Bishop Graves & Gathering Hour Menu Sun, September 17

Gathering Hour.jpg

Join us this Sunday as Bishop David Graves brings the message to both services. In between is The Gathering Hour where we have fellowship and bkfst. This Sunday's menu is biscuits, sausage gravy, and cheesy grits casserole with bacon, and pancakes. Juice and coffee will be available. See you Sunday!

Benevolence Pantry Needs

2138.jpg

This week our Benevolence Pantry is in need of canned meats, small jars of jam, canned fruit, pasta sauce, and small packs of rice. You may bring your donations to the church office during normal business hours, or place them in the baskets at the entrance to each service on Sunday morning. Thank you for your generosity in Jesus name!

Community Dinner & Book Fair Wednesday, September 13

Community-Dinner-Graphic-600x300.jpg

Please join usfor red beans & rice and salad Wed night beginning at 5:30PM in The Crossroads Center.  Please bring a dessert to share if you are able.

Our Study Group leaders will be introducing their books in the café area.

Church Council will begin at 6:30PM.

Youth will meet asusual.

After dinner, nursery up to age 3 will be in the Cry Room in Wesley Hall, Kid’s Street will be held inthe Asbury Room. Kid’s Choir will not meet this evening.

 

Sunday's Sermon: Read It Here

A sermon preached September 3, 2017 based on Revelation 20.

Fighting The Battles We Never Could

unnamed.jpg

One of the most contested passages in Revelation is from chapter 20, verses 1-6. Satan is bound for a thousand years, and during this thousand years Jesus reigns with the saints who sit on thrones and serve as priests of God the Father and of Jesus Christ. This period of a thousand years is called the millennium, and folks like to argue over when it will happen. They argue over whether the 1000 years is literal, or whether it is symbolic. Back in the 1830s, an Irish preacher named John Nelson Darby invented an idea called dispensationalism and said that the millennium will come after something called the rapture. After the rapture, he said, that is when the reign of Jesus will begin. here in the US, somebody even made a study bible with all sorts of complicated notes that argued Darby was right, and 88 years after the Scofield reference bible swept the nation, we got the Left Behind books.

But we know the millennium is really much simpler, because we know the gospel. We know Jesus is Lord.

When will the reign of Christ begin? It began 2000 years ago when Jesus came in the flesh and walked among us, tossing out demons like they were old diapers. Or, as Jesus himself put it in Mark 3 while he was throwing out some demons

How can Satan throw Satan out? No one gets into the house of a strong person and steals anything without first tying up the strong person. Only then can the house be burglarized.

Do you hear that Jesus has already bound Satan, and Jesus is taking his stuff? Jesus walked right into the grave and took back everything that Satan had claimed for himself and Jesus is taking the saints into heaven with him.  

That’s what Christians believe isn’t it, that when we die our souls go to heaven, that’s where we join God in waiting for the resurrection of our bodies and the day when Christ judges the living and the dead.?

I could go on and on, but we’ve got to get to supper. So for now, if anyone ever tries to tell you that Jesus is going to come back before he comes back, if anyone tries to tell you you’ll be raptured away, and then Christ will reign for a thousand years, then there will be a judgment, you tell them uh-unh. Jesus’ reign has already begun. You tell them Jesus is Lord. And the is is “non-negotiable.”

So what will it be like when Jesus comes down from the throne room?
Well, it won’t be much of a fight. After all of judgments and visions of the rest of Revelation, the return of Christ is rather abrupt here in verses 4-6. Satan is let loose to gather the nations as fast as he can. All God’s enemies are geared up to conquer God’s people, and then “Boom” fire comes down from heaven and consumed them. That’s it. That’s all. Over as soon as it is begun. Bada-bing bada boom. Satan is thrown into the fiery lake. Ta-Da! Hope you enjoyed the show.

No more bowls, no more seals, no more sequences. It will be like that time that Jesus walked into Jerusalem, and while everybody was waving palm branches, Jesus just kept going, on to the temple where he drove out all the cheats and the liars. It will be like a thief in the night - you weren’t expecting him but you’ll definitely be at home. It will not be as patient or mysterious as a silent night in Bethlehem, it will be as sudden as the ascension. Jesus decides which round he’ll land the knockout blow against Satan - And when Jesus says its over; it’s over. Jesus is the ultimate avenger, fighting the battles we never could.

And, in the end it turns out that evil can only fight Jesus in the same way a tree fights a wildfire. In fact, we can hardly talk about the presence of God without talking about fire. What began with a baptism by fire and tongues of flame at Pentecost now concludes with a consuming fire from heaven and a fiery lake, for as long as God’s people have talked about God they have said there is something about him as dangerous and beautiful as a fire. Some four hundred years before the Revelation, the prophet Malachi put it this way:

Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can withstand his appearance? He is like the refiner’s fire or the cleaner’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver. He will purify his priests and refine them like gold and silver. They will belong to the Lord, presenting a righteous offering.

The writer of Hebrews puts it even more plainly in verse 12:29 when he says: “our God really is a consuming fire.”

