Tag Archives: Sermon Notes

Galatians 3:15-25 (SN)

Galatians 3:15-25 – Pastor Mark Neely

Worship:

Trading My Sorrows – Darrell Evans
Let’s Worship – Terry Clark
Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble? – Delirious?
Once Again – Matt Redman
10,000 Reasons – Matt Redman
Blessed Assurance – Traditional

So as we’ve seen, the Law is obviously inferior to Grace. There’s nothing that we can gain by being bound under it, and there’s joy in knowing that we are free. But why is it inferior? In this passage, Paul addresses that question. Basically, there’s three reasons that Grace is supreme.

1) Grace came first

God gave Abraham the promise way before he gave Moses the law. When someone makes a covenant, a third party cannot come in later and make a new covenant that overrides the first one. Even when the Mosaic law was in effect, God still operated by grace. He never changes, and his nature has always been the same. The means did not yet exist to free sinners, but salvation in the OT was still based on looking forward to the promised Messiah, and the justification that He would bring.

2) The Law came through a Mediator; Grace came directly

When God first established His covenant with Abraham, He did it directly. No third party, nothing. He even took Abraham out of the mix by doing it while Abraham slept. By contrast, He had to go through a mediator to give the law to Moses. According to Paul,

Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.
(Galatians 3:19-20 ESV)

God felt that it was important enough to go to Abraham directly. He wanted all humanity to know that OUR WORKS DON’T MATTER!!! Goodness this theme comes up quite often in Galatians!

3) The Law is obsolete

Have you ever read those books of crazy laws? They’re filled with laws that are still on the books, but due to years of neglect and the changing culture have become completely irrelevant. The Mosaic law is sort of the same way. Due to Jesus’ work on the cross, we don’t have to be bound up by all of those restrictive rules and regulations (alliteration ftw!). We are free in Christ to live as He would please. It’s awesome!

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1 Samuel 4 (SN)

1 Samuel 4 – Pastor Mark Neely

Worship:

Desert Song – Hillsong
Give Us Clean Hands – Charlie Hall
Refiner’s Fire – Brian Doerksen
From The Inside Out – Hillsong
It Is Well – Traditional

This chapter is one of the saddest chapters in 1 Samuel. The Philistines encamped against Israel, and Israel decided to go to battle without first seeking the Lord. That was their first mistake. In this first military encounter, they are thoroughly routed by the Philistines. You would think that they learned their lesson from the first battle, but they didn’t. They go back home, and get the ingenious idea to bring out the Ark of the Covenant. They figured that since it had worked in the past to defeat enemies, it would work again. This thinking was false, and in addition to being crushed again, the ark was captured.

The biggest thing we can learn from this mistake is that God can never be put into a box. The Israelites figured that they could just take their magic genie with them and it would all work out in the end. They had superstition in God, not faith in God. The thing is, God really doesn’t like to do things our way. In fact, He delights in doing things the opposite of our way. He can’t be put into a box either. They learned this the hard way.

But really how different are we? What’s the difference between what they did, and confining God to church? God does not exist to be a last resort when things get rough for us. True, He is an ever-present help in trouble, but He should always be on the forefront of our minds. I know that I’m often guilty of only resorting to prayer for “big” things, but God wants to be in constant communication.

The point: God is not a lucky charm; He’s God.

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1 Samuel 3 (SN)

1 Samuel 3 – Pastor Mark Neely

Worship:

All Who Are Thirsty – Vineyard UK
10,000 Reasons – Matt Redman
The Stand – Hillsong United
I Surrender All – Traditional
10,000 Reasons (Reprise)

In this chapter, God calls Samuel to be His prophet, and teaches us some pretty cool things along the way. Since this is so late, I’ll keep it short and sweet.

First off, we see that God calls Samuel while he’s sleeping. Lesson to learn here: God calls us on His timing, not ours.

Next, we see that at first Samuel doesn’t recognize God’s voice; he thinks that it’s his surrogate father Eli’s voice. There’s a few things here. First, Samuel was raised in “church”. His whole life was devoted to the service of God. Somehow, he didn’t recognize God’s voice. Just because a person is “churched” does not mean that they know God. It is not until God calls a person that they can hear Him.

Finally, Eli figures out what’s up and tells Samuel to go back to bed and tell God, “Speak, for your servant hears”. Samuel hears God’s voice a third time, and responds. This goes to show that ultimately, man still has the responsibility to listen to God. We have to let God speak to us before He can work.

