Sunday, March 23, 2014

Preaching Gains

I would not have titled this blogpost as preaching gains if not for tonight's encounter with three friends of a church which I had gone preaching recently. Today I preached in a church that I was familiar with. Preached there last month for 25 minutes but today I preached a longish sermon of 45 minutes (by mainline standard anyway) on Matthew 3.1-12. It was expository preaching from v. 1 to . 12. I explained the concept of God's kingdom based on Dan 2 & 7 and about the excitement caused by John the Baptist's preaching in the wilderness. I explained what it meant by "all" Judea, not every person, infant or elderly but vast numbers of Jews must have come from Judea and Jerusalem to listen to John preached. I explained that encountering this kingdom means we need to behave or act in a certain way, namely repent. I spoke of the awe of the Anglican tradition that asked members to kneel to confess our sins, the true meaning of baptism.

I went on to talk about religious leaders and experts represented by the Pharisees and Sadducees and how the Word of God is directed to us first before it is meant for ordinary believers. I explained the concept of the "wrath to come", on future judgment. Like the time of Noah when God judged the world by water, in his coming again it will be by fire as John in Matt 3 makes clear - the tree that does not bear good fruits will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I explained how God is weighing up his people like a winnowing fork in his hands, gathering the wheat into his barn and the chaff will be burnt wih unquenchable fire. I explained that Jesus came to baptize us with the Holy Spirit and we should never let the Spirit's presence leave us. "Take not thy Holy Spirit from me, O Lord". And in Psalm 119, "Do not utterly forsake me" cried the Psalmist. I explained about baptism by fire which I think is the judgment by fire, especially of the last days, spoken of by another John in the book of Revelation. Finally, I looked at the 3 parables in Matt 25 and explained how we are to bear good fruits. First, keep our lamps lit by the oil of the Spirit. Second, use our talents for God's glory. I challenged the richer members to sell their possessions and condos and support missionaries. Finally I talked about the separation of nations based on Matt 25.31. The nations are judged based on how they treat the less fortunate, the sick, the prisoners, the strangers and foreigners. "I was a foreigner but you welcomed me."

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