Posts Tagged ‘ The Church Next Door ’

Sermon: Remember: A Love Note from God – Mark 14:12-31

I preached again!

It was my turn in our usual rotation (pushed back a week due to Pastor Scott getting sick and throwing the rotation off), and it was also Communion week. (I am more a fan of Communion happening every week, but it is not something I will break fellowship over!)

What makes it extra special that it was Communion week is that I got to preach on the Passover meal (Last Supper) which includes the institution of the Lord’s Supper – Communion.

As usual, here are my notes. Remember that I do not necessarily stick strictly to the notes. In fact, I added quite a bit this time (I tried making adjustments on my iPad, but it did not want to let me), and I switched a couple parts around slightly.

(And the audio for our official church video was messed up, so here is the recording I made from my phone! I almost lost it a few times while preaching, so there will be some moments of silence … and maybe you’ll want to cry too.)

Remember: The Love Note from God  —  Mark 14:12-31

INTRO:

In all of my preaching classes I was told over and over that we need a good introduction that ties in with the whole message. Something that we can refer back to throughout the message, even in the conclusion.

In conversations, I tend to be pretty good about that: making connections throughout to things we’ve said before. I even connect a lot of it to the Bible.

For some reason, I often am not that great at it when preaching. And here is a great example.

This intro has almost nothing to do with the rest of the message, but I like the connection I can see in my mind. I cannot suggest everyone see this PG-13 movie, because there is a decent amount of vulgar language and violence (much like a video game) throughout, so do not take this as an official endorsement or suggestion to see it.

That being said, I got to see Free Guy (with Ryan Reynolds) this week. It really is a fun movie, especially if you enjoy quite a bit of nerd-culture (comic books, video games, YouTube, movies, etc.). Many, if not most, of my friends said one of the best scenes in the movie is one jampacked with references to recent popular movies, and it indeed is hilarious.

My favorite scene, though, comes a few minutes after this. When two of the other main characters are talking, and this line is said,

“I’m just a love letter to you. The real question is who is the writer?”

Today, we talk about God’s love letter to us. Technically, yeah, it’s the Bible. More specifically, it’s the Person of Jesus Christ. Most specifically, it’s about how much God loves us, that He came for us, died for us, and welcomes us in. All for His glory and our benefit. Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

And the love note we get to enjoy “as often as we drink it, in remembrance of” Him.

MESSAGE:

[vv. 12-16:]
Firstly, what is the Feast of Unleavened Bread? The celebration of Passover. Remember way back, about 1500 years earlier, Israel was enslaved by Egypt, and Moses came to free God’s people.  After nine plagues, came the 10th: the death of the firstborn. This is the inauguration of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because, as Exodus 12 reminds us, the Lord struck down all the firstborn children in Egypt (including animals), except for in the homes where a lamb was slaughtered and its blood painted over the doors. This was the sign for the Spirit to Pass Over their houses.

But why is it called Unleavened Bread? Because the Israelites did not have time to let dough rise for bread. This serves as a reminder that the Lord can take us at any time, like He did with the Egyptian firstborn. The entire week-long feast is done with unleavened bread, to remind the people of the time they were redeemed by God, and quickly. (It is possible this can point to the Rapture, as well.)

Now, Jesus and His disciples (specifically the Twelve … possibly with some others, as we note that some disciples prepared the Passover before Jesus arrived with the Twelve, and this meal was usually held with family present) were going to eat the meal together, but they needed a place. Remember that none of the various groups of this time were completely correct on what the Messiah would be like and do, but the group that came the closes was the Essenes.

Who were the Essenes? A group expecting the soon coming of Messiah who secluded themselves from the rest of society (something Jesus/the NT actually warned not to do) to live purely and to copy the Hebrew texts (not just books we find in our Bibles nor only in Hebrew/Aramaic), and only men could become priests. (They were basically their day’s version of a Roman Catholic hippie commune.) They were the closest to understanding the Messiah.

But they also kept at least one house in nearby cities, to be cared for by priests and for getting supplies as needed.

Why is this important?  Because in these days, only women carried water jars around. Unless they were of the Essene priesthood and maintaining the city-home. And, therefore, it is very possible that Jesus was working with the local Essenes to have a place ready for His final meal with His disciples. (He also could have miraculously known who would let Him use a place with a large room for the dinner!)

[And notice, again, the use of water. The earth was formed out of water by God, destroyed again by water by God. Through water Israel was saved. By water we are baptized as our Lord was. His first miracle was turning water into wine. Now, water is the sign that will lead the disciples to the Last Supper – where the sign of the new covenant is given.]

We also know from Luke that Peter and John were the two who prepared everything. And it was probably Thursday that much of this took place, with the meal beginning in the evening, as prescribed by Exodus 12. This would have put the dinner, arrest, and crucifixion all on Friday by Jewish time-telling.

[vv. 17:]
We see that meal does not even begin until the evening. We remember from the other Gospels that they arrive, and Jesus washes their feet. A major sign of humility, even shaming the one who was seated in the lowest place (probably Peter, actually) who was usually the one (without servants) to wash everyone else’s feet.

I think it is also good to jump around a little in our passage today, because Jesus has just washed their feet and is getting ready to enjoy the meal with them. But how hard was this time for Him?

Why?

[vv. 18-21:]
We remember from last time that Judas has already made an agreement with the Jewish leadership to betray Jesus, so we are not surprised by this.

Neither is Jesus. The other gospels help us to see that they have been eating together for a time, and Jesus even calls out Judas (quietly, implying the two seats of honor at the table are taken by John – who leaned on Jesus during the meal – and Judas – who could be secretly talked with during the meal!) The other disciples just think that He leaves to take care of the business needed for the feast, which helps to imply that he was not actually there when the Lord’s Supper was instituted.

So, Jesus goes into this meal thinking about the man who will betray Him to death. Someone who has been with Him for over three years and been considered a friend.

A friend who not only turns his back but also (almost literally) stabs Him in the back. How must that have felt?

Have you wondered how about Jesus’ words here? “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Maybe, like me, you have wrestled with the idea of a sovereign God who would create someone just to be destroyed. How could He?

But we also know God created us with free will. Judas chose to betray his friend, and our God – who is sovereign – works this man’s evil intents into His plan for our salvation.

And Jesus laments that His friend is choosing not only to reject a friend but God Himself. He has seen God face to face, and now he must face eternity having rejected Him.

But there is more. After they leave the meal, on their way to Gethsemane …

[vv. 26-31:]
Jesus tells His disciples – especially Peter – about their and his denial. First there is the backstabbing friend He knows about. Now we see He knows one of his closest friends is going to leave Him hanging (pun intended) in His darkest moment.

