Practical Christianity: From the Ear to the Hand

Practical Christianity: From the Ear to the Hand Sermon Audio Here


James 1:17-27

Nerve from the brain to the pinky

Ulnar nerve entrapment occurs when the ulnar nerve in the arm becomes compressed or irritated. The ulnar nerve is one of the three main nerves in your arm. It travels from your neck down into your hand, and can be constricted in several places along the way. Depending upon where it occurs, this pressure on the nerve can cause numbness or pain in your elbow, hand, wrist, or fingers.

When that path is blocked, pain, numbness, even feelings of electric shock can happen!

To Open The Path of Practical Faith:

LOOK for God’s Gifts ~ James 1:17-18

  • v17 “gift” 2 words= “act of giving” & gift itself;
  •      God IS giving (which is good), and what He gives is good
  • v18 He gives US as a gift to Himself!
  •      (that makes us good; cf. Genesis IT IS GOOD 5x)

LISTEN to Others ~ James 1:19-21

  • v19 Listen for God’s gifts in others
  • v20 anger blocks our hearing!
  • v21 “Superfluity of naughtiness (KJV)” anger overflows;
  •      humbly let the Word work in you (shalom)

APPLY the Word ~ James 1:22-25

  • v22 actively listen for God’s Word
  • v23/24 Scan vs. Search
  • v25 blessed IN THE DOING (not a wage)

HOLD ON to Holiness ~ James 1:26-27

  • v26 rein in whatever is not good or true
  • v27 “to keep” keep on keeping on

The gift of faith that God gives is good, but not meant for display only. We are to take our faith out of the showroom, and onto the highway!

Bread From Heaven: Derailed by the Details

Bread From Heaven: Derailed by the Details Sermon Audio Here


John 6:56-69

On July 24, 2013, a train carrying 218 people in eight carriages derailed in northwestern Spain, killing 79 people and hospitalizing another 66. Shortly after the wreck, the driver, Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, told officials, “I can’t explain it. I still don’t understand how I didn’t see …. I just don’t know.” He said the journey was “going fine” until the train hit a curve. At that point Garzon said to himself, “Oh my God, the curve, the curve, the curve. I won’t make it.”
Despite Garzon’s initial confusion and surprise, there is a simple explanation for the crash. Video footage revealed that the train was going as fast as 119 mph before it hit the deadly curve. That’s more than twice the speed limit for that section of the track. So it wasn’t just the speed that caused the accident. It was the combination of the speed and the location of the track. The train was designed to reach speeds of over 130 mph. But Garzon, who was a 30-year employee of Spain’s national rail company, simply ignored the boundaries in which those high speeds were to be used.

To Keep From Being Derailed By The Details

Remember It’s Not SUPPOSED to be Easy!
John 6:60-64

  • v60 It IS hard, make no mistake!
  • v61 Jesus KNOWS it’s hard for us
  • v62 What kind of proof do you require to trust?
  • v63 fleshly “proof” doesn’t count; trust the Spirit
  • v64 Not all will believe; Jesus knows this

Don’t Fight God’s Direction
John 6:65-69

  • v65 God enables us to follow Jesus
  • v66 if it’s merely our idea, we’ll fade away
  • v67 remember: Jesus takes our belief PERSONALLY
  • v68 What’s our alternative? NOTHING
  • v69 Reaffirm our faith: Jesus is the Messiah

Let us reaffirm our faith by using the Apostle’s Creed, a short-hand summation of what was taught by the Apostles about Jesus the Messiah.

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
     creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
     who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
     and born of the virgin Mary.
     He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
     was crucified, died, and was buried;
     he descended to hell.
     The third day he rose again from the dead.
     He ascended to heaven
     and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
     From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
     the holy catholic* church,
     the communion of saints,
     the forgiveness of sins,
     the resurrection of the body,
     and the life everlasting. Amen.

*that is, the true Christian church of all times and all places

Bread From Heaven: Sustenance of the Savior

Bread From Heaven: Sustenance of the Savior Sermon Audio Here


John 6:51-58

Last week’s challenge: eat with your mouth AND eat with your soul. How does one “eat with the soul”? Soul Food, a term commonly associated with African-American and Southern cooking, refers to inexpensive foods that were readily available to the poorest of the poor. Soul Food is comfort food; reinforcing family and community. Jesus provides us “soul food” as well; He offers sustenance for our soul, way for us to stay connected to the Father through faith.
What Is “Soul Food”?

  • John 6:51 we must take in Jesus’ sacrifice for us – It’s PRIMARY
  • John 6:52 a good question! How DO we “eat” – it’s PURPOSEFUL
  • John 6:53 incorporate Jesus sacrifice into ourselves;
    • must become core part of us – It’s PERSONAL
  • John 6:54 Christ in us, the hope of glory!
  • John 6:55 rabbinical warning: don’t go TOO symbolic it’s PLAIN
  • John 6:56 remains in me; don’t take this too literally;
    • Christ abide in us, and we in Him it’s a PICTURE
  • John 6:57 Jesus models life through submission;
    • expects it of us – it’s PROMISING
  • John 6:58 dependence upon God to sustain leads to eternal life; remember it’s a PRACTICE

Have you ever had a meal that was so good, you thought it should be the last meal you’d need to eat? As if to say, that was so good, I don’t ever need to eat again? However much we may feel that way after a great meal, we recognize that it’s not true… in a few short hours, you’ll need to eat again. It’s how our systems are designed to work: we consistently need to provide our bodies with fuel to continue to function. Our spirits have a similar need as well. We are saved by the work of Christ, and that is a finished task. However, we need to continue to “eat”, to allow God’s presence to satisfy our spirit, to take in “soul food”. That’s why we come to church, it’s why we read Scripture, it’s why we pray and live and love and fellowship with each other. It is all part of partaking of the Bread of Life – Christ in us, our hope of glory: the Mystery made manifest among us.

