Sunday, October 22, 2017


Matthew 16:13-20
Introduction: This past Wednesday, I was attending the Evangelical Clergy meeting in Sharon. It was my time to share a brief devotion. During my sharing I said, Jesus laid out a threefold process for all those who want to follow him, and asked them what was that process. The minister of the First Congregational church said, before we even start on the process, we must wrestle with the question, who is Jesus to me personally. She asked her congregation to ponder on this all-important question who Jesus truly is and what he means to them.
            The same day evening during our life groups, we talked about what makes a safe community. “A safe community is where we are free to be who we are, at the same time growing to become all that God intends.” Towards the end we all shared our needs and prayed for each other. I asked for prayer, expressing my need for clarity in regards to what to preach this Sunday. One person prayed for me that I will hear the voice of God and share what he wants me to share.     The next day morning I woke up feeling as if God was saying to me, “Francis you were pre-occupied about leading Hope Church to do great things for me, concerned about people’s problems, planning events, solving conflicts, and networking with other churches. Being and doing the church is not all about maintaining a building, programs, and projects, but it is all about Me.” So, preach about Me; let people get to know who I really am, and let them be obedient and do My will.” I began to ponder on the question, Who is Jesus To Me?
            During my Greek class in the seminary, our Greek professor used to say, when you don’t know the answer to a question, you answer it saying, “Jesus” and probably you will be right.” We all laughed at it. But one thing is true, when we know who Jesus is, believe in him, and do what he will tell us to do we will seldom go wrong. I want us to look at two important aspects of Jesus, and how they impact our interactions with our friends and neighbors. Matthew 16: 13-20.

Background: These were the days after John the Baptist’s death. The reports about Jesus were being widely spread around in the region.  People were wondering who is this Jesus, displaying such power and performing amazing miracles like: feeding thousands of people with a few loafs of bread and fish, walking on the water, delivering people from demonic oppression, healing the lame, blind, crippled and mute. These reports and rumors went up to King Herod.
            Herod called his attendants and said, “this is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.” Should we say, “fake news” about Jesus was spreading among the people, eventually it came to Jesus, he wanted to silence the skeptics including his unbelieving disciples, so he asked his disciples, “What are people saying about who the Son of Man is? The disciples answered, “Some think he is John the Baptist, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” He pressed them, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter Said, “You are the Christ; the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”
            What a powerful revelation! That may have changed the misperception and the misunderstanding surrounding Jesus. It is not what you hear about Jesus, but what you know about him personally changes your life. In this passage we will see two major aspects of Jesus being the Messiah and the son of the Living God, how these two aspects have been misunderstood by most Jews and Muslims, and how respond to their objections. 

            Vs 16, “Simon Peter replied you are the Christ, the Messiah.”  When I first came to the USA I was surprised by the name of “Jesus Christ” being misused as a word of profanity. Unfortunately, many Christians do not realize saying “Jesus Christ” as a swear word, violates one of God’s commandments, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” Exodus 20:7.
            Keep this in mind, next time when you are tempted to use “Jesus Christ” as a swear word.
What do we know about the name of Jesus Christ? Let’s hear the angel’s announcement to Mary, “And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:31-33
            By this scripture, we can learn a few aspects of who Jesus is. He is from the royal throne of David, He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God, he will reign on the throne of David, the house of Israel and his kingdom will never come to an end. In Matthew 1st chapter we are told, that name Jesus which is the Greek form Joshua means, “the LORD saves.”             By this we know, Jesus means “Savior” How about Christ or the messiah, how did he get that name? Christos the Greek word means anointed. In Hebrew, the word, mashiyach means besmeared or anointed. In the OT the Patriarchs, priests or kings were anointed ones. It also applied to others acting as redeemers.
            In the NT, Christ, was used only in connection to Jesus: “Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.” Mark 9:41. In Matthew 1:16 we read, “and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.”  Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
            The words Jesus and Christ were used interchangeably. I Peter 1:1-11, “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow.”
            These scriptures suffice, for us to know that Jesus is, the Christ or the Messiah. Why we should know this important truth of Jesus being the messiah? Because it was denied by many Jews of the first century and still today most of them deny it. Among other reasons they say that Jesus did not fulfil the messianic prophecies. Here is one such messianic prophecy, prophesied by the prophet Isaiah in 600 BC, “By a perversion of justice he was taken away. Who could have imagined his future? For he was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people.” Isaiah 53:8.
            It was fulfilled in the crucifixion and death of Jesus. After he rose from the dead this is what Jesus said to his disciples, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer those things and then enter his glory? Luke 24: 25-26. Let’s pray that many Jewish people will believe that Jesus indeed is the Messiah.

