In Plain Sight

(Luke 24:13-36)



Judy and I moved to Florida after graduating college. ​​ She started teaching at a Christian school where her friend from grade school was teaching. ​​ At first, they were our only friends. ​​ As we continued to develop relationships, we started hanging out with a couple who were both teachers. ​​ The wife worked at the same school as Judy and the husband worked at another Christian school.


In an effort to expand our friend base, we decided to invite other friends to a get together at the other couples house. ​​ Unfortunately, Judy and I were not able to have any other friends come, but the other couple was able to have a husband and wife come (they were both schoolteachers at the husband’s school).


As we began to share information about our backgrounds, I was surprised to find out that I already knew the husband and wife that we just met. ​​ All three of us were shocked and excited to realize that we had worked together for several summers at a Bible conference in New Jersey as high school students.


Judy and I immediately connected with them and developed an incredibly deep relationship with them.


It was amazing that we were so close geographically, but had no idea that we were.



  • ME

    • In plain sight

        • I enjoy playing with my grandkids and one game that my oldest granddaughter and I play is hide and seek

        • Because she is only three, my hiding places are mostly in plain sight (in a corner, behind a chair, in her play tent, etc.)

        • She does the same thing – hiding in plain sight (under the table, under the piano bench, on the stairs, in her play tent, etc.)

        • While she finds me pretty quickly, I act like I don’t know where she is hiding (that produces a lot of laughter)

        • The longer we have played, the more I have started hiding in places that are not in plain sight


  • WE

    • In plain sight

        • How many of us have “lost” something only to realize that it is plain sight?

        • The reason that we can’t find it is because it is not in the location that we normally put it

        • We rush around the house looking for it and get frustrated when we can’t find it

        • How many of us have experienced losing our glasses only to be informed that they are on the top of our head?


We will see today that Jesus was in plain sight, but two of His disciples did not recognize Him at first. ​​ They were not alone in this, because earlier that morning Mary Magdalene was in the presence of Jesus and did not recognize Him (she thought he was the gardener). ​​ These two disciples went through three stages as it pertained to hope. ​​ First, their hope was ravaged, then hope was revealed, and finally their hope was restored. ​​ What we can learn from this passage today is that . . .


BIG IDEA – Jesus brings hope!


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Luke 24:13-36)

    • Hope Ravaged (vv. 13-29)

        • Same day (v. 13)

          • We have to look back to v. 1 to understand what day it is

          • It is the first day of the week, Sunday

          • It is also the same day that Jesus rose from the dead

          • We don’t know the hour that He rose but it was sometime before 6 am, because that is probably the time when the women went to the tomb with their spices and perfumes

          • There were two disciples traveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus

          • They left sometime after the women and Peter and John had returned from the tomb

          • It was probably sometime in the afternoon when they started their journey

        • Jerusalem to Emmaus (v. 13)

          • Emmaus was about 7 miles west and a little north of Jerusalem

          • Since they were walking, it probably took them about 2 ½ hours to make the journey

        • Conversation with each other (v. 14)

          • These two disciples are discussing everything that happened over the past week

          • They were probably discussing what went wrong from the time of Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem to His crucifixion and burial

          • They were probably trying to figure out what happened to Jesus’ body, since the tomb He was in was empty and no one knew where the body was, including His closest disciples, Peter, James, and John

          • “We get the impression that these men were discouraged and disappointed because God did not do what they wanted Him to do. ​​ They saw the glory of the kingdom, but they failed to understand the suffering.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 278]

          • We know their demeanor was one of sadness (v. 17, their faces were downcast)

          • The outcome of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem was not what they had hoped for

          • Their hope was ravaged

          • Jesus was supposed to rule over them as king and remove the Roman rulers from among them, but now He’s gone

        • A stranger starts walking with them (vv. 15-16)

          • As they are walking along the road to Emmaus this guy starts walking along with them

          • They don’t recognize Him, but they’re cordial enough to allow Him to continue walking with them

          • “Jewish travelers would not consider it unusual for a stranger, who is also a fellow Jew, to join their small company walking for some distance, especially if they assume him to be a Passover pilgrim on his way home.” ​​ [Keener, IVP, Bible Background Commentary, 256]

          • We have the benefit of knowing that it’s Jesus who is walking with them, but the two disciples were kept from recognizing Him

          • You and I can miss Jesus in our lives, because we’re discouraged and angry that God didn’t do for us what we wanted Him to do

            • This is a part of our selfish, sinful nature that we think we know what’s best for us, our family, our state, our nation, and maybe even the world

            • But God is sovereign – He has the right to rule and He rules rightly

            • God is the Creator – He knows everything about this world and the people living in it

            • God is omniscient – He knows everything

            • God knows what’s best for you

            • When you’re feeling discouraged and angry with God, you don’t want to be around other believers, but they are the ones who can help you see that Jesus is right there with you – in plain sight

            • They can help you see that Jesus brings hope!

            • Are you feeling discouraged and angry with God today?

            • Here’s a few steps to take:

              • First, acknowledge your discouragement and anger with God – tell Him how you’re feeling – you’re not going to make Him upset or cause Him to turn His back on you – Heb. 13:5b-6

              • Second, as a follower of Jesus Christ, recognize that He’s right here with you – verbalize it, hear yourself say the words

              • Third, surround yourself with fellow believers and allow them to encourage and comfort you – we are here for you, just reach out, we want to help

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Take time this afternoon to tell God why I’m discouraged and/or angry and that I know Jesus is with me.

              • Reach out to a brother or sister in Christ so they can encourage, support, and comfort you

          • As Jesus and His two disciples are walking along, Jesus asked them a couple of questions

        • Jesus’ two questions (vv. 17-19a)

          • What are you discussing?

            • Jesus already knew what they were discussing, but this was His way of joining in the discussion

            • He wanted to be included in the conversation so He could teach them some valuable truths [BBC, 612]

            • Here we are given the name of one of the disciples, Cleopas

            • Cleopas obviously assumed this Jewish stranger walking with them had been in Jerusalem over Passover and should have known what was going on

            • “News spread quickly by word of mouth, and public executions at a feast would be widely discussed.” ​​ [Keener, IVP, BBC, 2256]

            • If this stranger was a Jew and had participated in a Passover feast, Jesus’ trial and execution would have been the topic of discussion

          • What things?

            • Jesus asks His second question to encourage these two disciples to discuss what they knew about Him

            • “He wanted them to give Him enough information to permit Him to teach His truths from their subject.” ​​ [BBC, 612]

            • When your child comes to you to tell you something that happened to them, but your spouse already told you the story, do you turn them down? ​​ No, you enthusiastically listen to them as they share it. ​​ You patiently listen to the excitement in their voice and you rejoice with them. ​​ If it’s something sad, you comfort them and cry with them.

            • Jesus already knows everything that’s going in your life, but He desires to hear them from you

              • Jesus is saying to you today, “Talk to Me – about that trouble at work, about that feeling in your heart. ​​ I already know all about it, but I want to hear it from you.” ​​ [Courson, 422]

              • Jesus is so patient with you as He listens

              • He is our Great High Priest and sits at the right hand of God the Father, interceding for you (Rom. 8:34)

              • Because of Jesus death, burial, and resurrection you can come boldly before God’s throne and pour out your heart to Him

              • Hebrews 4:14-16, Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. ​​ For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. ​​ Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

            • So, Jesus wants these two guys to open up and share what they know about Him

        • Their response (vv. 19b-24)

          • Now we see the content of their conversation – it is Jesus of Nazareth

          • What did these two know about Jesus of Nazareth?

            • They knew His name and where He was from

            • They knew He was a Prophet

            • They knew He was mighty in deed and word

            • They knew He was crucified

            • They knew He promised to redeem Israel

            • They knew others had said He rose from the dead

          • The verdict was still out from the perspective of these two disciples

            • They knew Jesus body was not in the tomb, but they had yet to believe that He rose from the dead

            • The testimony of the women seeing the empty tomb and hearing the message given to them by two angels wasn’t enough

            • The testimony of Peter and John seeing the empty tomb with Jesus’ grave clothes lying there undisturbed wasn’t enough proof

            • “Jesus wanted to know from them what He wants to know from (you) today: ​​ can (you) believe without seeing with (y)our own eyes? ​​ Can (you) believe based on the reliable eyewitness testimony of other people?” ​​ [Guzik, 6]

            • I heard a story from a young man who when he was a young boy wanted to know if God was real. ​​ As he lay in bed one night at his grandmother’s house he asked God to prove that He existed. ​​ Almost immediately the blankets that were pulled up to his chest and not hanging over the edge of the bed were pulled down. ​​ He believed!

            • If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you have believed the reliable eyewitness testimony of other people – you’ve believed the testimony of the Apostles and the other biblical writers, some of whom were eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection

        • Jesus’ sermon (vv. 25-27)

          • He calls them foolish

            • The Greek word translated foolish actually means, “lacking in understanding.”

            • It’s not the negative way we use the word fool today

            • It’s not the same word that’s used in Matt. 5:22, that we are forbidden to say to our brother

          • Heart issue not a head issue

            • They knew what the prophets had said, that’s probably why they were so excited about Jesus in the first place

            • They hadn’t understood all of what the prophets had said

            • They only remembered the good parts

            • “They did not believe all that the prophets had written about the Messiah. ​​ That was the problem with most of the Jews in that day: ​​ they saw Messiah as a conquering Redeemer, but they did not see Him as a Suffering Savior. ​​ As they read the Old Testament, they saw the glory but not the suffering, the crown but not the cross.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 278]

          • Jesus shared scripture with them

            • Jesus asks them if they remembered that the prophets foretold that the Christ would have to suffer these things and then enter his glory

            • Don’t you wish you could have been there to hear Jesus Christ open up the scriptures from Moses to the Prophets

            • That would have been an incredible sermon

            • “The ancient Greek word for expounded (explained) has the idea of sticking close to the text.” ​​ [Guzik, 8]

            • He probably talked about these things

              • The first promise of the Redeemer in Genesis 3:15

              • Abraham placing his son on the altar in Genesis 22

              • The first Passover in Egypt

              • The Levitical sacrifices

              • The Tabernacle ceremonies

              • The Day of Atonement

              • The serpent in the wilderness

              • The Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53

              • The prophetic messages of Psalms 22 and 69

              • He shared with them all that scripture said about Him

            • How did He do this?

              • Did He have all these scrolls tucked under His arm?

              • No, He knew the scripture by heart

              • “Sometimes you might think, I don’t need to study the Word because I’ve already studied it. ​​ I already know it. ​​ Do you? ​​ Can you walk along the road and discuss Genesis 37-50, Ezekiel 44, Luke 21-24, Romans 5-8? ​​ Until you’re at that place, you need to be where the Bible is taught consistently.” ​​ [Courson, 422]

              • “The key to understanding the Bible is to see Jesus Christ on every page.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 279]

              • No matter what kind of Bible teaching you do (Sunday school, youth worker, small group leader, etc.) your job is to look for Jesus in every part of God’s Word ​​ [Courson, 422]

        • Stay with us (vv. 28-29)

          • When they were approaching Emmaus, Jesus acted as if He was going to continue His journey

          • The two disciples urged Him strongly to stay with them for the night

          • This was part of the culture of the day to extend hospitality especially as night was getting close

          • Jesus will not force His way into your life

            • He is waiting for you to invite Him in

            • He reveals Himself to you through other people, His creation, and life circumstances and then He waits for you to respond

            • Your sin

              • God provided the Ten Commandments not as a way to be made right with Him, but to show you that you needed someone to help you with your sin

              • Rom. 3:23 – all have sinned

            • God’s justice

              • Rom. 6:23 – wages of sin is death

            • God’ love

              • Rom. 5:8 – demonstrates His love

            • Jesus’ sacrifice

              • 1 Cor. 15:3b-4 – Christ died, was buried, was raised on third day according to the Scriptures

            • God’s promise

              • John 1:12-13 – received Him, believed in His name, become children of God

          • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Invite Jesus into my life by receiving Him and believing in His name, so I can become a child of God.

    • Hope Revealed (vv. 30-32)

        • Jesus’ actions

          • As He sat at the table with them He did something He had done at the Last Supper

          • He took bread

          • He gave thanks

          • He broke the bread

          • He began to give it to them

        • Their eyes are opened

          • Whatever had caused them not to recognize Jesus was removed

          • Their eyes were opened to who this stranger was, that they had been traveling with

          • They had been sharing with Jesus about Jesus!

          • They had been taught on the road by Jesus!

          • As soon as they recognized Jesus, He was gone

            • This resurrected body of Jesus was different than a human body

            • He was able to appear and disappear

            • He was able to move through locked doors

        • Hearts burning

          • Their hearts were greatly moved as Jesus was teaching them about Himself from Moses through the Prophets

          • They were probably remembering all they had learned from Jesus during His ministry here on earth

          • They were missing Him and His presence with them

          • Little did they know He was right there with them

    • Hope Restored (vv. 33-36)

        • They returned to Jerusalem

          • They left immediately to return to Jerusalem

          • They couldn’t wait to tell the other disciples what had happened to them

        • Jesus had appeared to Simon/Peter

          • When they arrived, they had to wait to share their story

          • Hope had already been restored in Jerusalem

          • Jesus had appeared to Simon/Peter

          • The Eleven and the others with them were joyfully announcing and believing that Jesus had risen from the dead

        • They share their experience

          • These two finally got a chance to share how Jesus had walked with them on the road to Emmaus

          • They shared about how they recognized Him after He had broken the bread and giving thanks for it and gave it to them

          • While everyone was rejoicing together and reveling in restored hope, something incredible happened

          • Jesus appeared with them and encouraged them with, “Peace be with you.”

        • “What a difference it would make in our church services if everybody who gathered came to tell about meeting the living Christ! ​​ If our services are ‘dead’ it is probably because we are not really walking with and listening to the living Saviour.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 279]


  • YOU

    • Hope ravaged, revealed, and restored

        • You may be experiencing your hope being ravaged today

          • You may feel discouraged and/or angry with God

          • Those emotions are real and they don’t offend God

          • He wants you to talk with Him about what you’re feeling

        • He wants you to know that Jesus is right there with you – this is hope revealed

          • After Jesus ascended to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to guide, illumine, and comfort you and me

          • His plan was never to leave us alone without help or hope

        • He wants you to know that He has placed brothers and sisters in Christ alongside you to help you

          • This is how your hope can be restored

          • Satan wants you to think that you are alone without anyone to encourage you or help you through the discouragement or anger

          • We are here for you

    • Finding hope

        • Your hope comes through Jesus Christ and Him alone

        • The first step in experiencing the hope found in Jesus Christ is to submit yourself to Him and His authority

        • It’s repenting of your sins, turning away from them and not looking back

        • It’s recognizing and admitting your sin to God

        • Believing in Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for you

        • Calling on God to be a part of His family


  • WE

    • As followers of Jesus Christ we are witnesses to His resurrection power

        • While we were not there to see Him after His resurrection, we have experienced His healing power in our lives

        • We have been set free from the bondage to sin and self

        • We have hope for the future resurrection of our bodies when Jesus returns a second time

        • We are called to share that freedom and hope with others


“Florida Highway Patrol troopers were surprised and delighted to find that the alleged drug traffickers they pulled over had made their jobs so much easier than they anticipated. Among the materials found in the vehicle was a bag marked in bold text with the words “Bag Full of Drugs.”


Similar bags have been sold for years at novelty shops alongside other gag gifts, but troopers said this bag really did contain a variety of illegal narcotics, including methamphetamine, fentanyl, MDMA, and GHB.


The Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office issued a statement, warning potential lawbreakers that not only can their drug-sniffing canine units smell drugs, but they can also read.


Possible Preaching Angle:

1) Sometimes the truth is hidden in plain sight; we must not be so enamored with being clever that we miss the obvious. 2) Secrets do not remain hidden for long. The truth will ultimately be revealed.



Cox Media Group, “Florida Highway Patrol finds bags full of drugs in ‘Bag Full of Drugs,’” Dayton Daily News.com (2-4-20).





8 Marks Of The Church

The Submitted To Godly Leadership Church



Urban Legends


Carey Nieuwhof shares 5 dumb myths every leader should abandon.

  • Success will happen overnight – “Who hasn’t fallen for this? ​​ And if you don’t believe it, you’ve secretly wanted it, haven’t you? ​​ Yet there are few overnight successes. ​​ Or as my wife has pointed out, it was a very long night.”

  • Smart work, not hard work, will win the day – “. . . smart work is no substitute for hard work. ​​ Working smarter doesn’t mean you can put in a few hours, hit cruise control and coast to victory. . . . When you stop growing, so do the people around you.”

  • I will get universal buy-in – “There will be a day when I become a good enough leader that I will announce our next move and everyone will applaud wildly, right? . . . Conditions will never be perfect. ​​ ‘Everybody’ will never buy in. ​​ Sometimes you just need to lead.”

