The 11th Commandment: Making the Gospel Visible (Luke 7:36-50, John 13-15)

Today's sermon topic is about community and the local church. All of us are in communities that are not God-centered. It happens with friends, colleagues, and families at schools, neighborhoods, and workplaces. So how is church community different? What makes it supernatural, unique, spiritually alive? It happens when members of the community are experiencing the reality of God's forgiveness. Love for God and for each other is released. But this does not mean it is easy loving one another. You'll need a Bible. Turn to Luke 7 and John 13-15 to see the "visible gospel."

Giving: A Principle and A Promise (Luke 12:13-34)

Have you ever wondered why we pass the offering plates at each Sunday service? Yes, every church needs to pay its bills. But the offering is for so much more than bill paying? Jesus' teaching in our passage this morning shows us that giving in the church is about much more than simply fundraising; it's about our hearts. In this teaching on money, Jesus offers us a timeless principle and a certain promise.

Spiritual Gifts: Further Together (Ephesians 3:20-4:16)

An old African proverb says, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." This is essentially God's message for us, the church. He says that every Christian has been given spiritual gifts for the benefit of the local church. So if we want to glorify God, if we want to be the Dearest Place on Earth, then each of us needs to work together using the gifts that God has given us.

The Resurrection: Confirmed -- Debt Paid in Full (John 19:28-30; 20:1-10)

We have this sense that if we do a little good, it will make up for whatever bad we have done. It’s kind of like credit card debt: if I make the minimum payment the balance will go away, eventually. But if the debt is huge and increasing, there is no way it will be paid off in a lifetime. Spiritual indebtedness is the same – there is no way you can pay off your debt to God in your lifetime. You discover that doing business God’s way results in a tremendous saving (pun intended).

Church Preaching: The Power of the Preached Word (Nehemiah 8:1-18)

Have you ever wondered why we preach sermons every week? Why do we have to listen to a long monologue? Why not have discussions instead? Or maybe we should skip the sermon altogether and sing more songs. As we'll see from Nehemiah 8 this morning, preaching God's word -- and hearing it preached -- is one of the most significant activities that the church does. In fact, biblical preaching is one of the biggest reasons the church is the dearest place on earth.

Church Leadership: Overcoming the Church's Greatest Threat (Acts 6:1-7)

What is the greatest threat to the local church? What would most prevent the church from being The Dearest Place on Earth that God designed us to be? Is it Satan? Division and conflict? Hypocrisy? No, there is something deeper than any of these things. The events from Acts 6:1-7 not only shows us our greatest threat, but also how we can overcome it through Christ-like servant-leadership in the local church.

Church Prayer: I Keep Asking...

The intent of today’s sermon is to help us think about and engage more deliberately in praying for ourselves, that is the church. Praying not only for you as an individual but praying for us, the church community. You and I engaged in praying for Ruggles Baptist Church in particular and praying for the larger Church in general (especially in Boston). 

Church Worship: Just Another Sunday Morning (Isaiah 6:1-8)

Have you ever wondered why we show up week after week to worship the Lord together? Aren't there some Sundays that you would rather sleep in? Well, today we're going to observe the prophet Isaiah's astonishing encounter with God, and examine why weekly corporate worship is vital to the local church if we want to be the dearest place on earth. Are you feeling like today is just another Sunday morning? Then today's sermon is for you.

Church Discipline: When the Dearest People are Sinful People (Matthew 18:12-20)

God designed us as his church to be the dearest place on earth in order to glorify his name in the world. However, we are also all still sinners. What a conundrum! How do we work together to overcome our sin so we can love one another and glorify God? That's what Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:12-20 are all about!

Church Membership: Meaningful Membership Matters (Matthew 16:13-19)

Does church membership really matter? Is it any different from being a member of a club or other organization? This morning, we're going to explore Christ's design for membership of his church from his famous, and controversial, statement to the Apostle Peter in Matthew 16 about the keys of the kingdom. Then we'll see why, if you're a Christian, you — yes you! — should join a church as a member.

