Easter Party Music – HE’S IN ME!!!

The day Jesus arose from the dead was the greatest day in history.

Nothing comes close. Not Christmas, not birthdays, not the birth of a child, not national championships, not even VE Day. Nothing. It is the heart of all Christian preaching in the Bible. It is the axis on which all of history turns. In the resurrection, we see a preview of the end of the story when God will raise all of us to new life and judgment.

On Easter Sunday 2017, we pointed out that the resurrection proves (1) Jesus Christ is LORD and can give the Holy Spirit because he is God; and (2) we are forgiven, and so can receive the Holy Spirit because all our sins have been taken away. So, we can say with confidence, Jesus is not in the tomb, HE’S IN ME!! Jesus lives in me by the power of the Holy Spirit, and his presence in me assures me of God’s love, gives me contentment and God’s peace, and fills me with the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.

But since Easter is a party, maybe these truths are easier to learn through music. So here is some Easter Party Music to help you ponder the Resurrection this year:   

Alive - Hillsong Young & Free

O Happy Day - Tim Hughes

The Anthem - Planetshakers

Because He Lives - The Gaithers

Because He Lives - Matt Maher

Forever (We Sing Hallelujah) - Kari Jobe

Percy and Flossie Barber Memorial Scholarship

We're giving away money to college students!

Well, kind of. It's a scholarship you can apply for.
So don't borrow money for college or books; chase every scholarship you can.

The Percy and Flossie Barber Scholarship

HOW MUCH?
$1000
WHO CAN APPLY?
Priority is given to Oakland Members graduating from High School, who've been accepted to an accredited College or University. For more details download the application below.
HOW DO I APPLY?
Download the full application. Complete it with the necessary recommendations and return it to the Oakland Presbyterian Church Office by April 15, 2018.

DOWNLOAD THE APPLICATION

AN EXTRA SERMON – A Sermon About Singing and God’s Deliverance

Every so often, I try to share extra sermons on relevant topics that I think are helpful and frankly, better sermons than I could preach. Personally I try to listen to multiple sermons during the week to feed my faith. I find them easier than books often. I like to download them as podcasts on my phone so I can listen to them while driving.

In light of the Choir Open House tonight, here is a sermon that talks at length about singing and the Bible. Matt starts with this:

There are over 400 verses in the Bible about singing. There are 50 explicit commands around singing, which, if we just stop for a second, that's a weird command mixed in with all of the other commands 50 times, right? "Don't murder. Oh, and sing." Right? "You shouldn't touch another man's wife. Sing. Don't steal, but sing." Right?

The whole sermon is great, but if you don't have 52 minutes, at least listen to the first 15 or so.

From Bitter to Sweet from The Village Church on Vimeo.

Click HERE to watch or READ "From Bitter to Sweet" by Matt Chandler on the Village Church's Website

Click HERE to listen to the Podcast of "From Bitter to Sweet" by Matt Chandler, and check out other Village Church sermons.

Matt Chandler is the lead teaching pastor at The Village Church in Texas, and a hard-hitting, truth-telling pastor. If you like this sermon, check out his sermons on the Plagues via the Village Church Podcast. 

 

 

CHRISTmas OR christMUST – Advent Devotional Resources

Yesterday, I challenged us as a church to prioritize 4 things in our schedules and celebrations this month - God's Word, God's Church, God's Poor, and God's Kids. These are 4 places that JESUS guaranteed to meet us, speak to us, and change us. Let's try to put these practices on the calendar before the other "musts" this Christmas:

PREPARE YE THE WAY - In God's Word

Jesus promises to meet us in his Bible, so let's commit to engaging Jesus through some Advent Devotional practice. You can obviously use our Weekly Reading Plans to guide your study, but if you want something more, check out these options: 

FREE ONLINE ADVENT DEVOTIONALS:

Two Free Resources from John Piper and DesiringGod

A Daily Women's Devo From SheReadsTruth

DEVOTIONAL IDEAS FOR FAMILIES

There are hundreds of ideas out there for this from Joshua Trees to Following the Wisemen to Truth in the Tinsel. Here are three and here is a great Facebook feed of ideas for Families trying to celebrate with kids. 

Download a Family Advent Calendar from Focus On The Family

Book of Family Advent Devotional Ideas

Read a Chapter a Day from the Jesus Storybook Bible

ADVENT BOOKS:

God is in the Manger by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Hidden Christmas by Timothy Keller

God Came Near by Max Lucado

Weekly Bible Reading Plan – Nov 27 – Dec 4

The center column holds the main text for each day, while the right column includes secondary texts.

