My Second Sermon – Ambassadors For Christ

Ambassador

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

My first notes on this sermon was that it was even more difficult to work on than the first. I felt spiritually attacked from the moment I started working on it. I won’t go into a lot of details, but I didn’t get this one completed up until I practiced it once the night before preaching this message. I had been asked 3 weeks prior (maybe longer) and was excited to have so much time. But, I couldn’t concentrate to get it done. Each time I started, I had distractions of some type. I finally recognized, when it was near too late, that almost everything started going wrong when I started trying to work in this sermon.

The more I pray, the more I do my best to understand the Bible, the more I try to live my life the way I believe Jesus taught us to live in obedience, the more I feel attacked. It’s irritating and tends to be hard to recognize. But, I prayed, and thankfully, was finally left alone to do the notes and put this all together.

I haven’t even listened to this myself. And, my memory doesn’t serve me well enough to know what I said, or how meaningful even to me it was. I know the study prior to was meaningful as this is something I’ve studied before.

I am incredibly grateful first to Jesus, my Lord and Savior. I am grateful for the leadership team at my Church putting their trust in me to present messages to the congregation. I am grateful for all of my mentors, friends, and family who continually support me as I grow in my faith and allow God to lead me in whatever direction He leads.

I owe a great deal of gratitude especially to my wife, Amber Oliver, for her continued support, even when I’m being a numskull and not being a very good imitator of Christ, or ambassador for Christ. She’s there to encourage me, there to support me, there to help me make the sermon make sense to other people instead of just to me. I love her incredibly. That’s why I gave her a free link to her blog in this post! ;)

This sermon, I didn’t get time to make “fill in the blank” notes or choose an illustrative video. I will try to get notes done while listening to the sermon and following along on my notes sometime soon!

To listen to me talk about being Ambassadors for Christ, click here!

Please feel free to comment below and encourage me or let me know what you think!

Print Friendly

My First Sermon

Today, I had the honor and privilege of sharing my first sermon with the congregation at my Church (Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Glen Rose, Texas). I had went out on faith and told the pastor that I’d like the opportunity to do a sermon for the Church… this being after much prayer asking God if He was sure that was a good idea. :)

Let me back up a little bit and say… 3-4 years ago, I, nor just about anyone I know would have imagined me standing up in front of a bunch of people talking about Jesus. For several reasons. The first being, I don’t really like being in front of people and being serious about anything. Also, I feel inadequate in sharing anything about God because I look over my life and think I have no business sharing God’s Word with anyone. Next up, is I really don’t think I was in a good standing with God. My life was about me. Not about God. I am ashamed at how I lived my life all the while proclaiming to be a believer. I did believe in God, I believed Jesus died for my sins, but I certainly wasn’t trying to be obedient to him. There weren’t many around me who’d have said “James is a follower of Jesus. You can tell by how he lives his life.”

And, lastly, I fear God. We joke around sometimes among some of the guys in our discipleship group about James 3:1 – That teachers will especially be held accountable. If we stand in front of people and tell them something wrong, and lead them down the wrong path, we will be held accountable for that. It scares me. I want to make sure I’m teaching exactly what God wants me to teach.

I don’t know how long it’s been now, but through a series of events, I realized how I was living was NOT even close to the life Jesus called me to live. The life that I believe every follower of Him is called to. A life of obedience. His last words to people before ascending to heaven was to “make disciples and teach them to obey everything I have commanded”. So, I now try to live my life in obedience to him. I am an utter failure most of the time. But, each day, I learn more how to resist temptation and turn to Him for help me.

Sometimes, I hear people talk about the changes in my life that I’ve made in the last couple of years. Well, I want to be clear that I couldn’t change anything or I would have years earlier. Jesus made a change in me and I just committed all of me to Him. I am more richly blessed than I imagined and it is all because of Him. I am just following His lead and doing what I believe He is calling me to do. It has been quite a journey in spiritual growth and learning to follow God and ignore my own hesitations. My life is better because I am following his lead. My relationships with my children are better. My relationship with my wife is better.

