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WE'RE GROWING! - 7/30/17

Pastor’s Corner 07 30 2017

Sunday, the 16 th of July, we celebrated our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, with a
baptism. We also had the blessing of a good friend of the Church moving her
membership to First Christian. To many Churches, this is a monthly event; …
sadly at First Christian, it does not take place that often … and for the most part,
we accept this.
Well, I believe it is time to bring a close the “being satisfied” with the status quo!
I can hear some of the thoughts now: … “Here he goes again; … push, push, push!
We’re doing okay, … we’re paying our bills; … what else does he want; … about
time to give it up!”
Well, I’m sorry, … that’s not going to happen. There are people out there hurting,
… many we pass daily are lost, … some put on a good show but are just waiting
for someone to extend their hand. Yes, our Church is small and doesn’t have all the
programs and benefits of some of the large Churches but we have the people that
make up the congregation of First Christian in Mt. Pleasant … and I personally
don’t think one could find a more loving or caring group of Christians, anywhere!
WE JUST NEED TO LET PEOPLE KNOW THAT.
We’ve just got in a new supply of Church business cards with the worship service
time added. Take a few of these and hand them to someone when the opportunity
arises. Everyone has a desire to be wanted and needed, … the community of Mt.
Pleasant is no different.
YOU have a wonderful Church, here that God and His helpers have provided. Be
proud of that fact and brag a little.
By-the- way, The Summer-Fall series we participate in with St. Marks, St,
Andrews, Tennison and First Presbyterian (this year, August 27 th through
September 24 th ) is an excellent opportunity to initiate conversation: … use it!
We just might surprise ourselves with a few more baptisms and new members!
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Jim

Fellowship . . . Who Needs It?? - 7/23/17

FELLOWSHIP … WHO NEEDS IT?
Genesis 3: 8-9. Acts 2: 41-42

This being “Fellowship Dinner Sunday” is what helped guide me to today’s
message. … What better Sunday could there be to speak on “Fellowship”!
Sometimes Christians speak in the "Christianese" language. …
We talk in terms and words not in common usage outside the Church; …
atonement, … Doxology, … anti-Christ, … communion, … doctrine, … gospel, …
incarnation, … redemption, … sanctification; … these are just a few examples of
language that sometimes confuses new and old Christians, alike.
"Fellowship" is one of those words. … This sermon is on our fellowship with God
… and our fellowship with those about us.
Three pastors met and were talking over conditions at their Churches.
The first pastor said, … "You know, since summer started, I’ve been having trouble
with mice in my Church. … I’ve tried everything; … noise, … spray, … traps, …
even cats; … nothing seems to scare them away."
The second pastor chimed in, … "Yeah, … my Church too.
There are hundreds living in the basement of the Church. … I’ve set traps and even
called an expert to get rid of them … but nothing has worked so far."
The third pastor, … quite arrogantly added, … "I had the same problem, …
so I baptized all of mine and made them members of the Church; ... haven’t seen
one since!”
Fellowship is one of those “Church” words. … It’s a word that isn’t commonly
used by non-Christians. … It’s also a word that is misunderstood … and misused
by Christians.
We have our fellowship hall, … our fellowship dinners, … our fellowship worship
with other Churches … but what exactly is fellowship? … What does it mean? …
How does it relate to God, … to Christians … and to non-Christians.
Is fellowship a potluck dinner?; … It could be.
Is fellowship a Sunday School class?; … possibly.
Is fellowship joining the Church?; … perhaps
Is fellowship becoming a Christian?; … conceivably.
The dictionary defines “fellowship” as: … Companionship, … friendly association,
… mutual sharing as of experiences, of activities, of interests; … A group of
people with the same interests, brother and sisterhood.

The Greek word for fellowship is “koinonia (koinəˈnēə)” … and it comes from a
root meaning: … common or shared.
So fellowship means common participation in something, … either by giving what
one has to the other person … or receiving what he or she has.
Give and take … is the essence of fellowship … and give and take must be the way
of fellowship in the life and body of Christ.
Fellowship is Vertical … and it is Horizontal.
1. Vertical is our relationship with God.
2. Horizontal is our relationship with our community and society; …
the human race, … if-you- will.
This morning we’re going to briefly cover these two areas in the life of the
Christian, … which needs to be saturated with this idea of fellowship.
I. Fellowship With God: … Vertical Relationship
I’m sure all of you are familiar with the temptation and fall of humanity that took
place in the garden when the forbidden fruit of the tree of good and evil was eaten.
… Adam and Eve, then realizing their nakedness and shame.
Then what happens: … “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD
God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid
themselves from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9  So the LORD God
called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3: 8-9)
You can almost feel the longing and despair in God’s heart as He says those words.
Prior to this, … man and woman had unbroken communion and fellowship with
God … but it was different now.
These first humans were no longer waiting … for their time with God.
Adam and Eve were hiding … but God was seeking.
Something had happened in what was, … the perfect relationship and fellowship:
… SIN
Ever since that fellowship was broken, … humanity has been trying to get it back.
Humankind tries Religion … but to no effect. … They pursue pleasure …
to fill that emptiness … but is still unfilled: … Sex, … wealth, … power, …
alcohol, … drugs, … vain pleasures: … Nothing satisfies.
Everything that has been attempted to restore that missing something-in-life, …
leaves us empty.
Nothing can fill that void but God; … Fellowship with God.
Here’s a question for all of us: … “What is the chief end of our life on earth?”; …
ANSWER: … “To Glorify God … and to enjoy Him forever.”

Relationship is the Basis of that Fellowship; … Fellowship with God is, first of all,
… relational; … “Sonship”
1 John 1:3: … what we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you
may have fellowship along with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father
and with His Son Jesus Christ
1 Corinthians 1:9: … God is faithful; you were called by Him into fellowship with
His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord
Sonship is established when we accept Jesus Christ as Savior and are born again
into the Family of God: … Sin Breaks that Fellowship
God is Holy; … sin hinders the relationship.
Just doing good works doesn’t restore the estrangement of a relationship.
It involves making what was broken, … right.
If a man and wife have an argument, … just buying a box of chocolates doesn’t
solve the whole problem. … Whatever is hindering the relationship has to be dealt
with, … whether that is unfaithfulness, … a bad temper, … selfishness, etc.
Confession: …What is it? … It is simply agreeing with God.
Some people have a “Sadaam Hussain” God. … They live their lives in fear of
crossing Him … and then being put before the firing squad.
The Benefits of fellowship with God: …
Romans12:1-2: … Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to
present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your
spiritual worship. 2  Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the
renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and
perfect will of God
This fellowship transforms us.
Fellowship is always getting a new piece of paper when we have messed up ours;
… God never runs out of fresh, new, paper.
II. Fellowship With Others: … Horizontal Relationship
Our Relationship with Other Believers: … Acts 2:41-42: … So those who accepted
his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them.
42  And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the
breaking of bread, and to the prayers
Recently a Church in Summerbrook, SC, … changed it’s name from “Oakbrook
Baptist Church” … to “The Fellowship at Oakbrook”.
Why is it so important for Christians to “fellowship” together; … It helps the
Christian to grow in their walk with the Lord.

One lesson I have learned in 19 years of pastoring, … is that I often go from being
the teacher … to becoming the student … and that the student becomes my teacher.
Fellowship with other Christians promotes accountability, … establishes teamwork
… and builds unity.
Example: … A comedian once said (not actually politically correct these days [but
you’ve all heard it]) that there can be union without unity: …
Just tie two cats tails together and throw them over a clothesline; … one will soon
discover what “without unity” … is really all about!
Philippians 2:3-5: … Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider
others as more important than yourselves. 4  Everyone should look out not only for
his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5  Make your own attitude that
of Christ Jesus
We all heard this growing up: … “I’ll just take my ball and go home.”
This phrase had reality to me when I was 11 years old playing sandlot football with
some of my friends. … Harvey Lanier had brought the football … and if he
couldn’t be the quarterback then he would take his football and go home.
What does that say to our Relationship with Non-believers.
2 Corinthians 6:14: … Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what
partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship
does light have with darkness?
We need to understand something very important: … Fellowship and friendship
are not the same; ... they are completely different.
Friendship is being friendly with another person.
Fellowship is that which is shared by people who have something in common.
Fellowship includes friendship … but it also includes qualities we can’t get
anywhere else; … like accountability, … encouragement, … agape love, help,…
etc.
We need to be friends with people of the world … but that friendship with
someone … can steer us … to be in the world … and not OF it.
HOWEVER … if we have fellowship with the world, … it not only puts us in the
world … but it makes us OF the world also; … thus … the reason for the need to
find that perfect balance!
Balance has got to be one of the most difficult areas in the life of a Christian.
We must have such a perfect balance … in order for us to be able to be effective,
… not only in our personal walk … but also in our evangelistic efforts, … not to
mention having a scriptural based … world view.

