Tuesday, December 26, 2017

"Second Stage Christians" - Doug Rehberg

Soren Kierkegaard once wrote, “Whenever faith does not issue in love…and dogma, however orthodox, is unrelated to life…whenever Christians are tempted to settle down to a self-centered religion…and become oblivious to the needs of others; or whenever they deny by their manner of living the creeds they profess, and seem more anxious to be friends of the world than friends of God, then the Epistle of James has something to say to them…which they disregard at their peril.” That’s how Kierkegaard introduces the Book of James to his readers.

Beginning Sunday, January 7, we will embark on a study of the letter of James to Christians scattered across the world. It’s a letter that has a lot to say to those who are intentional about moving themselves and others along in the Christian life from engagement to being fully established in Christ. And it’s a natural sequel to our examination of the commands of Christ.

This Sunday is a bit of a “bridge” between our last series, “A Charge to Keep” and our new series, “The Wisdom of James”. Our message is entitled “Second Stage Christians”. Our text is James 1:17-27. While this text will be examined much more carefully in the weeks to come, this week we want to check out three clear pieces of advice James wishes to give to those who are serious about moving toward maturity in the Christian life. Of all the topics to entertain at the end of one year and the beginning of the next, I can’t think of a better one.

See you Sunday!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

"Go and Sell" - Doug Rehberg

This Sunday, Christmas Eve morning, we come to the end of our Fall series, “A Charge to Keep”. After many weeks of examining some of Jesus’ commands, it’s clearer than ever that there’s only one way to “keep”, “observe”, or “obey” all that Jesus has commanded us -and that’s to be more about Him and less about us.

Martin Luther once said that it’s neither us nor God who needs our good works, it’s our neighbors. He, of course, was right. Luther knew that any goodness or obedience that brings us into “lock-step” with Jesus never improves our standing with God or His devotion to us, but it does certainly redound to the benefit of others.

You say, “But how does anyone get better? How do we grow in grace? Paul answers that plainly and succinctly in II Corinthians 5:14 when he says, “For the love of God controls (constrains, motivates, changes) us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died…that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” What Paul is saying is that it is the kindness, the unconditional love of God that leads us to His throne and to our knees. If getting better is by “spit and elbow grease”, it won’t last. It doesn’t work. But, if you let Jesus love you, if you take yourself to His cradle and cross you and your desires will begin to fade and His beauty will grow to possess your heart.

This Sunday we will read Luke’s birth narrative as our companion text – Luke 2:1-7, but examining Mark 10:17-27. It’s the story of the rich young man who comes to Jesus.

It’s a text that most of you have read many times. However, in my experience I’ve never heard it read and preached on Christmas or Christmas Eve. That’s a shame, because it’s all about the how and the why of the incarnation.

In preparation for Sunday’s message entitled, “Go and Sell”, you may wish to consider the following:
  1. What do you know of the Fulton Street revival?
  2. Check out the parallel accounts of this encounter in Matthew and Luke.
  3. What additional detail do they offer?
  4. What parallels do you see with Luke 10:25-28?
  5. Why does the man run to Jesus?
  6. Why does Jesus cite five commandments in answering the man’s question?
  7. What does verse 20 tell us about this man’s self-concept?
  8. Why does Jesus command him to go and sell all that he has?
  9. What’s Jesus mean in verse 27?
  10. Why does Mark add the detail in verse 21(a)?
See you Sunday!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

"Taking a Seat" - Barrett Hendrickson

I'm glad to be back in the pulpit this coming Sunday. Writing and preaching sermons was probably the thing I feared the most when I started my MDiv. program. However preaching, and more specifically, preparing to preach has become a great joy for me, as I have to dig into the riches of Scripture more deeply before I come in front of you on Sundays. So, thanks for the opportunity.
Our Scripture this week is from Luke 14. I was assigned this in late September, and have gone through many different options of what to preach. But as I have been doing my homework for my Theology of Ministry class, this text came up quite a bit in the context of leadership. As we all seek how God is going to use us (not just me and my classmates, but you, and the rest of the Church catholic) in His plan, consider what God has used in the past. I read a chapter of The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer as an assignment last week. God used a dead stick of wood to lead Israel out of Egypt, part a sea, win a battle, pour water from a rock, and heal unbelief.

As you prepare for worship Sunday morning, consider who God used to promote His plan throughout the Old Testament. Notice birth orders of Ishmael and Isaac, Esau and Jacob, Jacob's children, Jesse's children, and who receives the blessing. The oldest should be the blessed, but it is clear that God's ways are not our ways. As we look at Luke chapter 14, we see Jesus teaching that exact thing. The Lord works in the Lord's way. I look forward to seeing you Sunday morning.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

"The Eyes Have It" - Doug Rehberg

This week we are in the gospel of Luke looking at another one of Jesus’ commands that’s attached to a promise. Here He says, “Give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measurement you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)

What is immediately interesting is that Luke’s account of this command is an expansion of what Matthew tells us in his report of the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 7, the text Ken Wagoner preached a month ago, the record of Jesus’ words is abbreviated. After warning us of exercising condemnation against another, Jesus says, “…with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” What’s missing is the command to give.

Now there are a number of reasons for Matthew’s brevity and Luke’s expansiveness, but central to Luke’s addition of the command to give is his understanding and appreciation of the link between our giving and our concept of and relationship with God.

Throughout the Old Testament law, caring for the poor was central to the faith of Israel. While many surrounding cultures observed dietary laws and purity rituals, what made the faith of Israel unique were the lengthy lists of commands to care for the least, the last, and the lost. Yearly tithes were gathered for the poor. Loans to the needy were given without interest. If debts could not be repaid in seven years, they were forgiven. If hard times forced a farmer to sell his land, it was to be returned in the year of Jubilee, which took place every fifty years. The God of Israel was unique in tying worship of Him with compassion for others. When His people began to believe that rituals were all He required, God sent His prophets to remind them that justice to the poor was His greatest concern. And this was the hear t of Jesus’ teaching as well.

However, Jesus goes further than the Torah and the prophets to zero in on the reason for giving beyond the needs of the economically and socially needy. He tied giving to God’s plan for redemption. And nowhere can we get a clearer picture of that than in His command to give.

We are going to dig into this command in earnest this Sunday by unpacking three aspects of verse 38. In a message entitled, “The Eyes Have It” we will hope to see the blessing inherent in this oft-heard command. In preparation for Sunday you may wish to consider the following:
  1. How do you define redemption?
  2. How does Jesus’ command in verse 38 obligate both the giver and the Lord?
  3. Read Matthew 6:19-24. How does “the eye as the lamp of the body” relate to giving?
  4. What does “the eye” refer to?
  5. How does the master in Matthew 29:1-16 show a “good eye”?
  6. How does Genesis 22:9-14 shed light on “the good eye”?
  7. How does having a “bad eye” reveal your view of God?
  8. What is the reason for all the descriptors of the kind of gift God will provide to those who give?
  9. What does Jesus mean when He says that the gift will be “put into your lap”?
  10. How does the incarnation prove all this?
See you Sunday!