Relating to Blessing (Sermon Audio)

On Sunday, February 17, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 20:1-16.  This message was part 7 in the “Relating to _____” series and focused on “Relating to Blessing.”  Below you will find the audio from this sermon to listen to or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download the file:

Relating to: Eternal Life 2.10.19

 

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Relating to Your Spouse (Sermon Audio)

On Sunday, February 3, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 19:1-12.  This message was part 5 of the “Relating to______” series and focused on “Relating to Your Spouse.”  Below you will find the sermon audio connected to this message to listen to or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

Relating to: Your Spouse 2.3.19

 

 

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Reveal (Part 1) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, October 28, 2018 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 16:13-20.  This message was part 1 of the “Reveal” sermon series.  The audio from this sermon is available below to listen to or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

Reveal #1 10.28.18

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

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Have you considered water baptism?

Kimberly and I on the night of our baptisms in 1998

3 events, separated by 25 years, tell the story of my spiritual journey when I came to be a Christ follower. 

The first event was when I was baptized as an infant.  I was born to two amazing parents who wanted to raise me in a Christian home.  They brought me to church each Sunday growing up.  I do not remember a time when church was not a part of my life.  This is such a huge blessing.  When I was just a few months old, my parents had me baptized at the church we attended. 

The second event was when I placed my faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of my sins.  This was a major turning point in my life.  I had attended many church events, memorized many verses, knew the words to many hymns, and even had been confirmed as a church member . . . but I did not know what it all meant.  Jesus was a historical figure . . . Christianity was a subject.  It was not until Easter Sunday 1990 that the Spirit of God convicted me of my sin and I turned to Jesus as my rescuer from sin and judgment.  I have been following Him ever since.

The third event came when I was baptized upon profession of faith in 1998.  At the time I was an Associate Pastor at a church in Coppell, Texas.  I decided to be baptized at that time because as I studied Scripture, I saw a pattern emerge: people believed in Jesus, then they were immersed in water baptism.  This was the pattern of the early church, and it was consistent with the teaching of Jesus.  The Scriptures were clear (in my mind) about the pattern of baptism, but in order to be baptized I had to clear a few hurdles:

  1. I needed to talk to my parents.  I was so thankful for the legacy of following Jesus that they had passed on to me.  I did not desire to reject that heritage by being “re”baptized.  However, my desire to follow the clear teaching of Jesus trumped my risk of offending my family, so I decided to be baptized.  I called my parents to tell them about my decision.  I also wanted to tell them THANK YOU for the spiritual investment they made in my life.  They were so gracious and celebrated this decision with me.
  2. I needed to talk to my Pastor.  As I mentioned, I was already serving as an Associate Pastor at a church.  I was afraid that my Pastor might react negatively to the notion that one of his staff wanted to be baptized!  I met with him and told him what God had been teaching me.  He graciously celebrated this decision with me and together we planned to baptize me at a friend’s swimming pool during a youth group meeting that next Wednesday night — a youth group meeting I was LEADING!  I also had the privilege of baptizing my wife (who had come to a similar conviction) right after I was baptized by Pastor Wayne.    What a night!
  3. I needed to talk to Jesus.  No one’s salvation depends on the act of being immersed in water.  Salvation is by grace through faith, and not as a result of works (including water baptism!)  However, the New Testament is really unfamiliar with the idea that an adult could be a Christ follower and yet intentionally choose to NOT be baptized with water.  If I were to reject His command of baptism, I would be saying “no” to the One who bled and died for my sins.  In prayer, I expressed my decision to be baptized as an outward expression of my inward faith.  I declared to Jesus that I was not baptized in order to BE SAVED, but as an expression of the salvation that was already given.

Friends, I write this note today to encourage everyone who reads this to consider water baptism.  In our culture, sometimes we think baptisms are for children or students (since many of those baptized are younger in age.)  However, the New Testament does not put an age parameter around baptism.  People of ANY age are baptized . . . after they have professed faith in Christ. 

Like me, you may be a college student or adult who has not been baptized since trusting Christ.  Like me, you may have avoided baptism because of the 3 conversations I mentioned above.  You may fear talking to your parents about a christening that happened in your early years.  You may fear talking to me, because you don’t want to appear as someone who does not “have it all together.”  You may have never considered that NOT being baptized was actually saying “no” to Jesus’ command.  Whatever your story, I want to encourage you today with a few thoughts:

  1. Take this opportunity to thank your parents or grandparents for the investment they made in your life.  Being baptized since trusting in Christ is not an affront to your family, it is a public declaration of who you are following today.
  2. Talk to me (or one of our other Pastors/staff) about this.  We will absolutely THROW A PARTY!  We love celebrating any step of faith God is leading you towards — including water baptism!
  3. Take this opportunity to talk to Jesus about it.  Baptism does not save you, but it is a step of faith in following Him!

