Archive for the ‘ Church ’ Category

Topical Children’s Lesson: Palm Sunday – Matthew 21:1-11

This is still happening online because of the current mandate for isolation for the C-19 pandemic.

As I, Daniel, am preaching for Palm Sunday, my lovely other-half, Caitlin – who is our Children’s Director at the Church Next Door – recorded a related lesson! Therefore, instead of my wonky mug, you can see her lovely face this week!

So, gather up the kiddos (or enjoy this at any age), and enjoy the collab between a youth pastor and children’s director:

Questions to consider:

Have you had to change your thinking about something? Think of a time you thought you knew what your parents or your friends were doing, but you were wrong.

Even when you have been wrong, did your family still love you? Did you change your mind or make different choices when you found out the truth?

Palm Sunday – Matthew 21:1-11

Jesus is the Son of God, God’s only Son by birth.

He was coming to save us from our sin, but how did the people see Him?

On the first Palm Sunday, when the people laid down palm branches for this king they had been expecting, they had no idea what his real mission was.

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
    humble, and mounted on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

They saw:

  • A king coming to change the government
  • A leader kicking out the bad army
  • A prophet, a person who speaks God’s word, making God’s house great again.

Look at verse 11 (read again), here comes Jesus, the one everyone is calling the Savior of Israel! Finally! Here is a great prophet and king like Moses or David! He will save us!

The people expected Jesus to change the government, kick out the bad army, and make Israel God’s country, again. He did kick out the businesses selling in the Temple. And He corrected the teachers for teaching the Bible wrong.

And then Jesus, knowing what the people expected of Him, did something unexpected. He was arrested, beaten up, and killed on a cross.

They did not understand that Jesus had to save us from our sins before He stopped all the bad guys.

Remember, Jesus took everyone’s punishment for sin by giving His life, and He gives us righteousness. That does not mean he will remove all of our problems now, but He will provide the solution.

And Jesus our Prophet, speaking the word of God, did promise that His first triumphal entry into Jerusalem was not His last. He is coming back to change the world and stop all of the bad things from happening forever. And we will be with Him forever on a new Earth.

Today is Palm Sunday, everyone, and our King is coming!

Memory verse:

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Revelation 22:20

Topical message: The God Who … Slays?

If you are unable to attend a church at this time, may this short message help get you through. Obviously, it is preferable to get together to sing praises, pray, read Scripture, and hear the Word preached.

Regardless, may this message be a blessing to you in some way.

Topical Message: The God Who … Slays?

I guess we can consider this part two of the C-19 response series.

Last time we looked at whether the church staying apart during something like a pandemic is biblically okay. (Basically, yes, though far from ideal.)

This time, I am going to tackle one of those difficult questions: Does God send various calamities – such as C-19, locusts, earthquakes, and famines – against people, nations, and various groups?

There are two passages to consider.

The first is found in Luke 13:1-5:

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

The other passage is Amos 4:6-10:

“I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places, yet you did not return to me,” declares the Lord. “I also withheld the rain from you when there were yet three months to the harvest; I would send rain on one city, and send no rain on another city; one field would have rain, and the field on which it did not rain would wither; so two or three cities would wander to another city to drink water, and would not be satisfied; yet you did not return to me,” declares the Lord.

“I struck you with blight and mildew; your many gardens and your vineyards, your fig trees and your olive trees the locust devoured; yet you did not return to me,” declares the Lord. “I sent among you a pestilence after the manner of Egypt; I killed your young men with the sword, and carried away your horses, and I made the stench of your camp go up into your nostrils; yet you did not return to me,” declares the Lord.

So, what do these two passages tell us?

  1. Sometimes people really deserve what they get! But they do not always get what they deserve, at least in this life;
  2. And sometimes God does send war, famine, pestilence, and pain as judgment.

We should talk about this.

Let’s start with that second point: God sending these things. We see through Amos and the other Old Testament accounts that God sent the plagues on Egypt (Amos 4:10), and we know long before that He sent the flood waters in the time of Noah. Further, we get to the Revelation at the end of the Bible, and we see that God’s wrath is literally poured out on the entire Earth because they have rejected God.

