Sunday – January 26, 2014 “Hope & Change God’s Way- The Hope of Heaven”

January 26, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Hope and Change Week 5: The Hope of Heaven from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Word On Worship – January 26, 2014 Download / Print

 2 Corinthians 5:1-3
“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked.”

Our culture is fascinated with near death experiences and what happens on the other side of life. Searching through under the subject of near death will bring up over 102,300 titles currently for sale. I wish I could say it is the fascination of unbelievers, but Christian culture is no different with over 150 titles available on on the same subject! Why have we been caught up with other people’s non-authoritative view of death and what comes next to the exclusion of what God has already revealed to us through His Word?

In 2 Corinthians, Paul speaks of death and dying, not in the sense of martyrdom, but in the sense of the normal aging and dying process of life. Those of us with a number of years behind us (and often with gray hair – or none – to prove it) can readily agree with Paul when he speaks of the gradual, but steady, decline of the physical body. The minute we are born we are on a path that will inevitably lead to our death. For some, it simply comes sooner than for others. But in spite of our “dying by degrees” in the normal aging process, Christians also experience life. As the outer man continues to perish, the inner man is being renewed (given life) day by day. This is not spoken of as maintaining a certain level of spirituality, but of actually growing and increasing in our walk with God.

Actually, the dying process of the body is a welcome thing because we will exchange these mortal bodies for new spiritual bodies which are vastly superior. Our present bodies are a tent while our permanent spiritual bodies are described as a temple. To be at home in this physical body is to be absent from the Lord; to be absent from this physical body is to be at home with the Lord. And so it is that just as Paul did not fear the death by martyrdom or old age, death produces life for the Christian. And thus death is not to be fearfully avoided by living in the safe zone; we can live dangerously for Christ, knowing that death brings life for us when we die, whether as martyrs or due to old age.

The book stores are filled with books telling us heaven is about being with friends and loved ones, rather than on our being with God. Believing husbands will see their believing wives in heaven, but they will not relate to them in marriage as they have done on earth. Heaven is spending eternity in heaven in the presence of God; hell is spending eternity apart from God. That is the main thing. Do not be misled. The fact that others we have loved on earth will be there is “icing on the cake,” but it is not the essence of what heaven is about.

Sunday – January 19, 2014 “Hope & Change God’s Way- Hope in the Gospels”

January 19, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Hope & Change God’s Way- Hope in the Gospels from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Word On Worship – January 19, 2014 Download / Print

Matthew 4:23-25
Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.”

When we began this series, I said we should not study a subject by merely using a concordance to search out a certain word. The use of “hope” in the Gospels is an excellent illustration. One would be completely mistaken to conclude that there is little “hope” in the Gospels because the word “hope” is found there only twice. The problem in the Gospels is that the “hope” which we find is a misguided hope. In fact, hopes (expectations) were running high in Israel at the time of our Lord’s earthly ministry, but they were mistaken hopes, based upon wrong motives and expectations.

I believe it is safe to say from the hopes of the crowds looking to be fed to the hopes John the Baptist and the twelve disciples had that all were focused on what they expected Jesus to do for them. Yet each of them would falter in their faith and see that their hope had been rooted in false expectations of what the Messiah was supposed to do for them. And I would suggest, we are not that different in the foundations of our hope.  There are several common characteristics between the misguided hope we see in people of the gospels and believers today which causes all of us problems when the future looks less promising than we have hoped.

The primary problem is our focus is fixed on present earthly blessings rather than on future heavenly blessings. The disciples continually asked Jesus about the kingdom and when it was coming.  Jesus had told them that they would in the future sit on twelve thrones but they were eager to do so in the  present.  Jesus was quite clear in distinguishing between the “now,” with its troubles and sacrifices, and the “then” of the kingdom, with all of its glorious benefits. Jesus did not say there were no present blessings, but He did not obscure the line between present blessings with difficulties and ultimate eternal blessings. A disciple should live in the present in a way that “lays up treasure” in heaven, understanding he should expect little recognition from the world.

Far from hope being absent in the Gospels, I believe that correctly understanding hope is crucial to understanding what is happening in the Gospels. Reading the Gospels from the perspective of hope may be a new way of thinking through the life of Christ, but I believe that it is more than worth the time and effort to do so. My prayer is this study of hope in the Gospels opens our eyes to the hope of heaven and exposes areas in our lives where our hope has been built on something less than the blood and righteousness of Jesus.

