Posts in the "Series" Category

What Is the Kingdom of God Like? The Parables of Jesus: The Growth of the Kingdom

Sunday Sermon Series The Parables of Jesus

  1. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a growing seed (Mark 4:26-29).

    1. The growth of the Kingdom is continual.

      1. Night and day ... Just like how a seed grows throughout the the night and day, so does the Kingdom.

    2. The growth of the Kingdom is mysterious.

      1. Though he does not know how ... God's work is unexplainable by humans.

    3. The growth of the Kingdom is unstoppable.

      1. All by itself ... The Kingdom does not need any particular person for it to grow. It doesn't matter who is in office or has power. The growth of the Kingdom is automatic.

    4. The growth of the Kingdom is Incremental.

      1. First the stalk, then the head, the full kernel ... Sometimes great awakenings and revivals happen, but that is not the norm. The typical way the Kingdom grows is a gradual growth.

  2. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed: it starts small and becomes very big (Mark 4:30-32). ... Here is another parable about a seed. But this time it's not about the process, but the contrast between how small it starts and how large it grows to be.

  3. The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast mixed into flour: It works its way all through our lives and world (Matthew 13:33). … Yeast spreads through the flour and is what causes it to rise when baked.

What Is the Kingdom of Heaven Like? The Parables of Jesus: Prayer and the Kingdom Life

Sunday Sermon Series The Parables of Jesus

Luke 11:1-13; 18:1-8

How are we to pray as citizens of the Kingdom?

  1. Pray boldly (Luke 11:1-13). … Jesus prays. That’s something that is pretty telling. Jesus, part of the Trinity, prays to one of the other parts of the Trinity. If Jesus prays, that

    should tell us just how important is for us to pray. Then Jesus also gives us a model prayer, one we can model our own after. After that He tells a parable that relates to prayer. A man has guests show up he wasn’t expecting and was unprepared for. This man goes to his neighbor’s house in the middle of the night and shamelessly, boldly, and persistently asked for food. The neighbor wasn’t going to get up and wake everyone in the house just to give him bread out of friendship, but the neighbor would do it to make him be quiet. This parable is a contrast to God. God will do what’s best for us and what we need if we ask, He wants us to ask boldly and persistently and shamelessly though. God isn’t going to give us a spider if we ask for a fish, just like a good father wouldn’t. God wants to give us good gifts.

    If God is eager to give good gifts, why do so many prayers go unanswered? Jesus said the Kingdom is already here (Luke 17:20-21). Jesus said the Kingdom is not yet here in fullness (Luke 17:22-25). There will be days of waiting and days of silence. Why the delay?

    1. There is spiritual warfare that can delay the answers of prayer. (Daniel 10-12-13)

    2. God has a bigger purpose sometimes (2 Peter 3:8-9)

  2. Pray persistently (Luke 18:1-8). … A widow kept complaining to an unjust judge for justice, Eventually the unjust judge grew tired of her and granted her justice. If an unjust judge grants justice after must persistence, then surely a good and just God will also grant justice.

What Is the Kingdom of Heaven Like? The Parables of Jesus: The Value of the Kingdom

Sunday Sermon Series The Parables of Jesus

Luke 12:13-21; 16:1-9; Matthew 13:44-46

This is the halfway point in the series, so here’s a quick recap of what we’ve learned:

Two overarching truths:

  1. The Kingdom of Heaven is wherever the King rules.

  2. The Kingdom of Heaven is already here, nut has not arrived in full.

Four truths from the first four sermons:

  1. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a party with an open invitation.

  2. The Grace of the King is what allows us to be part of the Kingdom.

  3. There is a high cost to being part of the Kingdom. The price is obedience to the King and the opposition of His enemies.

  4. Life in the Kingdom requires we serve our neighbor and love our neighbors as ourselves.

Now for today’s sermon notes.  

The Kingdom of Heaven is more valuable than anything else. The wise person invests his or her life in the Kingdom.

The Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21). … A contested will can bring out greed in many of us. Jesus warns us that life is not about having many possessions. Then Jesus tells a parable about a man who stored up riches on Earth to serve him for years to come. This man had a great retirement plan, but he was too focused on himself, storing up things for himself, but not being “rich towards God”. We are warned that we should invest in God and l;ife after death instead of the life we have right now.

The Parable of the Shrewd Manager (Luke 16:1-9). … Why would Jesus tell a parable where a dishonest man is the hero? Well, it’s not to encourage us to be dishonest, but to tell us to be shrewd, to be clever, with our investments. He tells us to use worldly wealth to make friends and to turn worldly wealth into eternal wealth. We should take every opportunity and every dime to show others Christ and build up treasure in Heaven.

