There is a heaviness hanging like a cloud over many hearts this Christmas Season. The sounds of Christmas joy are muffled by the kettle drum beats of fear, loneliness, and uncertainty. Hearts that were once full of joy, excitement, and expectation are hollow and the emptiness wrings out the soul. Many are the scenarios that could be shared this morning, but those who are experiencing the emotions that I am describing don’t need a scenario, they are living the story of heaviness as we speak. Continue reading “The Gift of Christmas: Mighty God Isaiah 9:1-7”
Isaiah was a prolific prophet in perilous times. He wrote 66 chapters that are filled with judgment, justice, love, and redemption. Throughout all 66 chapters, through the hard times as well as the seasons of peace and prosperity, there is a thread of hope. Some of the most vivid and awe-inspiring words of hope that have ever been produced are found in the pages of Isaiah. His brilliant and encouraging words are set against a backdrop of politically and spiritually unsettling and disastrous times. God moved upon Isaiah’s heart and he was able to write about God’s promises because he had his mind and heart fixed upon the sovereignty of Almighty God rather than the situations that the nation and the people found themselves enduring. You and I will benefit tremendously over the next four weeks if we will study this passage of Isaiah through and through, but for today we will fix our gaze upon one title that Isaiah gave to Jesus, our Messiah–He is the Wonderful Counselor. Continue reading “The Gift of Christmas: Wonderful Counselor Isaiah 9:1-7”
God has placed within the heart, hands, and soul of men incredible power to heal or hurt, build up or tear down, comfort or crush, and serve or enslave. Throughout history we can see glaring examples of both extremes. When men decide to do something… good or bad, something happens.
It had the feel of New York and yet there was nothing new about Ephesus. The city was founded 1200 years before the birth of Jesus. By the time the Apostle Paul made his way to Ephesus on his missionary journey, Ephesus was the fourth largest city in the world with a population of 250,000 people.
Ephesus was known for its commerce which began each day as soon as the sun came up in the morning. There were people from all over the world arriving and setting sail all throughout the day as ships docked and set sail from Ephesus into the Aegean Sea. The city sat at the mouth of the mighty Cayster River which made Ephesus a major trade route in Asia Minor. Continue reading “God’s King Revelation 1:1-8”
Throughout history there have been times of incredible pressure placed upon the Church, God’s people. Persecution, pressure, and perilous times have been created by tyrants and enemies of God who sought to silence the work of God in the lives of His people. What do you do if you are living under the oppressive hand of Pharaoh in Egypt for four hundred years? If we are talking about four months of oppression then maybe you can tighten your grip and pray to wait out the storm. Four years? The opposition and persecution would surely take its toll upon the minds and spirits of God’s people, but if we are talking about four hundred years of slavery then you had better come up with a better plan.
There have been others besides Pharaoh who have sought to squeeze the life out of God’s people. If you will remember King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon applied pressure to young Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego for refusing to bow down to an idol made with human hands? The King told them that they could either bow down to his golden image or he would throw them into a blazing fire. The three Hebrews responded to King Nebuchadnezzar. Continue reading “The Voice, the Vision, and the Victory! Revelation 1:9-20”
The time has come! Let the unveiling begin! I wish it were that easy. I wish that we could open the book of Revelation this morning and over the next thirty minutes lay out, in a systematic fashion, all of the answers that prognosticators, end-times prophets, earnest seekers, and soothsayers have sought throughout the centuries. Answers to questions like, “Are we in the last days?” “Was the book of Revelation written to the seven churches named in chapters 2-3 or was the book written for those who would be alive when the last days arrived?” “Is the beast of Revelation 17 really the Roman Catholic Church as some believe?” “Will Christians have to go through the Tribulation or will we be raptured before that horrible time in history?” “Was John a pre-millennialist or post-millennialist?” “Who is the Anti-Christ and is he alive today?” I could go on and on with the endless list of questions that many have asked and sought answers for, but it is my prayer that you will join me during the next several months as we seek to gain insight into this powerful book that closes out God’s Word. I will promise you that if you will make a commitment to join me in this study you will be blessed. Revelation is the only book in the Bible that promises a blessing for those who read the book, those who hear Revelations words and take them to heart. John writes, Continue reading “The Unveiling Introduction to the Revelation of Jesus Christ”
