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Part 1 of the Easter series, "Suffering and Resurrection." We all love a good story. Good stories have the power to connect with us emotionally and to even transform our heart and perspective. But, above even the most inspiring fiction, it is the true story that typically has the greatest impact upon our existence and actions. Why? Because if the story is true, then perhaps it can also be true for us. This is the focus we must remind ourselves of when re-imagining the Easter story. The telling of Christ's death and resurrection is more than just something to touch our hearts or even our character. It tells of an event in time that will revolutionize everything we are...if we'll only believe the stories are true.
Part 4 of the Easter series, "Suffering and Resurrection." On Palm Sunday, many churches, like they did so long ago, enter the sanctuary with palms in hand, praising our Savior, Jesus. But, what kind of God are we worshiping? The King who will come again in glory? Or the Suffering Servant who sacrificed himself of the cross? This sermon looks at the last week of Christ's life, detailing the human drama and dramatic irony, and demonstrates that our Savior calls to us in glory, but still bears the wounds of his suffering. Worthy is the lamb who was slain for your sin and mine. Both his suffering and resurrection deserve our focus when we choose to honor him.
Part 5 of the Easter series, "Suffering and Resurrection." The Apostle Peter boldly preached the Gospel, the suffering and resurrection of Jesus and our need to repent and follow him, on the day of Pentecost. But only several weeks prior, we see a different Peter, one without hope, one who is essentially ashamed of the true Gospel of Christ. What brought this change? Peter certainly had a hope in God's Messiah, but the events of the crucifixion and his own denial of Jesus brought him face to face with the reality that perhaps his hope wasn't the hope Jesus offers us all through his suffering and resurrection. At least in part, our hope must be that no matter how badly we might have abandoned him, Jesus will not abandon us...to the grave, or to the corruption of our own hearts.
Part 2 of the post-Easter series, "Cristo Vive" (Christ Lives). What is it that brought Jesus back from the dead? God? Certainly. But specifically, we must assume based on the principles throughout Scripture, that he was made alive again by the breath of God, by God's Spirit entering in once again. You and I have the promise of a future resurrection because Jesus was the first to rise. But, we don't have to wait for heaven to experience this. In many ways, our resurrection begins now: through the regeneration of our heart, our mind, our emotions, our focus, and actions. We can live as a new creation and in newness of life long before heaven. But to do so we must, like Jesus, first breathe in the breath of God's Holy Spirit and honor God's Spirit in everything that we do.
Where do we find our stability and growth as Christians in the church? Most often, we'd say our stability and growth come from God. But in practice, we too often look for our main stability through human leaders and ministers. But as we see in Scripture, our chief foundation for stability and growth must come from Jesus Christ. And not just Christ, but from our faith and confession in the crucified and risen Christ. Only when our lives are founded upon the rock of this heavenly confession, can Christians ever hope to grow strong and prosper.
Part 2 of 23 in the extended series "Belonging to Him," which takes an in-depth look at the Gospel through the lens of personal relationship. This sermon asks the question: In what ways, when making the God of personal relationship known to others, is he still unknown to us? It introduces three different worldviews: Premodernism, Modernism, and Postmodernism. It discusses how God can be known and unknown in each, and invites the listener to consider which worldviews are present in their own heart and thinking (sermon recorded in 2018.)
Part 3 of 23 in the extended series "Belonging to Him," which takes an in-depth look at the Gospel through the lens of personal relationship. This final introductory sermon declares that in the midst of an impersonal, lonely world, God has shared his personal name and has called us by name. From the very beginning of time through the coming of Jesus, God has reached out to us in the most intimate way imaginable: showing compassion for our affliction, delivering us from sin, coming alongside to walk with us in life's journey. For this transcendent, holy God of Scripture, everything is personal (sermon recorded in 2018.)
Part 10 of 23 in the extended series "Belonging to Him," which takes an in-depth look at the Gospel through the lens of personal relationship. So many are in our world are searching for truth. But for most of us, the deepest needs of our hearts aren't fundamentally satisfied by an awareness of truth, but by the integrity of our personal relationships. So, yes, we should ask, "What is truth?" But we also need to ask, "Who is faithful?" "Who will keep their promises?" To satisfy the deepest needs of our heart, we must also ask, "Who is true?" (sermon recorded in 2018).
Part 14 of 23 in the extended series "Belonging to Him," which takes an in-depth look at the Gospel through the lens of personal relationship. Traditional Christian apologetics focus mainly on defending absolute truth. While this should be part of our focus, our first priority should be living in absolute relationship with God. We must know him intimately in every possible way, experiencing the reality of eternal life long before we ever set foot in heaven. Like with his first disciples, it must be clear to others that we have been with Jesus (sermon recorded in 2018).
