Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Prophets and Jesus Christ

Intro.: Take out a pen or pencil.

  1. Not long ago, a professor of psychology in one of our great universities gave a word suggestion test to his class of 40 students. He instructed them to write the word “Christmas,” and all the class did so. “Now,” said the professor, “right after the word ‘Christmas’ write the first thought that flashes through your mind regarding that day.” When the papers were turned in, such answers were given as “tree,” “holly,” “mistletoe,” “presents,” “turkey,” “holiday,” “carols,” and “Santa Claus,” but not one had written, “the birthday of Jesus.” As there was no room for the baby Jesus in the inn, there is no room for Him today in the celebration of Christmas.1

  2. During the next few minutes we want to look at how the prophets described the coming Messiah.


Trans: Too often we think of a prophet as being someone who tells the future.

  1. But scripture presents a different picture of a prophet.

  2. Rather than being a "foreteller", the scriptural prophet is a "forthteller".

  3. Though much of our time this Advent has been spent looking at how the scripture, and today the prophets, looked ahead to the coming Messiah.

  4. But, we have only done this because we are in Advent – the vast majority of the Old Testament has the prophets delivering God's word – and that dealt with the hearers present.

  5. Don't read the prophets so much for details about the future, but to prepared for living the life of a believer.

T.S. During the next few minutes I want to look at four facts that the prophets give about the coming Messiah.

  1. The prophets tell us the place of Christ's birth.

    1. I have three sons – but at this point I have no grand kids. I have no idea when they will come, but I suspect they will.

    2. But if any of you know when and where my first grandson will be born, I would really like to know. I mean, I could plan ahead. None of this six or seven months warning. I could even buy my plane tickets so Sandra and I could be there to hold our son and daughter-in-law's hand as they waited for that momentous event.

    3. But none of you can help me – can you? I mean none of you can even give me a two or three year notice so I can plan. I wife would say it is time for crocodile tears.

    4. It would really be amazing to get that information in advance.

    5. And it was amazing when 700 years before Christ was born, Micah told the world that he would be born in Bethlehem:

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,

though you are small among the clans of Judah,

out of you will come for me

one who will be ruler over Israel,

whose origins are from of old,

from ancient times.”

Therefore Israel will be abandoned

until the time

when she who is in labor

gives birth

and the rest of his brothers return

to join the Israelites.

He will stand and shepherd his flock

in the strength of the Lord,

in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.

And they will live securely,

for then his greatness

will reach to the ends of the earth.

And he will be their peace. (Micah 5:2-5a NIV)

    1. I doubt that Mary and Joseph had put it all together, but sitting here in the 20th century, it is amazing.

    2. And Micah was able to speak the truth because he was a forthteller – he was willing to speak God's words to broken people.

  1. The prophets tell us the means of Christ's birth

    1. I suspect that if someone were to say that a baby would be born in Bethlehem, we would not be surprised. There were probably lots of babies born in Bethlehem.

    2. But Isaiah says something even more amazing – he tells us that the messiah will be born of a virgin:

      Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, andd will call him Immanuel - that is God with us. (Isaiah 7:22 NIV)

    3. I sometimes put God into a box – I expect him to work like I would. I mean, I expect him to work by the same rules that I do.

    4. But that is exactly what those who do not believe in miracles think. Miracles are not possible when we limit God to our rules – but God is god. That is what a miracle is – God working outside the rules.

(Ill.) Someone has noted, 'Miracles happen today. They are history-making, earth-shaking events, which change whole courses of history and the fates of nations. Arnold Toynbee says that believing in miracles is a basic necessity of mankind: “The fundamental need of our world today is a rebirth of belief in the supernatural. If this rebirth is not forthcoming from the more progressive creators of our mechanical culture, it may come from the “backward” peoples like the natives of Africa and Asia, to those who have not yet become victims of the proud materialism of the Great Powers.”'2

    1. The virgin birth was a miracle – a miracle that confirms that Jesus was the Son of God

  1. The prophets tell us the effects of Christ's birth

    1. Isaiah writes,

      "Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
      and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
      Then will the lame leap like a deer,
      and the mute tongue shout for joy.
      Water will gush forth in the wilderness
      and streams in the desert. "
      (Isaiah 35:5-6 NIV)

    2. Do you remember what Jesus said to John's disciples when they came to find out whether Jesus was the messiah in Luke 7. Jesus does not give a direct answer, but tells John's disciples, "Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor."

    3. Christ came to offer us salvation – but to show his world and ours, he did and does much more. And that is what the prophets tell us will happen.