  • There’s a silver bullet – “So there’s one thing that will turn everything around right? ​​ A silver bullet? ​​ A model I can just embrace and press play and everything will magically be wonderful. ​​ Right?”

  • One day I will arrive – “No, you won’t. ​​ And if you do, you’ll arrive to learn you’ve missed the point. ​​ Effective leaders keep growing. ​​ They never stop.”




I love to read. ​​ Years ago, I would read three books at a time. ​​ One was a leadership book, another was a spiritual development book, and the third would be a “fun” book (historical fiction, etc.). ​​ I was always looking to grow in my spiritual walk and leadership knowledge. ​​ Today, I read a lot for spiritual growth through commentaries and other books. ​​ I read books on prayer and some leadership stuff.


There are many common myths about the church that are misguided at best and dangerous at worst



  • Myth

    • You can have subjective standards for church leadership and be a healthy church

    • This myth, if believed, can be dangerous because:

        • If the leaders of the church are not subject to the objective standards of leadership in the church, the people of the church won’t be subject to the objective standards of discipleship in the church

        • This confuses the church, exposes the church, and robs the church of its sense of security

    • We know this is a myth because Jesus said a clear mark of a healthy church would be a church filled with leaders who are being led by him, leading like him, and leading to him


Let’s pray


  • GOD

    • MARK: ​​ The Submitted To Godly Leadership Church

        • The Submitted To Godly Leadership Church and the Teaching of Jesus (Mark 3:13-15; Luke 22:24-27)

          • Mark 3:13-15

            • Background

              • The corresponding passage in Luke 6:12-16 tells us that Jesus had been up on the mountainside praying all night

              • In the morning He called the disciples up on the mountainside and chose the twelve apostles

            • Appointing the Apostles

              • Most scholars agree that the number of Apostles is probably significant, because there were twelve tribes of Israel (that number is important throughout Scripture)

              • Jesus designates the twelve as “Apostles”

                • This was a change from simply disciple to apostle

                • A “disciple” is one who learns by doing; our modern equivalent might be an “apprentice.” An “apostle” is one who is sent on official service with a commission. Jesus had many disciples but only twelve apostles, His special “ambassadors.” [Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Diligent, BE Series Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2010), 46.]

              • Purpose in appointing them

                • They might be with him

                  • Wiersbe and Grassmick agree that being with Jesus was for the purpose of training them

                  • The twelve apostles would learn from Jesus’ example

                  • Once they were ready, He would send them out

                • He might send them out to accomplish two things

                  • To preach

                  • To have authority to drive out demons

                  • Mark 6:6-7, 12-13, Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. ​​ Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. . . . They went out and preached that people should repent. ​​ They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

              • Application [J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Mark, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels. Accordance electronic ed. (London: Wertheim, Macintosh, & Hunt, 1857), paragraph 1932.]

                • “Like the apostles, the faithful minister ought to keep up close communion with Christ.”

                • “Like the apostles, the faithful minister ought to be a preacher. This must ever be his principal work, and receive the greatest part of his thoughts. He must place it above the administration of the sacraments. (1 Cor. i. 17).”

                • “Like the apostles, the faithful minister must labour to do good in every way. Though he cannot heal the sick, he must seek to alleviate sorrow, and to increase happiness among all with whom he has to do. He must strive to be known as the comforter, the counsellor, the peacemaker, the helper, and the friend of all.”

                • “Like the apostles, the faithful minister must oppose every work of the devil.”

            • Jesus chose twelve men to be His apostles, these twelve men were going to lead the founding of the church

            • In their humanness, the Apostles struggled with the worldly idea of greatness, which Jesus had to address

          • Luke 22:24-27

            • The apostles were arguing about which of them was the greatest

              • The significance of what Jesus was sharing with them at the Last Supper was lost on them

              • “When you are interested in promoting yourself, it doesn’t take much to start an argument.” [Wiersbe, 128]

            • Worldly greatness/leadership

              • Characterized by selfishness, arrogance, and doing whatever it takes to make it to the top

              • Some kings in the ancient world gave themselves the title of “benefactor,” but it was not necessarily a true representation of who they were and what they did

            • Spiritual greatness/leadership

              • Youngest

                • In the culture of the day, the youngest person was the one who was considered the least

                • They did not have rank or position, especially as it pertained to family units

                • The first-born (eldest) would be the one who had rank and position within the family – he would inherit everything

                • “The senior leader with the most experience must adopt an attitude as if he were the youngest with no experience, no leadership responsibility, and no honors expected.” [Trent C. Butler, Luke, ed. Max Anders, vol. 3 of Holman New Testament Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2000), 370.]

              • One who serves

                • Servant leadership is what Jesus was telling them to do

                  • Philippians 2:3, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, in humility consider others better than yourselves.

                  • John 3:30, He must become greater; I must become less.

                • Jesus’ example

                  • Jesus is the One who is serving the bread and the cup at the supper

                  • Jesus gives them an example of what servant leadership looks like by taking a towel, wrapping it around His waist, and washing His disciples feet

                  • “Usefulness in the world and Church; a humble readiness to do anything, and put our hands to any good work; a cheerful willingness to fill any post, however lowly, and discharge any office, however unpleasant, if we can only promote happiness and holiness on earth,—these are the true tests of Christian greatness.” [Ryle, paragraph 7786]

              • “You must make a choice. Will you accept the world’s oppressive way of honoring greatness? Or will you follow Jesus’ example of becoming a servant and seeking the best for the “family”? Will you be part of the last who will become first? Or must you be first now?” [Butler, 370]

          • Jesus teaches us that He is the One who establishes spiritual leaders and that spiritual leadership is remarkably different than worldly leadership

        • The Submitted To Godly Leadership Church and the Teaching of the Early Church (Acts 2:42; 6:3-4)

          • Acts 2:42

            • They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (NIV)

            • As we saw in the previous point, Jesus had chosen the twelve apostles, trained them, and sent them out to preach and teach

            • Acts 2:42 shows us what happened after Jesus sent the apostles out – the day of Pentecost happens

            • The 3,000 who were added to their numbers on Pentecost, plus those who were already followers of Jesus devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles

            • These believers were submitting to the godly leadership of the apostles

            • As the number of believers continued to grow, there had to be the delegation and sharing of leadership responsibilities, as we will see in Acts 6:3-4

          • Acts 6:3-4

            • “Ministry is everyone’s responsibility, but different ministry tasks require different ministry qualifications.” ​​ [Kenneth O. Gangel, Acts, ed. Max Anders, vol. 5 of Holman New Testament Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 1998), 92.]

              • The seven that were to be chosen needed to have two primary qualifications

                • Full of the Spirit (controlled by)

                • Full of wisdom

              • They were given the responsibility of waiting on tables

                • This certainly has the idea of serving food to the widows

                • It can also have the idea of a manager’s table where funds for food are distributed

                • Acts 4:34-35, There were no needy persons among them. ​​ For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

              • While the very important task of providing for the needs of all widows was delegated to seven men, the apostles dedicated their time to two things

            • Apostles’ priorities

              • They gave their attention to the prayer and the ministry of the word

                • The prayer that is being talked about here is public prayer

                  • Leading others in public prayer

                  • They certainly had their own quiet time of prayer also

                • Ministry of the Word

                  • In Mark 3, we saw that this was one of the primary things that Jesus sent the apostles out to do

                  • While ministering to the physical needs of the believers was important, the primary responsibility of the apostles was to the spiritual needs of the believers

                  • They needed the necessary time to prepare and teach God’s Word

              • That is not to say that they didn’t still help with food or money distribution, but that was not their primary role

          • The early church teachings help us understand that the spiritual leaders were tasked with leading believers in corporate prayer and the teaching of God’s Word

        • The Submitted To Godly Leadership Church and the Teaching of the Apostles (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Timothy 3:1-13

          • Hebrews 13:17

            • Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. ​​ They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. (NIV)

            • Obey your leaders

              • “The reference here is to their religious teachers, and not to civil rulers.” [Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, Accordance electronic ed. (Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 2006), paragraph 29886.]

              • “When a servant of God is in the will of God, teaching the Word of God, the people of God should submit and obey.” [Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Confident, BE Series Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2010), 176.]

              • My desire and practice has always been to be in the will of God and teaching the Word of God

              • My prayer is that this desire and practice are evident to you all

              • There have been times when leading Idaville Church has felt like a burden, but those times are few and far between

              • During those times, I reflect on the calling that God placed on my life over 13 years ago and I am encouraged and find hope

              • The vast majority of my time here has been joy-filled

              • I love you all and I love to serve together with you

              • “A disobedient Christian will find on that day that the results of disobedience are unprofitable, not for the pastor, but for himself.” [Wiersbe, 177]

            • Keep watch and give account

              • The leadership of Idaville Church is genuinely concerned for the spiritual growth and salvation of those that God has placed in our care, to shepherd

              • Each board member has a group of individuals/families that they are responsible to connect with and check up on

              • We take this responsibility very seriously, because we will have to give an account when we stand before the Lord

            • While the writer of Hebrews exhorts the people in the church to obey the leaders, Paul writes to Timothy to share the qualifications of those who serve in positions of leadership

          • 1 Timothy 3:1-13

            • Read 1 Timothy 3:1-13

            • Overseer

              • Being an overseer is a noble task

              • Qualifications

                • Positive

                  • Above reproach, husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, gentle, manage family well, good reputation with outsiders

                • Negative

                  • Not given to drunkenness, not violent, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money, not a recent convert

                • When people tell me they don’t meet the qualifications of an overseer, I encourage them to work on the areas where they feel they don’t qualify, so they can qualify

              • Paul also lists the qualifications for a deacon

            • Deacon

              • Qualifications

                • Positive

                  • Worthy of respect, sincere, keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience, husband of one wife, manage children and household well

                • Negative

                  • Not indulging in much wine, not pursuing dishonest gain

              • They are to be tested

              • Their wives are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers, temperate, and trustworthy

          • The teaching of the Apostles helps us to understand that when qualified leaders are following God’s will and teaching His Word, that they should be obeyed and followed

        • We not only see this mark proclaimed to us through teaching, but also through a picture

    • METAPHOR: ​​ The Flock of God (1 Peter 5:1-4)

        • Fellow elder

          • Peter does not use his position as an apostle to elevate himself above the other elders

          • He positions himself as a fellow elder that was privileged to witness Jesus’ sufferings and share in the glory that will be revealed in future

        • Shepherds of God’s flock

          • “To ‘shepherd’ means ‘to lead, to guide, and to rule.’ . . . According to that psalm [Psalm 23], the tasks of a shepherd are to lead (v. 2), to provide spiritual guidance and feeding (v. 3), to offer comfort (v. 4), strengthening (v. 5), and correction (v. 2).” [Max Anders, I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude, ed. Max Anders, vol. 11 of Holman New Testament Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 1999), 89.]

          • John 21:16, Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” ​​ He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” ​​ Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

            • This was the second time that Jesus asked Peter this question, after His resurrection

            • The same Greek word is used in John 21:16, by Jesus, that Peter uses in 1 Peter 5:2 – he hasn’t forgotten what Jesus exhorted him to do

          • Shepherding/Taking care involves two relationships as Wiersbe points out

            • Being among the people (know their needs/problems)

            • Being over the people (lead them and help solve problems)

        • Attitude of a shepherd

          • Willingness, not a task/duty

          • Not greedy for money, but certainly worthy of his hire

          • Eager – with enthusiasm, excitement, and energy [Anders, 89]

          • Being an example to the flock

        • “Just as a flock of sheep follows their shepherd, we follow Jesus, our Shepherd. ​​ Just as a flock of sheep are submitted to and obey their shepherd, we submit to and obey Jesus and the under-shepherd’s He has appointed for us.” ​​ [Matt Kyser]

        • So, how does this apply to our lives?

    • APPLICATION (how will we know if this mark of The Church marks Our Church?)

        • We can clearly see the leaders in our church being led by Jesus (John 21:22)

          • Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? ​​ You must follow me.” (NIV)

          • Jesus is talking with Peter by the Sea of Galilee after His resurrection

          • He has shared with him about the kind of death he would experience and Peter asks about John, who was following them

          • Jesus wanted Peter to follow Him regardless of what would happen to anyone else

        • We can clearly see the leaders in our church leading like Jesus (Mark 8:34-35)

          • Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. ​​ For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (NIV)

          • Our desire as leadership in the church is to daily deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus

          • We want to lead like Jesus, so that when you follow you will be following Jesus

        • We can clearly see the leaders in our church leading to Jesus (Colossians 1:28)

          • We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. (NIV)

          • Pastor Marc and I strive to admonish and teach you with all wisdom

          • Our desire is to be able to present you perfect in Christ

        • We can clearly see the people of our church joyfully submitted to their leaders (Hebrews 13:17)

          • Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. ​​ They keep watch over you as men who must give account. ​​ Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. (NIV)

          • We already addressed this verse under the teaching of the apostles

        • Our desire is to have a church filled with leaders who are being led by Jesus, leading like Jesus, and leading to Jesus


  • YOU

    • Idaville Member Survey from RESTOR Renewal Ministries

        • There were two of the five survey questions that were in the top fifteen of the least difficult for us as a church

          • “I’m confident that the leaders in our church are biblically qualified leaders as outlined in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.” (8 out of 10)

            • This is so important

            • If the leaders of the church did not meet those qualifications, we would be in trouble

          • “The leaders in our church are clearly submitted to Jesus and His leadership of our church as explained in Scripture and empowered by the Spirit.” ​​ (11 out of 15)

            • This is also important

            • Pastor Marc, the board, and I look to Jesus as our Shepherd

            • We look to the Holy Spirit for guidance and direction in how and where to lead the congregation for the future

        • One of the remaining three questions was in the top 15 of most difficult for us

          • “I desire to lead others the way my leaders lead our church.” ​​ (12 out of 15)

            • It is hard to determine from the survey why this scored in the top 15 of the most difficult for us

            • When we look at the two previous survey questions it is clear that the leaders are biblically qualified, submitted to Jesus, and empowered by the Spirit

            • So, I’m at a loss as to why individuals in the church do not desire to lead others the way the leaders of our church lead

            • Some people do not want to lead at all, but rather serve behind the scenes

            • Others feel like they do not qualify to lead

          • That leaves two final questions

        • The two remaining questions fell in the middle

          • “Our leaders are the kinds of leaders I desire to submit myself to.”

          • “I will joyfully follow the lead of our leaders in the next season in the life of our church.”

          • If the leaders of the church are biblically qualified, submitted to Jesus, and empowered by the Spirit, then as the flock of God, here at Idaville Church, we should:

            • Want to lead others the way the leaders of the church lead

            • Desire to submit ourselves to the leaders

            • Joyfully follow the lead of the leaders in the next season in the life of our church

    • Next Steps

        • Leaders

          • We need to make sure that we are being among the people, so we will know their needs and problems that they face

          • We also need to be lead well by helping them to solve their problems

          • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to connecting with the people of Idaville Church, so I can lead them well.

        • People

          • As the leaders of the church commit to connecting with you all and leading you well, then we should submit to them and joyfully follow their lead

          • This is does not mean that we will always agree with them, but if they are biblically qualified, submitted to Jesus, and empowered by the Spirit we can have confidence in their leadership

          • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Submit to the leadership of Idaville Church and joyfully follow their lead for the future.

        • Everyone

          • Our theme this year is “love one another”

          • Romans 12:9-10, Love must be sincere. ​​ Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. ​​ Be devoted to one another in love. ​​ Honor one another above yourselves.

          • If both leadership and the people strive to follow these two verses, then everything will work out for God’s glory

          • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Love sincerely, hate what is evil, cling to what is good, be devoted to my brothers and sisters at Idaville Church, and honor others above myself.


  • WE

    • Vision

        • Core Values

          • “We live, model, and share the importance of being Biblically grounded.”

          • “Our leadership strives to be led more by Jesus, to lead more like Jesus, so we can lead more to Jesus.”

        • Growth Strategy

          • Three+ Uniques – “Preaching and teaching God’s Word.”

    • Traction

        • “Begin a leadership development program.”



I want to open the altar this morning for anyone who would like to commit to the next steps outlined in the message today. ​​ Every one of us is probably guilty of not doing something that we should be doing.



8 Marks Of The Church

The Sacrament Observing Church



Urban Legends


“There are bodies buried in Hoover Dam.


This is one urban legend that just won’t die. While there were many fatalities involved in the making of Hoover Dam, zero involved workers slipping into the mix and being covered up with concrete. It’s not hard to see its prominence in the human consciousness though, with six bodies buried in Montana’s Fort Peck Dam.”




