March 11, 2018: Matthew 23:25-36 (Rich Merkouris)

Matthew 23:25-36

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers.33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.


  • What's in your junk drawer?
  • 4:00 What's lost inside of you?
  • 5:16 Does the inside of my life reflect the image of God?
  • 7:03 Be renewed in the image of God. God is in the transformation business.
  • 7:51 God sees through outward goodness and inward evil
  • Truths on what God has revealed
    • We need to have honest acknowledgement of the sin in our lives
      • Sin is ever present with us. 
      • Be honest to yourself
    • It's not about will power
      • Ask someone for help
    • You become what you behold
      • A deeper knowledge of sin, allows for a more joyful heart towards grace

March 4, 2018: Matthew 23:1-24 (Rich Merkouris)

Matthew 23:1-24

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues 7 and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. 8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

December 31, 2017: Matthew 15:1-9 (Rich Merkouris)

  • Traditions and Commandments

    15 Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” 3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,”[a] 6 he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word[b] of God. 7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:

    8 “‘This people honors me with their lips,
        but their heart is far from me;
    9 in vain do they worship me,
        teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

    What Defiles a Person

    10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up.14 Let them alone; they are blind guides.[c] And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled?[d] 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

  • 1:30 Story of moving pallets of Mountain Dew
  • 4:50 How does it feel when you think God tells you that your work on Earth is vain.
    • In the scripture Jesus tells tells the Pharisees that their work was in vain
  • 8:00 What would Jesus say to you?
  • 8:30 So why was the activity of the Pharisees in vain? Because their traditions and activities did not deliver the promise of God
  • 15:49 They were going through the motions of religious tradition. Going through the motions of traditional is not bad, it is going through the motions where the motions do not flow from your heart is in vain.
  • 16:15 So what's the role of tradition?
  • 17:00 What pastor tradition has become to today
  • 22:37 Jesus gauges worship by the engagement of your heart.
  • 24:00 Today are you going through the motions without your heart?
  • 25:00 There will always be motions if your heart is engaging.
  • 31:17 Today, God want from you is no meaningless activity, God wants your heart.
  • 31:45 Would you make it your New Years resolution to pursue a healthy heart? By not looking inward, but by looking outward to Jesus Christ.

December 24, 2017 (4:00PM): Matthew 1:18-25 (Rich Merkouris)

  • The Birth of Jesus Christ

    18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ[e] took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed[f] to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

    23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
        and they shall call his name Immanuel”

    (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

  • 2:00 We have always been afraid of something.

  • 3:00 Fear often freezes us from speaking truth. And fear can lead to illogical behavior

    • We want people to like us, so we do weird stuff to get people to like us.

  • 3:26 However, there is one common phrase in the Christmas story. Fear Not!

    • From the angel speaking to Joseph 

    • From the angels speaking to the Shepards 

  • 7:13 The angels also tell the Shepards "fear not, behold..." The angels are trying to showcase where our attention should be.

  • 8:40 When the angel tells Joseph do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife as it was from God.

  • 10:26 We have God on our team. So often we think "well, I don't know maybe I can do somethings" Are you kidding, you have God on your side.

  • 11:50 What is the number one fear in life... death. Because it is final.

  • 12:20 We have nothing to fear, because in Jesus Christ we have Savior that has conquered death.

  • 13:13 However, if we are outside of God, we have everything to fear. Things can be taken away from you.

  • 14:35 But if you are with Christ, every if they take away your possessions, family, etc we will always have Christ. All they can do is bring temporary pain. In Christ we have a Savior.

  • 17:24 If you do not have Christ, you have everything to fear, but if you have Christ, you have nothing to fear.

October 1, 2017: Matthew 18:21-35 (Rich Merkouris)

Scripture Passage Matthew 18:21-35

21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.[a] 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.[b] 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant[c] fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii,[d] and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,[e] until he should pay all his debt.35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Found at Bible Gateway

