Can Christians Agree? (John 17)

Introduction:

I was recently talking with someone about the pro-football Hall of Fame. He told me that when he talks with the Hall of Famers what they miss the most is… what do you think they miss?

It is not the money.

It is not the fame.

It is not the fame.

It is the locker room. They miss the camaraderie amongst the players. They miss the unity.

So, if you think about it, with a sport, a team can’t win when they are divided. They must be united to move the ball down the field. If the frontline want the spotlight they won’t protect the quarterback, right?

But who really cares about football? Big deal, this is just a 10 billion dollar business. Seriously, I thought it was 9 billion and then I was running with someone and he told me it is more like 10 billion, wow! But I enjoy it.

But if the football teams can be united for a common cause, can’t we? We have the Gospel of eternal life. I would tell anyone that the denominations are a stain on the church. One can drive down State Street and see First Baptist and then Alliance Friends, turn the corner and see Union Ave United Methodist and keep driving and see other churches in a matter of minutes.

Let’s read John 17:20-21:

John 17:20-21:

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 

Theme: Christians have disagreed on much but there are core beliefs that bind us together.

  1. In John 17, Jesus prayed for us, in verses 20-21 Jesus prayed that we would be one.
    1. I find this very important.
    2. Here is Jesus, almost ready to be crucified, and in His prayer, He considers it important that we will be one.
    3. He prays for the current disciples and all those who will believe.
    4. The Moody Bible commentary points out The prayer is answered foremost through Spirit baptism in which every believer is placed into the one body of Christ (cf. 10:16; 1Co 12:13; Rm 12:5; Gl 3:28; Eph 4:4).
    5. On a broader scale, Jesus’ whole prayer is about Unity. Eugene Peterson, the author of the Message Bible writes in Tell it Slant:
    6. 45 references (“they,” “these,” “their,” “them,” “those) to the 11 disciples who are in the room with Jesus including those still to become disciples over the centuries
    7. 6 times to be united: vs 11, 20-21, 21, 22, 23, 26
    8. Peterson writes as an application: “If we stay in the room with Jesus as He prays for us, we will acquire a readiness to embrace all the baptized as brothers and sisters. It may be slow in coming, but Jesus’ prayer will have its way with us. We will no longer define other Christians as competitors or rivals. Jesus doesn’t evaluate or grade His followers as He prays. He does not lay out plans to settle the controversies that he knows will arise. He is praying us into easy camaraderie. The longer we stay in Jesus’ praying presence the more we will understand that our impulses toward schism and sectarianism, our rivalries and denunciations, have no place in the room while Jesus is praying for “us to be one.” (page 225)
    9. Jesus compared the church being one to the Trinity. The Father and Son are united as one.
  2. We agree more than we disagree.
    1. So, I am beginning a sermon series going way back to the early church. In the early church there were many church councils and at these councils the codified certain beliefs. These beliefs are Biblical and they still unite us today.
    2. Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (Nicene Creed AD 325 edited at the Council of Constantinople in 381)

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made;

Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; he was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried, and the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; from thence he shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son], who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets.

In one holy catholic and apostolic Church; we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.[1]

  1. These are our core Christian beliefs. There are other things that Christians have argued about for centuries, but we are united at the core.
  2. We have the same Spirit, the Holy Spirit within us.
  3. We have the same God. Listen to:
  4. 1 Cor. 12:25-31

25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

  1. Listen to: Ephesians 4:1-5:

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

  1. We are called to be united.
  2. What binds us together is stronger than what drives us apart.
  • How do we apply this?
    1. Realize that we are united at the core.
    2. Realize that our divisions may stand out, but through church history we have been united in certain core doctrines.
    3. Please, please don’t emphasize Baptist above Christian.
    4. Please, please let’s act like we are united.
    5. God is the master card shuffler. What do I mean by that? If God sends a family out of our church to another church, let’s pray they can serve God and be served by that church. Pray for them and celebrate. Sometimes God will also send us people from another church or area. Let’s not get upset, or blame another church for taking our people. We are on the same team.
    6. Let’s work together as much as we can.
    7. Let’s emphasize our unite more than our disunity.

Close:

When I was in Cincinnati I was good friends with a Methodist pastor. He told me he used to connect with a Catholic Priest and the priest was in his church library and picked up a book on the denominations and said something like, “You split and you just kept splitting.” That is true. The reformation happened and now we have all these denominations. BUT we do agree on more than we realize. What binds us together is more than what drives us apart.

Please join me for the rest of this series as we emphasize the core Christian beliefs that unite us:

The Bible

The Universal Church and its importance

Salvation through Jesus

The Holy Trinity:

God the Father

God the Son

God the Holy Spirit

In the early creeds, we also see an emphasis on the Virgin birth and certainly the resurrection.

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

[1]  Elliot Ritzema, “Nicene Creed,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

Wise men seek the Lord

It’s funny how busy our American Christmas celebration has become. Are you glad it is over?:

One of Norman Rockwell’s delightful Post illustrations pictures a salesgirl in the toy department of one of our great stores. The date on the calendar is December 24; the hands on the clock point to five minutes past five. The poor clerk has slumped upon a pile of toys behind the counter—dress askew, hair disheveled, and arms limp at her sides. She has slipped off her shoes, and her eyes are rolled back as if she were to breathe her last. She has just made it through another great American Christmas!

—Christianity Today[1]

Maybe you get a break after Christmas but Joseph and his family didn’t. In Matthew chapter 1 we see Jesus born but then we come to Matthew chapter 2 and someone is already trying to kill Him. I want to look at this passage, but I wish to emphasize those seeking Jesus in contrast to the one trying to kill Him.

Theme: when we are wise we seek the Lord.