            Among several titles given to Jesus, “son of the living God” was one of the most endearing and affectionate one. It expresses the kind of intimate relationship that Jesus experienced with his father in heaven. While we Christians readily accept this term Jesus, being the son of the Living God, many Muslims consider this blasphemy, here is the reason why?  
            Muslims’ daily prayers involve reciting short passages from the Qur’an. Many Muslims daily recite Surat al-Ikhlas (112), one of the shorter chapters in the Qur’an: “Say: He is God the One. God the Absolute Eternal. He does not beget, nor is he begotten, nor is there anything like unto Him.” This reminds devout Muslims daily that God is not born, neither can he have children, like how children are naturally born. For them it is inconceivable, how could God have a son when he does not have a female partner, but this is not what we Christians believe.[1]
            To make our Muslim friends to understand this truth, takes a gracious and respectful approach. In doing so it may be helpful for us to consider the following scriptures: In Luke’s genealogy, we read, “Joseph the son of Heli, the son of Matthat… and goes on all the way back to “Adam the son of God.” here for the first time the term the son of God with a small “s” appears, (Luke 3:37). Later in I Corinthians, Jesus was referred to the second or the last Adam. Adam and Jesus both had miraculous beginnings. Adam was created by God in his image. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and He is the image of the invisible God, (Col 1:15).
            God himself gave Jesus this title when he spoke from heaven on two occasions, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17. The second time on the mount of transfiguration a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” Matthews 17:5. Jesus addressed God as Father over 120 times in the Gospel of John, not only that He taught his disciples to address God as Father.
            These and many other scriptures and incidents indicate that, the title, “Jesus the Son of the Living God was more of a relational term rather than a biological one. When Peter said, you are the Christ, the Messiah the Son of the Living God, he did not think it up himself, but was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit, after that revelation Peter was a changed man.
            You may be wondering why do I have to know these truths. Today, just like in times of Jesus many do not understand who Jesus really is. They form opinions based on what they read, hear, and by seeing the wrong life styles of Christians. What has been your understanding, who is Jesus to you? Do you see him only as a prophet, miracle worker, and healer? Initially, the disciples of Jesus too had a hard time grasping this truth, how about you today? If Jesus were to ask you the same question, who do you say I am, how would you answer Him?
            We are living in a town where we interact with Jews and Muslims who have objections and reservations about these two truths of the gospel in particular. Hope Church is in a unique position to reach them with the gospel of Jesus Christ. How are we to share God’s love to our many Jewish and Muslim friends and neighbors? The apostle Peter who had this special revelation in the first place has something to say to us this morning. If he walked into Hope Church he might still say, “Jesus you are the Christ, the Messiah and the Son of the Living God.” He might go on to say, do not be intimated and be afraid, love all people as Christ loved you.
            “Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” I Peter 3:14-15
            Unfortunately, as we read Church History many followers of Christ did not adhere to Peter’s exhortation, as a result many Jews and Muslims were offended and even lost their lives. This has marred the truth about who Jesus really is for generations, even today makes it harder for Christians to share the gospel with these two people groups.  However, we as Hope Church can be different. We want to share the gospel truth through love, gentleness and respect, so that we may win some people to Christ. Let’s begin to pray for our Muslim, Jewish and other friends, that the Holy Spirit might reveal to them these precious truths of Jesus being indeed the Christ, the Messiah and the Son of the Living God. Amen!



