Sermon Sunday December 5, 2021 – Why Christmas part 1

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Isaiah 9:1-7

As I was trying to reconnect my Christmas lights yesterday and getting anxious about all that I needed to do. I began to wonder why we do this every year. I don’t mean that we shouldn’t celebrate our Lord’s birth, but all the other busyness that goes along with this season.

This must be the same question asked by millions around the world, since we live in a post-modern society that tries so hard to ignore God. So why are we celebrating Christmas? What is the point of Christmas if we leave out Jesus? I fear that in a generation to come we will still have this celebration called Christmas, because the retailers demand it, but nativity scenes might be illegal, and all references to Jesus will be taken out, people will begin to ask, why do we celebrate Christmas?

In Isaiah 9 we read about two tribal areas in the northern kingdom of Israel; Zebulun and Naphtali. It is important for us to note that in 732BC the Assyrian army attacked and overran the northern Kingdom, and the first two tribes to be routed were Zebulun and Naphtali. The area became dominated by Gentiles and was known as Galilee of the Gentiles. The northern kingdom was inhabited by many different peoples and became known as Samaria, thus the prophecy of Isaiah here calling it “Galilee of the Nations” proved to be remarkably accurate. But at the time, it must have been inconceivable to the Israelites. This part of Northern Israel was the first to be overrun by the Assyrians, the first to fall into darkness, and by God’s wonderful grace, they are also the first to see the light of the promised Messiah (Isaiah 9:2).

Jesus could have launched his ministry anywhere, it would have made sense for him to start his ministry in Jerusalem, as it was a major hub. But instead, as we read in Matthew 4:13, Jesus begins his ministry and heads to Capernaum, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. Not only is this significant because Jesus is coming to the area where the destruction of Israel began, but also I believe Jesus was demonstrating that he was coming for both Jews and gentiles. And in verse three we read; “You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy”, here the prophet is speaking of God enlarging the nation. What I believe he is talking about here is that because of Jesus’ coming, the nation will grow because Jesus came for both Jew and Gentile. We who have believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are part of the Kingdom of God. This is an incredible prophecy, that Isaiah pens. The Old Testament has over three hundred prophecies directly relating to Jesus.

So, the first question is, why all the prophecies?

The role of a prophet is to preach, to declare the truth. To speak to the present the eternal truths of God. Frequently in the Old Testament the prophets spoke about a coming champion. Israel at the time of the prophets was a dying nation, and many of the people had been taken into slavery and exile. There was great confusion and loss of identity. The nation yearned back to the days of David and Solomon when the nation was at its greatest and most powerful. It was in this era that the prophets were used by God to encourage them and give a glimpse of greater days ahead.

The prophecies were necessary because when combined, they reveal that Jesus must be the Son of God, the promised Messiah. The fact is that even though we have seen the fulfillment of almost 300 prophecies about Jesus in the Gospels, we need the prophecies just as much as the ancient Jewish nation needed them.

The Israelites needed them to warn the nation and to keep them faithful and hopeful. And we need them to remind us that Jesus was no ordinary man. He was God in human form (Isaiah 7:2).

Which leads us to our next question, why did God become a man?

The answer to why God became a man starts with the creation of the universe. In the garden of Eden there was perfect communion, but then man sinned and a gulf was formed between God and man. Mankind and all of creation has suffered because of the sin of Adam and Eve. There is a separation between God and man and no matter how good man tries to be, how many laws man tries to obey, we could never be good enough to restore the relationship with God.

The problem needed a solution, and it had to come from God. The first step was for God to introduce and reveal himself to mankind. However, the infinitely holy God could not simply reveal Himself, so God had to become like man, literally be born of a woman, conceived by the Holy Spirit.  The creator became like one of his creatures to display God’s character and nature, and provide a way to reconcile man to God (John 14:9).

This leads us to our third question, why do you need to believe?

Isaiah 9:6a states; “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…”

Jesus was born just like any other human being. But he was given to us as a gift as we read also in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son…” Almighty God, gave his only son. Why did God give His only son? The verse continues, “So that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

There is the simple answer to the question, why do we need to believe? Because if we don’t believe in Jesus Christ, and make him Lord of our lives, we will perish.

This is the miracle of Christmas, the significance of this special time of the year. God sent his son to rescue mankind.

Is he Lord of your life?

Sermon, Sunday June 14, 2020. Are You Using Your Gifts?

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Ephesians 4:7-12

In the previous message from Ephesians 4:1-6, we saw that the first aspect of a healthy church is unity. But we must remember that unity is not sameness. Every member of the church has different roles to play and gifts to bless the church.

