A Sermon Echo from Sunday, January 19th

(A “Sermon Echo” is a short reminder or elaboration of something I preached or heard on a previous Sunday.)

One hundred years ago we began a new decade that came to be known as, The Roaring Twenties! It was so named due to the tumultuous nature of that decade.

Thinking about the decade that lies before us, I suggest that with intentionality we strive to make it our own personal, Soaring Twenties!

Isaiah 40:28-31 says,

Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Too often on our spiritual journey we grow tired and weary and we stumble and fall. Wouldn’t it be great if instead we could SOAR on wings like eagles? Run and not grow weary? Walk and not be faint? To say that would be great would be an understatement.

The good news is, is that it is entirely possible! Isaiah gives the key: “Put your hope in the Lord!”

This passage has also been translated as, “wait up on the Lord.” The term translated as hope or wait comes from a family of synonyms that also include the ideas believe in, trust, long for, and faith. Dr. John Hartley said the meaning is, “Enduring patiently in confident hope that God will decisively act for the salvation of his people.”

To restate it: No matter what else this potentially tumultuous decade may hold, endure patiently, hoping, believing, and waiting for God to decisively act! If you do that, for you, this will be the SOARING TWENTIES!

A Sermon Echo from Sunday, January 6th

(A “Sermon Echo” is a short reminder or elaboration of something I preached or heard on a previous Sunday.)

This special edition, devotional, Sermon Echo is based on Pastor Chelsie’s Epiphany Sunday message.

Epiphany is a day on the Christian calendar set aside to commemorate the visit of the Magi (the Wise Men). The word, epiphany, means revealing or revelation. It’s use in this case is based on the idea that the Magi’s visit to revealed that Jesus was Lord to the whole world,

The Jews had long expected the Messiah or the Christ. His advent (arrival) was a great event. But notice that all involved were Jews, It’s what one would expect for a Jewish Savior.

But Jesus wasn’t supposed to be the Savior for just the Jews. As far back as Genesis 3, when Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, was first chosen and called, God had promised that all peoples on earth would be blessed through him. The angel that visited the shepherds proclaimed that Jesus’ birth was good news that would bring great joy to all the people.

Jesus was a Jew, he entered the world through the Jewish nation in a Jewish setting and was surrounded by Jews. Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, Simeon, Anna; all Jews. But Jesus hadn’t come for the Jews alone. The visit of the Magi helped to reveal that all important truth!

A Savior for the Jews would have been big news. But the visit of the Magi revealed the true scope and scale of what God was doing. Jesus was the Savior of the whole world. That isn’t just big, it’s ENORMOUSLY HUGE!

Let this remind of two things:

First, since most of my readers are Gentiles (not Jews), celebrate and be thankful that Jesus is YOUR Savior, not just the Jews’ Savior.

Secondly, in somewhat of a reversal, now that you know he is your Savior, remember that he is not just your Savior but EVERYONE’S Savior. Your Christian friends, of course, but not just them. Also, your non-Christian family, neighbors and co-workers. Also, all those of other races from you, other nationalities from you, even other religions from you. Of course, many of them either haven’t head the good news or they haven’t accepted the good news. He came to be their Savior too. Those of us who have heard and accepted this good news have the responsibility to help tell and persuade those who haven’t.

Epiphany doesn’t get the attention it should!

A Sermon Echo from Sunday, December 29, 2019

(A “Sermon Echo” is a short reminder or elaboration of something I preached or heard on a previous Sunday.)

This morning Pastor Chelsie gave us a list of some of God’s attributes and many of us were surprised that the list included, “vulnerable.” The explanation reminded us that while we often equate vulnerability with weakness, it doesn’t really work that way. Being vulnerable means being, “open to being hurt.” You can be strong and vulnerable. Or in God’s case, he can be all-powerful and still be vulnerable. This is easier to see when one considers that Jesus was the best most perfect revelation of God. Jesus was vulnerable in multiple ways including allowing himself to be crucified.

As it relates to us, we were told that in spite of some of our own efforts to reduce vulnerability in many ways, Jesus didn’t come to eliminate vulnerability but to help us embrace it because, “love necessitates vulnerability.”

Forgiving someone makes us vulnerable to being hurt by that person again. Sharing our food with someone makes us vulnerable to hunger ourselves. Turning the other cheek makes us vulnerable to get struck on the either cheek. etc.

Ironically, we are called to follow Jesus’ example and becoming vulnerable ourselves for the express purpose of helping others who are vulnerable.

A Sermon Echo from Sunday, December 1, 2019

(A “Sermon Echo” is a short reminder or elaboration of something I preached or heard on a previous Sunday.)

