Sermons 17

March 30, 2014

It Will Be Worth It All       Mark 9:2 - 10

An Audio Sermon

God helped Moses overcome many obstacles in his life that he would never have been able to conquer alone. And I am convinced that God will do the same for us too, if we will just let Him. 

When God first called Moses, Moses faced 3 tremendous obstacles.

The first one was his feeling of inferiority. When God said, "Moses, I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people out of Egypt" the first thought that came to Moses was, "Who am I? I'm a nobody. They won't listen to me. Besides, I'm not very eloquent. I wouldn't make a good spokesman at all. Send somebody else."

I wonder how many times Satan has used our feelings of inferiority or inadequacy to try to keep us from doing what God would have us do? 

When I first became a pastor, preparing for funerals really bothered me. I would be so stressed out that I was wiped out for the next three days. But today I can think of nothing that ministers more to the needs of people than ministering to them in a time of grief.

I am convinced that if we let Him, God will help us and equip us for our service to others, whatever it might be. 

Moses said, "I can't speak and I can't lead." Yet, when he let God lead the way, it wasn't long until Pharaoh let his people go.

The second obstacle he faced was about 3 million grumbling Israelites. They weren't two days out of Egypt until they started complaining.

Are we there yet? "Moses, what is your plan for getting us across this Sea?" Moses answered, "I don't have a plan. God told me to follow the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, and that is what I am doing." 

"You mean you have led us all out of Egypt and you don't even have a map?" 

"Moses, what's on the menu for today? What are we going to eat? We had melons and cucumbers and meat in Egypt. Moses, it's hot out here. Our throats are parched and the water tastes yucky!"

They were constantly grumbling. Moses spent a lot of time talking to God about them and I imagine he became discouraged many times over.

Moses had to deal with that, and yet God sustained him through it all.

The third thing that Moses had to deal with was his own stubborn will. One day Moses talked to God and said, "The people are complaining because there is not enough water." God said, "All right, Moses, go over to that rock and speak to it and I will provide plenty of water."

So Moses went over to the rock, but in the midst of it all he lost his temper and instead of speaking to the rock he hit it. The water came all right, but Moses had disobeyed God. He had done it his way instead of God's way. 

I wonder how many times we do the same thing? God gives us His plan and His program and He says, "Now this is my will in the situation." But we say, "God, we don't want to do it that way. This is the way we think it ought to be done." And our will gets in the way of God's will.

Moses faced three great obstacles. Inferiority, difficult people, and his own stubborn will. And yet God helped him through it all.

I'm guessing that at times Moses wondered if his service would be remembered and rewarded by God. Moses started out at age 80 to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt.

He went through all the struggles in the wilderness for 40 years. He saw the hardships and the pain. He loved the people. He prayed for them. He talked to God numerous times.

Finally he stands on the border of the Promised Land. High on a mountain, he looks across at the land flowing with milk and honey. God shows it to him.

Then God says, "But Moses, remember, you're not going to lead them in." It is Joshua who leads them into the Promised Land.

I imagine that as Moses turned over to Joshua the responsibility of leading the children of Israel into the Promised Land, that Moses must have thought, "It should be me. I'm the one who paid the price. I'm the one who encouraged them when they were discouraged. 

I'm the one who prayed for them. I'm the one who sacrificed for them. And now Joshua gets all the glory. Joshua gets to lead them into the Promised Land. Joshua gets to enjoy all the benefits of that land flowing with milk and honey."

It would only have been human for Moses to wonder if his service would ever be rewarded. Then one day, in a different century, on another mountain Jesus was transfigured. And Moses looked around and realized that he was there too. 

He saw Elijah and he saw Jesus in all His glory. He looked down and saw the worshipful gazes of Peter and James and John as they looked at that holy scene. Moses must have thought, "It really was worth all the sacrifice and all the pain. It was worth it all."

But the glory of the Mount of Transfiguration will be as nothing compared to the glory when we see Jesus. When we see Him on His throne and we gather there with Moses and Elijah and Peter and James and John and all the others, then we, too, will know that it was worth it all.

Those evenings we went home so tired that we didn't feel like doing any more, and then the telephone rang and there was something else to be done. 

All the times that we felt discouraged and wanted to quit. All the times that we wondered if the pathway that God calls us to walk is really worth walking. 

You see, Jesus calls us not to a life of ease, but to a life of service. He calls us not to a life of pleasure but to a life of sacrifice. Maybe that doesn't seem very appealing. But one day we will know that it was worth it all.

An old hymn expresses it this way, 

It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus. 
Life's trials will seem so small, when we see Christ. 
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrows will erase. 
So bravely run the race - ˜till we see Christ.

So as His followers we keep on serving. We keep on working. We keep on giving And I promise you It will be worth it all. 

March 23, 2014

Better Together        Ecclesiastes 4:9-4:12

An Audio Sermon

God designed us from the very beginning to be social creatures.

He knew that we would need relationships and interaction with other people to fully function in the way that he created us to live. Not only is that true of us individually, it is true of the church as a whole. 

Today we want to look at a section of scripture that helps us to realize that we are not only created for relationships, but we are better off because of our relationships.

God created us to live in relationship.

And the Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion who will help him." Genesis 2:18  

Proverbs 27:17 says: As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Through our relationships we benefit each other. This morning I want to briefly look at three of the ways we benefit.

I. We accomplish more together

In the passages before the one we are looking at, the writer of the text has been talking about how life is filled with greedy people. He talks about how people toil and labor for their own gain. That kind of mindset is frustrating. It frustrates us to work selfishly.

The first verse from our scripture reading this morning says: Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. Ecclesiastes 4:9

Have you ever tried to tackle a major task on your own? How did it make you feel? Were you overwhelmed? Were you frustrated? 

Too often in life we take things in an individualistic mindset. We have an idea that we need to accomplish things on our own and not seek out help. The problem is, when we operate that way we get burnt out, overwhelmed and frustrated. So Number one...we accomplish more together.

II. We need each other.

We are designed by God with a need for other people. Whether we realize it or not, we have a need for relationships in our lives. It is when we are stunted in our development of relationships that we become unhealthy individuals.