    4. We all have times when we hurt, we all have times when we struggle – do you know what I mean. And Christ wants to meet those needs.

  2. The prophets tell us the reason for Christ's birth

    1. I want to conclude with a familiar passage – a passage that we normally read during Lent. But it reminds us why Christ came.

    2. Read Isaiah 53:1-12 NIV

    3. Christ did many things during his three years of ministry, but the one with the greatest impact, the one with eternal consequences, was his death on the cross.

    4. Isaiah saw it coming, we know it happened.

    5. Today, if you have not placed your faith in Christ, do so today.



1AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

2Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Writings That Point To Christ

Intro.: Over the years I have dabbled in poetry.

  1. In the fall of 1997 I was driving back from church. As I drove along, a leaf crossed my path. It looked as if it were a small animal creeping along the ground. A couple of days later I wrote the following:

    The Leaf

Today a leaf danced across my path.

It did a little jig as it moved upon the ground,

urged along by unseen hands.

Dry and tender, it waltzed in step with the trees

who clapped their hands to the tune of some

silent melody.

I moved on, perhaps never again to see that sight,

though leaves will dance and waltz tomorrow.1

  1. I can appreciate the dilemma that a writer faces – between writing a simple statement and then communicating what is coming from the heart.

  2. Over the past two weeks, we have looked at the picture of the Messiah in the Law and the historical books of the Old Testament

  3. Today we turn to those books that are grouped together under the title "The Writings".


Trans: The writing cover a broad period of time.

  1. Job is considered one of the earliest pieces of writing

  2. Though David is writing most of the Psalms in about 1000 BC, some of the Psalms date three or four hundred years later. Some would date them several hundred years earlier.

  3. But regardless of when they are writing, the authors of these books, kept their eyes on God.

T.S. This morning, I would like to look at two passages from the writings that focus our attention on the coming Christ.

  1. Job shows a man of great faith in the midst of great trouble.

    1. The author of the Word Biblical Commentary on Job that he makes no pretensions to understand what the book of Job is all about. Even given unlimited time – it would be an impossible task.2

    2. Here is a man who lost it all. He lost his health, he lost his wealth, and he lost his family – he had nothing.

    3. Even his friends seem to betray him – even seeking to get him to curse God.

    4. I would not want to be Job.

    5. Yet in the midst of all of his problems, Job keeps his faith. Not just once or twice or three times, but four times Job testifies to God's goodness even in the midst of crisis.

    6. Turn with me to Job 19:25-27. We are at the end of Job's story – yet he continues to praise God.

    7. Job know that a redeemer is available. Various translators have chosen different words to describe the word "redeemer" – defender, champion, but the vast majority of translators use the word with which we are familiar – "redeemer."

(Ill.) Those of you who went through the book of Ruth with me in Bible Study have seen this word before. It is the same word used to describe Boaz's responsibility to Ruth – where he is called the "kinsman redeemer". Just as Boaz offers to let Ruth join his family after his cousin, her husband, dies, Christ invites us to join his family.

    1. And Job knows that he, in spite of his miserable circumstances, is a part of the family of God.

(Ill.) "I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God" – a Bill Gaither song actually had its roots in a similar circumstance in their church in Anderson, IN. They heard of a young man in the community who had been severely burned when an explosion demolished the garage where he worked. Doctors did not expect him to live through the night.

A church prayer chain was activated, and church members prayed all night for the young man. When church members gathered to celebrate Easter the next day, they received word that the young man was recover­ing. The pastor reported that he had just spoken to the doctor, who told him the young man had a good chance of pulling through. They rejoiced in the answer to prayer.

As Bill and Gloria Gaither went home after the church service, they talked about what a wonderful thing it is to be a part of a family of believ­ers and to be able to pray together to our Father in heaven. Before long, a new gospel song was born: "The Family of God."3 I am so glad I am a part of the family of God.2

I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God

I've been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood!

Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,

For I'm part of the family, the family of God.

  1. Psalms show a man of great insight who tells of one that brings us great delight.

    1. The biggest book included in what both ancient writers and modern writers call "the writings" is the book of Psalms. 15 Psalms have been identified as Messianic Psalms – Psalms that direct the readers attention to a coming Messiah.

    2. Though the Psalms are the work of multiple authors, many come from the pen the David the King. David can be dated from 1000 years before Christ.

    3. And writing 1000 years before Christ, David had some amazing things to say. Listen to what he wrote in Psalm 22:1-8, 16b-18

    4. I suppose that it would be simple to claim that Jesus merely memorized Psalm 22 and quoted it from the cross. But I see two problems with that.