To wrap it all up: …
Fellowship is built on Love
1. Love for God
2. Love for Other Christians
3. Love for Unbelievers.
AMEN

Church Growth and the Guiding Spirit - 7/9/17

CHURCH GROWTH AND THE GUIDING SPIRIT

Acts 2: 1-4

07-09- 2017

How’s this for a start; … Any attempt to grow the Church apart from the Holy

Spirit will be disastrous! … Think on that.

We can have the most clever programs conceivable, … plan motivating promotion,

… sing the sweetest songs … and preach sermons that sound as if they came from

Moody himself … but without the work of the Holy Spirit and His involvement, …

our efforts will be in vain.

The individual most essential for Church growth is not the senior pastor, … the

outreach committee, …a dynamic Elder board … or any other human being.

The Holy Spirit, … the third person in the Trinity lit the fire on the Day of

Pentecost! … His fire will burn only on the individual or Church in this day-and-

age, … resolved to His leadership and purpose.

Before we get back to our Scripture in Acts 2, … let’s witness the example of

Eldad and Medad in Numbers chapter eleven. … Vs. 25-26: … Then the LORD

descended in the cloud and spoke to him. He took some of the Spirit that was on

Moses and placed the Spirit on the 70 elders. As the Spirit rested on them, they

prophesied, but they never did it again. 26  Two men had remained in the camp, one

named Eldad and the other Medad; the Spirit rested on them—they were among

those listed, but had not gone out to the tent—and they prophesied in the camp.

Eldad and Medad were "laymen"; … not "ordained preachers".

Suddenly the Spirit captivated them also … and they began prophesying.

First Eldad preached and Medad said, "Amen" … and then Medad preached …

and Eldad said, "Amen" … Soon the entire camp gathered around them!

So you have Moses and the elders having a wonderful time; …

the fire of empowered preaching was theirs, … their actions befitted the tabernacle

worship! … Then came the word: … "there’s revival in the camp!"

Now we’re going to take some liberties and have a little fun with this: …

At first the elders were surprised. … "Who would begin preaching without

checking with the committee in charge of the Church calendar?! … Who do

Medad and Eldad think they are?!"

A motion was made by Joshua to silence Eldad and Medad until they could be

checked by the Credentials Committee … and then sent for ordination!

At this point Moses said: … “Are you jealous on my account? If only all the

LORD’s people were prophets and the LORD would place His Spirit on them!”

Not only does that statement by the human author of the first five books of the

Bible tell us that revival and Church growth is a people’s movement … but it also

illustrates that it is the work of God, … the Holy Spirit.

There are three adjectives that describe the work of the Holy Spirit in His

association with Church growth: …

1. The Holy Spirit is … INDEPENDENT.

When I say the Holy Spirit is independent, … I’m referring to what Jesus said in

John 3:8: … “The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you

don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of

the Spirit.”

William Golding charged us in "The Spire". … His novel tells of a priest with a

compulsion to add a four-hundred- foot tower and spire to his cathedral.

Father Jocelin is advised against building the ill-fated tower. … He presses on

anyway.

The builder, Roger Mason, … digs in vain for a gravel base on which to lay the

foundation stones. … The digging disturbs graves in the cathedral floor, releasing

all sorts of foul odors, especially during the rainy season.

When the pit is already too deep and no gravel or bedrock has yet appeared, …

the tower construction is begun anyway.

On its unsure foundation, … the tower is doomed. … The stone columns cry in

agony trying to hold the tower steady while resting on a spongy foundation.

Fearful congregants cease coming … and finally, … the great Church is empty.

Even the swallows leave their nests in the stone arches.

The cathedral, … though beautiful, … is unsafe.

The structure itself, … prevented worship.

The symbolism is as plain as our faces; … STRUCTURE … can threaten renewal

… and the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit loves spontaneity, … freedom, … creativity … and openness.

He has no patience with rigidity, … tradition … and intricate programming.

All too often we ask the Holy Spirit to: … "come in freedom and power …

but leave the machinery intact."

Unwilling to disturb our robotics … we force the Spirit of God to do most of His

work outside the establishment. …

So we had Eldad and Medad preaching in the camp; … We had Wesley and St.

Francis in the fields; … We had General Booth on the slum sidewalks; …

Even Christ was evicted from the Nazarene synagogue.

The Holy Spirit is like that! … He cannot be turned on and off at will.

Once He settles in on a person or congregation, … He is there.

Eldad and Medad would not be silent!; … even when asked.

In Acts 4, … Annas, Caiaphas, Alexander and John (the priestly family)

commanded Peter and John: … “So they called for them and ordered them not to

preach or teach at all in the name of Jesus”

Regardless of the repercussions, … the independent Spirit sent Peter and John back

into the marketplace, … and they preached Christ!

The man born blind (John 9) became born again stubborn under the Spirit’s

influence. … He gave witness to Jesus under threat of excommunication from the

synagogue.

I believe this is the characteristic of the Holy Spirit that causes many to fear Him.

We’re afraid of powers and activities we can’t schedule into the order of services.

We don’t want anything in our services that can’t be cancelled in case of

embarrassment.

The Bible does teach, … “But everything must be done decently and in order”

(1 Corinthians 14:40) … but we often overdo it.

Several years ago there was a minister’s conference at the Hyatt Regency in

downtown Nashville. … The slate of speakers had been set, … times had been

scheduled and all attendees prayed for God to come down and speak to them.

They thought He was going to speak through the scheduled program … but when

the Holy Spirit arrived, … the lectures of the speakers were cancelled.

They had all prepared impressive and insightful theological messages.

Instead, … the whole group found themselves on their faces before God in prayer

for hours.

Personal testimonies by preachers with broken hearts gushed forth spontaneously.

Some told of how they would have to have God’s fresh anointing on their

ministries … or they would have to find another occupation.

Others told of spiritual obstacles they had been trying to move in their Churches

for years … to no avail.

They wept together and prayed together until the early hours of the morning, …

long after the conference was scheduled to conclude.

Waiters from the hotel would come to the door to check on the assembled …

and tip toe away when they saw scores of ministers in suits and ties prostrate on

the floor in supplication and intercession to God.

We’d better be ready the next time we sing, "Holy Spirit, Breathe On Me".

A lot of Christians are afraid to have Him breathe down their necks, …

so they hold back … and when they do, … the work of God, … revival and Church

growth, … suffers!.

To the person in the comfortable pew, … the Holy Spirit may seem more

Disturber than Comforter. … Invite Him all the way into your life and service!

Since the Holy Spirit is independent of our structure … we must give Him time for

His work … and we must give Him the needed space.

We must pray that His presence sanctifies the people … more than the programs.

He will not work otherwise.

When there are conflicts between our programs and God’s program, …

we must yield to Him!

We must be willing to grant independence to the Holy Spirit. … When the Spirit

comes, … THERE IS REVIVAL! … When true revival comes, … Church growth

is a natural result.

Many times we want part of what He brings, … like wanting the Church to grow

for example … but we don’t want to yield … to the Holy Spirit.

2. Secondly, the Holy Spirit is Intrepid

(Webster defines "intrepid: … resolutely fearless; dauntless.")

I don’t want to be labeled sacrilegious … but the best illustration I can think of

here is the little contraption a fellow student brought to class during my studies at

Jarvis Christian College.

This gadget was in the form of a box with a button on it. … When you push the

button a recording played laughter.

A demonstration of the unique purpose of this "laughing box" was given when the

owner accidentally bumped the button that set off the recorded laughter. …

His face turned red as he realized he had interrupted the good professor’s lecture

on some serious theological subject … but it was too late!

