Imposters in the Church

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Sermon Text: Mark 12:38-44

Once when my family and I lived in Nashville some children down the street were approached by a stranger, who invited them into his car. “We’ll get some ice cream,” he said. But they refused his offer and ran home — thank goodness! My wife Sally decided it was time to have a talk with our younger son Scott, who was then four years old. “Scotty,” she said, “If a man you didn’t know drove up in a car or a truck and said to you, ‘Son, you want to come with me to get an ice cream cone or some candy?’ What would you say to him?” Scott thought for a minute and said, “Please?” Clearly, he needed to be educated about dangerous imposters…See full sermon here

God's Hidden Hand in Things

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Sermon Text: Ruth 1:8-18

The story of Ruth begins with a famine in Israel that prompts a man name Elimelech to move his family from Bethlehem of Judea in Israel to the plains of Moab in hopes of making a better life there. But while they are there Elimelech dies, leaving his wife Naomi to manage with her two sons. Her sons then marry Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. Then Naomi’s sons both die, leaving her with her two daughters-in-law. Being a widow without a husband or sons to provide for her puts Naomi in a precarious financial situation…See full sermon here

Our Turn to Sacrifice

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Sermon Text: Hebrews 12:1-2

Our lesson today begins with a definition of faith. “Faith is confidence in what is hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” that is, faith means trusting in the as-yet-unfulfilled promises of God and the invisible power of God. Hebrews seems to use the words faith and hope interchangeably, suggesting that faith is about the future of the world and our own personal future. Faith means not giving up on God, no matter what happensSee full sermon here

Six Principles of Christian Giving

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Sermon Text: 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 2 Corinthians 8:1-7

According to our lessons today, Paul was on a missionary journey through Macedonia and Greece, and was collecting money from the churches there for the poor church in Jerusalem. The previous year he had gotten promises from a number of churches in that area to contribute to the gift for their brother and sisters in Jerusalem. Now he’s coming back to those churches to collect what was promised and deliver it to Jerusalem.

Something that surprised even Paul happened during this process. The Christians in Macedonia were dirt poor and sorely afflicted - probably by local persecutors of the church— yet they gave generously anyway. Why did they do that and how did they manage to despite their poverty and suffering?…See full sermon here

Christian Time Management

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Sermon Text: James 4:13-17, 7-11

We Americans are busy people. We’ve always been hard workers, but Time magazine reported, “Sometime in the (1980’s) Americans came to worship career status as a measure of individual worth, and many were willing to sacrifice any amount of leisure time to get ahead.” Money is elastic in the sense that we can stretch it temporarily by borrowing, and it can accumulate in our bank account if we earn more than we spend. But time isn’t elastic. We all have the same amount of it every day, and there’s no way to borrow it or stretch it.

Hurried children skip their youth rushing from school to swim practice to homework to bed. Idleness is the devil’s workshop, they say, but so is a childhood with no time to throw rocks in the creek, chase butterflies, daydream or wonder…see full sermon here

Notes From Underground

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Sermon Text: James 3:13-4:7

Today in our lesson from James we come to his teaching about unruly feelings and their effects. “Where there is envy and selfish ambition,” he says, “there will be disorder and wickedness of every kind.” “What causes wars, and what causes fighting among you?” he asks. “Is it not your passions that are at war within you?” C.S. Lewis described his own personality as “a zoo of lusts, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fears, and a harem of fondled hatred.”

Sometimes our runaway passions are obvious and openly expressed. During a phone call years ago at another church, I lost my temper at a church member. We were making plans for a congregational retreat, and I don’t know what we were arguing about, but, whatever it was, the phone call did not go well. He got angry at me too. I called him later and apologized. Luckily, he accepted my apology and forgave me and apologized for his temper. Sometimes our feelings are clearly visible…see full sermon here

The Road to Discipleship - Self Denial

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Sermon Text:  Mark 8:27-38

We are finishing a sermon series today called “The Road to Discipleship,” which Jesus says is a hard road. “Enter by the narrow gate,” he says in Matthew’s Gospel, “for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter by it. But the gate is narrow, and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” What is this hard road, this narrow gate Jesus is talking about? I think it is four things: sabbath-keeping, community, faith and self-denial. Today we talk about self-denial and cross bearing...See full sermon here 

The Practice of the Presence of God

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Sermon Text: Romans 8:28-31, 35, 37-39 Mark 10:13-16

Today we are in the third Sunday of a four sermon series on the road to discipleship, which is a hard road, according to Jesus. “Enter by the narrow gate,” he says in Matthew’s Gospel, “for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. But the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” As best I can understand it at this point in my research, this road consists of four things: Sabbath-keeping, community, faith and cross-bearing. Today we consider faith…see full sermon here

Appointments with God

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Sermon Text:   Exodus 20:8-11     Matthew 7:13-14     Luke 10:38-42  

“Enter through the narrow gate,” says Jesus. What is that narrow gate? What is the hard road that leads to life? There used to be a ski slope at Sugar Mountain called Easy Street, for beginners and hopeless cases like me. But Jesus doesn’t call us to an easy street. What is the hard road to discipleship that so many miss? I think it consists of four things: sabbath-keeping, community, faith and cross-bearing. Today we consider the first one, sabbath-keeping. For that we turn to the famous story of Mary and Martha.
Martha entertained Jesus at her home as a dinner guest. As she prepares the meal. Her sister sits at Jesus’ feet listening to him... See full sermon here

Redemption

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Sermon Text: 2 Samuel 12:13-25

Last week I spoke about the change of mood in the David story from giddy optimism in his early years to sober remorse in his later life. We also heard the story of the Prophet Nathan’s confrontation with David over David’s adultery with Bath-Sheba and his attempt to cover it up by having her husband murdered. Bath-Sheba is now David’s wife and is pregnant with their child. God sends Nathan to pronounce judgment on David for his sins. “The child that is born to you shall die,” says Nathan... See full sermon here