Sunday, January 7, 2018

Deliverance: Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus

I’d like to ask you to close your eyes this morning and picture the person who has shaped your faith more than any other person.

When I close my eyes, the first face I see is Freddie Moll. I never called him Freddie; I called him Poppy. He was my grandfather—my mother’s father. He was the most gentle, humble, godly man I’ve ever met. I never observed him say one unkind thing to anyone or about anyone. Instead, every time you left his presence you felt better about yourself. That was his spiritual gift.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Deliverance: Blessed Are the Persecuted

After Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” He said this…
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12 NRSV)
Let me ask you a strange question: What did Jesus do for a living?

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Deliverance: Blessed Are the Peacemakers

READ MATTHEW 5:1–9 (NRSV)

Peace seems to be the thing the world craves the most, but has the least amount of. New York City, once again this week, is asking if there will ever be peace in this world. People living in Israel and Iraq and Syria—they’ve been looking for peace their entire lives. There are families looking for peace. Husbands and wives longing to return to the days when they first met each other—before the fighting began. Children longing for the day when mom and dad quit yelling at each other. Parents desperately wanting to have the relationship with their children that they once had. There are even churches looking for peace. Everyone wants peace, but there seems to be so little of it to go around.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Deliverance: Blessed Are the Pure in Heart

In the movie Cinderella Man, we learn of a true story about boxing legend James J. Braddock (played by Russell Crowe). Braddock was a successful boxer in the latter 1920s. But a few years into the Depression, he appeared to be a washed up “has been." Injured and arthritic, Braddock's promising career was cut short. He even had to go on public assistance when he couldn't get work at the docks in New Jersey. During this time of need, his son, Jay, steals a salami from the butcher to help feed the family. When Jim gets back from another unsuccessful day of trying to find work, he finds out what his son has done.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Deliverance: Blessed Are the Meek

In an article for Decision magazine, Samuel Kamaleson tells a Christian folk story from South India. There are several versions of it, but here it opens with a young boy who loved to play marbles. He regularly walked through his neighborhood with a pocketful of his best marbles, hoping to find opponents to play against. One marble in particular, his special blue marble, had won him many matches. During one walk he encountered a young girl who was eating a bag of chocolate candy. Though the boy's first love was marbles, he (like many of us) had a weakness for chocolate. As he stood there interacting with the young girl, his salivary glands kicked in, and the rumbling in his stomach became uncontrollable. He thought to himself “I have got to get my hands on those chocolates!”

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Deliverance: Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:1–4 NRSV)
What does it mean to “mourn”? Mourning is kind of like “poor in spirit” that we talked about last week. It has a double meaning. Mourning can mean grief, the sadness that comes from losing something or someone we love. But mourning can also mean repentance. Sinners mourn for their own sins and sins of their community. They mourn because they long for the day when their sin and the sins of their community will end. They long for God to intervene.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Deliverance: Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit

Who are the Poor in Spirit?
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:1–3 NRSV)
These are perhaps some of the most familiar words in the entire Bible. The opening words of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and the first so-called “Beatitude.” This sermon comes to us from Matthew’s gospel. But you might know that much of this sermon is recorded also in Luke. In Luke 6, Jesus said to His disciples a little bit differently: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” This brings up an interesting question, doesn’t it? What did Jesus really say? “Poor in Spirit” (as in Matthew)? Or, just “Poor” (as in Luke)? Believe it or not, I think the answer is “Both.”