Illuminate Community Church

18
Apr

4/18/2021 - That Will Preach! - Acts 2:14-38

I’m a self-confessed sermon junkie. For me, a great sermon is like a work of art. Of course the greatest sermon of all time was given by Jesus. We know it as the Sermon on the Mount. Next to this, Peter delivers a masterpiece of his own, inspired by the Holy Spirit and found in Acts chapter 2. The response is overwhelming. Christianity expands from about 200 to over 3000 followers in one day. 

Preaching is important.

We are constantly receiving “sermons” from social media, television, movies, politicians, celebrities and even bumper stickers. They all have a message they want us to literally ‘buy’ into. The question we must ask ourselves is, “Who has our best interest?”

God does. 

Peter steps up, speaks out and tells the truth about Jesus, the human heart, and the destiny of man. The crowd is captivated. More than this they are convicted. They’ve heard that God’s judgement comes upon those who reject Jesus. And yet there is an escape. 

Believe, repent and be baptized. 

Have you been wanting something better? This is where real and lasting change begins. So can I encourage you to first preach to your own heart from God’s Word? Don’t allow the message of others to guide you. In the end, you’ll be looking for something that only Jesus can provide.

11
Apr

4/11/2021 - The Final Words of the Resurrected Jesus - Acts 1:1-11

Have you ever wondered how Christianity spread from just a handful to many millions? Or what about this movement called the church? What’s the purpose of that? We have answers. There’s a “Part 2” in the Jesus story and it picks up immediately following the empty tomb. The events are investigated by a physician named Luke and written in the book of Acts. 

It may surprise some to know Jesus’ final words were not spoken while hanging on the cross. They were said during a span of 40 days when he made “convincing proof” of his resurrection. He then left the earth so he could leave another - the Holy Spirit.

In Acts 1:8 Jesus tells his disciples to remain in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit comes to empower them to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. "Witnessing” is something more than a spiritual discipline. It is the very essence of who we are as Christians. But what does that mean? And how exactly are we to speak about Jesus? 

A few verses later Luke gives us one of the keys in telling others about Jesus. Not only do we talk about all that He said and did, but we must focus on the resurrection. In other words, we don’t speak merely of a God who is loving, a Christ who forgives sins, or a salvation that provides second chances. These gospel messages truncate the full gospel and miss the power of Christ’s Lordship. Jesus is not a forgiver who happens to be Lord; he is the Lord who died to secure forgiveness through his death and resurrection. The book of Acts puts emphasis on his resurrection and we should too. The Holy Spirit provides the power, the resurrection is the proof, and your personal testimony makes it real. 

4
Apr

4/4/2021 - Easter at Illuminate

The significance of Easter is all about victory over death. Jesus’ resurrection was the confirmation of all that he said and did. It gave undeniable proof that he was the Son of God. But there’s more. His resurrection means eternal life is granted to all who believe in Him. Now that’s reason to celebrate!

2
Apr

4/2/2021 - Good Friday at Illuminate

“It is finished.” – Jesus

So many things in life seem to go unfinished. So what do these final words from Jesus actually mean? He wasn’t simply referring to the end of his pain and suffering. It means the plan of God to redeem man has been completed. There is nothing left to do. (Read that last sentence again.) When Jesus finished his work on the cross your work was done also. You can stop trying to earn your way to God. Jesus did the work for you. Now you see why these are the three most important words ever spoken. “It is finished.”

28
Mar

3/28/2021 - What’s Your Approach? - Hebrews 12

Our Palm Sunday message this year comes from Hebrews chapter 12. After reading the text you might be thinking it’s an unlikely place. As you know, the world is tumultuous and things are always changing. Circumstances, careers and relationships are often not what we want them to be. As you get older the challenges seem to come at you daily. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on that first day of the week the crowd was whipped into a frenzy. They had problems like we do and they thought Jesus was going to remove all those problems. The thing they missed was the real problem. The real problem is that they were separated from God because of their sins. The people wanted Jesus to restore their national pride. Jesus was going to lead the revolution! Instead, he came to lead a revolution of the heart. The people were not buying it and in their disappointment some of these same people in just a few days will be screaming, 

"Crucify him!"

A few decades after this, our author is writing to a group of believers that have had their faith shaken and they are ready to throw in the towel. They are living in tents because their homes were plundered and some are in prison. The author writes in an effort to strengthen them and encourage them not to give up. He wants to help them stand solid when everything around them is crumbling. Perhaps that’s exactly how you feel. You’ve got things happening in your life and you feel like the rug is being pulled right out from underneath you and you have no idea how you are going to land. From your viewpoint it doesn’t look good. 

