MISSION WOODS CHURCH
Worship Sunday April 11 2021
  • Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee (Ode To Joy)
  • Celebrate Jesus
  • I'll Fly Away
  • The Wonderful Cross
  • How Great Is Our God
  • As you listen to our Scripture readings today, I want to challenge you to think of how things had changed because of the Resurrection. Normally, we would have an Old Testament Reading, a New Testament Reading, and a Gospel Reading, and in that order.
    Today, our scripture readings are all from the New Testament.
    We begin with a look at the early church:
    Acts 4:32–35 ESV
    Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
    Our second reading comes from John’s first pastoral letter, or what we call First John, this is not the Gospel, if you’re trying to read along, you will find this near the back of your Bible.
    1 John 1:1–2:2 ESV
    That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
    Finally, our Gospel reading today is from the Gospel of John, chapter 20, vs. 19-31.
    John 20:19–31 ESV
    On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
    The Word of our Lord,
    Thanks be to God.
    When I was in seminary, I had a professor of Inductive Bible Study who really emphasized to look at the people mentioned in Scripture, and put myself in the scripture with them. Part of inductive Bible Study is to answer the basic journalistic sorts of questions: Who? What? When? Where? These are the observation questions.
    Then we move more to interpretation types of questions: How? and Why? These are most often interpretation, unless they are explicitly stated in Scripture.
    Let’s look at Thomas - he’s the one so often referred to as “doubting” Thomas. Why? In verse 25 he says, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
    Let me put it another way.
    Imagine if Thomas’ words were recorded this way: “What you’re saying cannot be true. You must have seen a vision. What you’re saying is impossible to believe.” Would we have called him doubting then?
    In John’s own Gospel, only a few verses prior Jesus had appeared to the disciples when Thomas wasn’t present. Listen to verse 20:
    John 20:20 ESV
    When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
    The other disciples are claiming to having seen Jesus alive, and they are claiming to have known it was him because he showed them his hands and his side. Yet Thomas knows, dead men stay dead. There is nothing in his experience that would allow him to have the possibility that Jesus was once again alive.
    Oh, sure, there are those that we might have thought died when they were only off on an extended journey, but this is not the case with Jesus. They’d seen him die, the whole town in fact had witnessed it on full display at the top of the hill. In fact, Thomas is probably saying exactly what the other disciples thought before they’d seen our risen Lord.
    And Jesus appears again, to the disciples and to Thomas - “Put your finger here, put out your hand and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Note Thomas’ response:
    John 20:28 ESV
    Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
    When the other disciples had seen Jesus the scripture records they were “glad when they saw the Lord.” When Thomas sees Jesus, it’s not just that he’s glad, he’s in full on worship mode: “My Lord, and my God.”
    Now as Dr. Julie Gorman used to challenge me, I’m going challenge you. Put yourself there. What do you imagine that would be like. You knew your mentor, teacher, friend was dead. Now you see him alive! You know it’s him, because you see the marks from his crucifixion!
    I imagine that all that he taught during your time with him would begin rising to the surface. You would understand his teaching in a whole new light.
    I imagine that you would recognize the higher call of his teaching in ways you hadn’t considered before. Now his teaching would take even a higher priority in your life.
    I imagine you would change, your priorities, what you valued, etc.
    I imagine you would want to tell everyone why.
    The results we can see in the early church. In our reading from the Book of Acts, we read:
    Acts 4:32–35 ESV
    Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
    Those who believed were of one heart and soul, their priorities changed, they recognized that nothing they had was their own but shared them. And notice there was not a needy person among them.
    It’s ironic this is the way our christian based culture wants the world to be, but they don’t want to follow Christ. This is not something that can be forced. It has to naturally flow from the great grace that was upon them all.
    I want to point out vs. 33
    Acts 4:33 ESV
    And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.
    Read that again.
    The apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
    Question: When was the last time you told anyone about your believe in Jesus? When was the last time your faith came up in conversation? How about your conversation with someone that may not know the Gospel?
    And it’s not just the sharing of the resurrected Jesus. They shared their testimony, but they also shared what they had in common, there was not a needy person among them.
    For centuries Christians have fed the hungry, clothed the naked, given drink to the thirsty, bound the wounds of the injured, cared for the infirmed, and sheltered the homeless. It wasn’t the government that did these things, it was the Christians in the church. Why? Because of Jesus.
    The church is not to be simply a gathering place for Sunday mornings. We are not simply people who come together to sing songs, hear words of (I hope) encouragement, and fellowship.
    We are to be declaring the Gospel message! I think it is summarized so well in our 1 John passage, I’m just going to read the whole thing again:
    1 John 1:1–2:2 ESV
    That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
    In John’s time, letter writing was the way he was able to get the message out. Why did he write? Why did any of the other Christians write? “That their joy may be complete.”
    Folks the living out of the Gospel is not a “I have to...” list of rules pressed upon you because “it’s good for you.” Like a plate full of liver and brussel sprouts. My apologies to those of you who like such things.
    The Gospel message is not a burden, it is what gives us strength to carry our burdens. It is light and life.
    But for far too many it is something we keep hidden. And when I say for far too many, I’m not referring to the many Christians who hide their Gospel, I’m referring to the many who may never hear the Gospel message because we don’t share it.
    Imagine suffering from some terminal illness only to find out that your friend had the cure the entire time.
    Just as we are called to give food, drink, clothing, aid, and shelter. We are also called to give love, hope, and even faith to those crying out for it.
    This morning in my personal prayers I was reading Psalm 63 - it opens with these words:
    Psalm 63:1 ESV
    O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
    All of us hunger for, thirst for, long for God. Too many around us don’t know it.
    As we live in our post resurrection world, my prayer for you is this:
    That you will draw ever closer to God.
    That God would fill you with love to the point of overflowing.
    That you would be so overwhelmed with God’s grace and love that you would not be able to contain it, so that you would share it with anyone that might listen, and even with those that might not.
    That when others speak of you, among the first things that come to mind is your love of God and of them.
    And I pray this would be true not for your glory, or the glory of the church, but for the sole glory of God.
    May this be true, through the resurrection power that is yours through faith in Jesus Christ and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. AMEN.
      • Acts 4:32–35ESV

      • 1 John 1:1–2:2ESV

      • John 20:19–31ESV

      • John 20:20ESV

      • John 20:28ESV

      • Acts 4:32–35ESV

      • Acts 4:33ESV

      • 1 John 1:1–2:2ESV

      • Psalm 63:1ESV

  • I Have Decided To Follow Jesus

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