Sermons by Michael Howell (Page 16)
It can be easy to read in the Bible about Israel and point out all their sins. It is harder when we discover that their sins are ours as well. In 1 Samuel 8 we see Israel asking for a king. We see their wholesale rejection of God and His wisdom. But we also see ourselves. Are we that different from them? Listen as we are challenged to examine ourselves and repent for the ways that we do what Israel did.
Tonight we continue our Daniel series with the first of the visions in chapters 7-12. We live in troubled times. Violence, the struggle for power and suffering seem to characterise our world. It’s sad and scary. In these troubled times, we might ask this question; “who’s in charge?” Listen as we discover how Daniel 7 answers that question. Let us think about how this answer ought to affect our lives today.
Our world doesn’t talk a lot about sin. But when it does, there are so many different voices we could listen to. Everyone seems to have a different understanding of or attitude towards sin! As Christians, we can find ourselves a little confused about sin. What is sin? What does it mean to be a sinner? What things are sin, what things aren’t? When it comes to the topic of sin, there is one voice that we should listen to above all others; the voice of God. In Daniel 5, we meet Belshazzar, a picture of sin. Listen as we see what God has to say about the nature and reality of sin, and of course, it’s consequences. Let us consider again the reality of sin in our own lives, that we might truly appreciate what Jesus has done for us.
By the end of 1 Samuel 2, Israel (and especially it’s leadership) is in a state of spiritual disarray. How will God turn this around? The answer is found in chapter 3. God speaks his word and we see the beginning of a spiritual restoration in the nation of Israel. Listen as we explore this story and consider it’s implications for our lives as the people of God today. Let us say to our God whose word is powerful, “Speak LORD, for your servant is listening” (3:9)
Daniel knew that God is the only source of true wisdom. He found himself with the opportunity to declare God’s wisdom to a pagan king who needed to hear it. Our world is equally desperate to hear the wisdom of God – even when it won’t admit it! The question is, will we keep it to ourselves or be like Daniel and declare it to those who need to hear it?
Tonight we begin our new series, Daniel: Strangers in a secular world. We begin by looking at the circumstances in which Daniel and his friends found themselves as exiles in Babylon. All the signs pointed to the fact that they were “out of place,” living as strangers in a foreign land. In the same way, we who follow Jesus live as “strangers” in this world. We must work out how we will remain involved in this world while continuing to stand firm in our faith.
Throughout his ministry, Jesus made some amazing claims about himself. But he also pointed to evidence that supported these claims. He appealed to those who listened that they believe his claims on the strength of this evidence. Join us as we look at two of the claims Jesus makes in John 10 and think about the evidence that supports those claims. In the end, every one of us must decide; will we believe that Jesus is who he says he is, or not? Our answer to this question affects everything.
What limits do you impose on the way you forgive others? Is it easier for you to forgive some people, but not others? Are you able to forgive people for “minor” things, but not for “serious” things they do to you? Is there a maximum number of times you will forgive someone before you decide you can’t forgive them any longer? Peter had a question about the “limits” of forgiveness. He wanted to know how many times he needed to forgive a brother who had sinned against him (Matthew 18:21). Jesus answered by telling a story that challenges any limits we might place on the way we forgive others. Listen as we consider what God has done for us and what it looks like for us to “forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).
Think about the ways God has blessed you. With money? With time? With certain talents or opportunities? Now ask this question; “Are you a faithful steward of these things?” Jesus told a parable that shows why it is so important for us to be faithful stewards of what God has entrusted to us. He is our Master, and he wants us to make the most of the things he has given to us. One day each one of us will be called to account for how we have used what we have been given. Jesus wants us to be faithful stewards and to persevere in that until we hear the words of the Master, “Well done, good and faithful servant! (Matthew 25:21). Listen as we consider what it might look like to be faithful stewards in the world we live in today.
The phrase “greed is good” was made famous by the fictional character Gordon Gecko in the 1987 Hollywood movie Wall Street. Is greed really good? Certainly, most people would say that they disagree with this saying, yet with our actions, we say something different. Our lives are bound up in the endless pursuit for more. We want more stuff. Better stuff. More money. Greater security and comfort. Our economy, our homes and our lives are built on the notion that we need more in order to be satisfied and secure. But Jesus did not think that greed was good! Rather, he had a warning about greed; “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). “Greed is dangerous,” he said. He wanted people to know how seriously they should view the issue of greed. So he told them a parable, a story about a rich man who allows greed to consume him. And even though he feels that he has everything that he needs – life, security, comfort – the story shows that eventually he will be seen as he really is, a fool. Listen as we explore Jesus’ teaching and consider the danger of greed and what it would mean to live a life where instead of storing up things for ourselves, we focused on being “rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).
Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’ve done a lot for God. What reward will he give me for all I’ve done?” Well one of Jesus’ disciples, Peter, asked a question a little like this. He said to Jesus, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” (Matthew 19:27 NIV). Beneath this question lay an assumption. That assumption was that in God’s kingdom, people are rewarded according to their merit, their effort and their ability. But Jesus wanted to break down that assumption. So he answered Peter’s question by telling him a story. A parable that demonstrated that the way things are in God’s kingdom, is totally different from how we expect them to be. So different that it is possible in God’s kingdom for “the first to be last and the last to be first.” How can this be!? Listen as we explore this parable and consider the implications of it’s message for us, servants in God’s kingdom.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could choose our neighbours? You could choose those who were pleasant and easy to get along with, but ignore those who weren’t! That’d be a perfect neighbourhood! There was an expert in the law who came to Jesus who wanted to live in a perfect neighbourhood. He knew that the Bible said he had to love his neighbour and he thought that if he could just choose nice neighbours, loving them would be a whole lot easier! But Jesus had news for him. He told him a story which challenged him to think differently about his neighbourhood and how he should be loving his neighbours. Sometimes we want to pick and choose the people we allow into our lives. People that are nice to us and don’t cause too many headaches are welcome but the different, the difficult and the dirty are not. Are we any different to the expert in the law? Listen as Pastor Michael explores the parable of the Good Samaritan. Let us consider what response this parable demands of us today