Friday, December 11, 2015

'Tis the Season for Axes and Pitchforks - December 13th

Message notes for a sermon based on Luke 3:7-18
“Wait a minute—I thought it was Christmas time.  I thought it was the season of packages and presents, lights and ornaments, mistletoe and holly, carols and cards, candy canes and cookies, stockings and stars.  You know, the season of love, hope, peace and joy...and, of course, Jesus!  I don’t remember anything about axes or pitchforks at Christmas!!!  Does this guy want to start some kind of a revolution?  Has our pastor finally gone crazy?” 
You might be wondering about any and all of the thoughts mentioned above.  I assure you that I’m not crazy but I do want to start a revolution.  John the Baptist “exhorted the people and preached good news to them” and he used axes and pitchforks to do it.  Let me bring you good news of great joy as we see that ‘Tis the Season for Axes and Pitchforks!
Lesson 1: Zephaniah 3:14-17
Lesson 2:  Philippians 4:4-7
Gospel:  Luke 3:7-18

Friday, December 4, 2015

Friday, November 13, 2015

Christ Is Your King - November 15th

Message Notes by Pastor Ewings on a sermon based on Daniel 7:13,14
The theme for the Last Sunday of the Church Year is “Christ the King.” When Scripture calls Christ our King, it declares His ruling activity over the whole world and our hearts. 
To understand this King better, we need to take a little time to explore His kingdom. This text is the final portion of Daniel’s account of his vision of four beasts. Daniel saw this vision “in the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon” (7:1). The four beasts represented the four great political powers that would dominate the world over the next 500 years.
The first beast, “like a lion” with “the wings of an eagle” (7:4), is generally understood to be the Babylonian Empire; this empire was still in power at Daniel’s time. The second beast was like a bear with “three ribs in its mouth between its teeth” (7:5); it stands for the Medo-Persian Empire. The third beast, “that looked like a leopard” with “four wings like those of a bird” on its back (7:6), is taken to be the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great and his successors. The fourth beast, “terrifying and frightening and very powerful” with “large iron teeth,” which “crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left” (7:7), was a picture of the Roman Empire.
As his vision continued, Daniel saw “the Ancient of Days.” This term for God tells us that He has exercised kingly control and authority long before this lineup of beasts came on the scene, and He would continue to be the ruler long after they were gone. The beasts continued to live, Daniel said, although they were stripped of their authority. Then one “like a son of man” entered the scene. Here, we meet Christ the King.
“His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away.” His kingdom stands in sharp contrast to the kingdoms of the four beasts. They roared and snarled and devoured in their time; when one waned, another grew to take its place. All were destined, however, to disappear from the scene, and later observers would find only traces of their past greatness. The kingly activity which Daniel saw in his vision is one that would be in constant existence and never fade or die. The kingdom of Christ will never be destroyed and His kingly activity can never and will never cease.
As we face the many beasts that rise up against us in our lives, we must remember that Christ is our King and He and He alone has the might to conquer these snarling enemies.  So often we seek to exercise dominion, power and authority over matters which are beyond our control.  Christ is your King; Jesus must sit on the throne of your heart and He must reign alone! When He rules, He will show you His power to bring you everlasting peace.