      1. First, if I were in as much pain as Jesus had on the cross, I would not be able to quote the scripture I had memorized. It is much easier to assume that the words that came from the cross were truly the words of a man in pain and David was painting a picture of those moments 1000 years before they happened.19

      2. Secondly, though Jesus may have quoted the words that David wrote 1000 years before, there is no way in which he could have planned for the soldiers guarding the cross that day to follow the plan laid out in in verses 16-18. David could not know that death would come by crucifixion and putting nails into the hands and feet of the one being crucified. Jesus could not have arranged for the soldiers to cast lots for his clothing.

(Ill.) You see, the Messianic Psalms point to a coming King, a coming leader. Next week we shall see that the prophets point to a baby being born in Bethlehem.

Handel wrote his famous work The Messiah in 24 days – several months before traveling to Ireland. Finally, after spending five months in Ireland, it was performed – not is a church, not in a wonderful concert hall, but in a theater – where it would attract the common people in order to benefit people in debtor's prison.

And it was because it was performed in a rather common theater, that was not initially well received. In fact it would be ten years before it would begin achieve the critical success that it enjoys today. Yet, during those first years, a contemporary wrote, that "Messiah 'fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and fostered the orphan.'"4

    1. The Messiah is still in the business of helping those most in need.

Conclusion: We can think of the Messiah in three ways:

  1. He was promised in the Old Testament

  2. He lived in the New Testament

  3. But He thrives in the lives and hearts of those who believe in Him today.


1Copyright Floyd H. Johnson, 2006.

2Clines, D. J. A. (2002). Vol. 17: Word Biblical Commentary : Job 1-20. Word Biblical Commentary (xiv). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

3Petersen, W. J. and Petersen, A. (2006). The Complete Book of Hymns: Inspiring Stories About 600 Hymns and Praise Songs. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

God: Past, Present, and Future

Intro.: There will come times when the place of God in our lives is not as obvious.

  1. Oh, I would like to think that I will exhibit perfect faith.

  2. I would really like to think that I am the epitome of a faithful believer – which of course I am.

  3. NOT!

  4. You see, like every believer, there are dry times in my Christian walk, times when it difficult for me to find a place to put my faithful feel.

  5. And there are times when, though I may be faithful, it may not be obvious to others.

  6. It is such a time as this that I will be exploring during our few minutes together today.

Read: Joshua 24:14-27


Trans: This week I want to spend some time looking at what have come to be known as the "Historical Books" of the Old Testament

  1. Last week we looked at the Pentateuch or the Law – Gen, Ex, Lev, Num, Deut.

  2. The historical books begin with the book of Judges and continue through the book of Esther – interestingly, the book of Esther is the only book of the Bible with no explicit mention of God.

  3. In Jesus' time the OT was divided into the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings – with the books that we call the "historical books" being included in the prophets because they give a picture of a number of prophets who did not write books.

T.S. During the next few minutes, I want to look at how the Israelites looked at God's role in their past, present and future

  1. The Jews knew God was in their past

    1. The past played a key role in the thought life of the Israelite nation.

    2. They knew the history of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. They knew how Moses had taken the people from Egypt to the edge of the promised land. They knew how Joshua had taken the people over the Jordan River into the promised land. They knew how Rahab, the great-great-grandmother of David had relied on Joshua for safety. They knew that Ruth was David's great-grandmother. And they knew that God had chosen David to be their king. We continue to see God at work in the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. The lessor prophets, otherwise known as the non-writing prophets, and the writing prophets all testify that God had worked in their nations past. They would not forget what God had done.

(Ill.) Most of us will remember the actor Tom Selleck. Of course his most famous role was as Thomas Magnum of Magnum, P.I. Almost continuously since 1969 he has been active in TV and movie roles – he already has two movies ready to be seen in 2007. Here is a successful man – and but when seen in interviews he seems very down to earth. Some have raised the question as whether it was all a charade. But when one looks deeper by getting the truth from his family and friends, we find that he really is as modest and unassuming as he seems. You see Tom Selleck remembered where he came from. He remembered the rejection that came early in his career. In fact he couldn't even get a date on that infamous TV show Dating Game. He knew that his accomplishments were as much the result of grace as it was his talent.

