Sunday 10.01.17 (the journey of spiritual growth)

This Sunday we’ll finish our Spiritual Growth series by looking at Hebrews 12:1-2 and the journey of spiritual growth. Then on Sunday night, we’ll consider how God is truth 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 the church library
@7pm Business Meeting

Sermon Notes
Spiritual Growth: The Journey ~ Hebrews 12:1-2

The Journey: A follower of Jesus is committed to a life-long process of spiritual growth.

  • Our Journey: We run the race, seeking to faithfully finish, following hard after Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2)
    • We find encouragement on our journey as…
    • We hear the cheers of others (12:1)
    • We throw off the sins that hinder us (12:1)
    • We keep focused on Jesus (12:2)
  • Four main steps to take as you grow on your journey
    • Step 1: Follow Jesus
      • This is our foundational step of faith, turning to Jesus from our life of sin
    • Step 2: Live Truth
      • This concerns our love for God: We spend time in God’s word and in prayer, shaping our character to be more like Jesus
    • Step 3: Build Community
      • This concerns our love for other followers of Jesus: We are devoted as a family to each other’s good through fellowship, we keep each other on the godly path through accountability, and we worship God together by gathering to praise him
    • Step 4: Pursue Missions
      • This concerns our love for those who do not follow Jesus: we give of our time and resources to see the gospel spread, we serve to meet the needs of others and show the love of Jesus, and we share the gospel

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

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

Good Reads 05.31.17 (on: grief, growing up, and more!)

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

On discipleship and real life: Discipleship for the Rest of Us by Jared C. Wilson

If the mast gets struck by lightning, so do we. When church people say “Discipleship means following Jesus,” I think they tend to picture a group of sun-tanned dudes in cantata-quality robe costumes peacefully strolling through green pastures, perhaps stopping here and there under the comfortable shade of a tree to watch Jesus smile at them and tousle the hair of precocious children scampering about at his Birkenstocked feet.

Or maybe I’m just cynical. When I ask “What do you think of when you hear the word discipleship?” I’d love to hear people answer more along these lines:

“Believing God has a plan for me even when I’m afraid he doesn’t.”
“Believing God loves me even when I feel like nobody else does.”
“Trusting that God is doing something for my good even though my life has always been terrible up till now.”
“Following Jesus even though my feelings speak more loudly.”
“Denying myself to do what’s right although I don’t really want to.”
“Imagining a time when I won’t hurt as much as I do now.”
“Imagining a time when my spouse or child won’t hurt as much as they do now.” (click here to read more)

On how every Christian is called to be a servant to others: Every Christian a Minister by Eric Davis

Biblically speaking, however, the Christian life is not like that. In keeping with the football metaphor, the local church leaders are more like the team’s coaches and trainers (minus the temper). As such, they are called to work hard, study, stay ahead of things, and prioritize the care of the players. But they are not the players. Instead, all Christians are more like the players. As they receive the care, training, and equipping from the coaches, they are the ones on the field enjoying the challenges and rewards of the game.

To maximize their joy and effectiveness, they are to regularly stay connected with the coaches and trainers. They give and receive input to the coaches. They communicate closely with them. Wounds are treated, successes celebrated, and mistakes nurtured. They may not know every coach or trainer, but they stay closely connected with at least one. That/those coach(es) then provide accountability, equipping, care, and a nurturing relationship for as long as the player is under their stewardship. God’s design for every Christian is more likened to players on a field than spectators in a grandstand. (click here to read more)

On dealing with the pain and grief we face in life: Six Words to Say Through Tears by Nancy Guthrie

But when we are the ones who are grieving, what is far more important than what other people say to us is what we say to ourselves — what we say to ourselves in between sobs, when we have more questions than answers, when the emptiness feels overwhelming, when anger is getting a foothold in our heart.

When the grief is fresh and intense, we might take some wild ideas for a test drive, but to move toward healing and return to joy requires that we press this one idea deeply into our souls until it begins to impact us at the level of our feelings: “I can trust God with this.” (click here to read more)

On looking to Jesus to guide us as we grow up: Like Us, Jesus Had to Grow Up Too by Alun Ebenezer

Growing up in today’s world is hard. It’s a time of big changes. Hormones kick in and there’s the strain of having to contend with social media, peer pressure, the need to be cool, exam stress, insecurity and society’s relentless demand to be successful. It can all seem a bit much and young people can feel that no one knows, as Amy McDonald sung, ‘a single thing about the youth of today’.