Lesson 1:  Daniel 7:13,14
Lesson 2:  Revelation 1:4b-8
Gospel:  John 18:33-37

Friday, November 6, 2015

When Do I Get My Halo? - November 8th

A Message notes on a sermon by Pastor Ewings based on Daniel 12:1-3
For hundreds of years, artists have used halos to depict a saintly character.  The perfect circle radiating with glowing beams is a symbol of purity and innocence that has stood the test of time.  But, not everyone in a picture gets a halo.  You need to have done something pretty impressive to have that golden ring crowning your head.  Jesus gets one because He’s the Son of God.  Mary gets one because she was the mother of God.  But not even all of the disciples end up with a halo hovering over their heads.  If the hosts of Heaven were handing out halos, would you be a recipient?
While we don’t know if we’ll get a halo in Heaven, you and I know full well that we won’t get a halo on earth…that would be silly.  But, if that’s the case, why do we expect one?  Not literally, of course.  But figuratively, there are many times when we view ourselves as innocent, beaming with an aura of light.  We’d like to think that we already shine with the brightness of the heavens and that our brilliance is like the stars.  There are times when we view ourselves as saints and the rest of the world—even people in our own church—look like they’ll be lucky to make the cut for Heaven, let alone wear a halo if they get there. 
It’s important for us to remember that while we are saints of God, we are not saints triumphant yet.  We still fight daily battles against sin, the devil and his demons and death itself.  Jesus has delivered us eternally but we still struggle daily.  We still play the part of a sinner willingly and certainly are deserving of God’s righteous wrath eternally.  The last thing we deserve, with all of our failures and faults, is a halo. 
We call today Saints Triumphant Sunday and even if we understand that God sees us as saints, it might be harder to see ourselves as triumphant.  Do you feel like you’re triumphing over anything?  So often it seems like we’re crushed down and defeated.  So many are struggling in their family lives, so many are struggling with their physical health, so many are struggling with great and shameful sins.  Does that sound like victory?  Does that sound like people who are triumphant?
The most triumphant part of our day is when we confess our sins to our God and hear Him announce that He has made us saints.  While we live on this earth, we are the saints militant, waging war against our sinful nature.  Yet we find our victory in the same place where all the saints triumphant have found theirs: not in the appearance of holiness hovering over our heads but in the real righteousness that comes from Jesus.  You are a saint today; you will be a saint triumphant in Heaven—with or without a halo.

Lesson 1:  Daniel 12:1-3
Lesson 2:  1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Gospel:  John 5:25-29

Friday, October 30, 2015

You Can’t Turn Back His Clock - November 1st

Messages Notes by Pastor Ewings on a sermon based on Malachi 4:1-3
Daylight savings time is an answer to prayer for all who feel like they’re not ready to face the harsh realities of a new day.  Do you appreciate an extra hour of sleep?  Many Alaskans consider daylight savings time to be irrelevant at best and a nuisance at worst.  Some feel that it isn’t worth the hassle to adjust the clocks twice a year—Alaskans don’t receive that much of a benefit due to the rapid change of the seasons anyway.  Others believe that it’s best for our economy to stay as close as possible to the schedule of the Lower 48.  No matter what your opinion is about daylight savings time, if you hope to keep up with the rest of the world, you’d better spring forward and fall back.
Until fairly recently, though, people throughout the world gave little or no thought to measuring the time of day. People simply made the most of the daylight hours, working from dawn till dusk.  In those days, most people cared little about the exactness of time. In 1790, for example, fewer than 10 percent of Americans had a clock of any kind and most of those clocks had no minute hand.  Today, it seems, you can’t escape a clock’s menacing countenance.  Its face stares at you, ticking the seconds, minutes and hours away, laughing the whole time with its steady, “tick, tock, tick, tock.” You can’t even pull out your cell phone without being badgered by a clock.  While we can’t discount the time ticking away, it seems there is a clock we often ignore: God’s time.  As we consider today especially that the Lord will come to judge the living and the dead, it’s time to consider how we’ve been spending the days of grace our God has given us. 
In today’s Bible reading, the prophet Malachi gives us an announcement from God so that we can adjust our lives accordingly. Malachi’s message is twofold: the same sun will come out but will have differing effects: the arrogant will be burned but the righteous will be healed.  The day Malachi mentioned is no ordinary day, but Judgment Day, when the Lord will return and hold a trial for every person who’s ever lived.  There won’t be time to turn back the clock, to change time zones or file an extension.  When He comes, time’s up!  As surely as the sun rises, the Son is coming.
Malachi brings to light the end of time when the day of eternity dawns and the Son of God bursts brightly upon our world. There will be those who think they are safe from the Son’s rays of glory and holiness because they’re as good as anyone else in the world.  The prophet makes it known that those arrogantly undisturbed about warnings against sinful behavior and sinful pride, will be burned. “Surely, the day is coming!” God warns then and warns now.  The Son has power to burn.
The same Son who has the power to burn also has power to heal.  The wings, or rays, of the sun of righteousness stretch over the world searching to touch the darkness of despair and bring the saving light of Christ’s love to people clouded with guilt.  What sinful pattern of thinking or behaving needs to be burned away from your life?  What heartache do you have that needs to be healed?  Look to the light of your Savior’s promises and get some more sun.  He will brighten your days on this earth and enlighten your way to eternity.