Jesus is having dinner with his closest friends, knowing that He is on His way to the cross, knowing that one of His friends is sending Him there and all of His friends, including one of His best friends, will abandon Him.

So what do we learn?

What have we called this series in Mark? Power Serve. What does it look like to serve others with the power of God? Humility in the face of hatred. Grace in the middle of greed. Love in the light (and in spite) of loss.

We are not really given permission to hide ourselves away when painful circumstances come our way. The example our Lord and Savior has given us is that when we know no one is there for us, when people abandon us, when we are at our darkest moments, that is the exact moment we need to rely on the Father to guide us through and show the most humility, grace, and love. We serve others with the Good News of Jesus Christ, in His power and love, by His grace, humbly and without complaint.

Because that is what He did.

Think about it. What, really, was His example?

This is a Passover meal. They probably discussed how God spared Israel when all of the firstborn were slain. And Jesus – the Firstborn of God, fully God and fully Man – has come to be the only firstborn whose blood is shed to save all other people who call on His Name.

Instead of a year-old lamb, Jesus is the Lamb of God.

Instead of the blood being painted over the door of our homes, The Door poured out His blood.

Instead of death coming for us, He defeated death through taking away our sin by becoming sin on the cross and then rising from the grave.

In other words, Instead of unleavened bread, we have the Bread of Life who was broken for us and rose again to Life.


He became a friend when His friends abandoned Him.

And He gave us a reminder to celebrate it. A love note to remind us “as often as [we] drink of it”.

[vv. 22-25:]
So, we take communion to remember that He has done all the work. It is not so much our story. We are a part of His story. All of this – literally everything – is about Jesus.

We take communion to remember His humility and sacrifice for His friends.
For those who abandon and ignore Him.
For those who put Him on a cross to suffer.
For those who mistreat Him, mock Him, and turned away from Him.

But we have this hope: that He has forgiven us by His blood, and we will one day enjoy a meal with Him again.

But until then, we proclaim His life, death, and resurrection. So, join me in partaking in communion.

RESPONSE:

1 Corinthians 11:23-25:
the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance
of me.”

Sermon: Mark 10:32-52

I preached again. On Father’s Day of all days.

I might need a new computer, because it, again, took a few days (better than last time, though!) to get this uploaded due to some technical issues.

As usual, my rough notes are below, just remember that they are rough notes and not necessarily everything I said.

Mark 10:32-52

MESSAGE:

vv. 32:
Why were people amazed and afraid?

Possibly thinking about Jesus having just discussed how impossible it is to be saved unless God does it. (vv. 23-31)

Possibly seeing how resolutely Jesus is heading toward Jerusalem (Luke 9:51[-62?]).

Possibly because of what He said next:

vv. 33-34:
Jesus explains His arrest, beating, and death, as well as His resurrection.
Is it possible the disciples were amazed at the news, while others merely heard that He would die?

No one knows for sure. We see there are two groups: The 12 and others “who followed”.

Probably a combination of all of this: it is difficult (yet oh-so-easy) to be saved, Jesus looks determined to get to Jerusalem, and Jesus just predicted problems in Jerusalem. “Is the Messiah about to start the war that drives out the pagans and restores true worship?”

Honestly, none of them could see what was coming, even with Jesus explaining it in such detail. We know for two reasons: two Apostles making their request and the immediate healing of a man.

First, how the Apostles did not see clearly:

vv. 35-45:
James and John (and their mom, as seen in Matthew 20) are clearly expecting Jesus to triumph and reign in Jerusalem, so they ask to sit at His right and left hand. They expect a quick and decisive victory. (Which definitely happened at the cross, but they can’t see that yet.)

The other Ten became “indignant” at their audacity. But at least they were looking towards Jesus’ ultimate glory. They knew and expected Jesus to be in glory, and they wanted to be with Jesus in glory! Shouldn’t we?!

We can see they are not seeing the whole picture, though. They each know they can “drink from the same cup” as Jesus, but, as usual, Jesus takes it deeper: “Indeed, you will,” but it is not as rulers as the world understands ruling. “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve”. So, too, we as Christ followers are to serve each other.

How?

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to offer His life as a ransom for many.”

We must [READ Philippians 2:3-5] “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. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus”.
How do we know the Apostles were not seeing things this way? (At least not yet?)

vv. 46-52:
Here is a blind man, crying out for the promised Messiah, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” A crowd – including the Apostles – are trying to quiet Him down and shoo him away. “The Teacher has no time for someone like you. Quiet!”

But this man can see who is nearby. This BLIND MAN can clearly see the Son of God is walking by. He cries out louder, more urgently, knowing this is his only chance to be healed. They are still getting indignant at the audacity of others wanting to be near Christ.

And notice the change in everyone when Jesus finally speaks “Call him”: “Oh, hey, friend, come see Jesus,” they sweetly say to this poor helpless man. We see that the APOSTLES OF JESUS are still missing the point that “the Son of man came not be served but to serve”.

And notice how Jesus heals.

Remember a couple chapters ago when Jesus healed a blind man in Bethsaida? He spits in the man’s eyes and covers them with his hands. This time, He merely speaks, “your faith has made you well.” (Reminds me of Moses and water from the rocks: First he tapped a rock with his staff, the second time he was supposed to only speak to it. A reminder that a greater Prophet than Moses has finally come.)

Quick Mini-Lesson:

Quick lesson on literary/biblical terms:
One of Caitlin’s favorites: Pericope – an excerpt from a text that forms a complete thought. We had three pericopes today: Jesus predicting His crucifixion, James and John requesting a place of honor, and the healing of Bartimaeus.

Chiastic structure – a poetic writing style that flows (often in a circular way or in an arc) so that themes are repeated in reverse order. As an example (from Genesis 9:6):

A – Whoever sheds
     B – the blood
          C – of man,
          C’ – by man
     B’ – shall his blood
A’ – be shed

Sometimes, there is a hinge that it all swings around. For example, Proverbs 31:10-31 extols the virtues of a godly woman, following a long chiastic structure, with a “hinge” in verse 23 about her husband: “Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.”

