Sermon Archive

Christmas Eve 2016

Direct download: 2016-1224_Special_deMartimprey.mp3
Category:Special -- posted at: 4:00pm PDT

Steve's sermon last week on the priesthood of every believer reinforced my decision to lead in worship next Sunday, Christmas Day. Steve pointed out that there is no formal priesthood in the New Testament Church because every one of us is a priest under the New Covenant. The Apostle Peter revealed this revolutionary truth to Jews scattered throughout the Roman Empire who had been raised under the Old Covenant priesthood.

Direct download: 2016-1218_special_nelson.mp3
Category:Special -- posted at: 8:30am PDT

Dr Steve Sammons
Why No Priest?

Direct download: 2016-1211_Special_Sammons.mp3
Category:Special -- posted at: 10:45am PDT

When we trust in Christ for salvation we are born again into a new family, the Church. As family, we are called to care for one another. Previously, in chapter 5, the Apostle Paul encouraged believers in the Galatian churches to walk in the Spirit that their churches might be filled with His fruit. As he concludes his letter in chapter 6, Paul encourages us to care for one another in the church family and to persevere in doing good to all, but especially to the church family.

Because He's referred to as the Spirit we may not have an accurate picture of who He is. The Holy Spirit is the third person of our triune God - God the Father, Jesus the Son, the Holy Spirit. Like the Father and Son, the Spirit is a person Who thinks, speaks, acts and feels.

The moment you placed faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus for salvation the Holy Spirit came to live in you (Romans 8:9; Galatians 4:6). This miracle is called the indwelling of the Spirit. Every moment of every day the Holy Spirit lives in and with you; He does not come and go (this is a major difference between the Spirit's relationship to New Covenant believers and believers during the Old Testament period). When you rise in the morning and get ready for the day, the Spirit is with you. When you're taking your math test He is with you. When you're driving home from work He is with you. When you're scrolling through Facebook or texting or watching the news or eating dinner He is with you.

The Holy Spirit is with you every moment of every day and His primary goal is to renew your mind.

We have a tug-a-war in our souls. It's between living for ourselves and living for God. In this passage its described as a tug-a-war between our fleshly desires and the desires of the Holy Spirit Who lives in us. When we live for our fleshly desires, we do all kinds of bad things. The Judaizers (legalists) would say the only way to control our flesh is to live under the Law of Moses. In their minds, if we’re freed from the law the flesh will take over.  There will be nothing to keep our flesh under control. But there is another way to gain victory over the flesh. Through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is so much better than the law because the Holy Spirit doesn’t control our flesh, He transforms it.

Legalism shorts out the power for spiritual transformation.

A few weeks ago I was informed the toaster wasn’t working. Mom (and Willie, the dog) have toast every morning for breakfast. Not simple, straight ahead wheat toast but sweet, gooey cinnamon toast. This was a mini crisis. I took the toaster apart and found icing on the magnetic switches. The contacts couldn’t close because of the icing. In other words, the icing was cutting off the flow of power!

This is exactly what Paul addresses in Galatians 5:1-12 – not the toaster, but cutting the flow of power. Paul warns that if the Galatians give in to legalism they will cut the flow of power for spiritual transformation; they will not go on to become like Christ (4:19). Paul’s concern was their lack of sanctification, not loss of salvation.

In the latter half of Galatians 3, the Apostle Paul explained that one of the reasons the Law of Moses was given was to chase us to Christ in the sense that the Law of Moses makes it abundantly clear that we are transgressors, we cannot live up to God’s perfect and holy standard nor can we make up for all the ways we violate God’s holiness and transgress His law. The purpose of the Law of Moses is to bring us to the end of ourselves; to open us up to put our faith, not in ourselves, but in Jesus Who died on the cross to pay the penalty for our transgressions and rose again to give us eternal life. When we turn from ourselves to Jesus to make us right with God we are justified, that is, God the Father declares all our sin forgiven, paid as they are by the sacrifice of Jesus. God the Father declares that we are in a right standing with Him; He accepts us and is at peace with us. All of this is what is meant by the phrase justified by faith. In addition, He adopts us as His sons and daughters making us rightful heirs to His inheritance. This is what the Apostle Paul celebrates at the close of Galatians 3.

In our study of Galatians so far we have clearly seen that there is no way for the law to bring about justification. The only way to be justified and have a right relationship with God is through faith in Jesus Christ. This has always been the way, and will always be the way! The sign that we are justified and part of God’s family, is that the personal Spirit of God comes to live in our mortal bodies! These churches in the region of Galatia had experienced justification through faith, followed by the gift of the Spirit and the resulting fellowship with other believers, both Jew and Gentile alike. These legalistic false teachers had come in and claimed that when the law was given, it set up a NEW way to be justified and part of God’s family, and it replaced the old promises given to Abraham. In this section of Galatians, Paul clears up just what purpose the law does serve, and he shows us that it is a powerful one!

Paul gets straight to the problem as he addresses these churches in the region of Galatia. These Judaizers had come into these churches teaching that the Gentiles must come under the law of Moses and be circumcised in order to be Justified, aka. made right with God. It was a mixture of faith in Jesus AND following the law that would set people free, and make them part of God's family. As this teaching quickly took root in the lives of the believers, it drove a wedge between the Jews and Gentiles, and ripped at the foundation of the gospel. Paul's command is to get these false teachers out of their churches immediately!

As Paul shares the story of Peter's hypocrisy (Gal 2:11-14) to the Galatian believers, it seems like Paul is making a big deal out of something that isn't that important. Why would he oppose Peter "to his face"? Peter just made a small mistake right? It wasn’t as though he actually believed that the Law could justify, he just had a moment of cowardice and made a mistake. To Paul, this is no small mistake, it was giving approval to a message that was a direct assault on Jesus. When Peter and Barnabas broke table fellowship with the gentiles, they were giving approval to these Judaizers who were teaching that if the gentiles wanted to become part of God's family, they must come under the authority of the Law of Moses. Paul recognized this teaching was a direct attack on the authority of Christ, as it was an attempt to add the law to the gospel, so Paul puts Peter's actions on display to reveal these three implications from his false behavior.

Paul had brought the gospel message to the people of Galatia and they had been set free! But in his absence, the "agitators" had brought a two pronged attack into the Galatian churches, they took aim at the man and the message. On the one hand they were attacking Paul, his background, character, apostleship and authority. On the other, they were attacking the gospel Paul had preached, bringing doubt into its origin, authenticity, validity and authority.

Last week we saw that Paul began his letter with a tone of exceptional disapproval and shock, as the Galatian churches were being led astray by these agitators and false teachers. What we will look at this week is how Paul uses his life story to remove all doubt about his authority and the authority of the gospel he preached.

Key Truth: A Right Understanding of the Gospel will Deliver and Protect Us.

The Apostle Paul begins his letter with a brief reminder of the very heart of the Gospel.

The first verses of Galatians will begin to set the stage, or context, for what the whole letter is about. A cursory look at verses 1-7 will introduce us to the primary People as well as the primary Problem. If we keep these in mind through the duration of our study we will be sure to handle and apply God’s word accurately.

Thus far we have discovered that those becoming like Jesus will have a thought life that is centered on God; setting the mind on things above and letting the Word of Christ dwell in us richly. Those becoming like Jesus will also increasingly enjoy the positive feelings that accompany love, joy, and peace.

Becoming like Jesus also includes the transformation of our wills. Our will is the executive center of our lives. It is the power to choose and to create. Its primary power is to select what we think about and what we do in response to our thoughts and feelings.

The interplay between our mind (thoughts and feelings) and our will is important to understand. In the moment of choosing, our will is completely dependent upon the thoughts and feelings guiding it in that moment. The thoughts and feelings cannot be changed in that moment. Thus, our will is completely dependent upon our mind in the moment of choosing.