(Appl.) Just as Tom Selleck recognized that more was involved in his success, just as the Israelites remembered that God had been involved in their past, so we must remember that God has been there for us. Take time this week to remember how God has worked in your life.1

  1. The Jews knew God was working in their present

    1. Life sometimes gets so busy that we forget that God is there. We start running from one place to another and God gets dropped along the way.

    2. The Israelites fell into this pattern – they began doing rather than believing. For some it was more important to be offering the sacrifices than remembering than remembering the God to whom they were offered.

    3. It seems to me that Christmas does one of two things. First, it easily can become the perfect time to forget about God. We want to find the perfect gift, we go from store to store, we have second thoughts about that gift. And we forget about God.

    4. Ironically, Christmas is also the perfect time to recognize that God is working today. Christmas is not primarily about shopping. Christmas is not primarily about going from place to place. Christmas is not primarily about buying or giving gifts. Christmas is primarily about Jesus. It is about his being born in a manger located somewhere near Bethlehem.

(Ill.) Every one of us needs to keep the Christmas Prayer

Let every heart keep Christmas within—

Christ’s pity for sorrow,

Christ’s hatred for sin,

Christ’s care for the weakest,

Christ’s courage for right.

Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!2

    1. So, how will you remember this Christmas – as one that went too fast to remember Christ or as one that put Christ at its center?

  1. I am not sure that the Jews knew God would work in the future

    1. Now I know that this not true – the historical books cover the same period as the writings and prophetic books. The Psalms and the prophets are full of references to a coming Messiah.

    2. But, interestingly, there is very little reference to a coming Messiah in the historical books themselves.

    3. I wonder what could be written about me. Would I be noted for my faith or for my doing? Would I noted for my faith or my going? Would I be noted for my faith or for my spending?

    4. Someone once said, "Faith and works are as inseparable as sun and sunlight. Faith is the sun; good works are its rays."3

    5. Because I believe this is true, I hope that I am remembered for both my faith and for my works. 24:

    6. I suppose that if I am willing to ask this question of myself, I can also ask it of you – What will you be remembered for: your faith, your works, or both. I do not expect you to answer me, I do expect you to answer God.


1Hurley, V. (2000, c1995). Speaker's sourcebook of new illustrations (electronic ed.) (170). Dallas: Word Publishers.

2AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

3Green, M. P. (1989). Illustrations for Bilical Preaching : Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file.). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Jesus in the Law

Intro.: I remember when I was a Boy Scout many years ago.

One of the skills that we had to learn was to follow tracking details left by our scout leader.

  1. The three of us on our team got lost.

  2. Actually we got set up – because the team that went before us had taken the clues and changed them just enough that we could get lost. It was no fun at all.

  3. But Scripture is different. We know that what is says can be trusted.

  4. During the four weeks of advent, I want to focus on some clues that God left for his people. I want to move through the OT and examine how God prepared his people for the coming messiah.

  5. The OT is traditionally divided into four parts:
    the Pentateuch or The Law
    the Writings
    the Prophets

  6. Over the next four weeks we will look at each division of the OT and examine how they each pointed the Jewish faithful toward the coming Messiah.

  7. Today we start with the Pentateuch – I suppose I could read all of it, but then we would be sitting for a long time. Let me read just a short portion.

Read: Genesis 3:1-19


T.S. In the Pentateuch we see three key pictures of Jesus

  1. He will be human

    1. It is important to remember that Jesus is God.

    2. But in Genesis 3, the focus is on his humanity.

    3. The serpent had tempted Eve, who had tempted Adam – and both had sinned.

    4. Both also tried to blame someone else – Eve tried to blame the serpent and Adam tried to blame Eve. But it didn't work.

    5. And there would be consequences – for all three.

    6. Look at the words given to the serpent. There will be a human offspring that will one day challenge the very life of that serpent.

    7. Though we know that Jesus is God, this passage says nothing about His diety – rather it makes very clear that he will come as a human.

(Ill.) Doctrinally, it is put this way, "We believe in Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, truly God and truly man."1

    1. Somehow, it is easy to think of Jesus as being God – but it is more difficult to think of Him as being human. He did cry as a child, he was hungry, he was tempted. I can see him hitting his thumb in his father's carpentry shop. We must never forget that christ was a human as we are – with one big exception – he neve sinned.

(Appl.) The next time you start to think that God just doesn't understand, remember that he was here too, and suffered with the same hurts and the same temptations that are ours. He understands because he was here. He is not some God who is merely out there. But he is the only kind of God who can understand – why, because he is human.

  1. He will be Jewish

    1. That Jesus would be Jewish is not evident from Genesis 3 – but we find the promise a Jewish messiah throughout much of the pentateuch.