Verse 10 goes on to say: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

Relationships are designed to strengthen us.

Now I know some relationships are energy giving and some are energy draining. Let's look under the hood of your car for a minute The alternator charges the battery, and the battery provides power to the starter. Without that giving and taking the car isn't going anyplace. Some relationships are energy giving and some are energy draining.

Jesus had some amazing relationships. He had people around him whom he loved and poured his life into. Scripture tells us that he also used those friends for support in his most difficult times. 

In Matthew 26:36-37 we read these words: Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ˜Sit here while I go over there and pray. He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled'.

At the major events in Jesus life we see him taking his disciples, but particularly Peter, James and John. Those three had a special relationship with Jesus and in his most trying times, he called on them for support.

The church was designed to be a support for one another. Scripture tells us to work to build one another up.

Hebrews 10:24 says: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds

God gave individuals in the church specific gifts to help the church function together and support one another.

In Ephesians 4:11-12  we read: It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.

Every member of the body plays a role in supporting the others. 

We accomplish more together,  We need each other, and...

III. We protect each other.

Part of the role of a relationship is to protect each other.

Let's listen again to part of this morning scripture: Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:11-12

Those of you who were able to be here for Eva and Ben's wedding may remember that during the ceremony they took a ring with three cords attached to it A white one, a purple one and a gold one and they braided that cord, representing themselves and God. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

There is strength in numbers because numbers offer a certain sense of security for us.

There is an aspect of our lives where we are willing to give up ourselves in protection of someone else.

Parents, have you ever gone to bed at night and I heard a loud bang in the house What do you do?  I know what you do you immediately shoot out of bed and began to search the house to discover what was going on.

That's a natural reaction.  Don't we immediately determine to put ourselves in harm's way instead of our children?

Physical sacrifice is an aspect of love.

The Bible tells us in John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.

As Christians we are in the greatest danger when we are isolated.

We are better together. We accomplish more than we ever dream or imagine when we stand alongside one another and build one another up.

We accomplish more together We need each other and We protect each other.

Proverbs 17:17 says: A friend loves at all times 

March 16, 2014

Sparrows        Matthew 10:24 - 31

An Audio Sermon

When I see the suffering of so many in this world of ours, I am prone to ask myself, "Is there even one iota of justice?" What I don't ask myself is, "Where is God?" because I know God is there and that He is in love with His world.

He has promised that He will never leave me and never forsake me and that is enough for me. The verses that we just read tell us that God loves sparrows. And it goes on to say that we are worth more than many sparrows. Sparrows in Jesus' day were sold two for a penny, yet not one of them could fall to the ground without the Father's knowledge.

Have you ever seen a child when they find a penny lying on the sidewalk or in a parking lot? The child becomes so excited you would think they just found a thousand dollars.

I doubt if I would even stop to pick up a penny (especially if someone is watching) yet that which is not worth the trouble of bending over and picking up to me is pure gold to a child.

Treasuring the seemingly worthless is somehow very like our God or God never would have stopped to save us.

As long as God cares so much for sparrows”knowing they sell two for a penny”maybe the cross is God's finest shopping spree. For at Calvary He spent all He had to buy the souls of those who put Him to death. So much for so little! In the midst of our senseless human circus, God goes on deliberately picking up pennies.

Jesus says that the very hairs of our head are numbered, so thorough is God's love and concern for us! I love the song His Eye is on The Sparrow. It says: Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come, Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home, When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

So, I know when the pain comes that God cares. There are moments when we are tempted to say God lives in heaven above, protected from all human pain. We cry and look around for Him, but He is silent. We wish He would show up for just a moment of compassion for all we are feeling, but our prayers seem to be bouncing off the ceiling..

But, He does care! Remember the life of Missionary Adoniram Judson:

He asked God to send him to India, and God sent him to Burma.

He asked God to give him the security of a warm family and his devoted wife and child died of a fever.

He asked God to give him many converts so he could feel that God was blessing his ministry, and he struggled for seven empty years to win his first convert to Christ.    

What did he do to keep his sanity while his every prayer seemed to fall on a deaf heaven? He remembered the principle that God is the God of sparrows.

The hard times of life happen to us all but God knows about it because God knows about pain. Remember the cross?  Remember the anguish of His Son. Maybe we are too prone to forget this. We rail at God for ignoring our hurt when”if we are honest”God passed PAIN 101 with flying colors.

Why should we feel that our crosses are more special than that carried by Christ? No servant is above his master. Where did we get the idea that when we became disciples, God said, "Way to go! Thank you so much for believing. I'm so flattered. Here's your very own Hardship Exemption Card! If you ever get in trouble, just flash this card and I'll have you back on your bed of roses in no time."

Look at the cross and try to remember that God may not deliver you from great suffering or death. Christians suffer as do non-Christians. Atheists and devoted saints die at the same rate, but God is still a sparrow lover.

The cross is evidence that God means it when He says He cares for us and loves us. The first verse of the Bible that I memorized is evidence that when God says He cares about us, He really means it.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

The cross has become a tribute to a love that means business. If you are prone to ask, "How much does God love you?" just remember the words that long ago fell from the poet's pen:

 Could we with ink the oceans fill

And were the skies of parchment made,

 Were every stalk on earth a quill,

 And every man a scribe by trade,

 To write the love of God above

 Would drain those oceans dry,

 Nor would the scroll contain the whole,

 Though stretched from sky to sky.

God cares for you”you can count on His concern. Remember the birds: Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Sometimes it seems that God is the only one who cares for sparrows. Cats like to hunt and eat them, and little boys have been known to torment them. Adults complain about how they multiply and consider them pests. Yet, Jesus said, "not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will" It is interesting that Jesus chose the most common of all birds to teach a profound truth: in God's eyes, no one is insignificant!

Though God does provide care for the sparrows, the fact that "not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will" means that sometimes bad things can happen. Although He watches over the sparrows, this does not prevent them being hunted by predators. Although He watches over every one of us, this does not mean that our lives will be free from care.

