Sermons by John Hanneman (Page 2)
Gal 1:6-9 Many people outside the church have a negative perception of organized religion. And many others who have attended church deal with negative experiences. Church is often viewed as an oppressive system of do’s and don’ts where people keep track of your progress. Tragically, people live with a distorted picture of God. In the book of Galatians, the apostle Paul dispels the myth of a rule-keeping God and calls us to life and freedom. As Paul explains the gospel through the lens of Israel’s story, we get a clear picture of God and his love for us. Christ sets us free from the bondage of law, and the Spirit empowers us so that we can become the holy and loving people of God. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But living this out isn’t always easy. This Sunday we are going embark on a journey from law to freedom. Plus, since Paul’s explanation of the gospel centers on Israel’s story and the “seed” of Abraham, we will have two evening forums to allow more in depth discussions: July 16 – Israel and the Church August 6 – Understanding Islam (Both forums will be from 7:00-8:30pm) Our hope is that God would open our minds and hearts to a deeper understanding of the gospel and a renewed relationship with God. Indeed, Jesus has set us #free2live. Bring your friends. This is exciting stuff!
This week Christians all over the world will remember the last days and hours of Jesus’ earthly life. Some will act out the events of the passion on Good Friday. Others will gather at sunrise on Sunday to rejoice in the resurrection. Even non-believers and non-churchgoers will be reminded that it is Easter weekend through the programs on television, signs they see in front of churches, or relatives who invite them to church. Most people know that Easter is not about bunnies and egg hunts. On Friday night, we will gather to read the story and sing the hymns reminding us of Jesus’ suffering and death. And then on Sunday we will gather to rejoice in the resurrection. Both events are crucial to the Christian faith. Death and resurrection are the story of Jesus, and they become our story as well because we have been united with Christ. We surrender our life to be raised to new life. Even though we are in our earthly body we live a resurrected life now. Hallelujah!
1 Pet 4:7-11 How important is the health and unity of a local church congregation? According to the apostle Peter, the health and unity of a church body are vital in withstanding the hostility to the gospel coming from outside the church, and they are essential if the church seeks to influence the world with the message of God’s grace. But this runs so contrary to the individualistic Christianity prevalent in the United States today. This week we focus on Peter’s word for living in the household of God. Peter mentions four key aspects for the local church: prayers, love, hospitality, and service. God calls us to be intentional in building healthy, caring relationships for the sake of Jesus and his kingdom because the end of all things is near.
1 Pet 4:1-6 The journey for believers is not an easy one. We all face a battle against our temptations and areas of weakness. We want to avoid the extremes of plunging ourselves into human passions or isolating ourselves from the very people we want to influence for Christ. What is required? In a word “perseverance,” neither a giving in or a giving up, even if it entails suffering. This week we will look at how Peter encourages us from two perspectives, from the life of Jesus in the past and our eternal destiny in the future.
1 Pet 3:13-22 Living in an environment hostile to the Jesus of the gospels is no picnic, as the Christians in the first century experienced. What would it be like to be called an evildoer and hated for being a follower of Christ? How are we to respond to this kind of suffering? How are we to respond to suffering in general? Peter has a simple word for all of us: if you suffer, suffer for doing good rather than evil and even when you are suffering, continue to do good. Much easier said than done. What can encourage us? The simple answer is Christ and what God accomplished through him. We will explore the depth of this answer on Sunday.
1 Pet 3:1-7 “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Eccl. 4:12 NIV) This verse from Ecclesiastes describing the advantage of being joined with friends and companions rather than remaining alone is often used as a metaphor in marriage ceremonies to describe the union of a man and a woman in Christ. In the world, there is much discord between men and women and husbands and wives. But this is never what God intended. He created male and female so that together they could reveal his glory and grace. The gift of marriage is an aspect of these purposes. Three strands joined together can have incredible influence. Marriage is our topic in the book of 1 Peter this Sunday. But even if you are not married there is much to be gained from these verses that can aid the spread of the gospel in the world.
