Sermon Notes

Date: January 21, 2018, Continuing in times of trial by faith is a victory equal to any great conquest of the great of the Bible.

Posted on Jan 27, 2018 in Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

Date:  January 21, 2018

Continuing in times of trial by faith is a victory equal to any great conquest of the great of the Bible.

Text: Hebrews 11:33-40

Pastor Matthew Burt

Wellspring Church, Springfield, Ma.

 SCRIPTURES:  Hebrews 11:33-40

who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two,[a] they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

 BIG IDEA: Continuing in times of trial by faith is a victory equal to any great conquest of the great of the Bible.


What would it take in your life to live in such a way that you were counted among the faithful in what is often referred to as the Hall of Fame. Could you be included this list that started with Abraham? What would it take in your life to be included in this list? Just one thing? These are not unique people. They are meant to be examples to us of what God will do with His people who exhibit faith in Him.


We began this chapter, chapter 11, several months ago. We have seen a definition of faith. We saw that there is a solidity to faith. We look to what God has said and promised and see that hope is not a verbal hope but I have a hope, a certainty that this will come to pass. Sofaith is what gives substance to that – that which is evidence of what I can’t see. Then we had more than a dozen examples of those who lived with a faith fueled life and they were lifted up to us as examples.  We have seen (v6) how important faith is. Without faith it is impossible to please God.  God is not pleased with those who do not see His promises as real, solid stuff.  But it is a certainly that you do please God when you exercise faith.

Over the months, we may have lost sight of what the author is doing here.  We remember that the recipients were wavering, uncertain in their commitment to their Christian belief. The letter was written to Jewish believers who were familiar with the OT. The Book of Hebrews reminds us that we must know the entirety of scripture. If we are confused then we realize that we need to go back to the OT.  They knew it well. They had this familiarity. The author sets out his letter and says “don’t go backwards”.  He uses the word better over and over again – a better high priest, etc. The pinnacle of the better in this book is that Jesus is better than everything that you have ever known – so why would you turn your back on theone who is better than everything. And take the lesser as your life.  He lays all this out in 10 chapters beginning in Ch 1.  He comes to 10:19 and ended his arguments and switches gears with the word “therefore”.  If all of this is true then here is what you must do: stay the course.  And the author uses the word  enduretwice in the latter part of chapter 10. Since Jesus is better than anything you have ever known, endure; stay the course. How is one supposed to endure?  The righteous one will live by faith. The righteous one is the one who has been born again in Christ.It’s a new person. He lives by faith. He does not live only by what he can see, experience and rationalize.  He is going to live as though what God says is as real as a piece of granite.  Then what encouragement he gives to them.  He says I know you will not shrink back. We are those who have seen the hand of God and read the word of God. Let me show you what faith looks like – that is what Ch 11 is about.  In a way we don’t even need Ch 11.  You are of faith, you don’t shrink back. How do you not shrink back – look to Jesus. All of Ch 11 are almost like a parenthesis to what it means to look to Jesus.

So here’s what we have. He has asked them to remember that they have endured much already.  And sometimes you have been publically    People trying to hang on in the midst of troubles.  He is saying you are not alone. Others have gone before you and faced similar situations.


  1. Conquest of faith – 6 more faith fueled lives
  2. Continuation of faith – a different kind of victory
  3. Commendation of faith – as God evaluates the conquerors and the continuers

Point 1:Conquest of faith

After more than a dozen examples of faith the author says what more do I need to say. I have shown you time and time again how God carries someone through with faith. By this time the author takes a deep breathe and says but I could tell you ….and he lists 6 more faith fueled heroes: Barak, Gideon, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets. He is overflowing with proof of how God commends those who are faithful. This is a real preacher here. He has so much to say. There is a thin line between a long sermon and a hostage situation. We don’t want to be in that situation. That’s what the apostle is saying – what more can I say The author says something like I’m going to let you go but I just want to know this. There are a lot more people we can talk. Whom does he list? He lists Gideon, Barak, and Samson- 3 judges, a judge and a prophet Samuel, a king and a prophet David and then he generally throws out the prophets. After naming these 6 people he has a list of 10 different accomplishments.  We are just going to read them as he does:

  1. There were those who conquered kingdoms like Joshua and David. They led the people in military conquest of the land of promise.
  2. They enforced justice, and they established or practiced righteousness. They set rules in place so the government would be a place of justice.
  • They obtained promises—they received what they were told.
  1. They stopped the mouths of lions. Here the author has gone beyond the 6 lives and thisseems to be a reference to Daniel in the Lion’s den.
  2. Quenched the power of fire—this is most likely a reference to Sahdrach, Mesahch, and Abednego who were told to bow down before the image that Nebuchadnezzarhad made of himself. It’s a marvelous story and King Nebuchadnezzar looks at all the backs of people bowing down except the 3 men who are standing.  King Neb instructed his servants to make the furnace 7 X as hot. He throws the 3 men in but there were 4 in the fire. He saw one like the Son of God with them. When they came out; not even the hairs on their heads were singed.
  3. There were those who escaped the edge off the sword
  • There were those who were became strong out of weakness? Could this be Samson? He comes before the Philippians. In his weakness he is shackled and he calls out to God and God strengthened him.
  • Mighty in war
  1. Putting foreign armies to flight
  2. Women receiving their dead back as resurrected—two women are named in the OT in the lives of Elijah and Elisha whose sons were dead and then alive.

