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Sunday, October 2, 2011

SERIES OF MESSAGES ON CHRISTMAS


SERMON ONE


Pastor Mark Taylor                               Friendship United Methodist Church   Sunday Morning Worship Service

“HIS NAME SHALL BE CALLED WONDERFUL”

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”  (Isaiah 9:6-7)

When you were planning a name for your child, you may have looked at many names and the meaning of those names.  God told the prophet Isaiah 740 years before the birth of Christ what His names would be.  Today, I would like to examine one of those precious names of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – “Wonderful”

Why do you think Jesus’ name would be called “Wonderful”?  I am sure there are many reasons, but I would like to express some of the reasons I think His name was and is still called “Wonderful” today.

Every ordinary thing He touched became “Wonderful”.  When He touched water it turned into the best wine and became wonderful.  When He touch ordinary bread and wine, it became the extra ordinary symbols of His Body and His Blood that would be broken and given for us, and it became wonderful.  When His Body touched the “Old Rugged Cross”, it turned a dreadful sight into the wonderful picture of sacrifice and love.  When His Body touched the empty tomb, it became our wonderful symbol for our hope of the resurrection.

Everyone He touched changed from ordinary into “Wonderful”.  At His presence, the blind would see, the deaf could hear, the lame could walk, and the dead could be raised from the dead.  When Jesus came by, people felt His “wonderful” presence and everyone He touched received something “Wonderful” from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Jesus said this about Himself: "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD." (Luke 4:18-19). 

Everything He did was “Wonderful”.  He fed thousands of hungry people with His “Wonderful” miracles.  He ate and fellowshipped with the outcasts and unlovable in His community.  He brought the message of eternal life to all who would hear and receive it.  He received and ministered to children, tax collectors, demon possessed people, social outcasts, and anyone who would come to Him.  They would have certainly described their time with Jesus as “Wonderful”.

Everything He said was “Wonderful”.  He talked about living forever with Him in Heaven.  He talked about having rewards for living a good and righteous life.  He talked about forgiveness for all the sins we have committed.  He talked about His love for us and the need for us to love others.  His words made  everyone that followed them feel “Wonderful”, as it will for you and me.  He said His words would last forever: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

Everything He has planned for our future is “Wonderful”. He has planned on giving you and me eternal life that we would never die.  "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. "And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26).  “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:11-12).  He has planned on giving us a “Wonderful” place to live with Him: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:1-4).

I hope all of us will not just think about how “Wonderful” He is at Christmas time.  He is “Wonderful” all the time, because that is His name.  If He is living inside of you through the Holy Spirit, you too can live a “Wonderful” life.  He will allow your words, your relationships, and your actions be “Wonderful” to others as you go through this next year.  The next time you hear someone say that you are “Wonderful”, then you can know it is because Jesus is living inside of you.  “His Name Shall Be Called Wonderful”!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS – PASTOR MARK AND NANCY TAYLOR

“JESUS IS THE REASON FOR EVERY SEASON”



SERMON TWO

Pastor Mark Taylor                                          Friendship United Methodist Church                                                   Sunday Evening Worship Service

The Coming of the Lord Jesus

Occasionally during this time of year some people talk about seeking the true meaning of Christmas.  Few people seem to be truly interested in what the birth of Jesus Christ means. We should not be alarmed at this because the world has always rejected their Creator. But the birth of Jesus for those who believe and love God has great significance that extends beyond his birth and looks at who He truly is and why He came. The believer in God understands that the purpose of His coming has both present and eternal consequences.

