ILLUSTRATION – This coming Wednesday is our wedding anniversary. Nan and I will be married 38 years. We actually got married Good Friday of Easter weekend so we could have an extra day of vacation for our honeymoon. At the time I was serving as a youth minister in a church and there was a kid in our youth group whose father owned a funeral home. I was a poor college student and couldn’t afford a limousine to whisk us away after the wedding so I ask this kid if his dad would loan us the funeral coach for our wedding. They agreed. Have you ever planned to do something and when it actually came time to do it you thought, “What was I thinking? At the time this seemed like a good idea, but now I’m not so sure.” Well we ran out of the church building with our loved ones and friends showering us with rice and started our exciting new journey together as husband and wife … in a funeral coach. I’ve often wondered if people caught the irony of that moment. A funeral coach is really out of place at a wedding. And on the first Easter morning some women went to the tomb of Jesus and found some things that were out of place. (more…)
Archive for the ‘Sermon Manuscripts’ Category
ILLUSTRATION – One of the most important works of art in history is Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.” Around the year 1500 da Vinci painted this on the wall of a convent in Milan, Italy. It represents Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples as they observed the Passover on the night before He was crucified. I’ve always thought it was unusual that da Vinci depicted them like they were sitting at a dining room table in someone’s Italian villa. Of course, the setting of Jesus’ last supper with His disciples in observance of the Passover was in a borrowed room where they sat (reclined) maybe on cushions around a low table. Matthew in his Gospel tells us…
Matthew 26:17 – On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
Again, this is the night that Jesus was betrayed and arrested. (more…)
Today we’re celebrating the second anniversary of the opening of our church’s free medical clinic called the Mercy Clinic. Our motivation for showing mercy is the mercy that God has shown to us in the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross of Calvary for our sins. Open your Bibles to Exodus 12. We’re going spend the next three Sundays reflecting back on the amazing thing God did for us in the death and resurrection of His Son. But long before that God gave another powerful demonstration of His mercy; this time it was just for His chosen people, the nation of Israel. It is called the Passover and it happened after Israel had been in slavery in Egypt for hundreds of years. These are the people of God and He will set them on a journey to possess the Promised Land. But first they must be delivered. God will judge their captors, the Egyptians, with a series of plagues, the last of which is more grave than we might could comprehend … the death of the firstborn sons throughout the land. But Israel will be spared because they will be covered with God’s special protection. This week and next week we will look through the lens of this historic event, the Passover, in order to better understand that greatest event in history … the death and resurrection of Jesus. Read Exodus 12:1-13. (more…)
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION – The internet and social media lit up a couple of weeks ago over a picture of this dress. The controversy revolves around the colors of this dress. What colors do you see? I see white and gold, but many people see blue and black. Well, as it turns out the color of the dress changes with the perspective. If you look at it from one angle it is white and gold. If you look at it from another angle it is appears blue and black.
When it comes to the message of the Gospel, what you see depends on your perspective. Those who first heard the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and received it by faith were transformed. But there were others who heard the message of the Gospel from a different perspective. They saw it as a threat to their religious traditions and they became angry. This is the mob that our friend Stephen encountered in Acts 6-7. (more…)
We’ve moved from focusing on our church being a HOUSE OF PRAYER to our families becoming HOMES OF PRAYER. And this month we take it a step deeper to our lives becoming HEARTS OF PRAYER. Easter is a little over a month away and we’ve prepared a “Walk to the Empty Tomb,” a 30-day personal prayer experience. It will be up on our website. Or follow me on Facebook and Twitter to get the daily guide which will start on March 7. We have a great opportunity to share the Gospel with our city in the next month leading up to Easter. Let’s have our hearts ready. (more…)
Open your Bibles to Acts 6:1. Tonight is our Evening of Prayer and Praise where our church gets down to serious praying and we want to pray for you. Later in our worship time you’ll have an opportunity to share prayer requests with us. So if you have a need write it on the prayer card in your worship folder and put in the offering basket later. Also let me remind you that this Wednesday evening is our church conference where we present our budget for 2015-16. We invite you to come to hear the presentation and participate in the discussion. We’ll adopt the budget on March 8 in our morning worship services. Read Acts 6:1-7.
