Archive | January 2014

Matthew Series: Do You Hear What I Hear?

January 26, 2014

Audio broadcasts of Messages are available here: https://sites.google.com/site/firstwallingford/sermons

  • Matthew Series: The King and His Kingdom
  • “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
  • Matthew 2.13-23

13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
14 SO HE GOT UP, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt,
15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, HE WAS FURIOUS, and he gave orders to KILL ALL THE BOYS IN BETHLEHEM AND ITS VICINITY WHO WERE TWO YEARS OLD AND UNDER, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

18 “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, BECAUSE THEY ARE NO MORE.”

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19 AFTER HEROD DIED, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt
20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”
21 SO HE GOT UP, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.

22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee,
23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.”

LISTEN – Do You Hear What I Hear?

· What Sounds do We Love To Hear?

· What Sounds do We Hate to Hear?

Last week on the way home our overly tired grand-daughter cried and screamed much of the way. That was a sound I didn’t like to hear.

· What Sounds Hurt Us to Hear? What Sounds Haunt us?

  • Soldiers are sometimes haunted by the sounds of war
  • Victims are pained by the sounds of hurtful memories
  • The grieving may ache for the sounds of loved one’s voices

Coming off the Christmas season and our look at the Christmas Narrative we have considered and heard a variety of sounds related to the majesty and wonder of Christ’s birth.

What are some of the sounds you have heard or thought about this Christmas? (List)

We probably have not thought about sounds of Anguish in this process, but that is the sound that immediately follows the Christmas story in the Gospel of Matthew.

17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

18 “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

So…we hear

  • The soft coos of the infant Savior
  • The gentle lullaby of Mary
  • The songs of glory from the heavens
  • The excited chatter of the shepherds
  • The soft sounds of the stable

But we also hear…

  • The angry shout of a lunatic king
  • The tromping of soldier’s feet
  • The smashing down of doors
  • The screams of grief-stricken parents
  • The silence of a murdered child

And the question is whispered: Where is God in the midst of this?

LOOK – Do You See What I See

The Depravity of Humanity

We see this as Herod Does Unspeakable Things Against Innocents

  • His throne is threatened by a Toddler King
  • To Eliminate the threat he tries to eliminate all boys under two years old.

We see this as Humanity Continues to Harm Innocents

Has the way that people view children changed in the past fifty years? How?

  • Abortion—as a means of birth control—is out of control
  • Child abuse and Neglect are the highest they have ever been
  • Violent crimes against children increase exponentially

So…we see

  • A peaceful nativity and precious swaddled infant
  • A star shining in the heavens
  • Angels winging their flight o’er the earth
  • Shepherds with their flocks
  • Wise men with their gifts

But we also see…

  • The crazed look of the mad monarch
  • The swift shine of a soldier sword
  • The broken mothers and fathers weeping on the floor
  • The lifeless little ones lying on the ground

And the question is whispered: Where is God in the midst of this?

LOVE – Do You Know What I Know

· The stories of Scripture and our history are not all peaceful and serene.

· Jesus entered a world that was vicious, sinful, and suffering.

· But, there are some things we can know and believe…because He Came

THERE IS SUFFERING – BUT GOD CAME TO BEAR IT WITH US

  • Christmas is a time of joy and celebration—“The Most Wonderful time of the year!”
  • But Christmas comes, as Jesus did, to a fallen and hurting world.
    • How many suffer through the holidays?
    • How many grieve for the past?
    • How many are lonely, and longing for love they can’t find?
    • How many sing “Joy to the World” but find no joy themselves?

Anguish is still a part of the Human scene…the Christmas scene today.

But…Christmas does come…Jesus does come, and He doesn’t promise to take away our suffering, but instead to be with us through the hurt and heart ache. After all…He is, in fact, Emmanuel, God with us.

Illustration: “Where is God?”

Eli Weisel, a Jewish author, who wrote the book entitled, “Night,” was a slave laborer in a WW2 German concentration camp. He writes about the Holocaust & the things that happened to him during the war.
One evening they returned after a day of slave labor to discover that 3 gallows had been erected in the center of the camp. Three prisoners were going to be executed, & the guards had orders to force all the other prisoners to stand & watch the executions. Two of the victims were men, but to their horror they saw that the third was only a small boy. Nooses were put around their necks, & all 3 were made to stand up on chairs. Then the chairs were kicked out from underneath them.
The 2 men died instantly as the weight of their bodies broke their necks. But the little boy was so light that his neck did not break. And there he hung, gasping for breath, dangling at the end of the rope. And the prisoners were forced to stand there & watch him for more than 30 minutes, until finally he died.
In the terribleness of that time, one of the men behind Weisel cried out, “You say that there is a God? Then where is He? Where is He now?”

