Second Sunday after Christmas (C)
January 4, 1998
Take Me Back
Jeremiah 31:7-14
This past spring, the lives of thousands of residents of the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys were turned upside down by floods. On the second day of March reporters said that the town of Falmouth, Kentucky had already broken records for rainfall for the entire month of March. When the flood waters subsided, those whose houses were left in place from the flood had the unenviable job of cleaning the mud, goo, and stench of the flood out of their houses. What a dreadful task that would be!
Jeremiah witnessed a different type of flood. It was not a flood of water that drove the residents of Jerusalem from their homeland. Rather, it was a flood of God’s wrath being poured out upon their sin and rebellion. That flood of wrath would manifest itself in years of Babylonian captivity. It was traumatic for the Jews. As the Psalmist asked, “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” If the temple represents for you the very dwelling place of God and you are a thousand miles from that temple, can you sing the praises of God?
That adds that much more poignancy to the promise of God’s restoration. As flood victims clean the debris out of what is left of their lives, the period of exile served a purifying effect for the people of Israel. God’s judgement was not without reason. It was not merely a capricious venting of Divine anger. Judgment has the purpose of “bringing God’s people around” to the purpose for which they were made.
Jeremiah is able to speak of a time when God’s wrath will be satisfied and He will be able to bring His people home. Jeremiah prophesied, both in word and deed, that the exile of his people would not be permanent. In 31:3 and 4, he reassures the people of God’s love for them and of His covenant faithfulness.
In verses 7-14, there is a liturgical formula, of sorts in which the people are encouraged to praise God and to pray for the salvation and deliverance of their people. As God’s Spirit prompts them to pray for their salvation, He is promising their deliverance.
From all of the corners of the globe, a great multitude will return. It is understandable that a multitude will be coming from the north — that is the direction that one would come if traveling from Babylon back to Jerusalem. A promise of restoration from the ends of the earth, however, speaks of something even greater than the restoration in Jeremiah’s time.
The restoration Jeremiah speaks of here will not be for those who are the “conquering heroes” in the traditional sense of that word. Instead, they are those who cannot do for themselves. It’s amazing how many people think the phrase “God helps those who help themselves” is in the Bible. (It’s not, by the way). A more correct statement would be, “God helps those who cannot help themselves (and know they cannot help themselves.)
The blind and lame will come along a way that has been prepared for them by the Lord Himself. It will be level and there will be ample springs of water. The Good Shepherd is leading the way. Isaiah, and John the Baptist after him, speak of preparing the way for the Lord. Jeremiah speaks of the Lord preparing the way for His people.
Beyond his lament of the dreadful judgment which earned Jeremiah the title, “The Weeping Prophet,” is the promise of restoration. Where once there had been only the sounds of weeping, there will be shouts of joy. There will be new wine and oil; mourning exchanged for gladness. God’s plan is for His people to be satisfied with His bounty, even though they experience times of hardship and chastening.
God’s plan is for the people to sing songs of praise to Him. (Mark A. Johnson).
Baptism of the Lord (C)
Sunday, January 11, 1997
Looking for a Role Model?
Luke 3:15-17,21,22
Does it seem like America is running out of role models today? America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys could well be “America’s Most Wanted Team,” because of the behavioral problems of the past few years. Dennis Rodman and Charles Barkley seemed determined not to present a positive image to young people. And, few television or movie stars offer a positive alternative.
In the midst of all that, we can still discover that Jesus Christ is a great role model for us and our children today. In our passage, Jesus models three important steps of beginning the journey of faith.
I. Jesus Is a Model for Us in His Baptism
The first thing Jesus models for us is obedience in baptism. In our passage, Jesus comes by the river and sees people being baptized. He moves into the water, and in obedience, is baptized with the others.
The question that often comes from this story is “Why did Jesus get baptized?” If baptism is an outward sign of inward repentance, how did that apply to Jesus? The Bible tells us that Jesus was free from sin. Why was he baptized? He was baptized to show His identification with us. He was baptized to serve as a model for us. He was baptized to set a standard for us.
Why do you and I need to be baptized today? The Bible teaches that baptism doesn’t lead to salvation. It’s by trusting in Christ that we find forgiveness for sin. Baptism is an important testimony of the life changing power of Christ. In baptism, we identify with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. In baptism, we follow the example of Jesus, who did not think too highly of himself to submit to being baptized.