The greatest chiasmus is the entire Bible:

A – Creation of Paradise
     B – The Fall into sin
          C – The spread of sin
               D – Christ’s Life, Death, and Resurrection
          C’ – The spread of the Gospel
     B’ – Christ’s return and final redemption from sin
A’ – Restored Paradise

Our big chiasmus from Mark:

A – 8:22-26 – Blind man healed
     B – 8:27-30 – Peter’s Confession of Christ
          C – 8:31-9:1 – Christ’s 1st Foretelling and Peter’s “tempting” Jesus with rebuke
               D – 9:2-13 – Christ’s Transfiguration into glory as God’s true Son
                    E – 9:14-30 – Christ is greater than spirits by healing a child
                         F – 9:30-32 – Christ’s 2nd Foretelling of His Crucifixion & Resurrection
                    E’ – 9:33-37 – Disciples argue who is greater, Christ’s call to childlikeness
               D’ – 9:38-10:31 – Those who tempt others to sin and turn from God’s truth,
                         instead accepting His glory
          C’ – 10:32-34 – Christ’s 3rd Foretelling
     B’ – 10:35-45 – Apostles acknowledge Christ and His glory
A’ – 10:46-52 – Blind Bartimaeus healed


So what?

Mark is pointing out to us how blind we are to God’s truth. We need God to reveal Himself to us, because we tend to think we know better … or that truth can’t be known or is relative or up to each person.

No, Mark is showing us through these pericopes that Jesus came to work, to serve other people. We start with the Son of God showing us He is our Creator and Healer by healing a blind man. We can easily confess Christ as the Son of God while still not seeing Who He really is. And then Jesus predicts His death and resurrection.

Then after the failure of the Apostles to catch on, He predicts it again, that hinge of these stories, reminding us to innocently believe in Him and not distract others.

He predicts it again and drives the point home how blind we are to truth by healing another blind man WITH ONLY HIS WORDS.

Blindness. Revelation. We mess up. Revelation. We mess up. Revelation. Blindness.

We foresee Christ’s passion in the midst of our pride and persistence to think we have it figured out. Fortunately, He is more persistent than we are, and motivates us to be more persistent.

It can be awesome and intimidating to think about the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe coming after us, but it is all because of His love for us and for the Father’s glory.

RESPONSE:

We cannot begin to understand God and His ways (Isaiah 55:8), but we can let Him open our eyes to what He is doing.

We can look to our Savior and see that our Maker and Savior came to us to set the example of how to serve others with sacrificial love and compassion.

For all people.

We can see that He is the God who heals. He may not physically heal us in this life, but by His resurrection we have the hope of eternity free from pain, suffering, and fear.

We should be zealous for a God who saw us in our pride and misunderstandings yet loved us enough to come die for us, to open our eyes to truth and forgive us.

APPLICATION:

How then should we live?

How do we treat people? How do we treat God?!

It can be so easy to get upset with others when we think they are wrong. We can get indignant with their seemingly overblown sense of passion for something, or that they are interfering with important matters.

Do we remember that sometimes (many times?) we each can be the seemingly overblown, interfering person?

We need to remind ourselves that we don’t know everything. But we know the One who does and sees each person, their circumstances, and their lives.

We need to ask Him to open our eyes to what He is doing in their lives … and our own.

We need to ask Him to reveal our own blindness toward others, ourselves, and His glory.

We need to be passionate about the things of God, to want to do the Father’s work in the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.

And how?

We read His Word. We get into the Bible: individually, with others, and when we meet as the Church. We must be learning what He has revealed through Scripture and listening to those who have put in the time and training to be teachers and pastors, but always comparing what they say (and write) with the Bible. (Like the Bereans in Acts 17) And we need to be telling others the truth of Christ. It shows we truly believe He is the promised Messiah, the Son of David, the Son of God who takes away the sin world. This is how we acknowledge His glory. We should be passionate about sharing Christ with others, unable and unwilling to be told to be quiet about our Great Healer God.!

Sermon: John 4:1-26 – Re-Up, or The God Who Comes to the Unworthy

I preached again! This time, I was covering for a dear brother who could not be at his little rural church to be at his son’s wedding.

So, I picked up where he left off going through John, wrote a sermon, and took my wife to little Paulden, AZ.

(Just like the last sermon, technical issues slowed sharing this for over a week.)

As usual, my notes below were rough notes and not necessarily everything I said.

The video was on Facebook Live, so it is not the greatest quality.

https://DanielMKlem.sermon.net/21799323

John 4:1-26 – Re-Up, or The God Who Comes to the Unworthy

[INTRO] 

Paul talked about Jesus being in Jerusalem for Passover – the great passage about God sending His son into the world. 

He then shared about Jesus and His disciples going into the countryside where John the Baptist was baptizing, and John explained that Christ must increase while he decreased. And we see that Christ is truly God who is above all things and has received all things from the Father. 

In other words, God is truth. 

[READ JOHN 4:1-26, ESV] 

Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

Part 1: The set-up 

vv. 1-8 give us the set-up. 

  1. Jesus had been probably a few miles NE of Jerusalem with JtB – heard Pharisees were coming 
  1. Knowing it was not time to be confronted he needed to leave immediately. 
  1. Safest route for a Jew: cross the Jordan, travel through Gentile lands, and probably bump into Pharisees on the road. 
  1. Cut travel time in half by heading north through Samaria – He took the expedient route. 
  1. The Father obviously has a plan, too! 
  1. Sychar (near Shechem), it says, is where Jacob’s Well is, in the area Jacob gave to Joseph (which went to Ephraim) 
  1. Now, take a step back to look at the Samaritans: 
  1. These are largely the people that are from the 10 tribes that abandoned the Davidic line and fell into idolatry. The rest could be descendants of the families that had intermarried with pagans and were sent away from Jerusalem (Ezra 10, Nehemiah 13). 
  1. Separated when Rehoboam (anointed king in Shechem) was a horrible slave driver, and Jeroboam offered an alternative. [“So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day …” 1 Kings 12:19] Jeroboam built altars to golden calves. Later, after Assyria and Babylon took the Northern Tribes, the remnant intermarried with Gentiles or were the sent-away pagan families of Jews after the Exile. 
  1. Jews saw Samaritans of unworthy of their time and attention, and vice versa. 
  1. Jesus has probably walked for a day and a half at this point. 

In all honesty, He probably sent the disciples away based on what we know about them wanting to keep people away from Him! He wanted a chance to talk with this woman without their meddling. 

Part 2: The lead-up 

vv. 8-15 is the lead-up to truth revealed. 

Jesus uses the need for water to bridge the gap between a Jewish man and a Samaritan woman. It is like us finding a common ground with others who are not Christians. 

Like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1, the gospel “is folly those who are perishing” (v.18), “a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles” (v. 22). And here is a Samaritan, a person who is a mix of both. 

So, she appeals to Jacob, one of the Forefathers/Patriarchs, “Are you greater than him?!” She does not realize that this is the One who wrestled with Jacob in Genesis 32! 

But He starts pushing her toward the truth in His lead-up to the big reveal. This water is temporary, but Jesus offers the water of the Holy Spirit who leads to eternal life. 

