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Sermons - Igehirdetesek

Perth Amboy Nov 5, 2006 Reading: Isaiah 55:6-11
Text: Isaiah 55:11

Church - Vision or Memories?

My message this morning will be about the church.
There seems to be some debate, not only who started the church, but even more debate over how to handle the church. In some churches, you will see one person in charge, while in others you will see a group of men in charge. In some churches, you will find the focus is primarily on those outside the church and in some you will find the focus entirely on those within the church.
First of all, the church was ...

1. CREATED BY JESUS HIMSELF

There have been many who have read that passage in the Gospel of Matthew and thought that Jesus was going to build his church on Peter; that Peter would be the head of the church. Jesus was not referring to Peter as the rock, but was referring to Peter’s belief as the rock. And surely, the belief in Jesus, as our Christ, is the rock that the church is built on. For without the belief in Jesus as Christ, we would have a nice social club, but we certainly would not have a church.

So, we not only see in this passage that Jesus is the architect of the church, but that he built it upon a foundation of belief in Himself. Let us keep in mind that the church is not God’s first building project. The first thing God built was the universe.

Jesus Christ is the founder of the church, and as such, He is the cornerstone. A cornerstone is the block that identifies a building. When we build our lives on the foundation of Jesus, we will be identified as Christians because He will be our Cornerstone.

Many churches call themselves Christian churches, but do not see Jesus as anything other than a good man or a prophet of his time. But Scripture tells us of the perilous line they are walking. ‘No one who denies the Son has the Father ...’ 1 JOHN 2:23

The word “Christian- means, “being like Christ-. How can a church, or people, call themselves “Christian- if they are not trying to be the same as Christ? The answer is - they can’t. This verse clearly tells us that if we do not have a relationship with Christ, there is no way we can have a relationship with God - period.

It is time we stop thinking about what we want the Bible to say, and start thinking about what the Bible does say!
So, now we clearly see the church was not built by anyone other than Jesus. And any church that exalts anyone else is not a church that belongs to Christ. Since we know Jesus is the legal head of the church, we need to understand ...

2. WHY THE CHURCH WAS CREATED.

The job of the church is not to impact the church, but to impact the world by impacting its members.
And what Jesus wants to see is, not what the church does when we get together for our Sunday morning, but what impact we make for Him after we leave the service.

But in many cases, Christians are only willing to go to church and listen, then go home and do nothing the rest of the week for the Jesus. The problem is that the church has failed to help its members focus on what Christ wants. And this seems to always happen when the church turns its focus inward and starts concentrating more on the church rather than the people.

The purpose of the church is to stay informed with the changes in society so that we can impact it for Jesus.
A church must change as the people around it change, or it will lose its significance in the community.
If the church doesn’t change, it soon becomes a memorial to a by-gone place in time, irrelevant and useless. Ecclesia semper reformanda est!!!

Jesus gave us our goal when He told us to go and make disciples. That is the goal of a church body, or the Christians within the church organization; to take the message of Jesus to others outside the church. And when we do this, we then bring them into the local church and continue to teach, encourage, and love them. We do all we can to them have a deeper relationship with Jesus through a greater knowledge in Him.

3. THE FAMILY OF GOD

God has expectations for His children. He has given each one of us different kinds of talents and He expects us to use them. In Matthew, He said that if we are faithful in a few things here on earth, He will make us a ruler over many things in Heaven. That tells us that we are to use the tools He gave us to do the job He gave us.

In 2 Peter, it says that the Lord wants us to grow stronger in faith and knowledge in the Lord. We can only do that by encouraging each other to read and study His word.

As members of God’s family, we are obligated to keep God’s law and we are obligated to help each other. We know that life is going to be tough for all of us, and during the overwhelming times we go through, we need to be able to lean on, and be supported by, our church family.

We are a purpose-driven church. What does that mean? It means that this church knows its purpose and strives to live its purpose. That purpose is to be what Christ intended His church to be.

And there is no such thing in the church as a “maintenance only- attitude. That is where the church focuses on keeping the memory alive of how they used to have church. We are like a bicycle; once we stop going forward we fall. To stay alive and relevant for Jesus, we must maintain a forward momentum for Jesus.

And to maintain that forward momentum, we must be a church that is filled with prayer and belief in prayer. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to never stop praying, and James 5:15 tells us that a prayer offered in faith will heal us and forgive us. So how do you offer a prayer in faith?

