God’s Odd and Wonderful Plan to Save the World: Week 3

Sunday Sermon Series God's Odd and Wonderful Plan

We’ve looked at the birth announcements and the births of John the Baptist and Jesus the first two weeks. Now we look at what happened after the birth of Jesus. We look at some of the visitors that came to see Him.

Matthew 2:1-23

Why would God communicate through the stars with Magi from an eastern country? What does their visit tell us about God’s plan to save the world? … Magi are wise men from the east. They are probably astrologers, people who study the stars. It seems odd that these Magi would come to visit Jesus. … There is a lot about the Magi that we do not know. We don’t know if there were only three of them or more, or maybe even less. They may or may not have been kings.

The Magi come to Jerusalem and visit King Herod to ask him where the newborn King was. Herod, a very disturbed man, did not like that a new king was born who might overthrow him. Herod had his own son killed when his son became popular. He also had a few wives killed. … So, Herod plots to kill the child. He consults his people who would know where the Messiah was to be born and sent the Magi on their way with instructions to return to him and tell him where to find the baby. Herod said he would worship the baby, but his real motive was murder.

The Magi followed the directions given and then followed the star to the precise location of the baby. When they arrived, they bowed down. The phrase “bow down” is not what we might see on tv when characters “bow down.” The phrase here means they fell on their faces. These Magi were laying down, prostrate, in front of a bay, the Messiah.

Before the Magi could return to Herod, an angel told them to not go to Herod. An angel also appeared to Joseph and told him to take Mary and Jesus to avoid Herod’s wrath. When Herod realized the Magi were not returning to him, he ordered all boys young enough to be the Messiah according to the Magi, in Bethlehem to be killed. A terrible massacre of young boys occured.

Once Herod died, an angel appeared Joseph again, saying they could return to Israel. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus had a detour early in their family life. Many of us also face detours in our lives as we try to become who we are meant to be. This detour retraced the journey of the Israelites in the Old Testament.

They plan on returning to Bethlehem, but they heard the worst of Herod’s sons was ruling there and decided to return to Nazareth, which is where they were before all of this happened. It’s amazing how God uses everyone to ensure that Jesus is born in Bethlehem, as the prophecies say, and that he would grow up in and be from Nazareth, as the prophecies say.

God is telling us that Jesus is a worldwide Savior. He came to save all people from all nations, all backgrounds, and all religions.

God reaches out to people in ways they can understand. For the Magi, it was a star. For others it might be dreams or another person. The possibilities are limitless.

There are three responses in this passage to the news that a King has been born:

  1. Hostility … Herod is against Jesus, sees Jesus as a threat, and wants to get rid of Him. Even today He still threatens the lifestyles of people living in sin.

  2. Indifference … The religious leaders and scribes told the Magi where to go and did not go themselves. These are the people you would expect to be most excited to see what they’ve been studying their whole lives.

  3. Worship … The least likely people in this story to worship the Messiah are the ones to do it. The Magi come and fall down and worship the Messiah and give Him gifts.

God's Odd and Wonderful Plan: Week 2

Sunday Sermon Series God's Odd and Wonderful Plan

Last week we learned about 2 odd and wonderful pregnancies.

  1. Elizabeth is pregnant and Zechariah didn’t believe the angel, so he is mute until the baby is born and named John.

  2. Mary is pregnant and is engaged to Joseph and is a virgin. Joseph thought to divorce her quietly but was persuaded by an angel to still marry her.

Luke 1:57-2:38

Elizabeth gives birth to a baby (Luke 1:57-80).

  • Elizabeth and Zechariah name him John. … The relatives there did not understand why      the baby was to be named John. It was more traditional to name the first male son after his father.

  • Zechariah is able to speak again, and he praises God. …

Mary gives birth to a baby (Luke 2:1-21).

  • Joseph and Mary journey to Bethlehem. … Caesar Augustus issued a decree that everyone should return to their ancestor’s hometown for a census. Joseph was a descendent of David, yes, the David who killed Goliath and later became king of Israel. Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth, but had to go to Bethlehem for the census.

  • The baby is born in a place where livestock are kept. … Mary and Joseph couldn’t find anywhere to stay, probably because so many people came back for the census. They ended up in some type of livestock holding area. It may have been a cave where animals were kept or structure like a stable.

