Sunday – January 20, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 13:22-35 “Strive to Enter the Narrow Way”

Sunday – January 20, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – January 20, 2019

Luke 13:23-24
And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

Somewhere in some village some unnamed person in the crowd asked Jesus an interesting theological question: “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” I don’t know the man’s motives for asking the question. Perhaps he saw the increasing opposition from the religious leaders and he could sense that the crowds tended to side with their leaders. But he asked this question, “Are there just a few who are being saved?” It would have made for an interesting theological discussion. But Jesus directed the question away from abstract theological speculation and toward specific application for each person in the crowd. The man had asked, “Will the saved be few?” Jesus turned it around to ask, “Will the saved be you?”

The man who put the question to Jesus seems to have assumed that he was among the “few” who were being saved. He may, like his fellow Israelites, have thought that the “few” being saved were Israelites, while the “many” who were not were Gentiles. Jesus has some very distressing words for those who would think such thoughts. Jesus first shocked His listeners by indicating that they were not already on the inside, so far as the kingdom is concerned. Then, He went on to say that many of His fellow-Israelites who were not on the inside would not ever be in the kingdom.

They believe that mere association with Jesus was sufficient to save them. They had eaten in His presence. He had taught in their streets. Wasn’t this enough? No. John the Baptist, followed by Jesus, required the followers of Jesus—those who would be truly be saved—to identify with Him. This is what baptism was all about. Did the Israelite(s) think that being a Jew saved him/them (choose sing. or pl. for both)? He was wrong. Baptism was a public testimony of the Jew’s break with his culture, and with the legalism and ritualism of Judaism. It was a profession of identifying with Jesus as the Messiah. Identification with Jesus was, to put it in the terms Jesus is using in our text, passing through the narrow door.

May I press this point a little more personally? How many people think that they are going to be in God’s kingdom because they are a part of some religious sect or denomination? How many suppose they are saved because they come from a Christian family? How many think that they are saved by mere association with spiritual things? Nothing could be further from the truth. You are only saved by identification with Christ. Association with Christ (by going to church, reading the Bible, or whatever) isn’t enough. It wasn’t the truth for the Jews of Jesus’ day. It isn’t enough for you either.

Sunday – January 13, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 13:1-21 “A Matter of Perspective”

Sunday – January 13, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – January 13, 2019

Luke 13:1-3
Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

In the past year we have been shocked by the shooting of 17 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We hear of natural disasters that have killed thousands around the world. On a personal level, many of us struggle with private tragedies—loved ones who die untimely deaths, accidents that leave devastating consequences, children who suffer from birth defects or serious diseases. Naturally, we always ask, “Why?” Why did this have to happen to this person? I can understand why many people question God’s goodness and fairness, even doubting His existence. It’s the classic philosophic problem of evil: How can an all-good and all-powerful God allow good people to suffer and wicked people to prosper?

The Lord Jesus gives us some answers to these difficult questions in Luke 13. We don’t know any more about these events other than what is reported. Pilate had sent in his troops to break up a gathering of Galilean Jews that he deemed dangerous. The Roman soldiers did not care that the Jews were worshiping God by offering sacrifices. They slaughtered them so that their blood flowed together with the blood of their sacrifices. Then Jesus brings up another tragedy when a tower fell down and killed 18 people.

Jesus was speaking to people who did not apply spiritual truth to themselves (12:56-57). From His reply, we can see these men were smugly thinking that those who suffered such tragedies were deserving of God’s judgment, but the fact that they had been spared such tragedies meant that they were pleasing to God. Their theology was like that of Job’s comforters, who thought that Job was suffering because he had sinned. Jesus corrects this mistaken view by showing that we all are sinners worthy of God’s judgment. Twice (13:3 & 5), He drives home the application: Were those who suffered greater sinners? “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Rather than asking the question “Why?” with regard to suffering, we should ask the question, “What?” What does this tragedy teach me? The fact that a tragedy has not hit you should show you God’s great patience. If you have not repented of your sins and if you’re not bearing fruit in God’s vineyard, there is still time. But, don’t mistake God’s patience to mean that His axe will never fall. His patience does have a limit. Life is fragile; none are exempt from tragedies. But, if you have fled to Christ for refuge and you are bringing forth the fruits of repentance in your life, you are ready if/when tragedy strikes.

Sunday – December 17, 2017 Gospel of Luke – “Why Not Call Him Zach Jr?” Luke 1:57-80

Sunday – December 17, 2017 – Read the Word on Worship

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Luke 1:67-69
And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant…”

Suppose that you had just visited Niagara Falls, marveling at the massive power of all that water gushing over the falls. So you decided to see what the river looked like about a mile upstream. As you’re there, you see a guy in a rowboat, floating downstream toward the falls, oblivious to any danger. You yell at him, waving your arms to no avail – he is oblivious to the danger that waits ahead. If there was a speedboat moored nearby, you could jump in and race out to where he was and throw him a lifeline. But he may not even take it, because obviously, he is not aware that he is in any danger. He’s just cruising down the river, and to take your lifeline would interrupt his leisurely cruise.

The guy in the rowboat represents many in our culture today. Many of them are in church on a given Sunday. They’re cruising down the river of life, fairly contented with how things are going. But they’re oblivious to the fact that God’s terrible judgment lies just ahead. They think it only applies to people who aren’t in a good boat like they’re in. They’re in the rowboat of their own good deeds, and they figure that it will carry them through what they think may be a few ripples of the judgment. So any warnings you shout to them, or any efforts to throw them the lifeline of salvation, are ignored. They don’t see their desperate need of salvation, and so they don’t respond with gratitude and relief to the tender mercy of God in sending the Savior.

Zacharias could easily have been the man in the rowboat. He was a faithful Jewish man who performed his duty as a priest. He and his wife kept the Lord’s commandments and ordinances (Luke 1:6). He wasn’t a godless man, like the pagan Romans and he wasn’t a religious hypocrite, like the profane Herod who reigned over the land. Zacharias easily could have thought of himself as a man who was secure in the rowboat of his own good works, with nothing to fear from God’s judgment. But, thankfully, Zacharias did not see himself that way. He knew that the falls were rapidly approaching, and he saw himself helplessly drifting toward them with increasing speed. And so, when God revealed to him that he would have a son who would be the forerunner of the Savior, Zacharias broke forth in this beautiful psalm of praise to God for His great mercy in sending the Savior who had been promised centuries before.

Have you personally experienced the tender mercy of God by receiving the forgiveness of sins He offers through the Lord Jesus Christ? Has the Holy Spirit opened your eyes to your desperate situation outside of Christ? You sit in darkness and the shadow of death, awaiting God’s awful judgment. You can do nothing to save yourself. But God has done it all. In His tender mercy, He offers you a full pardon if you will receive Jesus Christ.

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 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.