We may not think much about the tiny sparrow, but Jesus used it to illustrate our heavenly Father's watchful care: "you are of more value than many sparrows". If God is concerned about the tiny sparrow, how much greater must His concern be for you.

March 9, 2014

In One Ear and Out The Other       Luke 8:11 - 18

An Audio Sermon

A lawyer, a doctor, and a pastor decided to go deer hunting. As they sat quietly and waited along came a huge buck. They all three shot at the same time and immediately the buck dropped to the ground.

Each man thought that he had shot the animal so all three rushed up to see the deer only they couldn't figure out whose shot had actually killed the deer.

A heated debated ensued, until a game warden came by and asked what was the problem. The doctor told him that they were debating who shot the buck. The officer inspected the buck and within a few seconds said with great confidence, The preacher shot the buck!

They all wondered how he knew that so quickly. The officer said, Easy. The bullet went in one ear and out the other. 

Although this story makes fun of pastors, it actually illustrates a far more serious challenge that all of us face and that is: How do we hear God's word? Does God's word go in one ear and out the other? Or do we hear God's word in such a way that we really obey it?

Jesus of course was a master preacher. His message was about the kingdom of God. He told people that God had created a people for himself. However, all people had rebelled against God. They refused to submit to the sovereign kingship of God. They did not obey the moral law of God and they did what was right in their own eyes.

However, God is a merciful God so he provided a way for rebellious people to be reconciled to himself. He sent his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to seek and to save the lost. 

Jesus preached a marvelous message about the good news of the kingdom of God. He said that if people did not turn from their sin, then they would suffer the penalty for their rebellion against God.

However, if people repented of their sin by turning from it, and if they believed that Jesus was the one who paid the penalty for their sin, then they could receive God's forgiveness and be reconciled to God. Now that is good news, isn't it?

Thousands of people came to hear Jesus preach, although they also came to see him perform miracles. A growing number of people believed Jesus and became his followers and disciples.

Toward the end of his Galilean ministry, about 16 months after he started his public ministry, Jesus told people a parable we know as The Parable of the Sower.

In this parable Jesus was showing people different responses to his message. Some hear the word of God and there is no response at all. Others hear it and respond superficially, but when testing comes, they fall away. Yet others hear it and respond to it, but as they go on their way the cares and riches and pleasures of life choke them, and they fall away.

Finally, some hear the word of God and respond to it, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

Jesus continued to elaborate on responses to his message, the word of God. He gave another parable, The Parable of the Lamp, to teach people how to respond to his message.

Jesus said, in verse 16, No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.

It would be completely foolish to light a lamp and then cover it so that it could not light the room. That would be like buying a computer and setting it up on your desk but never turning it on to use it. That simply does not make sense, does it?

And that is Jesus' point. A lamp is lit so that it can function correctly by lighting a room. But exactly what did Jesus mean when speaking about the lamp? Was he referring to his disciples being lights to those around them?

In Matthew's Gospel Jesus said to his disciples, You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16). Clearly in Matthew's Gospel the emphasis seems to be on his disciples being evangelistic.

Jesus' point is that now that the disciples had heard his message, what were they going to do with it?

The fact is that many people hear the message of God's word and it never makes any difference in their lives. The message goes in one ear and out the other. The gospel is meant to make a difference in our lives.

The Gospel which we possess was not given us only to be admired, talked about, “ but to be practiced. It was not meant merely to reside in our intellect, and memories, and tongues, “ but to be seen in our lives. 

If we profess to belong to Christ, the message of the gospel must transform us. When we hear the message of the gospel, the message of God's word, we must not only hear it, but respond to it as well. You must adjust your life in accordance with God's word.

Jesus then issued a warning to his disciples in verse 18, Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.

Many of us took music lessons when we were children. But we haven't picked up an instrument in years. We have forgotten far more than we ever learned.

The same principle applies spiritually. You come to church. You hear the message of the gospel. But you do nothing with it. You hear it, but it goes in one ear and out the other. You do not hear it and respond. And it is imperative to hear it responsively if the gospel is to do you any good.

So, Jesus' message must be heard, and it must be responded to.

How do we hear God's word? Does God's word go in one ear and out the other? Or do we hear God's word in such a way that we really obey it?

In the book of Hebrews the same words are recorded in three different places: Hebrews 3:7, 3:15, and 4:7 which say,  Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.

March 2, 2014

No Go Sebo       1 Thessalonians 5:12-20

An Audio Sermon

The title of my sermon is No Go Sebo and it is not about a missionary telling a little child named Sebo not to leave.

A few years ago the CWF ladies bought a new vacuum for the church It was made in Germany by a company named Sebo.

You may remember a couple of months ago Mary was hard at work vacuuming here in the sanctuary when the Sebo vacuum cleaner started cutting out and then quit all together.

She looked over to see if the plug was coming out of the wall and saw that the plug had gotten so hot that it melted, in fact it was on fire. When the plug melted it had stopped making contact and the vacuum would no longer run. So what we had was a No Go Sebo.

Today we will be talking about prayer. We will not be addressing how to pray but rather the need to pray. The first thing I want us to see is that:

1. Prayer connects us to God
There is an electrical current flowing through this whole building supplying power to lights, heating systems, freezers and the organ. All that energy flowing through a building of 8,000 square feet and yet one small vacuum didn't work.

Why? The vacuum wasn't plugged into the source of power.

A person who reads the Bible but doesn't pray is a spiritual hermit. If you read the Bible but don't pray, you are not interacting with God. On the other hand, a person who prays but doesn't read the Bible is a chatter-box.

It is easy to be a spiritual hermit or chatter-box. God attempts to offer words of love and instruction, of advice and warning but we easily miss the whole experience and pay no attention.

The connection is only complete when God speaks to you and you speak to God. Jeremiah 33:3, You call to me and I will answer. We call it prayer. 

Jesus reminds us in John 10:14 "I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father."

To have this deep, intimate experience and knowledge of God, one must cultivate the relationship and spend much time together. If current is to flow in a relationship and there is to be connection, it requires listening and talking, an interaction of thoughts and desires.

Prayer is a dialogue between two persons who love each other Prayer's real purpose is to put God at the center of our attention and forget ourselves. 

