(Extracted from Gerald Kaczor´s message on May 5th, 2019)
This morning I want to talk a little about three occasions that Jesus appeared and was not recognized by the person or persons that were with Him. The three texts are found in Luke 24, John 20, and John 21. In John 20 we read about Mary Madelene’s reaction while talking to the gardener (actually Jesus). Why didn’t Mary recognize Jesus right away? Here we see that Mary was so lost in her own sorrows and heartache that she couldn’t really see that it was Jesus. When we are experiencing trouble and pain and grief and sadness, it’s so hard to see Jesus and His working in our lives. And yet He’s there all along, if we can get our eyes off of our circumstances and look for Jesus in the midst of our storm.
The second story is found in Luke 24. Luke tells us that two of Jesus’ disciples were walking along discussing the events of the previous days when Jesus drew up alongside them, but they didn’t know at first that it was Jesus. So why had they not recognized Him before? The question is, who or what kept them from recognizing Jesus? They were caught up in the news of the day…and we can get so involved in these things that we lose sight of Jesus! But they were also prevented from seeing Jesus because they had lost hope! Look at verse 21: “But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”
“WE HAD HOPED!” These disciples were lost in hopelessness and because of it could not see the end of the tunnel of their hopelessness to see Jesus. In John 21 we see one more encounter with the risen Lord. The disciples are back in Galilee. They had fished all night and had caught nothing. Then Jesus appeared on shore and shouted out to them, but they didn’t recognize Him. Again, I ask, Why didn’t they recognize Jesus? Well, first, there was the distance factor. If we get too distant from Jesus, it can be hard to recognize Him, can’t it? Since they were not successful that night and on into the morning, they were probably not in the best of moods. When we get angry or in a bad mood, we often miss seeing the Lord in our lives.
Now as we have looked at these three stories, do you see a pattern? They didn’t see him because they were DISTRACTED. What can we learn from this? Rather than letting distractions keep you from seeking Jesus, they ought to cause you to retreat to Him, to seek Him out, to get His direction and guidance, and in the process, find His rest and comfort and peace—even joy—in the midst of even the worst of circumstances. God bless you!
References: John 20:11-18; Luke 24:13-35; John 21:4-14; James 4:8.
(Extracted from Gerald Kaczor´s message on April 7th, 2019)
When God says that His ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts and our ways, we can well imagine that His priorities also will not be the same as ours. Is there some way that we can at least start putting our priorities in proper order? One of the first priorities for us is to put God and His Word first in our lives and in the lives of our children and grandchildren. I emphasized the need for children to make their family the most important group in their lives. This is a job for the parents to make happen. Parents need to read to their children at least two Biblical texts. One is in Joshua 24. Joshua gives the people a quick review of their history from Abraham until that day. That history tells of the many times that they forgot God and worshiped the gods of other countries and places and God’s punishment for doing so. The second text is found in Matthew 6:33. “But strive first for the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” This text especially deals with the importance of finances and God’s provision of our needs. It basically teaches the needs to be satisfied with are food, clothing, and a roof over our heads. The rest is extra blessing in different amounts for each family.
After these first two guidelines for family priorities, we move on to our relationships with others around us. Jesus helps us with His counsel in Matthew 22:34-40. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus teaches that in all our decisions, God is first, we are second, and others are third. Christ is saying that if we do not love ourselves, how can we love others? You or we are very important people. The way we should be treated is the way that we should treat others. Does God’s Word give us any advice on priorities dealing with our relationships with equals, the people we work with, the people we worship with, the people we live with? In Mark 9:33:37 Jesus gives us the priority. “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” This important teaching He practiced before He ate his last meal with His disciples, washing their feet. There are many God ordained priorities in the Bible, but I will give you one more before closing. God not only deserves first in our lives, but He deserves our best. Do your best because all that we do should be done for the glory of God. God bless you!
References: Exodus 23:19; Joshua 24:15; Matthew 6:33; Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 9:33:37; Luke 6:27-31; Philippians 3:12-14.
(Extracted from Sérgio Marcus´ message on March 31st, 2019)
At the end of last year Andrea Reily brought a remarkable message about “slowing down”. In this hectic world, at the end of a troubled year as 2018 was, she brought a wonderful, peaceful message, showing the advantages of slowing down and taking time to enjoy family, friends, enjoy life, even food. However, as a medical doctor, and also a labor doctor, sometimes I have to speed up and take immediate action when someone’s life is in danger. And I came to the conclusion that there are at least three situations in life when we have to act fast. The first one is when someone near you begins to feel bad – when someone is about to have a stroke, a heart attack. Quick action after the first symptoms are crucial for a successful recovery of the person. Another situation which requires immediate action is in case of tragedies: in case of fire, flood or dam ruptures. You can’t even think about trying to save documents, or money, or whatever. BUT, the most important and dangerous situation – the worst calamity which can happen to you – much worse than losing your health or even your life, is when you lose the eternal salvation of your soul. The opportunity to save your soul from eternal damnation is while you are here, in this world, alive. And you don’t know when you will die.
In Luke 12 we read that we have to be ready all the time, because the Son of Man will come when least expected. We also read this morning the text which is in Matthew 25: the parable of the ten bridesmaids. Five of them were ready and went into the feast with the bridegroom. The other five, the foolish ones, stood outside because the door had been locked. Zephaniah prophesied: “ That terrible day of the Lord is near – swiftly it comes. We are all sinners. This is terrible! but it’s true. However, there is a way out: “all who have sinned are justified by God’s grace as a gift, through the redemption in Jesus Christ. Rom 3: 24. All we have to do is to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. The thief on the cross beside Jesus had only one opportunity – and he didn’t miss it! Do you hear God calling you to commit your life to Him? Do not delay. “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). There is no time to waste. We don’t know what’s gonna happen tomorrow. After we receive Jesus Christ in our lives - which must be done while we have a chance to do so – we can SLOW DOWN and relax – we can enjoy His presence in our lives, even when we are going through difficult situations in such a hectic world. God bless you!
References: Zephaniah 1:1-14; Matthew 25:1-13; Luke 9:59-62; Luke 12:35-39; Luke 23:43; John 3:16; John 3:36; John 14:6; John 15:11; Romans 3:23-24; Romans 6:23; 1 Corinthians 10:12; 2 Corinthians 6:2.
(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.