Monday, November 28, 2016

The Big Secret Is?


1st Sunday of Advent!

Introduction:
A. I have here in my hand a tract that I printed off from online, AJudgement Day! May 21, 2011; The End of the World, Oct. 21, 2011!@

B. Read highlighted portions from the tract.
1. This date has come and gone!
2. But there are other predictions out there today, although they might be a little more controversial, so I stayed with this one!
3. Predictions are there, so surely the End is near!!

C. Advent is first and foremost about getting ready for the second coming of Christ! The term means Acoming@ or Aarrival.@ Are you ready for the End?

D. I think we are ready for our invitational hymn!

E. Oh, but wait, maybe I should read our scripture!

Matt. 24:36-44 & I Thess. 4:16-17

I. Nobody knows when!

ABut about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.@ Vs. 36 NRSV

A. Anybody holding a KJV Bible and have it opened to the scripture? What do you notice different?

ABut of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my father only.@

B. There is a reason that the KJV omits Anor the Son.@ During the time that the text was written, from which the KJV was translated from, there was a controversy going on within the Christian church; this had to do with Gnosticism and the docetist heresy.

Gnosticism:
1. Derived from the greek work Agnosis@ which means knowledge.
2. Gnostics believed they possessed a special mystical knowledge, reserved for those with true understanding. That knowledge was the secret key to salvation.
3. They believed all matter is evil.
4. A human being is somehow an eternal spirit that has been imprisoned in a body, so there final goal was to escape from the body.
5. The supreme being had no intention of creating a material world but only a spiritual one. The creation of the world was the result of an error caused by one of the spiritual beings who were created by the supreme being, so the world was a mistake and is evil.
6. But there are still Asparks@ of the spirit in it
7. There has to be a spiritual messenger to come and awaken the spirit within our bodies. For the Christian gnostics, this was Jesus Christ.
(The Story of Christianity, Vol 1, Gonzalez)

Deriving from this came the Docetist Heresy.
1. If Jesus is the Spiritual Messenger, he couldn=t have a real body; he couldn=t be really human because that would be evil.
2. His body must just be a ghost or in some way just look like a body! Or maybe it is just an appearance of a body!
3. They also denied the birth of Christ which would make him human and would give him a human body!

All of this was settled and the Gnostics and Docetist were declared heretics at the Council of Nicea and the Nicean Creed was formed that clearly states that Christ was fully God and fully human!

Read Nicean Creed. P. 880 UMH

C. The exclusion of the words Anor the Son@ from the KJV text is one evidence of this controversy. For the docetist to include the words Anor the Son@ here would be to admit the humanity of Christ! The texts the KJV were translated from were affected by this controversy and are therefore less accurate!

D. The texts that we have that were written at other times in history include the words, Anor the Son.@
1. This is significant!
2. If Jesus didn=t even know when the Son of man would return, it is foolishness for us to ever think that we can pin point the day and hour when Christ will Return!!!! The Big Secret is, We Just Don=t Know!

II. But we know, It will be sudden!

A. It will be as in the days of Noah!
1. Eating and drinking
2, Marrying and giving in Marriage
3. Life as usual!

B. There will be two in the field, one will be taken and the other left!

C. There will be two women grinding, one will be taken and the other left!

D. It will be like a thief in the night! Sudden and unexpected!

III. And we know, it will be a Good Thing!

A. One day, the Lord will descend from heaven, with the sound of God=s trumpet, and the dead in Christ will rise first, then those who are alive will be called up to meet him! I Thess 4:16-17

B. Aand so we will be with the Lord forever.@
1. The Early Christians, the ones to whom this was written, fully expected that Christ would return in their lifetimes!
2. They didn=t plan for an Earthly future because they didn=t expect one.
3. They didn=t plan for retirement. They didn=t save for one because they didn=t expect to live that long.
4. They didn=t invest in Earthly goods!
5. They just did the things that would prepare them for eternity and lived one day at a time.
6. They took this scripture to heart, be ready!
7. They didn=t understand there to be anything that had to happen before Christ came back! They expected it to be sudden and at any time!
8. They would have seen this as a positive thing, for Jesus to come back for them, they were ready!

