The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom of justice and as citizens of the Kingdom we must labor to defend, preserve and protect all who are denied dignity and justice. So this Sunday we will recognize the innate human dignity of every person made in the image of God. In doing so we draw attention to the present assaults on human dignity such as abortion, racism, racial injustice and sadly many others. And we focus on the ways in which God is leading us to respond.
This week we are privileged to welcome Dr. Randy Adams, Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention. Dr. Adams has served our convention since May of 2013. Before that he served for 28 years as a pastor in Texas and Oklahoma. Dr. Adams is continuing our Advent series this Sunday and bringing us a message of hope.
Forgiveness is difficult. Each week we struggle with forgiving others while simultaneously struggling with our need to be forgiven. This is a tension we live in. Each week brings opportunity to ask for forgiveness and extend forgiveness. But we rarely do it. This week we examine Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness and we learn what forgiveness is and is not and how to forgive from the heart.
The purpose of your life is to image God, to be in relationship with him and bring Him glory through enjoying Him. And in the Sermon On The Mount, Jesus is speaking to his disciples and the crowd and introduces two metaphors to create a picture of what our earthly lives are meant for. Jesus says his followers were created to be salt and light. We glorify God by being salt and light in this rotten, dark world. Our lives were made to be a means of preserving and illuminating the world with the light of Christ and bring glory to our Father.
This morning is our annual Missions Sunday. It is a time in which we focus our attention on the mission of the church, to glorify God through making disciples of all nations. This mission comes directly from Jesus. In his earthly ministry, Jesus performed many miracles, healing every disease and illness. Gracious and merciful as that was, that was not his primary ministry. His primary ministry was the proclamation of the gospel of the Kingdom of God and urging sinners to repent and turn to him in faith. Likewise, his disciples are commissioned with the same mission, to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and needy world. And to do that, we must be filled with a sincere Christ-like compassion for the lost. Then we must pray; pray for God to do what only He can do in sending laborers into his harvest to proclaim the gospel and draw sinners to himself by the power of the Holy Spirit.
This morning we are going to examine the reasonableness of faith in the resurrection. There is a plethora of objective, testimonial and historical evidence to the resurrection of Jesus. And if Jesus rose from the dead, then that changes everything about everything. If Jesus said He was going to rise from the dead and then did just that, we have to accept all He said.
In teaching us how to pray, Jesus tells us how to ask for and receive forgiveness of sin. Then He instructs us to prepare for the future by asking that we may be preserved from sin and evil. Temptation is always around us; it is always so close. Temptation is also potentially deadly. All of us should have a humble, realistic view of ourselves. We all have the capacity to sin in ways we never thought we could. Hence, we need to pray for God to preserve us and keep us from temptation and evil that would lead to our faith failing.
This week we continue studying how to pray by looking at Jesus' instruction in the Lord's Prayer. Jesus provides a model for prayer that is God-centered and dignifies our needs by leading us to petition God for them. As His children, we are instructed to petition God for our material and spiritual needs.
During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus graciously teaches teaches us how to pray. He also teaches us how not to pray. Our prayers are not to be ostentatious or mindless repetition, but rather sincere petitions to our Heavenly Father. This week we examine the first half of the Lord's prayer and learn how to pray such that our prayers are radically God-centered.
The means of Jesus' magnificent incarnation are dazzling and purposeful. And they point forward to a life filled with eternal cosmic significance. The Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem would later lay his life down as a substitute for sinners, atoning for sin that was not his own.