Sunday Preview ~ Nov 25, 2009

November 25, 2009

I like to stop preaching before the congregation quits listening; so two weeks ago I only got half way through my sermon. This Sunday my message is called, “A Life of Fruitful Ministry Part II” from I Peter 4:7-11. These verses are simple to understand, but they contain powerful truths that can bring us joy by increasing our fruitfulness.
I read a report recently about an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Kansas City that was bringing great joy to the people involved. They could sense the presence of God and their hearts overflowed with joy. King David said, “In your presence is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11). I have friends who bring me joy. They encourage me with their faith. They challenge me with their insights. They lift my spirit with their love. The joy that does the most to sustain me comes from the Holy Spirit. When I humble myself and seek the Lord, the Holy Spirit breathes life into my soul like air being pumped into a deflated tire.
I hope that your heart will overflow with gladness this Thanksgiving. My prayer is that you will become more fruitful than ever in the days ahead and the desires of your heart will come to pass.

Sunday Preview ~ Nov 12, 2009

November 12, 2009

This Sunday my sermon is called ” A Life of Fruitful Ministry” from I Peter 4:1-11. If you read this in advance, you will discover some truths that are simple and direct and some that are difficult to understand. As with every difficult challenge in life, there is something here we can discover that will be liberating when the Lord reveals His purpose to us. Jesus wants our lives to be fruitful and meaningful, even more than we do. I hope that these truths will lead us in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake.
A couple of Sundays ago I mentioned in my sermon that Jackie Reed had said to me, “We are going through a time of testing and this will lead to a time of blessing.” I had a hard time hearing what she said across the dinner table, so she repeated herself, “We have been going through a time of testing at the church and the Lord is going to bring us into a time of blessing.” I nodded with a smile, hoping Jackie was right. She then proceeded to repeat this statement to me five times over the next few minutes. At first I couldn’t understand why she kept saying the same thing over and over. She is very persistent, and as her husband Dan testifies, she knows that men sometimes don’t really get the message the first few times we hear it. I finally realized that the Lord was using her to try to get through to my heart.
In the past week some of the blessings that Jackie prophesied are starting to come to pass. The First Baptist Church of Phoenix Foundation has forgiven $1,000,000 of interest accumulated over the past three years on the Central campus property. They have also given us very gracious terms for future monthly payments. Our agreement with them covers the next three years and then it will be reviewed. A generous family in our church has also offered to help us financially over the next six months so that our pastors and staff salaries will not have to be cut. Many of you have been faithful and generous as well. In difficult times it is a real blessing to see God’s faithfulness expressed through those who love Jesus and the church.
I want to thank those of you who have been praying, giving and serving the Lord so faithfully.

My sermon this Sunday is called “The Triumph of Christ” from I Peter 3:13-22. In this passage Peter writes about the diverse themes of suffering, fear, sharing your faith, Christ preaching to spirits who have died, and baptism. This chapter concludes with the statement of triumph that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand–with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

It is wise to have a focus when you are giving a sermon. I wondered how I could effectively teach through this passage, which includes Scriptures difficult to understand, and maintain a focus that people could retain. I decided that there is no point in ignoring truths that the Apostle Peter deemed important. Whether we wrestle with suffering, fear or authorities, we can be confident that we will triumph because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. From His position at God’s right hand, Jesus gives us grace to overcome every adversity we face in life.

I’m looking forward to our worship services this weekend. I hope you will pray for everyone who comes to receive grace and truth that comes from the presence of the Lord.