So do we go forward having visions of our future, or we remain memories having no future?

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Perth Amboy January 1, 2007 Reading: Psalm 84
Text: James 4:13-17
What Brings the New?

Today, the yesterday and the whole year 2006 is a memory and we are standing in a brand new year. Now during the first week of a new year it’s not unusual to remember of the past and to dream about the future. Were there things that we would change about the past 365 days if we had a chance or are we happy with the last 52 weeks of our lives? 2006 is gone, everything we did is now history.

James 4:14 How do you know what will happen tomorrow? For your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. Well the smoke of 2006 is starting to clear. We are moving into a new year and 2007 promises to be a great year in our life.

But when everything is said and done 2006 is gone, it exists now only in our memories, and will be perpetuated forever in our record books. For all we have done, all we have accomplished, all we have struggled together for is a mist that appeared for a little while and then vanished. If we were to stop now and go no further then 2006 would have been a wasted effort.

As we read in the Philippians 3:13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.
This Scripture has two main premises, two distinct trains of thought. 1) Forgetting what is behind and 2) Straining toward what is ahead.

Friends it may be a formula but “Today is the first day of the rest of your life- How do you want to spend today? Yesterday is gone; it cannot be altered, changed or relived. If you continue to live for yesterday you won’t only miss out on today, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll miss out on tomorrow as well. What do we need to forget?

If somebody did something to you last year, forget it. If somebody said something about you last year, forget it. I love the comment that says “Speak well of your enemies, after all you made them.-

You say “Rev. I can forgive but I can’t forget.- That may be your philosophy but it’s not the philosophy of the Bible. Instead Jesus told us in Mark 11:25 But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.-

You see the measure with which you forgive is the measure that Christ uses when He forgives you. As we step into 2007 let’s forget all of the petty hurts and injustices, and all of the big hurts and injustices from2006 and 2005 and 2004 and 2003 etc. If you can forget only one thing in today, forget the grievances that you have against others whether they be friend or enemy and get on with your life.

We need to forget our worries.
There are two types of things that we worry about, a) things we can do something about, and b) things we can’t do anything about. So we ought to do something about the first group and forget the second group.

We need to forget our failures. Mark Twain wrote, “The cat, having sat upon a hot stove lid, will not sit upon a hot stove lid again. But he won’t sit upon a cold stove lid, either.-

As we move into 2007 we need to look beyond past failures to future successes. We have all failed at one time or another in our lives and we know that failure is not defeat. The only impact that yesterday’s failures should have on today’s endeavors is that they should have made us wiser. Let’s forget our failures as we move into the future.

It’s not enough to let go of the past if you’re not ready to stretch ahead and grab hold of the future. God has great things in store for you! Do you want them? All of 2007 belongs to you, it’s yours and it’s there if you want it. No matter what is your past, may be your future is spotless.

Can you join me in believing that?
We have to dream. We have to have a vision of the future.
We have to have plans for the future and we have to as the Lord\'s blessings upon our future.

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Perth Amboy Jan 21, 2007 Reading: Acts 4:32-37
Text: Acts 4:32

THE MARKS OF A HEALTHY CHURCH

My brothers and sisters many in the church and out of the church, have some kind of idea of what we consider a healthy church.
To the church members a healthy church is the church that have many members and ministries. To the non-members the healthy church is a church that take up no offerings and the entire service lasts only fifteen minutes. And although we all cannot agree on what a healthy church is, we should agree that a healthy church is the church that follows God’s Word.

In the case of this text we find the church at Jerusalem following in the footsteps of Jesus. It is making sure that the poor and the needy is taken care of. It is not consumed with church size, and ministries, or no offerings, and lengths of services. The church of Jerusalem was determine to do the Lord’s will for the needy.
The reason the old church cared for the needy was because the church came from within the community and the community because of its people was part of the church. In other words when the community would hurt the church would hurt and visa versa.

As we have seen in the Book of Acts so far we have seen how the Lord had empowered the church with the Holy Spirit to be a witness of Him to all men. We heard Peter in Acts 2 as he declared unto the religious leaders that Jesus in whom they had crucified was Lord of all, and saw how three thousand souls were saved through the words that he spoke.
In ch. 3 we witness the power of the Holy Spirit in Peter and John as they were going to the temple to pray, heal a lame man. And this act was instrumental in the start of the persecution of the church. And in this 4th ch. is the continuation of that persecution. Peter and John was arrested for preaching the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but they could not formally charge or punish them because every time they mentioned the name of Jesus something wonderful happened, thus giving the people hope where there was no hope.