But there is someone who knows; knows exactly what is to grow up in this fallen, broken world. The Son of God who thought it not robbery to be equal with God (Phil. 2:6), 2000 years ago humbled himself, made himself of no reputation (Phil. 2:7, 8), became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). For 33 years he learned what it is like to be you and me; to be a baby, a toddler, a child and an adolescent. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 03.15.17 (on: #prayer #parenting #singleness and more!)

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

On parenting and prayer: Seven Things to Pray for Your Children by Jon Bloom

So, pray for your children. Jesus promises us that if we ask, seek, and knock, the Father will give us good in return (Luke 11:9–13), even if the good isn’t apparent for forty years. And because Jesus regularly asked those who came to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51), we know that he wants us to be specific with our requests. (click here to read more)

On parenting and discipleship: Don’t Farm Out Your Child’s Discipleship to the Youth Pastor by Clark Forbes

What I tell them isn’t usually the answer they’re looking for: the best practice and strategy for helping kids know the gospel, come to saving faith, and grow as a disciple, is a parent investing in the discipleship of their child. Nothing helps a teenager know the gospel like seeing it modeled in the home; not just taught or spoken to them, but modeled through their parents’ relationship to each other and to the kids. (click here to read more)

On singleness and God’s Mission: Single, Satisfied, and Sent by Marshall Segal

While it may seem like two categories at first, we soon discover in application that there are three: the single, the married, and the not-yet-married. After all, as any single person knows, a desire for marriage does not a marriage make. My hope in reflecting on Paul’s words is to restore hope and ambition in the hearts of the not-yet-married and set them solidly on mission in their singleness. (click here to read more)

On the God-centered focus of preaching: You Are Not the Story by H. B. Charles Jr.

After watching a few minutes of a news telecast, I find myself turning the channel in frustration, grumbling to the reporter on the screen, “You are not the story!”

Unfortunately, many of us who stand in the pulpit need this reminder just as much as those who sit at the news desk. Christian ministers are charged to preach the word (2 Timothy 4:1-2). The Lord commands it. The truth demands it. The hearers need it. Yet there is always the danger of inserting ourselves into the sermon – by our content or delivery – that the message is obscured.

People should not leave the sermon having learned more about the preacher than Christ. When we stand to preach the word, we should prayerfully whisper to ourselves, “You are not the story.” (click here to read more)

On the ups and downs of spiritual growth: Why Do Spiritual Highs Fade? by James Beevers

So, if there is to be any lasting effect from these events and experiences, it must have at the bottom seeing and savoring Jesus Christ — and this is often what camps, conferences, and events provide. Anything of true, durable worth from these experiences comes from seeing God clearly as he really is. This can come from sermons, or discussions, or singing in worship, or late night conversations, prayers, and devotions.

When we see the light of the glory of Christ most clearly, the things of this world seem dim and worthless by comparison. Why have sin, good as it may look, when we can have Christ? (click here to read more)

 

 

Pursue Growth

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. ~Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV)

Who is responsible for your spiritual growth? Who sees to your maturity? From what Paul told the Philippians church, the answer is you and God.

In 1:6, Paul wrote, “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” So, the first spark and the final product in our salvation and maturity comes from God. Bringing us to Christ through faith, God will finish the work he started. Those whom God called will be those whom God glorifies, it’s a guaranteed finish (Romans 8:30).

Yet, this does not make us passive participants in our spiritual growth. Paul wrote that God indeed works in us for his will and good pleasure, and this is the foundation for the command to work out our own salvation. However, if we come to the end of our life on earth and we have not grown spiritually, the problem is not God’s work but our failure to pursue growth.

We must engage ourselves in the Bible to hear God’s voice. We must go to God in prayer, entrusting him with our praises and requests. We must choose to gather with other Christians and edify one another as we sing songs of praise. We must feed ourselves on the word and pursue being fed by godly teachers in his church. But it is God who empowers and accomplishes the growth in our lives as we pursue these things.

Let us not grow complacent or lax in this pursuit, and let us also remember that spiritual growth is a weighty thing. Paul didn’t merely say to work out your own salvation, no, he included the phrase with fear and trembling. We make our pursuit with an attitude of awe and reverence for God, especially because, as Peter wrote, “…you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-20).

It was no light task for Jesus to save us from our sins, nor is it a light task for us to grow to be more like him in love and character. See the glory, the love, and the beauty of God through Jesus. Fix your eyes firmly upon him. Then pursue spiritual growth, and know that all along God is empowering each step.

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

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