Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"Promise Denied?" - a message from John 11

Hello all,

At our Sunday evening service, The Well, we are studying the Gospel of John.  Tonight I lead our group through John 11 - the Resurrection of Lazarus.

Have you ever felt like God reneged on one of his promises? ...like God forgot you and, therefore, you suffered?

Jesus' interaction with Martha, Mary and their family/friends vis a vis Lazarus' sickness is a marvelous example of how God is faithful to his promises, even when the promise seems to have died.

I hope this message will draw you closer to the Lord, our Promise Giver and Fulfiller.  And may Holy Spirit speak words of comfort, strength and insight to your heart.  If God touches you or if you have any comments, let me know: drkirkmccormick@gmail.com

God bless, Kirk McCormick

PS - There are no notes for this message as we do not use them at The Well. Also, you will be blessed as this is a recording of our entire service (minus some sharing and prayer time).  Gary Heck is our worship leader who has a fantastic ministry of leading us in worship as we approach the Lord.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Revelation 2:8-

Hello friends,

For those studying the Book of Revelation with us, here is the next installment.  In this lesson we continue with Jesus' words to the churches in Asia Minor. Tonight we hear how Smyrna, Pergamum,  Thyatira, and Sardis are doing in their living wholly for God.

Interestingly, only two churches receive no negative comments from Jesus, but most have something going well.  Wouldn't it be awful, though, if Jesus were to write a letter to your or my church and he had nothing good to say?!  Conversely, wouldn't it be wonderful if he had nothing overtly wrong to correct.

As you study God's Word with us, see if you can catch a glimpse of your church in one of these letters.  Remember...the purpose of The Revelation is to prepare the reader/disciple for the second coming of Jesus Christ - "Look, He is coming in the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the people of the earth will mourn because of Him."  (Revelation 1:7)

So be ready and there will be no need to mourn, but we will rejoice for the Glory of God will be revealed and the whole creation will be restored, and the Righteous will be with God for eternity!

God bless you as you take His Word seriously, Kirk McCormick

PS - Again, if you have any questions, let me know:  drkirkmccormick@gmail.com

Smyrna – Revelation 2:8-11

Who is Speaking? …the “First and the Last” (i.e.: the Sovereign Creator)

Positives:  They were “rich”.  Not so much materialistically, but spiritually as demonstrated by their faithfulness even though they are slandered by the “Jews” (v. 9).

Negatives:  Nothing…Jesus does not correct them or call for their repentance.

Admonition:  A 10-day period of persecution is coming…so do not be afraid. Remain strong even

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

“One in a Bazillion” - A Message on the Uniqueness of Jesus (Acts 2:22-41)

Pentecost...if only the church was so bold and empowered as they were that day in Jerusalem.

In our reading today from Acts 2 (the Pentecost), Holy Spirit has empowered a strong witness through the disciples by enabling them to speak in the languages of foreign visitors. This captures the visitors attention. So they try to explain the witness by saying the disciples were drunk at 9:00AM.  But Peter received a word from the Lord to give to the People...and the rest is history.

Peter lifts up Jesus in a new and convincing way by pointing out that Jesus was not One in a Thousand, or One in a Million...no...Jesus is more like One (the Only One) in a Bazillion - he is incomparable, unique. And God had a plan for this Unique One. According to God's sovereign choice, Jesus was to be Messiah.

Listen to this message. Ask for Holy Spirit's guidance. Then respond to the Lord so you can be one of the thousands saved, as they were in Jerusalem on that first Pentecost Sunday.  I hope, pray, trust that you will come away wanting more of this One in a Bazillion Lord and Savior, and the power of Holy Spirit in your life.

God bless you, Kirk McCormick

 “One in a Thousand, Million, Bazillion”

** The foundation of Peter’s message is the Uniqueness of Jesus…

Verse 23 – Jesus was not just one of the crucified, but he is the One sacrificed.

** Jesus’ crucifixion – as cruel and heinous a punishment there was - was not about Rome’s/Pharisees’/Man’s plan to stop a religious movement…

…it was about GOD’S PLAN to fulfill his Purpose!

“This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge.” (v. 23)

Another example of Jesus’ Uniqueness…
Verse 24 – Jesus was not just one who died,
but he is the One

If You Ain't Living, You're Dyin'!

On June 4, 1783 at the market square of a French village of Annonay, not far from Paris, a smoky bonfire on a raised platform was fed by wet straw and old wool rags.  Above the bonfire was a huge taffeta bag 33 feet in diameter, straining its tethering lines.  In the presence of “a respectable assembly and a great many other people,” and accompanied by great cheering, the balloon was cut from its moorings and set free to rise majestically into the noon sky.  Six thousand feet into the air it went with historic grandeur - the first public ascent of a balloon…the first step in the history of human flight.  Yet, it came to earth several miles away in a field, where it was promptly attacked by pitchfork-thrusting peasants who tore it to pieces as an instrument of evil!

