The Gospel of Luke:

The Story of Jesus and His Message

March 27th, 2016 - Luke 24:36-53, "Do you believe?"

We made it through the Gospel of Luke! We were all witnesses to the compassion, wonder and truth of Jesus Christ. As we concluded the book this week, we saw that Jesus Christ wasn't just a man who issued mercy, forgiveness and loving principles, but He was in fact the Son of God. We came to know this fact, because after dying on the cross, He did not just stay dead--He rose again!

Pastor John walked us through Luke 24 and explained that on the morning of the third day there was most likely confusion, anger, fear and discouragement amongst the disciples. However, he described how it was on the third day that things started to change. First the women found an empty tomb, and then so did Peter. And then after that, two disciples who were on their way home to Emmaus suddenly met Jesus--He appeared to them and taught them and then disappeared! Pastor John explained that as the disciples gathered they would have started to ask each other, could it be? Could Jesus really have risen from the dead? He noted that the evidence would have started to pile up, Jesus was not just missing from the tomb, He was now appearing places! They would have been asking each other, 'Do you believe?'

Pastor John then read the rest of the story found in Luke 24:36-53. On that same third day, as the disciples were all gathered together discussing the possible resurrection of their Savior--Jesus himself appeared amongst them!

He then pointed out four things from the text for us to note;

1. Jesus was amongst them
As they were trying to figure out if Jesus was really who He said He was, Jesus drew near. He does the same for us, in our questions. He does not run, He is close.

2. Jesus proves Himself
Knowing their questions, Jesus shows that He's no ghost, and invites them to touch Him and see with their own eyes as He eats fish. We too can invite Jesus to show Himself to be real, and He will.

3. Jesus explains Himself
Even after the physical proof, the disciples weren't getting it, so Jesus "opened up their minds." He gave them the clarity to comprehend the Gospel. He can do the same for some of us still struggling to understand its truth and power. Some of us are perhaps experiencing this clarity now. Some of us have only to ask for it.

4. Jesus sends them on mission
Jesus explains to the disciples that He did all of this so that they would be His witnesses to world, starting in Jerusalem. Witnesses for Jesus should never worry about what they have to share because what they have is life giving truth. We should not be timid, but instead be bold with the truth of the Gospel.

Pastor John concluded his sermon by explaining that if you believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ it changes everything. It demands a response. He then called those who do not yet believe to confess Christ as Lord, and those who have already done so, to consider surrendering their lives more completely to obey Christ fully, by forgiving more, loving their neighbor more, caring for the poor more, etc.

His big idea was, "The resurrection demands a response."

 

March 20th, 2016 - Luke 19:28-44, "What are you asking for?"

On Palm Sunday Pastor Pierce preached on the story of Jesus's triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Jesus rode into the city on a colt, and the crowd of his disciples praised him and threw palm branches in his path to honor him. However, once Jesus entered Jerusalem, he wept over the city and predicted its destruction.

 

There is an element of the Palm Sunday story that we miss if we don't understand the context. The Jews were being oppressed by the Romans, and they were asking God to send them someone who would liberate them. They were asking for a savior who would crush their enemies and lead them to military and political victory. However, they would soon discover that they were asking for the wrong thing.

 

500 years prior, the prophet Zechariah declared that the Savior would enter Jerusalem riding on a colt. When they saw Jesus coming into the city in the manner Zechariah described, they thought that Jesus was the savior they were looking for. They thought that he had come to liberate them from Rome, so they praised him. But Jesus's lament over Jerusalem and prediction of its destruction confirmed that Jesus was not the military and political savior that the Jews were asking for. When the crowds realized that Jesus was not what they were asking for, many of them lost patience for him.

 

Pastor Pierce challenged us by inquiring, "What are you asking for?" Are we, like the crowds, asking for the wrong thing? Are we asking Jesus to make us rich and famous? Are we asking him to take all of the hardships and troubles out of our lives? And when Jesus doesn't meet our unrealistic expectations, do we lose patience for him?