Direct download: 2016-0828_renovation_nelson.mp3
Category:Renovation of the Heart -- posted at: 10:45am PDT

Feelings are essential to life. God made us to feel and to feel deeply. Jesus is a person of deep feeling. He was "fightin' mad" when He cleared the Temple, He openly wept at the tomb of His close friend Lazarus, and in His anxiety, He sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Feelings, per se, are not the problem. There are at least two challenges with regard to feelings. One challenge is not to be ruled by our feelings. The other challenge is to learn to cultivate the feelings that ought to characterize us as followers of Jesus.

This may be a new idea for some of us: that we can and must learn to cultivate specific feelings. But this is a hopeful discovery particularly for those of us who struggle with negative or destructive feelings. With God's help, we can replace destructive feelings with the good feelings that flow from our relationships with Jesus.

In the transforming of our feelings, we must realize feelings cannot be changed by a direct act of the will.

Direct download: 2016-0821_renovation_nelson.mp3
Category:Renovation of the Heart -- posted at: 10:45am PDT

Ideas rule our lives.

We are shaped and driven by our ideas of success, family, friendship, marriage, patriotism, fairness, God, freedom, happiness, "the American dream", work, self-worth.

Last week, Leo shared he was taught, "the world is out to get you". That is an idea. What attitudes and actions might flow from the notion, "the world is out to get you"? Fear and paranoia on one end of the spectrum and on the other, aggressiveness and violence.

Ideas rule our lives. Images also significantly influence our lives. Images powerfully reinforce ideas.

Direct download: 2016-0814_renovation_nelson.mp3
Category:Renovation of the Heart -- posted at: 10:45am PDT

The spirit (will), in union with and subject to God, guides the mind to seek the things above, to set the mind on the things that are above. The Godward mind, in turn, brings order and harmony to the soul. The body, energized and guided by a healthy soul, serves the other aspects to accomplish God’s will in its social and physical settings.

This order is what the Apostle Paul describes as "the mind set on the Spirit" which is "life and peace". It is important to note that in a life in union with God, the body is subservient to the other five aspects of the self. In a life away from God it is not.

Direct download: 2016-0807_renovation_nelson.mp3
Category:Renovation of the Heart -- posted at: 10:45am PDT

Crumbs and Bubbles are those numerous daily, seemingly insignificant experiences and choices that taken all together form our soul. News, talk shows, music, conversations, emails, Facebook, Scripture and many other daily experiences shape our souls. Aware of this, we can decide what inputs we allow into our thoughts and hearts. We can choose influences that shape our souls positively.  God's goal is to re-shape our soul in the likeness of Jesus.

Direct download: 2016-0731_renovation_nelson.mp3
Category:Renovation of the Heart -- posted at: 8:30am PDT

Do genuinely born again Christians cheat on their taxes? Do genuinely born again Christians lie and cheat? Are there genuinely born again Christians who hate minorities? Are there genuinely born again Christians who indulge in pornography? Are there genuinely born again Christians who are alcoholics and drug addicts? Is it possible for a genuinely born again Christian man to verbally and physically abuse his wife and children? Is it possible for a genuinely born again Christian woman to be so full of bitterness and anger that she is making herself physically ill?

From time to time something like this will surface in the church family and invariably I will hear someone say, "If they say they're a Christian, how could they do that?" But if you doubt that born again Christians can do these things and much more, read with me James 4:1-4.

Direct download: 2016-0724_renovation_nelson.mp3
Category:Renovation of the Heart -- posted at: 10:45am PDT

Mark's gospel ends in controversy. Not only the controversy of the Resurrection, but a controversy regarding its original ending. Most Bibles set verses 9-20 in brackets noting that they are not included in the earliest copies of the Gospel of Mark. Let's open our Bibles to Mark 16.