It had been a week of emotion. There was the fever pitched frenzy of adoring crowds lining the streets, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” as they welcomed Jesus on Palm Sunday. The excitement had barely died down before another crowd had formed with their fists clenched and s shouting, “Crucify Him!” Before they knew it the sounds of cheers had been replaced with the sounds of flesh being torn and the sound of steel against steel as nails were being driven into Jesus’ hands and feet. With every blow of the hammer, devastation pounded the hearts of those who watched their Lord die in agony. Who would have ever thought that one could experience such joy and sorrow all in a week’s time? Continue reading “Devastation To Resurrection John 20:1-16”
Unity In Times of DisagreementSeveral years ago I was getting ready for a meeting when someone in our office came in and said, “Mike, there is a pastor from Texas on the phone who wants to know if he can come to see you tomorrow at noon?” I didn’t have any information on what the pastor wanted, but I said, “Sure.” The next day the pastor, from Wichita Falls, TX. walked into the office and said, “Well, I can see from driving around the neighborhood that we have a lot in common.” I said, “What do you mean?” “Well, it looks like you are in a racially mixed neighborhood and that this church has been here since before the change starting taking place.” I said, “You are a perceptive man.” We spent the next ninety minutes together talking about his church in Wichita Falls and the dilemma they are facing. The church has been in its present location for many years. The church hasn’t changed, but the neighborhood has changed dramatically. On the day that we sat in my office he shared with me how his church had been slowly dying even though they wanted to live and thrive. Continue reading “The Three R’s of Building A Strong Church: Reading, Relationships, and Righteousness”
Unity In Times of Disagreement
I am constantly amazed at all the fuss made over those whose faces fill the screen on news programs of every kind. The lists of names are endless, the crimes committed are incomprehensible, and the impact on the lives of the victims are far reaching. Time and time again we hear reports of the hideous crimes committed by our fellow human beings and we are shocked that rational, modern-day men and women could exhibit such animalistic behavior. There is a phenomenon that takes place every time one of these horrific crimes is committed. The crime is detailed with a thoroughness that we really do not need to hear about, but nonetheless, each minute part of the crime is chronicled for the consumers to feast upon. After the crime is detailed the scene shifts to family and friends who knew the offender. Most of the time the friends and family express their disbelief that their loved one could behave in such a way. When we hear the testimonies of the people who knew the villain best, we are stunned that someone could pull-off such a hoax, such a scam, such a thorough program of misinformation.
The veil of deceit is heavy in our nation today, not just on the television screen and in the penitentiaries, but on each and every street, in every hall, house, city, school, and sanctuary in America. The veil of deceit that I am talking about begins in every human heart and invades every corner of society in our nation. Continue reading “Everyday Worship Romans 12:1-2”
Sunday marked the day that all of God’s people began to lose sight of everything other than the preparations for the most important day of the year. There was much to do. People had come from everywhere to celebrate Passover in the Holy City of Jerusalem. The streets were buzzing on Sunday with lambs being paraded through the streets and scrutinized to see if they could pass the test. The Passover Lamb couldn’t be just any lamb; he had to be a lamb without blemish or defect. A perfect offering to God and a reminder to the people of the sacrifice that had been made so long ago when the “Death Angel” passed over the shanty town homes of the Hebrew slaves and spared their firstborn. (Exodus 12)
While all of the Jews in Jerusalem were busy choosing their lambs for the Passover, a disruption happened on Sunday. A man like no other man they had ever known came riding into town on the back of donkey. Oh, they knew who He was, they had heard the stories, many of them had even been present when He had healed the woman with an issue of blood, some were there when He gave his Sermon on the Mount, others had witnessed blind Bartimaeus see with 20/20 vision for the very first time. They had seen Him walking around with a motley group of followers, but there was nothing “motley” about Him…they called Him Master. Continue reading “The Cup of Redemption Luke 22:7-22”