Category Archives: Bulletin articles

Book, Chapter, Verse

I grew up hearing sermons filled with Scripture, the preachers giving book, chapter, and verse. I was taught to be a preacher by preachers who believed the only basis for preaching was book, chapter, and verse.

Preaching is simply the proclamation of a message. Gospel preachers have been given a message. It is not our message; it is God’s. For some reason, in His infinite wisdom, he chose preaching as the means of extending His salvation to the world, “…it was God’s good pleasure through the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1.21).

We preachers have had no part in the preparing, providing, and revealing of the message. That was all God’s work. Preachers are merely messengers, relaying faithfully and accurately the words of One to others. They are not our words – they are His words.

Therefore, to assure the faithfulness of the message, the messenger must provide book, chapter, and verse. And likewise, that they might accurately receive the message, the hearers must always expect the messenger to give book, chapter, and verse.

My dear friends, let us constantly remember “we walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5.7) and that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10.17). That requires book, chapter, and verse.

 – Bill


Sentence Sermons

There are only two kinds of men: the righteous who think they are sinners and the sinners who think they are righteous. ~Blaise Pascal

A puritan is a person who pours righteous indignation into the wrong things. ~G. K. Chesterton

Faith refers to Christ. Holiness depends on faith. Heaven depends on holiness.  ~Alexander MacLaren

True faith rests upon the character of God and asks no further proof than the moral perfections of the One who cannot lie. It is enough that God has said it.  ~A. W. Tozer

Faith must have adequate evidence, else it is mere superstition. ~A. A. Hodge

Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither. ~C. S. Lewis

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. ~Jim Elliot

Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays. ~Soren Kierkegaard

One act of obedience is better than one hundred sermons. ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil … I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life. ~Moses

Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen. ~Hebrews 11.1

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. ~Jesus of Nazareth


Am I a God who is near?

Am I a God who is near, declared the LORD, and not a God far off? Can a man hide himself in hiding places, so I do not see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 23.23-34)

There is no place in the universe void of God’s presence. He is not limited by the dimensions that confine us. Therefore, we have the knowledge that wherever we are in whatever situation or circumstance, God is with us. Because we are His children through faith in Jesus Christ, we live daily with the assurances that He cares for us and is concerned about us. Though He is indeed Creator and Master of the Universe, He is also Father and we are His precious children – we belong to Him!

Because we belong to God we are never alone; He is our constant companion. Loneliness is an awful thing. People were made to live in “community,” and that greatest community of all is the one that transcends this world where love, friendship, and companionship are not only present now but throughout all eternity.

Because we belong to God when we are troubled, He is our confidence. Because of Emmanuel, He knows what it is like to be here and to be human. He understands hardship and heartache. He knows about worry and anxiety and says, “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5.7).

– grace to you all, and peace, Bill


The True Test of Discipleship

By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13.35). Jesus told us that Christianity was going to consist of really personal relationships with each other. The basis of those relationships would be faith in Him and love for one another.

The word for “love” in this verse is agapaō; it is not an emotional form of love but a determination of the will to always act in the best interest of another regardless of the cost to oneself. For example: “For God so loved (agapaō) the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” His overwhelming love for us (in spite of our rebellion against Him) cost Him something. What He did wasn’t in His best interest, but ours.

The most visible test of discipleship is how we treat each other because that’s how the world sees us – how we behave toward one another:

“Carry one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6.2).
“Serve one another” (Galatians 5.13).
“Let us not pass judgment on one another” (Romans 14.13).
“Do not lie to one another” (Colossians 3.9).
“Be patient and forbearing with one another” (Ephesians 4.2).
“Be kind and compassionate with one another” (Ephesians 4.32).
“Honor one another” (Romans 12.10).
“Forgive one another as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4.32).
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2.3).

Here’s the question: Does the living witness of our faith pass this simple test of discipleship?

 – grace to you all, and peace – Bill


The Secret Place

There is a place where thou canst say, “Arise”
To dying captives, bound in chains of night;
There is a place – upon some distant shore –
Where thou canst send the worker and the Word.
Where is that secret place – dost thou ask, “Where?”
O soul, it is the secret place of prayer!
   ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson

Prayer grants us entrance into the Holy of Holies. Prayer is a privilege that lifts us above the clamoring noise of the world and transports us into the very presence of the Majesty on High. The amazing thing about prayer is that God requires no prescribed style or form, no mantras to be repeated over and over by rote. He simply calls us to bring ourselves before Him just as we are!

There is no pretentiousness with God. We can’t fool Him. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows our hearts and the intentions of our hearts. Prayer is the secret place where we can go and unburden our souls before the One who knows all our burdens and invites us to cast them upon Him (1 Peter 5.7).

In his book on prayer, Richard Foster says prayer is ordinary people bringing ordinary concerns to a loving and compassionate Father…no pretense to be more holy, more pure or saintly than we are… To believe that God can reach us and bless us in the ordinary junctures of daily life is the stuff of prayer…the only place God can bless us is right where we are, because that is the only place we are!

 – grace to you all and peace, Bill


“Blessed are the merciful…” (Matthew 5.7)

The word “merciful” translates a Greek word from which we get “benefactor.” It appears in this sense only one other time in the New Testament (Hebrews 2.17) where Jesus is described as a merciful and faithful high priest.

