Sunday – March 1, 2020 Book of Acts – Acts 7:1-60 “Stephen the Message”

Sunday – March 1, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – March 1, 2020

Acts 7:1-4
The high priest said, “Are these things so?” And he said, “Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3 and said to him, ‘LEAVE YOUR COUNTRY AND YOUR RELATIVES, AND COME INTO THE LAND THAT I WILL SHOW YOU.’

It was charged that Stephen had spoken blasphemous words against Moses and also against God. This developed into the more specific accusation that he never ceased to speak against “this holy place and the law” (Acts 6:13) and teaching “Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us” (Acts 6:14). In other words, Stephen is accused of teaching what Jesus taught. And what Jesus taught, so far as Stephen’s accusers claimed, was He would destroy the temple (with Jerusalem) and the customs which the Jews attributed to Moses (even though they were man-made traditions that violated the law of Moses).

As one can quickly sense, Stephen’s sermon is hardly a defense as we know it. Stephen is not seeking to prove his innocence, but rather he is strongly indicting his accusers for their guilt. Stephen is the prosecutor, so to speak, and is not acting as an attorney for his own defense. His opponents are upset because Stephen, like Jesus, emphasized the Abrahamic Covenant over the Mosaic Covenant. This is because salvation comes through the Abrahamic Covenant, not through the Mosaic Covenant. It all began with Abraham, Stephen is saying, and the covenant God made with Abraham.

Stephen is certainly not pleading for his life here. He is pressing charges against his accusers, for it is they who have blasphemed God. It is they (and their ancestors) who have rebelled against Moses and the prophets. They are a stubborn people, just as God had often said of them. Stephen had to know what lay ahead for him. Luke tells us what enabled Stephen to continue to stand fast, dying in a way that underscored the truth of his faith and of his sermon. Full of the Spirit, Stephen looked into heaven, which opened for him, showing him what lay ahead. He beheld the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

In Stephen, God offers the Sanhedrin a second chance. He is being accused of the very things which were the real reasons for Jesus’ rejection and execution by this same body. This was their golden opportunity to confess their sin with regard to Jesus, and to acknowledge Him as Israel’s Messiah. Instead, they even more strongly rejected the gospel. And in so doing, they reaffirmed their sin and their guilt in rejecting and crucifying Jesus. The irony of all this is that because when they rejected Jesus once again, they not only confirmed their guilt; they brought on the very destruction they opposed in the preaching of Jesus and the apostles.

Sunday – November 3, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 23:54 to 24:36 “From Heart Break to Heart Burn”

Sunday – November 3, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 3, 2019

Luke 24:25-27
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”

Jesus’ words to these two men were not flattering. They were a rebuke for their spiritual dullness and for their failure to believe all that the prophets had spoken. The word “all” is an important one. It indicates that the belief of the disciples was selective. They believed part of the prophets’ revelation, but not all. Which part did they believe, and which part did they not believe? The message of the prophets concerning the coming Messiah was a blending of suffering and glory. The prophets spoke in what appeared to be a contradiction in terms. They spoke of Messiah’s rejection and suffering, as we see in Isaiah 52 and 53, yet they also spoke of His triumph and glory.

The prophets accepted God’s word as it was revealed, even though they did not understand how it could be true. But most of the Israelites chose to reject the suffering side and only to focus on the glory dimension. They did this not only with respect to the Messiah, but also with respect to themselves. The false prophets were those who gave warm, reassuring, promises of peace and prosperity, while the true prophets spoke of suffering and of tribulation.

The disciples did not wish to hear of Jesus’ sufferings, but only of His triumph. Even Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked Him for speaking of His coming rejection and death. All of the disciples, including these two men on the road to Emmaus had so rigorously held to a non-suffering Messiah, a triumphant King, but not a suffering Servant, that they concluded Jesus could not possibly be the Messiah because He had suffered and died. In spite of a mountain of evidence, all of which pointed to His resurrection, they were solidly convinced it was all over, and that He, alas, was only a prophet.

When you think about it, Jesus could have identified Himself as the Lord to these two men, and then proceeded to teach them on the basis of His authority. Instead Jesus taught them on the basis of the authority of the Scriptures. Think of it, instead of teaching this lesson as the Christ, He taught this lesson about the Christ, but as a mere man, as a total stranger, even as a man who seemed poorly in tune and not in touch with what was going on. The two disciples rebuked Him for asking what things were going on in Jerusalem. They saw Him as one who was ill-informed, out of touch. And yet, Jesus taught them the most marvelous survey of the Old Testament ever taught. The men later recognized the impact of Jesus’ teaching—it set their hearts afire, not just because Jesus taught them, but because the Scriptures were taught accurately. It was the Scriptures as explained by Jesus Himself and as illuminated by the Holy Spirit, that opened the eyes of the disciples so that they were ready and able (in God’s timing) to discover who it was who was with them.

