Archive for the 'Sermons' Category

Out of the Ordinary: Squint or Shut?

Out of the Ordinary: Squint or Shut?

John 5:35-47

A worker in a lighting store tells this about her customers: one day, a customer is standing, looking at lights. She approaches and asks if he needs help. He ANGRILY replies, “No, you’re the 4th person to ask me that today! I just want to look at the light! Leave me alone!”

She walks away, and seeing another customer, asks the same question. HIS response: “Nah, I’m just looking right now, but you know, you’re the 3rd person to ask me that. What great customer service you have!”

When People React to God’s Light, Ask

Where’s The Spotlight? ~ John 5:35-38

  • 35 God’s light can shine from anyone, and even the world can see it
  • 36 BUT-what does God’s light shine ON? The ministry of Jesus
  • 37/38 and not everyone is willing to recognize His Ministry; they can see, but they won’t FOCUS

Why the Scorn? ~ John 5:39-42

  • 39/40 The Bible teaches that we need to SURRENDER to Jesus…
  • 41/42 …which only happens because of the Love of God placed IN US. If someone refuses to surrender to Christ, they can “say” they love God… but “it ain’t necessarily so”

When To Surrender? ~ John 5:43-47

God’s light IS shining: are we squinting? Are we shutting our eyes? Or are we sharing what we’ve seen?

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Out of the Ordinary: Tradition’s Place

Out of the Ordinary: Tradition’s Place

Matthew 15:1-9

J.I.Packer, modern Puritan scholar and evangelical theologian, wrote: “All Christians are at once beneficiaries and victims of tradition—beneficiaries, who receive nurturing truth and wisdom from God’s faithfulness in past generations; victims, who now take for granted things that need to be questioned, thus treating as divine absolutes patterns of belief and behavior that should be seen as human, provisional, and relative. We are all beneficiaries of good, wise, and sound tradition and victims of poor, unwise, and unsound traditions.”

How Can Our History Blur HIS Story?

The Weight of Tradition ~ Matthew 15:1-2

  • 1 Teachers of the Law should have a good handle on the importance of God’s word; talk about “the hedge”
  • 2 these men are concerned about their own power and status; notice they implicitly judge Jesus by the actions of his followers (this is still true today!)

The Place of Tradition ~ Matthew 15:3-9

  • 3/4 the Pharisees don’t see that their “hedge” breaks God’s command which it’s intended to protect
  • 5/6 it’s “more pious looking” to give money for others to see, than to care for your parents (which hardly anyone sees); this choice leads them to break the Law
  • 7/9 their hearts are more concerned with SELF than with God.

We need to guard against this as well; left unchecked and unexamined, we can easily turn our simple faith into a set of rules and regulations that are more concerned with keeping others OUT of “God’s Kingdom” (which isn’t actually His, but OURS with His name slapped on it).

Out of the Ordinary: Gone To Seed

Out of the Ordinary: Gone To Seed

Luke 8:4-15

This is a pretty familiar parable. Lots of teaching available on it; significant challenge to “come up with something new” when preaching it. But sometimes, I’ve got to let go of the desire to be “innovative” and just look at the facts: Jesus still challenges us to go deeper than the surface. That’s actually the whole POINT of this parable…

What’s Below The Surface?

The Story ~ Luke 8:4-8

.This is where Jesus tells the parable itself. Listen to it again.

The Substance ~ Luke 8:9-15

  • 9/10 how many hear, but don’t LISTEN?
  • 11/12 this seed is good, but not planted
  • 13 this seed is planted, but only surface depth
  • 14 this seed is deep enough, but in competition for resources
  • 15 this seed: planted, rooted, nourished, and maintained to harvest reproduces itself many fold (average corn kernel return is 800%!)

The Significance

All The Seed Is Good (100% germination rate)

CLOSE: The seed doesn’t bear fruit without the soil. The soil doesn’t produce fruit without the seed. What this is describing is the MERGER of the Word and US:

Romans 6:5-7~ 5If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin–7because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

James 1:21~ 21Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Out of the Ordinary: Offense or Defense?

Out of the Ordinary: Offense or Defense?

Luke 11:14-23

A famous Methodist evangelist named Peter Cartwright was known for his uncompromising preaching. However, one day when the President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, “Old rough and ready,” came to Cartwright’s church, the elders warned the Pastor not to offend the President. In those days, the President had great power to influence a denomination for good or bad. Content, that their Pastor would not say anything to discredit their church, the elders retired to the back of the sanctuary.

When Cartwright got up to speak, the first words out of his mouth were, “I understand that President Andrew Jackson is here this morning. I have been requested to be very guarded in my remarks. Let me say this: “Andrew Jackson will go to hell if doesn’t repent of his sin!” The entire congregation gasped with shock at Cartwright’s boldness. How could this young preacher dare to offend the tough old general in public, they wondered.

After the service, everyone wondered how the President would respond to Cartwright. When Andrew Jackson met the preacher at the door he looked at him in the eye and said, “Sir, If I had a regiment of men like you, I could conquer the world!”

The States Of Spiritual Warfare

Confrontation ~ Luke 11:14-16

  • 14 here, Jesus confronts a demon, driving it out
  • 15 instead of rejoicing, people accuse Jesus of **evil** the world is NOT on God’s side, and they’ll even accuse the Godly of being against God
  • 16 why are they testing Jesus? Who’s the authority? When our worldview is challenged, we don’t appreciate it: who are YOU to say that to me???