C. Today, much of the preaching I hear about this is very negative.
1. When I was a teenager, our church took us to hear a movie entitled, AA Thief in the Night.@ It was about the end times, and it concentrated largely on what would happen to those who were left.
If I hadn=t already been a Christian, it would have probably scared
me to the altar, which is what it was designed for!
2. The Christian fictional series, ALeft Behind,@ is much the same in more recent years, and the track I shared with you earlier!.
3. They concentrate on the terrors of those who are left behind.
4. They are designed to scare someone into a commitment.
5. This isn=t a good way to move someone to serve the Lord!

D. But this is more about those who will be taken; they will be with the Lord forever!
1. This is like, is the glass half full or half empty?
2. One will be taken and get to go to be with the Lord forever! It doesn=t even mention here what will happen to those who are left, but they won=t go on to be with the Lord!
3. The Early Christians would have wanted to be with their Lord! They knew what it was like to be around Jesus!
4. Do you know what it is like to be around Jesus? Don=t you want to be ready when he comes again? It will be a good thing!
Conclusion:

A. Remember, Advent is first and foremost about getting ready for the second coming of Christ! The term means Acoming@ or Aarrival.@

  1. We don=t know when, but it will be when things are going on just like usual. It will be at a time when we least expect it, but he will come back! Just as he came the first time, he will return!

C. Are you ready to be one who will be taken?
1. Have you excepted Christ as your personal Savior? God has made a way for you!
2. Christians, are you living for Christ every day like Christ could come tomorrow? Are you letting Christ reign in you?
a. We know today that maybe we should plan for a future here on Earth, just in case Christ doesn=t return in our lifetime.
b. But, with that realization, have we lost some of the urgency of living our lives so that we are ready for Christ=s second coming?
1) Do we read our Bible?
2) Do we serve the Lord with all we are and have?
3) Do we live honest lives, just like Christ could return before we get home?
4) Do we live our lives just like Christ is watching us every moment and could come at any time?
5) Are we really making Christ Lord?
c. Have we experienced what it is like to be around Jesus?
1) Have we gotten close enough to God to experience this?
2) If we live close enough to Christ we can!
3) Then we will be excited about the thoughts of Christ coming again, of being face to face with our Lord and Savior!
4) We won=t have to fear what will happen to those who are left, if we are ready!

D. That is what it means to be ready for the second coming! Then and only then will we be ready for the Second Coming.
1. Then and only then can we get excited about the thoughts of Christ coming again!
2. Do you need to come as we have our Invitational Hymn this morning? Do you need to get ready?

Prayer

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Lukewarm Church!


 Christ the King Sunday!

Seven Churches of Rev. Series.
Sermon 7: Laodicea.

Introduction: War Room clip: Lukewarm coffee


A. How many of you like lukewarm coffee?

B. It is distasteful & bitter isn't it? Makes you just
want to spit it out!

C. I believe Jesus had this sensation in regard to the
church in our letter for today!

Trans.
Let's look at this last letter in our series this morning to the church at Laodicea and learn its lessons.

Prayer
Rev. 3:14-22

I. Laodicea: The City and its Background.

A. Thriving, rich city; its main industry was wool cloth.
1. There were sheep growers.
2. There were clothing makers.
3. Laodicea was famous for a black garment made out
of black wool!

B. Politically, they were cool to Rome.
1. They had turned down Rome's help to rebuild after
the earthquake of A.D. 60.
2. They had the wealth and ability to rebuild
themselves.

C. Religiously
1. There were many religions in Laodicea.
2. But Emperor worship was no great threat to
Christians!

II. Laodicea, The Church.

A. Commendation: they received none!

B. Reprimand.
1. Christ reprimands them for their false security in
their wealth.
a. They say, "I am rich, and increased with
goods, and have need of nothing."
b. But Christ says Spiritually they are really
wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked!
2. It is all summed up by his charge of lukewarmness!
a. They were so falsely secure in their things
that they became indifferent Spiritually!
b. They were neither for Christ nor against
Christ. THEY JUST DID NOT CARE!