Once the "laughing box" was started, … he could not make it stop laughing until

the recording played out! … Since nothing is as infectious as laughter, … we all

began laughing also. … Pretty soon the entire classroom, … including the

professor, … was rolling!

The Holy Spirit is that way. … He comes in like a rushing mighty wind.

His influence is infectious. … He is intrepid … and we should be grateful that He

is.

We need to let Him work … and … “Don’t stifle the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19)

3. Third, … the Holy Spirit is Intriguing.

Why did Eldad and Medad draw such a crowd when the Spirit of God rested upon

them, causing them to prophesy in the camp, … just as Moses and the elders

prophesied at the Tabernacle?

We have to want to know … because we too, … should want to draw crowds to

God!

Why?; … Because the Spirit was upon them. … His intrigue captivated the

people.

Visitors and seekers may come into our cut and dried services and think; …

"what’s missing?"

It shouldn’t be that way. … There ought to be enough Divine electricity to draw

people to Christ.

We need our worship to come alive … like it did in the early Church.

We need the expectancy that the Holy Spirit brings.

Philip won the Ethiopian while going down from Jerusalem to Gaza, …

which is desert. … How did he do it?: … “The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go and join that

chariot.’” (Acts 8:29)

Philip led the man to faith in Christ, … baptized him and then; … “When they

came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away” (Verse 39a)

This story identifies what the personality of the New Testament Church should be

like. … With the Spirit’s intriguing blessing … they went from one Divine

appointment to another!

Will you pray with me: … "Holy Spirit, … breathe on myself … and these blessed

Christians here today, … like you breathed on Eldad, on Medad and Philip?"

AMEN

Pastor's Corner - 6/20/17

Genesis 2: 2: … By the seventh day God completed His work that He had done, and He

rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done.

Last week (06-12 through 06-17), Karen and myself got to take a vacation at Galveston.

Lindsey got to join us … and it was a very good week. We saw sights, surf fished, ate

very well, attended a PRCA Rodeo in Crosby … and slept a lot (at least, I did).

A normal week for me consist of juggling work at Dewey Moore Ford with attending to

Church matters, writing a sermon, looking after business of the North East Area, seeing

to home matters, trying to be a decent husband and dad and maintaining 47 acres. There

was not the luxury of wasting time.

When I say I slept a lot, I mean I did something I never do nor does it come natural to

me. Between outings, I would be sitting in an easy chair watching television, when it

would dawn on me that two to three hours had disappeared. To where, I did not know.

After this happened a few times, I realized I was falling asleep suddenly and completely

unaware. This also made me realize just how exhausted I had become. In my regular

week, there is no time to get sleepy; … this week, nothing was pulling at me and my

body decided it was time to catch up.

I’m thankful for the rest … but it still strikes me as peculiar.

What it did impress on me is that I was trying for way too long now to cram too much

into a day and a week.

Now we all know that God does not need rest … but even He decided to take a break, sit

back and admire His creation. God considered this so important that He made a

commandment that His people were to work six days … and rest one day!

He’s very smart … and light years smarter than me!

I’m going to commit myself to follow His commandments better, especially the one

about “Rest”. In fact, Karen and myself are going to tackle that immediately. Starting this

next month, I am resigning my employment at Dewey Moore Ford. I will commit to

seeing to the needs of the Church and its congregation to the best of my ability … and

with my FULL attention.

This wasn’t an easy decision … but with much prayer this last week, I knew it was one I

had to make.

God now has my full attention … and First Christian Church in Mt. Pleasant now has

more of a full time minister (nothing less than what you wonderful Christians deserve)!

Your servant in Christ,

Pastor Jim

The Ascension - 5/28/17

THE ASCENSION

Acts 1: 6-14

Today is called “Ascension” Sunday. … Not long ago we celebrated Easter

… and about forty days out from the Resurrection, we find in the Scriptures,

… that Jesus left the Earth and ascended to Heaven in plain view of His

disciples, … “who were eye-witnesses”.

What do the words “finished” and “done” mean to you? … Have you ever

come to the end, of perhaps, … a long and drawn out process or period of

time where you had many tasks, … and many obstacles to overcome?

Everything is wrapped up and it’s time to go home.

It’s done; … it’s over; … you survived it and you can leave it, … and either

forget it … or if you choose to think about it, … know that you did

everything you could … and now you leave it in good hands.

I often wake up thinking about unfinished business at the Church … or even

from dreams about not having the ability, talent or tools to finish the needed

work.

Between home, Church office and the dealership, .. it seems I have a never-

ending stack of paperwork in need of completion. …

It is hard for me to accept the term; … “I’m done!” … because it seems as if

I’m looking forward to one day being able to truly be “done” with my other

job. … I’ll be able to walk out that door and know that the stack is as low as

it can go … and also, … that it’s now another person’s problem to solve.

I can know that I ‘m truly done (at least with that portion of my life and can

better concentrate on my ministry God entrusted me with), …

and then, … knowing myself, … I’ll immediately proceed to some other

stack of issues … that will never be done.

It feels wonderful to wrap up a task, … especially one that has been long and

drawn out.

When Jesus died on the cross, … He uttered the words “It is finished.”

The words have great significance, … in that the work of redemption was

completed, … one hundred percent.

He had accomplished what He came to do; … the price had been paid; …

but there was still to come the Resurrection … and for some reason, …

Jesus appeared to His Disciples and others for yet another forty days.

He appeared bodily, … in the flesh … yet with a glorified body capable of

what we consider, … supernatural movement.


Today, … as we consider the Ascension of Christ, … I have some thoughts I

want to share on this period of forty days that Jesus spent on earth past the

Resurrection, … along with the very act of His ascension to Heaven.

The Ascension means: …

1. Jesus’ work on earth was finished; ....

Jesus had accomplished everything He had come to do. …

There was nothing more that He could accomplish. … As a matter of fact,

… had He not ascended to the Father, … it would have severely limited and

even sabotaged, … to an extent, … the Gospel.

Jesus took upon himself a flesh-and-blood body. … Following the

Resurrection, … His body was glorified, … yet it was not a spirit.

He was limited to a dimensional existence and could only be in one place at

one time.

His work was completed … and He left in place … an empowered, faith-

driven people, … to lead and build His Church.

For forty days He taught His disciples and followers to walk by faith …

and not by sight.

Paul, … one of his later followers, … said it this way: …

2 Corinthians 5:4-7: … Indeed, we groan while we are in this tent, burdened

as we are, because we do not want to be unclothed but clothed, so that

mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5  And the One who prepared us for

this very purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment. 6  So, we

are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body we are

away from the Lord. 7  For we walk by faith, not by sight

At the time Jesus was arrested, … crucified and buried … in a whirl wind of

events that ended one of the strangest weeks on record, … the disciples were

completely dazed, … confused and terrified by it all. … They were scared to

death and very unsure about what had … and was … happening.

Was it all real? … Did we misunderstand. …

Most of them thought, up to the very end, that Jesus was waiting till the right

time to incite a revolution. … They still didn’t understand the nature of His

spiritual kingdom and just what He was trying to teach them.

So Jesus rose from the grave. … He didn’t appear just once to His followers.

… He appeared multiple times in varying lengths of time over a forty day

period. … He went from brief appearances … to actually spending time

talking, cooking and eating with them as He continued to teach them and

build their faith.

All-in-all, … Jesus appeared to about five hundred people following His

Resurrection. … This is quite significant that there were a minimum of five-

hundred eye-witnesses, … many of whom were alive and quite able to speak

of it when the Gospels were being written and adopted by the various

Churches.

Jesus’ appearances over the forty days solidified the earthly testimony to His

power over death … and the grave.

The Resurrection, … its witness and testimony, … is the very heart and the

power of the Gospel.

Philippians 3: 10-11: … My goal is to know Him and the power of His

resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His

death, 11  assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among

the dead.

If Jesus had appeared just once or twice, for a moment or two, …

the disciples would have never been empowered the way they were.

They would have come to believe that it was a delusion or some sort of

otherworld ghost aberration … but for forty days, they saw Him, …

they touched Him, … they ate with Him … and they listened to Him.

