only hope before a Holy God is to turn from our sin and plead His mercy and grace.

I want to point out three things as we work through this text.

  1. Our God forcefully decrees an end to spiritual pretenders.  (9:1-4)
  2.  God’s sovereign character demands such a judgment.  (9:5-6)
  3. God’s judgment will destroy the wicked yet preserve the righteous.  (9:7-10)
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A Priest Forever

Hebrews #16: an exposition of Hebrews 7:1-10. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, August 3, 2014.

He came from nowhere.  He suddenly, un-expectantly burst on the scene of the biblical story.  Just as suddenly as he appeared, he vanished.  His entire story takes only 3 verses in the first book of the Bible.  Yet he casts a great shadow that stretches into the pages of the New Testament.  His name was Melchhizedek.  He was the king of Salem and a priest of the Most High God.  In Genesis 14 a coalition of kings rebelled against Chedorlaomer, king of Elam after being subjected to him for 12 years.  Among the rebels were the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah.  The rebellion was squelched and the kingdoms of Sodom and Gomorrah were plundered.  Abraham’s nephew Lot was taken, along with his family in the plunder.  When word reached Abraham he mounted a daring rescue mission.  Abraham took 318 men from his own household and pursued the enemy as far as Dan and in a daring nigh-time raid took back all the possessions including Lot and his family.  On his way home he is confronted by this shadowy figure.  We read about it in Genesis 14.

After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).
18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.)  19 And he blessed him and said, Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!

That’s it.  That is the entire biblical story of Melchizedek.  That took place around 2000 B.C. And for the next 1000 years there is no mention at all of Melchizedek.  Then in the 10th century B.C., under the inspiration of the Spirit, David wrote, “The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”  With that statement God declared He was going to do something new.  There was coming one who, like Melchizedek would be a priest/king appointed directly by God.  In fact God guaranteed it would happen, “The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind.”

As the biblical writer is trying to encourage and strengthen that struggling band of believers in Rome, he wonders what he can say that would give them courage in the face of rejection and governmental persecution?  Back in chapter 5 he sought to inspire hope by pointing to Christ our sympathetic, delivering, uniquely qualified High Priest.  Now he is going to expand upon that concept.  Our text this morning is found in Hebrews chapter 7 beginning with verse 1.

Text: Hebrews 7:1-10

The basic idea of religion is gaining access to God.
A means of making God approachable.
Gaining access to His presence.

The problem with law is that man can’t keep it.
The problem with the priesthood is that no man is adequate.

The need is for a new and different kind of priesthood.  A new an effective sacrifice.  This is the backdrop of our text this morning.

From this text we discover…

Thesis: Jesus Christ, as a high priest in the order of Melchizedek, reigns as a superior priest guaranteeing our acceptance before God.

There are 2 reasons given for His superiority in our text.

  1. His superior qualifications.  (7:1-3)
    Note the qualifications of our great high priest.

    • He is both a priest and a king – 7:1
    • This priestly king has no genealogy – 7:3
    • This priestly king is eternal – 7:3
  2. His superior authority.  (7:4-10)
    The writer presents 2 pieces of evidence.

    • Abraham paid him a tithe – 7:4-6a, 8-10
    • Melchizedek blessed Abraham – 7:6b-7

The point of all this is that these believers should not fear Rome they should fear God!  They should rest in the assurance that their priestly king, who is eternal will grant them piece no matter how great the threat.  Their great high priest and king is far greater than any other so called king.  Child of God take heart.  Rest in peace because you have an advocate who is more than qualified and has supreme authority over all things.

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The Wonder of the Gospel

This message from Romans 5:12-21, by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, July 27, 2014.

It’s what stirred the heart of the old sea captain as he wrote, “Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”  It was the thing that broke the shackles that bound the sin-laden heart of Martin Luther.  It is that which loosed the pen of the apostle Paul as he wrote to a world held captive by ritual and superstition, “…by grace are you saved through faith” and “…it is not to the one who works but to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.”  The gospel.  God’s gift of forgiveness, life and righteousness to all who believe.  It is an amazing message.  One that seems too good to be true, in fact it seems foolish to those who are perishing but it is life to those who believe.  How can sinful men be made right with God?  How is it that those who are deserving of God’s judgment and wrath can be loved and accepted?  The answer is found in the gospel.