II. Jesus Is a Model for Us in His Blessing
As Jesus was praying, the Holy Spirit descended upon him, and a voice from Heaven spoke to him. Notice that while Jesus was praying, a voice from heaven spoke. Jesus models for us the importance of connecting with God in prayer regularly. Throughout Luke, Jesus prays at significant moments in his ministry. Before calling his disciples (6:12), at Caesarea Philippi (9:18), before the transfiguration (9:28), before his arrest and trial (22:40-46), and on the cross (23:34, 46), Jesus prays. Jesus made prayer avital part of his life. He models the importance of continually seeking God’s guidance and direction in prayer.
When I’m at home, I can flip a switch on the wall, and a light comes on. When the room is dark, that doesn’t mean that power is not available to that room. It means no one has flipped the switch and released the power. God’s power is available to me. I have to “flip the switch” through prayer. Jesus models for us the importance of staying in touch with the power source.
III. Jesus Is a Model for Us in Beginning His Ministry
After Jesus was baptized, He began his public ministry. He didn’t wait around for an invitation, he went straight to work doing what God had sent Him to do.
Many of us have taken the step of obedience in baptism. A lot of us pray for God’s guidance. But, Jesus shows us the importance of getting off our knees and getting to work once the direction is given.
Are you still looking for role models? Stop putting your faith and trust in other people. People are always going to let you down. Instead, put your faith and your trust in Jesus, the Christ. He’s the model for us, today and into eternity. (Greg Barr)
Second Sunday of Epiphany (C)
Sunday, January 18, 1998
A Belated Christmas Gift
I Corinthians 12:1-11
Have you had a chance to recover from Christmas yet? With all the shopping and partying, we have very little time to enjoy the holiday, or even to reflect on its meaning. This morning, a few weeks removed from the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I want to talk with you about what God wants to give you at Christmas and all year long. This morning, we’re going to look at Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth, and see what he has to say to us about spiritual gifts.
I. Every Christian Is Given a Spiritual Gift (V. 7)
The first thing we can notice is that every Christian has been given at least one spiritual gift. Spiritual gifts are not something that we can buy or earn, they are given to us by God. They are part of how God has “wired us.” That also means that we do not own them. We are stewards of the gifts that God has given to us, and one day may be held responsible for what we’ve done with what God has given us.
Sometimes, our gifts aren’t easily recognized. It may require Bible study, prayer, worship, and counsel with other believers to begin pinpointing some areas of giftedness. Some gifts may not be readily apparent until a situation arises where they are called into play. Our spiritual gifts may not be easy to discover, but we all, as Christians, have at least one.
II. There Are Many Different Gifts
The second thing we can discover as we read this passage is that there are many different types of spiritual gifts. Among them, Paul lists things like wisdom, knowledge, faith, prophecy, and so on. God has wired all of us differently so we can work together.
Some people struggle with diversity of gifts in the body of Christ. But unity does not mean uniformity. The Chicago Bulls are probably the most dominant sports team of this decade. Yet, not everyone on the team is Michael Jordan. He has a “supporting cast” around him who help the Bulls win as a team. Without Dennis Rodman’s rebounding, and Scotty Pippen’s unselfishness, the Bulls wouldn’t be nearly as successful as they are. They win, because every player fulfills his role.
If you go hear an orchestra play, you’ll notice that there are many different instruments with a variety of sounds, but when they play in harmony with each other, the music is beautiful.
God’s people have been given a variety of gifts. We must learn to use them in harmony with one another.
III. Spiritual Gifts Are Given to Build up the Body of Christ
The third thing to see in this passage is that spiritual gifts are given to build up the body of Christ. They are given to individuals for the profit of all. Spiritual gifts are designed to bring glory to God, not to spotlight individuals. We have to be careful not to be too proud.
