Sunday 12.27.15 (the edge of eternity)

This time of year we tend to place most of our focus on Jesus’ birth; but his advent or coming is a two-part event. This Sunday we’ll take a look at the second part of Advent: the return of Jesus and the beginning of eternity. Hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
**No evening activities, enjoy the holiday weekend!**

Sermon Notes
The Edge of Eternity ~ Revelation 19

Thinking of the second part of Advent:

  • Praise God for his judgment (19:1-5)
  • Celebrate God’s goodness, longing for the feast to come (19:6-10)
  • Stand bold in Jesus’ victory (19:11-21)

revelation 19_7

A prayer in the face of uncertainty and fear (a meditation)

We all face times where we feel overwhelmed. The world seems dark and the path set before us darker. It could be in the face of wars and rumors of war. It could be that phone call from the doctor you’ve been dreading. It could be an economic crash that causes you to lose your job.

We fear when the outcome seems uncertain or bleak. We fear when we are staring down a situation and we have no clue what to do.

hobbit armiesJudah under the reign of King Jehoshaphat faced such a situation. In 2 Chronicles 20, armies from four different nations threatened Judah. Hearing that the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites had declared war, and that a large army from Edom was on the march and closing in, Jehoshaphat was terrified.

But instead of letting fear overwhelm him, we read that he “begged the Lord for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting” (20:3). Yes, Jehoshaphat trembled with fear. Yes, the situation presented a daunting challenge and a dreadful outcome. But the king chose to trust in the One who was greater and had shown himself mighty against Judah’s enemies before.

At the end of his prayer, Jehoshaphat admitted his powerlessness, and then he concluded, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (20:12).

Here we find a prayer for those uncertain times and moments of fear. James said that when we face trials and lack wisdom, we are to ask God for help and he gives generously (James 1:2-8). That plea for help doesn’t need to be long and detailed, or couched in a bunch of religious language. Our plea only needs to admit our complete dependence upon God.

We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.

It’s a simple prayer. Often in the face of uncertain times or great dangers, we don’t know what to do. So we ask. We go to God and beg him for guidance, and even fast if we feel we need to. After all, God is the great Father, the One who will never leave nor forsake us. So we seek him.

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

Image from: The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

Sunday 10.25.15 (our sure hope in the patient God)

This Sunday we’ll take a look at 2 Peter 3 and the sure hope that we have in a graciously patient God.

Then Sunday evening during Adult Bible Study, Julie Bridges is starting practice for this year’s Children’s Christmas Program. The date and time of the program itself is still pending (look for it on a Sunday evening in early December) but practice will run each Sunday night leading up to it from 6pm to 7pm in the auditorium. Parents and grandparents are invited to join us for Bible Study in the church library.

Hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Children’s Christmas Program practice in auditorium
@6pm Life on Mission evangelism training in the church library

Sermon Notes
A Sure Hope in the Patient God ~ 2 Peter 3

  • Our hope; God’s patience (3:1-13)
    • We have the hope of complete salvation and perfect renewal on the “Day of the Lord” (3:10-13)
    • Some will mock the coming of Jesus (3:1-7)
    • Despite this mockery, God works with great patience (3:8-9)
  • This encourages us to live…
    • Eager for holiness (3:14)
    • Thankful for patience (3:15)
    • Watchful of false teaching (3:16-17)
    • Committed to spiritual growth (3:18)

2 peter 3

The Eternal Word (a meditation on Jesus as the Word and light)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ~ John 1:1

The Gospel of John is set apart from the other three New Testament gospels in much of its content and focus. This in part may have been due to the fact that John wrote several decades after Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and John had a much closer relationship with Jesus (of the other three, only Matthew was also among the original twelve disciples).

In his different focus, John took a deeper look at the theology of Jesus—not just what made him the Messiah, the Savior-King; but what made him the God-Man, the unique and only One to be both fully God and fully human.

Echoing Genesis 1, John opened with the words in the beginning but instead of the next word being God, John wrote of one known as the Word. We see a hint of the doctrine of the Trinity in that the Word was both with God and himself God. While the Holy Spirit is mentioned elsewhere by John here we find a taste that great mystery of one God and three persons—co-equal and co-eternal.