Basic Tips:1.) Use a translation you can understand. If new to the Bible, try the NIrV or The Message, which are both available online. 2.) Use a kids Bible with kids. 3.) Keep a pencil and notebook around to write down questions, observations, and conclusions. 4.) Have fun. Use your imagination and your brain.

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Questions to Guide You:

This Christmas we’re thinking about celebrating CHRIST versus accomplishing all the things we MUST do socially or culturally. With all the social obligations demanding our time, we will look at what we actually MUST do this CHRISTmas. This week we’ll “Count the Costs” of celebrating CHRISTmas.

  • Christmas is an expensive time of year. How much does it cost you and your family to celebrate Christmas? What are the financial, social, relational, and cultural costs?
  • What did the Angel tell Mary? What would it cost Mary to accept this invitation? What financial, personal, physical, cultural costs? What does she risk by agreeing to Christmas?
  • How would Mary’s family respond? How would her husband respond? How would it change her living situation and finances?
  • Does the way you welcome Jesus at Christmas cost you any of the same things? Should it?
  • Luke 14 helps us count the costs of being a disciple of Jesus. How did Mary hate her “mother and father” in order to celebrate Jesus? How might radically putting Jesus first offend your mom and dad this Christmas? How might it offend your boss? How might it altar your traditions?
  • After accepting her task, Mary flees to her Aunt Elizabeth’s house. Why might she go there? Do you think she went to celebrate or avoid anyone noticing her growing belly?
  • In her song, Mary focuses on the “humble” and “lowly” and “hungry”. How has her new life as Jesus’ mom thrust these things upon her?
  • Matthew records the same story from Joseph’s view. What did it cost Joseph to celebrate Christmas? How did it affect his traditions, family, job, and even living arrangements? How did putting Jesus Christ first affect his relationships with family and friends?
  • After Jesus is born, in Luke 2, they take Jesus to be circumcised and there a prophet, Simeon, tells Mary several things about Jesus. What does he tell her about the cost of welcoming Jesus and how people will respond to Jesus?
  • Are your holiday plans determined more by family traditions and obligations or by celebrating Jesus? Which events get put on the calendar, and which get filled in around the edges? Which are negotiable and which are granite?
  • What habits, events, celebrations, decorations, worship services, or parties might you put on the calendar right now to welcome Jesus even if it means your mom and dad and boss have to wait?

If you are new to reading the Bible and would benefit from a brief orientation, download this How To Use This Book. If you want dig a deeper into the Bible, download this Guide to Inductive Bible Study.

Weekly Bible Reading Plan – Nov 13-20 – King’s First Act

The center column holds the main text for each day, while the right column includes secondary texts.

Basic Tips:1.) Use a translation you can understand. If new to the Bible, try the NIrV or The Message, which are both available online. 2.) Use a kids Bible with kids. 3.) Keep a pencil and notebook around to write down questions, observations, and conclusions. 4.) Have fun. Use your imagination and your brain.

matt-21-12-22-reading-plan-nov13-20-2016-king-of-the-whole-world-first-act

Questions to Guide You:

In God’s providence we will read about King Jesus’ first act after his triumphant entry. He does not attack Rome rulers, but the Jewish priests. And he reminds every one of his chief purpose.

  • According to Matt 21:12-22, what was Jesus’ first act? Why is he so angry? How does Jesus’ fury marry with your imagination of Jesus?
  • They were changing money into the Jewish currency and selling sacrificial animals for people to use in worship. They were doing so in “The Court of the Gentiles,” which is the outer courtyard of the temple, but is the only place non-Jewish people can worship the Lord. It is as close as the nations can get to God. How does this affect your understanding of Jesus’ anger?
  • Lev 21:18 prohibits the blind and lame from entering the temple, and yet Jesus heals them “at the temple” (vs14), so they can worship. If they could come to Jesus sick and be healed, can you? Who is welcome in Jesus’ presence in the temple?
  • What does Isaiah 56 promise to the nations, the non-Jewish people looking for God? How is this money changing thwarting that promise?
  • Why does God care about the nations? What is his promises to Abraham regarding the nations?
  • Jesus quotes “Den of robbers” from Jer 7. What is God angry about in Jer 7, and how does it match Jesus’ anger?
  • According to Genesis 12 and Ezek 39, what is Israel’s purpose in the world for the nations? How is their faith to affect the nations? How does this culminate in Rev 7? What does it mean for us as a church? What does it mean for how we think about non-believers? Should we withdrawal or engage?
  • Psalm 9 and 99 are both proclamations to the nations. What do the authors want the nations to know? Why is the God of Israel so good, the nations need to know about him?

