A Healthy Body

Ephesians 4:1-16
Speaking of church, Johnny’s mother looked out the window and noticed him “playing church” with their cat. The cat was sitting quietly and he was preaching to it. She smiled and went about her work. A while later she heard loud meowing and hissing and ran back to the window to see Johnny baptizing the cat in a tub of water.
She called out, “Johnny, stop that! The cat’s afraid of water!”
Johnny looked up at her and said, “He should have thought about that before he joined my church.”

In the second week of January, I went to see my physician for a physical. As usual, Dr. Jackson ordered a complete blood workup, which indicated that I have a little inflammation somewhere in my body. So she wrote me a prescription for an antibiotic that will eliminate the inflammation and restore my body to health.

In today’s text, Paul is giving us a prescription aimed at maintaining a healthy body, as he states in the last sentence: “so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (16).

The big picture of this passage is that for the body of Christ to be healthy there must be UNITY.

“Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all” (Ephesians 4:3-6).

Now to be sure, theological unity already exists in the Spirit of Christ that binds us all together in love. That unity is an amazing gift of God to His Church. According to Paul it is our responsibility ‘to guard, to maintain and/or to preserve the unity’ that exists in the Spirit.

Unity has nothing to do with looking alike or wearing a uniform or thinking alike for as you know, we are, all of us, remarkably different. + Read More

Peace with Others

Matthew 5:21-26, 43-48; Romans 12:9-21
CBS Affiliate KDKA Channel 3, in Pittsburgh, reports of an unusual Christmas disturbance that took place this past December 16 in Connellsville, PA. Their lead for the story was, “Motorist Tried to Run over Ex as He Put up Lights.” Local resident Alan McCutcheon was busy putting up outside Christmas lights when his ex-girlfriend, Mary Jo Smith, came barreling through his yard. She made several tours through the yard screaming, “Merry Christmas,” all the while Christmas carols blasted from her cranked radio. At one point, she even took aim to run McCutcheon over. When police arrived she told them, ‘I was just trying to get some peace.’ But that did not deter the police from arresting her. And then the newscaster ended the segment by saying, ‘So much for “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men!’ 1

Today as we conclude this series on peace, the message is simple; yet challenging. If we desire to experience the peace of God, our relationships with others need to be harmonious. Mary Jo was looking for peace; can’t blame her for that. We all want peace. But her method to find it was a little lacking.

The Apostle Paul writes, “Dear friends, never take revenge” (Romans 12:19). Rather, “Do all you can to live in peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). With who? With everyone!” This verse summarizes the words of Jesus we just read in the Sermon on Mount.

Let’s begin with a question . . . Has anyone ever wronged you? + Read More

Go In Peace

Luke 7:36-50; Galatians 5:22-25

It’s that time of the year again . . . tax-time. There was a fellow who one year decided to cheat on his income taxes. The problem was that he later started to feel so guilty that he couldn’t sleep. After thinking about it for a while, he sent an anonymous check for $100 to the IRS along with a note that read: “To Whom It May Concern, I cheated on my taxes and now I feel so guilty that I haven’t been able to sleep for weeks, so I’m sending you this check for one hundred dollars. I hope you forgive me. P.S. If I still can’t sleep after one week, I’ll send you the rest of what I owe.”

We laugh, but the truth is it is very difficult, perhaps even impossible, to experience the peace that passes understanding when we are out of sync with God’s purposes for our lives.

Just ask the woman in today’s story who sought Jesus. The NLT refers to her as an ‘immoral woman;’ however the fact that she displays unloosed hair and also has a local reputation indicates she was a prostitute. My guess is she, like our tax evader friend, was also losing sleep. We can only surmise that sometime before this scene played itself out she had heard Jesus speak about forgiveness. Now sufficient time had elapsed for her to see the error of her ways – to realize that she was breaking God’s own heart and to feel in her soul the desire for forgiveness and a new life. When she came to the realization that He offered what she craved, she didn’t hold back but ignoring custom and religious tradition, she crashed the party at Simon the Pharisee’s house. Why? Because something told her that Jesus held the key to set her free from her past, from regret, from her guilt. In other words, something told her that in Him she could find a little peace. + Read More