1 Pet 2:13-17 Leadership has been and continues to be necessary for any country or tribe of people. People around the world live under governing authorities and that government differs from nation to nation. Living in the U.S is different than living somewhere else in the world and living in this century is different than living in the 1st century. How are we as pilgrims on earth to relate to governing authorities? This was a question Peter dealt with in his first epistle and a topic we encounter this Sunday, quite appropriately, on the eve of the inauguration and the beginning of a new administration. For us today the topic of government and laws is very complex especially living in a world where we are so aware of global events. The topic raises for us very difficult questions. We will pray for our new leaders on Sunday and raise some challenging questions to ponder. Hopefully this will lead to some edifying discussion and conversations. Remember, as we talked about last week, people are watching and listening to us as followers of Jesus.
1 Pet 2:11-12 As believers, we are pilgrims on the earth making our way towards the heavenly city. The future is certain and we know where we are headed. But we also have a high calling for the present and that is to live not only in a right relationship with God but also within our society. Even though we are weak and imperfect we have been called out of darkness into the light to bring the light of Christ into the world through the way we live our lives. We return this Sunday to Peter’s first epistle, a study we began last winter. We pick up the series as Peter transitions to the main section of the letter. Peter has two concerns. First, when possible they are to live in accordance with the social order of their society. Second, if they suffer for their faith in Jesus (which was already beginning to happen) they are to follow the pattern of Jesus. This is a great word for today, especially in our culture of power and control. People are watching how we live our lives. To prepare for this Sunday you might want to read the first couple of chapters of 1 Peter.
Luke 1:57-79 “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel.” When John is born and Zechariah suddenly regains his speech, these are the first words out of his mouth. Why does Zechariah bless God? Why should we bless God? Advent is a “speed bump” during the year that allows us the opportunity to remember the blessing of the incarnation and to bless and praise God in return. During these weeks of Advent, we are focusing on the songs of Mary, Zechariah, Simeon, and the angels which we find in the opening chapters of Luke’s gospel. This week we turn to the Benedictus, named for the first word of the song in Latin, “blessed.” Many people do not feel blessed during the Christmas holidays, but Luke’s gospel comes to the rescue. As we gather this Sunday we will look to Zechariah’s song to set our hearts on God and remember the blessings of the Christmas season.
As we saw last week Samson was a man ruled by his passions and desires and this manifested itself primarily in relationships – wife, parents, in-laws, and not so good friends. Samson’s problems with women continued after his wedding. In Judges chapter 16, Samson sees a woman in Gaza and then he loves a woman in the Valley of Sorek named Delilah, who ended up costing him his eyes and eventually his life. Relationships can be a real “killer!” In light of Samson’s weakness we realize that we need incredible wisdom and life-changing truth from God and his word. And so this will be our topic for this Sunday, seeking wisdom for interacting with the many different people in our lives.
Judg 14:1-20 After an amazing birth narrative in Judges 13 one would have expected an equally amazing life. But that is not what we see when we turn to chapter 14. Despite a special calling on his life, Samson sees a Philistine woman and immediately wants her for a wife. We see in Samson a man who is physically strong and Spirit-empowered but one who is ruled by his passions, especially lust and anger. Like Samson all of us can be tempted by our desires to act outside of God’s will. But as recipients of God’s grace through Christ we are called to have control over these desires, to “flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” (2 Tim 2:22 ESV)
Judg 11:1 – 12:15 As the spiritual condition of Israel declines in the book of Judges so goes the character of its judges. This week we will look at the story of Jephthah. Jephthah was an outcast who was disinherited from his family. Even though he is listed in Hebrews 11 as a man of faith his story is one of contention and ambition. His foolish vow costs him his daughter and is one of the saddest stories in all of Scripture. And yet Jephath can teach us valuable lessons about spiritual wisdom and leadership. Since there is way too much material to cover on Sunday morning, I urge you to read Judges 10:6-12:7 to have the story fresh in your minds.