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