Sunday 10.13.19 (psalms of ascent: security)

This Sunday, we’ll continue our look at the Psalms of Ascent with Psalm 125. We’ll see how on our life’s God-ward journey in Christ, God promises eternal good for his people and to guard us into eternity. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering

Sermon Notes
Security ~ Psalm 125

The sermon in one sentence: Life in Jesus is an upward journey on which God provides will guard us into eternity.

  • God is eternal security for those who trust in him (125:1-2)
  • God promises eternal goodness for his people (125:3-4)
  • God promises eternal condemnation for evildoers (125:5)

Songs for Worship
The Solid Rock
The Everlasting Arms
You Are So Good to Me
Rescuer
Trust and Obey

Psalm 120-134 (Psalms of Ascent)

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Praying the Bible ~ James 4:6-7

Praying through verses or passages of the Bible is a great way to help you pray according to the will and desires of God. Below is a passage of Scripture and a sample prayer. I would encourage you to pray that prayer, or, even better, read the passage and pray as God leads you.

Text: James 4:6-7
But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  (Christian Standard Bible)

Prayer
Father, our battle is not against flesh and blood but spiritual powers of darkness. The greatest weapon you have given us to fight against sin and Satan is the unconquerable one–yourself. If you are for us, none can be against us. Your grace strengthens us to overcome every evil force. Yet, this requires humility on our part. This requires the realization that we cannot win on our own. This requires our hearts submitting to you. Father, remind us each day to rest in your grace and follow your will. Help us live in humble submission to your greatness, power, and love. Amen.

The Motive Behind the Money

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

I saw that all labor and all skillful work is due to one person’s jealousy of another. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind. ~ Ecclesiastes 4:4

Money is a part of life. Without money, we can’t pay bills, buy food and clothing, or travel. In normal life, we work, we make money, we spend money, we might save a little money, and we do the same the next day.

The Bible’s view of money and wealth is neutral–it can be used for good or bad. What defines it as such is our use of it and our motive of obtaining it. In Ecclesiastes 4, Solomon, the richest man of his time, pondered the motive. He noticed that people go out and work and make money, some work even extra hard. He also noticed that many did this out of a jealousy for others. They wanted to keep up with their neighbors.

We live in a consumeristic society when it comes to money built on the very thing Solomon lamented. We work, earn, and spend so that we can have the newest best thing, or at least have what our neighbors have. Advertising firms know this. So do credit card companies.

Yet, as Solomon wrote, such an attitude is futile. Life isn’t supposed to be about keeping up with our neighbors.

In 1 Timothy 6:17-19, Paul gave a better motivation for money: Use it to be generous and to enjoy life. In other words, there’s nothing wrong with buying things that we want or enjoying ourselves, so long as such things honor God and so long as it doesn’t temper our willingness to share with others.

When we have a heart of generosity, we’re not so interested in what others have so that we can go and gain the same, but we’re interested in what others lack so that, if possible, we can help them gain. Let’s seek to have that heart and motivation behind what we earn.

Scripture quotes taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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Pure Religion

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

God cares deeply about the poor, needy, and afflicted. Psalm 113:7-8 says, “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the trash heap in order to seat them with nobles–with the nobles of his people.” It is no wonder, then, that God requires the same for his people.

When we speak of “religion” we speak of a system of beliefs that one holds with a sense of devotion which usually involves devotion to a deity of some kind. Religion, then, involves how we worship and how such worship impacts our lives.

Believing there is one God in three persons, Christians worship God through Jesus. We sing, pray, share, preach, and celebrate all with a focus on what God has done for us through giving Jesus his Son. Jesus even says that to have eternal life is to know the one true God and Jesus whom he sent.

Yet, if we limit our religion to the adoration of God through Jesus with no concern about other people, then we are missing the mark. In telling us to care “for the least of these,” Jesus said that as we do for them, we do for him (Matthew 25:31-46).