“The dam was built in interlocking blocks. Each block was five feet high. The smallest blocks were about 25 feet by 25 feet square, and the largest blocks were about 25 feet by 60 feet. Concrete was delivered to each block in buckets, eight cubic yards at a time. After each bucket was delivered, five or six men called ‘puddlers’ would stamp and vibrate the concrete into place, packing it down to ensure there were no air pockets in it. Each time a bucket was emptied, the level of concrete would raise from two inches up to six inches, depending on the size of the block. With only a slight increase in the level at any one time, and the presence of several men watching the placement, it would have been virtually impossible for anyone to be buried in the concrete. So, there are no bodies buried in Hoover Dam.


The ‘official’ number of fatalities involved in building Hoover Dam is 96. These were men who died at the dam site (classified as ‘industrial fatalities’) from such causes as drowning, blasting, falling rocks or slides, falls from the canyon walls, being struck by heavy equipment, truck accidents, etc. Industrial fatalities do not include deaths from heat, pneumonia, heart trouble, etc.”




There are many common myths about the church that are misguided at best and dangerous at worst



  • Myth

    • You can emphasize the sacraments as much as you want and be a healthy church

    • This myth, if believed, can be dangerous because:

        • It neglects the two main ways Jesus desired for us to identify with Him and His Gospel, together

        • It robs us of the two most compelling and consistent reminders of what Jesus has done for us and our union with him

    • We know this is a myth because Jesus said a clear mark of a healthy church would be a church filled with people who remember Him and remember they are united with Him through observing and practicing baptism and communion


Let’s pray


  • GOD

    • MARK: ​​ The Sacrament Observing Church

        • The Sacrament Observing Church and the Teaching of Jesus (Luke 22:14-20; Matthew 28:19-20)

          • Communion (Luke 22:14-20)

            • This is Luke’s retelling of the Last Supper

            • Jesus and His disciples are enjoying the Passover meal together

            • This will be the last time that Jesus eats the Passover with them until it finds its fulfillment in the kingdom of God

            • Jesus was not going to drink wine with them again until God establishes His kingdom on earth

            • Jesus then explains the significance of the bread and wine as it pertains to His death

              • The bread represented His body that He was giving for them

                • Jesus experienced a scourging that actually killed other men

                • He had a crown of thorns embedded in his head

                • Nails were hammered through His wrists and feet

                • A spear was thrust into His side

                • Jesus’ body was given for us!

                • That’s what He was helping His disciples understand through the Last Supper

              • The wine symbolized His blood that would be poured out for all humanity

                • The lacerations that were opened up on Jesus’ back during the scourging caused His blood to flow

                • The crown of thorns being embedded in his scalp created open wounds that allowed His blood to be poured out

                • The nail holes in Has hands and feet created openings for blood to flow

                • The spear, thrust into His side, allowed the blood and water that had accumulated in His torso to pour out

              • Perhaps the disciples did not understand the significance of what Jesus was saying at this point, but within a day they would understand completely

            • Jesus was modeling for the disciples what they were supposed to do – it was not just emphasizing the importance of the Last Supper, but it was actually participating in and observing the Last Supper again and again

            • Jesus also instructed His disciples about baptism

          • Baptism (Matthew 28:19-20)

            • Matthew 28:16-20 has the heading, Jesus Gives the Great Commission

              • This is the mission of every church

              • It is our mission – Pursue, Grow, and Multiple Disciples

                • It is a the top of our bulletin

                • We have banners at the front of the sanctuary

                • We are now including it at the bottom of our weekly email updates

                • It’s included on page 3 of the Yearbook

                • It is part of the message on the inside cover of the Spiritual Life Journal

                • It is on the back of all three Challenge Coins

              • Growth

                • Part of the growth process of a new believer is recognizing the need to go through believers baptism

                • Believers baptism is an outward expression of an inward decision

                • The believer is letting others know they have given their lives wholly to Jesus Christ – He is their Lord and Savior

            • Jesus modeled baptism

              • In Matthew 3:13-17 we find Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist

              • John is reluctant to baptize Jesus, because He knows who He is

              • He feels like he should be baptized by Jesus

              • Jesus tells him that His baptism is to fulfill all righteousness, which appeases John and he consents to do it

              • As Jesus comes up out of the water we see the Holy Spirit descend in the form of a dove and we hear the voice of God the Father approving of Jesus

          • Jesus modeled the importance of observing the sacrament of baptism and He commissioned us to continue to observe it

        • The Sacrament Observing Church and the Teaching of the Early Church (Acts 2:38, 42)

          • Baptism (Acts 2:38)

            • Background

              • As we have mentioned over the past few weeks, Acts 2 is talking about Pentecost

              • This is the time when God poured out His Spirit on the Apostles and they preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ with boldness

              • Peter is the primary Apostle who addresses the crowd and at the end of his address we see the crowd’s reaction

              • When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do.” ​​ (Acts 2:37)

            • Peter’s response (Acts 2:38-39)

              • Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. ​​ And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. ​​ The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39)

              • We see that the early church not only needed to repent (180 degree turn), but also needed to be baptized

              • Peter is not saying that baptism forgives our sins – repentance is what does that

                • Baptism aligns us with Christ and other disciples of Christ

                • “Acts 2:38 should not be used to teach salvation by baptism. If baptism is essential for salvation, it seems strange that Peter said nothing about baptism in his other sermons (Acts 3:12–26; 5:29–32; 10:34–43). In fact, the people in the home of Cornelius received the Holy Spirit before they were baptized (Acts 10:44–48)! Since believers are commanded to be baptized, it is important that we have a clean conscience by obeying (1 Peter 3:21), but we must not think that baptism is a part of salvation. If so, then nobody in Hebrews 11 was saved, because none of them was ever baptized.” ​​ [Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Dynamic, BE Series Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2010), 42.]

                • Peter is making it clear that baptism is an important part of being a disciple of Christ

                • He encouraged the crowd to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ

                  • This was significant, because John the Baptist was already baptizing people with water for repentance

                  • “John baptized people as a sign that they had asked God to forgive their sins and had decided to live as he wanted them to live.” ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, footnote for Matthew 3:11, pg. 1646]

                  • This was before Jesus had died on the cross, was buried, and came alive again to take the punishment for humanity’s sins

                  • From that point on, those who believed in Jesus and repented of their sins, would be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ – identifying with His saving power through His death, burial, and resurrection

              • Peter used many other words to warn the crowd and he pleaded with them (Acts 2:40)

              • The result was that about 3,000 accepted the message, repented, and were baptized in one day! (Acts 2:41)

            • The early church not only taught about the importance of baptism, it also taught about the importance of communion

          • Communion (Acts 2:42)

            • The new believers devoted themselves to four things:

              • The Apostles’ teaching

              • Fellowship – koinōnia

                • It certainly can have the idea of sharing everything – having in common, which we see in Acts 2:44-45

                • “Here the believers fulfilled the words the Lord gave his disciples just before the crucifixion: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34–35).” ​​ [Kenneth O. Gangel, Acts, ed. Max Anders, vol. 5 of Holman New Testament Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 1998), 31.]

              • Breaking of bread

                • This is referring to the Lord’s Supper/Communion

                • It was probably part of a regular meal

                • They would conclude the meal by remembering the body and blood of Christ, until He returns

              • Prayer – corporate prayer

            • It is noteworthy that these new believers were participating in these four things on a daily basis (it was a unique feature around Pentecost, but was not maintained or practical in later New Testament settings) – we don’t practice that today, but perhaps we should

          • The early church not only taught about baptism and communion, they also observed and practiced it

        • The Sacrament Observing Church and the Teaching of the Apostles (Romans 6:1-4; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

          • Baptism (Romans 6:1-4)

            • The Apostle Paul makes it clear how baptism connects us to Christ

            • “The picture in baptism points two ways, backwards to Christ’s death and burial and to our death to sin (verse 1), forwards to Christ’s resurrection from the dead and to our new life pledged by the coming out of the watery grave to walk on the other side of the baptismal grave (F. B. Meyer).” [A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Accordance electronic ed. (Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 2001), paragraph 4711.]

            • Paul also taught about communion

          • Communion (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

            • This is one of the passages that I use when we observe communion together

            • Paul received this message from the Lord when he was in Arabia for three years (Galatians 1:15-18)

            • Jesus enlightened Paul to what happened at the very first Lord’s Supper

            • Paul is then passing this message on to the Corinthian believers as something they should be observing and practicing

        • The Apostle Paul not only taught the importance of baptism and communion, he observed and practiced them

    • METAPHOR: ​​ The Body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23)

        • “As the body of Christ, we’re the locus of Jesus activity now, just as His physical body was during His earthly ministry.” ​​ [Matt Kyser]

        • “Through baptism, we are not only united with Christ in His body, but picture His death and resurrection to the world around us.” ​​ [Matt Kyser]

          • Greg Laurie talks about how they observe baptism at a cove on the beach in Orange County California – inevitably there will be people walking along the beach who stop to ask what is happening (sometimes those individuals believe in Jesus and are also baptized)

          • Wade and Seth were baptized in the Pacific Ocean when the church we attended in Southern California had their own beach baptism – there were people who stopped and asked what was happening

          • In 2019 I had the privilege of baptizing Wyatt and Alayna Derr at Fuller Lake with other individuals we didn’t know watching

          • Also in 2019 Alger Melton and I baptized Randy Bouder at a boat ramp in the Susquehanna River and a another family arrived while we were doing it

        • “As the Body of Christ, we are nourished and directed by Him as the Head of His Body, and are reminded about this every time we take communion.” ​​ [Matt Kyser]

    • APPLICATION (how will we know if this mark of The Church marks Our Church?)

        • We will see regular baptisms (Acts 2:38)

          • In 2021 we had seven people who were baptized

          • In 2020 we had one person baptized

          • In 2019 there were eight people baptized

        • We will share communion on a regular basis (1 Corinthians 11:25)

          • Our normal practice has been to observe communion at the beginning of each quarter (January, April, July, & October)

          • We also observe communion during the Maundy-Thursday and Good Friday services

        • We will see baptism as:

          • A sacred act (Acts 2:36-41) [the early church]

          • A sign & symbol (Romans 6:1-14) [Apostles]

          • A sacred initiation (1 Corinthians 12:12-27)

            • Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-27

            • We are all connected to the Body of Christ as disciples of Christ

            • We are one unit made up of many parts

            • We all have different areas of giftedness that the Lord uses in cooperation to allow the body to function correctly

        • We will see communion as an opportunity to:

          • Remember Jesus (Read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

          • Remember to repent of sin (Read 1 Corinthians 11:27-32)

            • We are going to observe communion following the message

            • I don’t know how it works, but we see here that many among the Corinthian believers were weak and sick and some had died

            • It appears that the weakness, sickness, and even death were a result of not recognizing the body of the Lord when they practiced the Lord’s Supper

            • It is a serious thing to come to the Communion with an unprepared heart. It is also a serious thing to receive the Supper in a careless manner. Because the Corinthians had been sinning in their observing of the Lord’s Supper, God had disciplined them. ‘For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep [have died]’ (1 Cor. 11:30).” [Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Wise, BE Series Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2010), 129.]

            • Warren Wiersbe says that the Lord’s Supper can be a blessing and provide spiritual growth if we come with the right attitude

            • How can it be a blessing? ​​ Wiersbe gives us four ways:

              • We should look back (vv. 23-26a) – broken bread reminds us of Jesus’ body and the cup reminds us of Jesus blood shed for us

              • We should look ahead (v. 26b) – we observe the Lord’s Supper until he returns

              • We should look within (vv. 27-28, 31-32) – we do not have to be worthy to take communion, but we do have to do it in a worthy manner (“we have to examine our own hearts, judge our sins, and confess them to the Lord”) [Wiersbe]

              • We should look around (vv. 33-34) – we have to discern the Lord’s body (the church) and be unified and loving (love one another)

          • Remember to reconcile with other believers (Read 1 Corinthians 11:17-22, 33-34)

            • The Corinthian believers had tainted the Lord’s Supper by allowing cliques to develop and selfishness to prevail

            • The rich brought a lot of food and ate together, while the poor had little to no food and were not included with the rich

            • The agape feast was supposed to be a meal that included everyone and provided for all

          • Remember to rejoice at His return (Read 1 Corinthians 11:26)

        • Our desire is to have a church filled with people who remember Jesus and remember they are united with Jesus through observing and practicing baptism and communion


  • YOU

    • Idaville Member Survey from RESTOR Renewal Ministries

        • There was one of the five survey questions that was in the top ten of least difficult for us as a church

          • “Our church provides regular, consistent opportunities to receive communion.” ​​ (9 out of 10).

          • Once a quarter and around Easter

          • Communion is for disciples of Jesus Christ – those who have believed in Him and repented of their sins

            • It does not have any significance for someone who is not a disciple of Jesus Christ

            • They are not remembering the broken body of Jesus or that His blood was poured out for the forgiveness of their sins

            • We will be observing communion at the end of the message today

            • Today could be the first time you observe communion as a disciple of Jesus Christ

            • Gospel

              • Romans 3:23 (all have sinned)

              • Romans 6:23 (wages of sin is death)

              • Romans 5:8 (God demonstrated His love for you)

              • 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (Jesus fulfilled Scripture through His death, burial, and resurrection)

              • Romans 10:9-10, That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ​​ For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Be saved today by confessing with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believing in my heart that God raised Him from the dead.

          • Where did the other survey questions fall?

        • Three of the remaining four questions were in the top 15 of most difficult for us

          • “There is regular teaching in our church on the meaning and purpose of baptism and communion.” ​​ (11 out of 15)

            • I hope that today was helpful in understanding the meaning and purpose of baptism and communion

            • I will strive to provide regular teaching about the meaning and purpose of baptism and communion, especially when they come up in Scripture and when we observe these two sacraments

          • “Our church provides regular opportunities for people to be baptized, and I can remember the last person who was baptized in our church.” ​​ (13 out of 15)

            • Most of us know that we usually provide one baptismal service a year, which is right after church and right before the VBS picnic in August

              • We are not limited to just this one baptismal service each year or to one location (the parsonage pool)

              • There are local churches that have a baptismal in their sanctuary that would welcome us

              • There are portable baptismal units that can be used indoors

            • Here are the names of the people who were baptized in the past three years

              • 2021 – Stewart Gebhart, Silas Brown, and Joe, Marsie, Alister, & Josephine Wynn

              • 2020 – Keith Strine

              • 2019 – Willow Toney, Christopher Sauble, Jennifer Sauble, Brenda Wible, Jeremy Melton, Randy Bouder, Wyatt Derr, Alayna Derr

            • We are committed to observing baptism whenever individuals are ready to take that step of faith

          • “The people in our church know what baptism is, why it is important to their life and the life of the church, and have been baptized.” ​​ (14 out of 15)

            • I hope that today’s message has helped everyone to understand what baptism is and why it is important to your life and the life of the church

            • If you have not participated in believers baptism, I would like to encourage you to take that step of spiritual growth

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Indicate my desire to participate in believer’s baptism.

        • The fifth question is in the middle as it pertains to most or least difficult for our church

          • “The people in our church know what communion is and why it is important to their life and the life of the church, and look forward to receiving communion.”


  • WE

    • Vision

        • Core Values

          • We are a family that is loving, caring, and welcoming

            • This includes times around the Lord’s Table (communion)

            • It also includes helping new believers take the growth step into baptism

          • Our leadership strives to be led more by Jesus, to lead more like Jesus, so we can lead more to Jesus

            • We want to follow the lead of Jesus, the early church, and the Apostles as it pertains to observing baptism and communion

            • As we lead more to Jesus, they will participate in baptism and communion

        • Core Focus

          • Pursue, Grow, and Multiply Disciples

          • This comes from Jesus commission in Matthew 28:19-20, which includes baptism

    • Traction

        • Have a 10% increase in the pursuit of holiness as evidenced through salvations, baptisms, and accountability



As we prepare for communion this morning, I would like to open up the altar for remembrance, repentance, reconciliation, and rejoicing.



Father’s Day

A Father’s Love

(Luke 15:11-24)



VIDEO – The Prodigal Son, A Father’s Love.



  • ME

    • Wrecked car

        • When I was in high school and working at Chick-fil-A we were always the last group to leave the mall

        • The security guards would close the upper parking lot before we were finished, so one person would go up and bring everyone else’s car down and park it in the regular parking lot

        • One evening I gave my Dad’s car keys to the one employee who was bringing everyone’s car down

        • I asked if she knew how to drive a stick shift and she said, “Yes!”

