Sun, 6 May 2018
In our nation’s capital is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. For 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, a platoon of 30 honor guards protects the tomb through rain, snow, and even hurricanes! It's been guarded every minute of every day since 1937. The Unknown Soldiers laid to rest at the Tomb represent all missing and unknown service members who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms.
Typically a single sentinel at a time guards the tomb, pacing back and forth throughout his watch. The soldier walks exactly 21 steps then pauses for 21 seconds before turning around and continuing his duty. The number 21 is in reference to the 21 gun salute which is the military's highest honor given to a soldier.
When the changing of the guard takes place, orders are passed from one soldier to his relief: Here is the heart of that dialog: " Post and orders, remain as directed.” Orders remain as directed. Their original charge remains their current charge. No change.
There is another tomb—empty now in Jerusalem. Our Lord, after his victorious resurrection, gave orders to his disciples some 2000 years ago and those orders remain as directed!
Do you know what our marching orders are as followers of Christ? Today we will revisit those orders.
Please open your Bibles to Matthew 28:18-20.
Bless Every Home
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples . . .” (28:18-19a).
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”(28:19-20a).
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (28:20b).
Sun, 29 April 2018
God’s heart is to bless every home. God wants to bless you and, through you, bless others. This is his missiological strategy and has been from time immemorial. Gen. 12:2 says, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”
We are issuing a challenge this month to “bless every home” in our sphere of influence. We do this when we pray for, care for and share with others the story of Jesus.
We bless others when we share the story of what God has done for us. That’s the theme of today’s message. I’m going to relay to you the story of four desperate men who were blessed and became a blessing to others because they shared the story of what God had done on their behalf. This enabled virtually a whole city to experience the abundant goodness of God!
We can experience the same in our lives—receiving and relaying the blessings of God!
Bless Every Home
2 Kings 7:3-9
Now there were four men who were lepers at the entrance to the gate. And they said to one another, “Why are we sitting here until we die?” (7:3)
If we say, “Let us enter the city,” the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. So now come, let us go over to the camp of the Syrians (7:4a).
But when they came to the edge of the camp of the Syrians, behold, there was no one there . . . . they went into a tent and ate and drank, and they carried off silver and gold and clothing and went and hid them (7:5b, 8b).
Then they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king's household” (7:9).
Sun, 22 April 2018
The entire nation of China was rocked in 2011 by an incident involving a single two-year-old Chinese girl named Wang Yue. Her family called her “Little Yue Yue.” She innocently wandered onto a narrow, crowded road in Foshan, Guangdong Province. She was hit by a vehicle, in fact, two. Neither stopped. She lay broken and wounded on the road for more than seven minutes.
During that span of time, eighteen people either walked or cycled past the toddler before a scrap peddler named Chen Xianmei, finally stopped to attend to her injuries. The little girl was whisked to a hospital for treatment but succumbed to her injuries and died eight days later.
The whole incident, including the fact that so many people passed by the little girl and refused to render aid, was captured on a security camera. That footage was uploaded onto the Internet and it quickly stirred widespread reaction in China and even overseas. Many commentators saw this as indicative of a growing apathy in contemporary Chinese society. It has been referred to as China’s “good Samaritan problem”—widespread apathy for the hurting.
But we all know, this is not just a Chinese problem. It’s an American problem. It’s a global problem. It’s an ancient problem, because it is a human problem.
Thankfully our human problems have a divine solution. There is a true “good Samaritan” and we will meet him today. His impact on us can transform even the most cruel or calloused into good Samaritans who care for others.
Bless Every Home
Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead”(10:30).
Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side(10:31-32).
But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion(10:33)
Sun, 15 April 2018
Oprah Winfrey is an America pop icon. Her rags-to-riches story is remarkable. Her long-time talk show was famous for generous giveaways. While I don’t see eye-to-eye with her on theology and politics, I do admire her giving spirit.
One her most famous giveaways happened when all 276 members of her studio audience were blessed with a new Pontiac G-6 sedan. The cars carried an individual retail price tag of about $28,500.
The last giveaway was to celebrate her 25 years as hostess of the show. Every person in the audience was blessed with an 8-day, all-expense paid vacation to Australia!
Her favorite giveaway was in 2006. Every audience member was blessed with a bank card for $1,000 and a camera. Their assignment was to go home and within one week give that money away in a creative, charitable act and by so doing bless someone else. The camera was to video their respective acts of kindness. That giveaway unleashed some remarkable stories of generosity.
One example was a lady from Illinois named Minnie. She did not know whom she would bless with the $1,000. Upon returning home she learned about a father of nine children who had brain cancer. His name was John Newcomb. She not only was prepared to give that John’s family the $1,000, she rallied other people and businesses in the city to help. Within a week she had raised over $70,000. They paid off the Newcomb’s mortgage, his medical bills, provided groceries, and a two-year college scholarship for their oldest son.
Minnie was blessed to be a blessing. And she complied with that intent!
Did you know that you have been blessed to be a blessing? That is God’s heart and His missiological strategy. He has blessed us so that we might be a blessing.
We are launching today a 4-part sermon series entitled, “Bless Every Home.” Even more than that, what we’re truly hoping is to launch or augment a lifetime of missional living by each of us.
Please open your Bibles to Genesis 12 as we open our hearts to embrace God’s call on our lives to “Bless Every Home.”
Bless Every Home
Genesis 12:1-3, 8b
Now the Lordsaid to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you . . . (12:1).
And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed (12:2-3).
. . . And there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD(12:8b).