Archive for April, 2009

Store up Treasures in Heaven During Financially Tough Times

April 21, 2009

Title: Store up Treasures in Heaven during Financially Tough Times

Text: Matthew 6:19-24

Date: March 8th, 2009

You can’t help but hear a lot of news about the economic recession our country and the rest of the world is in right now. The news is all about how bad the economy is or is getting. You would think that the most important thing in the whole world is how the stock market is doing, or how the housing market is, or the level of the unemployment rate, or gasoline prices or any other indicator of the condition of the economy. From the way people are talking today you’d think that the worst thing in the world has happened – the economy has gone down! Now to be sure, I don’t want to minimize an important thing such as the economy. Jobs are important, keeping the prices of goods and services affordable is very important, the stock market is important too for many reasons, probably the most important is that so many people’s retirement accounts are tied to it, and other aspects of the economy are important too. But my point is that people seem obsessed with economic data and news. My observation of Americans specifically and other people in the world generally is that the economy is too important. What I mean is, while economic issues are important, they are all-important, they aren’t most important, they aren’t the be-all and end-all of everything. But from the conversations I hear and the news I see every day you would think that the economy was the most important earthly thing of all. And what that says about us as a people is that we have our priorities wrong; we have our value system out of kilter. We see things improperly; we aren’t viewing reality correctly when we elevate economic matters above other more important things. And that’s just the problem that the recession is bringing out to everyone who will take the time to observe and reflect on what is happening. Our present recession is exposing a flaw in the mentality and thinking of Americans and other people of the world. What the recession is revealing is that we all love money and material goods too much. I wish I could say that Christians are the exception, but I can’t. We too who call upon the name of Christ are caught up in the same warped values as the rest, I’m sorry to say. We too, like most other people, elevate money and material possessions and material well being above almost everything. But the sad truth is that we’ve been warned before about this, but we ignored the warning and just followed the crowd into materialism. None other than the Lord Jesus has warned us in his teachings found in the New Testament not to place money and material things above more important spiritual and ethical truths, but we’ve conveniently forgotten these teachings as we’ve pursued the material good life available in the modern world. But we are off track because we’ve failed to listen closely enough to Christ’s teachings about money and possessions that he presents so clearly. Well, let’s not continue in our error. Let’s stop and take the time to truly listen and learn from the teachings of Jesus on money and material goods. Let’s stop and get it right finally before it’s really too late. If this current economic recession does anything, let it be to get us Christians back to the truth about money and possessions. Let’s listen to Jesus instead of the evening news. Let’s turn to Matthew 6:19-24, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. . . . No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” Let’s look at three important truths. (more…)

Which Holiday is Most Important — Christmas, Good Friday or Easter?

April 18, 2009

Title: Which is Most Important – Christmas, Good Friday or Easter?

Text: Luke 2:8-12, Corinthians 15:3-4

Date: April 19th, 2009

We’ve just completed the Easter season of 2009 and I wanted to take a Sunday to reflect back on where we’ve come over the last few months and put it in perspective. Towards the end of last year we celebrated the Christmas season, then we began the traditional Christian church calendar season of Lent, which led into Good Friday and finally Resurrection Sunday last week. That got me thinking, “Of all the holidays in the traditional Christian church calendar which one is most important, which one is next in importance, and so on?” Notice the question I ask is not, “Which holiday in the Christian calendar is most favorite?” I don’t think there is any dispute on that question because each year the Christmas season is no doubt the most popular Christian holiday of the year. It not only involves Christians celebrating the birth of the Savior Jesus in Bethlehem but it also includes many non-Christians and many people of other faiths or of no faith at all participating in the Christmas holiday season. So there is no question that as far as popularity, Christmas wins hands down. But the question that I ask still remains, “Which holiday is most important?” Or in other words, “Which holiday is the most meaningful in the spiritual sense?” Or put another way, “Which holiday in the Christian calendar is most important in respect to our salvation?” If we put the question this way, it might not be so easy to answer. Of course, the question is a little like the perennial question of which comes first, the chicken or the egg? All three Christian holidays or holy days are important; all three are meaningful in their own right; all three are critical to our salvation and spiritual life. But if we had to rank them in importance, if we had to arrange them in some sort of priority order, which would we put first, which would come second, and which would be third? When we put the question that way I think we can arrange them in some order or rank of importance, based on their direct and immediate value to our spiritual salvation. That’s what I’d like to do this morning. Now before I do so I’d like to simply say that this is my personal estimation of the relative value of these three holidays; it isn’t based on any verse in the Bible or any other historical Christian church precedent. For some people the question is impossible to answer, like asking some similar theological question like, “Who is most important among members of the Holy Trinity – the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit?” Now that’s a question that is so complex that I’m not sure that I would even want to venture an answer, but today I’ll be trying to answer a question that I believe is easier. Upon reflection, I’m convinced, although I could be wrong, that Good Friday is most directly important concerning our salvation; that Easter is next in importance; and Christmas is then next. Good Friday, Easter and Christmas – that’s my personal order of importance in respect to our direct spiritual salvation. Let me explain why. (more…)

