Monday, December 29, 2008

This week's schedule 12/28/08

Tuesday December 30th
- Women of Faith: Encourage Each Other 7:00 pm

January 4th- Sunday School 9:30 am
Fellowship in the Birchwood Room 10:30 am
Worship 10:45 am
Iglesia Evangelica Amigos 3:00 pm

Remember to pray this week for those who are ill and those who mourn.
Faith Promise Cards are out--pray about how God wants to use you to share the gospel with people everywhere!

This Week's Sermon: Respond to Glorify God

Luke 2:20-41.

The Shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for the things they had seen and heard, which were just as they had been told.

The shepherds responded to God's fulfillment of his promise by glorifying him. To glorify in it's most basic sense is to shine a light on something. The shepherds shone a light on the things that God had done.

Simeon also responded to God's fulfillment of his promise to allow him to see the Messiah before his death, by glorifying him. He praised God and blessed both Jesus and his parents in the temple courts. He declared the coming of the Lord's Christ, a light to the gentiles and God's glory revealed to his people Israel. Christ was to be a light to the gentiles, who lived in spiritual darkness, to lead them to God. He was also God's physical revelation of himself to Israel. Simeon declared God's glory had come and there was nothing now that could add to his life. He gave God permission to take him home.

Anna also responded to glorify God. Her words are not recorded, but her story is. She had been married for seven years and then been a widow. Depending on the translation she was either a widow until she was 84, or she had been widowed for 84 years *which would make her 103 years old at minimum.* Either way, Luke describes her as being "very old" and she had been in the temple courts constantly waiting for God's consolation of his people. She heard what Simeon said, came over and gave thanks to God, and then she was off to tell others about God's faithfulness. Luke tells us she went to every person she knew who was waiting for the Messiah and told them that he had come. She didn't use age as an excuse to sit by as an observer, she got right in the action of glorifying God.

The shepherds, Simeon, and Anna all responded to glorify God. They shone a spotlight on God. They made him known. God is glorified whenever he is seen, whenever he is revealed.

When God fulfills his promises to us, how do we respond? Do we respond to glorify him? Or do we do our best to pretend like we never needed his help? When we refuse to give him glory, we are usually in the spotlight. People may be drawn to us, but they are not being pointed to God. Their lives stay the same, and their eternal condition remains unchanged. When we respond to glorify God, he gets the credit. His light shines. People are drawn to him. Jesus said, "if I am lifted up, I will draw all men unto myself."

If you are interested in growing the Kingdom of God, I urge you to respond to his faithfulness by glorifying him. Shine a light on God at work. Tell others about what he has done in your life. Tell others about what he has done for everyone in sending his son. Tell your fellow believers how God has fulfilled his promises to you so that their faith may be encouraged. Respond to glorify God.

Monday, December 22, 2008

This Week's Schedule 12/21/2008

NO Activities this week.

Merry Christmas!
May the Peace of God surround you as you celebrate the coming of our Messiah and King forever, Jesus Christ the Son of God.

December 28th- Sunday School 9:30 am
Fellowship in the Birchwood Room 10:30 am
Worship 10:45 am
Iglesia Evangelica Amigos 3:00 pm

Remember to pray this week for those who are ill and those who mourn.
Faith Promise Cards are out--pray about how God wants to use you to share the gospel with people everywhere!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

This Week's Schedule 12/14/08

Tuesday December 16th
- No Activities

Wednesday December 17th- No Activities

December 21st- No Sunday School

Worship 10:00 am
Brunch Following Worship

Iglesia Evangelica Amigos 3:00 pm

Remember to pray this week for those who are ill and those who mourn.
Faith Promise Cards are out--pray about how God wants to use you to share the gospel with people everywhere!

This Week's Sermon: Following by Faith

Luke 1:26-56.
The Angel came and told Mary that she was to carry the promised Messiah, the Son of God. This was probably both the most exciting and most terrifying thing she had ever heard. To be pregnant out of wedlock was a sign of adultery and if she were found in that condition, she could be stoned. It is no wonder then, that she chose to go and visit her cousin Elizabeth. The Angel had told her that Elizabeth was going to have a baby, and if that were true, then it would confirm the things the Angel had told would happen to Mary as well.