Sunday, October 15, 2017


Luke 9:18-27
Introduction: Kenneth Bailey tells the story of teaching some short courses at the Lutheran Church of Latvia. While there, he observed the interviewing of prospective students and inquired of the interviewers what questions they asked. They said, “The most important question is ‘When were you baptized?’ And he asked why is that so important? They answered, ‘If they were baptized during the period of Soviet rule, they risked their lives and compromised their futures by being baptized. But if they were baptized after liberation from the Soviets, we have many further questions to ask about why they want to become a pastor.” And then he writes, “the master challenges his servants to live boldly and publicly as his servants, using his resources and unafraid of his enemies, confident in the future as His future.”
            Fewer than 10 percent of Americans are deeply committed Christians, says pollster George Gallup, who adds that these people "are far, far happier than the rest of the population." 
Committed Christians, Gallup found, are more tolerant than the average American, more involved in charitable activities, and are "absolutely committed to prayer." While many more Americans than this 10 percent profess to be Christians, adds Gallup, most actually know little or nothing of Christian beliefs, and act no differently than non-Christians. "Overall," says Gallup, "The Sunday School and religious education system in this country is not working." 
            On the contrary those perspective students at the Lutheran Church of Latvia seemed to have understood what commitment to Christ was all about and were willing to pay the price of risking their lives. For them nothing mattered when it comes to following Christ in the waters of Baptism. For the past twee weeks, we have been working through our Mission statement: Glorifying God by becoming devoted followers of Christ.”  Today we will look at what it means to become devoted followers of Christ. THE COST OF COMMITMENT Luke 9:18-27

Background: Jesus’ sends out the twelve disciples giving them power and authority to cast out evil spirts, to heal and to proclaim the Kingdom of God.  The disciples returned to Jesus with exciting reports. The crowds gathered to hear Jesus speak about the Kingdom of God. It was lunch time; the disciples requested Jesus to disperse the crowd so that they can go out and get food. Jesus multiplied five loaves of bread and two fish feeding over five thousand people.
            During one of his private moments of prayer Jesus, was with his disciples. The Holy Spirit dispelled the myths surrounding who Jesus was and revealed through Peter that he was indeed the Messiah. Using his own life as an example Jesus explains what is required of anyone who wants to be his disciple. Jesus talked about the cost that comes with the commitment.
            To refresh our memory, our mission statement reads, “Glorifying God by becoming devoted followers of Christ.” How do we glorify or honor God? We do it by becoming devoted followers of Christ. It is not accomplished by one simple decision or activity, but by intentionally committing ourselves to a lifelong process. The word devotion is a deep and action filled word. It means, “love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause fidelity, faithfulness, and commitment. When we say “by becoming devoted followers of Christ,” our goal is to become committed, loving, enthusiastic, and faithful followers of Christ.
            We are saying Jesus is our first priority in our lives and everything else becomes secondary. Jesus is looking for such loyal and committed followers not, feeble and weak followers. So, he laid out a three-fold process to all those who want to be his disciples.
            The first step in the process is, “Self-denial and Picking up our cross.” Vs 23, “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
            Self-denial means, giving up of one’s own needs and interests, self-sacrifice. It is the willingness to forgo personal pleasures or undergo personal trials in the pursuit of the increased good of another.  In 2013, a British soldier was beheaded in broad daylight outside his barracks. The Telegraph, a British paper, reported that a mother and Cub Scout leader, Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, age 48, confronted the terrorists immediately after the grisly murder.
            She was one of the first people on the scene. While one of the terrorists held a bloodied knife, she selflessly engaged the terrorist in conversation in an attempt to prevent him from killing others. A Christian blog for "First Things" noted the real factor that motivated Ms. Loyau-Kennett to risk her life and get involved was her Christian faith. She said, "I live my life as a Christian. I believe in thinking about others and loving thy neighbor. We all have a duty to look after each other."
            Following Christ involves both self-denial and picking up our cross on a daily basis. Denying self is seldom that dramatic or high profile but it is often that demanding. Mrs. Loyau-Kennett understood that her faith is about far more than her own personal well-being. It is about obeying God and loving humanity. Self-denial was a common thread in the teachings of Christ.
            Jesus elsewhere said, to the travelling crowds with him, “Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Picking up our cross here doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to be crucified in a literal sense, but it could mean a possible death. I know in Islamic and Hindu cultures following Christ means certain death. Yet many are following Christ. The kind of self-denial that Jesus expects from his disciples is not a reclusive ascetism, but active engagement in the society, fighting against the evils and injustices. Jesus is calling for a willingness to obey his commandment of loving our neighbor as ourselves, serving one another and to suffer for the sake of the gospel.
            What does self-denial and picking up the cross look like for us today? If you wonder if you are ready to take up your cross, consider these questions: Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing some of your closest friends? Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your job and your very own life? That leads us to the second step in following Christ.