Why Did Christ Need to Rise From the Dead?

April 11, 2009

Title: Why Did Christ Need to Rise From the Dead?

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Text: Matthew 20:17-19, Psalm 16:8-10, 1 Corinthians 15:1-6, 12-20

Date: April 12th, 2009

The Enlightenment philosopher David Hume is credited with forming the strongest argument against the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Let me show how ridiculous this is. According to Hume, the resurrection contradicts the firm and fixed laws of nature, and since uniform human experience confirms the laws of nature concerning dead people – that they don’t rise to life again, therefore, the wise person will believe universal human experience and the laws of nature and disbelieve in the resurrection, that is, that somebody, Jesus, rose from the dead. So, according to Hume, we don’t even have to look at the gospel accounts or investigate into the historical evidences for the resurrection of Jesus because we already know that such a thing like the resurrection contradicts natural law and universal human experience (each of us and everyone we know has never seen a resurrection from the dead), so we can rule it out as impossible from the start. But here’s the problem with Hume’s argument: if Hume is consistent with his own philosophy, he’d have to deny his own eye witness experience if he had been an apostle and Jesus appeared to him after having been dead. Why? Because according to the laws of nature and universal human experience dead people don’t come back to life, so then nothing would justify a wise person believing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, even if he were to see it first hand and in person. But surely there is something wrong with a philosophy that rules experience out ahead of time, or even goes so far as to force one to deny one’s own experience to the contrary. Following Hume, if one of the disciples were following this same philosophy he’d have to conclude, “I’ve just seen Jesus alive after he was crucified, dead and buried, but since that contradicts the laws of nature and universal human experience, it just can’t be. So I really didn’t see Jesus come back from the dead because that’s simply impossible, as everyone knows from experience.” But such thinking is nonsense. The bottom line is this – the resurrection of Jesus, although very unusual, is possible and because there is such an abundance of evidence in the Bible for it actually occurring, a wise man or woman should believe it. I don’t have time to go into all the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ this morning, but what I’d like to do is talk about why Jesus had to rise from the dead? Why was it important for Jesus to come to life again after he was dead? He had already died for our sins on the cross. He had already paid the penalty for our sins and was punished in our place. He had already given us his righteousness in exchange for our sins. So why did Jesus need to rise from the dead? Is the resurrection something added on, something non-essential to the whole plan of salvation? No. And there are a number of reasons why Jesus had to rise from the dead. Let’s talk about three. (more…)

