Peace on Earth?

When a multitude of the heavenly host appeared to a group of shepherds out in the field, they proclaimed “Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men.” Someone may take a critical look at the world today and ask “Where is it? I don’t see peace on Earth.” The first thing we need to do is examine what this group of messengers were really saying. The full text of Luke 2:14 is “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Your translation of choice may not include among those with whom he is pleased so let’s not even go there. These angels are worshipping. They proclaim Glory to God in the highest which we do not see everywhere in the world today. The creation points to God’s glory but the majority of people walking the face of the earth do not acknowledge God. The angels were announcing the birth of the Messiah/Christ so peace on earth could be similar to Jesus himself saying “The Kingdom of God is at hand.” He certainly was. So the angels did not prophesy in so many words “There is going to be peace on earth” or “from now on there will be peace on earth and goodwill everywhere you look.” But I still want to address these two questions: Is there or can there be peace on earth? Will there ever be peace over the whole earth?

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There is Much to be Thankful For

As we talk about giving thanks I’m not going into this holiday season with blinders on. Over 258,000 Americans have died of Covid or Covid-related illnesses this year. Unemployment reached levels unheard of since the Great Depression with 33 million unemployed in April. (Unemployment will go back up as the total number of cases and hospitalizations rise and things shut down again.) Theaters, restaurants, airlines and hotels may never been the same, or so it seems. On a personal level, we all know someone that has been quarantined, hospitalized or died from Covid-19. Some families have been hit hard.

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The Little Team that Could

This was originally published as “Illustrations Can Come from Anywhere” on March 22, 2018. I don’t do a lot of reruns but hope you enjoy this one.

If you are a preacher, know a preacher, or for that matter have ever listened to a preacher, you may have heard the oft repeated statement illustrations can come from anywhere. It’s a truism that may cause us to smile but seriously; a funny thing a child says, a misunderstanding in the supermarket line, words said in anger that have to be eaten later, literally anything a professional speaker hears about could become an illustration for a point being made. Be careful sharing those funny anecdotes around your clergyman. You may hear them again from the pulpit.

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Nazarene, not Nazarite

Screenshot 2020-08-10 at 6.43.21 PMI was listening to Fred McCoy this morning and he mentioned that Jesus was a Nazarene, adding that he was not a Nazarite and getting one or two half laughs. I have something of a history with getting those two mixed up so it probably meant more to me than anyone else present.

Students at Oneida Baptist Institute have chapel services 5 days a week Monday through Friday and twice on Sunday. Continue reading

Ordinary Time

I did not grow up in church observing any sort of Christian Calendar. Church life centered around Christmas and Easter at those times of the year and there were special days such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Although my family wasn’t Southern Baptist we were Baptists in the South so Homecoming, Vacation Bible School and revival meetings were annual observances. The vast majority of the year the pastor preached on whatever he felt led to, Sunday School teachers did the same, and all of that seemed perfectly normal to me.

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If you Google ordinary time you will get a lot of results from Catholic sources and relating to the Roman Catholic Church. Many Protestant churches find they benefit from a Christian Calendar, like the one shown above, even without following a strict lectionary throughout the year. Continue reading

A Biblical Perspective

bibleIf you are a follower of The Master’s Table, or a former student, or have ever listened to me preach, teach Sunday School or lead a small group of any kind, you know by now that I do not pick up a recent newspaper and use the headlines for talking points about Bible prophesy. During Advent I talk about prophecies of the Messiah being fulfilled by Jesus’s birth and the events surrounding it. During Easter and Pentecost I talk about prophesies Jesus fulfilled during his earthly ministry, his death, burial and resurrection, and the promise we have of his future return. What I have never done is point to earthquakes, volcanoes, war in the Middle East or any other current event while quoting snippets of scripture and saying “See, the Bible says so.” I’ve seen preachers and other church leaders look foolish when Mikhail Gorbachev did not turn out to be the antichrist, Saddam Hussein was not the Beast described in Revelation and the world did not end in 1988 despite the list of 88 reasons that it was going to. Continue reading

Pentecost Sunday

Here is a sermon I wrote a few years ago for Pentecost. I found full text of this message, originally title The Holy Spirit Bears Witness, courtesy of cloud storage and decided it was worth sharing. 

Our celebration of Easter corresponds with the Jewish festival of Passover. It’s no mere coincidence if we think about the Passover lamb as symbolic prophecy for the atoning sacrifice of the Lamb of God. Pentecost, fifty days later, corresponds to the Jewish Festival of Weeks. Jews still celebrate Shavuot (Pentecost is the Greek word for Shavuot).

Before the crucifixion, Jesus told his followers that he must go in order for the Comforter to come. Before his ascension in Acts 1 to told the Apostles to stay in Jerusalem and “wait for the promise.” John the Baptist had prophesied that one coming after him that would baptize with fire. Jesus said in Acts 1 they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. I’m going to take for granted you either have read or will read Acts chapter 2.  On the day of Pentecost Peter preached the first “Christian sermon” and the New Testament Church Age began. Continue reading

Different Sort of Easter

Screenshot 2020-04-08 at 6.27.05 PMEvery adult Christian probably has memories of Easter outfits and eggs hunts from when they were kids, and a list of traditions they carry on with their kids and grandkids. Easter probably involves sunrise service, some special breakfast, new suits or dresses, pictures with family, Easter egg hunts, and so forth. Church choirs perform cantatas and perhaps put on passion plays. We used to go to one in London, KY that was very well done.

This year was different. Continue reading

A Seed Must Fall

And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. –John 12:23-26

Wednesday April 8th was the first day of Passover for observant Jews. The event we know as the Triumphal Entry occurred when Jesus came into Jerusalem to celebrate Passover for the last time. Ethnic Jews and those practicing Judaism gathered at Jerusalem from all around the Mediterranean world. John 12 records that “some Greeks” came looking for Jesus. The very well known statement “Sir, we wish to see Jesus” is found in verse 21. Philip told Andrew, Andrew and Philip went together and told Jesus. His response is shown above. He talks about bearing fruit, eternal life, following him and being honored by the father. He also talks about, as he had many times before, sowing seeds but in this instance uses what happens to seeds to allude to his crucifixion and burial. The grain of wheat must fall into the earth and die in order to bear fruit. Continue reading