        • Within the half hour I got the news that she had driven my Dad’s Ford Bronco II into the cement base of the light that I had parked under

        • I was so afraid to call my Dad, but I did anyhow

        • I remember crying as I told him what happened

        • His response was love, care, and concern for me and not the car

        • He wanted to make sure that I was alright

    • My brother

        • If you were here on May 23, 2021 you heard my Father begin the message by telling you how proud he was of his children

        • They are all serving the Lord in some capacity

        • He told you about how my brother had been an alcoholic for 16 years

        • My Dad and Mom never stopped loving him and praying for him

        • The love and prayers are what sustained my brother through a very difficult time in his life

        • He returned to the Lord and has an active, intimate relationship with Jesus


  • WE

    • Loving father

        • I know that some of us here, this morning, could tell similar stories about our father’s

        • We would be able to share how our fathers were loving, caring, and concerned about us, instead of a car or some other material possession that was ruined on our watch

    • Unloving fathers

        • I’m also aware that there are those of us, here today, that don’t have any good memories of our fathers

        • Our fathers were harsh, unkind, and unloving

        • Perhaps they were verbally, mentally and/or physically abusive

        • We don’t want anything to do with our fathers


Jesus told three parables in Luke 15 about lost things (lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son). ​​ We’re going to focus on the lost son this morning, because it talks about human beings and relationships. ​​ Jesus used the parable to illustrate God the Father’s love, card, and concern for us as human beings. ​​ Since God the Father is holy (perfect) we can look to Him, especially when our earthly fathers have failed us, or after our earthly fathers have passed on. ​​ Luke wants us to understand that . . .


BIG IDEA – ​​ God never stops loving us.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Luke 15:11-24)

    • Rebellion (vv. 11-16)

        • Financial windfall (vv. 11-13a)

          • Most of us would probably say that we expect some kind of inheritance from our parents

            • Proverbs 13:22, A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.

            • 1 Timothy 5:8, If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

          • We would probably agree that we don’t really talk about our inheritance, though

            • The Lord has blessed Judy and I

            • My parents have talked to my brother, sister, and I about various furniture pieces in their house, so they know what we would like to have when they’re gone

            • I’ve told my parents that there isn’t anything I have to have

            • I’m content to have whatever is leftover – the sentimental value is more important to me than the item itself

            • I’ve heard stories of that not being the case in some families – there are fights and hard feelings after the individual passes away, because more than one person wants a particular item

          • Unusual request

            • In this parable, the younger son makes an uncharacteristic request

            • In the Ancient Near East it was not common practice to divide the inheritance prior to death

            • That normally happened after the patriarch was gone

            • The younger son wanted his share of the estate while his father was still living

          • Request granted

            • We begin to see the character and love of the father at the very beginning of this parable

            • He grants the younger son’s request

            • The father divided his property between the older and younger son

              • The older son received double the inheritance – two-thirds

              • Deuteronomy 22:17, He must acknowledge the son of his unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double share of all he has. ​​ That is the first sign of his father’s strength. ​​ The right of the firstborn belongs to him.

              • The younger son would only receive one-third

              • That was enough for him

            • I can only imagine what the younger son was saying prior to receiving his portion of the estate

              • Perhaps it’s the same things we hear today from our own children

              • “I can’t wait to leave this house and be out on my own!”

              • “I can’t stand being a part of this family, I want to move out!”

            • While it was certainly not the desire or wish of the father, he lovingly grants the younger sons request

          • Liquidating his portion of the estate

            • Not long after that . . .

              • The younger son had to have time to liquid his portion of the estate

              • He didn’t waste any time

              • Certainly part of his inheritance included property and land

              • He had to sell that, so he could have the money he desired

            • Once he had the money in hand, he was ready to move out and move on

          • “Schrenk (TDNT 5:983-84) perceptively suggests that this image pictures the heavenly Father letting the sinner go his own way.” ​​ [Bock, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Luke 9:51-24:53, 1310]

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God allows us to pursue our free will.

            • God never forces human beings to be in a relationship with Him

            • His desire is that we will want to be in a relationship with Him, since He created us

              • Jeremiah 31:3, The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with lovingkindness.

              • Acts 17:27-28, God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ​​ ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ ​​ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

              • John 1:12, Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

            • Most of us know of someone who is currently pursuing their own free will

              • As followers of Jesus Christ, we know what God’s desire is and that’s what makes it so difficult to watch a loved one pursue the things of this world instead the Lord

              • We can certainly give them sound advice

              • We can also pray for them

              • Never stop loving them and letting them know that you love them

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Pray for the person I know who is pursuing their free will and let them know I love them.

            • We’ll see that the father, in this parable, never stopped loving his son

          • The younger son has sold all of his inheritance and has the money in hand – now it’s time to leave

        • Freedom (v. 13b)

          • The younger son left for a distant country and wasted his wealth on wild living

          • Out on our own

            • Most of us didn’t move to a distant country – although most mothers would say that having their child move out of state is like them moving to a distant country

            • Do you remember what you did when you were finally out on your own?

            • Whether it was renting your first apartment or going off to college, do you remember what you decided to do or not do, since you were independent?

            • I remember deciding to stay up as late as I wanted, although my parents pretty much let me do that the last two years of high school (I just remember not feeling guilty about)

            • I know that other young people decided that they were no longer going to go to church

            • Others made decisions about what they would eat or drink, who they would hang out with, what they would watch or listen to, and perhaps how they spoke

            • Maybe they were already doing those things, but were guarded around their parents – now they pursued those things without being guarded or feeling guilty

          • I’m sure life was grand, for the younger son, until the money ran out

        • Famine (vv. 14-16)

          • To make things worse, the country where he was currently living experienced a severe famine

          • The young man had no money and now there was no food

          • He did want he needed to do to survive

            • He hired himself out

            • We have to remember the setting in which Jesus is telling this parable

              • Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. ​​ But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1-2)

              • The Pharisees and teachers of the law were concerned with who Jesus was welcoming and who He was eating with

              • Jesus was trying to help them understand that they needed to be reaching the lost, which required welcoming them and eating with them

              • The Jewish religious leaders would have struggled with one of their sons feeding pigs

              • Pigs were considered unclean animals, which had to be avoided

            • Although the young man had a job, no one gave him anything

              • He probably had some meager wages, but was still having trouble finding food to buy

              • The famine was so severe that he was still going hungry

          • Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom, before we realize what we had when we lived at home

        • That’s exactly what happened with this young man

    • Repentance (vv. 17-20a)

        • Wisdom (v. 17)

          • This young man knew that the men his father hired were not starving like him

          • In fact, they had food to spare

          • These hired men were not even family, yet they were well taken care

          • Wisdom is “the ability to use your knowledge and experience to make good decisions and judgments.” [https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/wisdom]

          • This young man used his knowledge of his father’s household and his current experience, of starving to death, to make a good decision to humble himself and return home

        • Humility (vv. 18-19)

          • We see humility in the rehearsed statement he is planning to share with his father

          • Recognizing that his desire to pursue his own free will, by requesting his portion of the estate and then wasting it on wild living, was sin, and that showed great humility on his part

            • Humility is not an easy characteristic to achieve, because it requires the acknowledgment of wrong

            • It requires that we repent and own our faults

            • The young man realized that he had not only sinned against his father, but also against God

          • We also see his humility in the fact that he was willing to be considered a hired hand instead of family

            • He had disgraced his family’s name, through his wild living

            • Even though he had done these things in a distant country, word had gotten back to his family

            • We see that in the older son’s response to his father

            • “But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!” (Luke 15:30)

          • When this young man comes to his senses, he doesn’t hesitate

        • Action (v. 20a)

          • He got up and went to his father

          • He left his job of feeding pigs

          • He left the distant country where he had pursued his own free will to return to his father’s house

        • PRINCIPLE #2 – With wisdom and humility comes repentance and restoration.

          • The young man was ready to repent, which showed great wisdom and humility on his part

          • Perhaps that’s where some of us are at today

            • We have been pursuing our own free will

            • We have turned away from our family and from God

            • We have sinned against heaven and our families

            • We have separated ourselves from those who love us and support us (family and God)

          • It’s not too late to pursue wisdom and humility and to repent and return

          • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Recognize my sin, repent of it, and return to the Lord and my family.

        • We see the humility of the son in returning home, but we also see the humility of the father in his response

    • Restoration (vv. 20b-24)

        • Compassion (v. 20b)

          • The son hasn’t even gotten to his father’s estate yet, but the father sees him

            • This tells us that the father was looking for the son every day

            • His desire was that his son would return home

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – No matter how sinful you are, God waits patiently and lovingly for you to return to him.

          • The father was filled with compassion

            • He never stopped loving his son

            • The same is true of God – He never stops loving us

            • God’s desire is that we return to Him

          • Humility expressed

            • In the culture of the day, a father would never have run

            • He definitely wouldn’t have run to embrace a son who had humiliated and brought disgrace on the family name

            • And yet, that’s exactly what this father did

            • He expressed his love for his son by hugging and kissing him

            • Too often men are stoic when it comes to expressing their love, even for their children

              • How many times have we heard adult children say that their father never told them that he loved them?

              • Father’s will tell us that their children knew they loved them, even if they didn’t say it

              • Guess what, guys? ​​ Our children need to hear us say that we love them

              • It’s not too late to tell them that, even if they are grown

              • My challenge for father’s today is to take time this week to reach out to your children and tell them that you love them

              • Their response may be, “Dad, have you been diagnosed with a terminal illness?” ​​ “Are you going to die?”

              • It may come as a shock to them, but I encourage you to do it anyway, and continue to do it!

          • Perhaps there are those here today who didn’t have a loving father

            • Our fathers may have passed away, so we’ll never hear them say that they love us

            • I want to encourage those of us, who are experiencing that, with these words from Scripture

              • Psalm 103:13-18, As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. ​​ As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. ​​ But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.

              • John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

              • Jeremiah 31:3, The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with lovingkindness.

            • God never stops loving us.

          • The son repents and receives forgiveness and restoration

        • Forgiveness (vv. 21-24)

          • The son only gets to share the first half of his rehearsed statement

            • It’s the most important part – repentance!

            • He tells his father that he has sinned against heaven and against him

            • He is no longer worthy to be called his son

            • He never gets to express his willingness to forfeit his status as a son and be considered a hired hand

          • Restoration

            • What we see next is the restoration of this young man to the family unit

            • The father won’t consider his son anything but family

            • The items requested by the father were for family only (best robe, ring, sandals)

            • Hired hands didn’t receive these items – most hired hands didn’t wear any shoes

            • PRINCIPLE #4 – God restores us when we repent.

              • Sin separates us from God (Rom. 3:23; Rom. 6:23)

              • Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection enables us to have that relationship restored (2 Cor. 5:18-21, All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: ​​ that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. ​​ And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. ​​ We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. ​​ We implore you on Christ’s behalf: ​​ Be reconciled to God. ​​ God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God)

              • Children of God (John 1:12, Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.)

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Repent of my sins and become a child of God.

          • Celebration

            • The father instructs the servants to bring the fattened calf and kill it

            • A celebration is about to begin

            • The father is celebrating the fact that the son, he thought he had lost through death, is alive and has returned!

            • There is a celebration every time someone repents and returns to the Lord

              • Luke 15:7, I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

              • Luke 15:10, In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

            • God is poised and ready to start the celebration when you repent and turn to Him

            • Today is that day!


  • YOU

    • Who do you know that is pursuing their own free will? ​​ (are you praying for them and have you told them you love them?)

    • Are you ready to pursue wisdom and humility and repent and return to the Lord? ​​ (God is waiting patiently and lovingly for you to return to Him.)

    • God is ready to restore you, are you ready to repent?


  • WE

    • As followers of Jesus Christ, we need to love those who are pursuing the things of this world.

    • Who do we need to love today?



“I will never forget the man’s face that June afternoon as he sat there on those hard bleacher seats in the high school football stadium. The hot sun was constantly pulling sweat from his body and turning his face a nice shade of pink. He was oblivious. His eyes focused on one young man on the football field. ‘What’s up?’ I whispered. ‘I am waiting for my son. Soon he will cross the stage and get his honors diploma. Then it is off to college on a full academic scholarship. We are so proud of him.’


Two years later I met the same man. He called me to go with him. We rode in silence up the interstate to the university town. We met a lawyer and walked across the street to the county jail ‘What’s up?’ I finally asked. ‘I am waiting for my son,’ he sniffed, trying to hold back the tears. ‘Police picked him up for shoplifting. Afraid he is on drugs, too.’


Just a few months ago, I met my friend yet again. This time I was seated in a beautiful little church. The man stood by his son at the front looking up the aisle. If I could have whispered again, ‘What’s up?’ he would have whispered back, ‘I am waiting for my son to get married. His beautiful, vivacious bride will be walking down the aisle toward us in just a minute. I am so proud of him. This time I have been waiting ten years, but finally the wait is over. Drugs, alcohol, and jail are all behind him. He is back in church and thinking about going into the ministry. I am so excited.’


This father can read Luke 15 with special understanding. He knows what it means to wait for a prodigal son. He can identify with all the emotions that run through the father after he watched his son disappear down the long road to oblivion. Now he knows the joy of seeing the son come back, penitent and sad, seeking another chance at life. He knows the joy of running to the returning son with outstretched arms, ready to plant a big kiss on him. He truly understands party time. Now each day is a celebration as he experiences the joy of finding a lost sinner, reconciling with a lost son.


Our Father in heaven still stands at the corner looking for another lost child to come home . . . You have a heavenly Father who loves you that much. His open arms wait for you to see that you are a lost sinner needing to come home to Abba, your daddy in heaven. The party can be ready in a flash if you will come. Having come home and enjoyed the party, then you can join the Father at the corner watching for more lost children to come home . . . You can sit beside the elder brother and show him how much the Father has always loved him even if he never got around to party time. You can let the joy flow as you seek the lost and watch as the Father saves them.


[Butler, Holman New Testament Commentary, Luke, 253-54].



Easter Sunday

I Understand!

(Luke 24:36-49)



“Patsy Clairmont beautifully and movingly portrays the reality of recovering from grief. I quote her words because they are so strongly and lovingly written: “We buried my friend’s 26–year–old son last week. An accidental gunshot took Jeff’s life. We have more questions than answers. We are offended at people who have all the answers and no experience with devastating loss.


‘I watched the heart-wrenching scenes as the family tried to come to grips with their tragedy. I can still hear the travailing of the mother’s anguished heart. I can still see the wrenching of the father’s grief-worn hands. I can still feel the distraught sobs that racked the sister’s body as I held her. I can still smell the hospital and the funeral home. Memories march before my mind like soldiers, causing me to relive the agony. If it is this difficult for me, Jeff’s godmother, how much more magnified it must be for his birth mother! I can’t imagine.


As I watched Jeff’s mom, Carol, the week after his death, I observed a miracle. I saw her move from despair to hope. From franticness to peace. From uncertainty to assurance. From needing comfort to extending it.


I witnessed a mom face her worst nightmare and refuse to run away. Instead, she ran to Him. When grief knocked the breath out of Carol, she went to the Breath Giver. I watched as the Lord placed His mantle of grace around her and then supported her with His mercy. The grief process has just begun for Jeff’s loved ones. The Lord will not remove His presence from the Porter family. But there may be moments when He will remove their awareness of His presence. That will allow them to feel the impact of their loss. For He knows it would be our tendency to hide even behind His grace to protect our fragile hearts from the harsh winds of reality. He offers us refuge, but He also promises us wholeness. Wholeness means we are fully present with ourselves and with Him. Therefore, we have to own our pain. If we do not, part of who we are we must either shut down, avoid, or deny. That would leave us estranged from ourselves and divided in our identity. Also, we would never heal in a way that would allow us to minister to others’ (Under His Wings, [Colorado Springs: Focus on the Family, 1994], 139ff.).


The death of Jesus Christ left his followers devastated with grief similar to the Porter family’s. They had lost their best friend, their leader, and their life’s goals, hopes, and dreams. All meaning had disappeared from life. Meeting the resurrected Christ gave them the assurance and power they needed to recover from their grief realistically, regain their wholeness, and renew their commitment to the goal Christ set before them. We have trouble feeling the same grief and loss the disciples felt at Jesus’ death, but we can feel the glory of his resurrection and the joy of being part of his goal for living and for dying.”


[Butler, Holman New Testament Commentary, Luke, 413-14].



  • ME

    • Alternative guitar chords

        • When I first started playing guitar in high school, I took lessons and began to learn scales and chords

        • It was awkward at first trying to get my fingers to hold the position for each chord

        • Once I learned the individual chords then I had to learn how to transition between the various chords, so I could play songs

        • Many years later, while living in California, the worship leader at the church we attended, introduced me to some alternative chords for E, B, A, and C#m

        • This knowledge made it so much easier to transition between those chords and to play many worship songs

        • Let me illustrate it for you this morning on my guitar [Use the song Almighty and show the original chord locations, then show the alternative chord locations]

        • It took me a little bit of time to retrain my brain with the new location for these chords, but once that happen it made playing so much easier

        • I was finally able to say, I understand!


  • WE

    • The nine times table

        • How many of us know our nine times table?