  • Angels announce the birth to shepherds. … In and odd and wonderful way, the first birth announcement is to some shepherds. The shepherds are just out there watching their sheep for the night and angels appear to them, declaring the birth of the Christ.

  • The shepherds find the baby and praise God. … The shepherds were told the baby would be in a manger and go to find him. Imagine this group of shepherds enthusiastically knocking on doors and asking residents if their was a baby in their manger.

  • When the baby is 8 days old, He is named Jesus. … The name is important.

Joseph and Mary take Jesus to Jerusalem (Luke 2:22-28).

  • When Jesus is 40 days old, they go to the temple. … When a child was 40 days old, the mother was required to offer a sacrifice for cleansing. Also, the first born was to be consecrated to the Lord.

  • Simon and Anna recognize Jesus as God’s salvation. … Anna, an old lady, prophecies to Mary and Joseph about Jesus. Simeon, an old man who had asked God to show him the Messiah before he died, recognized Jesus as that Messiah and knows salvation is here and on the way. … Anna and Simeon knew Jesus was how God would save the world in an odd and wonderful way.

Salvation is not a philosophy. Salvation is a relationship with Jesus. We all need saving from our sin. For those of us who have already accepted that salvation, we sometimes need to ask for forgiveness for our failings too. For those who have not accepted it, consider doing so by starting that relationship today.

God's Odd and Wonderful Plan: Week 1

Series God's Odd and Wonderful Plan

The story of Christmas is the story of God saving the world.

Where do we begin? Before we get to that, let’s look at the last verses of the Old Testament. In Micah 4:5-6 the prophecy of a Messiah comes and the people wait 400 years before He comes. God works on His own time, not ours.

This story starts with two odd and wonderful pregnancy announcements.

  1. First we see that Elizabeth is pregnant (Luke 1:5-25). … Zechariah and Elizabeth were an old couple who had been unable have children. Zechariah, a priest, goes into the temple to perform his duties. Gabriel, an angel, appears to him and tells him he we have a son and that his son’s name will be John. John is to take a vow to never drink any kind of wine. John is to prepare the way for the Messiah. Zechariah finds all of this hard to believe and then we learn that God wants us to take Him at His word and makes Zechariah mute until the baby is born and named John.

  2. Second we see Mary is pregnant (Luke 1: 26-38). … Gabriel goes out to the boondocks of Israel in Nazareth and appears to Mary. Gabriel tells her not to be afraid, that she has been chosen to give birth to the Messiah. Mary is confused. She doesn’t understand how she, a virgin, could have a baby.

Then Mary goes to visit Elizabeth. Both are pregnant at this time. Something odd and wonderful happens. John senses the presence of Jesus and jumps in Elizabeth’s womb. Mary breaks out in song.

When Mary returns home, Joseph, her betrothed, finds out she is pregnant and decides to quietly divorce her (Matthew 1:18-25). … But an angel appears to him and tells him to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife because the child was conceived by the Holy Spirit. The angel tells him to name the baby Jesus. The name is significant. It means Yahweh saves. It is a message to Joseph and to the world that this child will save the world, He will save us from our sins. … The angel also tells Joseph this was happening in this way to fulfill the prophecy of the virgin birth. The virgin conception is certainly odd and wonderful. … The baby will also be called “Immanuel” which means “God with us.” The virgin conception is important to this. If Jesus had had two human parents then we might have more trouble believing He is fully human and fully God. But with God as His Father, we can see more easily how Jesus is both.

It is truly an odd and wonderful plan.

Five Reasons I Believe in God

Sunday Sermon

We’re going to look at five reasons to believe in God. We cannot prove or disprove the existence of God, but our faith is not blind.

  1. Beginning (Genesis 1:1, 3). … Science and the Bible both tell us that “the universe, and time itself, had a beginning” (Stephen Hawking). For those of who believe in God, we find it more reasonable that anything that has a beginning also has a creator. … Stephen Weinberg describes the big bang as an enormous explosion (that we can’t even imagine) with bright light and Genesis 1:3 says a similar thing from a different world view. The Bible doesn’t say God used a big bang, but it would make sense that speaking a universe into existence would create a big bang.