On the other hand, we need to be thankful for the gifts God has given to us, and use them the best we can. Too many times, we despise the gifts we have been given and covet the gifts of others. The church at Corinth was much the same. The gift of tongues was considered to be a prized possession and a badge of true faith. Paul wanted this church to see that all gifts are important, and that they are all intended to move the church forward. While we may rank gifts in order of importance, all of them are worthwhile in God’s eyes. (Greg Barr)
Third Sunday of Epiphany (C)
January 25, 1998
A Bold Claim
Luke 4:14-21
A story is told about Muhammad Ali — a man who has never been known for his humility. During a flight to one of his engagements the aircraft ran into some bad weather. The pilot spoke over the loudspeaker and warned about some “moderate turbulence.” Most people who fly are well-familiar with the fact that when the pilot mentions “moderate turbulence” instead of “light turbulence” that’s airline language for “If you believe in prayer, now’s your time to put it into practice.” The passengers were instructed to fasten their seat belts, and everyone complied but Muhammad Ali.
The stewardess noticed this and asked Mr. Ali to comply with the pilot’s order. Ali’s response to her was to say, “Superman don’t need no seat belt.” The stewardess did not miss a beat and said, “Superman don’t need no airplane either.”
Muhammad Ali made an audacious claim and came across as extremely arrogant. Jesus made an audacious claim but was merely asserting His true identity.
It was time for Jesus to “go home”. After His baptism and temptation experiences, He goes to Nazareth. Mary must have been so proud as her Son stood up to preach in the synagogue. A neighbor who watched him grow up may have said, “He was always such a nice and serious minded young man. I’m not surprised He’s in the ministry.” They were probably even taken with His charisma and inner authority as He read from the prophet Isaiah.
Jesus read about the Spirit of the Lord being on Him. Because of that, He would be able to preach good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, and the recovery of sight for the blind. After Jesus’ baptism, He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He was tempted by the devil. Now He had been ministering in Galilee in the power of the Spirit.
It’s a great day as He makes His ministerial debut in Nazareth. He reads from the prophet Isaiah and says, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
In Jesus Christ, all of the things prophesied by Isaiah will come to pass. There is a radical paradigm shift in these words of Jesus. No longer would it be said, “When the Messiah comes, there will be no more suffering.” Now it is said, “Where there is suffering, there is the Messiah.” Jesus indicated that the messianic ministry which was being played out in him would not fulfill normal expectations. It would not be political. It would not be one of vengeance upon Israel’s enemies. Instead, God’s Spirit would be upon Him to preach good news to the poor. Jesus was not merely a miracle man, He came to preach the Good News.
We like to spiritualize that and to say that Jesus is referring to people who are spiritually poor and indeed He is. But, difficult as it is for us to hear in all of our affluence, it is those who are lacking in this world’s goods who tend to be the most open to hearing the message of Jesus.
Jesus would proclaim freedom for the prisoners. There is a flowering of prison ministries in our day, particularly since Chuck Colson founded Prison Fellowship. Many in prison who have come to Jesus Christ testify, “I know a freedom I never thought possible, even though I am in prison.”
Jesus’ messiahship also entailed advocating for justice and proclaiming release for those who had been oppressed.
Jesus said that the words of Isaiah were fulfilled in the hearing of His listeners in Nazareth. Whoever said that must be a liar, or He must be crazy, or … He must be who He claimed to be. (Mark A. Johnson)
Fourth Sunday of Epiphany (C)
Sunday, February 1, 1998
A Prophet’s Call and Mine
Jeremiah 1:4-10
At first glance this text may be thought to have the exclusive purpose of providing background information on the prophet, Jeremiah. In actuality this text tells us more about God than it does about Jeremiah. God calls His prophets and believers (as prophetic people) to proclaim His Word to their generation.
I. God’s Word and His Messengers (vv. 4-5)
The primary element in God calling forth His prophetic people is locked in verse four. Jeremiah recounts that the Word of the Lord came to him. Without the Lord speaking and sending His Word, there is nothing worth proclaiming. Human creations are but chaff without the creative Word of God which is life. The heart of God’s activity is His self revelation in sending His Word. His Word is in great contrast to the broken world of fallen humanity. His Word is hope, life, presence, power, it is miraculous.
God’s Word is not sent to angelic messengers but it is entrusted to human beings. He is very specific in regard to who will proclaim His Word. He maintains absolute sovereignty over His Word and the choice of His messengers.
There is no hint of fate or chance. He makes no sloppy mistakes. He carefully chooses His messengers before He gives them human form in the womb of their mother. He sets them apart for their task before their birth. He is the authority who appoints them to nations which may reject them.