Change is never easy.

When the railroads were first introduced to the U.S., some folks feared that they’d be the downfall of the nation! An excerpt from a letter to then President Jackson dated January 31, 1829 read:

“As you may know, Mr. President, ‘railroad’ carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by ‘engines’ which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock and frightening women and children. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed.”

Change is never easy.  Yet we all face changes from time to time.

My doctoral studies were in the topic of Change Management.  Virtually every “expert” agreed that the response of people to change follows a bell-curve.  Responses are fairly predictable…so much that some have categorized the responses:

1.     Early innovators (2.6% of the population) introduce new ideas and embrace, almost need change
2.     Early adaptors (13.4%) accept change easily but rarely introduce it
3.     Slow Majority (34%) will follow with a little influence
4.     Reluctant Majority (34%) will follow, but need to be convinced
5.     Antagonistic (16%), they will never change.  They are characterized by the Duke of Cambridge who said, “Any change, at any time, for any reason, is to be deplored.”

Change is never easy.  Yet without change, no significant advancement is made.

Some people will change when they see the light.  Some change only when they feel the heat.  Others will never change.  But, guess what?  Life is, like it or not, all about change, and I, for one, am looking forward to what God will do to make us a stronger, more effective church in the coming years. Yet why embrace change when the past is so comfortable?

Embracing God’s changes enable us to prepare for great things in the immediate and near future.

To discover those changes in God’s plan take, definitely, some persistent prayer and, perhaps, some trial-and-error.  Jesus encourages us to “count the cost” in making our plans, yet all the while we keep one ear open for God’s still voice who might correct our path so we might be on his.

Change for the sake of change is rarely good.

Change for the sake of growth, health, or advancing the cause of Christ is always good; even when it makes us feel a little uncomfortable. Like when a family moves from one state to another with the hope of making the family’s life more of what God wants it to be, change takes us to new places, even, as Israel exemplifies, new lands.  But with God at the point – looking out for trouble and leading the way, we are protected along this new path. 

After all, one thing is certain, God does not change.  In James 1:17 we read, “Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above, who created all heaven's lights. Unlike them, he never changes or casts shifting shadows.”  With God we find the certainties of life. In God we grow to be more like Jesus…and for the believer, this is the purpose of change.

Someone once said, “If you ain’t livin’, you’re dyin’!” In other words - Life is change!  It's all a matter of choosing God's changes and not simply succumbing to the inevitable ones. So… change enthusiastically!, not for the sake of changing, but for the purpose of discovering and experiencing life in its fullest.  

How do we embrace Change?

  1. Follow Jesus wherever he may lead.
  2. Trust Jesus for whatever his plan may be.
  3. Look back at God’s faithfulness in the past…it is a foreshadowing and promise of his faithfulness in the future.
  4. Resist the temptation of needing to control and/or understand all things.  Truth is, neither is possible – though we sometimes fool ourselves into believing both are.
  5. Step into a new river from time to time. The new water can be wonderfully refreshing.
  6. Meditate on the beginning of Psalm 23 (from the New Living Translation) –
The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.

Ironically, I know what will likely happen.  Many of you will wholeheartedly try these things.  Some of you will with a little encouragement.  Some of you will with some convincing.  And, tragically, some of you never will.  But aren’t you glad that someone figured out how air and train travel were exciting and for our good? 

My hope is that God will convince you to be untethered by that which encumbers you to the past so you might soar into God’s future. I’ll trust Him to do that…for you and for me, as we LIVE in the joy of Change.

Let me know what you think! - Kirk McCormick

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Study in The Revelation - 1:5-2:7

Hello friends,

We continue in our study of The Revelation. In this installment, I lead the class through the Greeting, John's call and commission from the Lord, some thoughts on the various names of Jesus, and the message from the Lord to the church at Ephesus.

As always, I will present the options of interpretation when there are options, as well as my opinion on which option seems best. However, whereas there are certain teachings from The Revelation that are absolutely undeniably clear, there are some that we need not nor should not become too dogmatic.

The point of the book - "Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him." (1:7)  

I trust the Lord will have his way in your heart as you study his word. Let me know if you have any questions and I'll address them at our next class. You will be able to hear my response to your question on our next recording. (I hope this is helpful to those not in our area who are following this class.)  You can write your questions to: drkirkmccormick@gmail.com

God bless you as you study and respond to His Word!  To God be the Glory...Come, Lord Jesus!