Prayer is not a time-slot plugged into our planners but an experience of God plugged into our hearts.

Prayer not only connects us to God but: 

2. Our connection to God connects God to our families, churches, and communities.

I think it's funny that when a baby is born people immediately start saying who the baby looks like! He looks just like his dad! She's got her mom's eyes! He's the spittin' image of his cousin, 27 times removed!

But I hope that when people look at us they think that we are like our Heavenly Father.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if someone said: I knew he had something that I needed. Then I found out he has God. And I decided that if that's what it means to have God then I want him too!

In our scripture reading this morning, Paul instructs us to encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone always strive to do what is good for each other ...Rejoice always, pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

I believe that when we as Christians do these things our family, friends, and communities want that same connection! 
If our communities are to be connected to God through us, then we must first be connected to God ourselves. To live in obedience to what God asks of us in these verses we must have a deep experience with God.

If you want to evaluate the prayer attitudes of any church, look at the life attitudes of its members. By evaluating how we interact with each other, we see how we interact with God. 

1 John 4:20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

To be in love with God is to automatically be in love with those God loves. To demonstrate hatred or mere tolerance for a person is to demonstrate mere tolerance or hatred of God.

If our relationship with God is inconsistent, self-centered or there is no relationship with him at all, we can hardly expect that we will really matter to each other.

On the other hand, when we are madly in love with God, and plugged into God, we enjoy experiencing his presence in our daily existence and wanting it to flow into the hearts of others.

Disunity in the church, in the home or in the community simply reflects disunity in our relationships with God.

- Prayer connects us to God. 
- Our connection to God connects God to our family, friends, and communities.

What about our friend No Go Sebo?

Bud put a new plug on Sebo and the connection is restored and the work can continue.

Our relationship with God is the most valuable resource we have especially when everything else seems to be falling apart, it is wonderful to have something solid as a rock to hold on to “ our relationship with God.

God never changes! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

To keep on praying (v17) is to cultivate a constant dependence on God. It is to be plugged in to be always aware of his presence and conscious of our need of him to sustain and help us where we are right now.

- God wants us to experience his presence and love for us; He wants to talk with you and share with you. This happens through prayer and reading the Bible
- God wants to channel his relationship with you to the world so they can be in relationship with him. God wants to use you as a conduit to lead others to his love and power.

February 23, 2014

Why Worry?        John 14:1-6

An Audio Sermon

I believe that worry is a sin because worry says that God is not big enough to handle my troubles.

What caused Peter to begin to sink when he was walking on the water? He took his eyes off of Jesus and put them on his problem. What causes us to sink in our life of faith? It's when we take our eyes off of Jesus and put them on our problems. Jesus wants us to take our eyes off of our problems and put them on Him.

In our scripture reading this morning Jesus gives us some reasons not to worry. First...Because we believe in God. In John 13:33 Jesus tells His disciples that He is going to be leaving them, He says:  "Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, 'Where I am going, you cannot come..."

These men had left everything to follow Jesus. Now He was telling them that He was going to leave them and they can't come with Him.

This caused them to be very troubled.

The word "troubled" means  "to cause great mental distress." 
They were more than just a little concerned. 
They were more than just a little bit worried. 
They were greatly troubled.

But Jesus tells them "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me." He is telling them, "Don't worry, believe in God, and believe in me." What he is saying is that the way to stop worrying is to believe that God is able to handle your problems.

He is telling them, don't doubt, believe. Don't worry, believe. Don't fret, believe. Don't focus on your problems, believe.

Psalms 42:5 says: Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Corrie Ten Boom said, Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but it empties today of it's strength.

Worry will: Raise your blood pressure, put wrinkles on you face and dark circles under your eyes.

Worry won't: Make your problems go away, Help you deal with your problems, or Make you feel better.

The only cure for worry is faith Faith in God and faith in His promises. Stop worrying and believe! 

Another reason that Jesus gives us not to worry is that He is going to prepare a place for us. Jesus tells His disciples  "My Father's house has many rooms..."

Jesus assures His disciples that the reason that He was going away was to prepare a place for them. He also assures them that there would be plenty of room for them and all believers. Notice that he says there will be "many" rooms.

Other places in the Bible it tells us that this place will be more glorious than any place we can imagine. 1 Corinthians 2:9 tells us : "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which

God has prepared for those who love Him." 

Also notice what He says in verse 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Though he did not elaborate on the promise, the guarantee is unmistakable. His return is as certain as his departure, and he would take them (and us) with him to his Father's house. 

Who cares what you do in heaven, as long as you get to go! For that matter who cares what happens in this life as long as we get to go to heaven.

Why should I worry about things that I have no control over anyway, as long as I get to go to heaven? Why should I worry about things without eternal significance, as long as I get to go to heaven?

Why should I worry about things that won't change even if I do worry about them, as long as I get to go to heaven?

The point is clear, why should we worry when Jesus has made two great promises to us:
a. He is going to prepare a place for us.
b. He is going to come and take us there.

Nothing that can happen to us in this life can compare to what Jesus has prepared for us in heaven so instead of worrying about today, focus on what Jesus has prepared for you tomorrow. 

At the end of the verses we read together Jesus tells the disciples (and us): I am the way, the truth, and the life." Jesus is the Way to the Father; Jesus is the Truth of God's promises; and Jesus is the Life as he joins his life to ours, both now and eternally. 

Jesus is the way that leads to the truth and life. He is not a way, but the way. He is not a truth, but the truth. He is not a life, but the life.

You can depend on Jesus because He is: The Way, The Truth and The Life.

We don't have to worry because:
a. Jesus will make a way where there is no way.
b. Jesus will show us the truth when the devil feeds us a pack of lies.
c. Jesus will give us life that no one can take away. 

1 Peter 5:7 Says: casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 

We don't have to worry because: We believe in God, Jesus has prepared a place for us and Jesus is someone we can depend on.

You can worry if you want to, but I'd rather trust Jesus.

