(Extracted from Gus Davis' message on February 10th, 2019)
The subject of our message this morning is God´s mercy, and I think it´s very interesting that all of us have benefited from God´s mercy, but few of us have acknowledge that benefit, and I think that perhaps that´s because we don´t know enough about mercy. We think of mercy as being the song of the defeated, someone who has lost the battle and now faces the end. However, there are some who will recall that in the Old Testament the very throne of God is called “The Mercy Seat”. We should also be aware then that God requires mercy in every act of justice and that this is clearly spelled out in the words of the Prophet Micah 6: 8 where it is written, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And, what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Indeed, God´s mercy has a history and a role to play in God´s plan of salvation. As we all know, we live and move in a sinful world. According to the Christian Gospel, the whole of humanity is in sin and is both guilty and polluted. Thankfully, God has made provisions for our salvation. Human redemption is made possible through God´s mercy given by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, having been loved so much, the Christian loves in return; a love expressed in a desire to keep God´s law. This person, like King David, has made humility a part of their personality and is truly a friend of God. In the place of arrogance of the law, he/she cries out for God´s mercy, for he/she knows that there can be no justice without mercy. In this point, King David sets the example for us and for all Christians when he says: “O Lord, have mercy on me; heal me, for I have sinned against you.”
References: Psalm 32:1-2; Micah 6:8; Ephesians 2:8; Romans 3:23-24; Psalm 41:4; Psalm 130:3; Psalm 79:8.
(Extracted from Gerald Kaczor´s message on February 3rd, 2019)
What is LOVE? A warm and friendly peaceful feeling, giving me something I want, a listening ear, a supportive hand, soothing kind words, protection, etc.? From my experience working with Tough Love, dealing with families that have a member addicted in drugs, my understanding of love has some new angles or factors. In summary, when dealing with a son, love is telling the son what he needs to hear and giving to him or withholding from him what he really needs to become a better person. Love is not necessarily making one’s son happy, comfortable, supplying everything he wants, making sure he does not suffer in any way. The words from 1 Cor. 13:4-8a teach us what love is. This morning I will be sharing with you some of the stories from Ted Sutherland´s sermon because they show us love in action or fulfilled – and help us to really understand its definition.
“LOVE IS…” – PATIENT, KIND, PROTECTIVE, TRUSTING, HOPEFUL, ENDURING
“LOVE ISN´T…” – ENVIOUS, SELF-EXALTING, RUDE, SELF-SEEKING, IRRITABLE, BITTER, JUBILANT IN TRAGEDY
Now for your homework. When you read, hear, or see events that can only happen because of some form of love, where do you place them in the list I have given? This week I have been thinking of the men and women “wallowing” in the mud, in the rescue operations after the dam break at Brumadinho. Are they doing this out of love? The victims are dead. The responsible people are nowhere near. Are they being paid super salaries? Will they be honored like returning war veterans? Are they risking their lives? May God bless you all!
References: 1 Cor. 13:4-8
(Extracted from Gerald Kaczor´s message on November 4th, 2018)
Why did Jesus do the miracles that He did? Why didn’t He do some that He could have done? Being the Son of God, He could have done even more and greater miracles than He did. Did He heal all the sick He encountered? Did He ever perform a miracle for His own benefit, for example to make stones into bread after fasting for forty days in the desert? Christ came into the world, not only as God’s personal representative on earth, but as God Himself manifest in flesh, and therefore appeared as a miracle in human form. Jesus was no magician or conjuror, as Herod learned, who thought he could command Him to perform a miracle to satisfy his curiosity. His miracles were never wrought for display, or even to prove His claims. When a miracle was necessary, He performed it. It took a miracle to raise Lazarus from the dead but not to roll the stone away from his grave. That was something His disciples were well able to do. Christ never performed a miracle to create a sensation or to win adherents.