Sunday – February 28, 2016 Rev 17:1-18 “Separation of Church and State”

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Revelation 14:6-7
“And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.”

The best salesmen are always those who love their product. They are convinced that you cannot really enjoy life unless you have what they are selling. And while sales and evangelism are not completely analogous, the most effective witnesses are those who are obviously captivated by the greatness of God and His salvation.

John Piper wrote, “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exist because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man.” He adds, “The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God.” He is right that worship is the goal of missions. But it’s also true that worship is the basis for missions. If we are not fervent worshipers of God, we have nothing to tell the nations. If we do not exude joy in God and His wonderful salvation, why should lost people be interested in what we have to say? So worship is both the goal of missions and the foundation for missions. If we’re not worshipers, we will be lousy witnesses.

If the glorious God is our Savior, we will be a worshiping people. Our voices will often break forth in singing His praises. Our thoughts will often be on how great and mighty God is. Our hearts will often bow in reverence before His holiness. We will look forward with delight to each Lord’s Day when we can join with the saints in singing His praises. To give God the glory of His name you must be growing through His Word to know how great He really is.

If the glorious God is our Savior, we will be a witnessing people, both here and abroad. Witness is the overflow of worship. If you are captivated by a beautiful mountain scene, you can’t help but tell others about it. If you are captivated by the majesty and splendor of the glorious God, you’ll want to tell others about Him. And, as long as there are peoples around the world with no witness of the Savior, you will want to give generously to support missionaries to go and tell them. You may even sense the Lord calling you to go. Test yourself this morning as you read this passage: Are you worshiping the glorious God? Are you witnessing to the nations? Are you watching expectantly for the Lord to come in judgment?

Sunday – January 31, 2015 Revelation 14:1-5 “The 144,000”

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Revelation 14:6-7
And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.”

The best salesmen are always those who love their product. They are convinced that you cannot really enjoy life unless you have what they are selling. And while sales and evangelism are not completely analogous, the most effective witnesses are those who are obviously captivated by the greatness of God and His salvation.

John Piper wrote, “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man.” He adds, “The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God.” He is right that worship is the goal of missions. But it’s also true that worship is the basis for missions. If we are not fervent worshipers of God, we have nothing to tell the nations. If we do not exude joy in God and His wonderful salvation, why should lost people be interested in what we have to say? So worship is both the goal of missions and the foundation for missions. If we’re not worshipers, we will be lousy witnesses.

If the glorious God is our Savior, we will be a worshiping people. Our voices will often break forth in singing His praises. Our thoughts will often be on how great and mighty God is. Our hearts will often bow in reverence before His holiness. We will look forward with delight to each Lord’s Day when we can join with the saints in singing His praises. To give God the glory of His name you must be growing through His Word to know how great He really is.

If the glorious God is our Savior, we will be a witnessing people, both here and abroad. Witness is the overflow of worship. If you are captivated by a beautiful mountain scene, you can’t help but tell others about it. If you are captivated by the majesty and splendor of the glorious God, you’ll want to tell others about Him. And, as long as there are peoples around the world with no witness of the Savior, you will want to give generously to support missionaries to go and tell them. You may even sense the Lord calling you to go. Test yourself this morning as you read this passage: Are you worshiping the glorious God? Are you witnessing to the nations? Are you watching expectantly for the Lord to come in judgment?

Sunday – November 8, 2015 Revelation 5:8-14 “In Praise of the Lamb”

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Revelation 5:13-14
And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.”

Some time ago I heard Pat Boone share his early childhood definition of heaven. It suddenly occurred to him while he was sitting (or was it squirming?) in church, agonizing through one of the pastor’s typically long and boring sermons. Heaven, Pat reasoned, was going to be just like church – one thousand years – ten thousand years – forever. It was almost too much to handle. Such a state of affairs seemed more like purgatory than perfection in his childhood mind.

Most Christians are assured that this childhood conception of eternity with God falls considerably short of the biblical description of heaven. In the words of the contemporary song, “Heaven is a wonderful place, filled with glory and grace …” If it is such a wonderful place, do you wonder why we do not spend more time talking about it? Simply put, Jesus talked more of hell than heaven, probably because hell and divine judgment are easier to identify with. All about us we see the ugly consequences of sin. We see suffering and anguish because of the evil in the hearts of men. There is enough “hell” on earth at present, so that we need only think of eternal torment in terms of greater degrees.

