Monday, December 10, 2018

Baptized with the Spirit


                     2nd Sunday of Advent
                          Luke 3:7-18


(1)  Focus statement:

The one has come who baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire, giving us reason to rejoice and to prepare.

(2)  Function Statement:

This sermon will cause the congregation to rejoice in the gift of the Holy Spirit and to yield more fully to the Holy Spirit in order to prepare for the second coming.

1st movement
     I knew a family as I was growing up who lost two of their children to death by natural causes about a year apart.  The family had 6 children, four of which were girls.  The four girls were in church, but the parents or the boys didn't come to church.  The girls sung with a group of girls at the church.  They were very active in our youth group.  We had prayer meetings on the school campus at noon, and these girls were almost always there.  We had cottage prayer meetings for the youth on Thursday nights and again these girls were almost always there.  These girls were probably some of the most active among our youth.  They were very likeable.  Two of the girls died: one in about eighth grade with encephalitis or spinal meningitis.  She came down with some type of hepatitis and as a side effect of this she contracted the other and died.  She had been healthy up until this time.  It was one of those things that you couldn't believe happened.  Then, about a year later, one of her older sisters died in about 10th grade with heart failure.  It was like any other day.  The parents got up to fix breakfast and get the kids of to school.  They called them in for breakfast, going around to their rooms and calling them through their doors, but one of the girls didn't come.  They went again to wake her this time to discover that she was dead.  The autopsy showed that she died of heart failure.  Very tragic!  How can someone make it through something like this?  This is a real story; it could happen to you and I! 

2nd movement
     The only way to make it through something like this without getting bitter is with the help of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is our comforter, one who hurts with us, one who gives us what we need to make it through life, one who helps us to put life back together, one who gives us a purpose in life, and one who helps restore us back into the image of God thus preparing us for the second coming.  Our part is in letting the Holy Spirit do this for us, yielding!  As we yield to Christ, Christ baptizes us with the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit wanted to help this family put it all back together.  One of the girls in this family let the Holy Spirit do this; the last count I had of her she was still a happy, energetic person serving as a missionary with her husband for their church.  Most of the rest of the family literally fell apart.  They turned from the Holy Spirit.  The family had started to church after the first one died, but they had left the church again after the second one died.  The last count I had the parents had gotten a divorce, and the father had become an alcoholic. 

3rd movement
     On this 2nd Sunday of Advent we need to rejoice in this gift of the Holy Spirit and yield our lives to Christ, so Christ can Baptize us with the Holy Spirit: the one who can give us a purpose, and can get us through life.  This story may almost seem so tragic that you would suspect that it was fiction, but it is not.  This is a true story with real people; the names have been removed from this posting to protect those involved.  This type of thing could happen to any one of us; it happens to someone everyday.  We are not promised that we will have no problems and that we will be sheltered from bad things.  We need the Holy Spirit to help us through life; we can't make it on our own.  We need the Holy Spirit to fit us for the Kingdom of God.  As we yield our lives to Christ and are baptized with the Holy Spirit, we will truly be preparing for not only the celebration of Christ's first coming, but also, the reality of Christ's second coming.  Thanks be to God! Amen!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Big Secret Is?

                                                                                                                       1st Sunday of Advent!

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!@  We’ve had several predictions of the end of the world, but this one was the most in your face that I have seen!

B.        Read highlighted portions from the tract.

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 his coming?

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

I.          Nobody knows when!  Contrary to predictions that have been made.

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.

                        1.         Gnosticism:
a.                   Derived from the greek work Agnosis@ which means knowledge.
b.                  Gnostics believed they possessed a special mystical knowledge, reserved for those with true understanding.  That knowledge was the secret key to salvation.
c.                   They believed all matter is evil.
d.                  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.

e.                   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.
f.                   But there are still Asparks@ of the spirit in it
g.                  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)

                        2.         Deriving from this came the Docetist Heresy.
                                                                        a.         If Jesus is the Spiritual Messenger, he couldn=t have a real body; he couldn=t be really human because that would be evil.
b.         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! 
c.         They also denied the birth of Christ which would make him human and would give him a human body!

                                                3.         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!

                        4.         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!

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!
a.                   They didn=t plan for an Earthly future because they didn=t expect one.
b.                  They didn=t plan for retirement.  They didn=t save for one because they didn=t expect to live that long.
c.                   They didn=t invest in Earthly goods!
d.                  They just did the things that would prepare them for eternity and lived one day at a time.
e.                   They took this scripture to heart, be ready!
f.                   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!
g.                  They would have seen this as a positive thing, for Jesus to come back for them, they were ready!
2.                  Today, much of the preaching I hear about this is very negative.
a.                   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!
b.                  The Christian fictional series, ALeft Behind,@ is much the same in more recent years, and the track I shared with you earlier!.
c.                   They concentrate on the terrors of those who are left behind.
d.                  They are designed to scare someone into a commitment.
e.                   This isn=t a good way to move someone to serve the Lord!
3.                  But this is more about those who will be taken; they will be with the Lord forever!
a.                   This is like, is the glass half full or half empty?
b.                  One will be taken: one will 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!
c.                   The Early Christians would have wanted to be with their Lord!  They knew what it was like to be around Jesus!
d.                  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!


