Preacher’s Post 4.23.17

Guest Post this week comes from the Waterview Church of Christ in Richardson, Texas. JD


Roll Credits!

The screen fades to black and “The End” appears. The movie audience stirs and starts to leave. Most think the movie is over. I don’t. I’m one of the strange people who watch the credits.

You see a list of all the people who made the last 120 minutes of magic possible. There are so many skills, most of which I don’t understand. Some of the credits are interesting. Pixar lists all the babies born during a project. Some fascinate me, like “Caffeinator.”

I sit and watch hundreds of names roll by because of the respect I have for people who create. They gave part of their life so I could enjoy, be afraid, or weep. Without any one of them, something would be missing, even if I didn’t not know what it was.

I wish the church had credits. Paul calls it a body with many parts (1 Corinthians 12:12). No one is indispensable, yet none are unimportant. Paul asks the question, “would you rather live without your eyes or your hands?” It is a choice none of us want to make. That’s what the credits of the church mean. WE are part of the glorious composition called Christ’s body on earth.

Next time, when you go to a movie, sit through the credits to realize how many people made the magic. Don’t forget when you leave a worship service or a Bible class to stop and watch those credits as well. They make the body of Christ effective on earth.

Robert G. Taylor, Waterview Church of Christ, Richardson, TX

(Shared with me by Pat Carter. Thanks! jd)

Brand New Life, Same Old World

 

Audio:

Introduction

Whether you have a really great memory or a poor one, I would guess you could remember day you were baptized. I’ve heard some of you tell the stories of being baptized in ice cold rivers – and some ice cold baptistries! Have you thought about what that motivated you on that day to secure your life in Jesus by joining him in His Death, Burial and Resurrection (Romans 6)? What were the feelings you experienced after baptism? Relief? Freedom? Closeness to God? Joy?  Feeling like you were getting a new start. The truth is everyone needs to make a new start.

Last Sunday around the world Christians remembered the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the most basic element of our faith. Without the resurrection we would have no hope, and no reason to follow the teachings of Jesus. When we are baptized we are starting a new life – but for many of you that was a long time ago. There is one startling reality that every baptized person faces: 

We have a Brand New Life, but we still live in the Same Old World!

Our outlook on sin, following Jesus, the world changed. The world, however, continues right along.  Peter’s first readers understood:

*Being a Christian did not eliminate their problems – in fact it increased them in persecution.

*They had a brand new life, but the world hated them.

Do you think they struggled to stay faith-filled? The Apostle writing them knew what it was like to have faith, to fail, and to experience a Brand New Life Once again.

Peter’s Story is One of Faith and Failure.

When we look at the life of Peter we can see both stunning faith, and embarrassing failures. He had faith enough to leave his life and follow Jesus. He was an outspoken leader. He was a part of the ‘inner circle’ of Jesus’ friends. What kind of guy do you have to be to be one of the best friends of Jesus? He even asks Jesus boldly to let him walk on water –and he does! The first Gospel Sermon – Peter stands up to preach. It’s Peter who has the reputation of being one of the pillars of the Jerusalem church (Gal. 2:9).  What an amazing Brand New Life Peter has received from following Jesus Christ!

Don’t forget Peter’s failures. He walks on water, but he sinks after just a moment because he took his eyes off of Jesus. He assembles with the others at the Last Supper, but refuses to let Jesus wash his feet (until rebuked!). He corrects Jesus’ prediction that he is going to die. (CORRECTS JESUS???!!!) He lies, curses, and denies knowing Jesus. He ditches his commitment and goes back to old life.

This man of faith and failure – remind you of anyone?

This man of faith and failure is used by God to write to some Christians who are on the run and away from all the security and safety of home. They’ve got a new life in the same old world. Would his message to them resonate with you?

– Power to Live the New Life in Your Old World –

1. New Hope

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

When hope runs out, there’s new hope every day. (See  Acts 2:22-24)

2. New Inheritance

1 Peter 1:4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you

When we find ourselves in the failure column, don’t give up. The inheritance God gives can survive every trauma, setback, problem, hurt, anxiety, and mess.

3. New Faith

1 Peter 1:5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 

This is not faith that comes and goes, weak n watery.  You are guarded by God’s power for a salvation that’s already ready to be revealed – not ‘maybe’ ‘could be’.

