In the Philippian letter, Paul includes in his writing what was believed to be an early Christian hymn. In this hymn a Christological argument is made referring to Christ?s divinity and his astounding humility in giving up his rightful place as co-equal with God to become human and serve us. It sets the stage for the early church to pursue humility in all circumstances and stages of life. It is also the undeniable mark of a true servant leader.
Primary text(s): Philippians 2:1-11
In this introductory sermon, we will set the premise for the rest of the series by examining the servant life of Jesus. As disciples we mimic the ministry of Jesus as a servant by putting others' interests above our own.
Primary text(s): Mark 10:35-45
Disputes, apathy, ineffectiveness, complacency and discouragement all have the common effect of robbing disciples of their faith in God and belief that church can make a difference. Paul encourages Timothy and Titus to hang on and endure the hardships that WILL take place in the course of one's faith. What is the motivation to endure for the sake of the kingdom?
Prayer is an activity that helps us to hear God. It is helpful for us to view our prayer life as a dialogue. When you?re praying, leave room for God to speak through the scriptures, through others, through nature or through your experience.
"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." James 4:7
Taking decided action to worship god and place him at the center of our existence. Our worship to God becomes a natural expression of our faith in him. We should be challenged to worship God and watch the natural progression of our treatment of others and thoughts about life as it mirrors God?s heart.
"If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right." James 2:8
Being active in a way that our faith is displayed in our deeds and actions is not limited to our outside witness, but also our lives within the community of faith. In this sermon we will explore the consistent teaching throughout the New Testament letters regarding our lives together in the body.
"Do not merely listen to the word, do what it says." James 1:22
It is a regular practice for Christians to read their bibles and listen to sermons and to become complacent in putting what they read or hear into practice. This tends to be the common source of the accusation that Christians are hypocrites. Let us be encouraged to be active in obeying in lifestyle the commands of our Lord.
Love never fails! The resurrection of Christ was the cosmic and supernatural stamp that Love will always win. While we might doubt the lasting impressions of our love for one another, Jesus makes the claim that since love can overpower death, it can overpower dissension, conflict and sin! Love will allow us to claim victory in our marriages, in our families, in our church, and in our community!
Love is not self seeking. The definition of agape is doing what's in the other person's best interest. Therefore the very definition of love assumes relationship. Love is a community experience and Jesus left us a lasting example of that love when he shared his last Passover meal and washed his apostles? feet. May we feast with him and continue this legacy of communal love.
One of the most difficult areas in the human condition is forgiveness. When we are hurt, it is hard not to hold someone to what they have done. God?s love is so powerfully demonstrated in the way he forgives and forgets! Can we ever love in this regard. How do we not keep record of wrongs?
The continued testimony of love in the lives of God?s people is one of displaying the nature of God in our lives. In displaying a love that is kind we emulate the kindness of god and make for a better way of living in the body of Christ.
Our God is slow to anger. Our God is patient. How does our display of a patient love show others the very nature of God? Why do we lose patience so quickly in our relationship? Let?s explore God?s patience in his love for us and seek to love in a way that is patient.
It is undeniable that God is love. We are his offspring so are we love? Using 1 John 4 and 1 Corinthians as a launching pad, we will begin our journey into a discussion of the greatest gift of all - love.
What does God do on the inside of us that drives us to confess Him to be Lord? How does this lead to public confession through conversation and lifestyle? We will explore confessions of faith as they relate to God?s activity in the heart.
Do we desire the supernatural and extravagant change that God is so willing to do in our life? How does this change that God enacts in our lives affect the ongoing process of repentance throughout the duration of our spiritual journey?
God has called his people to live by an abiding faith that is formed through witnessing His powerful work among His people. The righteous ones live by faith and their faith is often highlighted in times of distress and uncertainty. How does the cultivating of faith on the inside affect living faith on the outside?
Paul said we are the aroma or fragrance of Christ. If we have experienced Christ, our lives will look like Christ. We will love like Christ, serve like Christ and share the good news of the Kingdom like Christ!
Key Verse: 2 Corinthians 2:14-16
Where do we start when share the gospel message of Jesus? Do we start with rules, doctrine, church organization or do we start with Jesus Christ. If Jesus is to receive the ?preeminence? in all we do, then our teach must start with Jesus Christ!