There’s a life of learning in here. Time does not allow me to speak of these people. Can we look at something here? We are talking about faith here.  PB is sensitive to this now as he goes to Zimbabwe.  He is called to preach in the capital city of Harare about the reality of real faith and real blessings and the error of the prosperity gospel.  The prosperity gospel is if you believe hard enough, God will give you what you want.  When we come to this chapter, how are we supposed to see that.  Let us look at what was going on.  What are we supposed to see here?

  1. A) First, notice that every one of these 6 individuals acted in response to a divine call and instruction. Not one of these people determined it would be a good thing for them to do what they did. Gideon asked God to prove that he was really calling two or three times. They didn’t just make this up. It was a response to divine instruction. So truth faith is not that I determine that something needs to be done and I determine that I am going to trust God to accomplish the desires I have. Their confidence was in God. If I am going to do great things out of faith, it has to be something God has spoken directly in His Word and I am counting on God to do what He says He will do. I need to know His Word. One of the reasons that these charlatan heretics like Kenneth Copelandhave a worldwide following is because they don’t know the Word of God. They hear this charismatic, good-lookingguy talking about the life that they could have and they say I want that too. The protection you have against these charlatans is that you know the Word of God contextually. We need to know that these people based their behavior on the divine call of God.
  2. B) Secondly it was for the benefit for God’s people. The people who are being preached to are being fleeced, not benefited.
  3. C) Thirdly, and most importantly they acted in such a way that God was glorified and honored. God was seen as the good, holy and sovereign lord.

That’s the difference between what we see today and what these people are.

 Point 2: Continuation of faith – a different kind of victory

Things change in V35. All these wonderful conquests and conquering heroes. All of a sudden we read “some were tortured”.  This isn’t “hall of fame”. How am I supposed to understand this after I see the conquest and the successes of the faithful life? All of a sudden we move from the brilliant daylight of success into the dimness of a defeated life. What am I supposed to do with this?

We move from the conquest of faith to the continuation of faith. Most of us are not going to receive a divine call from God.  You are not going to be called to go into the furnace.  But you will face incredibly painful hard puzzling confusing ongoing trials and troubles and circumstances that seem like a noose seeking to choke a life of faith. Now we don’t know exactly who these people were.  We can just as easily and put them in the time when Nero was Emperor of Rome when Christians were thrown to wild animals. There was imprisonment and death. What are we to make of this? Why is the author bringing up the hardship? It is so easy for us to say if you come to Jesus all your troubles will be over.   Our author is absolutely honest and transparent.  Your faith in Christ is not a faith in an easy happy life. Your faith is that which allows you to continue through the trials, and troubles that you have. You will get through this.  Boy, don’t we face hard times?  You have no idea what God’s will is for your growth. It might be a stroke, a saw cut through an arm, a lump in the breast, broken relationships, misunderstood and rejected people. He is reminding people of what Jesus says when He says in this world you will have trouble.  It’s what Peter says when he says stop being surprised at the fiery trials. That is where we live.  Most of us will be called to be continuers with faith. Why can I continue? We see here that they continued with their faith. The lesson is this: the same faith that allowed all of those people to obey God and persevere in times of darkness is the same exact faith that allows you to live through the hardship that you are living through which may never cease in this world.  Trust that what God brings to life is good.

Point 3:  Commendation of faith – as God evaluates the conquerors and the continuers

All these people were commended; they were approved by God because they trusted Him even though they did not receive what was promised.You know what a commendation is –it’s like a medal.  They went to their grave looking for the establishment of the new covenant; Messiah Christ. But we have seen it.  Because of faith we can please God.  The new covenant takes away your heart of stone and gives you a heart of flesh.  You will be able to obey because God put a new heart in you. Jesus dwelt on the earth so He could live a life of perfect righteousness.  Jesus had no sin. He died because you are a sinner and you need a savior. I am a sinner and I need a savior. He took our unrighteousness and transferred his perfect righteousness to us.  How do I know this is true? On the night He died, he established the new covenant. No longer do we have the blood of rams. We have the whole record of scripture telling us what God did.  We have the lives of faith-fueled people. They were commended. We have the opportunity to know that same commendation, as we trust God.


Even though our lives are filled with pain and grief, we have a savior who will bring us home to a place of ultimate joy.


Read More

January 14, 2018, Faith in Obedience: Three Miracles, displays of God’s power.

Posted on Jan 27, 2018 in Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

Date:  January 14, 2018

Faith in Obedience: Three Miracles, displays of God’s power

Text: Psalm 105: 26, 37-45, Psalm 106: 1-12, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13,

Hebrews 11:29-31

Pastor Matthew Burt

SCRIPTURES:  Psalm 105: 26, 37-45, Psalm 106: 1-12, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13,

Hebrews 11:29-31

  By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

 BIG IDEA: Faith in Obedience: Three Miracles, displays of God’s power


Why does God do what God does?  The deist would say that whatever happens is because of God’s laws. The pantheist, who believes all is one, would say the purpose of deity is that it would be to bring all things into harmony and balance. We have seen the yin and the yang – bring all things into oneness. Most people are materialists or atheists who would say there is no God and all we know is what we can taste, feel, smell. So then the question becomes a nothing question. Then we find ourselves in the realm of the existentialist – there is no meaning to life- nothing has any purpose. The Bible declares and we believe that there is a God and that this God awareness in the heart of every human being compels us to ask Why does God do what God does? The three verses point us to the answer.This answer is the same answer to the question: what is the chief purpose of my own life.


Four weeks ago, we left Chapter 11 and Moses at the end of the Passover. After 10 plagues and some weeks, Pharaoh relents and says go. This happens only after the Passover.  Over the last 2 weeks we emphasized and challenged each of us not to give in to this world, not to compromise. So we saw that there were 4 compromises that Pharaoh offered Moses.

