Thursday, August 27, 2015

"Of Water and Wine" - Doug Rehberg

            This Sunday we again gather around the table of the Lord for Communion. The first definition of the “Communion” that Webster gives is:  “an act or instance of sharing.” And that’s exactly what we see Jesus doing in Mark 10.  By Mark 10:35, Jesus has already shared the news of the cross three times with His disciples.
In chapter 8 He tells them He will suffer and be rejected by the Jewish religious leaders. In chapter 9 He tells them that He will be betrayed into the hands of men and be killed. But in chapter 10 He’s much more specific. He adds detail. He says He will go to Jerusalem alone (in fact He’s en route), He will be condemned to death. He will be tried in the criminal justice system, mocked, spit upon, flogged, and killed. In other words, His death is not incidental to His life and mission, it’s the goal. It’s His purpose. And nothing underscores our need of the cross than His disciples’ response to this final sharing. In fact, it’s the disciples’ reaction to the news of the cross that is our focus this Sunday.    
Think of it. Every other founder of a religion lived to set an example. But Jesus lived to die. He lived a life of total sacrifice. In Mark 10:45 He says He came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom. Yet, immediately on the heels of His third announcement, the disciples begin to argue about their own greatness. The portrait Mark paints can’t be more striking. Here in miniature we have the main difference between God’s heart and our hearts. He wants to die, we want to rule. He wants to sacrifice, we want to accumulate. He wants to give, we want to receive. He wants to love others, we want to love ourselves. And in the face of the contrast, Jesus asks this question:  “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” It’s a question He continues to ask us.
This Sunday we are going to dig into that question in a message entitled, “Of Water and Wine,” based on Mark 10:35-45. In preparation for Sunday, you may wish to consider the following:
1. On a scale from 1 to 10, how important is your church family to you?

2. Would your membership as affiliation with a local body of Christ ever determine your decision   to move or stay, to seek career opportunities, or remain where you are?

3. What’s Jesus’ response to the declaration of James and John in Mark 10:35?

4. On what grounds do they express this desire?

5. What are they asking in verse 37?

6. Why does Matthew put this request in the mouth of their mother?  (See Matthew 20.)

7. Who does Mark picture at Jesus’ right and left in Mark 15?

8. What does the word “cup” mean in vs. 38?

9. What’s “baptism” mean?

10. What’s Jesus saying about the cross and them?

See you Sunday!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

"The Reward Is Greater Than the Risk" - Ken Wagoner

#1  God is asking  us to take risks in authentic relationships with other brothers and sisters so we can be in a place where confession and admonition are given and received.
#2  God wants us to take risks with our financial resources as Jesus continually pushed His disciples to free themselves from the constrictions of excess money.  Since that time I found this quote which has been helpful for me in regards to this risk:   “There are different varieties of giving:  There is the flint which gives off sparks when struck hard;   there is the lemon which yields juice when it is squeezed;   the rose, orange blossom, jasmine, gardenia, and mint (to mention only a few) release fragrance of ‘their own accord.’  Should not every person ask himself, ‘To which of these groups do I belong.’”
#3  God wants us to take risks in the opportunities we have in our daily lives to bear witness for Him so others may see and hear of His grace and mercy.
If time allows read the following passages to try to receive from God His perspective of what Jesus said to the people of his day. 
  • Read Daniel 3:8-30, the familiar story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as they faced the fiery furnace.  Pay close attention to verses 13-18 as our three brothers seize the opportunity to “bear witness to God’s grace and mercy.”
  • Our Romans passage quotes from Psalm 44.  Read through this trying to see who is to receive glory, what types of “affliction and oppression” we may encounter, and for what reason is glory to be seen.
  • Romans 8:35 uses the words “tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, and sword” as challenges to be faced in the midst of risks we take.  Do you see any of these today in your life, and how do you respond when you experience them?
I thank you for the privilege of being with you this coming Sunday, and look forward to our worship together.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