  1. The wise men came seeking the Lord to worship Him (verses 1-2)
    1. We usually see kings, or wise men, in our manger scenes. But notice verse 11 which says that Jesus was in a house. So, Jesus is obviously older. Most would say that Jesus was about two years old. This is based off of Herod’s order to kill all male children two years and younger. (2:16-17)
    2. These wise men were from the east and there were likely more than three. It is more likely that this was a large group of maybe even 100 people. Now, notice that Herod tries to trick the wise men so that he could kill Jesus. But God is bigger than Herod and verse 12 reveals that the wise men were warned in a dream and left by another route.
    3. Notice the magi are from the East and they arrived in Jerusalem.
    4. They saw a star. They define the star as His star. They have come to worship Him. There are a lot of implications here. (Numbers 24:17 is a good reference and references this star)
    5. The chief priests and the scribes knew enough to know where the Christ was to be born
    6. They quote Micah 5:2
    7. This is not unlike our modern political game. The magi, or wise men did not care about power. Herod wanted power.
    8. Herod says that he also wants to worship Him, but he is a lying politician wanting power.
    9. The star stood over the place where the child was born.
    10. Verse 10 they rejoiced in seeing the star
    11. Verse 11: Jesus is in a house and the family is very hospitable
    12. They worshipped the baby
    13. àJesus was God then as well
    14. The wise men left another way because of a dream
    15. The wise men give gifts: these will be important because of the upcoming travels
    16. This story is not in the other gospels
    17. The wise men outwitted Herod. (verse 16), or should I say the Lord outwitted Herod and this happened in two occasions. The Lord told the wise men to leave another way. (verse 12) Then in verse 13 God tells Joseph to take Jesus to Egypt. Early Jewish readers would recall how God protected the Israelites in Egypt in Genesis and Exodus. We know in verse 16 that Herod thought the wise men outwitted him.
    18. Who is wise? The person who seeks the Lord.
  2. Herod wanted to kill Jesus.
    1. He wanted to kill Jesus, because he wanted to be the king, not Jesus.
    2. In verse 3 it says that Herod was troubled and all Jerusalem with him.
    3. That is interesting. Why are others troubled? People like things as they are.
  • Who is our King?
    1. Our King has come, are we surrendered to Him.
    2. Wisdom means self-sacrifice as Jesus was not selfish. (Phil. 2:3-11)
    3. Wisdom means casting my crowns at Jesus’ feet (Rev. 4:8-11, notice verse 10)
    4. Proverbs 11:2 tells us that humility means seeking the Lord. It says: When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
    5. Proverbs 15:33: Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the LORD, and humility comes before honor. I must fear the Lord.
    6. S. Lewis wrote that humility doesn’t mean thinking less of yourself; it means thinking of yourself less.
    7. What I see in this passage is that Herod wanted to remain king and so he would not seek the Lord. But the wise men did not care about power and they sought after the Lord.
    8. In wisdom, this year, let’s cast our crowns at Jesus’ feet.
    9. What is first in our life? Can we set aside our interest for the interests of Jesus?
    10. Can we follow what is right, even if it means humility?
    11. Can we follow Jesus, even if it hurts our pocket book?
    12. Can we follow Jesus when it is difficult?
    13. All of Jerusalem was troubled with Herod, they were worried about change. They liked the stability Herod gave, but sometimes following Jesus means discomfort and change.
    14. The wise men saw the star and traveled, extensively for months, if not over a year, to see the King.
    15. What can we do to seek the Lord?

Conclusion:

In wisdom, the wise men sought the Lord and worshipped Him. How can we express this tangibly this year?

I am going to ask that you list something on a note card and fold it in half and put it in the envelope which is in the bulletin. Write your name and address on the envelope. We will mail them to you in a few weeks.

You can write:

I am going to seek the Lord by spending more time in Bible study.

I am going to seek the Lord by volunteering at the food pantry.

I will seek the Lord by attending a new Christian Connections group.

I will seek the Lord by volunteering at Alliance of Churches.

I will seek the Lord by healing a relationship in my family.

I will seek the Lord by joining a ministry.

I will seek the Lord by fasting.

I will seek the Lord by reading through the whole Bible in a year.

I will seek the Lord by working on a problem I have been ignoring.

I will seek the Lord by tithing.

You can write something else.

I am going to ask that you place those in the box in the back of the sanctuary and we will mail them to you in a few weeks.

Let’s pray.

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

[1] Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.

Our Hope is with us

Introduction:

Happy New Year! I hope you all have had a wonderful Christmas.

Here we are, we have another new year. In Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country they quoted Shakespeare talking about the future as the Undiscovered Country. This comes from Hamlet, Acts III, Scene I. Do we have to be afraid of the future? I think not. We have talked about Jesus as the Hope of the world. Now, the Hope of the world has come. Jesus has not left us. He is still with us. We are not alone.

Today, let’s talk about the Hope of the world being with us. The Hope of the world indwells us.

My theme is Our Hope is With us.

  1. In Matthew 1:23 the angel says that Jesus will be called Immanuel which means God with us.
    1. The point is that God became a man and He lived with us and died for us and we celebrate that.
    2. But I think there is more to it than that. Jesus is not literally with us now, is He? No, He ascended to Heaven.
    3. We talk about hope and I talk about fear of the future and in some ways I am sure we can have times when we do not wish to face tomorrow. Maybe this is because we are really not good at giving something to God. Maybe this is because we just have a tough day. But as Christians we do not need to fear the ultimate future. We do not need to fear death. Jesus us our Hope.
    4. Further as Christians we do have hope for the tough days we face. We are not alone. Our Hope IS with us.
  2. Let’s read John 14:16-17: And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 
    1. Jesus left us but He sent us the Holy Spirit.
    2. Jesus is with us through the Holy Spirit.
    3. The Spirit’s work is usually quiet.
    4. In Christianity Today, John Ortberg writes[1]:

Dale Bruner, in an essay on the Trinity, begins with the person of the Holy Spirit:

One of the most surprising discoveries in my own study of the doctrine and experience of the Spirit in the New Testament is what I can only call the shyness of the Spirit …

What I mean here is not the shyness of timidity (cf. 2 Tim. 1:7) but the shyness of deference, the shyness of a concentrated attention on another; it is not the shyness (which we often experience) of self-centeredness, but the shyness of an other-centeredness.

It is, in short, the shyness of love. Bruner points out the ministry of the Spirit in the Gospel of John, a ministry constantly to draw attention not to himself but to the Son—the Spirit comes in the Son’s name, bears witness to the Son, glorifies the Son (cf. John 14:26; 16:13).

The ministry of the Spirit could be pictured, Bruner says, by my drawing a stick figure (representing Jesus) on a blackboard. Then, to express what the Spirit does, I stand behind the blackboard, reach around with one hand, and point with a single finger to the image of Jesus: “Look at him, listen to him, learn from him, follow him, worship him, be devoted to him, serve him, love him, be preoccupied with him.”

