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

Good Reads 09.20.17 (on: encouragement, worship, and more!)

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

On church and worship: Sunday Morning Is Not About Me by Stephen Witmer

As one who longs for spiritual transformation in myself and others, I really want to know how God turns a call to worship (Psalm 33:1–3) into a response of genuine and joyful worship (Psalm 33:20–22). How does he form a people who will say, “Our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name”?

The real treasure of this psalm is that it answers that question. It gives us reasons to worship — Psalm 33:4 begins with the word “because” — and these reasons are not about us; they’re about God. The psalmist feeds our minds and fires our hearts with the character of God:… (click here to read more)

On encouragement: The Necessity of Encouragement by Charles Spurgeon

Labour to help others, and especially strive to encourage them. Talk cheerily to the young and anxious enquirer, lovingly try to remove stumblingblocks out of his way. When you find a spark of grace in the heart, kneel down and blow it into a flame. Leave the young believer to discover the roughness of the road by degrees, but tell him of the strength which dwells in God, of the sureness of the promise, and of the charms of communion with Christ. Aim to comfort the sorrowful, and to animate the desponding. (click here to read more)

On sex: What’s the Purpose of Sex by Tim Challies

We do, indeed, have a natural appetite for sex. Yet this appetite is given by God and is to be used in ways that are consistent with his design. Paul’s reply to the Corinthian church tells why this view is so dangerous. He begins by quoting their words but then immediately counters them: “‘Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food’—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” (1 Corinthians 6:13). While it is true that God has made us sexual beings and given us a natural appetite for sex, we must remember that sex is God’s idea and God’s gift. As the creator of our bodies and the author of sex, it is God who determines how the gift must be expressed, and it is God to whom we will ultimately give an account for how we used it. God has made us for himself, and we have no right to use his gifts for purposes that dishonor him. (click here to read more)

On marriage and singleness: Your Letter to Your Future Spouse by Kelly Needham

Undoubtedly, marriage is a treasured gift many Christians will receive. Instituted by God before the fall, and intended to showcase the beauty of the gospel, marriage ought to be highly regarded by God’s people. But marriage is no savior. It cannot rescue, redeem, or ultimately fulfill us. It has no final power to save us from our loneliness, emptiness, or purposelessness. Believing marriage can do the work of God himself is to serve an idol.

So, in the interests of putting marriage in its proper place, here are four reasons to set your hope in a present Christ rather than a future husband or wife. (click here to read more)

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

Good Reads 09.14.17 (on friendship, singleness, and more!)

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

On Christian friendships: The Painful Paradox of Christian Friendships by Ronni Kurtz

Friendships between Christians are a bit of a peculiar thing. We know that eternally all we need is Christ, yet we feel temporally that we have a desperate need for each other. God shows off his kindness in fewer things more than allowing his children to walk through their days with one another. We are called to a laundry list of “one another” imperatives: love one another, rebuke one another, bear one another’s burdens, forgive one another, provide for one another, and so forth the glorious commands to live for the good of another go.

The relationships between believers is different because it’s not built around a small commonality of cultural taste or preference; it’s built around seeing to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God as we march hand and hand with our brothers and sisters towards the promise land. This eternal drum beat that our feet move to causes a bond that other friendships just can’t quite have. They are deep, they are meaningful, and they stir our affections for Jesus. (click here to read more)

On grief: How to Grieve Like a Christian by Tim Challies

Grieve hopefully. When Paul says, “you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” he is really saying something like, “we grieve, but not in the same way as all those other people who have no hope.” Or, “even though we do grieve, we grieve differently from those other hopeless people.” Again, we see there’s a distinctly Christian way to express grief. We must not grieve like unbelievers do. What is this Christian form of grieving? Christians experience grief but without despair, sorrow but without defeat, sadness but without hopelessness. It’s true sorrow and true hope. (click here to read more)

On marriage and hard times: When Marriage Is Filled with Worse, Poorer, and Sickness by Sarah Walton

If your marriage is struggling under the weight of trials and both you and your spouse have a desire to follow Christ, I would like to encourage you with a few ways that the suffering we endure throughout marriage can be a disguised blessing to bring about a richer, deeper, Christ-centered marriage. And if you are married to a spouse who is not following the Lord, I pray that God will use those trials to draw him/her to a saving relationship with Christ.

So how can the trials that we face in our marriage bring about a greater richness to our relationship with Christ and one another? (click here to read more)

On singleness: Are You ‘Not Yet Married’? by Marshall Segal

Being “not-yet-married” is not about dwelling on the negative. If you are in Christ, you are never again defined by what you are not. You have too much in him to be discouraged about not having anything else — even things as important in this life as a job, or a spouse, or children. The things that fill our lives and make us happy here are simple grains of sand compared to the endless beaches of knowing Christ.

It was, after all, an unmarried man who said, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him” (Philippians 3:8–9). (click here to read more)

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