Sunday – January 12, 2014 “Hope & Change God’s Way- Hope in the Old Testament”

January 12, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Hope and Change Week 3- “Hope in the Old Testament” from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Word On Worship – January 12, 2014 Download / Print

 Romans 15:4
“For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope.”

Finding hope in the Old Testament may be more challenging than you would think. Yes, the word appears many times in the Old Testament, but it does not occur as many times as you might think. In fact, the word hope does not appear until you get to the book of Ruth, and there it is talking about Naomi’s lack of hope for her future. Simply studying the topic of hope by searching for the word may diminish our hope more than build it up.

Do not lose hope, weary pilgrim; the concept of hope may very well be present even though the specific word is not found. Sometimes the pertinent texts are going to be found by searching for synonyms of hope. But at other times, we simply have to know the Bible well enough to turn to those texts which deal with this topic in more general terms. Sometimes, the New Testament will give us the necessary clue, just as Hebrews 11 gives us unexpected examples of faith in the Old Testament. Just be aware of the fact that a concordance search is a good start, but it is not the end-all for studying biblical concepts.

The writer to the Hebrews sums up the superiority of the New Covenant to the Old Testament by pointing out that every Old Testament saint was saved by faith, and that their faith gave them hope – not a hope for present blessings so much as a heavenly hope for eternal blessings (Hebrews 11:13-16).

Paul’s words in Romans 15 should convince us that the Old Testament Scriptures are a source of great hope for the New Testament saint because we can now read these texts in the light of the coming and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. The mysteries of the Old Testament – which Old Testament saints did not grasp – are now ours to ponder, for our encouragement and hope.

Sunday – January 5, 2014 “Hope and Change God’s Way: What is Biblical Hope?”

January 5, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Hope and Change God’s Way: What is Biblical Hope? from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Word On Worship – January 5, 2014 Download / Print

 Romans 15:4-6
“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Our series title, Hope and Change, God’s Way, was done purposefully and slightly satirically. Not only does it indicate that hope is the topic, but it also calls attention to the fact that this theme struck a very sympathetic cord in the hearts of many Americans as “Hope and Change” was the campaign slogan for our last two presidential elections. This slogan resonated with many Americans because they lacked assurance of hope for the future.

A number of events have occurred recently which make people fearful of the future. In the recent past, we have seen natural disasters in the Philippines or the winter storms affecting most of our nation this week. Then there are the man-made dangers looming in the future. There are threats of rogue governments in Asia and the Middle East and terrorist plots here and abroad. Young and old have lost faith in politicians, and many have lost hope in the political system altogether. People desperately want to find something or someone in which they can put their hope.

The hope which we have as believers in Jesus Christ is the only true hope. It is the hope which unbelievers lack – but desperately need. Let us keep our sure and certain hope before us, and may our hope cause unbelievers to ask us how we can be so hopeful in such a hopeless world. Just as the Scriptures teach, let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, and let us fix our hope on the grace that is to be brought to us when He will be revealed at His second coming.

No political party or any presidential candidate (not even your guy) can promise the kind of “hope and change” that the Bible offers to any who will trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Most of us recognize that hope is often found in conjunction with faith and hope. “Faith, Hope, and Love” are mentioned together a number of times in the Bible. We have all heard some wonderful messages on faith and on love, but I would venture to say that we have heard too little about hope. (Even I do not remember ever teaching a message focusing primarily on hope.) This is why we will take the next several weeks to explore the hope of the Christian, rooted in the person of Jesus Christ.

Sunday – December 15, 2013 “When More is Less” Judges 7:23-8:28

Sunday – December 15, 2013 – Read the Word on Worship

“When More is Less” Judges 7 verse 23 to 8 verse 28 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Word On Worship – Sunday – December 15, 2013 Download / Print

Judges 8:22-24
Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, both you and your son, also your son’s son, for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.” But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you.”

We are not told exactly when it was that the men of Israel asked Gideon to be their king, but it would seem that it was not long after the victory over the Midianites. What they are really proposing is that Gideon accept the position of being their king and that his ruling over Israel would result in a dynasty. This would assure the Israelites of a strong military leader as well as a continual line of succession. One cannot read this request without thinking ahead to 1 Samuel 8, where the Israelites demanded that Samuel appoint a king for them, a man who would go before them into battle.