This day they watched as He ascended into the clouds … and over the next

fifty years every one of them would lay their lives on the line for what they

had seen.

Ten of them died grisly, horrific public executions because of their witness.

Paul, the apostle “born out of season”, … lost his head to Nero’s axe.

These men were absolutely convinced of what they had seen; …

the risen Christ had become their sole passion … and reason for living.

Jesus’ ministry on earth was limited by His choice of a flesh and blood

existence. … He was able to minister on a deep level to about five hundred

people over three and a half years. … The last forty days sealed what the

three and a half years had built … and empowered leaders who could not be

stopped or discouraged.

Before the Resurrection, … Jesus had trained followers. … For the forty

days following, … He trained leaders!

It’s called leadership math, … and that was passed on to the Apostles! …

The Apostles, … by the power of the Holy Spirit, … chose to train leaders,

… rather than followers.

John C. Maxwell, … an American author, speaker, and pastor, … put it this

way: … “I can lead followers. To multiply, I can lead leaders”.

Two thousand years later, the multiplication continues. … The power of the

Resurrection is alive and well; … those forty days were well-spent!

The witness has been passed to us … and we must pass it to the next

generation.

Christ’s ascension signifies:

2. We have a friend in high (and low) places

The Holy Spirit of God dwells in us and among us, … empowering us and

driving our faith. … As long as Jesus was on the earth, … He was the one

who empowered His followers and their faith. … He was limited by a

physical constitution. ... The Helper, … the Paracletos, … is not limited …

and indwells every believer, … everywhere, … in every age.

He empowers God’s people for service and life.

Vs. 8: … “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you,

and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to

the ends of the earth”

John 14:25-26: … 25  “I have spoken these things to you while I remain with

you. 26  But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My

name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told

you.

Jesus is the head of the Church and is seated at the right hand of the Father

Ephesians 1:20-23: … “He demonstrated this power in the Messiah by

raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the

heavens— 21  far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and

every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22  And He

put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything

for the church, 23  which is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all

things in every way.”

The ascension guarantees: …

3. Jesus will come again!

John 14:1-3: … “Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe

also in Me. 2  In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would

have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. 3  If I go away and

prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that

where I am you may be also”

The Ascension opens up LARGE questions: …

When will God fix this ailing and convulsing earth?; … It’s not for us to

know, … His timetable is generational. … We will only see a small piece of

it in our time. … We are at ground level … and His plan is dimensional, …

generational, … and spanning the universe.

Just know that this is a futile question. … We couldn’t grasp it … even if the

plan were laid out before us.

All we need to know is that earth and the universe are broken … but not for

good. … Even now, … He is in process of bringing in His Kingdom …

and we are part of His plan.

Every day we have opportunities to use our influence, … strength, …

physical ability … and our mind, … to impact … His plan-to-touch

someone’s life.

The ascension grants us: …

4. The power in “Wait”

How long, Lord?

We live in an “instant” generation where we demand results immediately.

We know that waiting is difficult and an exercise in patience. … Yet there is

a purpose and a plan in “wait.”

Isaiah 40: 29-31: … “He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the

powerless. 30  Youths may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and

fall, 31  but those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will

soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk

and not faint”

The waiting isn’t just a distraction or a bother; … It’s part of the plan.

It causes us to fall into His arms of Grace … and be enveloped by His

mercy, … knowing that He holds the seasons in His hand … and that He

holds our life.

No wait; … no power.

No wait; … no wings

No wait; … no endurance.

While you are waiting: ...

Don’t just stand there lookin’ …

Get to the Upper Room, … get your orders, … be filled with the Spirit …

and then get busy. … We got work to do!

Take it on Monday morning; … you have a Friend, … you have a Comforter

and Guide, … you know what to do … and you have the power to do it!

AMEN

Ascension Sunday

Pastor’s Corner 05-25- 2017

This Sunday, the 28th , is Ascension Sunday, celebrating Jesus Christ

ascending to Heaven with His disciples as witnesses. … After this event, the

disciples stood there, just gawking into the sky. It is like they were in some

kind of shocked stupor.

Acts 1: 10-11: … While He was going, they were gazing into heaven, and

suddenly two men in white clothes stood by them. 11  They said, “Men of

Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus, who has been

taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen

Him going into heaven

In-other- words, … two angels had to snap them out of it and bring them

back to the task at hand. That was to go to Jerusalem and wait for the power

(the Holy Spirit) that was to come.

Sometimes, I wonder if that is what we need; … to be snapped out of it!

*We live a good life

*We treat our family well

*We come to Church most Sundays

*We pray (when we are there)

Then driving home, we see a person standing alone with a “NEED HELP”

cardboard sign, … we drive past, … we most likely comment to our spouse

about how they should spend their time looking for a job.

We go to work the next morning … and right-off- the-bat, we listen to some

juicy gossip about a co-worker.

On Saturday, we play a round of golf, laughing at the off-color and racial

jokes told by others in the foursome.

Sunday, we are back at Church, trying to stay awake for the sermon.

Are we one … that needs to be snapped out of it?

If we have accepted Christ into our heart, we don’t need to wait on the Holy

Spirit; … The Holy Spirit is waiting on us … TO DO THE JOB AT HAND!

In case we forget, … that is to train and win disciples for Jesus Christ and

God’s kingdom … and to do that with kindness and mercy.

Your servant,

Pastor Jim

Is God There? - 5/21/17

IS GOD THERE?

Psalm 116: 1-10

Listening is an important skill … and one that is not always easy to find or

develop. … To listen, … to really listen, … requires patience and effort.

The beauty of listening is that without saying a word, … we can

communicate to somebody that we really care about them …

and are interested in them as a person.

Psalm 116 is one of the “Hallel Psalms” that were sung in connection with

the feast of the Passover. … Psalms 113 and 114 were used before the meal

… and Psalm 116 was one of the Psalms that were sung afterward.

So, … we can think of it as kind of a thank-you prayer to God after a very

important meal of remembrance. … Jesus and His disciples would have sung

it after He instituted the Lord’s Supper: … Mark 114: 26: … “After singing

psalms, they went out to the Mt. of Olives”; … where Jesus would be

betrayed and arrested.

The author of this psalm (most likely Solomon) … uses very personal

language; … he is talking about a personal experience.

“I” is used a lot. … As we read this Psalm, … it is not difficult to imagine a

friend sitting down and telling us about something exciting that just

happened, … something they can’t wait to share with us.

This could also be someone in Church wanting to witness God working in

their life. … The Psalm reads; … “I love the LORD because He has heard

my appeal for mercy.”

This introduces the rest of Psalm 116 … and it sums up the joyful and

thankful theme of the entire Psalm.

This Psalm concerns an: …

A. AN OVERWHELMING PROBLEM: …

When we are young, … we are sometimes under the illusion that there is

nothing that we can’t do.

The future is bright and we are full of youthful optimism. … The older a

person gets, … the more we realize that we’re not as strong, powerful, wise,

and invincible … as we once thought we were.

*A job that had been so lucrative and rewarding is suddenly put at risk

because of layoffs…

*A body that once was so healthy and strong is all at once threatened by

disease…

*A house that had been in the family for generations is damaged beyond

repair by fire or flood. …The list could go on.


At least once in every person’s life, … we face a problem that is so

enormous and insurmountable that we feel completely overwhelmed by it.

The Psalmist writes: … “The ropes of death were wrapped around me,

and the torments of Sheol overcame me;

I encountered trouble and sorrow” (Vs 3)

There is no greater obstacle than death itself. … There is no dilemma more

universal: … “The soul who sins is the one who will die…” (Ezekiel 18:20)

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) …

and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

There are few feelings as terrible as knowing that something bad is going to

happen and being powerless to stop it. …

To the writer of the Psalm, it seemed as if death itself had become a living

being and was reaching up with its tentacles to entangle him.

The anguish, grief and sorrow he felt in his soul … was more than he could

bear.

When our world is turned upside down by tragic events, … it is easy to

become cynical and disillusioned with life. … When we witness how evil

some people can be, … it becomes hard for us to trust anyone.

The writer, … in his dismay, … said this; … “Everyone is a liar.” (Vs 11)

We have been lied to. … The lie is called evolution.