C. Exhortation:
1. They were challenged to buy real riches!

a. "gold tried in the fire" - a faith that had
been tested and proven would be better than
their earthly wealth!

b. "White garments." - symbol of those who
overcome life's temptations. This would be
better than a sinful life with all the
expensive clothing their money could buy!

c. "Eye Salve." - to open up their spiritually
blinded eyes! They would understand this
because "a medical school was located in
Laodicea at the temple of Asclepius, which
offered a special salve to heal common eye
troubles in the Middle East." (BKC)

2. To remember he loves them, or he would not try to
correct them.

a. (vs. 20) Even in their sad condition, he
still stands and knocks ready to come in and
help them.
b. But like the famous painting of Christ
knocking on the door, there is no latch on
the outside!


D. Promise:
1. (vs. 20) To those who open, he will come in and
commune with them.
2. Those who overcome will sit with him in heaven!

III. Laodicea's message to Marble Hill UMC.

A. Material possessions can be dangerous.
1. Not necessarily good or bad.
2. They often make us feel like we have really
attained something.
3. They can cause us to treat people poorly who have
less!
4. We must learn that all we have gained is a
blessing of God. Like an old song says,

"The things that I own and hold dear to my heart
are just borrowed they're not mine at all."

B. Christ cannot use lukewarm Christians or Churches.
1. Lukewarm individuals must get hot!
a. If we are indifferent, we are not far from
giving up Christ completely!
b. We must realize the danger and come back to
God!
2. Lukewarm Churches must get hot!
a. Churches get unconcerned about communities and die!
b. We must get enthused and reach out!

C. We need to be investing in "heavenly riches."
1. People in general:
a. teaching,
b. helping,
c. ministering to,
d. Caring and loving.
2. These are the things which make for a full life
here and hereafter!

Conclusion.
A. Are we lukewarm?
B. If we are lukewarm and fear we are growing farther and
farther from God, we need to come to Christ the King and let Christ rekindle the enthusiasm we once had.
C. We can do that today during our invitational hymn!


Invitational Hymn.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Church with an Open Door!


 Seven Churches of Revelation Series:
Sermon Six: Philadelphia

Intro. Watch clip of Smith and Wesson Security system:


A. How many of you have locks on your doors or security
systems?
  1. This is a clip of the one that is at the parsonage.
  2. Not a bad idea for locks on our homes.

B. But, is it possible for churches and individuals to put
locks on their lives, keeping people out?

C. We, as The United Methodist, advertise that we are a church with Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors.

D. This morning, we learn of a church that Christ loved
because it was an "open door" church. Let=s look at what Christ meant by that.

Prayer
Rev. 3:7-13

I. Philadelphia: The City and it's Background.
A. It was a small city.
1. It had been destroyed by Earthquakes several times. (BKC)
2. More of an agricultural town than industrial; grapes and wine were their main businesses.

B. Politically, it was pro-Rome. There was no emperor
worship present.

C. Religiously, Dionysius was the main god of the town.

II. Philadelphia: The Church.
A. Commendation.
1. Open Door.
a. Christ seems to be commending them because they have an open door to the world.

b. They knew how to reach out to those who were
around them, in Love by meeting needs.
c. Their doors were open to the outsiders!
2. Christ also commends them for their strength in
spite of weakness.
3. Lastly, they have not denied Christ. They would not compromise their beliefs in Christ.

B. Reprimand. Philadelphia received no reprimand.

C. Exhortation. To hold fast to what they have.

D. Promise.
1. four things.
a. Make them a pillar in the temple of God.
b. Write upon them the name of God.
c. Write upon them the name of the city of God.
d. Write upon them Christ's name.
2. All point to their security in heaven.

III. Philadelphia's message to Marble Hill UMC.
A. Realize that our strength is in Christ, not in the size
of the church.
1. This was a small church in a small town; yet, Christ had no reprimand for them!
2. We tend to gauge a church by its size!
a. This is evident in that we are down if our
number is down on a particular Sunday!
b. This is also evident in that if someone asks us how our church is doing they are usually asking about the numbers!
3. A small church is too often plagued by the old
excuse, "We are just too small."
4. Regardless of our size, we can do what God has for
us to do; there are people that we can touch!"