    2. For example, turn to Genesis 22:15-18. Abraham had just sacrificed the ram as a substitute for his own son. But because of his obedience God was ready to bless him. Listen - "The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.

    3. Abraham was the beginning – but we see similar promises being made to Isaac, Jacob (the father of the Jewish nation). Later, we shall see the promise being passed to David and confirmed by the prophets.

    4. What really amazes me, is not the fact that this prophesy was given to Abraham, but that it was given to Abraham more than 2000 years before Christ was born. Scholars sometimes disagree about when God spoke these words to Abraham – but we are talking about a difference of 100 years – so whether it is 1900 or 2000 years before Christ, it is an amazing prediction of God was going to do through Christ.

(Appl.) If you ever get to the point in your life when God seems distant, if you ever begin to wonder whether God can do what he says, you only need to come back to these prophesies – you only need to come back to these prophesies looking forward to the coming of Jesus. Abraham was written 2000 years before Christ, David was writing 1000 years before Christ, the prophets are dated 700 to 500 years before Christ. And they provide the proof that God does what he ways he will do.

    1. God tells Abraham that the messiah will descend from him, and we should not be surprised that Jesus is a descendant of Abraham.

  1. He will have victory over sin

    1. The Pentateuch begins by telling us something about Jesus' ancestry.

    2. But it gives us one more picture of Jesus as well. It tells us His relationship to Satan. Look at verse 15:
      And I will put enmity
      between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers;
      he will crush your head,
      and you will strike his heel.

    3. Of course, the serpent is really Satan – and he will have a chance to strike the heel of man. For some that is deadly – after all "the wages of sin is death."

    4. But there is also a promise for the messiah – he will strike the head of the serpent.

    5. Now I don't know about you, but I would rather get my heel hurt than have my head crushed – and that is exactly the point God is making. Satan may have some small impact on us, but the Messiah will have total victory over whatever Satan may throw our way.

    6. We are in a battle – and it look at times as if Satan is winning, but in the end, we know who will end.

(Ill.) John Wesley said, “Give me a hundred men who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I will shake the world. I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; and such alone will overthrow the kingdom of Satan and build up the Kingdom of God on earth.”2

    1. Satan will challenge you – temptations come in many forms: people, ideas, things, they can all distract us. But in the end it is God who will win.

Conclusion: The Old Testament points us to the New. The Old Testament points us to the messiah.

  1. He iis human.

  2. He is Jewish

  3. He is our victory over sin.



2Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Not Like Any Store I Know

Intro.: I need to apologize to you - I lied to you.

  1. I told you that we would spend time looking how we might restock the store.

  2. But it dawned on me during the week that if I did that, I was leaving he wrong impression.

  3. It might sound as if the church were just another store – with a product to market.

  4. The church., as we shall see, is unique.


Trans: Let me suggest three ways in which the church differs from a store.

  1. In a store, the products are obtained from an outside vendor; in the church, the shopkeeper is the toy maker.

    1. We sometimes get things reversed. We think we are in charge and God is where we get all that we need.

    2. But God does not run a store – rather he is responsible for all that is his. Take a look at Colossians 1:16-17 - For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

    3. God is not merely a storehouse of gifts – he is the very glue that holds us together.

(Ill.) It is a very special glue – not like those we have available to us:

  1. There is a very simple glue that holds the little plastic toys that can be thrown against the wall. It sticks, but comes off so easy.

  2. Then there is rubber cement – it holds papers together, but allows them to be taken apart.

  3. You might also think of Elmer's glue – you put two pieces of paper together and then pull them apart – but the paper rips. But you can still pull them apart.

  4. And then there is super glue. And it is even not as good as they say. I can say that from first hand experience. Sandra and I were in our first apartment – it supplied a refrigerator – an old refrigerator. And, as was bound to happen, it broke – not the compressor, not the door, not the seal. It was the little clip in the back of the fridge that holds the shelf in place. Now, I was smart and got some super glue to put it back together. I held for a while – but eventually it broke again.

    1. Super glue is good, but it does not have the power of God.

    2. We cannot just think of the church as a store – but we must remember that we are connected to the Lord of Lords, the Kings of Kings.

  1. In a store, broken merchandise is of little value; in the church, God values everyone – even though everyone is broken.

    1. Brokenness is nothing new. Deb may joke about knowing she was broken until I showed up on the scene – but, sadly, she, like the rest of us, is really broken.

