Sermon 13 August 2017

Scripture

 

Matthew 14:22-33

Core Idea and purpose

 

Core
Idea: We must have a continuous, laser like focus on Jesus in order to get through the storms of life and become more holy & loving.

Purpose: To help Christians focus on Jesus during the good and bad times

The Sermon

  1. Introduction: Our increasing inability to focus
    1. Modern society conditions us to have short attention spans.
  • We use to write long, detailed letters, but now we send a quick text or post a picture on face book.
  • Instead of losing ourselves in a 1,000 page novel, we now read short stories on a website.
  • To do research, we spent several hours in the library, but now we take a few minutes searching the web.
  • When we read some of John Wesley's sermons from the 18th century, we see that they lasted 30 to 60 minutes. Now days, I'm too scared to preach over 25 minutes.
  • As life speeds along at lightning speed, we become dizzy and less able to focus.
    • It's no wonder, 11% of our children have been diagnosed with ADHD.
    • We are becoming a society that can't focus.
  1. As Christians, we should be alarmed because we are called to have a continuous, laser like focus on our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.
  • Not focusing well on a specific task or project can be bad enough but not focusing on Jesus is detrimental to our lives.
  • In order to rise above the storms of life and become the holy & loving people God created us to be, we must focus on Jesus.
  1. Focusing on Jesus and rising above the storms of life
    1. Matthew 14:22-33
  • When Peter focused on Jesus, he walked on water despite the storm raging around him.
  • As soon as Peter noticed the storm, he began to sink & drown.
  • Then, when Peter refocused his attention on Jesus and cried out, "Lord, save me!!", Jesus pulled him up and calmed the storm.
  1. A few years ago, the church treasurer at the church I was serving embezzled money.
  • As the church leadership worked to assess the damage, we became angry and disenchanted.
    • A dark cloud of hurt and betrayal hung over us.
    • A debilitating depression took root in our hearts.
  • While discussing this matter, the lay leader mentioned that she felt so horrible she couldn't do her morning devotion.
    • Other people then admitted to not doing their devotions.
    • It then dawned on us that depression and anger were ruling our hearts, not because our treasurer betrayed us, but because we lost our focus on Jesus.
  • We immediately stopped what we were doing, conducted a group devotional and refocused on Jesus.
    • We were then able to deal with the situation with a sense of hope and, dare I say it, joy.
  1. Focusing on Jesus and becoming the holy & loving people God created us to be
    1. We maintain a continuous, laser like focus on Jesus so we can become more like Jesus.
    2. Young adults are often astonished when they realize they're a lot like their parents.
  • What's really astonishing is that young adults are astonished when they realize how similar they are to their parents.
  • For most of their lives, young adults talked with, listened to, interacted with and spent most of their time with their parents
  • After spending most of our lives watching and interacting with our parents we ought to expect to be a lot like them.
  1. In the same way, if we have any hope of becoming holy & loving like Jesus, we must watch Him, speak with Him, listen to Him and simply be with Him.
