Christmas Gingerbread House Contest 2018

For the last several years, our family has had a Gingerbread House contest at Christmas. Our kids and their spouses have taken edible ingredients and built a gingerbread house (or related structure) and, being the competitive creatures they are, they want to know “who won?”  So YOU will determine the winner!  Look these over and post your vote in the poll below. We’ll let you know “Who won?” both here and on Facebook at 6 p.m. on Christmas Day! Continue reading

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“Comforting or Convicting? 4 Tests of Genuine Salvation” (I John sermon)

One of the most common questions people in our churches have is, “How can I know for sure if I’m really saved?” That’s NOT a silly question. If there really is life after death — and the Bible tells us there is — then there is nothing more important than knowing for sure that you have eternal life in heaven.

So how can you know?
— Some people say, “Well, if you ‘made a decision’ at some point in your life, then you can know that you’re saved. But Jesus said in Matthew 7, “NOT everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” So you can’t know you’re saved just because you’ve “made a decision” some time and claimed that Jesus was your Lord.
— Other people say, “Well, if you were baptized, you can know.” But Paul talks in I Corinthians 10 about how they were “all baptized,” but “nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased.” In other words, people are not saved just because they’ve been baptized.

So how CAN you know? Thankfully God’s word gives us the answer to this. And one of the best places where we can test ourselves and get assurance for our salvation is in the Book of I John which we read a few days ago in our Daily Bible Reading. I John 5:13 gives us the purpose of the book. It says: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may KNOW that you have eternal life.” So John says the central purpose of this book is to give Christians the assurance of their salvation. And it does that by giving us a series of tests throughout this book, about some of the things which will be present in the life of a person who is genuinely saved. So as a person reads these tests, they should either be COMFORTED, because they see that these things are really present in their life and they are really a Christian, or they should be CONVICTED, because they don’t really see them in their life, and they will realize they are not really saved. Which is it for you? Let’s look at some of the tests God gives us here in I John, of the genuine Christian. Will this COMFORT you, or CONVICT you? Continue reading

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“Standing By The Cross” (John 19:25 message)

One of my favorite stories of the Civil War is of a Union officer whose unit was coming under particularly heavy fire from the Confederate cannon.  Someone rode up to him and said they thought they knew why they were getting so much heat: this officer had posted “Old Glory,” the American flag, in such a prominent position overhead, that it made a great target for all the Confederate artillery, and they were focused on bringing it down. They suggested to him that he move his flag to some less conspicuous position and it might lessen the fire. But the officer looked up at the flag and said: “Let it wave high; it is our glory.” In just a few moments that officer fell to Confederate fire. But he stood by his “glory” to the end.

Just as our country’s flag is the glory of the patriot; so the cross of Jesus Christ is the glory of the Christian. And just as the soldier is called to stand by his flag; so we as Christians are called to stand by the cross of Jesus Christ.

I love the picture of :25 here when it says: “Therefore the soldiers did these things. But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene.” Continue reading

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“Heaven’s Comfort For Earth’s Disappointments” (John 13:34-14:6 sermon)

How many of you had some pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving week?  Well, I hate to disappoint you, but an article came out last week, with the headline, “Canned pumpkin isn’t actually pumpkin.” You know, those cans of Libby’s and other cans of “pumpkin” that many of us use to make our pumpkin pie filling? The article says there isn’t really that much pumpkin in those at all. It says government regulations are very lenient on what “counts as pumpkin,” so what you actually get in those cans is mostly butternut squash, not pumpkin. A professor friend of ours at Michael’s school posted that article on Facebook last week, with the disappointing comment: “I feel like my whole life up to this point has been a lie.”  

Well he was joking of course. But in reality we DO experience great disappointments in life, that really challenge us. Jesus’ disciples in this passage were experiencing some great disappointment — but they also heard some of the greatest words of hope from Jesus, that can comfort us as well. First, His disciples experienced: Continue reading

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“He Will Hold Me Fast” (John 10:27-29 sermon)

We have SO many blessings to count this Thanksgiving season, don’t we? But surely one of THE greatest blessings we have to give thanks for as God’s people, is the SECURITY of our salvation in Jesus Christ — that “HE will hold us fast” and will not let us go. 

One of our men told me just a few days ago, that he was SO glad that he didn’t have to worry, when he lay down his head at night, if he was still saved, and right with God. One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the gift of knowing for sure that we are saved. These verses in John 10 that many of us read this week, and that we read again a few moments ago, are among the strongest in the New Testament regarding the eternal security of the genuine believer in Christ: 

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

These verses contain at least FIVE strong statements from Jesus regarding the security of the salvation of His genuine sheep: Continue reading

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“Working The Works Of God” (John 9 sermon)

You can definitely tell that it’s fall now — not only from the temperatures, but also from all the leaves that are falling. I spend a good deal of time Thursday afternoon gathering and burning over 11 wheelbarrows packed with leaves from our yard. And now today you can’t even tell that I did it!

I was telling Keith & Amanda & Jane about doing the leaves the other day and Keith & Amanda were telling me that when Keith gets out with his big “backpack leaf blower,” that Zeb also goes out with a little battery operated blower and “helps” dad with the leaves. That’s a sweet picture isn’t it? The son, helping in his father’s work.

Well as the children of God, it is one of our great privileges — and a calling for each of us — to help our Heavenly Father with His work here on earth too. In John 9 here Jesus said: “WE must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day.” When Jesus said “WE” there, that meant that His followers are also to be involved in His Father’s work, just like He Himself was. Let’s look together at this passage and see some things that help us as we “work the works of God”, our Heavenly Father: Continue reading

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“On The Road With Jesus” (John 4 sermon)

One of best ways to learn about someone is to spend some time on the road with them. I remember reading an article by the renowned actor, Charlton Heston (who played Moses in the classic 1956 movie “The Ten Commandments”). Heston was conservative politically, and was supporting Ronald Regan as he ran for office, so one time he went on the road with him. People had sometimes suggested to Heston that he follow in Reagan’s steps and run for office, but he said spending that time on the road with Reagan taught him a lot of lessons, among them being how HARD it is to be a candidate like that: how hard the travel is; how many meetings there are; and how many people to try to meet and keep happy. He said he could tell that Reagan just “fed” off of the people; he said the more he met, the happier he seemed to be, and the more energized. But Heston said all that would have killed him! So he learned some things about politics, and about himself, while “on the road” with Ronald Reagan.

This is one of the reasons why Jesus took His disciples “on the road” with Him: so that they could spend time with Him, and learn from Him. And they did learn amazing lessons that they would carry with them for the rest of their lives. You and I did not get that opportunity to personally walk with Jesus like they did, but through God’s word, we can “virtually” go “on the road” with Jesus and His disciples in their trip to Samaria in John 4, and as we do, there are a number of lessons we can learn from it: Continue reading

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