Monday, July 30, 2012

The Church - Christ's Body

The Church – Christ's Body

Intro.: What comes to mind when you think of the church.

T.S. During the next few minutes, I want to spend time thinking about this thing we call church. Let me make three observations.

  1. The Church begins with Jesus Christ.
    1. There are three of Paul's letters that I have learned to really appreciate.
      1. The first is Paul's letter to the Philippian church. You see, of all the church's to whom Paul wrote, it appears to be the healthiest – the most committed to being obedient to Christ. When Paul wrote to the Philippian church, he was showing us what the church could look like if we were obedient.
      2. At the other extreme are Paul's letters to the Corinthian church. Here is a church that had problems from the day it was begun – and each of the two letter disclose more sin that the church had to address. And yet, Paul did write them. They were a part of the church. These letters show us the extent of God's Grace even toward believers that had strayed from the truth.
    2. And so, when Paul writes to the Corinthian church about the church, I feel that I, at the very least, must listen. Look at what he says: For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
    3. In a few minutes we will conclude our service by singing How Firm A Foundation:
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He has said,
You who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?
    1. The church's foundation is Jesus Christ –
  1. The church is the body of Christ
      As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.  (I Cor. 12:20-27)

      (Ill.) As members of the body of Christ, we can be compared to pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece has protrusions and indentations. The protrusions represent our strengths (gifts, talents, abilities), and the indentations represent our weaknesses (faults, limitations, shortcomings, undeveloped areas). The beautiful thing is that the pieces complement one another and produce a beautiful whole.

      Just as each piece of a puzzle is important, so each member of the body of Christ is important and can minister to the other members of the body.

      Just as, when one piece is missing from the puzzle, its absence is very obvious and damages the picture, so also is the whole weakened when we are absent from the body of Christ.

      Just as, when each piece of a puzzle is in place, any one piece is not conspicuous but blends in to form the whole picture, so it should be in the body of Christ.i

      1. The Church is both visible and invisible
        1. The visible church is the body of Christ that we see in church each week.
        2. The invisible church are those who have put their faith in Christ – whether they are in church or not. Why invisible – health, persecution, travel, etc. There is no official list. Just knowing that the church is larger than what we see on Sunday AM is encouraging.
        3. Don't get me wrong, most of those who have put their faith in Christ will be in church each week – but being in church does not make one a part of the invisible church.
        4. That only happens when we put our faith in Christ.
      (Appl.) I cannot tell the difference between the visible and invisible church. Only God can do that – only God knows who has placed their faith in Christ. Whether I am a lay person or a pastor, I have no way of knowing the heart of a man or woman. That belongs to God alone.

      (Ill.) One of favorite writers is a man by the name of A. W. Tozer. Tozer was one of the founders of the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination. I like what he wrote on this very topic:

      Faith in Jesus is not commitment to your church or denomination. I believe in the local church; I am not a tabernacle man. I believe in the divine assembly. We ought to realize that we are, as a group of Christians, a divine assembly, a cell in the body of Christ, alive with His life. But not for one second would I try to create in you a faith that would lead you to commit yourself irrevocably to a local church or to your church leaders.

      You are not asked to follow your church leaders. You are not asked like a little robin on the nest to open your innocent little mouth and just take anything I put in. If what I put in is not biblical food, regurgitate and do not be afraid to do it. Call me or come see me or write me an anonymous letter. But do something about it. Do not, by any means, swallow what your leaders give you. Here is the book, the Bible: go to it.

      Faith is faith in Jesus Christ, God’s Son. It is total faith in Christ and not in a denomination or church, though you may love the church and respect and love your leaders and your denomination. But your commitment is to Christ.ii



      iIllustrations for Biblical Preaching: Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively. 1989 (M. P. Green, Ed.) (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
      iiTozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (1998). Vol. 1: The Tozer Topical Reader (191–192). Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread.

