May 23, 2010

What Does Pentecost Mean? - May 23, 2010

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Acts 2 (NIV)

1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
5Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11(both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
13Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
14Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 “‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
22“Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25David said about him:
“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will live in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
29“Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. 32God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. 33Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
35 until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”’
36“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
37When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Pentecost was originally a Jewish holiday. It was commanded by God in the Old Testament. Starting on the second day of the Passover festival, the Jews were to count off seven weeks (49 days). On the fiftieth day, they were to begin a three-week-long festival of harvest, kinda like thanksgiving. They called this festival “The Fiftieth” or “Pentecost”.

However, most people today don’t associate Pentecost with thankfulness or the harvesting of grain. Today, most people associate Pentecost with things like: fire, the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues or the apostles.

That’s because God used the first Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection in a special way. God had gathered people from all over the world into the city of Jerusalem. Thousands of visitors had come to worship at the temple. Some had come from over a thousand miles away.

Some of them had come to thank God for the year’s harvest of grain. Others had come to sell goods and make money. Others had come with family or friends. Who knows, there were probably a million different reasons why people were in Jerusalem.

But God had one reason for bringing them there. He wasn’t gathering them to CELEBRATE the harvest, but to be PART OF the harvest! The harvest of souls for heaven.

Today we meditate on Pentecost with the help of a very simple question, “What does Pentecost Mean?” We’ll see that Pentecost means power from the Holy Spirit, communicating the Gospel, and a change in the heart.

After Jesus had been raised from the dead, he spent 40 days with His followers. He explained to them how the Old Testament had predicted all the thing that He had actually done to restore sinners to God.

During these 40 days Jesus continued to prepare His followers for their life’s work. After He ascended back to heaven, THEY would have to tell the world about Him. THEY were God’s chosen ambassadors to the dying world of sinners.

This was a huge responsibility. How could they remember all that Jesus had done and taught? How could the apostles be sure that they were writing down the right words when they recorded Jesus’ life and message in the Gospels? They were human! They would make mistakes, wouldn’t they?

And how would Jesus’ followers have the courage to speak the message? They weren’t scholars, politicians or famous people. Who would even listen to this bunch of ordinary joes?

But Jesus had promised a secret weapon. A weapon that would ensure their message was God’s message with no errors mixed in. A secret weapon that would embolden them to preach God’s Good News with courage and certainty.

They, the students, WOULD become the teachers because the Holy Spirit would come to them. Jesus told them,
“26“When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. 27And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26-27 NIV).
On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came to Jesus’ followers in a big way. First He made his presence heard with a rushing sound like the blowing of a violent wind. Then the Spirit showed them His presence through little flames of fire that appeared above their heads. Finally, they were filled with Holy Spirit Himself. And leaving the room they had gathered in, they proclaimed to the masses all that God had done so recently through Jesus.

Pentecost meant power from the Holy Spirit for the first followers of Jesus. And that power still belongs to the church of God today. We came to trust in Jesus through the word of God and the working of the Spirit. As the Scripture says,
“ one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3 NIV).
Prayer: Holy Spirit, we do need you to show your presence among us with wind and fire like you did on that Pentecost so long ago. But we do need you to stir up our faith and our courage. Remind us who we are, and who our Master and Savior is. Remind us of our horrible sins, and our horrible sins FORGIVEN. Remind us of God’s promise to be with us, and to bless us through Your presence. Move in our hearts and put Your words on our tongues. Amen.

The sound of a violent wind and the sign of fire hovering above their heads showed the followers of Jesus that the God’s Spirit was with them. But it doesn’t appear that the people outside saw these things. What surprised the crowds outside were the WORDS of the disciples.

The Holy Spirit gave them the ability to speak in languages that they had never learned. THIS was what initially got the attention of the masses on that Pentecost.

Pentecost meant communicating the Gospel. God could have done all sorts of miracles to impress the people in Jerusalem. But it wouldn’t have made a difference in their hearts if they couldn’t UNDERSTAND. The miraculous ability to speak in languages that the people understood was the most important miracle that day, because it enable the people to UNDERSTAND.