I am thankful for many of my friends who have been a source of encouragement in my faith, and my spiritual growth. Many of them have been there for me in the last couple of weeks as I prepared this message today. Looking over my notes for me. Giving me advice on how to improve the message. So, for these friends, I am grateful. Thank you to Joe, Randy, Tommy, Phillip, and several others for our encouragement! You guys are awesome!

I am thankful for the Church leadership where I attend. Those guys not only went out on a limb to let a young, many times sarcastic, and sometimes says things without thinking first, guy present a message to the folks who are under their spiritual charge, but they also took the time to go into a room with me this morning and pray for me. It helped tremendously. I will always remember their spirits in helping me with that part of the preparation. I know many others were praying for me this morning before I stood up there.

As I sit here tonight, absorbing my day, as many of us introverts (INTJ) folks do.. I am so humbled by this experience. I don’t deserve to be able to stand in front of people and talk about Jesus. God has brought me so far from my comfort zone and I am truly thankful for that. It was an answered prayer.. because I was comfortable for too long. If I get too comfortable, I might not be willing to get up and stand for Christ.

With all that, some have asked if I would record my first message. I did. I will put a link below for those that want to listen. I pray that Jesus touches you through something that He put on my heart to say. I truly love whoever is reading this and want to share how much Jesus loves you.  I will put a link to download notes also to help you follow along.

Before listening to me, I’d highly suggest watching the video that I played for the Church before I started. Here’s the video:

Here’s the link to listen to me: My first sermon

Click here to download the notes.

Print Friendly

Protecting Your Faith

Armor_of_God_by_darkninja83

One of the scariest things to me as I look around today, and something that I talk about with fellow believers is how frequently children turn away from God when they’re exposed to views, morals, and beliefs different from their Christian beliefs. Putting a “once saved, always saved” theological debate aside for this discussion, it’s a reality that this is a problem. Children and young adults, and even older adults are turning their back on God in favor of Science, Humanism, Atheism, Agnosticism, Islam, and many other false and destructive religions.

Do you know any kids that grew up in your church, where you watched them pray with the other kids, you saw them reading their Bibles, you witnessed their baptism, you watched them grow in their faith, but they went off to college and changed? You may hear about them changing from their parents. You may hear about it from their friends. You may even get exposed to their anti-God venom on a social website. They’ve become deceived by the same Satan that deceived Eve into believing she could be like God knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:5). They begin to buy into the lies that science has proven there is no God. They start to believe that they can live their life however they please and there is no eternal God to answer to for their sins. They believe that they simply live until death and once they close their eyes, that’s the end or some say that since they lived a “good” life, they’ll get into heaven. They’re going to be in for a rude awakening in that moment because it’s very contradictory to what The Bible says!

New religious viewpoints say that you can be “spiritual” and still get an eternal life in heaven. They say you can just pick and choose what fits your personality and views best because all religions worship the same God and lead a good life and you’ll gain entry into heaven. There’s a range of beliefs out there that are disturbing.  They detest the thought of an Almighty God who’d be so unkind as to say “Obey me, or suffer the consequences” (paraphrased). Why? Because we’ve toned down the scriptures. In my opinion, it’s because we’ve watered down the Scriptures by not telling the whole story. It’s kinda like our mother telling us that not telling the whole truth is still telling a lie. Today, parenting is about letting your children do as they please so that they may express themselves without hindrance. Church is about not offending anyone and getting them to return love to a loving God. They’re not teaching to fear God. They’re not teaching the very real reality.

Not all pastors are watering down Scripture. Some pastors are preaching the Scriptures as they are leaving the “bad” (ie. consequences) things in.  Some of you may want to stop reading here, because I’m about to offend some folks.