B. We must be an open door church to please God!
1. Our doors must be open to all people; none excluded!
2. The second we exclude anyone who is searching for
help or for a church, we are excluding Christ!
3. We are "open door" by reaching out "in love" to
those around us!
a. the rich and poor.
b. the blacks, Hispanics, and whites.
c. the old and young.
d. the conservative or the liberal.
4. Our world is too much into judging and excluding. We need to be an Open door church, one that Jesus would have no reprimand for!
C. We can know that, if we endure to the end, some day God
will take away all the uncertainty of this life and keep us secure in heaven!

Conclusion:
A. Are we hung up on the size of our church? Are we
convinced that a small church can't make a difference?
Today, we can come to Christ for the encouragement that
we need to make a difference!

B. Do we have an "open door" to those who are around us?
Christ would have us to! Christ can help us to!

As we have a Time of commitment, won=t you allow God to help you with this one? If you want to pray at the altar, it is always open.

Prayer of Commitment


Monday, November 7, 2016

A word about Election Day!


Friends,

Tomorrow is election day, the day we have all been waiting for.  In the United Methodist Church, what party, what candidate you vote for, and how you vote on the issues are not essentials.  We will have people who are United Methodists voting for people on both sides of the aisle tomorrow.  So, I would just like to say be much in prayer about who and how you vote, and then, go vote!  After the election, whoever wins; be willing to offer grace and live peacefully with people who voted differently than you. Jesus will still be Lord and King; let's live like people who are serving Jesus, our Lord and King.  Share God's love with all you see!  Don't be judgmental but offer grace to all you see!  Don't be grumbling, backbiting, and making jokes about people who voted differently than you or our president. Be guided by God's love!  People will notice you are different than others they have seen; they will be curious to come and know the Lord who makes you Love like that!  I love all of you, even if you do not vote like I do tomorrow; may I never do anything to make you feel otherwise!  Have a blessed week!

Pastor, Mike

The Church of the Living Dead!


              Seven Churches of Revelation Series
                       Sermon 5:  Sardis
               "The Church of The Living Dead."

Introduction:  Watch clip:


A.   The old Western movies showed wanted posters which
often read, "Wanted - Dead or Alive!"

B.   Sometimes, we live like we think God doesn't care if we
are dead or alive.

C.   Christ demands for His churches and His people to be
alive!  Our question for today is, "Are we Dead or
Alive?"
                            Prayer
                          Rev. 3:1-6

I.   Sardis:  The City and Its Background.
A.   It was a growing trade city.  Five major Roman roads
          came into and left Sardis.

B.   Politically, it was allied to Rome.
1.   Even tried to get the right to build the temple to
the emperor which Smyrna finally got.

2.   Emperor worship never became a do or die situation
for these Christians.

C.   There were many religious and cultic groups in Sardis.

II.  Sardis:  The Church.
A.   Commendation.
1.   Sardis receives "no" commendation.
2.   The closest to it is the mention in verse 4 of
"those" who have not soiled their garments.

B.   Reprimand.
1.   They claimed to be alive, but were Dead!
2.   No specific sins are mentioned; they must have
just slipped into indifference.

C.   Exhortation.
1.   Vs. 2     Wake Up! (NIV) and save what little
still was alive!

Like drawing the last coals of a fire together to rekindle it!

2.   Remember: what you did have. 

They had to do this to see how far they had
fallen.

3.   Repent:  When they remembered what they had been, they should see the need to repent.



D.   Promise.
1.   White garments:    seal of victory and eternal
life.
2.   Name will not be blotted out of the book of life.
3.   Christ will stand up for you at the judgement.

III. Sardis' message to Marble Hill.
A.   Realize that we can die as a church. 
1.   Indifference creeps up on us; it doesn't hit us
all at once!
2.   Churches do have a natural life span just like
people: they are born, they have productive years
when they thrive on vision, they become indifferent
and slack off and kick into maintenance mode, and
they die.
3.   The only difference is that churches can be reborn and start the cycle over again! They can keep spiraling off of the curve with renewed vision!

