Archive for the 'Sermons' Category

Prelude to the Passion: Fruitless Frustration

Prelude to the Passion: Fruitless Frustration

Matthew 21:12-22

When was the last time you had a goal blocked? Often, we think of that in sports terms: wanting our team to win, and watching as the points needed can’t be gained because the other side is playing better defense than our side is playing offense. But the games we watch aren’t as important as the life we live. What happens when our goals IN LIFE are blocked?

What are the foundations of our frustration?

* Putting the Wrong Things in God’s Place ~ Matthew 21:12-13

  • 12 court of the Gentiles: the largest area of the Temple was reserved for those who weren’t very religious
  • 13 Jesus was upset because the religious elite of his day would rather use that space for making money with animals than making space for people

* Refusing to Credit the Work of God Around You ~ Matthew 21:14-17

  • 14/5 the religious elite were offended by the presence of the needy who saw God at work
  • 16/7 important to remember: children weren’t valued in the 1st century like they are now; they had ZERO STATUS; when the lowest of the low praised Jesus, the elite were offended; kids didn’t have the **right** to say anything at the temple

* Not Seeing Expected Results in Your Life ~ Matthew 21:18-22

  • 18/9 Jesus EXPECTED fruit to be there, and was frustrated when it wasn’t
  • 20/1 disciples focused on the PROCEDURE; Jesus concerned about the POTENTIAL

Answer frustrations with a choice of joy (Hab 3:18),
and shared prayer (Mat 21:22)
prayer requires 1) recognition of God [GOD answers prayer];
2) reception of God’s faith [God GIVES faith];
3) release of mistrust
(we can’t hold on to our own agenda and expect God to conform to IT; we’re supposed to conform to HIS)

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Prelude to the Passion: Woe Warnings

Prelude to the Passion: Woe Warnings

SCRIPTURE

Regarding the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster:

Two engineers performed an unauthorized experiment. In order to perform the test they were interested in performing, they had to override manually six separate computer-driven alarm systems. One by one the computers would come up and say, ‘Stop! Dangerous! Go no further!’ And one by one, rather than shutting off the experiment, they shut off the alarms and kept going. You know the results: nuclear fallout that was recorded all around the world, from the largest industrial accident ever to occur in the world.

The instructions and warnings in Scripture are just as clear. We ignore them at our own peril, and tragically, at the peril of innocent others.

Why Know The Woes?

* Woe Means Warning ~ Luke 11:37-44

  • 37/41 setup: the Pharisee and the Rabbi; Pharisee all about controlling outer activity; Rabbi Jesus concerned about inner life
  • 42 Warning: don’t focus on holy minutiae and ignore everyday faith
  • 43 Warning: don’t love the important at the expense the crucial
  • 44 Warning: don’t hide your brokenness to trip others up

* Whoa Means Stop! ~ Luke 11:45-52

  • 45/6 STOP weighing others down with what YOU’RE unwilling to carry
  • 47/51 STOP putting others down while pretending to lift them up
  • 52 STOP misleading other’s understanding;

The point of the Law isn’t the Law itself: it’s Living IN PARTNERSHIP with the LawGiving God.

Apocalypse Talks: The Mean Time

Apocalypse Talks: The Mean Time

Matthew 24:45-51

How do we value ONE YEAR? Ask a student who failed a grade. How do we value ONE MONTH? Ask a Mother whose baby arrived prematurely. How do we value ONE WEEK? Editor’s of weekly newspapers know. How do we value ONE HOUR? Ask someone who lies terminally ill waiting for a loved one who is late. How do we value ONE MINUTE? Ask someone who missed a plane, a train, a very important engagement that would never be rescheduled. How do we value ONE SECOND? Ask and Olympic Medalist, someone who just missed having an accident, or someone saying good by to a loved one they will never see again.

How are we using the Mean Time?

