Help My Doubt

Faith seeking reason- Mark 9:24

Talking with God: Noah

This week we considered what God might teach us about prayer through the life of Noah. I was impressed with the importance of teaching our children how to approach God as Noah did. He was only able to save his wife and 3 sons (with wives) from the flood but that was more than enough for God to repopulate the earth.

We know that God had already revealed worship through the faithful use of symbols like animal blood and offerings of produce because of the prior history of Cain & Abel. Certainly Noah practiced confession of sin and faith in the promise of God given to Eve because Noah set up an altar after he came out of the Ark. He taught his children how to pray that way.

We also need to make it a high priority to teach our children how to confess sin, worship God and praise Him with various offerings. I think dinner is a great time to review “the Lord’s Prayer” for the benefit of anyone who eats with us. Our children and grandchildren need us to teach them the meaning of “forgive us our debts” as well as “give us our daily bread”. By doing so at every meal, we will also offer knowledge of salvation for non-Christians who eat with us.

In the end, which Jesus said would be like the days of Noah by the way, those who worship God the way He taught us to, with faith and obedience, will have the assurance of being saved from God’s final judgment too. I’m doing it. Are you?

June 7, 2011 Posted by | Sermons | 1 Comment

Talking with God: Cain & Abel

Continuing our topic of prayer, we looked at lessons to be learned from our famous sibling rivalry. On one occasion the sons of Adam and Eve paused to worship God with offerings from their work. Cain was the older brother and did the work of a farmer so he brought some of his grain. Abel was a rancher so he brought fat portions from the first fruits of his flocks. God approved of Abel’s offering but not Cain’s. So, long story short, Cain killed his brother.

When it comes to lessons on prayer there are many eternal truths we could remember from this history. I decided to focus in on Cain’s feeling of anger. God focused in on it too, saying, “Why are you angry?” The rest of God’s conversation with Cain makes it clear that Cain knew what God expected of him but he disobeyed on purpose. Rather than admitting he was wrong Cain blamed his brother instead then killed him.

I confess that I like to blame the government for many of my problems. I like to blame lots of people for the condition of the world. I get angry. I haven’t killed anyone but I’ve thought  about it. Because the curse of sin has affected all of us we are all prone to blame others rather than take responsibility for ourselves. My discontent with the economy is a symptom of my own envy. Our anger about the evils in our world should  reveal how little  we’ve done to save our neighbors from their sins.

This is a good lesson on Memorial Day too. Our forefathers and mothers sacrificed a lot to protect our God-given right to freedom and the pursuit of the  common good (i.e. “happiness”). They accepted personal responsibility and acknowledged the sinfulness of humanity according to the God of the Bible. Our prayers should include significant time to judge our own hearts and thank God for the faith of those who went before us.

May 31, 2011 Posted by | Sermons | Leave a comment

Talking with God like Adam & Eve

Our church says that prayer is the most important thing we can do in life. I agree and I hope that our walk matches our talk. In an effort to help, I decided to preach about prayer for the next few weeks.

Starting with Adam and Eve, I was impressed by the directly personal conversation that God initiated with them.  God started the conversation. He didn’t wait for Adam and Eve to initiate. God asked them, “Where are you?” and “Who told you that?” and “What have you done?”

It occurred to me that our prayer requests are usually so impersonal. We ask God to heal our neighbor’s cough or give the president wisdom but talk so little about our own relationship with God. I am determined to make our church directly personal in prayer so we will be more like God. That’s kind of scary but I think encounters with God are supposed to be a little scary.

May 23, 2011 Posted by | Sermons | Leave a comment

Doubting

This week I talked about Jesus’ response to “doubting” Thomas near the end of John’s gospel. I’m glad Jesus didn’t get mad at him because I have had my times of doubting too. For example, I have often doubted God’s willingness to communicate with me like He did with his prophets in the old days. God spoke, apparently, out loud to Elijah one day when he was hiding in a cave. I wish God would speak out loud to me.

A pastor buddy of mine said, just last week, “if you want to hear God speak then read the Bible and if you want to hear His audible voice then read it out loud”. Funny. And quite true. But that’s not the only way God speaks. For example, God gave Peter a vision. Come to think of it, God communicated a truth to me visually during a time of prayer some years ago. That was sweet.

I’m not going to describe it here but I do believe that God still loves to reveal Himself to doubters, just like He did with Thomas, so they will believe that Jesus is the Son of God. The question is, are you looking and listening?

May 9, 2011 Posted by | Sermons | Leave a comment

Jewish Communion

We celebrated the Lord’s Supper during worship this week. I decided to play a video of a Jewish Christian who demonstrated how our Communion ceremony came from the Jewish Passover ceremony. I felt strange playing a video in place of my sermon and I will probably not do it again. In fact, I’m starting to feel negative towards most of the technology we use in the church. Sometimes I just wish we could have church around the dinner table like Jesus did. I know he went to the Temple and Synagogue at the appointed times too, but, most of his spiritual training took place in homes, while walking or having a picnic. He accomplished so much with so little. I want to do that.