And what was it that they needed to understand? God had made Jesus of Nazareth the Master of all and the Savior of all. His own miracles had testified to the truth that He was from God, and now miracles done by the Apostles would showed that this wasn’t something mere men had dreamed up, God was here. This Jesus was truly from God.

Jesus was the promised one. The person who would rejoin sinners to God by taking away that which had divided them – sin. Jesus had been tortured to death on a cross, there suffering more than physical pain. There suffering hell in the place of sinners. And now God had raised this Jesus from the dead to prove it was true! Though Jesus, forgiveness was offered to all and the way of life was open.

Pentecost reminds us to communicate. The people who had come to Jerusalem were ready for the Gospel message. They had learned about sin from the Old Testament. They had learned about the True and Holy God who would have nothing to do with evil. They were ripe to hear the message of Jesus. The message of forgiveness as a gift from God through God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

But the people we meet today are not likely to be ready in this way. We need to understand the people around us. Who they are. What they know. How they think. We need to know these things so we can communicate effectively.

The Bible doesn’t have a prescribed way to express the message of Jesus. There is no single “Gospel blurb” that we can memorize and rattle off to share Jesus with others. Instead, God calls us to do two things.

First, God calls us to be in contact with Him through His Word. Reading. Praying. Meditating. Together. Alone. In small groups. With family.

Second, live with people. Know them. Treat them with forgiveness and patience and kindness and love. Be good neighbors and good friends.

When we’re actively communicating with other people, and with God, the Holy Spirit will give us opportunities to speak of our God. He’ll show us the connections and the opportunities to express the Gospel in the way that they’ll understand.

Prayer: Father in heaven, sometimes it’s taken time to get through to us. Sometimes we haven’t understood what you’re telling us the first time. Thank you for being persistent and loving toward us. Help us to be the same to the people we share Jesus with. Help us to be diligent and thoughtful and patient. Give us the right words to say, and open our eyes to say them are the right time. Help us not to hold back when we should speak, or to blabber on, when we should be silent. Help us speak the Good News of forgiveness through faith in Jesus, and through that message – do YOUR thing. Amen.

When Adam and Eve sinned the first time, death came into the world.

Isn’t that a nice tight little sentence? This one little sentence expresses the origin of all any pain or sadness we’ve felt in this life. With sin, death. Before death, pain.

And more than this, the Bible tells us that hell follows sin as well. Sin disqualifies a person from ever finishing this race in a good place. Sin makes us all eternal losers. Sinners that need to be put as far away from the Creator as possible, forever.

Sin leads to death and hell.

But Jesus means life and heaven.

You see, Pentecost wasn’t about some new religious “sect”. Kind of a “look we’ve got a slightly different way of worshipping God” type of thing. Pentecost was about a real problem and a real solution. Sin leads to death and hell. Jesus gives the free gift of complete forgiveness. He works repentance and covers our sin with His blood.

In 1 John 2:23 it says,
“23Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:23 NKJV).
Pentecost means a change in the heart. It means the Holy Spirit working in sinners. Dressing them in forgiveness purchased by God’ own Son.

When Peter finished his message on that Pentecost so long ago, the crowd was devastated. They had crucified God’s Son?! They said,
“…Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37b NIV).

“38Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:38-39 NIV).
The outward numbers were astounding. Three thousand were baptized into Jesus that day. But really, the inward change was more astounding. The Spirit had gotten through to 3,000 individuals. 3,000 souls. 3,000 people. 3,000 sinners bound for hell, now at peace with God the Father. 3,000 people starting the first day of their life with God.

You know, we can come up with a million different reasons to slog through this life. A million different reasons to be depressed. Like putrid appetizers, Satan offers us all sorts of excuses for grumbling and complaining about the cards we’ve been dealt in life.

But God dealt us these cards. And He gave us a winning hand when He gave us Jesus. We only have excuses, not reasons for complaining to God. He was once at totally opposed to us because of sin. But through His Son, we have been given peace with God, and open line of communication to Him, and a future that is as guaranteed in Christ.

