What We Lose; What We Gain

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said, “there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, who will not receive a hundred times more, now at this time—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and eternal life in the age to come.” – Mark 10:29-30 (CSB)

A rich young man came to Jesus seeking to know what must be done for eternal life. Jesus told him to keep the commandments. The man claimed to have not broken any. At this point, Jesus could have done like in the Sermon on the Mount and speak about how if you hate someone, that is like murder, or if you lust, that is like adultery, and then asked the man if he really had kept the commands. But Jesus chose a different route.

He spoke to the idol of the young man’s heart. In this case, the heart-idol was wealth. Go sell everything, Jesus told him, and give it to the poor. Instead of finding life, the man went away grieving. He wasn’t willing to repent of his heart-idol and put his trust in Jesus.

Jesus used this as a teaching moment for his disciples. He declared how difficult it was for a rich man to enter God’s Kingdom. The pull of the worldly wealth is often powerful. The disciples then wondered how could anyone be saved.

Jesus answered, “With man it is impossible, but not with God, because all things are possible with God.” As long as a person has breath, there is the possibility of his life being touched by God’s Spirit, Gospel, and grace. Though we cannot save ourselves, we cannot let go of our heart-idols, we have a God who is in the business of changing hearts.

In a moment of pride, Peter began to talk about everything he and the other disciples had given up to follow Jesus. Jesus answered him in Mark 10:29-30 that he one who truly leaves home, family, and fields behind for the sake of the gospel will gain much, much more.

When we come to faith in Jesus, we hope to have Jesus and family, Jesus and a good job, Jesus and a home, Jesus and health, Jesus and… the list goes on. And for many of us, we don’t have to give up everything we have to truly follow Jesus and find salvation.

But what if we did? What if we were faced with the choice Jesus or family, Jesus or a good job, Jesus or a home, Jesus or health? What if, like the rich young man, we were faced with the choice of Jesus and all the wealth we owned? Would we be willing to give it up and follow Jesus? Do we trust Jesus enough to lay at his feet even our most beloved heart-idols?

The truth is: Even if it cost us everything we have, leaving us poor and destitute, or even costing us our lives—Jesus is worth it. And if we gave up everything to gain Jesus alone, it would be more than worth it. Jesus is an infinite treasure, unending life, and a fountain of eternal joy.

Yet, we see what Jesus said: Whatever we give up for him now, we will gain back in abundance both in this life and the life to come? If following Jesus costs us our family, we still in return become a part of a family of millions of brothers and sisters from all over the world—the great family of Jesus-followers. If following Jesus costs is our wealth, we still gain a share in the rich inheritance of creation along with Jesus in eternity. If following Jesus costs us our life, we still gain eternal life in God’s joyful Kingdom.

This is why Jesus will never let our heart-idols stand: Because it’s all mud pies compared to the holiday at sea we gain through him (to borrow from C.S. Lewis).

Whatever we lose, we gain infinitely more following Jesus.

Sunday 11.12.17 (mutual encouragement)

This Sunday we’ll take a look at 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13 and how a church and its leaders are meant to mutually encourage one another in their faith. Then stick around and join us for our annual Thanksgiving dinner following morning worship. We hope to see you there!

@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@Noon Thanksgiving Dinner
@6pm Scripture and Authority video study

Sermon Notes
Mutual Encouragement ~ 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13

  • Encourage your church leaders by being a cause of joy for them (3:6-9)
    • Churches should bring joy to their leaders, and that is a great advantage for you (3:9)
    • Ways to cause joy include:
      • Be committed to your faith in Jesus (3:6-8)
      • Be devoted to loving others (3:6)
      • Be eager for fellowship—the sharing of your life with others (3:6)
  • Be encouraged by your leaders’ care for you (3:10-13)
    • Leaders show their care as they:
    • Pray for you (3:10-13)
    • Help you grow in your faith (3:10)
    • Fellowship with you (3:10-11)

1 thessalonians

Songs for Worship
This is the Day
Step by Step
Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
In Christ Alone
Brethren, We Have Met to Worship

Image taken and modified with permission from pixabay.com

Sunday 11.05.17 (faithful in suffering)

This Sunday, we’ll continue our journey through 1 Thessalonians, taking a look at 2:13-3:5 and seeing what it means to be faithful to Jesus even in the midst of suffering. Then on Sunday night, we’ll be in our video series: Scripture and Authority in the Age of Skepticism. Also remember to “fall back” by setting your clocks back one hour before bed! We hope to see you on Sunday!

@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm “Scripture and Authority” study

Sermon Notes
Faithful in Suffering ~ 1 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5

  • When we receive God’s word in faith, it changes us (2:13-14)
    • Faith receives God’s word as God’s word (2:13)
    • Receiving God’s word in faith leads us to imitate Jesus and imitate other faithful Christians (2:14, 1:6)
    • But this change can bring about suffering (2:14)
    • Therefore:
  • Be ready when suffering comes (2:14-20)
    • We all face various forms of suffering (James 1:2), including:
    • Persecution (2:14-16)
    • Separation from those we love and care about (2:17-20)
    • Satanic attacks (2:18)
    • Other forms such as health issues, depression and anxiety, issues with family, work, school, etc.
  • When suffering comes, face it with faith (3:1-5)
    • When faced with the darkness of suffering, we need to be reminded of the light of hope in the gospel (3:1-3)
    • When faced with the darkness of suffering, we need to remember that suffering is not out of the ordinary (3:3-4)
    • When faced with the darkness of suffering, we need to find encouragement through others (3:5, in light of 2:19-20 & 3:6)

1 thessalonians

Songs for Worship
He Leadeth Me (what a version on YouTube here)
We Are Called to be God’s People
Ancient Words (watch a version on YouTube here)
By Faith (watch a version on YouTube here)
In Times Like These

Image taken and modified with permission from pixabay.com

Be Like Little Children

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” – Mark 10:14-15

At one point in Jesus’ ministry people, presumably parents and grandparents, were bringing small children to Jesus. His disciples responded by rebuking them, essentially trying to get them to go away and leave Jesus alone. This was Jesus, after all, the one who taught and healed so many; surely he had important things, adult matters, that he must attend to!