        • Would it be helpful to learn an easy way to remember the nine times table?

        • [Have everyone hold up their hands with their palms facing out]

        • [Show how to lower one finger based on the formula 9 x _ and how the remaining fingers will give them the answer]

    • My guess is that every one of us has a memory of struggling to understand something

        • It may have taken several people explaining it to us in various ways before we got it

        • Once we got it, we were able to say, “I understand!”


The women that went to the tomb early in the morning and the apostles and disciples that were gathered together in Jerusalem did not have a resurrection mindset when it came to the first day of the week after Jesus’ crucifixion. ​​ They had not fully understood Jesus’ teaching from the Old Testament about His purpose on earth and what was going to happen to Him. ​​ So, they were not expecting Him to rise from dead on the third day. ​​ After His resurrection, though, Jesus did something supernatural for them that enabled them to understand the Scriptures and it transformed them all. ​​ This transformation is what motivated them to preach the Gospel to all nations. ​​ We can experience the same transformation today. ​​ Through the Holy Spirit that lives within each follower of Jesus Christ, we have the same power as the apostles and disciples. ​​ We’ll learn from Luke 24:36-49 that . . .


BIG IDEA – Understanding God’s Word, empowers us to witness.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Luke 24:36-49)

    • Physical proof (vv. 36-43)

        • While they were still talking about this

          • We have to go back to verses 13-35 to understand what they were still talking about

          • Those verses share the story of the two believers who encounter Jesus on the road to Emmaus

          • If you remember they were traveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus when Jesus began to walk and talk with them

          • Jesus wanted these two men to express, openly, what they were thinking and feeling about His death and burial, so He acted as though He wasn’t aware of everything that had just transpired in Jerusalem

          • After hearing their hearts, Jesus began to use Scripture to explain that everything that had happened over the past several days had been foretold by Moses and the Prophets

          • The two disciples asked Jesus to stay with them when they arrived in Emmaus, which He eventually agrees to do

          • As they were sharing a meal together, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them

          • At that moment, their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus

          • They weren’t able to talk with Him anymore, because He disappeared

          • They returned to Jerusalem immediately, found the other disciples, and told them what they had experienced

          • This is what the group of disciples was talking about when Jesus appeared to them behind locked doors

        • Jesus’ supernatural appearance

          • Jesus stood among them and greeted them with Shalom

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – Jesus is all-powerful (omnipotent).

            • The disciples were gathered together behind locked doors for fear of the Jews (John 20:19)

            • Jesus didn’t have the key and He didn’t need a key

            • He was able to supernaturally appear to them

            • We don’t know exactly how He did it, but we know that He did do it, because He is all-powerful!

            • This principle and truth should give us hope as we face life’s struggles

              • The disciples were experiencing fear because of the political and religious atmosphere of their culture

              • Some of us can definitely identify with the disciples – we are experiencing fear because of the political and religious atmosphere in our culture

              • Maybe our fear is centered around our health, with the coronavirus and the vaccine

              • Perhaps our fear and anxiety stem from financial struggles as a result of the coronavirus or the loss of a job

              • There are those who are experiencing fear, anxiety, and depression due to the loss of a loved one or a broken relationship

              • Hebrews 4:15, For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin.

              • Jesus is able to sympathize with us through our weaknesses, heart break, fears, anxiety, and depression

              • He’s not only able to sympathize with us, but He is able to do something about it, because He is all-powerful

              • He is waiting for us to sacrifice our independence and self-sufficiency, and rely completely on Him

              • Philippians 4:6-7, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. ​​ And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Recognize Jesus’ omnipotence by crying out to Him with my fears, concerns, and anxious thoughts.

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus’ presence brings peace.

            • When we cry out to God and present our requests to Him with thanksgiving, then we will be able to experience His peace

            • It’s a peace we cannot understand, because it’s supernatural – it comes from a source outside of ourselves

            • I’ve experienced it when I’ve gone through difficult times, and I can’t explain the feeling of peace when I should be experiencing a churning stomach and unrest

            • Perhaps there are those of us here today, that have experienced God’s peace that doesn’t make sense to our finite minds

            • We can rejoice and worship the Lord for providing His peace

          • It appears as though the disciples were not experiencing peace, though

        • Disciples’ reaction

          • The disciple’s fears were elevated

            • They were terrified and thrown into fear

            • They were already fearful and on alert because of the Jews

            • And now someone or something had gained access to their secure location

          • It’s a ghost!

            • Ghost stories

              • I remember as a child, waking up in the middle of the night, once, and thinking that I saw the doorknob on my bedroom door twisting. ​​ I tried to work up enough courage to walk past the door to my parent’s room, but it took a couple of tries. ​​ In fact, I didn’t walk – I ran. ​​ I was already wearing glasses at that age, so I’m certain, now, it was just my eyes playing tricks on me

              • My sister has always been attuned to the spiritual realm. ​​ It wasn’t until I was in college or perhaps after Judy and I were married that she told me about seeing the Grim Reaper standing at the foot of her bed. ​​ It didn’t happen just once, but multiple times.

            • Since the disciples had not understood Jesus’ teaching about His resurrection, they were not expecting Him to show up, in person

            • So, their assumption was that this was Jesus’ ghost

          • Jesus realized what they were thinking, so He asks them a question and then gives them two physical proofs that He is real – He is alive – He has been resurrected!

        • Question

          • “Why are you troubled [frightened], and why do doubts rise in your minds [heart]?”

          • If they had understood Scripture and Jesus’ teaching they would not have been frightened or had doubts – they would have been celebrating Jesus’ appearance

            • It meant that He was alive!

            • Scripture had been fulfilled!

            • Jesus had defeated sin and death!

            • God’s plan of redemption for humanity had been accomplished!

          • Perhaps there are those here today who are afraid of death and/or have doubts about life after death or about who Jesus is

            • The Gospel writers and New Testament writers tell us who Jesus is

              • The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

              • He is the way, the truth, and the life. ​​ No one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6)

              • He is the light of the world (John 8:12)

              • He is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25)

              • He is the bread of life (John 6:35)

              • He is the stone the builders rejected that has become the cornerstone and salvation only comes through Him (Acts 4:11-12)

              • He accomplished this through His death, burial, and resurrection

            • We don’t have to fear death or have doubts about life after death, because Jesus has defeated sin and death

              • We may still have to experience physical death, but eternity with Jesus will far outweigh that experience

              • Physical death, for followers of Jesus, means eternal life with Him in a perfected body

              • You can have assurance about life after death, because of Jesus

                • First, we have to admit that we are a sinner (Rom. 3:23; Rom. 6:23) [Ten Commandments]

                • Second, we have to believe in who Jesus is and why He came to earth (1 Cor. 15:3-4)

                • Third, we have to choose to repent and turn to Jesus for salvation

                  • 2 Corinthians 7:10, Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

                  • Repentance is intentionally and purposely turning away from sin and toward righteousness

                • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Choose to repent of my sins and turn to God for His salvation.

                • As followers of Jesus Christ we can claim the promise found in Hebrews 13:5b-6, . . . God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” ​​ So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. ​​ What can man do to me?”

                • God is always with us – He is omnipresent!

          • Jesus provides two physical proofs to ease the disciples fears and doubts

        • Two physical proofs

          • His body

            • Nail marks in His hands and feet

            • “I have flesh and bones, touch me – I’m real! I’m alive!”

            • “Ghosts don’t have flesh and bones, but I do”

            • This first proof didn’t seem to convince them, probably because they were in shock

            • They were so happy to see Jesus alive, but they were struggling to understand how it happened

            • Nothing like this had ever happened before (someone coming back to life on their own – they had seen Jesus raise Lazarus and others from the dead, but that was different)

          • Food

            • While the disciples are trying to wrap their minds around what they are seeing, Jesus asks them for something to eat

            • This is part of His second proof

            • A ghost was not going to be able to take something tangible, solid and eat it

            • Jesus proved that He was alive by taking the broiled fish and eating it in their presence

        • Jesus provided physical proof on the day of His resurrection that He was real, He was alive!

        • At a later time, He provided intellectual proof also

    • Intellectual proof (vv. 44-49)

        • We don’t know the exact time frame between verses 43 and 44, but it was sometime during the 40 days that Jesus spent with His disciples between His resurrection and ascension

        • Jesus fulfilled Scripture

          • Jesus reminds His disciples that everything that happened to Him while He was on earth was in fulfillment of Old Testament Scripture (Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms)

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – God keeps His word, even when it involves things that seem impossible.

            • God promised to send a Savior

              • Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

              • Isaiah 7:14, Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: ​​ The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (Immanuel means God with us)

            • Jesus is that Savior – He is alive!

          • Jesus opened their minds so they could understand Scripture

            • It’s not that the disciples didn’t know what Jesus was about to tell them

            • They had heard it countless times, even more times than its recorded in our Bibles

            • They were struggling to make the connection between Jesus and what was written in the Scriptures

            • Electrical illustration

              • In an electrical circuit, all the components are there to have power

              • In order for power to run through the circuit the switch has to be engaged, completing the circuit, otherwise no electricity and no lights

            • This is similar to what had happened with the disciples

              • All the components were present – Jesus and the Scriptures

              • The circuit had not been completed in the disciple’s minds – the switch needed to be engaged

              • When Jesus opened their minds, the switch was engaged, the circuit was completed, and the light came on

              • “We understand! ​​ Why didn’t we see this before?”

          • Once the switch was flipped, Jesus reminded them of the past and foretold the future

            • The recent past

              • While it was written about, hundreds of years before, the events had just happened days before

              • The Christ will suffer (Isaiah 53)

              • The Christ will rise from the dead on the third day

              • Both of those things happened to Jesus

            • The future

              • Repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem

                • Jesus was telling them what they would be doing in the future

                • They would tell others what they had seen and heard concerning Jesus and His ministry (that’s what being a witness is)

                • They were going to spread the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the known world

              • They had to wait for the empowering of the Holy Spirit before they began their mission

                • Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

                • Acts 2:1-4, When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. ​​ Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. ​​ They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. ​​ All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

                • We know that Peter stood up with the Eleven and preached the Gospel boldly and about 3,000 were added to their number that day (Acts 2:14, 41)

            • Application

              • Understanding God’s Word, empowers us to witness.

              • PRINCIPLE #4 – The Holy Spirit gives us power to witness for Christ.

                • The same power that the Eleven experienced at Pentecost is living inside of every follower of Jesus Christ

                • The Holy Spirit comes to live within us when we repent and turn our lives over to Jesus Christ

                • The command and commission that Jesus gave to His disciples is for us also

                  • Mark 16:15-16, He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. ​​ Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

                  • Matthew 28:18-20, Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. ​​ Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. ​​ And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

                • Fear

                  • Many of us have fear about sharing the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others

                  • Remember, we have the power of the Holy Spirit living in us to help us share

                  • The Holy Spirit has opened our minds to Scripture and with that understanding we are empowered to witness for Christ

                • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Lord to empower me, through the Holy Spirit, to be a witness of the Gospel to someone this week.


  • YOU

    • Do you need to recognize Jesus’ omnipotence by crying out to Him for help today?

    • Do you need to rest in the fact that Jesus’ presence brings peace?

    • Will you repent of your sins, today, and turned to God for salvation?


  • WE

    • Who will we witness to this week?

    • Who will we pray for and then invite to the revival services on May 17-23, 2021?



“After years of urban living had ground down my childhood love of nature, I found it suddenly rekindled through my friendship with a young photographer named Bob McQuilkin. I was working as a magazine editor at the time, and Bob seemed determined to drag me out of my stale routine and reintroduce me to the joyous world outside.


Once Bob drove his jeep to my office and insisted that I come see two baby owls he'd just rescued. For months he fussed over those scraggly orphaned owls, chasing barn mice and lizards to feed them, then trying to teach them to hunt on their own, and to fly. (Bob teaching a bird to fly!) They'd flutter in soaking wet from a rainstorm—not wise enough yet to find shelter—and Bob would patiently pull out his electric hair dryer and blow them dry. …


Bob was as fully ‘alive’ as anyone I have ever known. And so when I heard [in the fall of 2000] that Bob had died on a scuba-diving assignment in Lake Michigan, I could hardly absorb the news. Bob, dead? It was inconceivable. I could picture Bob doing anything at all—anything but lying still. But that is my last image of him: a 36-year-old body in a blue-plaid flannel shirt lying in a casket. … I would never ski with Bob again, never sit with him for hours viewing slides, never again eat rattlesnake meat or buffalo burgers at his house.


Susan, his widow, asked me to speak at Bob's memorial service. Without a doubt, it was the hardest thing I have ever done. When I stood before them, the magazine editors and art directors and family and neighbors and friends, they reminded me of little birds—Bob's owls—with their mouths open begging for food. Begging for words of solace, for hope. What could I offer them?


I began by telling them what I had been doing the very afternoon Bob was making his last dive. That Wednesday I was sitting, oblivious, in a café at the University of Chicago, reading The Quest for Beauty, by Rollo May. In that book the famous therapist recalls scenes from his lifelong search for beauty, among them a visit to Mount Athos, a peninsula of monasteries attached to Greece.


One morning, Rollo May happened to stumble upon the celebration of Greek Orthodox Easter, the tail end of a church service that had been proceeding all night long. Incense hung in the air. The only light came from candles. And at the height of that service, the priest gave everyone present three Easter eggs, wonderfully decorated and wrapped in a veil. ‘Christos Anesti!’ he said—‘Christ is risen!’ Each person there, including Rollo May, responded according to custom, ‘He is risen indeed!’


Rollo May writes, ‘I was seized then by a moment of spiritual reality: what would it mean for our world if he had truly risen?’


I read Rollo May's question the afternoon that Bob died, and it kept floating around in my mind, hauntingly, after I heard the news. What did it mean for our world that Christ had risen? Why were monks staying up all night to celebrate it? The early Christians had staked everything on the Resurrection, so much so that the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, ‘And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.’


In the cloud of grief over Bob's death, I began to see the meaning of Easter in a new light. …


On Friday Jesus' closest friends had let the relentless crush of history snuff out all their dreams. Two days later, when the crazy rumors about Jesus' missing body shot through Jerusalem, they couldn't dare to believe. … Only personal appearances by Jesus convinced them that something new, absolutely new, had broken out on earth. When that sank in, those same men who had slunk away in fear at Calvary were soon preaching to large crowds in the streets of Jerusalem.


At Bob McQuilkin's funeral, I rephrased Rollo May's question in the terms of our own grief. What would it mean for us if Bob rose again? We were sitting in a chapel, numbed by three days of grief and sadness, the weight of death bearing down upon us. What would it be like to walk outside to the parking lot and there, to our utter astonishment, find Bob. Bob! With his bounding walk, his crooked grin, and clear, grey eyes.


That image gave me a hint of what Jesus' disciples felt on the first Easter. They, too, had grieved for three days. But on Sunday they caught a glimpse of something else, a startling clue to the riddle of the universe. Easter hits a new note, a note of hope and faith that what God did once in a graveyard in Jerusalem, he can and will repeat on a grand scale, for the world. For Bob. For us.”


Source: Philip Yancey, "The Great Reversal," Christianity Today (April 2000).






Don’t Be Afraid!

(Luke 1:5-38; Matthew 1:18-25)



What was your greatest fear about going to the doctor as a child? ​​ Most children are afraid of getting a shot. ​​ As a parent, we try to call them down and let them know they don’t need to be afraid. ​​ It only takes a couple of seconds and it will be over.


As adults, we can be fearful of the unknown. ​​ Anything new can cause us to be fearful. ​​ Starting a new job, moving to a new city or state, going to college for the first time and being out on your own, going to a new school. ​​ All of those can cause us to be fearful.


We’re going to talk about three Biblical characters today that had reasons to be fearful. ​​ They were confronted with things that were new for them that included a visit from an angel.


After 400 years of silence, I can only imagine that the angels were eager to share the good news that Jesus was coming into the world. ​​ They were very busy for a period of time, as we will see today.


The angels had a common theme – Do Not Be Afraid!


BIG IDEA – God is in control, so don’t be afraid!


Let’s pray



  • Zecharias’ Angel Encounter (Luke 1:5-25)

    • This was during the time of Herod’s reign

    • Their background

        • Zecharias (Jehovah has remembered) was from a priestly family – Abijah

        • Elizabeth (God is my oath) was also from a priestly family – descendant of Aaron

        • They were both upright in the sight of God – observing all the commandments and regulations blamelessly

        • In the midst of ungodly surroundings, they were in the world but not of the world

    • The priesthood at this time

        • There were nearly 20,000 young men that were eligible to serve in the temple at this time

        • They were broken up into 24 courses/divisions

        • That meant that each priest served two weeks each year

        • The rest of the year, they took care of their own farms

        • They used the lot system, “according to the custom of the priesthood,” to determine who would serve in what capacity

          • First Lot – cleanse the altar and prepare its fire

          • Second Lot – kill the morning sacrifice and sprinkle the altar, golden candlestick and the altar of incense

          • Third Lot – burning the incense (once in a lifetime opportunity)

        • Proverbs 16:33, The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord

          • This is a practical example of that verse

          • God needed Zecharias to be in the Holy Place on this particular day

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is sovereign! ​​ (God is in control)

            • Do you believe that today?