If you are new to reading the Bible and would benefit from a brief orientation, download this How To Use This Book. If you want dig a deeper into the Bible, download this Guide to Inductive Bible Study.

Weekly Bible Reading Plan – Nov 6-13 – King of Kings

The center column holds the main text for each day, while the right column includes secondary texts.

Basic Tips:1.) Use a translation you can understand. If new to the Bible, try the NIrV or The Message, which are both available online. 2.) Use a kids Bible with kids. 3.) Keep a pencil and notebook around to write down questions, observations, and conclusions. 4.) Have fun. Use your imagination and your brain.

matt-21-1-11-reading-plan-nov6-13-2016-king-of-the-whole-world

Questions to Guide You:

This week is Election week, and in God’s providence we will read about King Jesus entering Jerusalem. We will see that his campaign was not applauded and his platform rejected. We will pray for our government, and we will see God use rulers in the past.

  • Matt 21 is the triumphant entry, or as close as we get to one. It is the equivalent of an Inauguration ball. What seems off about it?
  • Matthew calls Jesus king in verse 5, but the actual rulers of Jerusalem are Roman occupiers. How would it feel to celebrate the 4th of July, while being under German or Japanese control (if we lost WWII)? That’s the situation here for Israel.
  • What does the prophesy in Zechariah 9 promise? What things will happen when the King comes? Matt 21 is a preview of Rev 1. What happens then?
  • 1 Tim 2 instructs us to pray for our leaders often and everywhere. Today during voting and results announcements, pray that God would bless our leaders with wisdom and humility.
  • How can God use godly leaders? How can God use ungodly leaders? If you are disappointed with the results, how can you pray for your enemies and trust God with the results?
  • Ezra 1 tells of an ungodly king, Cyrus, who does a ton of godly things. He is not a Jew and yet God uses him as a shepherd and a benefactor for his people. How does God use this unbelieving ruler? How can God use the person elected yesterday?
  • Daniel 4 shows how the most powerful ruler ever, learned humility. How did it happen? What does Nebuchadnezzar acknowledge in the end?
  • Pray our rulers learn the same lessons in your own words.
  • Psalm 2 talks about a conspiracy of worldly powers against God and God’s king. Does this world/election feel like a conspiracy against God? Transform Psalm 2 into a prayer.
  • Psalm 118 is quoted in Matt 21:9. What stands out in this Psalm? How is the Psalm good news to us?

If you are new to reading the Bible and would benefit from a brief orientation, download this How To Use This Book. If you want dig a deeper into the Bible, download this Guide to Inductive Bible Study.

EXTRA SERMON – How Not to Be Anxious During an Election

Every so often, I try to share extra sermons on relevant topics that I think are helpful and frankly, better sermons than I could preach. Personally I try to listen to multiple sermons during the week to feed my faith. I find them easier than books often.

Here is a sermon in light of the upcoming election. It will not tell you who to vote for or not to vote for. It will not bash a candidate or bemoan the state of politics. Instead it talks about the biggest elections in Biblical history and what they show us about God and Politics.

Click HERE to watch "How Not to Be Anxious During an Election" by John Ortberg

Click HERE to listen to the Podcast of "How Not to Be Anxious During an Election" by John Ortberg

Pastor John Ortberg is the pastor of a large Presbyterian church in California and the author of a ton of books. His podcast is one of my favorites.

 

 

BLOG – Martin Luther King Jr.’s Last Sermon at Ebenezer

While preparing for my sermon on Matthew 20:17-28, I learned that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached his last sermon in his home church Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA on the same text. His title was, "The Drum Major Instinct." It is a fascinating sermon. He goes in a different direction than I did, but with great effect.

In his sermon he addresses the evils of segregation and class warfare. He speaks about war and education. His sermons are still ripe with challenges that must be heard still in 2016. He challenges many of our assumptions and many of the political narratives of the last 50 years, and that is why we must listen to him. Challenges help us figure out what we actually believe far more than unquestioned assumptions. 