Direct download: 2016-0717_sent_to_serve_nelson.mp3
Category:Sent to Serve -- posted at: 8:30am PDT

Recently I came across an article in which a person claimed the United States was born out of rebellion. The implication being that the beginning of our nation was somehow less than honorable. But nothing could be further from the truth. In studying both history and our founding documents, we discover that our founding fathers were men of principle and spiritual conviction.

The Declaration of Independence is the founding document of the American political tradition. It articulates the fundamental ideas that form the American nation: All men are created free and equal and possess the same inherent, natural rights. Legitimate governments must therefore be based on the consent of the governed and must exist "to secure these rights."

Direct download: 2016-0703_special_nelson.mp3
Category:Special -- posted at: 10:45am PDT

This morning we consider the three most important hours in human history. For it was in those three hours that the eternal destiny of millions was altered.

-The Darkest Hours (15:33-34)
-Elijah (15:34-36)
-Temple Curtain Torn (15:37-38)
-The Centurion (15:37-39)
-The Women  (15:40-41)
-Jesus’ Burial (15:42-47)

Direct download: 2016-0626_sent_to_serve_nelson.mp3
Category:Sent to Serve -- posted at: 10:45am PDT

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit King Solomon wrote words of wisdom to his children. Preserved in Scripture, these words guide all us fathers as to important truths about which we should be talking with our children.

Direct download: 2016-0619_special_nelson.mp3
Category:Special -- posted at: 8:30am PDT

In the early years of our marriage, Cathy and I did not own a television. That was our choice. Being in graduate school and working, our lives were busy. What free time we had we thought best to spend together talking or walking or reading.

At least twice in the first three years of our marriage we received televisions anonymously on our doorstep. All we can think is that in the course of conversation when it had been shared that we were without a television it had been interpreted as a complaint. I suppose it was and perhaps is, difficult for some people to imagine anyone not wanting a television. What these dear people thought was an unfortunate circumstance was, in fact, what we wanted.

Such was the case for our Lord Jesus. Thinking Jesus was an ordinary man, His enemies assumed that He would do anything necessary to escape the cross. But as we will see, such was not the case.

Our text picks up the story at the point that the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council, ratified its verdict and delivered Jesus to Pilate.

Direct download: 2016-0612_sent_to_serve_nelson.mp3
Category:Sent to Serve -- posted at: 8:30am PDT

With Judas' help, the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of Israel, accomplished its goal in Gethsemane, arresting Jesus for the purpose of killing Him (14:1-2, 43-50). Jesus was lead to the home of Joseph Caiaphas, high priest and head of the Sanhedrin.

Direct download: 2016-0605_sent_to_serve_nelson.mp3
Category:Sent to Serve -- posted at: 10:45am PDT

One of the most important moments of a wedding ceremony takes place when I ask the father of the bride, "Who gives this woman to be married to this man?" In that moment, he publicly relinquishes authority over his daughter and entrusts her to the authority of her husband. If a father cherishes his daughter he will not do this lightly. He will have verified long before the wedding day that the young man is worthy and capable. He must; the well-being of his daughter is at stake.

Similarly, Jesus is concerned that those who are in authority over His Bride, the Church, be worthy and capable. That is why He has given clear qualifications for those who would serve as Elders of the Church.

Direct download: 2016-0529_special_nelson.mp3
Category:Special -- posted at: 10:45am PDT

How a man talks reveals the condition of his soul. A wise person, according to Jewish thought, is one who skillfully applies God's truth to everyday life. We need church leaders who can help us apply God's Word to our everyday circumstances. The term understanding refers to a person who has expert knowledge in a particular subject. We need church leaders who have expert knowledge in Christian living.

The wise leader is pure. He is peaceable. He is gentle; noncombative. He is open to reason. He is full of mercy and good fruits. He is sensitive to the needs of others and quick to meet those needs when he is able. He is impartial. He is genuine.