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

B.                 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!
3.                  That is what it means to be ready for the second coming!  Then and only then will we be ready for the Second Coming.
4.                  Then and only then can we get excited about the thoughts of Christ coming again!
5.                  Do you need to get ready as we encounter Christ at the table this morning?

                                                             Prayer of Confession
Service of Communion

Monday, November 26, 2018

Who Will Be the Judge?

Christ the King Sunday!

A.   Today, is the last Sunday of the season of growth between Lent and Advent.  It is the last Sunday in the Christian Year.
B.   The Christian Calendar starts with getting ready for the birth of Christ (Advent), the Birth (Christmas season), and goes through the life of Christ until it ends with today.
C.   Today is Christ the King Sunday!  At the end of Christ’s earthly life, He ascended up to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father as Lord and King of all!  That is what we celebrate today!

Today, I want to look at "Who Will Be The Judge?"

                  Rev. 1:4b-8 & I Cor. 4:1-5

I.   Judgment of Others (vs. 1-3).

A.   It does matter to us what other people think because
we do live with and around other people!  Also, if
they don't think well of us, our testimony to them
isn't worth much!

B.   Yet, others see us from their own Human perspective.
1.   They are judging from their own background that
affects their perspective of right and wrong!
Ex.  If they have been raised to think that
cards, dice, T.V., drinking any alcohol, smoking, and dancing are wrong no matter how they are used and no matter what
circumstances, they will judge us as wrong when we use or do these!
2.   Also, subconsciously, others judgement may be  affected by what makes them look good!
a.   Everyone's ego looks for a chance to look good!
b.   Sometimes people bring others down to make themselves look good!
3.   Others judge by outward events; they do not know our motives.

C.   So, the judgment of other people will not be the final word concerning our lives!  That is why we sometimes say it doesn't really matter what others think!

D.   We need to remember this when we are tempted to judge    
     someone else; it goes both ways!

II.  Judgment of Self (vs. 3&4).

A.   This seems like it would work doesn't it?
1.   After all, who knows us better than ourselves?
2.   We live 24 hours a day with ourselves!
3.   We know our deepest, darkest secrets and our
highest virtues!

B.   If the Holy Spirit were in control of our conscience
     all the time, this would work!
1.   But the bottom line is that we as humans make our own decisions.
2.   And we do not always let the Holy Spirit
     influence or affect those decisions!

C.   We also see things from our own perspective!
1.   This is affected by our background.
2.   And who of us wants to always admit our faults?     
     Really now?
3.   So we may try to justify our actions!
4.   And we can convince ourselves that wrong is

D.   Therefore, our own judgment of ourselves cannot be the final word concerning our lives!

III. Christ's Judgment is the Final Word!

A.   Christ the King knows all the circumstances.
1.   Christ knows our struggles.
2.   Christ knows the secrets we can't tell to anyone.
3.   Christ knows our good and bad qualities.

B.   Christ knows all our motives.
1.   Good outward deeds can come from selfish motives.
Ex.  Someone can treat others nice to gain favor!
2.   Seeming failure can come from pure motives. 
Ex.  We can offend someone and have pure motives!
3.   Christ knows why we do the things we do!!!

C.   Christ has no selfish reason to find gain in judging
1.   Christ is God and needs nothing we have!
2.   John 3:16 tells us that God loves us totally.
3.   No one can complain about an unfair verdict with God.
4.   In FACT, God will only give us what we have
decided with our lives while we have breath!
5.   God's judgement will be based on what we have
done with God's grace shown to us in Jesus

D.   After accepting God's grace, one way we try to grow is
by letting God eliminate the sin in our lives and help us to love fully as God loves!

E.   God is the only one who can ultimately define and
judge sin.  We can give our opinions, but really that
is all it is!  We need to realize that!

F.   Furthermore, God is a big God and able to convict of
sin through the Holy Spirit; God doesn't need our help
in doing that!

G.   Even in preaching, I can give my opinion of something
     that I perceive as sin, and if the Holy Spirit doesn't convict, I have possibly done more damage than good! 
     So I feel that I must be very careful when I start
     naming sins.


A.   In concluding, Christ the King is the judge, and we
     need to let Christ be the judge. 
1.   We need to let the wheat and tares grow together    
     until that great day of the final judgement! 
2.   Too many times, we are too quick to judge!
3.   Do we need to commit to letting Christ be the

B.   Since God's Judgement is what matters and since God
     judges by what we have done with God's grace offered
in Christ, we need to examine ourselves this morning.    
1.   If today were our day to be before the great
     judge, what would the verdict be?
2.   Have we accepted God's grace offered in Christ? 
     Are we trusting only in that?
3.   God knows!  There is no fooling God!