  2. Design (Psalm 19:1). … Our universe exhibits design. The design does not appear random. Stephen Hawking agrees that “the universe and laws of physics seem to have been specifically designed for us. If any of about 40 physical qualities had slightly different values, life as we know it would not exist.” … The idea of design is present throughout the Bible (i.e. Psalm 19:1). … Even on the smallest level, design is apparent. The cells in your body have an instruction manual called DNA. That DNA has about 3 million amino acids in it. That’s a lot of random mutations or maybe it was designed that way.

  3. Beauty (Romans 1:20). … If you take the Darwinistic Utilitarian view then everything only has a purpose. The beauty that we see in the world is more than that though. Charles Darwin said “the sight of a peacock’s tail, whenever I gaze at it, makes me sick.” This is because there is no purpose for it in his view.

  4. Evil (Revelation 15:3). … Many people who do not believe in God point to evil as one of their reasons. But where does the category of evil come from? In the survival of the fittest view, there is no objective right or wrong. Jeffrey Dahmer said “If it all happens naturalistically, what’s the need for God? Can’t I set my own rules? Who owns me? I own myself.” … The idea of evil or fairness comes from somewhere other than the survival of the fittest mentality. What right do we have to say one person’s actions are right and others actions are wrong without any objective moral code?

  5. Bible (Genesis 10:15; 1 Kings 10:29; Psalm 19:7). … We believe the Bible is the true Word of God. There are many reasons we believe this, but the references listed help show a specific reason. They reference a people called the Hittites. There is no written record of these people in any other historical text. Genesis 10:15 gives us the origin of the Hittites. This was one reason people did not believe the Bible. Then in 1905 an archaeological dig discovered the capital city of the Hittites.

Conclusion: God has given you evidence of His existence because He loves you and wants you to know Him (Acts 17:24-27). … Paul preached this to the cultured and educated people of his day. He tells us there is a God who is real and near and wants us to find Him.

#GOALS: Six Goals for Every Christ-Follower

Sunday Sermon

Acts 20: 19-38

In Acts 20, Paul gives a farewell speech summarizing the six values he has lived by. This is Paul’s farewell speech to the church at Ephesus and is the only extended speech in the book of Acts. made exclusively to Christians. We believe it gives us insight to how the Holy Spirit wants all Jesus-followers to think about their lives.

Six #Goals of Every Christ-Follower:

  1. Make sure your generation knows the Gospel (Acts 20: 20, 26-27, 31). … Paul didn’t hold back, he didn’t shrink from telling people about the Gospel. Paul realized the Gospel is an announcement that the whole world needs to hear. The announcement starts out a bit sour by telling us what we deserve and that we can’t save ourselves. Then it turns sweet by telling us what Jesus did for us and how He died in our place. … Paul knows he is responsible for telling the Gospel to everyone he could, but he was not responsible for what they did with that message as in Ezekiel 33:8.

  2. Point people to Jesus, not yourself (Acts 20:19). … Paul was humbled by his ministry. He suffered greatly for the ministry. Paul understood that ministry is about a Savior who can use the most guilty and broken of sinners to reach the lost. People listen to people who are willing to show their brokenness.

  3. Invest in God’s community, the local church (Acts 20: 28). … Paul tells the elders, the leaders of the church, to care for everyone in the church. The church should be central to our lives. The church is the Body of Christ. When part of your body hurts, what happens? Another part of your part of your body reaches over to comfort it.

  4. Be faithful to your calling (Acts 20: 24).  There’s two aspects to your calling:

    1. Universal … We are responsible for telling everyone everywhere about the Gospel.

    2. Personal … We all have personal callings too. These callings are specific to us and help with the universal calling as well. We all need to do our part.  

  5. Finish strong (Acts 20: 23-24). … We will face many trials. Paul did, and he was determined to carry on no matter what he faced. Sometimes it’s easy to just give up and stop. But living radically different requires us to push through and make some difficult decisions so that we can finish strong. … Where does this kind of faith come from? This powerful faith comes by believing the resurrection really happened. The power of the cross and resurrection is beyond anything we will face.

