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 →
The Hallmark Channels are showing nothing but Christmas movies, decorations have started appearing… I don’t even fight that battle anymore. I tried and lost. Sirius XM has started their Holly station on channel 65. Holly plays mostly modern Christmas pop but they throw in well known tunes by Elvis, Johnny Mathis and Andy Williams as well. As we get closer to Christmas more seasonal channels will be added, such as traditional, religious and even a Hallmark Christmas radio channel.
If you don’t subscribe to satellite radio stay with me, that’s not really what this post is about. Continue reading →
I know from my interactions with readers that most visitors to The Master’s Table are Christians. Many write blogs of their own, author or review Christian books, or are otherwise involved in church culture. Not surprising since many of my posts are devotional in nature; my writing explores what it means to serve God, worship, share the Gospel and so forth. I’ve blogged on meeting Christian writers, musicians, speakers and pastors; working at summer VBS; serving on the stateside mission field; publishing a book about who God is and how we relate to him. On occasion I have not only published sermons but written on the act of preaching.
While the vast majority of the readership here is Christian I have no way of knowing how many actually preach the Gospel. We all know a good sermon when we hear one or at least know what we like. But how familiar with the process is anyone that has never prepared a sermon? While there may be those that joke their pastor only works one hour each week surely no one that has put any thought into it actually believes that. Surely. I’m not going to write a step-by-step guide on how to DIY your own sermon. But I would like to share some insight into what goes on in the mind of the preacher before the sermon is being delivered. Continue reading →
That’s how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate. Saving what we love. -Rose Tico
Have you ever heard the old saying about how anything could become a sermon illustration? The quote above is from the 2017 film Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I’m sure if there had been internet and social media in 1977 everyone would have hated the original film too. But stay with me on Rose’s line. Continue reading →
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. -Luke 2:8-20Continue reading →
In my own denomination 75 churches each week close for good. The attrition rate among pastors is staggering. According to LifeWay research (link) it may not be 1,500 a month walking away from the ministry but on average 250 each month do. The culture we live in has changed. Just a generation or two ago a local politician, think city council or school board member, was expected to be active in a local church in order to be considered a member of the community. Church attendance is no longer looked to as a metric and being outspoken about one’s faith may be a strike against a candidate. The rights to religious expression are challenged with increasing frequency, not just in the public arena but in homes and other private property.
There is a misunderstanding among some Christians of exactly what the Gospel is. I’ve read lengthy rants explaining that the Gospel is a presentation given to non-Christians: Our natural state is lostness, Jesus died to save sinners, hear the Gospel and repent. To them there is no such thing as living out the Gospel in front of others, sharing the Gospel without using words, etc. Because the Gospel is the words “Jesus died to save you from your sins” and nothing else beyond that. I call that a misunderstanding because repenting of sins and asking forgiveness is merely the beginning. Continue reading →
We are sent to share the Gospel. In a statement known as the Great Commision (Matthew 28:16-20) Jesus told his followers to go to all nations. They were sent to proclaim the Gospel message and to make disciples; teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Evangelism is more than having an audience raise their hands, repeat a prayer or sign a card. Making disciples goes beyond baptism. It’s an investment into people’s lives that involves building relationships and working together in ministry. Followers of Jesus are not to just promote him but to lead others into a life of following. To teach others all that Jesus has command we must first learn and understand ourselves. The two processes actually happen simultaneously. We continue on the journey of learning and being conformed to the image of Christ while recruiting others to walk with us. Go to all the world, preach/teach/share the Gospel, make disciples. To this task we are called. Continue reading →
Much of the New Testament was written in Greek and gospel is a word that we borrowed from the original language without translating it. Gospel simply means good news. If you look at crime rates, history, human nature or simply tune into to any news program then you know that we are surrounded by bad news. In the United States we are deeply divided politically, there is gun violence, debate over gun violence, crime in the big cities and various protests across the nation over a variety of issues. Other countries are at war, operate under a military regime or are completely impoverished. People don’t seem to be getting better. Our level of science and technology has increased but after thousands of years of philosophical discussion we as the human race have not dramatically improved. Theft, rape, murder and war are still universally found around the globe much as they were in ancient times. The bad news is obvious to anyone paying attention: there is something wrong with us. Beyond politics, individual beliefs and philosophy, human nature is flawed. There may in fact be some good in every person but the bad in every person has not yet been weeded out. Continue reading →
10 years ago I had a lot of help starting a blog. I worked with Michael Spencer, the original Internet Monk, in real life. I had all the WordPress experience and pro tips a newbie could ask for. So think of this post as paying it forward.
Chameca Helm was a student at OBI back when I taught geography and World History. Now she makes testimony videos and is building an online community to reach people with the Gospel. She asked me to help make her latest video “go viral” and I told her I would see what I could do. The Godly Complexion Movement by Chameca Helm is an online community that utilizes Facebook and YouTube to be uplifting and encouraging with the goal of pointing people to Jesus. Continue reading →