Hoping for the Best

This could be so much better.  Some day I’ll do it over.
What comes to mind when you think about hope?  We tend to use the word rather lightly.  It’s more like “I wish” than in its deeper meaning.  When we see hope in the Bible, it has a much greater significance than a mere wish.  In fact, the whole book is a message of hope.  So, what does it mean?  Why is it significant?  How do we find it?  In this podcast, we’ll start in Romans 5:1-6 and see where it leads.

Go!

I don’t remember exactly when it was.  I don’t remember very much of what he said, but one word came through loud and clear.  I was a young teenager.  The preacher was my dad, and the word was “go!”  Preacher’s kids the world over have probably experienced this; that frightening moment of truth when the fact that you were daydreaming during Dad’s sermon gets exposed.  He turns to you and asks, “what did I preach on today?”  I remember this particular day very well.  I’m sorry to say I was probably no more attentive than usual, but that sermon was quite pointed.  I remember the sense of relief when my one-word response was deemed sufficient, “go!”

Now let’s put the word in context.  We’ll begin with some of the last words Jesus spoke to His disciples before going back to Heaven after his resurrection.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  (Matt 28:19-20)

We’ll talk about what He told us to do, why it is so important, and what happens when we do it.  Get your shoes on, because we’re going to go!

Something Sinful

I’ll bet that even if you usually don’t read these, you opened up this one. I would have. That word “sinful” catches our eyes and we’re intrigued, even if we don’t know what we’re in for. I hope you would have reason to believe that you’re not really going to see something sinful, but if you’re like most of us your first response was not aversion, but curiosity.

Why is that? What draws us to things we would do better to avoid? Is it the devil? Is it a “sinful nature?” Sin is one of those Christianese words, but one the world is familiar with. However, I think even most Christians don’t really understand what it is. How many commercials have we seen where something is portrayed as so good it must be sinful. Herein lies one of Satan’s tricks. By getting us to equate all pleasurable experience with sin, he hides its true nature and sucks all the joy from our lives in the bargain. So, we’re going to talk about sin. I hope you’ll gain a better understanding of what it is, why you want to avoid it, how to avoid it and the only Reason why you can.

The Choice to Rejoice

This is the first sermon I preached after being ordained.  You can tell.  But as I listened to it this morning God used it to remind me of things I needed to remember.  I pray that it will bless you as well.  ey you get to practice even as you listen.  🙂

Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!”  If the Lord, through Paul’s letter, is telling us to rejoice, then it must be something we can choose to do.  When you’re reading the bible and find that something gets repeated, that mean’s it’s especially important.  Paul obviously considered this important because he said it twice.  In This podcast, we will look at what joy is, why we should rejoice, and some practical things to help us do it.

Can God Trust You?

I hope you’ll take the time to listen to this one.  I think you will be encouraged.

We talk a lot about putting our trust in God, and we should. He is the only one who will never betray that trust. I should point out that may not mean He does what we think He should do, but that’s another topic for another time. We can trust in His character and in His love.

When I decided to frame the message this way, it felt a little awkward. After all, God knows us. He knows all of our shortcomings. How can we even ask if He can trust us? Granted, it’s not quite the same kind of relationship, but He has chosen to entrust each of us with qualities, abilities, and assets that He expects us to put to work for His kingdom. We’re going to look at two parables that Jesus used to illustrate this principle. You may be more familiar with the one in Matthew 25:14-30, but there is a similar story in Luke 19:11-27. You may want to read both of them before you listen and make your own notes about the similarities and differences in the stories. They seem like very harsh words, and in deed there is a strong warning in them, but I hope you will also see the grace and generosity of our Lord shining through by the time we are done.

Be Aware, and Be Warned

This is one of my earliest messages and the delivery is pretty rough, but I think the message is sound and I hope you’ll stick with me.  What follows is is excerpted from the introduction I wrote for the church web site.