If you realize that you have been asking for the wrong things, change what you are asking for. Study God's word and pray in order to learn what Jesus wants you to ask him for. Most importantly, ask him (1) for salvation, (2) to know the Father's will, and (3) for the strength to do the Father's will.

 

March 13th, 2016 - Luke 19:1-10, "Jesus Came Seek and Save the Lost"

Pastor Pierce preached on the story of Zacchaeus, a tax collector who was short in stature. Tax collectors had a bad reputation in 1st-century Judea -- they collected the Jews' hard-earned money and forked it over to the Romans. Not only was Zacchaeus a tax collector of ill repute, but he was an extortionist and a bully, too. However, his physical appearance did not match his position of power -- he was short.

 

When Zacchaeus heard that Jesus was approaching his town of Jericho, he may have thought something like, "I'm not good enough to meet Jesus. I'm too much of a sinner." As if agreeing with this notion, the crowd pushed back and shut out the short man so that he could not see the approaching Messiah.

 

Desperate for a glimpse of Jesus, Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree to get a better view. He did not want Jesus to see him; he only wanted to observe Jesus from a distance. However, Jesus looked Zacchaeus right in the eye and told him that he would host the Son of Man that night. Zacchaeus joyfully complied.

 

The crowd, seeing that Jesus wanted to be the guest of this despised tax collector, condemned Zacchaeus and reminded him of his sinful lifestyle. But Zacchaeus announced that he would make his life match his newfound belief in Jesus: he would give to the poor and reimburse anyone he had cheated. Zacchaeus's proclamation prompted Jesus to announce that Zacchaeus and his whole household was saved that very day. Then Jesus pronounced the mission statement for his whole ministry: "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost" (v. 10).

 

Pastor Pierce noted that the Greek word for "lost" could also mean destroyed, ruined, useless, destined for death, or destined for hell. So, if any of those categories apply to you, then Jesus came to seek and save you. If you are like Zacchaeus -- lost, despised, or not feeling good enough -- the you are exactly who Jesus came for.

Maybe you feel like Zacchaeus may have felt: not good enough to come to Jesus. If that describes you, then you are why Jesus came. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, so follow him.

 

Maybe you're lost and you're "stuck in a tree" -- you only want to watch Jesus from a distance. You like Jesus, but you haven’t felt like you needed to follow him until now. If that describes you, Jesus is walking right toward your tree looking you dead in the eye, telling you he wants you to follow him.

 

Maybe you've already been found by Jesus. Jesus sought you out, saved you, and now you follow him joyfully. If that describes you, praise God! But don't keep that good news to yourself. Everyone needs the salvation that you have. Evangelism is everyone’s job. If you’ve found Jesus, help others find him too.

 

His big idea was, "Jesus came to seek and to save the lost." If he can save someone as messed up as Zacchaeus,he can save anyone. Follow him today.

 

March 6th, 2016 - Luke 18:35-43, "Faith to See"

Pastor John preached on the story of Jesus' interaction with the blind beggar on His way through Jericho. He began by introducing us to the idea of struggle, by sharing the story of a young girl who battled with depression and felt like life wasn't worth living. He explained that her sense that life was hard and had not turned out the way it should have been, is a feeling that we all feel from time to time and that some of us feel more often than not. Pastor John noted that this feeling of struggle is similar to how life was for the blind beggar. And yet, for the blind beggar everything changed when he met Jesus.

Pastor John walked through the story by looking at the response of both the blind beggar and Jesus. Starting with the blind beggar, he noted that HE DIDN’T ALLOW THE RISK OF SHAME TO AFFECT HIS RESPONSE TO JESUS. Pastor John then asked us to consider how often we allow the shame and guilt of our own sins, of our own lives, of how our circumstances have turned out to affect how we respond to Jesus? He encouraged us to remember that Jesus already took our shame on the cross so that we can come to Him in repentance and not worry about what we've done.

