Sermon Blog - Entries from March 2013

    SunSundayMarMarch31st2013 Clearing the Way: Emptied “Clearing the Way” is going to be a 4-week study through the letter Paul wrote to the 
    Colossians.  They were a church he had never visited but he was excited to hear about their 
    faith in Christ.  At the same time, he was encouraging them to let their faith become more than 
    just belief but to allow God to do great things through their everyday lives.  But first they had to 
    clear away the questions, the human rules, past mistakes, and anything else that was holding 
    them back.

    Today we’re going to look at being EMPTIED but before we start talking about the things in our 
    life that need to be emptied, being Easter Sunday I want us to celebrate what God emptied for 
    us.

    One of the biggest lies people tell about Jesus isn’t that He wasn’t real – it’s that He’s not really 
    God.  But they don’t say Jesus isn’t really God, they just try to throw doubts about what that 
    means.  They try to make Jesus more like us and less like God on the throne.  If they succeed, 
    then they’ve convinced people that Jesus is something less than God, not worthy of faith, and 
    unable to truly change their lives.

    Colossians 1: 15-23
    John 20: 19-21
    Romans 8: 5-6
    Audio Pathway_2013_03_31.mp3
    SunSundayMarMarch24th2013 Broken
    byJeremy Flanagan Tagged Isaiah Matthew Romans 0 comments Add comment

    Too often our problem is that we don’t want to admit we’re broken.  We are separated from God because of what we’ve done but if we don’t accept that fact, then we’ll never do what’s necessary to fix the problem.  It’s like having something we’ve broken and tried to fix sitting there, waiting to see if someone ever finds out.  We think we’ve got everyone fooled but if they come near it, if they pick it up, we hold our breath waiting to see if they notice.  Because we know eventually, surely someone will notice.  It’s that mindset that deep down knows they need to come out and accept the truth but our desire to make everyone think we’re OK keeps us from admitting what’s inside.

     

    Jesus had this problem when He began preaching to the religious elite of His day.  And while we may not call ourselves religious elite, if you aren’t admitting to God that you need Him to make you whole, then you have something in common with the Pharisees.  When Jesus preached, you could practically hear them thinking that what Jesus said didn’t apply to them.  They were the exception to the sermons about sinful people.  They were the ones living good enough to make God happy.  But Jesus wanted them to see that only perfection makes God happy and none of them were perfect.

     

    Isaiah 59: 1-2

    Matthew 23: 27-28

    Romans 5: 6-9

    Audio Pathway_2013_03_24.mp3
    SunSundayMarMarch17th2013 Hot Button Issues: Outwardly Effective
    byJeremy Flanagan Tagged No tags 0 comments Add comment
    ** No Audio Available **

    In this last sermon in our series "Hot Button Issues", I try to give some advice on how to openly share your beliefs in a way that is effective.  While in no way comprehensive, we cover 4 brief points to remember to help you get started living out your faith in public.

    FIRST:  You must know what you believe.  Firmly, open but ready, having answered yourself the questions or doubts that will be thrown at you.

    1 Peter 3: 13-17

    One of the main reasons we don’t do most things in life that we want to do is that we don’t feel ready to take on the challenge ahead of us.  Maybe at one point you thought about a different career but you didn’t want to invest the time or money to go that direction.  Maybe you want to run a 5K but can’t make yourself start walking 1 mile a day to build up to it.  Maybe there’s a new hobby or skill that you think would be fun to learn but it just seems like it would take too much time to ever get good enough for you to enjoy it.  But don’t necessarily beat yourself up over any of these things because everything I mentioned is optional.  We all have to make decisions about whether or not it’s worth our time & effort to become good at something.  If won’t feel like it is, then we pass and go on to something else.  But when it comes to being a witness for God, He didn’t give us an option.  It’s a COMMAND.  And our problem is that if we aren’t prepared, if we haven’t taken the little steps to slowly build up our knowledge, our faith, our ability to effectively share God’s Word, then we’re probably going to be so worried about failure that we’ll never take a stand.

    (v. 14)  If you know what you’re doing and you know what you’re doing is right, then you’ll be prepared when people stand against you.  Not necessarily prepared to “win” the argument, but ready to take on the negative reactions without losing your composure.