Continuing to echo Genesis where we find In the beginning God created, so the Word is called the creator. “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (1:3). If it exists it came to being through Jesus. Paul wrote similarly of Jesus in Colossians 1:15-16, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…all things were created through him and for him.”

And the echo does not end there. In Genesis 1:3, the first thing that God spoke into his physical creation was light. In John 1:4-5, John wrote of light: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Words Jesus spoke later in the gospel: “I am the light of the world” (8:12).

Symbolized by physical light, this light is spiritual. This light is the glory of God shining his majesty and goodness. This light speaks of life, the hope of salvation to all who would receive Jesus and new birth through him (1:9-13). This light is security and assurance of victory through Jesus. After all, when a light comes on in a dark room, the darkness flees to the corners.

John called Jesus the Word, the divine logos (Greek: “law-gaws”), because Jesus is the one through whom God speaks (12:49-50) and about whom God speaks (5:39) so that we might hear, believe, and have eternal life (6:68-69, 20:30-31).

And we know that the Word is Jesus, God himself born to us in the flesh as a man, for John explained, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (1:14). Today through the Bible, scripture—the written word of God, we still see the glory of the God-Man who came to be our Savior-King. Through his word we believe and have life. And through his word, we long for that day we will see and dwell in the light forever with the Word face-to-face.

john-1-1

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

Good Reads 10.21.15 (on: adoption and the gospel, bearing burdens, kindness in politics, and more!)

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

On adoption and God’s adoption of us: A Father to the Fatherless by Chris Thomas

You see, I had always appreciated those passages like Galatians 4:4-7 or Romans 8:12-17, but I had never truly grasped them until I chose and loved a son who wasn’t my own. … I have no right to call myself a child of God. But my Father loves me! My Father sings over me! My Father rejoices over me! My Father guards me as a treasured possession! My Father points to me as an eternal display of his love, a living trophy of his grace! I am loved. I am a child of God. (click here to read more)

On the Christian’s call to share the gospel: Advancing God’s Kingdom Is Not Just Your Pastor’s Job by Matt Moore

Who are the “saints”? Paul, Peter, St. Valentine, and whoever else the Roman Catholic Church deems worthy of the title? Nope. You and I are the saints. What this verse says is that one reason God gives us shepherds and teachers is to equip us to be ministers of the gospel. I think the phrase “work of ministry” in Ephesians 4:12 is applicable to both our work in the local church (which is why we shouldn’t neglect teaching Sunday School classes or serving in the nursery!) and our work in evangelism. God’s vision is that all of his children would be priests who serve in the weekly functioning of the Church . . . and prophets who proclaim Jesus to a lost and dying word. (click here to read more)

On work and the glory of God: Your Work Has an Eschatology by Sam Parkinson

A ministry position in a local church is not the only possible work you can do to the glory of God. If you work as a barista, work hard to give your customer a well-crafted drink; this shapes the world and it is pleasing to the Lord. If you’re a banker, work hard for the fiscal success of your employer and for your customer’s peace of mind; this shapes the world and it is pleasing to the Lord. If you are a plumber, work hard to bless your clients with dependable plumbing; this shapes the world and it is pleasing to the Lord. If you are a stay-at-home mother, work hard to raise and nurture your children for their temporal and eternal good (even when your hard work goes unrecognized); this profoundly shapes the world and it is pleasing to the Lord. (click here to read more)

On hope and an other-focused life: Hope Beyond the Heavy Burdens You Carry by Paul Maxwell

When life requires us to push harder, to protect more vigilantly, to give more freely, to expend unavailable energies, to accomplish impossible tasks, God offers us his sustaining love, his gentle concern, his guiding sovereignty. We are not alone as we bear the burdens of those around us, because God joyfully bears us up with him each day with exactly what we need — his sustaining grace, more than ever on the days when we don’t feel it. When Christ returns, we will witness a global mourning among those who have recklessly cast aside the free offer of Christ’s grace in this life. And the unseen faithful and generous servants will finally rest. (click here to read more)