Both the Bible and experience prove that healing is not always the divine will. While we pray for the sick and desire their restoration to health, we must be subject to God’s holy will and purpose. Some He heals. Others are ordained to suffer. Our first desire should be, not to be healed, but to know and do God’s perfect will. Healing was dependent upon the faith of those seeking aid, or the faith of those closely connected with the sufferers. Unbelief prohibited the manifestation of Christ’s miraculous power. In summary there are at least three basic reasons for Jesus' miracles. The first is compassion: we serve a God who is concerned about not only our eternal need but also our temporal needs! The second basic reason for miracles are credentials: the Jews required a sign, and Jesus proved He was the Messiah over and over again. Jesus did five great miracles in Capernaum, and they still rejected Him! The third reason is conveyance: conveying His power and revealing that what He could do in the physical realm He could also do in the spiritual realm. If He can heal leprosy He can heal sin! God bless you!
References: Isaiah 35:5, 42:7; Matthew 4:6, 9:36, 11:2-4, 11:23, 12:23, 16:4; Mark 1:43-44; Luke 11:16; John 5:1-6.
(Extracted from Sérgio Marcus´ message on October 28th, 2018)
This morning we will talk about some of the examples that Jesus Christ left for us to follow. As the Son of God, His examples can only be good, perfect, and blameless. In difficult circumstances of life it would be good if we asked ourselves this solemn question: In your place, what would Jesus do? During His life among us Jesus left many examples to be followed; not only words, or teachings, but also very important personal examples. Let’s see just a few of them. The first is His example of humility: "Jesus humbled Himself in obedience to God, and died a criminal’s death on a cross". This was the worst humiliation a man could go through at that time. He didn’t open His mouth. And remember: He was God’s Son! The Lord requires us to walk humbly with Him; in fact, if we are not humble, we cannot walk with the Lord. Another example Jesus left for us was the example of patience. How patient Jesus Christ was! "He did not retaliate when He was insulted". The Lord wants us to be patient towards all men. This patience includes patience with the members of our family, with our brethren, and with lost souls.
The third example Jesus left was the example of work. He said: "We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the One who sent us. The night is coming and then no one can work." Our salvation is something that must be worked out, with faith, and this life is the time in which it must be done. May we imitate the Lord in the example of work which He set. Jesus was also an example of courage. He had the courage to stand up to the religious leaders of His day and denounce their hypocrisy. He said: ”What sorrow awaits you teachers of the law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! You cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are”. We need more of this courageous preaching today. We mentioned only four examples to be followed: humility, patience, work and courage. There are many more. All you have to do is to look for them in the Bible. May God help us follow Jesus Christ’s examples and live a life which pleases Him! God bless you!
References: Proverbs 21:4; Matthew 23:15; John 9:4; Acts 8:32; Ephesians (6:20); Philippians 2:8-12b; James 1:3-4; 1st Peter 2:21; 1st Thessalonians 5:14b.
(Extracted from Richard Sturz' message on October 21st, 2018)
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are fully aware that our lifestyle is (or should be): different!! This is due the fact that we follow the One, True God, the God of the Bible, and that we have forsaken all other (false) gods of this world. The process of breaking down the lifestyle of the old self and rebuilding a new self is called Sanctification. To refresh our memories of where we went last time, we were examining the text found in 1st Pt 1:13-16. The first tip we saw last time (v.13 – “…prepare your minds for action…”), we expounded on the idea of mental preparation and agility, so as to be ready to hear and obey our new Lord and Master. Today, let us move on to Peter’s second lifestyle tip found in v.13 - “...discipline yourselves...”. I prefer the ESV translation “be sober-minded” instead of “discipline yourselves” simply because that is the closest rendering of the Greek term used here. When we use the word “sober” we immediately associate this with the use of alcohol and any other mind-altering substances, legal or otherwise. Intoxication often leads to fuzziness, mental weakness and confusion. Instead, here “be sober-minded” is used as “assuming control of your mental faculties in order to reduce the risk of contracting irrational thoughts.”
