Monday, January 30, 2012

Crowns Awarded by Christ

Good Monday Morning To You!

It is truly my honor to get to visit with you each week. Yesterday when I asked in church how many read this blog, quite a few indicated they did. I was so very pleased. The “rule” of blogging says that in my first paragraph I need to speak of something personal. Many times I don’t know what to say because my life is pretty boring. Last week was an exception though. On Saturday Bess and I were invited to Bill and Patty Wolfe’s house for game day. Normally about twice a month or so a bunch of us from the church get together for a time of fun and fellowship. The meeting time was 2:00 and Bess kept stalling me. She dragged at home; she insisted I stop at the post office, then the library to return a book. By the time we arrived (ten minutes late) I was fuming. At that time there was nothing ministerial about me. I walked in and a large crowd had turned out for games. They yelled, “Surprise!” I was clueless. I thought they were saying, “Look how many of us showed up for games.” Then they started singing Happy Birthday, and briefly I wondered who they were singing to. I almost joined in the singing. Thankfully, before I made a clown of myself, the Lord revealed to me they were singing to me. I could not believe it. Normally, surprising me is pretty difficult. This time, however, I was totally in the dark until the moment arrived. There were 27 who were able to be there, and I really enjoyed my day. Yes, I even forgave Miss Bessie for holding me up. She needed to get me there a few minutes late so that everyone else could get there. They even hid all the cars. It was one of those rare moments when I was absolutely speechless. To all who were there, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. To the ladies who brought food, I’m grateful. To Bill and Patty, “thank you” for opening your home. I will never forget the day as long as I live. To Miss Bessie, thank you for riding in a car with a preacher who had murder on his mind. This is how the congregation of Friendship Harmony is; warm loving people who truly enjoy each other’s company.

The service yesterday was awesome. The congregational singing was Holy Spirit anointed and very uplifting. We are a traditional Church that still sings the old songs. We even yet use hymnals. Believe me when I tell you, the folks at Friendship Harmony can sing. Ken Birdsong, our director, chooses soul stirring songs, and knows how to get the best from us. We have never yet had a boring, ho-hum service at FHBC. What a blessing!!! The message was a continuation of The Judgment Seat of Christ. Last week I preached about what believers will experience after the rapture. I said that each Christian will stand before the Lord, but this will be a good judgment – it is for rewards. If you were not there, or did not get last weeks notes, scroll down to the previous blog. This week we talked about what the rewards were: crowns. These crowns are like those sought after by ancient athletes who participated in the Olympic games of that day. They were a crown of leaves. The modern day equivalent would be the medals or trophies. The only difference is that our crowns are permanent while theirs perished in just a few short days. The sermon notes are below. I hope they assist you in your study of God’s word.

Crowns Awarded By Christ
By Victor Cooper

Intro: At the judgment seat of Christ, rewards will be given. These rewards are called crowns.

I. The Incorruptible Crown 1 Cor. 9:25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
A. Paul uses an athlete’s training as his comparison.
B. Athletes in Paul’s day wanted to win a crown – a head dress of leaves.
C. Jesus Himself awards the crowns. 2 Cor. 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
1. Remember, good or bad is useful or useless

II. The Crown of Righteousness. 2 Tim. 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
A. This crown is not just for giants of the faith, but all who are awaiting His coming.
B. This crown is a recognition for those who are already righteous.
1. Remember, the Judgment Seat of Christ is for believers ONLY.
C. Paul is not afraid to stand in judgment before the Lord.

III. The Crown of Life. James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
A. As with the Crown of Righteousness, this is a crown of recognition. Those receiving it already have etertnal life.

IV. The Crown of Glory. 1 Peter 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
A. This is also called the Minister’s crown.
B. Peter in chapter 5 is speaking to pastors.

Next week I will be preaching about what to do with those crowns both in the life to come and this life. If you are here in beautiful, sunny, warm, south-west Florida, I hope you can be with us. (I added those adjectives for those of you up north. Sorry!) If not, those will be posted here.

Don’t forget that we need both men and women for our visitation teams. If you would like to take part, or learn more about it, we will meet next Sunday Morning after the worship service. If you know of someone who would benefit from a visit, please let me know. Take care of yourself and I’ll see you next Monday Morning With Pastor Vic!


Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Church in Heaven

Good Monday Morning To You!

Yesterday was another fantastic day at Friendship Harmony. The service was so very uplifting, and you could feel the Holy Spirit working. Our newest small group, Extraordinary Women of the Bible begins tomorrow morning. Many have shown interest in this group and I expect to hear great things from it quickly. Our Jewish Roots of Christianity group is continuing to meet and seems to get better week by week. If you are here with us, I hope you can get connected through our small groups. There is no limit to how many you can attend or how few. Also by way of announcement, our ladies luncheon is this Thursday at 1:00 at the Island Grill in the Winn Dixie Shopping Plaza. Any of you ladies in the area is invited to come. The average price of lunch --- ten dollars. The value of the fellowship and fun --- priceless.