Lesson 1 - Malachi 4:1-3
Lesson 2 - Hebrews 9:24-28
Gospel - John 5:19-24

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Fourth Man in the Fire - October 25th

Message notes by Pastor Ewings on a sermon based on Daniel 3:16-28
What a dramatic story this is! Imagine three Jewish men daring to defy the most powerful ruler of the world, and daring to be different from the thousands of people in Babylon! Although this event took place over 4,000 years ago in far-off Babylon, it teaches us lessons for our lives now.
It’s important for us to learn a little bit more about each of the characters in this account.





The Fourth Man in the Fire:

While Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego faced the fury of the king and the furnace, you and I face fires of a different sort in our lives.  Christians should expect the furnace of persecution if they live their Christian faith openly. The world hates us, and Satan sees to it that the furnace gets stoked up seven times hotter. Of course, the three Jews could have made excuses and gone along with the crowd. Instead, they stood with one another and with the Lord, trusting God to glorify Himself either by their life or by their death. Christian, you can expect persecution, too.
God will never forsake His Own when they go through fiery trials. He may not keep us out of the furnace, but He will go with us and bring us through for His glory. When the king looked into the furnace, he saw four men—he declared that the fourth man in the fire “looked like a son of the gods.”  His words may have expressed more than he understood;  it is possible that this fourth man in the furnace was Jesus Christ. Christ walked with them; He loosed their bonds; He kept them from being harmed; in fact, they did not even smell of the fire when they came out.

These men were better off for having gone through the fire. For one thing, it gave them the opportunity to walk with the Lord and face the flames with Him. Sometimes it takes danger and trial to know how near the Lord is to us. Their experience glorified God before others and gave them the opportunity to display their faith in their day and ours.  As you face the flames and fires of the furnace in your life, know that you are never alone; the Lord is with you everywhere you go

Lesson 1:  Daniel 3:16-28
Lesson 2:  Revelation 14:6,7
Gospel:     Mark 13:5-11

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Learning from the Lepers: Gratitude & Greed - October 18th

Message notes by Pastor Ewings on a sermon based on 2 Kings 5:14-27
There are really only two ways in life that we learn a lesson: our mental faculties either acknowledge and accept what is beneficial or they recognize and reject what is harmful.  We learn to imitate what is good and to avoid what is bad.  As we seek to grow in our faith today, we learn a lesson from a couple of uncanny characters.  The Bible introduces us to Naaman, a heathen from the pagan nation of Aram, who had leprosy.  We also meet up with “the servant of Elisha, the man of God” named Gehazi who contracted leprosy.  Through the lives of these two leprous men, the Lord seeks to teach us a lesson about gratitude and greed. 
A few words about leprosy are in order.  This disease is caused by bacteria which attack peripheral nerves in the skin and in the upper respiratory tract.  It kills the body from the inside out.  If left untreated, leprosy disfigures the skin as it slowly eats away at living flesh.  If left untreated for a long time, leprosy can damage the body so badly that parts begin to fall off—like finger tips and the end of the nose and the tops of the ears and the ends of the toes. 
A few words are in order about Naaman, as well.  This man was the general of the army, but not Israel’s army. Naaman was from Aram, a country about 50 miles north east of Israel. Israel and Aram were not nice neighbors.  They regularly attacked each other and took home captives.  Naaman had acquired a young Israelite girl as a maid for his wife.  They must have been good to the young girl because when Naaman got leprosy, the girl told Naaman’s wife about a prophet in Israel who could cure him.  In the verses which precede our reading, the prophet Elisha had prescribed a strange treatment for the general: just wash in the Jordan river seven times, and you’ll be cleansed.  The arrogant warrior scoffed at such a ridiculous request:  “Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” he cried.  And yet this man, after displaying both physical and spiritual leprosy, did what the prophet had said and was immediately cleansed.  His life was forever changed. 
It is then that another man steps onto the scene: Gehazi.  After hearing of Naaman’s generous offer which Elisha turned down, Gehazi was indignant.  Elisha had no wealth, only God’s Word, and did not want to do anything that would cause Naaman to think that he could buy the blessing of God.  Ah, but Gehazi, a servant of the Church, had other ideas.  He knew how to make greed look good.  While Naaman had been healed of his leprosy, the real leprosy in Gehazi’s heart was just beginning to show itself.  Leprosy of the soul kills just as surely as leprosy fn the body.
Paul writes, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”  This is precisely what happened to Gehazi and what the Lord allows to happen to many who are not content. 
May we as God’s people learn an important lesson from each of these lepers.  God’s grace is completely free; there is nothing we can do to earn it or buy it.  He has made our sins as white as snow!  In thanksgiving, let us live gratefully and generously as we share the free Gospel with many.

