Tag Archives: Jesus

The Greatest Sermon Ever Preached

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When you remember great sermons that have been preached by pastors current and from the past, they pail in comparison to the Master of great sermons. Jesus’ few words are so packed with amazing truths. We are allowed to preach by gathering inside information via the Holy Spirit, commentaries, and theological professors. Jesus preaching was from within.

That leaves me to formulate a thought here. Shouldn’t we as spiritual leaders also be preaching from within as we draw day by day closer and closer to Jesus? Our sermons should by all means be more heart felt as we preach time and time again. I pray that I can be a Jesus preacher as well.

I am beginning a new series based on the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7. Here is the  schedule. Raising The Standard!

April 23—Blessed Are You! Matthew 5:1-12

April 30—The Salty Life, Matthew 5:13-16

May 7—The Law of Grace, Matthew 5:14-20

May 14—Mother’s Day

May 21—Heart Check-part 1, Matthew 5:21-26

May 28—Heart Check-part 2, Matthew 5:27-32

June 4—I Cross My Heart, Matthew 5:33-42

June 11—Love My People, Matthew 5:43-48

June 18—Father’s Day

June 25—Generous Giving, Matthew 6:1-4

July 2—Praying for the Kingdom, Matthew 6:5-15

July 9—Do I Have to Fast? Matthew 6:16-19

July 16—The Treasure of Your Mind, Matthew 6:19-24

July 23—Kingdom Matters, Matthew 6:25-34

July 30—Who’s Your Judge? Matthew 7:1-6

Aug 6—Go Ahead and Ask, Matthew 7:7-12

Aug 13—Danger: One Lane Bridge Ahead, Matthew 7:13-14

Aug 20—The Sad Reality, Matthew 7:15-23

Aug 27—Built on the Solid Rock, Matthew 7:24-29

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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Hacksaw Ridge

Today’s post is from Jim Denison’s cultural commentary. I can hardly wait to see this upcoming film.

Hacksaw Ridge is Mel Gibson’s new film. It tells the true story of Desmond Doss, a World War II army medic who refused to bear arms but received the Medal of Honor after he saved dozens of his fellow soldiers. The movie was shown at the Venice International Film Festival last Saturday. According to USA Today, the audience gave Gibson a ten-minute standing ovation when the film ended.

It was my privilege to see Hacksaw Ridge at a private showing a few days ago, then participate in a discussion with Gibson. I don’t remember ever being as moved by a movie as I was by his film. Looking back, I can identify three reasons for my response.

Part of my reaction was the realism with which Gibson depicts the violence of the battle scenes. Hacksaw Ridge is a cliff-like formation on the island of Okinawa, Japan. It was the scene of a two-week struggle between US and Japanese soldiers. Gibson told our group that he depicted the war violence with such realism in order to demonstrate the atrocities Doss faced and the courage he displayed.

A second reason for my visceral reaction is the fact that my father, a World War II veteran, fought with the Army in the South Pacific. He would not discuss what he experienced with our family. Like so many veterans, he could not put into words what he went through. I have visited several World War II museums and had a sense of what the Pacific theater was like, but the movie brought home my father’s suffering in a way that moved me deeply. It made me realize again the immeasurable sacrifice so many continue to make in defending our nation and our freedoms around the world.

A third factor is the story of Desmond Doss himself. His commitment to his Christian faith and specifically to nonviolence resonated powerfully throughout the film. He risked his life in the most horrific circumstances imaginable to save his fellow soldiers and to serve his Lord. I agree with Greg Laurie: “This is the most positive portrayal of a Christian in a mainstream film that I have seen since Chariots of Fire.”

I hope you’ll see Hacksaw Ridge when it opens in theaters November 4. As I have noted, the war violence it depicts is very realistic. But the story it tells is truly one for the ages.

During our group discussion, I asked Mel Gibson why he chose to make the film. He explained that Desmond Doss’s heroic faith so moved him that he felt compelled to tell his story to the world. He noted that more than 80 percent of Americans identify as Christians, yet Hollywood very seldom presents our faith in a positive light.

