Sunday 09.24.17 (our focus for spiritual growth)

This Sunday we’ll take a look at 2 Corinthians 3:18, as well as Psalm 19, and see “our focus for spiritual growth” in part 3 of this 4 part series. Then on Sunday night, we’ll look at God’s faithfulness in our Attributes of God study. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Attributes of God study in church library

Sermon Notes
Spiritual Growth: The Focus ~ 2 Corinthians 3:18

The Focus: A follower of Jesus grows spiritually as he/she sets his/her heart and mind on the greatness of the Lord as revealed in Scripture.

  • Beholding the glory of the Lord through the Gospel transforms us so we are more like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18)
    • We see with “unveiled faces,” meaning the spiritual clarity we gain in Christ
    • We “behold the glory of the Lord,” meaning that we dwell upon God’s goodness and greatness
    • We are “being transformed,” meaning we become more like God’s goodness with eternal greatness
  • We behold God’s glory through God’s self-revelation (Psalm 19)
    • Be in awe of God through his creation (19:1-6)
    • Be in awe of God through his Word (19:7-11)
      • Time in God’s Word, especially reading with reflection, is the #1 catalyst for spiritual growth (Move by Greg Hawkins and Cally Parkinson)
      • We see more of God’s glory in Scripture as we:
      • Spend time in it personally (Psalm 1)
      • Spend time in it with a small group of fellow Christians (Acts 2:42-47)
      • Spend time in it with the corporate worship gathering of our church (Hebrews 10:24-25, 1 Timothy 4:13)
      • Spend time sharing it with others through missions/evangelism (Romans 10:17)

Our Songs for Worship
In the Garden
Glorious is Thy Name
More About Jesus
This is My Father’s World
I Will Glory in My Redeemer

Help My Unbelief

In Mark 9, we encounter another healing at the hands of Jesus. In this case the father of a boy possessed by a demon came looking for help. He took the boy to Jesus’ disciples who attempted to cast the demon out but failed. Jesus had the boy brought to him and then asked the father: “How long has this been happening?” The father replied, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”

Hearing this man’s words, Jesus answered: “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” The man then cried out: “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:14-24, ESV)

Elsewhere Jesus said that if we had faith the size of a mustard seed, we could say to a mountain: “Get up and move,” and it would. In a world of so many distractions that pull us away from worship, prayer, and God’s word, our faith is often too small. Even if we don’t say the words, often our attitude in prayer is: “God, if you can…”

Jesus reminds us that we must see God as bigger. If a mountain moves, it’s not because we possess power but because the One who created it does. Jesus’ statement to the boy’s father tells us that God has no external limits. If he does big things like speak a universe into existence, then he can take care of our daily needs, spiritual and physical.

So, what do we do with our little faith? What do we do when we doubt? We entrust it to God.

Our prayer to the Father should be like the plea of this boy’s father: “I believe; help my unbelief.” Of our spiritual understanding, Paul wrote: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12). We don’t always see God as clearly as we should. In fact, we will not see God with perfect clarity until we see him face-to-face in eternal life to come.

Seeds of doubt will be sown into our hearts and minds. Sometimes these will grow large. In the face of them, we run to the One who can answer our doubts and give us greater faith. So, we cry out to our loving Father: “I believe; help my unbelief.”

Mark 9_24

Picture used and modified with permission from pixabay.com

A Glimpse of Glory

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. – Mark 9:2-3 (ESV)

Among the Twelve, Jesus had a smaller group that, on occasion, was able to experience something with Jesus that the others did not. Mark 9 records one of these instances—a time where Peter and the two sons of Zebedee got to see a glimpse of Jesus’ glory.

Glory is a word that speaks to the greatness, goodness, and majesty of God, often represented with brightness and light. The Old Testament prophet, Daniel, once had a vision of Jesus as “a man clothed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches…” (Daniel 10:5-6), and John likewise had a similar vision in Revelation 1:13-15.

But while he lived as a man on earth, God the Son muted his glory. Humbly, he took on the life and appearance of a poor carpenter, with nothing particularly striking about his appearance. That is, except for a brief few moments in what we call the “transfiguration.”

There, on a mountain with three of his disciples, Jesus’ glory was on display. Before their eyes he spoke with Moses and Elijah, two of the central figures in the Old Testament. Peter, terrified, stumbled over his words before the Father’s voice echoed from heaven just as it had at Jesus’ baptism, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”

And then the moment passed, Jesus resumed his normal human form, Moses and Elijah no longer stood there, and the four men walked down the mountain to rejoin the rest.

This is a reminder and foretaste for us as well. It reminds us that the humble carpenter that we call Savior is also our King. He might have humbled himself even to the point of death on the cross for our rebellion against God, but he is also the all-glorious, eternal God who shares every attribute of perfect and eternal deity with the Father and Holy Spirit.

It also focuses our minds forward. It reminds us as Jesus said elsewhere: “God is not the God of the dead but the living.” As followers of Jesus, when we pass this life, we will join with Moses and Elijah in enjoying God’s glorious presence forever. And when Jesus comes back and raises our bodies, they will be glorified like his, perfect and without the corruption of sin.

No, we cannot see the full glory of God at this moment with these eyes. But the glimpse we get through God’s word and creation remind us of who we worship and what is to come. And it transforms us to be more like our Savior-King in character and desire (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Sunday 09.17.17 (the stages of spiritual growth)

This Sunday, we’ll be in part 2 of our Spiritual Growth series and we’ll consider the different stages of our growth. Just like we’re born into the world as an infant and then mature into adulthood, so spiritually in Christ we are reborn as infants and are to grow to be mature spiritual adults. Then in lieu of our Sunday Evening study, we’re encouraging everyone to go to Kamp Keirsey for the annual Osage River Baptist Association picnic, starting at 5pm. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@5pm ORBA Picnic at Kamp Keirsey

Sermon Notes
Spiritual Growth: The Stages ~ 1 John 2:12-14

The Stages: A follower of Jesus begins as a spiritual child but should press on and mature into spiritual adulthood, becoming more like Jesus in character and desire.