After Easter — Dealing with Doubts

April 9, 2009

Title: After Easter: Dealing with doubt in the Christian faith

Text: Matthew 28:16-20

Time: April 15th, 2007

Today is the first Sunday after Easter 2007. Rather than return back to the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13 and teach from there again, I’d like to spend one more week on the Easter message and talk about what comes after Easter. I was reading the after Easter account in the Book of Matthew this past week and noticed a curious thing – some of the disciples doubted even after seeing the risen Jesus! They just couldn’t believe their own eyes! Their minds were telling them that this is impossible, but their eyes were showing them that it was possible, and they were divided within themselves. Listen to the description in Matthew 28:16-17, “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” There it is, the amazing passage: “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” Doubted what? That it was really Jesus! There he was, but how could it be him because they had seen him die on the cross, they had seen him buried in the tomb and the tomb sealed and three days go by. Yet here he was alive again. How could it be? Some doubted because it was so unusual. Have you ever been in an unusual situation where something was happening that was so strange that you could hardly believe your own eyes? You see it, but your mind can’t believe it. That’s what the disciples experienced. Now we know that whichever ones were doubting eventually were cured of that doubt and eventually become rock solid Christians who took the gospel to different parts of the world. For example, there is the tradition that the disciple Thomas took the gospel to India. If that is true, Thomas totally worked through his initial doubts about Jesus as did some of the other disciples, showing us that it’s ok to doubt sometimes parts of the Christian faith, but by working through our doubts we can actually become stronger Christians as a result. Now ideally we all believe and we all believe whole-heartedly, 100% of everything all the time. There are plenty of examples in the New Testament where Jesus rebukes his disciples for doubting him. But in reality because of human nature everyone doubts sometimes different things at different times. For example, there is the scene in the Gospels where a man says to Jesus, “I believe, help my unbelief.” That’s a good example of a believer admitting to doubts. Being a Christian doesn’t mean never doubting; it means believing and obeying the Lord anyway, and working out and working through all doubts. So today I’d like to talk about dealing with doubts that might come up in the Christian faith from time to time and how to work through doubts. Matthew 28:16-20 (read) is out teaching today. (more…)

By Believing You May Have Life in His Name

April 9, 2009

Title: By Believing You May Have Life in His Name

Text: John 19:38-20:31

Time: March 27th, 2005

“If only I had been alive during the time of Jesus, If only I had been one of the original twelve disciples, then I would really believe strongly with no doubts.” We think that if we had been a witness to the things of the Bible we would have strong faith, but we forget that seeing doesn’t always translate into stronger believing. Faith goes beyond what we see or don’t see. That is clear from the reports of Jesus after the resurrection. There were lots of people who saw Jesus during his lifetime but only a few disciples. There were lots of people who saw his miracles and were amazed, but that’s as far as it went with them. The distractions of life, and the care and worry of this life cause many people to simply not give heart and soul to Jesus. It has always been that way. The disciples had a rare opportunity to see Jesus up close, that is, the Son of God, the human representation of God who appeared on earth 2000 years ago. But we shouldn’t feel bad; we get to share in that faith through God’s Spirit today. Some people use the excuse that they’ve not seen Jesus or heard his voice for their unbelief, but faith doesn’t need seeing or hearing to believe. That’s the message today: we can believe just as strongly as the disciples believed, we can live our lives just as dedicated and just as seriously for God today as any disciple did 2000 years ago. Faith is available today, this morning to everyone who will receive it. On this Easter morning 2005, let’s explore this matter of faith. (more…)

The Suffering Servant

April 8, 2009

Title: The Suffering Servant

Text: Isaiah 53

Time: March 20th, 2005

By now most of us have seen the movie The Passion of Christ. What it shows is a man, Jesus Christ, being beaten and whipped and tortured and then killed on the cross. Now the key to the whole movie is found in the written introduction, which is a quote from Isaiah 53, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Now if you missed that introduction, and a lot of people did, you missed the point of the whole movie, and it just becomes a gory, violent picture of an individual being unjustly treated by an oppressive government. But if you grasp the significance of why Jesus died, the whole message of the Christian Gospel makes sense. We are beginning holy week in the Christian Church, that is, the week and events leading up to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. It’s holy because everything in the week had to take place just the way it did in order for the plan of God to be fulfilled. Jesus had to suffer and die as a blood sacrifice for our sins, and he had to rise from the dead in order to conquer sin and death. Without both of these events, there could be no Christian faith. What I’d like to talk about this morning is the death of Jesus on the cross, and then next week, Easter Sunday, talk about the living Christ who conquered death and what that means for us today. But before we get to the risen life of Christ we have to talk about the suffering death of Christ. Today I want to talk about the Old Testament prophecy, the main prophecy, which speaks of the purpose and the reason for Christ’s death on the cross. It’s the part that the Passion of Christ didn’t have time to explain other than just quoting the passage in Isaiah 53. But this morning I’d like to read that famous prophecy and open up its meaning so that as we near Friday, the day of the death of Christ, we can fully appreciate it and thank God for it, even though it is an awful thing on a purely human level. Let me read the prophecy uttered by Isaiah some 400 years before the time of Christ and think of it in terms of the crucifixion. Isaiah 53:1-12 (read). Let me bring out some important points in the prophecy. (more…)