Lesson 1:  2 Kings 5:14-27
Lesson 2:  Hebrews 3:1-6
Gospel:  Mark 10:17-27

Friday, October 9, 2015

Build Your Family on God's Foundation - October 11th

Message Notes by Pastor Ewings for a sermon based on Genesis 2:18-24
At the end of Genesis chapter one, God said that His creation was very good – that it was perfect.  The second chapter of Genesis details just how God made the perfect marriage. It was the Lord God who said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Creation was almost done, but there was something missing.  It was not good for man to be alone; that is, God’s creation was not perfect yet.  Marriage is the gift of a loving God to supply what was lacking.
Just as “not good” could be misunderstood as an understatement, when God said, “I will make a helper suitable for him,” don’t think God had in mind for Adam someone marginally acceptable.  What do you get for the perfect man?  The perfect woman.  As a suitable helper, Eve wasn’t identical to Adam; she was his complement.  God designed marriage as a beautiful interdependence between husband and wife.   
Our society, stained with sin, doesn’t always see the beautiful relationship that exists between the sexes.  There is a movement to reject any differences between men and women.  We live in a world that rejects God’s plan for everything in life, but especially when it comes to marriage—the foundation of the family. The Bible teaches that our sexuality, the differences and similarities, our spiritual equality and the different roles are gifts from a loving God.  Not only were these are a blessing to the first husband and wife, but they are a blessing to every Christian spouse today.
In these verses we find the definition of marriage: mutually commitment, freely given and freely received.  A man and a woman will leave their parents and cleave to each other.  God calls a married couple one flesh.  The unity is wonderfully expressed in sexual happiness between a husband and wife, but it doesn’t stop there.  There is a unity of life interests, most importantly that the Christian married couple shared a common eternal inheritance.  There is a caring love—Paul describes it like loving your own body—and he quotes Adam’s proposal poem as proof.  When two people have become one flesh, when there has been a mutual commitment, we can say with Christ, “They are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matt 19:6).  Marriage is God’s idea.  Build your family on His foundation.

Lesson One:  Genesis 2:18-24
Lesson Two:  Hebrews 2:9-11
Gospel:          Mark 10:2-16

Friday, October 2, 2015

Go! - October 4th

Pastor Flunker will be leading our worship so there will be no Messages Notes from Pastor Ewings.  We look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

Lesson 1:  Isaiah 6:1-8
Lesson 2:  Romans 1:8-17
Gospel:     Mark 16:15,16 This will also serve as the sermon text.

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Family Feud in the House of God - September 27th