It is no wonder, then, that when James wrote of our practice of our religion, he defined it as such: “Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (1:27). Later, James will write about how true faith is a faith that works, that does good. True religion, then, is putting our faith into practice.

The world is filled with needs. We see them around us day in and day out. No one person can meet every need. God never intended that to be so outside of Jesus. Yet, we can meet the needs we see and are able to meet. We can put our faith into practice and help take care of those less fortunate than us, just as our Father in heaven raises up the poor and needy and sits them in the place of nobles.

All scriptures taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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Praying the Bible ~ Ecclesiastes 2:1-2

Praying through verses or passages of the Bible is a great way to help you pray according to the will and desires of God. Below is a passage of Scripture and a sample prayer. I would encourage you to pray that prayer, or, even better, read the passage and pray as God leads you.

Text: Ecclesiastes 2:1-2
I said to myself, “Go ahead, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy what is good.” But it turned out to be futile. I said about laughter, “It is madness,” and about pleasure, “What does it accomplish?”  (Christian Standard Bible)

Prayer
Father, you are the God who delights in what is good. You call us to make you our highest delight through Jesus and to enjoy every good gift that comes from your hand. Father, turn our hearts from worthless pleasures–those that delight for a moment but end in ruin. Yes, sin has it’s passing pleasures, but what you provide is joy forevermore. May we test our hearts with you instead of the momentary passions of sin. Amen.

Sunday 9.29.19 (psalms of ascent: mercy & grace)

This Sunday, we’ll continue our look at the Psalms of Ascent with Psalm 123. We’ll see how on our life’s God-ward journey in Christ, God provides us mercy and grace along the way to combat our sin and pride. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Something Needs to Change video study

Sermon Notes
Mercy and Grace ~ Psalm 123

The sermon in one sentence: Life in Jesus is an upward journey on which God provides abundant mercy and grace.

  • The Problem: Pride (123:3-4)
    • Pride is a specific form of idolatry
    • Idolatry says, “There is a better way than God’s” (false-religion)
    • Pride says “My way is better than God’s” (self-religion)
    • The story of humanity from Genesis 3 on is that we spurn God and choose sin because we think we know better, though we don’t
  • The Solution: We Need God’s Mercy and Grace (123:1-2)
    • Saved by grace through faith: Repent of sin, idolatry, and pride; trust in God (123:1)
    • Depend on God’s mercy (123:2)
    • Depend on God’s grace

Songs for Worship
O Worship the King
I Exalt Thee
At Calvary
Tell It Out with Gladness
Refiner’s Fire

Psalm 120-134 (Psalms of Ascent)

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Make Known His Love

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

I will make known the Lord’s faithful love and the Lord’s praiseworthy acts, because of all the Lord has done for us–even the many good things he has done for the house of Israel, which he did for them based on his compassion and the abundance of his faithful love. ~ Isaiah 63:7

In a tweet once, a pastor named Philip Nation wrote, “Evangelism is easy: You talk to Jesus about people and you talk to people about Jesus.”

Talking to Jesus about people is prayer. We pray for people to hear the gospel, respond to the gospel, and be saved from their sins by Jesus through the gospel. When we make evangelism harder than it needs to be, our problem usually isn’t on the prayer side of things (unless we simply don’t pray for people).

Isaiah 63:7 is a model for the other side of this: Talking to people about Jesus.

We often wonder Where should I begin? What should I mention first? How should I broach the subject?

The answer is that you begin with God’s love. If we tried to list the good things that God has done for us because of his love, our hands would grow tire writing before we even scratched the surface. James says that every good thing comes from the Father. Every good person, possession, and event in our lives is a gift of God’s grace.

We begin with the fact that God is good and gives infinite goodness to those who will receive it. We begin with the realities that in his love he will make “all sad things come untrue” for those who trust him. We point to God’s goodness on display most greatly in Jesus who came and gave himself so that we, who had nothing before God, could gain everything.

We don’t have to be experts in any particular presentation to evangelize well. We simply must be willing to make God’s love known.

Scripture quotes taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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