Jesus Proves His Point — He is Lord over Life and Death

April 8, 2009

Title: Jesus Proves His Point: He is Lord over Life and Death

Text: Matthew 28:16-2

Time: April 20th, 2003

It is a common saying that there are two things certain in life: death and taxes. Why? Because every society taxes its citizens, and everybody dies. The death rate, last time I checked, is still one per person. Some of us at Crosspointe Church just attended the funeral service of Delma’s mother. Her body was laying still in the coffin but her personality, her soul, her invisible self wasn’t there. Which raises the age-old question – is there life after death? Does the soul survive physical death? Scientist can’t tell us much on the subject, in fact, in fact, of all the faiths in the world, only Christianity provides a certain and definite answer to that question through Jesus Christ. If you were to ask the disciples on that first Easter morning, “Is there life after death?” they would say “Absolutely.” If you asked them how they knew for sure, they would say, “Because Jesus said He could overpower the force of death and He did; he came back to life again. He’s alive and that proves that death, as real as it is, isn’t the final thing.” How can we know that there is life after death? Because Jesus Christ proved it. If you were a totally secular and scientific person you would not be able to know if there was life after death because science can’t investigate spiritual things, only material things. If you were a follower of another religion, you wouldn’t be able to say with a certainty that there was life after death either, because every other religious person died — and stayed dead. But Jesus is different; He proved His authority to speak about life and death, and everything else, by rising to life again after he was clearly dead. It’s a matter of authority. Jesus, by rising from the dead, proved His absolute authority. Matthew 28:16 says, “Then the eleven disciples, went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” How do we know that Jesus had all authority in heaven and earth? Because He came back to life after He was dead, just like He said He would. Jesus was not just another religious teacher making grandiose claims. No, he backed up all His teachings with the resurrection. It’s one thing for somebody to talk big, but it’s another thing to back that talk up. And Jesus backed all that he taught with the power to rise again from the dead. That’s authority. So this morning I’d like to talk a little about what Jesus rising from the dead means to us today. (more…)

The Darkest Hour of the Human Race

April 8, 2009

Title: The Darkest Hour of the Human Race

Text: Luke 23:32-34

Time: April 13th, 2003

At the end of human history, whenever that is, if you were to have human high light clips of important moments in history, if you also showed human low light clips, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ would be at the top of the list. The brutal beating and murder of Jesus Christ on the cross two thousand or so years ago would be the darkest hour in human history. Also strange is that just three days later you would have to show the human high light clip of the resurrection because that is the brightest day in the history of the world. So within less than a week the darkest day occurred on the planet and also the brightest day on the planet. I’ll be talking about the resurrection of Jesus next Sunday on Easter morning, so we’ll save that. But what I want to talk about this morning is the crucifixion, and why it was so dark and so bad, and what it means to us today. Let’s say you are playing on “Who wants to be a millionaire?” and the question is: “Name the lowest moment for the human race in the 20th century?” what would you answer? Hitler’s Nazis murdering six million Jews? Stalin’s purge of opponents in Russia by the millions? China’s Mao slaughtering millions of Chinese? World War II with over 50 million deaths? Ok. Now, if you were to go back into all of recorded history and name the one event that was the most evil, most awful thing in all of history it would have to be the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Why? Because like I talked about last week Jesus Christ was God in the flesh, He was the human face of God, He was God in human form with a human voice showing Himself to us on our own level. And what did we as a people do? We murdered Him, we murdered God when He came to visit our planet. Lest you think that you would have treated Him better, let’s look at what the people did to Jesus before the crucifixion and let us ask ourselves how we would have reacted if we had been alive at that time. I think what we’ll see is that we would not have treated Him with the kindness and respect He was due, but that wouldn’t stop Him from loving us anyway. Remember what Jesus said on the cross: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Who was He talking about? Just the people back at that time? Or was He talking about you and me today? Let’s come back to that later, but let’s look at how everyone pretty much abandoned Jesus at the darkest hour the world has ever seen. (more…)