Message notes by Pastor Ewings on a sermon based on Numbers 12:1-15

There was a family feud going on in Moses’ life, and it was no game show.  Miriam and Aaron, Moses’ sister and brother, are leading the charge against God’s prophet. Moses has already faced one struggle after another.  God’s people have already complained that Moses had brought them out of Egypt into the desert to die.  They have moaned and groaned against their leader, and now Moses’ own family decides to get in on it.  This story is an example of sibling rivalry—but not among children. These are adults who adopt the tactics of children in the school yard. 
The initial attack on Moses concerns his wife.  Miriam instigates the bickering with her reference to Moses’ Cushite wife.  It is possible that Moses’ wife, Zipporah, is the one whom Miriam slanders, exaggerating the claim.  It is also possible that Zipporah has died and Moses recently took a new wife who was a Cushite.  This attack is obviously meant to hurt, and the account paints the term “Cushite” in a contemptible manner, like a racist slur.  But really, this is just the pretext.  Like so many, Miriam presents a smoke screen before she comes out with the real issue.  Her main concern is, “Why is Moses God’s favorite?”  Together with her brother, they try and topple Moses from his position of authority and claim some fame for themselves.  They verbally object to Moses’ leadership, asking “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t He also spoken through us?”
The next verse is quite interesting.  In your NIV Bible, it reads, “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” That is a very likely translation of the verse, but another option is possible. It would seem strange for a humble character to make the aforementioned claim, that of being more humble than anyone else on the entire planet. It could rightly be that Moses fought with the Holy Spirit, saying, “Please don’t make me write that!” and the Lord said, “Moses, My servant, you will write what I have authored; you don’t get a say in the matter.”  That would attest to Moses’ true humility.  It could also be that the word translated “humble” could mean “miserable.”  The word “miserable” could hardly be more fitting in the context of the chapter considering Moses’ plight.  He has found his lot so difficult, the task so unmanageable, the pressure so unbearable that he cried out “The burden is too heavy for me!” in the previous chapter.  With attacks now originating from within his own family, he is indeed miserable.
Some of the most harrowing words in this text come follow Miriam and Aaron’s outcry.  We read, “And the Lord heard this.” What follows is a dramatic appearance of God with pointed words defending His prophet and condemning all who would oppose Him.  He called Miriam and Aaron forward. Then He called them to listen.  And then He spoke.  His words settle the matter; Moses speaks with God’s authority and no one has the right to question the man the Lord has put in place.  The last line of His response is chilling: “Why were you not afraid to speak against My servant?”  To heighten the matter, the Lord speaks of His burning anger against this sin. Worse yet, He left them. The God Who does not abandon or forsake left them.
Wouldn’t you expect Moses to rejoice?  Wouldn’t you expect Moses to say I told you so!”? Yet we see why so few men are as highly regarded in the Bible as the one who spoke with the Lord face to face.  After all the harm she had caused him, he pleaded with the Lord to heal Miriam.
What lesson are we to learn from this? “Don’t speak against your pastor or else!!!” “Leprosy awaits all who make racist remarks!!!” No; let the Lord Himself show us. He takes sin seriously.  He punishes all who transgress His commands and here, His justice was swift, firm and public in the face of a public sin.  At the same time, see the heart of God’s servant who demonstrates love even in the midst of a family feud.

Lesson 1:  Numbers 12:1-15
Lesson 2:  James 3:13-18
Gospel:  Mark 9:30-37

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Which Way Are You Going? - September 20th

Message Notes by Pastor Ewings on a sermon based on Jeremiah 38:1-13

In today’s Gospel, Jesus told His disciples that if they wanted to come after Him, they must take up their crosses and follow Him.  As we read the account of Jeremiah, a man of God who was tossed into a pit and left to die for proclaiming the Word of the Lord, we have to ask: how heavy was his cross?  At the same time, as we look around at our lives, we have to ask ourselves the same question: how heavy is mine?  Have your feet sunk into the mud with the prophet? 
While we might not find ourselves in the bottom of a pit, struggling in the mud and muck to survive, each one of us bears a cross.  The pain and suffering that mark our lives identify us as followers of Christ.  Yet, the devil wants to take us down, down, down to his level. Satan doesn’t just want you to get your feet a little dirty with the filth of sin; he wants you in over your head.  He wants to sink you deep into the mud and the muck of the sin of this world.  He tries to twist your worldview to make good seem evil and what is godless seem pious.  So which way are you going?
When you find yourself in these spiritual depths, there is no other escape than to run to the Lord for rescue.  He washed you from the filth of the world in the pure waters of baptism.  You are His Own dear child! His Son Jesus’ death and sufferings cover over your wrongs. With your sins forgiven and guilt removed, He pulls you out of Satan’s hell and lifts you up with Him.  Jeremiah surely remembered that when he was in that cistern.  Sunk deep into that muddy pit, he was on firmer ground than anyone else in Israel.  He knew that when he was firmly grounded in the Lord, no one could take him down.  The Lord lifts His people up with Him. 
Jeremiah made it out of the cistern but his cross bearing days weren’t over.  What could be worse for a prophet of God than to have to tell your people, give up, God has forsaken you?  Jeremiah had to watch God’s prophecy fulfilled before his very eyes.  Jerusalem was destroyed.  Many of God’s people were cut off all because they refused to take His Word seriously.  Yet it is there when you might expect Jeremiah to have abandoned all hope in God.  But we see a completely different attitude.   Jeremiah sat in its ashes and penned Lamentations – found just a few pages later in your Bible.  Among his sighs, cries and lamentations, we read:
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord  is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;  it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
When there was literally nothing left for Jeremiah, that is when he must fully rely on God.  Is there a better place to be?  He shows us how dear and wonderful life as a cross bearer is.  Jesus sends crosses to you because He wants to hold you close today and for eternity. 