I Will Trust In You

Luke 8:22-25
Isaiah 26:1-4

A couple weeks ago, Gail and attended one of my grandsons, Matthew’s, Boy Scout banquets. His Scout troop enjoys putting on little skits. One of them this day was about Jack, who was walking along a steep cliff one day when he accidentally got too close to the edge and fell over. On the way down, he grabbed a spindly branch, which temporarily stopped his fall. He looked down to see the canyon fell straight down for more than a thousand feet. He couldn’t hang onto the branch forever, and there was no way for him to climb up the steep wall of the cliff. So Jack began yelling, “HELP! HELP! Is anyone up there? HELP!”
He was about to give up when he heard a voice: “Jack, this is God.”
“God, please help me! I promise if you’ll get me down from here, I’ll stop sinning.”
“Easy on the promises, Jack. Let’s get you off from there; then we can talk. Now, here’s what I want you to do. Listen carefully.”
“I’ll do anything, God. Just tell me what to do.”
“Okay. Let go of the branch. Just TRUST Me and let go of the branch.”
There was a long silence.
Finally, Jack yelled, “HELP! HELP! IS ANYONE ELSE UP THERE?”

Ever felt like you’ve been left hanging for dear life? Those are times that will try our souls,
as we either join our friend in seeking someone or something else to trust or we choose ‘let go and let God.’

TRUST is the key word. Today’s key verse is Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!” This verse is an example of Hebrew parallel poetry where the second line reinforces, and/or in this case explains the first line. “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You” . . . trust you? “All whose thoughts are fixed on You!” + Read More

Prayer Leads to Peace

Philippians 4:4-6
How many of you are familiar with the name Ann Landers? Beginning in 1955 and continuing under various authors to this day, the Ann Landers daily newspaper column receives thousands of letters every month requesting advice on various topics. When PaulineLederer retired in 2002, she was asked what her most common question was, and answered that most people worry too much. “They’re worried about losing their health, they are anxious about their job, they worry about family concerns, they are whacked out about their neighbors or frustrated with their friends. In short, people are looking for peace, but peace seems so elusive.”

According to one recent poll here are the top ten things we worry about in reverse order:

10. Unhappiness
9. Paying rent/mortgage
8. Our physique
7. Wrinkles or aging appearance
6. Job security
5. Credit card debt
4. Our diet (don’t know if that refers to losing weight or what we eat)
3. Low energy levels
2. Savings/financial future
1. Getting old in general

What have you been worrying about lately? Don’t deny it. In fact, I would like you to take a minute and think about it. + Read More

Peace Meal

John 14:1-11, 27; Romans 5:1

All of us know that even with all the hope and promise of a wonderful New Year that a little rain is going to fall in all of our lives in the year 2017. And it is probably true that for some it won’t be just a little rain; some of us are going to have to endure storms. When, not if, but when the rain begins to fall or the storm threatens, more than anything else, we will desire peace in our lives.
If that be true, then you’ve come to the right place today as we are going to begin a month-long emphasis on how to acquire peace in our lives such that when it begins to rain or storm, we’ll remain calm.

And we will begin today by taking a cue from Jesus, whose goal it was to measure some peace into the lives of His disciples in the Upper Room immediately after serving them their first communion. Therefore I call this communion meditation A Peace Meal.

First, let’s look at the context. He knew that they needed a little peace, as a storm was about to break not only upon Jesus but upon them also. They sit huddled together in the Upper Room. It is their last night; in the distance, flashes of lightning and rumblings of thunder. In 24 hours, Jesus will be dead. He knows the dark clouds are gathering. Death will not take Him by surprise. He entered Jerusalem earlier in the week knowing full well what would occur at the end of it. He is ready. But His disciples are slow to comprehend.
Soon, they will be in the dark garden of Gethsemane with the ugly cross and somber tomb not far behind. Soon, they will be panic-stricken and flee for their lives! But for the moment, there in the Upper Room, it is the calm before the storm.

He is beginning to say goodbye to His friends, and He leaves them with a wonderful gift, a precious gift: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you. Not the kind of peace offered by the world, but His peace.”

“Not as the world gives.” + Read More

Home for Christmas

Luke 2:1-7; John 1:1-12

Before we officially open this Christmas Eve service I want to say, “Welcome and thank you for helping make this time the special time it is.”