Key Verse: Colossians 1:9-20
Nothing compares to knowing and experiencing Christ. Whatever our motto or purpose statement or mission statement says, at the heart of our experience is Christ. At the core of our being is the ambition declared to the Philippian church declared by Paul, 'Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus [our] Lord."
Key Verse: Philippians 3:1-11
Old Rugged Cross, At The Cross, The Wonderful Cross
The imagery of the cross stands at the religious experience. We are beneficiaries of the blessings that flow from the cross of Christ and these songs of worship often tell the story of Christ's suffering and our redemption.
The greatest and most bloody revolutions in history have been fought over issues of leadership. France threw off the yoke of her extravagant monarchy in the revolution of 1789. Thirteen years earlier, the Americans had fought for the right of self-governance. England, Germany and Russia?each in her turn?struggled to determine what form of government would be best. Princes, presidents, prime ministers, and priests have formed governments and attempted to lead nations. It appears that human beings are vitally interested in how they will be lead.
The Israelites struggled over this same issue as well. Many of the conflicts recorded in the Old Testament arise over the matter of government and how the people respond to their leaders. Judges, prophets, priests and kings try their hands at managing the Israelites. From the time of Moses, through the judges, until the anointing of Saul, the children of Israel argue over the best means of providing leaders for themselves.
You would think that, at least when it comes to those who claim to be God's people, we might listen more closely to Him who is our ultimate leader and King. God has always had a plan for providing his people with leadership, a means of transmitting his will and wisdom through agents he himself chooses. The book of 1 Samuel tells of that plan and of our failure to follow it through much of our history.
The picture we get from the book of Judges is that Israel is in deep trouble. There is a general breakdown of moral standards and religious practice throughout the land. Most of the people had left Jehovah and were worshiping other gods instead. At least eight references are made to the Israelites forsaking God in favor of the local Canaanite gods. Even the Levites were engaging in a form of idolatry (see Jdg 17:5 ff). The Israelites were fighting among themselves over territory and booty and power. There are stories in Judges of deception and murder, rape and immorality, human sacrifice and human slaughter. The constant refrain running through Judges is, "Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord . . ."
It is in this setting that the story of Ruth unfolds. "In the days when the judges ruled" (Ru 1:1), we find a family moving from Bethlehem to Moab in search of food. The story that follows offers a touching and heartening story of one woman's piety and personal integrity.
That woman is Ruth, a native of Moab and the daughter-in-law of Naomi. Ruth's devotion to Naomi and her sense of honor sets the book of Ruth apart from Judges - in the middle of a pig-sty of immorality we find a pearl of virtue and dignity. The fact that Ruth was a foreigner serves only to highlight a theme which will recur throughout the Bible - rightness before God is not determined by genealogy or nationality but by the quality of an individual's heart. Ruth has so pure a heart and shows herself to be of such integrity, God includes the story of this Moabitess in his Holy Scriptures and involves her in the family tree of both David and the Messiah to come.
Early in the second century, one of the most interesting heretics in all of church history came to prominence. While in Rome, Marcion preached the gospel as he thought it really happened. The Old Testament, in his view, was the product of a sick and evil mind. "Look at all the lying, pillage, and killing," he said. "Look at the favoritism: Yahweh selects a race of idolatrous schemers to be his chosen people, and calls an adulterous murdering brigand 'a man after my own heart.' No," concluded Marcion, "the one who made the world and inspired the Old Testament could not be good . . . The Old Testament god may be the powerful creator, but he is not the good heavenly father Jesus proclaimed."
Have you ever had Marcion's problem with the Old Testament?
Think of a young family man, a man with a pretty wife and beautiful children, a man with great promise and potential. He has a nagging pain in the back and, on going to the doctor, is informed that he has cancer. There are only weeks left of what should have been decades. Why do things like that happen?
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way . . . Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Mankind has not always had the luxury of making transitions thoughtfully. Sometimes we have been thrust rudely into the future with neither a "please" nor a "thank you." On occasion, however, we can see these transitions coming. We have had the opportunity to stand on the threshold of these transitions and think carefully about where we are going . . . and why . . . and what we hope to find when we get there.
In 1961, J. B. Phillips wrote a small but excellent book entitled Your God Is Too Small. The idea behind this book is that we have many notions of God which are simply inadequate to describe our great Jehovah. Since our ideas about God are flawed, our behavior toward him is often equally flawed. If we see God as a benevolent grandfather, we tend to take his mercy for granted and overlook his judgment. If we think of God primarily as a stern and harsh disciplinarian, we are likely to emphasize his punishment and overlook his grace.
