Audio: What Happened When Jesus Was Young?

800px-Jesus_and_the_doctors_of_the_Faith_dsc01783 commons.wikimedia.org public domainTough Questions 2014
Luke 2:52
Matthew Raley (9-14-14)

This summer our congregation gathered questions about faith, God, and Christianity from our friends and neighbors. This morning’s sermon is the second in a six-week sermon series responding to those questions. Today we are asking what happened when Jesus was young.

This question came as a simple request for more information. There’s a sizable gap in the Gospels between the end of Jesus’s childhood and the start of his public ministry.  Do we know anything about that gap, and can we draw any conclusions from it? The answer is yes. But before we begin, we need to take a moment to understand the purpose of sermons. They are not meant to speculate or to provide “informed opinions.” Rather, they are intended to take the Bible, which is open for all of us to study together, and demonstrate how to draw conclusions from it. Where the Bible stops, we stop.

With this in mind, we will begin with the broadest statement the Gospels make about his young human experience in Luke 2.52. We will see what kind of child and youth Jesus was, and what his early experiences mean for us and his purpose for our lives.

To follow along with the sermon notes, right click on the link below and select “Open link in new tab.”

Sermon Notes 9-14-14

Audio: Why Would I Want Organized Religion?

Salisbury Cathedral Nave Looking West. Image via commons.wikimedia.org
Salisbury Cathedral Nave Looking West. Image via commons.wikimedia.org

Tough Questions 2014
Ephesians 2:13-16
Matthew Raley (9-7-14)

This summer our congregation gathered questions about faith, God, and Christianity from our friends and neighbors. This morning Pastor Raley begins a six-week sermon series in response. We begin with the question, why would I want organized religion?

Every evangelical is trained with a ready answer that doesn’t really address the question. “Christianity is not a religion. It’s a relationship with Jesus.” We need to do better. Today’s question came in two forms, one that raised the issue of religions causing wars, another that raised the issue of wrongs that are done by church leaders against people in churches.

This morning we will deal with both of these matters from the perspective of Christ’s goal in dying on the cross.

To follow along with the sermon notes, right click on the link below and select “Open link in new tab.”

Sermon Notes 9-7-14

Audio: Receiving Tough Questions, Part Two

Bertel_Thorvaldsen_-_Christ_and_the_Samaritan_Woman_-_Google_Art_Project public domain commons.wikimedia.org
Christ and the Samaritan Woman, by Bertel Thorvaldsen. (Image via commons.wikimedia.org)

2 Corinthians 5.20 and John 4:7-26
Matthew Raley (8-31-14)

This summer our congregation gathered our friends’ and neighbors’ questions about faith, God, and Christianity. Next Sunday Pastor Raley will begin a six-week sermon series in response. We’ve taken the two weeks before that series to prepare our hearts. What should our attitude toward these questions be? How do we frame our answers? What is our goal?

Last Sunday we saw that we are ambassadors with a message of reconciliation.The method we use is to implore people to be reconciled to God in Christ. So, as we receive these tough questions, our job is to find the issue that calls for reconciliation. Then we are to aim the message of the Gospel directly at that issue.

To do this, we need to understand our audience. It is tempting to paint with a broad brush, as if we face the same person in every conversation: someone who needs to be corrected about social issues that concern us. This is a serious error for an ambassador to make. Our job is to be clear in the context of deep cultural confusion.  In today’s sermon we will see how to do this by using the Samaritan woman as an illustration. She was as divided from Jesus as any post-Christian American is from us. So how did Jesus conduct his own diplomacy?

To follow along with the notes, click on the link below and select “Open link in new tab.”

Sermon Notes 8-31-14

Audio: Receiving Tough Questions, Part One

2 Corinthians 5.20
Matthew Raley (8-24-14)

This summer our congregation gathered our friends’ and neighbors’ most pressing questions about faith, God, and Christianity. On September 7th Pastor Raley will begin a six-week sermon series in response. Before we start that series, we’re taking two weeks to prepare. How are we to take these questions? How do we frame answers? And what is our goal?

With non-Christians, we face a chasm that is deeper and wider than ever. The cultural common ground that used to exist—even twenty years ago—is gone. Specifically, we are living in an area that has flipped from a predominantly Christian culture to a predominantly post-Christian one. This is a massive opportunity for the Gospel. The question we will be asking today is, how does God want us to seize it?

In this morning’s sermon we will find that the scriptures give us specific direction in all these issues.

To follow along with the sermon notes, right click on the link below and select “Open link in new tab.”

Sermon Notes 8-24-14

Audio: The Spiritual Hero

Acts 20: 17-38
Dr. Mark Coppenger (8-17-14)

It is important for us to have heroes. In today’s passage of scripture the apostle Paul bids a final farewell to the elders of the church at Ephesus. As he does so, he consciously sets himself up as a role model for them, encouraging them, as he often does in his writings, to look to his example. In this morning’s sermon Dr. Mark Coppenger of Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY describes the characteristics of a spiritual hero and challenges each of us to aspire, by God’s grace and strength, to the heroism displayed by the apostle Paul and Christ himself.

To follow along with the sermon notes, right click on the link below and select “Open link in new tab.”

Sermon Notes 8-17-14

Audio: the Priority and Power of the Gospel

Acts 25-26
Frank Erb (8-10-14)

In Pastor Raley’s absence, this morning’s compelling sermon was delivered to us by Frank Erb of Capitol Commission California, a ministry which presents the gospel to “to every state leader, regardless of party affiliation, and all who are willing are given the opportunity to be discipled.”

In Acts 25 we find the apostle Paul in Caesarea, called from prison, where he had been held for over two years, to appear before Festus, the new Roman governor of Judea; King Herod Agrippa; and an assortment of other influential and immoral Roman, Jewish, military, and civic leaders.  In today’s message, we will look at Paul’s priorities in this critical moment. We will see that Paul understood his mission, and we will ask ourselves whether we understand ours.