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

Men’s Work Day June 26, 2014

LMCC Men’s Work Day

This Saturday, June 28

8:00 am – noon

All skill levels welcome.  Coffee and breakfast items will be provided.

Too Heavenly Minded? June 24, 2014

Most of us have probably heard this phrase (or something very similar): “Too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good.”  This seems to be a phrase used to describe people who are so focused on heaven that they neglect their responsibilities in this world.  Hopefully it goes without saying that it is decidedly unbiblical to neglect our responsibilities here on earth.  However, what troubles me more about this whole issue is that the above phrase seems to imply that we as Christians should be careful not be too mindful of heaven.  As I look at my own life, and the lives of fellow Christians I really do not think that we need to be encouraged to be less heavenly minded in our Christian lives.  I think we are far more prone to neglect thinking about eternity and living in light of it.  Paul Tripp, in his book Forever: Why You Can’t Live Without It, says that we often function as “eternity amnesiacs” (p. 12).  While we know heaven exists and are vaguely comforted by this fact, we really don’t dwell on it like we should.

I have been working on preparing a short sermon series on Heaven, and this has forced me to ask, “Does the Bible encourage us to be less heavenly minded so that we might not become less good here on earth?”  It probably comes as no surprise that we find precisely the opposite message in the Bible.  The Bible seems to continuously exhort Christians to be more heavenly minded, not less.  Look at passages like 2 Cor. 4.17-18, Col. 3.1-4, and 1 Pet. 1.13.  All of these passages tell us to think on things above, and to be ever-mindful of heavenly realities.  In fact, these passages seem to indicate that the more heavenly minded we become, the more equipped we are to live righteously here on the earth.  The passages listed above show that we can face the realities of suffering and trials, and live more righteous and godly lives the more aware we are of heavenly realities and of our eternal destinies as Christians.  It seems that, in the Bible’s view of things, if we are no earthly good, the problem is probably that we are not heavenly minded enough!

Of course we still have to ask ourselves what it means to be heavenly minded, and what that looks like.  We will see some of this in the upcoming sermon series.  But I don’t believe that we as Christians need to be challenged to be less mindful of heaven, and of God’s Kingdom; we need to be more mindful of these things.  And as we are more mindful of these realities, we will love our neighbors better, obey God more consistently, and face trials and tribulations with faith and perseverance.  In short, we will be of immense earthly good.

 

Pastor Nathan Hogan