Direct download: 2016-0522_special_nelson.mp3
Category:Special -- posted at: 8:30am PDT

Have you ever wondered how you would hold up under persecution for being a Christian? We will never know for sure until we go through it; but I suspect that all of us would like to think we would stay faithful to Jesus. But the fact is that not all of us will. Even Jesus' disciples failed under persecution.

One of the reasons we know the Bible is reliable history is because of its honesty. Unlike myth or legend, the people in the Bible do not always win or even do the right thing. In fact, I believe that in Mark 14, John Mark, the author of the Gospel of Mark, purposefully highlighted the failure of Jesus’ disciples in the hours just prior to His arrest.

Before we read verses 22-52, quickly scan verses 1-21 and notice the emphasis upon the conspiracy of the Jewish leaders (vv. 1-2); Judas' agreement to betray Jesus (vv. 10-11) and Jesus' announcement that He would be betrayed (v.18).

As we continue reading chapter 14:22-52 notice the amount of space Mark gives to the announcement that all the disciples will abandon Jesus (vv. 26-31); the failure of the disciples to watch and pray (vv. 32-42) and finally, the betrayal and abandonment of Jesus by His disciples (vv. 43-52).

Direct download: 2016-0515_sent_to_serve_nelson.mp3
Category:Sent to Serve -- posted at: 10:45am PDT

You are shaping the lives of human beings made in the image of God. They, in turn, are or will affect the lives of dozens, maybe hundreds, maybe thousands of people. You have the awesome opportunity and responsibility to help your children to know the love of God in Jesus Christ and to live for Jesus.

We have several examples of the influence of godly mothers. Last week we read from the Apostle Paul's letter to Timothy where Paul made mention of Timothy's mother and grandmother. After greeting Timothy, Paul wrote:

"I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." - 2 Timothy 1:3–7 (ESV)

Direct download: 2016-0508_special_nelson.mp3
Category:Special -- posted at: 8:30am PDT

Direct download: 2016-0501_special_nelson.mp3
Category:Special -- posted at: 8:30am PDT

Jesus knew full well what awaited Him in Jerusalem. On three separate occasions Jesus foretold His rejection, murder and resurrection (8:31, 9:30-32,10:32-34). What's more, His death and resurrection were essential elements of God's redemption plan. Even as Jesus' enemies schemed to arrest and kill Him, Jesus was aware and took steps to protect His disciples.

Direct download: 2016-0424_Sent_To_Serve_Nelson.mp3
Category:Sent to Serve -- posted at: 8:30am PDT

This year, Passover will be celebrated April 22-30 with another reenactment of the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb. What I wanted us to see is that there is a committed movement to rebuild the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and reestablish the worship prescribed in the Law of Moses. As we study the end-time prophecies revealed by our Lord, we should realize that we are a generation privileged to see that some of these prophecies have already been fulfilled (e.g. worldwide conflict) and that current events are shaping up for the fulfillment of prophecies yet future. The bottom line is that as we study these prophecies we should realize this is not theory or make believe, but the very course of human history. We are living in the time of the birth pains. Are we living for things eternal or temporal; are we living ready for Jesus' return at any moment?

In response to a disciple's admiring comment about the Temple, Jesus revealed its destruction such that one stone would not be left on another (13:1-2). History confirms this prophecy was fulfilled by the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70AD.

Returning to Bethany for the evening, Jesus paused on the summit of the Mount of Olives overlooking the Temple complex. Peter, James, John and Andrew approached with questions about His prophecy. Their questions were not about the timing and sign of this thing, but of these things (vv.3-4). This indicates their assumption that the destruction of the Temple would correspond to the end of this age and the inauguration of the Messianic Age.

The destruction of the Temple however, is not the sign of the end of this age.

Direct download: 2016-0417_Sent_To_Serve_Nelson.mp3
Category:Sent to Serve -- posted at: 8:30am PDT

The Temple was a source of national pride for the Jews. It was one of the wonders of the Roman Empire.