And of course, we see the highlight of the whole Bible, when God’s wrath was poured out on the Man on the cross. This points back to the first point: people do not always get what they deserve. As Christians, we appreciate this, because we know that humanity deserves God’s wrath and judgment. Yet, we do not get what we deserve thanks to God’s grace poured out to us through the cross.

But what about the rest of the world?

In the Luke passage, we see that Pontius Pilate deserved punishment from God by mixing the blood of Galileans in with the sacrifices. Yet, he lived much of his life in relative comfort. Conversely, those Galileans and the eighteen killed by the tower falling did not necessarily do anything wrong.

This brings up two other quick points:

  1. Is it so bad to die? If we are true followers of Christ, no! As Paul said, in 2 Corinthians 5:1-10:
    For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
    So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

    So, for those apart from Christ, it is bad to die, because they still face judgment and wrath. But we Christians await judgment and glory with Christ.

    And, we must also recognize, God is our Creator. As Romans 9 reminds us, who are we to question the Potter? Just as we may create something – say, a bowl – and then throw it away later, why can’t our Creator do the same? Compared to God, we are nothing: clay. Yet, He still chooses to save us or let us reject Him. Which leads to …
  2. The other point is that God may not directly send these things, but He does allow them.

Make no mistake. God is still in complete control. He lets natural processes play out. And we may ask why, because, if He is all-powerful (omnipotent), then He can stop these things from happening.

But as I have said numerous times, if people keep saying they want nothing to do with God, that they push Him away and call Him evil, why should He stop these things or protect them from these things? We know God can control illnesses (Plagues in Egypt, Exodus 7-12), the movements of the Earth (see Korah’s rebellion in Numbers 16) and the weather (Noah’s flood in Genesis 6-9 and Elijah’s praying for rain in 1 Kings 17-18), and even the Sun’s motion (Joshua 10). He can stop these things from happening or getting worse, but the majority of the world’s population says, “We don’t need you!” Then they blame Him for those things!

So, now that we know God does send some things and allows others, how do we respond?

We can blame God for all the problems in this world and fear what will happen to us in this life. And then the life to come.

Or we can remember that we live in a rebellious world, fallen into chaos because of our own (collective) sin, and that God is still in control. It is not pleasant to suffer, and I will not judge anyone for fearing that suffering. But we can rest in the hope that the One who suffered for our sins on the cross has promised He is coming again, and we will be with Him in comfort and joy for all eternity.

Therefore, believe that Jesus was the perfect man and Son of God, who saw us in our sin and rebellion but came to offer us grace and forgiveness by dying on the cross for our forgiveness of sin, that He rose again to life, and that He now sits at the right hand of the Father until He comes again. Then, you can know you will escape the final judgment of the Earth.

Topical message: Illnesses, Quarantines, and the Bible

If you are unable to attend a church at this time, may this short message help get you through. Obviously, it is preferable to get together to sing praises, pray, read Scripture, and hear the Word preached.

Regardless, may this message be a blessing to you in some way.

Topical Message: Illnesses, Quarantines, and the Bible

At the time of making this, we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. School and business closures, self-quarantining, limited numbers of people allowed to gather, and “social-distancing” (staying at least six feet apart) are affecting all of us. It can be difficult, problematic, and even annoying (especially seeing the empty shelves at the store.)

Many people are talking about even churches being told to stop services, which has led some to be concerned about regularly meeting, some to complain, and some to say this is a government overreach.

We should talk about these.

Firstly, we must ask ourselves, “What about the admonition in Hebrews 10:23-25 to keep meeting together?”

This is a valid point. We do live in the age of the internet, making it easier to have church together at a distance. (Look at this, right here!) My little church, The Church Next Door, is holding Zoom services for the next few weeks, because we meet in a school building, now closed by state mandate. Even if we wanted to keep meeting, it is not our building. So we have another option.

And, yes, as Christians, we have not been given a spirit of fear but of power and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7), but we are also commanded to watch over the sick (Matthew 25:31-46). It would be irresponsible of us to put others in danger by bringing together those who may be sick with those who are more susceptible.

