Sunday, March 27th, 2016
by Dion Frasier
Where, o death, is your sting? Where, o grave, is your victory? Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, and his life emancipates us from fear, quarrels, condemnation and hatred.
Where, o death, is your sting? Where, o grave, is your victory? Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, and his life emancipates us from fear, quarrels, condemnation and hatred.
Jesus is our hope, but he's not always the hope we think we need. When Jesus entered Jerusalem a final time, many believed he was about to fulfill all of their hopes and overthrow the Romans, restoring the throne of David. But then they encountered something different...
Hopelessness is not unlike being orphaned and not knowing what's coming next. But we have a secure future. And that secure reality has present day implications.
Hope is the foundation of what keeps us looking forward in spite of our often desperate circumstances. As Christians, our ultimate hope is rooted in the resurrection of Jesus, and the promise that we, too, will be resurrected.
We have discussed in the past God?s ultimate plan to transform the world. Our concluding sermon in this leg focuses on the God?s invitation to the ?transformed? to work on his behalf toward the goal of global transformation.
Continuing our journey with the theme of transformation, we take a brief look at the transforming process that took lace in a few characters in the Bible. Transformation does not guarantee the absence of struggle, but it empowers the transformed to deal with struggle.
Paul encourages us to place ourselves on an altar. This is the place where transformation begins. While we long to be in control of the transforming process, offering our bodies as living sacrifices surrenders control to God for transformation.
There is not one person who has escaped being marked on and muddied up by our broken, fallen world and our part in it.
For all have sinned; all fall short of God?s glorious standard. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. Romans 3:23?24
There are no perfect people. Look at the person next to you. Looks like they have it all together, don?t they? Maybe not! That person has said things, done things, thought things that would shock you. And yet, we pretend we?re perfect. People play games. We run and hide, because the rules of the world have told us ?If they knew that? if they saw that? they?d judge you, they?d run away, and you?ll be alone?feeling condemned.? And so God, by his grace has set us free?if we?ll just receive it, take it in, let it mark us indelibly. He has declared us not guilty, not condemned?fully forgiven, accepted, adopted, loved by the only One who really knows our true identity.
As we stand on the verge of a new year, it's only fitting to ask "Where have we been?", and maybe more importantly, "Where are we going?". Whatever the answers, the uncomfortable truth remains: we will have to change.
The holiday season is upon us, and having the kids perform is one of our church's favorite Christmas activities.
Forgiveness is a subject that impacts each of us. We all need forgiveness and we all need to forgive. The subject can stir up emotions?powerful, positive emotions when forgiveness led to reconciliation; powerful, negative emotions when forgiveness was withheld and relationship remains severed. Our passage of Scripture today combines both of these experiences. We can remember the gracious, embodied gift of God?s forgiveness in Jesus. We can also remember the waiting that occurred among God?s people, waiting for a definitive word from God. It is important to reflect and focus on forgiveness because each of us will face times, again, when we both need to seek forgiveness and when we need to offer forgiveness. How does the gift of Jesus help to make us forgiving people and forgiven people?
Have you ever read an email, text message, book, or letter too quickly and so misunderstood what was being communicated? In our hectic and busy world, there can be instant communication at any time. Not only do computers, cell phones, and tablets facilitate communication, but they increase the expectation of what is a timely response. In the midst of this hurriedness, communicating slowly may not be an option. Yet slow communication is exactly what is needed sometimes. We sometimes call this ?thinking before speaking?! Perhaps you have had the experience of waiting before hitting ?Reply? and found that your response to an angry email changed?or perhaps was not sent at all. Perhaps you found that by listening, the communication wasn?t as angry as you initially sensed. Advent is a time of waiting. It is a time of slowing. We are encouraged not to rush to the celebration of Christmas. Perhaps we can think of Advent as a gift of waiting, of communicating thoughtfully, to make sure we don?t misunderstand God?s communication of Jesus.
If you have ever seen flashing lights in your rearview mirror though you were a model driver; if you have ever been asked about a rumor that was spread behind your back; if you have ever been found guilty?in a court or a simple conversation?when you were innocent; if you have ever been terminated without cause, then you have a glimpse of the experience that many of this passage?s first hearers felt. Isaiah 42 is part of a section that captured the words of God to a group of people suffering injustice. The Jewish people had been in exile in Babylon for almost fifty years. Injustice can roil up within as rage, anger, bitterness, helplessness, frustration. All of those things can lead for our desire for vengeance, revenge.
