Sermon for Youth Sunday 2018

May 10th, 2018

00:0000:00

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GREAT JOB EMILY!!!

04/08/2018 - Seeing Is Believing?

May 10th, 2018

00:0000:00

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“Seeing Is Believing?"

John 20:19-31

 

  • Learning from Thomas

    • The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is not the easiest truth to grasp and believe. Thomas was not shunned by the other disciples, and was not condemned by Jesus.  This should give us all courage.
    • Thomas believed, lost faith and returns to even greater faith.

 

  • The Character of Thomas: A Different Take

    • Thomas the Negative?

      • John 11:16 - "Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”"
      • John 14:5 - "Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”"
      • These two passages reveal a man who is not giving in to fear.
        • BUT he does seem to be a bit of a pessimist...
        • AND being brave while others hide in fear can make you a bit "puffed up..."
      • Thomas the Offended?
        • Easy to imagine: "Why would he choose to show up when he knew I wasn't there? Here I am being brave (unlike these fair-weather-disciples) and he doesn't appear to me?!?"
      • Thomas the Testy?
        • We do know this: Thomas failed the "do not put the Lord your God to the test" test. (see Deut 6:16; Luke 4:12)
      • Thomas the Honest
        • He did not try to hide his doubts...

          • Doubts which are left unattended can fester and grow, and can tear you apart.
        • Jesus knew Thomas. And Jesus knows you!
          • Jesus knows your doubts. He knows where you struggle in your faith.
          • If you honestly admit where you struggle with doubts, but you really want to know God in spite of them, He will lead you to a place where you will be content with the answers.
        • Joy in the Presence of the Risen Christ
          • The Reaching-Out of God

            • “Religion is about our reaching out to God; Christianity is about God’s reaching out to us.”
            • Willimon: “The resurrected Christ goes back to, and appears before the very same rag-tag group of people who so disappointed him, misunderstood him, forsook him, and fled into the darkness."
            • This is the dynamic of the Easter message. We don’t find Jesus, he finds us!
          • The nature of a post-Resurrection faith
            • Thomas was the pattern of what was to come:

              • faith beyond (immediate) sight; finding Jesus in the midst of his followers; confession of Jesus as Lord and God
            • The Last Beatitude:
              • Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” (John 20:29)
              • The Last Beatitude was reserved for us!
            • Seeing What Cannot Be Seen
              • There are things we believe that we cannot directly see (love of parents; faithfulness of a spouse). They are often the most important things of all!

04/01/2018 - An Easter People

May 10th, 2018

00:0000:00

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“An Easter People"

John 20:1-18

 

  • "Christ our Lord is Risen!" "He is Risen, indeed"
  • “Early on the first day... Mary Magdalene went to the tomb…”
    • “It was still dark.”

      • “Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light..." In the Gospel of John darkness represents chaos, despair, unbelief.  Light is truth, faith, & salvation.
    • Mary was living in a state of chaos & despair...
      • She had watched as the person she had loved more than anyone in the world was tortured, and murdered...
      • And she was one of a small handful of people who did not desert Him when He was arrested and crucified. She heard Jesus say: “It is finished”  She knew where He was buried.
    • All her hopes and dreams had died along with Jesus
      • And so, she would weep. And she would remember all the good times.  But her meaning in life had gone away. 
    • The Empty Tomb
      • But when she got to the tomb, “the stone had been removed”

        • She ran, in pitch black darkness, to tell Peter and John that Jesus’ body had been stolen!!!
        • And when they got to the tomb, we are told that they saw Jesus’ grave clothes, but no body.
        • Peter and John went back to their homes, but not Mary.
      • Mary stayed and wept, and wept and wept. She “saw two angels," but she seems oblivious that they are angels. 
        • Is it possible that in our darkness, misunderstanding and unbelief that we have been stumbling over angels as well?
        • She tells these angels that someone has stolen Jesus’ body, and she turns away from them.
      • And when she turns away, there is another figure standing in her line of sight. But she does not recognize that it is Jesus Himself.
        • How many times do we fail to recognize Jesus as we are walking in the darkness of this world?
        • And yet Jesus is all around us. Do we see Him?
      • Mary “saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize it was him.
        • ‘Woman,’ he said, ‘why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”  You can almost hear His tender smile.  But Mary was looking for a dead body, not a living Jesus.
        • “Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
      • At this, “Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
        • And suddenly, everything changed!!!