February 16, 2014

Partnership in the Gospel       Phil. 1:3-6

An Audio Sermon

I'm thankful for many things in my life. The person I am the most thankful for isn't able to be here this morning, my wife Marla. As most of you know we celebrated our 30th Anniversary last July, and after 30 years together I am thankful because she understands me.

She understands that I am forgetful, disorganized, and a whole lot of other things that I won't mention here today.  But after 30 years she understands all these things about me and loves me in spite of them.

Another group of people that I am thankful for is all of you. After 23 1/2 years as your Pastor I can honestly say you understand me (at least you try), and in spite of my many shortcomings you love me anyway.

I think that this is what Paul is writing to his friends in Philippi; you understand me.

From his heart Paul tells them he is...
a. Thankful for what God has done
b. Thankful for what they have done and
c. Thankful for what God will continue to do through them.

The first thing Paul talks about in this section of his letter that we read together is the fact that he is...Thankful for what God has done.  

He says:  I thank my God every time I remember you. There are probably not too many people in our lives that we can honestly say we are thankful for every time we think of them.

Most people in our lives have aggravated us at one time or another to the point that we have wanted to give them a big hug around the neck...until they turn blue!

However, look at what Paul writes to his friends in Philippi, I thank my God every time I remember you.

Paul rarely thanks God for things, but rather, he thanks God for people, for those special people that God has brought into his life, who despite whatever frustration or grief they may cause him, are without exception a source of great joy and thanksgiving. 

Every time Paul thought about the Philippians, he gave thanks to God for them. 

Then look at what Paul writes in verse 4. He says: "In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy" The word Joy is used 16 times in just 4 chapters and this is the only one of Paul's letters where the word joy is used in giving thanks. 

Our joy should not be based on our circumstances. As Christians we can have joy because:

a. When we come to Christ he changes us from a mess to a masterpiece.
Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) says: For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. 
b. He takes something that sick and decaying and makes it brand new. 
c. He takes something dirty and worn out and makes it useful again He has a plan for us and work to do.

The next thing that Paul talks about is that he is...Thankful for what they had done.

One of the great proofs of what God has done in our lives is what we do with that which he has given us. Faith is a verb and so it requires action. The evidence of our faith is in doing, serving, and giving.

So why does Paul always pray with joy?  Verse 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,

The Philippians did far more than support Paul's ministry spiritually and financially, rather they were completely involved and committed to the spreading and proclamation of the gospel. It was more than "Hey Paul here's some money, now go get 'em!" 

Their involvement was total and complete. A key phrase in this verse is "from the first time you heard it until now." It shows their unwavering support and participation in the ministry of the gospel . It is amazing to see when God transforms our lives, but it is even greater when that transformation brings us to act on our faith. 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer  wrote: "We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. Have you allowed yourself to be interrupted by God?

The last verse that we read together says this: being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Paul was convinced that their partnership in the gospel would continue until Jesus returned. But this confidence was not based on the Philippians themselves, but rather it is based on the one who began the work, Christ.

Nothing in this life or after death can stop God's good work in us. Despite any persecution the church in Philippi might face, Paul was confident that God would continue his good work in them.

No matter what life throws at you God is going to continue his good work in you. Listen to these verses from Romans 8.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow”not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below”indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I am convinced that God is going to continue his work in your life until it is completed.

I am convinced that nothing will separate you from God.

I am convinced that God has an amazing plan for your life.

I am convinced that God has an amazing plan for the Keithsburg Christian Church.

And I am convinced that God is going to continue that work until Jesus comes again. 

This morning I am a thankful Pastor.
Thankful for what He has done in you.
Thankful for what you have done in being my partners in the gospel.
Thankful for what God is going to continue to do through us.

God has done a great work in us and he will continue that work until Jesus returns.

February 9, 2014

Yes, Jesus Loves Me!        John 15:9 - 17

An Audio Sermon

Well, this coming Friday is Valentine's Day! I hope none of you husbands or boyfriends forget about it And Guys as your Pastor I need to make sure you understand something very important. If you ask your wife or Girlfriend what she wants for Valentine's Day and she says Nothing. Don't believe it for a second!

Everyone loves love! We want to be loved and we want to give love. The problem is”our love is lacking just like we are. It's often conditional upon our mood or our loved one's actions, appearance or attitude.

When it comes to love, all of us fall a little short, don't we? Some of us are as confused about love as the six-year-old girl who told her teacher, Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on after shave and they go out and smell each other.

My question for you today is this ” How do we develop and nurture a love worth giving on Valentine's Day and every day? The answer, I believe, is found in the verses we just read together.

Jesus had a lot to say about love, and his final night with his followers was no exception. During the course of the evening (which begins in John 13 and goes through chapter 17) Jesus uses the L-word no less than thirty times in eighteen different verses.

Jesus knew that the time for him to leave this world had come. He knew that the time he had left with his disciples was short. And he wanted to spend that time showing them the full extent of his love so he begins by saying: As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. Basically He was saying I love you guys! And He loves us too!

Most of us are familiar with the song: Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Do you know the origin of that song? It first appeared in the form of a poem in a children's novel written in 1859.

One of the characters in the story comforts a dying child with the words, Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. A couple of years later in 1862, William Bradbury stumbled across it, wrote the music and added a chorus.

Within months the melody spread across North America like wildfire. It has been translated into more languages than any other song.

Why has this simple song become so universally known and loved? Because it expresses the single most significant and profound truth known to man in three simple words”Jesus love me!

Receiving the love of Jesus and living in his love day by day, is the first and most essential step in having a love worth giving.

Jesus explains it this way: I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5).

In other words, as we draw closer to Christ and stay connected to him, he funnels his love into our hearts; only then will we have a love worth giving, because his love is the only perfect a pure love this world has to offer.

His love is characterized by sacrifice: There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends Jesus said (vs. 13). And that's just what he did accept the wonderful, undeniable truth that Jesus loves you and draw close to him, allow him to pour his love into your heart. That's the first step in obtaining a love worth giving. The second step is to reciprocate his love.

In Jesus' day, a rabbi's disciples were generally known as his servants. But Jesus changes that. He says: You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know what his master is doing. But I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I heard from my Father (vs. 14-15).