What did I take home? Take the time to listen to God. He wants to speak, I just need to listen.

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Galatians 3:1-3 (SN)

Galatians 3:1-5 – Pastor Mark Neely

Worship

All For You – Paul Baloche
Hosanna – Hillsong
Because of Your Love – Phil Wickham
Mighty to Save – Hillsong
Overcome – Jeremy Camp
Glorious – Paul Baloche

It seems like this grace thing is a recurring theme in Galatians. Oh wait that’s because it is!! Today we had three short verses to cover. Short, but jam-packed with great stuff.

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

(Galatians 3:1-3 ESV)

Paul is rebuking the Galatians for trying to please God on their own. Because quite frankly, that’s completely impossible. The Galatians were trying to please God and earn His blessing by their works. They were trying to buy something that wasn’t for sale. God’s grace is a free gift, given by His Spirit. There’s nothing we can do to earn it.

Now that’s all stuff we’ve heard before, I’m sure. Here’s the part that I’d never really thought about before: when I feel guilty over failing to walk in the Spirit, that’s my flesh rearing up. It’s prideful. To regret failure implies that I think I could have done better. In reality, to succeed at all in any area of life is purely the work of God through His Spirit. Scripture is pretty clear here:

We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 ESV)

“Polluted garment” is putting it nicely. I’m just going to leave it at that. Anyways, if even my righteousness is so awful, why do I flip out when I screw up? There’s grace for that! God doesn’t want me to wallow in self-pity; He wants me to get up and trust Him to work in me. He’s the only One capable of changing me, period.

I say it again: God is the only One capable of changing me. Everything good in me comes from Him. This is what the Galatians failed to understand. I don’t want to make the same error; I want to live by the Spirit and not the flesh.

Soli Deo Gloria!

P.S. if your mind isn’t completely blown by that, go back and listen to that whole teaching, because my dad did a much better job of explaining it than I did. It’s not that long, and it’s totally worth every second.

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Sermon Notes: 1 Samuel ch. 1

1 Samuel Ch. 1 – Pastor Mark Neely

Worship:

Forever – Chris Tomlin
O Praise Him – David Crowder Band
Let Us Adore – ummm? It’s kind of old…
You Are God Alone – MercyMe
Come Thou Fount – Traditional Hymn

Tonight we started our run through the book of 1 Samuel. I’ll spare y’all the background behind the book and just hop straight into the content.

The book opens up with a guy named Elkanah who has two wives (hint: that’s trouble). One has children and the other (Hannah) is barren. Unfortunately for the wife who bears children, Elkanah loves Hannah much more. As consolation for her childlessness, he gives her more attention and stuff. So the childbearing wife makes it a point to get under Hannah’s skin and annoy her as much as humanly possible. Unfortunately for Hannah, she is very successful.

So the family goes to the temple to worship, and Hannah begins to pour out her heart to the Lord. In fact, she grieves so intensely, that the priest thinks that she’s drunk. Her mouth is moving but words aren’t coming out. Here’s point numero uno: when we pray, our words aren’t actually that important. What’s important is pouring out our hearts to God, surrendering to Him.

When the priest realizes that she’s just greiving, he offers her consolation. In fact, he blesses her. God hears Hannah’s prayer for children, and answers her. She gives birth to a baby boy, whom she names Samuel. To show her thankfulness to God, she offers up Samuel to His service. That must have been hard right there. She basically gives him over to the temple to raise, which means that she probably won’t see much of him for the rest of his life. Now I’m not a mother (captain obvious right there), but I can only imagine how hard that would be.

And here’s point numero dos: after she gives Samuel over to God, she begins to worship. This should be the default response to all situations in life. Hard times? Worship. Good times? Worship. Enjoying a piece of music? Worship. Getting dressed in the morning? Worship. God has ordained every circumstance in life, and everything fits perfectly into His master plan. In Hannah’s case, He used her barrenness to show how powerful He was. I don’t know what He’s got going on with the rough situations that I face, but I know that He’s doing it for a reason.

So I worship.

Easier said than done.

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Sermon Notes: Luke 12:35-46

Luke 12:35-48 – Rod Blackburn

Worship

Our God Saves – Paul Baloche
Sanctuary – I have no clue, it’s kind of old
Majesty – Delirious?
Revelation Song – Kari Jobe

We’re going to make this one snappy, since this passage can be summed up pretty quickly. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a ton of good stuff in there. In fact, go read it yourself and click on that fancy-schmancy link up at the top of the post. I just won’t say much.