Pastor John also explained that it's also important to note about the blind beggar that, HE CLAIMED JESUS AS HIS SAVIOR. We know this to be true because, he referred to Jesus twice as the "Son of David" (a name for the Messiah) and once as "Lord." Pastor John  reminded us that this man was in a cultural setting where the buzz about Jesus left a lot people curious, and yet the majority of people still thought Jesus was just a good teacher, but not the Savior, the Healer of all humanity. So, for the beggar to call out to Jesus, in the way that he did, meant that his hope and trust was in Jesus as Savior.

It was also important to note about the blind beggar, that HE ASKED FOR MERCY. Pastor John explained that in our world where we constantly desire to control every aspect of our lives and believe that we are what we make ourselves to be, the idea of asking for mercy is not something that's appealing. It means that we have to acknowledge that we are out of control. Furthermore, in our American society we are taught that if we have to ask for mercy it means that we are failures. Pastor John asked us to consider if our cultural context impacts that way that we respond to Jesus? Are we too proud to ask God for mercy, admitting that we need help?

He then continued to explain that Jesus stopped and responded to the blind beggar. Pastor John explained that it was so important to note that JESUS WAS WILLING TO DO FOR HIM not with him. He explained that in some of our struggles in life, we need Jesus to DO FOR us, because otherwise it won't happen. Pastor John explained that there are certain things that we just can't fix and that we need God to fix and that is what Jesus was saying when He responded to the blind beggar.

Pastor John then noted two things about the blind beggar's response to Jesus' question. The first is that HE ASKED FOR WHAT HE DESPERATELY WANTED. Pastor John explained that the longings of our heart that are good and in God's will are important to Him and encouraged us to ask for those things and not feel as though they don't matter enough. Secondly, HE ASKED FOR WHAT SEEMED IMPOSSIBLE. Sometimes we think that certain things are not fixable, not attainable, not healable, but Pastor John reminded us that "with God all things are possible." And we should ask for the impossible.

After healing the blind beggar, Jesus explained to him that it was his faith that healed him. Pastor John clarified what was so important about this man's faith...it was not in it's amount but rather in who it was centered. HIS FAITH IN JESUS HEALED HIM.

Lastly, Pastor John explained that after being healed, the blind beggar did two very important things; HE FOLLOWED JESUS and HE PRAISED JESUS. Pastor John then asked us if since being healed, saved from our sin, if we too have been living a life that is marked by following and praising Jesus? He explained that it is in remembering what Christ has done for us that we are able to praise Jesus regardless of the struggle and it is in obeying Him and following Christ that we are able to live a life of abundance in relationship to our Healer, our Savior.

Pastor John encouraged us to ask ourselves the question, DO YOU HAVE FAITH TO SEE? Furthermore, do you have faith to see God do a work of healing in your heart, in your life and in your soul? He concluded by completing the story of the young girl who was battling with depression, explaining that she ultimately gave her life to Jesus after attending a small group and hearing the Gospel. Pastor John stated that for her, just like the blind beggar, everything changed when she met Jesus. He shared from her testimony that this young girl was able to feel new and conquer her struggle on a daily basis because of Jesus' healing work in her life. She had faith to see Him heal her, do we have faith to see Jesus heal us? His big idea was, "Do you have faith to see?"

 

February 28th, 2016 - Luke 16:1-15, "Faithful in Little"

On Sunday Pastor John introduced Luke 16:1-15 by explaining the concept of being faithful in the little things in order to show that you can be trusted in greater things. He then worked through the passage starting with the parable that Jesus told about the "shrewd manager." He explained that despite the manager's previous bad investments, the rich man praised him for being smart, sharp and intelligent in his decision making (shrewd), when he used his financial influence to gain friends by discounting the debts of the debtors.

Pastor John continued to explain that out of that story, Jesus taught that the people of the world were smarter than the people of God in the way that they used their money. The people of the world used their resources to gain friends, while the people of God didn't do the same. Pastor John explained that Jesus was talking about gaining friends in terms of evangelism, as He stated that friends secured would be those that would be waiting for them in the "eternal dwellings." Christ's first point was that the people of God need to invest their worldly wealth better in winning friends for the Kingdom...introducing people to Jesus.

