Archive for the 'Sermons' Category

Who I Am In Christ: Accepted


John 15:12-17

New series for the next few weeks: who we are in Christ. We have rights and privileges due to our relationship with God. Do you know what they are? You will…!


* You Have a Just Proxy ~

* You Have a Joint Practice ~

  • Ez 20:40 God draws you to Himself
  • Ez 43:27 God’s intent is to accept you
  • Acts 10:34-5 God doesn’t determine to love you based on who you are, or where you come from, or even the good things you do (cf. Rom. 5:8): God’s love is available to EVERYONE

* You Are Jesus’ Partner ~ John 15:12-17

  • 12/15 Jesus calls us LOVING FRIENDS
  • 16/17 He chose us to choose to love others

You are ACCEPTED because of GOD’S CHOICE. You are ACCEPTED to LIVE OUT that Choice. You are LOVED… so LOVE!

The Living Word: Love, Love, Like

Love, Love, Like


As we wrap up our second time through John, take note of the DENSITY: chapters 13-21 only cover 3 days! Jesus had a LOT to say during that time, and the Gospels don’t record everything (cf. 20:30). But what was recorded was for our benefit, that we might believe. As we read this last chapter…

How Can This Conversation Help Us?

* Jesus Really Shows Up ~ John 21:1-14

  • 1/3 Jesus appears again: He’d only done so twice in John 20:19-29; here’s the setup: they go fishing
  • 4/8 Jesus shows up, and John understands it’s Him before Peter (again); Peter can’t wait to get to shore!
  • 9/14 Jesus makes breakfast: a simple PHYSICAL thing; He’s not a ghost or hallucination

* Jesus Restores Us ~ John 21:15-19

  • 15 “agape Me more than these?” (deal with boasting in Mat.26:33 – even if everyone else falls away, **I** never will); Pete’s answer: humbly: I feel the love; Jesus response: simply feed my lambs
  • 16 “agape Me?”; Pete’s same answer: I feel love for you (he isn’t using agape like Jesus, but phileo- more about affection); Jesus’ response: SHEPHERD My SHEEP (not just once but ongoing)
  • 17 “DO you feel love for Me?” Pete hurts because this must remind him of the three denials, “You know everything! You KNOW I feel it”; Jesus said-simply feed My lambs
  • 18/19 John tells us that Peter DID follow, DID shepherd like Jesus, and ended up dying like Him as well; Peter was RESTORED

It’s NORMAL to feel like we’ve let Jesus down sometimes (because WE DO!) But Jesus **knows** that – and restores us anyway as we return to Him.

The Living Word: The Best Morning EVER

The Best Morning EVER

John 20:1-18

I had a number of disturbing conversations this week; people were so intent on proving themselves right, that they were unwilling to even entertain the idea that they might in the slightest way be wrong. The SCARY thought is that some people interacting with me might have thought the same thing!

How Do We Miss What God Is Doing?

* We LOOK But Don’t SEE ~ John 20:1-9

  • 1/2 Mary jumps to the wrong conclusion
  • 3/7 Peter saw lots of details
  • 8 but John BELIEVED (he trusted Jesus)
  • 9 I think this is key: they didn’t understand from Scripture; each relied on their own interpretation of what they experienced (not necessarily bad, but shouldn’t be the ONLY interpretive method)

Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

* We HEAR But Don’t LISTEN ~ John 20:10-18

  • 10/13 Mary notices details (v12) but doesn’t understand
  • 14 confused? distracted? EVER HAPPEN TO YOU?
  • 15 the RISEN CHRIST stands in front of her, and she can only imagine a dead body; the world STILL has this problem
  • 16 but Jesus calls her BY NAME
  • 17/18 and gives her a mission; WHAT IS YOUR MISSION?

Jesus STILL CALLS US BY NAME – will we cling to our old dead understanding? Or will we hear Him calling TODAY?

The Living Word: Swayed by the Crowd

Swayed by the Crowd

John 19:1-16

Have you noticed the emphasis on “protests” in the news lately? And the counter-protests – those who protest the protest? In China, they’ve taken to marching with BLANK SIGNS… because stating any specific viewpoint on a sign is illegal now…

Are You Being Swayed by The Crowd?