THIS IS THE QUESTION THAT ECHOES THROUGH COMMUNITIES WRECKED WITH SORROW AND GRIEF IN THE MIDST OF LOSS.

Weisel said, “I turned back & looked at him & said,

“There He is. He is hanging at the end of a rope.”

EMMANUEL – God with us…even in the agony of life.

Not only is there suffering in the world that God has come to bear with us…

THERE IS UNCERTAINTY, GOD CAME TO LEAD US THROUGH IT

Certainly, there was tremendous sorry and agony as Herod’s soldiers carried out their gruesome orders and executed the baby boys throughout the land.

For Mary, Joseph, and their baby—though they had escaped—there was uncertainty ahead.

· Where would they live

  • When Andie and I left New York to go to West Virginia we weren’t sure where we would live. We had only been there once, and all we could base anything on was an inner sense that we needed to make this change in our lives. It was a time of great uncertainty for our young family.
  • When we answered God’s call and followed His leading to go to Bible college in Florida it was again a time of uncertainty. We only had the first couple of months managed, beyond that it would be totally up to God.

· What would they find when they arrived there?

When I went on mission to Barbados I went with someone who had been there numerous times before. I felt some sense of security knowing that he knew what to expect. Joseph and Mary went alone, with only the word of an angel in a dream to go by.

  • It’s interesting that centuries before God had lead his people out of Egypt in hope and promise. Now, The Hope and Promise of the world was going into Egypt.

· AND THE BIG QUESTION: How do They Raise this Heaven-Sent Son?

· WHAT ABOUT OUR UNCERTAINTIES…

  • Graduation….College
  • Family…Marriage…Kids
  • Job/Employment…Economy…Social Security…Debt…
  • War
  • This pain in my back…spot on my arm…

EMMANUEL – God with us, even in the uncertainty of life.

So, God is with us in times of Agony, and in times of uncertainty.

THERE IS DEATH – BUT GOD CAME TO OVERCOME IT

  • Jesus is Born! We celebrate this new life with Angels, Shepherds, Wise men.
  • But, as if splashed by cold water, we are reminded that death is still part of life.

Consider this…

  • That night many children would die because of one man’s sin.
  • Thirty years later, one would die for all man’s sins.

The child who escaped death that night would one day die so all who would believe in Him could escape death forever.

We Still Face Death –

We have been reminded of that many times as we have seen loved ones go on to their eternal reward. We miss the sound of their voices & the touch of their hands. We miss their company & their friendship. And there is an emptiness & a scar in our life that will probably never heal because death is real.

And God doesn’t come to take it away. It will always be here, just as suffering is here, & uncertainty is here. But here is the message of Christmas, “God takes away the sting of death, because Jesus Christ has conquered & given us victory over it.”

This world is not our home, & the grave is not our goal

EMMANUEL – God with us, promising victory over death.

Conclusion

Even in the midst of the Joy and Celebration of Christmas, there are shadows…suffering…sorrow…that threaten to creep in and crush our joy in its jaws.

We can’t discount or disregard the suffering of the parents of Bethlehem…or Columbine…or Newtown…or wherever…when evil and violence rob them of their children. But…there is hope for them…for us…for all the world.

Jesus is EMMANUEL – GOD WITH US…

in Suffering…

in Uncertainty…

and in Death.

  • To Comfort Us
  • To Bear the Weight With us
  • To Lead us through to Something Better

He offers Himself to them…and to you…as a gift.

He waits for you to respond to His invitation.

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Matthew Series (III) “A Story of Five Kings”

 

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Matthew: The King and His Kingdom

“A Story of Five Kings” – Matthew 2.1-12

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? WE SAW HIS STAR IN THE EAST AND HAVE COME TO WORSHIP HIM.
3 When King Herod heard this HE WAS DISTURBED, AND ALL JERUSALEM WITH HIM. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.
5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.
8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
11 On COMING TO THE HOUSE, they saw the CHILD with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of GOLD and of INCENSE and of MYRRH. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Matthew’s Purpose:

The main purpose is to show the reception given by the world to the new-born Messianic King. Homage from afar, hostility at home; foreshadowing the fortunes of the new faith: reception by the Gentiles, rejection by the Jews”                   (F. F. Bruce).—Word Pictures in the New Testament

THE HISTORY

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod,

Dateline: Jerusalem, approximately 4 BC (This means that Jesus was likely born as early as 6 BC)

Luke helps us nail down the time a little more specifically:

(Luke 2.1-3)

1 Now it came about in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. 2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all were proceeding to register for the census, everyone to his own city.