In all of this we have been trying to understand what faith is. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and it is an eyewitness to us that what God has said is true. My faith is focused on the reality that God has said certain things in His word and I trust that what God has said is true and my life is then a life that lives according to the conviction of what God has said will happen.  We looked at how faith was shown in the lives of us, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, parents of Moses, and Moses.


  1. Biblical faith is an obedient faith that will result in a heart of worship.
  2. Biblical faith is an obedient faith that will
  3. Biblical faith is an obedient faith that brings salvation.

 BIG IDEA: Biblical faith is far more about the eternal than the temporal; about the coming more than the now. Biblical faith is about God’s glory; not yours and mine.

 Point 1:Biblical faith is an obedient faith that will result in a heart of worship

Read Exodus 13:17–22. The people have left Egypt.  God has taken then by an indirect way. They are not yet in thepromised land. Pharaoh, true to form, hardened his heart and he pursued the people of Israel. Pharaoh’s horses and chariots overtook them. The next thing we read is the people cried out to God. As they look at the sea on one side and the rocks and hills on the other side and the Egyptian army barreling on them. They say some foolish thing like why did we ever leave? But Moses exercises faith and said to the people, fear not, stand firm. This is real faith that Moses is exhibiting here. It is not an empty, well-intentioned encouragement to people. He is not like some politician who makes self-centered empty promises. Moses is saying here’s what God has said: we are going to walk on dry land. Look what happens. God does indeed do what He says He is going to do. God brings a cloud so the Egyptians can’t see. He sends a wind so the waters will be directed to stand up. He gets the glory. That’s the answer to why God does what He does.  Moses exercises obedience and the people were saved. God did something else that day. He destroyed His enemies.

We struggle with the idea that God says He will get glory. When we read that and we put it in human context, we withdraw from that because we know people who do things so they can get praise. Why would I want to worship a God like this? God is not some minor, humanly invented deity. We know that God is the absolute ultimate reality. We knowthat there is nothing in existence that He depends upon. He needs no help for strength or knowledge. He is eternally inerrant– never making a mistake. He is the fount of all mercy that He bestows on His people. It would be an unspeakable evil if He did not share the wonder of who He is with his people. If He held us back from knowing the wonder, not only would He be an idolater but would make us into idolaters. He is not an egotist. He is a loving God giving us the greatest gift – knowing who He is.   Something else that bothers us is the destruction – wholesale death. How can this be? Perhaps it would be helpful if we understand it this way – everyone is destined to die a physical death. It is not if we will die but when. The issue is will we be prepared to meet the God who has called us to repentance to Him. The one who continues in disbelief will be destroyed and that is what is happening to these people who live with a hardened unbelieving heart.

After the people went forth, we read in v29 that the purpose of this particular miracle caused them to fear God and obey God and resulted in praise and worship.

Point 2: Biblical faith leads to victory in life and eternal rest.

Then our author in Hebrews goes from this event at the Red Sea and fast forwards 40 years. We need to move ahead to Joshua 5 and 6. Joshua was the man that God personally chose and presented to the people of Israel to be the only successor Moses to be the leader of the people. We first meet Joshua when the spies go into the land and reported backto Moses.  They came back with this report –we dare not go in because we saw giants, strong cities. Ten of the men reported this. Two men gave a different report – Joshua and Caleb. They said no it’s not a bad place to go. They are saying the same God that has brought us this far, that God who has commanded us to go forth will give us success. And the people turn on them and sought to stone them. The end of the story comes in Numbers 14 – God says if you don’t want to go in then you will not go in. You will live in this land for 40 years. That’s where Joshua 6 begins – all those people have died. Joshua is to lead the people into the land. Jericho: This was a place where no one could pass if they were not welcome. The instructions given to Joshua are to march around the walls of the city. The walls of the city will fall down. This miracle is meant to show us that a Biblical faith leads to a victory in life and eternal rest. What do we see? Joshua doesn’t argue with God.  Imagine! There were books written about the art of war and there was nothing written about marching around the walls of the city!  Joshua obeyed God. Can you imagine? On the 7th day they walked around the 7th time and the priests took the rams horn and blew a blast and then the people shouted. Then the walls fell flat.  This is the marvelous miracle of God’s deliverance on the 7th day.

The first miracle reminds us of the first day of creation.

The second miracle reminds us of the 7th day of creation when God rested. When we come to Hebrews 3 and 4, the author quotes Psalm 95 – because of their disobedience, they did not enter the land of rest. But on the 7th day going around the city, the walls fell flat, the people entered into rest. Obedient faith opens the door to our eternal rest

Point 3:  Biblical faith is an obedient faith that brings salvation.

The third miracle is about Rehab the prostitute. What a painful burden for her to carry throughout history. Or is it? We first met this woman in Joshua chapter 2.  Joshua sends two men to spy the land and they came to the house of Rehab. The spies of Israel to Jericho were helped by Rehab. They went to her house – a brothel. Our suspicion is why did they go to her house? We assume ill motives. We impute wickedness to them. But notice that the text gives us no indication that they went there for immoral purpose. She was probably the proprietress of an inn, a guesthouse. Various activities went on there beyond mere hospitality.  They went to a place where there was a lot of coming and going and people not wanting to be found. How does she end up in Hebrews 11? Here is a woman who has heard about the works and wonders of God. She has rejected the worldview that she lives in. She lives in a world that depends on military strength and idols. She has heard of this God who has delivered His people out of slavery.  She lived in faith. She acted in faith believing this God. When the book of James talks about faith at work, he talks about two people – Abraham and Rehab. This woman is lifted out of the dregs of history and put on a pedestal to be emulated.   Rehab lets the spies down with a red rope. They say to her keep this rope hanging out of the window and they promised her that she would be saved. She goes to her family and gathers her family in this house. When the wall fell down, there was one house left standing: the one with the red rope. This red cord has the same significance of the red blood of the Passover lamb.