The lie says that all we have to do is apply the knowledge and wisdom of

our modern minds to the world’s problems … and through the sheer force of

our will, … we can eliminate dilemmas, … one by one.

Evolution says that, … inevitably, … we will be able to better ourselves.

Science becomes the solution … but we have seen time and again that for

every new technological or scientific advance, … there are even more new

problems … and new dilemmas that crop up.

Instead of the story of humanity being that of a constant upward climb, …

we find ourselves spiraling downward into ever-increasing degrees of evil

and wickedness.

This has left us unsure of ourselves. … The old assumptions are challenged,

… the authorities questioned. … Can we really be sure of anything? …

Are there any absolutes left for us to grasp, … any solid foundations on

which we can safely stand … or is it all just an illusion, … a dream that has

suddenly turned into a nightmare?

The Psalm deals with: …

B. A CRY FOR HELP: …

What do we do in such a situation? … How do we handle our predicament?

There is nothing we can do. … There is no way we can handle it on our

own! … Our only hope is for someone else to help us: …

So the writer of the Psalm says; … “Then I called on the name of Yahweh:

‘Yahweh, save me!’ ” (Vs 4).

Often we resist asking for help. … It’s possible we are caught in an

embarrassing predicament, … or that we have to swallow our pride.

It could be … we aren’t as independent and self sufficient as we thought we

were.

A little boy was tugging at a big rock and doing his best to lift it. …

He was grunting and pulling at it but it didn’t budge. … His father came

along and asked him if he was having any trouble. … He said, “Yes, I am

trying and trying and can’t move the rock.” … The father said to him, …

“Well, son, are you using all available energy?”

The boy replied, “Yes, Father, I think I am” … Then the dad looked at him

and said, “No, son, I don’t think you are, for you haven’t asked for my

help.” (Roy B. Zuck; The Speaker’s Quote Book)

An important life lesson is that asking for help is usually a good idea. …

No matter what our problem might be, … somebody else has probably

experienced it already … and knows what to do.

As I think back over my own life, … I realize that many of my headaches

and heartaches could have been avoided if I’d only asked someone for help.

Of course, … when we ask for help, … it’s best to ask the right person.

This individual, first of all, … has to care about us.

Secondly, … they need to be able to do something about the situation.

God meets both conditions!

Even when no one else can help us, … He can. … Even if it seems as if

nobody cares, … He still does. … Just ask Peter!

And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came

toward Jesus. 30  But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid.

And beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31  Immediately Jesus reached out His hand, caught hold of him, and said to

him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32  When they got into the boat,

the wind ceased. 33  Then those in the boat worshiped Him and said, “Truly

You are the Son of God!” (Matthew 14:29-33)

If you don’t believe Peter, ask the two blind men and the beggar whose sight

Jesus restored; … ask the Canaanite woman whose daughter Jesus freed

from demon-possession; … ask the man whose son Jesus released from

violent seizures; … ask the ten lepers Jesus cleansed: …

They all cried out, “have mercy!” and he heard their cries for help.

This Psalm teaches us to: …

C. REMEMBER WHAT IS STILL TRUE:

After the terrible tragedy that we witnessed in New York, Washington DC,

and Pennsylvania in the 2001 terror from the skies; … The Joplin, Mo

tornado of 2011; … Hurricane Rita of 2005; … Mass murder shooting at

Virginia Tech; …

it is good to pull our eyes off of the sights and sounds of destruction on the

TV screen; … go for a walk by yourself or with a friend on a clear night; …

look up at the stars: … They’re still there!

There is still a sense of order and purpose in God’s creation, … even if we

have to look quite a distance to find it.

Paul commends this truth to Timothy as trustworthy: …

1 Timothy 1: 15: … “This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full

acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”.

No matter what else Timothy would experience, … he knew that he could

absolutely depend on this absolute truth.

Even in the midst of an overwhelming problem, … we can rely on what we

know and believe about God … and we can bear in mind what He has done

for us in the past. … What God reveals to us in His word is true and will

stand forever, … even if the stars themselves, should fall out of the sky!

After his cry for help, … the Psalmist recounts what he knows to be true

about God … and remembers what God has done in the past.

He is making “a checklist” of all he knows to be true about God …

and what God has done for him in his life!

What God is:

1. Gracious: … He loves us with a love we don’t deserve.

2. Righteous: … He always does what is just and right.

3. Compassionate: … He has pity on us and doesn’t give us the punishment

we deserve.

What God does:

1. Protects the weak. … God has a special place in His heart for those who

can’t protect themselves.

2. He saves us, … in our time of greatest need.

Based on what the psalm writer knows about God, … he then preaches to

himself a little sermon: … “Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has

been good to you” (Vs. 7)

Do you ever listen to the conversations you have with yourself?

Sometimes, these little discussion with ourselves can be pretty negative.

We kick ourselves for making mistakes. … We talk ourselves out of our

successes.

It might be better, … if instead of always beating up on ourselves all the

time, … we preached ourselves a little Gospel, for a change.

The Psalms are full of these little one-line wonders!

Psalm 42: 11: … Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me?

Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God

Psalm 62: 5: … Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him.

Psalm 103: 1-2: … My soul, praise Yahweh, and all that is within me, praise

His holy name. 2  My soul, praise the LORD, and do not forget all His benefits.

This Psalm reminds us to: …

D. PRAISE GOD FOR HIS GRACIOUS DELIVERANCE: …

From preaching to himself, … the writer of the Psalm moves on to talking to

God himself; … praising Him for His gracious deliverance.

In this Psalm, … we have now come full circle. … We have moved from the

depths of despair, … to a joyful expression of thanks and praise!

Vs. 8-9: … For You, LORD, rescued me from death, my eyes from tears,

my feet from stumbling. 9  I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living

God delivers!: … He delivers us from death, tears and stumbling.

He delivers us for … the purpose of the world being able to see what a

righteous Godly walk is all about!

Poetically, … the Psalmist describes how God’s deliverance extends to

every part of him: … his soul, … his eyes … and his feet.

How has God delivered us?: … The Psalmist doesn’t go into detail.

Ironically, … we now know that it was through the one time that Jesus

willingly denied Himself the Father’s help.

Remember that this Psalm was used before Jesus went to the Garden of

Gethsemane? …

John 12: 27: …   “Now My soul is troubled. What should I say—Father, save

Me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour”

Jesus gave His life for us on the cross to save us from sin and death.

Yet God’s mighty deliverance still triumphed … because on the third day,

… God raised Jesus from the dead in victory.

Because He lives, … death has been defeated … and we know that we will

live with God forever!

Now that’s a reason to praise God!

TO CONCLUDE:

It’s almost comical: … The people I hear saying; … “God has been good to

me”, … are often people you wouldn’t expect.

They are in nursing homes; … they have known tragedy; … their life has

been hard; … perhaps they are the ones who have even lost limbs …

but possibly, … when life is the hardest, … we see just how good God really

is.

Maybe these witnesses of God’s mercy, … have learned the secret …

of Psalm 116!

1. Tell God your problems; … He hears you.

2. Cry out to Him for help; … He can help you.

3. Remember the truths of God, … no matter what.

4. Praise God for His gracious deliverance in Christ Jesus, …

our Lord

AMEN

The Power in You - 5/7/17

THE POWER IN YOU

Acts 1: 4-8

Jesus is Alive!

Most of our Bibles will reveal that the title “Acts”, … that we commonly

use, … is just the shortened version of a longer title that has been given to

the book. … The full title given to this book is; … The Acts of the Apostles.

It is called that because the content of the book outlines the work of the

Apostles after they received power from the Holy Spirit.

It could have just as easily been called: … “The Acts of the Holy Spirit”.

The major theme of the book is that Jesus is alive and still ministering in and

through those whom He has saved and empowered for ministry.

The Book of Acts forms the perfect counterpart and contrast to the Gospels.

In the Gospels, … Jesus offered His life; … in Acts, … the Son of God

offered His power.

In the Gospels we see the original seeds of Christianity; … in Acts we see

the continual growth of the Church. … The Gospels tell us of Christ

crucified and risen; … Acts speaks of Christ ascended and exalted.

The Gospels model the Christian life as lived by the perfect Man; …

Acts represents it as lived out by imperfect men.

