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Part 1 of the post-Easter series, "Cristo Vive" (Christ Lives). Did Jesus really rise from the dead? How confident are you? Could you convince a skeptic? Our belief in the "historicity" of Christ's resurrection is vital for our faith. It's even vital for our very salvation. And so, while the ideal is to believe without seeing or having absolute proof or certainty, God still understands that our faith at times needs to be strengthened by physical evidence, and more importantly, by the evidence of transformed character in our lives and the lives of others. This sermon examines some of this evidence for the truth of Christ's resurrection. Did Jesus really rise from the dead? There are ways to build our faith in this area and become more sure.
Part 3 in the series, "Entering God's Rest" (July 2019). In the final message on entering Gods' rest, we look at what Sabbath rest means for the Christian in light of their relationship with Jesus. When Jesus says, "Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest," what does he mean? The answer comes from learning about Jesus' understanding of the Sabbath, his observance of the Sabbath, and his declaration that he is "Lord of the Sabbath." Christians have a unique opportunity to enter God's rest in a way that no one before the coming of the Messiah could enjoy. Rest in Christ promises a life empowered by his finished work: a life of love, grace. restoration, and fullness. But he must become Lord of our Sabbath before this rest can occur.
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 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 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).
(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.
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.
Spiritual growth should be the goal of every Christian. As God's children we are, like any child, supposed to grow up into maturity and take hold of this new life that has taken hold of us. But unlike physical change, spiritual growth isn't always that simple. We'll have growth spurts as Christians, but then our change may stop in its tracks or even regress. We want to be mature, but our desires and weaknesses so often get in the way. Few people understand this better than Curt Campbell. As the Program Director of the groundbreaking Nashville Tennessee prison ministry, Men of Valor, Curt has seen both the joys and sorrows involved in pursuing change. His ministry equips the incarcerated and ex-offenders with what they can do to change. But fundamentally, it shows them how to surrender their lives to the God of change--the God who calls us into his family and invites us to grow up in him. Join John for his fourth interview in the Unto Life series—a conversation with Curt Campbell about the God who makes the impossible, possible. The God who works this miracle of transformation on anyone who will give their lives to him.