II. Human Response (v. 6)
Just as Jeremiah is awestruck and overwhelmed by such a call on his life, so too is the thoughtful believer. We recognize our limitations and our inadequacy for the task. Our words are trivial, almost meaningless to the Word of the Almighty. Nothing in our upbringing or experience in life prepares us to speak God’s Word for Him. Standing next to this incredible task, we feel like children.
Jeremiah’s perspective (and ours too!) is flawed in that it focuses solely upon the human side of the equation. The audacity of frail human believers declaring the incomparable Word of the Sovereign God is obvious. We do not have the qualifications, even worse, we have no hope of gaining them. It is the enablement of God Himself that gives us hope to accomplish what He asks of us.
III. The Ultimate Response of God (vv. 7-10)
The Lord makes four responses to our cry of inability. First, He negates our faithless statements. Since His vantage point is different than ours, He can solve the equation by including His character, His nature and His power. From that perspective, all things are possible.
Second, the Lord clarifies the essential nature of our obedience to His call to proclaim His Word. We “must” go to “everyone” to whom He sends us. This is His mandate. Just as He sovereignly chooses us, He chooses His recipients. The task is clear, we are to proclaim His Word to those to whom He sends us.
Third, the undertaking of proclamation is accomplished with the assistance of His presence. Fear on our part is unreasonable because the Almighty who speaks and chooses us also dwells with us. He is present to rescue us.
Finally, the Lord does what our past experience could not do. He qualifies us for the prophetic ministry. By touching our mouths He puts His Word in us. What does the Word say? Perhaps, we should more correctly ask, “What does His Word do?” It is active in demolishing and uprooting the enemy of God’s people. Then His Word builds and plants newness of life where once stood only rubble. The prophetic Word is a “restoring” Word. No greater privilege could be given to us than to participate by receiving His call to speak. (Joseph Byrd)
Fifth Sunday of Epiphany (C)
Sunday, February 8, 1998
Trust and Obey
Luke 5:1-11
This gospel story is about a radical life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ. It demonstrates the call from the world into the Kingdom of God. Following such a call demands we leave behind old values, objectives, and methods to pick up new ones. It is a call from the humanly mundane to the divinely miraculous.
I. The Kingdom of Jesus Christ (vv. 1-3)
The opening of this story could easily be by-passed as simply the “set-up” for one of Jesus’ miracle stories. Looking deeper at the description of the events reveals certain fundamentals of the ministry of Christ.
First, we note Jesus’ activity of proclaiming the Word of God. Any signs or wondersperformed were to confirm His proclamation. In reality, the authority of His teaching was in His identity, but that identity had to be revealed to His followers. Nonetheless, the people gathered to hear this teacher because there was a qualitative difference in His message. They were drawn to His words because they were life-giving water to parched souls. Proclaiming such a Word was central to the ministry of Jesus. It also is central to those in ministry of His Kingdom.
Second, we note in these opening sentences, that Jesus was aware of the environment around Him. He saw the boats and the tired idle fishermen mending their nets. He perceived they could render a service to His cause. He took advantage of the opportunity and used the means around Him to accomplish His central goal of proclaiming God’s Word. He asks Simon Peter to assist Him by taking Him out a bit in the boat. From here Jesus addressed the crowd more effectively.
Our ministry in the church must remain committed to the central goal of proclaiming God’s Word without compromise to our generation. We must also analyze our environment and use those appropriate means to make us effective in accomplishing our central goal. Our means must not become our end, nor does our end justify just any means.
II. the Challenge of Jesus Christ (vv. 4-5)
When Jesus finished teaching, He directed a challenge to Simon Peter. The challenge is to step out beyond all that his experience had taught him. To take the boat out into deep waters to fish made no sense to Peter’s natural thinking. This challenge stretched him beyond what he could see or understand. Would he trust the word of Jesus over and above that which he considered reality?
Accepting Christ’s’ challenge and move in “trust” was accentuated in that Peter reported they had worked hard all night but for all their efforts, they were fruitless. Nevertheless, Peter accepts the challenge on the sole basis of the word of Jesus. By making this initial step of faith Peter would graduate to a greater challenge, Kingdom-style fishing. Faith is required for that kind of fishing.
III. The Call of Jesus Christ (vv. 6-11)
Trusting in faith upon the words of Jesus they step out, drop nets, and begin to pull in the catch. Here a miraculous sign is given to confirm Christ’s Word. So many fish requires the other boat and even then they nearly sink with such a catch.
