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Sunday, May 20, 2018

 

At least four of the questions submitted by the congregation touched on this most contentious of topics: Does God choose who will be saved (Calvinism), or do we choose to be saved by Him (Arminianism)?

Both sides agree on these critical points: we are broken, fallen, and need to be saved. But how exactly that happens, and how broadly it is applied, are opinions that are defended with great passion.

In this continuation of the Got Questions series, Pastor Dave gives even-handed coverage to both views. He lists some of the Bible passages used by each side in support of their positions, and then offers his own opinion, which is...

To download the audio of today's sermon, click here.

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Sunday, May 13, 2018

 

Today's "Got Questions" message may be the most difficult topic in the series so far.

To start it off, Pastor Dave shared a question asked by a member of the congregation: "Why does God seem so different in the Old Testament? How can they (the "Gods" of the OT and NT) have the same character?"

A prime example was drawn from Deuteronomy 20:16-17, where God tells the Israelites this:

"In those towns that the Lord your God is giving you as a special possession, destroy every living thing. You must completely destroy the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, just as the Lord your God has commanded you." (Deut. 20:16-17 NLT)

In other words, God was commanding an act of genocide. This sort of thing has fueled the claims of skeptics throughout the centuries that God is a "moral monster." Is there any other way to think about it? Seems pretty cut and dried.

In cases like this it is important to keep the full context in mind: the context of the Scripture being quoted, and the historical context in which the verses were written.

As to the biblical context, the next verse reads: "This will prevent the people of the land from teaching you to imitate their detestable customs in the worship of their gods, which would cause you to sin deeply against the Lord your God." (Deut. 20:18 NLT)

The historical context is confirmed by the prominent secular historians Siculus, Kelitarchus, and Plutarch: The people of that area were in the regular practice of sacrificing their children by fire to the pagan god Molech (a.k.a. Ba'al).

Actually, this practice has been widespread throughout the history of the world: the Aztecs, Incas, and Mayan; the Chinese; the Celts; even some Native American tribes; all practiced human sacrifice, often using children to placate their gods or their kings.

And it was the people of the biblical God who communicated his response: This is an abomination in my sight and it needs to stop. That is what the Bible records, and when understood in their full context, the commands of God take on a larger perspective.

To download the audio of today's sermon, click here.

 

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Sunday, May 06, 2018

 

Today's guest speaker was Pastor Dennis Larkin, returning for a third time to deliver a rousing message about the redemptive work God is doing in all of our lives, at every minute of our lives, whether we see his hand or not.

Pastor Dennis started with a passage from James, leader of the church in Jerusalem, who wrote to Christians who had been scattered around the Roman Empire when persecution broke upon them like a massive wave shortly after Jesus' ascension. They'd been forced to leave everything behind, escaping with only their lives, and bleak prospects for the future.

James wrote: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4 NIV)

If you've ever been in a position to ask the question "Where was God when that happened?", please know this: God will never stop his redemptive work in your life at any time, no matter what you've gone through, or are going through, or will. God sent his own Son to redeem your life, and nothing is too great for him to handle. He is making a beautiful, new creation out of you, and he will use your trials for your benefit and his glory.

To download the audio of today's sermon, click here.

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Sunday, April 29, 2018

 

The series "Got Questions?" continues, with Pastor Dave providing answers for more tough questions. Three main questions are listed below, along with a brief summary of the answers. But lots of other questions were included in the message as well.  

1. Why did God bother to create humans? Was he lonely?

A: The Bible is consistent from cover to cover in its message that creation exists to glorify God, and for no other reason (Is. 43:6-7, 48:11, Jer. 33:9, John 21:18-19, etc.). It is not about us, although we play a very important role (Eph. 1:4, 3:10-11, Psalm 8:3-6, 1 Cor. 6:2-3).

2. How can we know the whole Bible is true?

A: This was covered in great detail in last week's sermon, but Pastor Dave offered two verses for additional perspective (2 Tim. 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:20-21). In short, Scripture was written by men but the content is from God, through the Holy Spirit. It is as true as God himself is.

See also these two sermons: Can We Trust the Bible? (part 1 and part 2).

3. Why do bad things happen to good people? And why do good things happen to bad people?

A: God temporarily allows evil in this world because he has something greater in mind. (See also Matthew 5:44-45.)

To download the audio of today's sermon, click here.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

 

If God is real, then he is who he is, not who we want him to be, or who we think he should be.

In part 3 of the series "Got Questions?", Pastor Dave tackles some of the toughest questions he was asked: Who is God? What is He like? Can you explain the Trinity? Here's a summary of the two main points.

Question 1: Everything has a beginning, so where did God come from?

The Bible never tries to explain the existence of God. God identifies himself as "I AM WHO I AM." He just exists. More accurately, he subsists: he is the self-existent one, the prime mover, the foundation of existence itself.

Question 2: Can you explain the Trinity?

The New Testament describes God as God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit.

