Archives For Gospel

I Still Choose To Believe

January 29, 2018

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Considering the world that we are living in and the state of America (and the world), there’s a wonder why we should believe.

We question the validity of coming to church on a Sunday morning to worship God and believe in His son, Jesus Christ.

We don’t even take it that far.

We question the existence and character of God.

We begin to put together questions and answers in an attempt to place God on trial: the challenging “if-then” statements of our time:  “If God is real, then [insert antidote]”

The doubts, the questions, the cynicism, the skepticism, the “free thinking” seem reasonable at first glance.

 

 

But, in spite of what the condition our world is in, I still choose to believe!

I choose to believe that Jesus still lives! I choose to believe that He died for me and He died for you too!

I choose to believe because I look at the evidence in my own life both spiritually and even in the physical that proves that Jesus IS who says He is and that God is real and loves you and me.

I must acknowledge that while some amazing and awesome and wonderful things are happening in my life, I do experience trouble and challenges, which is a part of life.

Years of low self-esteem, low confidence, depression and a poor appreciation for my identity was something I struggled with for a long, long time.

It took a lot of prayer, counseling and building of real, healthy relationships with people.

In many cases, God put people in my life to help lift me up and help grow me up…people who actually cared, who listened and who empathized with my situation but also told me the truth about myself and about my situation.

Even when circumstances didn’t change immediately, I felt the sting of discomfort and disorientation and confusion.

But, through Christ, I was able to deal with the status of being up or down, rich or poor and doing things I don’t necessarily want to do but have to do in life:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:13

Also, the Lord already overcame this trouble filled world:

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

I choose to believe and I choose to have faith because I’ve experienced too much of God and Christ in my own life to even think that both are made up. The message of the Gospel hits me at my core and moves me to live for Him.

The evidence of knowing God and Christ will show up not only in your own personal walk but also for others who see you and speak to you!

I’ve been through too many moments in life that have tested my faith to the limit…moments that I’ve fallen so hard I didn’t want to live…moments I felt so confused I almost decided to throw in the towel…moments I felt so lost and alone that I questioned my existence.

Then, God reminds me, He loves me. He reminds me through His son Jesus, who took my place and in turn has freed me from the guilty, penalty and power of sin.

My declaration is not a naive notion. It is real. It is real because my relationship with God and Christ is real.

Today, now more than ever, it is imperative to keep the faith.

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You Were Made For This

August 19, 2016

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On Sunday, August 14th, I preached on the topic “You Were Made For This,” using the text from 1 Peter 2:9:

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light

The 3 points that came to mind in the movement of this text were the following:

You Were Chosen

You Were Set Apart

You Were Called Out

For those who believe in Jesus Christ and have accepted Him into our life and His gift of salvation, we no longer walk in disobedience and sin, but righteousness and life and holiness. This is huge for us because we have a “living hope” in Christ that reminds us that we are “chosen.”

As believers, we are a “royal priesthood,” which means we can go before God through Christ. We also have the opportunity to serve the Lord and serve other people in our lives through our talents and gifts all while being empowered by Christ.

We are a “holy nation,” which means that we are to embody the characteristics of believers in God and Christ. We are to operate as the chosen, holy people of God, set apart to do His will both in our lives individually and in the world.

We do this because He called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light, whereas, we lived in darkness but through the shed blood of Jesus, we have become God’s possessions, whom he called out.

After writing the notes to my sermon, the Lord encouraged me to really think about my own story as it relates to the scripture. I shared with the congregation what it felt like to be outcasted, ignored and left behind.

I was often bullied and teased in the classroom, on the school bus and anywhere else that kids existed. I was also in Special Ed, which often made me the first one to take a test and the last one to walk out. Because I was different from majority of my classmates, I was often teased and picked on for what kids called “talking white” (speaking proper English) and for the way I carried myself. Being a precocious kid made me a target.

During the sermon, it got personal, as I shared my own deep hatred for others in my community, but how Jesus healed (and continues to heal) my wounds of the past and delivered me from that darkness. Also, the Lord forgave me, because after all, His own disregarded Him as well, and I couldn’t claim to love God but hate others.

Everything I went through…everything you are going through right now…you were made for this! The times we are living in…this period that you exist…you were made for this moment!

You were chosen, you were set apart and you were called out for this appointed period of time. That is not a coincidence! It’s an assignment!

And you were made for it!

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For the past few days, I have been watching one of my favorite anime’s, “Case Closed,” which is also known as “Detective Conan.”

“Case Closed” is about a high school student, Jimmy Kudo, whom after being drugged by a crime syndicate and left to die, turned into an 8-year-old boy. Adopting the alias, Conan Edogawa, the famous young detective now has to solve crimes as a little kid while using his close friends’ father, whose a detective, as a cover and a way to find the men who poisoned him.

Humility

A gifted detective, masterful in deductions and all things mystery, Jimmy Kudo lived in the spotlight of popularity. Girls loved him. Men were jealous of him. People were amazed at his work at such a young age.

But, Jimmy Kudo, now known as 8-year-old Conan, was not humble at all. Kudo was so into his own world, his own interest and his own desires and the attention he was getting, he was missing out on the fact that ONE person really cared for him deeply, Rachel Moore, a girl he’s known since childhood. But, his focus was on the thrill of doing what he loved to do and the fame that came with it.

Then…everything changed. He was not careful enough. After being ambushed, he was knocked out and poisoned. He should’ve died, but the poison caused a side effect that turned Jimmy into who we now know as Conan. And to make matters more interesting, he’s forced to stay undercover under his new name at Rachel Moore’s house, where her father, Richard Moore, was a detective whose work was not all that great.

While watching the series, two things I noticed immediately. Both Jimmy Kudo (Conan) and Richard Moore had the same problem: humility. Jimmy lacked humility while he was brilliant in the art of detective work. Richard Moore lacks the intense skill that Jimmy has but genuinely believes he’s the best and is incredibly prideful.

Second, throughout the series, Conan is helping Richard solve every single one of his cases without him really knowing it. Throughout the series, this makes Richard Moore become the famous detective whom many will later know. Conan was the greatest. Now, Richard is the greatest.

Conan was literally humbled into a position that would require him to serve someone else in order for himself to be served. Conan understood that he wasn’t going to get to where he needed to go in life unless he helped Richard Moore go from mediocre to great!

Servant Leadership

I could only imagine the kind of heart and mind change it took for Jimmy Kudo, now Conan, to go from being a great detective who was admired by all to being a little kid.

At first, solving cases was just for personal interest. Now, it was a matter of life and death. It was a mission. There was a purpose behind it.

It was more than just for a rush and admiration. It was now all about determination and getting his real life back. But, he couldn’t become great again…until he became a child again.

What we can take from the series and from the main character is that to be the greatest is to be a servant.

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Being Like A Child

In Matthew 18:1-5, the disciples were discussing who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Much like Jimmy Kudo, the disciples saw the Kingdom of Heaven as a big prize here on earth, not something of higher, eternal value.

Jesus calls a little child to Him and set the child in the midst of them. He explains to them this:

Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.

The New King James Version. (1982). (Mt 18:3–5). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Much like Jesus makes the point of being converted, which here literally means, “to change.” The Message Bible, as I paraphrase it here, says that unless you go to square one and start over like children.

Greatness comes from serving. Humbling yourself as a child is a part of the Kingdom of Heaven living style.