In this lesson we see the church of Jerusalem coming together as one. They knew that they were in for some harsh times because of their belief in Jesus Christ. They also knew that they had a good chance of being persecuted for the cause of Christ and the church had to come together as one. So come with me as we examine The Marks of a Healthy Church.

First of all...
1. THEY HAD ALL THINGS IN COMMON (v.32)
“And the multitude of those that believed were of one heart and one soul; neither said any of them that any of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.-

The text said that they were of one heart and of one soul. As a pastor I find it hard to get everyone to have the one heart and soul for ministry. I guess all the Pastor\'s wish would be to minister a congregation where everybody would be one heart and one soul. As we look at the church in Jerusalem we find encouragement in knowing what can happen when the people of God get on one accord.

2. THEY WERE WILLING TO GIVE WHAT THEY HAD
“Neither was there any among them that lacked; for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,-

Secondly we find a church that was not selfish with what they had. The Scripture starts of by reminding us that because of their unselfishness that no one went lacking, because the haves sold their land and houses and brought the money to the church. Now I should make something clear, they sold their surplus land and houses not the ones they lived in. But the key I want to make is that they sold their property to make sure that the church and the needy would survive.

So they shared what they had with one another. In fact verse 32 said that “neither said any of them that any of the things which he possessed was his own;- What a great beginning they had, and even today there are people in the church that would give what they have so that the needy can have.

Finally the healthy church ...
3. HAD FAITH IN THE MEN OF GOD
“ And laid them down at the apostles’ feet; and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.-

One of the hold backs in churches today is that the church is losing faith in the men of God. Grant it that some of the brethren had proven themselves not to be trusted, but many churches are reluctant to put their faith in the person that they elected in the first place.
The church at Jerusalem after hearing the gospel message of Christ had faith in the men of God, and sold what they had and placed the monies at the Apostles feet to be distributed. They knew that the Apostles didn’t have a lot of money, but they also knew that they were true men of God and they did not let anyone try to convince them that they weren’t. They knew that if they were willing to go to jail and to be beaten for teaching and preaching the resurrection of Jesus. And that they could give them hope in that powerful name, that surely they could put their faith in them to help them to become a healthy church.

Well before I finish my sermon I must tell you the true mark of a healthy church. It’s true that they were of one heart and one mind; and it’s true they were unselfish with what they had; and also it was true they put their faith in the men of God.
But the true mark of a healthy church is that they trusted the Name of Jesus. Do you trust Him?
Do you trust Him to give you hope where there is no hope?
Do you trust Him to deliver your children from the signs of the times?
Do you trust Him to save your unsaved spouse?
Do you trust Him to heal your body?
So the mark of a healthy church is a church that is moved by the very presence of the Spirit of Jesus Christ and they obey His Word.


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Perth Amboy June 24, 2007 Reading: Psalm 126
Church Picnic Text: Eccl.3:1,4

It is time to laugh

Laughter is not wrong for Christ followers. No matter what you may have heard, it is all right for Christians to have a good time.

When the Jews came back from captivity in Babylon they said.
“We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, ‘What amazing things the Lord has done for them.’- Psalms 126:3
Laughter and joyfulness and singing are a good witness to those who have yet to find a personal relationship with God.
It’s proper to laugh. Laughing is good for us. It’s even fine to laugh in church. These words of wisdom from the Bible are simply reminding us to have proper timing.
The culture around us doesn’t get it. They often laugh at the wrong things at the wrong times. Nothing is sacred among people who don’t live by this Scriptural principle of properly timing your laughter.

I’m suggesting on the basis of Scripture that you need to learn to look for the right times to laugh. God has given you this capacity for enjoying good humor so you need to intentionally incorporate laughing into your daily routine.

Funny things are happening all over the place. You have to learn to look for it. You need to develop a humorous outlook - a humorous attitude.
You need humor in all of your relationships. In your marriage, if you don’t laugh together you’re missing out a lot. Laughing with others is an integral part of healthy friendships. It’s one of the keys to successful relationships on the job. Members of the church family need to laugh together.

It celebrates the fact that the resurrection of Jesus is God’s ultimate joke on evil and death. It is a testament to the God who, as the Psalmist says in 2:4, "sits in the heavens and laughs" at the foolishness of humanity and any forces that might seek to divine purposes.