    (v. 15-16)  When you’re ready to take a stand without losing your composure, you can be strong and still have gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience and disarming their attacks that you’re just a mean, closed-minded person.  They’ll still make those accusations, but if you presented God’s truth in the right way, everyone looking on will see they are speaking maliciously against your good behavior.

    (v. 17)  Would you rather have someone who hates God love you, or for a God that loves are you willing to take a stand?

    SECOND:  You mustn’t take criticism or disagreement personal.  

    John 15: 18-21

    See it for what it is: if you’re standing for truth and someone disagrees, it’s because they don’t want to accept the truth.  They may not know the reasons they don’t want to accept the truth but it boils down to conviction.  If you respond to them with anger in the same way they defensively respond to you, you won’t do any good.

    One of the biggest problems we can face is if we take all the criticism and anger directed towards our Biblically correct, moral position as a personal attack.  In the passage we read earlier from 1 Peter 3 it said to do things with gentleness and respect but as you very well know, if you tell people the truth from the Bible sometimes they come back hard.  Are you supposed to give up ground?  Are you supposed to wither away?  Well, that depends.

    1.    Know who you’re dealing with and know how you can approach them before you start.
    2.    Second, If you’re going up against someone who likes to fight and you’re not ready to push back without letting it feel personal, then you need to step back.
    3.    Third, when the back and forth goes on long enough, you need to make sure you don’t lose sight of what you’re doing and start acting in a way that crosses the line
    4.    Fourth, even if both of you know that you are having an honest back-and-forth, do it in a way or in a form where people on the outside won’t get you’re playing confused with fighting.  They won’t always come up to you, blow a whistle, and ask.

    THIRD:  Just as you need to be aware that people aren’t really mad at you but at what you stand for, you need to understand that your goal may not always be to disprove their argument but possibly to reach past their argument to the core problem: a desire to accept sin  -- because of guilt, misplaced compassion, or just plain desire itself.

    When Jesus was answering the questions from Nicodemus, He gave one of the best known scriptures because it simply states what Christianity is about, but most of the time we don’t go much past John 3:16 to see why Christ had to come into the world and why they hated Him.

    John 3: 16-21

    The core problem: a desire to accept sin
    •    because of guilt – no one likes having their mistakes out in the open
    •    misplaced compassion – we don’t enjoy confronting sins of people we love
    •    just plain desire itself. – and sometimes we just like sin more than being in the Light

    Any of these reasons can push us to either accept sin or at least to remain silent.  But the purpose isn’t to simply combat sin, it is to get people to realize that because of sin there is a void in their heart that can only be filled by accepting Jesus as Savior.  Now I’m not saying that a person can have saving faith in Christ and still truly believe some of these un-Biblical issues, but I think it’s a hard combination to see in action.  But don’t make assumptions either way.  Get to answers by asking questions and sometimes that means stepping around the ones they’re asking.  When I’m talking to someone about the big two, homosexuality or abortion, I generally try to take it back to a question of whether or not they believe the Bible is completely true.  If not, then my defense is easy.

    We get scared of being labeled a bigot, sexist, closed minded, unloving, hateful, spiteful, hypocritical, Bible thumping Christian, or any other series of adjectives you can think of.  But we need to turn the argument to one of two choices:  those who fully accept the Bible and those who don’t.  Don’t allow someone to get you to debate individual passages of scripture until you get them to admit whether or not they fully accept the Bible as truth – as fact – as God inspired not something man-made.  Once you settle that, then you’re struggle becomes easier.  They reject your basis of faith – NOT YOU!!!  And you’re calling out their lack of trust in the Bible, not just their positions on a singular topic.

    Debating Homosexuality:  Is Romans chapter 1 saying that all homosexuality is wrong and does 1 Corinthians 6 say the same or is there an argument that it’s talking about something else?  For the record, they both say that homosexuality is a sin but before you start that debate, get them to admit whether they believe the parts of the Bible that say Jesus is the only way to heaven.

    Debating Abortion:  Does Psalm 139 show that God sees us as a living person while still in the mother’s womb or can we just not wrap our mind around His omnipresence?  Does Exodus 21 still carry weight in saying that harming an unborn child is wrong?  Before you fight those questions, get them to admit whether or not they believe in the resurrection of the saints and the physical return of Christ.