The Spirit says, “I will be poured out on earth, and in mostly silent, invisible ways I will offer to lead and guide; never exalting myself, always pointing to the Son.” To a large extent, the Spirit’s promptings will be ignored or even denied. The Spirit will be quenched on Earth. The Spirit, to use New Testament language, will be grieved. The Spirit had never known grief through all eternity, but he will be grieved now, day after day, century after century. The Spirit says, “This price I will pay so that any who will might enter our fellowship.”

  • Picking up from that, how is the Spirit with us?
    1. Why do we look for the big? Can the Spirit be with us in the small?
    2. The Holy Spirit is our Teacher of spiritual truths. Have you ever thought of something and thought, “How’d I figure that out?” The Holy Spirit helped you. Have you ever thought of Bible verses and wondered where they came from? That is the Holy Spirit.
    3. Jesus, our hope of the world is with us, through the Holy Spirit, as we witness. The Holy Spirit is our mouthpiece when we witness. He will bring things to mind and guide the conversation.
    4. In the passage we read from John 14:16-17 the Holy Spirit is called an “advocate.” The idea is that the word used means, “One who comes alongside to help.” We can do many things because the Spirit is with us. Sometimes we don’t know this because we don’t try.
    5. Peter did not know he could walk on water until he got out of the boat (Matthew 14:28ff). Peter saw Jesus walk on water and he looked to Jesus and got out of the boat. When Peter took his eyes off of Jesus he sunk.
    6. This year how can you keep your eyes on Jesus like Peter and boldly follow Jesus.
    7. I am not asking you to jump off a building, but is there a new ministry you are being called to get involved in?
    8. How do you know?
      1. First step, seek Jesus. Take time and pray, take time and read your Bible. Spend time in Bible study with the church.
      2. Second step, seek Jesus. Keep seeking Jesus and as you do watch to see what ideas or opportunities come your way.
      3. Step three: evaluate. When you get an idea or an opportunity and you think it is from God, think about it. Pray about it, ask some Christian friends about it.
      4. Step four: think, “why wouldn’t this be from God?”
      5. Act
    9. Is God calling you to forgive? You can do that with the Holy Spirit. You are not alone.
    10. Is God calling you to heal a relationship? You can do that with the Holy Spirit, you are not alone.
    11. Is God calling you to help someone? You can do that through the Holy Spirit, you are not alone.
    12. Is God calling you to the Mission Field? You can do that through the Holy Spirit, you are not alone.
    13. Is God calling you to share Jesus with a loved one? You can do that through the Holy Spirit, you are not alone.
    14. Is God calling you to spend extra time with someone? You can do that through the Holy Spirit, you are not alone.
    15. Is God calling you to commit to something but you are afraid? You can do that through the Holy Spirit, you are not alone.
    16. Is God calling you to volunteer somewhere? You can do that through the Holy Spirit, you are not alone.
    17. Is God calling you to quit something? You can do that through the Holy Spirit, you are not alone.
    18. Is God calling you to get help for an addiction? You can do that through the Holy Spirit, you are not alone.
    19. Is God calling you to help someone else with an addiction? You can do that through the Holy Spirit, you are not alone.
    20. God is with us. God is with you.

 

Close:

Have you ever been scared? I have and it is not fun. Have you ever felt alone? That is not fun either. As a Christian we are never really alone. God is with us. Immanuel.

 

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

 

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

 

[1] http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2001/february5/32.66.html?start=2

Jesus Our Forever Hope is born

Christmas Eve message below:

Part I:

Let’s read Luke 2:1-7:

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

  1. Jesus, our hope is born.
    1. “Mommy, Daddy, tell me a story.” Have you heard that recently? What about, “Grandma, grandpa, tell me a story,” have you heard that recently? Can you think of someone who is a great storyteller, a friend who can make a trip to the shoe store sound like a real adventure? So many of us really enjoy listening to stories about our parents or grandparents growing up; things they did, times they got in trouble.
    2. I love stories. I am drawn to stories. My children love stories. I have some of their books up here. Mercedes will come to me and say, “Can you read Little House on the Prairie to me?” Abbigail will come to me and hand me a book and ask me to read it. They love stories too.
    3. At preschool Mercedes is learning all about books and so she likes to play teacher. I heard her at home telling Abigail all about books, “This is the cover and this is the back. This is the spine; the spine holds the book together. Who draws the pictures? The illustrator.” Later we heard Abigail says the same things. It was great.
    4. The Bible is full of stories and we can read that Jesus told many stories. In fact, the Bible is mostly stories. The Bible is many short stories with one grand story. We have the grand story of God’s love for us and His plan to save us from our sins. That is the grand story. There are short stories. The short stories tell:
      1. How God created us good;
      2. How humans sinned against God;
  • How God sent Jesus to be born of a virgin and die on the cross for our sins.
  1. How some day God will make all things right.
  1. How is Jesus our hope?
    1. What is the difference between faith and hope? John Piper explained that faith is a larger idea than hope. It includes hope, but is more than hope. Hope is that part of faith that focuses on the future or when faith is directed at the future you call it hope.  I like that, but with Christmas I would say, we put our faith and trust in Jesus as He is our only hope.
    2. Let’s go back to the subject of stories. This is a true story; unlike the fantasies we like to read and I love fantasy stories.
    3. This is the story of the birth of the Anointed One, that is what Messiah means, Anointed One.
    4. Jesus, born of the virgin Mary will save us from our sins, the wrong things we do.
    5. Jesus is our hope in that He will save us.
    6. Jesus is our hope in that He will eventually bring peace in the future.
    7. Jesus is our hope in that He will restore all creation and He will be the perfect King.
    8. Jesus is our hope in that He is called Immanuel and that means God with us.
    9. Jesus is our forever

I hope with Christmas we take comfort and great joy in celebrating Jesus, our Lord’s birth. The Hope of the world was born. All through the Old Testament the Bible is filled with stories and all these stories are about people looking for the Messiah and now He has been born. Jesus born in a stable which, was a barn, and laid in a manger, which was a feeding trough, this is the story of how the Hope of the world entered the world. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. This is the story of how shepherds came to worship Him and the angels worshipped Him too. This is God becoming a man.

I am going to have Prayer and then we’ll sing O Little Town of Bethlehem and Away in a Manger. These are two hymns celebrating the story of Jesus’ birth. Let’s celebrate as we worship in song. Jesus, our Forever hope is born!

Prayer and prayer for the offering.

