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The Validity of Valleys

Growing up in a Christian family, I have heard the analogy of a mountaintop experience.
And the discussion was that anytime we have a gathering of believers or a particular time of fellowship,  or fasting – that was a mountaintop experience. It is possible that this terminology was derived from the Mount of Transfiguration where Jesus was transformed for a brief period of time. The logical sequence of a mountaintop experience was that there was a “valley experience” soon after. I don’t exactly recall if the idea was to have as many mountaintop experiences as possible between these valleys.

But, when I think about it, I believe that for a growing Christian, there cannot be alternate mountain and valley experiences over time. It should progressively be mountain and plain; then mountain and plain experiences. Because when we are in the presence of God in a “mountain experience” and then we go back to work or school or other responsibilities, it’s not that we are away from the presence of God. We should be continuing in the presence of God and aware of it even while we do other things.

When I look at the disciples of Jesus, they had many continuous experiences in the presence of God. Sure, there were times when they failed and messed up, but that has nothing to do with being in the valley or the mountaintop. As they were still in the presence of God, they got up from their failures and continued on in the presence of God. As long as we are human, we will make mistakes of ignorance, of folly etc and face circumstances because of being in a fallen world. But that is not necessarily a valley experience. As long as we remain in the presence of God continuously, that is still a mountain experience.

However, if a person is running away from God and deliberately staying in sin, then yes, he is “away” from the presence of God. The example from the Bible would be that of Jonah, who literally ran in the opposite direction from God. But for any Christian who is seeking God’s will, and desiring to honor Him, he should be able to have a sustained mountaintop experience going from height to height to height – whether he or she is at work or church or play, it doesn’t matter. And so, over time, there should be a visible, substantive change from where one started and where one is currently, by the grace of God.

The Missing Piece

The anticipation of future glories is one way to get through current difficulties. This sermon encourages that anticipation in spite of a lack of current difficulties.

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The Missing Piece

Matthew 25:1-30

1.0 General points

1.1 Look for the __________ point. Step back and look at the whole parable.

1.2 In general, don’t use _________________ Exegesis vs eisegesis.

1.3 Cannot use details of the parables to prove or disprove ___________________

1.4 __________ study vs _______________ study

1.5 Context

1.5.1 _____________________ Context – understanding the culture in which the text was written.

1.5.2 ____________________ Context. Matthew 24-25

2.0 Parable of the Bridesmaids

2.1 The kingdom of God

Jesus first message – “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15).
It was central to the message that Jesus and disciples preached- about the coming reign of God.
He commanded his disciples: Matt 10:7 – “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near’”
This would also be the mission of the Church – Matt 24:14 – “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come”
Preaching of early missionaries – Acts 8.12; 14.21; 19.8; 20.25; 28.23; 28.31.

What does Jesus say about the Kingdom of God?
The kingdom of god is something in the ____________ – it is still to come. “Your kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10).
But it is already _______________ – “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). Paradoxically, even though it has already arrived, it is still to come.

The coming and manifestation of the reign of God is seen with an overcoming of the reign of evil. Wherever Jesus overcomes evil, there the reign of God comes. It is seen especially in his healings and exorcisms (Luke 11:20; Matt. 12:28).

The character of the Kingdom/Reign of God is enabled by the _________ _________.
Rom. 14:17 “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”

What is the relationship of the church and the Kingdom of God?

The church is __________________ the overarching boundaries of the Kingdom of God.
What is the Kingdom of God?

A. It is a _________ that one receives. Luke 12:32, Luke 6:20, Mark 10:14
Or as something to be __________________ – Matthew 25:34, James 2.5, Matthew 5:5, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 15:50, Galatians 5:20, Ephesians 5:5.

B. It is a ______________ that one enters. Thus one is described as being _______ the Kingdom
Matt. 5:19; 25:21,23; 7:21; Col. 1:13; 2 Pet. 1:11

The Kingdom of God, then, is a _________ and a ____________________.

It is possible to reject that gift and to spurn that welcome, thus rejecting the reign of God. Guder, ed., Missional Church, 93-97.

2.2 The Eternal Perspective – Eagerness.
It is more an issue of intelligence than morality.

The result of an eternal perspective is _______________. “they that look for Him” (Heb 9:28), and “love His appearing” (2 Ti 4:8)

2.3 Delay – Patience. 25:5
They slumbered and slept.

The focus of this parable is the lack of __________________ of the foolish ones.

___________ ____________ Shows love for the Lord and trust in his power.

While we are waiting in Eager patience for the fulfillment of the ___________ of God, we need to be _______________.

3.0 Parable of the Servants

Bridesmaids Servants
Waiting Working
Inward Spiritual Life External Activity
Wisdom Faithfulness

The order of the parables are important – external activity should only flow from a strong spiritual life.

3.1 The Responsibility
Contexts.
First – the context in which the text is _____________ – historical, literary, etc
Second – the context in which the text is ______________.

Responsibility – includes all the _______________ that we have been given.
The responsibilities were given and then the master leaves on the journey, leaving the servants in charge.
Not one believer is able to do the entire work of evangelism. But when every one does his/her responsibility, then the entire work can be done.
Different types of spiritual gifts, natural abilities, resources – are all to be used for evangelism.

3.2 The Response
25:16 first two servants: immediately put the resources to use.

The phrase “You have what is yours” was used in Jewish transactions to say, “I am not responsible for this any further.”

It is better to use the resources and risk its misuse, than never to use it at all.

3.3 The Reward
Reward vs judgment.
Judgment is for the _______________. Rom 8:1.
Rewards are for the ________________. 1 Cor 3.

22-23 Second servant – same language.

It is better to have one responsibility and be faithful than to have two and be unfaithful.

In His mercy, God chooses to carry out His perfect purposes through imperfect people and then proceeds, inexplicably, to reward them for it.

Sample outline: Literary Context
 The coming of Jesus Christ in relation to the Jews – 24: 4–44
 The Beginning of sorrows – 24: 4 –14
 The Great Tribulation – 24:15-28
 The Coming of the Lord – 24:29-31
 Parables – 24: 32-44
 The fig tree – 24: 32-35
 The days of Noah – 24: 36-41
 Thief in the night – 24: 42-44
 The coming of Jesus Christ in relation to the church – 24:45- 25:30
 Parable of the servants – 24: 45-51
 Parable of the virgins – 25: 1-13
 Parable of the talents – 25: 14 –30
 The coming of Jesus Christ in relation to the Nations
 Parable of the sheep and goats (the coming judgment) – 25:31-46

Pictures of Heaven

The question of an afterlife, the question of heaven is an old question – one that young and old people ask . Many books have been written about it with claims of  miraculous experiences. This sermon looks at five pictures that the Bible paints about heaven.

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Pictures of Heaven

Colossians 3:1-4

Revelation 22:18–19 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.

  1. Court

Romans 14:10 For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.,

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Matthew 10:42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.

  1. Hospital

Phil 3:21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

I John 3:2... But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

I Cor 15.42-44 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If (Since) there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

  1. Marriage.

Rev 19.7-9 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. … 9 Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

2 Corinthians 1:22. Set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Psalm 42:1 As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after you.

  1. Church.

Revelation 4:10-11: the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being

Revelation 22:4 They will see his face.

  1. Home.

John 14:1–3 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; … 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Revelation 21:3–4 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.   ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Colossians 3:1–3 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

The Day Jesus Really Cried

Jesus became fully human and therefore exhibited human emotions and characteristics. During His earthly stay, the bible mentions His tears.

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The Day Jesus Really Cried

Luke 19:28-44

1.0 The Context v.28-29
28. After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
29 As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them,

Luke 9.51 As the time approached for him to taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.

2.0 The Colt v. 30-34
30 “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.
31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ”
32 Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them.
33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They replied, “The Lord needs it.”

Matt 21:2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me.
1 Kings 1:33 he said to them: “Take your lord’s servants with you and set Solomon my son on my own mule and take him down to Gihon.
1 Kings 1:38 So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, the Kerethites and the Pelethites went down and put Solomon on King David’s mule and escorted him to Gihon.

3.0 The Crowd v. 35-38
35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it.
36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
– John 12.1-2
– John 12.9
– John 12.17-18
– Matt 21.9

4.0 The Coronation v. 35-38
35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it.
36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

John 12.13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel
2 Kin. 9:13 They hurried and took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, “Jehu is king!”
Matt 21.9 “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest!”

5.0 The Contrast v. 37
John 10:25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me. John 10:38 But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”
v. 39-40 The Pharisees rejected him
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

6.0 The Cry v. 41-44
41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it
42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.
43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.
44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

John 11.35 Jesus Wept.
1. The issue of Peace: v. 42
2. The issue of Timing. V. 44

I Cor 6:2 For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation
Hebrews 3:7-8 So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion…

Part One. Cultural and Religious Background

One. Enterans – The First Generation – “Vikram Patel”
Salient Features of Indian Culture
Democratic Nature and Tolerance
Caste System
Superstitions
Family
Social and Economic Background
Hierarchy and Karma
Family vs. Individual
Social Success and Commitment to Indian Culture
Overview of Hinduism
Karma Marga – The Way of Action
Jnana Marga – The Way of Knowledge
Bhakti Marga – The Way of Devotion
Religious Background
The Move to America
Why Enterans Came to America
Problems of Emigration

Two. Indericans – The Second Generation – “Amy Patel”
Their Indian-ness
Their American-ness
Their Identity Struggle
Kinds of Indericans
Issues Affected by Hybridization
Their Religious Outlook
Generational Differences

Three. Religious and Cultural Influence of America on Indians
Some Strengths of the American
Culture As Related to Indians
Some Weaknesses of American
Culture As Related to Indians
Influence of American Culture on the Enteran
Influence of American Culture on the Inderican
Hinduism in America
Important Dates of Hinduism in America
Americanization of Hinduism

Four. Analysis of Churches in America in Relation to Evangelism Among Indians
Lessons from Evangelistic Efforts of the American Church among Indians
The American Church
The Indian Church
Factors That Hinder Evangelism among Indians
Factors in the Church That Would Turn Indians Off
Factors in the Church That Would Attract Indians
Spiritual Gifts in the Church Relevant to Indians
Entry Points Available for Indians to Get Connected into a Church

Five. The Hindu Concept of Bhakti
What Is Bhakti?
Nature of the Bhakti Relationship
The Goal of Bhakti
Bhakti in the Bhagvad Gita
Distinct Features of Bhaktas
Correlation to Evangelism
Bhakti as Preparation for Evangelism
Obstacles to Evangelism among Bhaktas
Evangelization of Bhaktas

Part Two. The Theory of Evangelism

Six. Theological Foundations of Evangelism and Correlation to Indian Ministry
Jesus Christ
Jesus as the Center of Evangelism
Hindu View of Jesus Christ
Kingdom of God
Relationship between the Church and the Kingdom of God
Correlation in Indian Evangelism
Pilgrimage
Evangelism as a Pilgrimage
Pilgrimage to an Indian Mind
Conversion
Types of Conversion
Connotations of Christian
Conversion to a Hindu Mind
Application of Conversion in the Expectation of Ministry
Conclusion

Seven. Postmodernism
Important Features of Postmodernism
Knowledge
Community
Structure and Relativity
Experience
The Postmodern World View
Evangelism and Postmodernism
Postmodernism and the Christian Faith
Postmodern and Modern Churches
Postmodern Churches and the Pre Modern Era
Postmodernism and the Gospel
Postmodernism to the Enteran and Inderican

Part Three. Strategies and Methods for Introducing Jesus

Eight. General Principles that Make a Missional Church
Leadership Principles
Missional Objective
Strong, Empowering Leadership
Relational Principles
Establish a Culture of Loving Relationships
Exhibit an Attitude of “Welcome Home” Friendliness toward Non-Members
Holistic Small Groups
Administrative Principles
Programs
Need-Oriented Evangelism
Invite People
Develop Effective Ways to Encourage First-Time Visitors to Return
Sound Church Structure
Spiritual Principles
Worship Service
Passionate Spirituality
Biblical Preaching and Teaching
Gift Oriented Ministry
Functional Principles
Visibility and Accessibility
Parking, Landscaping, and Facilities
Financial Resources

Nine. Strategies for Introducing Jesus
The Indian Immigrant Family
Receptivity
Needs and Interests
The Needs of Enterans
The Needs of Indericans
Moving from Needs to the Gospel
Specific Evangelistic Principles Relevant to a Hindu
Caste
Devotion and Spiritual Gifts
Superstition and Family Structure
Guidance, Focus on Jesus, and Allow for the Supernatural
Conclusion

Ten. Methods for Introducing Jesus
Methods for Introducing Jesus to Enterans
Weekend Retreats
Dialogue
Small Group Evangelism
Event Evangelism
Freedom Ministry
Methods for Introducing Jesus to Indericans
Life Style or Friendship Evangelism
Socratic Method of Evangelism
Small Group Evangelism
Experiential Evangelism
Serving and Campus Evangelism
Freedom Ministry and Event Evangelism
Web Evangelism and Seeker Sensitive Evangelism
Conclusion

The American Dream Indeed

The founding fathers of America wanted a country that offers “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” And this phrase is the ultimate goal for millions of people who have migrated to America. But it is what it is – a Dream and a Pursuit. It is dream that one can never achieve and an endless unproductive pursuit. What am I this critical?
Let me ask. How many people wake up in the morning and look forward to going to work? How many people don’t mind the end of the weekend and the beginning of a week? This is NEVER the case. American life is about getting through the week and to the weekend. Once the weekend is done, the goal is to get through the week as soon and as unscathed as possible, so that we can enjoy the weekend. Everything is geared to help take you through the week as soon as possible, hence the existence of Monday and Thursday night football. But then the weekend slips by oh so quickly, and we are staring down the familiar start of another painful week. Why is it painful? The week is always painful. The week is always stressful. The week is always dreaded. Why is this? Why is work in America always so stressful? This is because the workplace is always understaffed and we are overworked. Every job that a person does is more than what one person can comfortably do. Of course, employers have their reasons – reasons that are perfectly valid. But at the end of the day the average American hates his/her job. Some jobs have more security than others. Those jobs require more education and more work including weekend work. A person working a less secure job is worried about that very issue.. that it is not secure.

America is the richest country in the world (as of today). Unbeknownst to its unsuspecting citizens, America continues to be the richest country at the expense of the Americans.