(Note: We're taking a break from the "Belonging to Him" series for the holiday season and will pick back up with Part 2 on January 17th. This week is one of the sermons John delivered many years ago at The Cove Church in Mooresville North Carolina). The last few decades have shown a surge in spiritual hunger perhaps unknown since the time of Plato and Aristotle. In this age of postmodernism, so many people are chasing after so many ideas that sincerity itself has become the chief virtue of the spiritual seeker. But, does sincerity prove that all religions are the same? This teaching invites an honest look at this question, and invites an honest comparison of the world’s religions. While God loves that we’re sincerely hungry for spiritual things, he does want our search to eventually lead somewhere. And despite protests to the contrary, that destination isn’t just about the absolute truth of the Bible. Ultimately, it’s about a personal relationship with the one who is absolutely true.
(Note: We're taking a break from the "Belonging to Him" series for the holiday season and will pick back up with Part 2 on January 17th. This week, you’ll be hearing the third sermon John shared from a 4-part Christmas series while pastoring a church in the country of Honduras.) In coming to the earth at Christmas, God fulfilled his dream to be with us and offer us the gift of being with him. Through the divinity and humanity of Jesus, our Emmanuel, we find a God who is eternal and everywhere present, but also present to meet every need that we have.
(Note: We're taking a break from the "Belonging to Him" series for the holiday season and will pick back up with Part 2 on January 17th. This week, you’ll be hearing the final sermon John shared from a 4-part Christmas series while pastoring a church in the country of Honduras.) One of the best ways to describe the birth of Christ is with the phrase, "But...God." It goes like this: the world was sinking deep in sin, but God entered into our world, became one of us, and joined us in our weakness and suffering so we could join him in eternal strength and joy. The light shines in the darkness and, because of the coming of Christ, the darkness will never overcome.
(Note: We're taking a break from the "Belonging to Him" series for the holiday season and will pick back up with Part 2 on January 17th. This week, you’ll be hearing the second sermon John shared from the series, "A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven" while pastoring a church in the country of Honduras.) Most every day of our lives, we ask ourselves or others, "What time is it?" We find it important to live according to the expectations of time: minutes, hours, years, holidays, life events, etc. The biblical view of knowing the time is to understand that God uses time to fulfill his purposes, including our purpose under his guidance and care. So, what time is it where you are? Your answer will help you better live out God's purpose in your life.
(Note: We're taking a break from the "Belonging to Him" series for the holiday season and will pick back up with Part 2 on January 17th. This week, you’ll be hearing the third sermon John shared from the series, "A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven" while pastoring a church in the country of Honduras.) If you knew you had 24-hours to live, how would you spend it? What if you had 50 years left to live? Making the most of every opportunity involves living with both priorities in mind. We must live in utter dependence upon God's providence over time. And we must step out and take risks in both our daily lives and in our long-term plans to ultimately sanctify time with a view of eternity in mind.
Part 16 of 23 in the series, "Belonging to Him." To "fear God" is a recurring commandment in Scripture. But does it sound strange to your ears that we're likewise called fear Jesus? This sermon takes a look at the Jesus of the Gospels and demonstrates that people didn't just encounter the gentle, humble shepherd, but also the Lord of all creation, a person who regularly incited awe, astonishment, amazement...and reverential fear. How well we fear Jesus will affect the quality of our personal relationship with him, and whether or not we'll live in fear of everything else life throws at us from day to day (sermon recorded in 2019.)
Part 17 of 23 in the series, "Belonging to Him". Jesus once asked his disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" In our encounters with Jesus, we should also answer this question, but then we should ask, "Who does God say that I am?" Understanding and claiming our identity in Christ should be a foundational and constant confession of faith. Because who we are is shaped by who we're with. And who we are in Christ will define what we have in him and how we then choose to live (recorded in 2019.)
Part 20 of 23 in the series, "Belonging to Him." How do I relate to worship? Is it just about making it to church each Sunday? Is it just singing songs and hymns? Is it just something you’re supposed to do, but I rarely feel connected to God when I do it? Worship should be a chief focus in nurturing divine intimacy. But if we limit it to just Sunday morning or devotional time, we can miss the power of God's presence in all areas of life. Practicing the presence of God in everything we do will empower us to better glorify him, enjoy him...and belong to him (sermon recorded in 2019).
(The podcast launches its brand-new format with John's first spiritual meditation based on thoughts from his upcoming book: "UNTO LIFE: Reflections on Both the Journey and the Destination.") When does eternal life begin? When we die and go to heaven? If God is now with us and the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, eternal life begins now. (Music courtesy of Coma-Media and Dream-Protocol from Pixabay.)