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Christmas Time Services 2019

CHRISTMAS TIME SERVICES

SCHEDULE OF SERVICES FOR ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS

Advent Services
Wednesdays, December 4, 11, and 18.
2 p.m. at Our Savior
7 p.m. at Faith

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
5:00 p.m. at Our Savior

Christmas Day Festival Service
10:00 a.m. at Faith

New Year’s Eve Communion Service
7:00 p.m. at Faith

By |2019-12-16T11:35:14-07:00December 16th, 2019|Good News, Words That Matter|0 Comments

Faith Listens to the Prophet (12/15/2019 – Advent 3)

Faith Listens to the Prophet

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Matthew 11:2–10 (CSB)

Now when John heard in prison what the Christ was doing, he sent a message through his disciples and asked him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
Jesus replied to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news, and blessed is the one who isn’t offended by me.”
As these men were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothes? See, those who wear soft clothes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:
See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way before you.,

Dear friends in Christ Jesus, awaiting the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:  Do you know what a reality check is?  It’s one of those times when we set aside our self-deceptions and our wrong-headed emotional view of things and get in touch with things as they are.

I remember one young lady who thought she was really in love with a fellow.  He asked her to marry him, and for the first time, instead of thinking what a great time she had with him on a date, she though of actually spending her life with him.  She said “No.”  Reality Check

Coaches will put aspiring but unexceptional athletes up against the best.  They make the choice to do something else rather than having to be cut – Reality Check

Sometimes our friends do us a service when they break it to us that we have an annoying habit or bad breath or some other issue. Reality Check.

Advent, is a penitential season.  It’s a reality check.  If Christ came for you today, if life were over for you today, would you be ready?  I mean, are you certain that you would be in heaven?  Have you taken a real look at who you are, and what your relationship is to the Creator of all things?

How shall we conduct such a reality check?  How can we TRULY know God?  How can we TRULY know the reality of our wrongdoing?  How can we really know God’s feelings toward us?  In our text for today we see where Jesus points us, and a group of blundering disciples to a reality check on our faith …

Prepare Your heart by Faith, for Only Faith Sees…

FAITH LISTENS TO THE PROPHET

  1. His Words About Our Plight
  2. His Words About Our Deliverance
  1. His Words About Our Plight

Are you familiar with the story of John the Baptist?  His birth was spoken of by Malachi the prophet 400 years before,  “See, I am going to send my messenger, and he will clear the way before me. Then the Lord you seek will suddenly come to his temple, the Messenger of the covenant you delight in—see, he is coming,” says the Lord of Armies.” (Malachi 3:1, CSB)

John was the messenger, and Jesus came right after him.  They were relatives, remember, and John was born six months before Jesus, and at the usual age of 30, started his ministry.  Jesus began His ministry 6 months later, then.

The purpose of John’s coming was to so convict the people of sin that they would despair of the righteousness of the law, and see how absolute was their need for a savior.  He would then point out the Savior, Jesus, as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.

God blessed John’s ministry by moving the hearts of people to believe him, and to leave Him for Jesus.  John himself applauded this saying of Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30, CSB)

John, remember, had been imprisoned for condemning Herod’s public adultery. From prison He asks Jesus if He is the Messiah. That seems odd, because John had pointed to Him as the Messiah. Was John losing faith? It could be that he was beaten down in depression, but more likely that this was a reality check for his own followers. Were they listening to Him?

Faith grabs hold of spiritual realities through the words of the prophets.  John’s words pointed to Jesus as our Savior and our Life, So John when sent them out to Jesus it served as a reality check. — Now when John heard in prison what the Christ was doing, he sent a message through his disciples and asked him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” That is an interesting question.  If in fact Jesus IS the one who was to come, then why aren’t they following Him?

As you and I perform a reality check, we too need to listen to the words of the prophets – including Jesus.  If we do, these words will make clear our REAL plight.

Jesus, for example, says, ““If you love me, you will keep my commands.” (John 14:15, CSB) Do you?  Here’s a reality check; do you love your Savior absolutely?

