You Still Don’t Know Me?

Jesus with sheep

Introduction

Has anyone here ever been friends with someone very long…close friends…

And then, one day, they ask a question or make a statement that makes you scratch your head, turn to them, and ask…

“You’ve known me this long, and you say that?”

They should know better than that!

If you’ve ever been in that situation, then the question they asked (or the statement they made) probably didn’t have very positive implications. Do they not understand your character well enough to know that there is no way you would have done, said, etcetera that?!

Today, we are going to discuss a situation like that with Jesus. I wouldn’t say the statement was negative…

But it showed that the questioner didn’t quite learn from his experiences with our Lord.

Hopefully we will. 🙂

Philip’s Question

Let’s turn together to the verses that inspired this sermon, John 14:1-11:

14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

I know that’s a pretty long selection, but I wanted you to get a flavor of the conversation before it got to the punch line, which is in verse 9. Let’s review verses 8 and 9 again…

8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

I don’t know about you, but my experience with Christ through the Word doesn’t have anger in Jesus’ response…but perhaps there is a little disappointment. “Have I been with you so long and you still don’t know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

Think about that.

[Read more…]

10, 2, 1

10 Commandments

PowerPoint Presentations

As part of my work, I often have to put together PowerPoint presentations. One rule for effective slides is to show some data…for instance, a graph…and then make three points or conclusion.

Not two points.

Not four points.

Definitely not ten points.

But three. It’s like a golden number.

And it is effective.

Ten

However, three is not perfect for every situation. Yes, it may be ideal for executives in business, but it would be ridiculous in life to force every presentation of information into three bullet items.

[Read more…]

“Sing, Sing a Song”

Children singingKaren Carpenter

Is there anybody else who, when they hear a song from a certain group or artist…no matter how much they enjoy it…cannot help but feel some sadness because of what happened to someone involved with the tune?

For me, this is true when I hear a Carpenters hit. Are you familiar with that brother-sister group, Richard and Karen Carpenter? Anyone know why I feel a little depression when I hear their music?

That’s right…Karen’s life was cut way too short. She was only 32 when heart failure took her away from us. However, the underlying reason for her death was anorexia…something she apparently battled from her teenage years thanks to being called “chubby.”1

Based on that last bit of info, I could do a sermon about what how we should control our words…for instance:

29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29)

Do you think that those who called teenage Karen “chubby” were building her up, had words fitting words for the occasion, or were giving grace to those who hear?

Grace to Karen? [Read more…]

Sati

Baby feetIn the Beginning

“In the beginning…”

Are there any more famous words than “in the beginning”?

Let’s turn back to “in the beginning” and look God’s handiwork:

1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. 8 And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good (Genesis 1:1-10).

I know that a bit of a long reference…but I wanted to get to the very last word we read…which was?

Good.

“And God saw that it was good.” [Read more…]

“You Keep Lyin’ When You Oughta Be Truthin’”

Woman with long nose“These Boots Were Made for Walkin'”

Ideas for sermons come from all kinds of things…although I’ll admit I especially like it when folks ask for me to preach on a topic. However, music is often what puts a topic into my head, although sometimes it is tangental to the subject of the song itself. This week, listening to Nancy Sinatra singing “These Boots Were Made for Walkin'” inspired today’s talk. [Read more…]

Evil Walks

Skull with red eyes

AC/DC

Who remembers the album that caused the Australian group, AC/DC, to finally explode in America?

That’s right…”Back in Black.”

I remember it because I was a normal rock-and-roll loving, 16 year-old teenager when it came out. Nothing like it ever was released before and, I would argue, nothing equal has come out since…even from AC/DC.

Now, does anyone remember what the next new studio album from AC/DC was after that?

“For Those About to Rock.”

As a rock release, it is near as good as its predecessor…and it has a song that came to mind when the subject of this sermon came to me. The tune is “Evil Walks” and its chorus is:

Evil walks behind you

Evil sleeps beside you

Evil talks arouse you

Evil walks behind you

Two recent incidents have reminded me of how true the overall thought behind those verses is…which is that we are surrounded by evil.

A Trial and a Massacre

A Trial

The first incident actually happened back in May of 2017…but intersected my life when I was chosen for jury duty last month.

