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Part 3 of the Easter series, "Suffering and Resurrection." Very soon before he would enter Jerusalem to trigger the events that would lead to his suffering on the cross, Jesus had his purpose and his future glory re-affirmed by God on the mount of Transfiguration. God reminded him that he was his "chosen one." Jesus was (it appears) counseled and encouraged by Moses and Elijah, reminding him that his purpose was rooted in the foundations of all that had come before and that his destiny was foreordained before the world began. Because of Christ's finished work on the cross, we too are God's chosen ones, sons and daughters chosen before the world began to share in the fellowship of Christ's sufferings so that we might enjoy the power of his resurrection. In this way, the Easter story has a direct impact, not just on our eternal destiny, but on how we persevere and overcome in the here-and-now.
Part 3 of the series “Why the Scriptures Are Trustworthy.” Hebrews 11:1 asks that, in our approach to God, which includes our approach to the Bible, that we value both evidence and faith. This is one of many paradoxes, or apparent contradictions, whereby we are to enter into and embrace the presence and reality of God. To better understand this, this sermon looks at another paradox: the person of Jesus, himself. Jesus is God come into this world as a human being. He was, and is, fully divine and fully man. But Jesus isn't just known as "God made flesh," he is also the "Word made flesh." So to understand this mystery in Jesus is to understand the Word of God, the Bible itself. Within the incarnation of God's living Word, we find the inspiration for God's written Word. Through Jesus, we can approach the Bible depending upon both faith and evidence, divinity and humanity, mystery and reason. Through Jesus and the testimony of the Holy Spirit, our confidence in the written Word becomes sure.
Part 3 of the series, "Marriage and Singleness." The word "single" certainly seems to be associated with the word "alone." Whether you're single as a young person, never married but still want to be, whether you've lost a spouse due to death, separation, or divorce, or whether you look at your singleness as a lifetime calling––being single can leave a hole in your life that you constantly want filled. How can a single person view their aloneness, their place in God's Kingdom, their desire for wholeness that seems to come only from marriage and romantic relationships? Is there anything they can do to remedy these problems for however long they're single? This message attempts to answer these questions, both for the single person, but also for the church who is called to love, value, and support single people in their desire for purpose and relationship.
Do you pursue self awareness? Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Jesus once said that in knowing the truth, we would be set free. This message makes the assertion that the truth we should seek isn’t just the truth about God, but also the truth about ourselves. Without self-examination, we can never fully transform into Christ’s image and find the freedom his disciples enjoy.
Part 6 of 23 in the extended series "Belonging to Him," which takes an in-depth look at the Gospel through the lens of personal relationship. Jesus came to restore us to relationship with God by dying on the cross. He opened the door for us to belong by experiencing aloneness throughout his life and in his death, aloneness even from God. But while belonging to God absolutely starts with the cross, the spirit of the cross should never leave us. We too must take up our own cross with a spirit of sacrifice that infuses every part of our lives. In this way we will model the life Jesus lived, and we will, like Jesus, better identify with others in their aloneness when inviting them to belong (sermon recorded in 2018).
Part 8 of 23 in the extended series "Belonging to Him," which takes an in-depth look at the Gospel through the lens of personal relationship. Are you in need of a big hug? We all are at times. How about a hug from God? Exploring the story of the Prodigal Son and Jesus's words in the Beatitudes, we can discover the warm embrace of grace and forgiveness that God offers to our love-starved, weary, and heavy-laden souls (sermon recorded in 2018).
Part 13 of 23 in the extended series "Belonging to Him," which takes an in-depth look at the Gospel through the lens of personal relationship. Are the standards Jesus expects from his disciples in the New Testament too high? Most Christians would say, no, yet all the while privately bemoaning the truth that they fail to measure up again and again. We then wonder if it is even possible to answer Christ's call and walk in transcendent relationship. The answer is, yes. It is possible. But, only when our main focus is not on our own strength and abilities, but on our transcendent faith. All things are possible to him who believes. (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, you’ll be hearing the second sermon John shared from a 4-part Christmas series while pastoring a church in the country of Honduras.) Jesus says that in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, we must become like a little child with a childlike faith. The same applies when it comes to the nature of our focus during the season of Christmas. Like a child, we must return to a pure heart of faith, hope, and dependence, and to an embrace of the new life offered through the birth of Christ. In essence, we must be "born again" during Christmas, and return to the purity of heart that exists within any newborn child of God.
(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.
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 18 of 23 in the series, "Belonging to Him." How do you relate to the Bible? Is it just a textbook or rulebook? Is it just required reading to become a good person or go to heaven? Or is it also the very essence of God himself? If the Bible is truly the "Word made flesh," then its benefits will surpass simply becoming wiser or a better person. It can be a way to relate to God in the most personal way imaginable (sermon recorded in 2019.)
Part 19 of 23 in the series, "Belonging to Him." How do I relate to prayer? Is it just a way to get what I want? Is it something I just do, but doubt it ever really works? While God desires to meet our daily needs, he also wants us to understand our ultimate need: to belong to him. Prayer should be the avenue we use to nurture connection, intimacy, and oneness with God. If that's our first and main focus, then the answers to our prayers will be abundant...while perhaps looking a bit different than our imaginings (sermon 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).
Part 22 of 23 in the series, "Belonging to Him." People like John-the-Baptist, Paul, and Jesus became "less" so that people could see more of God and ultimately, so they could belong to God. John modeled this in his words: "He must increase, but I must decrease." Becoming less doesn't belittle our self-worth. Rather, it's the path to finding our true self-worth and identity and genuinely sharing this quality of life with others. It's the best way to show others a love that comes from above, a love that invites us to belong to him and each other in the here-and-now (sermon recorded in 2019).
Christianity is about change. We are born again of God's Spirit as a new creation. We then, by God's grace, pursue spiritual change and transformation. But for most of us, that change feels like a monumental task. First, it's so difficult to believe we're now something different. Our doubt and insecurity prevents our change. Second, we often fail as often as we succeed. So it's difficult to live out this change promised to us in Scripture. But the key to spiritual transformation isn't a manic focus on self-improvement or always making the right choices. The foundation of our faith isn't moral, it's believing in the power of miracles. It's believing that only God can change us, and while we are active participants, God must do more than simply shift our motives or thinking. He must raise us from the dead. While you may look forward to heaven and the promise of future resurrection, part of the good news of Christianity is that your resurrection begins now.