You've Got To Be Putting Him On!

Sermon Text:  Romans 13:9-14

Last week I challenged you all to think about the question: Does It Really Make a Difference Who Jesus Is?  I believe we all agreed that it makes all the difference in the world. 

            And so today, I want to challenge you to go a step further ... begin “Putting Him On!” 

            A press conference was held to advertise a large convention of barber and beauty shop suppliers that was about to take place in Atlantic City.  A disgustingly unkempt man was introduced as the most messed-up specimen of human nature that could be found.  The man was dirty from head to foot.  His clothes were nothing but rags and he smelled of alcohol and the filth of the alley in which he was found.  The convention’s publicity agent announced plans to transform the man from the worst looking derelict to the finest looking gentleman in the city.

            A team of barbers and beauticians went to work on the man.  They bathed, shaved and shampooed the guy.  They cut and styled his hair.  They massaged and manicured him, cologned and perfumed him, dressed him in a designer suite and Italian loafers.

            During each step of this transformation, which took several days, photographs were taken and printed in the newspapers.  Everyone who followed the scenario was amazed at the truly remarkable change that had taken place in the man’s appearance.  One company personnel executive was so impressed he offered the man a job.  The new employee was instructed to report for work the next morning at nine o’clock.

            Well, the next morning he didn’t appear at nine.  In fact, he didn’t show up at all.  So the personnel officer went looking for him and found him sprawled out, drunk and dirty back in the alley where he had been originally found.  He had sold the Italian loafers and bought a bottle of booze.

            Those barbers and beauticians had managed a miraculous transformation of the man’s outward appearance ... however, there had been no inward changeno transformation of character.  He was still the same man.

            Jesus said, “By their fruit you shall know them” (Matthew 7:16).

            Has Jesus changed YOU?...Read full sermon here (PDF)

Does It Really Make A Difference Who Jesus Is?

Sermon Text:  Matthew 16:13-20

Several months ago I read on the USA Today website an interesting article about a controversy that has been brewing over in Louisiana.  Let me share it with you:

            “Even if it did double as a bug-zapper (it doesn’t), the big blue neon JESUS sign outside the Church of Abundant Life in Harvey, Louisiana, would have to go, so say Jefferson Parish officials, who claim they inadvertently approved installation of the 5-foot-high, 21-foot-wide sign last November. Now they’re fighting to unplug the $15,000 Savior, saying it exceeds the maximum size for a residential area. The church contends it’s not a sign at all but a religious symbol that the government can’t regulate. A vote [was] due from the parish Zoning Appeals Board August 15 [of this year].”

            I tried to find a follow up to the story, but haven’t yet.  It would definitely be interesting to see just what the outcome of that vote was … although; maybe they’re still fighting over it.

            However, I have a question for you: Does it really make a difference whether the Abundant Life Church gets to keep its big blue JESUS sign?  It kind of sounds a little tacky ... done in poor taste?  And I certainly don’t know if I would want a big blue JESUS sign sitting in a yard down the street from our house on San Jose Blvd.  Come to think of it, No … I would definitely NOT want one.  Nonetheless, another thing I definitely do NOT want is the government regulating religion.  So maybe the Abundant Life folks should win.

            But, you see, there’s a BIGGER issue at stake here.  IS a big blue sign saying JESUS outside a church appropriate in the first place?  A recent Pew Research Center poll showed that only 70.6% of the U.S. population claims to have faith in God.  So, in this culturally diverse society where 29.4% of the population has no faith at all and the rest of us worship several different gods ... including Jesus ... isn’t there a good possibility we might OFFEND persons who are NOT part of our faith?

            Which brings us to an even BIGGER QUESTION: Does It Really Make A Difference Who Jesus Is?

            Let’s think about that for a few minutes this morning...Read full sermon here (PDF)

 

 

Obesessed With Food

Sermon Text:  John 6:35, 41-58

 

I’m on a diet.  Been on it since April.  Back in November of last year I started to have a problem with high blood pressure … first time ever … so I decided to loose some weight.  But I have to be honest ... I’m obsessed with food.  I admit it.  So ... this morning I want to talk about this most basic of human needs – food.

            Food, according to Webster, is: “any substance taken into and assimilated by a plant or animal to keep it alive, active and enables it to grow.”

            Food, for some of us may be a little more basic than others, but non-the-less it is a relevant subject for most of us.

            Anybody here ever eat before? ...Read full sermon here (PDF)

 

Where Can I Be Safe?

Sermon Text:  Psalm 46

While a man, dressed in a devil costume, was walking to a costume party, it began to rain torrentially. The man ran for the first cover he could find, which happened to be a Baptist church ... in the middle of a Wednesday night service.  He ran directly into the sanctuary to the shock of everybody in the place.  The entire congregation panicked ... the room cleared out, all except for one unfortunate little old lady who was trapped between the door and the “Devil”.  With fear and trembling the woman pleaded, “You know I've been on your side all along!”

            I could go a couple of different ways with this illustration, but I want to focus on those two words at the end of the story: fear and trembling.

