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Posts Tagged ‘Philippians’

SundayMarch 14, 2010

9:30AM Service

  1. As It Is In Heaven
  2. Hosanna
  3. Everything
  4. offertory:  It Is Well With My Soul
  5. All Who Are Thirsty

11:00AM Service

  1. Come Thou Almighty King
  2. My Faith Looks Up To Thee

We have something new this week.  Because the vast number of 5 or 6 of you have requested audio of my sermons, I have given in to the mounting pressure and starting today will being posting them.  Above you will find the sermon highlighted and underlined, if you click on that it should begin playing in a few moments.  Now, if there is a dip in attendance, I will just assume it is because you are listening later in the week.  Feel free not to burst my bubble.  That being said, I will be working on ways to create a podcast and possibly in the future a live stream, just in case when you are home because you are sick and find yourself weeping and gnashing your teeth, you can tune in to a portion of our worship service.  All joking aside, I do hope that you find God working in your life through these messages.

This past Sunday we spent time looking back on how God brought the good news of hope to a people who were looking back and only looking back.  I remember watching a movie called “The Edge” with Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin.  Hopkins played a billionaire genius and Baldwin one of his managing partners of one of his businesses.  The two of them and a couple of others fly into the Alaskan backcountry to hunt.  The plane crashes and they are cut off from the safety of any kind of close rescue.  Some of the people panic, but Hopkins character says something important.  He says, “do you know why most people die when they get lost?  They die of shame.”  I don’t think that every time we look back we are looking back out of shame, but many times when we find ourselves floundering in life, it is because we spend so much time looking back on what “could have been” or “if only I had” or “wasn’t it nice when things worked this way”.  We hear these same remarks regarding changing society and politics.  The fact is that you can do nothing to change the past or your present but we can change what we do in the future beginning now.

The big question is, “who do you look to to help you change?”  Sure, if you are reading this blog you probably have some idea of who Jesus is or expect me to answer “Jesus”.  It is the “churchy” answer after all.  Well the answer is… wait for it… ok, it is Jesus, but what Jesus are you talking about?  We have heard the religious answer for so long we forget to question what our religion says about Jesus.  By religion, I do not necessarily mean your denomination, but how does what you think about Jesus tell you about Jesus.  Clarify? Ok.  Here is a little story:

I was traveling out west when I was 20 years old.  I was somewhere in Oregon between Burns and Bend (towns, not states of mind) I picked up this hitchhiker (my wife will not let me do this anymore) and he saw that I had some Christian music.  He says to me, “God and I have this understanding.  I can do dope…) his vocal inflection indicated this was not the end of the sentence, however, that was the end of the sentence (I can’t understand why Amanda doesn’t want me to pick up hitchhikers).  My thought was that God said, “You can do dope, but it will cost you your brain” but that the dude left before God finished his sentence.  This man’s religion was that God was some passive “yoda” character meandering through the universe passing out wisdom to be used or not.  Many of us have an image of God not too unlike this one, maybe with out the pot induced flare.  God tends to be almost a good luck talisman that we run to occasionally without too much expectation that he will or can do anything.  God for many was like my view of Santa when I was 8.  I believed (spoiler alert for your children) that Santa had once been real, but in his old age tripped over his long beard (I really never took drugs, I swear) fell down a chimney and died, and now the spirit o Santa lives in the hearts of parents who like their kids.  There is no magic, just some generous reminiscing.

We do this we God.  We think, yea, once upon a time he may have done some great things, but that was then and this is now.  What is there to rely on?  The prophets told the Israelites then and we are told now, God is not done.  We get very trapped in what we think God did then and doesn’t do now.  We hear of these remarkable stories of parting water, big fish, big boats in the desert, Jericho, burning bushes, etc.  But think about that handful of giant miracles and the 12000 years scripture covers (I hold to a belief that Noah was around 10000 BC.) or even 6000 if you take to a hard line biblical timeline, there are not that many recorded.  There are, however, many smaller miracles of timing and healing, redemption, wisdom, courage, hope, new life, simply from many believing that God was not done yet.

I see miracles in my own life, things I have overcome through faith.  I have had many healing miracles; physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally.  I have experienced these and witnessed these only because I believe that God is not just a God who did some great things at one time in history, but that he is still a God who desires to bring abundant life to us today and that not even death can stop his work.  This moves into an Easter story, but one that will have to wait.  But in the meantime, what miracles are you experiencing?  What new life is God bringing to you?  Do you believe in a God who can still bring these things to you or is your lack of trust in a living God, keeping you from experiencing life today?

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Several years ago some people who had grown up in the same youth ministry that I had put together a Youth Group reunion.  The people who came represented almost 2 decades of youth and adults whose lives had been impacted by this ministry.  It was odd and fun.  Some people had changed, some had not.  Whenever I think of reunions I think of a line spoken by the actress Joan Cusak in the Move Grosse Pointe Blank.  She said that when she had attended her reunion it was as if everyone had swelled.

This was a great chance to catch up with people I hadn’t seen in years.  In reflection of the night, after many stories were told, it came to my attention that there had been a lot of reminiscing but very little talk of what we were doing now or planning for in the future.  While in high school, everything was about the future, and 20 years outside of high school, well, there just seems to be more reminiscing about life lived instead of living life.

Let me be clear, I love telling stories and I love hearing stories about the past, and if anywhere that is appropriate it is at a reunion, if anything it helps you remember who you are talking to in the first place.  What I started wondering was how much of our lives we spend thinking our glory days are behind us?

I have notice that many times Christians fall into two different holes.  One hole is that we glamorize our past and the other hole is that we dismiss it.  This week I am preaching from Philippians 3:4-14 and Isaiah 43: 16-21.  Each of these chapters deal with looking to the future.  Both Paul and Isaiah bring up their past, but they bring it up in light of who God is and what God promises.  This Sunday, I plan on exploring the idea that the greatest of what God plans is not over, that as good and great as things may have been in the past (and this includes pasts that our ancient, think Old Testament), that God is not through.

There is also another thought we will need to look at.  When the Beatles wrote the song “It’s Getting Better All the Time”, the story goes that John in his glib nature added, “it can’t get much worse”.  Many of us feel that.  To look back is to look at pain.  But many of us are in too much pain to move forward, we’re just stuck.  The question put before you is, “do you trust God enough to hand him your pain?”

That is the heart of the question, do we trust God enough with our joy and our pain?  Do we believe that all we need is Christ.  Paul wasn’t saying that his past was worthless, he was just saying that in light of what Christ promises, anything is worthless by comparison.  A phrase not to bring shame, but excitement.  It means when we gather together, we can look to the future with excitement and not just a pocket full of stories.

To prepare for our worship this Sunday meditate and pray on the following;

  1. What do I expect to receive from God this weekend?
  2. What can He expect from me?
  3. What are ways I have refused his grace and offers of Life this past week? (how have I ignored God)
  4. What are ways I have embraced them? (how have I seen God)
  5. Ask God to prepare your life (heart) for renewal and the courage to live out that life.
  6. Ask God to soften your spirit so that you might receive and respond to the work he desire to do in your life and those around you.
  7. Pray for me and those who serve on Sunday morning that we might be examples of Christ’s presence.

Feel free to share you insights and questions from reading this weeks Scripture lesson.

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