            • Are you struggling to believe that God is in control?

            • What situation are you going through that’s making you feel like God isn’t in control?

            • There is nothing too hard for Him

            • He can handle whatever fear and anxious thought you are experiencing

          • God is in control, so don’t be afraid!

        • Zecharias was going to need that reminder

    • The Angel of the Lord (Gabriel) appears

        • Zecharias had been chosen, by God, through the lot, to burn the incense

        • As he is standing in front of the altar of incense, Gabriel appears

        • Zecharias’ is startled and gripped with fear

          • startled/troubled – Greek word is tä-rä’s-sō which means “to strike one’s spirit with fear or dread

          • fear – Greek word is fo’-bos which means “fear, dread, terror

          • Can you imagine burning the incense, which was a once in a lifetime experience, and being confronted with an angel from the Lord? ​​ What was going through his mind

            • Was he thinking – “Does this happen to everyone?”

            • Was he thinking – “I’m a dead man. ​​ Did I do something wrong with the burning of the incense.” (it could have meant divine judgment)

        • The angel dispels his fears

          • “Do not be afraid”

          • Your prayer/petition has been heard – Greek word is
            de’-ā-sēs, which means contextually, of prayers imploring God’s aid in some particular matter

            • This matter could have been his prayer for a son

            • It could also have been the prayer of every priest that burned the incense, that God would send the Messiah

          • Because of the next statement, the angel is probably referring to his prayer for a son

            • God answers prayer three ways: ​​ Yes, No and Wait.

            • Zecharias and Elizabeth had been waiting a long time and perhaps had stopped praying for a child

          • They are to name him Johanam/John (The Lord is Gracious)

            • He will be a joy and delight

            • There would be great rejoicing

            • He will be great in the sight of the Lord

            • He is to be a Nazarite – no wine or fermented drink

            • He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth

            • He will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah

            • He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children

              • Malachi 4:5-6, “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. ​​ He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

              • “This quotation from Malachi 4:5-6 is meaningful for more than its reference to Elijah. ​​ These were essentially the last words in the Old Testament, and now God’s revelation is resuming where it had left off.” ​​ [Guzik]

    • Zacharias’ Doubt

        • He asked the angel a question

          • How can I be sure of this?/How will I know this (for certain?)

          • I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.

          • Zacharias is looking at the natural instead of the supernatural

          • He looked at the circumstances first, and what God can do last

          • “It is simply that he feels it must be too good to be true, and he has probably protected himself from disappointment by not setting his expectations too high. ​​ We rob ourselves of many a miracle by the same attitude.” ​​ [Guzik]

          • “This, of course, was unbelief, and unbelief is something God does not accept. ​​ Zacharias was really questioning God’s ability to fulfill His own Word! ​​ Had he forgotten what God did for Abraham and Sarah? ​​ Did he think that his physical limitations would hinder Almighty God?” ​​ [Wiersbe]

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is all-powerful! (omnipotent)

            • Jeremiah 32:17, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. ​​ Nothing is too hard for you.”

            • Are you questioning God’s ability to do the supernatural in your life?

            • Are you questioning God’s ability to handle the struggle that you’re currently experiencing?

              • Are the physical issues you’re having too hard for the Lord?

              • Is the rift in a relationship with someone in your family, at work, in your community, or at church too hard for the Lord?

              • Are the financial struggles you’re experiencing beyond God’s ability to deal with?

              • Is the emotional rollercoaster you’re on too difficult for God to help with?

              • Is the political divide and racial tensions we’re experiencing in our country, right now, out of God’s reach?

              • Are you experiencing fear about any of those situations?

              • Take heart!

              • God is in control, so don’t be afraid!

          • Zecharias was doubting God’s ability to fulfill His Word and we are guilty of the same thing

        • How is your faith in an all-powerful, sovereign God?

        • Zecharias’ faith was going to be strengthened, because the angel was going to give him a sign that would prove God’s power and sovereignty

    • The Angel’s sign

        • First the angel identifies himself as Gabriel

        • He explains that he stands in the presence of God

        • Zacharias will not be able to speak until John is born

        • The people are concerned about Zecharias

          • Zecharias had stayed in the temple longer than most priests who burned the incense

          • They realized that something supernatural had taken place while he was in there, because he couldn’t speak when he came out

          • He tried to communicate what had happened by making signs

            • He was using body language to communicate with them

            • Did you realize that 55% of our communication is nonverbal?

            • Tone is 38%

            • Content is 7%

            • Zecharias should have been able to communicate what had happened with just hand motions and facial expressions

        • When Zecharias had completed his temple service, he returned to his home

    • Zacharias returns home to the hill country

        • After his service was done, we went back to see Elizabeth

        • Elizabeth becomes pregnant

        • Zacharias’ unbelief did not stop the work of God.

        • “Your unbelief will not stop the work of God. ​​ It will not hinder the purposes of God.” ​​ [Chuck Smith]


  • Mary’s Message From God (Luke 1:26-38)

    • Gabriel is busy again

        • Six months after appearing to Zacharias, he is back to earth to speak with Mary

        • He greets her by saying that she is highly favored and that the Lord is with her.

    • Mary was troubled/perplexed by this greeting

        • Greek word is dē-ä-tä-rä’s-sō which means “to agitate greatly, trouble greatly.

        • Why would Mary have been troubled greatly?

          • She was from a poor family and not considered great in the eyes of society

          • She was a simple young girl (15-16 years)

          • Why would she be highly favored

          • This really expresses her humility as a young lady

    • Gabriel sets her mind at ease and then gives her the Good News

        • “Do not be afraid”

        • You have found favor with God

        • Gabriel tells her everything

          • You’re going to be pregnant and give birth to a son

          • Name Him Jesus (Greek) – Jehoshua/Joshua (Hebrew)

          • He will be great and called the Son of the Most High

          • The Lord will give Him the throne of David

          • He will reign over the house of Jacob forever

          • His kingdom will never end

    • Mary’s reaction

        • How would you react if you heard all of that in three quick sentences

        • When a woman is pregnant, they usually tell you that and then pause for your reaction

        • Gabriel didn’t pause

        • I wonder if Mary heard anything after, “You will be with child and give birth to a son . . .

        • Her response leads me to believe that she didn’t

          • How will this be, since I am a virgin?

          • This statement is different from Zacharias in the fact that Mary believed what Gabriel said, but needed some clarification of how it would come about

          • “Her question in Luke 1:34 was not an evidence of unbelief; rather, it was an expression of faith. ​​ She believed the promise, but she did not understand the performance. ​​ How could a virgin give birth to a child?” ​​ [Wiersbe]

    • Gabriel’s clarification

        • The Holy Spirit will come upon you

          • Greek word for “come” is ep-e’r-kho-mī which means “to come upon, overtake one, of the Holy Spirit, descending and operating in one

        • Power of the Most High will overshadow you

          • “The word overshadow means ‘to cover with a cloud,’ like the cloud of Shekinah glory.” [Guzik]

          • “It is the word applied to the presence of God in the holy of holies in the Jewish tabernacle and temple (Ex. 40:35). ​​ Mary’s womb became a holy of holies for the Son of God!” ​​ [Wiersbe]

        • He relays the news that Elizabeth is six months pregnant even though she had been barren

        • He declares the power of Almighty God – “nothing is impossible with God.”

    • Mary’s submission

        • The dream, the hope, the desire of every Jewish girl was coming true for Mary – to be the instrument through which God would send the Messiah.

        • “Many young Jewish girls, when they had a boy born to them, would call his name Joshua. ​​ Hoping that maybe God would use that child to be the instrument of His salvation. ​​ And that was a reason, one of the reasons why being barren was considered such a curse.” ​​ [Chuck Smith]

        • I am the Lord’s servant. ​​ May it be to me as you have said

          • What faith

          • What strength

          • She was willing to be scrutinized by her culture to fulfill the purposes of God

          • “All this took more trust in the Lord than we might think. ​​ Mary agrees to receive a pregnancy that will be seen as suspicious, and this in a culture that had a death penalty for adultery. ​​ Mary identified herself with sinners so that the purpose of God would be fulfilled.” ​​ [Guzik]

          • “A ‘handmaid’ was the lowest kind of female servant, which shows how much Mary trusted God. ​​ She belonged totally to the Lord, body (Luke 1:38), soul (Luke 1:46), and spirit (Luke 1:47).” ​​ [Wiersbe]

          • Mary didn’t need to be afraid of how this supernatural pregnancy was going to happen and how her family, friends, and neighbors would react, because God was in control

        • Application

          • God may call you to do something for Him that seems counter cultural

          • It may be supernatural

          • It will probably cause you to be scrutinized and criticized by your family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors

          • But you don’t have to live in fear about following the Lord

          • God is in control, so don’t be afraid!

    • We’ve seen two supernatural appearances by Gabriel, but there was one more important visit that needed to take place


  • Joseph’s Dream (Matthew 1:18-25)

    • Joseph finds out that Mary is pregnant

        • “Probably, it was after her return from her cousin Elizabeth, with whom she continued three months (Luke 1:56), that she was perceived by Joseph to be with child, and did not herself deny it.” ​​ [Matthew Henry]

        • Imagine for a moment how Joseph must have felt when he found out that Mary was pregnant

        • He knew what his cultural responsibility was, but he loved Mary

    • Joseph was a righteous man

        • He was very concerned about keeping the commands of God

        • He is also merciful

        • “He is a moral man who stands for rightness, but he is also merciful, which is a rare combination. ​​ Most people are either moral or merciful.” ​​ [Courson]

          • Would you agree with statement?

          • Are you more moral or merciful?

          • I would have to say that I fall more towards the moral side, but realize that I need to be more merciful

        • This rare combination would serve Joseph well

          • He was planning to divorce her quietly, so she wouldn’t be criticized and scrutinized by the community

          • Also, he was basically saving her life, since the punishment for adultery was death

        • While Joseph is trying to decide what to do, the Lord steps in

    • He is considering divorcing her when an angel appears to him in a dream

        • How many of us have experienced a dream that gives us insight into a problem we’re trying to solve?

          • Did you realize that your brain is a powerful tool?

          • It continues to work even while you sleep

        • Joseph son of David – this was serious, pay attention

          • The angel uses his full name

          • Most of us have probably experienced this with our mothers

          • When they use our full name, we know we have to listen and pay attention

        • Do not be afraid, take Mary as your wife

          • It would be very difficult for Mary to explain to Joseph the supernatural overshadowing of the Most High

          • It would not make sense in the natural world

          • Guys, we have to honest with ourselves. ​​ We strive to understand things on our own and work things out on our own before we consult God. ​​ Women are much more open to the things of God

          • We should work to be the spiritual head of our household, instead of letting our wives take the lead

        • Joseph was going to need some instruction about naming this baby

    • Naming the baby Jesus was to be a fulfillment of prophecy

        • God communicated that to Mary directly through Gabriel

        • Now he has also communicated it to Joseph in a dream

        • Naming your son after you was very important, culturally

        • They would be breaking tradition

        • Zecharias was going to be breaking tradition when he named his baby boy, John (no one in his family had that name)

    • Joseph obeys immediately

        • I’m just as impressed by Joseph’s obedience as I was with the shepherd’s obedience

        • Lord, help us to obey immediately!



When you are faced with supernatural situations or difficult cultural circumstances, you need to remember several things:


  • Do not be afraid, God is in control

    • He knows what is best for you and He has not been caught off guard by your situation or circumstances

    • Psalm 56:3-4, When I am afraid, I will trust in you. ​​ In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. ​​ What can mortal man do to me?

    • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Put my trust in God concerning the situation I am currently fearful about.

  • You may not understand God’s plan, but you can trust Him by faith, because He is sovereign and all-powerful

  • Just Obey

    • Zachariah’s obedience in naming his son, John, brought healing to him – he was able to talk again (Luke 1:62-64)

    • Mary and Joseph’s obedience brought about the Messiah, the Savior of the world (becoming pregnant by the Holy Spirit, taking Mary as his wife, fleeing Bethlehem at the prompting of the angel, returning to Nazareth)

    • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Obey what the Lord is telling me to do, because He knows best.


Mary and Joseph probably had a lot to be fearful about


“The Holmes Rahe scale assigns points to various life stressors. These points are called LCUs or a life change units. Dr. Holmes and Dr. Rahe concluded that an individual experiences a total of 300 LCUs is at high risk for illness. Among other things, the list includes such events as:


Marital separation 65

Marriage 50

Marital reconciliation 45

Pregnancy 40

Adding a new family member 39

Change in financial state 38

Trouble with in-laws 29

Change in living conditions 25

Change in working conditions 20

Change in residence 20

Change in church activities 19

Change in social activities 18

Change in sleep habits 16

Minor violation of the law 11


Joseph and Mary could conceivably have experienced all of the events listed above for a total LCU count of 435. This total excludes divorce (73 points), as it was threatened but not carried out. Neither jail terms (40 points) or minor violations of the law (11 points) are included in the previously mentioned total, but Mary's pregnancy out of wedlock was a violation of Jewish law which, some contend, could have resulted in stoning. Christmas (12) is also excluded.”


David Slagle, Atlanta, Georgia




Instead of being fearful, Mary and Joseph were hopeful, because they knew that God was in control.



Men Of Action

(Luke 2:8-21)



Do you remember the excitement of the birth of your first child? ​​ It was a joyful occasion and you wanted to tell the whole world. ​​ Instead, you made a few phone calls to family members and close friends and the grape vine took over from there.


After returning from the hospital you probably wrote out special announcements and sent them in the mail to a larger number of people, with all of the statistics about your new baby. ​​ Maybe you handed out pink or blue bubblegum cigars to everyone that you came in contact with.


Today it can be almost instantaneous if you have Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook on your cell phone or tablet. ​​ The minute the baby is born, you can broadcast it to the world within seconds.



  • ME

    • Social media

        • We didn’t have Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook for any of our boy’s births

        • We had to use a regular camera or digital camera

          • Do you remember the days when extended family, who lived far away, had to wait until you developed the film in your camera and then mailed a picture of your new baby?

          • Those days are long gone

          • How many of you still use a camera that takes film?

        • We did have a video camera for all three births

        • We had email capabilities for Seth and Levi’s births, but not Wade’s, if I remember correctly

    • Cell phone

        • We didn’t have a cell phone for Wade’s birth and if we had one for Seth’s birth, there was a cost per minute to use it

        • We may not have had a cell phone for Levi’s birth, but if we did, it wasn’t like cell phones today – it would have been a flip phone with calling and texting capabilities (no internet or camera capabilities)

    • Waiting by the phone

        • Our parents and siblings had to wait by the phone to hear about the birth of our children

        • I had to go home and use the land line phone in order to communicate with family and friends

        • Things have certainly changed

        • It wasn’t instantaneous


  • WE

    • How many of us remember those days gone by?

    • How many of us don’t have any idea what I’m talking about?


Well, God used an instantaneous delivery system when His Son was born. ​​ He didn’t Tweet, create a post on Facebook or Instagram, Snap Chat, or make a TikTok or YouTube video, since the electronic age had not yet arrived, instead He Angeled and used Shepherdbook.


The angels told the shepherds and the shepherds spread the news from there. ​​ They jumped into action to go see the baby and then tell everyone they saw about the news!


BIG IDEA – Jesus’ birth should cause us to be people of action.


Let’s Pray

  • GOD

    • The Birth Announcement

        • Mary has just delivered Jesus by herself and is wrapping Him in swaddling clothes and laying Him in a manger.

        • At the same time, there are shepherds living out in the fields around Bethlehem taking care of the flocks at night.

          • These were the third shift shepherds, who spent the night around a camp fire watching the sheep

          • It was probably a pretty uneventful job to have, although they would have seen things that others would not have

            • They probably saw shooting stars

            • They knew the various constellations

            • Perhaps they saw certain planets in the night sky

            • Maybe they saw the aurora borealis

          • These shepherds, by most commentators’ writings, were known to care for the temple flocks – these were the perfect sheep, without blemish used for sacrifices.

          • This would seem like an unlikely group of people to send your instantaneous message too, but God had a perfect plan.

            • These shepherds would have been ceremonially unclean, because of their work

            • They would have been away from the temple for weeks at a time so they couldn’t be made clean

            • The shepherds were hearing about Jesus, whom scripture identified two ways:

              • Lamb of God (John 1:29)

              • Good Shepherd (John 10:11, 14-15)

          • God revealed His grace to mankind when He sent the angels to visit the shepherd’s first

            • They were the unclean ones, the outcasts

            • Wiersbe states, “God does not call the rich and mighty; He calls the poor and the lowly.”