Kirk McCormick

** Before we start, should you miss a class you can listen to the podcast of any class by going to the church’s podcast site: royalpalmchurch.podbean.com

…or, better yet, by going to my (Kirk’s) blog where you can also get the notes for the class. Notes are not available at the church’s podcast site.  If you would, also, like to register for my blog, you can do so at the blog site. You will then receive word whenever I write an article, preach a sermon, etc.   Here is the blog address:  kirkmccormick.blogspot.com

** Also…some abbreviations to help you decode the notes.

“c.f.” = cross reference…you can find this same teaching in another part of the Bible
“v.” = the single verse of the chapter are we discussing
“vs.” = the multiple verses of a chapter are we discussing
“e.g.” = from the Latin, exempli gratia, which means “for the sake of example” or “for example”
“i.e.” = from the Latin, id est, which means “that is”
“OT” = Old Testament
“NT” = New Testament

Revelation 1:4-20

Note: There are churches in other parts of the Region (e.g.: Colossae (Colossians 1:2), Hierapolis (Colossians 4:13), Troas (2 Corinthians 2:12; Acts 20:5), Miletus (Acts 20:17)), so why these Seven?

Possible Answers:

1.     The Seven were the churches located on the main trade routes of the area. The others were more remote.

2.     John uses the number “7” throughout the book as a demonstration of the perfection of this vision.  In fact, “Seven” occurs fifty-four times. There are actually seven sets of seven. They are the:

·      seven candlesticks (1:12),
·      seven stars (1:16),
·      seven lamps (4:5),
·      seven seals (5:1),
·      seven horns and seven eyes (5:6),
·      seven thunders (10:3),
·      seven angels, plagues and bowls (15:6–8)

3.     Other commentators (the Futurists and Idealists) postulate that these 7 represent the church in throughout the ages, present and future.  If this were the case, the meaning would be:

·      Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7) - the church that had forsaken its first love (2:4)
·      Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11) - the church that would suffer persecution (2:10)
·      Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17) - the church that needed to repent (2:16)
·      Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) - the church that had a false prophetess (2:20)
·      Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6) - the church that had fallen asleep (3:2)
·      Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13) - the church that had endured patiently (3:10)
·      Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) - the church with the lukewarm faith (3:16)

4.     Some commentators (the Preterists) believe that John addresses these “7” because they represent the condition of the whole, universal church in John’s day.

5.     Others believe that these 7 were chosen because of their distinctive and extreme practice of emperor worship.

6.     More than likely, however, John likely writes to these seven because he has special authority over them as their Bishop. He knew and loved them best, so he could be the most severe and honest with them.  And they are listed in the order that one would travel (i.e.: circuit ministry) if one used the Roman road system.  Ephesus would be first if one was coming from Rome by ship. One would then travel clockwise to Smyrna, making Laodicea the last to be visited on the circuit.  John, of course, would follow that same circuit, so this makes practical sense, too.  This is the Historicist approach. (See the maps below)

Revelation 1:4-6 – The Greeting

·      “Grace and Peace” is the standard greeting

o   “Grace” = the mercy of God’s undeserved favor
o   “Peace” = Hebrew: shalom… a greeting of well-being indicative of a life restored/recreated by God through Holy Spirit’s work in a person’s heart/spirit

·      “…from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne,  and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Study in The Revelation - Introduction and 1:1-4

Hello friends,

I am starting to teach The Revelation at my weekly "Bible for Dummies" class at Royal Palm, each Wednesday at 7:00PM.  For those who cannot make the class, I'll be posting the audio and notes from each week on my blog.  My hope and prayer is that you will be blessed.

The Revelation is a difficult book to interpret but it is always a blessing for the one who seeks the Lord in it.  I will do my best to unpack the imagery and teach the explicit clearly.  Pray for me as I teach it...and I'll pray for all of us that Holy Spirit gives us insight to what God is doing.

Anyone who says they have The Revelation figured out completely is fooling him/herself. I will try to give alternative interpretations, but also my own understanding. The bottom line is, though, that this book is intended to prepare the reader for the Coming of the Lord, give insight to the signs, and reassure the hope that is ours when we trust Jesus for our salvation.  I am absolutely confident that we will grow in those as we study The Revelation.

God bless, Kirk McCormick.

Background on the Book of Revelation

** “Revelation” differs from all the other books of the Bible in that it is strictly “Apocalyptic” (from Greek: apocalypsis = to reveal).

·      Other books of the Bible contain apocalyptic language (e.g.: Daniel, Ezekiel), but only Revelation