In your relationship with God, Jesus promotes you from servant to friend”which sort of begs the question: what kind of friend are you?

It's one thing to say, Jesus loves me. It's whole other thing to say, I love Jesus. Can you say that? Do you love Jesus? Do you love God? Is your love for him reflected in how you live your life? When we sing Oh, how I love Jesus, do you mean it?

We will never be able to love the people God has put in our lives, if we don't start by loving God himself.

Jesus said that the first and greatest command is this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength (Mark 12:30). Our love for God must be the driving force of our lives. If everything we do isn't spurred by our deep love for God, then nothing we do really matters.

In verse 17 of the verses we read Jesus says: This is my command: Love each other. Once we've receive the love of Jesus into our lives and reciprocate his love, then we're ready to share that love with the rest of the world.

Jesus was very specific, though, about how we should love people. He said, My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you (John 15:12)

As we seek to grow in our capacity to love”to have a love truly worth giving”let's continue to look to the heart of Jesus and learn to love like him.

I want this church, more than anything else, to be a community of love. I want you to be able to come here, and feel totally and completely loved.

Nothing, according to Jesus, is more important than loving God and loving people. Let's make that our mantra”not just on paper in the bulletin, but in our hearts every moment of every day.

If we love each other as God has loved us, then we will be a church of love that will act like a magnet, drawing people who are starving for love into the presence of Jesus and the salvation that he offers.

February 2, 2014

The Good, Bad, and Ugly       Ecclesiastes 3:1- 8

An Audio Sermon

This past week singer/songwriter Pete Seeger died at the age of 94. He was known for such songs as Where Have All the Flowers Gone, If I had a Hammer, and Turn, Turn, Turn.

The song Turn, Turn, Turn was recorded by Pete Seeger and the Byrds in 1965. The majority of people who heard and liked this song had no idea it was based on the words found in the 3rd chapter of Ecclesiastes that we just read together.

In fact the entire song except the last six words I swear it's not too late and the Turn, Turn, Turn part are from the Bible.

You might be interested to know that Mr. Seeger donated 45% of the royalties for that song to the "Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions,"

When asked why he didn't just make it a 50/50 split he replied that in addition to writing the music I did write six words.

There is indeed a time for everything and a season for every activity under Heaven.

You see we serve a God of seasons. We see it in creation. God created the four seasons that are based upon the rotation of the Earth as it orbits around the Sun. The seasons change as the earth rotates, but the sun remains constant, and everything revolves around it.

In many ways we see the signature of the same artist in our lives. Much like the earth, our lives should revolve around the Son, Jesus Christ. Our lives will change, and we will enter and exit many seasons, but the Son remains constant yesterday, today and forever.

But just like our Scripture verse says, to everything there is a season. Every aspect of our lives is like a season. And there is a purpose for those seasons. There is a reason for the season. There is a purpose for the process.

There are some seasons we don't want to go through. But through those seasons we learned some things. And we wouldn't have learned them if we hadn't gone through them.

There are seasons you've gone through, that you don't know why you had to. But there is a reason for that season. 

And just because you are going through some stuff, or have gone through a rough season, doesn't mean God is finished with you because like the Bible says: He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. You've just stepped into a new season.

This morning we are going to take a quick glance at the life of one disciple that I believe almost everybody can identify with. I am talking about Peter. And Peter certainly went through some seasons in his life.

Change is inevitable. It's going to happen. We look outside at the world around us and notice things are different today than they were ten years ago, last year or even yesterday. But remember we serve a God of seasons.

Looking at Peter, he entered into a new season when Jesus called him to follow. “ Matthew 4:18-20 says:

And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. They immediately left their nets and followed Him.

When Peter was called to follow Jesus he faced not only many changes in his life, but also many challenges.

His faith was challenged by stepping out of a storm battered boat to walk on the water. His feelings were challenged when one minute he was proclaiming Jesus the Son of God, and the next minute being rebuked by Jesus, and being called Satan, and telling him to get behind him. 
(Matthew 16:23)

His humility was challenged when the Son of God, the Light of the World, the Alpha the Omega, the Beginning and the End, lowered Himself to the point of a servant to wash Peter's feet.

But in all these instances, Peter stepped up to the challenge. However, there is that one particular time when it seems as if Peter stepped into a season of failure, and he went from a follower of Jesus to one who followed Him at a distance. And that was in the courtyard where Peter denied knowing the Lord three times. (Matthew 26:69-75)

And that is exactly what happens to us when we step into a season where it seems as if all is going to hell in a hand basket, you feel dry and empty and despite your best efforts you feel as if you've let the Lord down and you begin to believe you are a complete and total failure. You are still trying to follow Jesus, but you are following at a distance.

But remember, there is purpose for every season. What Peter didn't know, and many of us today fail to realize is, that the love of Jesus Christ is greater than our failures. When we fail to meet the challenge, there is a grace and a mercy that is far greater than our shortcomings.

Listen to this familiar passage from Mark 16:

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb? But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. 

Don't be alarmed, he said. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ˜He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.' 

Did you catch that? Listen again go, tell his disciples and Peter.

Peter was one of the disciples so why was he singled out? I imagine after denying the Lord 3 times Peter was feeling lower than a snakes belly in a wagon rut And I believe Jesus had the angel make special mention of Peter to let him know he was still loved, still valued and so are we.

To everything there is a season and a purpose under Heaven. God loved each of us before the world was created. He knows us by name. God will always guide and direct us through all the seasons of life the good, bad, and the ugly.

January 26, 2014

Living Seeds    Mark 4:26 - 32

An Audio Sermon

January 19, 2014

In the Drivers Seat    Philippians 3:7 - 14

In the passage we read together this morning the Apostle Paul compares the Christian life to a race. Basically he says: I haven't arrived at my goal, but I press on straining toward what is ahead, pressing on toward the goal to win the prize.

As we read these verses we hear the Apostle Paul as he describes the fact that he is striving to reach a goal. This should be the case for every born again believer.

Do we have any NASCAR fans here today! (I thought so). In NASCAR you get to watch the 43 best stock car drivers in the world compete against each other for several hours and hundreds of miles. What is their ultimate goal? To be the first one to cross the finish line. 