4. New Challenges

1 Peter 1:6,7 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,  so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 

Grieved by trials – not just traffic jams! Your faith is more than your trials … the Devil may try to convince you that you don’t have the faith but your faith is solid gold.  These challenges cannot overcome God’s work in you.

Psalm 16:1,2 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”

5. New Joy

1 Peter 1:8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory

The joy we have in our faith is a glory to God. 

John 20:29 “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

6. New Outcome

1 Peter 1:9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Conclusion

When Peter, man of faith and failure, wrote to the persecuted Christians who wondered if they were going to make it or not – he affirmed that every day was New in Christ! What is your struggle today? What causes you to question your faith? Your own habits of sin? Your finances? Your marriage? Your job? Your not-so-good choices in friends? All these things – and more – can seem like mountains we can’t climb!

The new life in Christ is amazing – and it is a renewable resource – even if you gave your life to Christ 50 years ago or more it is new every morning. It Springs from the Mercy of God.

“Life with Christ is an endless hope, without Him a hopeless end.” Bill Bright

Who could blame God if He sent us all to hell – who among us deserves His love and grace? His mercy leads him to want to go to great lengths to see that we are saved. In all of Peter’s failures, Jesus never walked away from Peter. The resurrection teaches us God is on a mission of mercy to save us and keep us saved!

The empty tomb answers the question: If God wanted to show us how far he would go to save us, what would he do?   

 

LifeGroup Questions

1. There’s an old saying about material possessions that indicates we like them ‘until the new wears off’. Can you name something you once had that you thought was the best – until the new wore off – and then what did you do?

2.  Mercy is God’s favor extended toward those who are helpless (which in one way or another includes all of us). What kinds of things make it hard for us to extend the mercy of God to others around us?

3. A painter on a Paris sidewalk set up his easel, opened his paints, and started to paint a picture called “Life.”  He noticed pigeons in the park, tulips blooming, the bustle of people on the street.  But he messed up his painting. His colors weren’t true and his perspective was poor.  Looking at his work with disfavor, he threw it away. He took another canvas and started “Life” all over again.

-What could keep us from believing we could start all over again?

-If you could start your Christian journey all over again, what would you do differently?

-What are some ways we can communicate to those who have been failures that they can start anew and be people of faith once again?

– Anyone have a story about starting over again in faith they’d be willing to share?

4. This morning John noted several things from our text that are ‘new’ in Christ. Which one means the most to you and would you tell the group why?

– New Hope (1 Peter 1:3)

– New Inheritance (1 Peter 1:4)

– New Faith (1 Peter 1:5)

– New Challenges (1 Peter 1:6,7)

– New Joy (1 Peter 1:8)

– New Outcome (1 Peter 1:9)

5. Peter writes about the trials we face and says that they  test the genuineness of our faith. 

– How is it that trials test the genuineness of our faith?

– What does this say about the severity of our trials? 

– Is he talking about any difficult events or only persecution for our faith?

6. Several times in this short section of text we are drawn back to focus on God. Read through the text one more time and take note of the references to God and Jesus Christ. Discuss how we can keep our focus on God who is near when we are hurting or in trials. 

*LifeGroups will meet next week (Senior Sunday) but not the following week (May 7th, Family Day). 

When Jesus Calls Your Name

When He Calls Your Name    John 20:11-18

Audio:

Have you ever met someone who could remember the names of everyone they had met? I find that remarkable since I have such a difficult time with names. In his well known book How To Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie wrote, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

Earlier we read the first ten verses of our text – the electric account of the discovery that Jesus is no longer in the grave! This confounds the disciples!

John 11:11-15 Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. 12 She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her. “Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

This Mary is from a mercantile town of Migdal. She is often portrayed in movies and modern retellings of the Gospel as either the wife of Jesus or a prostitute. There is no reason at all to consider her that way.  She is mentioned by name only in connection with the death of Jesus. She is a witness to his crucifixion and burial, as well as one of the first to arrive at the empty tomb. Only Luke names her as someone who followed Jesus from village to village and he also says that she had been released from seven demons.  In one moment Mary’s entire world is changed.

John 11:15-16 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.” 16 “Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).