How about His command, “Search the Scriptures?”  How about His command, “[Do not neglect] to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.” How about his command, And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. (Ephesians 4:32–5:2, CSB)

This is altogether too convicting, isn’t it?  It’s scary, too.  A reality check tells us that we are in trouble.  It’s like the pilot who calculates that he has 1.2 hours of fuel in the tank and he is over the ocean 2.3 hours from land..  He isn’t going to make it back.  He should have turned around more than an hour before.  That’s reality.

That’s the true picture, from the words of the prophets, the ones who speak the words of God, the words about our plight, as sinful mortals.

2. His Words About Our Deliverance

John sent his disciples for a reality check, and Jesus gave it to them.  Putting his answer in the familiar words of Isaiah, Jesus told them what they were really looking at.

Jesus replied to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news, and blessed is the one who isn’t offended by me.”

Here are words of deliverance from Christ himself, connected to the words of the prophets that these disciples professed to believe.  Isaiah had said, “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. (Isaiah 35:5, CSB)  in order to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon, and those sitting in darkness from the prison house. (Isaiah 42:7, CSB) The Spirit of the Lord God is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; (Isaiah 61:1, CSB)

Why words of good news, healing, and liberty?  Because they proclaim Jesus as the ONE LONG EXPECTED.  Just as real as our sin, our plight in the face of death, is the reality of our salvation in Jesus Christ.  It’s the real thing.

Can you sense Jesus’ exasperation in His words? As these men were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothes? See, those who wear soft clothes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:

See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;

he will prepare your way before you.,

Do you think the words of God are just a curious opinion?  Just an emotional crutch?  Just for other people?  Are you a Christian because it’s nice to be one or because it is REAL and TRUE?  And because we really will die, each of us, and we need to get real about it, and confess our sins to the Redeemer who has taken them all upon Himself and saved us?

As we come to the festivals of the Nativity and of Easter and of the others, take a reality check.  You and I are such sinners that we need God in the manger to live our righteousness.  GOD on the cross to redeem us from all our sins.  GOD stepping out of the tomb as victor over our own death.

By his own work, you have forgiveness of all your sins.  Including the sin of not taking His word seriously. And your sins of anger and grudge-bearing, and of lust and greed, and coveting what isn’t yours – things and other people too.

Advent is a good reality check.  Get in touch with reality through the true and everlasting word of God, given through the prophets and apostles.  Forget the messenger, forget the circumstances, and check in with the message of our desperate plight, and our perfect forgiveness.

Then truly from the depths of our hearts we can earnestly pray: Even so, Lord Jesus, quickly come.

AMEN.

By |2019-12-14T12:41:55-07:00December 14th, 2019|Sermons|0 Comments

This Could Be You (12/8/2019 – Advent 4)

This Could Be You

Jesus said there would be signs in the heavens. I have always been in awe of one of the many signs in the heavens, namely the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 striking Jupiter in 1994.  It is as though heaven itself is saying, “This Could Be You! Be Ready”

(Incidentally the fireball in the upper left reached the size of the earth itself.)

Download the PDF: Advent 2 2019 SRM

Luke 21:25–36 (CSB)

25 “Then there will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars; and there will be anguish on the earth among nations bewildered by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26 People will faint from fear and expectation of the things that are coming on the world, because the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 But when these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is near.”

29 Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 As soon as they put out leaves you can see for yourselves and recognize that summer is already near. 31 In the same way, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all things take place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

34 “Be on your guard, so that your minds are not dulled from carousing, drunkenness, and worries of life, or that day will come on you unexpectedly 35 like a trap. For it will come on all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 But be alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Dear fellow redeemed: What we have in our text for today is Christ’s urging that we do not miss out on the joy that is in store for us, for Christ is coming. He is coming soon. You will be surprised how soon. So, the message is simple:

BE READY FOR CHRIST’S COMING

  1. See How He Comes
  2. See the Signs of His Coming
  3. Be Ready for Resurrection and Unspeakable Joy
  1. See How He Comes

