Saturday, March 26, 2016

THE RESURRECTION WILL NOT MATTER TO YOU IF: SCS 77


Sunday, March 27, 2016, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 77

PRAYER for Today:

Heavenly Father,
We know we are all broken and in need of your grace. Only You are able to heal the hearts and souls of all of us who are full of brokenness and bring light to the darkness in our lives.
Help us Father to accept your freely given gift of grace bought on the cross by Christ so long ago that we might be reconciled to You.
We ask that Your will be done and that we may act saintly towards our fellow sojourners who around the world are hurting so that they might see a little of You in our daily lives.  
It is in Your
Resurrected Living Son’s
name we pray. Amen.

SCRIPTURE LESSON for Today:  
Matthew 28 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Has Risen
28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Luke 24 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Has Risen
24 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.
9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.




SERMON for Today:

The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ will not matter in your life if you respond to hearing about it as the apostles did when they first heard about it from the women according to the account in the Gospel of Luke.  They took the words of the women who were preaching the first gospel sermon to be no more than mere “nonsense.”  If you consider His death, burial and resurrection to be just a good fairy tale then you will never find the joy that He wants for you.

Read carefully the following verses and you will find His plan for those willing to follow Him.
John 15 New International Version (NIV)
The Vine and the Branches
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

He wants to be your friend.  I needed a friend.  Do you?

May God Richly Bless Your Life This Week and For Evermore. Amen.

  
© Ed Cooper, March 27, 2016, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
  All rights reserved

(Ed Cooper is an ordained Elder and minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ which are a part of the Restoration Movement started in Appalachia in the early 1800’s.  Ed started preaching as a teenager in the village churches around Mashoko Mission, Zimbabwe, Africa when he was a teenager there with his parents in the early 1960’s. Ed recognizes he is a flawed sinner needing God’s grace and your prayers.)

Sunday, March 20, 2016

LET JESUS TRIUMPHANTLY ENTER YOUR SOUL: SCS 76


Sunday, March 20, 2016, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 76

PRAYER for Today:

Heavenly Father, We know we are all broken and in need of your grace. Only You are able to heal our hearts and souls of all of our brokenness and bring light to the darkness in our lives. Help us Father to accept your freely given gift of grace bought on the cross by Christ so long ago that we might be reconciled to You. We ask that Your will be done and that we may act saintly towards our fellow sojourners who around the world are hurting so that they might see a little of You in our daily lives.  It is in Your Son’s name we pray. Amen.

SCRIPTURE LESSON for Today:  

Mark 11 King James Version (KJV)

 And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples,
2 And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him.
3 And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither.
4 And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him.
5 And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt?
6 And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go.
7 And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him.
8 And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.
9 And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:
10 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.
11 And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.
12 And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry:
13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.
14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.
15 And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;
16 And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.
17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.
18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.
19 And when even was come, he went out of the city.
20 And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.
21 And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.
22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
27 And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders,
28 And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?
29 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.
30 The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.
31 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him?
32 But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed.
33 And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.



SERMON for Today:

Today is known as Palm Sunday. This weekend may not be special to you because of the story told about it in the Gospels.  You may love it because of March Madness or because Spring is here.  This weekend may not have been much more than shopping trips to get the outfit you are going to wear to church next Sunday for Easter.  You may not be interested in any of this, but what is told about in the 11th chapter of Mark is important to your life regardless of whether or not you are paying attention to it, believe it happened or are a Christian living a redeemed life because of it.

Mark 11 is full of important insights into the life of Jesus.  

Yes it tells about his entry into Jerusalem which is what this Sunday is named after because in the Gospel of John the writer says the people laid palms on the road in front of him.  In other Gospels like here in Mark it says they laid branches from trees.  Therefore in some countries it is called Branch Sunday because that is the word used in some of the Gospels.  

It also tells about the only recorded violent act by Jesus towards others.  Running the moneychangers out of the temple is recorded in all four Gospels.  It should be pointed out that there is no evidence in any of the four accounts that Jesus actually tried to hurt anyone. However, his actions in the temple were part of what brought the leaders of the Jewish community down on him and eventually got him nailed to a cross.

The way Mark handles the cursing of the barren fig tree in this chapter can only leave one to assume one of the reasons it was inserted was to remind folks that God judges how God judges.  We cannot judge others because we do not understand God’s way of judging.  Look.  The fig tree was not even suppose to have figs, but yet Jesus cursed it for not having figs.  When you think you know enough about how God and His Son Jesus is going to judge us to go around judging other folks around you, think about the mystery of what happened to the fig tree.

Then Mark ends with Jesus in the temple teaching.  Jesus says our prayers will be answered if we believe, but then He throws a wrench in the works by saying only if we forgive those we are holding something against will God forgive us.  The first part sounded great.  The second part impossible.

Mark Chapter 11 is full of important insights into the life and ministry of Jesus.  Read it more than once.  In any version of the Bible you prefer.  Make this Palm Sunday the day you let Jesus triumphantly enter your soul.
May God Richly Bless Your Life This Week and For Evermore. Amen.

