Sermons

Blessing of the Children

Mark 10:13-16

There are many reasons we love children. Here are two of them:

For weeks a six-year-old lad kept telling his first-grade teacher about the baby brother that was expected at his house. One day the mother allowed the boy to feel the movements of the unborn child. The six-year old was obviously impressed, but also looked a little uncertain. And after that day, he stopped telling his teacher about the impending event. The teacher finally sat the boy on her lap and said, “Tommy, whatever became of that baby brother you were expecting at home?”
Tommy burst into tears and confessed, “I think Mommy ate him!”

One day a little girl was watching her mother do the dishes at the kitchen sink. She suddenly noticed that her mother had several strands of white hair in contrast to her brunette head. She looked at her mother and inquisitively asked, “Why are some of your hairs white, Mom?”
Her mother replied, “Well, every time you do something wrong and make me cry one of my hairs turns white.”
The little girl thought about this revelation for a while and then said, “MOM, can you explain why ALL of grandma’s hairs are white?”

Is it any wonder that we love children?

Jesus loved(s) children too and He is still in the business of blessing children. I believe His statement, “Let the children come onto Me and hinder them not,” bespeaks His knowledge that research bears out today if we don’t reach the children before they reach the age of 18 their chances of becoming His followers diminishes greatly as 80% of those who claim to be Christians today say they made that decision before the age of 18.

And so Jesus continues to bless His children today; through parents and grandparents and guardians (whom I am addressing today) and He also blesses them through His Church.

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And I Will Be Clean

Psalm 32

Has anyone experienced any joy lately? I began helping my daughter Sarah by taking her daughter Kate to Kindergarten. Sarah has to drop her off an hour before school so we get to hang out. After I took her for a couple of days, Sarah called to say she was working from home and that she would take her. And then later called to say that Kate was crying when they went by our house because she wanted her papa to take her to school.

O what joy for those who have grandchildren who love them to pieces. In fact, is there any greater joy than to be loved by your grandchildren?

Verse 1 “O, what joy . . . for those who whose rebellion is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight.”

Joy, happiness, and peace are three things most people are looking for. Most people, not all, (we’ve all met that person who for whatever reason prefers to be a grump) but most folks prefer to be happy, to enjoy life, to experience blessed peace.

One thing the Psalmist wants us to know is that sin and its consequent negative feelings interferes with our being happy, joyful and peaceful. Feeling ashamed for some action taken in the past is downright discouraging.

One Christian author writes, “Psychiatrists and doctors say that unresolved guilt is the number one cause of mental illness and suicide. It prompts millions of Americans to gulp down pills to tranquilize their anxiety.” 1

Pastor and author Gordon McDonald writes, “We cannot expect to live healthy in the future when the baggage of our past keeps banging away at the trap door of our minds demanding attention.” 2

But “O, what joy for those who whose rebellion is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight.”

Verse 2 “Yes, what joy . . . for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!”

A new study has found that the average person is holding onto thirteen secrets, five of which they’ve never told a living soul, and that includes the Living God.

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A Tree Full of Monkeys?

Guest Speaker: Randy Hall – Gideons International

1 Corinthians 9:19-23

This week we welcome guest speaker, Randy Hall, representing Gideons International.

Care to Risk to Care

John 21:15-19
Galatians 6:2

Said the Master to His disciple, “Do you love Me?”
And the disciple, who had earlier pledged that he was ready to die with his master, said, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.”
Jesus said, “Feed My lambs.”

Said the Master to His disciple a second time, “Do you truly love Me?”
And the disciple, who had earlier denied he even knew his master three times, said, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.”
Jesus said, “Take care of My sheep.”

So for a third time, the Master said to His disciple, “Do you love Me?”
And the disciple, who by now was surely feeling the guilt of his earlier denials, said, “Lord, You know all things, You know that I love You.”
Jesus said, “Feed My sheep.”

