Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Sermon Video: The Sorrow of Divisions within the Church - 1 Corinthians 1:10-17

The first issue dealt with by Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth after his introduction is unity.  Paul had received a report that the church was divided, with various members claiming to follow different leaders, including Paul himself, instead of being united under the authority and Lordship of Jesus Christ.  To Paul this was an intolerable situation, one that prompted him to ask the rhetorical question, "Was Paul crucified for you?"
Division within the Church is nothing new, local churches can be divided over all manner of issues, from finances to leadership, not to mention theology, and we know full well that the global Church is hopelessly divided into a multitude of parts.  If we cannot rectify this situation, and that seems clear, Christ himself is likely the only one who will be able to unravel the know we've created, what then do we do in response?  The reality is that the Church is divided, how do we leave honoring Jesus' call for unity in a divided Church?
Every Christian who is a true disciple of Jesus Christ, that is any person who has been washed by the blood of the Lamb by the grace of God and through faith, and who has thus been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, must belong to the Church of Jesus Christ, there is no other church but His Church.  It doesn't matter how we divide things here upon earth, there is only one Church.  Therefore, we must work with, not against, anyone who is a disciple of Jesus Christ, and likewise with any church that proclaims the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus.
If we are united on the foundational things, nothing that separates us on the peripheral things can divide us, likewise if we are divided upon the foundational things, nothing that we have in common on the peripheral things can unite us.  Christ is the foundational issue, we have one and only one Lord, one faith, one baptism.

To watch the video, click on the link below:

Monday, November 21, 2016

Sermon Video: Paul Gives Thanks - 1 Corinthians 1:1-9

Following his regular greeting to start a letter, the apostle Paul writes of his thankfulness to God for the success of the Gospel at Corinth.  Corinth was a city steeped in iniquity, in particular sins of lust associated with its reputed 1,000 prostitutes at the temple to Aphrodite.  Paul, in contrast, brought a message of grace and peace to Corinth, preaching the reconciliation with a holy God.  It was an amazing act of mercy from God, one that Paul himself remembered from his own conversion, that Paul was able to found a church in Corinth.

To watch the video, click on the link below:

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Creator among Creation: Immanuel

Each year we celebrate Christmas in commemoration of the arrival of the promised Messiah at the village of Bethlehem in Judea.  Few things are commemorated even 100 years after they occur, as the generations that lived through them fade away, so does the living memory and thus the poignancy of memory.  "Remember the Maine" once evoked anger among Americans, much the same way that "Remember the Alamo" reverberated with a previous generation, and "Remember Pearl Harbor" would with a later generation.  Yet these now are a part of history to us, much the same way that "Remember 9/11" will be 100 years from now.  History moves on, the victories and defeats of the past, the joys and fears, don't linger much beyond those who lived through them.
The arrival of the Messiah is different.  It was not simply an event for the 1st Century, nor was it simply an event for the Jewish people.  It was an event for all of humanity, and for all of time.  How could it be?  How could the birth of a child, one among billions that have ever been born, be so noteworthy as to be relevant to us today two thousand years later?
Simply put, the child was not just a child.  He was indeed a human child, but he was also far more.  The term in Hebrew is transliterated into English as Immanuel.  As Hebrew names typically do, the name has a meaning: "God with us".  God had been "with" the descendants of Abraham for over two thousand years, had given them the Law, had sent angels and prophets to them to show them the way, and had even appeared in fire and cloud in the days of Moses.  How much more "with" his people could he get?  It turns out, a lot more.  The arrival of the Messiah was far more than that of just another prophet, more even than an angel who had stood in the presence of Almighty God.  The child of Bethlehem was the Son of Man, but he was also the Son of God.  The very essence of God, God himself, in the flesh, here on Earth.  
History was never the same after that day, a day that separated everything that came before from everything that was to follow.  God With Us.  A change worth celebrating, year after year, down through the ages.

Sermon Video: Hezekiah's Revival, Part 4 (of 4) - 2 Chronicles 32

The final chapter in the Chronicles' recounting of the reign of Hezekiah takes place after the reform and revival movement he helped bring about has finished its work.  The timing suggests two conclusions: #1 God thwarted the evil purposes of Sennacherib until his people had finished their repentance and had renewed their relationship with him.  #2 Doing the right thing didn't make Hezekiah and the people immune to tribulation, instead, it enabled them to stand firm when tribulation came (In keeping with the lesson of Job).
How did Hezekiah and the people respond to this challenge to the very existence of their nation?  They first took all the preparations that were in their power to accomplish, then they declared their trust that God would do what only God can do, and lastly when Sennacherib mocked the power of God, they responded with prayer to the Almighty.
How did God respond?  He delivered his people, in fulfillment of his Word and by way of demonstrating his love and compassion for them.  In the end, Hezekiah and the people of Judah persevered, maintaining their allegiance to God in a time of peril.  Overall, Hezekiah demonstrates what can be accomplished by a devout person of God through hard work, prayer, and faith.

To watch the video, click on the link below:

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Sin remains sin, no matter what humanity thinks about it.

Pride is sin.
Greed is sin.
The love of money is sin.
Lust is sin.
Adultery is sin.
Vindictiveness is sin.
Cruelty is sin.
Bearing false witness is sin.

If this partial list bothers you, take it up with God, he's the one that created it, my job is to simply remind people that these things are not up for debate, nor can they be changed by any act of man.  God has ordained what is right, and what is wrong, based upon his own holiness.  Our willingness to accept this standard, and change our behavior accordingly (by the power of the Holy Spirit) is a necessary beginning of discipleship.

Anyone who continues in sin is not born of God (see 1 John 3:6), anyone who does not produce evidence of the fruit of the Spirit is not a child of God (see Galatians 5:16-26).  This is not negotiable, if anyone connected with a church told you otherwise, they'll have to answer to God for that one day.  Our culture regularly glorifies the sins listed at the beginning of this post; God condemns them.  You choose.