Brother and sisters in Christ, Pentecost means a change in heart. But not a change that WE make, a change that God makes.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, You’ve given us so much to be thankful for. There are so few things we can really depend on in life. So few things we can trust. But we can trust You. And we do. Help us to be changed people. Help us to grow stronger in faith. Help us not to grumble about life, but look for Your plan and purpose in each event. Help us to live in the warm sunshine of forgiveness. That forgiveness that streams from Your cross and Your empty tomb. Help us to reflect that forgiveness on others, so that they can live in the light with us.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

May 13, 2010

Jesus Left Supernaturally - May 13, 2010

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Grace and Peace be to you from God our Father, and from our Risen and Ascended Savior, Jesus Christ.

At the beginning of sporting events, they often make a big deal out of the entrance of the players. You’ve seen this before, whether it’s the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games, or college football teams bursting through giant banners. Entrances are a big deal.

Even so, what happens on the field is always MORE important. For example. A football star might trip and fall during the big entrance, sprawling all over the turf and embarrassing himself. But if that player makes the game winning play, his embarrassing entrance is quickly forgotten.

That was the case with Jesus. He entered our world in a very humble way. The sinless Son of God was born in a dirty stable, as a fragile, human child. But He didn’t come here to play a game. He came to win forgiveness for all sinners. And when He left this world, He left in glory, because He left with our salvation in hand.

In our sermon reading for today we’ll see that Jesus Left Supernaturally…

1. To Emphasizes His Destination and Ours
2. To Bless Believers to this Very Day

Our sermon reading comes from…

Luke 24:50-53 (NASB)
50And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53and were continually in the temple praising God.

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians tells us that after Jesus was raised from the dead, He appeared to Peter, to the Twelve and later to more than 500 of His disciples all at once. These resurrection appearances took place in the forty days between Jesus’ return to life and His return to heaven. Today we celebrate Jesus’ Ascension, His “lifting up” to Heaven.

Now, Jesus could have just disappeared and gone home to be with the Father. But He didn’t. Jesus ascended visibly from the earth so that His followers could know for sure where He had gone.

Jesus was ascending above this corrupted creation to take His rightful place at His Father’s side.

I’m sure the disciples wished they could go with. But God had work for them to do. Jesus had trained them to carry His life saving message to the world. And now that His personal training was finished, Jesus had other things to tend to.

Jesus had previously told His disciples:
“2In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am”(John 14:2-3 NIV).
I don’t know all that Jesus is preparing for His followers, but I know that it’s better than any temporary mansion here on earth. It’s more comfortable than any celebrity home ever built. And whatever physical wonders we find in Heaven, the best part is revealed when Jesus says:
“…I will come back and take you to be with me…” (John 14:3b NIV).
Our place in Heaven is next to God the Son.

The book of Acts tells us that while Jesus’ disciples watched Him ascend, two men dressed in white appeared beside them.
11“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11 NIV)
First Thessalonians describes Jesus’ return in more detail:
“16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 NIV).

Jesus’ visible ascension emphasizes His destination, and assures us of ours too. He lived for us. He died for us. He was raised from the dead for us. And yes, though we don’t talk about it much, He ascended for us too. And someday, He will come, and WE WILL ASCEND to meet Him in the air.

Jesus also ascended to bless believers now.

Our text says:
“50And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:50-51 NASB).
To “bless” someone just means to “speak good words” toward them. Good words from a normal human aren’t very powerful. We might say, “Bless you”, to someone and that someone might get hit by a bus a minute later. But when words of blessing come from God, they are powerful. God’s blessing is effective.

That’s why you can cherish the blessing spoken at the close of our services. That blessing was commanded by God. It’s HIS blessing, and therefore it is powerful. It’s not just a nice sentiment, it’s a promise from our Father in Heaven.

When I speak God’s blessing to you at the end of our worship, I usually lift my hands toward you. This is to show who this blessing is for.

As Jesus spoke His ascension day blessing, He lifted His hands above His disciples. Then He Himself was raised, high above His followers.

This is significant. Jesus blessed that gathering of disciples. But He was lifted high above all power and authority so that He could bless ALL BELIEVERS, including you and me.