Part II:

 

We just sang a powerful hymn, O Holy Night…

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,

It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining.

Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!

O night divine, the night when Christ was born;

O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,

With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.

O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,

Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.

The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;

In all our trials born to be our friends.

He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,

Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

 Truly He taught us to love one another,

His law is love and His gospel is peace.

Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.

And in his name all oppression shall cease.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,

With all our hearts we praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,

His power and glory ever more proclaim!

His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Now, that is worshipping through recounting the significance of Christ’s birth.

Read with me Luke 2:8-15:

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

  1. The Hope of the world was born in Bethlehem and we celebrate that at Christmas time.
    1. Our hope has come and He is Jesus. Trusting in Jesus as our hope is not natural. We have to fight and struggle to keep Jesus as our hope.
    2. I don’t know about you but many times I can focus my hope on things, but Jesus is my forever I just need to keep telling myself that.
    3. I don’t know about you but I can easily focus my hope on politicians, but Jesus is our forever hope, again, I need to remind myself of this.
    4. I don’t know about you, but I can put my hope in money. This is only temporary hope and Jesus takes care of my eternal, my forever, needs. He is my forever
    5. I don’t know about you, but I can put my hope in people, but there is only One person, Jesus who will never let me down. Jesus is our forever
    6. These are all good things and there is nothing wrong with money, things, politics, people, but they do not take care of our
    7. Placing our hope in things can overwhelm us. What I mean is thinking of people and things as our hope will fail me because only Jesus is our forever
    8. I was recently talking with a Christian athlete who was always trying to please the coach. It helped her when she realized that she only needs to please God. It helped her when she realized she plays for an audience of One.
    9. Jesus is our Lord, not money, things, people, or even our boss. Jesus is our forever
    10. He came to save us. He came to live with us. He came to set us free. He will come again and bring peace and make things right. He is the Savior. This is the story of His birth.

In a nutshell Christmas is all about Jesus’ birth. God became a human being so that He could die for our salvation.

 

One of the most exciting things that you can do while celebrating Jesus’ birthday is to make it your spiritual birthday as well. You can accept Jesus’ free gift of salvation right now.

 

God’s presence is the gift it here and you just have to unwrap the gift.

 

The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The Bible says that the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). The Bible says that Jesus is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except by Him. (John 14:6). The Bible teaches that sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). The Bible says that God will not let the guilty go unpunished (2Thess 1:8-9). Yet, the Bible teaches that God loves the people of the world (John 3:16). That is a dilemma. God can’t tell a lie or He wouldn’t be God (Numbers 23:19). God doesn’t change His mind (1Sam 15:29). That is why God sent Jesus. The guilty must go punished. Jesus took our punishment on the cross. The penalty of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.

 

 

God created us to be with Him

Our sins separate us from God

Sins cannot be removed by good works

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever

 

pray

 

Silent Night          Hymn 147

Joy to the World

 

Jesus, our hope will be born

Opening:

Did you notice the words to that song?

Soon He will come to all who believe. Come, Emmanuel, come.

All the world awaits to receive Him.

Come, Emmanuel, come.

Come, Thou long awaited Jesus, born to set us free.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus.

Enter our hearts, O Child, O child of peace.

Soon He will come, this Babe in the manger, Child of hope and love.

Soon He will come, and we will receive Him, sent from Heaven above.

Come to do His Father’s will; sent to set us free:

Free from fear and free from sin.

We believe, yes, we believe!

He will come to all who believe. Emmanuel, He will come to all who believe, come, Emmanuel, come! The world awaits. O come! All the world awaits to receive Him.

They were always waiting for a Savior in the Old Testament. Are you waiting for a Savior? Do you know that you need a Savior?

Watch this clip

Nativity Story: Angel coming to Joseph 

Read with me Matthew 1:18-25

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

My theme today is: Jesus is our hope will be born, He saves us and He is with us.

  1. Jesus will be born.
    1. They were waiting for a Savior and He was to be born.
    2. This is an amazing prophesy to Joseph. Here he has just received the news that his fiancé is pregnant and not by him, but now he finds out this baby is the Messiah. Wow!
    3. Joseph went from gloom to hope.
      1. What Does Hope Do For Mankind?
        1. Hope shines brightest when the hour is darkest.
        2. Hope motivates when discouragement comes.
        3. Hope energizes when the body is tired.
        4. Hope sweetens while bitterness bites.
        5. Hope sings when all melodies are gone.
        6. Hope believes when evidence is eliminated.
        7. Hope listens for answers when no one is talking.
        8. Hope climbs over obstacles when no one is helping.
        9. Hope endures hardship when no on is caring.
        10. Hope smiles confidently when no one is laughing.
        11. Hope reaches for answers when no one is asking.
        12. Hope presses toward victory when no one is encouraging.
        13. Hope dares to give when no one is sharing.
        14. Hope brings the victory when no one is winning. (John Maxwell from Think on These Things)
      2. Joseph had hope and so do we. Jesus is our hope.
  1. Jesus will save us from our sins.
    1. What brings salvation?
    2. What are you trusting in?
    3. Sometimes we think we don’t even need a Savior. Realize that when we mess with salvation we are trifling with the holiness of God. We need salvation because we sinned against a holy, righteous God. We Psalm 51:4: against, you only have I sinned…
    4. We need a Savior because of God’s holiness and when we say things such as “Everyone goes to Heaven with or without Jesus, or we say, “there is no hell.” This means that we are messing with the cross, yes, but we are also messing with the holiness of God. We are changing all of Scripture, we are changing the whole Old Testament. The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The Bible says that the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). The Bible says that Jesus is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except by Him. (John 14:6). The Bible teaches that sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). The Bible says that God will not let the guilty go unpunished (2Thess 1:8-9). Yet, the Bible teaches that God loves the people of the world (John 3:16). That is a dilemma. God can’t tell a lie or He wouldn’t be God (Numbers 23:19). God doesn’t change His mind (1Sam 15:29). That is why God sent Jesus. The guilty must go punished. Jesus took our punishment on the cross. The penalty of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.
    5. Jesus saves
  • Jesus will be Immanuel, which means God with us.
    1. Do you ever feel alone? I remember being in 6th grade I played football. I was dropped off at a game and my parents drove away and then I thought I needed something and it was too late, my parents were gone. I felt all alone. I can go back a few years earlier. I must have watched children cry when my mom dropped my older brother off at preschool. I thought I wouldn’t do that. I always saw the children get dropped off at preschool and they cried and cried and cried. I remember that fear when my mom dropped me off and I cried as well. Fast forward some 15 years. My parents dropped me off at college in Georgia and drove away and I think we all cried. What is it like being alone? We are not alone. We have God with us.
    2. Think have how amazing it is that God is with us as Christians.
    3. You and I, we are not alone.