Hell is real. Hell is a dark place filled with all the souls who were disobedient toward Gods laws and commands. YOU don’t get to tell God what He can and cannot do. He made you. He made the world we live in and the universe that this world is in. You didn’t create Him. Who do you think you are to tell the Almighty creator of this earth what’s possible or impossible or what he can or cannot do? He nor some man created Hell to scare you into submission like many would like you to believe. God created hell as an eternal time-out for disobedience and defiance of his laws/commandments and He gives YOU the choice to of obedience or disobedience.

Scientist can break down the planet all that they want to, but even they can’t tell anyone how it was done besides a laughable “big bang” into existence. Some “intelligent” folks find that easier to believe there was a big explosion and everything magically appeared than an intelligent designer. All of the explosions I’ve seen are destructive and not creative. Carbon dating? Earth layers? A God that can make our planet and several others rotate around a big star called the sun in perfect timing, with perfect angles, and perfect resistance can’t put something in the earth and make it whatever age he wants? Of course He can. He can create something that carbon dates millions of years old and put it in a 2011 Honda steering wheel if He wants.

Where does the hatred (also known as indifference, pretending He doesn’t exist, etc.) toward God come from? Right from our nature. We’re all about ourselves. We want to selfishly serve ourselves. God doesn’t condemn us to hell. He bridged the great divide between heaven and earth with his son Jesus Christ so that we can be with Him for all eternity. But, he has rules/laws just like we have. Here on earth, if you murder, you go to jail. If you steal, you go to jail. Some of our laws condemn us to life behind bars until death. We don’t seem to have a problem with these laws. But, when God says that you can’t disobey his laws, or you don’t get freedom from pain and suffering, we suddenly start saying that’s not very loving. We don’t want to spend eternity with a God who’d make rules that we have to obey. We’re like little rebellious children. And God loves us forever, but still laid out a plan of Salvation from an eternity away from Him.

We need to protect our own faith and the faith of our children. Fathers and Mothers, it is your responsibility to love your children and put God’s word on their hearts. I don’t have to explain what happens when they leave the cozy protected nest you’ve created for them. The real world is a deceitful place. Here’s what the Bible says:

Ephesians 4:14: “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;

And it’s repeated again here:

2 Peter 3:17: “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness,

Sounds like a warning about the world we live in right? We live in different times than these guys, but we live in the same world. I’ve had conversations with people challenging my faith. Some people really provide some good points that are anti-God. That’s the first and most important sign that they’re trying to trick/deceive/pull me away from the truth. These deceivers come in the form of friends, co-workers, acquaintances, family, teachers, websites, books, and many other places I’m sure. I’m an intelligent human being by many standards. I’ve had my questions, and I have some questions for God, but I’m not going to completely ignore God and pretend He doesn’t exist over a few minor details. I feel God. I talk to God. I have prayers answered.

God didn’t leave us without information to defeat the deceit. Let’s read a little more in Ephesians 4 and 2 Peter 3:

Ephesians 4:15-16but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

2 Peter 3:18 “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

How Can We Grow In Christ?

We’ll continue to talk about this point throughout my blog entries, but for now, let’s talk about protecting what we have already. If you do not know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, I’d like to encourage you to stop everything you’re doing. Stop reading this. Close your eyes for a moment and talk to God. He’s listening. Repent from your sin. Ask Jesus to come into your life and make you new. He will. He can. He doesn’t care what you’ve done, where you’ve been. He can save the worst of mankind because he created you!  Once you’ve accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you’ve got to get to know Him. Build a relationship through prayer and reading the Bible.

Having faith and not protecting it would be like having a huge treasure, but keeping it in the back of a truck where anyone can pluck away at it. God gave us something special to protect our own faith. I believe we can help our children, and our fellow believers using the same protection. God didn’t leave us hanging, it’s talked about just a little further in the book of Ephesians:

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, 15 and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,

Put on the full armor of God and protect yourself in this world. Don’t fear the world, fear the One who can give you life or death. Get out there and spread the Gospel. This cold world needs the message you were given freely.

Print Friendly