We will learn, today, … Jesus’ continuing ministry is not accomplished

solely by the energy and efforts of men and women.

Jesus must empower His people for the ministry of the Church … and today,

we are going to see how Jesus Empowers Us For Ministry.

The DESIRE FOR POWER and misunderstanding about the Kingdom comes

out in Acts 1:6-7

When Jesus spoke about the coming of His Kingdom, … the disciples

immediately pictured an autonomous Israel that existed free of Rome … or

anyone else, for-that- matter.

When Jesus spoke about the coming of His Kingdom they immediately

recalled the good old days when David and Solomon ruled over a united

Israel; … success, prosperity and might! … The disciples were not that

quick to get the point that the Kingdom Jesus had come to usher in was

much bigger than just the nation of Israel. … “IS IT TIME?”: … That was

their question.

After everything that had taken place in the last few days, … they began

asking questions about the Kingdom, as they understood it.

2

This is not the first time that the disciples asked questions regarding the

Kingdom to come. … They had asked … who was going to be the greatest

in the Kingdom. … James and John actually had their mother make a request

to Jesus that they would be those who sat on the right and left of Jesus’

throne when His Kingdom was established on earth.

With all this in mind, … we begin to see their motives behind this

questioning: … POWER!

Rome was the Big Dog on the face of the earth. … The disciples were ready

for Israel to do the barking!; … and they were stepping-up to be the

prominent figures of the New Israel.

They were ready to conquer the world!

At the current time, Rome was the most powerful force on the face of the

earth … and the disciples wanted Israel to become that superpower!

Here’s Jesus’ take: … Acts 1:8: … But you will receive power when the

Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in

all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth

The disciples desired power to dominate the world … and Jesus tells them

that power is going to come by the Holy Spirit; … not by political might!;

… they are going to be empowered to serve the world … with His message,

… not dominate the world by military force.

The disciples are going to experience the empowering indwelling presence

of the Holy Spirit … and they will never be the same.

WHO IS THE HOLY SPIRIT? … The Holy Spirit is the third person (or

being) of the Trinity. … God the Father, … God the Son, … God the Holy

Spirit … compose the triune nature (or Godhead) of God …

and all three are eternal co-existent and equally God.

God the Father is as much God as God the Son is … and God the Son is God

as much as God the Holy Spirit is … and God the Holy Spirit is as much

God as God the Father. … They do not compose three different gods …

but are one and the same God.

The emphasis of the Old Testament is on God the Father. … The weight of

the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) is on God the Son. …

The accent of the Book of Acts and following … is on God the Holy Spirit.

We live in the Age of the Spirit because we, like the disciples in Acts, …

have received God’s very presence in us at the moment of salvation …

and in so doing, … He has secured us in our salvation by His presence and

empowered us for the life to which He has saved and called us to.

3

The same Holy Spirit who “hovered over surface of the waters” in Genesis

1: 2 … and came into individuals in the Old Testament to empower them for

certain tasks … and descended upon Jesus after His baptism, …

has been given to us in this age … to empower us for a ministry that makes

the name of Jesus known throughout the nations … for the glory of God

throughout all the earth.

Jesus told His disciples, prior to His death, … that it was for their benefit

that He leave them. … Jesus told the disciples that when He left them, …

He would send them the Helper … or Counselor (JOHN 16:7-8) …

and that the Helper would not only work in them but … also in the world as

they continue on in their ministry.

This may have seemed odd to the disciples at the time … but as they

experienced the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit … they quickly learned

that it was better for them to have Jesus living and working in and through

them … then to be a spectator of Jesus, … living and working alongside

them.

The Helper would come, … not only to empower the disciples for ministry

… but work in concert with them as they ministered.

When the Holy Spirit entered the disciples, … they were empowered to

proclaim the message of Jesus in a way that they had never been able to

before.

While all of this is taking place, … Peter comes to the forefront and begins

to preach a message to those who were accusing them of being drunk and/or

crazy. … When he preached to them he did so because he was empowered

by the Holy Spirit … and as he preached, … the crowd “were pierced to the

heart” … and began to ask what they should do in response to the message

they heard.

What Peter preached to them was really nothing new in regards to the life

and death of Jesus … but Peter was able to show how Jesus was indeed the

promised Messiah just as He had said … and now suddenly, many believed

because the Holy Spirit was operating on their heart, … cutting away their

unbelief … and replacing the deadness of unbelief … with faith to believe.

Witnessing to all the earth is the message of Acts 1:8

The disciples had too small of a vision … for what Jesus was going to do, …

now that He had risen from the grave. … They assumed that it was now time

for Israel to take center stage to regain the power, prominence and prosperity

4

she once knew. … Jesus turns it around on the disciples … and lets them

know that He has not just given them Israel … but the world!

Jesus’ work was not just for the benefit of the citizens of Israel … but for the

citizens of the world. … Jesus did not do all that He had done … simply to

bring Good News to Israel … but to bring Good News to all peoples.

Jesus gives them a four-point strategy for the ministry that they will be

empowered for:

Jerusalem: … their immediate objective.

Judea: … the region in which Jerusalem was located.

Samaria: … the area beyond the region of Judea where people whom they

would normally try to avoid lived.

“To the ends of the earth”: … the known … and … unknown World.

I can only imagine the confusion that entered their minds upon hearing all of

this. … They did not have the courage about them to stand up and be a

witness for Jesus when others were lying about Him during His trial: …

How in the world could they possibly be committed enough to be witnesses

for Jesus in Jerusalem, … the place where they abandoned Him; …

much less the “ends of the Earth?”

In-other-words, … How could they possibly be a part of a ministry that

called for more than they had to offer?!!!!

The answer has already been given; … the Holy Spirit will empower them

for the ministry they have been called to.

“As they were watching, and a cloud received Him out of their sight”

Acts 1: 9

After hearing it all, … Jesus ascends back into the clouds and is taken out of

their sight. … The disciples are mesmerized both by what they have heard

and all that they have seen. … We get this picture that they are standing

there gazing into the heavens with their mouths wide open in unbelief (as we

would be, also).

They are so consumed with what they have heard and seen … that an angel

has to come to them and snap-them- out-of- it … to remind them that they had

been given something to do … and standing around watching the skies was

not it.

So, let’s apply this: …

The same power that was given to the Apostle’s in the first century …

is the same strength and might … we have received being saved by Jesus in

the 20 th & 21 st Century. … This is the same power that was given to the

Apostle’s in the first century to fulfill their missions … and it is the same

5

indwelled by His Holy Spirit that we have either received … or can, upon

our confession of faith!

When we read these words we find that Jesus did not say; …

“Hey, … if you don’t mind … or as long as you feel like it, … go out and tell

other people about Me … and if you find yourself on vacation in Egypt and a

conversation strikes up, … would you mind mentioning Me?”

There are so many Christians and Churches who corporately take this kind

of approach to what Jesus has said, … IT BLOWS ONE’S MIND!

They consider His commands to be suggestions. … They deem His

instruction to be negotiable. …

When we come face to face with the Bible, … we find that response to Jesus

to be COMPLETELY EVIL. … There was nothing about this experience

that suggests options for these men. … Jesus did not say they might …

or could possibly, … be His witnesses.

Why would He speak with such certainty?: … Because He knew the work of

the Holy Spirit that was going to fill them up!

SO …. LET ME MAKE THIS BOLD STATEMENT. …

IF THE ONLY EXPRESSSION OF OUR SUPPOSED RELATIONSHIP

WITH JESUS CHRIST IS SHOWING UP HERE ONCE OR TWICE A

WEEK, … THEN THERE MAY BE SOMETHING SERIOUSLY

SUSPICIOUS ABOUT OUR CLAIM TO CHRIST!

How will we respond to the Risen Lord?: … Three options!

1. A CURCH FULL OF WONDERERS. … This describes those who are

always wondering about matters that God has either not revealed …

or hasn’t revealed yet. … They are serious about Bible study …

and are always looking for something “deeper” that might answer all of their

questions. … The disciples were wondering about when Israel would be

restored to her previous place of power, prominence and prosperity …

and Jesus told them that it was not their job to worry about things like that.

If we find that we are one of those people who jump from Bible study group

to Bible study group but yet never consider witnessing to others the love,

grace, compassion and mercy of Jesus to the poor, overlooked, homeless,

and lost of our community, … then there are some serious problems.