If they are the winner of the race there is a prize waiting for them. What is the prize? It is a large trophy and a big check!

Many people don't consider NASCAR to be a team sport because the driver is always in the spotlight but there are literally dozens of people that work together to make a successful race team.

You see the driver is not just representing himself he is representing his team, his car owner & his sponsors. 

There are many of these characteristics that fit in the Christian life. We too are running a race. At the end of this race there is a prize waiting for us. The question is are you pressing toward the mark? Are you pursuing the prize?

In the earlier part of this chapter Paul stated many facts about his past. Many of these events that he refers to had taken place before his conversion on the Damascus road.

By this time he has been a servant of Christ for a while. He has a good perspective as to where he has been, where he is and where he wants to go!  He says that as a Christian he still has a long way to go.

Just think of all the things Paul had accomplished at this point. He was handpicked by Jesus Christ to be an Apostle; he has covered many miles spreading the Gospel, he wrote many books of the New Testament, and had the most successful jail ministry of all time. 

Of all that he had done, the Apostle Paul was humble enough to realize that he was still not where he should be. What was his ultimate goal? Christlikeness.

What about us? Have we reached the goal that is set before us? I can answer that question for you: If you are still here then there is still work to be done.

Many people seem to think that they have already reached the goal in their life. These people tend to be a bit self-righteous.

Do you have the goal of Christlikeness in your life?

Paul knew that he had not reached his ultimate goal but he also knew that he had not reached the end of the race.

In verse 13 Paul says: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind  

What was behind for Paul? There were many things; I would imagine that Satan was continuously reminding Paul of all of his time spent persecuting the church.

Satan will use our past to dishearten us. Paul knew the answer  is to forget those things which are behind. 

Many people are living in the past focusing on the heartaches of their life before Christ. Friends, those days are over. Rejoice and move forward!

Some people focus on those days gone by when they were closer to the Lord than they are today. There is a solution begin to move forward again!

You can't win a race by looking in the rear view mirror! There must be diligence In the race. It will not do anyone any good if they only run half the race. 

When a NASCAR driver has problems in the beginning laps, do they quit the race? No they work on their car and try to get every lap back that they can so they can get the highest finishing position possible.

Why? Because they are not just focused on one race they are running for the championship at the end of the season. 

There will be times when we get beat up defeated and disheartened. There will be many days when we want to quit the race. We must press on We must have persistence in this race.

We can't just take the Christian life as it comes. We must attempt to reach the fullest potential for the Lord. Colossians 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

Do you have that type of determination in your life? Do you get up every day and set out to be exactly what God would have you be?

When a race car driver begins a race there is one thing on his mind “ The checkered flag. 

Paul wanted to finish well. When he reached the end of his life he was able to say that he accomplished the course “In 2 Tim 4:6-7 he says: For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:"

There Is A Prize At The End Of The Race “ v14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

NASCAR drivers say that winning the Daytona 500 is not about the money or the trophy, but the most important thing is the sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that comes in knowing that you have won the biggest race in the world.

There is a prize waiting for us as well. Notice what the Word of God says about this prize: 1 Corinthians 3:8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.

How is the race going for you? Are you where you should be. Are you reaching forth? Are you pressing toward the mark? Are you Pursuing The Prize?

January 12, 2014

Homework      Matthew 16:13-18

This morning, and during the coming week, I want you to think about three questions Jesus asked “ as recorded in the Bible. I think these are questions that He asks us today as well.

Imagine with me that Jesus is looking into your eyes. He has your complete undivided attention and you have His. And He asks you these questions. 
The first is this one. Who do YOU say I am?

When Jesus asked this of the disciples Peter responded, You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.

Jesus told him that he did not say this on his own. Flesh and blood did not give him this information. God had revealed this truth to Him. Peter came to this conclusion, not intellectually by studying the Scriptures or going to the Temple or going to the local seminary. God, the Holy Spirit had revealed this awesome truth to him.

I think God will reveal truth to us as well. As we seek; as we ask; as we knock on heaven's door “ we will hear the voice of God. As we learn to gaze upon the face of God He will reveal His will to us.

I want to challenge you to find a quiet spot this week and get alone with God and answer this question of Jesus' Who do you say I am?

Next question Jesus asked; Do you understand what I have done?

Here is the background.
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father.

The evening meal was in progress, Jesus wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, Lord, are you going to wash my feet? Jesus replied, You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand. No, said Peter, you shall never wash my feet.

Jesus answered, Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.
Then, Lord, Simon Peter replied, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. Do you understand what I have done for you? He asked them. John 13:1-12

I'm sure they didn't. Jesus went on to explain that He did it to leave them an example. He did it to teach them to humble themselves and put others before themselves.

But I wonder how many things we don't get. I wonder how many things we don't see. I wonder how much we just don't understand. 

Spend some time alone this week and try to answer His question, Do you understand what I have done for you?

Jesus is doing for us all the time. Every day He is at work in our lives. We are so unaware and unappreciative. Try to see His hand at work in your life and try to understand what He is doing. It should fill your heart with praise.

There are many reasons Jesus does what He does. For the disciples He did what He did for an example. Sometimes He does things for us to teach us something Maybe to teach us to trust Him or teach us patience.

Sometimes Jesus does something in our lives simply to bless us. He loves us and wants to see His children laugh and full of joy. There will be painful times and challenging times, but sometimes He does what He does simply to bless you.

I want to challenge you, in your quiet time, to think about what Jesus has done for you. Identify different things that Jesus has done in your life and then try to understand why He did them.

When Jesus asks you if you understand what He has done, like me, you may have to say, No, I don't. But I want to. Teach me. Explain your purpose to me. I think He will.

There is one last important question Jesus asks. It is: Do you love me.

After the crucifixion Peter and some of the other disciples went back to their old job they went fishing. They fished all night and caught nothing In the morning Jesus appears on the beach and shouts to them, Did you catch anything? No, they answered.(But they didn't realize it was Jesus)

He said, Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some. When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Then John said to Peter, It is the Lord! As soon as Peter heard him say, It is the Lord, he jumped into the water and headed for shore. 
When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it.