    Monday, July 23, 2012

    Salvation's Gift

    Salvation's Gift

    Intro.: Let's play a game.
    1. If I am playing Monopoly and I role the dice, what do I need to do?
    2. If I am sitting at a traffic light and it turns green, what do I need to do?
    3. If Sandra takes the time to cook a hamburger with all the fixin's for dinner, what do I need to do?
    4. Last week we looked at the beginning of sin – I want to spend today talking about what comes next.
    T.S. The consequences of sin did not end with Adam and Eve. During the next few minutes, I want to look at where sin had led us today.
    1. Sin may have started with Adam and Eve – it did not end there. Take a look at Romans 3:23 - for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
      1. Scripture records the sins of Adam's and Eve's children – including jealousy and murder. Similarly, we get glimpses of sin as it progresses through the Middle East in the years leading up to the coming of Christ.
      2. Of course, we don't see the sins of the New Testament period – oh, wait we do too. You see, all you have to do is look at your other guy on the street, or your neighbor. For those of you that were married, there is no doubt that your spouse was not perfect. And that is exactly what the scripture tells us, “Everyone else has sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
      3. No it doesn't – it says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” You see, we don't have to look the other guy on the road or our neighbor, or even to our spouses to know that something is wrong with human nature – we need to look at ourselves.
    (Ill.) The story is told of two men who were trying to escape from an erupting volcano. As the fiery molten rock gushed out of its gaping crater, they fled in the only direction open to them. All went well until they came to a stream of hot, smoking lava about thirty feet across. Sizing up their situation, they realized that their only hope was to get over that wide barrier. One of the men was old; the other was healthy and young. With a running start, they each tried to leap to safety. The first man went only a few feet through the air before falling into the bubbling mass. The younger, with his greater strength and skill, catapulted himself much farther. Though he almost made it, he still missed the mark. It did not matter that he out-distanced his companion, for he, too, perished in the burning lava.
    Sin is falling short of a standard, the glory of God. Though some may fall short of the standard by far more than others, all fall short nevertheless.
    1. And when we sin, there is a cost. Take a look at Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
      1. When we do a job, we are expected to get paid. There are wages due.
      2. Sin, too, has a cost – just as our job has wages due, so does sin – and that wage is death.
      3. Now, we all know that we will die – but that is only part of the cost. The death that Paul is suggesting here is a “spiritual death” - an eternity away from God.
    (Ill.) In one of our large industrial towns a plant was erected for the manufacture of artificial flowers. The work was enjoyable, and the wages paid to the employees were far better than they had been able to earn elsewhere. The establishment was looked upon as a godsend, and the proprietor as a benefactor to the community. Very soon, however, the health of one of the brightest and most capable girls began to fail. She went listless and weary to her work, and when it was done was barely able to drag herself home. One day she was not able to leave her bed, and a week later the undertaker’s hearse stood at the door. She had been the support of a feeble mother and several small children. Suddenly other employees went home from the factory white and fainting, to go to work no more. Finally an investigation was made, and it was found that the workers had been all the while inhaling the most deadly chemicals, which were used in the coloring of the flowers. While they had been generously paid in money, a part of the real wages was—death. Does this not make plain the words of Paul, “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23)? Sin may pay you liberally in mirth or money, but that is not all. There is a part of the pay that can be deferred for a time, but it is sure to come. “The soul that sinneth, it shall surely die!” (Ezek. 18:20).ii

    (Ill.) J. C. Ryle put it this way, “There is always an advertised price for sin. But that price is always lower than the actual price.”iii
      1. There is a cost for sin – a cost we all are expected to pay.
      2. But the verse does not end with that cost, listen again: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
      3. Paul does tell us the wages for sin, but he also tells us that God wants to give us something – Jesus Christ.
      4. Jesus paid the price, totally and completely for our sin. And God offers it to us – free of charge. We only need to accept it.
    (Ill.) I have made it a habit of giving mugs to each new visitor to our little worship service here. Not one of you has refused my gift. But let me ask a question – if you refused the mug, how many “Worship at the Garden” mugs would you have. None – you had to accept the gift in order to enjoy its benefits. “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God's gift, like my gift, must be accepted. It must become ours. Let ask a simple question, “Have you received God's gift of eternal life?