Yesterday we continued our prophecy series with events in Heaven after the rapture. Most prophecy teachers, preachers, and conference leaders focus on the beginning of the time of tribulation on earth post rapture. Indeed, to be true to the doctrine of future things, known as Eschatology, one must fully examine the seven year tribulation. However, that time is for unbelievers; what about the Church?

The Church will be in Heaven where two events will take place: the reception of the bride, and the Judgment Seat of Christ. The sermon notes are below. I hope they help in your personal Bible Study.

The Church In Heaven
By: Victor Cooper

I. Our bodies must be changed. Why?
A. To be fit for Heaven. You could no more live in Heaven in your natural body than you could at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico dressed only in jeans and a tee shirt.
Phil. 3:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
1. vile --- lowly
2. glorious body --- exhalted The opposite of vile is glorious.
B. To be presentable to the Father
Jude 1:24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

II. Two events in Heaven for the Church
A. Reception of the bride.
1. Ancient wedding traditions did not mirror modern, western wedding ceremonies.
2. Ancient wedding traditions picture our wedded relationship with Christ. There were three parts to ancient eastern weddings.
a. The legal marriage. The parents of both the bride and the groom made a legal agreement and the dowry was paid. The bride stayed with her parents.
(1) This is a picture of our salvation. We are legally Christ’s bride, but we are not yet in His home.
b. At a point in time, the groom and his friends will go to claim his bride. He takes her home to his house.
(1) This is a picture of the rapture.
c. The marriage feast, lasting several days, is enjoyed by all.
(1) This is a picture of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. This supper is held on earth immediately following the Second Coming of Christ.
(a) Prophecy teacher J. D. Pentecost says the Marriage Supper of the Lamb is the Millennial Reign of Christ.
B. The Judgment Seat of Christ.
1. What it is not.
a. Judgment to determine entrance into or rejection from Heaven.
(1) Remember, at this point the Church is already in Heaven.
2. It is a place of rewards Read 2 Corinthians 5:9-11
a. good or bad is useful or useless.
3. Christ will judge using three criteria.
a. Stewardship. Christ’s question will be, “What have you done with what I gave you?” Read 1 Corinthians 4:1-5
b. The building materials of a life built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. Read 1 Corinthians 3: 12-15
(1) gold, silver, precious stones --- fireproof
(2) wood, hay, stubble --- flammable and reduced to ashes
(a) wood – strong and looks good, but can be burned
(b) hay – animal food not fit for human consumption, also can be burned
(c) stubble – garbage fit only for burning
(d) gold – in Scriptures gold depicts God’s glory and perfection in His attributes
(e) silver – is often portrayed as the plan of redemption through evangelism
(f) precious stones – not one kind, but many – represent the many good things done in service for the LORD

Next week we will see just what those rewards are. Until then I hope you have a good, safe, and healthy week. I look forward to our time together every Monday Morning With Pastor Vic.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Oh Glorious Day!!!

Good Day To You! Welcome to Monday Morning With Pastor Vic. I’m excited. We had a tremendous service at Friendship Harmony yesterday! The services are always good, but yesterday’s was vibrant, stirring, and alive! The presence of the LORD was so real. I know He was working in the hearts of several. Satan was there, too. He tried everything he could to derail the service. There is an ice making machine about twenty feet from the pulpit. If you’ve never been to Friendship Harmony, we meet in a clubhouse. It is a large open area resembling many church fellowship halls. That ice machine was dropping ice cubes quickly and noisily. Most folk didn’t hear it, but it was bothering me greatly. Other little annoyances went on, but the LORD prevailed and the service was a true blessing. I wish all of you could have been there! The attendance was super, but there is always room for more. Last month we made over 300 visits between several of us. I believe it is paying off as the neighborhood is beginning to respond. Please pray for our outreach efforts.

We are beginning another small group next week. It will be a study of “Prominent Women of the Bible.” This group will meet on Mondays at the home of Gail Mooney. This will make our fifth functioning small group. It is just so wonderful to see what the LORD is doing here at FHBC! A sixth group is in the works and may start soon. Friendship Harmony reminds me of the little train that could. Even though slightly over a year ago, we were unsure as to if we could plant a successful church, the LORD blessed and next month we celebrate our first year as a constituted, fully functioning Church. If it sounds like I bragging, you’re right --- I am. I’m bragging on Jesus. He is the reason our Church was founded. He alone is our reason for being there. He is the one who is bringing it all to pass, not me, nor anyone else in our group. Yes, we have many dedicated workers at Friendship Harmony, but to God be the glory. Some of our folk might not even consider themselves as Church workers. They simply go about inviting and bringing visitors. How important is that? Try to build a church without it; you cannot. When members get excited about the LORD and their church, wonderful things begin to happen. The LORD starts blessing. I’ve told our people to invite, invite, invite, and never give up on inviting. Those you invite might never come, but God will send someone. Our job is to invite: God’s is to bring the increase. (1 Cor. 3:6)