As we will see in this passage, the disciples were proud of the Temple, but Jesus revealed that the beauty of the Temple would be short lived.

Jesus and His disciples were in Jerusalem celebrating Passover 33AD. They were staying in the village of Bethany east of Jerusalem on the far side of the Mount of Olives. After a day of teaching in the Temple, Jesus and His disciples left the Temple to make their way to Bethany for the evening.

Direct download: 2016-0410_sent_to_serve_nelson.mp3
Category:Sent to Serve -- posted at: 10:45am PDT

Scribes factor large in our study today so let's get some background on them. The origin of the scribes as a professional class began during the time of Exile following the Babylonian Conquest of 586BC. The Temple had been destroyed and the Jews scattered throughout the Babylonian empire. The scribes, who were responsible for copying and preserving the Scriptures, became, by virtue of their contact with the Scriptures, experts in the Law of Moses. They provided leadership and guidance during the Exile when there were many questions about how to obey the Law in the foreign countries where the Jews settled. The scribal profession continued after the Return and, in the days of Jesus, scribes were highly respected as experts and teachers of the Law. They were also referred to as "lawyers" because they were trained in applying the Law in judicial matters (Matt. 22:35). Unfortunately, the scribes opposed Jesus and collaborated with the chief priests and elders to have Him killed.

But among the scribes there was an exception.

Direct download: 2016-0403_sent_to_serve_nelson.mp3
Category:Sent to Serve -- posted at: 10:45am PDT

Many people in our culture believe that the universe and all that is in it is the result of natural forces acting over billions of years to produce life as we experience it today. One of the implications of evolution is that we are simply physical beings and when we die physically, we cease to exist. There is no afterlife, no heaven, no hell, no God. These beliefs don't surprise us; they are logical conclusions of evolution.

What may be surprising are the people we're going to meet in our study this morning. They were theists, they believed in the existence of God. They served in God's Temple and spiritually led the nation of Israel in the days of Jesus. But they, like evolutionists today, believed that when a person died physically, they ceased to exist. They did not believe in an afterlife and they certainly didn't believe in that which we are celebrating today - the resurrection.

Before we meet these people, let's put our passage in its historical context. Jesus and His disciples were in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover 33A.D. (11:1-11). Three times Jesus foretold that this journey would result in His rejection, murder and resurrection (8:31, 9:30-32, 10:32-34). He specifically predicted that the chief priests, elders and scribes of Israel would reject Him and hand Him over to the gentiles (Romans) to be executed (8:31, 10:33). Mark records three occasions on which the chief priests, elders and scribes or their representatives attempted to trap Jesus (11:27-33; 12:13-27). In this third attempt, they sent a delegation from the party of the Sadducees.

Direct download: 2016-0327_sent_to_serve_nelson.mp3
Category:Sent to Serve -- posted at: 8:30am PDT

Jesus and His disciples were in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover 33A.D. (11:1-11). In fulfilment of His prediction, the chief priests, elders and scribes went on the attack to find cause to accuse and execute Jesus (8:31). They attacked Jesus directly after the cleansing of the Temple (11:27-33). Having failed themselves, the chief priests, scribes and elders sent others to trap Jesus on this issue of paying the poll tax. It was a "trap" in the sense that it seemed impossible for Jesus to answer without alienating one side or the other. If He said they should pay the poll tax He would alienate devout and patriotic Jews who would see it as a pro-Roman answer. If He said they should not pay the poll tax it would give His enemies opportunity to denounce Him to the Roman authorities as a rebel (cf. Luke 20:20).

How did Jesus handle this trap?

Direct download: 2016-0320_sent_to_serve_nelson.mp3
Category:Sent to Serve -- posted at: 10:45am PDT

I've heard that no matter how hard you try and vet prospective tenants, you may still end up having problems. Even God had tenant problems! He sent Jesus to deal with them.