While Mary was with Elizabeth, she would get a taste of what it meant to be pregnant, and may have even been there for the birth of John the Baptist. These are all speculations but what we know is that the state of her heart is told in her song: “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” She was waiting for a sign that what God had promised her was true, she did not have the fulfillment yet, she was still facing possible execution on her return home, yet she glorified God and rejoiced in the one she called her savior. And why? Because he had done great things for her. He had remembered her in her low estate and from now on she would be called blessed. She didn’t know these things for sure. She had no proof. She only had the word of an angel.

In her song, she also declares that in this act of remembering her, he was fulfilling his promise to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever. She is confirming that she understands that the child she will bear is to be the promised Messiah. She doesn’t know how God is going to work. She doesn’t know how he is going to come through for her, but she is declaring God’s faithfulness in advance.

Matthew 1:18-25.
God provided for Mary and for his Son and for his plan to be accomplished by paying a visit to Joseph. God gave Joseph a dream of an angel to tell him that God was behind Mary’s pregnancy and that the baby she was carrying was God’s salvation for his people. In essence the Angel hinted very strongly to Joseph that Mary’s baby was the Messiah. Joseph was a righteous man, so when God told him to go ahead and take Mary home as his wife, he obeyed. He didn’t have any proof that what God had said was true, but he was willing to trust that if God had a plan, He would carry it out.

It is hard sometimes when God calls us to do something risky. But really the only stories we have from scripture are those of God asking people to do scary things. Noah had to put himself out there to build a boat before it had ever rained. Abraham had to trust that if God said he would give him a son, he would fulfill his promise. Joseph had to go out on a limb to interpret Pharoah’s dream. Moses had to risk everything to bring God’s people out of captivity, to part the red sea, to receive the ten commandments. The Children of Israel had to actually go in and put their feet on the land that God had promised them in spite of the fact that there were still others who claimed it as their own. In the New Testament, Jesus asked the disciples to follow him. He asked a little boy to give up his lunch—maybe all the food he had for the day. He asked Peter to come out on the water. He asked Thomas to touch his wounds after his resurrection.

All big risky things that God called people to do, but it was worth it.

Because Noah built the ark, he and his family were saved. Because Abraham trusted God, he fathered a nation. Because Joseph interpreted Pharoah’s dreams, he gained power, Egypt survived one of the biggest droughts in history, and he was reconciled with his family. Because Moses obeyed, the children of Israel were set free and made it through the desert. Because the people set their feet on the land, it became theirs. Because the disciples left everything to follow Jesus, they witnessed God on earth. Because that little boy gave his lunch, 5,000 people were fed. Because Peter walked out on the water, he got to see that even when we sink, God pulls us up again. Because Thomas touched his wounds, he learned the truth, that God had raised Christ from the dead.

God asked Mary to take a risk in accepting the role as Mother to Jesus. God asked Joseph to be a care-giver, protector and earthly father. Because they obeyed, Jesus came, prophecy was fulfilled and the world now has access to the God of the Universe in spite of all our screw-ups.
God may call you to do something risky for him. He may have already done so, and you have been weighing the cost. That is ok. Weigh the cost. But trust him and obey. Trust him that if he has called you, he will be faithful to bring about whatever plan he has for you to accomplish. When we trust we get to see God at work. We get to see him do amazing things! If we refuse, we might stay safe in our comfort zone, but safe is not the same as fulfilled. Safe is not the same as joyful. Safe is not the same as amazing. Very rarely can you be safe and stand in awe before the majesty of God. That takes risk. I encourage you this morning, to take the risk. Take the leap. Be obedient. And stand back and watch the Creator of the Universe do amazing things in and through you.

Monday, December 8, 2008

This Week's Schedule 12/7/08

Tuesday December 9th
- No Activities

Wednesday December 10th--Friends Women Christmas Brunch 9:30 am at Mildred's
Kid's Club Christmas Party 5:30pm-7:00pm

December 16th- Sunday School 9:30 am
Fellowship in the Birchwood Room 10:30 am
Worship 10:45 am
Elder's Meeting Following Worship and Soup and Sandwich Lunch
Iglesia Evangelica Amigos 3:00 pm

Coming Up: Christmas Celebration December 21st 10:00 am, brunch to follow!

Remember to pray this week for those who are ill and those who mourn.
Faith Promise Cards are out--pray about how God wants to use you to share the gospel with people everywhere!