  • As we consciously learn from Jesus and allow Jesus to 'rub off on us', the Holy Spirit works to change us from the inside, so that on the unconscious level our attitudes and desires reflect the character of Jesus.
  • This is how we regain the image of God and become the people God created us to be.
  1. So, how do we maintain a continuous, laser like focus on Jesus?
    1. The common answer is to practice the spiritual disciplines:
  • Daily prayer (both personal and corporate)
  • Fasting
  • Bible study (both personal & private)
  • Daily devotions
  • Small accountability groups
  • Worship
  • Seeking opportunities to serve others.
  1. Sometimes, however, it's hard to focus on Jesus, even when we pray, read Scripture or practice all the other disciplines.
  • Life's worries and demands have an annoying way of creeping into our thoughts.
    • Have you ever attempted to pray but you kept thinking about some concern you have or the next task on your 'to do' list?
    • Have you ever tried reading Scripture but just couldn't concentrate on what it said, much less on what the Holy Spirit was wanting to reveal to you through the Scripture?
  • When this happens, it may be helpful to practice Christian meditation.
    • Meditation is focusing your mind on one specific idea or thing
    • Scripture tells us to meditate on God's law, word, love, works and salvation
      • Joshua 1:8
      • Psalm 1:2
      • Psalm 19:14
      • Psalm 48:9
      • Psalm 77:12
      • Psalm 119:15
      • Psalm 143:5
      • Psalm 145:5
    • Christian meditation focuses on all of the above with a particular emphasis on Jesus and the Trinity.
    • You could meditate when you wake up, right before your daily devotions/prayers, in the middle of the day or as you fall asleep at night.
    • After several minutes of Christian meditation, your mind and soul will be better ready to pray, worship, study Scripture or simply be righteous.
  1. One way to meditate is to follow these simple steps:
  • Sit in a relaxed position and close your eyes
  • Control your breathing. Take deep breaths in and out.
  • With each breath you breathe out, repeat a short Christian word, phrase or Bible verse. Some examples are:
    • "Thank you Jesus"
    • "Lord Jesus"
    • "Savior Jesus"
    • "Friend Jesus"
    • "Father"
    • "Son"
    • "Holy Spirit"
    • "God, I love you"
    • "For God so loved the world…."
    • "In the beginning God……"
    • "God is love"
    • Whatever word, phrase or verse the Spirit leads you to repeat.
  • Continue until you are completely relaxed and your mind is totally empty except for the word, phrase or verse you have been repeating.
  1. Another practice to help us maintain a continuous laser like focus on Jesus is constant prayer.
  • This is simply praying throughout the day over just about everything.
    • You see an ambulance with its lights on and sirens blaring, pray for the first responders and the people they're rushing to assist.
    • Prior to every new activity, invite God to participate with you.
    • With every decision, whether small or big, ask Jesus for advice.
    • When listening to the news, pray over the news stories.
  • Practicing constant prayer or, as the Apostle Paul would put it, praying without ceasing, keeps us focused on Jesus.
  1. Conclusion: Don't let the storms of life distract you. Stay focused on Jesus.
    1. Remember Peter, he stayed focused on Jesus in the midst of a terrible storm and walked on water
    2. You too can walk on water. – No matter how tough life gets, focus on Jesus and walk on water.


