Sermon Archive

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