  
© Ed Cooper, March 20, 2016, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
  All rights reserved

(Ed Cooper is an ordained Elder and minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ which are a part of the Restoration Movement started in Appalachia in the early 1800’s.  Ed started preaching as a teenager in the village churches around Mashoko Mission, Zimbabwe, Africa when he was a teenager there with his parents in the early 1960’s. Ed recognizes he is a flawed sinner needing God’s grace and your prayers.)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

I AM THE ROAD: SCS 75


Sunday, March 13, 2016, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 75


PRAYER for Today:
Father, We know we are broken, but You are able to heal our hearts and souls of all of our brokenness and bring light to the darkness in our lives. Help us Father to accept your freely given grace that we might be reconciled to You. We ask that Your will be done and that we may act saintly towards our fellow sojourners who around the world are hurting so that they might see a little of You in our daily lives.  It is in Your Son’s name we pray. Amen.


SCRIPTURE LESSON for Today:  
John 14:5-7 The Message (MSG)
5 Thomas said, “Master, we have no idea where you’re going. How do you expect us to know the road?”
6-7 Jesus said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You’ve even seen him!”


SERMON for Today:


People who are from the heart of Appalachia or their hearts have been touched by Appalachia know that along with a deep respect for family comes a tradition of telling stories and legends that some would say were of a supernatural nature or ghost stories and legends.  It is an art form to be able to tell one of these stories well.  An art form mostly lost and never to be regained.


The same people from whom these old stories came also had a deep respect for their faith.  They believed the Gospel stories without any reservations.  They did not sit around discussing if the miracles Jesus performed were true.  They simply believed.  A dimension beyond the valley and mountains they could see was not something hard for them to imagine because they were raised on stories that included happenings not of an ordinary day.


Today, we are so sure of what we know that most of us believe that there is nothing knowable beyond what our conscious brains can know.  We think the Gospels stories like the old stories of Appalachia are simply tales of amusement.  We think we have become smarter and have more knowledge than all the people who lived before us.


It is true that science has produced great knowledge which has been put to desirable uses.  However, when they wanted to keep the invasive Canada Blackberry plants from ruining the natural “baldness” of Roan Mountain, TN they turned to goats. http://baatany.org/


The Gospels are not about your head.  They are about your heart.  They are about your soul.  They are about a world that hard science cannot either explain or explain away.  The Gospels are about how to live a life in harmony with your own heart because you have given your soul away to serve others as the Man in the Gospels did.  As long as we remain selfish and demand that all the love be directed towards ourselves, then we will remain soulless and wandering in the wilderness of loneliness in a crowded world.


Only when we decide to give our soul away to the One who gave it to us in the first place can we find the joy it takes to face the darkness until sunrise.  When the sun comes up there will be peace in our souls and harmony in our hearts.  How do I know?  Because that is the promise in the Story and I believe the Story.

May God Richly Bless Your Life This Week and For Evermore. Amen.


  
© Ed Cooper, March 13, 2016, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
  All rights reserved


(Ed Cooper is an ordained Elder and minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ which are a part of the Restoration Movement started in Appalachia in the early 1800’s.  Ed started preaching as a teenager in the village churches around Mashoko Mission, Zimbabwe, Africa when he was a teenager there with his parents in the early 1960’s. Ed recognizes he is a flawed sinner needing God’s grace and your prayers.)

Sunday, March 06, 2016

LET YOUR CORE SOAR: Stoney Creek Sermonette No.74

Sunday, March 6, 2016, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 74



PRAYER for Today: 

Father, We know we are broken, but You are able to heal our hearts and souls of all of our brokenness and bring light to the darkness in our lives. Help us Father to accept your freely given grace that we might be reconciled to You. We ask that Your will be done and that we may act saintly towards our fellow sojourners who around the world are hurting so that they might see a little of You in our daily lives.  It is in Your Son’s name we pray. Amen.

Psalm 119:17-24
The Message (MSG)
Be generous with me and I’ll live a full life;
    not for a minute will I take my eyes off your road.
Open my eyes so I can see
    what you show me of your miracle-wonders.
I’m a stranger in these parts;
    give me clear directions.
My soul is starved and hungry, ravenous!—
    insatiable for your nourishing commands.
And those who think they know so much,
    ignoring everything you tell them—let them have it!
Don’t let them mock and humiliate me;
     I've been careful to do just what you said.
While bad neighbors maliciously gossip about me,
    I’m absorbed in pondering your wise counsel.
Yes, your sayings on life are what give me delight;
    I listen to them as to good neighbors!

It is our souls that are at the core of our beings and which will live beyond the death of our biological bodies.  As I have said before, you do not have to believe this for it to be a reality.  However, you might want to at least consider the possibility that it is a reality because it is your soul, the core of your being, which determines more about your reality than your mind, body, economic status or social status.

One cannot read the 119th Psalm without coming away knowing our souls long for nourishment from and relationship with our Creator.  This is not just some silly passing notion.  It is a deep felt need in all peoples around the world down through history.  No record of any group of people has ever been found where they did not have some form of way to communicate with the place they thought life came from and went to.  It is a deep seated need. Whatever psychiatry, scientists and academia say about the soul does not change the fact that people feel the need to have their souls fed.

This isn't about heaven or hell.  The point isn't that sin may make you end up in hell one day, but rather that not being in a relationship with the Creator makes your soul sick today which puts your life into a spin cycle that feels like hell.  A healthy soul can bring health to the rest of your life.  I don’t just mean eternal life, but to your outer life right now on earth.  A healthy inner life means a better outer life.  Let your core soar and draw closer to the One who can bring “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:7 (NRSV)

© Ed Cooper, March 6, 2016, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
     All rights reserved
(rewritten from Sermonette No. 1 first published on May 11, 2014)