Peter recognizes this Christ who calls nature to order and it obeys! Peter also recognizes his sinfulness. Such is always the case when we see the glory of God. In fear, Peter realizes this is not his usual context and he cannot measure up to this spiritual power.
Jesus responds to this fear, this attitude of ineptness with another challenge of faith. Fearfulness need not hinder acceptance of His challenge to do “Kingdom fishing.” It is simply a matter of faith. Moving beyond all that they knew in life to that point, they stepped in faith to follow Christ. Leaving behind their old agenda and their oldstrategies they walked into the unknown. Fishing with Jesus meant discerning and seeking a new central objective and new strategies to reach it. However, Peter makes that first step, it is our first step too. We must trust Christ and follow His pattern. (Joseph Byrd).
Epiphany 6 (C)
Sunday, February 15, 1998
No More Pie in the Sky
Luke 6:17-26
Whenever a friend or co-worker approaches you with a real dilemma, do you have a tendency mindlessly to quote Romans 8:28? Before you know it, you find yourself saying something like, “Don’t worry, just trust in Jesus and it will all be okay in the end.”
While it’s never wrong to quote scripture in the midst of difficult situations, Christians sometimes display a “pie in the sky” attitude to people who struggle with the legitimate concerns of the here and now. Rather than receiving encouragement, people walk away more frustrated than before and wonder if anybody understands.
Perhaps Christians should revisit the way Jesus handled these situations. In Luke 6:17-26 Jesus not only validates those confronting life concerns, He offers hope and encouragement by radically transforming the way Christians should view life.
I. Show me the money! (vv. 20, 24)
In Jerry Maguire, Tom Cruise plays a sports agent who yells, “Show me the money!” in order to keep one of his clients. Many Americans have the same attitude by demanding financial success as if it were a right, only to feel cheated when wealth never materializes.
Jesus reminds his followers that they are already rich because they have the kingdom of God. Unfortunately, people tend to associate riches with money. But real wealth constitutes the unsurpassable resources of our Heavenly Father. This means forgetting about the grass on the other side of the fence and realizing that your Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills. You may not ever own a Ferrarri, but God will supply all that you need to accomplish His will. Trust in God and start spending the tremendous wealth lying at your feet in service to Him. You will be astounded by the dividends.
II. Food for Thought (vv. 21a, 25a)
Most people in the pews don’t suffer from a lack of food. Okay, the truth is many of us are painstakingly trying to lose weight. Does Jesus’ condemnation of those who are “well fed” mean that He will punish all overweight Christians when they get to heaven? Of course not. It does reveal God’s burden for those who struggle to meet this daily need and His reproach upon all who neglect the church’s mandate to war against hunger.
God desires for His people to be totally dependent upon Him for their everyday needs; even for daily bread (cf. Matt. 6:11). When we forget to ask God for these items or thank God for His provision, we are in danger of flaunting an attitude self-sufficiency. Instead, the next time you sitdown to eat a meal think about your food, think about your thankfulness, and think about how God can use you to alleviate the hunger of others.
III. The Secret to Happiness (vv. 21b, 25b)
The promise of laughter in the midst of difficult circumstances may seem like an unwarranted platitude. But when the promise comes from the Master, believers know his word will come true. This encourages us in two ways. First, we are comforted knowing that our condition is only temporary and that heaven will provide joy and laughter for an eternity. Second, Christians are assured that God recognizes our plight and is actively working to bring forth good from what seems bad.
Life on earth is full of hardships and disappointments. Acknowledging God’s sovereignty throughout the course of these events delivers us from anxieties about the ultimate outcome. Rest in the knowledge that God will never leave you nor forsake you (Deut. 31:6), and He will defeat the doubts that prevent true happiness.
IV. The Applause of Heaven (vv. 22, 23, 26)
For some Christians, there is nothing worse than being stereotyped or labeled because of their convictions. So they leave their faith at the front door of their office building, golf shop or school yard. By doing this, they believe they can avoid the criticism and scrutiny of their peers.
I remember the story of a young man who had recently become a Christian. As summer approached, his pastor asked what his plans were. The young man said that he would be gone all summer working on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. In an effort to prepare the young man for the opposition he would face by the other workers, the pastor warned, “Be on your guard. As soon as they find out you’re a Christian, they will constantly harass you and pick on you.” In a few months when the young man returned, the pastor asked him how it went. “Oh, everything was fine,” the young man replied, “they never figured out I was a Christian!”