We are doing a prophecy series at Friendship Harmony. Yesterday we looked at the Rapture. Next week we will examine what happens to the believer after that. I’m sorry that I could not publish any sermon notes this week; there were none. For my text, I preached an expository of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. If you want to study this further, let me know and I will recommend some good material to you.

Have a good and a safe week. If you’re up north, stay warm, if you’re here in Southwest Florida, stay cool. I’ll see you next Monday Morning With Pastor Vic!


Sunday, January 8, 2012

3 Peas in a Pod

Good Monday Morning To You!

How did your team do in the playoffs this past weekend? Mine, the Cincinnati Bengals, lost.
However, I’m still proud. We were picked in the pre season to be the worst team in the NFL. Cincinnatians were used to an embarrassing team. We accepted the fact that we were to be disappointed again. However, a funny thing happened on the league’s march through the season --- the Bengals started winning. By playoff time, they had made it. Hope returned to Cincy. Then on Saturday, that hope was gone; no more advancing through the playoffs. No chance of getting to the league championship. No Super Bowl! There is always next year, but will they do well? Maybe yes ---maybe no. That is the hope of sports. However, the believer’s hope through Jesus Christ is a “lively hope.” (1 Peter 1:3) It is not a maybe so, maybe not. It is a living hope. That means the hope will remain alive until the declared end is reached.

Yesterday at Friendship Harmony was a fantastic day! The attendance was good and the service was exciting. There were several visitors whom we were honored to have, and a few more of our winter family safely arrived. We announced the beginning of a new small group concept. It is called, “Three Peas In A Pod.” Here’s how it works. Two people from the congregation decide to meet once a week for coffee, tea, or whatever. They will read a verse or so from Scriptures, share prayer needs, and have a time of prayer. The third pea will be an unchurched friend or neighbor. The hope is that as that person becomes comfortable with the pod, they will soon come into the Church where they can hear the Word preached and make their decision for Christ. If a pod grows to five people, two will split off, form another pod, and invite another friend who needs Christ and His Church. This program can be used by men or women. Guys, perhaps a weekly 3 man fishing trip. Two men from the congregation invites a third who is outside the body. This way, gentlemen, you can go fishing and legitimately tell your wife it is “for the Lord.” The beauty of the program is that each pod is free to adapt to what suits them best. Maybe in the weeks to come I’ll be able to share some exciting results from this campaign. I see greater things ahead for Friendship Harmony than we ever thought possible. As the Christian comedian Jerry Clower used to say, Ain’t God Good!!!

I finished the introductory message on why the study of prophecy is so important. In it we spoke of hope. In the opening paragraph of this blog, I said the hope of the believer is a living hope. It is not a maybe so, it’s a fact. The Bible tells us in many places that Jesus is coming again. God said it. He will come again --- end of discussion! Peter uses the Greek word “zao.” The word means alive. Our hope is alive. It will remain alive until Jesus comes to claim His bride; His Church. I told the people yesterday that if you wanted to take a cruise ship to some exotic and fascinating places, make sure you have passage booked on “The Old Ship of Zion.” Jesus Himself is her Captain, and He will take her to places where no ocean liner can go. Jesus is coming again. Are you ready for it? Below are the sermon notes for part two of why we study prophecy. If you missed part one, they were posted last week; just pull up that blog.

The Eschatological Question:
Its Meaning, Importance, and Properties
Part 2 of 2

C. It is the hope of the Church.
1. Paul --- Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
2. Peter --- 1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
3. John --- 1 John 3:2-3 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. [3] And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
D. It is the incentive to Biblical Christianity.
1. Believers who accept the second coming of Christ never:
a. deny the deity of Christ.
b. dispute the infallibility of the Bible.
2. Believers who accept the Doctrine of last things:
a. see self purification. 1 John 3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
b. are watchful. Matthew 24:44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
c. warn the unsaved. 2 Thess. 2:7-10. And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, [8] In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: [9] Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; [10] When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
d. are comforted in times of mourning.
1 Thes. 4:15-18
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. [16] For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: [17] Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. [18] Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
E. Eschatology has a marked effect on our service.
Quote: “The coming of our Lord is a theme which came to me like a second conversion. It changed the whole current of my life, and made the Bible a new book to me. I believe it was the anchor to my faith in a day of much criticism and drifting from old channels.” Lectures in Systematic Theology p. 445
1. Paul wrote, 2 Cor. 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

