Posts Tagged 'Jesus'

Transfiguration: Seeing and Receiving

Transfiguration: Seeing and Receiving Sermon Audio Here

2 Peter 1:16-21

This last weekend, my family and I attended RadCon, a science-fiction convention in Pasco, Washington. It’s a chance for all of us to dress up in costumes, and hang out with others who enjoy fandom and cosplay. My costume this year was Ming the Merciless, based on the old Flash Gordon serials from the 1930’s. We spent many evenings working on our costumes, and our work paid off: we were transfigured – and ended up winning Best in Show! (make sure you scroll all the way down to the end of the post…)

Transfiguration Today is Attainable:
God Changed Moses
Exodus 24:12-18~ God calls Moses into HIS presence, and Moses is never the same

  • Our Exodus text starts with an invitation: God calls Moses to join Him on the mountain, specifically to receive the Law. Moses goes to the mountain and waits for further instruction from Yahweh. The Lord then calls Moses into the cloud of His glory to speak with Him.
  • Moses was before change: a murderer, on the run, in hiding

God Changed Jesus
Matthew 17:1-5

  • Today is called Transfiguration Sunday; it’s the day where we remember Jesus’ Transfiguration on the mountain top, flanked by Moses and Elijah. The account is found in Matthew 17:1-5:
  • And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son,[a] with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

  • Remember, Jesus didn’t hold on to His equality with God, according to Philippians 2:5-8 He became one of us, fully human. And just as Moses reflected God’s glory in his face when he came into Yahweh’s presence, so did Jesus.

God Changed Peter
2 Peter 1:16-21~ Peter was changed because of

  • v16 what he witnessed (majesty)
  • v17/18 what he heard (God’s Call)
  • v19 what he has read (Scripture)
  • v20/21 what he has received (Spirit)

We remember on Transfiguration Sunday that God is STILL in the business of changing lives. He changed Moses from a criminal on the run to the Lawgiver of Israel; He changed Peter from a headstrong fisherman to a heart-strong fisher of men; and as Jesus was transfigured by letting the glory of God shine through, we too can be changed by God’s Majesty, Call, Word, and Spirit.

Ming the Merciless (my personal transformation this last weekend)

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Advent: Preparing for the Child

Advent: Preparing for the Child Sermon Audio Here

Isa.7:10-16; Mat.1:18-25

Consider this: what does a young family do to prepare for the arrival of their first child?

How Can We Prepare for The Arrival of Christmas?

Be Aware of the Background ~ Isaiah 7:10-16

  • v10/13 God (through Isaiah) gives Ahaz a message: don’t worry about your current trouble, it will amount to nothing; Ahaz apparently doesn’t believe, and God says “I’ll prove it!” Ahaz says “no way” and God says, fine, I’ll show you myself! We can get so wrapped up in our own problems that we don’t even want to believe that God Himself can get us out of them – this is IDOLATRY – putting ourselves in God’s rightful place
  • v14/16 the FIRST sign is about TIME, not Person: gestation takes about 9 months; babies generally can eat simple solids by 6 months; children can generally tell wrong from right by age 5. Ahaz is being reassured that God will take care of the situation which so worries Ahaz before a child can tell wrong from right.
  • In short: Don’t worry, God is in control

Be Amazed at the Overlay ~ Matthew 1:18-25

  • v18 virgin (the Hebrew just meant young woman; the Greek shows specific miraculous intervention)
  • v19/20 angel (Isaiah was messenger; here, it’s an angel of God; another miraculous overlay)
  • v21/25 Emmanuel/Jesus (Yeshua=”Ye” is a short form of God’s name Yahweh; “shua” is “a saving cry”, what you yell out when you need help. “Yeshua” isn’t just the cry out TO God, but the ANSWER to that cry.)
  • God comes to you to rescue you. And THAT is Emmanuel – God with us… TO SAVE US!

As we enter this Christmas season, it helps to be aware of where IT came from: a fulfillment of a promise to an anxious man that God would care for the world. That promise is overlaid with supernatural power in the person of Christ. God HAS taken care of the world, DOES care for the world, and WILL bring it all to right. Let us enjoy the work He has done, is doing, and will continue to do as we wait for His Return.

Learning from Luke: Road Trip

Please note: this is the LAST in the series through the Gospel of Luke this year. I’ll be taking a week off while I’m at our NACCC Annual Meeting, and then we’ll have a new series based on little-known characters in Scripture: The JV Team.
Learning from Luke: Road Trip Sermon Audio Here

Luke 24:13-27

Last Sunday, there was yet another terrorist attack on US soil; how do we cope so that we can help?