B.   Be awake to the leadership of Christ.
1.      Let Christ restore the vision!
2.   Be ready to try new things with a belief that it
might work this time!
3.   Ready to go the second mile to serve Christ!
4.      Believing that with Christ we can make a
difference!

C.   Realize that we must confess Christ to the world if we
expect Christ to confess us.
1.   We need to daily live for Christ NOW!
2.   We will want Christ's approval when this life is
over!

Conclusion:
A.      Are we alive and growing, or are we dying spiritually?

B.   We need to heed the warning of Christ about our names
being removed from the book of life!

C.   We can do that today as we have a time of commitment and encounter Christ at the table in Communion.


                     Service of Communion

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Church That Had a Choice to Make!


              Seven Churches of Revelation Series
                    Sermon Four:  Thyatira
   
Introduction:  watch clip about making choices:


A.      How many choices did you make today?  This week?

B.   Most choices are common everyday choices.

Trans.
Today, we will look at a church who had a very
important choice to make and consider the choices that
we have made and continue to make ourselves.

                            Prayer
                         Rev. 2:18-29

I.   Thyatira:  The city and its background.
A.   Thyatira is a smaller town than the other six.
1.   Commercially known for its trade guilds.
a.   Similar to our unions of today.
b.   Here are a few: wool-workers, linen-workers, dyers, tanners, bakers, potters, & etc.
2.   Politically, the city was neutral.
3.   Home of Lydia mentioned in Acts 16:14.
(a convert of Paul's ministry)

B.   Religiously the city was active.
1.   No temple of emperor worship.
2.   There were many other gods and temples.

II.  Thyatira:  The Church.
A.   Commendation:  for five virtues.
1.   Love.
2.   Faith.
3.   Service.
4.   Patient endurance.
5.   Latter works exceed the first; they grew.

B.   Reprimand:    Allowed wicked woman (called symbolically
Jezebel) to convince them that immoral
conduct was alright.
1.   Background is probably tied to the guilds.
a.   To work, you had to belong to a guild.
b.   To belong to a guild, you had to participate
in their social and religious activities.
c.   These events very often ended in immoral and
unGodly acts!
2.   This woman had said it is okay to do this to keep your jobs, just so you do not do it otherwise! (The lesson here: It is not okay to cheat or do anything against your faith because your boss tells you to.)

C.   Exhortation:
1.   To those who had followed Jezebel, repent of their
wicked ways and divided loyalties.
2.   To those who had not, hold fast to their  
convictions.



D.   Promise:
1.   Power over nations; symbolic of the strength to
stand up at all costs and win out.
2.   Morning Star.
a.   Interpretation is questionable.
b.   Could possibly symbolize the glory to come to
those who stay true to Christ.

III. Thyatira's message to Marble Hill.
A.   The church and sinful ways of the world must never mix.
1.   Matt. 6:24    "nobody can serve two masters."
2.   We must never let the sinful practices of the
world rub off on us.
a.   Lying.
b.   Deceitful business.
c.   Prejudice.
d.   exclusiveness.
e.   promiscuity   (to name a few)

B.   The Church must preach the gospel of grace and
repentance of sin.
1.   The world needs to know that God will forgive
their sin however immoral it is!
2.   This is the message we need to share as seen in
John 3:16.

C.   We must realize the power available if we stay true to
Christ.
1.   As an individual Christian.
a.   to grow.
b.   to overcome temptation.
c.   to deal with life's difficulties.

2.   As a church.
a.   to teach those who we reach and to keep them.
b.   to bring the lost to Christ!

Conclusion:
A.      Think about the choices we have made and make each day.

B.      Is there anything that has come between us and God? Do we choose God in our everyday choices?

C.      Do we need to ask God to help us with our choices today: to help us to choose God above everything else?

D.   Let's do so as we have a time of commitment.

                  Silent Prayer of Commitment


                       Invitational Hymm

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Conformed Church!