 Luke 2:8-14 tells us His birth was proclaimed by a host of angels. The angels said he was the Savior, which was Christ the Lord.  We must understand that 4000 years earlier in Garden or Eden when man sinned and brought sin and death into the world, this Savior was promised by God. (Gen. 3:15).  2000 years before His birth, God told a man named Abraham, that God would make of him a great nation and that in his seed, all the nations of the earth would be blessed. (Gen. 12:3, 22:18) .  God fulfilled that promise and Abraham's decedents became the Nation of Israel, the Jews and Jesus was an Israelite of the Tribe of Judah. In approximately 1042 BC King David of Israel was promised that through his descendants, the Savior would come and His kingdom would be eternal. (II Sam. 7:14-17).  742 years before his birth, Isaiah, God's prophet, foretold the amazing truth that he would be born of a virgin and said His name would be Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14).  700 years before He was born, Micah, God's prophet revealed in Micah 5:2 that the Savior would be born in Bethlehem of Judah and in Micah 4:8 that the place would be at the tower of the Flock where the sacrificial lambs were raised that were sacrificed in the Temple in Jerusalem only 3 miles away.  Daniel even told the exact year that he was to be born about 500 years before his birth. (Dan 9:25).  There are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament which foretold His coming.  In Isaiah 53, God said that the coming Messiah would be an offering and that He would bear the iniquities of many.

It was not a coincidence that Jesus was born in Bethlehem – It was a prophecy: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”  (Micah 5:2).  Bethlehem means “house of bread”.  Jesus said: “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35).  It was not a coincidence that Jesus was born in a stable with sheep.  John the Baptist said: “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  It was not a coincidence that Shepherds were the first to see Jesus at His birth: “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”(Luke 2:15).  Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11). It was no coincidence that kings sent wise men to honor Jesus as King:  Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1-2)  “And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, “JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.” (John 19:19 )
The blessings of Christmas are tied to our response to the Christ Child born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. When we read the Christmas story from the Bible, there are at least three ways which we can respond to Him.  One response was given by the innkeeper when Mary and Joseph wanted to find a room where the Child could be born. The innkeeper was not hostile; he was not opposed to them, but his inn was crowded; his hands were full; his mind was preoccupied.
This is the answer that millions are giving today. Like a Bethlehem innkeeper, they cannot find room for Christ. All the accommodations in their hearts are already taken up by other crowding interests. Their response is not atheism. It is not defiance. It is preoccupation and the feeling of being able to get on reasonably well without Christianity.  But another response was totally different. It came from an old priest in the Temple by the name of Simeon. He took the Christ Child in his arms and said, "My eyes have seen your salvation."








SERMON THREE

Pastor Mark Taylor                          Friendship United Methodist Church 
                                                Sunday Evening Worship Service

PROPHECY AND THE BIRTH OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR

Today, I would like to remind you that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the true “Virgin Born” Messiah that was prophesied to come to us.  We don’t have to defend the Bible, it defends itself and is without any mistakes.  I would encourage you to trust that God loves you enough and is powerful enough to give you His true and complete message, using men  “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21).  “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).  Those who are really searching for the “truth” can find it in the Holy Scriptures. Studying fulfilled prophecy is one of those ways. When you don’t understand everything in the Bible it reminds us:
“Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him” (Hebrews 10:38).  Here are only some of those prophecies that were given and fulfilled:
The information and thoughts below are from the research and careful study of others.  Today we will look at three of those prophecies:  The Virgin Birth, Bethlehem, and the timing of His birth.

Prophecy                                  Made                           Fulfilled
Born of a Virgin
Isaiah 7:14
Matt 1:23,    Luke 1:30-38
Born in Bethlehem
Micah 5:2
Matt 2:1-6,   Luke 2:1-20
Massacre of Infants
Jeremiah 31:1-15
Matthew 2:16-18
Come from Nazareth
Isaiah 9:12
Matt 2:22-23,   Matt 4: 13-16
Preach in Capernaum
Isaiah 9: 1-2
Matthew 4:15-16
Come out of Egypt
Hosea 11:1,  Numbers 24:8
Matthew 2:14-15
Kings would bow down to Him
Isaiah 49:23
Matthew 2:11
He would be given gifts
Psalm 72:10
Matthew 2: 1, 11
He would live 33 years
Leviticus 12: 1-4
Luke 3:23
Prophecies of the OT Fulfilled in Jesus Christ:
    There have been described in the Old Testament 300 prophecies of the first coming of the Messiah and 500 of the second coming, all of then made hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus and fulfilled to the letter in Jesus Christ, the Messiah.   George Heron, a French mathematician, calculated that the odds of one man fulfilling only 40 of those prophecies are 1 in 10 to the power of 157. That is a 1 followed by 157 zeros. Compare it to this; your odds on winning the state lottery are 14 followed by 6 zeros.  (http://biblia.com/jesusbible/prophecies.htm)
PROPHECY – THE VIRGIN BIRTH