To help facilitate all of these things, we have a web form found at wildwoodchurch.org/baptism .  Fill that out and we will get back in touch with you ASAP.  We even have some classes about the biblical teaching of baptism that we offer on Sunday October 21 (for children, students, and adults) for all who are interested.  We look forward to hearing form you in preparation for our next baptism service at Wildwood Community Church on November 18.  Hope to hear from you before then!

A note from home . . .

On occasion, when I travel, Kimberly (my wife) will often tuck a note somewhere in my suitcase.  When I arrive at my destination and begin to unpack my things, I find this greeting from someone back home who loves me. 

After spending a week hiking 5 National Parks in America’s west with my family (and driving over 3,000 miles in the process), I sat down last night for my daily Bible reading in my One Year Chronological Bible (an organized Bible reading plan that walks through the biblical texts in the order in which the events happened.)  I have been reading this Bible all year, and the reading plan is not personalized in any way . . . in other words, the reading for July 8 is the reading for July 8 for everyone who uses this plan all over the world ever since this reading plan was put together decades ago.  Additionally, the text of the Scripture I read has not changed for the 2,700 years it has been in existence.  That said, as I read the Scripture last night, in the midst of a trip far from home, I could not help but see the Scripture as a precious note, tucked inside my bag, from my Heavenly Father back Home who loves me.

The Scripture reading included Psalm 104.  I have read this Psalm many times before, but last night, its text really spoke to me powerfully.  The Psalm begins with a general call for my soul to “bless the Lord.”  God is the one who receives praise and adoration in this Psalm, and the particular reason we are to bless the Lord in this Psalm is because of God’s work in creation.  The Psalm unfolds following the rough path of the creation order in Genesis 1, stopping along the way to praise God for His greatness declared through what He has made.

The Psalm begins in the sky (verses 1-4).  The vastness and beauty of the heavens, with the lights of the sun, moon, and stars, and the beautiful arrangement of the clouds causes the Psalmist to imagine these things like the clothing of the King, revealing His splendor.  I was reminded of the stars I saw in the night sky in the desert last week, and the colors of the sunset  over the mountains . . . these things were not just “beautiful” – they pointed to the God of beauty.

Next the Psalmist focuses attention on the land (verses 5-9).  Across the American west, we saw numerous mountains and valleys.  This topography was formed by the movement of glaciers and the receding of ancient waters.  This story was told by the many placards and visitors centers at each National Park.  However, the Psalm reminds me that regardless of HOW the valleys and mountains were formed, it was GOD who ultimately formed them — the glaciers and ancient seas were but the pencil in the Hand of our loving Creator.

Once the sky and the earth are examined, the Psalm now turns to what happens upon the earth (verses 10-18).  The entire circle of life is described here, how the Lord has created unique environments for each living creature and provides the water and food necessary for their survival.  The intricate balance of this world is seen by the Psalmist 2,700 years ago, but felt by me still today as I saw how certain trees grow in specific environments, and how different animals thrive in different environments as a part of the scripted dance of life.  These things did not just accidentally happen — they were planned and prepared by God. 

Even our clock and calendar have meaning (verses 19-23).  God created the night and the daytime, and appointed a meaning for both.  We sleep, but creation does not.  As we go to sleep at night, the wilderness comes alive.  God never sleeps and His creation always brings forth praise!

The conclusion that the Psalmist comes to is that the entire world is dependent upon God for all things (verses 24-30).  If He had not designed it the way He did . . . if He did not continue to hold it together the way He does . . . it would not exist.  Therefore, it is RIGHT for us to PRAISE HIM as we look upon creation (verses 31-35).  Let us not miss the opportunity to exegete the heights of Half Dome, and parse the meaning of the high desert, and illuminate the glory of the sunset.  Through them all may we “sing to the Lord as long as we live; may we sing praises to our God while we have our being (104:33).”