It’s enough to make us think twice about trying to worship God. It’s as dangerous as orbiting the sun. The glory of God consumes everything that does not return glory. The presence of God makes ashes out of anything that means more to us than the presence of God.

Perhaps that is why pride is usually listed first among the 7 deadly sins. Whatever we are proud of is what we think matters most. You don’t have to follow Jesus very long to discover that even if you manage by sheer force of will, to shut the door on envy or sloth, you will find yourself locked in a room with Pride. Pride often starts with being proud of our own goodness.

If you tell yourself, I’m going to be a little less prideful today, what you really mean is “I am going to hide my pride.” Pride is not the sort of sin you can manage, or keep in check. It’s another of the battles that we can’t win. The only true way to be rid of pride is to be awed and humbled by the glory of God. The only way is to say, “not my will but yours is what matters most.”

In fact, that’s one of the greatest summaries I’ve ever heard of the judgment of God. “In the end, there are two kinds of people: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God says, ‘thy will be done.’”

When the day of judgment comes we will all judged based on what we’ve done - our will or God’s. And please take note that we will be judged based on what we’ve done. It’s here in Revelation, it’s in the letters of Paul, and it was in the sermon of Jesus that we heard from Matthew. Jesus calling out and dividing sheep and the goats for every time we did or did not clothe the naked, visit the prisoners, and welcome the xenos (the strangers, the foreigners, the aliens) among us. This is what we mean when we say that Jesus’ weapon is the truth: the book of Hebrews tells us that the word of God is “sharper than any two-edged sword, it will divide soul and spirit, joy and marrow, it exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”

I’ve said it earlier in this series, but if Revelation repeats itself, then so can I. The reason the early martyrs weren’t afraid to die is because they had already stood in the refining fire of God. The more the world took from them, the more they clung to Jesus and said “He is the only hope we need.” In the book of 1 Peter 1: 6-7 the apostle tells us, "You can rejoice because you have hope, even when you pass thru trials. In the end, your faith will be found genuine. (And Your faith is more valuable than gold, which will be destroyed even though it is itself tested by fire.) Your genuine faith will result in praise, glory, and honor for you."

Do you hear that? Peter says you’re in the fire now, but one day you’re gonna shine so bright that gold will look like dust.

But what about the rest of us? Around the world and even in this country there are those who suffer persecution for their witness, but there are few among us today who earnestly expect to be imprisoned or executed for our faith. What fire do we walk through? To be sure, there are some who seem to walk around with a persecution complex - they almost want to start a fight or take offense. Someone wishes them a happy holiday and they decide that means we’re one short step from being put back in the gladiator pits.
But we don’t prove our faith by puffing out our chests and roaring like a lion at a world full of every enemy real and imagined. That’s the battle we can’t win. That’s just pride dressed up in its Sunday best.

Whenever we are blessed enough that the world isn’t trying to kill us, then we take the initiative by dying to ourselves. For a Christian, that is how we fight, and that is how we rule the nations with Christ and all the saints.

Our confession is our refining fire; our repentance is our resistance.

Hear this from Romans 12:
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.”

Isn’t that something? Every so often, somebody tells me I need to preach a little more fire and brimstone. You wanna bring fire and brimstone into the world? You wanna heap burning coals on the heads of the enemies of God? Go and feed them. You want to show the world the awesome and terrible glory of God? Take a cup of water to the one who hates you. Paul goes on from there, he says outdo one another in showing honor, bless the people who harass you, bless and do not curse them. Paul says, love without pretending and do not consider yourself better than anyone else. And don’t pat your back when you decide you’re being the bigger person - that’s just pride all over again.

Do you know what puts the fear of God into Satan? The devil fears a people without pride, a church that knows her own sins better than she knows the world’s, the devil fears a Christian who takes up a cross and dies to himself daily. The devil fears a church that treats the world better than it treats itself; a church that is more concerned about the world than it is about itself because that’s the kind of church that shines with glory.

Once, Jesus told somebody “this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light.” It is possible - it is even normal - that the glory of God can come into the world and people will be afraid. It is possible, it is even normal, for the world to treat even the kindness of God as if it is a threat. Which of course, it is. The light threatens all our idols, all our secrets, all the things we would choose for ourselves. It is possible, even normal, to think things are safer in the dark.

Satan’s greatest fear is that we will walk in the light before the day of judgment comes. If the light becomes too common, somebody might notice… We are not afraid. Someone might think we know some good news.

 

Vision Breakfast Sunday, August 27

FullSizeRender.jpg

On August 27, during the Gathering Hour, everyone is invited to The Crossroads Center for a very special Vision Breakfast catered by Uncle Bill's (in lieu of adult Sunday School). Pastor Michael will be sharing everything he can think of that God has been impressing on his heart that led him to call for this Revelation Revival, and some of the things he’s seen God doing along the way. He’ll be sharing what he thinks are the crucial questions for our church's ministry and worship. He’ll also take any questions you have, and we will be conducting a confidential survey of everyone who attends so that we can get your suggestions for how God is directing the worshiping and discipleship ministries of our church.