A Sermon Echo from Sunday, March 1, 2015

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

Are you a believer?

Usually, when that question is asked, “believer” is being used a synonym for, “Christian.”  That’s fine.  However, it couldn’t hurt to remind ourselves why the word, “believer,” makes a good synonym for, “Christian.”

Let’s go back to the days of Abram.  When he was about 99 years old, God sent word that he and his wife were to become parents.  His wife was about 90 herself and had been barren for her entire life.  The idea that after all those years of not being able to have children, that they would have a child at this old age seemed unbelievable.  The Bible tells us that initially both Abram and his wife laughed at the idea.

He got over that soon enough.  The Scripture records that Abram believed God and it “was credited to him as righteousness.”

That notion that God, the creator and sustainer of the universe, loves us and forgives us seems unbelievable.  But believe it and it will be credited to you as righteousness!  That’s why Christians are called “believers.”

Are  you a believer?

 

 

 

A Sermon Echo from Sunday, February 22, 2015

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

“What are you giving up for Lent?”

It’s a pretty common question. Lent is, after all, a time in which we commemorate Jesus’ forty day fast in the wilderness.   Thus our commemoration usually includes giving up something.

But Lent (and fasting in general) ought to be about more than just giving up something. Isaiah 58:6-7 puts it very well:

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

The bottom line is that there is another side to the give up Lenten coin.  Giving up something frees up resources.  Those resources can take the form of money, time, energy, or some combination of them.  So, once you’ve given up something, thereby freeing up something, then take the next step and give to something.

It’s been hundreds of years since Isaiah was written but the causes he specifically mentions are still a good place to start:  loosing the chains of injustice, setting the oppressed free, sharing food with the hungry, providing the poor wanderer with shelter, etc.

What are you giving to for Lent?

A Sermon Echo from Sunday, February 15, 2015

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

Mountain wisdom is simple and profound.  Here are couple examples:

  • “Don’t sell your mule to buy a plow.”
  • “Don’t corner something meaner than you.”

Simple and profound. But I think some of the wisest advice to ever come off a mountain top was of a very different nature from those folksy examples.  Jesus was there with three of his followers along with a couple of very special and unexpected guests: Moses and Elijah. As this mountain top experience was coming to close a voice was heard, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” (Mark 9:7, NIV)

Listen to the Son of God!  it doesn’t get much more simple and profound than that.

A Sermon Echo from Sunday, February 8, 2015

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

Mark 1:21-34 tell of Jesus amazing the people by the way he taught as one with authority. It also tells of Jesus acting with authority by the way he overcame evil spirits and healed various diseases. The result of Jesus’ authoritative teaching and actions was immediate popularity. It must have been an exhausting day. The next morning, did Jesus sleep in and order breakfast in bed? Isn’t that what pop stars do?   Well, it’s not what Jesus did.  Did he call a press conference to exploit the momentum? After all, that’s what pop stars do. Well, that’s not what Jesus did either. Mark 1:35 says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

I think this reveals something very important about Jesus. Very simply, it reveals that Jesus placed a high priority on prayer. Equally simple is the implication: If Jesus placed a high priority on prayer, then we should too!

A Sermon Echo from Sunday, January 25, 2015

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

As Jesus BEGAN his earthly ministry he recruited his first disciples by saying, “Come, follow me and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Mark 1:17, NIV). Jesus ENDED his earthly ministry by keeping his recruiting promise: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:18-19, NIV)

I don’t think much has changed. If we claim to be followers of Jesus we must be fishing for people (that is, going and making disciple).