There is the Bavarian practice that has the faithful gathering back in church on Easter afternoon for a time of story-telling and practical joking. There is the early orthodox tradition in the Easter Monday gatherings for stories, jokes, and anecdotes. To this day in Slavic regions, Christians gather the day after Easter for folk dancing and feasting in the churchyard.

Today is a special day in the course of our congregation\'s life. So concluding my sermon let me tell you some funny stories to take properly the today\'s message.
When a church seeks a pastor, they want the strength of an eagle, the grace of a swan, the gentleness of a dove, the friendliness of a sparrow, and the night hours of an owl. And when they catch that bird, they expect the pastor to live on the food of a canary.

A little girl asked her mother, “Mommy, why do you cut the ends off the meat before you cook it?- The girl’s mother told her that she thought it added to the flavor by allowing the meat to better absorb the spices, but perhaps she should ask her grandmother since she always did it that way.
So the little girl finds her grandmother and asks, “Grandma, why do you and Mommy cut the ends of the meat off before you cook it?- Her grandmother thought a moment and answered, “I think it allows the meat to stay tender because it soaks up the juices better, but why don’t you ask your Nana, after all, I learned from her and she always did it that way.-
The little girl is getting a little frustrated, but climbs up in her great-grandmother’s lap and asks, “Nana, why do you cut the ends off the meat before you cook it?- Nana answered, “I don’t know why these women do it, I did it because my pot wasn’t big enough.-

An American visiting a village in a developing country and saw a local men reading the Bible. He arrogantly commented, "In our country, we don’t allow the Bible in schools anymore."
The native replied in broken English, "If no Bible, you be eaten by now."

Or how about the man and a women who had been friends for many years, who had died and gone to heaven. They told St. Peter that they wanted to be married.
“Take your time and think about it,- said St. Peter, “you have eternity so take fifty years and see me then.-

Fifty years later, the couple returned and again told St. Peter they wanted to be married. “Well,- said St. Peter, “take another fifty years and really think about it....-

But the couple was insistent, “We know we want to be married now....-
St. Peter replied, “Well, take another fifty years and if we don’t have a preacher up here by then, I’ll
marry you myself.-

And the last one that fits before we move to the richly prepared up tables:
A father and his son were seated at the dining room table, while the mother was finishing the final preparations on the family’s dinner. While the father and son were seated, the father asked the son if he would say the prayer for the meal. The boy looked around the table at the food for a moment, and began to pray. He said, "God, I’m not sure what it is. But thanks anyway. And I’ll still eat it."

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Ligonier September 28, 2OO8 Textus: Mt 25:14-30
A Református Egyesület Közgyűlésének
nyitó áhitata

Eljött a számadás ideje! Bármennyire is szeretnénk ezt a kötelességünket elhalasztani, vannak határidők amik mellett nem mehetünk el. Vannak olyanok amiket előre tudunk és vannak amik egészen váratlanul szakadnak ránk. Erre a mostani találkozásunkra lehett készülni és készültünk is. Négy évvel ezelőtt mindenki tudta, hogy 2OO8-ban össze kell gyűlni és hozni az évek során elvégzett és el nem végzett munkák eredményét.

Én semmiképpen nem szeretnék itéletet mondani, hiszen Istené az itélet. Egyet azonban soha nem szabad elfelejtenünk, egyszer, ha nem is minden négy évben, de meg kell állni az Ő itélőszéke előtt és számot adni.

Pontosan ez az egyik dolog amiről Jézus Krisztus is beszél ebben a példázatban. Minden amink van az Istentől származik, neki tartozunk elszámolással. Ő a gazda akitől kaptuk tálentumainkat, képességeinket, neki kell elsőrenden beszámolni mire használtuk azokat.
Van valamink, több, vagy kevesebb de soha nem lehet olyan kevés hogy azt ne lenne érdemes értelmes módon felhasználni. Sokan vagyunk itt, sokfelől jöttünk, sokfélék vagyunk. Van akit Isten művészi képességekkel áldott meg, hogy másoknak gyönyörűségeket alkossanak. Van akinek az ékesen szólás ajándéka adatott, hogy értelmes beszéd szóljon általa. Mások meg a pénz kezelésének és forgatásának rejtelmeiben igazodnak el. Van aki tanitani tud, mig más meg gyógyit, és a sor végtelenségig folytatható. Testvérem, ha nem emlitettem volna azt ami a te talentumod, ne sérelmezd, csupán próbálok takarékoskodni az idővel.