Jesus’ reply was to rebuke the rebukers. Children are important, he assured them while he took the little ones into his arms. Oh, and by the way, God’s kingdom is for the children and if you don’t receive it like a child then you won’t have a place in it.

Strong words for these men who followed him.

So, what is it that sets children apart? What is it that we must imitate? In some ways we are to be decidedly not child-like. Upon coming to Jesus, being reborn as spiritual infants, we are to feed and be fed on God’s word and grow into mature spiritual adulthood (Hebrews 5:11-6:3, 1 Peter 2:2-3).

But in another sense, we should always remain very child-like in faith. What sets children apart from adults is how freely they trust. Sadly, in a sin-stained world, such trust can be abused to the child’s harm; but this is not so with God. God is perfect in love as the great Father. He may discipline us for our good, but he never abuses and causes harm.

Our trust in God is to be childlike, unhindered and free. We’re to see him as the Good Father who always does what is best for his children. We’re to see him as the Great Provider who gives us what we need and beyond what we need for eternal joy. We’re to see him as the Solid Rock to whom we anchor our lives and future hope.

We’re to come to him to be received by him and be blessed by him, without hindrance or hesitation, because that is the very thing he calls us to through Jesus. We’re to have the trust of a child because, if we belong to Jesus by faith, then we are God’s children, and we can rest secure and happy in his arms.

Mark 10_15

Image taken and modified with permission from pixabay.com.

Sunday 10.29.17 (gospelink presentation)

This Sunday we’ll have guest speaker, Willie Hunter, the Gospelink representative for our area to talk about the mission of Gospelink. You can click here to go to the Gospelink website and find out more information. Then on Sunday night we’ll start a new video study: Scripture and Authority in an Age of Skepticism by David Platt. We hope to see you there!

@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Scripture and Authority study in auditorium

Songs for Worship
You are So Good to Me
This Little Light of Mine
Send the Light
Shout to the North
Lord, Here Am I


Sunday 10.22.17 (a loving and faithful witness)

This Sunday we’ll take a look at 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 and how we as followers of Jesus are to have a faithful and loving witness to those around us. Then, on Sunday evening, we’ll watch the second half of the documentary on Martin Luther in honor of the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation. We hope to see you there!

@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Luther documentary in church auditorium

Sermon Notes
A Faithful and Loving Witness ~ 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12

  • Our witness of words: Speak fearlessly of Jesus, no matter the consequences (2:1-4)
    • Be faithful, even if it brings suffering (2:1-2)
    • Remember that your first aim is to please God (2:3-4)
  • Our witness of love: Share with and invest in others like caring parents (2:5-8, 11-12)
    • We’re to be motivated by love, not pride or self-gain (2:5-6)
    • Provide in a gentle and caring way, be affectionate, and share your life (2:7-8)
    • Exhort and encourage, teaching others about righteousness and hope (2:11-12)
  • Our witness of character: Seek to be blameless in the way you live (2:9-10)
    • Put away that which offends and/or creates roadblocks to faith (2:9)
    • Put away sin and treat others in righteousness (2:10)

1 thessalonians

Songs for Worship
The Bond of Love
Here I Am to Worship
Meet with Me
Wonderful Words of life
Let Others See Jesus in You
I Surrender All

Image used and modified with permission from pixabay.com

Marriage and Divorce

“But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” ~ Jesus, Mark 10:6-9 (CSB)

Marriage was the first institution of society that God gave to humanity. When there were only two people, Adam and Eve, and no cities, neighborhoods, or governments, God gave us marriage.

God designed marriage to be a source of joy, intimacy, and fellowship between a husband and wife in a lifelong bond. Marriage is such an important aspect of the human story that Paul relates it to the relationship between Jesus and the church in Ephesians 5, and John sees eternity kickoff with the marriage supper of the Lamb in Revelation 19.

Yet, when Adam and Eve chose sin over God in Genesis 3, it impacted everything, including marriage.

Sin and the hardness of heart is why, Jesus said, Moses permitted divorce papers (Mark 10:5); but now that he had come to deal with sin, Jesus called his followers to a higher ideal—a return to what God designed in creation. We still do not live in a perfect world, so Jesus and Paul allow for a sinless divorce on behalf of the injured party in cases such as adultery or spousal abandonment (Matthew 19:9, 1 Corinthians 7:10-16).

Still, our aim is for the ideal. We should enter into marriage with the belief that it will be “until death do we part,” and work to resolve issues with grace and commitment. We should see divorce only as an option in extreme circumstances that we pray we will avoid.

If you’ve been divorced in your past, know that God’s grace is unlimited to those who receive it by faith in Jesus. If necessary, confess to God any sin on your part related to the failed relationship that you have not yet confessed to God. Then let your focus be on your current relationship and strengthening it to be that source of lifelong joy, intimacy, and fellowship that God designed for it.