If the first lifestyle tip as a follower of Christ was PREPARE your mind, the second tip is CONTROL your mind. Controlling ones mind implies in being serious, mature and balanced. It also means mind clarity. When we think clearly, our actions and attitudes are better suited to the dire situation at hand! Thinking clearly implies in being alert and watchful. Be alert to the dangers outside of ourselves. Ephesians 6:16 tells of the “the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;” . These darts can assume the form of temptations adversity and problems. We must be alert to the dangers inside of ourselves too, as it is written in Pr 3:5-7 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” God bless you!
References: Proverbs 3:5-7; Ezekiel 33:7-9; 1st Corinthians 6:9; Ephesians 6:16; 1st Peter 1:13-16, 4:7, 5:8-9.
(Extracted from Gerald Kaczor´s message on October 7th, 2018)
The English word “why” is too inclusive. Now to go to the Portuguese translation of “why”. The “por quê” is a question as to why bad things happen to us in our daily lives. First, we need to decide if the bad thing that happened to us was our fault and decide not to repeat the error again. After we cannot find any reason why we should be responsible for the bad event, then we need to move on to the next Portuguese expression, “para quê”. To me these words ask the following question, for what purpose did this happen? Job 1:1, 2:1-10 gives us a front row seat to Job's experience with disorientation. God tests the faith of one of His most committed servants. God allows Satan to persecute Job, even though Job has been faithful and true. Job loses his children, cattle, possessions, and even his health. Job's wife could no longer watch him suffer in silence. In her rage, she tells Job to “curse God and die.” Job does not heed her angry speech. He simply asks, “Do we accept the good that comes from God and not the trouble also?”
Job remains faithful to God, understanding that God is present in both good and troubling times. Job shows a level of faith and maturity that proves sanctifying grace in action. He is more concerned with being faithful to God than caring for his own needs. Job shows us sanctifying grace, the kind of grace that helps us move toward perfection in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Sanctifying grace helps us to love God and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves in light of the challenges we may face in life. When I had just turned 15, I had a terrible stomach pain. The family doctor said he needed do an appendicitis surgery that same day. During my stay at the hospital, the priest daily visited each patient and left something good and positive to think about. In my head or thinking, I thought the following thought, “I want to do that someday.” Crazy thinking for a simple 15 year old farm boy in Nebraska. Forty-six years later I began doing my first pastoral visits in the Paulinia, Brazil, hospital. We will never know the God ordained results of some misfortune that we suffer today. God bless you!
References: Job 1:1, 2:1-10, 2:4-6, 2:7, 2:9-10.
(Extracted from Sérgio Marcus´ message on September 30th, 2018)
For the first time I will speak about a subject which is in line with my professional life as a Physician and Psychoanalyst. The theme of the message today is: A Biblical view of Depression”. What is Depression? Do Christians get depressed? Is it sinful to be in depression? Depression is a state of constant deep sadness, hopelessness, emptiness, misery and lethargy. It is one of the most painful conditions to go through. It’s a disorder characterized by inability to concentrate, insomnia, loss of appetite, and feelings of extreme sadness and hopelessness, a reduction in activity and strength. This is what Depression is. It’s totally different from sadness. One of the most important reasons for a person to get depressed is a loss. The loss of something which is very important, or the loss of someone who is very dear to the person may cause a terrible damage. The neurotransmitters get all mixed up, totally imbalanced, and provoke a tremendous change in attitudes and actions of the individual. The loss of a relative. The loss a a job. The loss of something intangible like the loss of hope. The loss of self-esteem . The loss of dignity. These things may cause a turmoil in the person’s brain. We can see an example of depression in some verses of Psalm 31. This Psalm was written by King David, praying to God for deliverance.
Is there a cure for depression? Medicines may be very important and of great help. But for sure are not the solution. The cure comes from the inside, from deep within the individual. There are, at least, two important steps to be taken leading to the cure of depression. The first step is the acknowledgement of the situation, or of the loss. The second is faith. What do we learn from this message? First, it’s not sinful to have periods of depression. Several faithful servants of God went through this terrible experience. Second, for sure, God wouldn’t like his children to be in depression for a long time. He provided knowledge to scientists who were able to prepare medications which can help in the reestablishment and balancing the production of neurotransmitters. Third, God prepared professionals who are able to help people in distress and depression to get over their problems. So, it’s possible to get rid of a depression – with or without the help of medicines, with or without external help – but never, never ever, without God. God bless you!