Most people, deep down, fear judgment and condemnation from God and others, because when we get honest with ourselves, we know something's not quite right. Yet instead of turning to God for help, naturally we run from God. We run from the only One who can heal us, change us, and give us life. This is the central message of faith in Christ - that God will take anyone willing, regardless of what they've done or how bad they've been or how much they've tried and failed. And he will move us from this sin-cycle of shame, condemnation, and death to this state of full acceptance as adopted children.
Our distractions are legion. We are constantly bombarded with a myriad of media that vies for our attention. News, popular culture, family, work - they all have their time and place. But where does God fit into our modern lives? Where and when do we take a stand to choose to be focused - and to love?
Caught in the "mazes" and struggles of life, Jesus touched and changed the lives of so many. After their interactions with him, their lives would take on drastically different trajectories than before they had encountered Jesus.
Jesus taught with authority, yet he used stories and illustrations that permeated the minds of those who were listening. Jesus did not get caught up in theological ramblings, but told simple stories that have stood the test of time. In our approaches to know God, are we burying ourselves under the weight of data and theory while not experiencing the simplicity of God?s message?
Key Text: Mark 4:1-2
Jesus was a foodie! The most popular setting for Jesus and his interactions was at a table. Eating at a table is one of the most prominent metaphors in scripture. Additionally, at a table there is a social declaration that participants are equals.
Jesus was a commoner who grew up in meager accommodations. His appearance and simple approach to life identified with the masses. The very thing that was a factor in rejecting Jesus as the Messiah, was also what contributed to his mass appeal.
God can use many tools to empower recovery and restoration over our weaknesses.
Forrest Gump won 6 Academy awards in 1995 including best picture and best actor for Tom Hanks. This interesting movie is the origin of the popular phrase, ?Life?s like a box of chocolates. You never know which one you?re going to get.? This entertaining story has an eerie similarity to the story presented in the book of Hosea. We will explore this story as it pertains to the passionate, pursuant love of God. As a missional movement, our call is to be like God and be equally pursuant of loving relationships with others.
Selma tells the story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his leadership in Alabama as they fought for equal rights in a segregated south. This movie has come to us during a difficult time in our society when discussions about race tend to get swallowed up in politics and innuendo. As Christ followers, we have an obligation to walk in the direction of justice that might be unpopular and dangerous. Walking in the direction of justice was the ardent and prophetic call of Micah, and the mantle carried by Jesus in his ministry. Thus, as followers of Jesus in mission, walking in the way of justice becomes our responsibility.
This story was written by Victor Hugo and found international success as a long playing musical written by Andrew Lloyd Weber. There are also movie adaptations of the novel, most recently in 2012, starring Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway. The backdrop of this story is the French revolution, but at the forefront is a hero who has been redeemed and seeks to offer redemption to those he loves and to his enemies. How does a missional church multiply redemption?
This colorful movie continues to be a family favorite. While it would seem that it is simply a movie about an overabundance of sweets, underneath it is a story of one man's imagination to be significant in the lives of others. This quest can be compromised when one is overtaken in self-indulgent behavior. Our missional calling is one that is driven by the imagination of God who calls us to be a blessing to the world.
More and more we are taking note of the spiritual overtones portrayed in popular music and movies. In this sermon series, we will explore some spiritual themes in four movies. Hopefully this jump starts a more keen awareness of how God speaks through various forms including the theater. Also, we won?t lose sight of our missional calling and how these themes help us to understand our mission in God?s kingdom.
Jesus challenges us to do the right thing, to do what's in other's best interest.
To say 'amen' is to mentally assent or agree to a proclamation of truth. As a mission-outpost called to worship a Father, to bring his domain to the earth, to accept our unique preparation, to share our spiritual reality, to receive protection from the enemy and to be overwhelmed by the power and stature of God's ways, our most appropriate response is to no longer sit as passive bystanders, but to stand up and go be the hands and feet of Christ. This is the missional dispatch!
Trying to comprehend the dimensions of the kingdom of God starts with coming to grips that God is all powerful. He has entrusted with the task of expanding the kingdom by displaying his power in our world and in our communities. Our faithfulness to this empowering commission ultimately brings glory to God!
Becoming a mission-outpost in the form of various helps and ministries is not the end game. In the end, there are spiritual realities that spring up when we are the hands and feet of Christ. There is an expectation that the disciples of Christ will offer to others the same spiritual reality that God has offered to them. Forgiveness serves as but one spiritual reality, but it is, indeed, an important one.
Disciples are called to place an unwavering faith in God to provide their needs. This faith includes an understanding that God will give us everything we need in order to be a ?mission outpost?. The variety of gifts in our body is well documented. Do we believe that we have been equipped and will we go forward knowing we have all we need?