Who was Herod?

While many Herods are mentioned in the Bible, this was Herod the Great, named king over all four political districts of Palestine by the Roman Senate. IN OTHER WORDS…HE WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE KING BASED ON ROYAL LINEAGE. He ruled from 37 until his death in 4 b.c.

The history of the Herod family is filled with lies, murder, treachery, and adultery. Although Herod the Great was a ruthless, evil man who murdered many in his own family, he also supervised the renovation of the temple, making it much larger and more beautiful, as well as overseeing other building projects. This made him popular with many Jews. After Herod’s death, the districts were divided among three separate rulers. We later read about Herod the Great’s son, Herod Antipas, who killed John the Baptist (Mark 6:26-28) and taunted Jesus (Luke 23:6-12).

                                                      —Life Application Bible Commentary

THE STORY (words and verses)

THREE SEEKING KINGS

Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? WE SAW HIS STAR IN THE EAST AND HAVE COME TO WORSHIP HIM.

Magi – Could have been astronomers, rulers, some type of kings

From the east: Persian Empire, modern-day Iran

“We SAW His star…”

· It appears that the star has become invisible for some reason

o The past tense of “saw his star”

o The fact that they have to ask directions

ONE STIRRED KING

3 When King Herod heard this HE WAS DISTURBED, AND ALL JERUSALEM WITH HIM.

Many would accurately say that Herod was already a disturbed man, but when he was bothered so was all of Jerusalem, because they knew first-hand his vicious tendencies, and his violence when it came to protecting his dynasty.

A KINGDOM TOO BUSY FOR THEIR KING

4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, HE ASKED THEM WHERE THE CHRIST WAS TO BE BORN.
5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'”

7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.
8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

This is one of those passages that we can pull several things from:

1. Herod was slightly familiar with the story of the promised Messiah (Christ)

2. He was not familiar enough to be expectant of His coming (asked them where)

3. He was more threatened by what God was doing then excited (sent them…)

àCan’t this happen to us as well? We become so consumed with daily living that we neglect to pay attention to what God is doing in us and around us. There are jobs to do, bills to pay, families to raise, futures to plan for, and in the midst of all that activity God is inviting us to find Him. Inviting us to return to Him.

Note: A Promise of Centuries Past Fulfilled:

6 “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. 7 I WILL SHAKE ALL NATIONS, and THE DESIRED OF ALL NATIONS WILL COME, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD Almighty. 8 ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty. 9 ‘THE GLORY OF THIS PRESENT HOUSE WILL BE GREATER THAN THE GLORY OF THE FORMER HOUSE,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the LORD Almighty.”

                                                                             Haggai 2:6-9 (NIV)

Is God “Shaking Things Up” to get your attention?

GPS SIGNAL RESTORED

9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.

More evidence that apparently the star had been temporarily hidden from their view, which begs a question. Why? Wouldn’t it have made life much simpler if the star had just remained the guide for the travelers? Jesus and His family could have lived in simple obscurity and never appeared on the radar of a psychopathic king. Why did God…make no mistake, God is in complete control of the heavens…hide the star, forcing the travelers to ask Herod for directions?

A SURPRISE PARTY FOR THE KING

11 On COMING TO THE HOUSE, they saw the CHILD with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of GOLD and of INCENSE and of MYRRH.

GPS: “RECALCULATING”

12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

THE SIGNIFICANCE – What it means for us today:

SEEKING JESUS IN WORSHIP may mean sacrifice (1-2)

  • Leaving home and loved ones.
  • Giving up time–part of the weekend.
  • Traveling a distance.
  • Braving the elements and weather.

SEEKING JESUS IN WORSHIP may trouble some people (3-8)

  • Sometimes children, spouses, and others don’t understand
  • People may laugh because you go to church on Sunday.
  • Some people may get hostile when you mention the Christ child.

SEEKING JESUS IN WORSHIP should bring us joy (9-10)

SEEKING JESUS IN WORSHIP means coming as Wise Men.