Ephesians 4:7 says, “But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Every follower of Jesus has received a gift, or grace as Paul refers to it. This is not saving grace, rather it is grace to serve and build up the body of Christ. The apostle Paul was given the grace to preach to the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:8).

We know these to be the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the equipping of the church. These gifts are listed in verse 11, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers.” These are specific spiritual gifts given to people in the church whose primary mission is to minister the word of God.

Each of these have the same value to God, but they share different roles. This is where we run into trouble, we hold on to labels as if they were badges of honor, rather than areas of responsibility.

 Let us look at each of these gifts briefly.

Apostle: The word Apostle comes from the Greek word Apostolos and means “sent one”.  

John Stott writes that there are three different understandings of the term Apostle used in the Bible.

1: There were the original apostles such as John, Peter, Paul, and the other disciples, obviously those apostles were unique and have not been replicated. Jesus had many disciples, but He selected twelve Apostles. A disciple is a “follower” or a “learner,” but an apostle is a “divinely appointed representative.” We do not have these apostles in the church today. Ephesians 2:20 explains that these apostles are the foundation of the church.  

2: Since we have all been sent, because of the Great Commission (Matthew 2:19-20) applies to us all, we are all apostles of Jesus Christ. We have all be sent by Jesus.

3: And then there is the apostle that Paul refers to here. The Apostolic gift that Christ gives to his church, specifically to certain people in order to advance the Kingdom. They are the church planters, the missionaries, and the ministry pioneers.

Prophets: As we saw in Ephesians 2:20, the Biblical prophets, Jeremiah, Elijah, Ezekiel, and others are the foundation of the church. Those God used to forth-tell, to predict future events such as the coming of Jesus and his second coming.

A New Testament prophet is someone who proclaims the Word of God. In a real sense, preaching is prophesying. Taking God’s word and applying it to people’s lives (see 1 Corinthians 14:3).

The gift of prophecy today must always be confirmed and based on the declaration of the Word of God. Don’t base the direction of your life on what someone feels the Lord is saying to you, be careful to test a prophetic word through the filter of the Bible and then also allow God to bring it to pass.

Evangelists: These are the bearers of Good News, people going from place to place to proclaim the Gospel and win the lost. Everyone who is saved is called to be a witness, to share the message of the gospel, but some people are gifted as evangelists. The fact that a believer may not possess this gift does not excuse him from being burdened for lost souls or witnessing to them.

Shepherd: The titles of Shepherd, Pastor, Elder or Overseer are found in the New Testament and are often misunderstood. Jesus is the head of the church and the pastor serves under his leadership (Hebrews 13:20).

The pastor is not the church CEO, rather he is a gift God has given to the church to equip the church for the work of the ministry. The role of the pastor is to nurture, defend, protect, and sacrifice for the flock.

Teacher: In verse 11, the titles of shepherd and teacher are separated by a definite article in the Greek, and it is likely that this indicates an overlapping in function.

All Pastors teach, by nature of the function of the role, but not all teachers are pastors.

These are the 5 gifts that the Lord has given to the church, and as long as the body of Christ needs to be equipped for works of service, the gifts are still given by Christ to the church (Ephesians 4:12).

This is probably the biggest problem with the modern-day church. Our western church is primarily a consumer driven church and not a mission driven church.

Ephesians 4:12 makes it clear that the work of the ministry of the church is the responsibility of the members of the church.

A church will never mature if we look at the gifts that God has given us as the head, rather than Christ as the head of the church. The gift giver is the head of the church and not the gifts.

As Paul states, disciple making is not the exclusive domain of pastors, rather discipleship is everyone’s job. The members of the early church took their responsibility to make disciples very seriously. The pastor is the equipper, and every member of the church is a minister.

Jesus commands you to look at the people around you and start making disciples. Obviously only God can change a person’s heart, but our responsibility is to be Christ’s ambassadors, his message bearers, in our communities.


God’s plan to reach people with the gospel is not primarily evangelists or apologists. God’s plan to reach people with the gospel is the church. 

Tony Merida writes, “Every member should grow up and use a towel, not wear a bib. They should not be immature consumers but eager servants.”

You have been given a gift by God, what are you doing with that gift?

Sermon Sunday September 03, 2017 – Jeremiah part 1

Jeremiah chapter 1:1-9

Think back to a time when you were called on to do something and you felt unequipped to accomplish the task, when you could have listed any number of reasons why you were the wrong person for the job. How did you respond?