Az a csodálatos, hogy tálentumainkat nem csupán magunk, a magunk hasznára és gyönyörködtetésére használjuk, hanem ha összerakjuk azokat újabb csodákra vagyunk képesek.
Ugyan a tálentum eredeti értelmében súlymértéket jelentett, de átvitt értelemben olyan szellemi kincs aminek elvesztegetése Isten akarata ellen való vétek. Aki elássa kincseit - lásd a példázatot -, annak esélye sincs hogy azt rendeltetésszerűen használja. Nincs kézzel fogható eredmény, nincs alkotás, nincs haszon, nincs öröm és nincs békesség sem.
Miért? Azért mert minden a hibernálás állapotába kerül. Nem jelennek meg szinek, nem elevenednek meg életek, nincs a munkának gyümölcse - elásva minden, tétlenségre kárhoztatva a lehetőség.

Valami megbénitja a cselekvést, mozdulatlanságra kényszeriti a kezeket, ajkakat és elméket. Ez nem más mint a félelem, ami összeszoritja a szivet és nem enged semmilyen kockázatosnak tűnő akciót. Félelem a számadástól, félelem, hogy egyszer meg kell állni - a Kovenció, a bizottság, az ország nyilvánossága, de leginkább egy alkalommal majd Isten szine előtt. Nem is csodálkozhatunk, hiszen teli van környezetünk ilyen kockázatot nem viselő, nem vállaló emberekkel, akik talentumaikat mélyen elássák. Hiszem hogy ti, akik itt vagytok nem ebbe a kategóriába soroljátok magatokat.

Atyáinknak száznál is több esztendővel ezelőtt az a lehetőség adatott, hogy sáfárkodjanak, jól használják azt amit Isten kegyelméből és emberek akaratából rájuk biztak. Ők már emberek előtt elszámoltak, ha megnézzük a sárgulófélen lévő papirokat, nincsenek is kétségeink.
Most rajtunk van a sor. Még nem az Igaz Biró előtt, hanem egymás előtt, egymás számára. Milyen jó lenne a Konvenció végén is tisztán egymás szemébe nézni és örülni annak, hogy minden ránkbizott centnek és dollárnak tudjuk az útját.
Fel tudnánk mutatni, nem dolgoztunk hiábavaló módon az elmúlt négy évben.
Mindenki bátran meri vállalni, talentumait igenis használta az Egyesület javára, azon keresztül magyar közösségeink boldogulására. Senkitől nem kér Isten többet számon, mint amennyit adott neki, olvassuk a példázatban. Mindenkitől azt várja el amennyit kapott és azzal hogyan gazdálkodott.
Tőlünk nem milliárdos hasznot, hanem tisztes eredményt. Nem többet, de nem is kevesebbet - ezt azért ne feledjük.

Barátaim, itt állunk számadásra készülve, tálentumainkat hozva, eredményeiket, kudarcainkat leirva, kicsit szorongva, vajon mit szólnak akik véleményt mondanak mindezekről. Az első dolog azonban az legyen, szintén a jézusi példabeszédet komolyan véve,
1- előbb mindenki a maga szemében vizsgálja meg, nincs-e ott egy termetes gerenda, csak aztán kutasson a mások szemében szálka után.
2- Az vessen követ a másikra, az itéljen meg másokat aki még soha nem követett el hibát semmiben, aki mindig minden talentumát alaposan ki és felhasználta.
3- Ne itéljünk, hogy ne itéltessünk meg magunk is.

Gondoljuk át, vajon képességeink szerint tettünk-e meg mindent az elmúlt négy évben? Ha igen, nincs miért szorongani, nyugodt szivvel mondhatjuk, - itt van Uram, el tudunk számolni előtted és emberek előtt, jól sáfárkodtunk.
Ne feledjük, elsőrenden a magunk tálentumaival tartozunk elszámolásra, mindenki a magáéval, mondom hangsúlyozottan. Eljött hát az idő, a számadás ideje, menjünk Urunk és egymás elé, hogy eleget tegyünk kötelességünknek és kérjük áldását magunkra és Egyesületünkre.