Now, she is interested. 

Part 3: The lift up 

vv. 16-26 is the lift up – what looks like a teardown of a person is lifting her eyes to truth. 

“Go, call your husband.” “You are right … you have had five, and you are not married to the man you currently live with.” 

See, this sounds a bit harsh. Hear modern people saying, “See, Jesus didn’t tell her to stop living with the man!” But Jesus is pointing out her sin and using it to reveal her need for a Savior. 

She misunderstood Jesus’ reference to living water, so He draws her in deeper with a hard truth. “You claim to obey the Torah, but even you have not lived up to it.” It was a less-than-gentle rebuke. 

“Look, you have been unfaithful.” 

But they continue, “I see you are a prophet, but our fathers worshiped on this mountain while you say Jerusalem is the place to worship.” 

She is probably thinking of the Patriarchs worshiping in this area, or even that after the Exile Samaritan priests said true worship was on Mt. Gerazim.  

[READ DEUTERONOMY 27:11-13, ending with “And the Levites shall declare blessings and curses”] 

They fail to realize how they claim to worship on the mountain of blessing, but they honor the mountain of the curse. 

And Jesus does it again: “You do not even understand what you are worshiping! Salvation comes from the Jews!” 

[READ VV. 23-24] 

She speaks from misunderstanding, and He sets her straight: You’re wrong, but we will all worship by the Holy Spirit in the Name of Truth. 

And she replies, “Yes, the Messiah is coming, and he will tell us all things.” 

Jesus says, “I who speak to you am he.” In other words, “I am that Truth. I am revealing all things to you.” 

Jesus is the Son of God – fully man, fully God – who lifted a sinful woman’s eyes up to worship God rightly. 

But what does this teach us? 

I have recently had people claim I am not Christian for working during a church service. I found out they do not even believe Jesus is God and/or question the validity of the cross. 

I had to tell them that they are not a Christian. “How dare you? Who do you think you are?” they challenged. 

Here it is, in black and white (or red, black, and white!) This book reveals that Jesus is God. 

I have heard some teach that this passage shows us that God will make us go to places we do not expect or even want to go, and this can be true. 

But the real message is this: 

Jesus calls all people to Himself. The Great Commission says to make disciples of all nations, and in Acts 1 He says the gospel would go in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Here He is, before this command, demonstrating it. He avoided the hypocritical religious leaders to reach out to someone His own people said was not worthy. 

Some of us have committed adultery. Some have stolen. Some have lied, cheated, blasphemed, and sought refuge in things not God. We have denied the deity of Christ, the goodness of God. We have done drugs, been drunk, and slept around. We have been the outcast and worthless sinner. 

Yet the Father reaches out to us through the Holy Spirit to turn to the Son, and says, “Yes. You have done horrible things, and you deserve death. But see my forgiveness. See my grace. See my love, poured out on the cross. 

None are unworthy at the foot of the cross. Yet, we are only made worthy when we kneel at the foot of the cross, accepting our sinful nature, and turning to our only salvation: the Son of God killed on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins, making us washed and made new, quenched by His goodness and grace, clothed in His worthiness and righteousness. 

How can we not want to tell others of how much He has done? How He has saved wretches like us. 

We may not share the Gospel perfectly, and we may even want our friends around to help sometimes, but we worship the God who saves, even when we misunderstand and twist scriptures for our own needs and try and show our own goodness apart from Him. 

Sermon: Completely: Bartholomew and the One Who Sighs – Mark 8:1-21

I preached again. And I had some fun doing it. (And technical issues slowed me from sharing this for over a month! This was preached on April 25, 2021.) (The full service can be seen at The Church Next Door’s YouTube channel right here.)

Please read Mark 8:1-21:

In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.”

And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?”

And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away.

And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha. The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.

And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.

Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread.

And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
Mark 8:1‭-‬21 ESV

SERMON: MARK 8:1-21 – COMPLETELY: BARTHOLOMEW AND THE ONE WHO SIGHS

Bartholomew

Greetings, brothers and sisters. May the grace and shalom of our Lord be with you all.
You may have heard of me. I am Bartholomew, or some of you may know me as Nathanael. I am one of the Lord’s disciples, and I want to tell you about one of our travels with Jesus.

Remembering before:

We had come from Tyre and Sidon where the woman’s daughter was healed, stopped in Capernaum to get Peter’s boat, and headed to the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. (South of where the 5,000 men were fed. More into the area where Gentiles live.) This is where Jesus healed the deaf man.

Jesus had been doing so much healing and teaching, and a great crowd came asking Jesus to touch their children and sick. Jesus spent much of the time teaching as He had in other places.

Feeding another crowd.

After three days, the crowd had swelled: 4,000 men and many of their families. Everyone was out of food. Jesus showed His compassion: “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. Some of them have come from far away.” (Mark 8:2-3)

We talked amongst ourselves, “Sure, he fed the 5,000, but should we expect Him to do it again?” Then we asked, “How can one feed these people with bread way out here in the middle of nowhere?” (Mark 8:4)

Jesus sighed (like a parent who has asked their child to sit down for the fifth time) with a chuckle. “How many loaves do you have?” (8:5) “Seven,” we said.

We were ashamed of ourselves, but we also knew what to do this time. Like with the 5,000, we had them all sit in large groups while Jesus thanked the Father as He broke the bread into pieces and separated some fish. We took the pieces to the people who could each eat their fill. And we had 7 basketfuls at the end, keeping a couple loaves.

The Pharisees’ demand

We then walked back to the sea to ride across to the western shore. The plan was for Simon, Andrew, James, John, and Philip to catch some fish and get it preserved in the Dalmanutha region, and the rest of us would by some bread. This way we could have more provisions for the next area.

Instead, when we arrived, it seems the Pharisees and Sadducees had been watching for us. We were barely on shore when they came to Jesus. We had never seen them quite so confrontational. They had attacked us before, and some of his teaching, sure, but this time they wanted absolute proof of Jesus’ claims. “Give us a mighty sign from heaven! Prove to us you are a great prophet!”

The sigh Jesus gave. It reminded me of the sigh when a tax collector would take all of a father’s income, or when Simon discussed spending a long night fishing with nothing to show for it. It was wearied sigh. A sigh of pain and sorrow.

Jesus seemed to rant. How can they know what the weather can be like by looking at the sky in the evening or morning, but they overlook the obvious? These people would get no sign, except that Jesus would be like Jonah – buried for three days to come back again.

Then we got right back in the boat.