He continued by sharing that Christ also wanted to make the point that if the people of God are trustworthy in the little things...like being smart with their worldly wealth--investing in the Kingdom, then they will be trusted with "true riches." Pastor John explained that "true riches" actually means "the true good," which is the will, mission and purpose of God.

Jesus' final point was that you couldn't serve both your money and God. You have to make a choice. What will be over the other? He mentioned that sometimes the decisions will be difficult, but in the end choosing God is choosing what is greater.

Pastor John offered four steps to being faithful with your worldly wealth;

1. Realize your wealth (You have more than you think)
2. Evaluate your investments (Where is your wealth going?)
3. Invite God to examine your heart (What do you treasure?)
4. Follow God's Lead (Where does God want you give?)

Practically, Pastor John encouraged us to think about giving to missions, people in our church and people in our community. His big idea was, "Being trusted in the little leads to being part of the great."

 

February 21st, 2016 - Luke 15:11-32, "Story of Two Brothers"

This Sunday Pastor John led us through Luke 15:11-32 and encouraged us to consider the two brothers in the story, asking ourselves which one tends to represent us most?

The younger brother ran from his Father (God), having sinned against Him in the process. The older brother's heart showed that he lived to earn his Father's acceptance misunderstanding how to receive his Father's love and sinning against his brother and his Father as a result.

Most importantly, Pastor John focused on the love that the Father (God) had for the son that returned to Him. He described how He waits for all of us, scanning the horizon, desperately hoping that today will be the day that we turn back to Him. It is when we do come back that He runs to us, embraces us, reinstates us back in the family and then throws us the greatest party. 

Regardless of which brother you associated with more, Pastor John's big idea was, "Turn from your ways and return to your Father in Heaven."

 

February 7th, 2016 - Luke 11:1-13, "Teach us to Pray"

Pastor John shared about his first experience with prayer, explaining that while it was a good introduction, it didn't give him a full understanding of what it meant to pray. He then explained that we all at different times, if we're honest, have a lot of questions about how to pray. Pastor John then led us through what Jesus taught His disciples about prayer, by way of what has been called "The Lord's Prayer." He explained that Jesus gave His disciples not simply the way to pray, but also explained why they should trust God to respond. He pointed out that Jesus wanted His disciples to pray in a way that demonstrated that they knew who they were talking to; understanding that God is their Father in Heaven and His name and His will are to be honored in the approach of prayer. Pastor John also explained that Jesus's prayer showed that those who are children of God should not be afraid to ask for what's important; daily needs--both physical and spiritual, forgiveness, and deliverance from evil. He then transitioned to explain why Jesus indicated that His disciples could trust God to respond, by stating that it was 1. because you came to Him with genuine persistence, and 2. because your Father in Heaven loves you. His big idea was, "Your Father in Heaven loves you and wants to help you."

 

January 31st, 2016 - Luke 10:38-42, "The Priorities of Two Sisters"

This week's message looked at the story of Jesus' encouner with two sisters; Mary and Martha. Pastor John began by talking about a lesson that he learned in his own marriage--despite all of his efforts to serve her, his wife wanted most of all for him to know her. He then explained the value of when someone truly knows you, feeling cherished and understood and appreciated. Pastor John noted that God has the same desire; for us to know Him and value His presence. As he opened the text and walked through the story, Pastor John explained that Martha was distracted and wanting to control the outcome of her meeting with Jesus, earning His favor and ultimately, it made her anxious. He then shared that Mary wanted only to know Jesus and be with Him. Unlike her sister, Mary had a laser focus on Jesus and everything that He said. Pastor John made the point that serving God is not bad, but it's the order that how we approach Christ that's important; we must first strive to know Jesus and then work to serve Him. He quoted a pastor who said, "You'll never get everything done that's on your list and if Jesus is at the bottom of it, you'll never get to Him." Pastor John encouraged us to take time getting to know Jesus and resting in His presence. Practically, he told us to READ.PRAY.SING.LISTEN. His big idea was, "Knowing Jesus is better."