* Check Your Annoyance ~ John 19:1-6

What angers you? What sets you off?

  • 1/3 the stark truth: Jesus was *cruelly* targeted (crown to mock)
  • 4/5 Pilate KNOWS Jesus hasn’t broken Roman law; it’s not about law – it’s about POWER… priest leaders wanted to keep it
  • 6 religious leaders want Jesus DEAD; Pilate wants them to do their own dirty work

* Check Your Allegiance ~ John 19:7-11

What issues draw your attention?

  • 7 “anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death.” Lev. 24:16; Law is clear; INTERPRETATION isn’t: Jesus broke THEIR IDEA
  • 8/10 interesting: Pilate, a ROMAN, hears that Jesus claims to be God’s Son, and ASKS (the Pharisees, who claimed to actually know God, rejected it out of hand)
  • 11 Again, POWER concept: in God’s economy, it’s GIVEN, not taken (opposite of the world)

* Check Your Alignment ~ John 19:12-16

Where do you stand?

  • 12 Pharisees hatred of Jesus was so great, they became collaborators with the Roman govt (which they also hated); WHAT DO YOU ALIGN WITH?
  • 13 “bema” seat judgment (Mat.25:31 – “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.”) HE will judge righteously, because HE was judged too: He’s gone through it all
  • 14/16 “we have no King but Caesar” – rejection of the Kingdom of God for the world; WHO IS YOUR KING?

You are GOING to be a part of the crowd: the question is: WHICH ONE?

The Living Word: One Rough Night

One Rough Night

John 18:9-32

I did NOT want to write this sermon! I couldn’t focus on it for more than 5 minutes at a time because it made me so uncomfortable. Perhaps THAT is the point itself: how do we face situations out of our control?

One Night; Five Questions

* Q1: Shall I Not? ~ John 18:9-14

  • 11 out of this section, notice THIS: Jesus KNOWS that He is following the will of the Father, even though it’s going to be very difficult; COULD HIS ATTITUDE HELP US?

* Q2: Are You His? ~ John 18:15-18

  • 17 Look at Peter under pressure: he gives up right away

* Q3: Why Question Me? ~ John 18:19-24

  • Jesus under pressure – Do we really want to know what Jesus had in mind? Or would we rather settle for our own opinions about what we think He might have meant? ARE WE LISTENING?

* Q4: Didn’t I See You With Him? ~ John 18:25-27

  • Peter’s 2nd and 3rd denial was in response to a challenge; HOW ARE YOU BEING CHALLENGED LATELY?

* Q5: What Charges? ~ John 18:28-32

  • 29 Jesus’ railroading: Pilate asks: What Charges Do You Bring Against This Man? What we BLAME GOD for reveals more about us than it does about God.

During YOUR “rough night” – how are you responding to the pressure? Standing with Christ – or out in the courtyard?

#TheLivingWord, One Rough Night, questions, questioning, questioning God, uncomfortable, uncomfortable situations, difficulties, dealing with difficulties

The Living Word: A Kept People

A Kept People


“Now I lay me down to sleep; I pray the Lord my soul to keep.” from Sidney D. Mitchell and George W. Meyer (1920). But what does it mean for God to “keep” us? Does He need to be reminded… or do we?

Jesus’ Prayer Reminds Us We Are

* Kept by a Condition ~ John 17:10-12

  • 10 “glory to me” we are the EVIDENCE that Jesus’ mission was successful
  • 11 protect/keep/guard; the Name? HOLY (only here in NT); we are to live in holy fellowship (one in heart)
  • 12 Jesus kept us like a shepherd keeps sheep in a safe place (holiness); He kept watch (and still does)

* Kept by a Confirmation ~ John 17:13-19

  • 13/14 when we hold to Jesus’ word, it transfers our allegiance from the world to the Kingdom
  • 15/16 Jesus hands off His guard duty to the Father&Spirit; if we don’t belong to the world, it’s going to react against us
  • 17 sanctify: FATHER MAKE US HOLY

The sacrifice of Jesus isn’t some magical act: it is the supreme example for us all. IF we are following Jesus, we see His example leads to the death of SELF – and our resurrection in Holiness. Feel stuck in your sin? Can’t get free from it? DIE TO IT.