Our own blindness

We soon realized we were distracted by the Pharisees and Sadducees. None of us had done as planned to get more food. We only had one loaf of bread between any of us. We were quietly bickering about not doing our jobs.
Jesus suddenly said, “Watch out. Beware the leaven of the Pharisees and the Herodians.”
Once again ashamed, we started talking about how upset He must be with us for forgetting to buy bread, being more interested in the conversation He had back on shore.
And then he sighed again. Another deep sigh. He had our attention.

“Why are you still talking about how much bread you have? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts still so hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? Don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you get?”
Looking down we all sheepishly answered Him, “12.”
“And the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many baskets full did you pick up?”
“7.”
“Do you not yet understand?”

Getting it

We see it now.
The Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees are so focused on retaining their power through laws and tradition. If it doesn’t fit their expectations, they refuse to see it.
How have we been any better? Even after two years, we were still looking for a General King to drive out the Romans and restore true worship in the Temple. Why couldn’t we pay attention to our own ideas and expectations getting in the way. We were still seeing Jesus as the Messiah we dreamed up.

What was Jesus showing us?

He is in control of all things. He controls nature. He heals what medicine and doctors can’t. He divides and multiplies things in impossible ways.

And he loves. He shows compassion on the people focusing on their own desires and fears. He takes time to listen, to touch, to hold, and to feed. He may have gotten tired in His frail human body, but He is the inexhaustible God who loves us even through our sin and conceit.

And what has Jesus shown us?

Remember the twelve baskets of bread? I don’t know how we missed it. At the consecration of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, Moses received the offerings from the leaders of the Twelve Tribes. There were animal sacrifices, yes, but they also brought silver bowls full of the grain offerings to God. Grain offerings that fed the priests tending the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle that was the temporary place of worship of God until a permanent Temple could be built hundreds of years later.

Jesus showed us that He – God – provided the offering for consecration of His Temple. We saw them as bread in baskets. God was consecrating His Temple, the Church, by showing He has provided for all of Israel – the Twelve Tribes – and pointed toward the Church, the true Temple of God.

Remember the seven baskets of bread? Jesus showed us His compassion, His provision, His power is complete. Not just for Israel. The Syrophoenician woman helped show that. Now, feeding people on the edge of Gentile lands, we see that God’s love extends to all people.

Completely.

Jesus has come to those who reject Him, those who misunderstand Him, those who have refused Him, and He shows us the truth of who He is.

He is God. He loves His creation, and He provides for His creation. He has established His living Temple on the Earth to bring that good news. And the cornerstone of that Temple?

Himself. The Giver of bread is our Bread of Life, who was broken for our sinful rebellion, rejection, and refusals. He gave Himself up to die on a cross as that sacrifice needed to consecrate His living Temple. His blood was sprinkled to cleanse us of our sins and consecrate our lives.

Completely.

And He was the first stone to be laid. And now we go into this world and lay our lives down for the same reason: to show this world God has provided for us, has compassion for us, and has made a way into eternal life for us.

Completely.

And we invite others to come in with that same compassion and love.

So, we may sigh in the pains of this life with its struggles, pains, and [dealing with other people], but in Christ we can find that sigh of relief. He has taken compassion on us and taken the burden of sin and death from us.

It does not mean He takes all the pain away in this life, but we have hope for the life to come. Where there is no more pain, no more struggle, no more tears.

He has given us everything, if we only take it.

Sermon: Chasing or Chosen – Mark 3:7-21

I preached again!

This is one in which I do not name names but I do call out bad teachings.

What are we chasing? Are we actually pursuing Jesus?

Give it a listen (click here if it does not work just below), and see my rough notes for all scripture references and basic thoughts. I am reading from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible.

https://DanielMKlem.sermon.net/player/audio/21726595?repeat=false&autostart=true

Chasing or Chosen    Mark 3:7-21

It is my Re-Birthday! (Well, yesterday was.)

As of today, it was 21 years [and approximately 1 day, or 15 hours for first service and 16.5 hours for second service] ago that I became a Christian. At 6:46 pm CST on January 9, 2000, at the tender age of 16, I first knelt down to say “Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God who died for my sins.”

I went through some struggles to get there, to be sure.

I was “that kid” in the youth group who had everything figured out, so I challenged the youth leaders and the pastor.

I dealt with chronic anxiety, always worried about trivial things as if they were huge, and I did not need another worry on my plate, like trying to please God.

I even went through a short time of thinking it might be possible I could be Christ (before misunderstanding a text about John the Baptist never touching alcohol, thinking it was about Christ, and that misunderstanding shot down any ideas of me being Christ right away.)

When the Holy Spirit finally finished breaking down my own ideas, fears, and misunderstandings, Jesus grabbed a great big hold of me, and I can guarantee He has not let go. (Not from lack of my own stupidity and running in different directions!)

That is why I make a cake every year on January 9. I celebrate my Re-Birthday, the day I was born again into God’s Chosen family: The Church, grafted into Israel by His blood.

What does this have to do with our passage today?

Well, we will spend most of our time in Mark 3, but I also invite you to be ready to flip back to Deuteronomy 18 and 13.

In Mark chapter 3, we see a transition from Jesus setting the foundation for His ministry to preparing to share His ministry with His disciples in Israel.

MESSAGE:

vv. 7-8:
People were coming from all over Israel. With the areas listed, Mark is letting us know people from all the tribes from the original Promised Land (Time of the Judges) have come to see if the Prophet like Moses – the Messiah – has finally come. (Deuteronomy 18:15-19)


“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

But what were they chasing? v. 8b: They heard all that He was doing. He was healing paralytics and shriveled hands, He was casting out evil spirits, and He was rebuking and teaching with boldness and authority.

They were chasing the miracles more than the Miracle Maker. As we continue reading in …

vv. 9-10:
They were actually putting their Messiah in danger!

To be fair, we are talking about people who have been hurting, suffering, and worrying about what the government, religious leaders, and spiritual forces were doing to them. And here is someone standing up to the leadership and healing people.

But maybe you are wondering about Jesus’ response: Not just to get a boat ready. We remember from last week that the Jewish leadership were chasing after their own power and plotting to destroy Jesus, and now the crowds are endangering Him. However, we also know He often taught from boats, as we read in many other places in the Gospels.

vv. 11-12:
Spirits know who Christ is. They recognized Jesus as the eternal Son of God, something most people missed, even with miracles.

But why did He tell the spirits “not to make Him known”?

This is not quite like Scott taught a few weeks ago, telling those He healed not to tell anyone. Evil spirits and demons know who He is, and they will tell others truthfully who He is, but they also follow their leader, The Devil, and twist the truth and lie. He doesn’t want these spirits spreading misinformation.

