Sunday 12.11.16 (our great God)

This Sunday we’ll take a look at Psalm 139 and the greatness of our God. Then on Sunday night, adults will meet in the youth room for the conclusion of our Global Gospel study while the kids will gather in the auditorium to practice the upcoming Children’s Christmas Program. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm The Global Gospel study in youth room
@6pm Children’s Program Practice

Sermon Notes
Our Great God ~ Psalm 139

  • Our all-knowing God (139:1-6)–God knows everything perfectly about every detail of his creation at every moment (omniscience)
  • Our everywhere-present God (139:7-16)–God is fully present in every place of his creation at every moment (omnipresence)
  • Our ever-true God (139:17-24)–God is perfectly good, righteous, and faithful in all he does; he will not let evil stand forever (omnibenevolence)
  • These truths should:
    • Cause us to marvel in awe of God (139:6-10, 17-18)
    • Bring comfort to our hearts from God’s love (139:1-5)
    • Deepen our relationship with God (139:1-5)
    • Lead us to live in his light and not hide in darkness (139:11-12)
    • Deepen our trust in God’s work and plan (139:13-16)
    • Help us trust that God will punish evil and thus flee from sin ourselves (139:19-22)
    • Help us trust God to lead us from the darkness of our sin and into life eternal (139:23-24)

Sunday 12.04.16 (contend for the faith)

This Sunday we’ll take a look at the short letter of Jude and see what it means to contend well for our faith. Then on Sunday night, we will continue our Global Gospel study as the children practice for their upcoming Christmas program. Hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Sunday School / Small Groups for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Global Gospel study (meet in youth room)
@6pm Children’s Christmas Program Practice in auditorium

Sermon Notes
Contend for the Faith ~ Jude

Jude warned the church against false teachers, especially in the realm of sexual ethics, and called the church to contend well for the faith. We must do the same in our culture today.

  • Contend for a noble cause–the historic Christian faith (Jude 3)
  • Contend for the core gospel message that defines our faith (Jude 3)
  • Contend against the idea, and those who teach it, that God’s grace gives us freedom to sin (Jude 4)
  • How do we contend well?
    • We refuse to listen to or fellowship with those who teach such a twisting of grace (Jude 5-19)
    • We keep pursing after Jesus, growing in faith, and fleeing from sin (Jude 20-21)
    • We show God’s compassion and love to others, seeking to lead them out of sin (Jude 22-23)

Sunday 11.27.16 (the Jesus-centered life)

This Sunday we’ll take a look at Psalm 127 and see how following Jesus impacts our work, rest, and family. Then Sunday night at 7pm, we’ll gather with other churches from town at Adrian Christian Church for the annual Ministerial Alliance Thanksgiving Community Worship Service. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@7pm Thanksgiving Service at Adrian Christian Church

Sermon Notes
The Jesus-Centered Life ~ Psalm 127

  • Jesus and work (127:1-2)
    • Work for God (in whatever you do, 127:1)
    • Work without worry (127:2)
  • Jesus and rest (127:2)
    • Work hard and rest well
    • God gave rest by design, decree, and example
  • Jesus and family (127:1, 3-5)
    • See family as a blessing from God (127:3-5)
    • Keep your family focused on God (127:1), by: fearing God, loving each other, teaching and training, and correcting and disciplining

What joy! (a meditation)

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving. We always risk the danger of being distracted with football and Black Friday savings, but if we slow down and ponder the things we should be thankful for, then we will understand the true meaning and develop a great joy.

In Psalm 126, the psalmist looked back upon the return of God’s people from exile, and wrote:

When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream! We were filled with laughter and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, “What amazing things the Lord has done for them.” Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy! (126:1-3)

This rush of joy should be the same feeling we get when we think of our salvation in Jesus. Our sin had trapped us in a spiritual exile with little hope of escaping the darkness. Then, by giving us Jesus, God pulled us out of hopelessness. Like a wonderful dream, the Righteous King gave himself from sheer mercy and love and brought us into his people and his eternal land.

Our sins forgiven and our eternal hope secured—what laughter it should cause and what songs of joy should be sung!

When we ponder such salvation, our hearts should surge with thanksgiving. More than for food, more than for social freedoms, and more than for family, our minds should be overwhelmed with gratefulness for what God has done for us in Jesus.

As we let our hearts be thankful for salvation and we let joy fill our minds over what God has done, then we can be properly thankful for other good things, other evidences of God’s grace in our lives. Then, when the world sees our thankfulness and joy, they will see that God has indeed done great things for us.

Joy is a witness. Thankfulness points beyond ourselves. We acknowledge a greater Giver, a greater Rescuer, a greater King. This points others to the same source of hope and we can sing along as one voice: “Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy!”

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

What about him? (a meditation)

Imagine for a moment that you were the apostle Peter. After insisting that you would never deny Jesus, you vehemently declared that you were not Jesus’ follower and had never met the man, after Jesus was arrested to be crucified. But then after the resurrection, Jesus comes and takes you aside and for each time you denied him, he asks you, “Peter do you love me?”

John 21 gives us the account of this restoration of Peter by Jesus. Grace was extended and Peter found forgiveness, though the memory of everything pained him.

After restoring Peter, Jesus went on to tell Peter about the way he would one day die:

“When you were young you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” ~John 21:18

The tradition of church history tells us that Peter was arrested and crucified upside down under the reign of Nero. Whether all the exact details are so, Jesus’ words made it clear to Peter that his death would be costly and forced against his will. Yet, with this information, Jesus still said to Peter, “Follow me”—this the same call that Jesus gives to all of us when he tells us that we must daily take up our own cross (Luke 9:23).

