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
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
2nd Sunday after Pentecost
A Triune Blessing from Our Triune God
Text: Numbers 6:22-27
It was the last day of sightseeing and the last sight to see. Thursday morning we woke the seventh and eight graders early to rush back into Washington D.C. to visit the final locations on our itinerary. We stopped first at the National Archives, but upon finding a line that wrapped around the building and that it opened an hour later in the spring and summer, we moved on to the next destination—the Holocaust Museum.
There we found a line even longer, nearly wrapped around the block. The tickets were going quickly. But by the time we got to the front of the line, we found that they had 13 tickets available for the last tour of the day at 4:30pm. We grabbed the tickets, rushed off to Annapolis for an amazing tour of the Naval Academy, and then hurried back to the Holocaust Museum for our final sight to see on our Discover America trip. And what a sight it was!
Put it down as a “must see” on your bucket list. Words can hardly describe how masterfully they have designed that museum to immerse you in those horrible times of world history.
The museum walks you through the formation and rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. It describes the hunger for power and sickening racism that drove the Third Reich. Then suddenly the exhibits begin depicting how the Jews became the focal object of their horrific hatred.
The pictures and videos turn your stomach upside down. Walking into scale models of train cars and concentration camps leave you utterly speechless. Then you turn into one of the last exhibits of the museum—a room that has two massive piles of shoes worn by actual concentration camp captives. It’s enough to make the manliest men break down in tears.
We left the museum at closing time to return to our home for the last night. The normally bubbly and goofy seventh and eight graders were silent. Several had tears in their eyes. Others had blank stares of disbelief. One was literally trembling.
Every night on this trip we had an evening devotion with the students before bed. I don’t think they will forget Thursday’s evening devotion for a long time. I focused our thoughts that night on being thankful to God. Here these students are, traveling across the country for next to nothing, visiting some of the most incredible monuments, memorials, and museums in the world. Eight of the ten students had their own cell phone (one lost hers in D.C.!). The other two had iPods. Most of the cell phones were iPhones. They all have gigabytes worth of pictures and videos to keep forever. They had McDonalds and Burger King and pizza and soda any time they wanted. They wore “cool” and comfortable clothes and they slept in warm and comfortable beds at night.
In our devotion I compared that to the similarly aged children they saw at the museum who had absolutely nothing. They slept on the ground in freezing temperatures wearing prisoner clothing while many were separated from their families. They were herded into gas chambers only to have piles of them plowed into a pit by a bulldozer (That actually happened!).
For our last devotion we humbly discussed together that we have much to be thankful for. We would not have one blessing in life without the good and gracious will of our loving and compassionate God. Hopefully it was an experience that those ten students and we three adults will never forget.
Some three thousand years ago, God had the same intentions for his people. Those same Jewish people, the Israelites, also had horrific experiences in Egypt. They were used, abused, and driven to death as slaves to the Egyptians. Thus, when God brought them out of slavery and was leading them on to the Promised Land, they had much to be thankful for. Hopefully they would never forget how blessed they were by the good and gracious will of their loving and compassionate God.
So God gave to Moses and his brother Aaron the high priest a special blessing. This special blessing was to be a reminder for the people of who God is and what God does. This special blessing would remind them that the Lord—Yahweh, Jehovah, the loving and compassionate God—would always be with his people. This special blessing would remind them that the Lord is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit actively at work in their lives. This special blessing is A Triune Blessing from Our Triune God. Read the rest of this entry
Baptism of Our Lord Sunday
Our God Saves
1. By his mercy
2. By his means
3. By his grace
Text: Titus 3:4-7
What is your God like? Is your God like Buddha? If they try hard enough and renounce enough things of this world and live with enough kindness and love (and maybe after reincarnating a few times), Buddhists might possibly become one with their god and maybe reach nirvana—enlightenment.
Is your God like one of the Hindu gods? “Which one?” you ask? Good question. There are millions of Hindu gods. The ultimate high god is named Brahma and is much like Buddha in the sense that maybe if you are worthy enough (and lucky enough) you might become one with him or even become a god yourself.
Is your God like the god of Taoism in Japan? A force that pervades the universe like the movie Star Wars? Hopefully, if you are good enough, you can tap into the good side of the Yin and Yang and harness its power.
Is your God like Allah? Many Muslims portray Allah as a loving, kind God. Yet Allah demands obedience, and Allah abhors defiance. Americans know well how many Muslims take seriously Allah’s demands for jihad against infidels. If you are an extremist Wahabi Sunni Muslim you might need to sacrifice your life to gain eternity.
Is your God like the Jewish version of Yahweh? If you practice circumcision, if you eat kosher, if you obey the Sabbath, and if you follow the rest of the laws of Moses, then maybe you might find rest with God.
What is our God like? Our God is certainly almighty, all-powerful, perfect, and righteous. He tells us in the Bible, “I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One.” God’s people cry out in the Bible, “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages.” In regards to holiness, might, power, and perfection our God is just like other alleged gods of the world. Read the rest of this entry
Text: Mark 2:23-28
There was a time in the not too distant past when it was considered shameful to dance . . . it was sinful to play card game . . . it was wrong to drink even a sip of alcohol apart from the Lord’s Supper. While those rules are far from the norm for this current generation leaders, parents always have and always will create rules to legislating morality. In Jesus’ day there were hundreds of laws that the religious leaders had set up to keep people a healthy distance from real trouble. Very specific laws had been written to guard the Sabbath day, a day that God designated as a day of rest and worship.
The problem with legislating morality is that living by the rules will only get you so far. Living by a certain set of rules will never fix your relationship with God, it will never get you to heaven because to be right with God you need to follow all of God’s rules perfectly and in that you have already failed.
It’s not that rules and laws are bad things in and of themselves. God has made very clear how humans are to live we should not abandon his rules for our lives. Keeping that in mind, however, we are not and cannot be slaves to the law because if you want to be saved by the law heaven will never be yours. We are slaves to Christ Jesus who came and fulfilled God’s law for us. Jesus changes the way we look at rules. Rules are not something that we follow and make up because we hope they will get us somewhere. We strive to follow God’s rules out of love for a God who loved us. We were not made to follow rules, God’s rules exist so that we have know the correct way to live our lives in a thankful offering back to God. God’s rules are not made to be broken, but neither are they made to be worshiped.
God give us the strength to see his laws not as a feather to put in our cap but as a way to show love to the One who loved us enough to die for us.
Prayer: Heavenly Father we thank you for giving us your law to show us our sinfulness, and our need for a Savior. Most of all we thank you for sending your Son to fulfill the requirements of the law on our behalf. Help us to see and treat your rules with the proper respect, neither making them into a requirement for salvation nor ignoring the importance of following them. Send the Holy Spirit into our hearts to give us wisdom and zeal to live according to your laws. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
3rd Sunday after Pentecost
A Reality Check . . .
Text: Colossians 2:13-17
It’s time for A Reality Check. We say we believe in God. We call ourselves Christians. We follow Christ. We may even feel a little good about that at times. I was in Washington D.C. and New York City this last week. Walking down those streets and seeing all those people wearing who knows what with who knows what lifestyles doing whatever they please, you can’t help but think, “Thank God I’m not like that.” There’s comfort in being in a place like that and then coming back home where I can go on living my quiet, pious Christian life.
Yet we do the same in our less glitzy and glamorous setting of Palm Coast, Florida, too. We watch people on the news. We get updates on Facebook. We see people in the store and at the beach. “Thank God I’m not like that, either. I’m a Christian. I follow Christ.” Read the rest of this entry