Summary: A sermon to indicate our purpose as we begin a new pastorate.

Beginning With The Word SUMC 06/13/2004

Good morning! Stephanie and I are so glad to be here serving as your pastors. Since the day we told the D.S. we would be happy to take this appointment, I have stewed over this message. I feel like this is a very important message. We need to reestablish our relationship with this church. Even though we have been here before, we are different and so are y’all. This is a new beginning. God has blessed us with this opportunity and we want to make a positive contribution to the Kingdom of God by being the best pastoral team we can be. Furthermore, we want to equip this local church to meet its full potential as a vital part of the Body of Christ. The issue at hand is how to begin. I say, “let’s begin with the Word!” John 1:1-4;14 says:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Stephanie and I are proud to be United Methodists. We are proud of the spiritual heritage we share with people like John, Charles and Susanna Wesley, and Francis Asburyand many others. We are proud to uphold the doctrine of the UMC as outlined in the B.O.D. in which Article IV of the “Confession of Faith of the Evangelical United Brethren Church” states:

We believe the Holy Bible, Old and New Testaments, reveals the Word of God so far as it necessary for our salvation. It is to be received through the Holy Spirit as the true rule and guide for faith and practice. Whatever is not revealed in or established by the Holy Scriptures is not to be made an article of faith nor is it to be taught as essential to salvation. As long as the UMC as a denomination and this local congregation continue to make the Bible the primary source, the foundation for existence and activity, then God will continue bless and protect us. Our denomination is grounded in the Word, so should we be.

Stephanie and I chose Asbury Seminary because of their stance on the Bible as the only primary source for faith and practice. If there were a seminary recognized by the UM board of higher Ed. with a reputation similar to ATS near Fort Worth, we may have never left Texas. But, there isn’t, so here we are! In Psalm 119:105 it says Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. Like the psalmist, I want every step I take to be informed by God’s word.

Many years from now when we are reminiscing about the wonderful years we spent together in ministry, my hope is that people will say Kevin & Stephanie were people of the Word… If we stay rooted and grounded in God’s Word, there is nothing we can’t do. In Isaiah 55:10-11 God says "The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. Wow! That is why I want to begin with the Word. I want to accomplish all that God wants, don’t you? This morning I want to take a quick look at a few of the things the Word says about the Word and look for ways to apply those things to beginning our ministry together.

I want to begin with the verses we just read from John 1. Verses 1 & 2 speak of the preexisting Word, which illuminates the fact that Jesus Christ (the Word) has equal status with God. Verse 3 indicates that the Word is the agent of creation. In the creation accounts from Genesis God simply speaks things into being. Everything came into being through Christ and ultimately depends on Him. Verse 4 teaches that the Word is the source of life; therefore we must come to Him for eternal life. Also, verse 4 teaches us that only the Word can light our path, so we must follow him. Finally verse 14 says that this Word that John wrote of is the one and only Son of God—Jesus Christ who became a man. And we must allow the word to become flesh in us too. How can we honor God and His word more than by living out that text in our home, our church, and our world?

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