              • Luke 1:51-53, He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. ​​ He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. ​​ He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.

              • 1 Corinthians 1:26-29, Brothers think about what you were when you were called. ​​ Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. ​​ But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. ​​ He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

          • While these lowly shepherds are hanging out in the field, checking out the night sky, they see something they’ve never seen before

        • An angel appears

          • In the middle of the night outside Bethlehem, a bright light pierces the darkness and an angel appears.

          • Shepherds were not usually fearful of much – think about David taking on the bear and the lion.

          • They were terrified/sore afraid – Greek is fo-be’-ō, meaning “to be struck with fear, to be seized with alarm, of those startled by strange sights or occurrences.”

          • The angel reassures them, “Do not be afraid.”

          • The angel’s announcement

            • I bring you good news – Greek for good news is
              yü-än-ge-lē’-zō, “in the NT used especially of the glad tidings of the coming kingdom of God, and of the salvation to be obtained in it through Christ, and of what relates to this salvation.”

            • It literally means that they preached the Gospel to the shepherds

            • Of great joy! – this was the promised Messiah, the Savior of the world, the Anointed One. ​​ This was definitely something to be excited about. ​​ Jesus was going to bring great joy, because He came into the world to provide a way to bridge the gap that sin had created between God and man

            • For all people – this meant everyone. ​​ No one will be excluded. ​​ It was for the Jews, Gentiles, rich, poor. ​​ It includes us today. ​​ This Good News is for you!

            • A Savior was born today in the town of David, Bethlehem

              • They identify Him as Christ the Lord

              • Messiah

              • the Anointed One

            • They gave the shepherds specific instructions, so they would know that they are in the right place.

              • A baby wrapped in cloths – this was not unusual and could have identified any newborn baby in Bethlehem

              • Interesting note – the strips of cloth used to swaddle a baby were very similar to those used in the embalming process. ​​ John Courson states, “This was fitting because Jesus came to die. ​​ Although death interrupted the ministry and teaching of Socrates, Plato, Buddha, and every other philosopher and thinker throughout history, it did not interrupt the ministry of Jesus Christ. ​​ Rather, death fulfilled Jesus’ ministry because Jesus alone came to die.”

              • Lying in a manger – this would have been very unusual, a baby lying in a feeding trough?

              • These two combined would identify the Christ Child for the shepherds.

              • They already knew that the baby was born that day (Today!)

          • The shepherds receive an amazing free concert from heaven

            • A great company of the heavenly hosts join the angel

            • They glorify God

            • They speak about peace on earth to men on whom His favor rests

              • This was a welcome message to the shepherds and to the Israelites.

              • This was the first time in centuries that the glory of God returned to earth.

              • The Roman world had been under much war, so peace sounded great!

              • They were currently living under the “Pax Romana” (Roman Peace), but they were not experiencing the peace that they had hoped and prayed for.

              • We see that the absence of war did not bring peace to the Jewish world. ​​ They were experiencing some of the same things we are experiencing today – high taxes, high unemployment rates, poverty, immorality, division, disorder, etc.

              • The Stoic philosopher Epictetus said, “While the emperor may give peace from war on land and sea, he is unable to give peace from passion, grief, and envy. ​​ He cannot give peace of heart for which man yearns more than even for outward peace.”

              • Wiersbe shares, “The Jewish word shalom (peace) means much more than a truce in the battles of life. ​​ It means well-being, health, prosperity, security, soundness, and completeness. ​​ It has to do more with character than circumstances.”

    • The Shepherd’s Obedience

        • GO

          • We see from verse 12 that there is an expectation that the shepherds will go to see baby Jesus – “This will be a sign to you

            • The shepherds were expected to do something with what they just heard from the angels.

            • They were to be doers of the word and not hearers only

            • This is an example for us today – when God speaks to us through His Word, we need to be men and women of action.

          • The shepherds have a quick meeting

            • They decide to go to Bethlehem

            • They recognized who the message was from, the Lord

            • They left the flocks immediately and went to Bethlehem to find what was told to them

            • Jesus’ birth should cause us to be people of action.

            • We need to obey God immediately

              • Has God spoken to you?

              • What has He told you to do?

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Obediently do what God has told me to do.

          • The shepherds obediently left the fields outside of Bethlehem and went into the city to begin their search

        • SEARCH

          • They hurry off to Bethlehem and find Mary and Joseph and the baby

            • The verb found in the Greek is ä-nyü-rē’-skō, which means “to find out by search” or “found after a search

              • NASB renders it this way – “So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.

              • They knew they had to look in a stable since the baby was in a manger

              • They probably started going from stable to stable looking for a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger

            • Luke reminds us again about the specific sign that would identify baby Jesus – “who was lying in a manger.”

            • That is exactly where the shepherds find Him

            • They followed the signs given to them and continued to search until they found the right place

            • Jesus’ birth should cause us to be people of action.

            • We need to follow the signs that God gives us through His Word and the wisdom of those around us and search diligently until we find the place where God is leading us.

              • Have you diligently searched until you found where God is leading you?

              • Many times we search tentatively, but not diligently because we don’t want to be obedient to what God has told us to do

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Diligently search until I find the place where God is leading me.

          • After finding Jesus, the shepherds can’t keep silent!

        • TELL

          • Just imagine seeing the heavenly host and having an angel speak to you and then finding exactly what they told you

          • You would be really excited!!!

          • After the shepherds see Jesus, they spread the word

            • They share with everyone about what they were told about this child

            • They share the Gospel with others, just as it was shared with them

            • They share that the Messiah, “the Anointed One,” has arrived

            • This was the long-awaited Savior of the world. ​​ Everyone would have known who they were talking about when they used the words, “Christ the Lord” or “Christos kyrios

            • They shared with everyone the Good News about Jesus

            • Jesus’ birth should cause us to be people of action.

            • When we are obedient to God, follow the signs and search until we find the right place, we can’t help but share with others the Good News of Jesus Christ because we have been transformed by it.

              • Have you taken time to tell others the result of being obedient to God and searching diligently?

              • If you have had others praying for and with you, it is important to let them know how God faithfully answered your prayers

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Tell others how God faithfully guided and directed me when I was obedient to what He told me to do.

            • We can experience the same response from others that the shepherds experienced

          • Everyone that heard what they had to say was amazed

          • They returned to their sheep, glorifying and praising God

            • They were thankful for what they had heard

            • They were thankful for what they had seen

            • They had experienced God’s trustworthiness firsthand, because everything they saw and heard, was just as they had been told

            • We can claim the promise today that God is trustworthy

              • We can count on Him to speak to us about His plans for us and to guide us as we seek to be obedient to His plan

              • When He proves to be trustworthy, we can rejoice and tell others what He has done

        • While the shepherds are excitedly sharing the good news of great joy, Mary is quietly thinking about all that has happened

    • Mary is a very mature young lady for her age

        • She treasured all these things – She kept them within herself, lest they be forgotten

        • She pondered them in her heart – she brought them together in her mind, she went over them again and again in her mind.

        • She did not want to forget how God had used her to further His kingdom and bring salvation to the world

        • She had experienced some pretty incredible things, that most everyone else had not

          • She was visited by the angel of the Lord and told that she had found favor with God

          • She had become pregnant as a virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit

          • Her relative Elizabeth tells her how her baby leaped in her womb at the sound of Mary’s voice

          • Joseph still takes her as his wife even though she is not pregnant by him

          • She has strangers visit her in the stable worshipping the baby Jesus because an angel told them about this child


  • YOU

    • Has the Lord spoken to you and told you to go do something? ​​ Have you been obedient?

    • Have you diligently searched until you’ve found the place where God is leading you?

    • Have you shared with others how God faithfully guided you when you were obedient to Him?


  • WE

    • We have a responsibility as followers of Jesus Christ to be people of action

    • The Christmas season is a natural time to share with family and friends about the joy we’ve experienced as a follower of Jesus Christ – His birth has transformed us in a powerful way!


Jesus’ presence on earth had transformed these shepherds. ​​ They would never be the same again, because they had experienced the glory and majesty of the Lord!


“Did you ever read Bret Harte's story The Luck of Roaring Camp? Roaring Camp was supposed to be, according to the story, the meanest, toughest mining town in all of the West. More murders, more thefts – it was a terrible place inhabited entirely by men, and one woman who tried to serve them all. Her name was Cherokee Sal. She died while giving birth to a baby.


Well, the men took the baby, and they put her in a box with some old rags under her. When they looked at her, they decided that didn't look right, so they sent one of the men eighty miles to buy a rosewood cradle. He brought it back, and they put the rags and the baby in the rosewood cradle. And the rags didn't look right there. So they sent another of their number to Sacramento, and he came back with some beautiful silk and lace blankets. And they put the baby, wrapped around with those blankets, in the rosewood cradle.


It looked fine until someone happened to notice that the floor was so filthy. So these hardened, tough men got down on their hands and knees, and with their hardened and horny hands they scrubbed that floor until it was very clean. Of course, what that did was to make the walls and the ceiling and the dirty windows without curtains look absolutely terrible. So they washed down the walls and the ceiling, and they put curtains at the windows. And now things were beginning to look as they thought they should look. But of course, they had to give up a lot of their fighting, because the baby slept a lot, and babies can't sleep during a brawl.


So the whole temperature of Roaring Camp seemed to go down. They used to take her out and set her by the entrance to the mine in her rosewood cradle so they could see her when they came up. Then somebody noticed what a dirty place that was, so they planted flowers, and they made a very nice garden there. It looked quite beautiful. And they would bring her, oh, shiny little stones and things that they would find in the mine. But when they would put their hands down next to hers, their hands looked so dirty. Pretty soon the general store was all sold out of soap and shaving gear and perfume and those kinds ... the baby changed everything.


That's the way it is for those of good will. That's the way it is for those who please God. The baby enters into their lives, and he slips into every crevice of their experience, until they say ‘Hark! Listen, the herald angels sing! God is for us. And Christmas is forever.’”


Bruce W. Thielemann, "Hark! The Herald Angels," Preaching Today, Tape No. 63.





Born In The Middle of Nowhere

(Luke 2:1-7)



How many of you know where Florida, MO is? ​​ (show picture of MO with Florida marked on the map). ​​ Now you know where it is, but do you know why that place is significant? ​​ It was where Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born. ​​ Does that help at all? ​​ What if I told you that Samuel’s pen name was Mark Twain, would that help? ​​ Most people don’t know where Florida, MO is.


Most places where famous people were born were unknown prior to their rise to popularity. ​​ (Show picture of states where U.S. Presidents were born) The birthplaces of most of the Presidents of the United States are not familiar cities to us that we would be able to locate immediately without Googling it.


In the 1st Century there was a town that most people of the day cared little about. ​​ It was an insignificant place that would soon be well known. ​​ Its popularity was the result of it being the birthplace of someone very special.


Today we are going to learn about a well-known man that was “Born In The Middle of Nowhere.”



  • ME

    • Our families birthplaces

        • Florida

        • Indiana

        • Missouri

        • Ohio - 2

  • WE

    • Where were you born

        • Would most people know the place where you were born?

        • It may not be hard to know the place where you were born, especially if it was around this area

        • Would anyone like to share their birthplace with us to see if you can stump us? [If you’re joining us online, you can put your birthplace in the comments section of Facebook Live]


  • Facts about Bethlehem

    • Bethlehem means “house of bread.”

        • What an appropriate birthplace for someone who would later identify Himself as the Bread of Life

        • John 6:35, Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. ​​ He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”

    • Historic heritage

        • It is where Rachel died after giving birth the Benjamin

          • Gen. 35:16-20, Then they moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty. ​​ And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for you have another son.” ​​ As she breathed her last – for she was dying – she named her son Ben-Oni. ​​ But his father named him Benjamin. ​​ So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). ​​ Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel’s tomb.

          • That’s a sad story related to Bethlehem

        • It was where Ruth was married to Boaz

          • Here is a happier story related to Bethlehem

          • Ruth 1:22, So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.

          • Read Ruth 4:1-16

        • David had many exploits there – it was the city of David

          • 1 Samuel 16:1, The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? ​​ Fill you horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. ​​ I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

          • 1 Samuel 17:34-37a, But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. ​​ When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. ​​ When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. ​​ Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. ​​ The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”


  • From Nazareth to Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-7)

    • Caesar Augustus

        • His birth name was Gauis Octavius

        • His grandmother was the sister of Julius Caesar

        • Julius Caesar adopted him and made him the official heir in 45 B.C.

        • After Julius Caesar’s death, he ruled with two others until 30 B.C. when he became the soul ruler

        • He assumed the title of Caesar from his great uncle

          • Caesar in Greek means “severed”

          • As the Roman Emperors rose to power, we realize that they were severed from friends and family.

          • They could not trust those around them.

        • Augustus was added after he rejected the Roman Senate's suggestions of “king of Rome” and “dictator of Rome

        • Augustus means “exalted” and “sacred” and has as its background, “though, of the gods

    • Decree

        • God had allowed Caesar Augustus to rise to power in order that His will and the prophecy of Micah could be fulfilled (Read Micah 5:1-5a)

          • NASB – “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, {Too} little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. ​​ His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.” [Micah 5:2]

          • Ephrathah means “ash-heap: place of fruitfulness”

          • Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End (Revelation 22:13)

          • Micah 5:3, Israel will be abandoned – there was 700 years from the time Micah spoke these words until Jesus came. ​​ We also know that there was a 400 year period where Israel had no prophet who spoke for God.

          • Micah 5:3, The returning of the brothers – part of this is fulfilled when the Israelites returned from exile in Babylon, but the remainder will be fulfilled when Christ returns.

          • Micah 5:4, Jesus’ rule and reign will reach to the ends of the earth

          • Micah 5:5, Jesus will not only bring peace, but He will be our peace. ​​ Paul writes in Ephesians 2:14 that, He is our peace

        • Poor Caesar Augustus had no idea that he wasn’t really in charge

        • We may not understand why certain things happen in politics, the medical community, or the financial world today, but we can rely on the fact that God is ultimately in control. ​​ We may not see the end result of what He is doing, but we know that all things work for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is sovereign!

            • Perhaps we all feel apprehensive right now

            • Presidential election

              • Who should we believe concerning the Presidential election?

              • Did Joe Biden or Donald Trump win?

              • Was there widespread election fraud?

              • It all depends on who you get your news from

            • COVID-19

              • When should I go get tested for COVID-19?

              • Are the COVID-19 tests reliable and accurate?

              • Is COVID-19 really that serious, especially with a survival rate in the 99th percentile?

              • Will a mask and social distancing really keep me safe?

              • Should we shut down or remain open?

              • Again, it depends on who you talk to or listen to

            • Financial world

              • Will there be another financial stimulus package provided by our government?

              • Will the economy ever bounce back after COVID-19?

              • Will I lose my job?

              • If I lose my job, how will I survive?

            • We can take all of these concerns to a sovereign God who is ultimately in control

            • None of these concerns, or any other concerns we may have, come as a surprise to God

            • He knew about all of these things prior to them happening

          • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust in God’s sovereignty concerning my feelings about our nation’s physical, political, social, and financial struggles.

        • Caesar Augustus was the one who made the decree about the census, but it was by God’s sovereign plan and will – He is in control!

    • Census

        • This was a registration of everyone in the Roman world.

        • Each Jewish male had to return to the city where his father was born to record his name, occupation, property, and family

        • This was not for statistical purposes like we have today, but was designed to efficiently and effectively tax everyone in the Roman empire

        • Justin Martyr, writing in the middle of the second century, said that in his own day, more than a hundred years after the time of Jesus, you could look up the registers of the same census Luke mentions.

        • Chuck Smith states, “in Egypt there are records that they have discovered where it said that the people had to return to their family homes for the census to be taken, completely confirming this account in the scriptures.

    • Parenthetical note by Luke

        • This was the first census that was taken

        • From this point on there was a census every 14 years

        • Giving the name of the governor of Syria, Quirinius, is another historical “anchor” that confirms that this really happened and was not a fairy tale or something that Luke dreamt up after Jesus death in order to confirm His life.

    • Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem

        • They leave from Nazareth in the region of Galilee for Bethlehem in the region of Judea [show map with route]

        • It would have been approximately an 80-mile journey

          • Like walking from Sunbury, PA to Idaville, PA [show map].

          • It probably would have taken them 3 to 4 days if they traveled 8 hours a day.