 

January 24th, 2016 - Luke 10:25-37, "The Terms of Eternal Life: Love & Mercy"

This week's message was on the story of the good Samaritan. Pastor John explained that the story was in response to a lawyer's desire to know exactly what the terms were for someone to earn eternal life? Jesus responded by setting him up and answering by asking the lawyer a question to which he answered correctly. There was a point within Jesus' question--no one can love God and neighbor one hundred percent of the time and therefore no one can earn eternal life and hold to the terms of the law. Pastor John explained that the lawyer didn't get the point and instead just tried to clarify even more, asking Jesus, "who is my neighbor?" Jesus then told him a parable about a man (who is assumed to be Jewish) that was beaten, robbed and left for dead. He described how two people of status in the nation of Israel walked by and did nothing. Jesus then shocked his audience by explaining that it was a Samaritan (the enemy of the Jews) who showed love and mercy and cared for the beaten Jewish man. To the Samaritan, this man would have represented an entire people group that treated him badly. Pastor John compared it to a European jew showing love and mercy to Nazi soldier. He explained that Jesus was trying to make the point that our neighbors include not just those that we love, but also those who mistreat us and therefore none of us can say that we have love our neighbors, one hundred percent of the time. Pastor John showed us how once again Jesus was trying to answer the lawyer's initial question. The lawyer needed to understand that eternal life is only given through an act of love and mercy to each of us who were enemies to God before being saved. His big idea was, "To receive eternal life you must know mercy."

 

January 17th, 2016 - Luke 9:1-17, "Does God Provide Where He Calls?"

Pastor John shared about when Jesus sent out the disciples with His power and His authority and nothing else. He explained that everything that Jesus called them to do, they were able to do and did. After seeing what God had done through them, the disciples went back to Jesus and rested. That same day the people found Jesus and the disciples. Jesus welcomed them, taught them and healed them. When the disciples worried about how they were going to feed all the people, Pastor John talked about how God provided by multiplying the few fish and loaves that they had. He also reminded us how Jesus had twelve baskets left over for each of the disciples. His big idea was, "Whatever God is calling you to do, He will provide for it and for you."

 

November 29nd, 2015 – Luke 8:22-25, "Who is this Man?"

Pastor Pierce preached on the story of Jesus calming the storm. He began by explaining just how bad this storm was and how it was amazing that Jesus could actually sleep through it all. Pastor Pierce talked about the fact that the disciples probably wanted Jesus to ask God for help or just wanted Him to help them bail water out of the boat. When Jesus rose up and calmed the storm through His commands, the disciples were amazed! As Jesus turned to look at His disciples, He said to them, "Where is your faith?" Pastor Pierce than made the point that in that storm, the disciples didn't fully understand that Jesus was and is the Son of God. The disciples asked themselves, even more so than before, "Who is this man?" Pastor Pierce concluded by asking us that same question? Who is Jesus to you? Is He just a good teacher? Or is He the Son of God? He then challenged the congregation to consider their current storms and in the place of fear, have faith in the Son of God. His big idea was, "Jesus is the Son of God."

 

November 22nd, 2015 – Luke 7:36-45, "Loving Jesus"

Pastor John told the story of Jesus being invited to a dinner party at a Pharisee's house where He was treated poorly by the religious teacher, but with great love by a "woman who lived a sinful life." He discussed Jesus' statement that those who have been forgiven much love much and those who have been forgiven little love little. Pastor John explained that Jesus was talking about those who think that they have little to be forgiven for are those who receive little. But those who realize just how sinful they are and how many sins that they need to be forgiven of-they are those who are forgiven much when they come to Jesus. Pastor John showed how the woman loved Jesus through her actions and explained that her love showed her gratitude for the forgiveness that she received. Jesus ended the passage by saying that it was her faith that saved the woman and caused her to receive forgiveness. Pastor John noted that Jesus had been praising the woman for her great love only to finish off by stating that her faith was the reason for her forgiveness to make the point that your love for Him shows your faith in Him. He gave three ways that show that we love Jesus, 1. Spending time with Him, 2. Obeying Him, 3. Loving His people. Pastor John closed by saying, "if we feel as though our lives aren't poured out in loving Jesus, we need to ask ourselves two questions, Do we really believe that we need to be forgiven? Do we really believe that Jesus has forgiven us? His big idea was, "Your love for Jesus, shows your faith in Jesus."