     

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Sermon 13 August 2017

Scripture

 

Matthew 14:22-33

Core Idea and purpose

 

Core
Idea: We must have a continuous, laser like focus on Jesus in order to get through the storms of life and become more holy & loving.

Purpose: To help Christians focus on Jesus during the good and bad times

The Sermon

  1. Introduction: Our increasing inability to focus
    1. Modern society conditions us to have short attention spans.
  • We use to write long, detailed letters, but now we send a quick text or post a picture on face book.
  • Instead of losing ourselves in a 1,000 page novel, we now read short stories on a website.
  • To do research, we spent several hours in the library, but now we take a few minutes searching the web.
  • When we read some of John Wesley's sermons from the 18th century, we see that they lasted 30 to 60 minutes. Now days, I'm too scared to preach over 25 minutes.
  • As life speeds along at lightning speed, we become dizzy and less able to focus.
    • It's no wonder, 11% of our children have been diagnosed with ADHD.
    • We are becoming a society that can't focus.
  1. As Christians, we should be alarmed because we are called to have a continuous, laser like focus on our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.
  • Not focusing well on a specific task or project can be bad enough but not focusing on Jesus is detrimental to our lives.
  • In order to rise above the storms of life and become the holy & loving people God created us to be, we must focus on Jesus.
  1. Focusing on Jesus and rising above the storms of life
    1. Matthew 14:22-33
  • When Peter focused on Jesus, he walked on water despite the storm raging around him.
  • As soon as Peter noticed the storm, he began to sink & drown.
  • Then, when Peter refocused his attention on Jesus and cried out, "Lord, save me!!", Jesus pulled him up and calmed the storm.
  1. A few years ago, the church treasurer at the church I was serving embezzled money.
  • As the church leadership worked to assess the damage, we became angry and disenchanted.
    • A dark cloud of hurt and betrayal hung over us.
    • A debilitating depression took root in our hearts.
  • While discussing this matter, the lay leader mentioned that she felt so horrible she couldn't do her morning devotion.
    • Other people then admitted to not doing their devotions.
    • It then dawned on us that depression and anger were ruling our hearts, not because our treasurer betrayed us, but because we lost our focus on Jesus.
  • We immediately stopped what we were doing, conducted a group devotional and refocused on Jesus.
    • We were then able to deal with the situation with a sense of hope and, dare I say it, joy.
  1. Focusing on Jesus and becoming the holy & loving people God created us to be
    1. We maintain a continuous, laser like focus on Jesus so we can become more like Jesus.
    2. Young adults are often astonished when they realize they're a lot like their parents.
  • What's really astonishing is that young adults are astonished when they realize how similar they are to their parents.
  • For most of their lives, young adults talked with, listened to, interacted with and spent most of their time with their parents
  • After spending most of our lives watching and interacting with our parents we ought to expect to be a lot like them.
  1. In the same way, if we have any hope of becoming holy & loving like Jesus, we must watch Him, speak with Him, listen to Him and simply be with Him.