Some Christians and Churches are like this. … They are really good at Bible

study and always discussing “hard questions” … but rarely do we find

much Bible “doing” going on in regards to witnessing for Jesus.

6

2. A CHURCH FULL OF WATCHERS. … The disciples were star struck

with all that they had seen and heard and just stood around and watched the

sky when Jesus ascended.

This is probably the majority of Christians and Churches, today.

We live in a world where we hear and see the unthinkable …

and rather than run to the cries of the hopeless with the hope of Jesus Christ,

… we just sit back and watch.

3. A CHURCH FULL OF WITNESSES. … Jesus is looking for people who

have experienced Him in their lives to bear witness of Him to others.

We cannot bear witness to the One … we do not know.

Today is our Jerusalem. … We are doing Jerusalem ministry right now.

Jerusalem ministry is your home, … your workplace, … your school, …

your neighborhood, etc...

This is our Judea. … Judea would be Camp, Morris, Franklin, Wood and

Red River Counties. … As a Church, we should partner with many of the

local ministries that are looking to serve others with the love, help and the

hope of Jesus Christ.

Our Samaria. … This is North American ministry. … Pairing with missions

and special offerings of the Christian Church-Disciples of Christ!

Our “ends of the Earth?”. … The Hands For Christ collection of Bibles

and theological studies for third world country Churches that cannot afford

the luxury of printed materials, … Gospel for Asia, … medical mission trips

… and more to come!

You have the POWER just like the Apostles! … Be convicted of it!

The Holy Spirit is there; … maybe waiting for you to believe, … maybe

waiting for you to accept., … maybe waiting for you to act!

Remember, … all things are possible with God!

AMEN

Easter: What to Take With Us, What to Leave Behind - 4/16/17

EASTER; … WHAT TO TAKE WITH US, … WHAT TO LEAVE

BEHIND

John 20: 24-29

Easter is the longest of the Christian ‘sacred’ holidays when one considers

the period of Lent as being part of the observance. … Although Christmas

usually gives us two days off from work, … one for Christmas Eve and

Christmas Day, also, … Christmas day itself, … is the one considered

sacred.

So to illustrate how some of our brothers and sisters in Christ observe the

Holy Days different, … in Australia, … Easter means a four-day weekend.

For Christians in the US, … Easter is about two sacred days; …

Good Friday and Easter Sunday, … often, with no days off from work.

I want us to think a little bit about those two days and what they hold for us.

I’m going to read two passages from the Scriptures. … Neither of which is

from ‘Good Friday’ or ‘Easter Sunday’ … yet each passage speaks of the

significance of those two days.

The first passage is from Matthew 26: 36-40. … It is actually the night

before Jesus’ Crucifixion; … the beginning of the passion.

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane and He told the

disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37  Taking along Peter

and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and deeply

distressed. 38  Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow —to

the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with Me.” 39  Going a little

farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this

cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”

40  Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He asked Peter,

“So, couldn’t you stay awake with Me one hour?

What do we see in these verses? … We have the picture of a very vulnerable

person; … a person who is facing death; … a person who is looking toward

betrayal; … a person who’s future will consist of incredible pain and

suffering; … and a person finding loneliness in the midst of it all.

The real significance of this scene is that this person is God. …

This isn’t just some self-proclaimed guru, … this isn’t just some typical holy

person of the day … and this isn’t just some very wise person.


This person is God; … This person is Jesus; … This person is God coming

down to earth as a person.

This was the purpose of Him coming down from Heaven to this world. …

He came to save us; … and also, … He came to experience life.

He came to experience pain. … He came to experience what it is like to be

tested; … To have His feet hurt, … His stomach empty, …

His friends turn away from Him, … His flesh pierced.

He came to have experiential knowledge of our life.

There is a difference between being told what something is like, …

watching what it is like … and really experiencing something …

and here we have a picture of Jesus … really fighting to come to grips with

God’s plan for His life.

In a way, … He is really struggling to find His Heavenly Father …

in the midst … of all His difficulties.

If you’ve ever been to another culture totally different from our own, …

you can sit and watch what people do there, … what they eat, …

how they interact … and you will have some knowledge of how they live:

… But if you eat the food, … if you try their cooking methods, …

if you walk the paths they walk, … then you will have a greater

understanding, … a greater insight … to what it is like … to actually be a

part of their society.

You can sit back and look at food … but if you don’t taste it, … you will

never know what it tastes like. … You can sit back and watch somebody

jump out of a plane … but unless you’ve had that sensation of free falling

towards the ground, … you can’t really relate to it.

I can sit and watch all the (professional) football in the world, …

talk to the players, … smell the smells, … even wash the mud off their feet

… but I’ll never be out there playing the game … knowing what it is like!

God didn’t just sit back and watch the game. … He came and played; …

He tasted; … He ran with the other players!

So what is that to us? … It means that we have a God who knows, …

not just theoretically … but knowledgably what it feels like to suffer, …

to have pain, … to be betrayed, … to be ignored, … to be forgotten, …

to die.


The remarkable result is that we can share our pain with God. …

We can draw near with a confidence … that He knows …

and He understands … and yet, … He tells us … He still loves us.

The image of Thomas seeing Jesus with the holes in his hands and feet, …

our second image of Easter, … is the picture of the resurrected Christ.

John 20:24-29: …

24  But one of the Twelve, Thomas (called “Twin”), was not with them when

Jesus came. 25  So the other disciples kept telling him, “We have seen the

Lord!”

But he said to them, “If I don’t see the mark of the nails in His hands, put my

finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will never

believe!”

26  After eight days His disciples were indoors again, and Thomas was with

them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among

them. He said, “Peace to you!”

27  Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and observe My hands.

Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Don’t be an unbeliever, but a

believer.”

28  Thomas responded to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

29  Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Those who

believe without seeing are blessed

What does this tells us about the suffering of the passion? …

The effects of pain and suffering don’t just disappear.

Christianity isn’t about denying our pain; … Christianity isn’t about

ignoring the scars of our life; … Jesus still has the holes … in His hands and

His feet.

Thomas could see them, … feel them, … touch the flesh around it.

The scars don’t just magically disappear. … They will still be there. …

They are significant. … They are something we all share with God.

Yet they aren’t the end. … There is hope. … There is the resurrection …

and with it, … healing.


When I was younger, … about half way through high school, … a group of

us would get together at Weiss Park to ride skate boards. … Our boards were

a bit primitive compared to today’s models … but the sidewalks were so

smooth at Weiss Park, … you could really build up a lot of speed.

Well, one evening, … seven of us were getting ready to attempt to pull off a

dare devil stunt … that pretty much proved … we left our brains at home.

At the top of the hill, … two of us sat on our boards facing each other and

placing our feet on the other guys board. … Another idiot sat on our legs.

Another threesome lined up behind us holding on to our arms. … One more

sat on his board behind them … with his legs stuck in their laps right under

the dude sitting in the middle!

Here we went, … speed building, … coming to the first turn, … faster and

faster, … finally leaning into that big turn … but not turning fast enough.

Straight into an I-Beamed awning over some bleachers by the swimming

pool.

My right ankle taking the brunt of the impact into that I-Beam!

I limped to my car holding the pieces that were left of my skate board; …

drove home … and hobbled into my room.

As I pulled off my boot, … my dad looked into my room … and watched in

horror … as I poured blood out of my boot.

One of the large heads of a rivet had left a pretty good size hole in my ankle

… along with a spider web of additional lacerations.

It took a very long time for that to heal up. … Most likely, the only thing

that kept me from loosing my foot … was those wonderful cowboy boots.

The scars are still there today, … even after 52 years!

Some scars don’t heal that easily; … broken backs, … brain damage, …

fire burns, … emotional hurts from abusive parents; …

they don’t always heal that quickly, … if at all … but they aren’t the end. …

There is hope.

There is Easter Sunday, … the time of resurrection.

We may still have some of our scars in some form … when we arrive in

Heaven … but they will be scars we can share with Jesus.

There will be acknowledgement of their significance in our life, …

in the lives of those around us … but in that time, …

they won’t hold us back from God’s presence.