Was it how he said it? Tone? Warmth? Familiar sound? 

John 11:17-18 “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.

What would we hear if we could hear Jesus Call us By Name?

The Risen Jesus Calls You Now

Jesus is calling us all today through the gospel. His desire is for all of us to spend our lives on earth loving others and sharing the gospel. He wants us to spend eternity in heaven with Him. We can find ourselves like Mary, talking, wondering – and yet Jesus is right here! (Whether You See Him or Not!) He’s right here in our time and space. He’s right here in our community at work. He’s right here answering our prayers. He’s right here in this room. He’s right here in the hearts of those who have given themselves to Him. He is here in this place, and he calls you now.

Philippians 3:14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

1 Thessalonians 5:24 God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.

1 Corinthians 1:9 God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Risen Jesus Calls You Into Family (John 20:17).

Jesus says “Go to my brothers and sisters and tell them … my Father and Your Father”. The Risen Jesus is still connected to His spiritual family.

Ephesians 1:5, 9 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure…..You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.

The Risen Jesus Calls You Into Purpose (John 17-19)

Mary is called by some an Apostle to the Apostles! An apostle is one sent on a mission. One of the qualities of an Apostle is that they had seen the risen Lord! Mary is sent to the Apostles to tell them what she had seen. Jesus calls us to this same purpose today. We are here in the world to make the name of Jesus famous! It’s not hard to tell how Jesus has blessed us and loved us! The story of the cross demonstrates God’s greatest love for us. 

John 3:16 For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

The Risen Jesus Calls You By Name today. What is our response?  When we hear the call of the Lord Jesus we are moved to turn away from sin and be immersed into his death, burial, and resurrection to receive new life! When we have received New Life we still live in the old world around us.  I’ll be preaching from 1 Peter under the theme “Brand New Life in the Same Old World.” You’re invited to each of those messages!

One day in 1852 Cecil Frances Alexander wrote a poem based on her preacher husband’s last Sunday sermon.  He was impressed and told her he would be preaching on Andrew next Sunday and could she write a poem for his sermon. “I’ll do what I can,” she told him. They read in Mark 1 of the calling of Andrew by Jesus. That night before retiring she read that passage again and began to write the poem he would read the next Sunday morning:

Jesus calls us: o’er the tumult; Of our life’s wild restless sea,

Day by day His sweet voice soundeth, Saying, “Christian, follow me.”

Jesus calls us from the worship Of the vain world’s golden store

From each idol that would keep us, Saying, “Christian, love me more.”

In our joys and in our sorrows, Days of toil, and hours of ease,

Still He calls, in cares and pleasures, “Christian, love me more than these.”

Jesus calls us: by Thy mercies, Savior, make us hear Thy call,

Give our hearts to Thine obedience, Serve and love Thee best of all.

When Jesus Calls Your Name, Will You Answer the Call?

 

Resources:

Mary Magdalene  – Biblical Archaeology

Jesus Calls Us

 

 

Preacher’s Post 4.9.17


Good Friday

On Good Friday, April 14th, we will have a service at Forsythe Church of Christ at 7:30 p.m. Participation is voluntary and encouraged. Often there is a thought that this observation is only for Catholics. However, churches from many faith families recognize the days of what is often called ‘Holy Week’. Each of these days observes what happened in the last week of the life of Jesus, which is so richly emphasized in the Gospel accounts.

I’m grateful that we have the opportunity to have a gathering on a day that so painfully reminds us of the sacrifice that was made so that any of us could be saved.

Our Good Friday service will be led by Kyle Holton. It is a somber service that will involve elements of song, Scripture readings, candles, prayers, and silence. At the end of the Good Friday service everyone is encouraged to leave the room without a word – a reflection of the grief we feel at the death of Jesus. Everyone is invited to come and participate. Your friends are also invited as well.

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Good Friday has always challenged merely human goodness. Its sad commemoration reminds us that in the face of sin, our goodness avails nothing. Only One is good enough to save us. That He did so is cause indeed for celebration. – Chris Armstrong, Christianity Today.

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The recognition of Good Friday is only ‘good’ in light of Resurrection Sunday (Easter) yet to come. We rejoice in the resurrection story but we do not forget the story of the cross and what preceded those dark days of lament and sorrow.     JD