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel”  Isaiah 7:14

FULLFILLMENT

“And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:30-38 KJV)

 BETHELHEM - PROPHECY

Micah, 735 - 710 B.C., predicts that Christ, the Messiah, would be born in Bethlehem. It was recognized by all of the early church Fathers that this statement was true.

FULLFILLMENT

“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2).

THE TIMING OF HIS BIRTH

The prophecy recorded in Daniel 9:26 predicts that the Messiah would die in Nisan 14, A.D. 33. Since the Jewish religion would have required the Messiah to be at least 30 years of age before He could start His ministry, this means that the Messiah would have had to be born at least 30 years earlier. The gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus was born during the reigns of Caesar Augustus (43 B.C. - A.D. 14) and Quirinius of Syria (3-2 B.C.). Multiple church fathers also indicate that Jesus was born by at least A.D. 1 (Finegan, Jack. Handbook of Biblical Chronology, 519-526). Together, the data indicates that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy. He was born early enough to die on the predicted date of Nisan 14, A.D. 33.


SERMON FOUR

Pastor Mark Taylor                                           Friendship United Methodist Church   Sunday Morning Worship Service

                                     The Peace Jesus Brings

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (John 14:27)

We hear a lot about Peace this time of the year.  One of the most familiar verses that is quoted or displayed is: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).  And certainly this would be wonderful if we had peace and no war on earth.  But this will not happen until the Lord Jesus returns and sets up his kingdom on Earth at His Second Coming.  The Biblical definition of peace is not only the absence of war or conflict with others.   Jesus also said peace is something He gives to us with our new birth and relationship with Him.  “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).  Paul speaks of Peace: “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). His peace will “keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”. It will keep us from sinning under our troubles, and from sinking under them. It will keep us calm and peaceful, without losing our love for the Lord, and will give us inward satisfaction toward our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee” (Isaiah 26:3).  This is the kind of Peace we need on earth and in our lives during this Christmas season.  The Lord Jesus Christ wants to come into our lives and bring us peace.  “For He is our peace”. (Ephesians 2:14). 

But Peace does not come alone or without some pre-conditions.  “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” (2 Peter 3:13-14)  Righteousness and Peace are married and they come as a pair.  You cannot have one without the other. “Righteousness and Peace have kissed each other”
(Psalm 85:10).  You cannot live a unrighteous life and expect to have Peace.  On the other hand if you live a Righteous life, Peace will automatically come. When you live a life pleasing to God, which is a righteous life, you will have peace.  “And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace”  (James 3:18).  
In other words, you cannot live a life of sin and expect the peace of God to be a part of your life.  “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6). 
You cannot live a life in purposeful sin and expect the blessings of God.  "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:45-46).

The gift of peace is from the Holy Spirit and with that gift comes additional gifts: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”             (Galatians 5:22-24)

Before you received Christ as your Savior, you had an old nature which the Bible calls the “old man” that ruled your decisions.  We sometimes call it “human nature”.  When you were “born again”, you received the Holy Spirit to help you with your new life.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17).  If you will ask the Lord to help you with your new life, He will give you the wonderful gift of “Peace”.  If you want peace then the Bible gives you some things you need to do.  “If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away lying, "Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor," for we are members of one another. "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.   (Ephesians 4:21-32).

The Bible assures us if we will allow the Holy Spirit to direct our lives, we will have “Peace”.  Not only will we have it, but we will be able to bring peace to those around us.  





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