Decades had come and gone, and for Russ McElveen it seemed that there were important people in his family he would never see again. Then came the miracles of the past year or so that brought a son and two sisters back into his life. After 60 years he made contact with two of his sisters and after 45 years he was reconnect with a son. Have you ever thought that someone was gone from your life forever.
How's your heart?
What difference do you make to the Kingdom work God is doing around you? Some may feel they don't contribute much, but let's remember all the members of the body are essential for the body to function properly. Just because you don't preach or teach doesn't mean you're unimportant. If you are serving God, using your spirit given gifts and serving for the honor and glory of God, you are essential! When you consider the ministry of Jesus, it is easy to focus on those out in front such as Jesus and the disciples. But ...
"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".
What a prison self consciousness can be. When I think of those "would be" Christians if they could just find someone to express the love of God and acceptance to them. In Luke 7, we read the story of a self-righteous Pharisee who invites Jesus to dinner and an encounter with a prostitute. (Odd mix I know) but it is kind of like Christians in the world with judgmental spirits or worse how sinners are made to feel (if) or when they walk into the church building. You have heard people say, "Well if I went to church the ceiling ...
"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."
Doubt happens to the best of us. I know we sometimes put people on a pedestal like famous preachers, authors or even mature Christians we know and then criticize ourselves with comparisons like "I bet they are too spiritually mature to doubt like me. I wish I was more like them." But the truth is, they do have times of doubt because we all do. We have times of doubt when tragedies strike for no reason or prayers go unanswered or we get mistreated for trying to do the right thing, etc. We wonder if anyone else struggles with the ...
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 ...
Is the "Golden Rule" biblical? Yes, but not because it is a "golden rule" but rather because it is a "Kingdom principle." Many people miss the point here. They want to live by the golden rule (and that's fine), but not really according to the Kingdom rule. Ah yes, we are talking about the pickers and the choosers. Jesus asked it this way: "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Lk. 6:46) In other words; "Why do you call me Lord when in reality I am not your Lord?" or, "Why ...
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After they arrested Jesus, they led him away and brought him to the high priest's house. Peter followed from a distance.
"I brought you into this world, and I can take you right back out of it."
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.
I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, and you are in fact dead. 2 Wake up and strengthen whatever you have left, teetering on the brink of death, for I've found that your works are far from complete in the eyes of my God.
The man was asked to kill his son. Read Genesis 22. The man was asked to sacrifice his son as a burnt offering to test whether he loved God or that boy more. And what's astounding is what verse 3 tells us. Abraham got up "early in the morning" to do it.
For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God.
"If only I..." Have you ever started a sentence like that? If only I had a little more money... If only I were a little more artistic... If only I had an opportunity like that... I can't think of any more paralyzing words. "If only" sets us up for failure.
"For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: It might have been." The poet John Greenleaf Whittier wrote that. While his poem spoke specifically of a lost opportunity in love, the truth of his verse extends far beyond that. We all understand the truth behind it: What a sad thing to see wasted talent, wasted resources, wasted opportunities.
Once you were far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don't drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News.
"I'm talking to you like you are sensible people. Think about what I'm saying. Isn't the cup of blessing that we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Isn't the loaf of bread that we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one loaf of bread, we who are many are one body, because we all share the one loaf of bread."
Why? It's a classic question. Anyone who has raised children knows the power of the "why." They always want to know why, and we don't grow out of it. So last week, when we looked at Jesus saying, "Follow me," we looked at how his word gives us the power to do that. We never quite got around to asking that kindergarten question - Why?
"And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ."
If I knocked on your door and asked you if you would rather die than give up the teaching I'm ready to share with you, how would you respond? If I called you on the phone as you were eating dinner and told you to give up your home and your car and your relationships and follow me, how would that go over? I'm guessing not so well, right? I don't think I'd have too many followers.
My youngest granddaughter just lost her third tooth. She is grinning at everyone to show the gaps in her teeth. As a joke, I asked my daughter if she was going to buy a flipper to cover the gaps. She looked at me blankly. I guess she doesn't watch "Toddlers & Tiaras."
"Oh, I must find rest in God only, because my hope comes from him! Only God is my rock and my salvation- my stronghold!-I will not be shaken. My deliverance and glory depend on God. God is my strong rock. My refuge is in God. All you people: Trust in God at all times! Pour out your hearts before the Lord! God is our refuge!"