150419 Acts 4:8-12

Text: Acts 4:8-12
Theme: There Is Only One Truth!

The title of the MSNBC online article caught my attention: "39 Powerful Quotes That Will Change The Way You Live And Think." I was curious, so I clicked my way through all thirty nine of them. Some I found interesting, like this one: "A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for." Several were thought provoking, like this observation made by Stephen Covey: "We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions." And a few quotes taught important life lessons, like this one from Mark Twain: "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."

I like quotes and quotations, and I appreciated most of the quotes that made the list, except for one. It wasn't attributed to anyone, but in twenty first century America it could be attributed to almost anyone. The anonymous quote reads: "You never know the truth. You know 'a' truth." That way of thinking is not only popular today. It is pervasive, and it has a name, relativism. According to relativism, there are no objective standards. There are no moral absolutes. There is no clear distinction between right and wrong. Everything, including everything we perceive to be true, is relative.

"You never know the truth. You know 'a' truth." Those words are powerful, but in this case powerful is not necessarily beneficial. Our culture's shift toward relativism is not a sign of progress or intellectual enlightenment. For Christians it is dangerous because it undercuts the foundations of our faith. It challenges the one who called God's Word truth (John 17:17) and referred to himself as the Truth (John 14:6). It threatens to rob us of our confidence in God's Word and our hope for eternal life.

According to relativism, the only absolute truth is that there is no absolute truth. But we know that's not true, and so did the apostle Peter. He wasn't afraid to stand up for the truth. He wasn't afraid to testify to the truth. His inspired confession inspires us, and it reminds us that when it comes to spiritual things, when it comes to matters of the soul, when it comes to salvation...

THERE IS ONLY ONE TRUTH!

I. The name of Jesus heals
II. Only the name of Jesus saves

Read more: 150419 Acts 4:8-12

150412 Acts 3:12-20

Series Theme: AD: Our Easter Celebration Continues

Text: Acts 3:12-20

Theme: The Message Of Easter Continues!

A.D. The Bible Continues is the title of a new NBC mini-series that premiered last Easter Sunday. It is produced by the same folks who made the mini-series "The Bible." According to their web site, "A.D. The Bible Continues picks up where the miniseries The Bible left off, continuing the greatest story ever told and exploring the exciting and inspiring events that followed the Crucifixion of Christ." Since this mini-series will be airing each Sunday night at 8:00 PM and many of you may find yourself watching it, and since during this Easter Season of the Christian Church Year one of our weekly Scripture readings is taken from the book of Acts which records the early history of the Christian Church, Pastor Pagels suggested that we focus our sermon messages each week on the assigned reading from Acts. So, as we begin this series of sermons, I would like to suggest that we change the title slightly from A.D. The Bible Continues to A.D. Our Easter Celebration Continues. As you and I continued to celebrate the wonderful Good News of our Savior's victorious resurrection, today based on God's Word from Acts chapter 3 we see that The MESSAGE of Easter Continues.

Read more: 150412 Acts 3:12-20

150405 John 20:1-8

Text: John 20:1-8
Theme: The Life Changing Power Of The Empty Tomb

In my hands I am holding a box. Nothing too fancy, just a good, sturdy little box. Because there is a lid on the box it is impossible to see what's inside. So what if I told you. What if I told you that this box contains something that every person needs. What if I told you this box contains the answer to all of life's questions, the solution to all of life's problems. Even if you are skeptical, wouldn't you still want me to open it? Even if it sounds too good to be true, wouldn't you at least want to take a peek at what's inside?

For those of you who are curious (and even if you aren't) I won't keep you in suspense. I will open the box so that you can see what it contains (take off the lid and show the people). As you can see it's empty, completely empty.

Are you disappointed? Do you feel betrayed? Does the fact that the box is empty make me a liar? Not necessarily. This day is really about an empty box, but not a cardboard box like this one. Today we focus our attention on an ancient box that was cut out of limestone, a great big box with a boulder for a lid.

Several people looked inside this box on Easter morning, and when they did they found it empty. But they weren't disappointed. They were transformed. The empty tomb of Jesus transformed their lives, and it has the same effect on disciples of Jesus today. On this glorious Easter morning we celebrate the fact that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, and as we do we also give thanks to God for...

THE LIFE CHANGING POWER OF THE EMPTY TOMB

I. See how people came to the tomb
II. See how people left the tomb

Read more: 150405 John 20:1-8

150329 Mark 11:1-10

Text: Mark 11:1-10
Theme: Palm Sunday: The Perfect Storm

The Perfect Storm is the name of a book (which was later turned into a movie) that tells the story of the 1991 Halloween Nor'easter that ravaged the eastern seaboard of the United States. That storm took the lives of at least twelve people and caused just shy of one billion dollars in damage.

How did it happen? What began as a typical nor'easter developed into a true hurricane when it was stalled offshore by high pressure in Canada. To add fuel to the fire, Hurricane Grace, laden with moisture and heading north in the Atlantic, responded to the cold front and headed toward the low.

It was a Boston meteorologist by the name of Robert Case who preserved this storm's place in history when he said: "These circumstances alone could have created a strong storm, but then, like throwing gasoline on a fire, a dying Hurricane Grace delivered immeasurable tropical energy to create the perfect storm."

This is probably about the time you are thinking to yourself: "Okay, pastor, I appreciate the history lesson, but I don't see the connection. And by the way, you are not a weather man. What does 'the perfect storm' have to do with Palm Sunday?"

All four gospels record the events of Palm Sunday, but not one of them includes a weather report. And even though we don't know what the weather was like when Jesus rode through the streets of Jerusalem, I have a fairly detailed picture in my mind. The Palm Sunday I see is a beautiful day. It's warm, but not too warm. There is a breeze, but it's not too breezy. And in the sky there is a combination of sun and clouds.

If my imagination is correct, if in fact Palm Sunday was a warm, sunny day (and there is nothing recorded in the gospels to make us think that it wasn't), the question needs to be asked again: What does this day have to do with "the perfect storm?"

Most people don't remember the storm that pummeled the east coast almost twenty five years ago, but the phrase that Robert Case coined to describe it lives on. "The perfect storm" is commonly used today in a figurative sense. It refers to a series of seemingly unrelated events that converge to create a situation that is far more significant and much more intense than the individual parts.

And that is exactly what happened on Palm Sunday, the day when a number of different people, places and events came together to set in motion the most important week in the history of the world. That is why it is fitting, that is why it makes sense for us to call...

PALM SUNDAY: THE PERFECT STORM

Read more: 150329 Mark 11:1-10

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