  • Bow Before Him in Worship, Adoration, and Reverence.
  • Offer to Him Gifts of Worship, Adoration and Sacrifice.
  • Obey His Voice in Worship, Adoration, and Faithfulness

Sermon Notes: A Strange way to Save the World

Sermon Series: MATTHEW: THE KING AND HIS KINGDOM

“A Strange Way to Save the World” FBCW01122014

Link to Audio Message: https://sites.google.com/site/firstwallingford/home/sermons 

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Matthew 1:18-25
18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
19 Because Joseph her husband was A RIGHTEOUS MAN and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, DO NOT BE AFRAID to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,
BECAUSE HE WILL SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us.”
24 When Joseph woke up, HE DID WHAT THE ANGEL OF THE LORD HAD COMMANDED HIM and took Mary home as his wife.
25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

 

I. THE GODLY PURITY OF MARY & JOSEPH

II. THE ANGELIC ENCOUNTERS OF MARY & JOSEPH

III. THE UNFALTERING FAITH OF MARY & JOSEPH
IV. THE TOTAL SURRENDER OF MARY & JOSEPH
 
Three Steps to Opening Your Heart to Obedience

1. Do Nothing – Let Him Direct You.

2. Do One Thing – What He Commands You

3. Do Everything – As He Leads You.

Go Light Your World, Church!

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I love lighthouses. Over the years I have collected a number of different lighthouse items. More than the lighthouse themselves, I appreciate what they represent. Hope. Hope to the sailor lost at sea. Hope to the lost struggling to find a safe harbor. Hope for the aimless looking for direction.

Hope. Perhaps more than anything, the world we live in needs to know that there is hope. People around us are struggling in seemingly hopeless circumstances. Families are shattered by divorce. Companies are shutting down, leaving people without income. Children are looking for direction and boundaries and finding none. Communities are searching for answers while at the same time turning from God. If only there were some beacon that could guide people to a place of hope.

To the church that has been strategically placed in a community of people seeking light the ancient words of Jesus echo in Scripture:

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 “Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. [Matthew 5:14-16 (NASB77)]

It’s us! Me and you! We are the bearers of the light that the world is longing for. In a world of people struggling in darkness, are we going to place a shade over the light we carry and conceal it, or go to a world in need and reveal it. Jesus told His followers that they were the lifht of the world, and he asked them to let that light shine, but He doesn’t force us. We must see the need and respond. We must decide to be the lighthouse in our community. We must shine the light of hope in Wallingford and allow that beam to spread through the region and the world.

“Trim your feeble lamp my brother

some poor seaman tempest tossed

trying now to make the harbor

in the darkness may be lost.”

-From “Let the Lower Lights be Burning” by Philip P. Bliss

My prayer is that our church will be the lighthouse the community needs to lead them into the grace, mercy, and love of God found in Jesus Christ.

Go Light Your World, Church! 

Pastor Dave

The Gospel of Matthew: The King and His Kingdom

How do you know that someone is a king?  Is it any wonder that Jesus confused the people of His day who were expecting a king and instead were given a baby in a manger?  The Gospel of Matthew is written to people who were living in expectation of the King of Kings to prove that Jesus fulfilled those ancient promises. 
First Baptist Church of Wallingford will be starting a series of Sermons on the book of Matthew this Sunday.  Join us for worship at 11:00.

A New Year…New Opportunities

As we turn the calendar to the new year I begin a new chapter in life and ministry.  I am now the pastor of First Baptist Church in Wallingford, Vermont.  It’s interesting because this church is located just miles from where my wife and I started out almost three decades ago.  Over the course of the years we have traveled and served in a variety of places and ministries, but God has allowed us to return home and minister in an area that is near and dear to our hearts and lives. 

Looking Back

2013 was an interesting year.  There were many challenges and trials over the course of the year.   At the same time we experienced many blessings.  We did a number of things we had never done before and began new traditions for our family.  We were able to spend time with all our grandchildren over the holidays as well.  I’m glad to be turning the page to a new year, but I enjoyed the previous year too.

Looking Ahead

As I write we are experiencing the first winter storm of 2014.  We were blessed with a snow-day off from school at the end of our Christmas break.  (We are hopeful that tomorrow will be a repeat).  We are making plans for the year to come and have several things coming up as we both continue our education, begin the ministry in Wallingford and move forward in the journey we are on with God.

It’s going to be a great year.  Keep us in your prayers.

Blessings,

Dave “Big D” Bentley