Challenges in Unexpected Stress

Get Confused by Circumstances
Luke 24:13-18 – our responses can be bewildered by events

  • v13/14 Bewildered Response: mourning and confused
  • v15/16 BR: we often don’t recognize Jesus among us
  • v17/18 BR: downcast face=very little hope when we don’t see God at work

Know Content, But Forget Context
Luke 24:19-24 – our view can become limited by stress

  • v19 Limited View: a powerful prophet; truth: Living Word
  • v20/21 LV: possible Messiah; truth: Redeeming Lord
  • v22/24 LV: missing person; truth: Risen and Glorified

Choose to Center in the Circumstances
Luke 24:25-27 – to remind ourselves of God’s role in it all

  • v25 trust God’s word
  • v26 remember God’s reasons
  • v27 search the Scriptures

God’s role is to rule; our role is to cooperate with His reign in our lives.

Learning from Luke: Render Unto Caesar

Learning from Luke: Render Unto Caesar Sermon Audio Here
Click here to play the file

Luke 20:19-26

In this political season, congregations find themselves in tough situations. Should we speak for or against a specific candidate or issue? Should we ignore the political maelstrom? How do we live by God’s principles in a fallen world?

Guard Yourself Against

Twisted Motives – WHY This Issue?
Luke 20:19-22

  • v19 context: Triumphal Entry/Temple Cleansing – they’re TICKED
  • v20 they can’t morally best Jesus; they have to cheat
  • v21 1) they lie “we know”
    • 2) they tell the truth “you teach what is right”
    • 3) they set up the sting “you do not show partiality”
  • v22 the dilemma horns: YES =collaboration w/ occupying enemy; NO=sedition against government. Either way, Jesus will be hauled away out of public (which is the whole point)

Misunderstood Terms – WHAT Is Being Said?
Luke 20:23-26

  • v23 Jesus recognized their loyalty: not to KoG, but their masters
  • v24 Jesus uses elements from their kingdom to make His point
  • v25 Jesus makes a statement about ownership via image cf. Gen. 1:26 (who owns you?)
  • v26 their crafted dilemma didn’t take any other viewpoint into mind; Jesus wasn’t living by their rules, but by KoG concepts for which they had no answer

Those who wanted to trap Jesus tried to make the conversation about politics of the day; Jesus tried (repeatedly) to turn the topic to the Kingdom of God, pointing out that we ALL fall short if we try to create a system of right human behavior if we cut God out. It’s GOD’s kingdom; we just live here.

Where The Roses Never Fade – Marion Laib funeral sermon

For those of you who don’t live in Warden, our church’s choir director and organist, Marion Laib, passed away last week, and today was her funeral.

Writing her funeral sermon was one of the more challenging tasks I’ve done in pastoral ministry; Jami reminded me that from here on out, it will only get tougher because I love these people so much.

I’m posting this sermon/meditation because some might have missed being able to attend… or some might want to read it… or some musicians might appreciate the merger of hymn and remembrance. At any rate, here’s Marion’s funeral meditation: Where The Roses Never Fade.

One of the greatest honors I have as a pastor is to remind people just how close Jesus is at times of crisis. As we move through this life, we experience heartaches and struggle, frustrations and pain; this is a part of the human condition. And in the midst of it all, God is present. We may not always see Him at work, focused as we often become on our own matters and concerns. Yet, God is right there, right beside us, as close as our own heartbeat, steadily calling for us to hear His whispered voice. This is the promise of faith – that we are never left alone; that we can always hear the call of God.

Many of us hear that call from the Lord through the means of music. It has been shown that music lights up our minds, causes us to be more alive, more aware of the nature of reality than when we ignore melody and harmony. Marion was one of these souls for whom music spoke in a powerful way; and she shared what she learned with others. She had a special fondness for the hymn “Where The Roses Never Fade”. Marion’s life reflected the values in this song; it’s no wonder it was so powerful to her.

Marion Laib merged her life and her faith. She had set her heart on receiving the promise of God, that she would be “going to a city Where the streets with gold are laid; Where the tree of life is blooming And the roses never fade.” She lived her life in such a way that her eventual destination shaped how she lived day to day. The music with which she filled her life also impacted the lives of many others; she played the organ and directed the choir in this congregation for many years. She poured music into the lives of children (and adults who sometimes acted like children) and they were made better for it.