The first five verses of the second chapter of Isaiah begins with a call to a pilgrimage of learning. The subject of the learning is described with three different terms: his ways, the law, and the word of the Lord. The purpose of this learning is not simply to have head knowledge or do well on a Bible quiz. The purpose was so that, “we may walk in his paths.” The section ends with a rephrasing of the call: “Let us walk in the light of the Lord.”

One of the characteristics of the Advent and Christmas seasons is a plethora of special lights. As a child, I was told that lights on the tree were like candles on a birthday cake for Jesus. Later I learned the tradition began as a symbol of Jesus Christ as the light of the world. This year, I suggest a new significance to all the Christmas lights you see. Let their light remind you to, “walk in the light of the Lord.”

A Sermon Echo from Sunday, November 24, 2019

(A “Sermon Echo” is a short reminder or elaboration of something I preached or heard on a previous Sunday.)

For Christ the King Sunday, Pastor Chelsie spoke about what it means to be a strong leader based on the example Christ the King. More specifically, she spoke on his example from a short selection of Luke’s crucifixion narrative. (See Luke 23:32-43) Based on Jesus’ example, good strong leaders are people who:

  1. Forgive those who have hurt them. Jesus’ was being gravely wronged but chose to offer forgiveness and even prayed for those mistreating him.
  2. Look out for others. Jesus could have saved himself but instead died for us.
  3. Doesn’t return insult for insult. Jesus was sneered at, insulted, mocked, and taunted but did not retaliate.
  4. Hears the lowly and offers mercy. With all that was happening, Jesus still listened to the thief beside him and showed mercy rather than condemnation.

Let’s be thankful Jesus was that kind of leader and let’s all strive to follow his example.

A Sermon Echo from Sunday, November 17, 2019

(A “Sermon Echo” is a short reminder or elaboration of something I preached or heard on a previous Sunday.)

As Thanksgiving approaches we often begin thinking about all the things for which we are thankful. Our lists are usually made up of all the things God has done for us and that God has given us. Pastor Chelsie reminded us, however, that our lists often lack one big category: Future blessings!

Isaiah 65:17ff says,

“See, I will create
    new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
    nor will they come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
    in what I will create,

The passage goes on from there to describe some of those future blessings. (I suggest you look it up and read about it.) But notice those words in verse 18, “But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create.” If we ought to be glad and rejoice in future blessings, we ought also to be THANKFUL or future blessings!

A Sermon Echo from Sunday, November 10, 2019

(A “Sermon Echo” is a short reminder or elaboration of something I preached or heard on a previous Sunday.)

 Haggai 1:3-6 says, “Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: ‘Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?’ Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.'”

From there the passage elaborates on the aforesaid and explains that their economy has been sabotaged by God because their priorities and values were out of order. They were focusing on their own interests while neglecting God and their relationship with him. No doubt about it, it was time for them to rebuild the temple.

Now that we are post-crucifixion, post-resurrection, post-ascension, and post-Pentecost, we are not called upon to rebuild an earthly temple. Instead we are called upon to be building the Kingdom; that is, spreading the gospel. The question is: Are our own priorities and values in proper order or have we let our own interests cause us to neglect our mission? It’s something to cerebrate…

A Sermon Echo from Sunday, November 3, 2019

(A “Sermon Echo” is a short reminder or elaboration of something I preached or heard on a previous Sunday.)

On Sunday, we observed All Saints Day (which was technically two days earlier). In some traditions the title of, “Saint,” is reserved for a special superclass of the Lord’s followers; individuals like the Apostle Paul, Francis of Assisi, and Mother Teresa. Biblically, however, all who have repented and accepted Christ are saints. Not because of their own purity or because of their great deeds but because God has made them holy. (Notice the New Testament references to, “holy ones,” in the NIV; in the more literal translations like the NRSV and NASB, the word is, “saints.”)

Take some time to remember and honor the saints; not just the famous ones such as those I’ve already mentioned, but those who have been influential in your own spiritual journey. Perhaps a grandmother, or a father, or an aunt, or a Sunday School teacher, or a youth pastor… We don’t worship the saints but it is fitting and proper that we remember and honor them.

Also, if you are a Christian, remember that you hold the title of, “Saint.” Saint Wilson! That has a certain ring to it. Why don’t you try it? Say out loud, “Saint {Insert Your Name]”. Now, strive to live accordingly!

A Sermon Echo from Sunday, October 27, 2019

(A “Sermon Echo” is a short reminder or elaboration of something I preached or heard on a previous Sunday.)

This week, it was my co-pastor’s (Pastor Chelsie) turn to preach. She read the story of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. It begins like this:

“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 1The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’–Luke 18:9-12

She elaborated on the Pharisee’s attitude of self-righteousness and how he compared himself to others and felt himself superior to them.

Then she asked, “How many of you are thinking, ‘Thank God, I’m not like that Pharisee!?’