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Sermon Series

 

July 31, AD2011 – “I’m Preaching This Because It Makes Me Uncomfortable”, Pastor Ben Willis

According to Luke 6:12-26 [NLTse]

12 One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and He prayed to God all night. 13 At daybreak He called together all of His disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles. Here are their names:

14 Simon (whom He named Peter), Andrew (Peter’s brother), James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (who was called the zealot), 16 Judas (son of James), Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed Him).


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July 24th, AD2011 – “Waterwalking”, Pastor Ben Willis

PASTOR: As we come to our morning’s reading, keep in mind that the Lord Jesus and His followers have just received word about John the Baptist being killed in prison. The Lord Jesus suspended their public ministry so He and the disciples could have some time alone. But the crowds found out and followed them – 5,000 men, plus women and children, followed them. And the Lord just miraculously fed them all…

 

ELDER: According to Matthew 14:22-36 [NLTse]

22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that His disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while He sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, He went up into the hills by Himself to pray. Night fell while He was there alone.

24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” He said. “Take courage. I am here!”

28 Then Peter called to Him, “Lord, if it’s really You, tell me to come to You, walking on the water.”

29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt Me?”

32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped Him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

34 After they had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 When the people recognized Jesus, the news of His arrival spread quickly throughout the whole area, and soon people were bringing all their sick to be healed. 36 They begged Him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of His robe, and all who touched Him were healed.

PASTOR: Fifteen years ago I read this passage from this Pulpit. I wasn’t your pastor at that time: I was a seminary student, getting ready to graduate, and seeking to discern God’s calling upon my life. I was here in Milford that day – leading Worship and preaching – as the final part of my interview. When the Service was over, a special Congregational Meeting was going to be held, and you would vote as to whether you believed the Lord wanted me as your pastor or not.

The message I shared that day – the challenge I shared, really – was that I would be your pastor if you would get out of the boat with me so we might walk on the water with Jesus together. I remember saying that if you wanted to stay in the boat then to please find someone else to be your pastor.

As the Lord would have it, that day you voted, “Yes.” Praise the Lord!

You may think that fifteen years is a strange anniversary to hold such significant meaning. But 15 years marks my serving as pastor here longer than any other pastor in this church’s 186-year history. That’s significant to me because I never thought I would stay this long; I had other plans. But the Lord’s ways are not our ways; He leads us to truth we don’t expect to find; and, takes us to places we didn’t expect to go.

Which brings me back to our reading…

Do you know how crazy it is to think that a human being can walk on top of water? I don’t know about you but I can’t even float, I sink like a stone in the water! And we’re talking about climbing over the side to think we might walk on it? No, a person can’t be in their right mind to consider such things…

No, to do such a crazy thing you’d have to be willing to give up mere rationalism; you wouldn’t be able to always trust your senses – what you can see or hear or smell or taste or touch around you; you’d have to live by faith… A person would have be out of their mind. Clearly they’d have to have the mind of Christ…

But let’s just say we did: Get out of our boats and walk with Jesus on top of the lake. What for? Where would we go? What would we do?

Which is another reason this whole idea is so foolish is that, if we did accomplish such a thing we couldn’t do it merely because it would be fun or save us time or to be able to show off to our friends. We’d only get to do it if Jesus called us, “Come!” We wouldn’t get to go where we wanted to go, necessarily. We wouldn’t get to do just what we wanted to do. If we were to get out of this boat we’d have to be willing to give up control – of our lives and ministry here at First Presbyterian Church, of our lives living as part of Christ’s church in the world day by day. We’d have to be willing to let Jesus surprise us – to be willing to see and live the gospel in ways we never had before, and serve in ways and to extents maybe we’d never wanted to or thought we were able to before. It strikes me that to get out of our boats we’d have to even be willing to fail and get soaked in front of our friends and loved ones. We could always trust the Lord to catch us, but we’d have to even be willing to fail…

And yet it strikes me, also, that it would be a lot of fun! Yeah, it would be scary and crazy – but wouldn’t it also be thrilling? What a blast! to carry out such a crazy stunt with the Savior of the world…

Let’s do it.

We’ll have to change some things around here. We’ll have to be willing to let God change us and work with Him to do it! Be willing to take risks we’ve never taken before; make sacrifices we’ve never made before. But let’s not miss out and let others have all the fun!

Let’s never say “we can’t” or “that’s impossible”… If Jesus doesn’t want us to do something, that’s different. But whatever the Lord might call us to, no matter how enormous the task or impossible the odds, if in here in our ministry or out there in our ministry Jesus is calling, let’s go for it together!

And let’s never demand our own way or work just for the goals we have in mind. The Jewish leaders had the Scripture’s memorized and knew what to expect from God’s Messiah, yet they missed Him, and even had Him killed. Let’s expect Jesus to surprise us with what He calls us to, and even be willing to fail, if that’s what risking and stepping out with Him might lead us to.

And let’s never lose the thrill of this life He’s called us to. I know that sometimes walking with Him can seem pretty mundane: Writing checks; keeping Minutes; setting up; cleaning up… But let’s never stop trying to remember, and never stop trying to remind one another, that even in such things we are doing the impossible! And not only the impossible, but doing things that have eternal value to our own souls and the souls of many, many others.

What risks is the Lord calling you out to take? What hang up is the Lord calling you to break? What uncertainty is He calling you to face?

We can do all things through Christ. He was with Peter. He’s with us… always.

May blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen?

 

Traditional Worship: [Doxology]

Contemporary Worship: [Closing Worship]

Charge

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise… Then the God of peace will be with you.

First Presbyterian Church of Milford



July 3, AD2011 – “Don’t Tempt the Stones”, Pastor Ben Willis

The Gospel According to Luke 1:1-4 [NLTse]

1 Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. 2 They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples.[a] 3 Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write a careful account for you, most honorable Theophilus, 4 so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught.


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