Wednesday, April 3, 2013

First Sermon - ULC

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ.  It's an honor to be able to come to you and share the good news of Christ.  I'm happy to be a part of the church and I'm looking forward to getting to know you all better.

I know many faiths are represented at ULC, but for my part I'll be discussing being a Christian!  And what does it mean to be a Christian?  Well, as Christians it's actually fairly simple.  Let's look to scripture:

Romans 10:9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

So if we simplify it even further, being a Christian is about faith and trust.  There was a man named Jesus, who died by crucifixion.  Beyond the belief of those of the church, that statement is a fact that is accepted by historians.  It is also a fact that his followers believed and testified to the fact that this man named Jesus died on the cross.  His followers also testified that he rose from the dead, and interacted with them.  So we have eye witness accounts from that time in history.  We also know that his followers were persecuted and killed for confessing that Jesus rose from the dead.  They were willing to die, and did die to testify to this.

So if some of you are skeptics, it's intriguing to note that history and fact tend to support at least some of the beliefs of the church!

Most of us have probably heard about faith since we were young kids.  Our parents really blew that one out of the water with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny didn't they?  That's no reason to reject God all together though.  The enemy out there, whom we call the devil, or Satan, has many little schemes to get us to reject and turn away from the Father's love. 

Faith isn't some vague uncertain term that doesn't really mean anything.  Though that's often where it ends up for some people. 

Faith is something we learn from God himself as we go through our spiritual journey.  For me I made a commitment to serve Christ early on in my journey of faith.  I had learned enough and seen enough changes that could only be the Father working in my life, that I was ready to commit my existence to serving him.

That's a step many of us here have taken, or will take at the proper time.  If you don't understand yet, or you need to learn more, thats absolutely fine.  This moment isn't the end all be all, though it is very important to stay on this path!  Keep asking questions, keep reaching out.  And very important: Keep persevering on that question.

There are many preachers and ministers out their who will tell you their way is the only way.  That's absolutely false.  The only way lays within the pages of the Bible and is uniquely perceived by a diverse planet of people.  There are basic truths in the Bible that must be seen, like the fact of Christ dying for our sins, and serving him, but the way someone receives that can be incredibly diverse.

You WILL get knocked back many many times if you're still searching for that meaning in life.  Preachers, teachers, and books (aside from the Bible) are fallible.  They can teach wrongly.  In fact many do.  We encounter judgemental Christians, hateful Christians, bigoted Christians, Christians teaching false doctrine, and we get knocked back.  The snap motion after this happens is to discount the entire diverse church and look elsewhere, but let me encourage you: Many will give you the wrong impression of Christianity.  MANY.  Many will make you want to give up, because you don't see it their way.  But I'm asking you to persevere on that journey.  And persevere honestly.  Hard truth is out there, sometimes we have to accept that.  But there is also falseness, and we need to immediately reject that.  Give this journey chance after chance.  God gives us enough chances.

The way of Christianity is not judging everyone.  The way of Christianity is not being a hypocrite and going through the motions.  The way of Christianity is not of hate and constant fear.  Many who practice this are FALSE and are not even Christians at all.  We meet so many that are judgemental and angry and hateful that we assume the entire church is false.  Don't let yourself get too far that you discount the true Christians out there.  There is only one perfect Christian, and that is Jesus Christ.  The rest WILL have many faults and failings.  And remember the Bible tells us the gates to eternal life are narrow, so few are truly saved.  Search out the Christians who act out of love, service, non-judgement, kindness, and faith.  They are out there, within the lost masses. 

And to those of you who are new or continuing Christians, we can easily be knocked back as well.  We find a situation where people at a church or group are treating us wrongly.  Well, try something else.  Many will find closed door after closed door, but theres an open door waiting for you out there.  And guess what's behind it?  God's POWERFUL truth, as it will make the most sense to you.  That's why there are many denominations out there.   Some people find great comfort in the ceremonies of the Catholic church.  Others want to focus on a direct walk with Christ, like certain Baptist churches will push.  I'm not qualified to say which is wrong and which is right, they may both be right, but we need to find that church or Pastor that speaks to us most clearly.

That DOESN'T mean shopping around for a preacher who only says what we want to hear.  It means finding a preacher who speaks in a way we can UNDERSTAND.

So let me encourage you to keep persevering and reaching out for that.

The Father is always with you.  Wherever you are, right now, hes in the room with you.  He's watching you, and he's feeling something for you.  For the biggest part he LOVES YOU DEARLY.  In a way we can never understand as humans, he loves us.  And hes constantly pointing out things to us, that will guide us to his love and protection.

I want to encourage you to watch for the Father's presence in your life.  Watch for little hints that hes with you.  You'll see them.  God can direct our attention within his will.  And let me encourage you to pray.  Ask God in prayer to show his truth to you.  God WILL answer that prayer, in his timing.

For the persevering Christians reading, I want to encourage you to constantly request God's presence in your life.  Make little prayers here and there, while driving, while walking, while sitting alone, and with friends.  He's always listening.  And he loves us in an INCREDIBLE way. 

So once again, I want to thank everyone at the church for reading through my first sermon.  I'm very happy to be with you all, my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, on this powerful mission to serve God in the world today.  This is a powerful time when many are being lead astray, so let me encourage you to spread the good news wherever you go!  Talk to you family and friends.  Post Bible quotes on your facebook and twitter.  Let's see ourselves as good soldiers and shield maidens for Christ in this lost world.  Let's rise up and create a resurgence in the church.  Let's bring enthusiasm, love, and always live in God's grace!  Let's share a message of peace, love, repentance from sin, and the powerful message of forgiveness, the gift God offers us through Christ Jesus.

Praise the Father always, and God's grace be with you on your journey.

Until next week, have a blessed day and a blessed week in the protection and love of your heavenly Father!

Amen.

-Minister Justin Steckbauer, ULC

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