In closing, I’d like to ask your help with something. Friendship Harmony would like to own land and build a building one day in the future. We have a CD in the bank that matures in March. We have $1585 in a savings account and plan to add it to the CD when it renews. We would like to bring that total to $2000, but we are $415 short of our goal. Would you consider helping us reach this figure? If you could send a donation, it would be gratefully appreciated and wisely used. Please consider sending your check of any amount to Friendship Harmony Baptist Church; 2296 Date Street; St. James City, Florida; 33956. On your check memo line, write “building fund.” Of course if we exceed the goal, that simply means more can be added to the CD. If you are here with us, bring your check to Church this coming Lord’s day. I thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Have a good and safe week these next seven days, and I’ll see you next Monday Morning With Pastor Vic.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year

Good Monday Morning To You! Happy New Year. I hope your celebration was joyful. Ours was exciting; we watched the ball fall in Times Square. We had great seats and a fantastic view. The weather was super and we were very comfortable. O K, we watched from our living room and were quite content. Did you think Pastor Vic was in New York City for New Year’s Eve? No way! Not when I can see it up close and in my own living room. I have only been to New York City once and that was in a jet flying over. I did, however, get to look out my window and see the Statue of Liberty. That was pretty cool.

Sunday was a tremendous day at Friendship Harmony. The attendance was awesome, but we had several out sick. We are praying the LORD raises them from their bed of illness soon. We were blessed to have visitors, and were honored they were there to worship with us. My dear friend Rabbi Jim Pickens and his wife and guest were with us as well. Rabbi Jim is one of the kindest, most dedicated Believers I have ever known. Also many of our snowbirds have migrated to our sunny, warm southern shores. Welcome back!

Yesterday I began a prophecy series by introducing the reasons for studying Eschatology; the teaching of last things. I did not get into any actual prophecy as I had to lay some ground work. I preached part one of the introduction yesterday, and will finish this coming Sunday, the LORD willing. Below are the notes I used for this lesson. I’ll post the notes for part two next week. I hope you enjoy the notes and that it aids in your personal Bible study.

The Eschatological Question:
Its Meaning, Importance, and Properties

Intro: - The early Church believed in the immanent return of Jesus Christ.
- By the third century the Doctrine of the return of Christ was ignored.
- From Constantine until about 100 years ago the doctrine was totally set aside.

I. Four reasons for the bad reputation unfairly given to the doctrine.
A. The setting of dates. Example: The followers of Wm. Miller, aka the Millerites set a date in 1843 and waited on a mountain top for Christ’s return.
1. Another prominent group set the date in 1914.
2. I received a book in 1989 setting a date along with the reasons why. I later received another book claiming a mistake in arithmetic as the error, and a new date was set.
B. The teaching of other heresies by groups makes their teaching of the Second Coming suspect. Ex. Probationism, annihilation, restitution of all things.
C. Preconceived notions i.e. spiritual interpretations
D. The unsaved heart. Theologian Henry Thiessen said, “Only a Christian can say, ‘Amen – Come Lord Jesus.’”

II. The importance of studying last things.
A. It has a place of prominence in Scripture.
1. The OT often linked the first and second coming.
2. Some OT Scriptures are devoted only to the second coming. Job 19:25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
Zech. 14:4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
3. In the NT the second coming is mentioned over 300 times --- 1 in every 25 verses.
a. Whole chapters deal with it.
Ex. Matthew 24, 25; Mark 13; Luke 21
b. Some entire books are nearly given to it. Ex. 1 and 2 Thessalonians; Revelation
4. Every New Testament writers speaks of it.
5. Prophecy is spoken of more than “faith,” “the blood of Christ,” and “love.”
B. It is the key to Scriptures.
1. Many doctrines are better understood in light of prophecy.
a. The office of Christ; prophet, priest, and king. You cannot properly understand Christ’s kingly role without understanding the Second Coming.
b. Salvation’s completeness: I have been saved, I am being saved, I will be saved. One needs an adequate view of the future to completely understand the salvation process --- all three parts.
c. Enoch’s translation is better understood in light of Scripture. Genesis 5:21-24
d. The ordinances rely heavily on prophecy.
(1) Baptism --- shows the resurrection to new life when Christ appears. Col. 3:1-3 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. [2] Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. [3] For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
(2) The Lord’s Supper. 1 Cor. 11:26
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
Matthew 26:29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.

I do hope you have a good week. The weather is starting to turn cold for many of you, so bundle up and stay warm. If it’s any consolation to you, it is predicted to get cold here too. By Wednesday we are supposed to see temperatures in the upper 50’s during the day and the mid 30’s at night. Brrr, that’s cold for us.

I’ll see you next Monday Morning With Pastor Vic!