Today is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, the Sunday closest to the day the US Supreme Court issued its worst ruling in the history of the court, when it legalized child sacrifice, we call abortion. Before I begin, I want to give a very clear word of life and hope to anyone who has had an abortion or has been involved with someone getting one. Our God is gracious and merciful, He As the pastor here I want to declare our love and support for anyone who needs it. As I speak this morning if you are feeling covered up with shame, know that just means you are not yet free, and Satan still has his hooks in you. Shame is God’s grace to move us toward His forgiveness and freedom in Christ. Confess and repent and He will set you free, His perfect love casts out all fear and sin. And when Satan reminds you of what you have done, remind Him of what Jesus has done for you. Let me show you an honest, healthy, hope filled way of dealing with sin.
Well, let's look more closely at what God is teaching about Jesus & us in Mk.2's, as well as in Matt.9's & Lk.5's, story of THE PREACHER & PARALYTIC. • 1st we will notice the conflict brewing, 2nd the challenge hurled, 3rd the charges given. • 4th the conquest obtained, & 5th the cure celebrated.
We have to stop and reflect on what God allowed us to be a part of. I want you to know the fruit of your labors, I want you to know about the lives you touch, I want you to hear firsthand reports of God’s grace, God’s providence. I have asked some members of our Serve volunteer team to share briefly from their experience. Laura Buys and some of our youth; Ria Van Weerdhuizen; and Len Honcoop. Three weeks ago I preached from Acts 2:42-47, the classic Scripture text describing the beginnings of the early church. I said it was a snapshot picture of a healthy church. Listen to that text again and see how it was put into practice this week.
Today is our annual Harvest Dinner. It’s a wonderful reminder of harvest feasts when friends and family and neighbors would gather to celebrate another year of God’s goodness and bounty. It’s a reminder of one of the infallible principles of life, you reap what you sow. Last week we considered the Butterfly Effect, the small influences that added together shape our lives today. This morning we consider the sowing and reaping that have influenced our lives and the lives of those we are influencing. Sowing and reaping applies to our intentional investing in the lives of others, whether children, grandchildren, relatives, friends, neighbors, classmates, co-workers, colleagues. I want to challenge us about how God wants to use us as influencers in the lives of our family and those around us. Time magazine likes to do lists of influences, every year they devote an issue to the 100 most influential people in the world. They have also made a list of 15 most influential internet websites in our lives and in our kid’s lives. It’s scary to see how many God-denying and godless influencers there are in our lives and in our kids world. Parents are God’s number one hand-chosen instrument He wants to use to shape the eternal souls of our kids for Jesus Christ. The good news is God never calls us to a task that He doesn’t equip us for and give us what we need to do it. And one of the tools is understanding the life principle of sowing and reaping. From our texts we can glean several spiritual truths and applications.
Do you remember last week when I asked if you appreciated owning your own Bible and that it is in your own language? Can you imagine not having a Bible and never hearing it in your own language? Can you imagine what the day would be like when you got your very own Bible in your language? It happened to some people last month, and a friend of mine was there to witness it. Listen to what that day was like. “On August 23, in a village in central Tanzania (which is in east Africa), around 600 people gathered to celebrate the dedication of the New Testament in the Burunge language! What a day– music, singing, dancing, preaching, and reading from the Word of God in the Burunge language! There was a moment during the celebrations when the importance of the occasion hit home with me. Several Burunge dressed in traditional clothing were leading a cultural dance and invited some of us to come out and dance with them. With arms around people I had never met before, jumping up and down as we moved around in a circle, tears came to my eyes as I experienced a piece of their joy in receiving the Word of God in their mother tongue. Praise the Lord for the power of his Word and that the Burunge now have the New Testament in their language!” (Johnny Walker). Can you imagine not having the truth of the Word of God in your own language? Can you imagine what a famine of the Word of God would be like?
I was reminded by one of our Serve volunteers of something I said in my first sermon of this year. “My prayer is that 2017 may be the most spiritually faithful and fruitful year in your life and in the life of First Christian Reformed Church.” I believe what happened last week was one of the most significant events in the life of our congregation. I have never seen anything quite like this. As I watched and participated I saw how God was at work and realized there was no way I could just go on business as usual this morning. We have to stop and reflect on what God allowed us to be a part of. This summer Youth Unlimited offered 28 Serve sites around the US and Canada (9). Each student paid $360 plus airfare for the privilege of working hard and serving some people they didn’t know with other kids they didn’t know. 62 youth and leaders came here from four CRC churches from MT, MN, and IL. They served our community through nine work sites and we as a church served them to make it all possible. Over a hundred members of our congregation served led by an incredible team of volunteer leaders.
Graduations are good time of life, a time when we celebrate our student’s good accomplishments and achievements and recognize their success. We can talk about what’s good in so many ways. Some students are good at sports or math. Some took certain classes because it was good for them. Some of them are going to good colleges hoping get a good job or find a good spouse and some are hoping just to have a good time. And then there is the good person with a good heart. So many ways we use good and goodness, what does it mean? The Fruit of the Holy Spirit is about cultivating Christian character out of which flows God glorifying conduct. We don’t want to just send out our students with good grades and accomplishments, we want them to be good people. So we are talking about being and doing. Goodness as a fruit of the spirit refers to an internal quality of Christian character, an excellent virtue of integrity and righteousness; and an external quality of conduct that expresses the internal quality. Externally goodness is good works of mercy, service, giving, helping, meeting a need. Good works can be expressed in actions (works), words, attitudes, and even thoughts (thinking well of someone). Anything that is pleasing to God. Goodness is doing the right thing. It may not always be the popular thing or politically correct thing. It may earn you no praise. It may take boldness and courage. But doing good is fundamentally doing the right thing. Good people do what is right no matter what the cost.
He is alive! that's the Christian's conquering cry. & we know Jesus lives because we experience His resurrection present & power each day. But the reality of Christ’s resurrection doesn't just rest on our feelings & experience. it is also based on the fact of history, & verified by the biblical testimony of those who actually saw all the evidence: the empty grave & burial clothes. & they saw Jesus alive, standing bodily before them, & they even touched Him. o they ate with Him around a table, & by a fire on a beach. & they all state: “Jesus is risen! He is alive!” Now 1 of these eye-witnesses is MARY MAGDALENE. she was there when they crucified & buried our Lord, & after He rose up from the grave. & we can learn from her the real, saving meaning of Calvary & Easter. So then let us consider: 1st, her personal nature. & 2nd, her resurrection encounter.