C.   As we have an invitation hymn, do you need to come to
     God this God for either of these reasons this morning?


Monday, November 19, 2018

God's Abiding Care

                                          Thanksgiving Sunday!

                         Matt. 6:25-33
(1)  Focus Statement:

This sermon tells us to not worry because God will take care of us and to be thankful for God's continuous care.

(2)  Function Statement:

Because of this sermon the congregation will relate to    instances in their lives where God has been there and cared for them and will be thankful.

1st Movement

As I may have already indicated before, I lived through a very bitter split in the church that I was a member of as a teenager.  I would like to share one story from the time we attended the church after the split which was about two years.

It was a Saturday work day at the church.  We had been working inside on either installing a Baptistry or remodeling the nursery, putting one way glass in so people in the nursery could see the worship service.  Things had gone pretty well.  In some ways, the church had tried to pick up and go on over the last two years; in other ways, they had not.  We had done a lot of work on the building during these regular work days, and the church had tried to create a new start, but there was a lot of bitterness toward "those other people."  This particular work-day, we had finished what we were doing inside, and a prominent lady from our church and myself ( about a 17 year old youth) were out in front of the church.  There was this old ugly stump out in the front of our church where we had cut down a dead tree in the past.  A man from the other church who was a farmer came by, stopped, and offered to pull out this stump for us with one of his tractors.  Before I tell you what happened next, you need to know that this man, prior to the splitting of the church, had been the Youth Sunday School teacher, had held cottage prayer meetings with the youth in his home, and had been a trustee in the church.  When this man made the offer to remove the stump, this leading lady in our church laid into him something fierce with me standing at her side.  "You get off of this property!  We don't need your help!  You didn't help us when you were here, and you're not going to help us now!"  As he kind of backed toward his truck, he made another attempt.  "I just wanted to do what I could to help; I think we all need to work together;  I could pull it out pretty easy with my tractor."  She said to that, "Get out of here!  We don't need you!"  After he left, I tried to talk to her, but she made one other statement that I will never forget, "I don't know if it is right or wrong, but that is the way I feel!"  After this last of many events that showed to us that the people were not willing to leave the past in the past and move on for the Lord, my family and I moved to another church.  I was very broken, my family probably left mainly because of me, but the Lord brought me through it and has helped me to grow and be better because of this chain of awful experiences in my life.  The Lord has taken care of me!

I can remember one other time, as I looked at this scripture, before Donna and I got married, my family and I went on vacation to Michigan.  My grandparents and some of my other relatives were in Michigan, and we would try to go up there about once a year to see them.  We were driving up, and it was night.  It was one of those dark, rainy nights where you can't see too well.  I was driving, and we had missed the turn where we usually turn because things do not look the same at night.  We were trying to get off in Holt because that is where my mom's brother lived (Holt is a suburb of Lansing).  We saw an exit that we recognized as being a road near them, so we went off.  We circled around off of the ramp and came to a stop light.  We looked the situation over, and decided to turn left.  We couldn't see any signs, but that felt like the way that we should go.  As soon as I made the left turn, blue lights started flashing in my rear view mirror.  I pulled off, and the policeman came to my door.  I told him that we were lost, and he said, "That's evident!"  Come to find out, we were headed up a one-way street the wrong way.  He said, "It's a good thing it is this time of the night because normally people are coming down this road at 55 mph."  He told us how to get where we were trying to go and let us go.  The Lord, with the help of this officer, took care of us again!

2nd movement

Our passage today says not to worry about our life, what we will eat or drink, and don't worry about our body, what we will wear.  Look at the birds of the air and the flowers in the field.  God takes care of them so wondrously, and we are more important to God than these.  We spend a lot of time worrying about life.  As I look back over my life, God has been there.  God hasn't always sheltered me from the bad as is evident from the first story that I shared today, but God has helped me to grow and be better in spite of what Satan or the world brings my way!  I have learned to cherish the scriptures:  (1) "All things work together . . . .", (2) "God is not the author of confusion . . . .", and (3) "God will not allow us to be tempted beyond . . . ."  God can take our hurts and turn them into something good for us.  On the other hand, there have been those times when God has sheltered me from the bad as is evident by the second story.  I know God doesn't always promise to do this.  We don't know what the future holds, but we know that God is there and will take care of us.  That is what our scripture tells us this morning!

3rd movement
In a couple of days, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day.  As we pause for just a moment, I would like to ask you to try to think of some experiences in your life when God has been there and cared for you.   Pause . . . .   Have you thanked God for God's abiding care?  I challenge you to do that as we have our invitational hymn;  you may come to the altar or you may do it at your seat, whichever seems to you to express the most thanks to God.  Also, if my story hits a little close to home because you have experienced a crisis in your life that has left you broken, God wants to restore your life.  Won't you come to God as we have our invitational hymn this morning?  I also hope that after looking at this today we can be more conscious of God's abiding care as we go through this next year.  God deserves our praise and thanks more often than once a year!  Amen!

                       Invitational Hymn