  6. Give more than you receive (Acts 20: 33, 35). … This is the trademark of a Christ-follower. Jesus gave us His example when He died on the cross. He gave more than He received.

Jesus did all these things.

He preached to His generation, making sure they heard His word.

He pointed people to God while on Earth. He, being God, pointed people to Himself.

He invested in the community with teaching, healing, and feeding.

He was faithful to his calling both universally and personally. Jesus could have denied the fate of the cross, but He followed through with it.

He gave more than He received by performing miracles, giving wisdom, and dieing on a cross.

What Would Jesus Say about the Recent Church Shootings?

Sunday Sermon

Luke 13:1-9

Last week a gunman entered a small church in Texas and killed 20 people and injured others. There have been other mass shootings this year too, in churches as well as at main stream events.

Pilate would sometimes send soldiers to break up protests and sometimes it got out of hand, ending death. We don’t know for sure that's what happened here, but it seems likely.

We do not have to speculate what Jesus would say. Luke tells us about a time when Jesus received a report that people had been killed in a place of worship. Jesus also mentioned a group of 18 people who had died in an accident or natural disaster. His response about both events was the same:

Unless you repent, you too will all perish. … Jesus refuses to make it all political. He simply uses it to call others to repentance. Jesus also implies that the deaths were not judgment from God. Jesus doesn’t let us assume that natural disasters or accidents or any death is part of God’s judgment. He lets us know that it could have been us.

  • The term “perish” here means both physical and spiritual death. These deaths were introduced when Adam and Eve first sinned. John 3:16; 10:28; 11:25 all tell us Jesus came to give us a chance at not perishing. Not perishing means we will still have a physical death, but we won’t suffer a spiritual death. Matthew 10:28 reiterates the idea of two deaths, the physical and the spiritual.

  • “Repent” means to turn from your sinful ways. In Luke 13:5 we see Jesus tell us that repentance is key to salvation. He has also said similar things of believing. The two concepts are just two sides of the same coin. Believing and repenting go hand in hand.

Then Jesus tells a parable about a fruitless fig tree. For three years it beared no fruit and was in danger of being cut down. The keeper begged the owner for one more year and was granted it as a last chance for the tree. God gives second chances, but eventually there is a last chance.

2 Peter 3:9 Tells us why Jesus waits to return. He’s giving us ample opportunity to repent and turn to him.

Different Values in an Unholy Culture

Sunday Sermon

1 Peter 1:13-25

Peter is writing to believers facing persecution under the Emperor Nero. They are called to live a different life in Christ while the Roman culture valued different ideals and philosophies. … Nero was one of the most feared and harshest rulers the world has seen. He killed some of his wives and his mother as well as many others in cruel ways. Under Nero, the persecution of Christians flourished.

  1. Seek Holiness (1 Peter 1:13-16).

    1. Prepare for action. … Preparing for action requires making a plan. We have plans for everything: TV, Internet, cell phones, etc. However, when it comes to our spiritual growth, we often lack a plan. With no plan, it is easier to backslide into sin. We have to plan to seek holiness and live righteous lives. … Our enemy, Satan, has a plan against us. We need one against him. Satan challenges the Truth of God’s Word and then we begin to question it as well. We need a plan to defend against that, and the strategy that helps the most there is knowing scripture and knowing what it means.

    2. Our highest calling is to be holy. … Satan wants us to think that our highest calling is to be happy, but the Bible is clear that we need to be Holy.

  2. Live Fearfully (1 Peter 1:17).

    1. Have a reverential fear of God. … We should fear God out of respect as He is our King. This is a respectful and loving fear, not a terrified fear.

    2. Knowing Christ is the path to living Holy (1 Peter 1:18-21). … Christ is the only reason we have a chance to live a holy life. Our Faith in Him is what can transform us into new creations.

  3. Love Deeply (1 Peter 1:22-25).

    1. Have sincere love. … Love purely and deeply. Have a love so sincere that you rejoice in helping each other.

    2. Love differently. … We are called to love each other sincerely, to the point where we are different from the rest of the world. Love even those who do not show love in return. Love people even when it doesn’t help you.