    2. Remember, as members of the human race, our brokenness comes from two sources:

      1. Part of our brokenness is just an illusion – it comes from the fact that we are created beings. We are not all powerful, we are not all knowing, we cannot always be present. These are attributes reserved for God alone. But it means that we are less than perfect – it means we are perfect. At the same time, realize that there are no flaws rooted in our creation. God created us just as he wanted us to be.

      2. Brokenness comes from another source – we are fallen people. Throughout scripture our sinfulness is evident. It was evident in the story of Adam and Eve. Isaiah says are “sins are like scarlet...” Romans 3:23 makes it clear that “we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

    3. We are broken, but that does not stop God from loving us. “For God so loved the world ...” was not said when we were perfect. Rather it was said even as we were broken. Paul puts it this way, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

(Ill.) I tend to be a tosser – when something doesn't work, I will toss it out, I will buy a replacement. So when the lawn mower stops working, I take it out to the garbage and go buy a new one. But we have a neighbor who is wonderfully skilled in repairing things. So he will come out and grab the lawn mower, pitter around for a few hours, and bring back a working lawn mower.

    1. The store down the street may toss out or return broken merchandise. God, instead, continues to love us. His grace is offered to the broken. But that is what grace is all about – “getting what we do not deserve.”

  1. In a store, broken merchandise is tossed out; in the church, God uses the broken to accomplish his purposes.

    1. We are not tossed out – in fact exactly the opposite is true. Not only does God value us, God calls each into ministry.

    2. Every pastor is a broken person called into ministry.

    3. But the same is true for every believer – God values us enough to give us opportunity to serve Him.

    4. Rather than being tossed out, rather than being left unused on the shelf, God gives us the gifts and abilities needed to serve Him.

    5. We can truly agree with the hymn “Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing.”

Come Thou Fount of ev’ry blessing,

Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;

Streams of mercy , never ceasing,

Call for songs of loudest praise.

Teach me some melodious sonnet

Sung by flaming tongues above;

Praise the mount—I’m fixed upon it—

Mount of Thy redeeming love.1

    1. Are you allowing yourself to experience God's blessing. As we enter the advent season next week, I would encourage you, I would encourage myself, to be responsive to the many blessings that God gives

Conclusion: I hope that during the last few weeks I did not lead anyone to believe that the church is merely another store.

  1. The church is the family of God

  2. The church will be spreading God's grace to a broken world long after every store is closed.

  3. The church stands alone in spreading light to a dark world.

  4. I invite you to be part of that wonderful job.


1Logos Hymnal. 1995 (1st edition.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Getting The Word Out

Intro.: I remember when the movie Mr. Holland's Opus first came out.

  1. I was serving as the chaplain of a major hospital in downtown Sioux City, IA. It was a Tuesday night and it was my night to be on-call – but because I lived 45 minutes away, I had to spend the night in the vicinity of the hospital. I chose to go to a movie for the evening.

  2. I was not sure what I was going to see – but it was a movie I wanted to see.

  3. By the end, I was in tears. God had reached down into my heart and touched me deeply.

  4. The next morning, after my service was done for the day, I went home and told my wife. I don't go to many movies more than once – but the next Friday, I took my family into Sioux City to see Mr. Holland's Opus.

  5. Here was something special – and I could not wait to tell my family.

  6. The same should be true of my relationship to Christ. If it makes a difference, I will want to share him with as many people as possible.


T.S. We started two weeks ago imagining that we had to clean out the store. Last week we looked at what had to happen in order to begin or renew our walk with Christ by receiving Him or committing our life to him. But any store with its salt will also need to find ways of presenting the merchandise.

During the next few minutes, I want to look at four reasons that we as Christians may want to share our faith with our broken world.

  1. Evangelism is based on our God.

    1. I almost said that we too often speak of God's love for us. But that would be unfair – we cannot spend too much time talking about God's love for us.

    2. But I do think that we do lose track of another fact – God does not only love us, he loves our neighbors, he loves our world.

    3. I have heard some preachers rephrase John 3:16 to read, “God so loved Floyd Johnson, ...” or “God so loved Val Muhs, ...” And you know what, it is true.