And the commission to Peter, which three years earlier was given to him as fishing for men, is now renewed as feeding or tending; literally taking care of sheep.

Says the Master to His disciples today, “Do you truly love Me?”

How do we measure our love for Jesus?

Is it based upon a subjective feeling or emotion that moves upon our hearts when we hear the old, old story or sing some old, old hymn? In other words, is it the affection we feel for the One who has done so much for us?

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Many Parts; One Body!

I Corinthians 12:12-27

Let’s play a little game in which I will provide you with the definition of a word and you come up with the word:

To get paid to watch TV and eat other people’s food while someone’s kid sleeps?’
Hint: Verb Show AnswerBABYSIT

When you’re too young for half the things you want to do and too old to do the rest?
Hint: Noun Show AnswerTEENAGER

A device used for looking less alone while in public places by yourself?
Hint: Noun Show AnswerCELL PHONE

A device used to find Legos in the dark?
Hint: Noun Show AnswerBARE FEET

Agreement where a man loses his Bachelor Degree and a woman gains her Masters?
Hint: Noun Show AnswerMARRIAGE

A group of people working together in a committed way to achieve a common goal or mission?
Hint: Noun Show AnswerTEAM

‘Team’ is not a bad image to borrow to describe the body of Christ.  1 Cor 12:12-13  . . . team . . .  1 Cor 12:14-18  . . . team . . .  1 Cor 12:27-28  . . . team!

We are indeed ‘a group of people working together in a committed way to achieve a common goal or mission.’ Team Crosspointe; called together by the Lord Himself for the purpose of helping Him bring His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

We need to be reminded every once in a while that we are a team because it is so easy for us to fall into the trap of thinking that the church is an ‘individual’ sport.

Since the end of World War II, our society has continued its evolution toward what some sociologist termed ‘rugged individualism’ defined by Merriman’s as ‘the practice and/or advocacy of individualism in social and economic relations emphasizing personal liberty and independence, self-reliance, and self-direction of the individual.’ 1 In other words, we hold in high esteem one of Frank Sinatra’s most popular songs: I Did It My Way.

But when that kind of ideology worms its way into the church, it is detrimental to the body of Christ every time. And when people in the body of Christ think, make decisions and behave based solely upon what I think and feel regardless how it affects others that spells trouble. That is one reason Paul writes, “The eye can never say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ The head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you.’

For the body to act efficiently, it must recognize that we all need each other working together toward a common goal. + Read More

Apostles All

Mark 3:13-19
Luke 10:1-2
Acts 13:1-3

The noun ‘apostolos’ appears 79 times in the NT; 10 times in the gospels, 28 in Acts, 38 in the letters and 3 in Revelation. This word implies three things that are important for us to understand.

First, it refers to and means ‘one who is sent.’ As Luke has it, first in chapter 9, the 12 apostles are sent out by Jesus to accomplish His work and in the next chapter, the number of Apostles sent out increases 6 fold as Jesus sends 72 on their way to share His grace with others. Thus an ‘Apostle’ of Jesus is one who is sent out by Him to accomplish His work.

Second, more than the act of sending, this word includes the idea of the authorization of the one doing the sending. In the Great Commission that we reflected upon last week, Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me; therefore, go!” (Matthew 28:19). Those who go are therefore, as Paul writes the Corinthians, (II 5:20) “Ambassadors of Christ, God is making His appeal through us.” As an ambassador for the US has the authority to act on behalf of the President so as ambassadors of Christ we act on behalf of and in Jesus stead.

Third, as time passed the people to whom the term ‘apostle’ applied to increased. To be sure, at first, only Jesus is referred to as an apostle. Then the term begins to be applied to the 12 chosen by Jesus to be His disciples. But as time went on, the term began to be applied to anyone who is sent in the name of the Lord to represent His Kingdom. Acts refers to Paul and then Barnabus as apostles and as he closes his letter to the Romans with personal greetings, he mentions Andronicus and Junia, people we don’t otherwise know, except as apostles.