On the surface, it would appear that Gideon (rightly) rejected this offer. He seems to do this in very plain words: “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you.” The right words for the right time. And so we continue to think of him as a hero, looking at his recent conduct as a momentary lapse in conduct and character. But in just a moment – just a couple of verses, actually –  our optimism regarding Gideon will go up in flames when we read that he created an ephod that he then set up in his home town as an object of worship. Obviously, something bad happened to Gideon after the miraculous victory God achieved using Gideon and this negative change in Gideon persisted for the rest of his life, nearly forty years.

Gideon’s refusal to be Israel’s king is the right answer theologically speaking but that, in reality, he hypocritically lived a king’s life. For all intents and purposes, Gideon had a harem. The average Israelite certainly did not have many wives and concubines. Not to mention the tax and contributions from each of the soldiers’ collected spoils of war. He may not have taken the title of king but he certainly acted like a king. All the right words were spoken but all the wrong actions were taken.

Gideon reminds us how easy it is to stumble and fall and how few there are who truly “finish well.” That is what makes me so sad when I read about Gideon – he did not finish well. And we should be warned when we realize that many of those who once did well did not finish well. This would include people like David, his son Solomon, and Hezekiah as just a few examples. It does not get easier and easier to live the Christian life as you get older; it gets harder. How important it is to recognize our weakness and to cling to our Lord throughout our lifetime, so that we may finish well.

Sunday – December 8, 2013 “When Less is More” Judges 6:36-7:23

Sunday – December 8, 2013 – Read the Word on Worship

When Less is More Judges 6 verse 36 to 7 verse 23 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Word On Worship – Sunday – December 8, 2013 Download / Print

Judges 6:36-38
Then Gideon said to God, “If You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken, behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I will know that You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken.”

Now let’s be honest with one another. Isn’t Gideon’s unbelief something that is familiar to all of us who have come to trust in Jesus as our Savior? We believe in the Lord Jesus, and we know that we are eternally saved, safe and secure in His keeping. We believe that God’s purpose is to proclaim the good news of the gospel throughout the entire world. We believe that God is going to bring many to faith. We even believe that God may bring revival to our country, and perhaps even to our neighborhood. But we have our doubts when we consider the possibility that God intends to accomplish these great things through us. God may use a Billy Graham but surely He will not use me in any significant way! That is what this test is all about. Gideon wants God to confirm His promise to achieve Israel’s deliverance through him.

It seems to me that in this “test,” there is both good news and bad news. The bad news is that Gideon is reluctant to take God at His word. He knew what God had said; he just didn’t quite believe it. The good news is that Gideon is not proud, arrogant, or confident in his own abilities. Gideon is scared to death and clinging desperately to God. That is a far better place to be than confident in one’s own abilities. Or is it? Our culture says otherwise, and so many Christians think otherwise. Much like the secular world, we think that those most likely to succeed are the ones who have great intellect and healthy self-esteem, are good looking and aggressive. In God’s world, it is the weak and helpless He uses to achieve His purposes. Or, putting the matter in the terms of our sermon title: “Less is More.”

God’s deliverance comes to men because they are desperately helpless to save themselves. That was true of the Israelites of old. It was not because those who were needy did something great to win God’s favor; it was because God is gracious to those who cry out for His help. This is still true today. Everyone is a sinner, in bondage to sin and unable to save themselves. In His great mercy, God sent the Perfect Deliverer, Jesus Christ. He came to save those who were helpless and hopeless. Just as Gideon was not intended to get the glory for the deliverance of his fellow-Israelites, but only God, so it is only God who should get the glory for our salvation, not us. Have you acknowledged your bondage to sin and your helpless state? Have you cried out to Jesus for the salvation He alone can give? If you have, give Him the glory He alone deserves.



Sunday – December 1, 2013 Judges 6:1-35 “How to Start a Revival (Without Even Trying)”

December 1, 2013 – Read the Word on Worship

“How to Start a Revival (Without Even Trying)” Judges 6 verses 1 to 35 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Word On Worship – December 1, 2013 Download / Print

Judges 6:7-10
Now it came about when the sons of Israel cried to the Lord on account of Midian,  that the Lord sent a prophet to the sons of Israel, and he said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel,’It was I who brought you up from Egypt and brought you out from the house of slavery. I delivered you from the hands of the Egyptians and from the hands of all your oppressors, and dispossessed them before you and gave you their land, and I said to you, I am the Lord your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But you have not obeyed Me.”