“Be ready for Christ’s coming.” What does “Christ’s coming” mean? The most direct answer is that it is the end of the world as we know it, and everything will be changed. Peter teaches, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed. Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness as you wait for the day of God and hasten its coming. Because of that day, the heavens will be dissolved with fire and the elements will melt with heat. But based on his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:10–13, CSB)

Then will be the resurrection of everyone who has died for  final judgment, as John tells us, Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good things, to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked things, to the resurrection of condemnation. (John 5:28–29, CSB)

This will come upon all people in an instant. For most (?) of us it will come at that moment when we die, as Paul writes, Listen, I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed.(1 Corinthians 15:51–52, CSB)

Christ comes on the last day, surely, but also in the hour of our death.

But whichever we face, 28 But when these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is near.”

2. See the Signs of His Coming

So, be ready. It is not like we haven’t been warned.

Basically, the brokenness and rebellion of this world against God calls for judgment.  There will be anguish on the earth among nations bewildered by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26 People will faint from fear and expectation of the things that are coming on the world. These things happen in every age of the world; but are accelerating as the end approaches. The fear of climate change, of overpopulation of earthquakes, tsunamis, or disasters of all sorts is amplified by instant communication tech.

And there really are signs in the heavens. Then there will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars; … the powers of the heavens will be shaken. If you doubt that, look at this iconic picture. This is the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 striking Jupiter in 1994. This fireball grew to the the size of the earth. This as close as I can imagine to God saying, “This could be you!”

This is the pattern Jesus lays out: Anguish and fear and then His appearing. It may be the anguish of death or the anguish of the world, but the message is the same: This can’t last. Humanity has no hope in itself, no hope in its false gods, science and wealth and reason and power. Here is an invitation to an unbelieving world to repent and turn to the Lord of Life.

But the devil has a strategy: Don’t repent, double down on this broken world: The rich man in one of Jesus parables takes that tack,Then I’ll say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.” ’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared—whose will they be?’ (Luke 12:19–20, CSB)

Here’s another part of the devil’s deceit: It may seem that except for that instant when He comes, that we have plenty of warning. After all, we get old and we know what’s coming. We get sick, and we know what’s coming, we are in the hospital and we know what’s coming. But readiness is repentance and faith; it is a spiritual condition, not just an exercise of prudence. We don’t just suddenly DECIDE to repent in the nick of time. So, Jesus warns, 34 “Be on your guard, so that your minds are not dulled from carousing, drunkenness, and worries of life, or that day will come on you unexpectedly 35 like a trap. For it will come on all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 But be alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man.”

3. Be Ready for Resurrection & Unspeakable Joy

We speak of Jesus’ coming, when all things change, and we speak of the signs, but then what. What does our Lord want us to draw from the brokenness of this world? The thing is, don’t let the brokenness of this world be understood apart from His promises. 29 Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 As soon as they put out leaves you can see for yourselves and recognize that summer is already near. 31 In the same way, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near.

We so easily compartmentalize our thinking and narrow our focus to the calamities that are in store. But the calamities are but a moment, and the rescue is forever. The kingdom of this world is but a moment, and then comes the eternal spring, the eternal summer, the eternal wedding feast, with no end of delightful figures of speech.

Just consider how Jesus speaks here: 36 But be alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man.” Escape the anguish and stand before Jesus. Here He refers to Himself as the Son of Man. Because you have listened to sermons based on Luke over the last year, you know that this has a very special meaning, taken from the prophet Daniel. “I continued watching in the night visions, and suddenly one like a son of man was coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was escorted before him. He was given dominion, and glory, and a kingdom; so that those of every people, nation, and language should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13–14, CSB)

So prepare for the end of days, that instant when our Lord comes in glory, but don’t forget what you are preparing for. You are preparing to be sons and daughters of the kingdom that we also call heaven, or paradise or the wedding banquet or the mansions prepared for us or eternal life. It is where there are “pleasures forevermore.” We navigate the anguish and trouble of this world as Paul described: My goal is to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.(Philippians 3:10–11, CSB)

We face the end of all this earth in possession of its remedy in our baptisms: Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:3–4, CSB)

So dear friends, confess your sins. Turn your back on this broken, sinful life, be ready for Christ’s coming and so look forward to eternal Glory!