"Salvation at Sodom" - Doug Rehberg

A few years ago Diane Alm introduced me to a book that I’ve passed on to others ever since I read it. The book is A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss. It’s written by Gerald Sittser, a man whose wife, mother, and young daughter died in a car accident in the Pacific Northwest.
The dustcover reads, “While most of us will not experience such a catastrophic loss in our lifetime, all of us will taste it. And we can, if we choose, know as well the grace that transforms it. A Grace Disguised plumbs the depths of sorrow, whether due to illness, divorce, or the loss of someone we love. The circumstances are not important, what we do with these circumstances is. In coming to the end of ourselves, we can come to the beginning of a new life – one marked by spiritual depth, joy, compassion, and a deeper appreciation of simple blessings.”
This week we travel back in the Scriptures to the time when God’s grace and justice converge on the town of Sodom. For most who recall the story of God pouring out fire and brimstone on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, the justice is in full view, but the grace is hidden. It’s the grace that we want to unmask this Sunday in a message entitled, “Salvation at Sodom”. In all the Old Testament few accounts are more grace-filled than this one. God’s grace is freely dispensed, but the principle recipient doesn’t see it very clearly. In fact, in many ways it’s completely disguised to him, though he’s a chosen, righteous child of God.
The study of Lot and his reaction to God’s grace is a challenge to all believers who dig into Genesis 19:15-30. I hope you will come to Hebron this Sunday fully prepared to dig in.
In preparation for Sunday you may wish to consider the following:

1.      What is the difference between money and grace?

2.      How does God give both to Lot in Genesis 19?

3.      What do you make of God’s statement to Abraham in Genesis 18:20? Who is it who cries out?

4.      How is God’s action in Lot’s life in verse 16 analogous to what He’s done for us and reflected in Jesus’ words in John 6:44?

5.      How is God’s grace seen in verse 17 and God’s command to Lot?

6.      What is the theological significance of “escaping to the hills” in verse 17?

7.      What does Lot mean by his “request” in verse 18?

8.      What is the meaning of “Zoar”?

9.      How is Lot settling for less than God desires for him?

10.  What do you think of this quote from Gerald Sittser?
“The quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to sunrise.”
See you Sunday!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"A Matter of Purpose" - Doug Rehberg

It was one of the first sermons I ever preached. It was entitled, “If You Ain’t Hangin; You Ain’t Fishin”, and it was based on Sunday’s text, John 21:1-22.

In this sermon I remember telling at least two stories. The first was about an old man in Alabama named Dorman Beane. Dorman’s claim to fame was that he was one of the best fly fishermen in the Southeast. In fact, he was so good that he was regularly called on to teach others the art of fly fishing.

What one quickly discovers in learning to fly fish is that it’s hard to master. The rod, the fly, and the line don’t easily cooperate. Therefore, in the beginning, many fly fishermen spend more time untangling their line from over-hanging limbs than they do learning how to move the fly along the surface of the water. And no one knew this any better than Dorman. Whenever he’d sense frustration on the part of a novice fisherman, he’d look them in the eye, wink, and say, “Well, if you ain’t hanging, you ain’t fishin.” In other words, getting all tangled up is just part of the process. It’s part of the joy of fly fishing.

The second story followed the same theme. One time I read about a movie theater owner in Charlottesville, Virginia, who ran the same film every finals week. He didn’t just show it once, he ran it over and over again. The movie? “It’s a Wonderful Life” starring Jimmy Stewart.

And the reason he’d run that movie repeatedly throughout every finals week is because he knew that there was no more intense time of self-doubt and despair than finals week. He knew that it’s a time when many students can feel overwhelmed and insignificant. It’s a time when they can feel like a failure and that their life doesn’t matter. It’s a time when many can identify perfectly with George Bailey and his need for the bigger picture that only Clarence can provide.

Thirty-five years ago when I came to this text that’s what I saw – pure, unadulterated hope in the midst of haunting failure. Think of it. The Risen Lord takes time to come to that beach that morning and do something He never does anywhere else in the gospels, cooks breakfast and then restore an unfaithful failure named Simon Peter.

But that’s only one way into the text. There are a number of themes that run through the economy of words John uses to relate this story.

This Sunday I want to focus on another of those themes – the reiteration of Jesus’ call to Peter. It’s uncanny the similarities between Luke 5:1-10 and John 21. In fact, what Jesus could never have conveyed to Peter in Luke 5, He now coveys in the final moments before His ascension. What Peter and the others could never have understood at the beginning of their walk with Christ, they now can understand in vivid detail. What does it mean to follow Jesus? John lays it out fully in the last chapter of his gospel. So, that’s where we will be on Sunday as we study Jesus on the beach.

In preparation for Sunday’s message you may wish to consider the following:

  1. Review the meals that Jesus is a part of in the gospels. At every meal Jesus gives us a glimpse of His power and purpose. What’s He showing us here?
  2. Why does He point to their fishing failure in verse 5?
  3. What do you make of their repeated poor performance at fishing (Luke 5 and John 21)?
  4.  Why does Jesus ask Peter 3 times if he loves Him?
  5.  What does Jesus mean in verse 16 when He talks about Peter’s dress?
  6.  What’s Jesus’ point in verse 22?
  7.  How does this encounter with Jesus provide us an answer to the question, “What’s my purpose in this world?”

See you Sunday!