“Did God actually say … You will not surely die … You will be like God …”

Hold on to that. We’ll get back to this in a moment.

vv. 13-15:
We remember people are expecting the Promised Prophet like Moses, and here is Jesus going up a mountain, just like Moses. But He is not getting God’s Commandments, He is being the Commander commissioning His generals.

Jesus basically chose His representatives for the 12 Tribes. Remember a few verses ago we saw that Mark was pointing to all of the Tribes of the Promised Land coming to see if this was the promised Messiah. Now, He has His representatives for each tribe, those He is sending out in His Name. Apostle means “one sent out.”

And what does He expect His Apostles to do?

First and foremost: They spend time with Him, learning from Him.
Secondly: Preach. They are to share the good news of this Messiah.
Finally: Heal and cast out demons and evil spirits.

Jump back with me for a moment to Moses’ promised Prophet in Deuteronomy 18, in vv. 20-22.

But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord , if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.Now back a few chapters, 13:1-4.


“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.

Many so-called teachers, prophets, and apostles today often start out well, saying we need to spend time with Christ and learn from Him, and it sounds good. Then they spend more time focusing on miracles, signs and wonders, and dreams and visions.

At best, the preach a gospel-lite: You are basically a good person, you have to have dreams and visions or perform miracles, signs and wonders. Essentially, you are little gods. (Bill Johnson, Kenneth Copeland, Todd White, Bishop T.D. Jakes … even starting to hear it from Steven Furtick and his friends.)

Now. Remember what I told us to hold on to for a moment: “Did God actually say … You will not surely die … You will be … like … God …”

Many of today’s so-called teachers, prophets, and apostles are chasing the miracles more than the Miracle Maker. They are listening to the wrong spirits.

Perhaps you have heard the teaching today that just because someone gets a prophecy wrong does not mean they are a false prophet, they just tried prophesying in their own power and got it wrong. That is the exact opposite of what we read in Deuteronomy. “Did God really say …”

Perhaps you have even heard the rebuttal that those of us who point this out probably want to follow Deuteronomy 13:5, to kill the false prophet. Obviously, we don’t teach that in the slightest, but now we hear that next lie: “You will not surely die …”

All three of Satan’s lies in the Garden of Eden are being used even today.

Perhaps, you think, people do make mistakes and come from broken and sinful pasts, but God forgives and changes them.

True. In fact, Benny Hinn’s nephew, Costi Hinn, will readily attest to that. He worked for his Uncle Benny for years, and today he preaches the true gospel and the danger of these “prophets and apostles” today. But this also points us back to the next verses in Mark 3 …

vv. 16-19:
Mark, Peter’s disciple and friend (remember Acts 13 and 15, John Mark who abandoned Barnabas and Paul, later causing division between those two), understood Peter well, both having turned on those they loved. Hence, Peter is obviously first in the list, followed immediately by James and John, the Sons of Thunder. (Great preachers!)

These three – with at least four others: Andrew (Peter’s brother), Thomas, Bartholomew (Nathanael), and possibly Philip – were fishermen (Remember they were all together fishing after Jesus’ resurrection – John 21). They were the rough-around-the-edges (probably foul-mouthed) sailors of the day. They were prideful, power-hungry men (Remember the request by James and John to sit at either side of Jesus in His Kingdom!)

We know Matthew/Levi was a tax collector, and possibly Judas Iscariot. Tax collectors were seen as traitors to their people, their money not even allowed in the Temple. They were more interested in money (and power), and obviously not above turning on their brethren. Judas was obviously “the open-minded, social justice” one of the group who was “more concerned about the poor” than all the others. (See his suggestion of selling the expensive perfume Mary used to anoint Jesus’ feet – John 12.)

That just leaves James son of Alphaeus, Thaddeus (the other Judas), and Simon the Zealot. James and Other-Judas may have been businessmen of some sort or just farmers. They could be more down to earth, but they also had their opinions on politics and religion. Simon, the Zealot, was definitely involved in politics. The Zealots were constantly trying to make Israel great again (Sorry, not sorry!) and kick out the invading empire.

This was a rag-tag bunch of sinners … who all abandoned their Lord, one even betraying Him.

Yet, I hear Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 6:11: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Yes and hallelujah, God can change us. But we should still be wary of those who teach a different gospel – “not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:7-9)

No, the calling we all have is not to chase miracles but to realize we have been chosen to spread the Gospel and teachings of Jesus Christ: Matthew 28:18-20 –

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:10)

But we also live in a culture that says sharing your faith is bad. (Including from the Pope!)

vv. 20-21:
Went home (most likely to Capernaum), where crowds kept them from eating. (Still missing the point to “love your neighbor as yourself” and that God was literally with them!) Yet, Jesus persisted in His ministry.

And His mom and half-siblings thought He had lost it.

He now has the Jewish leadership plotting against Him and His family doubting Him.

And yet, Jesus persisted in His ministry.

We can glean two things from this:We know, as we also read in Matthew 28:20, that God never stops. He keeps working out His plan.We will have people oppose us, either for not following modern understandings of religion and science or for being crazy for believing myths and stories (or even changing our lives so drastically and against societal norms).

And that can scare us, intimidate us, make us want to shy away from sharing our faith.

We might hear those thoughts: “I’m not good enough.”
“Who do I think I am to tell others that they are sinners?”
“If others make fun of me, they won’t hear the message anyway.”

Maybe we are chasing the miracles, the easy parts of Christianity: the power, the prophecies, and the praise of others.

We should realize we are chosen by God. And He has promised to help us by His Holy Spirit.

We can chase miracles that come from touching Christ, or we can realize that being His Chosen people means He has already chased us!

By ourselves, we run from the things of God by chasing our own interests or thinking we need to do something to please God. We seek the mountaintop experience, but God has come down from His mountain to change His Chosen to be more like Christ.

The biggest disease we have is our sin. It can only be removed by the grace we have by faith in the blood of Christ. Without that, we chase whatever we think will make us happy or whole, instead of realizing God’s Chosen One is the only One who can heal.

Let’s not chase after the miracles, but let’s seek the Miracle Maker and His peace and healing. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

If you do not know the peace of Christ, I invite you to seek Him and have your own Re-Birthday, or at least trust in Him more. Put your faith in the Faithful One. Realize your sinfulness – your own breaking of God’s Law – and believe that Jesus’ death on the cross brought you forgiveness, that His resurrection gives you the promise of eternal life with Him.

Yes, people may think you are out of your mind, possibly ridicule you or even persecute you, but Jesus it is better to know that is coming and prepare than to begin under the assumption that life will suddenly be the best ever. Jesus promised this life would be hard, but He also promised He is with us.