Bread From Heaven: Breaking Down the Bread of Life

Bread From Heaven: Breaking Down the Bread of Life Sermon Audio Here


John 6:35-51

One way that people welcome new neighbors is with a gift of bread. If you need a recipe, you won’t have difficulty finding one: Google “gift bread”, and you’ll get about 66 ½ million results in ½ a second. That is a LOT of zucchini bread!

Jesus IS the Bread of Life:

We Don’t Make This Bread; We Receive It As A Gift
John 6:35-40

  • v35/36 sight isn’t belief; we don’t initiate faith
  • v37/38 WE are the Father’s gift to the Son!
  • v39/40 God gives the Son to the World;
    • God gives the elect to the Son;
    • the Son raises the elect to eternal life
    • with the Father, the Son, and the Spirit

HOW Do We Receive This Gift of Daily Bread?
John 6:41-51

  • v41/42 intentional misunderstanding
  • v43/44 don’t fuss about God’s choice
  • v45/47 cf. Jer. 31:33-34 “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
  • we have everlasting life because we will be with God
  • v48/51 mere physical bread is temporary; trusting Christ to sustain us is ongoing & eternal

Bread can be more than just food; it is a physical fuel, and can be a mental reminder. It can be just a temporary meal, or it can be a life-long memory of love and warmth and family and satisfaction. Our daily choice: eat with your mouth, or eat with your soul.

Bread From Heaven: Feeding on the Food from God

Bread From Heaven: Feeding on the Food from God Sermon Audio Here


John 6:24-35

Hunger is not our only motive to eat; sometimes, it’s not even our primary reason to eat!

As We Prepare to Receive, Ask:

What’s Our Motive for the Meal?
John 6:24-27

  • v24/25 it might take effort to find Jesus
  • v26 our motives for finding Jesus might be off
  • v27 focus on receiving from Christ, not earning His favor

Are We Missing the Meal?
John 6:28-31

  • v28/29 we often miss God’s simple call: believe!
  • v30/31 we want to believe on OUR TERMS

Have We Made Room for the Meal?
John 6:32-35

  • v32 we must remember: GOD’S TERMS matter
  • v33/35 JESUS Himself is our manna

When the Israelites gathered Manna during their desert travels, it was more than just a meal; it reminded them daily upon their dependence on God. And that’s how we are to journey with Christ: depending on Him daily.

A Prayer After A Storm

I wrote this prayer years ago, in the aftermath of a hurricane. I found it this week as my family was cleaning out some old boxes, and I thought it might be worth sharing.

Infinite and Sovereign Lord, we ask that You would hear our prayer. We know You are aware of the longings of our hearts, the fears of our souls, the questions in our minds, and the faint nature of our spirits. Hear us from Heaven and speak deeply to our soul. Reassure us of Your infinite love as our finite minds so often lose sight of Your character, Your strength, Your wisdom, Your love, Your power, Your glory, and Your plan.

When the winds blow and the rains come down, we often take our cue from weather reports rather than take refuge in Your unchanging hand. Forgive us, Lord, when we cling to our fear, instead of trusting in Your heart. You know we are concerned about the storms of life, and we ask that You would calm the wind and the waves; let us not lose sight of You in the midst of the storm. We love You; we trust You; and we grasp the grace that You provide, even in the eye of calamity.

We offer up our praise because of how You have blessed us. We thank You for how You shower us with good and perfect gifts. We see Your provision in who You bring into our family. Thank You for the birth of children into loving families, and Lord, we ask that You bring new life into our church family as well. Lord, by Your sovereign will, graft new sons and daughters into Your faith family. We trust You to provide a place where Your people can grow and flourish.

Above all, Lord, break us and shape us so that we can be like Christ. As we share in His suffering, sculpt our hearts into what You would have us to be. It’s Your plan; it’s Your will. Have us pray like Jesus: not our will, but Yours be done. Hear us as we beg Your will be made known in us, and with one voice we say together, Our Father…

Bread From Heaven: Pointing to the Prophet

Bread From Heaven: Pointing to the Prophet Sermon Audio Here


John 6:1-21

Misunderstanding Manna from the Messiah – The Jews had this idea that the Promised One, the Messiah, would be like the ultimate prophet – that He would incorporate all of best features of all of the biggest prophets from Torah. Manna from Heaven was a big deal from the prophet Moses – and so the Messiah must be able to provide bread from heaven as well. But the people misunderstood what the Messiah was to do for them…

Setting Us Straight about the Meaning of Manna

Jesus Sustains Us
John 6:1-15

  • v1/6 Jesus recognizes our need
  • v7/9 What can Jesus do with our meager offerings?
  • v10/13 Jesus gives back to us what we give to Him
  • v14/15 we can misinterpret Jesus’ intentions

Jesus Startles Us
John 6:16-12

  • v19/20 Jesus can do the unexpected in our lives;
  • remember DON’T FEAR; it’s Jesus!

When God does something you don’t expect, DON’T PANIC; remember your relationship with Him!


Pastor Ed Backell

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