             Seven Churches of Revelation Series
                      Sermon 3:  Pergamos
                    "The Conformed Church"

Introduction:   Watch clip about Rosa Parks etc:


A.   What does it mean to "Be true to a cause?"
B.   Maybe, to stand up for something we believe in no
matter what.
C.   But it is so easy to give in to pressure and be untrue
to a promise.
Trans.
Today, we will look at a church in Pergamos and see            what we can learn about being true to a cause from
their situation.
                            Prayer
                         Rev. 2:12-17

I.   Pergamos: the city and its background.
A.   Not as important as Ephesus and Symrna:
1.   Commercially
a.   no sea port
b.   Trade was slow because you had to go
                   elsewhere for shipping.
2.   Politically
a.   Not as large, so not as noticeable.
b.   Not as important a town.

B.   But religiously, Pergamos was famous.
1.   Many religions were there: pagan religions.
a.   Zeus: (zoos)  god of the elements, moral law                                and order, and punisher of                                    guilt. (Webster & BKC)
b.   Athena:   Greek goddess of wisdom (Webster &                                                         BKC)
c.   Dionysius:    Greek god of wine. (Webster &                                                         BKC)
d.   Asclepius:    a pagan god of healing
                                  represented in the form of a                                       serpent. (BKC)
You had to come and let snakes                                crawl over you to get healing.                                                    (Don T.)
2.   Pergamos was the capital of "emperor worship" for              this entire area.  Here you worshiped the emperor             if you knew what was good for you!

C.   So the Christians in Pergamos were a small, and strange        group of people to the rest of the town.

II.  Pergamos the Church.
A.   Commendation:  faithfulness even in the midst of
          Satan's throne. (vs. 13)
1.   Refers to emperor worship!
2.   Even when one of them was killed (Antipas), they                    still remained true.



B.   Reprimand: 
1.   The Church OK's the teachings of Balaam.
a.   He was a Hebrew false teacher who led Israel
into idol worship adultery w/Moabite women.
b.   Pergamos, the church, had evidently okayed
attending idol feasts and perhaps the immoral
sexual rituals which went with them.
2.   Again, as in Ephesus, the Nicolaitines are
mentioned.
a.   Again, Christ says, "I hate their doctrine!"
b.   But this time there are people here who hold
to this doctrine!

C.   Exhortation:
1.   Repent!
2.   If not, Christ would consider them as against Him.
3.   He would cut them off as with a two edged sword!

D.   Promise:  Those who remained true would receive:
1.   Hidden manna.
a.   As Israel had in the wilderness, God would
provide this for them.
b.   God would provide what they needed to meet
their needs!
2.   A white stone.
1.   Scholars differ as to the meaning of the
white stone.
2.   The important point is the stone's
inscription which gives the believer "a
new name" indicating acceptance by God!

III. Pergamos' message to Marble Hill.
A.      Be thankful we are not persecuted for being Christians (to the degree they were back then).

B.   Be careful not to accept or condone immorality in our
personal lives! (Notice, Pergamos was reprimanded for
their own sin, not because they were allowing sin to go
on around them.  None of these churches are reprimanded
for living amongst sin; God does not expect us to control
the sins of those around us, just to show them a better
way!) Again, be careful not to accept or condone
immorality in our personal lives:
1.   Is it alright to cheat a little?
2.   To look at pornography?
3.      If we are sexually active, are we living in sexually monogamous relationships?
4.   Do we keep our commitments?
a.   We are to be transformed, not conformed!
(Rom. 12.2)
b.   However, we should be careful not to act                       better than others, and we should always                       welcome all people (those on the outside)                      because Christ died for all!    (John 3:16)
5.   This is more about being true ourselves than about standing up and making others conform!  You can’t force Christianity!



C.   Strive to be more in touch with God, so we can:
1.   Receive hidden manna:
a.   Strength.
b.   Courage.
c.   Patience.
d.   Comfort.
e.   Encouragement.
2.   Receive the white stone of approval showing that                    God is pleased with our lives!

Conclusion:
A.      Do we feel that God is pleased with our lives?

B.   Are we conforming or being transformed?
1.   Are we being careful not to condone immorality in
our lives?
2.   Are we accepting to all people?
3.   Are we striving to be more in touch with God?

C.   Or do we need to ask God to help us with this one?


                     Prayer of Commitment