The Living Word: The Loss of the World

The Loss of the World

John 16:25-33

On May 30th, astronauts were launched from US soil to dock with the International Space Station. What struck me was the constant acceleration necessary to escape the gravitational pull of the world. It wasn’t enough to blast off at a high speed: it needed to INCREASE to leave behind the gravity well of Earth. How do we need to leave behind the “pull” of the world on our souls?

To Let Go of The World’s Influence

* Gain The Plain Truth ~ John 16:25-28

  • 25 Follow up from last week: Jesus will speak to us through the Spirit
  • 26 the other side of the coin: WE will speak to the Father through the Spirit; we are no longer dependent upon any other mediator than Christ (address praying to saints/mary/angels)
  • 27 “loves” PHILEO, not AGAPE; God **LIKES** you! He doesn’t love you because He “has” to… God wants to be with you!
  • 28 Nutshell Gospel verse in 4 parts: came from God; came to Earth; leaving Earth; going back to God – IF WE ARE TO FOLLOW JESUS, WHERE ARE WE GOING? Don’t get distracted by your temporary time in the world!

* Grasp And Trust ~ John 16:29-33

  • 29 I love this! Disciples **THINK** they know what’s going on… but they don’t. CAN WE LET OURSELVES OFF THE HOOK FOR NOT KNOWING WHATS GOING ON?
  • 30 They mis-read Jesus, and end up with the correct conclusion for the wrong reasons (they really don’t get it: see vs17-18)
  • 31 Even though they don’t understand: THEY TRUST JESUS, and THAT is counted as belief! HOW IS YOUR TRUSTING GOING?
  • 32 Jesus warns the disciples: their belief/faith/trust is an a-ha moment, that it would evaporate. God KNOWS our failings… and LIKES US ANYWAY
  • 33 therefore, don’t worry about what trusting Christ is “supposed” to look like in today’s world.

It’s never been about faith IN the world… but faith IN and THROUGH Jesus (while we happen to be temporarily on this planet – and that’ll change soon enough!)

The Living Word: Sorrow’s Change

Sorrow’s Change

John 16:1-3; 12-24

Thomas Nast, famous artist of the late 1800’s, painted a huge landscape during an exhibition. Beautiful and detailed, the audience burst into applause. THEN… taking darker colors, he applied them most recklessly to the canvas. The landscape was totally obliterated, and nothing but a daub, such as a child might make, remained. The audience was silent… until he turned the painting vertically – and a beautiful waterfall, the water plunging over a precipice of dark rock was finally revealed. What is God painting in YOUR life?

How Can Sorrow Be Changed?

* Warned About Wandering ~ John 16:1-3

  • 1 “all this”=chap 14,15, after Last Supper
  • 2 we who follow the Way of Jesus will offend; some religious, some not; be ready!
  • 3 knowing ABOUT God isn’t the same as knowing God; we need to guard against that

* Careful Cultivation ~ John 16:12-19

  • 12/14 guide INTO truth: a journey, not a given; WHERE ARE YOU GOING IN TRUTH?
  • 15 we will LEARN together what God’s ownership of the universe means; WHAT ARE YOU LEARNING ABOUT GOD LATELY?
  • 16/19 Jesus foretells His death & resurrection; disciples don’t get it because they want specifics; HAVE YOU BEEN DEMANDING SPECIFICS FROM GOD?

* Act of Access ~ John 16:20-24

  • 20 this WAS fulfilled… and can still be true today! WHAT GRIEF OF YOURS COULD BE TRANSFORMED?
  • 21/22 our lives WILL have moments of sorrow and joy; LOOK TO THE JOY!
  • 23/24 “not ask ME” we’ll ask the Father directly; this is about a new way of prayer (not through sacrificial system, or priests, but DIRECTLY) and THAT is what makes our joy full; not WHAT we get but WHO we ask

Sorrow isn’t taken away; it matures over time into joy. Joy is connected to TRUST in God:

Until I learned to trust,
I never learned to pray;
And I did not learn to fully trust
Till sorrows came my way.