As is true of most Christmas Eve services, there are some here who have come because this is your home away from home. You have discovered that this is the place that works for you to worship God. And in that regard, more than anything I can or will say, you can’t wait until we light the candles, dim the lights, sing ‘Silent Night.’ For many that experience has almost taken on the solemnity of a sacrament.

It also true that there are many here tonight who would not claim that this is your home away from home; not yet. You could be here for many different reasons. It doesn’t really matter why – the fact is you’re here and I am grateful. I encourage you to consider making this church your home away from home

It can be a place for you to begin, or in some cases begin anew, your spiritual journey with a church family. A place where you can meet new people and make new friends who will journey alongside you.

What does CrossPointe Community Church have to offer you? Well, we don’t have the fanciest new building with all the bells and whistles of a new worship center, stage bathed in constantly changing and constantly moving lights and a sound system that will blow back your hair. Nor can we offer the anonymity to come and go as you please without being detected.

What we do have is a group of folks who will put their arms around you no matter who you are or where you’ve been and love you. And we offer you the opportunity to join us in accomplishing our mission to love and care for the people who live in Chippewa Lake.
To become part of a truly ‘community church’ dedicated to helping people the best we can.

And so once again I thank you and would like to give you an opportunity to participate in an offering that will be used 100% to help people who live in this community and who are down on their luck.

I’ll Be Home for Christmas.

They were a long way from home at Christmas. It wasn’t by their choice; the powers that be had made it so. They had received official notification to return to the town of their ancestors to register for a government census. As a result of that official order, they were spending the holidays in a backwater called Bethlehem. And although they were surrounded by shepherds and wise men, they were lonely and for sure longed to be home among familiar faces.

Isn’t ironic that no one was home that First Christmas Eve? Mary and Joseph were away from their home in Nazareth. The poor shepherds had to work that night. The three wise men were on the road. Even JESUS had left His home in heaven to be born in Bethlehem. + Read More

Be an Angel, Won’t You?

Isaiah 40:3-5, 9-11; Luke 2:8-20

Wouldn’t it be cool to be an angel? To take direct orders from God; to have wings to fly?

The Bible doesn’t have a special section devoted to telling us all we would like to know about angels, but there is enough to indicate that the angels have four roles:

For example, we infer that there are what we call Guardian Angels. Psalm 91:11 says, “He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways.” And Daniel 6:22 has, “For Daniel’s protection, God sent his angel.”

There are a couple of verses in the OT where angels are God’s warriors, meting out His justice.
Then there are a couple of verses in the Book of Revelation that indicates some of the angels spend their days worshipping God.

But clearly the most important role of angels is to announce good news. That shouldn’t really surprise us because both the Hebrew and Greek words for ‘angel’ mean ‘messenger’ or ‘one who announces good news.’ Matthew tells us about the angel who announces the good news to Joseph. Luke gives us the threefold appearance of angels; First to Zechariah to announce the coming birth of his son, John the Baptist. Second, to Mary to announce the impending birth of her son, Jesus. And lastly, we hear of the angel choir that serenades the shepherds, “We bring good news of a great joy!”

So more than anything else, angels are God’s messengers; sent by Him to announce good news.

Good news begs to be told. + Read More

The Christmas Story According to Jesus

Matthew 1:18-25; Hebrews 10:1-18

Have you ever read the Christmas story according to Jesus? I don’t mean the Christmas story given us by Matthew; how the angel came to Joseph and convinced him to take Mary as his wife. Nor am I talking about Luke’s wondrous description of the baby born in Bethlehem accompanied by the singing of angels. I am not even referencing John’s masterful prologue: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”

What I propose to speak about today is the Christmas story according to Jesus Himself.
I can hear the wheels turning. Some of you are trying to remember just where in the Bible Jesus talked about his own birth.

Well for $25.00, I’ll tell you where you can find it. Better yet I’ll read the passage to you.
His story can be found in the NT letter addressed to the Hebrews, in chapter 10. Now so we don’t mistake anything that Jesus says, we need to hear what the writer says prior to Jesus’ words and I’ll also read his commentary after Jesus speaks. The writer begins,

The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good
things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God,

Hear then, the Christmas story according to the Christ. + Read More

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