Sunday 05.07.17 (looking for joy)

This Sunday, we’ll continue our journey through Ecclesiastes and consider the right and wrong places to look for joy in life, as Solomon tested pleasure, wisdom, and work and found them each meaningless without God. Then on Sunday night, we’ll make up last week’s Attributes of God lesson with a look at God’s omnipotence. We hope to see you there!

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

Sermon Notes
Looking for Joy in All the Wrong Places ~ Ecclesiastes 2:1-26

Solomon tested the limits of pleasure, wisdom, and work to see if they would bring him joy and meaning in life, yet found each lacking. Instead, to find joy, we should:

  • Delight in God more than you delight in the pleasures of the world (2:1-11)
  • Seek to be wise in eternal ways and not merely temporary ways (2:12-17)
  • Work for the glory of God more than for personal gain (2:18-26)

 

Good Reads 03.29.17 (on: God’s bigness, simple joys, and more!)

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

On prayer: In a video presentation, Donald Whitney explains how to have a deeper and more meaningful prayer life–How Can I Improve My Prayer Life (click here to view)

On joy in everyday life: Taking Back Dinner Time by Katie Hughes

Anyhow, it occurred to me randomly one night that I was never truly in the moment. I think I was in the middle of bathing a kid and she was being cute and I was completely unaffected by it. Joy had left all of those things. I only had eyes for bedtime, my one true love. But really that means I only had eyes for my selfishness, because bedtime means me-time.

I find it very difficult to be present in the mundane stuff. Are you with me, parents?? …

But an older, wiser friend of mine once told me that not everyone has to enjoy the same types of things, but God does intend for you to find joy in the life He’s given you. If that’s lacking, you should go looking for it. What do you enjoy, Katie? (click here to read more)

On the bigness of God even in the little things: Drowning in a Drop of Water by Jon Bloom

These realities should have us trembling when we remember how Jesus didn’t drown. The Incarnate Creator Word (John 1:3) was in such comprehensive command of the math and the molecules that they were literally “in subjection under his feet” as he walked upon a sea (John 1:14; Matthew 14:25; Hebrews 2:8; John 6:1) — a sea ironically renamed after the reigning Roman emperor. This molecular miracle was metaphorical, for the sea would never so acknowledge Tiberias’s lordship. And when Tiberias’s government executed Jesus, the imperially ordered death also prostrated itself under the feet of the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:8; 15:20, 27). (click here to read more)

The story of how a jihadi fighter became a Christian: The Jihadi Who Turned to Jesus by Eiad Abdullatif

Exactly why he sought solace in Christianity, rather than a more mainstream version of Islam, no one can quite explain. Reading the Bible, Mr. Mohammad claimed, made him calmer than reading the Quran. The churches he attended, Mr. Mohammad said, made him feel more welcome than the neighborhood mosques. In his personal view, Christian prayers were more generous than Muslim ones. (click here to read more)

On the joy of Bible reading: Treat Yourself to the Voice of God by David Mathis

I’ve found it revolutionary over the years to recognize and own daily “time alone with God” as an opportunity to treat myself. God’s offer to us to hear his voice is not a call to austerity, but the invitation of Isaiah 55:1, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters.”

Consider what small supplemental steps you can take to cultivate eagerness and receptiveness to God’s word — to develop the mentality that a regular season of Bible intake and prayer is a joy to anticipate, a genuine chance to treat yourself in the best of senses. (click here to read more)

Sunday 03.19.17 (deepening joy)

This Sunday we’ll take a look at John 16:16-33 and see how we can live a life of ever-deepening joy. Then on Sunday evening, we’ll have our third night of Revive! 2017 with Cody McCully from the Church at Pleasant Ridge (Harrisonville) speaking on pursuing missions. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@5pm Dinner before Revive!
@6pm Revive! 2017 “Pursue Missions”

Sermon Notes
Deepening Joy ~ John 16:16-33

  • Joy is happiness in God
  • Joy develops deeply as we live in light of the resurrection of Jesus (16:16-22)
  • Joy develops deeply as we go to the Father in prayer (16:23-28)
  • Joy develops deeply as we trust in our overcoming Savior-King (16:29-33)

Joy Building Prayer

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV)

As Paul moved into the conclusion of his letter, he followed the pattern he often employed and launched into a series of commands. This set of commands show us how to keep a proper attitude of rejoicing.

Throughout the letter, Paul has called his readers to a world-surpassing, Christ-centered, God-exalting joy, and he did so again. This joy flows over into our relationship with others. By “reasonableness” Paul seemed to mean a sense of courtesy and deference toward others where we do not overly concern ourselves with our own will and rights.

Paul knew these things went hand in hand. If we have proper joy in Christ, then we will treat others like we should.