This miracle is even greater than the first two. What we see here is a miracle of a changed heart. She was saved; they were purified and brought into the covenant family. So much so that later we meet a Ruth married to Boaz who is the son of Solomon who is married to Rehab. Those people who God chose to be in the line to bear the Son of God. What we don’t find in Matthew 1 is Rehab the prostitute but just Rehab. She has been chosen, claimed and changed and this is a far greater miracle. This is the reality of the re-creation of a spiritually dead person.  This is the miracle available to all who confess their sins. A soul is saved.


 The first two miracles made way for the third miracle. In order that you might know that God has the authority to change the heart of a sinner, God parts the Red Sea and makes the walls come down.  Rehab the harlotis no longer known as Rehab the harlot but as Rehab the progenitor of Christ. You may only be known now that you are a child of the most high because you have clung to the scarlet rope. Why does God do this? Because He gets the glory.


Read More

January 7, 2018, By Faith Moses Did Not Compromise Part 2

Posted on Jan 15, 2018 in Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

January 7, 2018

By Faith Moses Did Not Compromise Part 2

Text: Joshua 24:1-28; 2 Corinthians 6:1-18

Pastor Matthew Burt

Wellspring Church Springfield, Ma.

 SCRIPTURES:  Joshua 24:1-28, 2 Corinthians 6:1-18


 BIG IDEA: By Faith Moses Did Not Compromise –  Part 2

Conformity with this world is dangerous and deadly. Conformity to Christ is the plan and purpose of God for every one of His children.


When PB was a teenager, the great call of the world was to be non-conformists. Those in the 1960’s tried to dress differently and act differently from their parents, they wanted to be non-conformist. In seeking to be non-conformists, they actually conformed to each other! The word conform is used by Paul – he tells us to not be conformed to this world but be transformed in your mind. As we have just read in 2 Corinthians,  we are to be separate. We saw this played out in the life of Moses last week when we looked at 4 ways that Pharaoh offered compromise. First Pharaoh said you can sacrifice but stay in the land. Secondly, Pharaoh says that Moses can go a little bit outside the land but not to go too far away. This is the compromise that tempts us to live with one foot in this world system and one foot in the kingdom of God. Thirdly, Pharaoh said you can go into the wilderness but don’t take your wives and children with you. This compromise is a call to make your religion an individual thing – don’t force your convictions on other people – just you go. Finally, Pharaoh says OK go to the wilderness, take your families but leave your stuff.  The compromise here is that we try to retain control of our time and possessions.  Pharaoh says do not take your flocks and your cattle – go worship God but don’t take anything with you that will allow you to worship God. It’s with our “stuff” that we worship God. Everything I own belongs to Him. Here are these 4 compromises that Pharaoh presented to Moses. By faith Moses did not compromise. Faith was looking forward to what God had promised – the promised land. True faith is a dependence on what God has said. By faith in God’s promise  Moses refused the offers of compromise.


  1. What does the New Testament say about the world?
  2. Practical steps of how we are not to be separate from the world
  3. How to not conform

Point 1:What does the New Testament say about the world?

  1. Let us hear what the apostle Paul says:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  Romans 12:2

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 1 Corinthians 2:12

who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father,  Galatians 1:4 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—  Ephesians 2:2

For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia,[a] Titus to Dalmatia. 2 Timothy 4:10

  1. Let us hear what the apostle James says:

 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.James 1:27

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.  James 4:4

  1. Let us hear what the apostle John says:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.  1 John 2:15-17

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1

They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them.1 John 4:5

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 1 John 5:4

We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 1 John 5:19

  1. Let us hear what the Lord Jesus Christ says:

As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.  Matthew 13:22

He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. John 8:23 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.  John 14:17

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. John 15:18

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. John 15:19 have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. John 17:16

Nineteen different passages that include the word “the world”. How  are we supposed to understand this word?  It is not the planet earth. At the same time it’s not just exactly the people of the world. That can’t be the case because in John 3:16  we see that  God so loved the world. So God loves the people and the earth that He created. Rather we are to understand the world as a system of thinking, a way of looking at life, the world as the ideas and philosophies which are in opposition to God and His ways and His laws. We are told there is an enemy – Satan-   described as the ruler of this world. He has put into place influences and ways of thinking that the people of this world have bought into. They are of this world pronounced by the arch enemy of God and the enemy of our souls. We sometimes don’t see this. Satan hates God and therefore hates the creation of God. His reason of existence is to destroy and bring pain and slavery to the people of God. This enemy seeks to influence the thinking of humanity in such a way that it would draw our thinking away from God. He seeks to show us that we might live as there is no ultimate and sovereign God.  We think that the person we need to change the mind of is the overt atheist.  But it’s not the atheist that is our danger, but the influence of the enemy who would have us live as though we were atheists. There is a prevalence of practical atheism that many pursue. Practical atheism is living as if there is not God, living as if God’s laws are not pertinent, living as if God’s promises are not pertinent to us. Practical atheism can be seen as scientism – science has all the answers and human endeavor can solve all our problems. But we need to remember that this life is just a blip. We invest all of our energies into having a better life now forgetting that this life is just a blip.