          • Jesus simply calls her name! And in John’s Gospel this is the moment when the Resurrection is declared.  And it’s not done by Jesus telling Mary Who He is, it’s done by Jesus telling Mary who she is!!!
        • This is the turning point. Nothing will ever be the same again!
          • The world seems without meaning until God speaks our name and calls us to Himself, and everything is changed.
          • The Resurrection took place for Mary when Jesus spoke her name!
          • The chaos, despair and hopelessness and darkness was gone as she ran to the Light of Life!!!
        • Mary went to the disciples with the news: ‘I have seen the Lord!’
          • And that is what we are called to do…not just with our mouths, but with our entire lives.
          • You see, belief in the resurrection is more than some intellectual agreement to the story of the gospels.   The power of Easter is not found in mere assent that Jesus walked out of the tomb.
            • The power of Easter is the power of the resurrection itself, present in the life of those who truly follow Christ. Jesus is raised by the power of God into a new way of life, a new existence.
          • The power of Easter comes as the resurrected Lord is raised to a new way of life, and then shares that life with us.
            • Those of us who follow Christ share not only in his name but in this Life to which he is raised.
            • Because he is risen, we share in his new existence.

 

  • We are an Easter people.

    • We are not just a people of a spring-time celebration...

      • For us to be an Easter people means the daily realization that the very power of God which raised Jesus from the dead is also the very same power which flows in and through us as His followers
    • To be an Easter people means that even as the long dark nights come, even as the daily grind wears at us, even as the tugs and bumps of the problems of each day come our way, we know that it is not our own strength which sustains us.
    • Rather, "Because he lives, I can face tomorrow."
      • Because he lives, and lives in me; because my true life is hidden with Christ in God, and will be fully revealed in that great day a-coming, I can live today with grace and power no matter what comes.

For "Christ our Lord is Risen!" "He is Risen, indeed!

03/25/2018 - The King of Israel

May 10th, 2018

00:0000:00

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“The King of Israel!”

John 12:(1-11) 12-16

 

  • Is the King of Israel the Lord of my life?

    • Is Jesus both our Savior and our Lord?

      • One way to see is to look at our priorities.
    • We all have our priorities...
      • Ever sat down and thought about what your priorities are?
      • Spouse, children and grandchildren, work or study, etc., etc.
      • What about God or church...?
    • John 12:1-11 - Martha, Mary, and Judas
      • Martha:

        • Jesus is again in Bethany enjoying a dinner put on for him
        • Martha is serving the meal...
          • One of Martha's top priorities seems to be service to others, and by extension, service to God.
          • In Jesus' presence, her first impulse was to serve Him
        • Mary:
          • Mary comes and kneels at Jesus feet to anoint him. John probably wants us to connect this anointing with the triumphal entry. Jesus is anointed then proclaimed King.
          • The cost of the ointment was worth about 300 denarii, about $55,000 U.S. dollars. Mary had probably spent her life savings for it.
          • Mary's priority was adoration of Jesus; receiving His teaching and showing Him extravagant worship.
        • Do you notice that neither Martha nor Mary's priorities had themselves as the object?
        • Judas:
          • Remember Jesus saying: Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also? It also works the other way around. Where your heart is that’s where you’ll invest your treasure.
          • Judas is more worried about what might be done with the money that this jar would bring in the market place – particularly if he could get his hands on it. Judas doesn’t have kingdom priorities. He seems to be in it for what profit he can get out of it.
        • John 12:12-16 - The Chief Priests and the Crowd
          • The Chief Priests:

            • They’ve already decided Jesus, and now Lazarus, needs to die. They’ve closed their minds to the possibility that Jesus is the Messiah.
            • "All the world has gone out after Him!" The chief priests probably meant by this, "our world, our people, are going after Him, instead of us!"   They were afraid of what He was going to cost them: power, prestige, control...
            • How different from Mary!
          • The Crowd:
            • They cry out a royal welcome: “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord— the King of Israel!”

              • "Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you, give us success! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord." - Psalm 118:25-26 (NRSV)
            • But why did they praise Him? Was it adoration like Mary's?  Was it self-interest, like Judas?  What were their priorities? 
              • Most likely a mix, which surely the Lord understands...
              • "For the Lord will remove his hand of judgment and will disperse the armies of your enemy. And the Lord himself, the King of Israel, will live among you!  At last your troubles will be over, and you will never again fear disaster." - Zephaniah 3:15 (NLT)
              • Yet also, surely Martha's and Mary's priorities, committed service and extravagant adoration, are the examples for us to follow...
            • Closing thoughts and a Challenge
              • We have seen a range of responses to Jesus based on different priorities.
              • Where do our priorities lie when it comes to Jesus, to God, to God’s church?
              • A bit of "homework:" Prayerfully consider what are most important things in your life, and what you believe your priorities should be.  Then consider, are those things which I believe are the most important things in my life, also those things that my actions proclaim to be the most important?