One more thing from this Psalm (and from creation), however, that cannot be missed.  God created this amazing place FOR US. To sustain our life.  On this trip, my wife and I have been reading Lee Strobel’s excellent new book “The Case for Miracles.”  In it, my friend Mike Strauss  (a renowned Physicist) is interviewed by Strobel concerning the miracle of creation.  Mike’s conclusion from the scientific evidence is that the universe is precisely designed to sustain human life on planet earth.  The universe appears vast and large and old to us, but is actually the minimum size and age to allow for you and I to exist.  The elements of the world that we call natural (hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, etc.) only exist if the universe is tuned precisely the way it is.  Any variation and life ceases to be a possibility.  Given this info, I look again at the Psalm to see how the earth is set up for human life:

  • The sky is like a “tent”, set over the world by God (vs. 2).  The Lord setup this earth as a campsite for you and me.  Not our forever home, but a vantage point from which to learn about Him and “bless Him.”
  • The oceans in their boundaries and the dry land raising up to form continents creates a habitat suitable for us (vs. 9).  
  • Plants and livestock provide a variety of food, and rain provides water so that human life is sustained (vs. 13-15).   Not only that, but God created a variety of foods and gathered the waters in a variety of beautiful ways (streams, rivers, lakes, oceans, and waterfalls) because He loves us, and pursues us, and invites us into a relationship with Him.  He could have made all things grey and made all food bland, and made water only flowing from magic springs.  OR He could have made life not needing any of those things in some way . . . but in His grace, He makes the world so diverse so that we might enjoy it . . . and Him in the process who created it.
  • Also, many predators that could pose threats to humanity typically hunt at night, while humans often work during the day (vs. 21-23).  The circle of life is tuned in such a way that mankind has multiplied into the billions and spread out over the face of the earth.
  • God created this world, and it was good.  But good for what?  It was good to sustain life as we know it.  It was good to create an environment where people created in the image of God could get to know God . . . and worship Him. 

So, last night, as I opened my suitcase and pulled out my Bible, I saw a note from Home, reminding me of the One there who loves me . . . and you.  And I just wanted to respond and Bless His name.  I invite you to do the same.

Have you been baptized since trusting Jesus?

Kimberly and I on the night of our baptisms in 1998

3 events, separated by 25 years, tell the story of my spiritual journey when I came to be a Christ follower. 

The first event was when I was baptized as an infant.  I was born to two amazing parents who wanted to raise me in a Christian home.  They brought me to church each Sunday growing up.  I do not remember a time when church was not a part of my life.  This is such a huge blessing.  When I was just a few months old, my parents had me baptized at the church we attended. 

The second event was when I placed my faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of my sins.  This was a major turning point in my life.  I had attended many church events, memorized many verses, knew the words to many hymns, and even had been confirmed as a church member . . . but I did not know what it all meant.  Jesus was a historical figure . . . Christianity was a subject.  It was not until Easter Sunday 1990 that the Spirit of God convicted me of my sin and I turned to Jesus as my rescuer from sin and judgment.  I have been following Him ever since.

The third event came when I was baptized upon profession of faith in 1998.  At the time I was an Associate Pastor at a church in Coppell, Texas.  I decided to be baptized at that time because as I studied Scripture, I saw a pattern emerge: people believed in Jesus, then they were immersed in water baptism.  This was the pattern of the early church, and it was consistent with the teaching of Jesus.  The Scriptures were clear (in my mind) about the pattern of baptism, but in order to be baptized I had to clear a few hurdles:

  1. I needed to talk to my parents.  I was so thankful for the legacy of following Jesus that they had passed on to me.  I did not desire to reject that heritage by being “re”baptized.  However, my desire to follow the clear teaching of Jesus trumped my risk of offending my family, so I decided to be baptized.  I called my parents to tell them about my decision.  I also wanted to tell them THANK YOU for the spiritual investment they made in my life.  They were so gracious and celebrated this decision with me.
  2. I needed to talk to my Pastor.  As I mentioned, I was already serving as an Associate Pastor at a church.  I was afraid that my Pastor might react negatively to the notion that one of his staff wanted to be baptized!  I met with him and told him what God had been teaching me.  He graciously celebrated this decision with me and together we planned to baptize me at a friend’s swimming pool during a youth group meeting that next Wednesday night — a youth group meeting I was LEADING!  I also had the privilege of baptizing my wife (who had come to a similar conviction) right after I was baptized by Pastor Wayne.    What a night!
  3. I needed to talk to Jesus.  No one’s salvation depends on the act of being immersed in water.  Salvation is by grace through faith, and not as a result of works (including water baptism!)  However, the New Testament is really unfamiliar with the idea that an adult could be a Christ follower and yet intentionally choose to NOT be baptized with water.  If I were to reject His command of baptism, I would be saying “no” to the One who bled and died for my sins.  In prayer, I expressed my decision to be baptized as an outward expression of my inward faith.  I declared to Jesus that I was not baptized in order to BE SAVED, but as an expression of the salvation that was already given.