    (Ill.) On Friday Sandra and I went to see the newest Ice Age movie. It was hilarious. On the other hand, before the Ice Age movie there was a short cartoon that had a baby trying to save butterfly from a nasty older kid who thought it was cute to kill butterflies. Toward the end of the movie, the baby lets the butterfly out the window and it sits on the window sill for a moment as if to say goodbye. At just that moment, the older kid closes the window – and the audience lets out a collective sigh as they picture the crunched butterfly.  
    A very poor ending to a kids cartoon – but the baby is taken out to the car by the parents and the older kid sits in the window smirking. But as the parents drive off, we see the baby's ribbon suddenly come alive woth flapping wings – its the butterfly. And the older kid? He opens the window to examines his prize, only to discover that the baby's ribbon unravels into his hand – not a butterfly.
    1. Too often we look at God's gift of life like that butterfly – a last minute reprieve – just to let us live. But God had something else in mind. Listen to the words of John 10:10 - The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (or as other translations put it, have it abundantly).
      1. There are no age limits here, there are no gender limits
      2. God wants us to have an abundant life.
      3. God wants us to have a live that goes above and beyond anything we might expect.
    (Ill.) Do you remember the little demonstration that I did with water here a while ago. That demonstration did not go well – but when I filled that glass, the water went everywhere. That is the meaning of “abundant” - to overflow, to spread out, to run over. That is what God is willing to give us, if we are willing to receive it.


    iIllustrations for Biblical Preaching: Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively. 1989 (M. P. Green, Ed.) (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
    iiAMG Bible Illustrations. 2000. Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.
    iiiIllustrations for Biblical Preaching: Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively. 1989 (M. P. Green, Ed.) (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

    Man Stumbles


    Man Stumbles

    Intro.: Sin -
    1. It has been variously defined as:
      1. A known violation of a known will of God
      2. Any violation of God's holiness
      3. Any violation of a religious or moral law
    1. I am not going to try and define sin today – infact, my church did not define it until just this summer. We have existed for over 100 years, understanding what sin is, but not formally defining it.
    2. What I want to look at today is the first time man sinned – and the events surrounding that sin.
    Read: Genesis 3
    Trans: The passage can easily be broken into two separate and distinct sermons
    1. I would seem natural to present a sermon based on the people involved in the story: Satan, Eve, Adam, and God
    2. The sermon would focus on the characteristics of each individual.
    3. For example, you might read through this story and note that Satan is
      1. crafty (or other translations use subtle or cunning)
      2. a liar
      3. a tempter
    4. There would be a set of characteristics that could be identified for each of the four persons found in the story
    5. That would make an interesting message – it might even be fun to write. I considered writing this one and the one I did prepared, but Genesis 3 is such a dark story, that I did not want to spend two week on it.
    6. The other sermon, the one I sense God wanted me to prepare, would focus on the events, rather than the people, that are part of Genesis 3
    T.S. During the next few minutes, I want to look at the three key events that define Genesis 3.
    1. The day starts with a conversation between Satan and Eve.
      1. We live in a culture that has diminished it belief in Satan
    (Ill.) Do you remember a TV show back in the sixties in which always brought laughs when one of the characters constantly said, “The devil made me do it.” We laughed because we really questioned whether there was a devil. We draw pictures of a red character carrying a pitch fork sitting on someone's shoulder. We have minimized the presense of the Devil in our world – yet …
      1. But scripture, both the Old and New Testaments, clearly believe in the existence of a Devil – an enemy of God that will do all he can to turn mankind away from God.
      2. For Eve it started with a lie – taking God's word and changing it. God had said, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
        But Satan asks a question that reframes what God said, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