Confusion ~ Luke 11:17-20

  • 17 infighting is unstable
  • 18 WHY would the devil ever drive out the devil? This is an nonsensical accusation, and Jesus calls them out on it:
  • 19 if confronting evil is EVIL, then what is it when your own side does it?
  • 20 if confronting evil is GOOD, then why refuse to recognize that Jesus is God among you?

Conclusion ~ Luke 11:21-23

  • 21/22 make no mistake: we’re at war with the kingdom of darkness cf. Colossians 1:13 “God has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.”
  • 23 which side are you on? Not Lord’s side versus the Devil, but offense or defense? cf. Isaiah 5:20

Matthew 16:18: And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

The only weapon the Devil has is the LIE. If the Adversary can get your eyes off of Jesus, and onto anything else, you’re on the defensive, and being pushed further into the darkness all the time.

The only way to combat a lie is with THE TRUTH. It’s time for us to go on the OFFENSE – and make no mistake, the truth often is **offensive** to those who would rather live with a treasured lie.

2 Corinthians: Big T, small t

2 Corinthians: Big T, small t

2Corinthians 13:4-9

I’ve suspected for some time that my hearing was not perfect. My family certainly did as well – but it wasn’t until I’d actually had it tested that I was forced to recognize that I needed help. How can we test our own lives for what they actually contain?

To Confirm The Content Of Our Lives

We DO the small t: test ~ 2Corinthians 13:4-7

  • 4 we can’t live the Christian life in our own power; we live it BY GOD’s POWER
  • 5 “examine”=find what went wrong; “test”=find the good; no Christ > no good in you
  • 6 KJV/reprobates= NOT good-tested; no good in them
  • 7 be more concerned with what’s right than LOOKING like we’re concerned

We TRUST the Big T: Truth ~ 2Corinthians 13:8-9

  • 8 lit, no power against the truth; TRUTH exists; we can’t alter it
  • 9 perfection=completion(NASB), restoration(ESV), maturity(HCS) – the goal is that we would be completed in TRUTH

Ecclesiastes 8:17 reminds us that “No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it.”

Let’s not waste our time trying to find the bad, or even trying to ‘be good’. Instead, let us live IN Truth – Christ IN us, the hope of glory, our only way to live as originally intended in fellowship with God.

2 Corinthians: Strange Fire Overhead?

2 Corinthians: Strange Fire Overhead?

Lev.10:1-11; 2Cor.11:1-6

On January 28, 1986, the Challenger disaster occurred – all because an O-Ring was unable to flex in cold temperatures. It’s rigidness caused a tragedy when it couldn’t compensate for stress under ignition. How do WE compensate for stress?

To Handle Life’s Stress, Remember

Holiness is High Priority ~ Leviticus 10:1-5, 10-11
OT Principle: when those men did not take God’s holiness seriously, disaster struck!

  • 3 God vitally concerned about His holiness
  • 10/11 WE have to be carefully concerned about it as well

Purity Is Protective ~ 2Corinthians 11:1-6
NT Practice

  • 1/2 Paul isn’t GUILTING; he’s explaining his passion for their purity
  • 3 pure & sincere devotion is our core: what draws us away?
  • 4 why do we put up with false teaching easily enough? Because DILIGENCE IS HARD
  • 5/6 warning here: don’t be distracted by the “super-apostle”, the celebrity religious figure, the outward image of piety

We MUST take specific steps to protect the purity and holiness of our devotion to Christ – or we’ll be dragged off course with potentially disastrous results. What conversations have you had with those close to you this last month about your devotion to God?

2 Corinthians: Captivating Thoughts

2 Corinthians: Captivating Thoughts

Jer. 9:23-24; 2Cor. 10:1-5

I’m reading a book called Getting Things Done, about a time management method, by productivity consultant David Allen. It describes a strategy for gaining balance between work and life. (If you can’t tell, I haven’t finished the book yet) The first step is CAPTURE – collect what has your attention. How do we do this in our lives of faith?

How Can We Notice Our Focus?

Weigh the Worth of our Base Values ~ Jeremiah 9:23-24
OT Principle:

  • 23 wisdom, strength, riches -all attributes which can be SELFish
  • 24 we understand the LORD based on WHAT HE DOES & WHAT HE WANTS; (we study the Word ↔ we hear His heart {thru prayer-worship-fellowship-service})

Work For A World Based On Christ ~ 2Corinthians 10:1-5
NT Practice:

  • 1/2 when we live by God’s standard, we can be meek (reflect HIS character); when we live by world’s standard, we’re stuck in SELF, which needs to be wrangled (boldness/confrontation)
    3/4 NOT like the world; “strongholds” = mental constructs

Consider how we “map” our surroundings based on structures/landmarks; e.g., drive south on 17 (from ML towards Othello) until you get to Pheasant Run; turn left. Go a few miles until you see Tires West; go 3 blocks past that, turn right just after the car wash on the left; go 2 blocks, and the church is on the right corner. How much more difficult would those directions be without landmarks/structures?

  • 5 a stronghold is a refuge/security; if a thought takes root in us, it becomes a part of our mental landscape –> a stronghold; to take thoughts “captive”=(taken by the spear), we have to take down the “walls” of our mental constructs before we can root out the core thoughts

One of our trustees, Curtis, said he was going to take down the little raised garden of bricks in our back “yard” to examine the foundation. When he showed up with an excavator, I knew he was serious!

What strongholds need to be taken down in your life? What needs to be built up? What excavator will you use?


Pastor Ed Backell

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