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Perth Amboy, Dec 24, 2008 Reading: Luke 2:8-20
Christmas Eve Text: Luke 2:15

Christmas! Why?
There was a woman out with her child Christmas shopping. Her child wanted everything she saw on the shelves for Christmas. She was shopping for hours. At the end of the day as she pushed her way into a crowed elevator, as the doors closed, she exclaimed, “Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up, and shot.- From the back of the elevators someone responded in a calm voice, “Don’t worry we already crucified Him.- The rest of the elevator trip was filled with silence.

Speaking seriously, in light of our normal Christmas activities- it would be good to reflect on the real purpose of Christmas.
Somebody said that the universe is composed of stories, not atoms. When we think of Christmas- angels, manger, shepherds, wise men, bright star- we see a story.
It many ways it is a mystery, even a puzzle for man to figure out- it involves history, theology, astronomy. The Christmas story is an opportunity for man to understand the deeper purposes of God.

There is no holiday celebrated more widely than Christmas- billions of people worldwide. The coming of Jesus Christ was so significant that history itself was divided in two ...BC- before Christ and AD- anno Domini, in the year of the Lord. Look at the original Christmas story, the Purpose of Christmas ...

1. Christmas is a time of celebration
Look at what the angel said: But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;
The angel is saying- it is time for man to celebrate. There is a difference between a celebration/a party. When I think of a party- think of a place to go to have fun, often centered on my personal enjoyment.

When I think about celebration- think of a time to honor something or someone other than myself. What is it that we can celebrate at Christmas? We can celebrate that God loves us
Jn 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

God came in the form of a man so He could encounter man face to face. He did not send a representative; He loved mankind so much that He came Himself. God did not bring love, He Himself is LOVE.
His very nature, His very character, is LOVE. We can celebrate that God is with us

2. Christmas is a time for salvation
Again, looking at the words of the angel : for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. God came down to men so that all men- be saved. Salvation is God delivering us from sin, self, and hell.

What else can we say about salvation? Jesus saves you from something. If- look at our lives honestly- we would all have to admit- we have habits/issues- not been able to fix.
Every day we sin with our words/thoughts/actions.

If we are honest with ourselves we would see our own sin and the affect of that sin on our lives. Sin causes worry, anxiety, confusion, depression, guilt, shame, conflict, resentment, regret.
Jesus Christ came to set us free from sin and from the affects of sin in our lives.
Jesus saves you for something. Jesus came to answer our questions ... why do I exist? ...does my life really matter?...what is my purpose for being alive?
Jesus came not only to set us free from sin, but to restore to us God’s original purpose for our lives.

3. Christmas is a time for reconciliation
We live in a world of conflict and hatred. Over- past 5000 years of the human history- have been almost 15,000 wars. Even now there are dozens of wars taking place. Reconciliation is the restoration of peace.
Look at the words of the angel: "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."

When we consider the world around us it is difficult to imagine a world filled with peace. Jesus came at Christmas to bring three kinds of peace- Peace with God - Whenever we live our lives our own way, not considering God’s way, we are in conflict w/God.
Peace with God produces within us the fruit of Holy Spirit.
Peace comes when we totally surrender to God. It is a peace that passes our understanding.
Peace with others - if we truly have made peace with God and
opened our hearts to experience the peace of God within,
then we will be able to find peace in our relationships with others.
Inner peace - if we have peace with God and with others there is no doubt - you have your soul’s peace.

This Christmas season- take time to remember the purpose of Christmas ...Christmas is a time of celebration.
We can celebrate that God loves us; We can celebrate that God is with us; We can celebrate that God is for us.

Christmas is a time for salvation; Jesus saves us from something; Jesus saves us for something; Jesus saves us by something.

Christmas is a time for reconciliation - Peace with God; Peace of God; Peace with others.

The Christmas story helps us understand God’s heart. During this season, take time to reflect on ...What has God has done for you?
What are you thankful for?
As we answer these questions, we will understand the purpose of Christmas.

==============================================================

Perth Amboy Dec 25, 2008 Reading: John 1:1-9
Christmas Text: John 1:14

CHRISTMAS PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

Christmas is here! Is anybody excited about it yet? One of the movies that people watch at Christmas time is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Written in 1843, it is the story of Scrooge who is visited by 3 spirits - Christmas Past, Present and Future. To truly understand Christmas you must see it through these 3 perspectives as well.