Friends, I write this note today to encourage everyone who reads this to consider water baptism.  In our culture, sometimes we think baptisms are for children or students (since many of those baptized are younger in age.)  However, the New Testament does not put an age parameter around baptism.  People of ANY age are baptized . . . after they have professed faith in Christ. 

Like me, you may be a college student or adult who has not been baptized since trusting Christ.  Like me, you may have avoided baptism because of the 3 conversations I mentioned above.  You may fear talking to your parents about a christening that happened in your early years.  You may fear talking to me, because you don’t want to appear as someone who does not “have it all together.”  You may have never considered that NOT being baptized was actually saying “no” to Jesus’ command.  Whatever your story, I want to encourage you today with a few thoughts:

  1. Take this opportunity to thank your parents or grandparents for the investment they made in your life.  Being baptized since trusting in Christ is not an affront to your family, it is a public declaration of who you are following today.
  2. Talk to me (or one of our other Pastors/staff) about this.  We will absolutely THROW A PARTY!  We love celebrating any step of faith God is leading you towards — including water baptism!
  3. Take this opportunity to talk to Jesus about it.  Baptism does not save you, but it is a step of faith in following Him!

To help facilitate all of these things, we have a web form found at wildwoodchurch.org/baptism .  Fill that out and we will get back in touch with you ASAP.  We even have some classes about the biblical teaching of baptism that we offer on Sunday July 8 (for children and students) and in personal conversations with adults who are interested.  We look forward to hearing form you in preparation for our next baptism service at Wildwood Community Church on August 5.  Hope to hear from you before then!

Palm Sunday 2018 Sermon Audio

On Sunday, March 25, 2018, I preached a sermon based on Mark 11:1-11 and Zechariah 9:9-10, 14:1-5.  This message was the Palm Sunday message at Wildwood Community Church.  Below you will find the sermon audio to listen to online or download and share.

 

To listen offline, click the file below to download:

Palm Sunday 3.25.18

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

Mary’s Christmas (part 4) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, December 24, 2017 in our morning worship services, I preached a message based on Luke 2:8-20.  This message was part 4 in the “Mary’s Christmas” series.  Below, you will find a series of questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Luke 2:8-20
  3. Do you find yourself impacted by the Christmas season?  In what ways are you impacted this time of year?
  4. In what ways is the birth of Jesus “Good News of Great Joy” from your perspective?
  5. Who are some people you know who may be tempted to feel that the good news of Christmas is “not for them”?  How does this passage encourage those who may feel far away from God?
  6. Jesus is God, but He also humbled Himself to take on humanity at His birth . . . something that eventually make it possible for Him to die for our sins.  How does remembering the identity of Jesus help you understand more the significance of what we celebrate at Christmas?
  7. Have you ever responded by faith to God, trusting Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior?  If so, when?  If not, why not?  Would you consider trusting Him this Christmas?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To access the free 25 day Christmas devotional, click here.

Follow (part 6) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, September 17, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Matthew 10:5-25.  This message was part 6 in the “Follow” series.  Below you will find the sermon audio to listen to or share online.

 

To listen offline, click the link below to download:

Follow #6 9.17.17

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

Thoughts on Charlottesville . . .

Like many of you, I am saddened and angered by the events of Charlottesville last weekend.  Not only was this event sickening in its own right, it also serves as a mirror exposing the flaws in our own society that we sometimes ignore.  Turning on the news or logging in to social media over the past week prevents us from pretending that this ugliness does not exist.  Like a person who has had food in their teeth all day, but did not realize it until looking into the mirror, so these events remind us of a blight that still mars our society and darkens the hearts of way too many men and women.  I have spent a fair amount of time over the past few days pondering this issue, and want to share a few thoughts here.

First of all, I want to acknowledge that this problem is big and this blog post is small.  I am not trying to be comprehensive here.  Much has been written about the topic of racism that is far superior to my comments . . . I merely want to add my perspective to the conversation, and attempt to shine some light from Scripture on this issue.