Your point of view is determined by where you are looking.

“Look to Jesus,” says the preacher. Through Jesus we have access to God like never before. The ancient Israelites approached God with “fear and trembling” but we come with confidence. We are reminded that the blood of Abel cries out, “Revenge!” The blood of Jesus cries out, “Forgiven!” When approaching God we are made small in the best possible way. That is to say, we are exposed for who we really are. At the same time God makes us big because in spite of our of mistakes, failures and self absorbing tendencies; we are his joy!

21
Mar

3/21/2021 - Take A Seat - Hebrews 8

Jesus takes his place...

There's a small detail included in Hebrews chapter 8 and verse 1, but it has huge implications. Let's see if you can spot it..

Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,

I'll give you a clue. It has to do with the posture of Jesus. Yes, he is seated. That's key. 

One of the things that makes this book difficult to understand is that you and I don’t have the mindset of a first century Jew. One of my Jewish friends always enlightens me when we talk, being from a Jewish home and far more familiar with the Jewish mindset than me.

So let me help you understand what’s being said here because it is a statement with enormous consequences. If this New Covenant is going to be better, it must have a superior priest. How do we know Jesus is superior? Because of this phrase: “one who is seated.” Seems innocuous doesn’t it? But the author is saying this - of all the things we have said about priesthood this is the sum. It’s as if he’s saying we’ve talked a lot about priests, we’ve said a lot of important things, but here’s the most important feature about Jesus as a priest – he is sitting down. The highest proof of his superiority is that Jesus pulls up a chair. Why is that? Because priests never sat down. Listen to Hebrews 10:11-12...

And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,

You see the priest never finished his work. He could never sit down because the job was never done. He just had to keep offering more and more sacrifices because the sacrifice was only good until your next act of sin. And it just kept going and going and the priest never took a break. The tabernacle was the place where these priests offered sacrifices and there were no seats in it.

How does this relate to you and me? These believers were facing the temptation to turn away from Jesus and to turn toward familiar acts to gain God’s favor. The author says, “That old life is not where it’s at. Jesus makes all things new. Why would you go back to the old? Look at what Jesus has done for you. He’s built an indestructible bridge between you and God and that bridge is labeled: forgiven. He did his work and sat down. There’s nothing for you to do either. You can’t earn your salvation. Jesus is the one who said, 'It is finished!'” So it’s not about this constant striving to attain God, rather it’s about seeing the beauty of what Jesus did for you and embracing that. He took a seat because his work of atonement was done forever!

14
Mar

3/14/2021 - Pay the Piper - Hebrews 12:1-29

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. - Hebrews 12:1-2

Keeping faith is an ongoing and daily struggle. Trusting God and His promises, abiding in Jesus, dealing with temptation and sin, being anxious for nothing, doing everything for the glory of God – it's like an endless battle. Actually, it’s more like a marathon. That’s how the Apostle saw the life of faith – as a race. At the beginning of this ministry, he saw what was ahead as a race…"I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course (a race course, track) and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24) When he was called on to defend his ongoing ministry, he painted the picture as a marathon…"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly…But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). And when he knew his earthly life was coming to an end, he looked back on his race of faith and proclaimed… “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7). 

Paul didn’t understand what it meant to “coast” in the Christian life. He never saw faith as anything but like running a marathon – one that requires discipline and endurance. The author of Hebrews tells us in the first verse of chapter 12, that we’re all in this race. The question is, are you running? Are you coasting? Are you sitting on the sidelines? Are you tired? Are you ready to quit? No matter where you find yourself, you can get back into the race and run to win with the help of the words in Hebrews 12. What do you win? Jesus! Forever!  John Piper sums it up perfectly:

"The race of faith is life’s journey for the Christian. Imagine what would happen if we looked to Jesus every day. Every weight would fall off and every sin would untangle from us. Each look at Jesus would strengthen us to endure and finish well. He waits for us on the other side. He is our crown, and we will be with him forever. Every huff, every twinge of pain, and every prolonged day on earth is worth patiently enduring the journey to get to the finish line — to get to Jesus.”

