Sunday 03.04.18 (the great I Am)

This Sunday we’ll continue our journey through Exodus with a look at Exodus 3 and how the most important thing in life is to live daily in the presence of God, the Great I Am. On Sunday evening, we’ll continue our video study on fighting for joy. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@230pm Worship at Adrian Manor Nursing Home
@6pm Video Study in youth room

Sermon Notes
The Great I Am ~ Exodus 3

The sermon in one sentence: What matters most in life is the presence of God; and in rescuing us from sin, our all-sufficient God grants us the blessing of his constant presence.

  • Know who you are: A slave to sin, in need of rescue
  • Know who God is: The all-sufficient One who rescues us in power
  • Know how to live daily in God’s presence
    • To experience God’s presence (Ephesians 5:18-21):
    • Be in God’s word, which is the Spirit-inspired voice of God to us (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 1 Peter 1:19-21)
    • Gather for corporate worship where we sing to God and of God to each other
    • Pray and pray thankfully
    • Serve others

Songs for Worship
Holy Ground
I Stand Amazed
10,000 Reasons
Breathe On Me

Sunday 02.25.18 (a time for disobedience)

This Sunday, we’ll continue our journey through Exodus by looking at the example of the Hebrew midwives as they disobeyed the command of Pharaoh in order to spare the lives of many children. We’ll consider how sometimes we must disobey earthly authorities because we refuse to disobey God, our greatest King. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@830 Deacons Meeting in conference room
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@Noon Youth Rally with Pleasant Ridge and Immanuel Butler, in our gym
@6pm Bible Study

Sermon Notes
A Time for Disobedience ~ Exodus 1:15-2:10

The sermon in one sentence: In a world that often pits man’s kingdoms against God’s, our allegiance is to God first.

  • What the Bible teaches about authority
    • We are to honor and obey various human authorities over us, including: paying taxes, obeying laws, respecting positions, praying for leaders
    • We are to exalt God as the ultimate authority–Jesus is the King of kings
  • What do we do when these kingdoms collide?
    • We still obey the earthly authorities where obedience does not cause us to disobey God
    • We seek to peaceably change our circumstances if we are able
    • We refuse to obey the authorities when obeying them would cause us to disobey God
      • We practice civil disobedience like the midwives
      • We disobey when we’re told to act against our Christian morals, compromising our love for God
      • We disobey when we’re told to act in a way that would unjustly harm others, compromising our love for others

Songs for Worship
O Worship the King
I’d Rather Have Jesus
Every Move I Make
All in All
You Are My King

Exodus

Image used and modified with permission from pixabay.com

Good Reads 02.23.18 (on: marriage, Billy Graham, and more!)

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

Two On Billy Graham in light of his passing:

Three Lessons from the Extraordinary Life of Billy Graham by Steven Lawson

The centrality of prayer: As an evangelist, Mr. Graham was a dedicated man of prayer. He was on his knees long before he ever reached the pulpit. Every time I was ever around him, he was praying. He continually asked others to pray for him or with him. If a person asked how they could best help the crusades, Billy always said the same thing: “Pray.”

His personal devotion to prayer left a huge impression on me. Even in small things, his commitment to prayer shined brightly. I recall that the posters advertising the crusades did not have a picture of him preaching, but rather of him praying. It’s not coincidental that the life of the most impactful evangelist of our generation was first and foremost a life of prayer. (click here to read more)

A Tribute to Billy Graham by Mark Terry

Fidelity to the Bible. Early in his ministry Billy Graham began to doubt the reliability of God’s Word, but one night he expressed his doubts to God and received assurance from the Lord. In my mind’s eye I can still see him with the Bible in his left hand and gesturing with his right, declaring “the Bible says.” In that he set an example for all preachers to follow.

Passion for Souls. Billy Graham understood his calling—to serve as an evangelist. Through his life many offered him positions in institutions or encouraged him to run for political office. Through it all he remained focused on his calling, preaching the gospel and inviting people to profess faith in Christ. Some estimate that he preached the gospel to two billion people. Amazing! (click here to read more)

On fighting against sin: The Battle Against Sin and Self by Kaitlyn Wright

Impatience with my children is the reoccurring sin that has been at the forefront of my mind and heart. Every Sunday, I am resolved to do better and not get frustrated with them over their constant demands and lack of appreciation. But, come Monday morning at about 7:30 (they usually awake at 7:15), I’m already feeling the frustration of, ‘How dare they interrupt ME from what I WANT to be doing?!’

After a long period of recognition that this attitude is wrong, yet continually giving in to the frustration, the Lord began working in me to act. Through conversations with friends, my husband, and just being overwhelmed by conviction through God’s Word and the preached truth, I reached a point of brokenness. I realized I was FED UP with this sin, and I needed God’s help to wage war against it to kill it. (click here to read more)

On marriage: 12 Major Lessons God Has Taught Me in 38 Years of Marriage by Mark Altrogge

Resolve conflicts quickly and keep short accounts

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. EPH 4.26-27

Try to resolve conflicts before going to bed. If possible, don’t let them linger. You may need a few minutes to calm down, but try to work things out the same day. When we let anger linger over time it gives the devil the opportunity to lie to us, to foster bitterness, etc.