Every person who has committed their lives to the lordship of Jesus Christ, has a specific calling on their life, a calling that God has uniquely equipped you to accomplish.

Jeremiah was a prophet in the nation of Judah who began his ministry around 627BC during the reign of King Josiah. Josiah was a God-fearing King and the nation was blessed by God during his reign, unfortunately the succession of Kings after Josiah were evil and as a result God used the Babylonian nation to punish Judah and take most of the nation into exile (see 2 Chronicles 35 and 36). Jeremiah was left behind and was taken by the remnant of the nation of Judah down to Egypt.

Jeremiah, known as the weeping prophet was called to a very difficult task. He had to put up with a lot of abuse, death threats and imprisonment. He was even placed in a muddy cistern in the ground and left to die, yet he was faithful to the calling of God on his life. Jeremiah struggled with his ministry, he complained and wrestled with God, in fact chapters 11-20 of the book are often referred to as Jeremiah’s confessions, where he pours out his heart to God.

Before Jeremiah even began his ministry, God orients him and tells him something that kept him faithful to God for all his life (Jeremiah 1:5). God spoke to Jeremiah and as a part of his calling to ministry, God tells him that he was intentionally put together. The same applies to every person alive today. King David was also aware of this in Psalm 139: 13-17. God wove Jeremiah together perfectly for the task he was called to. God knit every cell in your body for a specific purpose and calling. If we would only grasp the fact that we are not a jumble of cells as the scientists tell us, but rather there is unlimited potential in the created human life. This should change the way we look at others, the way we look at children and the way, we need to look at the unborn.

How would your self-image change if you truly understood that God has formed you specifically for his purpose for your life?

If God has made you and I for a specific purpose, how do we know what it is?

Here is the good news, not only does God form us and knit us together, he also calls us.

The God who created the universe, who gives life and breath to every living thing, looked out over all of creation and chose you.

God created Jeremiah with the physical and the emotional capacity he would need for the life he would be called to.  God prepared Jeremiah and then when he was still a teenager, God calls him by saying, “I appointed you as a prophet to the nations”. God reminds Jeremiah of his specific design, and then he tells him his purpose. The calling of God on your life is real. Every one of us is called by God to fulfill the specific ministry that we were designed for.

But surely only those who are called to ministries such as pastors or missionaries are actively called by God? That is simply not true, we are all called by God to serve him and His purpose for our lives.

The Bible teaches that every Christian is called to “full time” Christian service, regardless of his or her vocation (see 1 Peter 2:9). You may be a caregiver, an executive, a builder or an administrative assistant, where you are is where God has placed you in order to be his priest and minister of the Gospel in that environment.

If we get this, it will make a radical change in our view of day to day lives.

It is tragic to see Christians who work purely for a paycheck, or work just to get to the weekend.

What a tragedy, this is not why God has called you, this is not why Jesus died for you ( see Colossians 3:23).

But what if you feel completely ill-equipped to accomplish the task that God calls you to. Jeremiah felt that way, Moses and many other characters in the Bible felt that way. See how Jeremiah responded in verse 6.

Jeremiah was hesitant to take on the mission, and when God calls us we also hesitate and doubt. The primary reason we doubt is the same reason that Jeremiah doubted, our focus is in the wrong direction. Jeremiah was looking at his own skills and his own abilities or lack thereof, we look at ourselves and immediately try to disqualify ourselves because of our perceived weaknesses. But God wants us to focus on him and on His power to fulfill the mission.

Read God’s response to Jeremiah in verse 7. Notice, God didn’t disagree with Jeremiah or try to give him a half time pep talk, God simply reaffirms his call and says, go! To God and to everyone around, including Jeremiah, he didn’t have the skillset to accomplish the task, but God did. Notice what God then did in verse 9. God knew full well that Jeremiah wasn’t up to the task, all he needed was for Jeremiah to be a willing vessel to be used by God, a willing mouthpiece to speak the words that God put in his mouth.

Has the Father given you an impossible task to do? Then you’re in the right place! Only when you realize that you are completely unable to do what God calls you to do, will you be ready to be used by God.

The mission that God calls you to, may not be easy, it certainly wasn’t for Jeremiah.

Was Jeremiah successful? By human standards it didn’t seem that way, but by his obedience to God, he will receive a reward on the day of judgment. Don’t be tempted to measure your ministry success by the worlds standards.

Success is found in obedience not results!

Our part is obedience, God is responsible for the results and He is most certainly capable for that.

What is God calling you to do today?