“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16a, NIV)
Somehow those of us who follow Jesus have become ashamed of the gospel. We live by the old adage, “There are two things you don’t talk about: religion and politics.” Except we do talk about politics, incessantly (just scroll Facebook sometime… on second thought, don’t waste your brain on Facebook). We’re not ashamed of whether we support the President or wish he would resign early. Yet, we feel like we have to hide our allegiance to the only One who really matters. I wonder what would happen if we were as passionate about our King as we are about our President?
We’re worried our friends will be offended if we talk about Jesus. We don’t want our neighbors to think we’re weird. The last thing we need is more awkwardness when our extended family gathers for a holiday. Even church leaders have bought into this thinking.
For 30+ years, many churches have felt the need to downplay their Christianness and disguise their churchiness. Let’s build church buildings that don’t look like church buildings. Let’s dress in less churchy clothes (gone are the days of wearing your Sunday best to meet with the King of the Universe… I wonder how we’d dress to meet with the President?). Let’s make the music in worship more of a show than a corporate act of praise. Let’s make the preaching less “offensive” and more self-help pop-psychology. Instead of serving others and meeting the needs of our community in the name of Christ, let’s plan more entertainment for people. Maybe somewhere along the way we can pull the old bait-and-switch. They thought they were coming for free candy, but they got a Bible verse instead!
Standing with Paul and declaring Romans 1:16 for ourselves is part of what God is calling LakeView to do as He leads us into a new era of being (not just doing) the church. We are not embarrassed to follow Jesus. We don’t need to downplay the fact that we the people of LakeView are a family of disciples living for the glory of Christ and the common good. In a world where every movement contrary to God’s Word celebrates its own “pride,” we stand resolutely on Jesus’ side without apology. We don’t fight with the world–our battle is won through love, sacrifice, and suffering. We serve, we give, we worship, we proclaim the good news of Jesus. We don’t hide our faith. We are not ashamed of the gospel!
Hopefully, that’s becoming true of us individually as it becomes true of us corporately. Warren Wiersbe once said, “If you were arrested today for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” My prayer for this week is that we all go and start leaving evidence!
Christians do weird things… like eating crackers and drinking juice in church. What is Communion and why do we do it? In this message we dig into Scripture to uncover a precious gemstone of the Christian faith.
What is the best part of knowing Jesus? Some might say forgiveness. Others, freedom from addiction. Still others would say it’s the peace and joy they’ve found in Christ. And most would probably say the promise of eternal life is the best part of knowing Jesus. While all those things are true and good, Luke 10:38-42 shows us what the best part of knowing Jesus truly is.
We look at Mark 7:1-23, and discuss what is it that makes a person clean or unclean. Do you consider yourself to be presentable to God, or do you think of yourself as defiled and “unclean”? How do you know? And more importantly, if you are unclean, how do you become clean? These questions are answered in Mark 7:1-23.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1a, NIV)
Hanging on the cross, dying, Jesus quoted the opening line of Psalm 22. This was no coincidence! Going back to read Psalm 22 is like reading a description of Jesus’s crucifixion, written before crucifixion had even been invented, and written hundreds of years before Jesus walked this earth. The Psalm mentions such details as Jesus being scorned and mocked (vv. 6-7), even foretelling what the religious leaders of the day would say as Jesus hung on the cross (v. 8)! It describes how His hands and feet would be pierced (v. 16), and how they would cast lots for his garment (v. 18).
I can’t begin to imagine the suffering Jesus experienced as He hung on the cross. As I read Psalm 22, lyrics from an older worship song come to mind: I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross. Jesus suffered for me, and as Psalm 22 promises, His suffering was not in vain. The Psalm goes on to say:
“For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly…” (Psalm 22:24–25, NIV)
My prayer for us this week is that we will remember the suffering of the Afflicted One, our Savior, and lift His praise in our lives each day. Thank You, God, for saving me.
This is the first sermon in a series called Christmas Songs, where we study the original music of Christmas. The first Christmas songs were composed a couple thousand years ago and written in Scripture. These songs from the Bible will help us make this Christmas season a time of worship, with family, friends, food, and shopping filling their appropriate roles under the Lord Jesus Christ.
Sermon delivered at LakeView Church on Dec 3, 2017.