Advent / Christmas Devotion Books

If you’re looking for an Advent / Christmas devotional book to do by yourself or with your family, you might want to check out the following from desiringgod.org. Both, written by John Piper and released the past couple of years, are available for free download (.pdf) or purchase of print copies.

Good News of Great Joy

Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent contains 25 short devotional readings beginning December 1 and going through Christmas Day. This book of Advent meditations aims to put Jesus at the center of your holiday season. These readings are excerpted from the ministry of John Piper and correspond to the daily readings in Desiring God’s free devotional app, Solid Joys (available in iTunes and Google Play), as well as online.

More information and the free download is available by clicking here.

The Dawning of Indestructible Joy

Advent is for adoring Jesus.

The Christmas season is one of the busiest times of the year. But it is also a season of reflection and preparation for that special day when we mark Immanuel’s coming—the arrival of our eternal God in our own frail humanity. This is the greatest of history’s many wonders, something too stupendous to celebrate just on one day. Advent is a way of lengthening and intensifying the joy of Christmas.

These 25 brief devotional readings from John Piper begin on December 1 and carry us to Christmas Day. Our hope is that God would use these meditations to deepen and sweeten your adoration of Jesus and help you keep him at the center of your Christmas season.

More information and the free download is available by clicking here.

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Sunday 11.29.15 (a life of growth)

This Sunday we’ll take a look at 1 John 2:1-17 and see what the Bible tells us about living a life in pursuit of spiritual growth. There will be no evening activities as we close out the holiday weekend. Hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Sunday School / Small Groups for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
**No evening activities

Sermon Notes
A Life of Spiritual Growth ~ 1 John 2:1-17

Spiritual growth is about moving forward, becoming more mature and more like Christ. From the moment we come to Christ to the moment we leave this life in him, we are to grow.

  • Make it your aim to not sin (2:1-2)
    • John’s purpose in writing this letter was that believers would grow in Jesus and avoid sin
    • In Jesus, we have a continuing advocate when we do fail–he bore God’s wrath for all our sin
  • Make it your passion to love (2:3-11, 15-17)
    • Our duty is to keep his commandments
    • The primary command is love
    • The other side of love is to not love the “things of the world”–the ambitions of lust, envy, and pride
  • Make it your journey to progress (2:12-14)

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Good Reads 11.25.15 (on: thanksgiving, refugees, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this week:

On thanksgiving and worship: Thanksgiving Starts on Sunday by Matt Boswell

When we gather together to worship, something wonderful is happening in us. While opening the Scriptures, singing, praying, and giving our offerings, a formation is underway: God is performing the slow and steady work of making us a thankful people. (click here to read more)

On the fight against sin: Keep Fighting by Adam Ford

Ford drew a comic that serves as an awesome reminder of our fight against sin: Click here to read the comic.

On the church and the refugee crisis: Building HIs Church in a Refugee Crisis by David Crabb

To the average person at the library that morning, Stephanie and Fatimah couldn’t have seemed more different. They had radically different upbringings, spoke different languages, and dressed and acted differently. Stephanie is an evangelical Christian. Fatimah is a Sunni Muslim. And yet, because they share a common humanity, they are remarkably similar. They laughed as they talked about raising toddlers, swapped pregnancy and birthing stories, and shared tips on their favorite local parks and restaurants. Towards the end of their conversation, Fatimah shared that she was lonely most days. Stephanie invited her over for lunch and exchanged contact information with her.

And so, because of a bloody, senseless civil war, a Muslim from a remote village in North Africa found herself forging a new friendship with a Christian. By every account, her life seems a tragedy. She’s certainly a victim of great evil. But what is equally clear, for those with eyes to see, is that God is up to something good. (click here to read more)

On faith when God seems distant or asleep: Jesus Fell Asleep by Wendy Alsup

But as time goes on and I can look back, I recognize that He really seemed asleep because He was at complete peace in how He was moving in my life—what He was teaching me and how the circumstances would resolve for His purposes in my life. He didn’t give me direction for a year because it was the absolute lack of direction that would funnel me into His next steps for my life. (click here to read more)

On the goodness of Scripture: Why You Shouldn’t Just Believe the Bible is True by Owen Strachan

The truthfulness of Scripture is a perpetual issue for evangelicals. Today, however, the church faces a related challenge: the goodness of Scripture. We are being asked at every turn to prove why Scripture’s perspective is morally sound. If the preeminent question of past generations was “Is the Bible true?,” today we’re being asked “Is the Bible good?” Sure, Scripture may have epistemic authority. But does it have moral authority? (click here to read more)

Where Is Your Strength?(a meditation on true security)

Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory—for all its strength, it cannot save you. ~Psalm 33:17

We live in a safety and security obsessed culture. Our doors often have locks, deadbolts, and chains. Our cars sound alarms, and many houses do too. A talking point in the present political debates is whether or not to build a wall along the United State’s southern border and how to handle immigrants and refugees. We want to feel secure.