Amen.

Photo Credit

https://www.google.com/search?q=comet+strikes+jupiter&tbm=isch&ved=2ahUKEwiyj8D3_6HmAhXZAjQIHeRpBXUQ2-cCegQIABAA&oq=come&gs_l=img.1.0.35i39j0i67l5j0j0i67l3.29767.30345..33287…0.0..0.111.414.1j3……0….1..gws-wiz-img.SPduas7O6D8&ei=gMzqXbLPD9mF0PEP5NOVqAc&bih=937&biw=1920&safe=off#imgrc=R-Ed9Jux2cUZYM

By |2019-12-14T12:38:50-07:00December 6th, 2019|Sermons|0 Comments

Worldview Contrasts #1

Scripture often points to a distinction between those who live in faith in Him, and those who do not. John often used the term “world” to identify everything in the world that is hostile to Christ and the gospel. For example, he urges us,  “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15, CSB)

That is a pretty sharp contrast—like night and day. That is another picture Jesus uses: “Jesus spoke to them again: ‘I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.’” (John 8:12, CSB)

Again, that is a stark contrast between Christians and those who do not follow Christ.

What is the difference. Are Christians innately better or more deserving? No. The difference is faith, spiritual life in Christ. With faith and the guidance of Scripture we have a different worldview than the world.

Over the next few weeks we will contrast the Christian Worldview with some of the most common false worldviews. We won’t get into the realm of political or social opinion, but will deal with more basic truths.

To begin with …

Christians view the world through the lens of the Holy Scriptures, which are inspired, true and without error, so we understand that we are God’s creatures, originally created in perfection, but now born imperfect morally, spiritually, and physically. We are beings both physical and spiritual in nature. Every one of us is accountable to our Creator for all our thoughts words and actions. We recognize that God has influenced history, including the natural history of the world, both directly through direct divine acts and through providence.

The world, by contrast, looks at the world based on physical senses plus human speculation. While our senses provide empirical information about our world, they are limited. We cannot perceive directly in others such things as pain, or love, or beauty or truth. With our sensed we cannot perceive spiritual realities such as sin, grace, the soul, or the presence of God, Who is Spirit, nor can we perceive the past or the future directly.

This void is filled by the speculation and imagination of sinful human beings, so they cannot know for sure “who we are, where we come from, or where we are going.

By |2019-08-30T18:19:35-07:00August 30th, 2019|Good News|0 Comments

What Is Your WorldView?

What Is Your Worldview?

A “worldview” is a body of concepts that describe and interpret the world in which we live. Our worldview may be true or false depending on whether we view and understand the world as it truly is. Do we believe, for example, that human life has value? If so, that will affect the way we look at others. Do we believe that the world was created? If so, we will respect the Creator; if not, we will view life as only a complex assemblage of matter.

Our worldview determines what is important in life. Is getting and having possessions the most important thing? If so, then we will neglect other “less important” things.

We are affected by the prevailing worldview of our culture, and therefore Christians have been “counter-cultural” when the prevailing worldview has been pagan or materialistic or humanistic, as the predominate culture is in our country today.

The Christian worldview hinges on four key realities: -Humanity was created by God in a state of perfection. –We have fallen from that condition. –We have been redeemed by God. –With or without this redemption, all must give an account to God at the end of life.

These realities are not shared by our culture, so they do not live as though they are true. We do live this way. We must!

By |2019-08-30T18:11:33-07:00August 30th, 2019|Good News|0 Comments

Be Ready for Christ’s Return (Pentecost 12, 2019)

So HOW Is Judgment Day a Blessing?