Our culture deserves to see authentic Christianity. “How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?” (Romans 10:14). Desmond Doss was willing to pay any price to follow Jesus. Now it’s our turn.

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7

Pastor Larry

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Vacation Bible School

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Vacation Bible School is just around the corner! We at City Church are excited for all of you coming this year to our sports themed VBS. If you haven’t registered yet, you can do so HERE

Hope to see you there!

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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What a Week

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This is the week that we have all been waiting for. Holy Week. There is no other week quite like Holy Week because of all of the impact this week will have on the entire world. Jesus will be the talk of the nations all week. Some will claim His risen status for themselves, while others will deny that He even existed. Jesus is asking you the same question He asked His disciples; Who do you say I am?

At City Church Del Rio, we will be looking at what the resurrection and it’s power mean to us a people of God. We have 3 opportunities for you to worship with us, and 2 other opportunities for your family to enjoy as well. Here is the schedule for this coming Easter Sunday: 7 am – Bilingual Sunrise Service, 8 am – Breakfast, 9 am – Servicio En Espanol, 10 am – Easter Egg Hunt for Kids thru 5th grade, and 11 am – Contemporary English Worship Service. 

I pray that you will invite someone to church, as you well know that many that do not participate in regular worship services are more than willing to go on Easter.

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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Marriage and Ministry

I am posting a recent blog post from Ed Stetzer. Enjoy.

Marriage and Ministry

Ministry marriages don’t succeed by accident. It takes effort. |
Marriage and Ministry

Marriage advice can be a bit overwhelming. But, you need it. Although most of the doomsday stats about pastors are not true (that they all hate the ministry and want to quit), ministry does put stress on a marriage.

In my most stream-of-consciousness column ever, allow my to share a few things that Donna and I have seen after almost thirty years of a ministry marriage.

1. Marriage is worth the investment.

Yes, it is an investment. I know that it is not always easy, but it is always worth it. I’m thankful for a strong marriage.

Ironically, you have to invest in a marriage for it to be worth the investment. It sounds strange, but it’s true—it takes continual investment on the investment.

I’ve seen “perfect” couples—like some we knew in high school and college—get married, drift apart, and end up divorced. We have not. It’s not because we are perfect, it’s because we work hard.

You have to make investments while serving in ministry to get the return on investment you want.

2. Choosing your marriage partner is the most important human decision you will ever make. 

Not to go all Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade on you, but you must choose wisely in marriage. That begins with who you marry, if you in fact get married.

I’ve seen many miserable ministry marriages. A big part of that misery relates to bad marriage choices. My wife was/is beautiful, but that’s a really bad foundation upon which to build a marriage.

Instead, I’m thankful that as a ministry marriage, we are in this together. She, and we, have a joy in what we are doing. You simply can’t have a successful ministry marriage if you have not chosen one another wisely.

You have to make investments while serving in ministry to get the return on investment you want.

3. Most fights are over stupid things that don’t matter. 

When I was younger I always wanted to prove my point. It’s more important to prove your love. You do that by not arguing over stupid things. Note: most arguments are from stupid things, over stupid things, and including saying stupid things.

Most arguments are resolved when both people are more concerned with being in a relationship than with being right. I’m amazed at how many times I thought I was right. I had to be right. I had to show her I was right. And, let me say, that’s just wrong. It’s dumb. And it does not work.

In all marriages, you don’t sweat the small stuff. And, it’s mostly small stuff.

4. Sex is essential to a marriage relationship. 

It’s not everything, but when you value and prioritize it, your intimacy impacts your relationship. Sex does not just happen. It, too, is something you work at. It’s fun to do the work, though!

5. Practices (like date nights, long conversations, and trips together) make your marriage stronger. 

Some of these are essential—you need a regular date night if you are married. If you can’t afford dinner, you can walk in a park. You won’t have a strong marriage if you don’t act like you are married. If you’ve forgotten how to be married, then act like your dating until it all comes back to you.

