Freedom of Religion!” Matt. 22:20-22
The Fourth of July weekend brings parades, picnics and fireworks as we celebrate our country’s birthday. Recognizing how precious the life and opportunities we are given in our country, cherishing our citizenship, moves us to share our thankfulness with those we love and with whom we live. What we are celebrating is truly a gift of God recognized in the very Declaration of Independence with these words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
As followers of Christ, we celebrate our country and it’s founding with an insight and clarity of Creator who gives us both an earthly government and a heavenly government. Two kingdoms, separate but connected as Jesus revealed answering a question of the Pharisees designed to trap Him. The question was, “should we followers of God pay taxes and thus pay tribute to the Roman Emperor who calls himself God?” Jesus answered with these words, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” (Matt. 22:21) Those that heard the words of Jesus were amazed. Understanding that we are citizens of both “kingdoms” give us a unique understanding of God’s blessing us with the freedom to worship Him in this country we call our home. Yet, the question remains, might we lose the right to worship as we choose? More ominously, what religious freedoms have we already lost?
Life Received, Life Together, Life Giving- John 10:10
Question: What grants us the Freedom of Religion in United States ?
Answer: The United States Constitution addresses the issue of religion in two places: in the First Amendment, and the Article VI prohibition on religious testsas a condition for holding public office. The First Amendment prohibits the Congress from making a law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.
Stand Firm, Be Strong!” 1 Corinthians 16:13
The apostle Paul writes that we should be watchful, stand firm in the faith and be strong. The implication is evident. We have to be on guard because there are enemies that will destroy us. What enemies? They are there we can be sure. Didn’t Pogo state the truth when he declared, “We havemet the enemy and he is us?” How can we resist those forces that want to sweep away, break us down, starting with the self- destructive motives of our own desires?
Shouldn’t it be as simple as understanding our purpose in life? Isn’t it to gain, to gather and to conquer? We are geared that way, aren’t we? We can and are winners, victors, but not by what the world tells us is important. Paul speaks to this in his letter to the Romans when he writes “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Romans 12:2 As our minds are renewed, as we understand our purpose in life, who gives us life, we can and will remain firm in our faith and strong in His victory. The challenge then is, how do we renew our mind?
Question: What remains of the city of Corinth today?
Answer: In 1858, the old city of Corinth, Ancient Corinth; (a town 2mi SW of the modern city) was totally destroyed by an earthquake. The new city of Corinth was founded on the coast of the Gulf of Corinth.
“The Forgotten Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 5:15-21
We welcome “Pastor Barry Kolb as our guest pastor Sunday. Dr. Kolb has been and remains involved in life and the love of our God that binds us together. Barry and his wife Nancy now live in Branson, Missouri. Barry continues to teach at the Louisiana State Prison in Angola and serve on the board of Christ for India and serves as President of the doctrinal oversight council for Crossways Ministry. Barry continues to write and post a weekly sermon at: docvmp.sermon.net. And yes, Barry loves college baseball. The College World Series in Omaha has been a cannot miss event for years for Barry. We are fortunate to once again welcome Barry and Nancy to Word of Life and have Barry share the Good News with us.
Question: How often is the word “Spirit” used in the New Testament?
Answer: The Greek word pneuma, which in the New Testament is most often translated as “Spirit” or “spirit,” has many meanings. This presents challenges to translators as they try to bring the sense into English. The NIV translates pneuma as Spirit, 246 times.
“Hold Fast to the Word!” 1 Corinthians 15:2
Paul wrote to the young Christians in Corinth, “Hold fast to the Word!” Jesus had chosen Saul to be His apostle but certainly Saul didn’t know that as he pursued Christians on the road to Damascus. His introduction to Christ came with a flash of light and hearing the incriminating probing question, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” A new normal began that day for Saul. Now blinded he would be nurtured, baptized and healed by the Spirit so that he see clearly. Seeing clearly Paul would be led by the Spirit to proclaim and declare allegiance to the Savior who claimed him.
Paul appealed to the Corinthians and to us to “Hold fast to the Word.” In our Scripture today he summarizes the truth of Christ and the witness that Christ gave in the days following Christ victory over death. As Paul had new vision he presents the Good News of the Victory of Christ and tells us who are chosen, to hold fast to the Word.
Question: What did it mean to “Corinthianize”?
Answer: Corinth citizens were known for their extreme decadency and immorality. “To Corinthianize” means to be engrossed in a lewd and sexually immoral lifestyle.
Filled With the Holy Spirit!” Acts 2:4
Pentecost Day, the day all heaven broke loose. On that Pentecost Day in Jerusalem the promised Holy Spirit made His presence known, with roaring wind, spikes of fire and a gift of “tongues.” A new normal emerged with power in the hope given by the life, death and resurrection of our Lord. Power and signs were specific for that day when all heaven broke loose but that power and strength runs through the generations to us.
Jesus granted the disciples peace and acceptance and then sent them granting them and us the power of the Spirit to go forth living lives that glorify, reflect and give witness to Him. Ascending into heaven Jesus told them to wait for the Spirit. The Spirit arrived, as all heaven broke loose and unbelievable signs were given. Filled with the Holy Spirit, each day is an adventure for us powered with the love of the Father, the grace of Jesus and the direction of the Spirit.
Question: Pentecost was a Jewish festival prior to the Spirit coming on the first Christian Pentecost, What was the Jewish nation celebrating?
Answer: Pentecost is the old Greek and Latin name for the Jewish Festival ofShavuot, also called the Feast of Weeks, a prominent feast in the calendar ofancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses at Sinai fifty days after the Exodus.