TRUE LOVE -- If you were raised "in the church" you were probably taught to behave yourself. Obeying God's holy Law is a good thing, as long as the reasons for doing so are also holy. When we examine our own hearts we often realize we were taught to obey out of fear, or guilt, or even the desire to look good in the eyes of others. But what God wants from us is the is the very same thing He offers us - LOVE. This week we wrestle with true love as we examine God's love to the Gentiles in a lesson from Jonah 3:6-9 - So God Loves.
outside looking in...
...it happens. People form cliques or exclusive groups and it can make you feel like an outsider. In ancient times it was often rare for Gentiles to be accepted into Jewish circles, but sometimes God took matters into His own hands. This weekend we wrestled with a very unique group of Gentiles and saw how God brought them into His family. We studied Exodus 12:37-38 and got to know some Gentiles simply called "Many Other People".
EPIPHANY - If your calendar is like mine, on Sunday, January 6 there is the word "Epiphany" (from the Greek meaning "appearance" or "manifestation", thus "to shine forth". 1/6/2019 makes the beginning of the next season of the church year often called "the Gentiles Christmas". Usually lessons focus on the visit of the Magi or Jesus' escape to Egypt, etc. However, this year we are going to trace the origins and steps of God reaching out to the Gentiles through various lessons of the Old Testament, including our introductory lesson of God calling Abram. Our text is recorded in Genesis 12:1-3 and out theme is "YOU want me to do what?"
2019 -- What if you could see into the future? Would you even want to? And what would you do with that kind of knowledge? We close 2018 with a lesson from Revelation 2:8-11 where we see Jesus tell an early church what was in their future. Spoiler alert, it's not all good news - at least not from a human perspective. But that's the great thing with God, each day and every year is a chance at a fresh start to trust Him. Our theme, simply put, is "What if...?"
Christmas Eve sermon, a look at the birth of Christ through the eyes of the shepherds.
WE WIN!! What if we ran a race and we all crossed the finish line at the exact same moment? Wouldn't we all be the winners? I'm not talking about the kind of race where you don't keep score or everyone gets a prize just for showing up.
Finishing a race at the exact same moment is a good picture of what we wrestled with in our second installment of our Advent series "Christ is Coming". This week we wrestled with one of the most misunderstood concepts of the end times “the Rapture". What is it exactly? What does the Bible really say about the Rapture? We turned our attention to 1 Thessalonians 4:11-18 and our theme was the Greek word translated as "rapture" = HARPADZO (the right kind of rapture).
I HATE WAITING! When I [Pastor Krause] am trying to find a sermon illustration to portray the struggle of waiting, I typically grab a picture of traffic on the Beltline. It works because most, if not all, of us have experienced frustration trying to get across Madison. It always seems the worst when I am running late or in a hurry. But the traffic isn't the problem. The waiting is. This weekend we begin our Advent study. Our seasonal theme is: "Christ is Coming" and all our lessons will focus on Jesus' second coming which highlights the necessity of His first coming. Our first lesson is from 2 Peter 3:1-9 and this weekend's theme is appropriately "Why Wait?"
Pastor Krause leads us through a study of the principles and practice of thankfulness as we look at 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
How did we do?
Have you noticed that almost every on-line business asks you to rate them as you complete your purchase or use their services? (Maybe churches should start doing this, but then again, I [Pastor Krause] am afraid some of the sermons I,ve preached wouldn,t rate very well). What if you were asked to rate your life? How many stars would last week get? As we near the end of our Christian Character(s) study we come to one of the more challenging characteristics for us as God's children - satisfaction. Are we satisfied with what God has given us? Do we long for more? This week we "take a bite" out of John 6:27 and "snack on" one, simple concept... "Satisfied?"
Time Out! "Have you ever stopped to think about how much we are controlled by our schedules as well as our own concepts of time? Most folks live their lives ruled by the clock and the calendar (guilty as charged)." writes Pastor Krause. This lesson is about how God - as the creator of time - controls time for us. Ecclesiastes 3:1 teaches us how to trust in God's perfect timing.
"I'm not sure you heard what I said." What's the difference between mercy and grace, between justice and fairness, or between being oppressed and being poor? Sounds confusing, doesn't it? That's how the devil likes to work, he likes to make us question, doubt and confuse what we think we hear God saying. This weekend we listened more closely to what God says about the Christian characteristic of being just while at the same time being merciful. We studied Micah 6:8 and our theme was "Just Christian".
Ever have one of those days when you plans change? Not only will people throw us a curveball when it comes to our schedules, but sometimes God does too. Instead of getting frustrated, a better response is to take a step back and look at the bigger picture - the eternal picture. This weekend we took a look at our next Christian characteristic, Flexible Faith, as we study Colossians 3:2.
Stuck in a rut?
Everybody loves innovation, for example: cell phones, safety features on cars, dishwashers - for most of us these are things we could not live without. It took some "outside the box" thinking for people to come up with these great ideas. But what about our faith, do we like innovation there? What if God pushes us beyond our comfort zone, challenges us to think bigger than our own personal beliefs, or even tests us to the point where all we can do is finally let God lead us where we would not ordinarily go? This week we begin a new phase of our Christian Character(s) study as we begin examining a variety of Christian virtues. Our text is Romans 12:2 and the lesson is "Faith outside the Box".
SEX - It is a subject rarely discussed openly and honestly. In the sermon, Pastor Krause talks about it as we arrive at our third topic of love in the marriage relationship as a reflection of God's love for us. Our lesson is Hebrews 13:4-5 and our topic is "The Naked Truth". (P.S. the sermon is rated PG).