And He chose us.

Sermon: Psalm 100 – Reasons To Be Thankful

I was not scheduled to preach today. But we are living in the times of a pandemic and precautionary actions.

In other words, I had to cover with less than a day’s notice. But our one, true God is good. 😉

Below are my notes. (And a link to the audio and video may later be on The Church Next Door AZ YouTube page)

Psalm 100: Thanksgiving

Read v. 1-2
First week of Advent! Christmas season has officially started! Christmas carols everywhere!
Also, it is Thanksgiving weekend.

Read v. 4
Why do we thank God? What reasons do we have to give Thanksgiving?
• v. 3: Because He is God.
• v. 5: Because He is good.
• v. 2: Because of His gifts.

v. 3: God is God.
God deserves our praise and Thanksgiving because He is our Creator and Lord.
• Revelation 4:11: [the 24 elders around God’s throne fell down and said] “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
o We can’t even get our electronics, let alone governments, to run right. Could we handle all of Creation?
• Exodus 20:2-3: “I am the Lord your God . . . You shall have no other gods before Me.”
o Not “I am to be your favorite god,” but “There is no other.”
• Colossians 1:15-20: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by[a] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
o God is in control. Of everything. He holds it all together, sustaining and replenishing, and leading His Church to reconcile the world to Himself.

v. 5: God is good.
• Luke 18:18-19: And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
• Psalm 34:8: Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
• Psalm 145:9: The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
• James 1:16-17: Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
• Romans 8:28: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
o God is good and the source of all that is good, and He does not change.
o God’s mercy extends to all people (Matthew 5:45: “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”), but His grace and ultimate good are reserved for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. So we are thankful that He is good and …
o Therefore …

v. 2: God’s gifts.
As stated, God gives good gifts. What are these?
• We have His Word.
o Just read Psalm 119. It is long, but it is all about God’s Law/Word/Scripture.
o Ephesians 2:20: We are ”built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.”
• We may get health and wealth in this life, but that is not our guarantee.
o John 14:33: I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
o We have His peace.
• Ephesians 2:8-10: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
o We have His grace and forgiveness.
o We also were created for good works.
• What are our good works?
o We get to help those in need.
 Galatians 6:10: So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
 James 1:27: Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
[Isaiah 58, Micah 6:8]
o We get to share the gospel.
 Matthew 28:18-20: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.

We are told by God’s Word that we who believe have received His peace through His grace and forgiveness, being His master workmanship to do His work of reconciling a lost world to Him through good works and sharing the good news of His coming!

So … how do we live a life of thanksgiving?
• In Luke 19:1-10, we read of Zacchaeus, a tax collector whom Jesus visited. Merely being shown kindness by Jesus led this small man to change his ways – to repent – and repay any wrongdoing he had done.
o We show thankfulness by repenting of our sins and trusting in Jesus’ work of salvation through the cross.
• In Luke 17:12-18, we read of the 10 lepers who were healed. How many came back to worship Jesus? Just 1.
o We show thankfulness by worshiping our God who has cleansed us of our sins and possibly even healed our physical/mental afflictions.
• [Giving Tuesday this week 😉] In Luke 21:1-4, we read about the poor widow who gave 2 copper coins as a gift to God, which was all she had to live on.
o We show thankfulness by giving to God, not out obligation or our excess but in gratitude and sacrificially, especially to help spread the gospel (see 2 Corinthians 9).
• Colossians 3:12-17: Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 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. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
• 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
o In all things we are thankful. Even when doing the dishes, cleaning up after our pets/siblings/kids/spouses/friends, paying bills, going to work, being at work, listening to the news, driving in traffic, being stuck at home during a pandemic . . . and when watching our favorite show/movie, listening to our favorite song, driving down an open road, going to a game or other event, buying a new car or video game or toy or tool . . .

In all things.

One more reason to be thankful, and a reminder on this first Sunday of Advent, of Hope:
I can hear the complaints: But if God is good, why does He allow evil? Why does He let bad things happen to good people?
• Firstly, let us remember what Jesus told us: No one is good but God alone. As Isaiah reminded, even our good works are like filthy rags. We have all sinned and deserve punishment.
• So why does God allow evil things? (Yep. Trigger warning.)
o The first part of this answer is that He gave us free will. If He simply stopped us from doing evil, we would no longer have free will.
o Second part, we look at Revelation 8:1-5 (the seventh of the 7 Judgment Seals):
When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings,[a] flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.
 Jesus shows John here that in the midst of all of the suffering we cause each other, God is listening to our prayers. He hears all of our cries for help. Sometimes, yes, He steps in and stops the evil. However, at the same time, He is right there, holding His chosen child and saying, “It’s okay. I’m here. I hear you. Their punishment is certain.” He is right there, looking at the abuser, the mocker, the murder, the liar, saying “Repent, for punishment is certain.”
Hurting loved one of God: He hears you, and He has promised His judgment and wrath on all evildoers.
If you are the abuser, the mocker, the murderer, the liar: He says, “Turn to me, for I have taken the wrath you deserve on myself when I was pierced and hung on a cross. Repent of your sin, and receive my grace.”
• All of God’s promises come true. 2 Corinthians 1:20: For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.

We give thanks to our One True and Good God for the gifts of His promises: His grace and forgiveness and dealing with sin and evil once and for all.

[READ PSALM 100]

Sermon: What is Life? – 1 Peter 2:1-12

I preached again!

This was a tough one. I rewrote it several times, including overnight Saturday/Sunday.

I kept it light, naturally, only discussing the Gospel, the pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests, and the presidential election season.

Light.

(I was so exhausted afterward!)

Give it a listen (click here if it does not work just below), and see my rough notes for all scripture references and basic thoughts. I am reading from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible.

What is life? (1 Peter 2:1-12)

Read 2:1-12

What is life?

Not so much “what makes a thing living,” but who is living? How do we live? What does it look like to have a life?

What life?

Earlier in my life, I discovered peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

  • Love them.
  • Working at the school, money tight, often had these for lunch. Still had days longing for a PB&J. And a glass of milk (or carton from the cafeteria!)
  • What does this have to do with life?

Read 2:2-3: Spiritual milk

Even having PB&J most days, I still craved it.

  • Do we do that with God’s Word?
  • Have you tasted that the Lord is good?

V. 1 gives a list of things this life offers (read/explain v. 1)

  • An earthly mind is focused on such.
  • What is life?
    • Focused on hate, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander?
    • Or on God’s love?

Vv. 4-8:

All of this poetic language from Isaiah and Psalm 118 spoke of Israel, but found it’s fulfillment in Christ.