The Night Before Christmas Lyrics

Steven Curtis Chapman
It was the night before Christmas and all through the world
Everything looked like business as usual
Shepherds sat on a hillside looking up at the stars
While the world fell asleep unaware just how deep
Was the darkness the night before Christmas

And the night before Christmas it seemed to be just a night
But the wind blew like something was coming
And like children with secrets that they’re bursting to tell
The cedars danced in the breeze while all of nature it seemed
Held its breath on the night before Christmas

And hope, hope long awaited
The hope of the ages
Would break with the dawn
And the song that all of creation was anticipating
Would start with a baby’s first cry

And on the night before Christmas Mary laid down to rest
While Joseph, he paced the floor praying
And in an everyday stable, in an everyday town
In the hours to come God would wrap Himself up
And come down from heaven and the world would forever be changed
After the night before Christmas

I recently read the following, please think about it with me…

Twas much,
that man was
made like God before,
But that God should
be like man
much more. (John Donne.)

Close:

Charles Swindoll:

Christmas comes each year to draw people in from the cold.

Like tiny frightened sparrows, shivering in the winter cold, many live their lives on the barren branches of heartbreak, disappointment, and loneliness, lost in thoughts of shame, self-pity, guilt, or failure. One blustery day follows another, and the only company they keep is the fellow-strugglers who land on the same branches, confused and unprotected.

We try so hard to attract them into the warmth. Week after week church bells ring. Choirs sing. Preachers preach. Lighted churches send out their beacon. But nothing seems to bring in those who need warmth the most.

Then, as the year draws to a close, Christmas offers its wonderful message. Immanuel. God with us. He who resided in Heaven, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit, willingly descended into our world. He breathed our air, felt our pain, knew our sorrows, and died for our sins. He didn’t come to frighten us, but to show us the way to warmth and safety. . . .

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

 

Jesus is Our Hope for the Future

Jesus is our hope…

I suppose in my lifetime, the man who seemed to have it most together, the man who throughout the whole specter of the world’s lifestyle, world’s religion…throughout all of the demonstration of popularity and media and all of those things, the man who stands out as the man, at least in my lifetime, that the world thought had it most together, was Mahatma Gandhi…Seemed to be at peace.  Seemed to have absolute tranquility of soul.  Seemed to know nothing of fear…

Fifteen years before Gandhi’s death, he wrote this.  “I must tell you in all humility that Hinduism as I know it entirely satisfies my soul.  It fills my whole being, and I find a solace in the Bhagavad and Upanishads that I miss even in the Sermon on the Mount.”  Utterly at peace, utterly comfortable with his Hinduism.  Just before his death, he wrote this.  “My days are numbered.  I am not likely to live very long, perhaps a year or a little more.  For the first time in 50 years, I find myself in the slew of despond.”  Footnote:  It was interesting.  He must have been reading Pilgrim’s Progress.  Then he said this.  “All about me is darkness, and I am desperately praying for light.”  Even Mahatma Gandhi, who seemed to have it all together as he began to face the inevitability of death, saw it all falling apart…[1]

Hope is a much stronger word in the Bible than it is for most of us today. The hope of deliverance and resurrection is based solidly on the promise of an almighty truth-telling, covenant-keeping God who never fails and is never thwarted, who always keeps his promises. Whenever we hope for what God has promised, we don’t wish for a possibility; we anticipate a certainty.

Jesus is our Hope. Jesus is our… what? [pause for them to finish the sentence]

Today, I wish to talk about Jesus as our hope for the future.

My theme is just that. My theme: Jesus is our hope for the future.

  1. First, Jesus told us about this when He instituted communion.
    1. Read with me Matthew 26:29, Jesus is sharing communion with the disciples. Jesus says: I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
    2. In this passage Jesus is referring to what we now call the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb.”
    3. This was common back in that day. Hebrew weddings consisted of three phases: 1) betrothal (often when the couple were children); 2) presentation (the festivities, often lasting several days, that preceded the ceremony); and 3) the ceremony (the exchanging of vows). The church was betrothed to Christ by his sovereign choice in eternity past (Eph. 1:4; Heb. 13:20) and will be presented to him at the rapture (John 14:1–3; 1 Thess. 4:13–18). The final supper will signify the end of the ceremony. This symbolic meal will take place at the establishment of the millennial kingdom and last throughout that 1,000-year period (cf. Rev. 21:2). While the term “bride” often refers to the church, and does so here (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:22–24), it ultimately expands to include all the redeemed of all ages, which becomes clear in the remainder of the book.”[2]
    4. The last supper was a type of covenant ceremony but also a type of engagement ceremony.
    5. A long time ago I was taught that a bride and groom would get engaged and then the groom goes to prepare a place for the bride. We are the bride and Jesus is preparing a place for us right now. (John 14:1-6)
  2. Paul told us about this when he reminded them of the institution of communion.
    1. In 1 Cor. 11:26: For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
    2. We are waiting on Jesus and then we will take communion with Him.
    3. We are waiting on our Hope. Hope is critical:

Researchers conducted a study on stress with Israeli soldiers. They assured one group that the march would end at a certain point but kept the other group in the dark. Although both groups marched an identical distance, those who didn’t know how long they would march registered a much higher level of stress. Why? Because they had no hope, no tangible assurance that the forced march would end. They felt helpless, wondering when, or if, they could ever rest.

  1. Jesus is our hope and He will come and set things right.
  • In Rev. 19:7-9 we see the marriage Supper of the Lamb.
    1. This is right after the Battle of Armageddon and right before the Millennial Reign.
    2. Read this passage with me: Rev. 19:7-9:

Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”

(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.) Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

  1. So, you see, that is marriage.
  2. In the end we are united with our Savior.
  3. Jesus will make things right and then we dine with Him.
  4. Jesus at the Last Supper said that He was not going to drink of the wine until He drinks it with us.
  5. That is this time, in Rev. 19:7-9, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
  6. As Christians we will be with Him.
  7. This Savior, we celebrate His birth, He is our hope for the future.