Good Intentions

April 7, 2009

Title: Good Intentions

Text: Mark 14:32-42

Time: April 2nd, 2006

There are two more Sundays until Easter, so we are examining parts of the Easter story found in the Gospel of Mark. Last week I spoke about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. This week I’d like to talk about the good intentions of the Apostle Peter, and how good intentions aren’t always good enough. And that’s a lesson for all of us. Peter had the best of intentions as a follower of Jesus, but as we see from the story, even his best intentions didn’t keep him from denying the Lord. What Peter needed, and what we all need is more than good intentions. We need a little bit of discipline in our lives in order to stay strong when temptations come our way. All the good intentions on our part can’t save us from falling into temptation unless we have good, solid, spiritual disciplines working in our lives. By maintaining just a few, basic, essential spiritual disciplines, we can avoid falling into the problems Peter fell into. What is a spiritual discipline? It’s simply an activity that Jesus teaches us to do that keeps us spiritually strong. What are these spiritual disciplines? There are many, for example, prayer and Bible reading, but today I’ll talk about prayer. If we can just keep a regular prayer time every day, a lot of the temptations we face can be resisted. Last week I talked about how Jesus went with his disciples into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. When Jesus faced his greatest hour of suffering he went to pray. I talked about how that is a pattern for us all when we are faced with hard times, tough situations, and difficult hardships in life. Jesus went into prayer during the times of suffering in his life and so should we. God will either deliver us from the hour of suffering or take us through it. But we need to go to and stay in prayer during the whole time. Only through prayer can we make it in life. But today I want to talk about what happens if we neglect pray, like Peter did. Peter was a good-hearted man, he was a good and loyal friend of Jesus, but because he wasn’t disciplined in praying he let himself fall into sin. Now Peter is not alone in this, because Christians every day do the same thing, all because they are not strong in prayer. Today, I’d like to take a look at what Peter did, how he fell into sin, how Jesus forgave and restored him, and how we as followers of Jesus can avoid what Peter fell for by simply following a simple spiritual discipline: prayer. Jesus teaches a lot about prayer, and it may be the single most important thing a Christian can do, although reading the Bible is a close second. But today I’ll talk about prayer and hopefully we can determine in our hearts to not make the same mistake Peter made. Hopefully we can learn from another person’s mistake this morning. So let me read a few passages, and then look at the truths they teach. Mark 14: 27-47, 66-72, 16:1-7, John 21:15-19. I find some important truths in these verses. (more…)

Facing Gethsemane

April 7, 2009

Title: Facing Gethsemane

Text: Mark 14:32-42

Time: March 27th, 2006

There are four Sundays until Easter. We’ll be breaking into our series on the Sermon on the Mount in order to take four Sundays to deal with the Easter theme. Today, I’d like to speak on Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was in the Garden that he faced the hardest thing of his life — the prospect of suffering and dying on the cross for the sins of the world. And the thing about Jesus is that because of his divinity, being both God and man, he was able to see the suffering that lay ahead; unlike us when we face hard times, most of the time we can’t even see how hard it will be, and it’s a good thing, because we might not be able to face it if we did. But Jesus knew how hard it would be to die for the sins of the world, he knew he would be beaten near to death before the cross, and then he knew that on the cross there would be even more suffering as the sins of the world were laid upon him by God the Father as an atonement for the sins of the world. Jesus saw all this suffering that lay ahead, and the man Jesus was in distress, was grieving, was dreading going through with it, as anyone would, faced with such a painful path. But Jesus can teach us something about going through painful times, going through suffering, going through hardships, distress and grief. Jesus shows us in the Garden how to face our darkest hour. Most people will at one time or another face hard times. There are so many things in life that can go wrong, and sometimes do go wrong. Some of us will know pain and grief ahead in our lives. Some of us will face tragedy and trials in life. Some of us have already gone through hard times, sad times, and difficult times already. And the future doesn’t promise there won’t be more of that, so we have to be ready. How do we prepare ourselves for these coming times of difficulty? How do we prepare ourselves for some life-threatening disease or injury? How do we get ready for some tragic death of a loved one? How do we prepare for facing grief, sadness, pain, and distress? Jesus has a lot to teach us because he went through these things and gives us a pattern to follow. So today as we enter the forth Sunday until Easter let’s turn to the Garden of Gethsemane and learn from the Savior how to face life’s hard times. I don’t know when, but some day, it could be soon or far off, you and I will have to apply these truths that I give today. Let’s learn from Jesus what to do when facing the hard times of life. Mark 14:32-42 (read). I see three things Jesus shows us here in facing difficult times in life: first, what to do in hard times, pray; second, how to pray in hard times, praying for deliverance; third, how to pray if it must be, to help us through it. These are three things Jesus did when he faced his most difficult time on earth. (more…)