The church has not been called to escape to heaven to disperse blessings. We have been called to bless the earth with the blessing of God on the earth while we live on this earth. The church becomes a place where the Mission of God is incubated, birthed and launched in faith.
In this introduction, we explore the powerful and simple language of the invitation to be the children of God as well as the cue to worship. Out of a heart of full engagement with the Father can flow incredible ministry and practice in the Mission of God.
The church is about community. Community is about relationship. Who is our neighbor and who is not our neighbor? Jesus' answer to that question might be hard to take, but that's the calling of the church.
We have been given the Holy Spirit. With it comes the very Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead and our unique gifting. Paul reminds Timothy to ?stir? the Spirit within him. It may be that we believe that we have the Spirit in us, but we do nothing with it. What happens when we activate God?s Holy Spirit within us?
The movement of God involves a community that is committed to His way. After declaring Jesus is Lord, the words and actions of the community reflect a deep commitment to the way. The explosive growth that took place in the early church had much to do with the unwavering devotion and commitment of the early believers. Can we recapture that commitment?
God has always ignited movements throughout the history of the world. As a church, we have been called to be a member of something that is bigger than us. We are challenged then to participate in the movement of God that is often hard for us to comprehend or understand. Nevertheless, our call is to go big and partner with God in the renewing, redeeming and reconciliation of his creation.
Listen to what the Lord has done through and to his people.
Reconditioning our minds with gratitude has the potential to change the way we look at things. Paul?s encouragement to give thanks in all circumstances sounds ridiculous. But does Paul have insight on better living being connected to our embrace of gratitude?
Because we live in a country where excess is the rule, not the exception, our understanding of gratitude is often blurred. In this sermon, we look at what it means to be content. We will be encouraged to say "No" to more things, and say "Thanks" for what we already have.
Being grateful, or full of thanks, is part of the life of God's people. We see time and time again throughout the bible a theme of thanksgiving.
We conclude our walk through Exodus. We will briefly revisit themes like liberation, divine presence, justice, faith and covenant. As we end, we seek to invoke a spirit at church that desires to encounter the living God in every aspect of our daily living.
The episode of the Israelites worshiping a golden calf continues to expose the flaws in the human condition. After witnessing the mighty acts of YHWH, in a moment of fear Israel turns to an idol. Here we also witness the "jealousy of God". What are our modern day idols? How have we angered the Lord with our worship of idols?
The tabernacle with its grandiose architecture provided a physical reminder that God dwelled in the midst of his people. Again, we are presented with YHWH's intent to communicate his perpetual divine presence with his people. Do you feel his presence? How does the church communicate the message of God's continual Divine Presence?
Resurrection Sunday 2015
God continues to reveal his law to Moses and Israel. The focus of the laws that followed the Ten Commandments (The Decalogue) is justice. After a harsh treatment of the Israelites by the hand of Egypt, YHWH intends for his people to cleanse themselves of injustice and perform acts of justice, love and mercy.
The Ten commandments stand as the ultimate and iconic display of rules for God's people. But instead of categorizing these ten rues as a list of "to-do's" or "not-to-do's" we will look at this revelation as God's desire to consecrate his people and set them on a different course than the ethos of Egyptian living. In terms of contemporary understanding, the goal is not to fight for the display of these commandments in the public square, but to embrace an understanding of Holy living in the name of the Lord.
The human condition is revealed so prominently immediately following the liberation of Israel. It started with grumbling abut food and water. It progressed into expressing a desire to go back to slavery. What is the alternative of living a life of faithless and hopeless identity?
After the miraculous deliverance of Israel, Moses and his Sister lead the congregation in songs of praise. Our story is one rich and replete with songs that reflect God's movement in our lives. This motif represents a consistent movement in the life of God's people. The appropriate response to God's activity is worship. What song will you sing in response to your personal liberation?
Video courtesy of YouTube.
The filmmakers who have tried to recreate Israel's escape through the Red Sea attempts to visually capture one of the most fantastical events to ever take place. But visual recollection cannot capture the overwhelming significance of this salvation event. This event would be the subject of songs of faith and praise for generations. As we walk through the text, let's join Israel as they are delivered from Egypt.
The Passover reveals so much of the narrative of the Israelites. Its immediate context is drawn from the events of the tenth and final plague in Egypt. The instructions on how to participate in the Passover reveal the story of God and his people.
The plagues described in Exodus heighten our sensitivity to the mystery of God and his plans. The phenomena that are displayed range from bizarre to preposterous. Yet the first nine plagues all help highlight that YHWH is the true God of land, air and sea. To that end, the plagues were commissioned to convince both Egyptians and Israelites that YHWH is GOD!
