Saturday, December 27, 2008

End of Year Message

We have finally made it to the last Lord's Day of 2008, and I can honestly say that this has been one of the most interesting years that I have ever experienced as a Pastor. I will reserve an assessment of 2008 post hopefully for New Year's Eve. As our church heads towards our new destination, I asked the Lord to lead me fully in what to say to the church regarding the future of our ministry.

God led me to prepare a message housed in Genesis 12, which I will label the message "Courage For the Call". My aim for this message is to express to the church how God is expecting us to respond to his directive of leaving our familiar territory and move towards a place that will be both foreign and difficult, but God is the great equalizer in any and every situation that possess tough and difficult terrain. As a matter of fact, I subscribe to that great songwriter who said, have you any river that seems uncrossable, and have you any mountain that you cannot tunnel through...God specializes in things that appear impossible...and HE WILL DO, what no other power can do.

Please keep the exposition of the Word, the reception of church and the fullness of the worship at the First Mount Zion Church this morning. I am praying that God will allow us to send off 2008 with a bang and begin the process of welcoming in 2009 with great anticipation that God is ready, willing and able to bring a wonderful new start to the rich legacy of our church. God Be Praised!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Closing Out Acts 2

This past Lord's Day, we closed out our series on the model church, housed in Acts 2, which I called the series Created For A Community. The overall purpose of preaching this series is to show our church the how and why God created his church in the first place. And the Lord led me, as we prepare to begin a new and exciting phase of our ministry, to re-establish to the church, that God created His church to become a community for Him.

It was after the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, that 120 of his chosen believers, on the Day of Pentecost, they were in one place and on one accord, when the Holy Ghost showed up and fell on them. This caused them to be able to speak in the languages of those who were present from other lands, the wonderful works of God. This Spirit-led occurrence caused unbelievers to make the claim that the disciples were drunk with new wine. Peter spoke with power that they were not drunk as they supposed, but they were recipients of a great outpouring of the Holy Ghost. Peter preached the first evangelical sermon of the church and the Lord added 3000 souls that day to the church.

Now at the end of the chapter in verses 42-47, Peter tells the people that after salvation and baptism comes the fellowship of the believers. And God is looking for a people that will look past their differences and silly hangups and decade long feuds, to work to build God a kingdom through the fellowship of his people. Here is the sermon outline:

Title: Oh What A Fellowship
Text: Acts 2:42-47

Thesis: a determined church in fellowship is a destined church to accomplish great things

I. Fellowship in the Word

-verse 42...and they devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching and fellowship to the breaking of bread and the prayers
-this word devoted means to be addicted...they were addicted to the doctrines of the apostles which is the Word of God

a. Communion with each the breaking of bread
b. Communication with God...and the prayers

II. Fellowship in their Worship

-verses 43-44...and awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles...and all who believed were together and had all things in common
-every child of God needs to spend time in worship for the many things that God has done in our lives

a. Our admiration for God...and awe...means to acknowledge the greatness of the presence of God...Ps. 145:3...great is the Lord and greatly to be praised

b. Our Attention to God...and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles...the Spirit fell on the apostles and they were able to perform miracles...which are not used to bring attention to men, but rather attention to the Master

c. Our Actions For God...verse 45...and they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need...the church is required to meet the needs of God's people

III. Fellowship in their Witness

-verse 46...and day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with gland and generous hearts
-when they received the power of the Holy Ghost, they didn't sit on their blessed assurances, but rather they went from house to house spreading the good news of Jesus Christ
-verse 47 says that if we do these things in fellowship, God will increase the numbers of the church day by day those who were being saved...GOD BE PRAISED!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Responding to the Gospel

Text: Acts 2:37-41

Thesis: the people of God must guide new believers of the word of God towards the ways of God so that the will of God can be a blessing to the people of God

I. Gospel Brings A Point of Change

-verse 38...and Peter said to them, Repent
-true repentance is turning away from sin and towards Jesus Christ
-true repentance involves more than fear of of the penalty of sin, it also includes hatred for the nature of sin

II. Gospel Brings a Public Conversion

-verse 38...repent and be baptized
-in ancient days, baptism was a public event
-Peter wanted a public conversion to distinguish real conversion of Jews from fake conversions

a. Forgiveness granted - for the forgiveness of sins
b. Free gift - and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit

III. Gospel Brings A Purposed Call

-verses is the job of every believer to lead others away from the ways of the world towards the ways of Christ
-one of the main problems in the church is seeing ones friends heading toward destruction and watching them fail
-the danger of allowing someone to go towards destruction, their blood will be on our hands

IV. Gospel Produces A Great Congregation

-verse those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about 3000 souls
-this is a word to dispel the notion that our preaching acumen...eloquent speech...letters before and after our names...beautiful ministries are responsible for souls being added to the church
-only because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that causes men and women to leave the forces of Satan and cling to the blessings of God