1. Christmas Past - vs. 1-4
To understand Christmas you have to start at the very beginning. The book of John starts with a declaration that is a little hard to fully understand. It says that the Word (which is Jesus) was not only WITH God in the beginning but WAS God. What does this mean?

a. Jesus was eternally God - in the beginning was the Word. Jesus was not a created thing like the earth or angels or you and me. His existence is not finite but infinite. He has always existed and will always exist. Jesus is eternally God.

b. Jesus was equally God - the Word was God. Not only is this but Jesus also equally God. That means that Jesus and the Father are both equally omnipotent in terms of their power. They stand as equals in terms of their nature.

c. Jesus was essentially God - through Him all things were made. Not only this, but Jesus is also attributed all the work and character of the Father. He was involved in creation and together with the Father rules over creation.

Basically this is the doctrine of the Trinity. "Deny the doctrine of the Trinity and you’ll lose your salvation; try to comprehend it and you’ll lose your mind." - said someone.
Basically this is saying that God came to earth and became one of us.

Is 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
But why did he do that? Why did God have to become a baby born in a manger? He did it so that we could know God and so that we could be set free.
He clothed himself with our lowliness in order to invest us with his grandeur.

2. Christmas Present - vs. 5
Today we live on the other side of that first Christmas. There are still billions of people who have not received the message yet. This passage says in verse 5 that “the light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it-.
The world has just not gotten who Jesus is. They have missed the message.

Two women walked by a department store and saw in the window a manger scene with shepherds, angels, Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. “How about that?- said one of the ladies. “The church is trying to horn in on Christmas too.-

It should not be a surprise to us that 2000 years after His birth there are still many who have not received the truth.
At that first Christmas there were those who came to worship and there were those who remained home. Christmas is a day of decision. What will you do with Jesus this Christmas Season?



3. Christmas Future -
One day Jesus is going to come again. He will not come this time as a baby but as a conquering King to take us all home to be with Him forever in heaven.
One day every knee is going to bow and every tongue is going to confess that Jesus Christ is lord. Like Scrooge each one of us has a grave with our names on it. Some day we will all have to stand and give an account.

Getting ready for Christmas means not just waiting - it means there are things to do before it comes! There are lots to do before Jesus comes again. There are still many people who are wandering in the darkness that need to be introduced to the light.

There is a story about how the caverns north of Yellowstone National Park were discovered. As the story goes, one of the original explorers was walking along the top of that mountain and fell through a hole, and he dropped down several hundred feet into this cavern and was stuck in almost total darkness for over a week, no food, no water. He cried out every day, “Help me!- Hoping that somebody would hear his voice and figure out that he was down there.
Sure enough a man came along and heard this sound and looked around and found the hole. They pulled him out and that’s how they found this giant cavern. They asked him, “How did you hold on to hope day after day after day in the dark without giving up?- He said, “There was one little pinhole ray of light that was coming through and I just kept focused on that ray of light.-

For many around us in this nation today they are like that man down in the cave. They are in darkness looking for a way out. Jesus is the light of the world. He is still shining today. Let us do everything we can to help people to take hold of Him.


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Perth Amboy Jan 11, 2009 Reading: Lamentations 1:1-9
Text: Lamentations 5:21
Broken-Down Church

What would happen if one of the beams of the roof or a part of the ceiling would hang in the air? A quick calculation says that if it was to fall, it would probably land on a choir member and hit her dead.

But it set me to thinking-what do you do about a broken-down church building? What is the remedy when plaster starts falling and paint starts chipping? What do you do when electrical circuits fail and air conditioning units don’t operate?
Well, the answer to all of that is obvious. What do we do about a broken-down church building? We start a process of renovation. We engage an architect; we begin to dream a dream of asking the people of the church for thousand dollars worth of improvement. What do we do about a broken-down church building? The answer is very clear: we work toward repairing it, renovating it, and making it useful and beautiful.

But the real question is, "What do you do about a broken-down church?" That’s not precisely the same question as, "What do you do about a broken-down church building?" Do you catch the difference? This in which you sit is not the church; it’s a church building. These among whom you sit - these are the church. The church is the people of God gathered for worship and scattered for mission. It’s not the building.

Now, try my question again. ’’What do you do about a broken-down church?" It’s not as easy as changing the beam or fixing the roof. It’s a far deeper problem.


In the latter part of the 6th century before Christ, the nation of Judah ... God’s people ... found themselves in unspeakably distressing circumstances. The Babylonian emperor had completely overrun the nation; his armies had routed and slaughtered the army of Judah. The King had been deposed, and the best and the brightest of the people had been carried away into exile into Babylon. And left in the streets of Jerusalem were nothing but a lonely, hungry, worn-out people, whose daily lot it was to look at the burned out ruins of the city’s once grand buildings and to pick their way through the rubble of the house which had been called by the name of the Lord: the Temple.

