"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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It's getting closer. The end of the Mayan calendar has caused so many to talk about the end of the world. They say it will be next Friday, Dec. 21. Of course, God said we wouldn't know when - but we do know he's coming. So it is important to ask if you're ready. Are you?
T minus 14 days and counting. Are you ready? According to the Internet (and you know if it's on the Internet it has to be true, right?) ...according to the internet on Dec. 21st, 2012, at exactly 11:11 a.m. there will be a conjunction of the Winter Solstice with the crossing point of the Galactic Equator and the Ecliptic path of the sun. The Mayans predicted it 2500 years ago and ended their calendar on that day. Nostradamus called it the "Galactic alignment of 2012" way back in 1555. And it is now just 11 days away ...
Well, it's official. Thanksgiving is over and the Christmas season is upon us. I know, the 12 days of Christmas actually start on Dec. 25, but our society can't wait that long to start celebrating. So Christmas creeps up earlier and earlier in the year. I even saw Christmas trees coming out already in October in one local store. But now that Thanksgiving is past, it is full on. Christmas is everywhere.
"Rejoice in the Lord always... Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
Last week, I defended my statement that being a church person is really living. But I know how hard our society and our own sinful natures fight against that. I've heard all the arguments against the whole "religious scene." I know it's popular (foolish, but popular) these days to say, "I'm spiritual, just not religious." I've heard so many reasons the "church" world makes life hard. And I know, often the "church" messes up. Often, the real reason for church and religion is pushed to the side, so it does lose its purpose. That doesn't ...
"This is living." Has that statement ever come out of your mouth? Take a minute and think about when. Is it sitting on the beach; sending a rocket of a drive down a picturesque fairway; being squeezed in a hug from your grandkids; enjoying a fantastic meal with people you love? What would make you say, "This is living"?
Have you ever said it about coming to church? Today, I'd like to posit the proposition that doing the church thing - going to church, reading the Bible, reading an article like this, just being a Christian - "THIS is living."
Last week, I left you hanging. I spent 90 percent of my column showing you from God's word that regardless of what you might try to tell yourself - you don't deserve anything good. I know, that doesn't sound like a very nice thing to do. But the truth is - it's the truth. In fact, the wages of sin is death.
"Just keeping it real." I've learned to dread that statement, because it usually comes with something I'd rather not hear. You know, they say it's important for a public speaker to have a good critic - someone to honestly and objectively evaluate how you're communicating, what you're saying, all that. Well, God has certainly blessed me with that in my wife. You see... How can I put this? My wife doesn't worry about hurting my feelings when I ask how it went after I've preached. In fact, she tells me she wants to make ...
It was nearly 20 years ago now. My dad took the opportunity to speak to the court at the trial of the man who killed my sister, his daughter. You see, the man had gotten drunk...again, and gotten behind the wheel...again, even though his license had been taken away, even though he knew better, even though he had been warned and cited and told. All this my dad knew.
You: cute brunette with green eyes shopping with your sister at the mall.
"The church is all about money." You've heard that said, right? How sad when it's true, when good well-meaning Christians start worrying about the budget more than the Bible, when churches show that lack of focus. More accurately, it's when we focus on the wrong thing.
So Paul, in 1 Timothy 6, snaps us back with the very first word of verse 6: "But." You see, just before our text, Paul was warning young Pastor Timothy about false teachers who saw religion as a means for financial gain, those who acted as if the church was all ...
Everybody loves a party, right? I write this article a few days after being on a college campus on game day, about an hour before kickoff. And as I walked, people were mingling and mixing, drinking and dancing, eating, smiling and just having a good time. One guy took it upon himself to run from party to party and start shouting team cheers - and people were happy to join in. It was a celebration.
"What would you do-oo-oo for a Klondike bar?" Have you seen the ads? The guy challenged to listen to his wife instead of looking at the big game on the TV...and then a wife had to actually choose to go see an action movie. The ice cream had better be good, right?
He was one of my childhood heroes. He had won just about any award baseball could give. I didn't see it myself and don't really want to believe it, so I won't use the guy's name, but I'm told that when this Hall of Famer moved out of his home in my friend's subdivision, he left it all behind. Boxes of trophies, including an MVP award, out by the curb. Why? His life had taken some turns, and suddenly, those things didn't matter to him anymore. He gave it all up because to ...
With today's column, I'm starting a series of columns that play off of our church body's theme this year: "Christ's Love, Our Calling." It's all about how Christ's love for you gives you purpose - a calling. And this series looks at what God said about our calling to speak his truth in love. In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes: "It is written: 'I believed; therefore I have spoken.' With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak."