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Life is Very Different When You Have Christ

1st Sunday after Christmas

Life is Very Different When You Have Christ

Text: Luke 2:25-40

The Christmas picture.  A staple of the season.  We have a whole basket full of Christmas pictures and Christmas cards.  Tech savvy folks see Christmas pictures all over—Facebook, Instagram, Email.  Everyone wants to share their holiday cheer.

Here’s a picture of a family of four in matching Christmas sweaters and jeans.  There’s a picture of the retired couple with all their children and grandchildren.  Here’s a picture of the young kids surrounded by a mountain of presents.  There’s a picture of the family in front of the Christmas tree.  Every picture is the same, right?  A couple, a family smiling in some staged pose with the message, “Happy Holidays,” or “Merry Christmas.”

But the Christmas picture is deceiving.  It’s staged and posed in more ways than one.  The message might say, “Happy Holidays,” or “Merry Christmas,” but the people in the picture are anything but happy or merry. Read the rest of this entry

Christmas Wonder and Awe

Christmas Day

Christmas Wonder and Awe

Text:  Hebrews 1:1-9

Intro

Do you still have that awe and wonder at Christmas?  That’s what we are all looking for.  We want that awe, that wonder, that feeling of utter joy at Christmas.  You know the feeling.  It’s when your child (or spouse) suddenly appears, having returned from military deployment.  It’s that look on your kids’ faces when they see the coolest gift ever.  It’s those quiet moments on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day when the whole family is bundled up in jammies and blankets and simply enjoys quality family time and reprieve from the bustle of busy life.

In Hollywood they call it “Christmas magic.”  A lot of money has been made off the concept of Christmas magic.  Whether it’s snow finally hitting in Vermont for Bing Crosby in White Christmas, or Jimmy Stewart finding happiness in It’s a Wonderful Life, or Ebenezer Scrooge learning to be generous, or a brand new bee bee gun in A Christmas Story, or a young boy riding The Polar Express to Santa’s workshop—we love to watch every minute of a story with “Christmas magic.”  Why?  Because we relate to this.  We love to be filled with awe and wonder at Christmas. Read the rest of this entry

Christ the King

Christ the King Sunday

Christ the King

1. Who he is
2. What he does
3. Who we are
4. What we do

Text: Colossians 1:13-20

Intro

Who is Jesus Christ?  “Uh.  Silly question, Pastor!  We are at church right now.  We’re at Christ the King Church right now.  Come on!”  But really.  Who is Jesus Christ?  We talk about him a lot.  As Christians we base our whole faith on Christ.  It’s kind of important to know who Jesus Christ is.

Most people in this world know about Jesus.  Many people in this world talk about Jesus.  There are cross earrings and necklaces all over the place.  There are Christian bookstores and publishing houses.  There are Christian magazines.  Even Time magazine has had Jesus on the cover.  Men roll up their sleeves to show a cross and/or crown of thorns tattoo on the arm.  Women show the little cross tattoo on their shoulder blades or ankles.  There are Jesus and cross bumper stickers.  There are “What Would Jesus Do?” bracelets.  There are “Jesus is my homeboy” tee shirts.  Jesus pictures and artwork.  Jesus coffee mugs.  There was even a Saturday Night Live skit with Tim Tebow having a conversation in the locker room with Jesus.

But who is Jesus Christ?  Muslims call Jesus a great prophet, but not as good as Mohammed.  Jews call Jesus a great teacher, but not the Messiah.  Many Americans use his name like a curse word, shouting it when something bad happens.  Some Christians think of Jesus like a lucky rabbit’s foot—they pull him out when they need him and hopefully he’ll make something good happen.  Similarly, other Christians view Jesus simply as a best friend or a guardian angel—if you commit your life to him enough he’ll make your life happy and easy.  And many, many others who don’t have an opinion about Jesus Christ might admit they simply aren’t sure—but they know he’s important.

If you want to know who Jesus Christ really is and what he has done, there is hardly a better or clearer place to look in all of the Bible than the book of Colossians.  The eight verses before us today from the first chapter of Colossians are a beautiful description of him on this glorious day to help us better understand Christ the King. Read the rest of this entry

Faith Puts Christ First

16th Sunday after Pentecost

Faith Puts Christ First

1. By trusting
2. By following
3. By worshiping

Text: Genesis 12:1-8

Intro      

Would you have done it?  Would you have left like Abram and Sarai?  The Lord had come to Abram and said, Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”  Notice how God dialed up the challenge meter in this test of faith.  “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household.”  God was being crystal clear about how big of a challenge this was and how much he was going to leave behind.  “Oh, and by the way,” God said, “I’m not going to tell you where you are going.  I’ll show you where to go and tell you when to stop.”

Would you have done it?  Would you have left like Abram and Sarai (who were 75 and 65!)?  Would you have left your house, your neighborhood, your favorite Publix store, your local sports teams, your family, and your friends?  Would you have left everything behind and blindly followed wherever God told you to go?  Maybe you end up in Tallahassee.  Maybe Timbuktu.  Maybe Tijuana.  Who knows?  Would you have done it? Read the rest of this entry

In Christ Alone

13th Sunday after Pentecost

School Opening Service

In Christ Alone

Text: Acts 4:12

Intro

“Knowledge is power,” the old saying goes.  The more you know, the more powerful you are.  Others have said similar things.  Thomas Jefferson once said that, “Information is the currency of democracy.”  Ronald Reagan said that, “Information is the oxygen of the modern age.”  Knowledge is power, and the more knowledge and information you have the more powerful you become.

I watched an entertaining movie this last week where the White House was overtaken and the president was kidnapped.  What did the terrorists want?  Information.  They wanted to extract codes to American nuclear bombs.  Watch any good heist movie.  What do modern bank robbers want?  They don’t want piles of cash anymore.  They want security codes and account numbers and passwords so they can wire the money to their accounts.  What do cyber criminals want with all of their phishing schemes in your Email inbox?  They want your information—your passwords, your bank account numbers, your social security number, your birthday.

Go to the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C. and you’ll see all kinds of cool gadgets and gismos.  There’s a reason we have a Federal Bureau of Investigation and a Central Intelligence Agency. Why?  Knowledge is power.  The more knowledge you have, the more powerful you become. Read the rest of this entry