        • Mary was not required to accompany him on the trip, but several factors probably led to her coming along

          • She was also of the line of David, so there was potential for seeing family while they were there

          • She was in the middle of a controversial pregnancy that was probably the talk of the town

          • Liefeld states, “It is possible that he used the emperor’s order as a means of removing Mary from possible gossip and emotional stress in her own village. ​​ He had already accepted her as his wife (Matthew 1:24), but apparently continued in betrothal (Luke 2:5), pledged to be married, till after the birth.

          • Wiersbe says that “Mary and Joseph were already husband and wife but since they did not consummate the marriage until after Jesus was born, she is called his ‘espoused wife’

    • Jesus is born!

        • We don’t know how long they were there, because it says “while they were there”

        • Mary gives birth to her firstborn, a son

          • It does not mention that anyone else was there to help Mary with the delivery

          • Usually there was a midwife to take the child and to wrap it in swaddling clothes and to take care of it

          • Mary was only 16 ½ to 17 years old giving birth for the first time on her own

          • Bruce says, “The narrative runs as if Mary did these things herself

          • We know from studying Acts that Jesus had other half-brothers, so this was Mary’s firstborn, Jesus.

        • Cloths/Swaddling Cloths

          • Mothers in that day wrapped their infants in long bands of cloth to give the limbs strength and protection

          • The fact that Mary wraps Jesus in cloths is another indicator that she probably went through deliver by herself

        • Placed Him in a manger

          • It can mean a feeding trough or an enclosure for animals

          • Most scholars believe that Jesus was born in a cave and not a wooden shed/shack as we see in modern manger scenes

        • No room in the inn

          • We realize that Jesus struggled to be accepted all of His life

          • His brothers thought He was crazy and didn’t believe in Him

          • The Pharisees thought He was a blasphemer

          • Isaiah 53:3, He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. ​​ Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

          • Many people have gotten so caught up in the materialism of Christmas that they have no room for Jesus either

          • We have time for everything else in our lives except for Jesus


  • YOU

    • Whether we’ve believed in Jesus for salvation or not we can all get caught up in the cultural pressures of the Christmas season

    • Perhaps as a follower of Jesus Christ you need to stop and reflect to see if you have made room for Jesus

        • If you recognize that He has been pushed to the side, what steps do you need to take in the coming weeks to make room for Him

        • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Evaluate whether or not I have made room for Jesus during this Christmas season and make the necessary changes.

    • Perhaps you’ve never made room in life for Jesus Christ before

        • Christmas is a celebration of the fact that Jesus came from heaven to earth

        • His purpose was to seek and to save what was lost (Luke 19:10)

        • You may be thinking, “I’m not lost!”

        • Isaiah 53:6 – we all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way (we are lost to God’s plan of redemption for mankind)

        • Romans 6:23 – wages of sin is death (separation from God for all eternity)

        • Luke 15:7, I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

        • Acts 16:31, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.

        • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Make room in my life for Jesus and believe in Him so I can be saved.


“The Christmas scene that Anthony arranged under the altar [was] probably the most meaningful ‘crib’ I have ever seen. Three small wood-carved figures made in India: a poor woman, a poor man, and a small child between them. The carving is simple, nearly primitive. No eyes, no ears, no mouths, just the contours of the faces. The figures are smaller than a human hand – nearly too small to attract attention at all.


But then – a beam of light shines on the three figures and projects large shadows on the wall of the sanctuary. That says it all. The light thrown on the smallness of Mary, Joseph, and the Child projects them as large, hopeful shadows against the walls of our life and our world. While looking at the intimate scene we already see the first outlines of the majesty and glory they represent. ... Without the radiant beam of light shining into the darkness there is little to be seen. ... But everything changes with the light.”


Henri J. M. Nouwen in The Genesee Diary. Christianity Today, Vol. 41, no. 14.





Christmas Sunday

Seeking the Savior

(Luke 2:1-20)



“For reasons I cannot quite remember (perhaps the guidebooks or the guide himself told us it wasn't much to get worked up about), I wasn't excited to visit the birthplace of Christ [while on a study tour of Israel in the summer of 2000]. I recall wishing we could spend our time in Jerusalem, but I didn't have a choice. If the group was going to Bethlehem, I was, too.


We walked through the dusty streets of the town and soon came to the entrance to the Church of the Nativity. We stood in line for what seemed like hours, winding our way downward into a series of caves (though we often have nativity sets of barns and stables, Christ was actually born in a cave).


Once there, I was hushed by the holiness of it all. There were candles lit here, there, and everywhere. Hundreds were on their knees in prayer, scattered about on the cold, damp floor. We made our way to the traditional cave of the birth where we read Matthew's story once again. Soon we were singing. ‘O Holy Night,’ ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem,’ and ‘Silent Night.’


Right there in a church building that has been ravaged by war and terrorism and today is owned by four different religious groups, we prayed for peace. We offered a continued invitation for shalom. It was one of the more sacred moments of my life.


As we left, I passed by all the pilgrims yet again. Some were from Germany, Poland, or Italy and others from England, Spain, or China. They, too, sang and prayed. Anger and violence wrestled about in all our worlds, but in that moment we had all come together in Bethlehem to worship and celebrate the Prince of Peace who, if anything, was working shalom into the folds of our lives as he will until the day he returns to work it into all things, once-for-all.”


Brian Lowery, "Still Unto Us," Christian Standard magazine (12-17-06).





  • ME

    • Seeking the perfect Cabbage Patch Doll

        • During the Cabbage Patch Doll craze my sister wanted one

        • She had specific things she wanted for her doll (blonde hair and saddle shoes were two things)

        • Our family was traveling over the holidays and decided to stop at a Hill’s Department store in some town

        • They were getting ready to hand out Cabbage Patch Dolls at the doors to their back storage area

          • Everyone was told, by the employees, that you had to take whatever doll was handed to you (you couldn’t request a specific doll)

          • While we were waiting, another family stepped in line in front of us

          • I remember that our family was pretty irritated by that, but we didn’t say anything

          • When my sister was handed her Cabbage Patch Doll, it had blonde hair and saddle shoes – just what she wanted

        • God is in control of everything and He allowed that family to step in line in front of us for a reason

          • Had we protested, my sister may have gotten a different doll

          • We had to trust God and be obedient to our Christian values, of being kind and compassionate, even in difficult situations

          • While it was frustrating for a little bit, the end result was beyond our imagination and fulfilled the desires of a young girl


  • WE

    • Perhaps all of us can think of a time when we were confronted by frustration concerning something we’ve been seeking

        • Maybe we were seeking a certain item, especially during Black Friday shopping, only to find out that the item had already sold out

        • There are times when hunters have done all of the right things to prepare for the season, only to find out that someone else has harvested the buck, we’ve been scoping out and tracking, prior to opening day

        • It may take quite a bit of travel to eventually find the thing we’re seeking

    • In God’s sovereignty, He allows difficulties to come our way, so we’ll trust Him and many times the end result is beyond our wildest dreams and fulfills our heart’s desire

Through the very familiar Christmas story found in Luke’s Gospel, we’ll see that Mary and Joseph had to travel a long distance in order to be obedient to God through the census decree. ​​ It was probably a difficult journey, especially for Mary who was close to full term in her pregnancy. ​​ The shepherds also had to travel a short distance, after experiencing a frightening encounter with an angel and the glory of God, in order to be obedient to God. ​​ Luke wants us to understand that . . .


BIG IDEA – Finding the Savior requires obedience.


The Jews were seeking the Messiah (Savior). ​​ They were looking forward to His arrival.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Luke 2:1-20)

    • Mary & Joseph’s Obedience (vv. 1-7)

        • PRINCIPLE #1 – God controls all history.

          • God uses the events of this world to accomplish His purposes

          • That’s exactly what He was doing with Caesar Augustus and his decree about a census of the entire Roman world

            • Anyone who doesn’t believe in God or doesn’t believe that God is sovereign will look at Luke’s Gospel and say that the census decree was just a coincidence

            • Individuals who believe in God and that He is sovereign will recognize that God is in control of all history

            • Two examples

              • John Cafarchio told me last week that the Sunday school lesson he taught hit some of the same points that the sermon did last week (that’s not coincidence, that’s God’s sovereignty and His control)

              • Pastor Marc and I were discussing the message he will be sharing on December 29, 2019 and it struck me that God moved some things around, in the preaching schedule, so that the passage of scripture Marc will be sharing fits perfectly with the beginning of the new year and an incredible initiative that will be introduced (I won’t step on Marc’s toes, but God is in control and He orchestrates things perfectly)

              • We could try to manufacture these kinds of things, but it’s much more powerful when God orchestrates them on our behalf (my prayer is that we’ll have eyes to see and ears to hear what God is doing and saying to us, so we don’t miss out on praising and glorifying Him)

            • Application

              • How has God used events or circumstances in your life to accomplish His purposes?

                • Can you recall a specific situation where you saw God work things out, so that you knew He was in control?

                • Are you attuned to what God is doing in your life and at Idaville Church?

                • Are you listening to His voice?

                • Too often we have a preconceived idea of how we want God to work in our lives and how we want Him to answer our prayers

                  • When we focus on that, we will miss what He is doing and saying to us

                  • We have to be willing to submit to His will and plan

                  • When we focus on Him, it will be easy to see what He is doing and hear what He is saying to us

                • God is in control of every circumstance in our lives, so we need to trust Him and follow His lead

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Watch and listen for ways that God is showing me that He is in control and then praise and glorify His name.

            • So, Caesar Augustus’ decree was not by chance, but by God’s sovereign providence and plan

          • Everyone went to his own town to register

            • “‘Own Town’ means one’s ancestral home.” [Stein, The New American Commentary, Luke, 106]

              • This is a little different for us today, because the United States is a melting pot of ethnic groups from all around the world

              • Perhaps you’re able to trace your lineage back to a specific country

                • Judy’s maiden name is Doolittle

                • That last name is pretty easy to trace back to England

                • Maybe you have a last name that’s easily traced back to a particular country

                • [Let the congregation share their country of origin]

              • Others of us have a more difficult time of determining our lineage

                • My own lineage is a melting pot

                • We are part Irish (Kennedy), part Swiss German (Rife [Reif], Hykes, & Johns), part Native American (Seneca, from my mother’s side)

                • Tschantz (Swiss German farmers) became Johns in the United States

              • The simplest way for us to relate to our “own town” would be to think about the town where we were born or perhaps the town where our parents were born

                • My parents would claim Chambersburg and Greencastle as their birth place

                • I was born in Huntington, IN

                • [Let the congregation share where they or their parents were born]

                • Just imagine if we had to return to the town where we were born in order to register for taxation

                • “The census, which could be controversial, uses customs that would be the least offensive. ​​ For Jews an ancestral registration would be a most natural way to sign up for taxes (2 Sam. 24).” ​​ [Bock, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Luke, 204]

                • Caesar Augustus was using the path of least resistance in order to accomplish his goal of tax income

            • That’s what Joseph and Mary had to do, but they had to trace their lineage back hundreds of years to King David and what was considered his home town

          • So, Joseph and Mary set out on their journey

        • Their journey

          • Joseph and Mary were living in the town of Nazareth in the region of Galilee when the decree was communicated

          • They had to travel 70 miles south to the town of Bethlehem in the region of Judea, or 90 miles if they bypassed Samaria

            • [show map]

            • It would take about 33 hours to walk that distance, so it was at least a three to four-day journey for them

            • Bethlehem was at a higher elevation than Nazareth, which explains Luke’s use of, “went up,” even though they were traveling south

          • While it only mentions that Joseph belonged to the house and line of David, we know that Mary could also trace her lineage back to David

            • Mary would not have been required to go to Bethlehem to register with Joseph, because the registration would have been for the entire family

            • But, I can only imagine that Mary wanted her husband to be there for the birth of her first child

            • Both Mary and Joseph had been visited by an angel telling them about the child Mary was carrying

            • I’m sure Joseph didn’t want to miss this incredible birth of the Messiah

          • All of this was taking place because God is in control of all history

            • It was foretold hundreds of years before, that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem

            • Micah 5:2, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.

          • So, Mary and Joseph had to be obedient to God, through the census that Caesar Augustus had decreed, in order to see the Savior

          • Finding the Savior requires obedience.

        • Jesus is born!

          • While they were there” is a non-specific time identifier

            • Luke doesn’t give us the exact timeframe of how long Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem before Jesus was born

            • He just tells us that “the time came for the baby to be born

          • Mary gives birth to her firstborn, a son

            • She does what all mothers did at that time, and used pieces of cloth to wrap Him up

            • The cloths helped to keep the baby warm, but it also helped to keep their arms and legs straight

            • We call this swaddling today

              • Seth and Emily were pros at this with our granddaughter, Kinsley

              • When she would be fussy, they would wrap her up tight in a perfect swaddle and Kinsley would settled down and be able to sleep

              • It gave her comfort and warmth and she felt secure

              • They can’t do this anymore, because she’s rolling over on her own

            • Mary also did something that most mothers probably did not do at that time

              • After she swaddled Him, she placed Him in an animal feeding trough (manger)

              • The reason Luke gives, is that there was no room for them in the inn

                • The inn should not be mistaken for a hotel or motel in our day and age

                • It would be more like a hostel where everything was shared

                • “The ‘inn’ probably refers to a public caravansary (a crude overnight lodging place for caravans), which was the one lodging place in Bethlehem.” ​​ [Stein, 107]

                • The stable was perhaps beside this public shelter in a cave

                • Mary and Joseph took refuge in the stable since there wasn’t any more places available in the public shelter area

              • The unique cradle for Jesus was again by God’s design and purpose

                • We don’t know if there were other babies born that night, but if there were, Jesus would be the only One using a feeding trough as a cradle

                • This would be an important sign for the shepherds, as we’ll see

        • Mary and Joseph have been obedient to God by following the decree to register in their ancestral home town of Bethlehem

        • Luke then tells us of a group of guys hanging out in the fields outside Bethlehem

    • Shepherd’s Obedience (vv. 8-20)

        • Shepherds (v. 8)

          • Who were these shepherds?

            • Some characterize shepherds as dishonest and despised by the culture of the day, but those views come primarily from 5th Century literature and writings

            • “Shepherds in an agrarian society (crops and farmland) may have small landholdings, but these would be inadequate to meet the demands of their own families, the needs of their own agricultural pursuits, and the burden of taxation. ​​ As a result, they might hire themselves out to work for wages. ​​ They were, then, peasants located toward the bottom of the scale of power and privilege.” ​​ [Green, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of Luke, 130]

            • This did not mean that they were dishonest

              • In fact, the shepherd motif in the Bible is primarily positive

              • In the Old Testament we find that Abraham, Moses, and David had all been shepherds at one time in their lives [Bock, 213]

              • The New Testament even uses the concept of a shepherd to identify leaders within a church, and how they lead the church as shepherding (taking care of the flock) [Bock, 213]

            • The shepherds were perhaps taking care of the sheep that were used for sacrifices at the temple

            • Because of their occupation, they were considered ceremonially unclean and could not worship at the temple

            • Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

          • So, these peasant farmers who had hired themselves out as shepherds were watching the sheep in the middle of the night, when something incredible happened!

        • Angel’s announcement (vv. 9-14)

          • The shepherds are minding their own business and perhaps talking quietly around a camp fire when all of sudden there is another person there with them

            • They don’t mistake this person for another shepherd or a townsperson, because God’s glory is shining around them

              • Isaiah 60:19, The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.

              • Revelation 21:23, The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.

            • In the darkness of night, it becomes like daylight

              • What do cockroaches do when we turn a light on? ​​ (they scatter in fear)

              • What’s our reaction when we’ve been in the darkness for a long time and sudden a bright light is turned on? ​​ (we may jump because of being startled)

              • The shepherd’s reaction is no different (they are terrified)

          • The angel’s words

            • Do not be afraid

              • This is not the first time that the angel of the Lord has had to comfort those to whom he has visited and brought a message

              • He had to do the same thing with Zechariah (Luke 1:12-13) and Mary (Luke 1:29-30) [Butler, Holman New Testament Commentary, Luke, 29]

            • I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people

              • Good news

                • The Greek word for “good news” is euangelizomai and means “to proclaim and preach the good news” [Bock, 215; Stein, 108]

                  • The good news was that on that same day in Bethlehem a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord

                  • Savior (soter) – Jesus will deliver His people [Mary (Luke 1:46-55) and Zechariah’s (Luke 1:67-79) hymns expressed this truth]

                  • Christ – it comes from the Greek word for “Anointed One” and speaks of Jesus’ as the Messiah (the promised One)

                  • Lord – “the holy, unspeakable personal name of God himself” [Butler, 30]

                • This Greek verb (euangelizō) and noun (euangelion) are where we get our English word evangelism

                • We’re commanded to do the same thing that the angel did with the shepherds, proclaim and preach the good news of Jesus Christ

              • Great joy

                • The message of the Gospel (good news) should bring us great joy

                • “Gospel elicits joy, not fear. ​​&nb