And so Jesus gave us a new norm of greatness. If you want to be important—wonderful. If you want to be recognized—wonderful. If you want to be great—wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. (Amen) That's a new definition of greatness.

And this morning, the thing that I like about it: by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, (Everybody) because everybody can serve. (Amen) You don't have to have a college degree to serve. (All right) You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. (Amen) You only need a heart full of grace, (Yes, sir, Amen) a soul generated by love. (Yes) And you can be that servant.

Read "THE DRUM MAJOR INSTINCT"

and see the original transcript here. 

BLOG – Why was yesterday’s sermon part of the Money Matters Sermon Series?

Some of you are naturally drawn to connections and organizing facts together, and you might have wondered why yesterday’s sermon on power, cups, and service was part of a sermon series on money. You’re right to ask the question. I’ll give you two short reasons that didn’t make the sermon. I’ll give two short reasons.

“To give his life as a RANSOM for many.”

The chief reason is that Jesus uses Money to explain his life’s work. Here he does not use traditional sacrificial imagery of scapegoats or sacrificial lambs to explain his saving death. Instead he uses a financial, monetary image to explain why he must die and rise again. "RANSOM" is a Bible word used for the monetary price paid to free a slave, a captive, or to spare a person facing the death penalty. What we see is that Jesus uses everything he has – all his power, riches, and influence – to liberate us from the spiritual extermination camp of sin and the Devil. Like Oskar Schindler, Jesus liberated us at excruciating cost to himself in order to save us from death and the Devil.

Understanding this not only liberates us from the power grab of society, which is really just slaves fighting for position within a concentration camp. Instead it liberates us to serve, to lift, to give. When you understand that Jesus is your RANSOM it will affect your money, because it will change your heart and your money will follow your heart. When I understand that Jesus ransomed me, saved me, liberated me and gives me infinite worth and value and power, I find myself wanting to give everything to make sure everyone hears this news and is liberated from the rat-race for power. I will like Oskar Schindler use all I have to help liberate all those who still live like slaves to sin.

This is why we give to churches and Christian ministries, because I have been bought, and there are thousands, scratch that, millions of men and women still fighting for power and survival because they have not heard and have not believed in the awesome incredible news that our RANSOM has been paid. That’s why I plan my giving to the church even before my grocery bill, because I can live on beans and rice, but man does not live by bread alone.  

“Jesus talked about money more than anything else (including heaven and hell).”

You may have heard someone say that before, and while it is true it is misleading. Jesus did talk about money often, but most of the time, he was not giving direct financial advice. When he did give direct financial advice it was about generosity not economics. But Jesus knows the power money has over our hearts, and so much of the time that he’s talking about money, Jesus is using money as an illustration or parable or explanation for some deeper spiritual or anthropological truth. Last week for example, Jesus told a story about a businessman paying his workers, but he was offering an illustration of grace designed to show us how grace offends our sinful, self-righteous flesh. The story was not (directly) about how employers should pay employees, though there very well is something to be learned about paying “what is right” is connected to paying a living wage.

This week, Jesus uses RANSOM illustration to show us our own value. He’s using money words to talk about spiritual truth. You were bought. My dad used to say to me all the time, “Something is only worth what someone will pay for it,” and Jesus was willing to pay an infinite cost to save you. That is what you are worth, and it cannot be taken away from you by any financial situation, life circumstance, humble occupation, or embarrassing need.

Think of it this way, a $100 bill is worth $100 no matter where if it is stacked with a thousand other $100 bills in a suitcase or if it’s in the gutter covered in mud and muck. No matter if it is the hands of a banker or a beggar, no matter if it is crisp or wrinkled, no matter if it is on Wall Street or in an Indian slum. It is worth the same $100 because it’s guaranteed by the treasury of the United States of America. Believers in Christ are like that. They know their value is not dependent on their circumstances but on the guarantee of the treasury of Christ’s riches.

When you know this, you can stoop lower than the low, because all the dirt and filth and stank in the world can’t rob you of value. You can wash toilets, change diapers, serve soup, live in poverty, endure hatred and persecution, because you believe that you are worth what Christ paid for you. You will do these and crazier acts of service in order for others to hear the good news that because of Jesus’ life and death and resurrection, they too can be children of God.

If you want to learn more, here is an extra sermon for you to read or listen to. It was given by John Piper, a Reformed Baptist preacher.