  • As we consciously learn from Jesus and allow Jesus to 'rub off on us', the Holy Spirit works to change us from the inside, so that on the unconscious level our attitudes and desires reflect the character of Jesus.
  • This is how we regain the image of God and become the people God created us to be.
  1. So, how do we maintain a continuous, laser like focus on Jesus?
    1. The common answer is to practice the spiritual disciplines:
  • Daily prayer (both personal and corporate)
  • Fasting
  • Bible study (both personal & private)
  • Daily devotions
  • Small accountability groups
  • Worship
  • Seeking opportunities to serve others.
  1. Sometimes, however, it's hard to focus on Jesus, even when we pray, read Scripture or practice all the other disciplines.
  • Life's worries and demands have an annoying way of creeping into our thoughts.
    • Have you ever attempted to pray but you kept thinking about some concern you have or the next task on your 'to do' list?
    • Have you ever tried reading Scripture but just couldn't concentrate on what it said, much less on what the Holy Spirit was wanting to reveal to you through the Scripture?
  • When this happens, it may be helpful to practice Christian meditation.
    • Meditation is focusing your mind on one specific idea or thing
    • Scripture tells us to meditate on God's law, word, love, works and salvation
      • Joshua 1:8
      • Psalm 1:2
      • Psalm 19:14
      • Psalm 48:9
      • Psalm 77:12
      • Psalm 119:15
      • Psalm 143:5
      • Psalm 145:5
    • Christian meditation focuses on all of the above with a particular emphasis on Jesus and the Trinity.
    • You could meditate when you wake up, right before your daily devotions/prayers, in the middle of the day or as you fall asleep at night.
    • After several minutes of Christian meditation, your mind and soul will be better ready to pray, worship, study Scripture or simply be righteous.
  1. One way to meditate is to follow these simple steps:
  • Sit in a relaxed position and close your eyes
  • Control your breathing. Take deep breaths in and out.
  • With each breath you breathe out, repeat a short Christian word, phrase or Bible verse. Some examples are:
    • "Thank you Jesus"
    • "Lord Jesus"
    • "Savior Jesus"
    • "Friend Jesus"
    • "Father"
    • "Son"
    • "Holy Spirit"
    • "God, I love you"
    • "For God so loved the world…."
    • "In the beginning God……"
    • "God is love"
    • Whatever word, phrase or verse the Spirit leads you to repeat.
  • Continue until you are completely relaxed and your mind is totally empty except for the word, phrase or verse you have been repeating.
  1. Another practice to help us maintain a continuous laser like focus on Jesus is constant prayer.
  • This is simply praying throughout the day over just about everything.
    • You see an ambulance with its lights on and sirens blaring, pray for the first responders and the people they're rushing to assist.
    • Prior to every new activity, invite God to participate with you.
    • With every decision, whether small or big, ask Jesus for advice.
    • When listening to the news, pray over the news stories.
  • Practicing constant prayer or, as the Apostle Paul would put it, praying without ceasing, keeps us focused on Jesus.
  1. Conclusion: Don't let the storms of life distract you. Stay focused on Jesus.
    1. Remember Peter, he stayed focused on Jesus in the midst of a terrible storm and walked on water
    2. You too can walk on water. – No matter how tough life gets, focus on Jesus and walk on water.


