Sun, 30 April 2017
A well-known jingle says, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” The ad campaign is built on the whimsical idea that you can sing that jingle and, “poof,” a State Farm agent will appear and save you from whatever danger or disaster you face. That’d be nice, wouldn’t it? But we know that there are times when our need is so great, no insurance agent or any other person can meet it.
Fortunately, there is hope. Like a good neighbor, Jesus is there! He comes to us in our brokenness and, with compassion, takes care of our needs with abundant mercy and grace. That’s apart of the point of the story of the “Good Samaritan.” Not only is Jesus the ultimate “neighbor.” He’s an example for how we are to live. After all, he told his audience to “Go and do likewise.”
As we face “Go Day” and all of its opportunities to be a good neighbor, we will take a fresh look at the story of the Good Samaritan. From it we will be challenged to see Jesus as the ultimate good neighbor, trust in his gracious provision for our desperate need, and to “go” and be a good neighbor to all!
“Like a Good Neighbor, Jesus Is There”
Sun, 23 April 2017
In March of 1836 Mexican forces under General Santa Anna besieged the Alamo in San Antonio, TX. The Alamo was defended by a ragtag band of less than 200. The Mexicans numbered in the thousands. The Alamo’s acting leader, Colonel Travis, could see the gravity of their situation. In a voice trembling with emotion he described the hopelessness of their plight. He drew a line in the sand and said, “those prepared to give their lives in freedom’s cause, come over to me.” All did except two. Co-commander Jim Bowie, lying sick on a cot, asked some of his men to carry him across. That left only one--Louis Moses Rose, a French soldier of fortune. He escaped and lore has it that he was the one who told this story.
Without hesitation, every man, save one, crossed the line, Colonel James Bowie, stricken with pneumonia, asked that his cot be carried over. 189 of 190 men at the Alamo came over. Only one escaped to tell the tale.
They volunteered for a cause that seemed doomed. Yet “Remember the Alamo” became the rallying cry that ultimately led to victory.
There is a call going out today for volunteers for a cause that is destined for ultimate victory. The Lord Himself has drawn a line in the sand and has asked for those who will step across it. He asks, “Whom shall I send?” And, “who will go for us?” He asks us to step across the line to worship Him and witness for Him.
“A Line in the Sand”
Sun, 16 April 2017
Amazing Grace is perhaps the best loved hymn of all time. Here are the words to the first verse: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found. Was blind but now I see.” The author of the hymn was, by his own admission, a “wretch.” He was a slave trader, a blasphemer, a rebel, an immoral man, and a torturer.
As a boy, John was captivated by the adventure and risk of life on the high seas. When he was eleven, young John Newton launched into that exciting life of voyaging, sailing, and living his dream. But the dream turned out to be a nightmare.
Later in life he wrote, “I sinned with a high hand, and I made it my study to tempt and seduce others.” Newton lived a hard life with hard consequences. God got his attention though. In 1748, Newton’s slave ship was nearly wrecked by an intense storm. Surrounded by crashing waves, ferocious winds, creaking timbers, and the cries of onboard slaves, John fell to his knees and pled for mercy, and for grace.
God’s grace, which reaches anyone, anywhere, saved a wretch like John Newton. Newton wrote the song years later while serving as a pastor in Olney, England. Today, its lyrics still inspire, encourage, and instruct people about the radical reality of God’s amazing grace. It gives “wretches” like us hope.
The summation of Newton’s testimony is this: “was blind, but now I see.” What was true spiritually of Newton was literally true for a man that we will meet in the Scriptures this morning. He was blind from birth. But by God’s grace he was given physical and, more importantly, spiritual sight and life! God wants to do the same for us.
Signs: So You May Believe
“Was Blind but Now I See”
Sun, 9 April 2017
One of my favorite characters in J. R. R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings triology is Samwise Gamgee [show pic]. He is the ever loyal sidekick of Frodo Baggins. From Samwise comes a saying that has made its way into our vernacular. I think you’ll know it. Please finish this familiar expression: “Where there’s life, there’s .”
Yes. Where there’s life, there’s hope.
The idea is that, no matter how grim the circumstance are, so long as there is life, there is hope for victory. Once death comes, however, all hope is lost.
Where there’s life, there’s hope.
But this does not do justice to the good news of Jesus. The good news goes much further. The world says, “Where there’s life, there’s hope.” Jesus says, “Where there’s death, there’s hope.”
Because of Jesus, even death itself has no claim on believers. We have hope in this life and after this life!
How can we have hope when death comes knocking? Turn in your Bible to John 11 and we’ll show you the source of our hope. It is found in him who is the resurrection and the life—Jesus!
Read 11:1-7 and 34-44.
Transition to first point: Where there’s death, there’s hope. This hope is only and wholly because of Jesus. In our story today we are going learn more about Jesus and how he works in our lives. Knowing him and his ways better should strengthen our hope, even in the darkest of days. Now to be sure, there are times when his ways can be mysterious and even frustrating to us. The first thing that stands out in the story of Larazus is that Jesus waited. . . .
Signs: So You May Believe