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Sermons from Houlton United Methodist Church

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The Letter to Pergamum: TRUTH

How do you experience the transforming power of the word of God today? For me personally, though I grew up in the church as the pastor’s kid, I didn’t experience the power of God’s word until I went to the army – my spiritual wilderness. There God began to speak to me. God’s word became alive, meaningful, relevant to me. I still remember that after my night-watch duty, every night I read a Psalm, prayed it, meditated on it, and recited it… The prayers of the Psalms became my prayers. God’s word began to shape me and became a part of my daily thoughts and actions. And I still pray the Psalms every morning. By the transforming power of God’s word I am corrected, encouraged, transformed, sanctified each and every day.

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The Letter to Smyrna: SUFFERING

The Second Mark of Christ’s Church: Now we study the Book of Revelation to listen to what the Spirit says to our church today. In particular, from last week we explore Christ’s pastoral letters to the seven churches. In each of the letters Jesus, the chief Pastor of the church, evaluates the spiritual health of each church and puts an emphasis on one particular aspect of an ideal church. From the church of Ephesus last week, we learned that the first mark of a true and living church is “love.” The second is “suffering.” We will learn why suffering is the second mark of Christ’s church from the church of Smyrna.

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The Letter to Ephesus: LOVE

Have you read the Book “The Most Loving Place in Town”? It’s a modern day parable for the church. One day Pastor Tim received an anonymous letter saying, "I’m writing to bring something important to your attention. You have lost your first love. You and your church have drifted away from the love of God and one another as your first priority and into a pattern of success-driven busyness… (kindle location 173 of 1967)" Tim was shocked because he believed that the church was doing quite well. Something was going on almost every night. Bible studies, support groups, commission meetings, and so on. As Tim was pondering over the matter, the phone rang. It was Dani Wilson, one of the church members. She called to let the pastor know that she had decided to look for another church. At the end of the conversation Dani said, “I guess the bottom line is that this church isn’t exactly the most loving place in town.”

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Christ among the Churches

What image comes to your mind when you think of Jesus? One of the most popular images of Jesus would be a good shepherd who is holding lamb. But in the Book of Revelation the image of Jesus is a little bit different. In fact, revelation is full of symbolism – unfamiliar imagery, symbols, and numbers. Why so many confusing symbolic languages? There are at least two possible answers. The first answer is that John had to use symbolic language because it was almost impossible to describe what he saw, the heavenly vision, in limited human language. More importantly, the second answer is that John’s use of symbols is very similar to Jesus’ use of parables. Then why did Jesus use parables? In Matthew 13:13-14 Jesus said to his disciples, “I speak to them [crowd] in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” By speaking in parables, Jesus did wake up his believing listeners, but for unbelievers parables made no sense.

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The Revelation of Jesus Christ

What kind of images come to your mind when you hear the word “revelation” or “prophecy”? For the last few days I felt like the burden of ministry was too heavy for me. I got tired and weary. My spirit became dull and almost fell asleep. No desire to read the Bible or to pray. In my wilderness I cried out to God, “Father, help me!” All of sudden, for some reason, one particular individual came to my mind. That was Pastor Gil, who was one of the Korean Christian leaders during the Japanese Colonial Rule. During that time Christians were severely persecuted. In order to endure those persecutions, Pastor Gil read the Book of Revelation more than 10,000 times. He did hold on to the word. God’s promises were what kept him going. After reflecting on his life and affliction, I reluctantly opened my Bible and began to read the Book of Revelation. As I was reading, I experienced that the word did wake me up, revive my soul, and bring new hope and encouragement to my heart.

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