Wade Allen on March 18

Have you ever been in line in the grocery store when a new lane is suddenly opened up? Many times you will hear the clerk say Can I take the next person in line? But more often than not, someone who has just arrived will quickly scoot their cart into the free lane. Most of us are annoyed when this happens. In this week’s passage, Jesus uses a story about workers in a vineyard to describe the dynamics of the Kingdom of God. You might remember the last verse of Matthew 19. (Matthew 19:30 NIV) But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. This verse is puzzling. Why are the last first? This does not fit into our cultural understanding of fairness. We will talk more about this on Sunday. Let me encourage you to read Matthew 20:1-16 as you prepare for worship this weekend. (Matthew 20:1-16 NIV) “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. “He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’ “When evening... read more

Wade Allen on March 11

We have been faithful in sticking to the prescribed passages in the Narrative Lectionary since September. But this week, we will veer from the recommended text. I prepare sermons several weeks in advance. As I developed the sermon on Matthew 20 (we will get to this sermon next week), I was intrigued by necessary context set in Matthew 19. After working on the Matthew 20 sermon, I felt that we needed to cover Matthew 19 further. All this to say, we will be in Matthew 19:16-26 this week and then Matthew 20:1-16 next week. These sermons together provide a powerful picture of the Kingdom. Let me encourage you to read the passage for this week as you prepare for worship on Sunday. This is a challenging, yet powerful passage. (Matthew 19:16-26 NIV) Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell... read more

Wade Allen on March 04

As we enter into the season of Lent, we continue in the Gospel of Matthew. This week we come to a difficult passage, Matthew 18:21-35. We are immensely challenged by the words we read. Most of us, if we are honest, grapple with forgiveness on some level. When we have been wronged, it is hard to extend grace. Yet when we flip it around and find ourselves on the other side of the transition, we are all for forgiveness. Let me invite you to find a quiet place and read this passage as you prepare for worship on Sunday. (Matthew 18:21-35 NIV) Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ “But he refused. Instead,... read more

Wade Allen on February 25

As we are moving toward Easter, we are a bit later this year. Easter is not until April 21. Therefore, Lent does not begin until next week. We find ourselves this week at Transfiguration Sunday. This is a key story and so we cover it almost every year. This year, we will find ourselves in Matthew’s version of the story. Most will remember this account. Jesus invites his key disciples to join him on a trip to the top of a mountain. They then witness him transfigured before them. It is a fantastic event and will solidify Jesus’ resolve to move toward the cross. Join us on Sunday as we explore the story together. Let me encourage you to read the passage as you prepare for worship this week. (Matthew 16:24-17:8 NIV) Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just... read more

Wade Allen on February 18

Walking through Jesus’ ministry is both gratifying and challenging. Each time I come to a passage in this study, I find new insights. I hope that our journey through Matthew brings fresh understanding to familiar stories. This week, we come to another well known story. We will be looking at the feeding of the 5000 in Matthew 14:13-21. I hope you will take a few minute to read the story before coming to worship on Sunday. (Matthew 14:13-21 NIV) When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. read more

Wade Allen on February 11

How many times do you you sit through a church service or sermon, walk away unable to recall the topic? You don’t have to reveal your answer to me; it might hurt my feelings :). In all seriousness, we often hear God’s word and never dig into it. If we dare admit it, we rarely ask questions or speak with others about our study. By this point in Matthew, Jesus is teaching the crowds in parables. The disciples don’t understand why Jesus is not teaching as clear as they might like. They don’t always understand his teachings and come to him with questions. In turn, Jesus reveals a purpose behind his method for teaching. I am looking forward to engaging Matthew 13:24-43 with you this week. Let me invite you to read it ahead of time as you prepare for worship on Sunday. (Matthew 13:24-43 NIV) Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’” He told them another parable: “The kingdom... read more

Wade Allen on February 04

Each week, I spend time in commentaries reading the experts in the field of bible research. I enjoy delving deep into matters of biblical interpretation. As I was preparing this week’s sermon, I was fascinated by the subheading (for this week’s scripture) in a commentary. It was entitled Plank Eye. This phrase is memorable. Just as pink eye, we might consider it a condition that needs treatment. When Jesus speaks in Matthew 7:1-12, I am certain that the image of a plank or log in one’s eye caused the first hearers to giggle. Jesus is using hyperbole to reveal this condition. Join us on Sunday as we explore Matthew 7:1-12. Let me encourage you to read it as you prepare for worship on Sunday. (Matthew 7:1-12 NIV) “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds;... read more

Wade Allen on January 28

For the next several weeks, we will be looking at the teachings of Jesus from Matthew. You will probably find these passages familiar. Yet each instruction is an opportunity to examine our lives, our hearts. Are we living as Jesus intends for us to live? Do we have tendencies, habits or mindsets that are contrary to Jesus’ way of living? This week, we come to Matthew 6:19-21. (Matthew 6:19-21 NIV) “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. We often apply these verses to money, our checkbooks. Yet this passage reaches beyond our financial resources. Join us on Sunday as we explore how we might direct our storehouses so that our hearts will gravitate towards God’s mission in our world. read more

Wade Allen on January 22

A few months ago, Julie Davis asked me if she could meet to talk about something that God had placed on her heart. We met and discussed a wonderful project that is now underway at First Baptist. We would like to share more about this project with you this week in worship. We will remain in our Matthew series as we look at a set of familiar verses from Matthew 5. (Matthew 5:13-16 NIV) “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Jesus encourages us to allow our lives to be salt and light in our dark and tasteless world. One way that we might do this is by sharing our faith stories. Join us on Sunday as we gather to talk about the crucial place our stories play in the Kingdom of God. read more

Wade Allen on January 07

This past Sunday, we began the season of Epiphany with the story of the Magi. The sages show up at the humble home of Mary, Joseph and Jesus with gifts that reveal the purpose and direction of Jesus’ life. This Sunday, we follow Matthew’s story some 30 years into the future. Very little is known about Jesus’ growing up years in the obscure town of Nazareth. But as we turn to Matthew 3, we find Jesus venturing into the desert to be baptized by John the Baptist. For the next several months, we will be following Matthew’s telling of the story. Each week, we learn a bit more about Jesus’ mission and ministry. I hope you will read Matthew 3:1-17 as you prepare for worship on Sunday. (Matthew 3:1-17 NIV) In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can... read more

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9:15 AM (Traditional), 10:45 AM (Contemporary) each Sunday.

Neil Kring will be preaching this week (March 31) from Lamentations

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