Posts Tagged ‘Creflo Dollar’

Sermon 12-24-17: “We Saw His Star When It Rose”

January 4, 2018

Today’s sermon investigates three different responses to the news of the newborn king: from King Herod, from the scribes and chief priests, and from the magi. At different times, our own responses to Christ our king may be similar to each of these. How can we become more like the magi?

Sermon Text: Matthew 2:1-12

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“We three kings of orient are/ Bearing gifts we traverse afar/ Field and fountain, moor and mountain/ Following yonder star.”

Literally one of my favorite Christmas hymns. Just a beautiful melody. Yet it’s wrong in nearly every detail!

First, these magi worked for a king—they were courtiers; they were not kings themselves. They believed that the movement of the stars foretold important events happening on earth; likewise, when something important was happening on earth, they believed that it would be reflected in some way in the stars. So their job was to study the night sky, discern what important events might be happening here on earth—or might be about to happen—and report to their king what the “latest news” was. Also, we have no idea how many of them there were—probably more than three. The “three” comes from the number of gifts they gave to Jesus, but that doesn’t indicate how many of them there were. And they weren’t from the Orient; they were from the Middle East—likely Babylon, or the Persian Gulf area. So there probably weren’t three; they weren’t kings; and they weren’t from the Orient. But besides that it’s a great song!

Notice verse 2: They came to Jerusalem seeking the newborn “king of the Jews” because they saw his star rising. We don’t know what this star was—it might have been a natural astronomical event or a miraculous event created by God to lead these men to Jesus. We don’t need to get hung up on what the star was. It sounds to me like the star that led them from Babylon to Jerusalem might have been a completely natural event—highly unusual but scientifically explainable, which the wise men, because they were the world’s leading experts on the movement of stars and planets, were able to see.

But then, in verses 9 and 10, when the star moves and comes to rest over the place where Jesus is, it sounds like that is a supernatural event.

Does it matter? Not at all! If it was a natural event—which astronomers today can study and explain scientifically—it was a natural event designed by God before the Creation of the world to appear at this particular time and place in order to lead these wise men to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Just think: God is so powerful, so sovereign, so in control of this universe that he doesn’t even need to work a miracle that defies the laws of physics in order to be active in the world: he can work through natural events. God is always working at every moment in every event and through every person to accomplish his will in the world! This is called the doctrine of God’s providence, which means that we can know that everything that happens in the universe happens according to God’s plan and purpose! By the logic of providence, God is constantly intervening in the world, so, in a way, “miracles” happen all the time—even when modern science can explain why something happens. A scientific explanation is merely the most superficial reason; there’s always a deeper reason. And God is always behind it. Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon 06-26-16: “Jesus Is the Rock”

July 7, 2016

Opening the Scriptures graphic

We Christians are in danger of believing in a “spiritual prosperity” gospel. We think that if we’re doing everything right, spiritually speaking, then life is going to be smooth sailing. This isn’t at all what scripture teaches. Instead, as the apostle Paul makes clear when he cites this passage in Exodus, we Christians are all on a wilderness journey. In order to survive, we all need the spiritual water that Christ our rock provides us.

Sermon Text: Exodus 17:1-7

[To listen on the go, right-click here to download an MP3.]

We Americans will get to vote this November. Given America’s power, and its role in the world, that’s always a big deal. But it’s unlikely that our vote in November will have as large an impact on the world as the vote last week in Britain. I’m referring, of course, to the British voting to leave the European Union—a vote otherwise known as “Brexit.” Proponents of leaving the EU argued that Britain had sacrificed too much of its sovereignty to unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels—and, unlike in a democracy, the British people couldn’t vote them out of office.

So Britain voted to leave. Who knows whether it will be a good thing or a bad thing. But the bottom line is, the British thought EU leadership was leading them off a cliff, and they believed they could do better on their own.

Interestingly, a similar thing is happening in today’s scripture. Just a few months earlier, Moses had led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt—which was a great thing. Only now they were having second thoughts. They were in the wilderness; they were facing a more difficult journey than they had bargained for; and now, in today’s scripture, in this hot, arid climate, they are thirsty—and they fear that Moses is leading them off a proverbial cliff. “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon 02-07-16: “He Must Increase”

February 16, 2016

John Sermon Series Graphic

In today’s scripture, John the Baptist is not like most of us: Instead of being unhappy that his own work is declining in popularity, he’s happier than he’s ever been. Why? Because he understands that what matters most isn’t his own personal glory, but Christ’s glory. He understands that in spite of this apparent setback, God is in control and God is working his plan for him and the world. If this is true for John, it’s true for us as well. God is always working his plan for our lives, even in the face of mistakes, failures, and setbacks.

Sermon Text: John 3:22-36

[To listen on the go, right-click here to download an MP3.]

Show of hands… How many in here are rooting for the Broncos? How many are rooting for the Panthers? How many are rooting for the commercials? I am 45, so I’m cheering for the guy who’s very close to my age, Peyton Manning. I’m sentimental; I would love to see him get his long-sought-after second Super Bowl ring before retiring riding and off into the sunset. It would be a storybook ending to his career; it would seal his legacy as one of the best who ever played the game; it would silence all the skeptics who wonder why he wasn’t more effective in the playoffs.

manning

But what if he doesn’t get the storybook ending? What if the Broncos lose? How will Peyton live with the disappointment, the sorrow, the heartbreak, the failure?

How do we handle these things in our own lives? We all want to be happy, after all, yet doesn’t life often seem to put obstacles to happiness in our way? How do we deal with them, while at the same time rejoicing in the Lord always, the way Christians are supposed to? Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon 03-15-15: “King, Crown & Cross, Part 4: Anointing”

March 31, 2015

lenten_sermon_series

In today’s scripture, Mary does something that disciples then and now struggle to do: She gives Jesus everything—because Jesus is worth everything to her. What can we learn from her example about discipleship? [Please note: the last few minutes of this sermon are cut off. See manuscript for conclusion.]

Sermon text: Mark 14:1-11

[To download an MP3 to listen on the go, right-click here.]

Atlanta-based televangelist Creflo Dollar made the news late last week and lived up to his last name when he made an appeal to his church and supporters to buy him and his ministry a new airplane. Not just any airplane… A Gulfstream G650, which according to the Gulfstream website is the “biggest, fastest, most luxurious, longest range, and most technologically advanced jet—by far”—it says.

creflo_dollar_airplane

Surely it’s one of the most expensive! Rev. Dollar says it will cost the church a cool 60 million dollars!

So… does our church need a private jet? Bob Heath could fly it. Chad Floyd? I’ll run it by the Trustees.

Predictably, since I’m friends with a bunch of pastors on Facebook, they were all linking to the story, talking about, well… how incredibly wasteful, how wrong it is, for a church to spend that kind of money on a luxury jet, of all things… Especially when we have so many who are in such great need. And I don’t disagree—although I’m aware that I’m also a sinner who often fails to be a good steward of money and possessions, too! The only difference is that I fail to be faithful with thousands of dollars rather than tens of millions!

But my point is this: If you and I are shockedbotheredindignant because of what we perceive to be an extravagant waste of money in the case of this televangelist, well… We can at least get an inkling of how these disciples must have felt when they watched this woman break open this expensive alabaster jar of perfume and pour it over Jesus’ head. We know from John’s gospel, chapter 12, that this woman was Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. So I’m going to call her Mary.

Read the rest of this entry »