ILLUSTRATION – When I was in college I was a youth pastor at a church in the day when everyone wore coats and ties (at least the men did). I got up late one Sunday morning and didn’t have a clean dress shirt so I grabbed one out of the dirty clothes. It was all wrinkled so I quickly ironed the collar and the cuffs, thinking that was the only part anyone would see. It was so stinking hot that day that I wanted to take my coat off by I couldn’t because I didn’t want anyone to see my wrinkled shirt. (more…)
ILLUSTRATION – In my message last Sunday I shared some statistics about how the church around the world is growing. One of the statistics I gave from Meyer’s book Witness Essentials was that there were more followers of Jesus in China than there are members of the Communist Party. Last Sunday afternoon I was reading Nik Ripken’s book The Insanity of Obedience. Ripken has been all over the world researching persecution of the church in various nations. He tells the story of speaking to a training meeting with some believers in China. As part of his presentation he talked about the tremendous harvest that is happening in China. Afterwards one of the leaders present asked Nik to have a meal with him. At their meal the Chinese leader gently challenged the numbers that Nik had given when he talked about the tremendous harvest of souls in China. The Chinese leader said that about two-thirds of the number that Nik mentioned were members, but only about one-third would be considered true followers of Jesus. Nik was puzzled by the discrepancy. The Chinese leader said that members attend a house church. Most of them have been baptized and even contribute financially to the work of the church. Then the Chinese leader said, “But we do not consider church members to be true followers of Jesus until they have led other people to Christ and have helped to plant more churches.” (more…)
I want you to see this morning that we are a small part of something amazingly huge. We are a humble part of a movement that cannot fail … a movement that is marching along through history, impacting people in nations all over the world, and that will one day fill the whole universe as the Kingdom of God. You see, two thousand years ago Jesus said…
Matthew 16:18b – I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
It’s His church. And the gates of hell will not be able to withstand it. We’re unstoppable! But in spite of what Jesus said, the fact is that we often think we’re losing the battle, don’t we. Let’s be honest. We see evil triumphing and godlessness expanding, and we think we’re part of something that is failing. (more…)
Let’s open our Bibles to Acts 4:32-35. What we have here is a snapshot of a community of people who have been transformed by putting their trust in Jesus. When people who live by faith in Jesus Christ … who have placed their confidence in His saving, sustaining grace … here’s what their community looks like: Read Acts 4:32-37. (Everybody say, “one in heart and mind” … “shared everything” … “great power” … “much grace” … “no needy persons”.)
Our church’s mission is to join God in developing passionate followers of Jesus Christ. And one of the things that passionate followers of Jesus do is that they build Christ-centered relationships. So we try to build this into the structure of our church in various ways including what we call Community Groups (formerly A2C Groups). These groups are about to start back up; there’s information in your worship folder about it. But I want you to hear first-hand why these groups are important. Larry Thompson and his wife Joy lead the Koinonia Bible Study class on Sunday mornings. (more…)
While we’re standing, take out your Bibles and let’s read from God’s Word … Acts 4:32-37. Pray. For weeks I had been planning to preach on this text today, but in light of what God did among us this past week in our OneCry Prayer Summit, I feel led just to focus on that first sentence of our text.
Acts 4:32 – All the believers were one in heart and mind.
What an amazing statement about any church. These believers who had been through the fires of persecution were freshly filled with the Holy Spirit were knit together in a community that might be hard for us to comprehend. Imagine a group of people all being one in heart and mind.
ESV – Acts 4:32 – Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul…
I gather from this that the Spirit was moving in most everyone’s life. Whether that means 100% or at least an overwhelming majority, the fact is that the whole church was together in what God was doing … heart and soul. What we have here in the first chapters of the book of Acts is the record of one of the greatest revivals in history. Something happened in their hearts and minds that knit them together in such a way that the Gospel was able to go forth in power and needs of people in the church were met in a miraculous way. (more…)