On May 20, 2017, a man in his late 40s, who had desired an intimate relationship with a 20 year-old woman (who he first met when she was 15), snapped after running some errands with her. It started with him getting angry when she wouldn’t tell him who she was texting…and he threw her smartphone out of her car window. [Read more…]

Hope

Hope signFaith, Hope, and Love

This is sermon three of three based on a wonderful verse in the Bible. Let’s turn to 1 Corinthians 13:13:

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Although it is the third in the series, it is second in that list. We are going to talk about hope.

How would you define hope? [Wait for answers]

My Mac’s dictionary defines “hope” this way:

1 a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen: he looked through her belongings in the hope of coming across some information | I had high hopes of making the Olympic team.

• a person or thing that may help or save someone: their only hope is surgery.

• grounds for believing that something good may happen: he does see some hope for the future.

I think the first and third one fit my perception of hope…although I think they miss that hope also implies doubt…that you think something good is going to happen…or want it to happen…but you know it might not. There is at least a little bit of doubt mixed in.

Today we’ll create two lists: things not to hope in, and things to hope in. Neither will be exhaustive, but both will be informative. 🙂

Do Not Put Your Hope in…

Based on the verses I found searching for hope in the English Standard Version, the Book of Psalms would be a great place to study a biblical view of hope. Let’s turn there for our first example of what not to hope in:

10  Put no trust in extortion;

set no vain hopes on robbery;

if riches increase, set not your heart on them (Psalm 62:10).

Out of that, can you identify two things not to put your hope in?

Crime or money. [Read more…]

“All You Need Is Love”

Beatles Love album

The Beatles

I can’t say I was ever much of a Beatles fan. They broke up before I started really enjoying music…and, other than a few of their tunes like “Hey Jude,” “Yesterday,” and “Come Together,” none were my favorites.

However, they did one song that is fitting for this sermon:

Love, love, love

Love, love, love

Love, love, love

There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done

Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung

Nothing you can say, but you can learn how to play the game

It’s easy

Nothing you can make that can’t be made

No one you can save that can’t be saved

Nothing you can do, but you can learn how to be you in time

It’s easy

All you need is love, all you need is love

All you need is love, love, love is all you need

So, what do you think…is all you need is love?

First of all, what is love? It’s a word we throw around a lot. For instance, I love cookie dough ice cream. I love the way you did your hair. Didn’t you love how that movie inspired you?

Don’t worry…I’m not going to do a sermon on the three types of love in scripture: brotherly, erotic, and agape.

But I do think it’s important to note that when, up here at the pulpit, I speak of love I am speaking of a biblical love, not a worldly one.

Not one of desire or one of flippant use.

But is love all you need?

[Read more…]

Of Coarse

Woman covering mouth

He Allegedly Did It Again

I want everyone to know that I actually decided on the subject of this sermon before President Donald Trump allegedly decided to use an obscene word to describe some countries. I find it interesting that so many in society that warranted this talk are now acting so aghast at his language.

And it is more than ironic that their response is often more foul than his cuss word was.

Is It Wrong to Swear?

Wait.

I should step back for a moment and see if we have consensus.

Is it wrong to swear?

Notice I didn’t ask, “Is it wrong for Christians to swear?” Although levels of accountability are tied to knowledge, moral laws are universal. We Christians just have less excuse when we break them.

Is it wrong to swear?

[Read more…]

“There Is a Sickness in People That Stops Them from Seeing the Truth”

Chalkboard with "knowledge" written on it“The Secret Scripture”

Back in 2016, based on a novel of the same name from 2008, the movie “The Secret Scripture” was released. I have not seen it and don’t plan to, but I did see its trailer on Vudu. Within that trailer there was a statement that seemed so appropriate for the modern age:

“There is a sickness in people that stops them from seeing the truth.”

Do you agree?

Does there seem to be a devastating epidemic that is blinding the world, stopping them from seeing the truth?

Spiritual truth that is obvious if…if only…if only they would open their eyes and hearts and see it?

“There is a sickness in people that stops them from seeing the truth.” [Read more…]

Two or Three Witnesses

Boss harassing

Eight

Eight.

That is the number of women who have accused senate candidate Roy Moore of wrongdoing. It was actually hard selecting the right word for the accusations since they vary from true crimes to a creepy affinity for dating younger girls.

This sermon is not to tell you what to believe about the allegations, the accusers, or Roy Moore.

Instead, as headlines are filled with accusations of sexual improprieties…I want to see if we can establish some guidelines on how we should deal with them. Since Moore is a professing Christian, his case seems an especially apropos starting point for the conversation.

