Archive for January, 2016

The Best Present

January 25, 2016

Every Christmas we read the Christmas story as told by Luke.  This year is no exception.

Luke 2:1-20

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Christmas is a wonderful time of year.  It seems as though most of humanity is willing to accept, for a time, the peace and good will that God offers to us in Christ.  Of course, the world spins the good news of Christmas into something else.  The focus goes from the birth of the Christ, to a man magically distributing presents.  Or, to a focus on love, family and friends; which certainly is better, but if Christ is excluded, the main point is missed.

This year my message is going to focus on a different portion of scripture.

I.  In The Beginning:  John 1:1-5

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

In Him was life.  In Christ we find, not just eternal life, but abundant life.  Life as it is meant to be.  As Christians we have purpose, hope, strength, love, peace, joy and much more.

I very much enjoy the lights at Christmas.  Our family will normally go for a ride around town to look at all the light displays as least once during the season.  Jesus is the true light of the world.  The light of His love shines in the darkness.  His love reaches out to us in many ways.  It truly is peace, good will to men.

Unfortunately, the darkness does not comprehend it.  There are many people who reject the love of God.  They do not understand.  They do not appreciate.  They are unwilling to receive the love that God has for them.

II.  Word Became Flesh:  John 1:14-18

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’”

16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

The Word, which is God, became flesh.  The birth of Christ was a truly remarkable time in history.

Grace and truth are personified in Christ.  The grace of God offers to us riches that we did not earn, nor do we deserve.  Jesus is the Truth. Our world today is especially lost, as many question whether there even is such a thing as truth.  Yet Christians have a firm foundation.  The truth is found in Christ.

Christ is the declaration of God.  In Christ the Father is revealed.  In Christ we find who we were meant to be.  We have an opportunity to receive of His fullness.  We do not fully understand or appreciate what that truly means.

Jesus Christ is truly the best present the world has ever received.

These are the sermon notes from 12/25/15.  All scripture quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Why Christ Came

January 11, 2016

At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Christ.  Jesus did not come to earth so that the American retailers can make money, He had a much greater purpose.

I.  To Save, Not Destroy:  Luke 9:51-56

 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, 52 and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. 54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”

55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them. And they went to another village.

I sometimes have conversations with atheists who are very angry.  In many of these cases the atheist has had an exposure to Christianity that either over emphasized the punishment of sins with a resulting legalistic, works oriented attitude; or people were hypocritical, saying one thing, but doing another.  These people have left the church, bitter, angry, and filled with hatred for the church.

I feel very sorry for these people.  They have had an exposure to a Christianity that very poorly represented what Christ intended for His church.

Christ did not come to spread hatred, punishment and death.  He came to spread forgiveness, love and life.

II.  Abundant Life: John 10:10

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

The life that God offers to us is not simply eternal life, it is abundant life.  An abundant life is filled with all sorts of good gifts that come from God.  Much of that comes from our growing ability to appreciate what God has done for us.  It is our ability to appreciate what God has given us in this world, but  even more important, is our ability to appreciate the relationship that we have with Him through Jesus Christ.

The abundant life does not begin when we physically die.  The abundant life begins when we are born again in Christ. (John 3: 3-6)

III.  On Our Side:  Luke 9:49-50

Now John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us.”

50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.”

Our society has such a competitive atmosphere that it has had an impact on the church.  We sometimes view people from other churches as if they were members of an opposing team, or even sometimes, an actual enemy.  We need to be able to recognize our allies and work together for the kingdom of God.  We need to be careful that we are not tearing down the work of God, just because it is not our work.  We especially need to be helpful to those who have been wounded in the battle.  Ministry can be very hard and sometimes people fail and sometimes people fall.  We should look to restore people to health and wholeness in Christ, not finish them off.

Christ came to love, to forgive, and to bring life.

So should we.

These are the sermon notes from 12/20/15.  All quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

Show Me Your Glory

January 4, 2016

“The things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of your glory and grace.”   This is a line from a chorus many of us may remember.  I wonder how focused we are on either the things of earth, or on heavenly things.

I.  Tabernacle of Meeting:  Exodus 33: 7-11

Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting. And it came to pass that everyone who sought the Lord went out to the tabernacle of meeting which was outside the camp. So it was, whenever Moses went out to the tabernacle, that all the people rose, and each man stood at his tent door and watched Moses until he had gone into the tabernacle. And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. 10 All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man in his tent door. 11 So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.

The tabernacle of meeting was a place for people to seek the Lord.  It had one purpose: to meet with God.  I do not think that we can make a fair comparison to our churches today.  Our churches today serve many functions. meeting with God is only one of them.  I hope that it is the most important function, but I suspect that I might be disappointed if I knew the truth.

Moses had a relationship with God that was unique.  The pillar of cloud would descend to the door of the tabernacle and God would speak with Moses “face to face”.  This does not need to mean that God took on a human appearance, but rather that this phrase reveals the closeness of the relationship.  I wonder how close we are to God in our conversations with Him?  Are we up close and personal, or are we watching from the cheap seats, or maybe even on TV?

Moses spoke with God and then left.  Joshua stayed behind.  He could not get enough of a good thing.  He loved to be in the presence of God.  I know that we have to live in the world, but how much time do we spend in heavenly places?  Do we just pop in for a quick visit when we need something?  Or do we take our time and linger for a while?

II.  Grace and Rest:  Exodus 33:12-14

Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’ 13 Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.”

14 And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

God had given Moses an important task.  He gave him the grace that was needed to do the task.  God promised to be with him as he did his work and to give him rest.

God has given each of us a task on this earth.  We have a purpose.  That task will change over time.  Things may change, but God always has a purpose for us, and a task for us to do.  God will give us the grace that we need to fulfill our task.  He has promised to be with us always.  He will give us rest.

III.  Show Me Your Glory:  Exodus 33:15-23

Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.”

17 So the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”

18 And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.”

19 Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”

Moses wanted more.  He had a task.  He had the grace of God.  God had promised to be with him.  Moses wanted more of God.  “Please, show me Your glory.”

God allowed His goodness to pass before him, but Moses was human and could only handle so much.  The “face to face” reference earlier was not literal, but comparative.  No mortal could truly be exposed to the fullness of God’s glory and live.  God agreed to reveal as much as He felt Moses could handle.

How hungry are we for the presence of God?  Are we satisfied with a crumb when a whole feast is laid before us?

May we encounter the glory and the goodness of the Lord.  May our capacity for that encounter grow with each passing year.

These are the sermon notes from 12/13/15.  Any advertisements that might appear have been placed by WordPress. I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.