Sometimes it’s hard and takes a long time to discuss something and try to resolve it the same day, but try to. Early in our marriage someone said, “Keep short accounts.” Don’t let anger linger. Along those lines… (click here to read more)

The More Accurate Way

Apollos began to speak boldly in the synagogue. After Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately. ~ Acts 18:26 (CSB)

Apollos was a young man who had a great desire to tell others about Jesus. He spoke well and had a boldness that was evident to all who heard him. Yet, there was a problem. We’re told in Acts 18:25 that he spoke accurately about Jesus but only knew about John’s baptism. This seems to mean that Apollos was unaware of Jesus’ words we find recorded in Matthew 28—to baptize new disciples in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, welcoming them in as part of the Christian family.

We’re not told why Apollos was unaware of this, but it seemed to be deficient in his teaching. It was likely the case, then, that as he led people to faith in Jesus he did not proceed to see them baptized in obedience to Jesus. In this way, his teaching was lacking.

When he spoke in Ephesus he was heard by Priscilla and Aquila, a spiritually mature couple who loved Jesus and together proved to be a great help to Paul during his time in Corinth. When they discovered this deficiency in Apollos’ teaching, they took him aside (that is privately) and explained to him the bigger gospel story. And what was the result? Apollos continued on to the next town with the blessing of the church and “was a great help to those who by grace had believed” (18:27).

For us, we find here a lesson in correction. Christians who are more spiritually mature are humble. They can reflect back on their lives and they realize the growth they have experienced along the way. They understand they have had times where they had to learn the “more accurate” way. As they learned about Jesus through Scripture, some of their beliefs changed and sharpened with time.

What, then, is their response when they hear a younger Christian saying or doing things that might not be quite right? They seek to correct and offer guidance in love, just like Priscilla and Aquila.

This involved four things: First, they were willing to listen. They waited until Apollos had finished. They listened to everything that he had to say. Second, they were willing to engage. They didn’t say, “Oh, that doesn’t sound right” and then ignored it. They wanted to help this young man grow and mature. So, they went to him and engaged with him. Third, they corrected him in private. We don’t know exactly what this couple said to Apollos, but likely they opened scripture and shared things they had learned from Paul and others. In doing so, they didn’t make a scene. They didn’t browbeat the young man or try to show themselves superior. They didn’t want to embarrass him. They simply took him aside and spoke with him in private. Fourth, they encouraged him in his gifts. When everything was said and done, Priscilla and Aquila would have been among those in 18:27 who wrote to the disciples in Achaia to welcome Apollos. Though they had to correct him, they supported his continued efforts to share.

These same four things should be true for us. When we face a situation where we need to correct someone else, we should be willing to listen to them and observe what is happening, be willing to engage with them, be seeking ways to speak to them in private, and then be encouraging of them. This is a better path, or a more accurate way, than the harsh criticism that we see so much today in the world.

Sunday 02.18.18 (the long, patient plan of God)

This Sunday we’ll begin our journey through the book of Exodus and see how in Exodus God began to fulfill promises he made over 400 years earlier to Abraham. This reminds us that God works his plan in his time and that is best. We will also be having Sunday School teacher training in the afternoon and our video study on fighting for joy in the evening. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@2pm Sunday School Teacher Training in the gym
@6pm Evening Study in the youth room

Sermon Notes
The Long, Patient Plan of God ~ Exodus 1:1-14, 2:11-25

The sermon in one sentence: God faithfully works his plan for the good of his people, but does so in his time and we must learn to be patient and to trust.

  • God fulfills all of his promises (Exodus 1:1-7)
    • Therefore, trust God to keep his word to us
  • God rights the wrongs that are done against his people (1:8-14, 2:11-25)
    • Therefore, cry out to him with your hurts and rest in his grace
  • God acts in his time, which is the best time
    • Therefore, be proactively patient–pursuing Jesus and righteousness, but understanding that the best is not always immediate

Songs for Worship
From the Rising of the Sun
Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Standing on the Promises
Give Us Clean Hands
In His Time

Exodus

Image used and modified with permission from pixabay.com

Good Reads 02.15.18 (on: resolutions, respect, and more!)

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

On the forgiveness of sin: White as Snow, Though My Sins Were as Scarlet! by Tim Counts

In Isaiah chapter 1, the LORD of Israel has just laid out a court case against his people. They are guilty. He does not even want their sacrifices anymore, because going through the motions without hearts that love God–as seen in their actions–is detestable to him (Isaiah 1:11-17). So, what will it cost them to receive forgiveness? If verse 18 which promises purity like snow is not enough, the answer becomes crystal clear near the end of the prophecy: “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!…Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food” (Isaiah 55:1-2). The holy God offers sinners a free banquet–and promises to satisfy them in himself. (click here to read more)

On manhood: How to Teach Boys to Respect Women by Russell Moore

First, fathers and male teachers, especially, can highlight the ways they learn from and are sharpened by godly, strong women—from the biblical examples of such leaders as Ruth and Priscilla and Lydia and our Lord’s mother Mary to our more immediate mothers- and sisters-in-Christ. If you are married, men, pay attention and give respect to the counsel of your wife. If you are a pastor, do not patronize women in your sermon illustrations or introductions. Highlight the creation and eschaton callings of women bound up in our common inheritance.