However…one quick sidetrack…

Coming to Light

One of my favorite people on Twitter is Karen Prior, an author and professor at Liberty University. Back on October 12 she tweeted:

From flags to sex, to politics, to entertainment & power, America’s idols are being revealed–a moment of grace, if only we will receive it.1

[Read more…]

Getting to Know You

Jesus with book

Crowning Someone King

This morning let’s hop right into God’s Word by turning to John 2:23-25:

23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

Good news: many believed in Jesus.

Bad news: even then, they weren’t trustworthy.

When I read those verses, I am reminded of in incident back in the Old Testament. King David sinned by taking a census, and God gave him three options for punishment:

13 So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, “Shall three years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land? Now consider, and decide what answer I shall return to him who sent me.” 14 Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man” (2 Samuel 24:13-14).

Like Jesus, David knew what was in man.

Man cannot be trusted.

[Read more…]

WDJD: Prayer (According to Mark)

Jesus prayingCloverton

Although I know some of you couldn’t make it because it was on a school night, the Lord really blessed many (and will bless many more) thanks to the Cloverton concert this past Tuesday to benefit the CARES Food Bank of Strasburg.

Right Deb and Michelle? 🙂

There were three churches involved. We sponsored it with the Strasburg Community Church and Mountain View Fellowship co-sponsoring. I cannot thank their ministers, Steve and Donn respectively, enough for all the help they and their congregations provided. From a place for the band to sleep to food to being insta-roadies…it was an incredible coming together of brothers and sisters in Christ to help feed the hungry.

And some awesome music praising the Lord!

I’d also like to mention a neat thing that happened to Steve, Donn, the Strasburg Community Youth Pastor Steve, and me. Show time was 7:00 PM…and we went down to the green room at quarter of to confirm some logistics around introductions/etc. When we got to the bottom of the stairs and just outside the green room’s door we had to stop.

Do you know why?

So we wouldn’t interrupt the earnest, lengthy prayer of the band.

And that’s when we 100% knew we made the right decision bringing those godly young men to Strasburg!

WDJD

And that prayer convinced me to add another entry to the series I began with when I started preaching in the Church of Christ. Back in Antrim, NH I first spoke once a month…and the first three sermons were based on WDJD, “What did Jesus do?” The very first was February 22, 2009…”WDJD: Scripture.”

[Read more…]

Women and Children First

Man getting into a lifeboatSinking Ships

I am not one to really want to travel on vacations, but one experience I do want to have is to go on a cruise. Anybody else here never done that, but want to?

Now, let’s imagine together that I get my wish and I, and a whole bunch of other people, are over 1,000 miles from the coast and the ship starts sinking. Who should get in the lifeboats first?

Of course!:

Women and children first!

But why? Why do we say, “Women and children first?”

Widows and Orphans

Before we answer that, I’d like to mention that the concept of women and children first is at least tangentially biblical. Not too long the adult Bible study went through James, and we read this in James 1:27:

27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

A short, to the point statement from a “to the point” writer. A pure and undefiled religion before God, in great measure, is to visit orphans and widows. There we have a subset of “women and children first.”

James is not the first Scripture author to identify the importance of remembering widows and orphans. King David praised this as a characteristic of the Most High in Psalm 68:4-5:

4  Sing to God, sing praises to his name;

lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts;

his name is the LORD;

exult before him!

5  Father of the fatherless and protector of widows

is God in his holy habitation.

[Read more…]

Does God Regret or Relent?

Cloud of the word regret

Do You Regret?

Do you ever regret something you said or did? Or something you should have said or did…and didn’t?

I think any human with a conscience regrets over time…hindsight has a way of ensuring that. We are not like Adolf Eichmann, a major player in the Holocaust, who (while on trial in Israel), said:

To sum it all up, I must say I regret nothing.1

Of course, he may have just been pretending…but one would have to have a totally seared conscience to have been heavily involved in Nazi atrocities. Instead, I am like Letitia Elizabeth Landon, who may have only lived 36 years in the early 1800s, but lived long enough to pen this in her poem Despondency:

Were it better to forget

Than but remember and regret?

It is better to forget than regret in my opinion…as someone who, when he looks back, regrets much. You?

Omniscience and Immutability

How about God? Does God regret? Also, does relent?

[Read more…]