Is God dead? is one of the most important questions people have asked themselves since the time of Nietche. And there is a corollary question: “Do you believe in the Devil?” These two questions drive a whole lot of our understanding of life…and certainly our subject for this morning which is our salvation.
Key Verse: Acts 2:13
This year you are invited to engage in the wonder and awe of God’s Surprises and our Surprising God!
In a world that seems to teeter on the edge of unnerving uncertainty if not actual disaster from the sins, mistakes, and oversights of so many people in so many situations, what can possibly save us?
What does it mean to be saved? For some people that question is simple. Basically what you do locate key Bible verses pertaining to salvation and then enter into a contractual relationship with God through belief and engagement with what these verses say.
I think one of the most surprising ways that God works in our lives is when he turns our worst enemies into our best friends. (Some of us have may even ended up marrying our #1 former adversary). Spiritually, the same phenomena seems to take place for some of us… and certainly did in the case of one Saul of Tarsus, persecutor of the church, who later became the Apostle Paul, promoter of the faith.
This morning I want to talk about a tough subject…how do we respond to the people in our life who we have trusted that have not only let us down, but they have actually betrayed us? Apparently this kind of thing has been going on for a long time (Ecclesiastes 5:1-6), but seems to be intensified in our days of self-indulgence and narcissism.
This morning I want to underscore that skeptics are welcome at HarborPointe. If you are skeptical of people, I think you are Jesus-like for he knew for even his closest friends let him down when he needed them most (Matthew 26:31). And if you are skeptical of God, I believe you can identify with Jesus as well, at least at the point where he cried out: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). We also know Jesus welcomed Thomas, a very skeptical disciple indeed, into his intimate circle of friendship…and so we welcome you. We hope you might examine Thomas’ interaction with Jesus because his life might parallel yours to some extent.
This morning I want to talk about a subject that is near and dear to about all of us, “me.” How easy it is to slip into some form of Christian narcissism (Matthew 7:21-23) even though we are called to worship God with “a broken and contrite heart” (Psalm 51:17). The higher we go up the ecclesiastical ladder, the easier it is to become enamored with some form of spiritual self-commendation (2 Corinthians 10:17-18). We want applause from people more than a secret relationship with God (Matthew 6:1-18). Unfortunately, we don’t seem to get this message, even those at the top… like Peter (Matthew 26:33-35) or James and John (Mark 10:35-37).
Today I want to talk about the importance of failure, a topic in which many of us feel like experts. But maybe no less so than Jesus’ foremost disciple. Simon Peter. Originally given the name Simon (which means God Has Heard), Jesus renamed him Peter (Greek for Rock) because he would become such a solid foundation in building the church (Matthew 16:13-19).
Welcome to Friendship Sunday at HarborPointe. The real host of this gathering is Jesus Christ, who welcomes all different types and kinds of people into this thing called the family of God. It is very clear that he is really welcoming to sinners (Matthew 11:19). He was a lot more welcoming than some who have interpreted the prophets (Isaiah 52:11) and the apostles (2 Corinthians 6:17). Some people have made a living out of separating themselves from rather than connecting to the rest of us hoi poloi, but not Jesus (Matthew 28:19).
I think the thing that is remarkable is that Jesus likes as well as loves people who are messed up in various and sundry ways. He wants to hang out with people as bad as you… and some even worse than you. And what kind of person could be worse than a foreign-empire- employed, self-serving, commission-based tax collector? This is exactly the kind of guy Jesus wanted to be a part of his inner leadership team.