 

03/18/2018 - We Wish to See Jesus

March 21st, 2018

00:0000:00

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“We Wish to See Jesus”

John 12:20-36

 

  • Into the Midst of Holy Week

    • As we come to John 12, Jesus has ridden into Jerusalem on the donkey. Jerusalem is full of people from all over the world, gathered for the feast, and among the crowd, there are some Greeks. They would have been Jewish converts, but they’re not native-born Jews. Do you see their question in verse 21? ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’
    • It’s not obvious on the surface how Jesus’ reply relates to the Greeks’ desire to see Him.
    • Instead, it is the question, and who it comes from, that is the signal for Jesus, the indication that his time has come.
  • So That All May See Jesus
    • The Hour has now come...

      • Up till now, there has been a repeated theme in John’s Gospel that Jesus’ hour or time has not yet come.
    • ...for the Son of Man to be Glorified...
      • But now, in response to the request of these Greeks to see Him, Jesus announces (John 12:23), “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Salvation would now be proclaimed to the whole world. The hour had come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
    • ...in the most unexpected of ways.
      • Now, when you think of Jesus being glorified, what is it that comes to mind? You might think of the crowds in Jerusalem shouting their praise; or being elevated high on people's shoulders. But as Jesus is glorified, as he is lifted up, it means his death on the cross - as John says: 'he said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.
    • So That As We See Jesus, All May See Jesus In Us
      • The Necessity of Death

        • “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit...”
        • Somehow death and seeing Jesus are intimately related. To see Jesus is more than looking at him. It is more than just believing the things he said and did. We follow Christ as participants not spectators. If we want to see Jesus then we must also learn to die.
      • The Process of Death
        • see Galatians 2:19b-20
        • Seeing Jesus means dying to our own self-sufficiency. We let go of our life to receive God’s life.
        • This work of dying (to self) is difficult and painful. But in the process of dying is what begins to heal our vision. We see a new life, and a new way of living, and this new way looks a lot like Jesus, and his way of living and being. That’s a big part of what Lent, and Holy Week, are about.
      • The Purpose of Death
        • "Sir, we wish to see Jesus."
        • When we hear of the next tragedy, the next shooting, the next suicide, we need to hear the words, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus."
      • Bearing Much Fruit
        • The Foster Care service and churches:

          • In 2012 there were 397,000 foster care cases; by 2016 there were 437,500 children in the system. In 2012 there were 384,000 functioning churches in America.  So if every church in America had one family willing to take in a foster child or two, we would empty the system out, at least for a time. 
          • Imagine if all these children were shown what a loving family looks like? What Jesus' love looks like?
          • When was the last time in Western world that the Church did something that was shockingly good?
        • Do we wish to see Jesus? Do we want others to see more of Jesus in us? If Jesus said that where He is, his servant will also be found, then Jesus calls us to stand in the place of self-sacrifice with Him. If we hear His call, then we will see Jesus...

02/04/2018 - When God Sends Encouragement

March 14th, 2018

00:0000:00

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When God Sends Encouragement

Luke 2:22-40

  • One last look at the first Christmas...

    • Mary & Joseph

      • The "scandal" of Mary's pregnancy
      • Herod's attempt on the life of Jesus
    • In the midst of the trials, God gave them gifts:
      • The baby Jesus!
      • Messages of encouragement!
    • Treasured Words and Experiences
      • What do you do when you are "running on empty?"

        • Seek comfort
        • Remember moments of encouragement the Lord has sent
      • Mary's approach
        • Luke 2:19 "But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart."
      • As God's children, we know they come from Him
        • How often have words of encouragement come right when we needed more courage! And how often do they come from Him, but come through His children?
      • A community of encouragement
        • Hebrews 10:24-25 "And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
        • How grateful we are for even a drop of encouragement; how amazed we are when others encourage by word and by deed!

  • A call to reciprocity

    • Luke 6:36-37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
    • Pay it forward!  Listen when God directs you...

02/11/2018 - Love Is ___________!

March 14th, 2018

00:0000:00

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Love Is ___________!