Following the cleansing of the Temple (11:15-19), the chief priests, scribes and elders went on the attack against Jesus. Earlier, Jesus foretold that these three groups would reject Him (8:31). Mark recorded several of their attempts to trap and discredit Jesus (11:27-12:28) all of which failed.

In the midst, Mark recorded a parable Jesus told against His enemies. The setting of the parable was a vineyard; a well known Old Testament image for Israel and her relation to God (e.g. Psalm 80:8–18; Isa. 27:2–6; Jer. 2:21; 12:10; Ezek. 19:10–14; Hosea 10:1). Jesus may have had Isaiah 5:1-7 in mind when He composed His parable.

Direct download: 2016-0313_sent_to_serve_nelson.mp3
Category:Sent to Serve -- posted at: 9:30am PDT

Jesus has absolute authority, regardless of how we respond to it.

Direct download: 2016-0306_sent_to_serve_demartimprey.mp3
Category:Sent to Serve -- posted at: 8:30am PDT

The Jewish Temple was the heart and soul of Judaism. Solomon's Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. The second Temple was rebuilt by Zerubbabel in 520 B.C.; it was not nearly as grand as Solomon's. Then, in 20 B.C., Herod the Great began the work of expanding and remodeling the Temple mount and Temple proper. The scale of this project was such that it would not be completed until the early 60's A.D.

The Temple mount was greatly expanded with much of the area dedicated to a paved court to which both Jews and Gentiles had access. It was named the Court of the Gentiles. The Court of the Gentiles surrounded the Temple proper.

A number of tunnel walkways and arched bridges connected the Temple complex to the city streets to the south, west and north. In the days of Jesus the majestic beauty of the Temple was the source of both national pride and spiritual security for many Jews. Here the priests offered the morning and evening sacrifices and facilitated the burnt offerings, sin offerings etc., of worshippers all through the year. At Passover, the national Passover Lamb was sacrificed here. On Yom Kippur the blood of a bull and goat were sprinkled on the Mercy Seat above the Ark of the Covenant for the sins of the High Priest and the nation. The Temple was the central focal point for the Jewish faith. The Temple and its ceremonies brought many in Israel a sense of security.

Jesus had something very different to say about the Temple.

Direct download: 2016-0228_sent_to_serve_nelson.mp3
Category:Sent to Serve -- posted at: 8:30am PDT

Before we take up the actual story, let's consider circumstances surrounding this event. First, Jesus was at the end of a long journey which had begun many months before zigzagging through Galilee, Samaria, Perea, and finally Judea.

During this final journey he had ministered, according to one Bible teacher, in at least thirty-five localities, timing the journey so he would end up in Jerusalem for Passover. In the course of this journey He had come to Bethany previously and raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11). News of this miracle spread and many believed in Him. But the Pharisees, chief priests and members of the Sanhedrin reacted by counseling together how they might kill Jesus (John 11:45-53; 12:9-11). After raising Lazarus, Jesus withdrew from the area until He returned in time to celebrate this Passover in AD33. So the tensions were already high between Jesus and the religious leaders before Passover AD33.

One estimate places the number of worshippers in Jerusalem to celebrate this Passover at 2.7 million. The Passover was only a few days away. People were wondering if Jesus would make some kind of move? And if He did, what would their leaders do?

As we discover, Jesus indeed made a move that was very calculated and clear in its meaning.

Direct download: 2016-0221_sent_to_serve_nelson.mp3
Category:Sent to Serve -- posted at: 10:45am PDT

One of the characteristics of true heroism is courage and determination in the face of certain danger. We have heroes in our church family; combat veterans of our armed forces, law enforcement officers, fire fighters and others who run towards danger.

For me, one of the most powerful moments in the movie Saving Private Ryan is the sound of German bullets pinging off the landing boats of the Allied soldiers storming the beaches of Normandy. Facing a wall of machine gun fire they pushed forward and won the day and war; every one a hero.

Jesus is a hero in the same way.