But a foundational tenet of Judaism is contained in the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4): "Hear O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one."

This appears to be a contradiction until you dig deeper.

For example, why does God use "our" in Gen. 1:26, and "us" in Gen. 3:22, to refer to himself?

This is partly explained by the fact that Elohim is a plural word, but it always used in a singular sense.

"Hear O Israel:

- the LORD = Yahweh (singular)

- our God = Elohim (plural)

- the LORD = Yahweh (singular)

- is oneechad (compound unity)"

Each member of the Trinity is always fully God, consisting of the same nature and the same essence, indivisible, in complete unity, yet with the characteristics of three individuals. The full concept of the Trinity is beyond complete human understanding. It is an issue of faith.

To download the audio from today's sermon, click here.

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

 

In part 2 of the series "Got Questions?", Pastor Dave addresses an issue that is critical to understanding and accepting the Christian faith: How do we know the Bible is reliable?

What can you say to someone who believes in God, but doesn't necessarily believe the Bible since it was written by men, and therefore doesn't believe that Jesus is the only way?

The first thing to do is find out what exactly they believe -- what they think God is like, and why. Because "having faith" doesn't matter. It's the object of faith that matters.

Faith is not just believing Jesus lived, died, and rose; it's trusting him in our daily lives, following him, and allowing our faith in him to shape who we are.

The second thing to do is ask them, "How would you expect God to communicate?"

It seems reasonable to expect him to want to communicate and be understood, just like we do. And being God, you would expect him to be able to do so clearly, powerfully, truthfully, and in a way that indicates a perspective that is higher than our own.

The Bible matches all of those criteria, and far surpasses any other historical or religious document in terms of faithfulness to the original text.

To download the audio of today's sermon, click here.

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Sunday, April 08, 2018

 

Today Pastor Dave began a new series, "Got Questions?" For the past several weeks members of the congregation have been submitting questions about theology, the Bible, the End Times, and many other topics. There were almost 40 respondents, and their questions generally fell into seven categories that will be covered in the weeks ahead.

Today's category: Heaven and Hell.

The questions for today:

  1. What is heaven like?
  2. What do we do for eternity?
  3. Is paradise between heaven and hell?
  4. What happens after the Rapture?

These are very important topics. To hear the answers Pastor Dave came up with, click here!

 

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Tuesday, April 03, 2018


The curtain in the Temple prevented the worshippers inside the Temple from entering the Holy of Holies, the symbolic location of God's presence on earth. It was a constant reminder that the people were separated from God.

"Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom." (Mark 15:37-38)

And now we know that the ultimate purpose of the curtain was not just to show separation, but to announce restoration!

"By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place." (Hebrews 10:20)

And by his Resurrection we know Jesus has conquered both sin and death.

The Resurrection is grounded in eternity. Therefore...

  • It can transform our past.
  • It can transform our present.
  • It can transform our future.

"He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross." (Col. 2:14)

The torn curtain carries a promise: God tells us that when we are reconnected to him, his power will be at work in our lives to prepare us for heaven - to make us perfect, to make us like Jesus.

Those who follow Christ will follow him into the grave, but will also follow him into new life on the other side of the grave.

To download the audio of today's sermon, click here.

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

 

"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 NLT)

In the story of Joseph we saw how God used the evil plans of other people to accomplish what he wanted to happen.

We saw Joseph's story resolve in the course of his lifetime, but that isn't always how God chooses to work. (Read John 16:33 again.)

There is no guarantee life will be smooth and easy! What we don't read of Joseph is that he also grew old, became ill, and died.

For a modern day example of a man who lived faithfully for God all of his days, we need look no further than the Rev. Billy Graham. It is estimated that he preached the good news about Jesus to roughly 2.2 billion people! And yet he also grew old, became ill, and died about two months ago at age 99.

The greatest blessing is to be released from this broken world. The greatest healing comes when we are released from these broken bodies.

We have to learn to see things through faith, and it usually takes a lifetime.

Right now we see a mixture of blessings and sufferings. But faith becomes strong as we learn to recognize God's hand in all that happens.

To download the audio of today's message, click here.

For a copy of the small group study notes, click here.

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Sunday, March 18, 2018

 

Joseph told his brothers, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good." (Gen. 50:20 NLT)

Joseph, 20 years after having been sold into slavery by his brothers, and having risen to prominence in Egypt, was able in hindsight to see that this was true.

God has a plan, and while it includes us, it is far bigger than any one of us...it is even bigger than all of us.

For those who are willing to trust him, God will turn evil things into good things. (Read Genesis 50:20 again, then Romans 8:28.)

Joseph's brothers did everything they could to stop his dreams from becoming reality. But God's plan cannot be defeated (Job 42:2).

We can trust in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and of Joseph, to be at work in our lives as we look to him, trusting him in times and situations that don't make sense to us.

To download the audio of today's sermon, click here.

For a copy of the small group study notes, click here.

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