Word On Worship – December 25, 2011

December 25, 2011
Pastor Andrew Kikkert of Sunrise Church, presented a wonderful Christmas morning sermon “What is the True Meaning of Christmas” to the combined congregations of Sunrise Church and Westminster. The sermon was prefaced with a poignant youtube video, “If Joseph and Mary had Facebook”, by Igniter Media.

Pastor Andrew Kikkert “What is the True Meaning of Christmas” from TC-Presbyterian.org on Vimeo.

Word On Worship – December 25, 2011

Luke 2:4-7
“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.”

Only a few verses describe the events surrounding the birth of Christ while several chapters of each of the gospels are devoted to the arrest, trial, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of our Lord. An excellent principle to follow in our own study of Scripture is the principle of proportion. God devotes the more time and space to what is more important for His people to understand. Based on this simple principle we can reason the death of Christ is more important to the writers of the gospels than His birth. Yes Christ had to take on human flesh, but it is His atoning work on the cross of Calvary that saves us.

So why is the Christmas story so important to us today? Even those who do not believe in Christ for salvation acknowledge the wonder of Christmas. My sense is that the babe in the manger is far less threatening than the Christ who interprets and applies the Law, who condemns sin and speaks of faith in His blood. The babe in the manger is controllable. The baby in the manger is sweet, someone we can comfortably approach. The baby in the manger is “God in a box” and God on our terms is a God we can worship.

The Christ who hangs on a cross is not a pretty picture, is not a God we are drawn to — and certainly is not about warm and fuzzy feelings. It is easy to make much of a baby in the manger because for many the God who is a baby is a “god” we can serve. A weak and helpless “god” who seems to need us more than we need Him gives us a sense of control and even authority because who has to submit to an infant. But the God who is sovereign over everything, including us, has the right to demand our obedience, our worship and our all.

According to the Bible, the Jesus who came the first time as a baby in the manger is coming again. And when He returns it will be as an avenger and a righteous judge to punish the wicked and reward the righteous. This may not be the Jesus you would serve, but it is the same Jesus who was born in Bethlehem. Are you ready to meet this Jesus and worship Him? His second appearance will be very different than His first, but it is the same Jesus of the manger. He is the coming King I implore you to accept as He came the first time, as your Savior. When He returns it will be to set up His Kingdom, to make things right and to rule over all creation. May we all learn from Luke’s account that the babe in the manger is the Savior of the world! Make room in your heart for the real Jesus Christ to reign in your life this Christmas.

Word On Worship – December 11, 2011

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
“Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.”

There are many scholars who believe formal leaders have not yet been installed in this young church in Thessalonica at the time of Paul’s letter. That very well could be the case as Paul’s abrupt departure from the city would have made the selection of church leaders a very difficult challenge. Can you imagine being thrown into the deep end of the pool and being told to start swimming?

Even today, the greatest need for any church is for godly men to rise to the challenge of leadership. Leadership in the church is more than “what the Pastor says goes.” Spiritual leaders are not created by executive order or dictator’s decree. I believe there is no better model to develop leaders than the New Testament church. The selection of Elders and Deacons are done not on the basis of education, wealth or popularity, but rather on proven character and the ability to teach.

Church leaders are to be of proven character before being selected to positions of authority. In Titus 1:7 Paul requires a high standard for those who lead the church. “Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless.” This does not mean church leaders are without sin or fault, as I can well attest in my own life, but blameless or without accusation about his life and ministry. Elders in a church must be men in their homes and their communities who are above reproach in how they minister and serve before they are to be considered for serving God’s people in that capacity.

Paul gave this standard for teaching in his Epistle to Titus 1:9 “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” This does not mean they have advanced degrees or can speak before large groups of people. But it does mean they know the truth of Scripture from personally handling the Word of God. They can discern truth from error and can instruct people in the ways of God with gentleness and admonish with respect.