Examples of how the world influences us:

  1. Commercials: you only go around once;
  2. Commercials that tell you that you deserve a break today, you deserve (fill in the blank),
  3. Commercials that tell you that you need these things so other people will think highly of you,
  4. Your fitness/clothing, etc is of ultimate importance.
  5. The world tells us that a successful life is one that has a good retirement, unlimited travel, etc.
  6. So we dress ourselves and our children in name brand clothes and get them into a good school so they can get a good job and have a good retirement. As a result we have no plumbers, tradesmen, etc. and we have college graduates with thousands of dollars of debt and no jobs.
  7. Even people who do not buy into this spend their time reading about ways we can manipulate God so that even the uneducated can have wealth and prosperity.
  8. The world system is all around us. It is the attitude that Jesus confronts when He says seek first the kingdom of God. Whatever He brings into your life is a good thing for your ultimate life.

Point 2: How are we to separate the world?

Here are some wrong ways to separate from the world:

  • Don’t give up your job, calling and vocation. Don’t leave secular callings and find a sacred calling! Don’t quit work altogether – that is a sin; idleness. There is no division between secular and sacred in that sense. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever as …… whatever your life is. That’s your sacred calling.
  • It doesn’t mean that I remove myself from all the relationships and friendships with uncoverted people. John and Charles Wesley created the “holy club” and then signed up to be missionaries to the colony of Georgia. He found that it wasn’t his classmates at Oxford, his family or the savages in Georgia that were his problem- he brought his problems with him! It is not to withdraw from people. It is to guard myself against the attitudes and lifestyle of theunconverted.
  • It doesn’t mean that I take no interest in the world around me. I can’t ignore the wonder of God in the world around me.
  • It is not to be weird in the way we dress or talk. We are not to take on a holy sanctimonious speech. Be a regular person. If we don’t then we are saying to the world that we are better.  We have seen this with the Puritans, the Amish, etc. We are to dress in a modest way. We understand  that God gave us clothes to hide ourselves, to protect ourselves. He did not give us clothes to bring attention to our bodies. But He didn’t say just be dull.
  • It is not to pull away into a secluded life like a monk. We are not to withdraw in that way thinking that the “religious” are those who have secluded themselves. We don’t want to only be in a “holy huddle”.
  • It is not to withdraw from the fellowship of a church. We might think that there are hypocrites there so I am going to separate myself from that church. This was the error of Roger Williams who was kicked out of MA because he was Baptist. So he moved to Newport, RI.  He kept on finding that people in his church weren’t living up to his standards and so he kept on kicking people out of his church until it was just he and his wife (and then he kicked her out too!)

Point 3: The Biblical Response – what am I supposed to do?

  • Transformation of Mind – I need to think differently. I need to think Biblically. I need to know the Word of God. It will help me to answer the very basic questions: what is reality? Where did everything come from? Is it just an illusion? The Bible tells us there is a God and He created this world. Reality is not just one thing. We are two-ists: there is a God and everything else is separate from Him. Where did I come from? How did I get here? We are not the results of chance. Who am I? We are created in the image of God. People are different from everything else. But I am a fallen sinner; I am no longer the owner of a heart that is inclined to worship God. As a sinful person, I have a heart that hates God.  There’s my great problem. I am a disobedient rebel against the God who created me. How can I fix this? What is the solution? The world’s answer is to give them more education and more money. We need better presidents, etc. We need a better system. The world says the problem is outside you but the solution is in you. The Bible tells me the problem is inside me and the solution is the God who lives outside me. This God because of His great love  sent His son Jesus Christ to take away the penalty of sin and to give us a new heart – to live as a  child of God and we are given the ability to serve Him and love Him and enjoy Him.
  • Renewal of Appetite for the Bible

If there is a lack of appetite then there is no life in God. We are desperately concerned if we have a child who won’t eat. That child will eventually seek to exist. If I am that person who has no appetite for the Bible then I need to ask myself why do I not want to be nurtured by the Word of God. I need to ask myself seriously about my relationship with God.  We ruin our appetite with the junk food of this world.

  • Conform to the Image of Christ – intentional endeavor and pursuit of conformity to Christ. What does that mean?
  1. Matthew 11:28 Jesus says I am gentle and humble in heart. Gentleness and humility is a good place to start.
  2. Look at the life of Christ and see what Christ was like. Christ was compassionate (Luke 11:13 and Mark 6:34). Part of praying that I would ask for a heart of compassion that goes out to people in need.
  3. Jesus was tender towards children. He was patient with slow learners and impatient with sin. He was consumed with zeal for the glory of God. To be like Jesus is to be consumed with the expansiveness of God.
  4. And He was sacrificial. He gave His life. Every Christian is supposed to love one other; other oriented living.
  5. Look at the fruit of the spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self control. Who’s spirit? Jesus’s spirit. Bear the fruit in my life. How can I show more love? I can I exhibit more joy? Are we peace loving people? We have peace with God because of Jesus Christ who has reconciled us to the Father. To conform to the image of Christ is to show patience. Patience is understanding that God has His timetable and it is a good timetable. Seek goodness and gentleness, a sweetness in my life.
  6. Can you imagine Jesus out of control? Not ever. Life in submission.

CONCLUSION: Do not be conformed to the world around us. 


Read More

December 31, 2017, By Faith Moses Did Not Compromise, Part 1

Posted on Jan 15, 2018 in Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

December 31, 2017

By Faith Moses Did Not Compromise, Part 1

Text: Mark 10:17-31, Romans 12:1-3 Exodus 8-10

Pastor Matthew Burt

Wellspring Church Springfield, Ma.