Here’s the skinny: Jesus has told us that He will come back. It could be any time. How does my life reflect that? To constantly engage in meaningless activities that I will ultimately regret when I get to heaven is a horrible waste of time. Unfortunately, I’m far too often guilty of this. From endless hours in front of a computer screen to just sitting on my bed and doing nothing, I am a master of laziness. At least I can be. I’m making an effort to change that.

There you go. Super short, and hopefully super sweet.

Fact of life: locking your guitar in an office at church is a bad idea when nobody at church has a key to said office. Especially when you’re supposed to lead worship that night. Oops.

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Sermon Notes: Galatians 1:11-24

Galatians 1:11-24 – Pastor Mark Neely

Worship:

All For You – Paul Baloche
We Have Come To Worship You – Richie Furray
Victory – Gateway Worship
Arms Of Love – Craig Musseau
Once Again – Matt Redman
Revelation Song – Kari Jobe
Praise Adonai – Paul Baloche

So people were having issues with Paul claiming to be an apostle. They said that it couldn’t happen. So in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he addresses that issue. What’s his defense? Jesus. He points out that he was called by Christ alone, and that his conversion was the work of no man.

For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

And if his conversion was the work of no man, then his growing in the faith was less so. The “normal” model of discipleship at the time would have been for Paul to go sit under one of the Apostles for a while. He would learn from them as he had learned from his rabbinical teachers before he was converted. Instead, he goes to the middle of nowhere and spends time alone with Jesus. Three years alone with Jesus, in fact.

…I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

This is actually pretty ingenius. God knows that Paul does not need more knowledge. He’s spent his whole life gathering knowledge. What he needs is to get to know how grace affects that knowledge. In the light of the gospel, all of his knowledge of the law suddenly became insignificant, and grace prevailed.

Finally, Paul points out that he wasn’t exactly doing what man would expect him to do after he matured in the faith.

But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles…
(emphasis mine)

Now I’d honestly never really given this much thought before, but it’s really a crazy idea. Paul, who was raised as a Jew, and was basically your A+ model rabbi-in-training, would have been a perfect candidate to witness to Jews. He could relate to them, they knew who he was, and they would probably listen to him. But he’s called to the gentiles??? Really? I mean the irony here is just great. Paul is now going to a people where his previous training means absolutely nothing, and in fact it may actually cause others to be prejudiced toward him. But God isn’t interested in what we think works, He’s interested in doing what brings Him glory.

They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God because of me.

So I guess that was really the point today. God’s plans might seem a little crazy. In fact, the whole gospel is a little crazy. And that’s okay. When we can’t understand why something works, God gets the glory.

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Sermon Notes: Ruth chapter 4

Ruth 4 – Pastor Mark Neely

Worship:

Blessed Be Your Name – Matt Redman
‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus – Louisa Stead/William Kirkpatrick
Lord I Give You My Heart – Reuben Morgan
The Stand – Hillsong United
One Thing Remains – Jesus Culture

Last week was sort of a cliffhanger (hint: if you don’t know what happened in chapter 3, check it out) . Ruth is left waiting for Boaz to take care of a few loose ends regarding their marriage and her subsequent redemption. Not to worry though, in chapter four Boaz takes care of business. Like really, he takes care of business.

He goes to the gate of the city, which at the time was equivalent to the forum, or downtown. Everyone would gather there to do business transactions, and the elders of the city would attend to whatever it is they attended to there. He goes and singles out this guy (who remains unnamed, more on that in a tiny) who he needs to negotiate with in order to redeem Ruth.

Now this unnamed guy misses out on the opportunity of a lifetime, and I want to look at that for a second. Boaz presents him with the opportunity to take possession of this field that’s in Ruth’s name, and at first he accepts. Ruth must have been devastated by this. But Boaz mentions that there’s a catch: to take the field, he has to take Ruth. He’s not really willing to do this, so he says that Boaz can go ahead and have them both. Because of this guy’s unwillingness to take a risk, he passes up the opportunity (through Ruth) to be remembered forever as part of David’s (and thus Christ’s) lineage.

How often do we miss out on things just because of our unwillingness to take risks? Sometimes the thing that God asks us to do are difficult. They’re risky. This guy said it a whole lot better than I could, so I’ll let him talk:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

So Boaz takes a bit of a risk (although I bet that he was pretty willing to do this…considering his relationship with Ruth and what not) and redeems Ruth and her field. He marries her and carries on her family line. Their son is named Obed, who ends up being David’s grandpa. Everything works out pretty well for Ruth and Naomi, and everybody gets blessed to the max.

