A message from the series "Joy Unchained." Memorial Day has reminded us of sacrifice. We are thankful for those who have given their all for the country and people they love. Sacrifice never comes easy and that is why Paul's letter to the Philippians holds what might be the two most challenging verses for fallen humans. What do you think? Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4 We are called to find ways to serve and bless our brothers and sisters in Christ. According to Paul this is the secret sauce to a healthy and thriving church. Simply put, humility creates unity. The church can be a fragile thing. Pride and arrogance on the part of a few can undermine what takes years to build and mature. So how do you get the resources to pursue the unity that comes from humility? Every one of those resources comes from Jesus. You can't be humble without contentment. Jesus gives us contentment. You can't be humble while being insecure. Jesus gives us security. You can't be humble without having a model. Jesus is our model. Jesus prayed for you and me. He prayed for those who would come to know him. Of all the requests he could make on our behalf, he asks this of the Father... “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17:20-21 You can't be humble without experiencing humility from others. Jesus will humble himself all the way to the cross so that you can believe he was sent by God!
A message from the series "Joy Unchained." It's been said that all of man's life is one long attempt to avoid death. But then someone you love dies. You attend the service honoring his or her life. Depending on your age, you might think for longer than a minute about your own memorial and then you push it aside. Still, someday people will be talking about you in the past tense. The apostle Paul was faced with this thought time and again. Perhaps now more than ever because he is a prisoner of Rome and that usually doesn't end well. Especially for a Christian living under the reign of Nero. Paul reveals his attitude... "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Philippians 1:21 In other words, he's saying, "It doesn’t matter if I live or die, either way, I win." Paul's worldview allowed him to face anything. His circumstances didn't define him, rather his faith defined his circumstances. You see Paul has answered the question, “What am I doing here? Why am I on this planet?” His outlook was both realistic and hopeful as if to say, "Death is not bothersome and yes life is hard, but I don’t want you to be discouraged because of me. I'm doing fine; I know why I'm here and I know where I'm going!" This is a cause for a great celebration my friends. Jesus has answered life's most pressing questions for you and me!
A message from the series "Joy Unchained." I'm very excited to announce "Joy Unchained" is the new series beginning this Sunday. It's a study in the book of Philippians which is written by the apostle Paul while a prisoner of Rome. What would he want to tell us while wearing the chains? The message is simply this: there is joy in adversity. I don't remember much about the early years of my public school education. I do remember feeling anxious. I also remember not fully trusting my parents when they said the experience would be good for me. "Yeah right, how could being around kids I've never met and in a new environment be good for me??" Eventually I gave in and it worked. I made a lot of new friends. Have you noticed this spiritual principle? God often has to "shake us up" to move us beyond where we are in life. As the country begins to reopen we find a variety of (and oftentimes heated) opinions regarding safety, security and sanitization. There were big challenges as we entered quarantine but there might be bigger ones as we re-engage. It seems that everyone is in one of two places. We are either entering adversity or we are coming out of adversity but either way we can know that this is not the last adversity we will ever face. So what is the secret to finding joy in adversity? Paul gives us the answer and it's not found in something but in someone.
A message from the series "For Such A Time As This!." Esther's story is a great one. She is taken from total obscurity to national prominence as Queen of the Persian empire. But there's a twist. She's a Jew and Jews were about to fall on hard times because of a racist scoundrel named Haman. For now, Esther has kept her ethnicity a secret. However, she will be asked to take a risk to save her people. She doesn't want to do it because she's interested in maintaining her palace lifestyle. What would compel Esther to take a stand? The grace of God. Her cousin Mordecai gives a simple but compelling speech. This changes Esther's perception of the world and her place in it. He says, "And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” This phrase is in the passive tense. Literally, it means, "brought about by another." Esther's position as queen was a door opened for her by God. When God is in it, there is no risk. She used her position to save her people. Does this sound familiar? Jesus would use his position to offer salvation to all people. Esther lived, but Jesus would die. Christian, do you fear taking risks for God? The grace of Jesus toward you and me dispels that risk. So perhaps now more than ever God is giving you open doors of opportunity to reflect the image of his son Jesus Christ - for such a time as this!