But, much in this world tries to rob us of our joy. When fear, anxiety, and worry come, then our tendency is to come under a cloud of depression and such a mood often leads to a poor treatment of others. So, Paul urges us to combat fear and anxiety by remembering the nearness of our God as we go to him in prayer.

Prayer is an act of worship in which we commune personally with our Father. Prayer is as a child approaching a king in his throne room and being able to lay out all our hopes and fears without reservation. Prayer is an act of faith in which we trust God to answer his promises to care for us. And, indeed, as Paul wrote: There is something about prayer that brings the peace of God over us.

Deepening prayer leads to stronger faith, greater peace, and fuller joy. So, let us seek our joy in Christ. Let us run to the Father in prayer.

New posts from this devotional series in Philippians will run most Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

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Joyful Reminders

Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. ~Philippians 3:1 (ESV)

This single verse, about halfway through Paul’s letter, gives a strong reminder of Paul’s purpose in writing to the church. He wanted them to experience the great joy of God through Christ in all things. He wanted them to join him in looking beyond the ups and downs, troubles and pleasures of each day and set their gaze firmly upon the solid rock of joy: Jesus.

So, he said, “To write the same things to you is no trouble to me.” Repetition is how we learn and grow. Hearing and doing the same things again and again is how we develop lifelong habits, either bad or good. In this case, Paul’s reminder was good. He knew the outcome of it would be greater attitudes of joy on a daily basis. Therefore, he had no qualms about reminding the church over and over of joy in Christ.

Paul also said, “…and is safe for you.” We live in a world of distractions, and that hasn’t changed in 2000 years. The forms of distraction shift with time, but the fact remains that we face plenty that tries to take our eyes off of Jesus. A regular reminder fights against these distractions. We need to be reminded that Jesus is the greater Savior-King, answering our deepest needs due to our sin.

Being reminded of the work of Jesus to save us and being reminded of the eternal joy Jesus brings us through salvation serve as a strong anchor of the soul. Let yourself hear and heed the reminder to rejoice in the Lord.

New posts from this devotional series in Philippians will run most Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

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A Joyful Heart (a daily proverb)

This devotional series examines a verse or two from a chapter of Proverbs each day of January 2017.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. ~Proverbs 17:22

We all know the experience of pain, suffering, and sadness in life. What is the best way to not be overcome by it? Joy.

This may sound almost self-defeating. After all, if I am pained or saddened, then how am I to have joy? How am I to have the thing that Solomon calls “good medicine”? The answer is to look outside ourselves.

The Bible doesn’t sugarcoat suffering. It doesn’t hold up joy as an unobtainable ideal for those in the midst of pain. Rather, it helps us to find the root of joy even in the midst of pain.

Joy is a sense of happiness, but it’s not a happiness found despite our pain or ignoring our pain. Instead, it is a happiness that directs us to look through the pain at the great hope of the promises of God. God never promised a pain-free life, but he does promise to walk with us through our suffering and he gives us hope beyond our suffering.

In part, he does this as the joyful Savior who suffered along with us. Hebrews 12:2 says of Jesus that “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

The cross was where Jesus bleed, suffered, and died. The cross is where Jesus felt the full weight of the wrath of God for the sins of his people. The cross was suffering and pain. But through the cross, Jesus saved rebellious sinners to be his brothers and sisters. Through the cross, Jesus gathered a people for his joy and glory.

So, Jesus was able to look forward to what would be accomplished beyond the cross in order to take joy.

James wrote: “Count it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2-3). So, James points us not to the pain of the trial, but through the trial to what God will use it to accomplish in our lives. In that, even with tears of pain, we can have a deep abiding joy that helps to carry us through.

And that is good medicine for our souls.

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The Joy of the City (a daily proverb)

This devotional series examines a verse or two from a chapter of Proverbs each day of January 2017.

When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness. By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown. ~Proverbs 11:10-11

Character matters. That is one of the big lessons we find again and again in the Bible. For God’s people, the number one qualification for leadership isn’t charisma, education, vision, or skill, but character. This is true in the home, the church, the city, and the nation.

Throughout the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, we see a repeated pattern. When the unrighteous are in power or bend the ear of the king, the people and the land suffers. When the righteous are in power or have the ear of the king, the people and the land prosper.

In his proverb, Solomon related this truth to cities. The wicked ultimately care most about themselves. They will make false promises, manipulate, lie, and use in order to exalt self and maintain their prominence. The righteous care about things like justice, love of neighbor, and the plight of the poor, the orphaned, the widow, and the sojourners. The righteous seek not to exalt self but to bring about the best situation for others.

This is what God calls his people to. As Jesus said: We are to love God and love neighbor. Ultimately, we cannot do one without the other.

So, if we have found new life in Christ, we should heed his call to love. We might not all have the power or influence of a king or a president, but we can be a positive force in the lives of those living next door to us. The more we love others, the greater benefit our communities receive, and that brings joy to our communities.

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