I hope and pray you had a great Christmas celebration. Just like people respond differently to Christmas, they also respond different to the good news of Jesus. We have been journeying through the story of the first Christmas and how people responded to the news.
Last Sunday I preached about the question “who is Jesus?” A question every follower of Jesus must be able to respond biblically. Studies have been conducted which reveal the sad truth that our Christian faith is shifting in this country. There is a disconnection in what we say we believe and how we live. The Barna Research Group conducted a study in 2009 which reveals how the faith of many professed Christians has changed throughout the years.
Throughout centuries people have wrestled with the identity of Jesus. The question “who is Jesus?” has puzzled many great minds for centuries. Some people have viewed Jesus as a prophet, a great teacher. Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet like Muhammad; Jehovah Witnesses believe Jesus was a created angel (Michael the archangel). Mormons believe Jesus was Lucifer’s brother. Scientologists believe Jesus was a great teacher who taught us how to be spiritually advanced. Who do you believe Jesus is?
Every Sunday we gather here for “Worship.” Churches around the world meet together to worship. But the reality is that many attend church services, but only a minority worships or at least understands worship. Worship is one of those words we throw around in church a lot, but many times we quite don’t understand what worship is. How do you know you have worshiped God? How do you know you are truly worshiping God?
Maybe you have heard people say that they love Jesus, but don’t like the church. There are people who think they can have a relationship with Jesus apart from his church. They want to love Jesus and believe in him but don’t want anything to do with the church. The sad reality is that according to the Bible, this sentiment goes against God.
At one time or another we have experience worries or anxiety in our lives.
A lot of things can cause you to worry: Threat, unmet expectations, fear of the unknown; etc.
Some of you here today may be experiencing anxiety right now because of a situation or circumstance you’re in. Jesus has a message for you today; he wants to show you how to eliminate anxiety and worries out of your life. Jesus addressed anxiety or worries in life during the so called “Sermon on the mount” (Matthew 5-7). Matthew 5 tells us that when Jesus saw the crowds, he went on a mountainside. His disciples came to him and he began to teach them saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit…..
One of the best ways for the church today to understand her mission is to take a closer look at the life of Jesus. When Jesus came, he was all about fulfilling his mission for the glory of God the Father. When you are not sure what your mission as followers of Jesus is in this world, look at Jesus. The church is the incarnation of Jesus in the world. The church is called the body of Christ; we are to let Jesus live through us, serve through us, love through us. It is through the church that people will get to know God (Eph.3:10). God has always been on mission and he has always used people to accomplish it. It was to his disciples that Jesus said, “as the Father sent me, so I am sending you. John 20:21. God wants to reach every person in the world and he has chosen his followers (you and me) for this task. We are God’s representatives in this world.
After the resurrection of Jesus, he began to appear to his disciples; they had expected Jesus to be a political leader. When they saw Jesus alive, they thought that their plan was back on tract. In fact, Luke tells us that they even asked Jesus if he was going to restore the kingdom to Israel now that he was alive and back with them. The disciples of Jesus wanted to know that the plan was now; Jesus gave them the mission, which is the mission of every follower of Jesus.
Today is Palm Sunday according to our calendar; we remember the time when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Most people may know this when they hear the phrase “Palm Sunday.” This is the inauguration of what we know as passion week. The week leading to Christ death and resurrection. This event is known in the Bible as the triumphant entry. What was this about?
Kids make their parents happy and proud when they do things according to the standard of their parents; when they do well at school or perform well in the play or at the field. A father was devastated when he was told by his younger son that his brother had said the s word. Later, the father was relief to find out the s-word his son used was “stupid.”
Last week I talked to you about the new identity God’s people have because of their relationship with Jesus. If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Being a Christian is to have a new identity. The Bible uses lots of metaphors or imageries to help us understand who we are and what we are supposed to do. We are Christ’s ambassadors in this world…
When you become a follower of Jesus you made a transition from death to life, from your old self, to a new self in Christ; you transition from darkness into light.
One of my favorite scenes in the movie Rush hour is when Inspector Lee meet detective Johnson. Johnson was practicing defusing a bomb as the clock was ticking and she needed to make a decision and had only 15 seconds. She then gets distracted by Carter and ended up cutting the wrong wire and booom “I have bad news Johnson, we’re all dead. “I was distracted sir” “Distractions are going to occur in the field, this is why we call this practice. If you can’t handle pressure, then quit.”