            Vs 24-25“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? This is a very counter cultural statement from Jesus. For a modern man who only thinks about self-preservation and amassing wealth and riches for their own pleasures and comfort, the thought of letting go everything including their own lives sounds rather ludicrous.  
             But this is exactly how it works in Kingdom economics. In losing we gain, in giving up we receive and in dying we live. The key here is not losing everything for wrong reasons, not giving up things for wrong purposes and dying for wrong causes, but for the sake of Christ and for his cause of spreading the good news, that is what will earn us the crown of eternal life.  
            In addition to the command, “follow me” this saying, “whoever loses his life for my sake” is repeated more times in the gospels than any other saying of Christ. That shows how much importance Christ has attached to this principle of “in losing we gain and in dying we live.” We have many examples in the scriptures who gave up everything for the sake of following Jesus. In fact, Peter wanted to really make sure whether it was a worthy bargain so he asked Jesus this question, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
            And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” Matthew 19:27-30.
            This scripture is so true in my life. When I heard the call of God to follow him and serve him fulltime, I had decided to go straight after completing my college degree to join YWAM as a missionary.  I left my immediate family to follow Jesus, and he gave me a wife and my own family, along with that many brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers in the family of God.
            God has been faithful in meeting all my needs sometimes beyond my needs. Over the years of following Christ, I have learned that in losing I gain and in dying for the sake of Christ I live. God is no debtor of people. If we give our broken lives completely over to Jesus, he will heal, put the broken pieces together and use our lives for his glory.

            Following Christ involves self-denial, picking up our cross daily and a willingness to lose our lives for the sake of the Gospel. The third step in the process of becoming a committed follower of Christ may not be as drastic as the other two. Vs 26, “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
            Elsewhere in Matthew we find a similar admonition, “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33 but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven. Matt 10:32-33. This is talking about, how are we to stand up for who we believe in, and what we believe in a world that is increasingly becoming adverse and intolerant towards the people of faith. It is all about being unashamed, and living without embarrassment as Christians in a secular world.
            I read a blog where a blogger seems to be ashamed of being a Christians, so she wrote, Why I'm Embarrassed To Call Myself A Christian But Proud To Say I Love Jesus.” Really? I know where this person is coming from but don’t quite get it why she should be so embarrassed to call herself a Christian? What is it in the name Christian, that makes so many people hate us? Why are we so surprised when people hate us? Hasn’t our Lord told us, this would happen? “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11-13
            I am sure many of you here would be proud to be call yourself Christian, and not ashamed to live as a Christian. It’s high time Christians in the USA to rise up and take our rightful place as Christians, in our schools, work place and in our neighborhood. You may suffer ridicule and may even lose your job for taking such a position, but it is worth taking such risks for the sake of the gospel. The apostle Peter who once denied Jesus three times in front of people, has something to say to us this morning, “If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” I Peter 4:15-16.
      As we are deciding to become committed followers of Christ, let’s remember the cost of such commitment. It involves, self-denial, picking up our cross daily, willingness to losing everything for his names sake and living without embarrassment. Our Lord himself has set an example for us to follow. It is up to us now to follow in his footsteps. My prayer is that at Hope Church we will do our best to live out our mission statement, “Glorifying God by becoming devoted (committed) followers of Christ. Amen.

Sunday, October 8, 2017


John 17:1-5 
Introduction: At a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 6, 2001, Billy Graham received an honorary knighthood from Sir Christopher Meyer, the British Ambassador to the U.S., on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II. In this excerpt from his address, Billy Graham speaks about the great honor and gives all the glory to God: “I especially want to ask you, sir, to convey to Her Majesty the Queen, my deepest gratitude for the high honor she has graciously bestowed upon me this evening.  I accept it with humility and unworthiness.
            I read a quote that appeared in The Daily News in 1903 about Queen Victoria.  After hearing the dean preach a sermon about Christ’s return to earth, Queen Victoria said, “Oh how I wish that the Lord might come during my lifetime.”  When the dean asked her why, she replied, “I should like to lay my crown at His feet.”  And that’s the way I feel tonight about any honors that may come to me.  I’d like to lay it at His feet and plan to do it some day and at my age it won’t be too long.
            In the same way, I want to give God all the glory and all the praise for what has been accomplished in my life and those of my family and associates that are here tonight.  I, too, look forward to the day when I can see Jesus face to face and lay at His feet any honor I’ve ever received because He deserves it all.” Here is a noble man who knew how to truly Honor God.
            Last week we began to unpack our mission statement at Hope Church that reads: “Glorifying God by becoming devoted followers of Jesus.” We will look at the ultimate example of Jesus, to understand what it is glorify God, how Jesus glorified the father and how we might glorify God in this postmodern world where you and I are called to represent Christ.