I do not operate in the gift of prophecy.  I’m not even that much into studying prophecy.  I believe everything in the Bible was put there for our benefit.  That means we should study the prophecy scriptures, but those which tell of times beyond the one we live in make up a small part of the whole.  We should not focus on end times to the exclusion of the things that show us how to live in the present.  Yet I feel that we are being warned.  Whether this is the time for all of the future prophecies to be fulfilled I will not guess, but it seems that our nation continues to move away from God.  He will not allow our wickedness to continue forever.  Real persecution is on the rise in this country, and I believe it will increase dramatically as judgment falls.  If we will heed the warning and repent there is still hope, but I believe that we must endure a time of tribulation in order that we may turn back to Him.  This message is in part to make us aware of what is going on around the world and call us to action, but it is also to prepare us for what is coming.  God tells us clearly that the faithful should expect persecution.  Our faith is about to be put to the test.  Are you ready?

Tongue Twisted

If every word that has been written were written on the sky, would the world see the sun?  Man’s attempt to build the tower of Babel was thwarted by the Almighty.  Man thinks to build it again with bricks of glue, paper and bits.

If every word that man has spoken were spoken all at once, would the world be deafened by the noise?  Every man caries his soap box.  How often he fails to see that the contents of his platform would benefit from an application of the former contents of his platform,  but it is so much easier to carry when empty.

A word is an abstract thing.  When written, a mere collection of letters.  When spoken, a collection of sounds.  A word may be seen, heard, even felt, but of itself it has no substance.  Yet our world is defined by words.
What a paradox is the word.  Words in the mouth of one are priceless, while the same words in the mouth of another are worthless.  They carry the power of destruction and the power of creation.  They are a murderer’s knife and a surgeon’s scalpel.  They are a deadly poison and a healing tonic.

Oh that we would learn to give value to our words, for the power of the word is in the speaker.  How often we toss them around like refuse, taking no thought for where they may land.  We expect others to except them as truth, but fail to honor them ourselves.  In our anger we throw them at the ones we love, and then don’t understand why they throw them back at us.  We see our own bleeding and still fail to understand that the same thing that wounded us also wounded them.  We grow our thick skin, which, while it may be less easily damaged, is also less able to feel.

Where is the truth?  If we construct an understanding of ourselves and our world with words, where is the foundation that would support such a structure?  What an amazing thing, that the creator of the universe would choose as one way to define Himself, “The Word.”  The Word brought the earth into existence. The Word created man in His own image.  “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  The Word is life to us.  It is His power delivered to us through His words that provides a standard by which the value of all other words may be judged.  The paradoxical word, personified, purified and glorified, is Jesus Himself.

Read James 1:26, 3:1-12; Matt 12:33-37.  Explore the Word with me in this podcast.

May The Word be the master of your words from this day forward.

Blessed To Be A Blessing

This is the first recorded sermon I gave at our church.  I would be ordained there on August 1, 2010.

Here are some questions to ponder.  Do you think you are blessed?  If you know you are blessed, why do you think that is?  Could God have a greater purpose for what He has given you?  read Genesis 12:1-3.

Trying something new

I may regret this.  My delivery is terrible.  My sermons have been available as podcasts on our church site for years, but I rarely make a point of it.  With that admission I introduce the soon coming podcast on this blog.  In the past I have planned to turn each sermon into a written blog post.  I’ve managed to find the time to do that maybe twice.  There’s so much I would love to share with you.  I love God’s word!  I delight in discovering new (to me) things in it and sharing what I have found.  Since I can’t seem to make the time to turn my spoken words into written ones, I dare to let more of the world know that I should have stayed with Toastmasters a bit longer.  🙂  Hopefully you can get past the messenger and be blessed by the message.  If nothing else, it will give me the opportunity to experiment with podcasting from WordPress directly so that I will feel more confident in converting the church over from the clumsy way I’m doing it now.  Stay tuned.