Conclusion:

John Piper writes:

And every name for Jesus is full of hope.

  • As Emmanuel (Isaiah 8:8) — “God with us” — he will pay the ransom that only a God-man can pay.
  • As Rod of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1), springing from a dead stump, he will free his people, by death and resurrection, from Satan’s tyranny, and make them free forever.
  • As the Day-spring (Luke 1:78) — the dawn of God’s Kingdom — he will be the light of the world, and banish the hopelessness of darkness.
  • As the Key of David (Isaiah 22:2), he rescues us from hell, locks the door behind us, unlocks the door of heaven, and brings us home.
  • And as the Desire of nations (Haggai 2:7), he will draw the ransomed from every people and make them a kingdom of peace.

This is who Jesus is. This is what he already achieved and will complete. And so with every verse [of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”], the refrain reaches down musically into our weak hearts and pull us up, in faith, to see the certainty of the end.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Artistically, the rhythm of plaintive longing in the verses, punctuated with powerful bursts of joy in the refrain, are, to my mind, just about perfect. The mystery and the wonder of Christian living are captured. Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. Already. But not yet. Fulfillment of glorious promises — yes! But consummation in the new earth with new bodies and no sin — not yet. We are left confident, but still crying out: “O come, O come, Emmanuel.”

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

[1] http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/2266/jesus-power-over-death-part-2

[2] MacArthur Study Bible

Jesus is Our Hope in that He Will Bring Peace

I recently listened to an audio book about Lincoln and in the end it talks about his impact. I found a similar account in a New York Times article. The Times quotes Tolstoy.

Tolstoy said:

Once while traveling in the Caucasus I happened to be the guest of a Caucasian chief of the Circassians, who, living far away from civilized life in the mountains, had but a fragmentary and childish comprehension of the world and its history. The fingers of civilization had never reached him nor his tribe, and all life beyond his native valleys was a dark mystery. Being a Mussulman he was naturally opposed to all ideas of progress and education. I was received with the usual Oriental hospitality and after our meal was asked by my host to tell him something of my life. Yielding to his request I began to tell him of my profession, of the development of our industries and inventions and of the schools. He listened to everything with indifference, but when I began to tell about the great statesmen and the great generals of the world he seemed at once to become very much interested. 

The conversation continued. Descriptions of the Czar. Napoleon. Frederick the Great. But the Circassian chief was clearly unhappy. Something was missing. 

‘…You have not told us a syllable about the greatest general and greatest ruler of the world. We want to know something about him. He was a hero. He spoke with a voice of thunder; he laughed like the sunrise and his deeds were strong as the rock and as sweet as the fragrance of roses. The angels appeared to his mother and predicted that the son whom she would conceive would become the greatest the stars had ever seen. He was so great that he even forgave the crimes of his greatest enemies and shook brotherly hands with those who had plotted against his life. His name was Lincoln and the country in which he lived is called America, which is so far away that if a youth should journey to reach it he would be an old man when he arrived. Tell us of that man.’ 

[Remember who is telling the story. Not some run-of-the-mill humdrum storyteller, but the supreme master of Russian literature. Indeed, the Circassian chief as quoted by Stackelberg sounds more like Tolstoy than how I imagine a Circassian chief might sound. Regardless. Tolstoy told him everything he knew about Lincoln. But the Circassian chief was not satisfied. He wanted something more. The story tells us that mere words are often not enough. He needed a photograph.]

I can hardly forget the great enthusiasm which they expressed in their wild thanks and desire to get a picture of the great American hero. I said that I probably could secure one from my friend in the nearest town, and this seemed to give them great pleasure…

One of the riders agreed to accompany me to the town and get the promised picture, which I was now bound to secure at any price. I was successful in getting a large photograph from my friend, and I handed it to the man with my greetings to his associates. It was interesting to witness the gravity of his face and the trembling of his hands when he received my present. He gazed for several minutes silently, like one in a reverent prayer; his eyes filled with tears. He was deeply touched and I asked him why he became so sad. After pondering my question for a few moments he replied: ‘I am sad because I feel sorry that he had to die by the hand of a villain. Don’t you find, judging from his picture, that his eyes are full of tears and that his lips are sad with a secret sorrow?

Abe Lincoln did a lot of good, but did he bring peace, I mean real peace? Will politics bring about peace? Will our next President bring peace? Who is the hope of the world?

We are beginning our Advent series titled, “Jesus is the Hope of the World.”

Today, I want to focus on Jesus bringing peace.

My theme: Jesus was prophesied as the hope of the world, who will bring peace.

Let’s read: Isaiah 2:1-4:

This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:

In the last days

the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
and all nations will stream to it.

Many peoples will come and say,

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.

  1. Jesus will bring peace.
    1. This passage was written some 700 years before Christ. This is a prophesy that still hasn’t been fulfilled.
    2. By the way, you can find, almost the exact same prophesy in Micah 4:1-3.
    3. I want to mainly focus on verse 4, but let me give some background.
    4. I stand here and say that Jesus is the hope of the world and you may be wondering, how is He the hope of the world.
    5. Listen, Jesus is the hope of the world and that He will bring peace.
    6. I know you may be thinking, “Why don’t we have peace yet, what is He waiting on?” I will tell you He is waiting for me to be saved. When peace comes judgment will also come. You can see 2 Peter 3:9: The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, cnot wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
    7. In this passage Isaiah is writing about a future day. Many think this is the Millennial Reign which you can read about in Revelation 20:2-7. This could be talking about a time after that.
    8. Either way, it says that the Mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest mountain. In that day and age it was a big deal for the mountain to be the highest.

The Weidner Chronicle declares that the city of Babylon should be elevated and exalted in all lands. In addition, Assyrian building inscriptions often talk about elevating the temple by restoring it and increasing its height. In Babylonian literature the Marduk Prophecy (from several centuries before Isaiah) announces the future elevation of Babylon with the temple doubled in height. That text also mentions returning the scattered ones (by which it means the statues of the gods that have been disenfranchised from their temples). It continues by describing a period of peace, justice and prosperity, including the dismantling of fortresses. This general language of city restoration and elevation is therefore familiar in the rhetoric of the ancient Near East.

