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Sermon: Live for a Change

On May 25, I was thankful to asked to preach for the Edge service at Sugar Creek Baptist Church. The current message series at Sugar Creek has been on the Hall of Fame of the Faithful in Hebrews 11. Faithfulness is a central concern of this portion of Hebrews and I wanted to discuss how the author of Hebrews was dealing with this topic just prior to, and immediately following the eleventh chapter.

Sermon5.25

One of my life verses is Hebrews 10:39, “For we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who believe and are saved.”

As the writer of Hebrews, likely using a popular sermon from the time and adding epistolary openings and closings to the text. As they move from describing the lives of who have lived faithfully in the history of God’s people, the next move is to discuss how we are to not be held back. In Hebrews 12:1-2, the author reminds us of the many witnesses around us and our need to move forward an not be held back by that sin that “so easily ensnares us.”

This idea of an ensuring sin, that sin which plagues us and doesn’t let us move forward, is a reality we all must deal with in our lives. One way that this sin is exampled is found in Numbers 14:1-10 where Israel, upon hearing the poor report of the spies, falls into disbelief and unfaithfulness. In the midst of their despair they desire to go back to Egypt, back to the thing that had held them back in their slavery.

Ultimately we all want to be free from our sin and live in faithfulness. The hope of faith in Jesus is that he delivers us from that sin and moves us to new life. Our hope is found in that freedom from the slavery of our ensnaring sin, and not in fear and despair.

I hope this is a blessing for you today.

04
Jun 2014
POSTED BY Garet
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Encountering God: A Sermon

Recently, I was able to preach in the Sunday services at Sugar Creek Baptist Church where I serve as the pastor to Young Marrieds. My topic was around the idea of encountering God in the midst of our lives. You can check out the sermon here:

Encountering God

One of the things that I believe is that so many of us miss opportunities to encounter God because we are dialed into our everyday lives and frequently distracted. However, as God is working in the world there are opportunities to encounter His presence and capture something amazing.

My primary text came from Luke 28:13-35 there the resurrected Jesus meets with two of His followers, Cleopas and a companion, during their trip between Jerusalem and Emmaus. So often, God encounters people in the middle of their journey, this seems like an appropriate scene to use.

Behind our encounters with God is the big idea of the text:  God places divine moments in our journeys to capture our attention and communicate his grace.

The reality is God desires to meet with His people and we an experience the blessing of His presence in our lives if we are looking for it. As the writer of Hebrews reminds us in Hebrews 13:2 some of us have even  “…welcomed angels as guests without knowing it.”

The real tragedy in the life of too many followers of Jesus is that they’ve gone their entire Christian lives without a meaningful experience of God’s true presence. As a result the Christian life isn’t what they expect and isn’t fulfilling the needs they have. Encountering God in the midst of our everyday journeys allows us to capture a renewed vision and experience His grace.

So what are you doing to put yourself in a place where you can see God at work and encounter the blessing of His grace and presence? Is this a goal you frequently seek out throughout your life?

08
Jan 2014
POSTED BY Garet
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On Living as Exiles

Sunday, I was privileged to preach at Sugar Creek Baptist Church. I used the time to talk about what it looks like for Christians to live as cultural exiles in the midst of a time of tremendous change.

As we’ve seen since the beginning of summer, there have a been a sweeping series of changes that are continuing to push Christianity to the edges of society…if not to cultural exile where our voices are not part of the larger conversation.

You can view the sermon right here: On Living as Exiles

My primary text for the day was Jeremiah 29:4-14. Here we find the remnant of the Israelites who have been taken into captivity through the Babylonian exile. They are given a prophetic letter from Jeremiah that stands as a set of guidelines on how to live in this exile. Having been taken out of their native, and ancestral, land to a foreign place is certainly more extreme than a social, or cultural marginalization which Christians are continuing to experience. That said, I do think there are some correlations.

At the heart of the conversation are three sections of the text:

In considering the plight of the remnant of Israel while in their initial stages of exile in Babylon, which is modern day Bagdad, my point was essentially this:

Being faithful amid cultural exile means we become ambassadors of peace who await God’s restoration.

One of the key words in the entire passage is found in verses 4 and 11. It is the Hebrew word shalom. As it is used in this context we see that the exiles are commanded to pray for the welfare, the health, and the benefit of the society in which they live. This is a deeply counter-cultural act for what group of captives actively prays for the blessing of the people who have taken them captive, or pushed them to exile? Yet that is the command for believers of that day and our current place.

The second reference to shalom in 4:11 points out that as we pray for this shalom we shall also receive it from God. As we are peacemakers we receive peace. It is easy for us to criticize and wage rhetorical war against our culture, yet in doing so we find ourselves increasingly uneasy in Babylon (so to speak.) Yet as we work to bring the Gospel and the true peace of Jesus to our society we receive an unsurpassing peace ourselves.

Ultimately, the passage leaves us with a hope. A hope of the coming restoration. Perhaps for us it isn’t a cultural one where Christianity regains the dominant cultural position. In fact, I believe the better position of Christianity is to be marginalized in a culture because that is where we can more authentically live out our calling as ambassadors of salt and light.

As Walter Brueggeman has stated in his commentary on Jeremiah: exile is God’s most devastating judgment, but restoration is His greatest gift. May we seek the final restoration of Jesus who will return to redeem and restore all which is lost for His glory and Kingdom.

30
Jul 2013
POSTED BY Garet
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