At the same time, emphasize the horror of a man mistreating women. Do not let the boys and young men around you ever, even for a millisecond, see you waving away or justifying sexual predation, misogynistic comments, or violence against women by a sports figure because he plays for your team or a politician because he belongs to your party or an entertainer because he makes you laugh. Your hypocrisy cannot only point the next generation away from Jesus, but may also point them toward the way of predation. (click here to read more)

On our plans failing: When Your New Year’s Resolutions Have Flown Out the Window by Stacey Reaoch

When our plans go awry it can be easy to spiral into complaining and self-pity. I’ve definitely battled that temptation the past week. But more importantly, God is teaching me to hold my resolutions with an open hand, realizing He is working in the midst of the daily trials that come my way. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience. Maybe you feel like you’ve already failed in keeping up with your Bible reading, or had too many cookies at bedtime. Here are a few things I’m learning in the midst of faltering resolutions… (click here to read more)

On God saying “no” to our prayer requests: When God Says ‘No’ by Melissa Kruger

I paused and really considered this verse for perhaps the first time. Jesus—always perfect, always righteous—offered up prayers and supplications. He cried out with tears. He was heard!

And, the answer he was given? No.

It doesn’t seem to make sense. God heard Jesus’s cries and tears. He heard his beloved, perfectly obedient Son. Yet Jesus still suffered and died. He wasn’t rescued from the cross. And God does not always rescue us from the trials we face.

When God says no, we often wonder if we’ve got a bad connection: “Can you hear me?” “Can you hear me now?” This passage reminds us that God hears our prayers. In Christ, we’re heard because we share in his righteousness. God’s not deaf to our cries, pleading, and longing. But, sometimes, for reasons that we may not understand, his good purpose is to say no. (click here to read more)

A Reflection on Love (thoughts for Valentine’s Day)

Many of us know the passage well. People quote it, read it at weddings, hang it on plaques on the wall—Paul’s famous words on love from 1 Corinthians 13.

Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. – 1 Corinthians 13:6-8 (CSB)

When we read this passage in their context, we find that it’s not primarily about marriage or romance, but about serving one another as brothers and sisters in Jesus. Paul wrote these words right in the heart of correcting the church on how to use spiritual gifts to serve and not to show off or exalt self. Still, the application is broad. Serving others is a universal call for we who follow Jesus. So, we can apply this to marriage and friendship and how we treat our neighbors.

If we were to boil down Paul’s teachings into a single statement, it would say this: Love happily seeks the best for others. And, oh, how that should be us!

Love, in this way, is other-focused. It is like when Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves. There’s an assumption here: We typically are patient with ourselves and want others to be patient toward us. We tend to be kind to ourselves and want others to be kind toward us. We tend to be… and want others… the list goes on. The Bible assumes that in normal situations, we love and want the best for ourselves. But it also knows that it is harder for us to freely extend this attitude toward others.

But that is the command here—we’re to be patient with others, kind to others, not envious of others, etc. And nowhere do we see that we are to be these things only if they reciprocate. Love is not self-serving through what we gain from others. In Christ, we are already perfectly loved by the Father. We love because he loved us. That should be enough to motivate us to love even if no one loves us back the way we would want. Love is other-focused.

Love also looks for the best. We can say this in two ways: First, love seeks to bring the best to others. True love seeks ways to better the life of another both in the present and in eternity. It seeks to show the person Jesus and meet their present needs—physical, emotional, and relational. Second, love looks for the best in others. Living in a fallen world and being repeatedly hurt in a fallen world can cause us to be jaded. We jump to conclusions, question motives, and make assumptions without the facts. Love fights against these trends. Love refused to ignore evil and will deal with it when necessary, but love is also willing to believe and hope. Love looks for the best.

Finally, love continues. Paul was making this point in light of eternity: Eventually, when Jesus comes back and we see things clearly and no longer as through a blurry mirror, the need for various gifts will drop away. But love will remain. God is love, as John the Apostle wrote. God is also eternal. So, if love will continue forever, our present moments of love should be long-lasting. The “loving feeling,” as the song says, sometimes gets lost. But love itself, as a commitment and an act to seek another’s best, should continue. If someone loves us, we continue to love them. If someone is indifferent to us, we continue to love them. If someone hurts us as an enemy, we continue to love them. Jesus, after all, loved us when we were his enemies. He loves us when our hearts turn momentarily apathetic. And he loves us all the same when we love him well. That is his example for us. Love continues.

heart 02 (pixabay 02132018)

Picture used with permission from pixabay.com