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Luke 12:32–40 (CSB)

32 Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Make money-bags for yourselves that won’t grow old, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

 

35 “Be ready for service and have your lamps lit. 36 You are to be like people waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet so that when he comes and knocks, they can open the door for him at once. 37 Blessed will be those servants the master finds alert when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will get ready, have them recline at the table, then come and serve them. 38 If he comes in the middle of the night, or even near dawn, and finds them alert, blessed are those servants. 39 But know this: If the homeowner had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Dear fellow redeemed: Last Sunday we heard and reflected on Jesus’ words that our lives do not consist in having lots of possessions, and that in the eternal scale of things, what is important is to be rich toward God, that is, to  to have faith, to trust that God is the giver of all things, including life and salvation, not “stuff.”

That teaching was to “vast multitudes” who had gathered to hear Jesus. Jesus then turns to his disciples and talks about how we live this way, as Christians. Our worries are subdued by faith in Christ. Jesus sums up this way: “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be provided for you.” (Luke 12:31, CSB)

This is really where our faith is lacking. It is typical that we do not comprehend what God does for us. Consider what you have been given already this day: Your life. All the physical and mental strength that you have enjoyed over your lifetime. Spiritual life and faith and the forgiveness of your sins. And the gospel that like an eternal fountain, the water of life, pours faith-sustaining mercy and forgiveness into our lives.

And while providing you with forgiveness and salvation, He hasn’t forgotten to provide other things we need as well, the necessities of daily life – food, clothing, cell phones.

This makes sense to us because as Christians we honestly life our life with a view to the eternal things. With that as our treasure, “inexhaustible money-bags,” Jesus says we are …

READY FOR THE ETERNAL FEAST

  1. Ready for the Lord
  2. The Lord Who Serves
  3. We Just Don’t Know When 

    1.  Ready for the Lord

Jesus paints three pictures of what it means to be ready. The first picture Jesus paints is of readiness for deliverance. “Be ready for service and have your lamps lit,” He says. The terms He uses are taken from the Passover scene from Genesis. “Be ready for service” means, “Be ready to go.” The Jews were in slavery, and that Passover night the Lord would bring judgment on the Egyptians and deliver the Children of Israel from slavery to freedom.” Are you ready to leave this vale of tears for the eternal land of milk and honey, the promised land of the resurrection?

Are living your life with a view to the eternal things?

Jesus paints another picture: 36 You are to be like people waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet so that when he comes and knocks, they can open the door for him at once. 37 Blessed will be those servants the master finds alert when he comes.

This isn’t a picture we are familiar with. If I am at a banquet and I return, there is no expectation of someone to meet me, take care of my needs, maybe a midnight snack, make up the bed, and so on. But among the rich that was the custom. By contrast there were the slaves, who were to be ready for the master’s call. I suppose our parallel might be taking the late flight into Chicago and going to the Westin hotel. What would you think if you were left at the door with nobody to open up and show you to your room? They should be ready whenever you arrived. That’s the kind of readiness Jesus to which Jesus calls us.

2. The Lord Who Serves

But still, there is a difference. Jesus says that the slaves are blessed when the master arrives home. “38 If he comes in the middle of the night, or even near dawn, and finds them alert, blessed are those servants.” How is that? Amazingly, He says, 37 Blessed will be those servants the master finds alert when he comes. Truly I tell you, he [the master] will get ready, have them recline at the table, then come and serve them. When the master returns, he will feast the slaves, his servants. Are you ready for the Lord to come and lay out the eternal feast of the resurrection?

You know, this is where you are most privileged to be Christians who are connected directly through the Bible to the teaching of Christ. We call ourselves “Confessional Lutherans” today, but in actuality our faith goes back to the apostles, to Christ, to the Prophets, Moses, Abraham, and the rest. We are privileged because we know Christ as our servant.

That seems disrespectful, even blasphemous, but that is what Jesus is saying here, and not just here. When His disciples were arguing over which of them was the greatest, here’s what Jesus said, “But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who have authority over them have themselves called ‘Benefactors.’ It is not to be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever is greatest among you should become like the youngest, and whoever leads, like the one serving. For who is greater, the one at the table or the one serving? Isn’t it the one at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” (Luke 22:25–27, CSB)

And that is our only hope, for who of us can save ourselves? Who of us can atone for our sins?