The Latin derivation of the word is misericordia, a compound term – misernas, meaning “pity, misery, or pain” and cordis, “heart.” So miseria cordis is “pain of heart.” That’s the primary meaning of mercy. It’s when we count another’s misery or need as our very own and then act within our power and ability to relieve or supply their need.

Jesus illustrated the meaning of mercy to a self-righteous and unmerciful lawyer in Luke 10.25-37. He told the story of a man who was beaten, robbed and left for dead by the roadside. On no less than two occasions, highly respected men could have helped him, but instead chose to pass by. Then a Samaritan, loathsome in the estimation of the Jews, stopped, rendered first aid, carried the injured man to a place of safety and paid for his keep!

Now which of these three, Jesus asked the lawyer, was a neighbor to the man robbed? The lawyer’s only response was, “The one who showed mercy toward him.”

Mercy considers neither status, ethnicity, nor race – simply the need, and compels us to extend whatever aid and assistance we are able to give.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

 – Bill


James – the Man, the Book

There are three, possibly four, men named James in the New Testament. One was the brother of the Lord, along with Joseph (Joses), Judas (Jude), and Simon (Matthew 13.55; Mark 6.3). Two were apostles: James, the brother of John (Matthew 4.21-22, 10.2, Mark 3.17, Luke 5.1-10) who was killed by Herod (Acts 12.2) and James, the son of Alphaeus, also called James the Less (Matthew 10.3, Mark 3.18, Luke 6.15).

Interestingly, “James” was not the actual name of these men; some say it was Iames but most scholars agree that in Aramaic it was something closer to Ya’akov, a fairly common name which usually becomes Jacob. It has undergone metamorphosis, becoming James in English, Santiago in Spanish, and Jacques in French. Because the translators of the King James version of the Bible wanted to get the king’s approval for the translation, they translated at least three of the men named Ya’akov into James.

James was a leader of the church in Jerusalem. In Acts 1.13-14, it is simply noted that the apostles gathered with some women and Jesus’ mother and brothers. However, after several of Paul’s journeys, he mentions James in a leadership context, especially in Acts 15.13 where James states the position of the church regarding Gentiles.

James wrote his letter to early Jewish Christians living in Gentile communities outside of Palestine in about AD 49, prior to the Jerusalem Council held in 50. His purpose was to expose hypocrisy among believers and teach proper Christian behavior. It also expresses his concern for persecuted Christians who were once part of the Jerusalem church.

Notice the three themes of the letter: hardship, perseverance, and wisdom (James 1.2-3). He doesn’t say, if you face trials, but when you face them. He assumes that we will all have trials and can profit from them. The point is not to be happy when you face pain, but to have a positive and confident outlook. Consider it all joy because of what trials produce in our lives. James tells us to turn our hardships into times of learning. Trials teach us endurance and endurance perfects us, makes us complete.



Mark – Jesus, the Suffering Servant

 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again (Mark 8.31).

The center of Mark’s Gospel is the cross of Christ. Once the Twelve had grasped who Jesus was and had confessed Him as the Messiah, He began to teach them about the cross. It was a turning point in Jesus’ ministry and so also in Mark’s gospel.

The essence of Jesus’ teaching is found in His statement the Son of Man must suffer. Why must He suffer? What is the origin of His sense of compulsion? It is because the Scriptures must be fulfilled. Why, then, the Son of Man? By using this Hebraism for a human being, Jesus was referring to Daniel 7. In that vision “one like a son of man” (that is, a human being) comes on the clouds and approaches the Ancient of Days (God). He was then given authority and sovereign power so that all people will serve Him, and His kingdom will never be destroyed (Daniel 7.13-14).

Jesus adopted the title Son of Man but changed his role. According to Daniel, all nations would serve him. According to Jesus, He had come to serve, not to be served. In fact, Jesus did what nobody else had done: He fused the two Old Testament images, Isaiah’s servant who suffers and Daniel’s Son of Man who reigns. For first Jesus must bear our sins and only then rise and enter His glory.

– John Stott, Through the Bible, Through the Year


The Apostle Peter: How to Bear Fruit

Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your

  • faith with virtue,
  • and virtue with knowledge,
  • and knowledge with self-control,
  • and self-control with steadfastness,
  • and steadfastness with godliness,
  • and godliness with brotherly affection,
  • and brotherly affection with love.

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

– 2 Peter 1.1-8


Spiritual Pictures

For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God  (1 Corinthians 2.11).

There’s a problem understanding spiritual things with a mind orientated to thinking in physical terms. After all, we live in a world of matter, time, and decay. How do we describe the beauty of heaven, the horror of hell, or the wonder of salvation in physical terms? It seems almost impossible. Yet God, who fully understands our limitations, draws on human experiences and physical reality to describe spiritual things.

The Bible is filled with “spiritual pictures” drawn in language and terms we can understand. By looking at these pictures our spiritual awareness is quickened and our spiritual nature is aroused.

Think of the prodigal son, the pearl of great price, or the tree of life. Each one reveals a facet of great spiritual truth. No single picture reveals it all, but each contributes to the whole revelation until we eventually stand awed by the complete painting.

Some words in the New Testament are pictures themselves – atonement, forgiveness, justification, redemption, reconciliation. Each word draws on examples from the Bible or human experience to shed more light on the wonder of salvation.

Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God: No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him (John 1.18).

To reveal Himself to us God entered the physical realm through Jesus Christ. He did so visibly, powerfully, and dramatically. In Jesus, God says, “I’ll draw a picture for you so you can see what I’m like” – Immanuel, God with us!