Do your friends, co-workers or classmates know you’re a Christian? Or do you hide it from them in order to protect your status and avoid rejection. Jesus plainly states that people will hate you and reject you for your faith. Those Christians who hide their light seek the approval of man. Those who let it shine will receive the applause of heaven.
The next time someone approaches you about a legitimate need, don’t just offer a cliche. Instead, listen attentively. Validate their concerns by explaining that Jesus understands their plight. Let them know that He will work through the situation. (Craig Christina)
Epiphany Last Transfiguration (C)
Sunday, February 22, 1998
Coming Down the Mountain
Luke 9:28-36
When was the last time you had a mountain top experience? For Christians, the best high life has to offer is a spiritual high. Maybe it happens at youth camp, during a church revival, or when God has answered a prayer. But anyone will tell you that a spiritual mountain top experience is one of God’s greatest blessings.
Unfortunately, along with the mountain top comes the valley. Life is not just one high after another, it is full of challenging obstacles that must be overcome. So the key is to use the highs in order to be equipped to handle whatever lies ahead.
Jesus knew this truth better than anyone. Because He was God in the flesh, He could foresee what was coming around the bend and he knew that He had to be prepared to fulfill God’s will and mission for his life. In fact, this pericope is book-ended by Jesus’ admonition that the suffering of the cross awaited just beyond the horizon (cf. Luke 9:21-22; 44-45). By following His example, we may also learn to use the mountain to overcome the valley.
I. Take Time to Pray
Jesus always took time to pray. He prayed to overcome temptation in the desert (Matt. 4:2), he prayed before He chose the twelve disciples (Luke 6:12), he prayed before He did miracles (John 11:41-42), and he taught his disciples to pray (Matt. 6:5-15). It was “as he was praying” that Moses and Elijah appeared to talk with Jesus about His coming crucifixion (v. 29).
Jesus took his friends to pray with Him because he understood the need to communicate with God, to make sure He was within God’s will, and to receive the necessary strength to face the difficulties which lay ahead. If the Son of God needed to pray with friends for these reasons, surely we need to do the same. By having a group of prayer partners in whom you may confide and seek support, we may have additional verification that we are within God’s will and preparing for the future.
II. Enjoy the Mountain Top
Peter asked Jesus if they could build three shelters (temporary housing) for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Often the spiritual highs of life are so good, we never want to leave. Our preference is to stay permanently.
However, Jesus recognized that he had a task to complete, a mission to fulfill, and a destiny to embrace. He welcomed the affirmation from his Father, “This is my Son … listen to Him.” He rejoiced in the confirmation from Moses and Elijah about his necessary death. But God had blessed Christ with these events so that Christ could head down the mountain and be an everlasting blessing to the world.
When God blesses you with a spiritual high, it is because God has a purpose for you to pursue. He wants to equip you with the necessary resources to accomplish this purpose. So enjoy the moment, but never pro-long it. You have a future to be embraced.
III. Embrace the Future
Rather than staying, the next day Jesus, Peter, James and John came down from the mountain. Immediately confronting them was a demon-possessed boy who needed healing. Jesus healed the boy and then told the crowd of his impending betrayal, but no one understood. Instead, the disciples began to argue about which one of them would be the greatest.
As soon as you come down the mountain, expect a challenge; especially from Satan. There is nothing the devil would rather do than destroy a spiritual high by defeating you in the valley either through one of his agents (demon) or from within the body of believers (bickering and division). By anticipating this opposition, you can overcome whatever may come your way. Forewarned is forearmed.
Jesus had been “transfigured”. He was prepared to set his face towards Jerusalem, die on the cross, and be resurrected on the third day. If we will follow his example by taking time to pray, enjoying the moment and embracing the future, we too can be equipped to recognize the coming difficulties and fulfill the purpose of God for our lives. (Craig Christina)
Sermon briefs for this issue are written by: Mark A. Johnson, Managing Editor, Preaching; Greg Barr, Pastor, Potomac Crest Baptist Church, Woodbridge, VA; Joseph Byrd, Pastor, Stewart Road Church of God, Monroe, MI; and Craig Christina, Public Relations, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY.

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