  1. That imagery would be familiar to the people.
  2. The passage says that everyone will come to Jerusalem. God will teach, the Law of the Lord will go out.
  3. Then we get to verse 4: He will judge. He will settle disputes.
  4. They will beat their swords into plowshares.
  5. This means that instead of swords, you’ll need a plow.
  6. You won’t need to be prepared for battle or defense.
  7. Beat their spears into pruning hooks.
  8. Instead of spears for defense, you will need to farm.
  9. Jesus the hope of the world will bring peace.
  1. Let’s apply
    1. Who is your hope? Jesus is the hope of the world.
    2. Will a politician bring peace? No, the baby in Bethlehem will bring peace.
    3. Will a business leader bring peace? No only Jesus, the Messiah who did not have a home or business (Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:58).
    4. What if we could get the right economy, will that bring peace? No, Jesus’ economic policies were about self-sacrifice and giving and He will bring peace (Matthew 10:39; 16:25; Luke 9:23; 17:33).
    5. Only Jesus will bring peace, He is the hope of the world.

Close:

In 1864, one of America’s great poets, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, wrote the poem which became the well-known carol, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.
When I first heard this song, I wondered, “Why does he suddenly shift from joy at hearing the Christmas bells into such deep despair?” It starts with:
I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
Then he says:
And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men!”
The question is clearly answered when we see two verses of the original that are not included in our hymn. In these verses Longfellow speaks of the horrors of the American Civil War that was tearing the country apart. In fact, his son had been seriously wounded in that conflict not long before he wrote the song. (The death of Longfellow’s wife two years earlier may have contributed to his mood too.) Listen to what they say:
Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearthstones of a continent
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
Little wonder he is tempted to despair. And yet he concludes with the resounding affirmation, “God is not dead, nor does he sleep!” Through the Savior whose birth the angels celebrated, God will accomplish what he has promised.

Jesus will bring peace.

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

 

c 1 Tim 2:4; Rev 2:21

Are we thankful for the church?

Introduction:

A father and his son were seated at the dining room table, while the mother was finishing the final preparations on the family’s dinner. While the father and son were seated, the father asked the son if he would say the prayer for the meal. The youngster nodded his head, and said that he would pray. The mother placed the last of the meal on the table, and sat down. The boy looked around the table at the food for a moment, and began to pray. He said, “God, I’m not sure what it is. But thanks anyway. And I’ll still eat it.”

C.S. Lewis said:

“We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good; if bad, because it works in us patience, humility, contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.” 

We are continuing our short series on being thankful.

Today, I wish to talk about the church family.

My theme is: We are thankful for our church family.

Let’s read Ephesians 1:16:

I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

  1. Is the church worth being thankful for?
    1. In this passage Paul is thankful for their faith.
    2. This is one long sentence in the Greek. Verses 3-14 are a sentence and verses 15-23 are one sentence. If we look at verse 15 it says: For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people
    3. So, Paul is not just giving thanks for them in general, he is giving thanks for their faith and their love for all the people. He is giving thanks that they live the Christian faith.
    4. I’ll tell you it is encouraging to serve a church that cares about people.
    5. I have to be thankful in the same way here at First Baptist.
    6. I am thankful for your commitment to serve the Alliance Community in Alliance Mission Encounter.
    7. First Baptist has many that I can call at the drop of a hat and they are ready to help people in need.
    8. I remember a few years ago I heard that someone who was near ninety years old was cutting up a tree that fell in a storm. I called two of you and you took care of it that very day.
    9. A few weeks ago I heard of someone who needed help moving things and two of you helped the next day.
    10. How many times have we helped people move.
    11. You have been on the receiving end and the giving end.
    12. I give thanks for the church family.
    13. Do you give thanks for the church family?
    14. In some countries the church family are the only family someone has:
      1. Tariku Fufa was thirteen years old when he decided to follow Jesus. Upon hearing the news, his father gave him an ultimatum: “Tariku, I give you a choice between Jesus and family.” When the boy remained firm in his commitment to Christ, his father beat him, cut his face with a knife, and threw him out into the streets of Begi, Ethiopia, to fend for himself. Without his medication, Tariku nearly died from an asthma attack, but felt God’s assurance that He had something else in store for this young man.[1]
      2. When this happens the church steps in and fill the void, being the family.
    15. It was Paul’s practice to give thanks for the church:

Romans 1:8:

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 

1 Cor. 1:4:

I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.

Phil. 1:3:

I thank my God every time I remember you.

Col. 1:3:

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you…

1 Thess. 1:2:

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.

 

2 Thess. 1:3:

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters,[a] and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.

 

  1. Are we thankful for the church?
  2. Are we thankful in general?
    1. Fable of the

Porcupine
It was the coldest winter ever.  Many animals died because of the cold.

The porcupines, realizing the situation, decided to group together to keep warm. This way they covered and
Protected themselves; but the quills of each one wounded their closest companions.

After awhile, they decided to distance themselves one from the other and they began to die, alone and frozen. So they had to make a choice: either accept the quills of their
Companions or disappear from the Earth.

Wisely, they decided to go back to being together. They learned to live with the little wounds caused by the close
Relationship with their companions in order to receive the heat that came from the others. This way they were able to survive.


The best relationship is not the one that brings together perfect people, but when each individual learns to live with the imperfections of others and can admire the other person’s good qualities.

The moral of the story is:

Just learn to live with the Pricks in your life!

 

  1. I know the church has problems. We have a fallen nature so we have problems. We get stung. I realize that, but in the end I believe the church is better off with you than without you. I believe you are better off with the church than without the church.

Close:

A large family sat around the breakfast table one morning. As the custom, the father returned thanks, blessing God for the food. Immediately after, however, as was his bad habit, he began to grumble about hard times, the poor quality of the food he was forced to eat, the way it was cooked, and much more.
His little daughter interrupted him, “Dad, do you suppose God heard what you said a little while ago when you were giving thanks?”
“Certainly,” the father replied with the confident air of an instructor.
“And did he hear what you said about the bacon and the coffee?”
“Of course,” replied the father with a note of caution in his voice.”
Then his daughter asked, “Dad, which did God believe?”

 

WHEN ONE IS THREATENED

A Mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. “What food might this contain?” The mouse wondered. He was devastated to discover it was a Mouse-Trap Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning. “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”

The Chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.”

The Mouse turned to the pig and told him, “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The Pig sympathized, but said, I am very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be Assured you are in my Prayers.”

The Mouse turned to the Cow and said, “there is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The Cow said, “Wow, Mr. Mouse, I am sorry for you, but it’s no skin off my nose.”

