There are so many distractions that the heart of our faith often gets forgotten. So here are two simple reminders of the core of our faith — one from Scripture and one artistically done to affirm that Scripture. I hope they bless you as they have blessed me this morning
Let me remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I preached to you when we first met. It’s the essential message that you have taken to heart, the central story you now base your life on; and through this gospel, you are liberated—unless, of course, your faith has come to nothing. For I passed down to you the crux of it all which I had also received from others, that the Anointed One, the Liberating King, died for our sins and was buried and raised from the dead on the third day. All this happened to fulfill the Scriptures; it was the perfect climax to God’s covenant story. Afterward He appeared alive to Cephas (you may know him as Simon Peter), then to the rest of the twelve. If that were not amazing enough, on one occasion, He appeared to more than 500 believers at one time. Many of those brothers and sisters are still around to tell the story, though some have fallen asleep in Jesus.
If for some reason you cannot see the video, go here: Worship House Media.
“I have a dream…”
Fifty years ago.
Discrimination. Segregation. Racial hatred. All eclipsed with hope… from Christian faith… out of the language of Scripture… in a sermon that changed a nation.
But now, many want to remove Christian faith from the public square and public speech and from public discussion. The faith that inspired Lincoln and propelled Martin Luther King, Jr., and fueled the change that was too long in coming.
So now, on the fiftieth anniversary of MLK’s powerful speech, our public square is strangely silent and our public officials — and especially our President — our deafeningly silent and complicit in the murder, torture, and persecution of Christians in Egypt and Syria. We’re afraid of offending Muslims and leave Christians to be slaughtered, brutalized, and forgotten. If MLK’s powerful speech means anything, it means this: no person, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or nationality, should be afraid to live out their faith. And when we stop standing up for this, then we have a dream lost.
Worst of all, Christians in the west sit passively saying nothing.
Don’t believe me? Read this powerful article by an atheist in a Jewish publication questioning how this could be so: WHERE ARE PROTESTS AGAINST MURDERS OF CHRISTIANS!?
I have a dream!
God’s Kingdom coming.
God’s people caring.
Where color and country don’t matter and character does.
So where is our concern? Even more, where is our character?
For more on how to care, to express your concern, and to help, please see: Help?
We need to pray, as MLK did fifty years ago:
But let justice roll down like waters
And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream (Amos 5:24 NASB).
God has a dream!
After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10 NLT)
Will we share in God’s dream or sit silently by?
So maybe this message is for you?
Maybe you are on the fence?
Maybe you have doubts?
Maybe you are not sure?
So here are some things to consider:
Growing up, going to several well known churches, I never heard the story of Jesus’ birth preached except once. Our line was that we were not sure when Jesus was born and it surely wasn’t in December so we wouldn’t exalt one day above another. I appreciate the sentiment, but I missed hearing one of the most important truths of human history — God entered our world as a baby named Jesus.
The one exception to that huge preaching caveat was that one year Mid McKnight preached about Jesus’ birth and we as a church did Christmas in July — went to the rest homes with gifts, sang all the Christmas carols, and all sorts of cool stuff like that.
Over the 35 years, I never missed an opportunity to share the story of Jesus’ birth — the coming of Immanuel, the incarnation of heaven’s glory in the womb of a young woman from Nazareth. So today, maybe to brighten your day or to just give you a touch of grace or to share a simple reminder or to simply tell the story one more time, I want to share with you James Taylor’s sweet, but powerful, version of “Go Tell it on the Mountain” — don’t miss the words to the verses because they’re true and powerful. Also take time to read the story that follows the vid — what a simple telling of such an awe-inspiring, mysterious, and wondrous truth.
We can have Christmas today, in the heat of August, and be refreshed by heaven’s grace if we invite the Christ child in!
The Story of Jesus’ Birth from The Voice, Matthew 1:18-25
18 So here, finally, is the story of the birth of Jesus the Anointed (it is quite a remarkable story):
Mary was engaged to marry Joseph, son of David. They hadn’t married. And yet, some time well before their wedding date, Mary learned that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, because he was kind and upstanding and honorable, wanted to spare Mary shame. He did not wish to cause her more embarrassment than necessary.
20 Now when Joseph had decided to act on his instincts, a messenger of the Lord came to him in a dream.
Messenger of the Lord: Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to wed Mary and bring her into your home and family as your wife. She did not sneak off and sleep with someone else—rather, she conceived the baby she now carries through the miraculous wonderworking of the Holy Spirit. 21 She will have a son, and you will name Him Jesus, which means “the Lord saves,” because this Jesus is the person who will save all of His people from sin.
22 Years and years ago, Isaiah, a prophet of Israel, foretold the story of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus:
23 A virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and His name will be Immanuel (which is a Hebrew name that means “God with us”).
24 Joseph woke up from his dream and did exactly what the messenger had told him to do: he married Mary and brought her into his home as his wife 25 (though he did not consummate their marriage until after her son was born). And when the baby was born, Joseph named Him Jesus, Savior.
No matter whether you are young or old, being a dad has its blessings and challenges. But most of all, it has its rewards. So this weekend dad, no sermons on how to improve or make you feel guilty, but just a simple “Thank you!” and a prayer that you know you are loved and blessed and one of the first touches of God in your children’s lives.
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Sometimes just hitting the refresh button makes all the difference in the world!
Let’s just let this speak for itself!