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

Come, Before Winter!

Matthew 24:30-44; I Timothy 4:1-22

Once again, it’s that wonderful time of the year; when Indian summer gives way to fall and all its delights: autumn colors, gourds and pumpkins, the pungent smell of burning leaves, Thanksgiving, OSU and Michigan. What could be better than that?

But you and I know that when autumn’s leaves begin to fall, it won’t be long before something else begins to fall (got a little appetizer last Saturday). It won’t be too much longer until we’ll be surrounded by bare branches, icy shadows, frozen ponds; and we will experience the “dead of winter.”

And because we know that winter is coming, we have time to prepare for it. Last week, Gail and I began to do just that. We took down the canopy over our back patio, wrapped tarps around Gail’s potting station and an outdoor wooden swing, disconnected the hose and shut off the water supply, checked out the fireplace chimney and lit the pilot light.

Have you started to make your preparations for winter yet?

The changing of the seasons is not unique to North America. If we could take the time tunnel to the city of Rome in the Fall of 65 AD, to a cold dark, damp prison cell, we would see Paul spending time making his last minute preparations for winter. + Read More

Count It Joy

I Peter 1:3-9 (Call to Worship) Luke 19:41-44; James 1:1-4

Talk about a guy down on his luck, experiencing a little pain and suffering as he’s lost in the desert . . . desperately needing a drink . . . of anything. He comes upon another man riding a camel. He asked the man if he had something to drink. The man on the camel said “No, but I have a nice selection of ties. Would you like to buy one?”

“Are you crazy? I need something to drink, not a tie!”

So the man on the camel rode on, and the walking man continued his slow and very thirsty trek for several days. Finally, he came upon a cantina. He gratefully approached the doorman and said, “I’m so glad I made it! Can I come in and get some water?”

The doorman frowned at him and said, “Not without a tie.”

As we attempt to come to grips with pain and suffering, we really have two main issues that boil to the surface:

  1. the cause of our pain and suffering, (which we have already talked about) and
  2. our response to it.

These two issues are often intertwined, in that folks tend to expend a lot of energy trying to pinpoint the cause before deciding how they are going to respond. And that’s why I spent some time last week dealing with causality.

But the real issue for Christians should not be . . . “Is God responsible?” but rather, “Now that this pain and suffering has occurred . . . how am I going to respond to it?”

So, how should we respond to this job loss, this divorce, this broken relationship, this illness, this death of a loved one? + Read More

Faith Under Fire

Luke 13:1-9; Hebrews 11:17b-12:2
There was a farmer who had three sons: Jim, John, and Sam. No one in the family ever attended church or had time for God. The pastor and the others in the church tried for years to interest the family in the things of God to no avail. Then one day, Sam was bitten by a rattlesnake. The doctor was called and he did all he could to help Sam, but the outlook for Sam’s recovery was very grim indeed. So the pastor was called and appraised of the situation. The pastor arrived, and began to pray as follows:

“Oh wise and righteous Father, we thank Thee that in Thine wisdom Thou didst send this rattlesnake to bite Sam. He has never been inside the church and it is doubtful that he has, in all this time, ever prayed or even acknowledged Thine existence. Now we trust that this experience will be a valuable lesson to him and will lead to his genuine repentance. And now, Oh Father, wilt Thou send another rattlesnake to bite Jim, and another to bite John, and another really big one to bite the old man. For years we have done everything we know to get them to turn to Thee, but all in vain. It seems, therefore, that what all our combined efforts could not do, this rattlesnake has done. We thus conclude that the only thing that will do this family any real good is rattlesnakes; so, Lord, send us bigger and better rattlesnakes. Amen.”

Do you think God operates that way? Is He really in the business of sending snakes? Does God cause people to get sick? Is God responsible for pain and suffering?

To keep the question in context was God responsible for the ill, sometimes barbaric, treatment that the “Hall of Faith” people listed in Hebrews chapter 11 endured? Was it God’s will that some of His best people go naked, homeless, hungry, imprisoned, tortured and even murdered?

What does the Bible say about it? + Read More

Bold Faith People

Last Sunday, the author of Hebrews made the point that stepping out in faith has a way of rewarding us with more faith as we become more and more convinced that our unseen but everywhere present God has our backs.

This past week, I continued to brood in that wonderful 11th chapter and although I initially planned on dealing with the question of causality, I realized something there too good to pass up about bold faith living. So the question, “does God cause bad things to happen to good people?” will have to wait till next Sunday. In the meantime, this message fits our overall theme of being better prepared to face whatever curveball life throws us by encouraging us to boldly walk in faith.

Acts 4:1-13; Hebrews 11:1-2; 17-35a

A 5th grade science class was having a discussion about whales when a little girl mentioned her favorite Bible story was the one about Jonah being swallowed by one of those great mammals of the sea. The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it is a very large mammal, its throat is very small. The little girl stood her ground, insisting that if it was in the Bible it was true. Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale cannot swallow a human; “it is physically impossible” she said.
The little girl said, “Well when I get to heaven I’ll ask Jonah all about it.”
Her teacher asked, “Well what if Jonah went to hell?”
The little girl replied, “Then you ask him.”

Would you say that little girl qualifies to be inducted into the ‘Hall of Faith?’ It was an act of bold faith, wasn’t it? Standing up to her teacher like that took guts!

As I read this hallowed passage of scripture I couldn’t help but note that these heroes of the faith not only acted boldly in faith (as we discussed last week) they often did so in the face of some kind of opposition. + Read More

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