In response, Peter turned and saw John (“the disciple whom Jesus loved”) nearby and following them. Peter then replied to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?”

Jesus’ response?

“If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” (21:22)

In other words: “Mind your own business. I wasn’t talking to you about John, I was talking to you about you.”

A life of following Jesus does not come with sure promises of riches, fame, ease, or health this side of death. No doubt, some receive and do great things through their faith. Hebrews 11 lists several Old Testament people who were faithful to God and gained riches, power, and even life back from the dead. After this, however, Hebrews 11 also speaks about unnamed others who were forced to live in caves, on the run, arrested, beaten, and/or sawn in two.

Our experience of life will be no different. Some who follow Christ will see many good things in life, and live long and healthy. Others who follow Christ will see many hardships, and die young and poor. Most will experience something in between.

On our journey of faith, we might be tempted to point to others who we think are getting a better deal and say, “Lord, what about him? What about her?” Jesus’ answer to us is the same: “I’ll worry about them. You follow me!”

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

Let us go to the house of the Lord! (a meditation)

God gives his people a joyous desire to meet together. We see this expressed in David’s words from Psalm 122:

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” -Psalm 122:1

The words that follow in the psalm paint a picture of God’s people from across the different tribes of Israel coming to Jerusalem to go to the temple together. It was at the temple they could be united as one people, sharing one voice, and with one purpose: “To give thanks to the name of the Lord” (122:4). There was something sweet about such gathering that David looked forward to.

Old Testament and New, we see God dealing with individuals to create a people. Paul wrote about this in Titus 2:14 where he tells us that Jesus “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”

The redemption was of each individual turning from sin to Jesus. The result was a people zealous to do God’s will, namely: good works in this world.

A key factor of our encouragement in doing good works is our gathering together. In the Old Testament, the temple in Jerusalem was unique because it was where God’s glory and Spirit most fully manifested. After Jesus’ work on the cross, he made his people the new temple—we reflect God’s glory as we receive God’s Spirit. Peter described us as individual bricks being built together as a spiritual house (1 Peter 2). So, wherever Christians gather as a church, there is found a present “house of the Lord.”

The earliest Christians in Jerusalem would still go to the temple until it was destroyed but they also gathered daily “house to house”—smaller gatherings, yet each representing God’s glory. They gathered for time with God’s word, devotion to prayer, sharing of communion, and sharing of lives as they praised God together (Acts 2:42-47).

These were joyful occasions fueling them to do good in a world that didn’t always understand their religious devotion.

And so it is for us. Different things attempt to pull us away from gathering with other Christians: jobs, sports, family functions, desire for extra sleep, etc. Therefore, we must prioritize and persist. This just as the author of Hebrews wrote:

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. ~Hebrews 10:24-25

Let us, then, be glad to go to the house of the Lord. Let us meet together, praise God together, and find encouragement to live daily strong in our faith in Jesus, loving others and doing good in this world.

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

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Image from the desiringgod.org Instagram feed

Marriage is one plus one plus one (a meditation)

Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, was a call to God’s people to return to a life of spiritual holiness in anticipation of greater things to come. Part of this calling was God’s rebuke upon habitual sins that plagued the people. Included in this was rampant divorce.

Divorce is always a touchy subject because of how many people it has affected throughout the years. Most of us have someone we hold dear who has been through a divorce if we ourselves have not experienced it. The Bible does give some allowance for divorce in which the one who is hurt is not guilty of sin (such as in cases of adultery or abandonment); but this allowance is grace in a sin-corrupted world and not the way things are meant to be.

Divorce is never presented as a positive in the Bible. We see this in Malachi 2 as well as a reason to fight against it as much as possible (making gracious allowances, still, when necessary). Simply put, marriage is not just the joining of two people but three.

Malachi wrote:

Did God not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? (Malachi 2:15)

Genesis 2 speaks about how a man and woman, coming together as husband and wife, become one flesh—this a reference to sex as well as the spiritual, emotional, and physical union of being a new family unity. Malachi informs us that in addition to this, especially in context of his people, God gives his Spirit to the union. Malachi doesn’t go into details, and not every Bible translation states this the same way (it is a segment of scripture notoriously hard for scholars to translate), so we can’t push too many details here.

But whatever the specifics of the couple’s union with God’s Spirit through marriage, it is clear that God intends the family relationship to have a central place in worship and discipleship. Malachi further wrote: “And what as the one God seeking? Godly offspring.”

In Deuteronomy 6, God had commanded through the law for parents to teach their children about him using scripture and other stories of our faith history. With the provision of God’s Spirit, this is not simply a command but something God empowers his people to do.

A godly family, then, led by a husband and wife devoted to God and to one another, serve as a source of light in the dark world. After the time that Jesus spent on the earth, Paul went so far to write that marriage represents the relationship between Jesus and his people, the church (Ephesians 5:25-33). Marriage, God-focused and at its best, provides a picture of the gospel to our children and to the world around us. This is why Malachi called the people to remember their covenant union and the inclusion of God’s Spirit and to combat their own propensity to break their union.

So let us work to strengthen our marriages and show the world God’s love through them as we remember that God is in the union he designed. Marriage is one plus one plus one.

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

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Image from the desiringgod.org Instagram feed.