Perhaps the greatest problem Phillips addressed was man's tendency to make God into a bigger version of himself . . . we try to create God in our own image. We make him think like us and react like us and feel like us. Too often, we become the yardstick against which the character of God is measured. Our worship of this kind of "god" quickly degenerates into a worship of ourselves.
Unfortunately, having a Bible is not the same as being hungry for what it says. The sad truth is that many of us do not read any of the Bibles in our possession. We open them on occasion. We read along when someone else is reading publicly. We can even recall vague snatches of scriptures learned in childhood. But as for a consistent, disciplined, sequenced pattern of personal Bible reading or study... we do not feel the need to dine on God's word.
Does everyone feel like they're a part of the body of Christ? Sadly the answer is no, but gladly, it doesn't have to remain that way. In preparation for a major push in 2009, we will have spiritual dialogue on how we can become energized through community!
The righteous live by faith. Today we will explore the outrageous claims about faith and explore why it's so hard to buy into these claims. But hopefully, we will emerge with an understanding that our faith in the impossible and the outrageous can fuel an energized life in the church!
Someone has noted, "a church that prays together, stays together!" From time to time we need to be reminded that the church has been called to be active participants in prayer. In an aggressive attempt to challenge the church in prayer, I will offer some practical and timely ideas to engage the church in prayer.
Praise and Worship as imagined in scripture is not a matter of fulfilling a legalistic requirement but rather an activity of choice in recognition of one's relationship with the Father. Our collective praise and worship should be reflected in us as we emerge out of praise and worship as an energized people.
Much has been made in recent years about the make up of churches. Serious dialogue has been made about the diversity of the church (gender, race, socio-economic). Can we say with a genuine heart that all are welcome here? Is the answer a reflection of who we target for evangelism?
The great commission of Jesus Christ encourages the disciples to Go which requires proactively pursuing those who do not know Jesus or his gospel. How do we in the 21st century make a commitment to follow this commission?
Bezalel and Oholiab are two obscure biblical characters that get little to no fanfare for their role in God's work in ancient Israel. But they are concrete examples of how God makes the most of his people by filling them with the Holy Spirit and using their skills to benefit the community of God and its witness in the world!
We are all the same, yet we are all different. We all have a single purpose, yet we all have been blessed with various talents, gifts and skills. This is cause for celebration on being a part of the glorious body of Christ!
By exploring the language employed in the biblical text, we will examine the biblical meaning of Spiritual Gifts. We will also explore and conclude that God is the origin of these gifts and it is his prerogative as to the distribution of these gifts.
In Paul's letter to the Ephesians, he envisions the work of the church as being a place where God connects the different pieces together (ministries, peoples gifts and talents) as a way to administer service to the world. It begs the question, what has God called me to be in the work of the church? The body will be encouraged to enter into prayerful dialogue with the Lord regarding this question.
At a point in our spiritual journey, we are referred to as babes. This signifies that there will be a period of growth. Spiritual growth is a target of all the ministries of the church. To this end, we strive. This was the encouragement to the Ephesian church by Paul in Ephesians 4. This will conclude the sermon series on change and launch the beginning of the next series on the Spiritual gifts in the body.
The Lord's work in our lives is a work to change us and sanctify us for a special work in this world. The change that takes place in our lives is meant to be a blessing to this world. That's why we are called saints - holy ones or separated ones.
One of the most prominent metaphors in scripture is the idea of God's cleansing. This was very important in the Old Testament, and there were many rituals centered on purifying that which was unclean. In the New Testament, there is likewise an issue of being spiritually cleansed and made pure.
Throughout scripture, we are reminded that the Holy Spirit lives in us, works in us and changes us. Through a brief survey of these reminders we need to come to grips with that, while we play a role in our change, the change in our lives should be credited to the work of the Holy Spirit in us.
15Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest's courtyard, 16but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on duty there and brought Peter in.
17"You are not one of his disciples, are you?" the girl at the door asked Peter. He replied, "I am not."
18It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.
Peter's Second and Third Denials
25As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, "You are not one of his disciples, are you?" He denied it, saying, "I am not."
26One of the high priest's servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, "Didn't I see you with him in the olive grove?" 27Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.
Jesus Reinstates Peter
15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."
16Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."
17 The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my sheep. 18 I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." 19Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!"