This Easter, … I pray that we don’t get caught-up … in Good Friday.

Yes there is pain, … there is suffering. … Yes, the pains that we have …

are significant … and yes, … it is very difficult to find our Heavenly Father

in the midst of all this world’s pain and confusion.

God knows this. … He knows it by His own painful personal knowledge.

Let us not let our pain and scars … keep us from drawing near to Him.

Let us not let them stop us … from enjoying God’s presence … here in this

life!

AMEN

Sunday Rest - 3/26/17

SUNDAY REST

Exodus 20: 8-11

(The Tattoo Syndrome)

A Tacoma, Washington newspaper carried a story about a basset hound

named, “Tattoo.” … One evening, Tattoo’s owner accidentally shut the

dog’s leash in the car door and took off for a drive with Tattoo still attached

to … the outside of the vehicle.

Tattoo didn’t have much of a choice but to run alongside the car.

Thankfully, … police officer Terry Filbert, … noticed a car go by with the

little basset hound he described as … “picking-up- his-feet… and putting-

them-down … as fast as he could."

He chased the car to a stop and rescued the dog … but not before he had

reached a speed of 20 to 25 miles per hour … (The dog was fine …

but asked not to go out for an evening walk for a long time).

Some of us know how little Tattoo felt. … We labor through our days just

… “picking up our feet and putting them down as fast as we can.”

In addition, … there seems no end in sight.

(Margin-less)

In his medical practice, … Dr. Richard Swenson (author of the book: …

Margin), … sees a steady stream of hurting people coming into his office.

He claims that a majority of them suffer from a chronic ailment which has

reached epidemic levels in our country.

Do you know what that malady is?; … SARS, … maybe? Or AIDS?

No.

The disease Dr. Swenson is concerned about, … is what he calls a lack of

“MARGIN”.

To quote the good doctor: …

“Margin is the space that once existed between ourselves and our limits. …

It’s something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations.

As a society, … we’ve forgotten what margin is. … In the push for progress,

… margin has been devoured. … We’re overloaded.”

Here, … Dr. Swenson describes the results of this kind of living: …

“… we feel distressed in ill-defined ways. … We are besieged by anxiety, …

stress … and fatigue. … Our relationships suffer. … We have unexplained

aches and pains. … The flood of daily events seems beyond our control.”

Does that sound familiar to anybody?

How different does that sound from the words of Jesus:

John 10: 10b: … “I have come so that they may have life …

and have it in abundance”.

You heard me say in the past … that Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of all

that the Old Testament pointed to; … In most of Orthodox Christian

teaching, … Christ is also the fulfillment … of the Sabbath.

As a result, … we are not bound to keep the Sabbath in the same way that is

laid out in the Old Testament.

Don’t get your fishing poles out prematurely; … that does not mean that we

just toss the idea of Sabbath out the window?

During this Season of Lent, … my attempt from this pulpit, … is to get all of

us to become more centered on God! …

One of these steps would be to get us to look more closely at the value of

God’s gift of the Sabbath.

Christians hold a wide array of beliefs about the Sabbath.

They range from; … “Christ fulfilled it, so we don’t have to think about it

AT ALL.”

To: … “If you don’t make the Sabbath a day of complete rest (and you’d

better stick to Saturday, not Sunday) then you’re probably going to go to

hell.”

I have read articles from other denominations … and pious individuals, …

that pretty much said that.

I believe that the truth is somewhere in between.

I believe that the Sabbath is a Gift from God

It is a gift that is desperately needed in a society that is increasingly showing

signs of stress, anxiety and exhaustion.

Far from being immune from those burdens, … Christians are sometimes in

worse shape than unbelievers.

A number of years ago, … a woman named Jean Fleming shared this in

Decision magazine:

“A few years ago our neighbors were drawn to us, but when we talked to

them about the Lord, their response was; … ‘We couldn’t be Christians; …

we couldn’t live at your pace.’

They had been attracted to Christ, but the busyness of our lives had scared

them from a commitment”.

Would the pace of our life, … have the same impact on an unbeliever?

Think for a minute about the life of Christ.

Jesus, … with all that He did, … with all there was to do, … never, ever, …

gives the impression of being in a hurry.

Not once do we read of Him saying to someone; … “NOT NOW! I’m too

BUSY!”

Somehow, … Jesus was able to live a life of tranquility in the midst of

turmoil.

Is it possible, … that we could do the same?

I believe that one key, … maybe the most important key, … to living a life

of tranquility in the midst of turmoil, … is to rediscover God’s gift of the

Sabbath

How can we afford Sabbath rest in the midst of the craziness of modern life?

Perhaps the better question is; … “How can we afford to IGNORE our

Sabbath rest … in the midst of the craziness of modern life?”

The world God created has rhythms of work and rest, … light and dark …

but technology allows us to ignore those rhythms.

We’ve got electric lights that burn all night.

We’ve got cars, trains and airplanes so we can go further faster.

We’ve learned to multi-task; …

But we’ve forgotten … how to rest!

There is an ancient Greek legend concerning the great storyteller, Aesop (of

Aesop’s Fables). … It seems a man saw Aesop playing childish games with

some little boys and began to make fun of him for wasting his time in such

frivolous activity.

Aesop picked up a bow (as in bow & arrow), … loosened the string …

and laid it on the ground.

Then he said to the man; … “Answer the riddle, if you can. … What do we

learn from the unstrung bow.”

The man looked at the bow for a while … but had no idea what point Aesop

was trying to make.

Finally Aesop said; … “If you keep a bow always bent, … it will eventually

break; … but if you let it go slack, … it will be more fit for use when you

need it.”

We are like that, also. … That’s why we all need to take time to rest.

God showed us how. … Loosen your bow and be refreshed.

The Sabbath is God’s gift to enable us to be refreshed and restored!

At this point, some of you may be thinking; … “If the Sabbath is about rest

and refreshing, … why am I not still in BED??!!!”

The answer is, … because the most important aspect of the Sabbath, …

is worship.

Worship enables us to refocus our lives and our hearts on God.

This is what we need desperately in order to be refreshed, … not just in our

bodies … but in our spirits.

God doesn’t need our worship … but we need to worship Him.

If we truly enter into worship; … that is, … we don’t just show up …

but we actively seek God’s presence in Worship, … then we will experience

the renewal and refreshing … that we so desperately need.

For many families, … just getting to Church is such a stressful experience.

That being the case, … it’s hard to see how it can help de-stress our lives.

In fact, … it may seem that getting the family to Church, …

just ADDS stress!

That just may be … for one reason or another, …we haven’t prepared for it.

In Jewish homes, … at least in Jesus’ day, … the day before the Sabbath was

always called … “Preparation Day.”

It was the day when they got everything ready so that they wouldn’t have to

work on the Sabbath itself.

Their food had to be prepared ahead, … their clothes needed to be washed

and ready.

Imagine making these preparations in a day before freezers, microwaves and

Maytags!

Yet think how much easier Sundays might be if the kids dress clothes were

laid out and made ready the night before.

If the refrigerator was already checked to make sure breakfast food … and

even Sunday dinner needs … were available!

How about getting the children … (and maybe even yourself) …

to bed at a decent hour on Saturday night, … so that getting up on Sunday

wasn’t so torturous?

If we don’t prepare for a Sabbath, … we won’t receive all the benefits from

it that we could.

Apart from time to worship, … the Sabbath should be focused on activities

that strengthen relationships … and give needed rest and refreshment.

What that means will depend largely on who you are … and what you

normally do during the week.


If you have a physically strenuous job, … you may want to just stretch out

on the couch on Sunday afternoons.

If you sit at a desk all day, … you may need to go biking, … take a jog, …

chop some wood … or work in a garden … but set aside the Sabbath …

to rest and worship

To conclude, … turn in your Bibles to Isaiah 58: 13-14: …

“If you keep from desecrating the Sabbath,

from doing whatever you want on My holy day;

if you call the Sabbath a delight,

and the holy day of the LORD honorable;

if you honor it, not going your own ways,

seeking your own pleasure, or talking too much;

14  then you will delight yourself in the LORD,

and I will make you ride over the heights of the land,

and let you enjoy the heritage of your father Jacob.”

For the mouth of the LORD has spoken

AMEN
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