The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl of Great Value (Matthew 13:44-46). … Jesus tells us that Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure. It’s a treasure that requires we give up everything else and go all in to get it. It is a treasure so valuable we joyfully give up everything else in order to obtain it.

What Is Heaven Like? The Parables of Jesus: The Good Samaritan

Sunday Sermon Series The Parables of Jesus

Luke 10:25-37 … An expert in the law asked Jesus how to get to Heaven and Jesus asked him what he thought the answer was based on the law. The lawyer answered, to paraphrase, love God above all else and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus says he is right. The lawyer, trying to make it easier, asks who is neighbor is. Jesus then tells a parable that explains who our neighbor is and how to love them. … There’s an injured Jewish man laying on a dangerous road. A priest sees him and walk by on the other side. Then a Levite does the same. Finally, a Samaritan sees the man. Now, Jews and Samaritans did not get along at the time. Jews considered the Samaritans to be unclean and were pretty racist towards them and Samaritans frequently robbed and harrased Jews. Yet, this Samaritan stopped and took the injured Jew to an inn. Then he paid for the injured man’s stay and told the innkeeper that he would also pay for anything else the man needs. Jesus asks the lawyer who the injured man’s neighbor was. The lawyer replied “the man who helped him.” He couldn’t even say, “the Samaritan” but he recognized that being a neighbor means helping your neighbors.

What does it mean to love our neighbors?

Who, when, and how much?

Who: anyone we see in need.

When: whenever you see a need.

In the 1700’s Jonathan Edwards listed out the most common excuses Christian people give for not helping those in need in His book The Duty of Charity.

Excuse #1: We only help people when they’re in dire need. … This violates the principle of loving them as ourselves.

Excuse #2: They brought on their trouble themselves. … So did we. We brought the trouble of sin on ourselves and Jesus helped us.

How much: in a way that takes their burden onto yourself.

Excuse #3: “I can’t afford to help the man in need.” … We are told to take each other’s burdens on ourselves.

Why should we love our neighbors? … When we read a parable, we should ask who we are in the story. One way to view this parable is that we are the injured man in need of help and Jesus is the Samaritan who rescued us. We have been shown love by Christ and should pass that on to others.  

The Story of Serve Coffee County … At some point we realized that we do all of these mission trips to other places but too often neglected our own city and county. This ministry is a way for us to help out in our home community.

Luke 17:10 -- So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ … There is only one response to this, and that is to be a servant of Christ and to do all we can to serve Him.

What Is the Kingdom of Heaven Like? The Parables of Jesus: The Cost of the Kingdom

Sunday Sermon Series The Parables of Jesus

Luke 14:25-33

So far we have learned there is a present and future aspect of the Kingdom, that the invitation is open, and that one characteristic of the Kingdom is the grace found within.

If the invitation to the Kingdom is wide open, and if the Kingdom is characterized by grace, how can there be a cost to the Kingdom? … You ever see anyone giving away puppies for free? They might be free initially, but they will cost you a lot in the long run. … That’s one way to show how something free can have a cost. … In Luke 14:25-27, Jesus says we must put Him first. Even to the point of leaving our families behind if He asks, He implies there will be suffering when He says we must pick up our cross daily.

One cost of being in the Kingdom is obedience. We are under the authority of the King and must obey the scripture the King has given us. We do whatever the King requests of us. We may be heirs to the King, but we are still under His authority.

Another cost is persecution. There will be spiritual opposition in our lives. In the USA, we are fortunate to have the freedom to believe what we want and say what we believe without much fear of physical harm, but there are other places where this security doesn’t exist.

Jesus tells two parables that advise us to count the cost of the Kingdom:

The Parable of the Tower Builder (Luke 14:28-30) … Don’t be like the builder who started building a tower before knowing if they could afford to finish it.

The Parable of the King Going to War (Luke 14:31-32) … There is also a cost for not obeying Jesus. … Before we start following Jesus, we live in rebellion. We have to ask if we can defeat Him on our own or if it’s better to surrender and be part of the Kingdom. The Bible makes it pretty clear we have no chance of beating Jesus.

It’s easy to become a Christian, and it is also hard to become a Christian. Anyone can do it, but people don’t like to give up the things Jesus may ask us to give up.

What Is the Kingdom of Heaven Like? The Parables of Jesus: The Grace of the Kingdom

Sunday Sermon Series The Parables of Jesus

This week we look at more parables that are about the Kingdom of Heaven. Remember that the Kingdom of Heaven is already here and not yet complete. Last week we saw that it’s like a party. This week we see that the Kingdom is characterized by grace.

Grace means being treated better than you deserve. No one deserves to be in the Kingdom. We are included by grace. We who are recipients of grace must extend grace to others. … The parables we are looking at today were told in response to people who refused to extend grace.