A message from the series "For Such A Time As This!." The story of Daniel and the lion's den is a Sunday school favorite. But it's not just for kids. The faith of Daniel is for every Christian who wants to please God in all circumstances. Have you ever thought about why God allows the lions in our lives? The answer is found in the outcome of the story. Through the witness of Daniel, his faith, and the faithfulness and power of God, an entire nation came to know and revere the Lord. The Persian king himself proclaims, “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end.” Daniel's entire life reminds me of what Jesus said about being different. Jesus said his followers should be like salt. What does salt do? It enhances the taste of food. Christians should be people who enhance every environment they enter. However, in ancient times they didn’t have salt shakers, instead, they used salt as a preservative. Salt keeps things from decaying and it prevents food from spoiling. This is the ministry of every Christian. We go out as little salt shakers. What comes out of us inhibits the decay of sin in others because we carry the gospel. This is what Jesus did. He reached out to everyone. Now, this is easier said than done because salt goes where things are falling apart; salt enters what is decaying. The world is coming apart. Our current circumstances are creating new and amplifying old pains. Daniel's life is a strong reminder that faithfulness is the key. What lions are you facing today? There is only one way to be saved from those lions and that is through faith in God. We are also reminded that Jesus was placed into the den of death and came out alive; and because of that every lion’s den we encounter has already been dealt with!
A message from the series "For Such A Time As This!." The story of Daniel is the story of worship. In our lives today, there is a constant battle for our worship's attention. King Nebuchadnezzar commanded all people in his kingdom, including those in high and low esteem, to bow down and worship the golden image when they heard the sound of the musical instruments being played. The strategy of the enemy is at all costs to get us to look away from the Lord to a “golden image” of our circumstances, and be ensnared in the “sound” which creates an atmosphere of fear, panic and confusion around us. Daniel and his friends had determined to look upon God and tune out the sounds. "We will not bow down!" This would come with a great threat. The king was angered, the furnace's fires were made hotter and Daniel's friends were tossed in. But God can take the fires of the enemy and turn them against himself. Nebuchadnezzar saw a fourth man walking in the flames alongside these young men. He describes him like this, "looking like a son of a god." Isn't that interesting? This is the way the gospel writers describe Jesus: the God-man. Jesus always walks with us in our fiery trials. His presence will make the fire of our trials something supernatural and situations will turn around from hopeless to hope-filled and beyond! This is why we worship Him, for He alone is worthy!
A message from the series "For Such A Time As This!." Most change brings pressure. Christians know what God does with pressure. He turns ordinary stones into gems. This is the history of God's people. There was pressure on Abraham as he left his homeland. There was pressure on the nation of Israel under Egyptian rule. Daniel felt the pain of leaving his home overnight and being squeezed into Babylonian culture. Esther's pressure revealed that she was created, "for such a time as this." Christian, you need to be reminded of this right now. There's a word frequently used to describe current worldwide events: unprecedented. I would like to reframe this word. These are unprecedented times for the gospel. Christianity was built for this moment because we have what the world is longing for. For the next four weeks, we'll be looking at the lives of several faithful saints who have gone before us. We'll walk in the shoes of these men and women and discover what it takes to be a life-giving force in a pressure-filled world that his hurting. For such a time as this!
A message from the series "Easter 2020."
A message from the series "Good Friday 2020."
A message from the series "Palm Sunday." Matthew 21:1-13 It's becoming increasingly common for people to ask, "Is the Coronavirus God's judgment?" The answer is yes and no. Disease and virus are the results of what took place in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve sinned all of creation became a broken and cursed place. Romans 8:22 explains... "For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now." The Garden of Eden experience brought another pandemic that entered the world: death. Not all disruptions are a form of judgment. Instead, they are meant to get our attention. Pandemics terrify us. They cause us to ask, "What about me? What happens if it gets serious? What happens if I die? What's next???" Jesus came to answer these questions. He came to reverse the curse and the events of Passion Week prove it. At the beginning of the week, he will arrive announcing his kingship. But by the end of the week, we see that this kingdom is very different. No white war horse for him. He'll ride a donkey. No golden crown for him. He'll wear a crown of thorns. It's all necessary for him to answer your, "What's next for me?" question. So take heart Christian, your king has arrived!