            With all that’s been going on around us in the last year, the question that many of us are asking is: Where Can I Be Safe?

            All of us want to know that our home is safe, our family is safe, our church is safe ... that those we love are safe...Read full sermon here (PDF)

 

 

Homecoming Sunday You've Come to the Right Place

Sermon Text:  John 5:1-9

            If you are struggling with life … you’ve come to the right place.  If you’re looking for direction in your life … you’ve come to the right place.  If you want to find a loving family who will support you through whatever comes your way … you’ve come to the right place.  But unless you are willing to be here on Sunday mornings and at other times during the week … Unless you are willing to get up from your bed and find your way to these doors … not much will change.

            For those of us here on this “Homecoming Sunday” let me reinforce our decision … You’ve Come To The Right Place...Read full sermon here (PDF)

A Gift to Present

Sermon Text:  1 Corinthians 12:4-11

Each of us has different gifts and interests.

            For instance, some of us like to work with our hands.  Others of us with our heads.  Others prefer to put the two together!  And there are still others who use neith- ... never mind, let’s not go there.

            Some like the great outdoors and there are those who choose seclusion with a good book.  There are farmers and teachers, mechanics, nurses, engineers, housewives, librarians, businessmen and women, and on and on and on and on.

            Can you imagine our world if everyone chose to be a legal secretary?  Can you imagine our world if everyone chose to be a minister ... never mind, let’s not go there either!

            Each of us is different.  And that is part of God’s wonderful plan for life on this earth.  We all have different gifts....Read full sermon here (PDF)

Following Jesus Part 3 The Blessing

Sermon Text:  Isaiah 43:1-5a & John 15:9-17

A story is told, through an email I received, about a conversation that happened in heaven.  It went as follows:

            One day God was looking down at Earth and saw all of the naughty behavior that was going on.  He decided to send an angel down to Earth to check it out.  So he called one of His angels and sent the angel to Earth for a visit.  When the angel returned, he told God, “Yes, it is bad on Earth; 95% are misbehaving and 5% are not.”

            God thought for a moment and said, “It can’t be that bad, maybe I had better send down a second angel to get another opinion.”  So God called another angel and sent him to Earth.  When the second angel returned he, too, went to God and said, “Yes, it is true.  The Earth is in decline; 95% are misbehaving and 5% are being good.”

            God was obviously not pleased.  So He decided to email the 5% that were good because He wanted to encourage them.  Give them a little something to help them keep going.

            Do you know what that email said?

            No?

            I didn’t get one either.

            This story begs the question: Is God’s love conditional?  The basic principle of the Biblical message is: God’s consistence and all-consuming love for creation.  God’s love will not let us go...Read full sermon here (PDF)

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Following Jesus Part 2: First Love First

Sermon Text:  1 John 4:7-21

This morning I continue a series I started last week: Following Jesus.  We begin the second part ... First Love First ... with a chorus.  The words are printed on the cover of the bulletin.  It’s entitled I am Loved.  I’ll sing it once and then invite you to join me the second time.

            I am loved, I am loved ... I can risk loving you;

            For the One who knows me best, Loves me most.

            I am loved, you are loved; Won’t you please take my hand?

            We are free to love each other; We are loved.

            Our text for this morning is simply one verse taken from the reading in 1 John: “We love because (God) first loved us...Read full sermon here (PDF)

Following Jesus Part 1: The Invitation

Sermon Text  John 1:29-39

A Sunday school teacher was about to dismiss her class and, of course, they were preparing to go to church with their parents.  As they were about to leave she asked, “Why is it necessary to be quiet in church?”

            Little Annie replied, “Because people are sleeping.”

            It’s time for the sermon.  If it’s necessary for you to “check out” before I’m done speaking ... do so at your own risk ... because realize that in church there is always a subliminal message.

            So, while you’re sleeping … God will be speaking.  And this afternoon, in the middle of the ball game or on the golf course (if you are crazy enough to go out there today), or while you’re at the pool, or shopping or visiting with friends, suddenly, you are going to stand up and begin to shake.  And, in the midst of whatever you’re doing, you will say, “God has told me to do something!  And I don’t know what it is.”

            And so, I invite you to stay awake and get the message now! ...Read full sermon here (PDF)

Under God ... All Nations

Sermon Text:  1 Kings 17:8-16 & Psalm 33:1-12

My daughter, Kerry sent me an email a while ago that included an attachment ... you know, those things we get from so many people.  This one was different though … she prefaced it with “Thanks Dad.”  The title of the attachment: “Drug Problem”

            I had a drug problem when I was young. I was drug to church on Sunday morning. I was drug to church for weddings and funerals. I was drug to family reunions no matter the weather. I was drug to the bus stop to go to school every weekday. I was drug by my ears when I was disrespectful to adults and teachers. I was also drug to the woodshed when I disobeyed my parents.

            Those drugs are still in my veins; and they affect my behavior in every thing I do, say, and think. They are stronger than cocaine, crack, or heroin, and if today’s children had this kind of drug problem, America might be a better place...Read full sermon here