      3. And if you follow the conversation, you will see that Eve continues to misquote God. Nowhere in this conversation does Satan or Eve mention the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. They don't focus on what God focused on – but kept talking about other things.
    (Appl.) As we begin to add words and rules to what God has commanded, we fall into a trap. Today we call that trap “legalism” - we begin to put expectations on ourselves and on others that God never intended. And when we do, we stop listening to God – and we may find ourselves stumbling. Adam and Eve found that out – the hard way. We too find it out the hard way.
    1. The story continues with Eve perpetuating the lie
      1. Eve bought Satan's story. She saw the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil
        1. It would be good for food
        2. It was a delight to the eyes
        3. It would make one wise
      2. Just what she wanted – so she ate some and gave some to Adam.
    (Appl.) Our sin is not just about ourselves. When we make decisions that will not please God, we will influence those around us. For Eve, it was Adam. For us, it will be family, it will be friends, it will be acquaintances, it will be neighbors, it may be anybody who sees us. It becomes easy to say, “If it is okay for you – it must be okay for me.”
    (Ill.) Let me illustrate this with our kids. As our kids grew, we gave them increasing freedom and responsibilities. But the younger two did not always recognize that age difference – too often we heard those words, “If it is okay for JJ, then why can't I do it.” And it is no different for parents or grandparents – we are models for our kids and grandkids. Good and bad. It is not too late to decide to live God's way rather than your way. It is not too late to change habits.
      1. When Adam and Eve ate that fruit – something changed. They knew they were naked – they knew that they could hide nothing from God, nothing. So they covered themselves with fig leaves.
    (Ill.) The fig leaf is the largest leaf found in the middle east. It was large enough that it could provide some limited covering for the couple as the stood around – shamed for disobeying the Lord. Interestingly, the same Hebrew word is used for “fig” and for “fertility” - they begin to recognize the the some of the consequences that will come from eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
      1. Sin changes us – we do not come out the same way we went it. It changed Adam and Eve – it will change us.
    1. Sin has consequences
      1. Each of those who had betrayed God experienced consequences.
      2. Satan had disguised himself as a serpent – a creature created by God, but used by Satan. And the relationship between man and the snake would appear as enemies.   
    (Ill.) My mother-in-law drove that home to me. She was deathly afraid of snakes. In the wild yes – but also in the zoo. I remember one time we were visiting a local zoo and we passed a cage. The zoo keeper was inside holding the snake. Mom didn't see it at first and thought the cage was empty. But then she caught of the zoo keeper and the snake. She screamed. She had to leave – it was too much for her. Occasionally, I have met someone who likes snakes – but they are few and far between.
      1. In the words that God spoke, we also see the first prophesy of a coming Messiah.
        1. Listen again to what God said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
        2. The bruised head is Satan's eventual lose and death; the bruised heel is Christ's death on the cross. God
        3. God was already making plans for Christ's victory – it would be many years before he came as the Messiah, and we wait still for God to finish all that he has planned.
        4. But, God had a plan – a plan he began to lay out to Adam and Eve.
      2. There were consequences for Adam and Eve as well. Work, child birth, child rearing, it was a price paid for disobedience.
      3. And we continue to suffer the consequences of their sin as well – in that we continue the same patterns we saw in that first couple and we suffer, with them, the consequences or their sin and for ours.
    Conclusion: Sin had its start that day in the Garden of Eden
    • But we also have glimpse of what God planned for our salvation
    • It was a sad day – but there was also hope
    • Hope that we still hold today

    Tuesday, July 10, 2012

    God Made Us!

    God Made Us!

    Intro.: Who made it?
    1. We will start with a test – who made these items?
    2. Paper?
    3. Key Chain?
    4. CD?
    5. I don't know either – so it was sort of an unfair question.
    6. But we do know who made this world in which we live.
    7. I want to take that thought one step further today.
    Read: Genesis 1:26-2:25
    Trans: Last week we spoke about creation in general
    1. Today we continue our study – but our focus will be the creation of man.
    2. Want to ask three questions:
          1. Who created Man?
          2. How was man created?
          3. Why was man created?
    1. Who Created Man - God
      1. Seams like a simple answer –
        1. God created everything
        2. That also includes man
    (Ill.) I used to be (well, I still am) a fan of superman. Now the story of superman is that he was not created – he came to earth from another planet. Sent here by his parents as his home world exploded.