In other words, we would say today that the word apostle can be applied to anyone who is sent by Jesus into the world as His representative. And that therefore applies to any and all of us who not only should consider ourselves disciples (followers) of Christ but also apostles of Christ . . . Apostles all!

Sometimes we get discouraged with our station in life.

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Go!

Matthew 28:18-20
Romans 10:10-15

Last Sunday, I was a cheerleader for the church: I celebrate the church of Jesus because it is a great place for people to find community, healing and love. I celebrate the church of Jesus because it provides motivation for the most lasting, valuable, selfless efforts of humankind. I celebrate the church of Jesus, the Christ because it is the only institution in society that provides perspective to give dignity to all human beings. I celebrate the church because it is the only institution in society dealing with the ultimate issues of life and death.

Today I want to expand on that last point. As I mentioned last week, the whole ball of wax boils down to the fact that you and I are either creations of God or we are not. You and I are either complex neuro-physical beings moving without rhyme or reason throughout time and space, who came from nowhere and going nowhere, or else WE ARE UNIQUE CREATIONS OF A HOLY GOD. If we are simply cosmic accidents, if we just happened to have evolved from some primordial soup and this whole thing is some kind of great cosmic joke, the worst thing about that joke is that in the end there will be nobody around to even laugh about it. If that is true then you and I have a deep problem that we cannot solve with all the oratory in the world.

But if on the other hand, this is our Father’s world and if Jesus Christ is the Son of God who was born into this world with the express purpose of dying on a cross so that sinners such as you and I could be reconciled to God if that is true, then some institution on the face of the earth must stand up and remind us of those truths. And Jesus said that His Church is going to be that institution and that He Himself is going to build it one life at a time through people like you and I who have the honor and privilege to point people to Him!

So last week, I was painting a sort of philosophical/theological picture of the church, meant to increase our appreciation of the church, today is more a nuts and bolts message that will enable us to faithfully participate in the evangelistic task of the church.

With that in mind, listen to the scripture for today:

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20).

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” (Romans 10:10-15).

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Hooray for the Church!

Matthew 16:13-19

One balmy day in the South Pacific, a navy ship spied smoke coming from one of three huts on an uncharted island. Upon arriving on shore they were met by a shipwreck survivor. He said, “I’m so glad you’re here! I’ve been alone on this island for more than five years!”
The captain replied, “If you’re all alone on the island why do I see THREE huts.”
The survivor said, “Oh. Well, I live in one, and go to church in another.”
“What about the THIRD hut?” asked the captain.
“That’s where I USED to go to church.”

Today, I am here as your cheerleader as I want to celebrate the church of Jesus by reminding all of us of some basic truths about this institution that we are all associated with. And by reminding us that Jesus is inviting us to participate with Him to build what is, in my mind, the most important institution on the face of the planet.

I celebrate the church of Jesus because it is a great place for people to find community, healing, and love.

Our society has been undergoing tremendous cultural changes for the last 50 years and the really frightening thing is to realize that these kind of cataclysmic changes are going to continue at an ever faster pace.

One of those changes has to do with the nuclear family, where Leave it to Beaver, Family Ties, and Family Matters, has evolved into Modern Family. ‘Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go’ to enjoy a home-cooked meal has become down the freeway, through the toll booth, off the ramp, down the boulevard, into the guarded gate community, where grandma pops something in the microwave.

One of the results of the decline of the nuclear family is that more people are living alone than at any other point in human history.

Here is where the church excels; being a place where people can find community, healing, and love. In other words, family.

In this congregation, when we dedicate an infant, the parents are stepping forward to declare their desire to see the child raised in the church. And notice that as part of each dedication the church asks you, the congregation, to be surrogate aunts and uncles.

“Brethren of the household of faith, I commend to your love and care this child,
whom this day recognize as part of the family.

Surrogate aunts and uncles; that’s what we are. + Read More

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