     

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Sermon 06 August 2017

 

Scripture

 

Matthew 14:13-21

Core Idea and purpose

 

Core
Idea: We have no excuse for failing to demonstrate God's love

Purpose: To encourage Christians to demonstrate God's love

The Sermon

  1. Introduction: Excuses, excuses, excuses – We all come up with excuses
    1. When I forget to do a household chore
  • I explain to my wife that I told Sunshine, our Cocker Spaniel dog, to do it.
  • Then I begin to chastise Sunshine.
  • For some reason, my wife never believes me.
  1. There's a Reader's Digest article titled, "The 34 most ridiculous excuses people actually used to get out of work". The following are a few of these excuses
  • An employee called in sick because he ate cat food instead of tuna and was deathly ill.
  • An employee got stuck in the blood pressure machine at the grocery store and couldn't get out
  • An employee claimed his grandmother poisoned him with ham.
  • An employee had to attend the funeral of his wife's cousin's pet, because he was an uncle and pallbearer.
  • An employee's false teeth flew out the window while driving down the highway.
  • An employee caught his uniform on fire by putting it in the microwave to dry.
  1. Along with creating excuses not to work or go to school, we also create excuses for failing to demonstrate God's love. (I can be just as guilty of this as anyone else.)
  • These excuses, however, never work.
  • Our Savior & Lord, Jesus Christ, has a way of slicing through these excuses and empowering us to demonstrate God's unconditional love.
  1. How Jesus obliterates our excuses for failing to demonstrate God's love
    1. First excuse: "I just don't have the time."
  • Jesus never used this excuse.
    • When He heard about the murder of John the Baptist, He sought a solitary place to pray and mourn.
    • But the crowds found Him and pleaded with Him for healing, guidance & salvation.
    • This was very poor timing.
      • Jesus could have said, "UGHHHH…You are all so needy. I need time to myself. Go away!! I'll help you later."
      • Instead, Jesus had compassion on them and began to heal and teach them.
      • He waited until the next day to find solitude and grieve with His Father. Jesus didn't neglect himself but rearranged His priorities.
    • Jesus adjusted his personal schedule in order to demonstrate God's love.
    • We are called to follow Jesus' example and adjust our schedules in order to demonstrate God's love.
  • My wife, Donna, is very good at this.
    • Oftentimes, her friends would call needing to talk.
    • She would drop whatever she was doing and talk with them for as long as necessary
    • At a later time, she would finish the work that was interrupted. This often means working late into the night.
  1. Second excuse: "What can I do? I don't have enough money or talent to help."
  • When Jesus was faced with 5000 hungry people, he had five loaves and two fish.
    • Not quite enough to feed that many people or so the disciples thought.
    • Jesus blessed the food, gave it to the disciples to hand out and everyone was filled.
    • Jesus offered what He had to the Father and trusted Him to make it enough.
    • In the same way, we are to offer what we have to God, and trust Him to make it enough to help the person(s) who needs helping.
  • God is able to take what this church has, multiply it and then use it to fulfill His loving purposes.
    • Every month, we manage to pay our bills but with very little money left over.
    • Yet, with the meager resources we have left over, we manage to…
      • .Help people with emergency financial assistance from the Pastor's Discretionary fund
      • Help with food and prayers at the Food Pantry every Friday
      • Provide a hot meal and spiritual nourishment every 4 to 6 six weeks at the 520 fellowship
      • Support Fairglenn Elementary School with supp;ies and volunteers
      • Partner with our Cuban Sister church and help them with the pastor's salary.
      • We've helped individuals and their families get off the street and into a home
      • Offer Vacation Bible School to approximately 40 kids every year
      • Offer the 'Walk Thru Bethlehem" to the community every year
  1. Third excuse: "I'm just one person. What can I do?"
  • Jesus was just one person facing over 5,000 people to serve.
    • Can you imagine a waiter or waitress serving that many people? Evidently, neither could Jesus.
    • He didn't attempt to serve all those people by himself. He recruited His disciples and had them work together as a team to distribute the fish & loaves.
    • Instead of going it alone, Jesus involved the community.
    • Likewise, when we are called to help people in need, we should involve the faith community. We'll just burn ourselves out if we act as a lone ranger out to save the day.
  • At this church, we manage to help our members facing a financial crisis
    • This doesn't happen because one person is generous and donates a lot of money whenever someone is in need (Most of us aren't rich enough to do that.)
    • This happens because most members of this congregation are willing to give what they can when someone is in need.
      • Many members contribute to the Pastor's discretionary fund and part of that fund is is set aside to help church members in a financial crisis. There is almost always money in that fund for that purpose
      • When we don't have the money in the Pastor's Discretionary fund, I send out a congregational wide e-mail and always receive a great response
    • People receive help because individuals involve the church community when they see a need
  1. Conclusion:
    1. The bottom line: When we seek to demonstrate God's love, Jesus will always provide what we need.
    2. He can do that because Jesus, himself, is enough.
  • Jesus is enough to take away the guilt of our sins.
  • Jesus is enough to provide power over our sinful nature.
  • Jesus is enough to free us from any addiction.
  • Jesus is enough to give us an abundant life consisting of joy, peace & love.
  1. We have no excuse. Let's go out and demonstrate God's love in this dark world.