 SCRIPTURES:  Mark 10:17-31, Romans 12:1-3 Exodus 8-10

 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2

 BIG IDEA: By Faith Moses Did Not Compromise


For many weeks we have been looking at Hebrews 11. The phrase we have looked at is “by faith” As we come to a new year, people make resolutions. A lot of time they are more well intended than actually accomplished.  Today, out of the life of Moses, we are  called to live with resolve rather than resolutions.  I will resolve not to compromise when asked to by the enemy of my soul. We start with Exodus 8. You know the background of this setting.  God had met with Moses in the wilderness and given him a commandment – Let my people go. The commandment is given 10 times in the account. Nine times Pharaoh hardens his heart and God responds with 9 separate plagues. Four times in this interchange we see that Pharaoh seems to relent. He seems to soften and he offers to Moses an alternative.  Pharaoh is negotiating with God. This is not a good idea.  Your arms are too short to box with God. He hears the commandment – let me people go – 10 x – into the wilderness that they may sacrifice to me. Pharaoh says no.  The offer to compromise is given in contrast to Romans 12:1. Do not be conformed to this world but rather be transformed. Conformity to this world is always where we will compromise.  We are to be conformed to the very person of Jesus Christ. Today, we have this commandment regarding conformity.


  1. Commandment to conform
  2. Four compromises given to Moses
  3. Applications

 Point 1: Call to conformity.

In brief, when the scripture tells us not to be conformed to the world it is telling us not to pattern our life after the world – don’t let the world squeeze us into its mold. Do not have the same goals, patterns, pursuit after pleasure that the world has. It is talking about the system of the world around us. That’s exactly what Moses faces. Pharaoh askes Moses to compromise.  By Exodus 8:25 – there have been 4 plagues.

Point 2: Four compromises Pharaoh gives to Moses

  1. Compromise #1: Stay in the landAfter six repetitions of the command and the first four plagues: Water to blood, Frogs, Dust, and flies Pharaoh relents and says,“You may go and sacrifice within the land.”I’m sure that Pharaoh thought he was making a reasonable offer. He offered to tolerate them and their practices. He was saying the same thing to these people that Satan says to people everyday. Yes, you are disobedient. Just add a little religion to your life. Stay in the land – don’t go away. Did you hear what the young man asked Jesus – what must I do to inherit eternal life?  Don’t repent; don’t humble yourself but rather stay in the land – just do a little more – be better. This is the compromise that comes to folks when they first hear the gospel: don’t leave your pleasures just add some sacrifices to your life. People begin to make a move toward God and Satan says don’t leave. This is the exact warning that Jesus gives in the parable of the land – choked by the cares and worries of this world.  There will be no fruitfulness. Moses response is NO – it is not right for us to do this. God said we are to go out from the land. He calls upon the word of God rather than come up with reasons.
  2. Compromise #2: Don’t go very far away OK, Pharaoh says, you may go and worship your God and you may go out of the country—but just a little bit, a short distance. Go but stay near the border.This is where many of us are tempted. We have left the world but the call to compromise is to stay close enough to the world. There will be times when I want to have the pleasures/comforts/applause/acceptance of this world. I want to stay close enough to the world to get what I really want. In high school PB wanted to be popular; to be cool, to be accepted. He was a believer and yet he wanted to stay close enough (Egypt) to enjoy the acceptance.  That whole history came tumbling down when at age 23 he was in prison. If he had not cared so much about the acceptance of people, he would not have made those decisions. Thank God it was not the end of the road. Not everybody has that mercy and grace given to them. I am a Christian on Sundays but I am still going to have the money goals during the week. Moses responds and says NO. He leaves Pharaoh and there are 5 more plagues after that. Finally, it comes to the place where even Pharaoh’s advisors ask how long he will be so stubborn.  SO Moses is called back into Pharaoh’s presence.
  3. Compromise #3: Keep your religion private/personal . Yes you can go Moses – you and your men.  But leave your children in Egypt.  Let your children grow up and make up their own minds about religion. Let someone else teach them. You take care of your own life and don’t force it on anyone else.  It’s a very attractive offer. It is threatening for us to share the gospel with someone else. It is easy for us not to want to force the gospel on others.  This is such a horrible business when a parent falls for it. The world system we live in seeks to tell us that we can live life just fine – no need to have a god – in fact we are not sure there is a god. The world around us tells us to use our brain to figure things out. The world around us teaches us there are not absolutes, morals are situational, and ethics are flexible. The world around us says you are defined by what you own – secular materialistic world. Just be kind and good – moralistic world. If we follow these things, it will become nihilistic and empty. God says – you teach your children. Moses rebuffs Pharaoh again.
  4. Compromise #4: Leave your flocks. Your stuff is still your stuff; your time is still your time – you don’t have to consecrate that to God. We do not know what God might ask of us that we might serve Him properly. It is easy for us to say you can have my money but my time is my own. We need to respond to that temptation – “not a hoof will be left behind”.  Take all of me and use it for your glory. It may be the hardest one we face. We may be like the young man in the parable – Jesus says go and sell all you have and he walked away sad because he had many possessions. If my heart is in this world it won’t take long before my whole body is in this world.  God’s kingdom has a different set of priorities

Point 3: Applications

We resolve to say no to compromise. One of the questions we ask wrongly: Is it OK for a Christin to do (fill in the blank)? Instead, we should ask what can I change? Instead of listening to the compromises, we need to set our affection on things above. Seek to imitate Jesus Christ in all He is. Look at His holiness, His mercy, His steadfastness, how He is sent by the Father and does the will of the Father.


CONCLUSION: By faith Moses refused to compromise.


Read More

December 24, 2017, No Room: A Christmas Tragedy.

