Persian Worship for the King of the Jews

Christmas Sunday
Matthew 2:1-12
Matthew Raley (12-25-11)

The Gospel of Matthew is about Jesus the King.  It opens with his royal genealogy as the “son of David”.  This king will “save his people from their sins”.  Jesus, having rejected all the kingdoms of the earth as gift from the devil, opens his ministry by speaking of his kingdom  from the Father.  His teaching comes with a  sense of “authority”. Yet the Jews reject this authority, while Gentiles acclaim it.  After his death and resurrection, Jesus tells the apostles that he has “all authority in heaven and earth” and that they are to gather followers from the whole earth.

In this Christmas message we find that since these are the themes Matthew develops, it is no surprise that the first story about Jesus after his birth is that men come from the royal court in Persia to worship him.

Published in: on January 5, 2012 at 1:07 am  Leave a Comment  

The Leader Among Leaders

Multiplying Kingdom Leaders
James 3:13-18
Matthew Raley (12-18-11)

Successful groups tend to fall into two categories.  They are successful either because a dominating personality enforces his will through fear, or because many leaders form a collaboration.  There are more coercive churches than anyone likes to admit.  Even when such churches are successful in numerical or financial terms, they are characterized by anger, unresolved conflict, and broken relationships.

Here at Grace Brethren we are called to multiply Kingdom leaders, and that call requires us to be collaborators.  Jesus Christ does not build his Kingdom on fear.  In today’s message we will study a passage in James which tells us exactly how to do this.

Published in: on January 5, 2012 at 1:06 am  Leave a Comment  

The Sidelined Leader

Multiplying Kingdom Leaders
2 Timothy 1:6-7
Matthew Raley (12-4-11)

Many of our congregation recall a period of zeal when they strove to accomplish something big, a period that ended with a crash.  Those who started over with less raw zeal and more wisdom, are today probably active leaders seeing the Lord work. Others of us may have made another decision after their crash:  to make it your top priority is to avoid crashing again.  In that case, fear governs your life. You leave churches out of fear and resent leaders who call you to missions that you think are unsafe.  You do not believe God for what you cannot see, because the threat of pain is too real.  And, truth be told, you carry bitterness from past hopes being dashed, past friendships lost, past trust broken.

We come from many hard experiences.  For us to be stewards of what God is forming here at Grace Brethren, we need to address the hard issues that sideline leaders. This is not a church where you can remain on the side.  God has endowed you with power, love, and self-control, and has called you to live fearlessly.  Today we will look at some of the issues that Paul addressed with Timothy.

Published in: on January 5, 2012 at 1:04 am  Leave a Comment  

The Leader’s Critical Focus

Multiplying Kingdom Leaders
1 Timothy 4:7-8
Matthew Raley (11-27-11)

If churches are going to defeat the consumer mindset, which is destroying ministries across America from the inside out, they need to multiply Kingdom leaders.  That is, they must nurture people who intentionally and effectively move others toward godliness in Christ.  Such people are focused, disciplined, and simple.

In today’s sermon we ask two questions:  Who are these leaders, and what is their critical focus?

Published in: on January 5, 2012 at 1:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Paul’s Prayer to the Father, Part 2

What Is a Church?
Ephesians 3:14-21
Matthew Raley (11-13-11)

Humans have all sorts of ways they try to change the inner person.  The military has boot camp, which breaks down and rebuilds a person in the space of weeks.  Advertising uses imagery to speak past a person’s reasoning and empower his emotions to take over decision-making.  Maybe the most powerful tool for shaping the inner person in our time is TV.  It renders the imagination and emotions passive, intimately responsive to whatever it uses to stimulate.

If you can change people’s inner lives, you can change everything around them.  As we wrap up this series, we learn that changing the inner person is the key to understanding what a church is.

Published in: on January 4, 2012 at 5:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Paul’s Prayer to the Father, Part 1

What Is a Church?
Ephesians 3:14-21
Matthew Raley (11-6-11)

These past several weeks as we’ve asked the question, “What is a church?”  we have found that the concept of church today is confused and that much  of what today’s churches do is not only irrelevant to our society but also to God’s plan.  In today’s message we will see that Paul’s concept of the church is not the same as ours.   Think of an ancient city – its structure hierarchical,  it’s citizens in sharply defined classes with no concept of equality.  Over everything is the King.  This is what we will be keeping in mind as we introduce Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian church.

Published in: on January 4, 2012 at 4:58 am  Leave a Comment  

The Least of all the Saints

What Is a Church?
Ephesians 3:8-13
Matthew Raley (10-30-11)

Imagine yourself in a room with a huge mirror on the wall which reflects your every gesture and facial expression back at you.  Imagine further that after some time you realize the mirror is one-way glass, that you are under observation, and that you can’t see the people watching you.

The barrior between this world and the heavenlies is like one-way glass.  This world appears to be all about us, but the Bible teaches that we are under observation by others.  How could this realization from Ephesians 3:10 transform your life?

In today’s message we will see how Paul views himself in the context of this reality, and how we in turn should view church life.

Published in: on January 4, 2012 at 4:55 am  Leave a Comment