“Culture-blind” — or Cowardly?

In Washington Irving’s delightful The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, the author journals about his attendance at a venerable English country church: “The congregation was composed of the neighboring people of rank, who sat in pews sumptuously lined and cushioned, furnished with richly gilded prayer-books, and decorated with their arms upon the pew doors; of the villagers and peasantry, who filled the back seats and a small gallery beside the organ; and of the poor of the parish, who were ranged on benches in the aisles.” (The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, “The Country Church,” Washington Irving, p. 104)

One is immediately struck by the incongruity of the church seating arrangement: the wealthy enjoying lavishly decorated pews, but the poor unceremoniously inhabiting the back seats, and benches on the aisles. It is such a flagrant violation of the command of James 2: Continue reading

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“Ambassadors For Christ” (II Corinthians 5:20 sermon)

According to a recent article in Politico magazine, the American ambassador to Germany is not the most popular man in that country today. In fact, he is very unpopular. But part of the problem is the fact that he is representing his president, Donald Trump, and many of the president’s policies are just not popular in Germany. But the article pointed out that in German, the word for ambassador is Botschafter, which, translated literally into English, means “messenger.” As such, our ambassador is not to be judged on how “popular” he may be among the Germans to whom he is sent, but on how faithfully he represents the message of the President who sent him. That is what an ambassador does. He is to represents his leader and conveys his messages to the citizens of the country in which he temporarily serves.

So II Corinthians 5:20 says a lot of things to us as Christians when it calls us “AMBASSADORS for Christ.” It’s saying that we are Christ’s representatives to this world. Like an ambassador, we live in this place temporarily, but we are representing heaven, and we are here to share heaven’s message with the world — and we will be judged ultimately NOT on how popular or successful we are here in this world, but by how faithfully we represent our King while we are here.

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Continue reading

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“The Gospel” (I Corinthians 15:1-11 sermon)

One of our family’s favorite movies, especially when our kids were at home, was “The Princess Bride.” Many of its lines were quoted at home in our daily conversations — and still are, on our family Facebook chat group. Of course one of the most famous lines of the show is where the evil architect, Vezzini, keeps saying, “Inconceivable,” to a series of events, and Inigo Montoya finally says: “You keep using that word; I don’t think it means what you think it means”! 

Well, there are a lot of words which people use today, and you wonder if they know what they really mean. One of them is the word “gospel.” You hear that word all the time: “gospel music,” “gospel preaching,” “gospel choir”, “gospel singing,” and even “the gospel truth.” But what does “gospel” really mean? 

As many of you know, the word “gospel” literally means “good news.” It’s the same in the New Testament: “eu-angellion,” means “good message,” or “good news.” But even understanding that “gospel” means “good news,” many do not really know just what that “good news” IS. Thankfully we had the blessing this last week of reading in our daily Bible readings, this passage in I Corinthians 15 which tells us all about “the gospel.” 

Paul begins :1 saying, “Now I make known to you brethren, the GOSPEL …”.  Let’s look together at what God tells us in this passage about The Gospel: Continue reading

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“Warnings From The Wilderness” (I Corinthians 10:1-13 sermon)

21stonesspan-master768-v2On the coastline of Japan, by the little village of Aneyoshi, is an ancient stone tablet. Engraved on this tablet is a somber warning: “Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes beyond this point.” In 2011, as you may remember, a great tsunami did indeed strike the coast of Japan. Every home in Aneyoshi, built above that warning marker, survived — unlike thousands of others along the coast who ignored that warning, and over 29,000 people were killed when the tsunami struck. The people of Aneyoshi wisely listened to the ancient warning, and were saved.

Here in I Corinthians 10 God gives us a warning, from the history of His people, to which, if we are wise, we will also pay close attention:  Continue reading

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“Gaining The Glory” (II Thessalonians 2:14 sermon)

Samuel Rutherford was a Puritan who pastored in Scotland in the 1600’s. He was persecuted by the government for his Biblical beliefs, and was banished from his church. Rutherford is noted for many things, including his famous “Letters” he wrote to a number of his congregants while he was in exile — and also for the last words he uttered on his death bed. Just before he died, Rutherford was heard to whisper: “Glory, glory dwelleth in Emmanuel’s land!” What was this “glory” that Samuel Rutherford looked forward to in his last moments here on earth, and how can we know that we have it ourselves? Our verse for today talks about that glory: 

“It was for this he called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (II Thessalonians 2:14)  Continue reading

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“The People of God” (Joshua sermon)

This week we will be celebrating the 242nd anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and the founding of our nation. Most of us are very proud to be Americans, and are grateful to God for the blessings that He has given us through our country.  And yet, the greatest privilege we have, is NOT being the people called “Americans.” Our greatest standing is found in being The People of GOD. 

Usually on Sunday mornings we focus on ONE particular scripture which we read the previous week in our Bible readings. This morning we are going to deviate from that just a little bit, by looking at several passages across the great Book of Joshua which we have been reading, which together give us a picture of what we are supposed to be as the people of God.  Continue reading

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“The Children of God” (Deut.33:3 sermon)

Not everyone pictures a relationship with a Heavenly Father as being good. I just finished reading a biography of Charles Lindbergh, the first man to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. We aren’t as familiar with him today, but he was the most famous man in the world after he made that crossing in 1927. But despite his accomplishments, Lindbergh, by all accounts, was not the best father to his kids. He was a very accomplished man, so he expected much out of his children. He was always lecturing them, and setting very lofty goals for them. One son in particular rebelled against this, and for much of his adult life, he was totally estranged from his father. 

Because of earthly relationships like this, some of us here today may have less-than-good pictures in our minds of our Heavenly Father. Maybe you think of Him as a stern lecturer, or as a heavy taskmaster. But if that’s the picture you have, we need to correct it with the word of God. One of the verses we read last Monday in Deuteronomy gives us a Biblical picture of the relationship between God and His people: 

Deuteronomy 33:3 says: “Indeed, He LOVES the people, all Your holy ones are in Your hand, and they followed in Your steps and everyone receives of Your words.”

Here we find an amazing picture of the relationship between God and His people: Continue reading

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