This Week's Sermon: What Are You Waiting For?

2Peter 3.

We started this theme of waiting last week. In the Old Testament, there are many passages expressing the heart of those waiting for God to send his salvation, his Messiah. Psalm 85 gives us a picture of the waiting heart:
Psalm 85: 1 You showed favor to your land, O Lord; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. 2 You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins. Selah ...7 Show us your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. For this Psalmist, even though God had restored the fortunes of Jacob, there was more to be done. He is still seeking God’s salvation. And when that salvation comes, the Psalmist says:
8 I will listen to what God the Lord will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints-- but let them not return to folly. 9 Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land... 13 Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.

The Psalmist gives us this theme of preparing the way for the Lord. He says that Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps. This theme of preparing the way for the Lord is picked up in Isaiah 40, the chapter we studied last week, it says: 3 A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.

There was groundwork that had to be done before Christ could come the first time. Things had to be in place, which is why Galatians 4:4 tells us that “when the time had fully come, God sent his Son.” The earth had to be ready; the people had to be ready. God moved everything into place and then at the right time, God sent his Son into the world. John the Baptist played a role in preparing the way for Christ. Mark tells us in the very first lines of his gospel:

Mark 1:1 The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 It is written in Isaiah the prophet: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way"-- 3 "a voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'" 4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.... 7 And this was his message: "After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." (Matthew and Luke say “with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”)

John came telling people that they needed to repent of their sins and be baptized with water, but he pointed at the one who would come and baptize with the Holy Spirit. John was preparing the way. The Psalmist says that Righteousness goes before God’s salvation and prepares the way for his steps. Repentance and righteousness. These are the things that go before and pave the way for the work that God wants to do in each one of us. Now, all of that was just background for the text that I want to dig into this morning.

2 Peter 3:1-18
Peter is telling these dear brothers and sisters that just as the Prophets looked forward to Jesus coming the first time, to bring salvation, so we are also looking forward to Jesus coming again. The New Testament writers all tell us that there will be a day when Christ will return and judge the earth. Jesus said himself that there would be a day when people would be divided as sheep and goats before him. Those who he knew, those that did the will of his father, were on his right and entered into his rest. Those that he did not know, those that did not do the will of his father, even if they did all kinds of things that looked holy; they went on his left and entered into judgment.

Peter tells his readers that there will be people who will scoff at this teaching and ask “What’s God waiting for? Where is this ‘coming’ he was talking about?” Sound familiar? There are lots of people today who would profess to be Christians and yet don’t believe that Christ is coming again. Many of those people find setting aside that teaching allows them to live however they please. Peter says it is to follow their own evil desires. It makes sense, if you want to live your life according to your own evil lusts; it is very convenient to think that Jesus is not ever coming back. Without fear of judgment, the last barrier is taken away to keep us from destroying ourselves in our pursuit of evil. This is not the first barrier, nor is it the reason why we should serve God or live holy lives, the first reason is love. Once you pass that first reason up and are looking for excuses to do what you please, the last barrier is judgment. The problem with this outlook is that Jesus did indeed say he was coming back, and he did not give a timeline. He said that even the Son and the angels do not know the day or hour. Only God knows when everything will be in place for Christ to come again.

And why is he waiting? He wants everyone to be saved. His patience means salvation for those who hear and believe while he holds back his judgment. He is not delaying so we can party; he is delaying so we can tell more people about Christ. He is delaying so that we can grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

So my question for each of us this morning is “What are you waiting for?” We have a tradition of doing New Year’s resolutions. But I don’t want us to wait until New Year’s to do our part in making a path for God to work in our lives. Repentance and Righteousness. Peter says since we are looking forward to his coming we ought to make every effort to be spotless, blameless and at peace with him. What are we waiting for? What will have to happen in our lives before we fully surrender to him? What will have to occur before we will accept his gift of salvation and let him work in our lives? How long will we put off repenting and living in step with the Spirit? How long will we wait to tell the people around us about the Good News of life in Christ?

We don’t have to have all the answers. We don’t have to know exactly what God wants for us in the future. We don’t have to figure everything out. We just need to do what is in front of us right now. And what is here, in this moment is an opportunity to repent; an opportunity to give up what you have been holding onto; an opportunity to present yourself as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to him. I don’t want us to wait to do the things before us when there is no time to lose.

What are you waiting for?