Today we gather around the Lord’s Table.  Central to our faith is the person of Jesus Christ.  The Bible is clear, Jesus is uniquely the Son of God (John 1:1-4, 14).  As Jesus entered into public ministry (around the age of 30) John the Baptist pointed to Him and declared, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”  For three years Jesus lived and ministered in Palestine.  The Gospels record His teachings and miracles.  After years of mounting threats and increased hostility He is finally arrested, charged and executed.  Three days later He rose triumphantly from the grave.  This Table is a celebration of the work of our Savior.

But why does it matter?  Is it worth celebrating?  To answer these questions I invite you to turn to Romans chapter 5 and we will begin at verse 12.

Text: Romans 5:12-21

This is, without a doubt, one of the great theological passages in the Bible.  In a sense Paul is summarizing the theology of the preceding chapters dealing with man’s lostness and his rescue through God’s provision.

It is also a very difficult passage.  Paul’s thoughts seem to rush on one to another without leaving a clear or carefully formed expression.  Anders Nygren says Paul’s thoughts flow like a “torrential mountain stream.”  Or you might say, “It’s kind of like drinking from a fire hose!”  But, if you break it down and work your way through it, this is a glorious restatement of the truth Paul has been driving home.

Note the progress in thought from the misery of man’s ruin in sin to the wonder of God’s deliverance through Christ to the sovereign and triumphant reign of grace.  All of which reminds us that…

Thesis: The Gospel is the glorious good news of God’s loving rescue of hell-deserving sinners.

As we work our way through this passage I want to point out three things along the way.

  1. First, I want you to see sin’s universal and devastating ruin.  (5:12-14)
  2. Second, note Christ’s amazing and overwhelming reversal of sin’s ruin.  (5:15-19)
  3. Finally I want you to see that this is all because of the sovereign and victorious reign of grace over sin.  (5:20-21)

This is the gospel.  No matter how great your sin – God’s grace superabounds to you!  No one is beyond the grace of God.  You can come to Him.  You can know His grace.  Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.

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A Devastating Judgment

Amos #10: an exposition of Amos 8:1-14. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, July 20, 2014.

One of the chief attributes of our God is His loving, patient grace.  Though our God is altogether holy, different, distinct, set apart; He is also loving, gracious and merciful.  Those are marvelous words, “Slow to anger.”  I find tremendous peace in them.  I’m grateful that God is forgiving and kind in dealing with me and my many faults and failures.  I’m grateful for a loving Father who gives “without a lecture” and who meets my every need.  At the same time, if I am faithful to the teaching of the Scripture, I must acknowledge that His wrath is just and righteous.  I should glory in His judgment as I do in His mercy.  That’s not easy.  It is one thing to glory in God’s unmatched mercy it is another to glory in His unmatched judgment.  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  It was the message of God’s judgment Amos was called to deliver to the northern kingdom of Israel.  A message that filled his heart with sorrow and his eyes with tears.  Amos knew God’s judgment would be devastating.  He also knew it was just.  Our text this evening is found in the 8th chapter of Amos.

Text: Amos 8:1-14

Amos was given a series of visions.
A swarm of desert locust devouring everything in sight.
Amos objected, “No, Lord.  How can Jacob stand?  He is so small.”
The Lord relented.
Then a great fire devouring even the depths of the great sea.
Again, “O, Lord please cease.  How can Jacob stand?  His is so small.”
Once again the Lord relented.
Then a plumb line.
No appeal this time.

Now comes the 4th vision – a basket of summer fruit.

From it we are reminded that…

Thesis: The constant rejection of God’s gracious call to repentance leads to a devastating, debilitating judgment.

God’s grace is not without limit.
His patience does come to an end.
Grace is not owed – a grace that is owed is not grace!

It is a dangerous thing to turn a deaf ear to God’s gracious, merciful call to repentance.

There are 4 things I want to point out as we work our way through this text.

  1. The prophet announces God’s sovereign and righteous judgment.  (8:1-3)
  2.  God’s judgment is in response to flagrant, persistent unrighteousness.  (8:4-6)
  3.  God’s judgment will be unrelenting.  (8:7-10)
  4.  God’s judgment removes the means of repentance and renewal.  (8:11-14)


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