  • žSpiritual Childhood: A basic understanding of faith (2:12-13)
    • Your main task as a spiritual child: Abide in Christ (2:28)
  • žYoung Spiritual Adulthood: A growing faith and greater victory over sin (2:13-14)
    • Your main task as a young spiritual adult: Serve others well and share the gospel with passion (2 Tim 2:1-7)
  • žMature Spiritual Adulthood: A deep faith that they reproduce in others (2:13-14)
    • Your main task as a mature spiritual adult: Help others know Jesus well and mature in their faith (Titus 2:1-8)

Worship Songs
Wonderful Grace of Jesus
Stand Up, Stand Up Jesus
My Faith Has Found a Resting Place
Be Strong in the Lord
Let It Be Said of Us

Sunday 09.10.17 (the goal of spiritual growth)

This Sunday we’ll begin our day with a doughnuts and coffee fellowship in the gym to kick off our new Sunday School year. Then in worship, we’ll start a 4-week series on spiritual growth by looking at the goal of our growth from Matthew 22:34-40. And on Sunday night we’ll consider the patience of God in our attributes of God study. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@930 Sunday School Kickoff in gym
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Attributes of God study

Sermon Notes
Spiritual Growth: The Goal ~ Matthew 22:34-40

  • The Goal: A follower of Jesus aims to love God supremely and love others deeply
  • Love God supremely (22:34-38)
    • To love God supremely means that no aspect of our lives is to exist outside of God’s commands and desires
    • We love him with our heart (emotions and desires); soul (life, especially spiritual life), and mind (thoughts and words, which lead to actions)
  • Love others deeply (22:39-40)
    • To love others is to have a joyful commitment toward them for their good–meeting needs and pointing them to Jesus
    • We are to love other Christians, love those who are not followers of Jesus, and love those who act as enemies toward us

The Call to Follow

Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” – Mark 8:34-36 (ESV)

Jesus confronts each of our lives with a call to follow him. We can gain everything the world has to offer, but if we do not have him then we are eternally lost, left with nothing but pain and regret. Jesus offers us something better—joy unending, but the cost is great: Jesus demands our everything.

This is what faith is: Not simply a belief in true things about Jesus, but also a trust that says to him, “Take my life, my all.”

This is why in addition to “follow me,” Jesus tells us to deny ourselves and take up our crosses. To deny self is to say, “I lay aside the passing pleasures that my heart chases after to take up the eternal joys that only you give.” To take up our cross is to say, “I no longer count my life my own. I am dead to the ways of sin and to my selfish desires. You, Lord, tell me where to go.”

Lest we think this demand is too great, we must remember that our lives already belong to God. He is our creator and the sovereign King of everything. We all one day will bow, but will we do it joyfully because we choose to do so now or will we do it sorrowfully when we stand before him as Judge in the end?

Lest we think giving our “all” to Jesus is giving too much, we must remember the gain we find. Everything in eternity belongs to Jesus, given to him by God the Father in an act of love. And if we give ourselves over to Jesus in this life, then we are his brothers and sisters, fellow heirs alongside him. We have a share with Jesus in the everything of eternity.

The road we walk today might have its ups and downs, its joys and sorrows. But it will never be more painful than what Jesus suffered on our behalf, taking the wrath of God while on his cross that we might have forgiveness and life. And in eternity, every tear of our eyes will be wiped away and our darkness turned to an eternal morning.

Listen to Jesus’ call. Follow him.

Beware False Teachers

Then Jesus gave them strict orders: “Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” – Mark 8:15 (CSB)

After Jesus again miraculously fed a large crowd, the Pharisees came to him and demanded a sign from him to prove his authenticity. Jesus refused and then went away with his disciples. While they sailed, Jesus warned them to “watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod.”

Matthew, in his gospel account, explains further what was meant: the “leaven” to which Jesus referred was the false teaching and beliefs the leaders of the region and religion promoted (Matthew 16:11-12). The Pharisees, especially, fit Paul’s description in Titus 1:16, “They claim to know God but they deny him by their works.” Often their demands upon people when far beyond God’s actual commands while they also neglected mercy and justice.

In every age of history, there have been people who have promoted lies and half-truths as being truths of God. The most dangerous of these are the teachings that bear much resemblance to what God has said. If we aren’t careful, such error can creep into our hearts and minds and then proceed to grow—just like dough that has been leavened with yeast.

Today, some false teachers say that we must do certain good works to be saved, instead of teaching that good works flow from a salvation that is by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-10). Some teach that if you have enough faith then you’ll be prosperous and wealthy in this life, as they neglect the Bible’s descriptions of those who suffered much loss because of their faith (Hebrews 11:35-38). Some teach that the Bible’s sexual ethics are archaic and culture-determined, instead of teaching that Scripture gives us the truth of the unchanging God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

How do we know the difference between what is true and what is false? We become intimately familiar with the Bible.

John told us to “test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Such tests include what one says about Jesus (1 John 4:1-3). Luke also praised the Bereans and presented them as an example for us because “they examined the Scriptures daily” to see if even the things Paul taught were true (Acts 17:11).

The more familiar we become with God’s word, the more equipped we will be to sort out the good from the bad. Examine Scripture, test what you hear or read, even what you read here, and make sure what is taught corresponds with the truth that God has revealed.