6. Kids are awesome, but they stress your marriage. 

I’m a pretty obsessive parent. I love my kids. I spend time with them. They are a treasure. But they also make marriage more complicated and stressful. Kids should know that your marriage is your first priority. The most important thing you can pass on to your children might be not be what you give them, but the marriage you show them.

7. Never go to bed angry.

Yes, that’s true for everyone according to Ephesians 4:26, but stretching an argument into two days usually leads to stretching it longer. Then bitterness sets in.

You can’t really settle most arguments if you are not willing to just say, “We may not agree, but we can forgive and move on.” (See number 5.)

Kids should know that your marriage is your first priority.

8. You need Jesus. 

I started dating Donna because of her faith. She had shared her faith with the girls in her neighborhood, came to the Bible study I was leading in high school, and loved the Lord deeply. She still does. When we put Jesus at the center, everything else revolved around Him well.

I really love being married. Without a strong marriage, everything else in my life suffers. And I am well aware that such a marriage is not always so easy for many couples.

However, I learned that—in our marriage—I was the cause of many of the challenges and conflicts. Donna was the cure.

Either way, we have learned a lot. We are still learning. But, maybe you can be encouraged by our experience.

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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There Is A Reason For Everything

“There is a reason for everything” is a very popular saying. Many times it is said when we really don’t have an answer as to why something happened. For God fearing people, “there is a reason for everything” is an acknowledgement for knowing that God has allowed all things to happen, good or bad.

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Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says:

1  There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Yesterday, 2 churches made it official that the Kingdom of God is bigger than any one agenda. The reason we are uniting is to lock arms to fight the forces of evil that lurk in our midst. City Church Del Rio and Iglesia Cristo Vive will come together on February 7 for the first time. Under the dual banner with plans to become one banner in time.

City Church Del Rio is making a difference in community of Del Rio. This is our reason:

  1. Outreach—We believe we are to engage any and all persons that God places in our sphere of influence, in order to fulfill our vision.
  2. Life groups—This will be the backbone to the growth of City Church. Our Life Groups will be dispersed throughout the city of Del Rio during the week in order to have maximum impact.
  3. Multi-Cultural Church—Reaching multi-cultural families that reflect the community of Del Rio. The way we accomplish this is to have leadership that mirrors the congregation. Of course, as we minister in Jesus name, we will minister to all people God brings into our presence. We value all cultures, races, and people just as God does. We are all valuable in the Kingdom of God.
  4. Sundays—City Church Places a high emphasis on Sundays as it pertains to the worship of Jesus for the entire family. We believe in embracing God in the most excellent experience that we can provide under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Won’t you pray for City Church or if you are in the area, please stop by at one of our Sunday services. 9 am worship en espanol, 10 am Bible Study for all, 11 English worship service.

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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Born For Us, Isaiah 9:6-7

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As I have been preparing for this morning’s sermon, I wanted to share my manuscript with you:

Sunday, Dec 20, 2015

City Church Del Rio

Born for Us, Isa 9:6-7

Introduction—Babies are born at a rate of 255 per minute around the globe, while 106 deaths occur per minute. So why is the Jesus birth different? What is it that set Him apart from all the other births? Why should Jesus birth mean the world to us?

Even the world understands there is something different about this time of the year. No one can avoid the word Christmas no matter how hard they try. There is no happy holiday apart from Jesus. His birth is what makes it possible to have a holiday. Christians seem to get upset when businesses wont acknowledge Jesus by saying or advertising Christmas. They make a big uproar because Starbucks only has a red cup and not the words merry Christmas written on it. Let me let in on a little clue. Starbucks isn’t supposed to be advertising Jesus, we are. It is our job to tell the Christmas story. I wonder if Christians get in an uproar when we have those around us who aren’t believers and we won’t even tell them about Jesus.

Its easier to blame others for not spreading the Gospel, but the reality is it is our job to do that. We have been the ones that are set apart. I want to be the one telling the good news. I don’t want businesses doing my calling. I don’t want non-believing teachers teaching my kids about Jesus in the public schools, that’s my job as an entrusted parent.

When it came time to tell the story of Jesus, God made sure He placed it in the right hearts so that it could be told to a world who so desperately needs good news. This Christmas, he has entrusted you to tell others about why he was born for us.

Stand & Read Isaiah 9:6-7

For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the greatness of his government and peace

there will be no end.

He will reign on David’s throne

and over his kingdom,

establishing and upholding it

with justice and righteousness

from that time on and forever.

The zeal of the Lord Almighty

will accomplish this.

Pray

The book of Isaiah was written around 700 BC, thus 700 years prior to the birth of Christ. Isaiah had a prophetic calling to the world about a salvation that would come through a Messiah. In several places throughout Isaiah, he mentions this Messiah that has yet to arrive, but when he does arrive, He will change the world.

  1. Born
  2. If you were never born, what would the world look like? You may think that your life really hasn’t changed anything or anyone. You would be surprised.
  3. You see birth=life. Isaiah wants you to know that in the future a Messiah will be born for you and for me.
  4. Isaiah 7:14—Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
  5. When God sent Jesus to be born, He connected to His people on a personal level. No other King, god, or leader can say that. That is why His birth changed the world.
  6. Immanuel means God with us. Jesus will be with us.

Illustration—It’s a wonderful life, never been born

Application—Have you considered why He was born? It is time to recall that in your heart.

  1. For
  2. There was purpose in Jesus birth. It was for a reason that He became 100% human with 100% of God in Him as well. Jesus would know what you and I would go through in life. His purpose was to know what it is to be in pain, sorrow, suffering, loneliness, companionship, laughter, hungry, thirsty, and you name it. It was for this reason He was born
  3. Since he could relate to his people in a personal way, salvation would be the battle cry for Jesus. He wants to save you from your sins.
  4. In our text in verse 6, Isaiah says that the government will be on His shoulders. This could be interpreted by saying, “the weight of the world is on His shoulders.”
  5. John18:36—Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
  6. This government is His Kingdom, which is not of this world, but of the Kingdom of God. That is why Isaiah continues and says that we will call Him these great titles. Remember Isaiah is prophesying about a future event in history. God would not give Him a message that relies on the powers of this world’s governmental system.
  7. Kingdom authority requires Kingdom leadership. That comes with much power and much awe.
  8. Let’s look at these titles:
  • Wonderful Counselor—That Isaiah calls the Messiah the “Wonderful Counselor” indicates the kind of character this coming King has. The word wonderful in this passage literally means “incomprehensible.” The Messiah will cause us to be “full of wonder.” The word is much weightier than the way it’s used in normal conversation today—we say things are “wonderful” if they are pleasant, lovely, or the least bit likable. Jesus is wonderful in a way that is boggling to the mind. The same word for “wonderful” is used in Judges 13:18 when Manoah, Samson’s father, asked the LORD (in a theophany) what His name was. The angel of the LORD responded, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” In other words, “Why do you ask my name, since it is beyond your understanding?”

Jesus demonstrated His wonderfulness in various ways when He was on the earth, beginning with His conception in the womb of a virgin (Matthew 1:23). He showed He is the “wonderful” One in His power to heal (Matthew 4:23), His amazing teaching (Mark 1:22), His perfect life (Hebrews 4:15), and His resurrection from the dead (Mark 16:6). Jesus taught many wonderful things that are counterintuitive to the human mind: “Blessed are those who mourn” (Matthew 5:4). “Rejoice and be glad” in persecution (Matthew 5:11–12). “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). Jesus’ kind of wonderful is awe-inspiring and superior to any other kind, for He is perfect in every way (Matthew 5:48).

The second part of the Messiah’s title is the word counselor. In ancient Israel, a counselor was portrayed as a wise king, such as Solomon, giving guidance to his people (1 Kings 4:34; Micah 4:9). Isaiah uses this word again in 28:29 to describe the LORD: “This also comes from the LORD of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom.” Jesus is a wise counselor. “He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person” (John 2:25). He is able to advise His people thoroughly because He is qualified in ways no human counselor is. In Christ is “hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3), including the knowledge of all human nature (Psalm 139:1–2). Jesus always knows what we are going through, and He always knows the right course of action (Hebrews 4:15–16).