Yet the Bible shakes us up in this regard. In Psalm 33, the psalmist exalts the sovereignty of God over the nations. The God who created by merely speaking never feels threatened by any outside power. In fact, of kings and nations, he builds up and tears down.

So we read in 33:17 that our trust must not be in our weapons and avenues of security; rather, “We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield” (33:20). True security comes from God and God alone.

This doesn’t mean that we’re not to be wise. In the Old Testament, even God arranged it so his chosen nation would have an army. But again and again, no matter how strong or how weak their army seemed, they only won when God was with them and fought for them and they lost when God withdrew his guiding hand. So there is place for armies, airport security checkpoints, and locks on our doors.

But these things must not become our trust.

When we do trust in these we find that we can never reach a point where we feel truly secure. Our defenses may hold for a while, sometimes years, but then an enemy finds its way through. So we want bigger, better, and stronger, again thinking we’re secure until a resourceful enemy breaks into our sense of security once more. Trusting only in the security resources of this world will ultimately leave us unsatisfied, never feeling safe.

But when our trust is in the Lord who spoke all things into existence, then we are trusting in something much, much greater. Jesus said not to fear those who can only kill the body. If that’s the worst a person can do to us because our eternities are secure in Jesus, then it is only a momentary interruption. Life is far more than what we see with our eyes and hear with our ears.

Instead our faith in God through Jesus should be like that of Martin Luther when he declared, “World, death, devil, hell, away and leave me in peace! You have no hold on me. If you will not let me live, then I will die. But you won’t succeed in that. Chop my head off, and it won’t harm me. I have One who will give me a new one.”[1]

This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.

[1] Quoted in: Wilson, Jared C., The Story of Everything (Wheaton: Crossway, 2015), 90.

Sunday 11.22.15 (the joy of turning from sin)

This Sunday join us as we take a look at Psalm 32 and see the great joy we experience by turning from sin and turning to God in Jesus. Also, Sunday night @7pm we will be hosting the annual Adrian Ministerial Alliance Thanksgiving service. Hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Children’s Christmas program practice
@7pm Ministerial Alliance Thanksgiving Service

Note: With the Thanksgiving holiday this week, there will be no Awana or prayer meeting and Bible study on the church campus this Wednesday. Have a happy holiday!

Sermon Notes
The Joy of Turning From Sin ~ Psalm 32

  • Find joy in remembering God’s forgiveness (32:1-2)
  • Find joy in confessing your sins (32:3-7)
  • Find joy in learning righteousness (32:8-11)

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Good Reads 11.18.15 (on being cultural weirdos, singing, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On living as a faithful follower of Jesus, no matter what our culture says: Winsome Weirdos by John Piper

The apostle Peter is calling for a special breed. Not the kind of conservative who gives all his energy to embracing and defending his weirdo status. And not the kind of liberal who will embrace any compromise necessary to avoid being a weirdo. But rather a breed that is courageous enough to be joyfully weird, and compassionate enough to be “zealous for good deeds.” (click here to read more)

On the beauty and wonder of singing together as a church: The Beauty of Congregational Singing by Matt Capps

I have the privilege of pastoring a singing church. Week after week, when we gather for worship the sounds of God’s precious saints wash over me as I stand on the front row and prepare to preach. There have been several occasions when I have stopped singing in order to listen. On almost all of those occasions, the sound of our church family singing brought me to tears. Not because they are great polished individual singers, but because we sing corporately to a great God. (click here to read more)

On the importance of singing in our Christian faith: 7 Reasons Why Singing Matters by Colin Smith

Often times, we think only of singing when we’re happy and times are good, but singing bringing strength for trial comes out in Acts 16. Paul and Silas are unjustly imprisoned for the sake of the Gospel, and what do they do while they’re in prison? Sing! (Acts 16:25) (click here to read more)

On the need for transparency and accountability among men: Why Men Need to be Transparent with Each Other by Jared C. Wilson

One of the best ways men can encourage each other with the gospel is simply with honesty and transparency. Dietrich Bonhoeffer talks about meeting each other as bringers of the gospel—I need the gospel in my brother, my brother needs the gospel in me. In some ways—this might sound odd but it’s true—the gospel in me is stronger than the one in my brother, and the gospel in my brother is stronger than the one in me. (click here to read more)

On why we fight and quarrel and how to stop: What Stops Our Fighting? by Tony Reinke

Our fights are spurned by our coveting desires to be satisfied in the world. But what stops our fights is our proximity to God. What stops our fights is our wanting who he is. What stops our fights is finding our souls satisfied by what we believe is our ultimate good. (click here to read more)