3. We Just Don’t Know When

And then there is one more call to readiness that Jesus gives: 39 But know this: If the homeowner had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

The criminal chooses the time and the place for his crime, which is why we keep our doors locked all of the time, and why we foster situational awareness and readiness to avoid being victimized. Jesus is saying that if we are in a state of readiness, then we will greet Him with joy when He comes again, or when we die.

Every person has a future. Everyone will live (how long?) and every person will die. That much everyone knows. But as Christians we know that there is an eternal feast waiting for us, to make use of one picture. Another way to think of it is that everything that is good and right and beautiful and pleasant and joyful is only a shadow of the true good, right and beautiful that awaits us.

There are times when Jesus stresses the judgment that is to come in order to call people to repentance. But as he speaks with His disciples here, and with us, he wants us to be ready, not just for judgment, but for salvation.

The people of our secular culture know that we live and then die, and they live according to that empty faith. Everything is about the here and now. The total preoccupation with politics is to build a perfect world here and now. The obsession with possessions is to live life to the fullest here and now, before death ends it all. The devotion to death in the form of abortion and euthanasia and suicide reflects their doctrine that if life isn’t wonderful, and this life is all that there is, then might as well end it.

Do we live like the here and now is all in all? Are we so affected by our culture that even though we know better, we give scarcely a thought to what awaits us in that bright land and that new shore?

Do we live like our story ends in tragedy? Do we live in anxiety and fear? Or do we live like we really should, knowing that our story ends in joy everlasting? We will all face troubles and struggles in life, and we will make it through. But when the time comes when the illness is our last, or our eyes close for the last time, or our life suddenly comes to and end. In other words, when our Master calls us, to be ready is to know that the grave is the door to life, as Jesus told Martha, grieving over Lazarus, “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25–26, CSB)

Jesus says, “38 If he comes in the middle of the night, or even near dawn, and finds them alert, blessed are those servants.

How will you be alert? Be ready? By being in the word, by being with your fellow Christians to encourage and be encouraged. To think about your salvation and make it your treasure, in the ageless money-bags of your immortal soul. For what awaits you is an inexhaustible treasure that is yours because your sin has been exchanged for Christ’s righteousness, and because you have a place in heaven.

Think about it. Savor it so that when hardship comes you realize that the reminders of heaven are no mere platitude, no mere tired expression, but the eternal joy tasted by all the saints in heaven, to be complete in the resurrection.

Reflect upon what awaits you that, as Paul writes, “Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17–19, CSB)

AMEN

By |2019-08-30T18:04:13-07:00August 30th, 2019|Sermons|0 Comments

Reason for Hope (July 26, 2019)

Yes, There Is Reason to Hope

There Is an Oasis in the Desert of Life

but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15, CSB)

Why should we be full of hope?

Here are some answers I get:

  • I have a good job.
  • I have my health.
  • I’m young and have my whole life ahead of me.
  • The country is on the right track economically.
  • I have great family and good relationships.

But what if you don’t? What if you don’t have a good job, health, youth, or economic prospects? What if you are alone?

Any of these count as positive thinking, but all of the hopes listed here are bound to come to an end as we get older, the economy changes, we can’t do the work, or relationships inevitably end in death.

So then where is your hope?

Where is your hope when the brokenness of this world descend on us? Remember, God has already said that because of our sin, all these things will be taken away from us eventually. In Genesis 3, God tells Adam that labor, pain, alienation and death will curse this world because of sin.

But He also gave reason to hope. The fact is that He promised a salvation FROM this world and all the sorrow and trouble that is part of it. In fact, this sorrow and trouble is intended to drive us into the arms of our Savior.

We have hope because our Savior has taken sin and its curse upon himself, and so opened heaven for us—a new creation in which there will be no trouble, sorrow, toil, pain, or death.