On showing kindness to those who disagree with us politically and culturally: How Confidence Makes Us Kind by Russell Moore

A gloomy view of culture leads to meanness. If we believe we are on the losing side of history, we slide into the rage of those who know their time is short. We have no reason to be fearful or sullen or mean. We’re not the losers of history. We are not slouching toward Gomorrah; we are marching to Zion. The worst thing that can possibly happen to us has already happened: we’re dead. We were crucified at Skull Place, under the wrath of God. And the best thing that could happen to us has already happened; we’re alive, in Christ, and our future is seated at the right hand of God, and he’s feeling just fine. (click here to read more)

Everything we need (a meditation on God’s provision for spiritual growth)

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. ~ 2 Peter 1:3 (NLT)

children 01Spiritual growth isn’t always easy. There are times where everything seems to be going well. You feel more connected with God than ever, the Spirit seems to be present at every turn, Jesus shines brighter in his word, and prayer is a joy. You feel yourself growing and changing. Old habits that die hard fade into a distant memory…

And then there are those other times. The motivation isn’t there to get into the word or prayer. You wonder if the Spirit has abandoned you like with King Saul. God seems distant. And you struggle with old sins you thought were long buried. You might even look heavenward and cry out, “What is going on?”—possibly with a few colorful phrases thrown in…

At both extremes and for all of life in between, God is the Great Provider.

Though Peter didn’t write nearly as much as Paul, he did mimic Paul in sending a final, end of life letter to those he held dear. He knew his remaining time on earth was short and so he wanted to remind his brothers and sisters in faith of the greatness of God and everything God has done and provided for them (1:12-14). As followers of Jesus, there are many wonderful times where we find something new in the Bible or see something old in a fresh way with new eyes as we grow; but there are also plenty of times where we simply need to be reminded of old truths “even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught.”

God’s provision is one of these truths. Peter wrote that God has given us everything we need to live a life which honors him, just by the very nature of knowing him in response to his call to salvation in Christ (1:3). God’s grace is sufficient and his promises are sure. The victory has been won, and despite what false prophets proclaim, God is not lazy, far off, or dragging his feet—rather he is patiently working out his plan to save his people and see his people grow in Christ (chapters 2&3).

Paul wrote that we can work out our salvation because God is at work in us (Philippians 2:12-13). Peter wrote we can and should grow in faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self control, patient endurance, godly character, affection and love, because God has already given us what we need (1:1-11).

We need his Holy Spirit renewing our hearts and shaping our minds. God has provided. We need his word to be a light to our path and to transform our lives. God has given it. We need brothers and sisters to encourage us, hold us accountable, weep with us, and rejoice with us. God has made us a part of his Family. Each of these provided with the purpose that we see Jesus greater and more glorious.

So, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to him, both now and forevermore! Amen” (3:18). Trust God to be the Great Provider for he has already given, and in his provision keep on keeping on in his grace and for his glory whether it is easy in the moment or difficult.

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

Sunday 10.18.15 (a godly witness)

This Sunday we’ll take a look at 1 Peter 2:11-17 and how to have a godly witness in a fallen world. Also, all men are invited to our prayer breakfast at Wimfield’s at 815am. Hope to see you there!

Schedule
@815 Men’s Prayer Breakfast at Wimfield’s
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Life on Mission evangelism study week 3 in the church library

Sermon Notes
A Godly Witness in a Fallen World ~ 1 Peter 2:11-17

  • Remember: You are citizens of a heavenly Kingdom presently dwelling in a foreign land (2:11)
    • Our aim is to live peaceably with others (Rom 12:18)
    • …seeking the best for our community and praying on its behalf (Jer 29:4-7)
    • …And sharing with them the love and greatness of Christ (1 Pt 2:9-10)
  • To live godly lives in a darkening culture…
    • Flee from personal sin (2:11)
    • Submit to governing authority (2:13-17)
    • Care more about your actions than your reputation (2:12, 15-16)
    • Love and honor others (2:17)

1 peter 2_17