7
Mar

3/7/2021 - Because of Jesus’ Sacrifice - Hebrews 10:19-39

But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. Hebrews 10:32-39

Imagine these words written to the Illuminate body. We are not losing our property because of our faith nor are we being imprisoned. We must not miss this teachable moment though. The author of Hebrews is commending them because they chose compassion over consumption. They chose Godliness and it cost them their possessions in this world. Why did they do this? Because they knew something. They knew their real and lasting possessions are not on this earth. So they helped the brothers in prison perhaps bringing them food and blankets. As a result of that help they lost their homes, their businesses, their jobs. 

And this happens today. 

Christian voices and businesses are being cancelled and mocked. Perhaps the church will soon follow. That’s ok, we're in good company. They cancelled Jesus but he did have and will have the last word. And then there are the countless stories from the Middle East of entire Christian families being hunted by gunshot and forced to leave their Christian villages. 

The remarkable thing about those first-century believers is that they accepted mistreatment joyfully. It doesn’t make any sense to the world. But their thinking was not worldly. Instead, the author tells you what they were thinking. They believed they had something better and permanent awaiting them in heaven. The author reminds them of what they already knew: God rewards those who seek him. So remember that former time when you were completely sold out for Christ; you were putting everything on the line. That’s the kind of faith you need now. When once you’ve looked back, then look forward. (Verse 36-39.)

I find this really helpful. He doesn’t say focus on your current circumstances. Instead he says, “Remember the past when your faith was strong and remember your glorious future.” He doesn’t tell them to think about right now. He says look beyond the now and put your hope in the faithful promises of God. That might be the message for you today. I know in my own life this is so true. By focusing on the current problem, it grows and grows and crowds out my faith. Instead, I need to remember former times of faith and I need to remember the promise from God of my glorious future so I can keep the faith.

28
Feb

2/28/2021 - Now I See It - Hebrews 11

Growing up I took pride in the fact that I did not need glasses. My three siblings, as well as my mom and dad, all wore glasses, and I viewed them as inferior. I didn’t realize any problem with my vision until I started driving. I wondered why it was so difficult to read street signs, but I just assumed that everyone had the same problem. It wasn’t until someone pointed out how timid of a driver I was at night, that I realized other people did not have the same issues I did. Turns out I was more like my family than I thought, I needed glasses. However, once I got glasses the whole world opened up to me. I could drive at night with so much more confidence. Being able to see clearly what was in front of me made all the difference in my driving.

In Hebrews 11, we are given the testimonies of men and women from the Old Testament, who were commended by God because of their faith. What the author of Hebrews points out, is that all of these great people of faith, died having greeted the promise of God from afar (Hebrews 11:13). Though they could not see it at the time, the promise they were waiting for, was Jesus. If they could have faith in God while not being able to see the promise, how much more confidence can we have while we are living on this side of the cross? This confidence in God’s faithfulness works itself out through our daily obedience to God.   

God is constantly calling us to and from things. These could be big things, like career moves, or family decisions, or these may be smaller everyday practices and habits. To mature in Jesus is to respond in obedience with faith to God’s Word.

21
Feb

2/21/2021 - Feeling Better Things to Come - Hebrews 6:1-12

I was spending time the other day with friends who have toddlers. Little kids can be so darn funny and cute. I think it's because of their immaturity. They say and do whatever comes to mind with little regard for the consequences. There are parallels in our spiritual lives. We start our journey with Jesus as spiritual babies. We may not know much, and we may ask simple questions, but we are drinking the milk of foundational things. This is really good. Soon we are ready for a wider diet leading to healthy growth. But what if we decide to stop growing? What's the big deal? Does it really matter?

Yes.

Immature faith will make you unsure of your salvation. It will make you sluggish and as we read last week, lazy. Those who turn away from the basics of the faith, in response to doubts or disobedience, are beyond any rational arguments. Those who do not move beyond the basics of the faith risk straying from the truth, which is disastrous. The ancient Israelites are an example of what happens when disobedience and doubt replace obedience and trust. The author of Hebrews refers to this as unproductive land that must be burnt in order to be restored.

Here's the thing - you have something amazing awaiting you! The promises of God. A future that is unlike what you can imagine. The creator of the universe has prepared a place for you and it is amazing. The best part is not the environment, the best part is being in the presence of the one who died for you to make it all possible. So let's hold fast to Jesus who is described as the "anchor of our souls." Isn't that the perfect description? It tells you that life will have storms and the ship that is your life will be tossed around without a stable hold. So hold on my brothers and sisters, your glorious final destination awaits!

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