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!
A message from the series "Jonah ." You need some good news and encouragement right about now. Let me give it to you. Your life is in God's hands. There's never a moment when he doesn't watch over you. How's this for comfort... "You have seen me tossing and turning through the night. You have collected all my tears and preserved them in your bottle! You have recorded every one in your book." Psalm 56:8 The whole world has pushed the paused button and continues practicing social distancing. (I prefer "physical distancing" because we need to stay social.) The results are starting to come in. Families are reconnecting around the dinner table. Americans are tuning in to church services they once left. People are checking in on neighbors. Disruptions cause us to pause and think about what's important to us. Our man Jonah has come to the last chapter of his story. Let me forewarn you. It doesn't end the way we want it to end. You see, he hasn't learned from the disruptions in his life. God is showing Jonah the lack of love in his heart but he doesn't see it. He is bothered by the fact that God would remove his earthly comforts. In fact, he cares more about his own security than the salvation of thousands of people. Jonah failed to accept God's larger plan for the common good. This is important. God cares deeply about the common good of all people. The simplest acts of kindness will not be forgotten during times of crisis. And neither will selfish ones. Be encouraged Christian, you have a part to play in showing the world what you really believe about your God. A friend of mine said it well: "Christians should be washing their hands, not wringing them!"
A message from the series "Jonah ." Fear is the world's most powerful motivator. Fear will paralyze our actions, consume our minds and make us forget who we are. Remember, the devil is a thief and he loves to steal our peace. So it's good to have this verse in our minds and hearts... "For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." 2 Timothy 1:7 Power Love Self-Control It's the power of God that gives us the ability to love and exercise self-control. Jonah was called to minister to lost people caught up in the fears of life apart from their creator God. Jonah didn't want to do it. He ran. God pursued. God gave Jonah a second chance. From the belly of the fish Jonah exclaimed, "Salvation comes from the Lord!" These are the days of disruption. God has ordained them for you and me. These are the times for which God calls us to imitate Jesus Christ. Let's not run away from them but rather let's run toward them. It's the Spirit of God that helps us overcome the spirit of fear. Can we pray this together? "Lord, you have given us your son to prove you love us. You have given us your Spirit to empower us. Give us now your compassionate heart and lead us as we minister to those in need. All for your glory!"
A message from the series "Jonah ." Some of the most accomplished people on the planet will tell you about the failures that came before the successes. Although I prefer Popeye's, the Colonel makes some great chicken. You're probably familiar with his story. In retirement he started traveling by car to different restaurants and cooked his fried chicken on the spot for restaurant owners. If the owner liked it, they would enter into a handshake agreement to sell the tasty birds. Sounds easy right? Did you know he was turned down 1009 times before his chicken was accepted once! He was considered a failure, but his story was just beginning. By 1964 Harland Sanders had 600 franchises selling his trademark recipe. Many of us have had some epic failures. Jonah can relate. He ran away from God. This always leads to a dark and desperate destination. He finds himself wrapped in seaweed under the raging waters of a storm. Previously he was down in the belly of a ship hiding, now he's down in the depths of the sea drowning. Jonah can't get any lower but God hasn't abandoned him. God interrupts our lives with storms in order to get our attention. Why? Because the human heart can't simply be told it is sinful, it has to be shown, and oftentimes this comes through brutal experience. It's not until we are under extreme distress that we call out to God. In the bottom of the pit we have nowhere to look but up. Sometimes God brings us out and sometimes we see him coming down to us, giving us the gift of his presence so that we might know peace in the midst of our storms.
A message from the series "Jonah ." When my kids were little we played a game that took "hide and seek" to the next level. They loved it when I turned out the lights while they hid themselves in the house. Then after one minute I would quietly seek to find them. They could never keep it together. When I got close they would scream with excitement, run from their hiding spots and flee my presence in terror. But it didn’t matter. Back then I was faster and stronger and would always catch them; take them up in my arms and rub my whiskers on their little faces while they squirmed and laughed. You can’t outrun dad’s affections. The story of Jonah is about a man who tried to outrun God. Jonah should have known better, after all, he was a prophet. He signed up to be God’s man to do God’s work. But he didn’t agree with the plans. He thought he knew better. Things didn’t make sense to him. He had extreme prejudices. Why would God want to give grace to his enemies? Why would God want to save a city full of wicked people? The problem is that Jonah didn’t see himself as a recipient of God’s grace. Therefore he didn’t believe grace should be given to others. God’s grace is just that good. It’s for the self-righteous and the unrighteous. God wants to give grace to our city too. So let’s learn from Jonah’s example and let’s not run from God’s desire to reach our home. Let’s experience God’s transforming grace together!
A message from the series "99 + 1." Sources used for this series include commentary by John Piper, Tim Keller, Colin Smith sermons at unlockingthebible.org, Henri Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son and Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. We live in a time when this question will be answered a hundred different ways. But there is only one answer that matters and it comes from Jesus. His response carries by far the most weight because as he said himself, “I came from heaven.” So it makes sense for the man who has been there to speak about how to get there. This is the conversation Jesus has with a very religious man named Nicodemus. This guy thought he had everything figured out. He was safely traveling down the road that would lead to an eternity with God, after all, he was doing all the right things… but he was dead wrong. It’s as if he was asking Jesus for some advice on how to decorate his house and Jesus says, “Tear it down, scrape the foundation and start over.” No amount of personal effort will get you to heaven and you’ll have to give up all your “good” work. You must experience a total rebirth; "born again," you might say. Jesus concludes the conversation by giving Nicodemus the answer he needs with just one word: “Look.” Nicodemus has only to look upon Jesus and find the way to heaven. What a relief this is. You can’t get to heaven by being good or by being religious. You must look to Jesus for salvation. But it gets even sweeter because Jesus gives the motivation for his coming to earth from heaven. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16. What do our “1’s” need from us this week? They need to know the love of God expressed through Jesus Christ. So let’s pray and act and speak and show them this great love!
A message from the series "99 + 1." This week we’ll be discussing the most important concept in the Bible. Yes, I know that’s a big statement, right? So here’s the thing…if you don’t understand this concept you will not be able to relate to God, Jesus or yourself. You won’t have personal joy or the motivation to serve others. There will be a consistent groan deep within your heart as it searches for what will give it life. I’m talking about the concept of grace. There’s a little known story tucked into the Old Testament and in my opinion, it is one of the greatest testimonies of grace in the Bible. Have you heard the name Mephibosheth? Well, you should. He was a recipient of kindness. He did not deserve it, he could not earn it and he could never repay it. That’s the definition of grace itself and it is the most beautiful truth in God’s Word. Jesus is described as full of truth and grace and when we give grace to others, then we take on the character of Jesus Himself. Grace really does change everything!