 

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Sermon outline 16 July 2017

 

  1. Introduction: I am highly motivated whenever I watch Rocky I and II.
    1. After watching either one of these movies, I'm ready to run 10 miles, hit the weights and practice my limited knowledge of martial arts.
    2. Next to David & Goliath, Rocky I and II are the ultimate underdog stories.
  • Rocky, an unknown lowly street fighting boxer, rises to the occasion to fight the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, Apollo Creed.
  • At first, he achieves victory by going the distance with the champ. Then he defeats the champ in a grueling, drag-out fight of endurance….What a story!!!
  1. Rocky, however, didn't stand a chance against Apollo without his mentor, Mickey Goldmill.
  • Rocky had to fully surrender to Mickey's authority.
    • Rocky ate what Mickey told him to eat, slept when Mickey told him to sleep and endured Mickey's training regimen.
    • It paid off when Rocky won by knock-out at the end of the second movie.
  • Rocky absolutely needed a mentor. The challenge was way too big for him to face alone.
  1. Like Rocky, we must have a mentor.
    1. As followers of Jesus, God expects us to love Him with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength while also loving our neighbors as ourselves.
  • We are called to love all people with God's type of unconditional love every second of every hour of every day.
  • That's a tall order. I'm pretty sure I would stand a better chance fighting Apollo Creed.
  1. We can't possibly hope to live up to God's law of love without a mentor guiding, empowering and changing us from the inside out. God understands this.
  • That's why His Holy Spirit dwells inside our hearts.
  • The Holy Spirit is our Divine Mentor.
    • Remember, the Holy Spirit is God – One of the three persons of the Trinity.
    • God Himself is our mentor!!! Wow!!!!
  1. Scripture teaches us that the Holy Spirit is our Divine Mentor
    1. Consider Romans 8:3b-4 & 9a, "….so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh [sinful nature] but according to the Spirit……You are not in the realm of the flesh [sinful nature] but are in the realm of the Spirit…"
    2. This passage from Romans stands in solidarity with the rest of the New Testament.
  • In John 14 & 16, Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as our indwelling counselor who guides us into the truth.
  • In 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 we learn that the Holy Spirit transforms us into the image of Christ with ever increasing glory.
    • In other words, the Spirit changes our hearts so we can become more holy and loving like Christ.
    • This is how the Holy Spirit is different and far superior than any human mentor.
      • As good as Mickey was, he couldn't change Rocky's heart. He could train Rocky but not change his desires and attitudes.
      • The Holy Spirit not only trains us but also changes our desires and attitudes.
  1. Like Rocky, we need to totally surrender to the loving authority of our Divine mentor. This begins with focusing our life on God.
    1. Romans 8:5 states it clearly, "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires."
    2. We focus our lives on God through the Spiritual Disciplines: Prayer, fasting, worshipping, Bible study/devotional time and seeking opportunities to serve others.
  • The Holy Spirit works through these disciplines to touch and change our hearts.
  • How can we expect the Holy Spirit to mentor and change us through prayer if we only pray when our lives are in crisis?
  • How can we expect the Holy Spirit to mentor and change us through worship if we don't consistently participate in worship services?
  • How can we expect the Holy Spirit to mentor and change us through Bible study if we don't regularly read our Bibles?
  1. Three ways the Holy Spirit mentors us
    1. Our conscience: The Holy Spirit emboldens and strengthens our conscience
  • When we start to go down the wrong path, our conscience takes over and gives us that uneasy feeling.
  • We may even experience extreme physical discomfort.
  • The Holy Spirit causes my conscience to go into overdrive when I start to gossip
    • Due to my sinful nature, I find myself participating in gossip.
    • Without even thinking about it, I join in on conversations centered on demeaning another person or people.
    • When this happens, I develop a bad feeling in my gut
    • This bad feeling is a cue for me to defend and say something good about the person or people being defamed.
  1. 'Aha' moments: Sometimes the Spirit works by giving us one of those 'aha' moments when we suddenly understand our own feelings or what's really going on.
  • This sudden understanding illuminates the right & loving course of action we ought to take.
  • It's common for this to happen through prayer, Bible study and Christian accountability.
    • If you don't pray regularly, rarely read the Bible and don't have many spiritual conversations with other Christians, then don't expect any 'aha' moments
    • If you do pray regularly, consistently study Scripture and have many spiritual conversations with other Christians, then expect 'aha' moments.
  • John Weaver had an 'aha' moment
    • John participated in a Kairos Prison ministry weekend
    • During the weekend, one of the leaders had an 'in your face' style of management and was very rude towards John.
    • John was upset and considered not participating in the next Kairos weekend.
    • At one of the Kairos monthly reunions, the Holy Spirit gave John an 'aha' moment
      • John observed how much the inmates' hearts & lives had changed as a result of Kairos
      • He realized that serving the inmates was more important than being respected by one of the Kairos leaders
      • So, he gave up his resentment to God and decided to continue on with Kairos
  1. Holy Spirit 'nudges': The Holy Spirit will also give us nudges.
  • These are ideas about how we could demonstrate God's love in a practical way.
  • They often seem to just pop into our heads.
  • Some examples are:
    • "That person looks sad. I should ask if he's ok."
    • "I'm not sure anyone is visiting this person in the hospital. I should go visit him."
    • "Why don't I read my Bible in this coffee shop or Bar & Grill. Perhaps there's someone here who needs to talk about God."
    • "I haven't heard from so & so in a while. I should call him/her."
  1. Conclusion
    1. So, our Divine mentor will embolden our conscience, give us 'aha' moments and nudge us to serve other people.
    2. This mentoring begins when you first receive God's forgiveness through faith in Jesus and accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord.
    3. If you have not already done so, give your life to Jesus right now so you can begin the ultimate mentoring process.
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Sermon Outline 02 July 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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