Timeline of Message

  • 0:05 What are the top 5 things to spill in your car?
  • 1:30 What do we do when there is bad "spill" in your life?
  • 2:35 How do we experience peace within our spill?
  • 3:00 If we do not contain it, things lead to bitterness and even wishing malice towards others.
  • 3:50 Ironically the person who wronged you becomes consuming and they becomeyour god just do towards your efforts, attention and energy.
  • 5:30 Satan loves to lead us to this point as we are consumed with bitterness
  • 6:45 Have you ever noticed how anger and malice becomes all consuming and will start to spread all across our lives?
  • 7:20 So how should we respond when the "spill" comes or when someone mistreats you?
  • 9:00 You have to forgive when someone sins against you.
  • 9:47 The way of Jesus is to forgive. Forgive the one who has hurt you.
  • 10:15 Forgiveness is releasing the punishment for what someone deserves.
  • 11:41 Jesus wants us to forgive. He wants us to release them of the penalty.
  • 12:10 Notice he says release not "remember". 
  • 13:00 It's hard to forget, so please notice God says to release/ to forgive the wrongdoing
  • 13:50 Don't feel guilty for remembering.
  • 15:00 Are we going to reflect God by the way we treat others?
  • 16:00 Story of Rich and his son and sharing a pickle
  • 17:30 Realize that we are representing Christ in our everyday lives. We are reflecting the character of God. Does your life reflect God's forgiveness?
  • 20:00 Are we consistently sharing with others what has been shared with us? Are we consistently forgiving others as Christ has forgiven us?
  • 22:45 Forgiveness is not an affirmation of bad behavior. Instead, it is controlling your response. You can not control what that other person has done.
  • 25:00 Forgiveness cannot control the behavior of the individual. 
  • 25:30 Forgiveness is not putting you in the exact same spot to be hurt again.
  • 26:15 Forgiveness does not mean that your relationship will be back to normal. This is where the church comes in, getting affirmation from an encouraging body of believers.
  • 28:40 God commands us to forgive not forget.
  • Practical Application
    • Pray "God bless those that harm you"
    • Acknowledge the hurt, don't stuff the hurt. Acknowledge the hurt to someone.
    • We need to saturate ourselves in the Gospel. The good news is that Jesus took your punishment. It reminds us that we have wronged others. Memorize Gospel related verses.
    • Speak positive things to or about the person who wronged you. It fulfills God's law to love your neighbor
    • You need to tell someone you are "taking a pass." Let someone know you that you are forgiving to help you in your journey.
  • 36:30 We received the best of God thorugh the person of Jesus Christ.
  • 37:20 Will you today (forgive) release the wrath that is owed to others as Christ has done for you.

August 6, 2017: Matthew 8:28-34 (Rich Merkouris)

Scripture Passage Matthew 8:28-34

28 And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes,[a] two demon-possessed[b] men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. 29 And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” 30 Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. 31 And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” 32 And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. 33 The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men.34 And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.

Timeline of Message

  • 0:00 Story of the huge fish
  • 2:00 I'm afraid many of us have started to feel like the Bible is a giant fish story
  • 3:15 Supernatural is something that science cannot explain
  • 3:50 If you deny supernatural activity, then we deny Jesus himself
  • 4:30 I'm saying that the teachings of the Bible are true, but not literally. To believe that the Bible is true we have to believe that the supernatural activity in the Bible was true
  • 5:55 When Jesus came it was the pinnacle of spiritual war
  • 6:00 There were 3 reasons why there was more supernatural activity
  • 7:05 #1 The demons knew that the "time" v29 was coming
  • 8:19 #2 Jesus performed many miracles as a sign, which was pointing to evidence of who Jesus was
  • 9:00 #3 The activity was evidence of Jesus authority 
  • 10:12 #4 There were times Jesus had compassion
  • 10:35 However, Jesus did not heal everyone, so there is a level of ministry 
  • 11:25 It's time to recognize the spiritual battle you are in
  • 13:10 The reason why you should listen to this sermon is that there is someone outside of your life who wants to destroy your life
  • 13:45 So are you going to ignore it? It isn't going to go away.
  • 15:00 C.S Lewis describes the issue we deal with when we deny demonic activity or dwell too much on it
  • 16:00 Many of us have fallen into functual deism. We believe in a higher power, just not in the day to day
  • 17:20 Satan 101
    • Satan is a fallen angel. This also should remind you that Satan is not the opposite of God.
    • Satan has been defeated. The moment Jesus died on the cross, a way was provided to be condemnation free.
    • The worst enemy is the one who has nothing to lose and he has nothing to lose
    • There is a lot of mystery of what power Satan has
  • 22:00 4 things we need to be thinking about with the battle of Satan
  • 23:00 #1 You need to raise your awareness. When was the last time that you really thought about that?
  • 24:10 Ask yourself "what would the evil one have me do in this situation?"
  • 24:55 #2 Satan's main job description is lying. Satan just wants to twist the truth. He just takes a little bit of truth and twists that a little bit.
  • 27:10 #3 When you are in a relationship with other people and there is a difficulty, recognize Satan is at work. If you do not engage in this battle, Satan is going to continue to rob you of your joy.
  • 30:00 #4 Do not become obsessed with supernatural activity. Satan cannot take away your spiritual joy. Hold fast to the fact your name is in the Lamb's Book of Records.