May 4, 2011 Posted by | Sermons | 6 Comments

No More Tears

Easter worship this year included a DVD clip from the Gospel of John which dramatized the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Of the 5 women named, “Mary” in the gospels, John gave a lot of attention to Mary Magdalene. She stayed at the empty tomb crying her eyes out when all the others had gone home. Maybe that is why Jesus revealed himself to her first. When Jesus said her name, Mary’s loud cries of grief turned into loud cries of excitement!

This week I wanted to focus on God’s blessing for Christians on this side of Heaven. Jesus told Mary to go tell His “brothers” that He was going to, “my Father and your Father”. One of the joys of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is the possibility of being adopted into the eternal family of God.

Easter us often a sweet day for family to visit and eat and enjoy a holiday. I am thrilled to know that God has adopted me as His son, because I trust in my resurrected brother Jesus, and many of the people I visited with on Easter this year are eternal brothers and sisters too. I pray for more adoptions by Easter time next year.

April 25, 2011 Posted by | Sermons | Leave a comment

Visual Bible: Informed Consent

We continued to watch clips from the Gospel of John DVD for worship. This week we saw Jesus crucified. It was pretty gross to see again, especially the sound effects of the other two criminals who had their legs broken after Jesus was dead.

Jesus’ death was pretty gross. That’s an important fact because God was letting Jesus die as a substitute for the sinners of the world. Our sin is pretty gross in God’s eyes. Every time we do something unloving, immoral or self-serving we do damage to God’s creation.

The fact that Jesus went to the cross voluntarily is an incredible love to ponder. The Bible says that Jesus was willing to go to the cross because He saw a greater joy on the other side of it. By briefly dying on the cross Jesus saved countless Christians from eternal pain in the next life.

The Bible also says that we can have abundant life in Jesus’ name before we get to heaven too. I have to agree. Being a Christian, for most of my life now, has been a great blessing to my marriage, family, work, play and everything. I love being a Christian!

April 18, 2011 Posted by | Sermons | Leave a comment

VISUAL BIBLE: Fearing the Truth

We have been watching one chapter of John per week in worship. The visual and drama is a nice help for preaching.

This week we watched as Jesus was questioned by the Roman Governor, Pilot. His famous question was, “what is truth?” Such an important and deep question for every generation.

I pointed out some similarities between the many religions in Jesus’ day and the many worldviews of our day. Trying to figure out who is right can be quite confusing. Of course, Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and “the way the truth and the life”. We would do well to clear up the complex by focusing on the truth claims of Jesus.

It can be a fearful experience to face the reality of our sin and God’s future judgment but those are the things Jesus died to rescue us from. Pilot was too afraid of political approval to accept Jesus. I was too afraid of my sins not to accept Jesus. Now I’m not afraid anymore!

April 13, 2011 Posted by | Sermons | Leave a comment

What the Spirit Says to Small Churches (2)

Boy was I tired out for this sermon. I could tell the whole church was tired Sunday morning. I really felt like the Holy Spirit wanted to encourage us. Thankfully, one of the Scriptures I had chosen read, “Do not fear. I am your shield and your very great reward (Genesis 15)”. I needed to hear that. I trust I was not the only one.

Practically speaking, small churches can be just as fruitful as large churches by investing a lot of time in the people within our circle of influence and by remembering how quickly life can come to an end. Those two things can make a rural church effective because they do not depend on large numbers of people or access to resources. They depend on divine knowledge and love which all true Christians have already received. God is good!

June 14, 2010 Posted by | Sermons | 2 Comments

What the Spirit Says to Small Churches (1)

Oh boy have I been looking forward to this sermon series! I came across a great ministry on the web called, “Rural Home Missionary Association (www.RHMA.org)” and have found them to be an incredible encouragement. Small churches are seen in a negative light by many Christian leaders in this country. It’s frustrating because so much of the church leadership material comes from big urban churches.

Today I encouraged my church and myself by reviewing God’s revelation about the Beginning and the End. We simply read the genealogy of Adam in Genesis 5 and celebrated the miracle of God’s power to populate the world as we know it today with 7 billion people by just one husband and one wife. Yes, Adam and Eve were real individuals created on day number 6 and lived for nearly 1,000 years. God is amazing!

We also reviewed God’s revelation about the Last Days in Revelation chapter 1. We see and incredible description of Jesus in heaven supervising the life of his churches whom he loves. Jesus is God in flesh and has earned authority to rule over all of heaven and earth. When things don’t look good from our perspective we need to see the world from God’s perspective. The Kingdom of God numbers around 2 billion Christians living today worldwide. Jesus started the church by himself and it cannot be stopped!

God is not limited by the small town we live in or the few faithful who worship in our local church. He could start over with just me and Anissa if he wanted to but we have a lot more to offer than that. King Jesus is holding me in his hand and he keeps watch over all his churches. I am very encouraged again!

June 7, 2010 Posted by | Sermons | Leave a comment