* We’re Choosing To Serve ~ Matthew 24:45-47

  • 45 WHO is to be faithful and wise? Is this just about ministers? Or does this include everyone?
  • 46 frankly, as Congregationalists, we might read into this a bit: we are, each of us, directly servants of our Master: Christ is the head of the church (Eph. 1:22; 5:27; Col. 1:18; 2:10); we ALL serve, so this applies to all of us – Jesus wants us to be faithful and wise
  • 47 less a reward and more a responsibility; the Master will give us more to be faithful and wise with – our reward isn’t what we get charge of, but our increased responsibility is also more intimate relationship. Our reward is Christ Himself!

* Or Losing Our Nerve ~ Matthew 24:48-51

  • 48 “wicked”=WORTHLESS; is a servant who doesn’t serve a servant? Instead of caring, he’s clock-watching
  • 49 watch out for those wielding authority as a weapon instead of the tool to take care of the Master’s estate;
  • 50 here’s the concern: in the back of the mind, the servant KNOWS the Master will return “someday”
  • 51 (cf Jer. 34:18) those who break covenant are subject to being broken themselves!

We, as God’s servants, enter into a covenant with Him. We give our very LIVES to God… and this is a serious commitment! The Lord expects us to honor our covenant with Him; that we are grafted into His Life so that we would bear fruit. How shall we use our Mean Time?

Apocalypse Talks: The Bigger Picture

Apocalypse Talks: The Bigger Picture

Matthew 24:36-44

Sometimes we receive warnings about a coming disaster, take appropriate steps, and in large part prevent the situation. Y2K was talked about for years, with serious preparations occurring 2 years before. As a result, when Y2K finally happened, only minor inconveniences and website errors were reported.

In other instances, we don’t respond as well. There were 36 warnings about 9/11, as early as 1994, with 22 in 2001 alone. With all those warnings (including one that said “tomorrow is zero hour” received on 9/10), we still missed preventing a tragedy that resulted in 2,996 deaths.

What’s Wrong With End-Time Warning?

* Some Refuse To See It ~ Matthew 24:36-39

  • 36 Refer: vs 29-35; these are references to Isaiah 13&24; and Joel 2: the Day of the Lord is a subject that Israel knows about; Jesus warns His listeners that the Fall of Jerusalem is the end of their world as they know it. AFTER that (not “immediately”, but later) will the final gathering and judgment at the end of the Day of the Lord occur. Since ONLY the Father knows when that is, don’t obsess about the timing of it
  • 37 it took Noah 55-75 years to build the Ark; his neighbors MUST have noticed! (lots of warning time)
  • 38/39 but they don’t pay attention; they hear but do not listen, they see but do not understand (cf. Isa 6) (NOT ALL WILL RESPOND)

* Some Selected To Receive It ~ Matthew 24:40-44

  • 40 When the Trumpet is sounded, only SOME will respond to the call
  • 41 God knows whom He will elect and collect
  • 42 WE do NOT know when the Call will be sounded: WATCH!
  • 43/44 implication: The Day will END with the Trumpet (1 Cor. 15:51-52; 1 Thes. 4:15-17) (NOT ALL WILL BE SAVED)

Bigger Picture: not *just* about the Fall of Jerusalem; about the end of the Day of the Lord (Joel 2). Good news for us who already know we’re going to be with the Lord – not necessarily bad news for others, because THERE’S STILL TIME TO TRUST… until there ISN’T. Only God knows how much sand is left in the Divine Hourglass…

Apocalypse Talks: Mitigating Disaster

Apocalypse Talks: Mitigating Disaster

Matthew 24:15-22

Thomas Edison’s manufacturing facilities in West Orange, N.J., were heavily damaged by fire one night in December, 1914. Edison lost over $2 million worth of equipment and the record of much of his work. The next morning, walking about the charred embers of his hopes and dreams, the 67-year-old inventor said: “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.”