References: Psalm 31:9-24.
(Extracted from Richard Sturz' message on September 16th, 2018)
The life of a follower of Christ must necessarily be different! Not only in outward actions, but primarily in inner convictions and beliefs. Paul speaks in Rm 7: v.15 – “For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate.” And his cry turns into plea of anguish a few verses later : v.24 – “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body?” At last, in the very next breath, he offers the way out: v.25 – “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!...” 1st Peter 1:13-16 describes some characteristics of the lifestyle of a follower saying “gird up the loins of your mind ready for action” (NKJV), meaning that “prepare your minds for action” (NRSV).
The principle of mental readiness involves molding our minds through the Word of God in order to provide an answer to the world around us. We need to know how to think and position ourselves on those issues and subjects which are current in our culture. One of the expressions we hear often is that it is better not to discuss politics or religion. I say that mixed in with some truth is a deep lie. This is the motto of a “relativistic” society where “truth” is treated as subjective and, therefore, non-absolute. Both Peter and Paul exhort us to use our mental faculties in order to confront and combat this error and then proclaim the “Truth” through argumentation and lifestyle choices. Either we believe the Word of God and the absolute authority of Scripture or we walk according to the spirit of this age against God and His Word. Do not try to live, as some do, with one foot in both camps, following the Word of God and the spirit of the world, at once. Let us remind ourselves, then, that we are to be ready to spring into mental action, having been immersed in the Word of God, in order to present a rational defense of our faith and a Christian perspective on any and all issues which cross our path. God bless you!
References: Exodus 12:11; Luke 6:45; Romans 7:15-25; Hebrews 4:12; Philippians 4:8; 2nd Timothy 3:16-17; 1st Peter 1:13-16; 1st Peter 3:15b.
(Extracted from Richard Sturz' message on August 19th, 2018)
It is hard, sometimes, to distinguish between “Fact and Fiction”. Today, with so much fake news circulating on social media, we reveal ourselves as naive if we take everything at face value. When it comes to God and His revealed Word (the Bible), as Christians we begin with the assertion found in 2nd Tm 3:16a: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable…” Today, there exists every shade and degree of acceptance or rejection of the Bible as true, normative and trustworthy. I want to illustrate only three possible responses to God and the claims of His Word which John invites us to believe. The first response is “unbelief.” The chief priests and Pharisees had a document by which they were to measure facts in order to ascertain a response. It was what we call the Old Testament. John shows us seven “signs” – or miracles – all of which offer proof of the truth of who Jesus is in that only God, per the Old Testament account, could have enacted such miraculous signs. These chief priests and Pharisees had as part of their belief system that only God could perform miracles! Once Jesus had performed a few of the signs on this list, they must have perceived the truth. They plotted to kill Jesus instead!!
The second response is “belief with reservations.” Jesus arrives in Bethany, at the place where Lazarus has been buried. Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” Martha, a believer, continues to struggle with her mental and emotional reservations about Jesus because He did not do what she wanted, when she wanted it!! Dear brothers and sisters, each of us has struggled with these very issues in our lives. We believe with reservations, doubting the very essence and character of God, based on the erroneous belief that life revolves around us!!
The third response is “belief without reservations.” Mary, when called, does go out to meet Jesus. She approaches with the exact same words that her sister used!! So what is the difference? Whenever we encounter Mary in the Bible, she is always at His feet! And “at the feet” is an outward sign of being a disciple, which necessarily involves humble submission and obedience. “Belief without reservations” keeps God at the center of the story: Lord I am so utterly devastated by the pain of my circumstances! I do not understand why You did not act differently! Yet, still I trust You and humbly accept Your actions over my desires. God bless you!
References: Luke 8:35, 9:51, 10:38-42; John 11:1; Acts 22:3; 1st Corinthians 4:8; Romans 10:17, 12:7; Hebrews 11:1.