"Dearly Beloved…" That's the way I started out my last wedding sermon. I know it's a little bit of a throwback. We don't call too many people "beloved" anymore, but I hope you know what I mean. Today, I want to think about why that's a perfect way to greet one another…"beloved."
You call yourself a Christian, right? You do realize that just by doing that, you are taking on a very specific job description. You are now "His witnesses". You are the "light of the world" and the "salt of the earth". You are "Christ's ambassadors", a "holy priesthood" you are to be "Declaring the praises of him who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light". Do I have to go on? Realize it - you have a job, whether you like it or not, you are blessed to serve. There is no such thing as a part ...
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me." You've heard that, right? How about, "The pen is mightier than the sword"? I'm sure you've heard both. But both can't be true. Which is it? Do words have no power or are they more powerful than armies and tanks?
"I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." God said that (Jeremiah 29:11). Have you ever felt like saying, "Yeah, right" when you hear it? Intellectually, we can say that we agree. We know God is in control and he knows what he's doing and he's working for our good. We can say that with our mouths….but do our hearts always buy it? Do we always live like it?
Last week, we saw how intimidating it is to see what God expects of us as Christians. If you missed it, check out the 7/13/14 sermon at www.abidinggrace.com. For now, let's just say that Jesus made it pretty clear that we'd suffer for following him. Only once we realize what God expects of us and how far we fall short, and the punishment we should have for that, only then are we ready to read the rest of this section of Scripture where Jesus sends out his disciples as workers in his harvest field.
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Last week, we started talking about depression by looking at the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 19. If you missed that, you can find it under "sermons" at www.abidinggrace.com. We looked at noticing the signs of depression and seeing the dangers of those tell-tale signs, from focusing on feelings instead of facts, to taking responsibility for things you're not responsible for, to withdrawing to "be alone." We focused a lot on the problem of depression. This week, let's see the solution.
Ten years ago, I was installed as the pastor of Abiding Grace. Now, it doesn't seem like it was that long ago, but I guess the calendar doesn't lie. So, when we come to milestones like this, it makes sense to think again about what we're doing and to ask if it is what we hoped for. Is this working out?
Wisdom…sounds good doesn't it? You want to be wise, don't you? So how do you get there?
Crucifixion. Stabbing. Stoning. Flaying. Beheading.
It's the kind of person who can do anything, right?
Why would anyone want to be a Christian? There are so many rules, right?
This Sunday was Pentecost in the Church year - the day we mark what happened in Acts 2. If you aren't familiar - open up your Bible and read the story. Pentecost was really the kick-start to the New Testament Church - with miracles all over the place - the sound that filled the city, the flames of fire, the speaking in all those languages! Can you imagine being there? And it wasn't just the miracles; it was the message. The disciples were reaching so many different people in so many different languages. And the message, they had changed lives. Three thousand ...
Have you ever heard someone pray for you?
There's an old Spanish proverb: "An ounce of mother is worth a ton of priest." So, on this Mother's Day weekend, let's thank God for many ounces of godly mothers.
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters…"
Peace be with you. That's one of those things churchgoers hear all the time. So how is it working for you? Is there peace in your world?
"I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love. I love to tell the story because I know it's true; it satisfies my longings as nothing else can do."
Last month, my congregation (Abiding Grace) celebrated our 10th anniversary. And there is plenty to celebrate. In 10 years, we've grown in people, in facilities, in opportunities to serve our community and spread the word around the world - in so many different ways. Things are rocking at Abiding Grace. So, looking at that, we must be doing something right, right?
I'll admit it. I am a big college basketball fan, which means I'm loving life right here in the middle of March Madness.
Today is Good Friday. The name seems like a misnomer when you consider that it marks the day of an execution - three in fact.