Christians are called to be ambassadors — authorized agents of the message of reconciliation to God through Christ. In this sermon, shared on the 17th anniversary of Pastor…
God’s grace is so amazing because, like the younger son, we don’t deserve it. We have all sinned and separate ourselves from God. And we cannot earn our reconciliation back to God simply by doing what we should have been doing in the first place. We need grace – unmerited, undeserved favor. We need grace that says: no matter what you’ve done, no matter how far you have fallen, no matter how many mistakes you have made, if you turn back to your Heavenly Father, He is not only waiting for you, He will run out to greet you, to throw His arms around you, and to kiss you tenderly as His child.
After Peter’s great messianic confession and great messianic misunderstanding, Jesus clarifies the nature of His Messiahship and the nature of Christian discipleship. Anyone who wants to follow (behind) Him, must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow. His followers must deny their self-centered desires, be willing to endure persecution/shame/death, and dedicate their lives to Him and the Gospel
We cannot conform to our culture; We have to be distinct, set apart — holy. In doing so, we will be the salt of the earth that prevents moral decay and adds Christian flavor. And we’ll be the light of the world that dispels darkness and attracts others to the light of Christ — bringing glory to our Heavenly Father, the King
In the last of the traditional ‘Seven Last Words’ of Jesus from the cross, Christ quotes the first half of Psalm 31:5. This good ole Jewish song had become a good ole Jewish (bedtime) prayer. Just as Jews would pray this prayer, trusting their Heavenly Father to awaken them from sleep, Jesus also prays this prayer, trusting the Heavenly Father to awaken Him from death (cf. Lk 9:22, 18:31-33).
People change. Societies change. Things change. But the facts of what Christ did for us do not change. Christ does not change. The widely-accepted historical facts are best explained by Christ’s Resurrection. This is the firm foundation of our faith. Because of God’s love and grace, we should respond with love and faithfulness.
The only kind of faith that works, is faith that works. “Faith” that does not produce godly works of mercy and obedience is dead. True, saving faith is active faith. Faith: it’s what we do.
What is “love”? What does love look like? True, crucial, Christ-like love has both a vertical component – joyful, loving obedience to God in Christ – and a horizontal component – self-sacrificially striving for another’s ultimate good.
What are we training for? Are we training ourselves to be worldly, or are we training ourselves to be godly. Are we training ourselves to resemble the culture, or are we training ourselves to resemble the Christ? Do we have a healthy spiritual diet and exercise routine? In short, are we Cross Training?
Research suggests that the modern conception of freedom — our most cherished virtue — is almost purely negative (i.e., freedom *from* constraints). The Truth of Jesus gives freedom *from* (negative freedom) our rebellious nature and freedom *to* (positive freedom) fulfill our original purpose — right relationship with God. Though our culture often co-opts His words, His is the Truth that truly “will set you free.”