Leadership in action is more than just understanding biblical teachings on the subject. It is putting God’s truth to work in our lives. It is not an easy job, nor is it a job that often brings open appreciation. But God said it is a position of honor and respect. Love your leaders, for they need your prayers and your encouragement. As we saw in our study of Hebrews 13:17, “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

Word On Worship May 15, 2011

Hebrews 11:8-10

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”

How would you and I live today if we absolutely believed that God existed? Would it change our lives if we believed in an eternal destination so marvelous that the entire world pales in comparison to one square foot of its turf? Would that effect how you live today? How would we live if we believed God cared about our every action and desired to reward His children for their faith? How would you and I live in the face of persecution, truly believing our whole lives depended on Him?

But we say, “Of course I believe! I believe with all my heart these things are true!” Then, let’s ask the opposite question- how would you live if you did not believe? The difference in how we answer the question is the issue of faith- faith in what is hoped for actually changes how we live and who we are. If all we are looks remarkably like the world is it any wonder we question if we are truly God’s children? Sadly, many in churches on Sunday morning have embraced the world and its values and then fool themselves by saying they live for kingdom values. We excuse ourselves saying those people in Hebrews 11 lived in a different time, so of course they could respond nobly to the Unseen God. If this is our perspective we have missed the whole point of the author that the life of faith is normal for the people of God.

When we live “by faith” we bear the witness of God in such a way to stimulate others to be stimulated to faith. When we live our life as an active demonstration that faith works we are the true heroes of faith, in the best sense of the word. It is a life that helps others and honors God. This is not just for super saints. As followers of Jesus we are extraordinary because of what God has done in our midst, and in spite of our own spiritual dullness. The Church has been gathers for nearly 2000 years, and still we have not fixed the flaws. That is the miracle we witness every week- God, for reasons we may never understand, refrains from blowing our sideshow act up into a million pieces, and tells us it is ok to be people. God makes the most beautiful music with amateur musicians, even if it will take all eternity to reveal just how beautiful it really is.

Word On Worship February 6, 2011

Hebrews 7:1-2

This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.”

What do you think of the Old Testament? What impact has it had on your thoughts about the Christian life? For Jesus and the Apostles what we call the “Old Testament” was their written Scripture. When Paul entered a synagogue, the attendant would pull out a scroll of Genesis or Jeremiah, for example, and hand it to the teacher of the day who would then expound on the passage that was read. The Old Testament was the powerful word of God, “sharper than any two-edged sword.” That may be a hard thing for us in the Church Age who may be jaded into thinking the Old Testament has been outdated by the coming of the New Testament.

The Old Testament is foundational to our understanding for who Jesus Christ is, based on the covenants and promises of God expressed to the Hebrews. It is in the Old Testament that we are told the Messiah would be greater than the priesthood of Aaron. It is the Old Testament that we read David’s prophecy in Ps 110:4 “The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” And not just a priest, but a king as well! David wrote in Psalm 110:1 “The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.

The author of Hebrews uses Psalm 110 to interpret and apply Genesis 14 in a way to show us there is much more going on in the Old Testament than we ever realized. We have already seen how Hebrews used Psalm 95 to interpret the reason why the Hebrews could not enter Canaan to find rest in chapters 3 and 4. The Scriptures are the best tool we have to interpret any passage of Scripture. Allow this to encourage us to study our Bibles much more thoroughly because we can see time after time that the pages of Scripture contain much more than meets the eye at a casual reading.

It is the Book of Hebrews which demonstrates Melchizedek and Messiah are both kings and priests. While this was specifically prohibited by the Law of Moses, this can and does happen under the New Covenant, with Christ as our Great High Priest — just as we see in Psalm 110. But you and I need to keep in mind that we, the church, are a “kingdom of priests” and will reign with Him. A part of our daily walk with Christ needs to be careful consideration of how we should exercise our role as a “kingdom of priests” now and for all eternity.