Direct download: 2016-0214_sent_to_serve_nelson.mp3
Category:Sent to Serve -- posted at: 10:45am PDT

Children are a living illustration to us of the essential attitude necessary for salvation - helpless dependence.

Self-sufficiency, the opposite of helpless dependence, is the attitude often engendered by wealth. This is why wealth is so often a barrier to salvation in the lives of the rich.

Direct download: 2016-0207_sent_to_serve_nelson.mp3
Category:Sent to Serve -- posted at: 10:45am PDT

Our culture aggressively promotes self-centeredness, but puts a shine on it by calling it "self-fulfillment". By elevating our happiness as the highest good we are reaping the storm particularly in the most basic of our relationships - our marriages. We need to get back to the basics of marriage as created by God.

A confrontation with a group of Pharisees provided an opportunity for Jesus to take His disciples back to the basics of God’s intent for marriage.

Direct download: 2016-0131_sent_to_serve_nelson.mp3
Category:Sent to Serve -- posted at: 8:30am PDT

When I was in 5th grade I begged my mom to let me go to school a half hour early to play basketball. Every morning the 6th graders would play full court basketball and they would pick a few 5th graders to play as well. I wanted to get picked in the worst way because getting picked by a 6th grader meant you were "in"; everybody else was "out". Whenever I was picked I felt great. Whenever I wasn't picked, I felt terrible.

We long to belong. It is our very nature and it begins at birth with our need to especially bond to our mothers. If there is failure to bond, if rejection happens in infancy, that person is scarred for life. Our need to belong and to be accepted runs deep and is undeniable. Rejection is devastating. It is the devastating hurt of rejection that is driving much of the racial violence in our country today. Rejection in the church is particularly damaging because there is a general expectation that the church is a place of love and acceptance.

When Jesus discovered that His disciples had excluded a man of genuine faith because he was not part of their group, Jesus sternly corrected them.

Direct download: 2016-0124_sent_to_serve_nelson.mp3
Category:Sent to Serve -- posted at: 8:30am PDT

Last Tuesday when we had the really heavy downpour and flash flood warnings, water washed around the pipe that serves as the bridge into our cul-de-sac. As a result it washed out about a 12 foot swath of crushed asphalt recently put down by our neighbor. Another neighbor discovered and removed a sheet of plywood that was blocking the pipe. Wednesday, when another downpour hit, with the blockage removed, the water stayed in the pipe and no further damage was done to the road.

Jesus wants His love to flow freely in His church, but like that piece of plywood, ego and status consciousness can block the flow. Jesus confronted this problem in His disciples as they returned from their ministry tour in Caesarea Philippi to Capernaum.

Direct download: 2016-0117_sent_to_serve_nelson.mp3
Category:Sent to Serve -- posted at: 8:30am PDT

Special service presenting the direction Grace Church is moving concerning leadership and Home Groups.

Direct download: 2016-0110_special_nelson.mp3
Category:Special -- posted at: 10:45am PDT

Hanging in the Vatican is a painting by Italian artist Raphael titled, The Transfiguration. In the uppermost part of the picture is Jesus transfigured and flanked by Moses and Elijah. On the next level are Peter, James and John shielding their eyes from Jesus' blinding radiance. On the ground below is a demon possessed boy, eyes rolled back into his head, mouth gaping in wild raving. Holding the boy is his father looking desperately to the nine disciples to deliver his son. Some of the disciples are pointing upward to Christ Who is the boy's only hope. Raphael has captured something of the overwhelming contrast between the awesome glory of the Mount of Transfiguration and the troubled world waiting below.

This is the contrast before us in Mark 9:14-29.

When Jesus, Peter, James and John returned from the mountain and rejoined the other nine disciples, they found their companions embroiled in an argument with Jewish scribes.

Direct download: 2016-0103_sent_to_serve_nelson.mp3
Category:Sent to Serve -- posted at: 8:30am PDT