Posts in the "Sunday Sermon" Category

The Lamb Will Triumph: God is on His Throne and Jesus Is in Control of the Future

Sunday Sermon Series The Lamb Will Triumph

Revelation 4-5

The  word “nike” is the key word in the book of Revelation. It means “victory” and is translated a few different ways in Revelation, but it always has something to do with victory.

John is allowed a glimpse into Heaven. This vision is given to encourage God’s people when the world seems out of control. … We don’t often get to peer into Heaven, but John was and his vision was also in the future.

God is on His throne in Heaven (Revelation 4). … John attempts to describe what he sees, and it sounds like a glorious sight, full of diversity in color and even angels. The throne that God sits on is surrounded by four angels who appear to be leading worship. Surrounding them are 24 elders who we do not know much about. These elders have crowns but they fall down and cast their crowns at the feet of God. God is being worshipped as the creator of all things. God is in control. … It doesn’t always seem like God is in control, but He is. This vision is given to help us realize that truth.

Jesus is in control of the future (Revelation 5). … The scroll in the right hand of God likely represents the future. An angel asks who can open and read it, but no one worthy was found. John wept hopeless tears as he as he sees no one is worthy of controlling the future. Then an elder tells him not to worry because the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” has triumphed and is worthy and is coming. Then a lamb that appears as if it had been slain appears. The elder said a lion was coming, but a lamb showed up. Jesus is the Lion and the Lamb. The symbolic description given is quite amazing as it shows the power and wisdom Jesus holds. The Lamb stands in the middles, next to the throne while everyone else bows down. The Lamb takes the scroll. The angels and elders break out in song, praising the Lamb. Then every creature everywhere joins in on this praise and worship song.

These chapters show us that God is on His throne and Jesus is in control of the future. It is a reassurance that God is in control and that Jesus will be triumphant over evil. When John cried tears of hopelessness, the Lamb brought hope with Him and does the same for us.

The Lamb Will Triumph: Jesus Is Alive and Walks among His Churches

Sunday Sermon Series The Lamb Will Triumph

This is the first of seven sermons where we are going to look at seven broad themes in the book of Revelation. This is a book of Revelation is a book of encouragement. It also speaks to three audiences:

  1. The first century christians … This book contains letters written to seven churches of that time and also provides hope for the future.

  2. Christians of all ages … Timeless truths within the book still speak to us, as does the hope of a future in Heaven.

  3. The last generation … The book also contains end time prophecy and much symbolism of the end times.

The Greek word “nike” is in this book quite often. The word, often associated with shoes, means “victory” and is translated into a few different words in our English translations.

Revelation 17:14 is the key verse in Revelation and shows us the final outcome of the battle between Good and Evil, God vs Satan.

Revelation is a vision God gave to John that is symbolic of the end times.

Revelation 1-3

Revelation 1 reveals Jesus as the Living One who holds the keys to death and Hades. He walks among the seven churches and holds their angels in His right hand. … The lampstands represent seven literal churches, churches that actually existed. What does a lampstand do? It holds up the light. … The stars could mean a couple of different things, but is most likely the elders or pastors of the seven churches. … Jesus lives and walks among them. Jesus is alive and talking to John. … Some people will say they love Jesus but hate organized religion. These verses show that Jesus is among the churches; He is in organized religion. Elsewhere in the Bible we see Him say that wherever two or three gather in His name, He is there. We were meant to worship God together with other humans. The church is far from perfect (as we are about to see), but that is where Jesus chooses to make His presence known.

Revelation 2-3 record the seven letters from Jesus to His churches. The letters all follow the same outline:

  • Jesus knows the particular circumstances of each church (Revelation 2:13). … Jesus knows the circumstances of our lives too. He knows what you have gone through and what you are going through.

  • Jesus praises almost every church. The main thing Jesus commends in the churches is perseverance/faithfulness (Revelation 2:13). … There’s one church of the seven He has nothing good to say about. All of the churches have at least one commendable quality.

  • Jesus criticizes almost every church. … Two of the seven churches receive no critique.
    Jesus’ three major complaints involve:

    • False teaching (Revelation 2:20). … Jesus cares about what we believe.

    • Sexual immorality (Revelation 2:20). … Jesus cares about how we live and condemn sexual immorality.

    • Spiritual temperature (Revelation 3:16). Jesus cares about our passion for Him.

  • Jesus challenges (or warns) every church (Revelation 2:5; 3:19-20). … He gives us challenges and warnings that are meant to draw us back to Him. To one of the churches, He says He is knocking at the door id they would only let Him in

  • Jesus offers a promise to those who overcome (nike) (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21). … Jesus promises eternal life and glory and honor to all who overcome sin and follow Him.

Turnig Everyday Conversations into Gospel Conversations: 3 Circles

Sunday Sermon Series Gospel Conversations

The Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ. Gospel; conversations are conversations that are centered on the Gospel, where you have a chance to evangelize.

Challenge: In 2018, have 12 Gospel conversations. That’s one per month. For some, this might be easy. For others, this might be extremely difficult.

Acts 1:8 - This is one of the last things Jesus said before He ascended. He tells us that He has given us power and authority. This should give us the boldness we need to spread the Gospel; every chance we get.

Acts 8:1 - This verse tells us that all believers are challenged to tell people of the Gospel, not just pastors or missionaries.

Today we look at a simple way to turn any conversation into a Gospel conversation.

Below is a diagram we can use to show people why the Gospel is important. This method is called the 3 Circles.

Note: when drawing this out for someone, you may want to leave out anything in parentheses. The references are there to help you along.

Start by drawing the first circle and write “God’s design” in it. Explain that God created the world perfect and that something happened to cause it to be imperfect.

Draw an arrow to the right and label it “sin.” Explain that sin is the reason the world fell from perfection and how it happened.

Draw the circle on the right and label it “Brokenness.” The sin in the world produced a broken world with broken people.

Draw the arrows going to the right. These are our attempts to fix ourselves. They go nowhere.

Draw the third circle and label it “Gospel.” Tell them what the Gospel is.

Draw the arrow from brokenness to Gospel and explain how we must repent and believe to accept Christ.

Now draw the arrow from Gospel to God’s design. This is where you explain that the Gospel leads to the recovery and pursuit of God’s original design.

At this point, you can lead them in a prayer of salvation if they are ready.

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.

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.