 

November 15th, 2015 – Luke 7:1-10, "What does Amazing Faith look like?"

Pastor John introduced the idea of trials and times of suffering and asked, what does it look like to express faith in times when someone you love is suffering, sick or about to die? He then opened up Luke chapter 7 and read the story of the Centurion whose servant was dying. Pastor John explained that they type of faith that the Centurion displayed amazed Jesus. As he walked through the passage, he explained that the Jewish elders who approached Jesus were trying to retain the Centurion's favor and so they told him that this Roman official deserved Jesus's healing miracles. When the Centurion heard about what the elders said, he sent his friends to meet Jesus on the road and clarify his message--explaining that he was indeed not worthy and did not deserve anything. He even had them make the bold statement that he believed so much that Jesus could heal that he addressed Him as Lord and told Him that Jesus just had to "say the word" and it would happen. Pastor John explained that the Centurion knew who Jesus was/is and approached Him with the right heart position. He then explained that even though the Centurion was not deserving or worthy, he still had the confidence to ask Jesus to heal. Pastor John explained that the children of God must also recognize their identity and must not be afraid to ask God to help. His big idea was that Amazing faith is both humble and bold.

 

November 8th, 2015 – Luke 6:37-38, "What's Your Game?”

Pastor John described how all of us have a certain way of going about things. Often times those ways don't reflect our understanding of the Gospel. We can get quick to judge or condemn people and get consumed with fault-finding, being overly critical and dissaproving. He explained that Jesus calls us out of that game and into another. Pastor John explained that we as people are to be full of forgiveness and grace, that is what Christ desires--that is His game. However, in this passage, Jesus didn't just call us out of one thing and into another but He told us why. Christ explained that when we sow in grace, we reap in grace and vice versa. His big idea was, "Jesus' game is about forgiveness and grace."

 

November 1st, 2015 – Luke 6:27-36, "Love Like Jesus”

Pastor Pierce preached on the difference between how the world loves and how Jesus calls us to love. He explained that it is normal to want to hate someone when they mistreat you or offend you. However, he explained that Jesus calls us to love our enemies and pray for them instead. Pastor Pierce talked about how what is at the core of it all is mercy. He explained that we need to understand that God was merciful with us, even while our sin made us enemies of God. Pastor Pierce asked the question, Imagine if God treated us like the world treats its enemies? His big idea was, "Be merciful as your Father in Heaven is merciful."

 

October 25th, 2015 – Luke 5:12-16, "He is Willing”

Pastor John preached on the passage in Luke that describes how Jesus was approached by a man with leprosy. He explained that leprosy is a disease that is below the skin and that shows its effects outwardly. He talked about the rejection that someone with leprosy would have felt and the reality that spiritually we are all lepers--sick and desperately in need of a healing Savior. Pastor John noted that the way that the man with leprosy approached Jesus could be characterized in three ways; 1. desperately courageous, 2. humble, 3. full of faith. He asked if we ever come to Christ in the same way? Pastor John also noted the way that Jesus responded, explaining that He, 1. touched the leper, 2. healed him immediately, 3. told him not to tell anyone. He explained that Jesus is not afraid to touch us, no matter how dirty we think we are. He explained that Jesus spoke and it was and that is the greatness of our God. Pastor John also explained that Jesus told the man with leprosy not to tell anyone, because He didn't want people to flock to Him for His healing miracles (His stuff) instead of coming to Him for a soul saving/healing relationship. Pastor John's big idea was, "Jesus is willing to heal you, are you willing to ask Him?"