Posted on Jan 15, 2018 in Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

December 24, 2017

No Room: A Christmas Tragedy

Luke 2:7;  John 1:1-13

Pastor Matthew Burt

Wellspring Church Springfield, Ma.

  1. Introduction
    1. Engage
    2. Review
    3. Preview
    4. Big Idea
  2. The tragedy of the First Christmas
    1. We all know there was no room in the Inn, so she laid him in a manger. We now a this part of the Christmas story. Every depiction of the Nativiity that I’ve ever seen is set in a stable or a cave. Every scene has a manger, animals, shepherd and sometimes wise men. When we look at the narrative of Luke’s gospel we notice that there is no mention of animals. The shepherds do come, but there are no wide men,perhaps for upo to two years. Where did these visitors come? To a stable? Luke doesn’t say that. The only thing we are told is that these parents, Joseph and Mary laid their new born son in a manger because there was no room for them in the Inn.  This short little sentence has been gilded with layers of sentimentality that draws us emotionally to the harshness and hardheartedness of the cruel uncaring world. It is presented to us in such a way as to tug on our hearts because it all seem so sad my, so unnecessary, so tragic. Actually Luke’s statement is given to us without a hint of emotional evaluation. He gives us a fact, a mere passing obsevbation. Actually, their isn’t any judgment at all. Instead the whole Chrisitmas narrative is meant to show us how the Holy God of Creraiton has made a way for hostiry’;s greatest tragedy to be rememdfied and right.
    2. However, the real tragedy of Christmas began a long time before the events recorded for us in Luke 2 (Thousands of years earlier in the Garden of Eden). To be acquainted with the biblical story is to know that the perfection for the Garden is destroyed by the willful disobedience of the first couple. That disobedience, the bible calls sin. The results of that sin include the inheritance of a broken, rebellious nature in all human beings that sets our minds, our hearts, and our wills against the rule of God.
    3. The great tragedy of the Christmas narrative is the dreadful fact that all human beings are included in this class sinners.
      1. What do we mean by sin?
      2. I know this isn’t a popular idea at Christmas and so our traditions and culture have invented a hundred different ways to lessen it presence in our celebration.
        1. We have Santa clause, little toy-making elves, magic flying reindeer, and so forth
        2. We have an emphasis on family and their traditions
        3. We have song that nostalgically tells us about snowmen who come to life, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and the importance of having snow on the ground for Christmas morning.
        4. We have parties, food, drink, ugly sweaters, and what ever noise we can muster to help us forget that Christ came to save poor ornery sinners like yo and like me.
      3. We focus on what looks to us as a sadness and a tragedy of this one aspect of the birth of Jesus when instead we ought to see the whole of the Christmas narrative as God’s remedy for the original tragedy. Consider these familiar parts of the story.
        1. Mary refers to God as her savior Luke 1:47. Here is a young women who knows that she needs a savior. As soon as we are introduced to her, we are introduced to her realization of her need.
        2. When the Angel comes to Joseph in their dream of Matthew 1 he tells Joseph not only to keep Mary as his wife in spite of Her strange pregnancy, but he gives a further instruction—you shall give him the name, Jesus. He does not stop with the mere identification of the name, but he immediately adds the reason for this name. The name is so familiar to us that for many it has not particular importance. But, most of us will remember that Jesus is the Greek form of the common Hebrew name, Joshua.  The angel says, His name shall be called Jesus, why? Because he will save his people from their sins.  The name, Jesus, and the reason for it are meant to proclaim to us that God is beginning to work the remedy for this great tragedy of Sin’s destruction of the friendship between human beings and their creator.
  • A Third way that the gospels tell us that God in inaugurating His incredible remedy for sin is the emphasis in the narrative on the fact that the other of this Child, Mary, is a Virgin.
  1. When we read the opening verses of John’s Gospel he tells us how great ths phrase, “no room in the Inn” really is. The phrase is not meant to stir at our emotions and sentimentality, it is meant to focus our attention on the largest picture.
    1. In chapter 1 verses 1-13 we have at least ten descriptors of Jesus—We know the passage so well that we can easily list them. Lest we think these fourteen verses are not about Jesus, John makes sure it is abundantly clear to us in verse 17 naming the Word as Jesus Christ. So what do we have?
      1. Jesus is an eternal person. He is from the beginning. Whenever the beginning was, Jesus was already.
      2. Jesus has always been in the presence of the God.
  • In fact Jesus is God.
  1. He has created all things, He is the creator.
  2. He is Life, the source of all life. This is important to us because the fact that there is an end to life,death, is the result of sin.
  3. He is the Light. This is important in the Gospel; because it is sin that has darkened our minds, it is sin that makes the experience in this life so dark,
  • Verse 14, and theWord became flesh. Not only is the Word, Jesus, all of the the above, when we meet him in the Gospels we are meeting the Ever-existing, creating God of light and life veiled and dressed in a human body. This is what we call the Incarnation. (Chili con carne, Chili with meat, or flesh) God con carne.
  1. I’ve only listed seven so far. There. Are three more descriptive terms that John gives to Jesus in these opening verses. Two of them intensify the larger tragedy of the phrase, “there was no room”
    1. The first of these two intensifiers is in verse 10. “He was in the world and the world did not know him. (Some translations say the world did not recognize him)
    2. Why did the world not know him? Indeed,why does the world not know him today?
      1. On a very basis physical level the world did not know him because, as Wesley’s hymn tells us he was veiled, hidden in a normal very in god-like human body