1st Corinthians 13:4-8a

  • Let's Talk About Love 

    • We apply these verses most often to marriage, don't we?
    • These verses were originally written to a church
      • The Corinthian church was blessed. And when we are blessed, don't we assume God is pleased with us?  (see 1 Cor 1:4-11 )  These verses show us what real love looks like in action
    • Paul's words on Love
      • Breaking it down 

        • Agape love: “a caring, self-sacrificing commitment which shows itself in seeking the highest good of the one loved.”
      • Love is patient.
        • If you’re patient, you’re slow to anger, you endure personal wrongs without retaliating. You bear with others’ imperfections, faults, and differences. You give them time to change, room to make mistakes without coming down hard on them.
        • Patience says, "you are worth the wait."
      • Love is kind.
        • Patience in action. The kind person shows kindness in response to harsh treatment. (see Luke 6:33, 35; Rom. 2:4). Kindness, not harshness, motivates others toward positive change.
      • Love is not envious/jealous.
        • The envious person wants what others have. In relationships, they have to have all the attention. James says that jealousy is often the source of quarrels and conflicts (James 4:2).
      • Love is not boastful or arrogant.
        • “Jealousy is wanting what someone else has. Bragging is trying to make others jealous of what we have. Jealousy puts others down; bragging builds us up” (John MacArthur)
        • The humble, loving person is aware that everything they have is a gift from God (1 Cor. 4:7), not something they "deserve."
      • Love is not rude.
        • Love does not needlessly offend. It is courteous, polite, sensitive to the feelings of others and always uses tact.
      • Love does not insist on its own way.
        • It is not selfish, does not demand its rights. Aren’t you glad Jesus didn’t insist on His rights? He would have stayed in heaven and we wouldn’t be saved!
      • Love is not irritable.
        • Phillips: “It is not touchy.” Love does not have a hair-trigger temper. Some people make everyone around them walk on eggshells. When you’re angry, usually you’re not loving.
      • Love is not resentful.
        • This word is used of God not imputing our guilt to us, but instead imputing the righteousness of Christ to us ( 4:6-8).
        • One married man said to his friend, “You know, every time my wife and I get into a conflict, she gets historical..."
      • Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.
        • These qualities are the flip side of one another. The Moffatt translation: “Love is never glad when others go wrong.” If someone you don’t like falls into sin, you don’t gloat; you grieve. If they repent, you rejoice.
      • Love bears all things.
        • Love doesn’t broadcast the problems of others. Love doesn’t run down others with sarcasm or put-downs. Love defends the character of the other person as much as possible within the limits of truth. Love won’t lie about weaknesses, but neither will it deliberately expose and emphasize them. Love protects.
      • Love believes all things.
        • This does not mean gullibility; it does mean that love is not suspicious and doubting of the other person’s character and motives without good reason, even if the actions offended you. Sometimes you will get taken advantage of when you trust, but love persists in trusting.
      • Love hopes all things.
        • It is not pessimistic. It does not expect the one loved to fail, but to succeed. Love refuses to take failure as final. It rests on the promises of God, that He is working all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
      • Love endures all things.
        • The word “endures” is a military word meaning to sustain the assault of an enemy. It has the idea of holding up under trial, of perseverance in spite of difficulties. It means that love hangs in there.
        • There is a trend among in our culture of bailing out of tough situations. Aren't you glad Jesus didn't bail on us?
      • Love never ends
        • Real love doesn't fail. It does not dependant upon the behavior of others, but upon God.  It's a "father, forgive them" kind of love.
      • Conclusion
        • And we can all probably do better.  I encourage you to make each of these "love is" statements a point of prayer over this week, especially the ones that are personally the most challenging...

02/18/2018 - A Difficult Journey

March 14th, 2018

00:0000:00

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A Difficult Journey

(sorry, but the computer ate my sermon notes)

02/25/2018 - Sacrificial Victory

March 14th, 2018

00:0000:00

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“Sacrificial Victory”

Mark 8:27-37

 

  • Spending your life for Christ

    • The Rev. Billy Graham
    • The Rev. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