The Parable of the Generous Landowner (Matthew 20:1-15).

… In this parable, a landowner with a vineyard went out to hire some day workers in the morning. He offers to pay them the normal wage for a day’s work. Well, every few hours he goes back and hires more workers. At the end of the day, he pays them all the same. The workers who were hired first complained that they worked longer and should be paid more than the ones who worked less. The workers who were complaining didn’t understand that we all need grace. One day they might be in the opposite position and change their tune.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:1-7).

The Parable of the Lost Coin (Luke 15:8-10).

The Parable of the Lost Son (Luke 15:11-31).

… Jesus tells us there is great rejoicing over just one sinner who repents. Heaven gets excited when someone repents of their sin. #ThatsAmazing … The third parable here adds another element. The brother who stayed home was upset that the father threw a party when the other son returned. He didn’t understand that he also needs grace and should extend grace. … Showing grace does not mean we don’t hold each other accountable. Showing grace to others means holding others accountable while still showing them love.

The Parable of the the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14).

… Are you confident of your own righteousness? Do you look down others for having “bigger sins” than you? If so, do you also realize your own need for grace? These parables have been about people like you who don’t think they need grace and don’t want grace to be extended to others.

What Is the Kingdom of Heaven Like? The Parables of Jesus: The invitation to the Kingdom

Sunday Sermon Series The Parables of Jesus

Luke 14:15-24; Matthew 22:1-4

The plan is to spend the next nine weeks looking at twenty or so parables about the Kingdom of Heaven.

The interpretive key to understanding the parables is:

The Kingdom of Heaven is already here.

The Kingdom of Heaven is not yet here in full.

The lessons we learn will apply to the now as well as the future; the Kingdom that is already here and the fullness of the Kingdom that is yet to come.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a party.  … The King of the Kingdom offers joy, a deep joy. … We see that Heaven will be like a party (the “not yet” part), but we can also live a life of celebration and joy (the “already” part). ,,, Isaiah 25:6-8 tells us partially what Heaven will be like as it describes a big banquet, a party.

Jesus says there are two ways you can miss the Kingdom:

  1. You can miss the Kingdom by rejecting the invitation (Luke 14:15-24; Matthew 22:1-10). … A man was throwing a party and sent out invitations that were accepted. Then all the people who were coming suddenly had stuff they needed to do. The man then invited the poor and homeless, so many that if anyone who was invited before had come, they would not get any food. … God invited the Israelites to a party but they didn’t come, so He threw the door wide open and invited everyone, the bad as well as the good. Anyone can attend the party and have joy in life.

  2. You miss the Kingdom by refusing to put on the righteousness of Christ (Matthew 22:11-14). … You can be part of a congregation and stil not get in. We are given the righteousness of Christ and must put iot on. We must allow ourselves to be transformed by Christ. There are some in the church who will be kicked out of the party because they did not cooperate with Jesus and let Him transform them.

Three Gospel Conversations

Sunday Sermon Series Gospel Conversations

Acts 16:13-34

Background: By 325 A.D. Christianity had spread to over half of the Roman Empire. It began with twelve guys on a hillside with no power, no money, no endorsements, and no celebrity recognition. All they had was an absolute conviction that Jesus had risen from the dead and a power poured into them called: the gift of the Holy Spirit. The key to this exponential growth was that every person, not just a handful of specialized apostles, carried the message of the Gospel. The whole church saw it as their responsibility to have Gospel Conversations.

The question we want to ask this morning:
What does evangelism by the ordinary people look like?

We are going to observe three Gospel Conversations with three persons of interest:

Conversation #1: Lydia the Merchant (Acts 16:13-15). … Lydia was a merchant who was on her way to a prayer meeting. She believed God existed but was not yet a Christian. God opened her heart to hear the message in such a way that she craved to hear more.

Conversation #2: The Slave Girl (Acts 16:16-18). … Paul and friends went back to the same place they met Lydia. Why? When you make return trips to a place, you can get to know the people there and build relationships with them. Those relationships can lead to Gospel Conversations. … This time Paul and his friends meet a slave girl. (Human trafficking is still something that is a problem today just as it was then.) This slave girl has a demon inside here that allows her to predict the future. The demon also who the apostles were and who they serve. So, she followed them around for a few days announcing who they were. Eventually Paul got annoyed and cast the demon out. As a result, she lost her ability to predict the future and earn money for her owners. This causes problems and leads to the next Gospel Conversation.