The clouds hid Jesus from the disciples sight, but the words of scripture reveal where Jesus went.
“33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:33-35 NIV)
Can you imagine what this would have meant to the disciples who had personally known Jesus? They knew that He was the Christ. The Savior that God promised. They had known Him in life. Then He had been crucified to death. Then He had come back to life, and had been teaching them again for the last 40 days. And then, there He went. With His hands out-stretched He floated up into the blue. Out of sight, into the mystical place where God is. To the Father’s side.

How confident their prayers must have been from then on!

They knew that Jesus was standing right there at the side of the Father. Their Friend. Their Master. He who love them enough to die for them. He was with God. Surely, whatever they prayed would reach the Father through Jesus.

Jesus makes us acceptable to the Father, and He makes our prayers acceptable as well. No prayer that is sent up to the Father can reach Him unless it goes through the Son. That’s why only the prayers of Christ followers are heard by God.

The hymn writer got it right when he wrote,
“What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer” (TLH 457).
Just like Jesus, we entered this world in humble weakness, as little babies. We entered even weaker, for we were dead in sin. Spiritually dead. But because of Jesus we have now been made alive. And ultimately we will leave this world just like Him, in glory and power.

Because of the life, death, resurrection and ascension of God’s Son, we too will ascend to Heaven, to stand with the Heavenly Father Himself.

Until then, let’s do as the disciples of the ascension did. Let’s worship Him who has been raised higher than every power. Let’s be filled with great joy because we know where He has gone, AND that He will return for us. Let us continually worship Jesus because HE LIVES, and has ascended to the throne of His Father so we might live a blessed life now, and for all eternity.

All praise, and honor and glory be to our living and ascended Savior. Amen.

May 9, 2010

Mother's Day Sermon Bites - May 9, 2010

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Mother’s day is a time to remember our mothers, to appreciate them, to honor them and to thank them. For the Christian, Mother’s day is also a time to remember what God says about mothers and to thank God for all the blessings that we receive from Him, through them.

Today’s readings center on one of God’s great blessings to mankind – Mom.

“18The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.
21So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man” (Genesis 2:18, 21-22 NIV).

Before the first mother, came the first wife.

I hope nobody has the idea that Eve was an afterthought. Like God said, “Goodness, now that I’ve made man, I just feel like something’s not quite right. Hmmm, now what did I forget…”

God’s no dummy. He made all the other creatures with mates, He didn’t just forgot when it came to man. God knew full well what He was doing when He made Adam alone. He was making the first piece of the human puzzle. The second piece soon followed.

Eve completed Adam. She filled in his deficiencies, and he hers. I’m not saying God made man and women less than perfect. I’m saying that man and woman were a matched pair from the beginning. They wouldn’t be complete without each other just as the sky wouldn’t be complete without birds, nor the sea without fish.

Man and woman complement each other. Whether it’s men and women from different families that are good friends, or men and women who are joined together in the intimate bond of marriage. We complement each other. God meant us to live side by side.

Personally, I can’t imagine who I would be without my wife. I’m not saying I’m so great, just that I’m one guy who’d be a lot less without HER. I guess that’s why God gave her to me. Proverbs 19, verse 14 says…
“Houses and wealth are inherited from parents,
but a prudent wife is from the LORD” (Proverbs 19:14 NIV)
So, husbands, on this Mother’s Day, thank your wife for all she is to you. For all she does for you. For helping make you who you are. And thank the gracious God above for giving her, to you.

“20 My son, keep your father’s commands
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
21 Bind them upon your heart forever;
fasten them around your neck.
22 When you walk, they will guide you;
when you sleep, they will watch over you;
when you awake, they will speak to you.
23 For these commands are a lamp,
this teaching is a light,
and the corrections of discipline
are the way to life” (Proverbs 6:20-23 NIV).

From the very beginning, a mother is a teacher.

When she cradles her newborn to feed him the first time, his schooling begins. The first lesson is love. It is followed by lessons in patience, diligence, self-sacrifice and duty. Later these lessons will be spoken, but at first mom simply teaches by example.