Moses follows the call of God. They tell Pharaoh that the Lord said to "Let my people go!" This request upsets the king and he increases the workload and struggle. In the face of increased hardship, how did God reassure Moses regarding his mission? How are we reassured in life when things become overbearing?
See more of Shaina's story on Dr. Phil.
The greatness of Moses cannot be understated. His birth and miraculous saving from infanticide foreshadows the larger work of salvation in the story of Exodus. What do we learn from the call of Moses in Exodus?
While we are mesmerized by the burning bush story, the presence of the Lord is communicated on a much larger scale than the bush. The call of Moses introduces us to the covenant name of the Lord. We will explore his name and the overwhelming blessing of his divine presence with his people.
Important to the Exodus story is the introduction and rise of Moses. God used a flawed individual to lead the liberation of his people. It is also important to highlight God's use of regular individuals in his purposes. Their actions demonstrate more power than the unnamed Pharaoh.
In this final sermon of 2014, we go to Mount Nebo. From this mountain Moses saw the Promised Land and this would be the last sight he would see. Moses died and the conquest of the land would commence. While it is beneficial to look back and remember, that cannot overshadow that God is moving us forward into new lands and new territories. Key Text: Deuteronomy 34
Since before time began no one has ever imagined, No ear heard, no eye seen, a God like you who works for those who wait for him. You meet those who happily do what is right, who keep a good memory of the way you work. But how angry you?ve been with us! We?ve sinned and kept at it so long! Is there any hope for us? Can we be saved?
In many ways, the American dream has deceived us into measuring up to standards that are unrealistic and unattainable. We consume ourselves with the pursuit of happiness and when that is not achieved, we are overcome with feelings of failure. This may also be a result of a poor self-image. In this concluding sermon, we will consider what it means to be made in the image of God. We will be encouraged to renounce the world's "view" and expectation of us, and be dared to live in God's image.
How do you react when someone cuts you off in traffic, or doesn't say thank you when you open the door? Why do we get so angry at the most minuscule things? Is there something within us that is unresolved that is the source of our anger? When is it right to be angry, and when is it wrong to be angry?
Most studies report that 1 in 10 Americans have suffered symptoms of depression at least one time in their lifetime. The number of those who suffer with depression grows every year. There are so many factors that contribute to depression and there is no one answer that will solve it. Does the bible have anything to say about depression? How do we, in the kingdom of God, deal with the growing number of people struggling with depression?
Money, careers, children, sickness and death are just some of the things that occupy our minds and cause us to worry. So then, why is Jesus insistent on telling his followers not to worry about even the simple things in life? Worry is often the fuel to other emotions and we will explore this feature.
The recent news regarding the Ebola outbreak has our nation griped with fear. It's the lead story on the local and national news. With the sensationalism surrounding zombie apocalypses, fear and hysteria continues to grow. Why have we become enslaved to fear? Is there an escape from the bondage of fear?
Famed Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann suggests that every Psalm falls in one of three categories:
For the sake of this series we will focus of Disorientation.
We need only to survey the psalms of disorientation to discover that something is wrong and out of sync. This is a feeling that resonates with so many of us. In moments of disorientation, we need loving, embracing and a reassuring word. The introduction to this series will set the stage for those who are disoriented to fall in to the arms of love.
God called Abraham to join him in his mission to redeemed and renew the creation. In doing so God would bless Abraham, and through Abraham God would bless the world. As we conclude this series, we will explore how living "missionaly" in Character, Calling, and Community will result in a message of Blessing, Belonging and Belovedness.
Joining God in the neighborhood is a collective call to the body. It is not the goal of this collective experience to exclude members but to work together to hear the voice of God. The goal is that his message of love and reconciliation is communicated to the community.
The community in which we reside contains a wealth of needs. Perhaps one of the simplest ways of understanding our community is asking simple questions like, "How can we help?" Joining God in the neighborhood continues with listening to the answers and jumping into action to meet the needs.
We hear these words at the start of the race. The word "go" signifies it is time for action, time to do something and time to move. When Jesus gave the great commission, he echoed the call given to Abraham to leave his familiar surroundings to go outward. As a church determined to fuse with God's mission in the neighborhood, we need to step out of comfort, out of familiarity, out of the building and out into the neighborhood.
An understanding of God's mission may come from grasping that his incarnational mission as Jesus - The Word - became flesh and lived among us. Coming to grips with that God has uniquely placed us in this community initiates our journey to join in with God in mission.
