#JesusLovesSinners August 26, 2014

“Who’s Who” is the perennial publication that produces the names of people who have risen above the norm to make a positive impact on society. Research shows it takes 25,000 families of unskilled laboring background to produce one person in the annual “Who’s Who,” it requires 10,000 skilled laboring families to put one person in “Who’s Who,” 2,500 professional families are necessary to accomplish the same task, but only 7 missionary families are needed to produce one member of “Who’s Who.” Christian influence definitely adds salt to society!

But society can never be seasoned with salt if God’s people shy away from the lost. This was the problem Jesus addressed when He gave the series of parables found in Luke 15. The Pharisees of His day were grumbling, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Lk. 15:2). They were convinced His love for sinners was morally wrong! If social media was around 2,000 years ago, #JesusLovesSinners would have been the trending hashtag, followed by SMH—”Shaking my head.”

The Pharisees thought Jesus was contracting uncleanness by eating and associating Himself with sinners. But it’s precisely because of His love for sinners that He came to seek and save the lost, and God and heaven rejoice when the lost are found. Be encouraged to have the same attitude as Christ’s—to approach the lost without hardheartedness. After all, that’s what He did for us. He’s the Good Shepherd who laid down His very own life for the sake of lost sheep like you and me. May He be forever praised.

-Pastor Marttell Sánchez

The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus August 19, 2014

There was once a very stingy man who collected and kept as much money as he possibly could. He shared his plan with his wife, “I’m going to place all this cash up in the attic, so when I die I’ll take it up with me to heaven.” The day came when he breathed his last, and after some weeks his wife remembered what her husband had said. Out of curiosity, she climbed up to the attic, where she found the pile of undisturbed money. She then said to herself, “Maybe he should have left it in the basement!”

This funny story reminds us of what the love of money does to us—it corrupts our hearts. For this very reason, Jesus shared a principle we should all hold to heart: “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Luke 16:13).

Almost immediately after sharing this principle, Jesus gave the parable of the rich man and Lazarus—the story of an extravagantly rich man and the dirt-poor man who laid outside the gate to his opulent estate, hoping to eat the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Shockingly, the roles of the two men were reversed in eternity, and so it’s a story Jesus used to challenge His audience’s lifestyle choices and compassionate giving.

You see, those listening to Jesus were the religious leaders of His day who loved money, and with the parable He exposed their true spiritual state: whether they loved God and people, or whether they loved the world and its riches. And the challenge given to them two thousand years ago is the same challenge given to us today: remember the poor at your door.

Someone once put it this way: “If you love money you will use people. If you love people you will use money.”

Dear Christian, remember the poor at your door. Not only because it’s our moral obligation, but because Jesus Himself remembered you, too. He left His heavenly mansion, He opened His gate, and He gave us the bread of life. He gave us Himself! And now, as an act of grateful worship, we can do likewise.

Be a restored beggar that points other beggars to where the bread is. Live out the Gospel in your community, all the while sharing the Gospel to a world starving for the Good News of Jesus Christ. Remember the poor at your door.

– Pastor Marttell Sánchez

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant August 4, 2014

Forgiving someone can sometimes be one of the hardest things to do in life. When we’re deeply hurt, whether physically or emotionally, it can be very difficult to extend forgiveness.

This week at Lake Murray Community Church we studied The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. It’s a very challenging parable—one that brings us back to a searching of our own hearts. But as challenging as the parable is, it promises rich blessing to those who sit at Jesus’s feet to learn from Him.

In this week’s story, a king forgives a servant’s enormous debt because the servant pleaded for mercy. But immediately after this servant was forgiven of his gigantic debt—a debt he could never pay in his lifetime—he went looking for one of his co-servants who owed him just over three months worth of wages, and he demanded his money. Although his co-servant also pleaded for mercy, this wicked servant was unwilling to extend it.

When the king receives word of his wasted compassion, he sends for the wicked servant and hands him over to jailers who have the responsibility of administering severe torture. And at the very end of the story, Jesus says, “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart” (Matt. 18:35, italics mine).

These are very challenging words…

But it’s exactly why a little child was present before Jesus even gave the story.

I have a two-and-a-half-year-old and a one-year-old at home. Without fail, almost on a daily basis, the two-and-a-half-year-old pushes over his little brother, who’s just now getting the hang of walking. After my wife and I correct him we tell him to say “I’m sorry” to his little brother.

And when this happens, that little one-year-old doesn’t even hesitate—he reaches up to his big brother with open arms. Why? Because that’s what children do; they don’t hold grudges.

This is exactly what we’re to do, too. But if we’re going to be a people who forgive from the heart, it’s going to require childlike humility. The problem with being childlike is that we’re all grown up, but if we can humble ourselves before the Lord, we will not only be able to forgive from the heart—setting aside justice and extending the same grace we’ve received in Christ—we will also be able to free ourselves from the torturous torment of bitterness.

Indeed, the great blessing is for those who forgive.

-Pastor Marttell Sánchez

The Parable of the Sower July 30, 2014

In The Parable of the Sower, Jesus presented four types of listeners to the Word of God. This past Sunday we saw that some had hardened hearts, others had superficial hearts, and still others had crowded hearts. But those who are like “good soil” are those with receptive hearts. This is indicative of those who go on to produce fruit; some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.

What’s interesting is what Jesus doesn’t say: He never presents a category where good soil produces fruit zerofold.

Thus, our main lesson from the parable: those who belong to the kingdom of heaven will be known by their fruit.

This leads us all the way back to an examining of ourselves, and a challenge: we must be not just listeners of God’s Word, we must be doers!

Jesus said, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8). So if we’re going to be genuine listeners, we must be fruit-producers. How can we do this? By simply listening, applying, and obeying the Word of God.

And as we each listen, apply, and obey, we become a people who produce a whole lot of fruit—perhaps even a hundredfold.

Did you know a successful yield in Jesus’s day was a tenfold harvest? Certainly hundredfold harvests weren’t necessarily impossible—Isaac had a hundredfold harvest in Genesis 26. However, this was an extremely rare exception.

Historically, if someone yielded a tenfold harvest, it was considered to be a very good year. Nonetheless, Jesus said some will produce fruit up to a hundredfold, highlighting the fact that genuine listeners will produce so much more than what would be expected—so much more than what could even be imagined!

What would Lake Murray Community Church look like if we each continue to listen, apply, and obey? I can tell you this: our storehouse would overflow with fruit, all for the glory of God. So let this parable be not only a challenge, but an encouragement—Jesus can certainly use our local church to impact the community around us in ways we can’t even begin to envision.

It starts by each of us softening our hearts to His Word, so that our hearts would always remain receptive, just like good soil.

-Pastor Marttell Sánchez

Heaven Resources July 14, 2014

This Sunday I will be finishing up our short series on Heaven.  In the short time we have been able to dwell on this wonderful topic together I know we have hardly begun to scratch the surface.  In light of this fact, you may want to continue your own study and reading about our future as Christians.  Here are two resources I found particularly helpful in the preparation of my sermons on Heaven.  Maybe you will be encouraged by them as well.

SettingSightsOnHeaven

I had not heard of Paul D. Wolfe before I read this book, but I was very impressed!  A wonderful book on being heavenly minded.

forever-by-tripp-image

It is probably worth reading anything written by Paul Tripp, and this book is no exception!  Tripp always has wonderful insights about human nature and motivation, and he applies this skill to how an eternal perspective (or lack thereof) impacts us as Christians.  The book covers some of the same ground as Wolfe’s book, but their styles and perspectives are varied enough that you could read both books and not feel like they were redundant.

 

-Pastor Nathan Hogan