Reflect upon this hope, and let it show, and then be ready to share this hope with others who ask. And don’t hesitate to use me to help. Is someone you know sick and in the hospital? Dealing with family problems? Facing loss? Tell them of your hope, and then offer to send you pastor around.

In this hopeless world, Christians and the Christian Church are the real oasis of hope.  — Pastor Bryant

By |2019-07-31T18:25:51-07:00July 31st, 2019|Good News|0 Comments

Got Peace? (July 20, 2019)

Real Peace?

God’s Peace

In the early 70’s, toward the end of the Vietnam War, a little girl in the Sunday school said emphatically, “I only like “peace” when Pastor says it!” It seems that the wise little 8-year-old had been put off by the “peaceniks” who were misusing the word to insist on the surrender of America in Vietnam.

She impressed on me the common misunderstanding of the word. What is peace of God? What is the peace that Christ gives? Is it emotional well-being? Is it cessation of hostility? And end to war? Is it not being upset in life?

This peace is important. Do you know what this peace is? Three thousand five hundred years ago,  The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” ’ “So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.” (Numbers 6:22–27, NKJV) Likewise, Paul invoked the Lord, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7, NKJV)

God’s Peace is reconciliation with God. It is the forgiveness of your sins, and the gift of such righteousness that you are beloved of God and counted as His dear child. It is only the Prince of Peace who brings such peace, and He is present in His words of peace.  —- Pastor Bryant

By |2019-07-31T18:18:57-07:00July 31st, 2019|Good News|0 Comments

Love Diminished (July 5, 2019)

Toleration Diminishes Love

All false teachers and all false religions are known by their false teachings. That is what Jesus meant when He said, “Watch out for false prophets; by their fruits you will know them.” One of the chief false teachings that Jesus pointed out was the self-righteousness of the Pharisees, that they were righteous because of their goodness instead of God’s mercy.

That false teaching is still alive in the idea that we must give approval to the popular vices of our time. Disapproval is considered “unloving,” even when the one insisting upon approval blasphemes the Name of the Living God, degrades the holy institution of marriage, snuffs out the life of the unborn, and denies the order of creation. This is not love, but the hate of the Evil One bearing fruit in humanity.

The true love that has come into the world is the love that acknowledges the depths of human depravity, recognizes the terrible penalty required to give satisfaction for it, and then pays that penalty upon our behalf. That love is found alone in Jesus Christ!

Anything that minimizes the gravity of our sin minimizes the price Jesus paid to make satisfaction for our sin and so diminishes the love of Christ for us. The true Christian faith upholds the law of God in all its severity so that it may truly value His unfailing love.

By |2019-07-31T18:08:36-07:00July 31st, 2019|Good News|0 Comments

Whatchathink? Does Your Belief Matter? (July 13, 2019)

When Does What-You-Think Matter?

Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” What do the “crowds”—the people you rub shoulders with daily—say about Jesus? A great teacher? A moral crusader? A rebel? A good example? A fraud? A judge? What about your friends and acquaintances?

Jesus didn’t ask the question because the crowds’ opinions would make a difference in Who He Is. Nor do all these opinions matter.

He then asked his disciples, men who had witnessed His miracles, heard His teaching, and listened to His exchanges with the leaders and teachers of the people. These were men who had heard Jesus expound on the Scriptures and how they applied to Him. Their answer mattered more, because at least it was an informed answer.

Peter answered for them all: “God’s Messiah.”

It was the right answer, although Peter and the others didn’t quite understand everything that they knew. “God’s Messiah,” “The Christ of God,” and “God’s Anointed One,” are all equivalent translations.

The point is that Jesus is Who He IS, and not whoever someone imagines or wants Him to be.

Therefore we are called to know Christ better and better. In this way we grow in faith, hope, and love. This is the reason for preaching, for Bible classes, for individual Bible study, and for personal devotions. That way, when facing troubles or even death, we can with certainty cling to Jesus, God’s Messiah, our Savior.

By |2019-07-31T17:57:06-07:00July 31st, 2019|Good News|0 Comments