When Jesus told His disciples about the coming Apocalypse, He didn’t shy away from the difficult details. His words held a warning which still can help us today…

When Disaster Approaches

Get OUT of its Way ~ Matthew 24:15-20

  • 15 cf Dan.9.27-Antiocus Epiphanes; “abomination that causes desolation” is pagan authority where Godly worship should be (Destruction Of Temple)
  • 16 the only way the Temple will be completely destroyed is by invading army. RUN!
  • 17 RUN RIGHT THEN: Don’t dawdle
  • 18 RUN AWAY: Don’t turn back (cf. Lot’s wife Gen 19)
  • 19/20 RUN FAST: simply because they’re slow; they can’t evacuate quickly

Keep Pressure in Perspective ~ Matthew 24:21-22

  • 21 “great distress” not dispensationalist “TRIBULATION”; same word 45 times in NT, means “pressured”; Destruction of the Temple certainly placed an unequaled pressure on the whole of Judaism!
  • 22 historian Josephus reported 1,100,000 dead, and 100,000 survivors sold into slavery. If that kind of devastation had continued, everyone under the Roman attack would have died; “sake of the elect”

Jesus TOLD the Disciples they’d need to leave Jerusalem here, and told them again in Matthew 28:19-20 and AGAIN in Acts 1:8.

His words of warning helped the early church escape the coming disaster AND reminded them that their mission was larger than their home: they went out to serve the world. Are we?

alas, the video did not record this week. Audio is working, however! Click the top link.

Apocalypse Talks: The Fall Is Approaching

Apocalypse Talks: The Fall Is Approaching

Matthew 24:9-14

Here is a truism: making good choices comes from experience; experience comes from making bad choices! Will we ever NOT make bad choices?

Failure Is A Fact Of Life

Warning from the Law-Bearer ~ Deuteronomy 31:23-29

  • 23 encouragement to leader: be strong and have courage
  • 24/26 command to religious: keep the Word
  • 27 awareness against a rebellious heart
  • 28/29 warning to people: NOT a self-fulfilling prophecy: a promise that if you sow evil, God will have you reap it

Learning from the Living Word ~ Matthew 24:9-14

  • 9 this started with Saul, and kept going for 300 years until Constantine [carrying this call will not be easy]
  • 10/11 shown to be true in Scripture (2Tim 2 w/ Phygellus and Hermogenes) and history (Tacitus under Nero: “at first, several were seized, who confessed, and then, by their discovery, a great multitude of others were convicted and executed.”) [fake faith fades under fire]
  • 12/13 not ONLY a prophecy of early Christians, but of CONDITIONS: when this starts to happen, and Christians just let it be, their love for God gets weaker, which detracts from their ability to stand firm in their faith! [apathy in face of evil saps spiritual energy]
  • 14 history shows this happened: the early Christians were scattered all over the world (ex. Thomas made it to India in 52AD); the end OF JERUSALEM did come, in 70AD

If the fall of Jerusalem caused Jesus to give these warnings to early Christians – do they still speak for our own context? Right now, we hear the challenge to “make America great again”… but what KIND of greatness? Are we allowing evil to expand while our zeal for righteousness contracts? Failure Is A Fact Of Life: Be conquered by it, or Compensate for it?

Out of the Ordinary: Missing The Signs

Out of the Ordinary: Missing The Signs

Matthew 12:38-45

Google Maps does NOT always get you where you want to go!

Reasons for Missing God’s Signs

Rejecting God’s Right ~ Matthew 12:38-42

  • 38 context: they’re saying this because Jesus had the AUDACITY to chew them out cf.v34 “brood of vipers”
  • 39 sign of Jonah: Jewish tradition of warning to Israel~REPENT! Nineveh did, what’s YOUR problem?
  • 40 verification: Messiah will rise!
  • 41 Nineveh heard Jonah’s message: will Jesus’ hearers?
  • 42 Queen heard Solomon’s wisdom; will we trust Christ’s?

Repentance Requires Replenishment ~ Matthew 12:43-45

  • 43/44 Warning: just stopping “being bad” isn’t enough
  • 45 either be filled with the Spirit or be worse than ever

We’re intended to live in a relationship with God; we can’t do that if we’re not listening for His leading.


Pastor Ed Backell

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