    4. But when we do, we miss the point. “For God so loved the world, ...”

(Ill.) Country singer George Strait sings a song entitled, “Love without End, Amen.” It tells the story of a young boy coming home from school after having a fight and expecting punishment from his dad. Fully expecting the wrath of his father, the son waited, expecting the worst. However, the father said, “Let me tell you a secret about a father’s love . . . Daddies don’t just love their children every now and then . . . it’s a love without end. Amen.” The young lad grew up and passed this secret on to his children. One day he dreamed that he died and went to heaven. He was concerned, as he waited to go in, because he realized there must be some mistake for if they knew half the things he’s done they would never let him in. It was then that he heard his father’s words again, “Let me tell you a secret about a father’s love . . . Daddies don’t just love their children every now and then . . . it’s a love without end. Amen.” Isn’t it comforting to know that we have a Father like this? It is no secret, concerning our Father’s love: God doesn’t just love His children every now and then; indeed, it is a “love without end, Amen.”1

    1. As you drive home today – note your neighbors. As you go shopping, note the clerks, note the other customers. These are the people that God loves.

    2. As you drive home today, pray for your neighbors. As you go shopping, pray for the clerks and the other customers. God loves them – so should we.

  1. Evangelism is based on our Title

    1. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be appointed to an important government office.

    2. Scripture makes it clear that you have been given an office – a fairly important governmental office. Turn with me to II Corinthians 5:16-21. READ

    3. You are an ambassador – not just any old ambassador, but God's ambassador.

(Ill.) As I worked the internet this week, I stumbled on the web page for the Colombian government. The Ambassador from Columbia to the USA is Andrés Pastrana. According to the web page he has two jobs – one is to manage the Columbian Embassy in Washington DC, which is responsible for serving Colombian citizens currently in the US. But there is another official assignment – he has the job of representing the Colombian government to the US government.2

    1. As God's ambassadors, we are responsible for representing God to a broken world.

    2. Just as Andrés must speak for the Columbian government, we are responsible for speaking for God.

    3. It is important to note that Paul is not writing to the pastor of the Corinthian church. Rather, he is writing to members of the most corrupt church we find mentioned in the NT. If the members of this church are recognized as ambassadors, we most certainly also have that role.

    4. This week, do not forget, you are not just presenting yourself to our broken world, we are presenting Jesus.

  1. Evangelism is based on our Command

    1. It would seem to me that an ambassador has one more job. And that is to follow the instructions

    2. And as Christ's ambassadors we have been given a task. You will find it Matthew 28:16-20: Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them ina the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

(Ill.) It may seem that would be easy to get the gospel to the whole world in this day and age. Scholars tell me that there are 6000 languages in the world – only 426 have both a copy of the OT and the NT available to them. More than 2500 languages do not have a single verse of scripture available. That leaves a little over 3000 of our world's languages that have some portion, though not all, of the scriptures available.3

    1. So what is our job -

      1. We can pray – watch the news, read the news. Wherever news takes place, there are Christians. Pray for their ministry, wherever they may be.

      2. Consider going – or sponsoring someone who is going. You have gifts that could be used for week or two on a short term mission trip. Or as you hear of those who are going, put yourself in the position to support them – Even small amounts can help those who represent you over seas.

      3. Obey – take Christ to your world. For some of you this means, living out your faith – day in, day out. You will find that as you live out your faith, it will show. It will become clear to those around you that something is different.

    2. Be obedient – Go and make disciples.

  1. Evangelism is based on our Home

    1. There is one more motivation for spreading the word of God. That is our new home. Take a look at Rev 21:1-2.

    2. Scripture makes it clear that heaven is not for everyone. It is ultimately God's choice as to will spend eternity with Him, but he makes it clear that those who have put their faith in Him will be there.

    3. Beginning in January we will spend a few weeks exploring what scripture teaches about the end of time.

    4. But I would be amiss to not note that our concern for the future is a motivation for sharing our faith.

Conclusion: A clean store, new merchandise, marketing the product – and that will be followed by the need ot restock the shelves. PRAY

1AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.


3 (accessed on 11/18/06).

Sunday, November 12, 2006

New and Renewed

Intro.: When it is time to get the store ready for Christmas, we begin by cleaning it up.

  1. Then we move on and beginning to put new merchandise on the shelves.

  2. “New” is nothing new for us a believers.

    - We have experienced a new birth (I Pet 1:3)

- In Christ, we are a new creation (II Cor 5:17)
- We are responsible for a new covenant (II Cor 3:6)

- We have a renewed mind (Eph 4:23)

- We look forward to a new heaven and a new earth (II Pet 3:13)

- And we will sing a new song (Rev 5:9)

  1. Let me read one such passage as a reminder of what God is doing in us.

Read: II Corinthians 5:16-21


Trans: What is there that makes us “new” in Christ?