God Cares for You

Sunday Sermon

We live in a world that is increasingly becoming automated. This automation makes certain tasks easier, but it also keeps us from having as much personable interaction as we had in the past. This can sometimes make us wonder if anyone cares for us. We post on social media and wait for people to react to it. Our belief that anyone cares for us too often depends on people responding to our posts. Without those likes, some people feel no one cares for them. The Bible tells us differently. The Bible tells us God cares:

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. - 1 Peter 5:7

There will probably be times in your life when you question whether God really cares for you (Mark 4:35-38). Jesus calls you to exercise our faith when you come to situations you have never before encountered (Mark 4:39-40). … Sometimes we feel alone in the world. The universe is massive beyond measure and we are minuscule in comparison. That can lead to a feeling of loneliness and insignificance. The we ask: How could God care for someone so small? … The disciples asked Jesus if He cared for them. The answer is that our past experiences should tell us that He cares. We should be able to transfer our faith from past experiences to new experiences.

The indisputable evidence that Jesus cares for you is that He died for you (John 10:11-15). … Jesus is our Shepherd. In this passage He links Himself to Psalm 23. The Shepherd protects the sheep from predators. The Shepherd cares for His sheep and is concerned for them. … Jesus stood between us and the wolf. He died so we wouldn’t have to. He knows us an an intimate level. He knows your name, your past, your feelings, thoughts, needs, and desires. How can He know all of that about you and not care about you? He does care and He died for you as evidence of His great love for you and for everyone. Cast your anxieties and burdens upon Him. Let Him help you carry them.

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Welcome to the new Word Keeper! Word Keeper experienced some difficulties with our past host, so this is the new site!

It's going to take some time to get as many former posts as possible onto this new site, but we're going to try to put many of them on here This site also has a long ways to go before it's complete, so please be patient while I get it to where I want it. 

The Scope of our Salvation

Sunday Sermon

This is an overview of what the Bible says about Salvation. Salvation is not something that just happens in moment in your life; it is more of a process. We’re going to look at the parts of that process in this sermon.

6 steps:

Step 4: Saved (Acts 16:31): Born Again (John 3:3): Justified (Galatians 2:16). … This is where many of us start to learn about salvation. However it is not the first step of the process. … Some people will say they’ve always been a Christian, but that is not an accurate statement. There is a moment for all of us where we are “saved”. It doesn’t matter if you can’t remember that moment. What does matter is what you believe now.

The roots of salvation:

Step 3: Conviction (1 Thess 1:5): Draw (John 6:44): Call (1 Cor 1:9). … God might be calling or drawing you to Him right now.

Step 2: Jesus (1 Peter 1:18-20) … God knew we would need a savior and planned to send Jesus before He even created the universe.

Step 1: Predestination (Ephesians 1;5; Acts 13:48): Elect: Chose … This is a tricky topic. The Bible teaches predestination, but it also teaches the responsibility of individuals to accept the Salvation offered. 1 Timothy 2:4 tells us God wants everyone to come to knowledge of the truth. 1 Peter 1:2 seems to connect predestination with the foreknowledge that God would have.

Beyond conversion:

Step 5:Sanctified (2 Thess 2:13): Grow (1 Peter 2:2) … This is after the moment of Saving and continues throughout our life. We are to grow in our salvation. When we are justified, we are declared righteous and saved from the penalty of sin. When we are sanctified, we become righteous and are saved from being slaves to sin. This process takes time though.

Step 6: Glorified (Colossians 3:4) … This is where salvation is completed. Every bit of us will be saved: our souls and our bodies.

In Romans 8:28-34 Paul ties all of these together.

We looked at these steps or stages out of order first. Here they are in order.

Predestination, Elect, Chose … God’s foreknowledge of everything makes those who accept Salvation the “elect”

Jesus … Jesus came to Earth and died as the final sacrifice for our sins.

Conviction, Draw, Call … The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins and we are drawn or called to salvation.

Saved, Born Again, Justified … We accept the forgiveness offered and are saved from the penalty of sin as new creations (born again) who are declared to be justified.

Sanctified, Grow … After accepting the salvation, the process of sanctification begins. This is where we grow in our faith and knowledge and work our way to becoming more righteous.

Glorified … Our souls and bodies become glorified and our salvation is complete.