Jesus said to them, Bring some of the fish you have just caught.  When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Peter, Do you love me ?

Remember Peter had denied He even knew Jesus even after vowing he would die before denying Him. But He failed. When the rooster crowed for the third time and Jesus looked at Peter, Peter wept bitterly. He must have been so ashamed.

I think he was humiliated. He may have felt he had no right to follow the Lord “ So he went back to fishing. That was what he knew. That was his life.

But Jesus hunted him down for the sole purpose of restoring Him to his calling. In John 21:19 Jesus said to Peter: Follow me. And Peter did. He became that rock that Jesus said he was. And I think it was because he realized that Jesus loved him. He returned that love by serving Him for the rest of his life.

How would you answer Jesus if He asked you that question? Picture Jesus looking into your eyes and tenderly asking you, Do you love me?

It is easy to say we do “ but too many of us are making fishing our top priority instead of feeding the sheep. Do you understand what I'm saying? When Jesus calls us to follow Him, He has a purpose for us; He has a mission for us; He has a job for us. Do you know what yours is? Are you living a life of love for Jesus?

How do you respond to Jesus when He asks if you love Him? True love changes lives. When you met the guy or gal of your dreams it changed your life, didn't it. You might have had to move from the place you lived your whole life. You may have had to quit your job or school.

When you had that little bundle of joy “ it changed your life “ a LOT! You couldn't do what you wanted, when you wanted, with who you wanted. You had responsibilities “ because you were in love. You had commi'ents “ because you were in love.

Your Homework This week, gaze into the eyes of Jesus and respond to His query. Tell Him. Think about how you are expressing your love “ or how He wants you to express your love for Him. Take the time to answer these three questions of Jesus'.

1. Who do you say I am?
2. Do you understand what I have done?
3. Do you love me?

And may you to draw closer to Him and love Him even more.

January 5, 2014

The Church           Acts 2:42-47

God's original design for the church is found in the book Acts. If there was ever a church growth plan that worked, it was the one used by the first-century church.

Talk about effectiveness. This church exploded. Why? Because the believers knew why they were there and what they were supposed to do.

If we were to do a side by side comparison of the 1st century church and our church, I don't want us to come up short.

As I look at the Acts church and I look at our church, I can't help but notice that we are for the most part headed in the right direction.

Acts 2:42-47 shows us four foundational qualities:
They were a Worshipping Church
They were an Evangelizing Church
They were a Learning Church and
They were a Loving Church

Think of it like this, the First church was Worshipping, evangelizing, learning, and loving. So if we are going to do it right, we need to do it the same way. 

1. They were a Worshipping Church
In these verses we see that They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer and praising God.

The early church was built on prayer and worship.  The Bible teaches that we are put on this earth primarily to know and walk with the God who made us and to bring glory to His name.

John 4:23 tells us: But the time is coming and is already here when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.

Worshipping in Spirit and in Truth means worshipping with our minds and hearts. True worship requires both. You worship in Truth when you know who you are worshipping & why.

This is why studying your Bible and worship go hand in hand. Worship is going to be more effective when it is based on an accurate understanding of who God is. 

Our worship of God must engage the mind, but it must also engage our heart. 

2. They were an Evangelistic Church...They shared their faith with others.  

The last verse that we read says: the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

As we read the accounts of the first church, it becomes clear that literally everything they did included evangelism.

Proclaiming Christ was never seen as optional. It was never a job handed out to a special committee. EVANGELISM HAPPENED REGULARLY AS THE EARLY BELIEVERS LIVED THEIR LIVES. As they did, they aroused curiosity with unbelievers.

Some churches today actually debate Jesus' command to go into all the world and make disciples of all men. Some go so far as to say that they are not called to be evangelistic.

When I am glorifying God, when I am built up as a believer, I want to go and share my faith. WE TALK ABOUT WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO US!!!

 The early believers had been touched by Jesus; He had forever changed their lives, so much so that they were willing to give their lives for Him. 

Evangelism was not a planned event; it was a natural outgrowth of a healthy relationship with Christ. The early believers took everyday situations and turned them into opportunities to share the Gospel. 

They stepped out in faith and spoke the truth of the Gospel and God showed up!!! An evangelistic church is a place where the gospel is shared.

3. They were a Learning Church
Verse 42 says: They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching 

This is essential to a healthy church, a commi'ent to preaching and learning God's Word. At the time of the first church, this meant listening to the apostles' teaching and reading the Scriptures that they had at that point.

But also notice the words they continued steadfastly. Keep in mind that this means not only that the apostles taught faithfully and continually but that that congregation was faithful to continue in “ (To learn and keep growing in)- what was taught.

2 Timothy 2:15, Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (KJV)

As individuals and as a church we should have a hunger for the Word of God.

And last They were a Loving Church

Verse 44: All the believers were together and had everything in common. and a little later it says they: enjoying the favor of all the people.

This description illustrates just how literally we're called to love one another. The reason the early church could share their possessions was that they were actually living out the second great commandment to love their neighbor as themselves.

We see that their unity and love were so powerful that all the people thought well of them.

Who wouldn't want to join in on such a love fest where everyone was cared about and accepted? As a result, their numbers exploded and thousands came to Christ!

When we are talking about being a loving church we are talking about a people that are connected to one another in close fellowship and people who serve one another in true ministry.

Jesus said in Matthew 19:19 Love your neighbor as yourself. What would happen if we truly began to take Jesus at His world and live this way?

What would this do to our church? Can you imagine how different things would be if we operated by this principle?

What would it be like if we really were as concerned about others' happiness, problems, and disappoin'ents as we are about our own?

Our love one for another is one of our greatest witnesses to the world. It backs up everything that we are trying to do and say to the unbeliever.

Remember in Acts all the believers were as one? The response was a daily adding to their numbers. People came to Jesus because they saw how Christians loved each other.

Worshipping, evangelizing, learning, and loving. Are we a perfect church? No But as I said earlier we are headed in the right direction.

 

 

 

 Psalms 126:5 (KJV)
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
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