Sermon: From Doubt and Disbelief to Faith – Pastor William J. Shaw
White Rock Baptist Church Blog
Sermon: From Doubt and Disbelief to Faith – Pastor William J. Shaw
Love God for the Gift of Jesus
Lesson and Read: Luke 1.26-32; 2.22, 25-35
The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.”
Luke 1.30-31 (NRSV)
Many Sunday church schools involve their students in holiday pageants. These events often include children, dressed in costume, reciting memorized verses that tell the stories of our faith. For those churches, there are two lessons in the Sunday school curriculum that never get taught: Easter Sunday and the Sunday closest to Christmas.
This lesson is the Christmas lesson. The birth story of Jesus is only found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. However, John captured the central theme of The Nativity when he wrote: For God had such love for the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever has faith in him may not come to destruction but have eternal life (John 3.16). The baby Jesus was a gift to the world; a blessing, though not inconvenient and a surprise, though not unexpected. Gabriel told Mary, a young teenage girl who was betrothed but not yet married, that she was pregnant with a baby by the power of the Holy Spirit. She wondered how it could be and, no doubt, she thought about what people would say. But, she also placed her faith in God and soon discovered that Joseph would be a faithful, supportive husband. God blessed Mary and Joseph to be the parents of the little babe destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel (Luke 2.34). Leviticus 12 says 33 days after the birth of a boy, the mother is to present herself before the priest in a service of purification. When Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem, they encountered a devout man named Simeon and a prophet named Anna. Both of them were devoted to their faith and had not lost the hope of seeing God’s promise of a deliverer, the messiah. When they saw the baby Jesus, they were not surprised, because they believed and were expecting. They were, however, thankful that God had permitted them to witness the fulfillment of his promise.
Simeon and Anna rejoiced just to see the beginning of what God was about to do. Their gratitude and praise (Luke 2.29-32, 38) were expressions of their love for God. Let us also lift grateful praise as we celebrate the birth of the Savior.
Reverend Steven B. Lawrence
The Resurrection of Jesus
In the crucifixion of Jesus, we hear and see the assertion of human power and evil attitudes in the world against the Lord. In the resurrection of Jesus God exposes the impotence of human powers against Him and the omnipotence of His love and power towards us. In the contrast the possibilities of life are ever present. In accepting His being and love we find our life. In rejection of Him is our death. The resurrection of Jesus says that in Jesus the power of death is broken: He is Lord of life and death. The resurrection of Jesus was not observed but it was experienced. The resurrection of Jesus says that He is alive and present to us, even WITH us when we become believers of/in Him. As believers we become witnesses of and to His saving presence. As believers we become participants in His life, transformed from being victims to becoming victors, in Him, over all the possibilities of life and death. As believers we become sharers of His joy. As believers, by His spirit, we ARE the Church—His Church. As such ours is the challenge/privilege of living into the fullness of His life and glory!
As the Church let us gather next Sunday for the installation of all Church Officers and the dedication/commitment of all Church members to His will. With all of our hears in the year before us “We Try”.
“May God’s grace and peace be multiplied unto you . . .”
Sermon: What Shall I Render Unto God – Pastor William J. Shaw
Love and Worship
Read: Psalm 103.1-17a, 21, 22; Deuteronomy 6.4-5 (NRSV)
We often hear that the Old Testament is based on the Law and the New Testament on grace. However, Jesus said he came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5.17). This lesson shows us the overlooked presence grace right in the midst of the Law.
The Book of Deuteronomy is often called Moses’ “last will and testament.” First he reviews the journey of the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land (chapters 1-4). Then he charges the People of God to remember that history and their covenant with the Lord as they go forward. In Chapter 5, we find a second reading of the Ten Commandments (that’s why we call this book deutero (second) nomus (law) or Deuteronomy. In chapter 6, just before Moses makes his final appeal to the people, we have the passage known as the “Shema.” Shema means “hear.” Moses is saying, “Listen! Pay attention to this!” He is reminding and affirming the truth that is the foundation for all that follows.” The Lord is Israel’s God”—Israel worships and is claimed by the Lord, the God who is over all. And “the Lord is one”—the Lord is God alone or the Lord is the One God. Other nations have a plethora of gods for wind, rain and fire, but Israel’s God is God alone; Israel’s God hold all power. “God and God alone is fit to take the universe’s throne. Let everything that lives reserve its truest praise for God, and God alone” (Phil McHugh).
How are God’s people to respond to the almighty God? With fear? No. With anxiety? No. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might (6.5). Love is the fulfillment of the Law. When we honestly consider who our God is and all that the Lord has done for us, are not our hearts filled with gratitude, with appreciation, with love? And if we truly love God, it is not a burden to obey. In fact, it brings joy to lend heart and mind and soul and strength to serve him.
I Won’t Complain
Luke 2: 25-35
God’s grace and peace be multiplied unto you. I thank God that from the Christian faith prospective every year ends with the celebration of the birth of Jesus and the new year begins under the aura of that celebration. This is both instructive and encouraging to us. The year ends with the assertion that in Jesus God keeps His promise of redemptive revelation to all people. Each new year begins under the power of that revelation. We can begin the year in His joy.
The story of God’s high favor to Mary in choosing to use her in the fulfillment of His promise highlights that fact that each of us is honored when He involves us in His work of redemption. This was the central emphasis of last Sunday’s worship. Studying God’s dealings with Mary, however, makes clear that His favor does not exempt us from the reality of suffering. This is a baffling truth which prompts us to continuing examination of His way with us. This revelation is the point of focus in today’s worship experience. Linking honor and suffering makes the resurrection an inevitable climax of life in/with Christ. This will be the accent of next Sunday’s worship.
Under the claims of these truths—high favor, unavoidable suffering and inevitable resurrection—we will on the third Sunday hold the installation of all Church Officers and Leaders and make a sincere commitment as a congregation in response to the Lord’s calling/charge. Our Church Theme for 2019 is “WE TRY!” Let us gather for worship in fresh surrender as we enter and continue through the year.
Let us be prayerful one for the other!
Joy! We are one in the Lord.
Sermon: What Are We Waiting For - Rev. Dr. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson