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Countless preachers have turned to the Zondervan Pastor's Annual to save them time in sermon and service preparation. This tried-and-true resource makes your demanding job as a pastor a lot easier. Use its contents as is, or tailor them to fit your unique approach. The Zondervan 2010 Pastor's Annual supplies you with: Morning and Evening ...
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Countless preachers have turned to the Zondervan Pastor's Annual to save them time in sermon and service preparation. This tried-and-true resource makes your demanding job as a pastor a lot easier. Use its contents as is, or tailor them to fit your unique approach. The Zondervan 2010 Pastor's Annual supplies you with: Morning and Evening Services for Every Sunday of the Year
• Sermon Topics and Texts Fully Indexed
• Definitive and Usable Sermon Outlines
• Devotionals and Bible Studies for Midweek Services
• Fresh and Applicable Illustrations
• Appropriate Hymn Selections
• Special-Day Services for Church and Civil Calendars
• Meditations on Lord's Supper Observance
• Wedding Ceremonies and Themes
• Funeral Messages and Scriptures
• Basic Pastoral Ministry Helps
• Messages for Children and Young People
• Offertory Prayers
* Sunday Mornings
The suggested theme for the first morning messages of the year is "Responsible Christian Living."
* Sunday Evenings
The Sermon on the Mount will serve as the basis for the fifty-two Sunday evening messages for the year. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus portrays the ideal inner spirit, influence, conduct, motives, faith, and ministry of those who become his followers and his servants.
* Wednesday Evenings
The suggested theme for the first Wednesday evenings of the year is "Counsel for Christians." These messages are designed to encourage and strengthen the people of God.
SUNDAY MORNING, JANUARY 2
Title: The Door of Opportunity
Text: "But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries" (1 Cor. 16:8-9).
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 16:1-9
Hymns: "Lead On, O King Eternal," Shurtleff "Ring Out the Old, Bring in the New," Tennyson "Another Year Is Dawning," Havergal
Offertory Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you for the joyous blessing of life and opportunity as we enter our journey through another year. We look to the past with gratitude and to the future with faith. We thank you for that which you have bestowed upon us. We come this morning to offer not only our tithes and offerings but also our time and our talents. We offer ourselves to you that our lives might reflect your glory. Accept these offerings of our love as indications of our devotion to you and as symbols of our desire to be a blessing to the world in which you have placed us as your servants. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
The poet Louise Fletcher Tarkington spoke for most of us when she said:
I wish that there were some wonderful place Called the Land of Beginning Again Where all our mistakes and all of our heartaches And all of our poor, selfish grief Could be dropped like a shabby coat at the door, And never put on again.
Our desire as children of God is to do better in the future than we have in the past.
The new year presents us with the opportunity of finding a "Land of Beginning Again." We will be using a new calendar, and we will be facing new challenges and new responsibilities, but we are deceiving ourselves if we believe that the new year will be completely different from the old year. For we will be confronted with many of the struggles, problems, and heartaches we knew during the past year.
While we may have a deep inward desire for some fantasy land, a land of beginning again, we will be much more realistic if we recognize that our present position is really our door of opportunity for significant achievement and worthwhile ser vice. Paul probably would have liked to have found some land of beginning again during those days when he labored for our Lord and for a needy people in the city of Ephesus. Instead of fleeing or fainting because of difficulty, he said, "But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries" (1 Cor. 16:8-9). In spite of difficulties, disappointments, and outright opposition, the apostle Paul determined that he would seize this opportunity for significant ser vice and busy himself with doing what needed to be done at the moment. You and I can make the coming year a significant one if we make a similar decision. At times all of us have unrealistic, romantic ideas about the golden door of opportunity that will open for us tomorrow. We must confess that we are looking for the goose that will lay golden eggs. We face the peril of dividing time up into only two periods - the past and the future. The past has gone into the tomb of time. The future is yet in the womb of time. The only part of time that we have is today.
I. Today is our day of opportunity for effective ser vice (John 9:4; 2 Cor. 6:2).
To stress the importance of making the right choices, Shakespeare had Brutus say:
There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. We must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures.
The absolute necessity of recognizing the importance of the present, in contrast to the past or the future, is emphasized by John Oxenham:
But once I pass this way, And then - no more. But once - and then, the Silent Door Swings on its hinges - Opens ... Closes - And no more I pass this way. So while I may, With all my might, I will assay Sweet comfort and delight, To all I meet upon the Pilgrim way. For no man travels twice The Great Highway That climbs through Darkness up to Light - Through Night To Day.
A. It is foolish to weep over lost opportunities.
B. It is foolish to wait for the future. The future is but a dream. It may be nothing more than a mirage. The only thing that we can be certain of is the present.
II. We will always face many adversaries.
It is romantic fantasy for one to wish for a life of ease and comfort in which success can be achieved without struggle. Significant success will always involve struggle against hardships, difficulties, and disappointments.
A. Paul was confronted with many adversaries. He was opposed by the Jewish leaders who violently disagreed with his ideas about the kingdom of God. Paul believed that the kingdom of God was wide enough and large enough to include the Gentiles. He believed that the love of God was all-inclusive and that God was just as concerned about redeeming the Gentiles as he was the sons of Abraham. In preaching salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, he was confronted with violent opposition that led to his imprisonment and eventually to his death. In spite of his external opposition from religious leaders, Paul continued his faithful ser vice.
Paul experienced hostile opposition from the pagans whose financial security was threatened by the conversion of those who contributed to their business in Ephesus. Those who profited because of the temple of Diana were agitated to the extent that they rioted (Acts 19:23-29).
B. Our Lord was confronted with many adversaries. On one occasion even Christ's family sought to dissuade him from the direction in which his life was pointing. Once when he returned to his hometown of Nazareth, the people were so enraged by his message that they sought to thrust him over a cliff (Luke 4:28-29). Almost from the beginning he experienced hostility and opposition on the part of the religious establishment who saw him as a threat to the laws and traditions as they interpreted them. This conflict eventually led to his death.
At the beginning of his ministry, our Lord was violently opposed by the Devil, who sought to tempt him to deny his redemptive purpose. There were times during Jesus' ministry when even the disciples opposed him (Matt. 16:22-23; John 11:8).
We may worry about external opposition, but perhaps our greatest danger will be the internal hindrances that keep us from doing God's will for our lives. These inward adversaries can be conquered only as we enter the doorways of opportunity for worship, study, and prayer in which we let God work within us so that his will might be accomplished through us.
Each of us has a built-in tendency to avoid obligations, burdens, or difficulties. We have an inborn love of the easy life. It is natural for us to be selfish and self-centered. Unless we are alert and determined to do otherwise, we will find ourselves drifting through this coming year, adding days to our lives instead of filling those days with significance and meaning.
III. Seizing our opportunities for service.
God has granted to us the privilege of being alive in this year of 2011. Before us is a road that offers many doors of opportunity. Each of us would be exceedingly wise to enter each door of opportunity that God opens for us.
A. The door to divine sonship is open to all who will receive Jesus Christ as the Savior from sin (John 1:12). Some have already seized the opportunity to enter this door. We can rejoice that the door is still open for others to enter. Some, like the rich young ruler, have declined to enter this door and consequently remain in the darkness of spiritual destitution outside the family of God.
B. The door of faith is open. Paul rejoiced that God opened the door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 14:27). He was delighted that Gentiles could trust God and walk by faith and enjoy his favor. To each of us is given the privilege of walking by faith (Prov. 3:5-6). To walk by faith is to enjoy the presence of God as did Enoch and Abraham and others (see Heb. 11).
C. The door to the closet of prayer is always open (Matt. 6:6). Jesus instructed us that once we enter the closet of prayer, we are to close the door that we might enjoy the intimacy of personal communion and fellowship with the heavenly Father. Once we are in the closet of prayer, we are invited to shut out that which would distract and hinder us from hearing what the heavenly Father would communicate to us.
D. The door to Christian witnessing is open. Paul speaks of a door being open to preach Christ's gospel in the city of Troas. The door will be open for us to announce the good news of God's love in our community and in our city during this coming year. We, like the apostle Paul, should be praying that "God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ" (Col. 4:3). If we know Jesus Christ, we have the message that God can use to bring forgiveness and new life to those about us. Let us pray for each other that we will be able to speak as our Lord would have us to speak to those who need the message of his love and grace.
Jesus said, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture" (John 10:9). Jesus is the door to forgiveness. He is the door into new life, eternal life, the very life of God. He is the door to new spiritual power and energy. He is the door to hope for the future as we seek to live lives of significant achievement and ser vice. He is the door to the eternal home of God at the end of the way.
On this first Sunday of the New Year, let each of us determine that we will be alert to seize every opportunity for worship and ser vice to our God and to those about us. By so doing we will discover that we have already found the land of beginning again.
SUNDAY EVENING, JANUARY 2
Title: Introducing the Sermon on the Mount
Text: "And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying" (Matt. 5:1-2).
Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:1-12
One of the most appalling judgments against Christendom today is ignorance of the demands of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. On May 26, 1961, the Reverend Paul Brooks Leath preached an unusual sermon at the 104th annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis, Missouri. The large crowd in Kiel Auditorium that morning listened attentively for almost half an hour as Leath quoted the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5-7. When he had finished, many convention messengers rushed to the public relations booth to purchase a copy of the message.
I. Critics of the sermon.
A. The Sermon on the Mount has attracted its critics. Along with praise from the greatest minds both inside and outside of Christendom, the Sermon on the Mount has received more opposition, distortion, and dilution than any other piece of literature, yet it has outlived all the accusations. For instance, the German philosopher Nietzsche concluded that it has a "debasing effect on man." But his plea for a "master morality" and the evolution of the "superman" lost its popularity when the world saw in Hitler the result of such a philosophy.
B. The Sermon on the Mount is still judged out of date, however, by those who would relegate its relevance to the past and those who would postpone its relevance to the future. Albert Schweitzer, the most outspoken proponent of the former view, believed that the Sermon on the Mount is a part of Jesus' "interim ethic," which was relevant only during the interim between the time it was delivered and Jesus' death. The dispensational view of the sermon, on the other hand, assumes that Matthew 5-7 constitutes the "law" that will not be in effect until the period before the millennium.
II. Ignorance of the sermon.
A. The greatest opposition to the Sermon on the Mount continues to be the neglect of its teachings in the lives of Christians. The sermon has become the flag under which the lives of many Christians sail instead of the rudder that steers their course. If the proverbial visitor from Mars landed in a typical Christian community, having read the Sermon on the Mount en route, he would conclude that he had landed in the wrong place.
B. At a Christian summer assembly, some simple questions on the Sermon on the Mount were asked of a group of students between the ages of seventeen and twenty-four. Only 37 percent knew that the Sermon on the Mount is recorded in Matthew 5-7; 35 percent merely indicated that it is found in the book of Matthew; 21 percent gave the wrong chapters in Matthew; 7 percent left the question unanswered; none of them indicated that the shorter form of the sermon is also found in Luke 6. Most of them (91 percent) knew that Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount; only 8 percent indicated that they did not know; 1 percent said that James preached the sermon. Almost half (48 percent) could not quote a beatitude. Typical beatitudes listed were "Blessed are the poor in heart" and "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall obtain peace." More than 20 percent could not quote the Golden Rule. Such answers as "Be ye kind to one another" and "Love thy neighbor as thyself" were common.
III. Importance of the sermon.
The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 has been more widely discussed than any other piece of literature of equal length. Some Christian scholars have emphatically asserted that the best-known fact about Jesus is that he gave the Sermon on the Mount. Mahatma Gandhi, a great leader outside the ranks of Christianity, praised the sermon as the unadulterated message of Jesus. Parts of the sermon have even been taught in the name of science and psychology.
Excerpted from The Zondervan 2011 Pastor's Annual by T. T. Crabtree Copyright © 2010 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
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