  • Peter: Right belief, wrong goals

    • Peter's great confession of faith: that Jesus was the Messiah. He was correct. He was even inspired by the Father to make that statement of faith.
    • But when Jesus began to openly teach the necessity of the Cross, Peter - of all people - took Him aside, and began to rebuke Him. This the sternest rebuke that Jesus ever gave (Mark 8:31-33).
    • Was this the "more opportune time?" Hard enough to endure temptation from Satan, but what about those from your friends...?
    • Also notice the "get behind.." Jesus had called Peter to follow Him; now Peter was trying to talk Jesus into following what Peter wanted instead. 
  • Taking up the Cross
    • If you wish to follow Jesus, you must learn self-denial. You must “deny yourself” (Mark 8:34). The Christian life involves choosing the way of God rather than our own path. You must follow the example of Jesus, who surrendered Himself to the will of His Father (Luke 22:42).
    • If you would follow Jesus, you must be willing to walk with Him, and to go wherever He leads.
    • Sometimes this is spending a life in service, like Rev. Graham. For others, it has been giving up their lives for Christ, as Rev. Bonhoeffer. 
    • It means surrendering our goals to God. That's hard...
  • Conclusion
    • We are told by this world to place our will at the forefront

      • "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul."- from Invictus by William Ernest Henley
    • And yet the message of Christ still shines through the lives of His children:
      • In her book, Out of the Saltshaker and into the World, Rebecca Manley Pippert relates that she was afraid of becoming a Christian, because (she thought) she would cease to be herself. But surprise!  In losing herself to Christ she found the authentic "self" she was always meant to be.  The truth was that in Sacrifice she found Victory.
    • You have a choice: Savior or Self
      • “The opposite of wasting your life is to live by a single, soul-satisfying passion for the supremacy of God in all things. If you want your life to count, if you want the ripple effect of the pebbles you drop to become waves that reach the ends of the earth and roll on into eternity, you have to know one great all-embracing thing—and be set on fire by it. Like Paul, declare, ‘I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.’” (Don’t Waste Your Life, p. 43-44)

03/04/2018 - When Jesus Got Mad

March 14th, 2018

00:0000:00

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“When Jesus Got Mad”

John 2:13-22

  

  • Why talk about anger?

    • ...especially on Communion Sunday?

      • We are in the season of Lent
      • The lectionary reading for today is Jesus clearing the temple
      • If we are in any way connected to the larger world via news reports, podcasts, social media, anger is now in the air we breathe.
    • Earlier this past week, while the news was still focused on the Parkland..
      • Did you watch the CNN town hall meeting?

        • I listened to it, and when the NRA spokeswoman was speaking I did indeed hear a cry of "burn her," although it could have been someone mangling the word "murderer." So much anger.
      • Did you hear the Broward county deputies (multiple) stayed outside?
        • We have since learned they were told to set up a perimeter
        • So much anger over that.
      • What do we do with this anger?
        • Write nasty replies on social media?
        • Take it out on other people during the day? (or worse, when at home in the evening?)
        • WWJD?
      • What Jesus did...
        • Why was He upset?

          • (Yes, He really was upset. The "wrath of God" is real...)
          • Disrespecting God's holy place was a part of the story... (John 2:16)
          • The other part was the "unjust scales" alluded to in Matthew 21:13 with the "den of robbers" quote
            • How often had Jesus and Mary and Joseph traveled to the temple, and how often had Jesus seen exorbitant prices demanded of the poorest people?

          • How did He respond?
            • Not politely! But not out of proportion, either...
            • A "whip" would have been used to get the animals moving
            • Turning over the tables and chairs got the moneychangers moving
            • He did not go around wailing on the money changers...
            • And when it was over, it was over! It doesn't say Jesus was carrying the anger around with Him, even against those who crucified Him.
          • How are we to follow Him?
            • Paul speaking to the church as a whole:

              • Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. - Ephesians 4:26-27 (NRSV)
            • The writer of Hebrews (maybe Paul) addressed lingering anger:
              • See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled. - Hebrews 12:15 (NRSV)
              • Ever let a bull thistle grow in your garden?
            • Do not allow yourself to be infected by this era of anger that we are living in
              • If your anger is just, do not allow it to become sinful

                • Treat others as persons deserving respect and understanding
                • Do not respond disproportionately
                • Do not in frustration take past wrongs out on present family, friends, churchgoers, coworkers, motorists...
              • In short, give your frustration and anger to God!
                • Allow just anger to move you to action, but don't allow it to curdle into bitterness.
                • Make no room for the devil, but make room for love and forgiveness instead.
                • Do your best in this age of anger to spread love, not hate, through the power of Jesus Christ.
                • Even if you don't feel it yet, set an example by your actions not only for others, but for yourself! If you do this, the feelings will start to change...

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