    There are those who might argue that life here on earth, including man, got started in a similar way – aliens brought life with them to our planet.

    But there is a gatcha – Superman is fiction – totally fiction. Our world is not.
        1. More importantly, creation includes you
      1. Take a minute to look at your hands – God designed that hand, God designed it to do the things he needed done.
      2. Now move your hands beyond the hand – look at your arms, your legs, your body, your feet, your head (well think about it), God made it all.
      3. You see, it is not just that God created man – he created you.
    1. How God Created Man
      1. Theologians have a word for how God created our worldd – they tell us that God created “ex nihilo” which is Latin for “out of nothing.” God spoke and the world was created.
      2. But listen again to the words describing man, “... the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”
      3. Similarly with Eve - “So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.”
      4. God took the dust of the earth, God took Adam's rib, and created man and woman in His image.
      5. When we die, the funeral service includes the words, “we therefore commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust” - our bodies may return to the earth. But we have the opportunity to spend eternity with God.
    1. Why Did God Create Man
      1. We have asked the question “Who created man?”
      2. We have asked the question “How did God create man?”
      3. But this question, “Why did God create man?”
    2. (Ill.) There is an old Jewish legend that will remind us of God's plans for creation. When God was about to create man, He took into His counsel the angels that stood about his throne. “Create him not,” said the angel of Justice, “for if Thou dost he will commit all kinds of wickedness against his fellow men; he will be hard and cruel and dishonest and unrighteous.” “Create him not,” said the angel of Truth, “for he will be false and deceitful to his brother-man, and even to Thee.” “Create him not,” said the angel of Holiness, “he will follow that which is impure in Thy sight, and dishonor Thee to thy face.”
      Then stepped forward the angel of Mercy (God’s best beloved) and said: “Create him, our Heavenly Father for when he sins and turns from the path of right and truth and holiness I will take him tenderly by the hand, and speak loving words to him, and then lead him back to Thee.”i
      (Appl.) We are created as God's image – we can think, we understand right and wrong, we can grow and learn about our world. But more importantly, we stand to represent God's existence.
      (Ill.) At one point, a King would place statues of himself in the fare reaches of his kingdom. Not just to make a point of his power, to represent himself to the people who comprised his kingdom. They stood in for him – till he was actually in their presence. That is part of the role we play – we represent Christ to our broken world. We are His witnesses, we stand as a testimony to His grace and forgiveness and care.
      1. Genesis also it clear that part of the task God has given to us to care for his creation.
        1. But caring for it means being responsible for it.
        2. I never connected my faith with being ecologically aware – I cannot neglect God's creation, if part of my job is to care for it.

      iJ A Clarks in Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.

    Monday, July 09, 2012

    If God Created ....

    If God Created ...