  • The second sentence that shows the depth of the tragedy of “there was no room” is in verse 11. “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him (or his own rejected him)
    1. Who are “his own”? Of course this is the Jewish People. That nation whom God had promised top Abraham, birthed in the lives and descendants of Isaac, Jacob and his twelve son. It is the nations that he carpet though the 400 years of Egyptian bondage and than created at the exodus. It is the people that he defined by the law given at Sinai and then guaranteed his love and protection in the covenants. This people did not receive I him. Paul laments this rejection in Romans 9:1 when he describes this highly favored people as those whose were
      1. The adoption
      2. The glory
      3. The Covenants
      4. The giving of the law
      5. The worship
      6. The promises, and
      7. The Patriarchs—
    2. It is from these People that Jesus is born. A Jew born to Jewish parents..
    3. It is to the people that Jesus is sent
    4. It is to these people that he came to restore them to their Heavenly Father.
  1. Why didn’t his own people receive him? Why did they reject him? Well the common answer is that he didn’t meet their expectations. We have been told over and over again that the Jews of Jesus days were expecting a political leader, a military deliverer. A king like David. That is only a part of the answer. A more accurate answer is given to us, again, by the apostle Paul in Romans 10:1 there he says that although his own people, he Jews were zealous for God’s law, they sought to establish a righteousness of their own. There problem was that they were not willing to be told that what they needed was a savior from their sins. The wanted a deliverer from Rome. They were quite sure that they were in good standing with God, they were good obedient people. When Jesus came he showed them and told them that the righteousness, the goodness, the Obedience they were living was insufficient. This was something there pride would not accepts. Jesus showed them that what they need was humility and repentance. They thought they needed a better political situation. They rejected Jesus who lived a life of perfect holiness, Alia Ethan showed them there imperfect lives. He showed them a life of perfect and accurate law-keeping. He showed them true God-fearing humility. All this was contrasted to their loop-hole living, their law-bending, their self delusion and their self righteousness. Not only was there no room in the Inn, there was no room in their self-defined world view for the light that Christ shone into their darkness. There was no desire for the life that he offered them in place of the living death.
  1. It is not only that there’s was no room in the Inn at his birth it is that there was no room in the lives, expectations, plans, or felt need of the people. Their lives, their expectations, their plans, their needs filled every space where Jesus might set up his rule in their lives. Nothing has changed in the 20 centuries that have come and gone since that first night when there was no room. People do not know Jesus, they will not recognize Jesu. They do not want to know Jesus as he truly is. All of us have a wonderful mechanism for refusing to accept what we do not want to believe is true. We will ok for a dozen different defenses to reject what is contrary to our own opinion. There is no room for Jesus the savior from sin in the lives of those who do not think they are in rebellion against God—if indeed they allow themselves to believe in God. There is not room for Jesus to come and rule a life that is satisfied to allow other powers,person, or pleasures to rule them. There is no room for Jesus to come and replace fruitlessness with happiness. Nothing has changed. John tells us the stark reason that there is not room for the light. In John 3:19 he says that men love darkness rather than light.
  1. We do not end there though. I’ve given you only nine descriptions of Jesus. There is a tenth. The tenth tells us that the unrecognized, unreceived, rejected Jesus is not the end of the story. John plants a powerful epoch-changing adversative for his tenth description. He does so with the simple little three letter word in verse 12. Contrary and in opposition to grievous tragedy of verses 10 and 11 is the hopeful, bright light of verse 12. BUT—verses 10 and 11 are not the end of the story.It does need to end with tragedy. It can end with Glorious beauty. But to all who did receive him, He gave the right to become the children of God.We do not begin pour lives as children of God. Not one of us can claim to call God our father without this But. Christ Jesus must be received, He must be accepted as who the Scriptures tell us he is. And what does it means to receive or to accept.
    1. Believe on his name
      1. Heb. 11:6
      2. Rom. 1;17
  • Eph,. 2:8,9
  1. Rom. 10: 9-10
  1. Mentally and Really accept him as he is
    1. True God in Flesh
    2. Perfect without sin
  • Who died and un-earned death as a substitute for the death that sin had earned others
  1. Accept that he is the one and only way to be brought into relationship with God.
  1. There is more—and this is very important. We are to receive him not only as the deliverers from sin—which is of massive importance and benefit. We are to Receive and accept him as he defines himself in John13—You call me teacher and master and that is right for that is what I am I am you Lord and teacher. To accept and receive Jesus to open up the room that is our mind and accept his teaching as the only way to leave. It is to open up the room that is our will and to accept him as the Lord and Master of our desires, decision,and destiny.Let me come at this another way. WE are not only called to receive him with the rights, privileges and benefits of sons hip. We are called as well to accept and receive with those privileges the responsibility of obedience and followership.
  2. When I receive him this way I remove all the sentimentality of the phrase no roomand at the same time remove all of the tragedy of a life that is lived with no room.
  1. Are you a child of God? Do you have a sorrowful sense of your own going sinfulness before a holy God? Is your faith in Jesus as the only remedy for this sin? Are you growing in your love for others? Do you seek to live in such a way that you reflect and are conformed to the very lie that Jesus lived? Are you progressively saying no to the allurements and invitations of this world to be you source of happiness and delight? Are you looking forward to the the day when there will be nothing to separate you for the presence and vision of this great God in flesh, the lamb of God upon his throne? The greatest tragedy of Christmas is to that the inn had no room. It is that hearts and lives today have no room. The greatest tragedy is that those lives that have no room for a better ruler, no room for a needed savior, no room for a better way of living will spend eternity rueing their decision to close the doors of their mind,s hearts and wills to the one necessary
Read More

September 25th, 2016 Isaiah 58:13-15

Posted on Oct 3, 2016 in Sermon Notes

Call the Sabbath a Delight

September 25, 2016

Isa. 58:13-15

Read More