Secondly, this seems an inconvenience, fearmongering, and unbiblical to live in the fear of a virus or other illness.

These things are an inconvenience. There indeed has been a lot of fearmongering and irresponsible behavior by many people on almost all sides of this pandemic. We can debate many of them later, if you wish! However, it is not necessarily fearmongering to say we should do what we can to avoid spreading an illness. In fact, it actually is biblical quarantine and separate.

Leviticus 13:1-8:
The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “When a person has on the skin of his body a swelling or an eruption or a spot, and it turns into a case of leprous disease on the skin of his body, then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests, and the priest shall examine the diseased area on the skin of his body. And if the hair in the diseased area has turned white and the disease appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is a case of leprous disease. When the priest has examined him, he shall pronounce him unclean. But if the spot is white in the skin of his body and appears no deeper than the skin, and the hair in it has not turned white, the priest shall shut up the diseased person for seven days. And the priest shall examine him on the seventh day, and if in his eyes the disease is checked and the disease has not spread in the skin, then the priest shall shut him up for another seven days. And the priest shall examine him again on the seventh day, and if the diseased area has faded and the disease has not spread in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean; it is only an eruption. And he shall wash his clothes and be clean. But if the eruption spreads in the skin, after he has shown himself to the priest for his cleansing, he shall appear again before the priest. And the priest shall look, and if the eruption has spread in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is a leprous disease.

What does this mean for us?

Simply, God established the precedent for this sort of quarantining and self-isolation. It keeps others from contracting an illness, and it helps us to see whether or not someone actually has the disease or illness that could affect others. The current C-19 scare is absolutely being handled in a biblical way through the leadership demanding isolation and closing things down.

But, thirdly, isn’t this government overreach?

In some regards, maybe. But as just discussed, not necessarily. Again, we can debate some of this later, but (and you probably are expecting this one) we also need to remember Romans 13’s admonition to obey our governments, and Peter’s similar reminder to honor the national leader and leading institutions (1 Peter 2:13-25). Even if they are “not my president” or from a different political party or even despicable, deplorable humans, they have been put in power.

And, again, as stated before, as Christians it is our duty to obey within reason as we love our neighbor to God’s glory – including being physically separated for a time.

It is okay. It is not necessarily a sin.

And we are able to virtually meet for a time in our modern, technological world.

In the meantime, do what you can to help each other in such difficult times. Share your goods, as possible. (Especially if you, quite bluntly, sinfully hoarded toilet paper. SHARE WITH THOSE WHO MAY NEED IT!) Offer to meet other needs by running errands for each other. Call each other on the phone. Send e-mails and texts to each other to encourage and fight loneliness.

Most importantly, pray for each other, our communities, our nation, and our world.

Whether this is the end of the world or not (*wink wink*), we still have the command to love God, to love each other, and to go into all the world (even virtually) making disciples and teaching them to obey all Christ has commanded us.

And He is with us always, to the end. Trust Him. Turn to Christ in faith, especially if you have not trusted Him as your Lord and Savior. There may literally never be a better time.

VerseD: Colossians 3:16

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:16, ESV

We read, memorize, and live out Scripture, because by it the Holy Spirit moves through us to lift each other up in Christ in wisdom and thankfulness and through conversations and singing God’s truth.

VerseD: Matthew 18:20

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Matthew 18:20, ESV

Not merely about having church, Jesus is telling us that He is with us as we call out sin, encourage repentance and change, and draw each other closer to Himself.

VerseD: 2 Timothy 3:12-13

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
2 Timothy 3:12‭-‬13, ESV

We need each other – with the Bible and the Holy Spirit – to encourage each other to hold to the truth of Scripture. Too many today will try to lead us astray and mock us for staying true to God.

VerseD: Hebrews 10:24

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works
Hebrews 10:24, ESV

Love God, love people, love the Church.

How?

Grow in godliness as we spur and encourage each other – with Scripture, prayer, and sacrifice – to love on this fallen world.