I can tell you that these were a terribly demoralized people. The depth of their sorrow and the anguish of their desperation is nowhere more clearly expressed than in the little Book of Lamentations. Their nation, their city, their Temple, their everything -- it was all broken down.
Listen to the bitterness in their voices: Lamentations 1: 1-4;

1. You see, nothing is more disconcerting, nothing is more distressing than discovering that something on which you’ve depended has fallen apart. If some institution or some person you’ve always depended on is taken away, you don’t know what to do.
Now God’s people in the 6th Century had lost their nation, their city, their Temple. It was all broken down. How would they get along? How would they survive? Worst of all, they saw that God Himself had done it; God who had built their nation had now broken it down. What do you do with that? What do you do when something you have always depended on breaks down, and you believe that God did it to you!?

You and I know something about what that feels like. We’ve seen some things we thought were dependable begin to erode. It makes us feel uneasy. How do you plan for your financial future when every week you read of banks failing? How do you trust the institution of family life when even the most stable of homes seem trembling?

Nothing is more depressing, more disturbing than watching the failure of some person or some institution on which you have depended. Nothing would be more disturbing and depressing to your spiritual life, I am sure, than to see your church spiritually defeated and broken down. And if you had come to believe that God Himself had caused its breakdown, you would probably echo the lament.

2. But fortunately for us, the writer of the Book of Lamentations has some clues as to how all of this happened. He has an understanding of how the nation came to be a broken-down nation and why the anger of God was spilled out on Judah. He can help us understand what it would mean if our church should break down.

Lamentations teaches us that, indeed, God will break down a nation; God will break down a church, if it loses its compassion. Lamentations, the prophets, all the Scripture agrees: God’s church is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end. The church is a means to accomplish the purpose of redeeming people. And when it loses that vision, when it loses its compassion, then you can be sure that God will indeed break down that church.

Did you hear it? When children are neglected; when people are destroyed in the very streets; when the needs and the rights of people are crushed.. does not the Lord Himself see this? Is not our God angry at the misery and the sin of our city?
Read the prophets, hear the Lament, and you will discover that God breaks down a people, God even breaks down a church, when compassion for the weak is gone and concern for the young is bottled up. God will break down a people who lose their vision of compassion.

Let’s be clear this morning. Our God is not committed to maintaining this church just because it’s here. Our God is not going to promise to keep us going through poor and rich, just because we have 105 years of history. Our God is not pledged to protect our investment or to keep us comfortable. Our God is committed, in fact, to judging us if we let our compassion dry up. Our God is going to promise to tear us down if we ignore people dying on our streets and children hungry at our gates. And our God is pledged to tear stone from stone and brick from brick if we do not respond to those who are lost!

3. What, then, must we do about a broken-down church? Where do we begin to become a faithful people whose compassion is alive and whose church is being built, not broken down?
Again the Book of Lamentations gives us the clue. Again the lament speaks for us: Lamentations 3:40-42.

What do you do about a broken-down church? You repent. You examine your heart and your ways, and you repent. You confess both personal sin and corporate sin; you confess the sin of the whole church, and you beg God’s forgiveness. We all start with repentance.

Friends, there is nothing this morning that I will say to you that I will not say to myself and to every leader in this church. As I read the Book of Lamentations, I notice that there is a very special word given to the spiritual leaders of ancient Judah.
The Lament says that it is the priests and the leaders of the people, who have given up their mission and have distorted their calling, and that it is they, it is they, who have the greater blame for the broken-down church.

I speak now therefore to myself, and also to every elder, to every Sunday School teacher, to every leader in this church. We need to examine ourselves. We need to test our ways. We need to determine whether we are doing what we are doing for the church because we want credit, we want recognition, we want the glory ... or whether we are doing it because we have compassion.

It’s dangerously easy to lose sight of our motives and to let self get involved. But to do that is to court disaster. To do that is to invite God to decide to break us down.

"Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord. Let us lift up our hearts as well as our hands to God in heaven. We have transgressed and rebelled, and you have not forgiven.-

The coming weeks and months will test our church. We are going to test ourselves and examine our ways before God. If we get through that examination, then Lamentations has a promise for us.
There is good news for us: Lamentations 3:21-23


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