Conversation #3: The Roman Jailer (Acts 16:19-34). … This Roman jailer would have likely been a well-decorated, retired veteran of the Roman military. They put Paul and Silas in the inner prison, which was likely down below the other cells and also where any refuse from the upper cells would go. To make it even worse, Paul and Silas were likely hanging by their feet. … Somehow they had the idea to sing praises to God. Then the prison shook and the doors opened and the chains came loose. The jailer knew if anyone escaped, his life was forfeit, so he prepared to kill himself until Paul called out to him. No one had left. The jailer was so moved that he asked what he needed to do to be saved. So Paul and Silas preach the Gospel to him and he and his family become saved.

Why are these stories included?

  1. To show the transformative power of the Gospel.

  2. To give a glimpse of different people in our community and show us how to reach them.

    1. The Spiritually Interested
      How to reach them: Engage them. Invite them to read the Bible with you. Ask them to come to a service. Invite them to join your connection group.

    2. The Physical and Spiritual Captive
      How to reach them: Get involved in their life. Get to know them. Do life with them. Have cookouts with them. Build relationships with them.

    3. The Skeptic
      How to reach them:

      1. Be joyful at all times. People are always watching and God can use even the worst situations to further His kingdom.

      2. Show them God’s grace.

Family Life: Following Jesus Is More Important Than Family Relationships

Sunday Sermon Series Family Life

This is the final sermon in the Family Life series. We’ve seen how being single is a good life and how being married is good too. We’ve also seen how we should interact with each other in our families.

This week is the curveball as we see that Jesus is more important than family.

  1. Following Jesus means you may harm some relationships. Being a Christian can strain or even divide families (Matthew 10:34-36). … Not everyone follows Jesus, and that can lead to problems within the family. … This doesn’t make divorce ok. We’ve covered that already in this series. … In much of the world, when someone starts following Jesus, their family looks down upon them and may even disown them. We’re not as likely to see that extreme in our part of the world, but we still may receive disappointment from them. Even Jesus had to deal with this to an extent.

  2. Following Jesus must take priority over family relationships (Matthew 10:37-39; Luke 9:57-62). … Jesus uses some shocking language get this point across. Nothing and nobody should be the center of your life except Jesus. Family is a good thing, but even good things become idols when we put them ahead of Jesus.

  3. Following Jesus means you will gain many new family relationships (Mark 3:31-34; 10:28-31). … We gain brothers and sisters in Christ when we follow Jesus. We may lose some relationships, but we will gain many more. Even if you are alone, have no family, In Christ you have many brothers and sisters. … We may even get the family members that lost back. They may come to accept and follow Jesus too. Jesus’ family wasn’t too supportive of Him for a long time, but they came to follow Him in the end.

Family Life: Relationships of Parents and Children

Sunday Sermon Series Family Life

Ephesians 6:1-4

Ephesians 5 provides some context for the main scripture today

  1. Verse 8 tells us the first thing that we need is a relationship with God. Verse 9 tells us that relationship is what can bring good things to our family.

  2. Verse 18 tells us we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit so our homes can be filled with the fruits of the Spirit.

  3. Verse 21 tells us the importance of a mutually submissive marriage.

What is the responsibility of children to their parents?

  1. Obey your parents (Ephesians 6:1). … This is part of our spiritual growth. Submitting to our parents’ rules teaches us how to submit to God. The only time children shouldn’t obey their parents is if their command goes against God.
    What does this mean?

    1. Listen to them. … The root word of “obey” in Greek is “listen” and so we should listen to them. Even Jesus listened to and obeyed His earthly parents.

    2. Respond promptly.

    3. Respond completely. … Partial obedience is disobedience.

    4. Respond without whining or complaining.

  2. Honor your parents (Ephesians 6:2-3). … This is the first commandment with a promise. We are told that honoring our parents gives us a better chance at a long life. … While obedience is a temporary obligation, honoring them is a permanent obligation. Once children become adults, they leave the house and are no longer obligated to obey their parents but should continue to honor them.
    How can adult children do?

    1. Express gratitude.

    2. Seek wisdom.

    3. Refuse to speak evil of them. … It’s possible that your parents wronged you in some way. In this case, forgive them. Don’t bring up the past mistakes. This is how we want God to treat us and should be how we treat our parents.

    4. Communicate with them.

    5. Provide for them.

What is the responsibility of parents to their children?

There are two extremes to avoid in parenting:

  1. Do not over-correct your children (Ephesians 6:4a). … This is the extreme of being too hard on your children. This can come from the parent who always expects perfection and focuses on the negative. Or the parent who is always angry and takes it out on their children.

  2. Do not under-discipline your children (Ephesians 6:4b). … This extreme is the permissive parent who does not correct enough. Children need to be trained and instructed; they need to be warned and disciplined. This can come from parents who are just lazy or maybe they have a medical issue that makes it harder to discipline. Or sometimes this is the parent who seeks satisfaction from their kids because that parent isn’t in the right relationship with God. Sometimes this parent is living with guilt from some past event and refuses to discipline because of that.