Lesson 1:  Jeremiah 38:1-13
Lesson 2:  1 Peter 4:12-19
The Gospel:  Mark 8:24-35

Friday, September 11, 2015

You Are Dressed for Success - September 13th

Ephesians: United in Christ
Messages notes on a sermon by Pastor Ewings based on Ephesians 6:10-20 
Living in Alaska, you know that you have to be dressed appropriately for the occasion.  In fact, you’ll find many guides encouraging tourists heading to the Great State to be prepared for all four one day.  While the elements can be fierce, biting winds, bitter cold and blistering blizzards are not our worst enemies; no, we are up against a much fiercer foe.  The devil himself along with the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil unleash their arsenal against us.  If we hope to stand firm, we have to be dressed for the occasion.  We need the armor of God to be dressed for success!

The first piece of armor named is the belt of truth, and appropriately so.  If a soldier had every other piece yet lacked a belt, he would be neither fully equipped nor securely armed. The belt was not merely an adornment but an essential part of his equipment to secure the armor in place.  In the same way, truth is essential to the Christian armament, equipping and securing us for our spiritual battle. 

Next, we are told to put on the breastplate of righteousness.  The Roman breastplate was composed of many pieces of iron fastened together by leather straps, giving great protection to the vital organs.  The Christian is to endue himself with righteousness to protect his heart and will against the fatal thrust of his spiritual assailants. Truly, this is nothing other than the righteousness of Christ. 
If the Christian soldier is to stand up against the attack of the demons, he must see to it that his feet are properly protected and equipped. The Roman soldier wore sturdy, supportive sandals with soles were thickly studded with nails. The Christian soldier should see to it that his feet are equipped with the sandals which will give him a firm footing—the good news that speaks peace to a sinful heart.

The next piece of the panoply described is the shield.  This piece of armor was a large and oblong one, four feet tall and two and a half feet wide.  This shield which the Christian soldier takes up is faith, a trusting faith in the Lord Jesus Who gives victory over sin and the hosts of the devil. The fiery darts refer to arrows tipped with tow, pitch, or such material, set on fire before they were discharged.

The fifth piece of armor is the helmet which wrapped thick iron around a soldier’s head.  Cavalrymen would often carry broadswords which they swung at the heads of enemy soldiers to split their skulls or decapitate them. Although the devil and his minions are armed to the hilt, the Christian soldier is equipped with the knowledge that the outcome of the battle is sure: salvation is ours in Jesus. 

The final element of armor is the sword of the Spirit.  A Roman sword was rather short—just 18 inches long—but extremely versatile and deadly in close combat.  So also is the Word of God.  God’s Word serves both for attack and to parry the thrusts of the enemy, jus as Jesus used it when He was tempted. We can find no greater offensive or defensive weapon in our arsenal than the Word of God.
While the devil will willingly help you into any other armor and put many other weapons in your hand, his ultimate and only goal is to slay you eternally.  So put on the armor of God!  With this armor and weaponry in place, we are more than just dressed for success; we are dressed for salvation. 