Relationships: Back in my day (Pastor Krause speaking) we didn't have fancy dating apps or computer programs to determine if a person was a good "match" with someone else in their system. Back in my day we asked a girl out and prayed to God she would say "yes". It is nice to know some things about relationships never change, starting with the relationship God chooses to have with us. This month we study our Christian character(s) from the perspective of the marital relationship - the one human relationship God uses to describe His love for us. We study Proverbs 30:18-19 and see that "Love is for Losers".
What is Love?
Every time I hear the question "What is love?" I (Pastor Krause) immediately think of Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell bobbing their heads to the song of the same name by Haddaway. It became famous as part of the SNL "Roxbury Guys" sketches. (I'm guessing this ages me a bit!) It's not a very good picture of love as the lyrics go on to say "Baby, don't hurt me no more". We will get a better picture of love as we conclude the first part of our mini-series on Christian Character(s) related to the SHEMA, and as we get ready for the second part of the study looking at the marriage relationship. This week's lesson is Deuteronomy 10:12-13 and our theme is "Love: It's Not What You Think".
Heart Attack: Do you know what's happening if you have chest discomfort, pain in your upper body, shortness of breath, and you break out in a cold sweat and feel nauseated? You may have some kind of heart condition, maybe even a heart attack. Do you know the signs of a spiritual heart attack? Are you keeping spiritually fit so as to protect your heart? And what exactly does God mean when He tells us He wants our whole heart? This weekend we look at our next big word from the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:5) as we study the heart from Psalm 51:10. Our theme is "Cut to the Heart".
What did you think would happen? It always amazed me [Pastor Krause] as my sons were growing up and I would warn them about the consequences of their actions if they did not listen, that they would then complain about getting themselves into trouble. We're kind of like that with God. God prescribes a path for our lives here, we often don't listen, and then we complain when life takes a turn.This week we begin a new phase of our Christian Character(s) study. For the next 2 months we will be looking at some of the more intense directions God gives about being His children.This week we start with Deuteronomy 6:5 and look at the characteristic of "muchness".
Definitions - How would you define "integrity"? The most common definition I have heard is: "doing the right thing even when no one is watching". But is that the best we can do? This week we wrap up our quick journey through the book of Acts and our look at some of the characters of the early church. This week we view an episode in the life of the apostle Paul from Acts 24:26. Someone was watching as Paul practiced integrity, not just because it was the right thing to do but because of his faith in God.
Pastor Krause writes: As you know, last year one of my brothers died from a heart attack. This year another one of my brothers was hospitalized with heart problems. So you can imagine that I am trying to take better care of my own heart. God-willing, my heart will last for many years yet, but that is not my biggest challenge. I'm more concerned about whether my heart is good, spiritually. This week's lesson helps us wrestle with our hearts as we study our next Christian Character(s). Our lesson is from Acts 13:22 and it's about David and his Go(o)d heart.
How strong are you? That's a trick question because it all depends on how you measure strength. Some people can lift a lot of weight. Others can endure great pressure and seem to have endless stamina. What if we measured strength and power using a different scale? What if real power was measured in how we handle the challenges to our Christian character? This weekend we take a close look at our next series character - Stephen. Our lesson is from Acts 6:8 and our theme is "You are stronger than you think!"
We introduce our "Christian Character(s)" Trinity Series today with a message about Dokimos. Our first lesson is Acts 5:3-4 and we get to know ourselves a little better as we dig into the choices made by Ananias and Sapphira. Our theme is DOKIMOS, by watching the sermon you will learn everything you should know about DOKIMOS.
Know Thyself - If you and I just met for the very first time, what would you tell me about who you are to help me to get to really know you? This weekend not only did we celebrate God's gift of mothers, but we concluded our Resurrection Question series with a lesson from Romans 1:1b-5a as we answer this question: "And You Are"?
Do the math. What is one plus one? Easy, right? This weekend the apostle Paul gives us a simple math lesson regarding the resurrection. It is a simple equation but the answer means everything. Our next Resurrection Question is based on 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 as God has Paul provide the answer to the question "My Life Changed When"?
Proof... Many of us have lived our whole lives believing Jesus rose from the dead on Easter morning, and it is good that we do. But what if you just heard about the resurrection for the first time in your life? What if you had doubts? We look at the evidence of Jesus' resurrection by asking the question "Are You Guilty of Believing in the Resurrection?" Our lesson comes from Acts 24:17-21 as we continue on Easter series "Resurrection Questions!"
What does victory sound like? On Good Friday we studied Mark 15:37 & Luke 23:46 and listened to Jesus' "Victorious Voice."
The 3 hardest words to say... No, it's not what you think. People say "I love you" all the time - some mean it, some don't. The three hardest words for us sinners to say is "I need help", whether we are speaking to others or speaking to God. We hate the taste of those words in our mouth, so we say them too seldom as we try to fix our own lives. What if God puts you in a place where you CAN'T help yourself? What if you can't survive without someone coming to your rescue? And what if just anyone won't do? This weekend we enter into the final phase of our "Look Into It" series as we study the first of two examples of Jesus as the Son of David. Our lesson is from Luke 18:35-43.
Our mid-week Lenten series "Sounds of the Passion" continues with the sounds of Hateful Hollers.
Some things are so amazing you have to see it to believe it. Sometimes Jesus is like that. People struggled to believe Jesus was the Messiah unless they saw Him with their own eyes. As our "Look Into It" study continues we are going to look into what happened when Jesus met the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well (John 4:28-29 & 39-42).
What's your biggest regret? As we continue our Lenten series "Sounds of the Passion" we take a look at Matthew 27:3-5 and hear the "Eerie Echoes" that deal with our guilt once and for all.