All that said, I want to share 5 thoughts with you here:

Thought #1:  Racism is Sin. 

Racism is wrong and counter to the will of God.  It is not primarily a matter of politics or history or sociology (though it impacts and exposes itself in those things).  Racism is primarily an expression of humanity’s rebellion against God.  God created ALL PEOPLE in His image, regardless of race, gender, or any other expression of diversity (Genesis 1:26).  We were created in His image and in His image equally.  It is this revelation that informs us that all human life has equal dignity and value from conception to the grave, regardless of the color of skin. 

We also know that because sin has entered the world, so ALL PEOPLE have equally fallen short of the glory of God regardless of skin color  (Romans 5:12).  There is no superior race.  All have sinned (and keep sinning).  When it comes to a “righteousness” beauty pageant the Bible would say that it is a 1,000 way tie for last (“no one is righteous, not even one” – Romans 3:9-18).  It is this revelation that informs us that all human life has equally fallen short of the glory of God and is in equal need of God’s grace to transform, regardless of skin color. 

Additionally, we see God’s desire to redeem people from every race based on His grace (not our performance – Ephesians 2:8-9).  This redemption (that is found only in Jesus Christ) has global implications.  Jesus commissioned His disciples to go “into all the world” and make disciples in His name (Matthew 28:19-20).  We know that this great commission will ultimately yield people from every race populating heaven (Revelation 5:9-10).  Heaven would be hell for a racist, as they would be in the presence of people of all skin colors forever.   It is this revelation that informs us of God’s desire to redeem by His grace in Christ people from all races. 

At its core, racism seeks to elevate one race over another, and in the process denies at least one of these three core truths. Racism is sin, and it is a particularly divisive and destructive sin with far reaching societal implications.  It should not be tolerated and should be rebuked everywhere it is found by Christians.  

ACTION:  Search your own heart to see if the sin of racism is hiding in any corners.  If so, repent of that sin.

 

Thought #2:  Racism effects Real People. 

I am a white man.  I live as a member of the majority race in my country.  Try as I might, I will never fully know what it feels like to be a member of a minority here.  But the best thing I can do is to listen to those who are suffering.  As I listen to those living as minorities in our TOWN, much less our country, I realize that racism hurts.  I think it is partly because of this that it hurts the heart of our Heavenly Father.  I heard the spoken word artist Propaganda (an African American Man) recently at an event and he said something very powerful.  He was asked what he thought about people who say “All lives matter,” when asked about “Black lives matter.”  Propaganda said, “We need to stop and think for a moment about a society where it is necessary to have a movement reminding people that black lives matter.  No one needs to be reminded that white lives matter, but we need to remember our country’s history and the attitudes still harbored by some, denying that black lives matter as much as white lives.”  Propaganda’s comment has stuck with me.  We need to remember the pain that racism has caused and is causing, listen to the experiences of others and try to understand them, and respond with compassion to those who are feeling its effects.  Too often people talk about racism like it is a subject in school like Algebra.  Algebra never hurt anyone.  I can complain about “x” and solve for “y” without hurting anyone, but I cannot escape the emotional component of discussing a topic like racism, so I must proceed with grace, compassion, and a listening ear.  “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” – James 1:9.  Racism sins against and hurts our neighbors, which is a direct violation of the greatest commandments (Love the Lord your God with all your heart soul and mind AND love your neighbor as yourself) – especially when we see how Jesus illustrated who our neighbor was with a story (The Good Samaritan in Luke 10) that focused on people of different races being “neighbors!”  Let us love and listen well.

ACTION:  Talk with a friend from a different race and ask them about their experience.  If your friendships are mostly with those of the same race, reach out and begin to get to know someone new!

 

Thought #3:  Racism is a Symptom of a Problem all of us Have.

Now I am not saying that all of us would grab a torch and join that mob in Virginia.  As a matter of fact, a very small number of people (thankfully) would be added to their number.  However, racism is a symptom of a much larger root problem:  sin.  Romans 3:23 tells us that “All” have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  All means all.  Sin shows up in the adulterous spouse, the wall street embezzler, the self-reliant church goer, and the racist protester.  It is the same sin nature that has enslaved us all, yet expresses itself with diverse (yet consistent) ugliness.  Interesting enough, Romans 6:15-23 pictures our flesh like a slave master forcing us to works unrighteousness.  I need to remember this, because as I watch this ugliness play out on television, I am tempted to feel self-righteous and morally superior to these racist protesters.  I can be repulsed by their expression of sin, but I also can be reminded the ugliness of their behavior shows up in me in other ways and areas.  We all are in need of God’s grace and a total transformation.