So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s mousetrap alone. That very night a sound was heard throughout the house – like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey.

The Farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake was furious and bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital and she returned home with a severe fever.

Everyone knows that you treat a fever with a fresh chicken soup. So, the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient. But his wife’s sickness continued, so friends and relatives came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.

The Farmer’s Wife did not get well and she died. So many people came to the funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.

The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness. And, Said, “I warned them about the mouse trap but they did not take my warning into account…”

I believe thankfulness changes our perspective. When we are thankful for the church we realize how important the church is. I ask that you are thankful.

In your bulletin we have a First Baptist Church thank you card. I encourage you this week to write in that card and send it to someone this week. It doesn’t have to be someone from this church, it could be a friend or family member, but send it to someone. Thank someone. You don’t have to thank them for doing something for you, just thank them for being a friend. Wouldn’t it be neat if we all received cards this week?

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation

[1] http://www.todayintheword.org/titw_devotion.aspx

Give thanks for Salvation

Intro:

How do you respond to the devil’s attacks?

Martin Luther said the devil came to him every night “to dispute with him.” Luther said he learned two things would chase the devil away. One was to say, “Satan, I am baptized. I have left your wilderness. You have no more jurisdiction.”

The other way — and I’m not sure how else to say this — was to pass gas. Luther believed that because the devil was proud and hated mockery, passing gas in his face was a way of mocking him and making Satan flee. I kid you not.  

Baptism follows salvation and to Martin Luther he was clinging to his salvation when the devil attacked him. Baptism sealed the deal for Luther. Baptism tangibly represents the intangible.

Where would you be without Jesus? What would your life like without Jesus?

Does your salvation give you hope for eternity?

What do you think about at funerals? Does your salvation give you hope when you think about death?

Does your salvation give you answers?

I have a thank-you card in my hand, do any of you send thank-you cards? Do any of you receive thank-you cards? Do any of you say thank-you?

Now, what are you thankful for? Food, clothing, shelter, children, family, friends, work, retirement, money, our country, etc.

When you thank God, do you thank Him for your salvation?

Theme:

Today we will look at Colossians 1:12-14 and talk about thankfulness for salvation. 

Read with me Colossians 1:12-14:

and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

  1. In Col. 1:12-13 we see God’s great rescue mission.
    1. I know verse 12 starts midsentence. Paul is in the middle of one long sentence. Paul was the master of long sentence. This sentence starts in verse 9 and is an extended sentence with 218 words. So, verses 9-20 are one long sentence in the Greek.
    2. This is a prayer that Paul is praying.
    3. These three verses are about giving thanks to God for our salvation.
    4. The NIV says “Joyful” thanks.
    5. God has qualified us, you, to share in the inheritance.
    6. Who qualified you? God qualified you. Only Jesus. Ephesians 2:8-10 says that we are saved by grace.
    7. We give thanks for gifts and our salvation is a free gift.
    8. We don’t have to give thanks for what we earn. We give thanks for gifts.
    9. Psalm 51:12 says to restore to me the “joy” of your salvation. Do you ever ask God for that restored joy? I think that joy would cause us to be thankful.
    10. We have an inheritance in Christ. We are considered sons and daughters of God. We are family. (Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 4:4-5; Ephesians 1:5) We have an inheritance in Heaven.
    11. We are part of the Light, as opposed to darkness which was a common contrast which Paul would use.
    12. Our salvation was God’s great rescue mission.
    13. Verse 13 says that God rescued us from darkness.
    14. Think about a rescue. This makes me think of a good action movie going to rescue someone.
    15. In the Patriot Mel Gibson’ character rescued prisoners by outwitting the British
    16. Maybe show clip
    17. God outwitted the devil and rescued us.
    18. We aren’t simply rescued from darkness and left wondering. No, we are transferred to the Kingdom of Jesus.
    19. Verse 14 says that He redeemed us and this means that He bought us, just like you buy a slave.
    20. Verse 14 says that we also are forgiven.
    21. So, ae you thankful for your salvation?
    22. John Macarthur shares:
    23. First Chronicles 16:23Psalm 96:2says, “Proclaim the good tidings of His salvation day to day. Way back in 1 Chronicles, way back in the Psalms, people were proclaiming on a daily basis the good news of the salvation of God. That has always been the greatest preoccupation of the people of God, to praise Him for salvation. Revelation 7, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb,” that’s heaven. All the beings in heaven are praising God and the Lamb for salvation.
    24. So we can say it is the theme of the Holy Spirit’s revelation…the theme of the Holy Spirit’s revelation. I will simplify the Bible for you. The main theme in the Bible is salvation, right? That’s the theme of the Bible. It goes from corruption to salvation, from the Fall to eternal glory. The theme of the Bible is salvation and so it is the theme of the Holy Spirit’s inspiration. Everything that the prophets in the Old Testament knew about salvation was given to them by the Holy Spirit. They…verse 11 says that they were prophesying of the grace that would come because the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating, was communicating, predicting the sufferings of Christ and the glories that followed. The Holy Spirit was revealing the sufferings of Christ in Psalm 22, Psalm 69, Isaiah 52, Isaiah 53, Daniel 9, Zechariah 12, Zechariah 13. The Holy Spirit was revealing all of this, the sufferings, death, trial, beating, crucifixion and the glories to follow. The Holy Spirit revealed truth about the resurrection, the ascension, the enthronement. The resurrection, obviously, implied everywhere that the Messiah is seen reigning because if He dies, He has to rise to reign. The resurrection in Psalm 16, the resurrection in Psalm 22, the resurrection in Psalm 69, the resurrection, exaltation of Christ, Isaiah 9, Isaiah 53, the end of the chapter, Daniel 2, Daniel 7, Zechariah 2, Zechariah 14. They were prophesying about His suffering and about His glory because that was the message of the Holy Spirit. Those two things were the theme of Old Testament prophecy.
    25. Are we thankful?

Conclusion:

I have a long rope up here. This rope represents time. Our life is just a small part of time. James says just a vapor in James 4:14. But eternity is forever. But we only usually focus on our life now, not on eternity. How do we find out about eternity? We find out about eternity through the Bible. The Bible teaches us about our salvation which is effective for all eternity.

Are we thankful?

In your bulletin there is space for you to write a thank-you prayer to God. Write this out as if you are writing a thank you card to God. You are thanking Him for your salvation.

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)