The imagery here is so cool! Boaz loves Ruth so much that he will do anything to redeem her. He has to make himself a part of her family to do that, so he does it without a trace of hesitation, even though it was a little bit crazy. Likewise, Jesus loves humanity so much that he came to Earth and became part of the human family in order to redeem us. The plan might have been a little crazy, but it worked. And now, like Ruth, we are blessed with an inheritance far greater than we would have ever dreamed possible.

Isn’t the Old Testament awesome?!

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Sermon Notes: Galatians 1:6-10

Galatians 1:6-10 – Mark Neely

Worship:

Today Is The Day – Lincoln Brewster
Hosanna (Praise Is Rising) – Paul Baloche
Mighty To Save – Hillsong
You Are God Alone – Billy Foote
Overcome – Jeremy Camp
Cannons – Phil Wickham

God saves sinners. By grace, through faith. That is the gospel message. There was a problem in Galatia, and that is that people were turning aside from that simple truth and adding to the gospel of grace. Some said that you had to keep the law to be saved, or be circumcised to be saved. This is simply not the case. Paul says in pretty plain terms that to add anything to the gospel is a grievous mistake.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ…If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
(Galatians 1:6-9 ESV)

Adding requirements to the gospel is a big deal. To do so is blasphemy. Think about it: Jesus completed the work of salvation on the cross when He said, “it is finished”. If we add requirements or place any value in our own efforts, we are essentially saying that Christ’s work on the cross was good, but not quite good enough. This is why Paul was so harsh regarding those who would try to distort the gospel.

Adding works to the gospel always results in legalism, which in turn creates anxiety and unrest in the body. Too often I am guilty of thinking that it’s essential that do better, that try not to mess up. This is the trap of legalism. Grace recognizes that I am a sinner who is hopeless to do even the tiniest smidge of good, but God is merciful and will move His Spirit in me to good works.

And just because it’s upsetting to a certain other author on this blog…abrupt ending 😀

Update: Aforementioned other author is indeed very upset at the ending, and is now adding her own. Boom. I win.

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Sermon Notes: Ruth chapter 3

So we’re going to try something here. I’ve always had a difficult time retaining information at church services. No matter how hard I try to pay attention, come the next day I always feel like I didn’t really get anything. So I’m going to see if writing don what the teaching was about and how it impacted me helps. Here we go!

Ruth Chapter. 3 – Mark Neely

Worship:
Forever – Chris Tomlin
Here Is Love – Traditional Welsh hymn
The Wonder of Your Love – Hillsong
Forever Reign – Hillsong
The Stand – Hillsong United
(goodness, today must’ve been a Hillsong day…)

Today’s passage was Ruth chapter 3. I won’t worry you with ALL the background on the story. I could go on forever. I’ll just sort of pick up with the highlights. In this chapter, Ruth goes to Boaz, and offers herself to him. I’m going to glaze over all the sweet symbolism here, because I’m trying to keep these posts short(ish). Boaz is initially surprised, but eventually accepts and is even grateful that Ruth would want him to marry her.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Ruth and Boaz have both expressed their desire for each other, but there’s a hitch. See, Boaz was going to marry Ruth as part of a Hebrew tradition which allowed a relative to marry another relative in order to carry on the family line. Unfortunately, it is revealed that there is another closer, eligible relative. Here’s what Boaz tells her:

“Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the LORD lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.”
(Ruth 3:13 ESV)

Ruth then has faith that her redeemer will pull through (hint: symbolism!), and does what he says. After she arrives back home with her mom, there is a short interchange between the two. At the end of this, her mom encourages her:

“Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today.”
(Ruth 3:18 ESV)

This had to be so difficult, for her just to sit back and wait. And so it is for me. Honestly, one of the most difficult things for me to do in life is just to wait. I have no problem doing stuff, even difficult stuff. It’s the waiting that kills. I’d venture to say that maybe 80-90% of the American population is in the same boat. But waiting is where the awesome stuff happens. When we just sit still and wait on God, He reveals Himself in a way that would not be possible otherwise.

Well that’s about all I have…and honestly I hope this forms into a habit, and helps me to more fully comprehend what I take in at church services.

And goodness gracious I am horrible at ending things! Abrupt ending.

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