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sunday Stuff - 12/7/08

Wow, what a day in worship with the people of God basking in the presence of God. We had an amazing day in worship at the First Mt. Zion Church. The Lord was in the place all morning long and the congregation was blessed immensely because of it. Every once in a while, each of us will experience a day that causes us to be mindful why we answered the call from the Lord. It all began for me on Saturday. I was in my family room testing out my new surround sound system (Spoon, you are not the only "techie" in the group) and decided to put in a DVD of one of my favorite preachers in this country, Dr. Maurice Watson, from the 2005 Hampton's Ministers Conference, and he blessed me tremendously when he told them that many Pastors spend too much time comparing our ministries to that of other Pastors. He said that God will not bless your ministry to be great until you begin to appreciate for where God has placed you at this present time. At that moment, the Lord spoke to me about the future of our church and I was convicted to stop looking at where I was not and begin thanking God for where I am because the truth is that I do not deserve anything that I have, but for the grace of God. Thank you much Maurice Watson!

It continued during our Sunday School period, as my wife Penny, led the congregation in our season of Evangelism, and let me tell you, she flat out killed everything in the room. I am grateful to have a prayerful and intense student of the scriptures by my side in ministry. She has served as the Director of Christian Education both at her home church and at my first assignment and she has shown a wonderful gift at explaining the scriptures in ways that are easy for the people to understand. The mood in class was spiritual and it re-energized the congregation to help reach out to unbelievers and bring them to Jesus. God Be Praised!!

This spiritual mood poured over into our worship as the music was inspirational and the Lord allowed us to have some power to preach an exposition out of Acts 2:37-41 which I labeled, Responding to the Gospel. For Peter preached the first evangelical sermon to the people who would make up the first church. After they heard the gospel they responded in a way that each one of us should respond when we hear the truth of the Gospel...verse 37 says that the Jews asked Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brothers, what shall we do? The proper response to hearing the Gospel preached is, what shall we do now that we have heard what God wants from us. One of the problems with the church is that when unbelievers are stimulated to accept Christ after hearing the Gospel, the church just lets them exist to figure the rest out for themselves. But this text shows us that it is the responsibility of the people of God to lead new believers towards the ways of God, so that the will of God will be a blessing to the people of God. God blessed them in verse 41, so those who received his word were baptized and there were added that day about 3000 souls. In other words, if the church does its part and guide new believers to the way, God will do his part and grow his church. Wow what an awesome concept! I will post the outline tomorrow if God says so.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

An Uncompromising Church

Thanksgiving Day is without question my favorite holiday, and not because of what many might think (smile), but because I grew up in a relatively close and large family, and we all got together every turkey day. But as we grew older, we all got our own families and other friends, so we kind of grew apart, so this is the reason why Penny and I make Thanksgiving real special in our house. But while personally it is a great time for me, as a Pastor, holidays are kind of tough, for it is difficult for many of us to leave those great and famous leftovers to come to worship on Sunday.

But despite of those concerns about the attendence, I was excited and ready to preach and continue our series on Acts 2, which has been tagged, Created For A Community, with our study of verses 22-36, adnd I labeled the message An Uncompromising Church. It is my contention that the church of Jesus Christ as a whole is guilty of allowing the message of the Church to become compromised by the ways of the world. As a matter of fact, if someone were to put the church on the witness stand to give testimony of our ability to remain faithful to the message of the church, the overwhelming evidence would cause every jury in the world would have no choice but to find us guilty as charged.

Evidence such as allowing the world to dictate who and what we are instead of the church transforming the world. Evidence such as when many of us preach to our members that our relationship with the Master is expressed through the condition of their finances, and if they are not wealthy and prosperous according to the standards of the world, then something is inheritantly wrong with their relationship with Christ.

But God, in his divine wisdom, has provided for us what our message should be and how we can continue to be an uncompromising church. Acts 2, tells the story of 120 of God's chosen people, are in one place and on one accord, and the Holy Ghost showed up and allowed them to speak the wonderul works of God in their own native language. The people said that they were drunk with new wine, and Peter with that infamous boldness, says that despite their mocking of us, we will not cease from giving them the true message of the church. He says that our job is to tell this world about a man named Jesus. That's the message that each church must not compromise with...we must preach Jesus. Here is the sermon outline:

Thesis: A Church that refuses to compromise its message to the world is a church that will always be effective in the world

I. Persona of Christ

-verse 22...Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works, and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst as you yourself know

a. existence of Christ - Jesus of Nazareth
b. extinction of Christ - verse 23...this Jesus delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men
c. exchange of Christ - verse 24...God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it

II. Purpose of Christ

-verses 25-32...Peter moves to the reason why Jesus came to earth in the first be the Messiah the world was waiting for
-Peter uses the words of David out of Ps. 16:8-11 to prophetically tell how Jesus stayed with his purpose even in the face of suffering

a. security of God - verse 25...I say the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand...for the right hand means God is our protector
b. support of God - verses 27-30...means that his confidence is not in David but his confidence is in the Lord

III. Praise of Christ

-verse 33...being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing
-the Father praised the Son and lifted him to a high place in the Kingdom
-if we lift Jesus, he will draw men