The world is systematically becoming a dark place. It is not that people are purposely looking to dwell in darkness. It is that people - many people - have come to believe in things that had their origin in darkness and treachery. Wherever you look you can see the subtle creeping in of thinking, philosophies and actions that do not reflect the wholesome goodness of godly righteousness; but they rather engulf all in their path in a pervasive and deepening gloom that is labeled as a "new understanding" of what is good and acceptable. Jesus emphatically told his followers to be the "light of the world," to be that "city set on a hill for the whole world to see." So, how are we doing with that? Is Christianity truly the light of the world or have we misrepresented and failed the light of the Gospel? Is the world supposed to see our light and come to it or are we simply off track in our understanding?
Hasn’t it been long enough? Meaning, it is 2,000 years since Jesus walked the earth with the promise of change, the promise of righteousness and the promise of his kingdom. So, where is he? Where is the change – the good - that he promised? All we can see now is a world that slowly walks away from Christianity and that walks towards self...self-satisfaction, self-gratification and self-worship. Has the power of the message of Jesus quietly faded into the sunset? Is the Gospel lost and gone forever?
We all at one time or another have visions of grandeur – thoughts and dreams about what we can do to be a positive and abiding influence on others for the sake of Christ. In many cases, these ideas percolate a bit and then quietly fade away. Today, we have with us a special guest who had an idea for the furtherance of the Gospel, pursued it, developed it, lived it and today is going to tell us about what has become a 15-year journey of praise and honor to our God. Do NOT go away! You need to hear this!
We are blessed – truly blessed - to know Christ and to have the opportunity for salvation before us. In light of this blessing that is claimed by Christians, some have raised the question if you (Christians) have this blessing and path to God’s favor while the vast majority of the world’s population does not, then isn’t that saying that your God is not an equal opportunity employer? Is that a fair God? Is their question legitimate?
It has been 2,000 years since Jesus walked the earth with the good tidings of the Gospel. When he finished his work, he left the infant religion of Christianity in the faithful hands of the twelve Apostles. These men “prospered and grew” Christianity. So 2,000 years later, in a world that is mostly non-Christian and largely secular, is the work of the Gospel still “prospering and growing?" Are we now achieving what our Lord Jesus set out for us to do? Stay with us as we look at the cold hard facts of Christianity in the world today.
All Christians adhere to the Gospel message that salvation comes only through Jesus. In this program we want to examine just who Jesus was calling to hear him. Was it anyone and everyone or were his messages designed for just a few to respond to, with provisions made for everyone else later? Why did Jesus speak in parables? Why did he, for the most part, limit his teaching to just the Jews? What was the great commission to preach the Gospel to all nations all about? Was it to convert everyone or was it to draw out a comparatively few disciples from all nations?
As a Christian, we look at Jesus not only as our Lord and Savior, not only as the Ransom given for the sins of the world, but as a great teacher as well. One can spend a lifetime learning from him. One of the unique aspects of Jesus’ teaching is the fact that he taught in parables – stories – lots of stories. Stay with us as we will look at one of those stories and see some remarkably clear lessons about life and the challenges of following Christ.
Money – the Apostle Paul says the love of it is the root of all evil, yet we cannot survive without money. Furthermore, we cannot spread the good news of the Gospel without money. So what do we do about it? What are the responsibilities of the true church towards money? Should there be formal tithes collected or should such giving be left to the discretion of each who gives? Does the individual Christian have a monthly bill that he or she owes to God? How much giving is enough? Stay with us as we look into one of those subjects that everyone has an opinion on – $$$$money$$$$ – where does it fit in relation to the Gospel?
So, what role does shame play in our lives? When is it good to feel shame? When is it bad to feel shame? In the theme text, we are told that because Jesus “despised the shame,” he was accounted as worthy to sit “down at the right hand of the throne of God!” What about us? Do we have to overcome shame today to be with him? Are we subjected to shame today by our neighbors, colleagues, and friends or is shame a thing of the past? Is shame a big deal today for a Christian or is it nothing to worry about especially when you live in a so-called “Christian country?” Stay with us as we look into this not so often talked about part of our lives – shame – the good, the bad and the ugly.