            Last week we looked at how God’s glory was manifested in nature and his creation, and how God wanted man to give him the glory that is due to Him. How can we mere mortals glorify God? Can anyone of us add anything to the splendor, and majesty of God? Then what does it mean to glorify God? Let’s refresh our memory again. What is glory? The Hebrew word Kabowd means, weight, honor esteem, glory, abundance and wealth. The Greek word, doxa from where we get the word doxology, means: appearance, reputation, glory, recognition honor and renown.
            In John chapter seventeen, Jesus offered a prayer which is known as the high priestly prayer. Jesus prayed this just prior to his going to Gethsemane, where He became the High priest offering Himself as the pure sacrifice. He prayed this prayer, for himself, for the disciples, and for all of us only hours before His betrayal, arrest, flogging, shameful ridicule and crucifixion.

            Vs1-2 “After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.”
            These two verses talk about the intimate relationship Jesus cherished with God the father in heaven, and the goal of Jesus’ coming to the earth and the path he took to accomplish that goal. When Jesus said, father the hour has come, glorify (honor) your son, so that your son will glorify (honor) you, he was talking about his imminent death which ultimately would glorify the son. The goal is that the father may be glorified.
            In Hebrews we read how this plan of glorifying God has worked out “But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. In bringing many sons and daughters to glory..” Hebrews 2:9-10
            Jesus Christ came into the world to reveal the glory of God to man, “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” John 1:18. The apostle Paul refers God’s glory to the hidden mystery which was made visible in Jesus Christ, “the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col 1:26-27
            If it was not for Jesus we would not know the essence of God’s glory let alone how to give him the glory. Jesu showed us what it means to glorify God through his exemplary living. Paul writing to the Philippines encourages them to have the same attitude of Jesus Christ. “Who, being in every nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing taking the very nature of a servant…humbled himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:1-9.
            When we look at the life Jesus, he always did what he saw his father was doing. He lived and died and rose again in obedience to his father’s will. That obedience did not come automatically, he needed to learn through all that he suffered. Jesus was crowned with glory and honor which has always been there. Jesus brought glory to the father by completing the work of salvation, when he said it is finished on the cross.
            But that was not the end, after he rose from the dead, he was ascended to heaven, since that time he has not stopped working to bring many of his sons and daughters to glory. You and I and all those who are born again belong to that list of the ones who are being glorified. Since Jesus glorified God through his death, and God glorified him by raising him from the dead. Jesus sent his disciples to complete the remaining work of taking the good news of salvation to all four corners of the earth. Now the remaining work of glorifying God is left to us, his Church.
            The path way of glorifying God is marked with suffering, humility and obedience. Jesus, the son of God set the pace for us. The only way we can ever come to glorify God is through our humility, obedience and suffering, even if it means dying for the sake of the gospel.

            It is hard to wrap our minds fully around all the glorious aspects of God’s glory. The Greek word, doxa also means honor, praise or to esteem. When we say we glorify God one way we are saying we are honoring, showing reverence and esteeming him above all else. Keeping these aspects in mind let’s now read this verse again “Father the hour has come, honor your son, so that your son will honor you.” When Jesus said, the hour has come, he was referring to the time of his imminent death on the cross and followed by his resurrection was at hand. Vs, 4 “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”
            Jesus honored God by completing the work he was given to do on the earth, that was to bring salvation to all people. God honored Jesus by raising him from the dead (Acts 2:24). God honored him by esteeming him on high, “Therefore, God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,” Philippians 2:9-10.
            Can you imagine the weight, the scope, and implications of the name of Jesus that is greater than any other name? These days there is a controversy about taking a knee, but there will come a time when all the people in the world, including our president, and the world leaders will bow before Jesus, some out of reverence and others out of utter shame. How else God has honored his son?
            “The Father handed all authority to judge over to the Son so that the Son will be honored equally with the Father. Anyone who dishonors the Son, dishonors the Father, for it was the Father’s decision to put the Son in the place of honor.” John 5:22-23 (The Message). We know a thing or two about honor. We want our kids get into honor rolls in their education, we admire sports people who enter the hall of fame. We honor the firemen, police and the first responders who risk their lives. We honor our veterans, and those who are currently serving in the army.
            We stand up in respect and honor of our flag whenever it is raised, especially during the singing of the national anthem. When just mere humans of this earth are getting that much honor, and praise how much more our God the creator of the universe deserve honor? But where is the honor that is due to God? What does honoring God look like?