Israel built the Temple in Jerusalem, but they rejected the first living stone. And what is Christ this first stone, the cornerstone, part of? The Church!

The Church is about community. God’s community. It is built on the love God showed through Jesus.

God created life: Genesis 1-2, especially 2:7: the Lord God formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.

Yet, Genesis 3, we took this life and decided to go our own way. And all of us – every single human since then, save Christ – has done our own thing: we have broken God’s Law of loving Him and other people. And though we mock and revile our Creator, He came down to us in the person of Jesus Christ to take the mocking, reviling, and violence in person. He took on human life to offer that life as a payment for our disobedience, our sin.

And three days later, He brought Himself back to life, and He lives forever, seated at the right hand of the Father.

This is the Cornerstone: the God-Man who gave up His life to give us a life of community, fellowship, with Him and each other for eternity. We make up the new Temple, not of stones that can wear down, but of our bodies which will one day be glorified.

And all we need to do is believe this truth of who He is.

But others reject Him still.

Listen to those who say Christianity is a fairytale.

Listen to those who say the Church has done nothing good for this world.

Listen to those who call Christianity the religion of white people.

Danger Warning: This is where things get tough, even confrontational.

Look at our world:

  • An election year. (If you disagree with my candidate, you’re stupid and wrong!)
  • A global pandemic, with anxiety and fear being peddled daily in our newsfeeds and on social media. (And we will find a cure, no god needed. ~NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo)
    • We can debate the threat, masks, and statistics later!
  • Racial tensions higher than they have been for decades. #BlackLivesMatter
    • We must realize the cry here:
      • The organized movement: Anti-Christian
        • Anti-nuclear family
        • Anti-marriage
        • Anti-biblical definition of gender/sexuality
        • Pro-choice (abortion)
        • Pro-socialism/communism
        • Pro-pluri-religiosity
      • The average person (yes, most protesting):
        • Sees systemic racism (yes, it is actually real)
        • Sees a society that seemingly doesn’t care
        • Sees a discrepancy in how people are treated

How then do we live? What is life?

Vv. 9-12

We all agree that “all lives matter.” (In this room, at least) We don’t want people to die needlessly.

  • If we are fixated on, even fearful of where this country is headed because of the next election, if we get offended (heated discussion/argument) over how certain elected officials are destroying our country, if we know “those people are idiots who only want to undermine our society” (and notice I never said “Republicans” or “Democrats”, but if you thought of one or the other …)

    … are you trusting and believing in our sovereign God who instituted our government? Are you building that community based on God’s love?
  • Does wearing a mask in certain places affect your salvation? Does it affect your eternal life?

    What about the life of someone outside of the Church?

    What if all they see is someone ranting about how they don’t need to wear a mask, because even if they die they know where they are going?

    What if they are afraid of dying, and someone basically waves off that fear “for personal freedom?

    Is that respectful and loving?
  • Do black lives matter?

    Are we hearing the cries of a lost world or pushing our own understanding of life on others?

What is life?

We know that we are all one race: descended from Adam. There is only one human race.

But we are only united in Christ.

There is enough malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander in the world.

We are [vv. 9-10]

We are kings and queens. We are priests, administering the sacraments of love, peace, hope, and faith to a lost and hurting world.

And how did our High Priest King do that?

Philippians 2:5-8

What is life?

For the rest of the world, we see it playing out every day.

For the Christian, [Philippians 2:12-16]

We follow in our Lord’s footsteps, humbly serving our fellow image-bearers out of the love given to us by God through His Holy Spirit. Not grumbling and complaining about how unfair, unjust, and unsavory our world is, but showing compassion, humility, and faithfulness to God’s Word.

Our life is not our own. It was bought with the most important life. Grumbling and complaining and pointing fingers tears apart, but we have been tasked to help build the living Temple of God, the Body of Christ, the Church.

We are His. We belong to Christ. And we draw closer to Him by reading His Word, abiding His Word, and living out His Word in our everyday lives.

Life is only truly found in Christ.

Video Lesson: Simple, Not Easy: Part 2: How do we love each other?

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
1 John 4:7-12

Simple, Not Easy (Part 2)

Big picture: Love God, love people, share the Gospel.
But how do we love others . . . in the Church?

1 John 4:7-12

What does the Bible say?

  1. Love each other by (John 13:34-35):
    1. Loving like J                              
    2. Jesus loved by S                                   Himself, so ought we do the same (John 15:13).
  1. Love each other by NOT being:
    1. S , but rather h                                     (Philippians 2:3)
    1. H (Romans 12:9-13), but rather
      s                           (1 Peter 1:22-23)
  2. Love each other by:
    1. H each other (Colossians 6:10)
    1. T , r                                , r                                , e                             , and staying p                              (2 Timothy 4:2)

Let us show un-hypocritical love by helping each other through this life by pointing each other back to God’s Word and Christ’s example, being patient and kind with each other as we stumble along, remembering we need each other’s help!

Video Lesson: Simple, Not Easy: Part 1: How do we love God?

Simple, Not Easy (Part 1)

Big picture: Love God, love people, share the Gospel.
But how love God?

What does the Bible say?

  1. Love God by (Deuteronomy 6:4-9):
    1. Studying S                                             (Psalm 119:15-16)
    1. Discussing S                                         
  2. Love God by loving the C                         (John 13:34)
    1. R                                God’s faithfulness.
    1. M                               together to talk about His faithfulness.
    1. E                                            each other in truth and good works.
  3. Love God by:
    1. H                              those in need (Micah 6:8, Isaiah 1:16-17)
    1. W                                         to people (Matthew 5:13-16, 28:18-20

We show we love God by sharing the gospel and teaching people to obey, as we should be doing. Not being ashamed of the Gospel, but boldly proclaiming truth.

Video Lesson: Infinite to Infinitesimal Gospel

We should know the big picture.

It is extremely helpful to know the littlest parts: how things work and what needs to be understood.

How would you define infinity? What is it?

What is the opposite of infinity? Do you know?
(Hint: It is not negative infinity!)
[In other words, what is the limit of what we should know?]

What does the Bible say?

  1. Matthew 22:36-40
    1. L                               God.
    2. L                               people.
      1. The first 3.5 C are based on the first.
      2. The second 6.5 C are based on the second.
  2. 1 Corinthians 2:1-2
    1. The best way to love God is admit J is God who loved us enough to become a h and die for our sins.
    2. The best way to love people is tell them that God became a human to die for our sins!

There is obviously more detail on how we love God and others, but that is for another lesson!

So, love God and others by reading your Bible to know Him better and to share the full Gospel with everyone!