    Intro.: Beginnings – It is a week of beginnings.
    1. Sunday is the first day of the week
    2. July 1st is the first day of the month
    3. July 4th is the day we celebrate the beginning of our country.
    4. So today, I am beginning a series on the “beginnings” that define our faith.
    Read: Genesis 1:1-2:3
    Trans: Over the next few weeks, we will look at a number of beginnings that define our Christian faith.
    1. Today – we will start at the very beginning – creation.
    2. Next week, we will look God's creation of man.
    3. Then, the following week, we will look at the events that brought sin into the world.
    4. Then we will look at Jesus' role at bring our salvation.
    5. And finally, we will look at the book of Acts – the beginnings of the church – and the promise and coming of the Holy Spirit.
    6. Today – creation.
    7. I do wish we were outside again, though I expect it might be to hot to do so.
    8. It would serve as a visual reminder of the two lessons that will come from today's message.
    T.S. Let's look at two lessons that will help us face tomorrow that can be drawn from the creation story.
    1. If God created the world, what I do not understand, He does.
      1. When life gets tough, on of the most heard expressions may be, “I just don't understand.”
      2. At times it may be something physical – a watch, a television, or an automobile. Of course the one who understands it best is the one who designed and built that object – be it the watch maker, the television manufacturer, or men in Detroit who put together that magic machine called the automobile.
      3. But at times it may be the elements of nature – I mean, I expect some physicists can offer some kind of explanation for the rainbow, but I still don't get it.
      4. I don't understand some physical things. I don't understand some natural things. But you know what is really difficult for me – this thing called personal relationships.
        1. I have a friend, a recent college graduate, here in Rochester – who I speak with occasionally on the Internet. And one of the common themes he posts about is his lack of understanding of the opposite sex. He is speaks of being confused – not knowing when a girl likes him or not; or how to communicate he likes a girl or not
        2. I remember back when I was that age as well. There was this one girl I was sort of attracted to. She would go to class in the afternoon – and I knew the general route she would use to get back to her dorm, so I would sit out on the campus quad and wait for her to walk back from class. And, even after I dated her for two or three months, I was just as confused. In fact she might tell you that when I finally first told her that I loved her and wanted to marry her, it came out of my mouth as an accident. I was so embarrassed for having said it.
        3. Relationships are still tough – whether it be coworkers, neighbors, or just people I come across in life.
      5. Now here is the kicker – though I may not understand physical, natural, or relational - God does.
      6. If it is the watchmaker who understands the watch. If it is the computer programmer that understands the computer, if it is the automobile manufacturer that understands the car, doesn't it make sense that the one who made the world would understand it best?
      7. I may not understand it – but I have no problem understanding that God does understand what I do not understand.
      8. When thing feel like they are getting out of hand, I can trust God to get me through – he will understand.
    2. If God created the world, He gets to set the rules.
      1. Two and three year olds have a limited vocabulary.
      2. There favorite word may be “MINE!”
      3. They truly want things their way, they are very convinced that everything belongs to them.
        1. The toys are all theirs
        2. The food is all theirs
        3. That blue coat is theirs – even if they wore a red one to school that day
        4. After all “It's mine”
      4. Of course, the child is trying to change the rules. I suppose he can try – but most parents, most teachers, most leaders, will see through it and not let them do it.
      5. But it is a game that not only preschoolers play – we try to play it as well.
      6. People everywhere want to change the rules to make our world fit into our perception of it.
      7. But they are not our rules to change – they are God's.
      8. Question – how do you learn the rules? The easy answer is attend church – you'll learn all the rules. The problem is that this is the wrong answer.
    (Ill.) Have you every learned the Monopoly game? There is a rule that says each time someone pays a penalty, it goes into a pile in the center of the board. Then when someone lands on “Free Parking”, they get all the accumulated money. One problem – that rule is not found in any set of official rules. If I were to teach you the rules for Monopoly, you would be learning the wrong rules. The only official rules are included in that little sheet of paper packed into every Monopoly game – that paper includes the rules that define tournament play – that define competitive play. If you want the official rules of Monopoly, you need to read the rule book.
      1. Do you want to know God's rules? Don't listen to me – I'll get it wrong. The same could be said about every other pastor.
      2. Do you want to know God's rules? Just like in Monopoly, read the rule book. Read the scriptures.
    (Appl.) I will do my best as a pastor to give you the truth – but like you, I am broken. The best place to find what God wants is in His word. In it, God lays out his view of the world and will prepare us to serve Him.


    Creation Responsive Reading

    Genesis 1:1–2:3

    Leader In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

    People And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

    Leader And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so.

    People And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

    Leader And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so.

    People The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

    Leader And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.

    People And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

    Leader And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind.

    People And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

    Leader And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.”

    People And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

    Leader Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

    People And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

    Leader And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

    People And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

    All       Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

    Text:     The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
    Layout: Designed by Floyd H. Johnson (2012)