Lesson 1:  Deuteronomy 4:1,2,6-9
Lesson 2:  Ephesians 6:10-20
The Gospel:  Mark 7:1-8,14,15,21-23

Friday, September 4, 2015

Your Marriage is Perfect - September 6

Ephesians: United in Christ
Messaged notes by Pastor Ewings on a sermon based on Ephesians 5:21-33

When most people get married, they hope for a fairy tale marriage.  A brand new bride likely expects her handsome beau to sweep her off her feet, her knight in shining armor to rescue her from all her dragons and demons and her prince charming to make sure that she lives happily ever after.  A newly wed groom likely believes that the princess in his castle will always be the fairest one of all, that his Cinderella will joyfully and willingly fulfill all of his needs and desires and that the queen of his heart will submit to his rule.  Many people come into marriage with the expectation that the fairy tale romance will be theirs only to find out soon enough that the lofty dreams are nothing more than a fantasy.
How’s your marriage?  Are you and your spouse living the dream?  Do you have the perfect marriage...or have you spent more time dealing with your imperfections and failures?  Have you and your spouse had your fair share of nightmares?  There are so many things that shatter the dreams of all who fantasize of living happily ever after. Premarital pregnancies, troubled marriages, no-fault divorces, overbearing or abusive husbands, domineering wives, and families caught in the crossfire of the war between the sexes—these are just a few of the reasons why this portion of God’s Word is so applicable to life in today’s Christian congregations.
Of all the advice offered by secular counselors, newspaper columnists and talk-show hosts, none compares to the marriage guidance which God gives in his Word. Who can better define the roles of husband and wife than He who created them in the first place?  The Lord Jesus shows the extent of His love to His bride, the Church, as He describes the components of a perfect marriage.  To the husband, He says love; love your wife as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her. To the wife, He says submit; submit to your husband as you submit to the Lord.  These two qualities are what make marriage a little piece of Heaven on earth.  United in Christ, your marriage is perfect—and that’s no fairy tale! 

Lesson One:  Joshua 14:1,2a,14-18
Lesson Two:  Ephesians 5:21-33
Gospel:          John 6:60-69

Friday, August 28, 2015

How's Your Walk? - August 30th

Ephesians: United in Christ
Message notes for a sermon based on Ephesians 5:15-20 by Pastor Ewings

In the first century, the Apostle Paul wrote that the days were evil.  That was before the days of a website for adultery like Ashley Madison, before the time of internet pornography, before ISIS ever existed, before abortion was widely accepted.  Yet, Paul called those days evil and told his congregation that they needed to be careful how they lived.  He saw the foolishness of the drunks and the debaucherous in his day and warned the church in Ephesus against such a simple life. 
If Paul warned the dear Christian flock back them, what would he say now?  Sure, first century Christians were still exposed to brutality and murder, lies and deceit, adultery and perversion.  There’s really nothing new under the sun.  But it seems like sin is so much more accessible in our day, waiting for us at the push of a button or the click of a mouse, just a FaceTime or a Skype chat away; just a heated email or pharisaical post from proving our foolishness to the world.  With so much technology at our fingertips, now more than ever, we need to walk wisely.  Not only that, there is such a great variety—a smorgasbord of sin to choose from—which is available faster than we can think, dream or imagine.
The question that we all need to ask ourselves is how do I walk as a child of the Light in this dark world?  Paul gives us a number of guidelines, instructing us on how we may walk wisely.  Instead of simply encouraging us to abstain from the intoxication of alcohol or the ecstasy of sexual escapades, the Lord invites us to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Since we are Christians and have been enlightened with faith through the Word, we should live as Christians and beware of everything that would hinder our faith or draw us away from Christ.  It is not befitting of Christians, once we have come to know the Word of God and have been baptized as children of the Lord, that we should live however we want, looking for our own pleasure, making our own rules—really, being our own gods.  It is one thing for us to say that we’re Christians, to confess that we believe and to declare that we’ve been baptized; it’s wholly another to live as a child of God as we confess our faith with our actions. As Christians, we walk wisely.

Lesson 1: Proverbs 9:1-6
Lesson 2: Ephesians 5:15-20
Gospel:    John 6:41-51