Let us face an unpleasant truth: this world, and the things in it, wind down. Nothing on this physical realm lasts forever; we understand that there is a season to every activity under heaven. The Bible reminds us that there is a time to live, and a time to die; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance. All we need do is look around and we can see the truth of this: the flowers that bloomed so beautifully last week are already fading, and yet farmers are out in their fields, planting and preparing for the harvest. Marion’s hymn reminds us that what we value so much in this life “blooms but for a season, and Soon their beauty is decayed; I am going to a city Where the roses never fade.”

What a stunning promise of faith: that we will leave behind the old, and inherit the new. We will leave behind the decay, and enter into the realm where Death itself is no more. We will be free: from the difficulties of sin, from the injustices that are often experienced, from the fear of the unknown. For those who have trusted God, as Marion had, will move from death to life, from woe to wonder. We understand now that “In this world we have our troubles, and Satan’s snares we must evade” as the hymn says. That requires a recognition that we aren’t guaranteed a perfect life down here; we all just do the best we can with what we experience. But as we lean on Jesus, and step into His wonderful embrace, “We’ll be free from all temptations Where the roses never fade.”

If Marion could speak to you right now, I’m sure she’d tell you how wonderful Heaven is. She might describe what it looks like to her; the Bible uses terms like “streets of gold” or “jeweled foundations” or “gates of pearl”. But the point of Heaven isn’t eternal fancy accommodations, or how amazing everything looks. The point of Heaven, indeed the point of all of existence… is Jesus. The reason we rejoice when one of our loved ones steps into eternity is because they get to finally see Jesus face to face. They receive the promise that they’ve hoped for all their life long. This is true for Marion: she no longer has faith; she no longer has doubts or concerns. The Bible says that she no longer peers through a dim glass, but instead sees the Lord face to face; now she knows, even as she is fully known.

And this promise is extended to all who will trust Christ for their salvation. The last line of the hymn reminds us that “Loved ones gone to be with Jesus, In their robes of white arrayed, Now are waiting for my coming Where the roses never fade.”

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses [like Marion, and Royal and Elsa, and Pastor Lindsay, and so many others], let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Learning from Luke: The Lay of the Land

Learning from Luke: The Lay of the Land Sermon Audio Here
Click here to play the file

Luke 15:1-10

“Lay of the Land” possible that the term originated because scouts were sent ahead to get the topology of a piece of land before settlers moved in. Refers to determining how an unknown area can be accessed.

Jesus gave “the lay of the land” of the Kingdom to his hearers, and they were unprepared for His report. Are we?

As We Look At God’s Kingdom, Ask:

Who Does Jesus Attract?
Luke 15:1-2

  • v1 Jesus draws sinners
  • v2 this makes religious people uncomfortable

What Does Jesus Address?
Luke 15:3-7

  • v3/4 isn’t it normal to look for what is lost?
  • v5/6 isn’t it normal to rejoice when you find the lost?
  • v7 Heaven is like that; Heaven responds the way we would.

What Does Jesus Affirm?
Luke 15:8-10

  • v8 high value = careful effort to regain
  • v9 once found, community invited to rejoice
  • v10 in the same way: do our values match God’s

The difference is in what is valuable enough, when lost, to find. We like what we’re already comfortable with; we “drift” from our initial decision to follow Jesus to following what we think Jesus would like. Part of our challenge as citizens of God’s Kingdom is to always be “recalculating”, to reorient ourselves on the values and the Person of Christ.

Learning from Luke: The Bottom Line

Learning from Luke: The Bottom Line Sermon Audio Here
Click here to play the file

Luke 14:25-33

Consider Hamlet’s “to be or not to be” speech. It’s one of the most famous “what should I do” moments in all of English literature. How did Hamlet work through the choice to live or die? He compares one state (living with pain) to another state (dying with unknowns).

Long before Shakespeare, Jesus challenged people to make a similar choice; to discover their Bottom Line.

To Find What Is Most Important To You,

Compare with the Cross
Luke 14:25-27

  • v26 notice the large crowds: He points to the Kingdom of God
  • v26 Jesus’ example: Kingdom of God first, THEN family
  • v27 even more extreme: Kingdom of God, THEN life

Consider the Cost
Luke 14:28-33

  • v28/30 count the cost TO COMPLETION (what are your resources?)
  • v31/32 count the cost FOR VICTORY (what is your strategy?)
  • v33 count the cost FOR ETERNAL LIFE (what do you value most?)

What could you possibly have in this life that is better than Jesus? Let go of your old life so you can receive New Life in Christ!


Pastor Ed Backell

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