Heaven, on the other hand, seems almost inconceivable. As a young child I can remember attempting to comprehend time without end … infinity. Now I realize that heaven is even beyond that which I failed to fathom as a child, for heaven is the end of time; in heaven there is no time at all. The human authors of the Bible who have attempted to describe the beauties of heaven give evidence of their frustration at striving to depict an existence in a dimension beyond the grasp of mere mortals: “but just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Let us seek to be heavenly minded, to pursue the kingdom of God and to pray for its coming. Let us also seek to be faithful in the present, serving in society as salt and light, and striving to lead others to Him Who is Life and Peace and Blessing. And let us persevere in our trials, knowing that our faithfulness will be rewarded when we see Him face to face.

Sunday – October 25, 2015 Revelation 4:1-11 “The Throne of God Almighty”

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Rev 4:9-11
“And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”

Those who gathered together had profound insight into God’s Word when they wrote the first question and answer to the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “What is the chief end of man?” Answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” If we could just get that fixed in our minds and live each day in line with it, God would use us to accomplish His purpose and we would be greatly blessed. It is a statement that should govern my thought life and all my behavior: Does this glorify God? In simple terms, to glorify God is to make Him look good, as He truly is. It is to display, as much as we are able, His perfect attributes, His moral excellence, and His infinite greatness and worth.

Think how much happier our marriages would be if we only stopped to think, “Will my words, attitudes, and actions toward my mate, glorify God?” If not, I shouldn’t do it, even though I might feel like doing it. The same applies to our relationships with our children and with all people. If I’m not demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit, then I’m not glorifying God and I shouldn’t act that way. If I’m disobeying God’s Word, then I’m sinning and not glorifying Him. It’s an overarching principle to govern all of life: Live so as to glorify God (1st Cor 10:31).

In Isaiah 46:9-10, God declares, “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.” This does not mean God does whatever He pleases because He is capricious or unpredictable. Rather, it means that He is able to accomplish whatever He purposes to do and He does it because it pleases Him to do it. While He is not the author of evil and evil greatly displeases Him, in another sense He is not frustrated by it and He uses evil to accomplish His sovereign purpose of glorifying Himself.

I find it ironic that some who are the most ardent proponents of biblical prophecy at the same time write books that deny God’s sovereignty over all things. The Book of Revelation clearly teaches that we can take comfort in the fact that God is in charge of history. He will use even the evil of the antichrist to accomplish His sovereign purpose. He has ordained the specific number of martyrs (Rev. 6:10-11). God didn’t just peer down through history and let us in on how, luckily, it all will turn out in His favor. Rather, He ordained the events of history to display His glory. He alone is to be glorified.

 

Sunday – July 26, 2015 “Look Who’s Talking” Revelation 1 verses 4 to 20

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Revelation 1:7-8
“BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Do you really believe God wants no idols? Many people think of Martin Luther as a prophet. But he wrote, “My spirit cannot adapt itself to the book and a sufficient reason why I do not esteem it highly is that Christ is neither taught nor recognized in it.” Some this morning will not think for themselves, but wait for their Bible teacher to wrestle with it, because like Mr. Luther, their mind is made up already.

Personally, I cringe when I read Luther’s appraisal of the Book of Revelation. Having said this, I fear that Luther’s words may reflect an attitude toward Revelation that is far more common than we would like to believe. How much of Christ do we seek to see in the Book of Revelation, and in the rest of biblical prophecy? When we come to the Book of Revelation we may be so intent upon discovering the events of the future and the means by which they will be brought to pass that we fail to focus on the Person of our Lord, who is preeminent in prophecy, and who should be the focus of our attention.

The focal point of verses 1-8 is the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is His work. It is the fact that He has received the revelation and He has communicated it. It is the fact that He is the One who has come as the Witness, who is the Firstborn from the dead, who is going to be the Ruler of kings. He is the One who has loved and released us and made us a kingdom of priests. He is coming again with power and authority to subdue His enemies.

If men saw Jesus Christ as He really will be then they would see Him as John did. John could rest on the bosom in the Gospel of John, but he falls dead before His feet in Revelation. What I am saying is that we have a totality of the Person of Christ. The disciples kept saying, in effect, give us a glimpse, give us a look, let us behold Your glory. But there was a sense, in His first coming on earth, in which that glory was subdued. It was suppressed, veiled, for a purpose. But in Revelation the veil was removed and now we see Christ exalted, lifted up, all-powerful; all of that glory, that visible manifestation of His deity that had been veiled over Him at the first coming was removed. Now Jesus Christ is seen in His totality.