Until I felt my weakness,
His strength I never knew
Nor dreamed ’til I was stricken
That he could see me through.

Who deepest drinks of sorrow,
Drinks deepest, too, of grace;
He sends the storm so He himself
Can be our hiding place.

His heart, that seeks our highest good,
Knows well when things annoy;
We would not long for heaven
If earth held only joy.

The Living Word: Hate Vs. Love

Hate Vs. Love

John 15:18-27

“Haters want to be feared and heard,” says Brian Britt, a professor of religious studies at Virginia Tech University who studies the evolution of hate. “Their use of outrageous behaviors is designed strategically to get attention. They violate norms of ‘niceness’ and civil behavior in order to make a point.”

What’s the point of the hate we’re seeing demonstrated lately? Is it really hatred, or something else?

Testing the Terrain: Hate or Love?

* Hate Has A Home: the World ~ John 15:18-19

  • 18 Ever feel like the world is against you? You’re not alone!
  • 19 Part of the reason we struggle is that we’re swimming against the flow. WHICH WAY ARE YOU GOING?

* Hate Has A Method: Against Christ ~ John 15:20-23

  • 20 we’re “little Christs” – and THAT is offensive to the world
  • 21 it’s not about us; it’s about fighting against God
  • 22 people can “call” themselves Christians… but not actually follow the Way of Jesus
  • 23 make no mistake: it’s not indifference, or apathy: it’s hate – direct opposition to the best God offers; WHO DO YOU ACTUALLY FOLLOW?

* Hate Has A Problem: Its Position ~ John 15:24-25

  • 24 vs 22 about those who won’t LISTEN; some are worse: they won’t even SEE the difference God makes
  • 25 cf Ps 35: originally the words of David: he had enemies because of his position, not his actions. Same with Jesus… and same with US. WHERE DO YOU STAND?

* Love Has An Answer: Tell The Truth ~ John 15:26-27

  • 26 counselor=”paraklete”, advocate; the Son sends the Spirit from the Father to tell the truth about the Son
  • 27 We are to do what the Spirit does; to tell the truth about Jesus. WHO ARE YOU TELLING THE TRUTH?

Want to love? Be truth-filled. Want to be loved? Come out of the world!

The Living Word: The Voice of Thunder

The Voice of Thunder

John 12:16-36

This week, I watched a friend take THREE HOURS to install a navigation system that would help him pilot his boat through the waterways. The complexity of the charts was astounding; the challenge was they were installing software for water navigation IN MY OFFICE. They couldn’t possibly know if the install worked correctly or not – the only way to know is to get out in the water!

To Make Sense of the Current Storm:

* Look For God Sightings ~ John 12:16-19

  • 16 “all this” – the Triumphal Entry
  • 17/19 the crowds were paying attention to what God was doing; the religious people, not so much

* Learn God’s View of Sacrifice ~ John 12:20-27

  • 20/21 the crowds weren’t all Jewish; Jesus draws ALL KINDS
  • 22/23 introduces a private conversation between Jesus & disciples (not to the crowd)
  • 24/25 sacrifice is NECESSARY for God’s work
  • 26 if you’re going to follow Jesus, you must follow his example of sacrifice
  • 27 Jesus didn’t exempt Himself, even though He knew it was difficult

* Listen for God’s Voice Speaking ~ John 12:28-36

  • 28 example of conversational prayer!
  • 29 the crowd heard SOMETHING!
  • 30/33 “now…will be” Jesus begins His sacrifice, His triumph over death & the devil
  • 34 “Son of Man” Jesus tends to use this phrase to refer to His ROLE in God’s work, to specify what He’s doing AS the fulfillment of God’s promise (as opposed to what He does as Rabbi/Teacher/His immediate ministry)

CLOSE: 35/36 Jesus seems to be emphasizing what He’s doing RIGHT THEN (immediate ministry) to help us understand His Messianic ministry. I believe He still does this today: for us to understand what God is doing, we look to the ministry of the Son to help us weather the current storm and hear the voice of God.

Pastor Ed Backell

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