Mon, 4 December 2017
Johnella Howard, 72-years-old, and her caretaker, Susan Snow, entered a Publix grocery store in Florida. In the course of their shopping, Johnella apparently suffered a nasty fall. Her caretaker rushed to the management of the store to report the fall. Employees called 911 and first responders attended to her.
It was a nasty fall, because it was staged. Truth be told, she didn’t fall as much as she took a dive! The whole episode was captured on camera. The pair had come across some water in an aisle. The footage shows Johnella smearing the water around with her foot. She then kneels, and turns to sit, before lying down. In fact, the camera catches her adjusting her hair before getting into position.
The motive? Money. They sued the store for $300,000, but an investigation revealed the ruse.
What a fall from grace it turned out to be! Instead of getting $300,000, they were prosecuted and faced 35 years in prison. The temptation and transgression came back to bite them—hard!
I thought of this bumbling pair as I prepared for this week’s message. We are going to look at the story of the “fall of man.” That is how Genesis 3 is typically described. But the truth is, Adam and Eve didn’t fall as much as they took a dive. They knew God’s will but purposefully transgressed it in hopes of some payoff, but oh the heartache their fall unleashed!
As we will see this morning, all of us too have fallen and, in most cases, the reality is that we’ve just taken a dive. Like Adam and Eve, we’ve know what is right, but have often fallen for the wrong. Their story is really ours as well.
But here’s the good news: though we are fallen, we can be forgiven!
The Big Story
“Chapter 2: The Fall”
Genesis 3:1-9 and 21
Sun, 26 November 2017
The Big Story
“Chapter 1: Creation”
Genesis 1:1, 26-28 & 31
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (v. 1)
And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good (v. 31a).
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion . . . “ (v. 26)
Mon, 20 November 2017
Sun, 19 November 2017
Guest speaker: Pr. Aroldo Vargas
“Tres motivos para Celebrar y Agradecer”
1 Pedro 1:3-9
Dios es el que da, el hombre es el que agradece. Dios es quien concede su Gracia y el hombre es el que le da Gracias por ella.
Sun, 12 November 2017
“Sowing and Reaping”
2 Corinthians 9:6-15
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (vv. 6-7).
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work (v. 8).
For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. . . while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift (vv. 12-15)!
Sun, 12 November 2017
"Siembra y Cosecha"
2 Corintios 9:6-15
Recuerden esto: El que siembra escasamente, escasamente cosechará, y el que siembra en abundancia, en abundancia cosechará (v. 6).
Cada uno debe dar según lo que haya decidido en su corazón, no de mala gana ni por obligación, porque Dios ama al que da con alegría (v. 7).
¡Gracias a Dios por su don inefable! (v. 15)
Sun, 5 November 2017
On the night Nell and I were commissioned as missionaries, a former missionary shared the following story with us. She and her husband had served the Lord in the Far East. One evening they hosted other missionaries in their home for a nice dinner. She set the table with their fine china. She prepared a delicious meal of favorite dishes. For the centerpiece she chose a beautiful orchid from their flower garden. It was a gorgeous bloom and, as they and their guests enjoyed their time together, comments were made about the flower’s exquisite beauty.
After they had eaten, the guests moved to the living room to continue their fellowship. In the course of their conversation, her husband asked the guests if any of them had noticed the container that held the flower. None of them had noticed it. After all, it was a simple, small, unadorned glass star that had doubled at other times as a candle holder. He then made a point. The flower was the centerpiece and rightly got the attention. The container did its job by putting the glory of the blossom on display. No one needed to have noticed the small, glass star.
We, as believers, are like that small, glass container. Nothing too special about us. But we are to put on display the glory of God’s goodness—His grace in Jesus Christ. We hold this treasure in earthen vessels (2 Cor. 4:7). We are to be “grace displays.” When people see our lives, they should see a living demonstration of the goodness of our Lord.
There were some believers who lived this way. They were “grace displays.” We meet them in 2 Corinthians 8:1-7.
2 Corinthians 8:1-7
We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part (vv. 1-2).
For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints (vv. 3-4).
And this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also (vv. 5-7).
Sun, 29 October 2017
This Lord’s Day we will celebrate “Go Global” Sunday. It is our special yearly emphasis on taking the good news of God’s grace to the far corners of the globe.
The basis for our global goal is the grace of God in Christ. Because we have come to know His grace experientially, we are motivated to give generously and go courageously till all the world has had an opportunity to experience the same gift.
William Borden was heir to his family’s massive wealth. As a young man he was already a millionaire. His parents gave him a trip around the world as a graduation present from high school. He was sixteen.
He went to Yale University and there impacted his campus powerfully for Christ. He eventually surrendered his future to become a missionary to Muslims and to “go global.” He renounced the wealth and comforts that could have been his and set sail.
He never made it there. He died at 25 years of age of spinal meningitis, contracted in Cairo, as he studied Arabic. When the news of William Borden's death was cabled back to the U.S., the story was carried by nearly every American newspaper. "A wave of sorrow went round the world . . . Borden not only gave (away) his wealth, but himself, in a way so joyous and natural that it (seemed) a privilege rather than a sacrifice" wrote Mary Taylor in her introduction to his biography. He had written in his Bible, “No retreat, no reserves, no regrets.” God wants us to live that way as well. He wants us to “go global” because his grace is global.
Sun, 29 October 2017
Sun, 22 October 2017
In the mid-1900s Detroit, Michigan was one of America’s greatest cities. Its population swelled to some 2 million. Its industrial base, centered on the production of automobiles, made it affluent. The architecture of the city reflected its optimism and wealth.
But in more recent years its fortunes have changed. People began to move out into the suburbs. The population plummeted. Buildings fell into disrepair and ruins.
The demise of Detroit was captured in a series of photos by a pair of Parisian photographers named Marchand and Maffre. There’s a heavy sadness that these photos prompt (show photos). The sadness arises from the chasm that exists between what once was and now is.
This morning we’re going to take a closer look at a majestic, ancient city that once stood proudly. It enjoyed the blessings of heaven—Jerusalem, the city of David, the capital city of God’s people. It gleamed with golden facades beneath the sun’s rays. But that once mighty city fell tragically. Thankfully, that fall was not the final chapter in its story.
The reason its fall was not its final chapter is because of the amazing faithfulness of our God.
Now you may wonder, “What does Detroit, much less an ancient city like Jerusalem, have to do with me?” Good question. I want you to consider whether they might be a parable of our own lives. Is there a gap between what once was in your spiritual life and what now is? If so, that doesn’t have to be the final chapter in your story. In God we all have a future and hope!
“God Is Faithful”
Key verses: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (3:22-23).