The subjects in a Christian mother’s classroom vary widely. She teaches simple day-to-day things like tying your shoes and chewing with your mouth closed. But she also teaches the profound. Respect for others. Selflessness. Honesty.

A Christian mother’s curriculum begins with the Bible. She wants her child to know and understand this world. But more than that, she wants her child to know and love the world’s Creator. She wants her child to look in hope and trust to the Savior from sin that the Creator sent.

How many children have been held their own mothers as they were baptized into the Kingdom of Christ? How many Bible story books opened by mom? How many alarm clocks set, so that her children will be there for Sunday School? How many Sunday School lessons taught by mom herself? How many children have learned to trust the God of the Bible by watching mom trust Him and communicate with Him?

Paul wrote the following to a young pastor named Timothy…
“5I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5 NIV)
Thank God for Christian mothers who teach.

“Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too” (Romans 16:13 NIV).
Is Mother’s Day just for women who have given birth? I don’t think so. Many a mother has never felt the pains of labor. Women who adopt. Women who care for children who need them. These are mothers worthy of honor on this day.

And then there are the Christian mothers like Rufus’ mom. Rufus’ mom took the apostle Paul under her wing as if he was her own flesh and blood. And Paul didn’t forget that loving concern.

Can you imagine how touching it must have been for Rufus’ mother when she heard this letter read to the congregation at Rome? Here at the end Paul is greeting different people in the congregation, and then he mentions her in this tender way, “Greet Rufus… and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.”

Paul once instructed pastor Timothy,
“1Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2 NIV).
Here we are reminded of the intimate unity that God desires His followers to have.

Jesus has brought us into a relationship with God the Father by taking our sins away. By faith in Jesus we are God’s own children. And in God’s family, we have MANY mothers. Mothers who by their loving service to their fellow Christians, bring honor to God’s Name.

Jesus told His disciples,
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34 NIV).
Let’s do what Timothy was instructed. Let’s treat the older women among us as our mothers in Christ. Let’s love them, care for them and show the world our faith by our love.

“4But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5 NIV).
Let’s not forget to thank God for the mother of our Savior.

The Son of God had to be human to suffer and die for the human race. So, He was born from a woman named Mary.

Though He had existed from eternity, the Son of God was obedient to His human mother. The Bible says that the twelve-year-old Jesus…
“…went down to Nazareth with [His parents] and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51 NIV).
Later, at the age of thirty, Jesus miraculously turned water into wine at a wedding festival in Cana. People forget Jesus did this miracle after His mother asked Him to help.

Speaking of Jesus and His mother, how could we not mention how He cared for her from the cross. How He looked down and gave her into John’s safe-keeping saying,
“…“Dear woman, here is your son,” 27and to the disciple, “Here is your mother…” (John 19:26-27 NIV).
Of all the ways that Jesus honored His mother, the best is reflected in Mary’s own song of praise. When still pregnant with the Christ Child, Mary sang…
“…my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” (Luke 1:47 NIV).
Mary knew she was a sinner who needed a Savior. And she knew that she had one – the Child in her own womb.

And that Child is our Savior too.

We’ve sinned against our mothers to many times to count. We’ve been disobedient, disrespectful, unloving, impatient, petty and ungrateful. We’ve utterly failed to honor her like we should.

Thankfully, Jesus never sinned against His mom. And His perfect record completely covers our sad and pathetic one.

Thank God for Mary, mother of our Savior. But thank God even more for the Savior Himself – who makes all of us ungrateful brats acceptable through His cross.

Proverbs 31, verse 30 says,
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30 NIV).
May God bless you mothers out there with fear of Him – a great reverent awe over your Creator and rescuer. And may the rest of us see this as your beauty, and praise our Father in heaven because of it.


May 2, 2010

There is Fruit on the Branches - May 2, 2010

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This week's message was written by Pastor David Schaller and preached by Pastor Caleb Schaller. Pastor Dave serves at our sister congregation in Dowagiac, MI. A text version of this sermon is available in the "Ministry by Mail" online archive. Click here and then find the sermon for May 10, 2009 (marked "There is Fruit on the Branches").