There are two very important forces that affect faith in our culture; pluralism and privatization. Pluralism is the process by which our culture accepts a wide diversity of beliefs and practices as having equal merit. Considering the free society in which we live, this tolerance of other views is necessary for the functioning of the nation. In terms of religion, our nation is made up of many faiths, and our system of government allows people to believe and practice their faith as they see fit, provided they are not a danger to themselves or others.

It is necessary in a democracy to accept the reality that many faiths can coexist and be embraced in our nation, but this does not mean that all these faiths are equally true and valid. According to the Bible, and particularly the Lord Jesus Christ, Christianity alone is true faith, and faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins is the only way to heaven. People have the freedom to believe and worship however they wish, but only Jesus Christ saves, and only the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God.

Privatization not only embraces pluralism, it seeks to promote it. Our culture wants to believe all religions are of equal value and all of them will eventually get you to heaven. So pluralism says you can believe whatever you want, but privatization insists that you must not hold your belief as exclusively true. And so in the culture the only unpardonable sin is to attempt to impose your belief on someone else. Privatization insists we keep our faith – whatever that may be – to ourselves. This is the opposition we as Christians see in society towards evangelism.

Our text exposes these modern beliefs as false. The Israelites did not have the freedom to worship whatever they wanted. They were commanded to believe in the God who saved them from Egypt and had given them the land of Canaan. God told them through the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 42:8 “I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images.” The Great Commission demands we share our faith with others who are lost apart from trusting in Jesus Christ for their salvation. Gideon must tear down his father’s idols and publicly worship the God of Israel.  Our text challenges us to confront the pluralism and privatization of religion in our lives. There should be no such thing as “secret Christians” for those who follow Jesus Christ.

Sunday – November 24, 2013 “Thanksgiving 2013”

November 24, 2013 – Read the Word on Worship

Thanksgiving 2013 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Word On Worship – November 24, 2013 Download / Print

Thessalonians 5:18
 “… in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Thanksgiving.  The word conjures memories of family gatherings to celebrate the day; gatherings in which a sense of joy permeated the whole day.  The smells of the Thanksgiving dinner: turkey, dressings, yams with marshmallows, mashed potatoes with gravy, hot rolls with lots of butter, fresh vegetables trays, olives, green and black, celery, carrots, radishes, pickles, onions, perhaps peppers, green beans with almandine sauce, special juices, flavored coffee and pies, pumpkin pies with whipped cream. The wonderful smells seemed to be enhanced by the variety of colors on the table, which added to the joyous atmosphere. And the thrill of seeing and the enjoyment of being with loved ones.  And the conversations that sprouted like new spring grass, colorful and plentiful.

This describes the wonderful events of a Thanksgiving celebration.  It may or may not describe an actual celebration or parts of an actual celebration from your past.  It remains, however, either a fond memory or a strong hope for a Thanksgiving celebration in the minds of many.

As wonderful as this type of celebration can be, it is not the full expression of Thanksgiving. The deeper purpose of the Thanksgiving celebration is to “give thanks” for all things, including the wonderful feelings brought on by the enjoyment of food, family and fellowship.

When you give thanks, it is the response you make because you have received something for which you are grateful; grateful for receiving something which has brought you gladness, ease, comfort or pleasure, etc. Now many in the country say they are thankful. They may be able to tell you what they are thankful for receiving, but do they know to whom to give the thanks?

Thanks can be given only to a living entity.  You can’t give thanks to a rock or the wind, or the air, for thanks cannot be given to things.  Why not? Two reasons:  First, inanimate objects have no will. Giving requires an act of will to decide to give something. Without a will, they can not will to give you something, let alone, give you something for which you would be grateful.   Second, since inanimate objects do not give, they have no reason to receive thanks for anything.

Since inanimate objects cannot receive thanks, to whom should thanks be given?  The best one to receive your thanks is the One who has given you the things you are grateful for.  So who is that?  Thanks can only be in response to receiving, and only beings have a will to give, therefore thanks can only be given to a Living Being.

The most appropriate Living Being to thank is the One who created you and knows beyond all others what is best to give to you.  1 Chronicles 29:12 says  Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone”.  Since God controls or rules “over all,” He is the most complete Giver, able to give any and all gifts.  In His giving, God demonstrates His great love for us. Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”. He gave all who will come to Jesus the gift of new life while we were unworthy.  And as a believer in Christ, giving thanks to God is also God’s will for you.    Thessalonians 5:18 says “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

This Thanksgiving, may the Father help you express thanksgiving to Him as He desires and may the celebration of thanksgiving with food and fellowship be pleasing to Him.