ACTION:  Confess your sin to God and find forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

 

Thought #4:  Jesus is the Answer.

There is an old story about a child in Sunday school who always wanted to give the right answer.  The teacher asked the child, “What is small, brown, and furry and eats lots of nuts?”  The little boy (wanting to be right and righteous) blurts out – “I think its a squirrel, but I’m going to say ‘Jesus.’”  Given the complexity of race relations, it may sound trite to you that I would suggest “Jesus” as the answer to the problem of racism, but this is exactly what the Bible tells us. 

We sometimes think that racism is an American problem, or that it is a new problem.  Racism is not a new or American problem.  It is an old human problem. 

In the first century, Jesus came as a Jew, and ministered His entire earthly ministry inside of the nation of Israel.  Was there a “racism” problem there?  Why yes, there was.  There were two groups of people:  Jews (ethnic Israel plus a few proselytes) and Gentiles (everyone else).  This divide was very real and revealed itself in a variety of ways in their society.  When Jesus called the disciples to go into “all the world,” it took a while for His followers to “get it.”  In fact, it took a few decades.  Jesus gives His disciples the great commission at the time of His ascension.  15 years later, there is still a strong divide between Jews and Gentiles, so Jesus gives Peter a vision in Acts 10 and guides him to Cornelius’s home to witness the conversion of a Gentile.  Yet Peter still struggled to understand (the preconceived notions he had been taught from youth were hard to “unlearn”).  Five years after the events of Acts 10, Peter still was treating Gentile converts in an inferior way and has to be confronted by Paul in Galatians 2.  It is in part because of their struggle with this particular form of racism that the Spirit prompts Paul to write “He Himself is our peace, who has made us both (Jew and Gentile) one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross thereby killing the hostility (Ephesians 2:14-16). 

The hope for the divisions of people in the first century was found in Jesus Christ . . . and that is the same today.  The hope for peace and unity is found not in government (though they should be pressed to establish fair laws and keep the peace.)  The hope for today is found in Jesus Christ.  Let us not allow the sinfulness of this season to distract us from the true answer to life’s biggest dilemmas.  Like Paul in the first century, we know the answer to this question.  Let us call people to Jesus (with grace and boldness) and see Him unite us in one body.  This is the only ultimate peace and unity that will last.

ACTION:  Pray for unity among Christians in your community, regardless of race.  May the divisions of race NOT divide the church in heart or spirit.  We are a part of the same Body!  Read John 17 and the book of Ephesians or 1 Corinthians as reminders of this truth, and be a bridge builder in your community in the name of Jesus.

 

Thought #5:  There is Hope for All (If We Trust in Christ)

One conviction I have concerning sin is that I never want to talk about it as a “them” issue.  Sin is an “us” issue.  As we have previously established, we all sin and fall short of the glory of God.  Therefore, I want to acknowledge that the mirror of these past few days may have revealed some racism in our own hearts.  In fact, you may be reading this right now and coming to grips with your own sinfulness.  If so, what are you to do?  Too often, in posts like this, Christians feel the need to simply point out the sin, without also pointing out the Savior.  I do not want to do that.  Yes, racism is sinful.  BUT, if even the most ardent neo-Nazi or KKK member turned to Jesus, they too could find their sins forgiven and their lives transformed.  There is hope for all of us, and it is not found in our righteous past or present, but in Jesus’ righteousness and grace.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians and said, “Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, not thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).”  Paul could just as easily have added “racist” to that list.  If this is a sin you have struggled with, hear the Word of God . . . “And such were some of you.  But you were washed.  You were sanctified . . .”  Hope for all sinners  is found in Jesus Christ.  As fellow sinners, let’s pray for the salvation of those enslaved by racism’s nasty yoke.

ACTION:  Pray for the salvation of those who do not know Christ, and (as God gives you opportunity) share the good news of Jesus with those around you.

 

Conclusion:

Daily newscasts are like a mirror revealing to us something about ourselves.  Let’s allow the truth of God’s Word to shine brightly on us and reveal any blights from which we need to repent.  Then, let’s walk away and (in the words of James 1:22-25):

“Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.   For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.  But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”