 

October 18th, 2015 – Luke 5:1-11, “Leave Everything”

Pastor John preached on the story of Jesus calling His first disciples. He described Jesus' interaction with Simon, emphasizing how leaving everything was hard. For Simon, he had to leave behind his pride...believing that he knew better. He had to leave behind his fear, that Jesus would not be merciful to him as a sinner. And lastly, he had to leave behind his comfort--the life he knew as a fisherman. Pastor John explained that Jesus stepped right into Simon's boat, and then asked him to do something. That is often the case for us, Jesus just steps in and call us to follow Him by faith. And the joy is that when we do, He claims us, renames us and gives us a new purpose. Pastor John's big idea was "Leave everything and follow Jesus because He's merciful and He has a wonderful plan for your life."

 

October 11th, 2015 – Luke 4:31-37, “Jesus is Amazing!”

Guest Preacher, Rev. John C. Ames from Emmanuel Baptist Church (Pastor John's Dad) spoke on the story of Jesus visiting the town of Capernaum. He explained that while in that town and throughout His ministry, Jesus was always in the process of amazing the people around Him. He pointed out that the scripture indicates that when teaching in the synagogue, He amazed His listeners with His authority and clarity. When faced with a demon possessed man, He displayed amazing power by casting out the demon. Rev. John then concluded by stating that the amazing news of Jesus is still surprising people today, begging the question, Are we amazed by Jesus? His big idea was, "Jesus is Amazing!"

 

October 4th, 2015 – Luke 4:14-22, “Are you about what Jesus is about?”

Pastor John preached on the sermon the Jesus gave when He was first starting His ministry in His home town. He focused on the passage from Isaiah that Jesus read and preached on, recognizing that Jesus had chosen a passage that was known to be a description of the character of God and therefore, Jesus was saying that He was in fact God. He also explained that within that passage are a list of all the things that Jesus declared that He was about and was about to do. Pastor John walked through all of the purpose statements; proclaim Good News to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners, proclaim recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, indicating that all of these were meant to communicate that Jesus was and is about restoration. His big idea was, "Jesus is about restoration."

 

September 27th, 2015 - Luke 4:1-13, "When tempted, you can trust God"

Pastor Pierce preached on the temptation of Jesus Christ and explained that the devil was trying to appeal to Jesus' pride and hoping that He would try and live for Himself and do things on His own. He continued to explain that Jesus responded to the devil with the Word of God and did not fall victim to temptation. He implored us to draw close to God, use His Word, and to trust Him in everything. His big idea was, "When tempted, you can trust God."

 

September 20th, 2015 - Luke 3:6-22, "Following Jesus Requires Repentance"

Pastor John preached on the story of John the Baptist and his ministry and message that pointed people towards Jesus. He focused on the need for repentance in salvation, explaining exactly what it means to repent. Pastor John encouraged all of us to live a life of repentance where we are constantly recognizing where we are straying so that we can turn back to God and get back on the path to righteousness. His big idea was, "Following Jesus Requires Repentance."

 

September 13th, 2015 - Luke 2:8-20, "Come to the Manger"

Pastor John preached on the announcement that Jesus Christ was being born as the Savior of humanity. He explained that God chose to proclaim it first to the shepherds (those without a home in society) and made the point that God values those whom the world has quit on. Pastor John taught that the shepherds heard the Good News, took the steps to meet Jesus and then lived their lives on mission and in praise. He expounded on this to say that whether we have met Jesus yet or not, God wants all of us to meet with Jesus--once for the salvation of our souls, but then regularly for the glory of God. His big idea was that, "God wants all of us to come to the manger."

 

September 6th, 2015 - Luke 1:5-38, "You can trust God's Word for You"

Pastor John preached on the difference between Zechariah and Mary and how they responded to God's Word. Zechariah didn't believe God's message and yet Mary did and called for God's will to be done in her life. Pastor John explained that sometimes we don't believe God's Word for us because we don't trust that He knows better and is in control. His big idea was that, "You can trust God's Word for you."