During the next few minutes I want to look at to wonderful decisions that we can make that allow us to be new. Oh, we will still have the same old body, we will still have the same illnesses. But these two decisions will allow God to remake us for the inside. Our hearts, minds, and souls will never, can never be the same once we make these two decisions.

  1. Filling of the Holy Spirit

    1. I could have entitled this point, “Who's in control?”

    2. Read Galatians 5:

    3. When we gave our lives to Jesus some amazing things happened.”

      1. We became a member of a new family – the family of God.

      2. Our sins were forgiven

      3. We become a different person.

      4. The Holy Spirit comes to live in us

    4. But then comes the great conflict that most Christians experience in their lives – I want something or I want to do something, but I am not sure that God wants the same thing.

    5. The Christian life is a wonderful thing – because ultimately, God has given us the freedom to make choices – even if it something he would not want.

    6. And that becomes a slippery slope.

(Ill.) For a number of years, I traveled to Dayton, OH, for a continuing education experience for my Computer Science job at the college. One summer we were walking over to Arby's for lunch – we had walked out the back door of the classroom building, across the parking lot. We came to a grassy incline that stood in the most direct path to Arby's. As others went down that little hill, I saw that it would be safe – or so I thought. I started down the slope but then my right foot started to slip. I tried to recover with my left foot, but then it slipped too. You can perhaps picture it, Pastor Johnson, down on his hind end

    1. Just as my left foot followed my right foot, so do our lives tend to follow one decision after another.

    2. I put this chair here in the center of our platform. Imagine, if you will, that it is a throne. Not just any throne, but the thrown of your life.

    3. Now, as a believer, you have a choice. Who is going to sit on this throne. Christ is here, he is present. You know Him as your savior. But here is your choice, who will sit on this throne in your life?

    4. Who will be in control of your life. Will you insist on controlling your own life – or will you let God take control.

(Ill.) As Methodist, we talk about Christian Perfection. The Baptist prefer Paul's term, “being filled with the Spirit.” It really does not matter what you call it, but what is important is that we allow Jesus to have control of our lives.

  1. Receiving Jesus Christ

    1. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is only part of the puzzle. It is not the start.

    2. The Christian life, for most of us starts long before this. It may have been during our early years when our parents drug us to church – dven when we did not want to go. It may have been while our parents watched a Billy Graham crusade on TV – or you have been privileged to attend one yourself. Or maybe it began as you stumbled across a Christian radio or TV program.

    3. Now I mentioned those things because I can remember each of those being a significant part of my life before I gave my heart to Jesus. All of those things were important milestones in my coming to faith, but none of them made me a Christian.

    4. I only became a believer the day I decided to follow Jesus. Going to church, reading the right books, knowing the right people, doing the right things, never made me a Christian. None of these things got me into heaven. I only became a Christian when I was able confess my sin to God and acknowledged my faith in the Son He sent to die for my sin.

(Ill.) Rosemaria Von Trapp, one of the famous “Sound of Music” children, has this to say about her famous parents, Baron Georg and Maria Von Trapp, who fled Nazi-occupied Austria instead of cooperating with the Nazis: Only yesterday I talked to high school students—sophomores—who were doing research papers on the Holocaust of Hitler in Germany. They wanted me to talk about the Nazis. I told them that Hitler gave us a symbol of a cross with hooks on it. But our Christian faith gives us a symbol of a cross that brings freedom and resurrection. The world, you know, offers us a glossy cross with hooks in it. My father and mother had to make a choice. They chose the cross of Christ.1

    1. It is not new – Billy Graham offers the opportunity to follow Jesus every time he preaches. Today, I want to offer it to you.

Conclusion: I don't know where you are today.

  1. If you have never made a decision to follow Jesus, today is a good day to do just that.

Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.2

  1. On the other hand, if you are at a place that you know you belong to Jesus; but life seems out of whack, maybe it is time to see who is in control.

Dear Father, I need You. I acknowledge that I have sinned against You by directing my own life. I thank You that You have forgiven my sins through Christ’s death on the cross for me. I now invite Christ to again take His place on the throne of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as You commanded me to be filled, and as You promised in Your Word that You would do if I asked in faith. I pray this in the name of Jesus. As an expression of my faith, I now thank You for directing my life and for filling me with the Holy Spirit.3


1Morgan, R. J. (2000). Personal interview, September 1994. Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (175). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

2Bright, B. (1994). Have you heard of the four spiritual laws? (10). Orlando, FL: NewLife Publications.

3Bright, B. (2001). Have you made the wonderful discovery of the spirit-filled life? (12). Orlando, FL: NewLife Publications.