            Here I suggest a few practical ways whereby we at Hope Church can honor Jesus. By surrendering our whole life to him if you haven’t yet already done so. By practicing the empowering presence of God. By engaging in God exalting worship. We honor God when we recognize all good things, including our very own breath comes from our father and give him praise and glory for all who God is and all he has done, is doing and will continue to do.
            We honor him by committing ourselves to become healthy disciples. God is honored when we sharing the good news of the gospel with our family, friends and neighbors. We honor God when we esteem on another and not to judge, or gossip about one another.
            We honor God by giving and receiving forgiveness. We honor him with our tithes, offerings, and using our God given talents to serve one another, without complaining and grumbling We honor God by becoming Salt in the community and by letting our light shine through good works, people seeing our good works will honor our Father in heaven.
            Finally, we honor him when we live in unity and love one another. Listen to the word of Jesus, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35. As we leave this morning, let’s take these words of Jesus to heart. It is not through our preaching, evangelistic efforts, or works of service people will see us as the followers of Christ, though they all have a place in the kingdom of God, but it is through our love for one another. If we love Jesus, then we must obey his commandments.
            How your love for Jesus is reflecting in your love for your fellow brother or sister in our Hope Church Family? I want to challenge all of us to make a firm commitment t to live out our mission statement that reads, “Glorifying (Honoring) God by becoming devoted followers of Jesus. Let’s honor one another by doing so we will be honoring God. Next week we will look into what it means to be a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. Amen

Sunday, October 1, 2017


Psalm 19:1-6, 
Introduction: Let me begin with some words from the famous American colonial missionary to the Indians, David Brainerd, who died at the age of twenty-nine. His diary reveals a young man intensely committed to God. Brainerd once said to Jonathan Edwards:  I do not go to heaven to be advanced but to give honor to God. It is no matter where I shall be stationed in heaven, whether I have a high seat or a low seat there. My heaven is to please God and glorify Him, and give all to Him, and to be wholly devoted to His glory."
            The greatest musician of the 1700 AD Johann Sebastian Bach said, "All music should have no other end and aim than the glory of God and the soul's refreshment; where this is not remembered there is no real music but only a devilish hub-bub." At the beginning of every authentic manuscript one will find the letters “J.J.” This stands for Jesu Java (Jesus help me). At the end of each original manuscript you will find the letters “S.D.G.” This stands for Soli Deo Gloria (to the glory of God).
            Brainerd and Bach remind us of our ultimate purpose in life and in the life to come is not to live for ourselves but to live to glorify the one and only God, the father of us all who is worthy of all glory and power. Our mission statement at Hope Church reminds us every week of this very fact: “Glorifying God by becoming devoted followers of Jesus.” Do we really know and understand the depth and the scope of our mission statement?
            When people see or hear our mission statement they may think what a lofty statement. It may sound great but it would do nothing if it remains on the Church board outside or on the bulletin. But it can make all the difference when we understand what it means to glorify God, and what it takes to become a devoted follower of Jesus.
            Before we look at what is to glorify God we need to understand what is the glory of God and how is it manifested in the world, and why we should give glory back to God in all that we do. Let’s begin our Journey. Psalm 19:1-6