The Church: What Are We Doing Here? (Ephesians 2:14-22; 3:10-11)

Have you ever wondered what we're doing here at Ruggles? What is a church? Is it a building? An institution? A weekly event? Is it optional? Where did the church come from? And what is it for? We're going to answer all of these questions today and more as we explore the doctrine of the church and see why it should be the "dearest place on earth" to us.

Renewed Promise (Haggai 2:20-23)

Haggai ends with a final word from God renewing his promise to bring about his final plans for his people and planet Earth. Two parts of this plan are his focus: 1) God will do what is necessary to bring about his global and eternal plan politically and militarily (vs. 20-21); 2) God will continue to remake and renew our lives in Christ (v. 23). The historical occasion of the rebuilding of the temple pleases the Lord. He takes the opportunity to speak of his overall plan from the time of rebuilding to eternity.

Renewed Purity (Haggai 2:10-19)

Purity of soul is the result of a loving response to, and wanting to be with the one you worship. You can be “pure” or obedient by doing what your Lord wants you to do and be. But the Lord’s heart for you is that you respond to his love and acceptance from your inner person, not from a religious approach that says, “Look at my actions, can't you see that I'm a good person. Accept me.” So Haggai encourages his readers three times in this brief passage to “give careful thought” to how you are viewing your relationship with the Lord.

Renewed Perspective (Haggai 2:1-9)

Their task was to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Solomon’s temple was a magnificent structure destroyed in 586 B.C., forty six years before the time of Haggai. But there were challenges that thwarted the rebuilding effort. The rebuilt temple will not be as great a structure; they were discouraged with something less; motivation to complete it was missing; their perspective was old. Renewal of their perspective came through Haggai’s words to be strong because God is with them. And the glory of this next temple will be greater than the glory of the first temple. Consider this: what is the condition of your "temple” in 2016?

Renewed Priority (Haggai 1:1-15)

In our fast-paced world today, it seems like there is always too much to do and too little time. With our limited time, attention, money and energy, we make decisions every day that reveal our true priorities. In our passage this morning, the Lord delivers a tough message through the prophet Haggai, exhorting us to “consider our ways “ (1:5) to make sure we are prioritizing our relationship with Him and His church.

Having a Prosperous and Successful New Year (Josh. 1:1-9)

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Are you expecting a sermon on how to become rich and famous? How about a pros-perity gospel sermon? You’ll need to go elsewhere to hear that kind of teaching.

 What about becoming prosperous and successful at doing what God has planned for your life? Or becoming prosperous and successful at following the Lord in a strong and courageous manner, knowing that he is with you wherever you go. With this perspective we are on the way toward prosperity and success this year that will supply you with wealth and opportunity of greater value than any career or investment.

Have You Been Bad or Good? (1 John 4:9-10)

Some of us judge ourselves harshly. At Christmas, Santa Claus has it down very clearly: “Have you been bad or good, naughty or nice?” Reward or penalty is coming your way, according to Santa.

 It’s common to carry self-judgment over into the Gospel. In many of our families, and cultures too, reward and punishment are code words that help or challenge our sense of worth and well-being. Today we look at another unique aspect of the Gospel: Jesus was sent to demonstrate that God is irrational. He does not judge us as we ought to be judged. It’s called his love and mercy, a source of genuine joy from truly living in Christ Jesus!

All I Want for Christmas (Luke 2:1-15)

In this series we are asking what you are getting for Christmas that would bring joy to your life. If you approach Christmas with the hope of the “joy” of the season without putting your roots down into the core of Christmas, then your “joy” is merely circumstantial. So what could you receive for Christmas that would instill, plant, cause to thrive within you …pure joy?

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people..." Luke 2:11

Christmas is for Giving, Or is it Forgiving? (Psalm 130)

Christmas is a joyful time for giving and receiving gifts. Yet the joy we are referring to here is based on the foundation on which we live our lives. It is a joy that is not rooted in simply receiving gifts or experiencing positive circumstances. This joy is based on our faith in Jesus Christ. A gift that provides this kind of joy is the gift of God's forgiveness. Today, we'll examine our need for forgiveness, the cost of forgiveness, and God's offer of forgiveness through Jesus Christ.