    FOURTH:  The only thing that will truly change someone is Jesus.  It may be necessary to challenge someone in the arena of ideas in order to get them to question their beliefs.  But if all we do is win a battle for a single moral issue but that person hasn’t accepted Christ, we haven’t finished our work.  Only Jesus can completely change someone and we have to find a way through these “battles” to let His love be shown.  When you can do that, you’re truly Outwardly Effective.

    2 Peter 3: 3-4, 9

    People will reject our beliefs, attack our integrity, and twist scripture to fit their personal desires.  What we have to realize is that the reason God is taking His time is that His patience is allowing those who attack Him to have a chance to hear the gospel and place their faith in Him.  God is giving us time to reach them.  It’s not a question of why He’s taking His time, the question is whether or not we’re doing the work to become OUTWARDLY EFFECTIVE with God’s truth.


    SOME ONLINE RESOURCES FOR YOUR PERSONAL USE

    Again, like I've said with the multiple resources I've posted the last few weeks, know that I don't agree with everything found on any of the sites I've linked to.  I do however agree with most things, especially their material dealing with current social issues of which we've been discussing.  When it comes to basic theology, be VERY careful when you're going online for answers.  But do use these sites as a place to hear different ideas on the "Hot Button Issues" we've covered.
    SunSundayMarMarch10th2013 Hot Button Issues: Abortion
    byJeremy Flanagan Tagged No tags 0 comments Add comment
    I am still working to compile and narrow down my list of recommended resources on the topic of abortion, but I wanted to put a few things up immediately so you'd have them directly after the sermon was preached.

    Full video clip of Dr. Voddie Baucham on his personal ties to abortion
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VDA8acKNSk&list=UUcMOKkB4dXmVgYEF13PqnLQ&index=12

    New Beginnings -- a local organization helping those with unexpected pregnancies:  providing free testing, limited ultrasounds, counseling, abortion alternatives, and educational information
    http://www.ssnewbeginnings.org/

    Article on ministering to women struggling with post abortion trauma
    http://www.lifeway.com/ArticleView?storeId=10054&catalogId=10001&langId=-1&article=Ministering-to-women-struggling-with-post-abortion-trauma

    These are the three I wanted up immediately, but there are going to be many more resources and articles that give detailed information, statistics, and resources on abortion.
    Audio Pathway_2013_03_10.mp3
    SunSundayMarMarch3rd2013 Hot Button Issues: Politics & Religion
    byJeremy Flanagan Tagged 1 Peter Mark Romans 0 comments Add comment
    I know most of you have heard the old saying “I’ll talk about anything except religion or politics”, but I guess I’ve never been one to abide by such sayings.  That’s because today we’re going to talk about both.  As we look at how churches and Christians today should be or not be involved in political matters, we’ll look at the history of our country as it pertains to religion, address when it’s time to act, and the difference between a church role and an individual responsibility regarding faith and politics.

    The sermon is not yet available for download but will be soon this coming week.

    You can also browse through the links below to find different resources pertaining to this subject and specifically the origins of the “separation of church and state”.  As with other links I’ve provided in the past few weeks, I want to make clear that I don’t agree with everything put out by any of the sources listed and I don’t even agree with everything listed in the articles linked below when it comes to the writers’ opinions.  However the facts are important to know and opinions, even when contradictory, allow you to hear multiple sides of an argument that isn’t defined by scripture but one where abiding by scriptural guidelines is important.  I have many books and other resources on these topics that you can borrow, but I tried to find web-based articles that cover the same material to make it easier to share historical facts and current opinion.

    Romans 13: 1-5
    1 Peter 3: 15-16
    Mark 12: 28-31

    A few articles giving complimentary but somewhat opposing views as to the importance of Christians being involved in political matters.

    Articles on the religious history of colonial America (Puritans, Pilgrims, colonial “state” religions, and church in the capitol building)

    Articles on the “Separation of Church and State”

    Other varied (and unsubstantiated) sources with a lot of information

    Audio Pathway_2013_03_03.mp3

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