            It is very difficult to define what the glory of God really is. It is like defining the word Beauty. We say something or someone is beautiful because we see them. We can point. But if we try to explain beauty in words it would be very difficult. Similarly, when it comes to explaining the glory of God. In the Biblical history people after seeing the powerful manifestation of God’s glory, fell short of words in explaining it. All they could come up with two words.
            The Hebrew word Kabowd means, weight, honor esteem, glory, abundance and wealth. The Greek word, doxa from where we get the word doxology, means: appearance, reputation, glory, recognition belonging to a person, honor and renown. It also means, magnificence, splendor, grandeur, majesty, and greatness often attributed to God.
            John Piper attempts to explain this difficult concept, “The glory of God is the infinite beauty and greatness of God’s manifold perfections. The infinite beauty and I am focusing on the manifestation of his character and his worth and his attributes, all of his perfections and greatness are beautiful as they are seen, and there are many of them.”
            In essence the glory of God is, all that comprise of who God was, is and is to come, and what he did, is doing and all that he will be doing during his final revelation. Let’s see how God’s glory is manifested in the nature, in mankind and in His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
            When we look at the star light sky in the night or clear bright blue sky in the day, what comes to our mind? When we look at the luscious green valleys, or colorful flowers, beautifully snow caped majestic white mountains, who do you think created this beautiful world?
            How absurd it is for anyone to think that all these wonderful wonders came into existence by chance or due to a BIG bang in the cosmos?  Or may be a better way to respond is to say what a splendid world we are living in, who is the architect and the sustainer of this wonderful world, how do I get to know Him? Well we, see the handiwork of God, in all that he has created.

            “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.” Psalm 19:1-6
            The heavens are telling the glory of God and the skies are speaking of the work of his hands. What does that mean? It means God is shouting at us. He shouts with clouds. He shouts with blue expanse. He shouts with gold on the horizons. He shouts with galaxies and stars. The Psalmist is saying, in this passage, “Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” The heavens are shouting that God is glorious. God is shouting at us through all that he has made saying I am glorious. Are we opening our eyes and see this marvelous creation of God? Are we opening our ears to hear God’s voice shouting through his creation?

            Not only God is the master architect who designed this wonderful earth for us to call our home, but he also sustains it by his powerful hand. Among all his handworks, he created man, and endowed him with his glory, so that they will declare and reveal his glory on the earth.
            The Psalmist was amazed at the wonder of man was created, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.” Psalm 8:35
            That was how God created man, so that man can reflect and represent God’s glory on the earth. But man sinned against God and had fallen short of God’s glory God got involved again to display his power and glory to man through his wondrous works so that man will glorify Him.
            “O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples. Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of all his wonderful works. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his presence continually. Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered, O offspring of his servant Israel, children of Jacob, his chosen ones.” I Chron 16:8-13
            Let’s recount some of God’s wonderful works:  Sending unbearable plagues on Egyptians to let them see the power of God.  Parting of the red sea so that his people could walk on a dry ground. Bringing water from the rock and feeding 600,000 people for 40 years with food from heaven, breaking down the walls of Jericho, conquering the land of Canaan to mention a few.
            The Israelites witnessed these awesome acts of God, so one would think that they would be grateful, right? Yet they failed to recognize and give God the glory. This Psalm one way was a rebuke and a call to repentance. Elsewhere the Psalmist laments, He saved them from the hand of the foe; from the hand of the enemy he redeemed them. The waters covered their adversaries; not one of them survived. Then they believed his promises and sang his praise. But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold…. They exchanged their glorious God for an image of a bull, which eats grass.” Psalm 106:10-2-

            So far, we talked about, what the glory of God is like, how the nature declared God’s glory, and how His people who were redeemed and set free from bondage, quickly turned away and exchanged God’s glory to an image of a bull, which eats grass. What is going through your mind as you hear this message? Are you declaring God’s glory as you were meant to?
            Living in a postmodern world it is very hard for us to recognize the work of God in our lives let alone to pause and give him the glory and praise. Weather we admit or not we all are being jaded, tired, bored, and lacking enthusiasm when it comes to worshipping the true and living God. What can we attribute this modern-day malady that seem to be affecting all of us?
            Pete Scazerro in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality says, “the global culture like a beast threatens to swallow us these days. The core values of the twenty first century tend to scream at us for attention for example computers, billboards, televisions, DVDs, I pods, music, schools, newspapers, movies, magazines and so on.” We falsely believe the notion that happiness is found in having things, the more things we have the more we will be happy. We work hard, sacrifice relationships in order to acquire things but in the end, we are more dissatisfied than before.
            How can we say no to the pressures this culture is putting on us? It can only happen when we can regain what was the original purpose that God created us for. Let, me reiterate what I said, earlier, our ultimate purpose in life and in the life to come is not to live for ourselves but to live to glorify God. That’s why St. Augustine cried out, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord and our heart is restless until we find rest in thee.” I want to challenge you with these questions. What is truly valuable to you? Who are you living for? Are your restless? Have you discovered the purpose for which God has created you? Are you willing to keep God at the center of your life, and worship him in spirit and truth, giving him all the glory? Amen