Christ’s position as our Wonderful Counselor means we can trust Him to listen to our problems and guide us in the right direction (Proverbs 3:6). We can be sure He is listening because He told us to pray to Him about our worries (Philippians 4:6; James 1:5). We can be certain He has our best interests at heart because He loves us (1 John 4:19). And His love is so wide and deep (and wonderful) that we cannot fully understand it (Romans 5:8). (Taken from www.gotquestions.org)

  • Mighty God—This self explanatory if you know that Jesus is God. He isn’t just any god, but the powerful and mighty King.
  • Everlasting Father—There will be no end to Jesus’ Kingdom. He will be our Father and we will be His children.
  • Prince of Peace—In a world filled with war and violence, it’s difficult to see how Jesus could be the all-powerful God who acts in human history and be the embodiment of peace. But physical safety and political harmony don’t necessarily reflect the kind of peace He’s talking about (John 14:27).

The Hebrew word for “peace,” shalom, is often used in reference to an appearance of calm and tranquility of individuals, groups, and nations. The Greek word eirene means “unity and accord”; Paul uses eirene to describe the objective of the New Testament church. But the deeper, more foundational meaning of peace is “the spiritual harmony brought about by an individual’s restoration with God.”

In our sinful state, we are enemies with God (Romans 5:10). “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we are restored to a relationship of peace with God (Romans 5:1). This is the deep, abiding peace between our hearts and our Creator that cannot be taken away (John 10:27–28) and the ultimate fulfillment of Christ’s work as “Prince of Peace.”

But Christ’s sacrifice provides more for us than eternal peace; it also allows us to have a relationship with the Holy Spirit, the Helper who promises to guide us (John 16:7, 13). Further, the Holy Spirit will manifest Himself in us by having us live in ways we couldn’t possibly live on our own, including filling our lives with love, joy, and peace (Galatians 5:22–23). This love, joy, and peace are all results of the Holy Spirit working in the life of a believer. They are reflections of His presence in us. And, although their deepest, most vital result is to have us live in love, joy, and peace with God, they can’t help but to spill over into our relationships with people.

And we desperately need it—especially since God calls us to live with singleness of purpose with other believers, with humility, gentleness, and patience, “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1–3). This unity in purpose and gentleness would be impossible without the work of the Holy Spirit in us and the peace we have with God thanks to the sacrifice of His Son.

Ironically, the lightest definition of peace, that of the appearance of tranquility in a person, can be the most difficult to grasp and maintain. We do nothing to acquire or maintain our spiritual peace with God (Ephesians 2:8–9). And, while living in unity with other believers can be extremely difficult, living in peace in our own lives can very often feel impossible.

Note that peaceful doesn’t mean “easy.” Jesus never promised easy; He only promised help. In fact, He told us to expect tribulation (John 16:33) and trials (James 1:2). But He also said that, if we called on Him, He would give us the “peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension” (Philippians 4:6–7). No matter what hardships we are faced with, we can ask for a peace that comes from the powerful love of God that is not dependent on our own strength or the situation around us. (Taken from www.gotquestions.org)

Application—Jesus was born for a purpose and that was to establish His Kingdom. Have you received the Kingdom of God into your life?

  1. Us
  2. We are the reason that Jesus was born. He didn’t come to earth so He could show off His super-human powers. He came to seek what was lost so we could be found.
  3. He loves you and me so much. You are His prized possession.
  4. In verse 7, Isiah explains it so eloquently:

Of the greatness of his government and peace

there will be no end.

He will reign on David’s throne

and over his kingdom,

establishing and upholding it

with justice and righteousness

from that time on and forever.

The zeal of the Lord Almighty

will accomplish this.

  1. He is offering us peace that will never end. Everything will be righteous. There will be no more injustice or sin, just wonderful peace from the Prince of Peace.
  2. He offers this to us.

Application—Do you believe He came for you? Have you placed you faith in Him to give you this everlasting peace?

Conclusion—He was born for us because of His love for us. Celebrate Jesus this Christmas with that in mind. Tell others why He was born for us.

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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