This initial sermon sets the stage for a brief journey into the ideas pertaining to the church as a worshiping community. Because we are a people prone to celebrate many things in our lives, it would be criminal not to celebrate Jehovah. The church should put a premium on celebrating the Lord because of who he is, what he has done and what he is going to do.
In the concluding sermon of this series, we will wrap up our journey by highlighting a major player throughout the story of Luke-Acts ? the Holy Spirit. We will note how often the Holy Spirit is mentioned and note that the continuation of the legacy of Luke-Acts is taking place because of the power of the Spirit!
When we observe the evangelistic tools used by the apostles in the book of acts, we are inundated with the use of storytelling. Paul did not hesitate to tell his story as a way to convince listeners to embrace the love of God and to become followers. Every one of us has a story. Will we tell our story or remain silent.
The story of Luke-Acts is a story of God's inclusive plan to save the world. All cultures around the globe are in the heart of God. The narratives in Acts display God's passionate desire to save men and women all over the world by his declaration of his proximity to us.
The establishing of churches is prevalent in the narratives presented in Acts. As we explore the different churches established in Acts, we will see a diversity in makeup and practice, but we will see a unity in purpose and mission.
Some would argue that the book of Acts is primarily the story of the ministries of Peter and Paul. There is no denying that there is a great deal of writing dedicated to Paul. This would make since as it is revealed in this writing that the writer was a traveling companion of Paul. We will look at the changing power of the Holy Spirit and how Paul's life displays that change associated with God is change we can believe in.
We find ourselves in Samaria and in a chariot. Philip the evangelist becomes the focus of the book of Acts. The mission of God is beginning to spread beyond the borders of Jerusalem and Judea. Starting with the Samaritans, we are given a picture of God's global mission in full effect. To be a part of God's mission is to be a part of something that is constantly on the move. Get out of your comfort zone and you may find yourself proclaiming a message about the kingdom in unlikely territories and to unlikely characters.
The martyrdom of Stephen had been cemented in the memory of the church for centuries. His devotion to God unto death will not be understated. And as we read this story, we are thrust back to the very life of Jesus. Stephen's story is a reminder that we have been called to live just like Jesus.
One of the literary devices used in Luke's writings is his use of comparative narratives. He will tell the story of one character and immediately tell the story of another character of opposite behavior or demeanor. We are presented this device here as we look at Barnabas and Ananias/Sapphira. The stark contrast cannot be denied and it launches us into a deeper discussion about the place of true devotion to God through giving, versus fake devotion through deception.
The name of Jesus is invoked in many of the narratives in Acts. Here at the temple, the invoking of the name of Jesus leads to an opportunity to preach the name of Jesus to those in attendance at the temple. What does it mean to embrace the name of Jesus wholly in our personal lives and in the life of the church?
The mark of the early church was their participation in the very activities that marked the ministry of Jesus. After hearing and receiving the message of God, people asked what they should do. Their response was not only a faithful response to repent and be baptized, there was also a committed effort to live missionally within the community of Christ and in their witness to the world.
Video courtesy of The Work Of The People.
The beginning of the book of Acts presents a seamless transition as the kingdom of God is now being told through the ministry of the early church. A revisit to Jesus post-resurrection appearance reminds the readers that the mission of God will not be hindered and must go on. So get ready to see the mission of God on the move on earth as it is in heaven.
Video courtesy Igniter Media.
As we wrap up the gospel of Luke and prepare to enter the book of Acts, there is something to be said about some of the major themes in Luke that will have a significant role in the book of Acts. We will explore the over abundant references to money and the rich, the importance of fellowship, the power of prayer and the resolve of God to accomplish his mission on earth as it is in heaven.
Another consistent theme throughout Luke-Acts is the practice of prayer. Jesus prayed often and there was an expectation that his followers would pray. The disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray. Could they have also been asking Jesus to teach them to want to pray?
This morning we come to the tomb not looking for the dead, because the dead is not here. We come acknowledging that Christ is living. He is living in this world. He is living in this church and Christ is living in us!
Our observance of communion/Lord's supper is rooted in the Jewish observance of the Passover. In observing the Passover we are invited into the story of God. On this day we reflect on the story of God portrayed through the ministry of Jesus as told in the gospel of Luke.
In addition to the "12", Jesus commissioned and sent out 72 others to spread the message of the kingdom. In his instructions to these disciples, he informs them to completely mimic his ministry. We are again reminded that discipleship is about doing exactly what the teacher teaches and does.
In kingdom living, there is an assumption that there will be a quest for power and authority. In Jesus' message, power and greatness is measured by one's ability to see others above themselves. Greatness is also measured by one's embrace of a truth that says that there is a bigger picture and more participants in play then we might want to admit.