Sunday 01.28.18 (the gospel and parenting)

This Sunday we’ll be in week 3 of our The Gospel and Home series, taking a look at Ephesians 6:4 and “The Gospel and Parenting.” Then on Sunday night, we’ll continue our video series by John Piper on fighting for joy. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Video study in youth room

Sermon Notes
The Gospel and Parenting ~ Ephesians 6:4

The sermon in one sentence: The home should provide the foundation for discipleship as we expose our children to the love and grace of God as much as we can.

  • Don’t provoke your children to anger
    • Children are to obey; parents should strive to make obedience easy (6:1, 4; Matthew 11:28-29)
    • Help them feel loved and cherished
  • Bring your children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord
    • Be present
    • Be Gospel-instructive
    • Be encouraging
    • Be guiding

Songs for Worship
Love Lifted Me
Worthy of Worship
Would You Bless Our Homes and Families
Lord, Here Am I
Jesus Is Lord of All

The Things that Are God’s

“Well then,” Jesus told them, “give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” – Jesus, Luke 20:25 (CSB)

In Luke 20, the religious leaders ramped up their efforts in order to arrest Jesus, even sending spies among the crowds. Attempting to get him to say something against Rome, or attempting to get him to say something in favor of Rome in a way that would turn the crowd against him, some asked him about paying taxes. Was it lawful for them, as Jews, to pay taxes to Caesar? If Jesus said no, then he would be labeled an insurrectionist; if Jesus said yes, then he would be a Roman sympathizer.

In response, Jesus asked for a Roman coin and asked them who’s image it bore. They replied with, “Caesar’s.” So Jesus told them to give to Caesar what belonged to Caesar and to God what belonged to God.

Not only did Jesus affirm a respect for authorities that included paying due taxes, but he also reminded them and us of our greater purpose. In Genesis 1, as God created humanity, he described us as his image bearers. So, it might be true that our coins belong to Caesar, but greater still our lives belong to God.

This takes on new meaning through Jesus. In our rebellion against God, we could not kick off his sovereignty. He is still King and Righteous Judge. So, he has the right in the end to condemn us for our sin. Yet, if we belong to Jesus by faith then our lives belong to him in a new way. He has redeemed us from the great debt we could never repay. But he didn’t pay this debt to make us his slaves but his sons and daughters.

He is still the Sovereign King, but he welcomes us and relates to us as a Father to his child. When we give ourselves to him, we entrust every aspect of our being to the all-wise One who will never steer us wrong but will lead us into eternal pleasures and joys.

When he tells us to obey, it’s not to rob us of things that are good, but to lead us to that which is infinitely better. So, we give ourselves to him and we find true and abundant life. Yes, our coins might belong to Caesar, but we belong to God. Let us embrace that and run to him for joy everlasting.

Good Reads 01.25.18 (on: purpose, the Holy Spirit, and more!)

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

On hope, fear, and the future: Most of Life Is Waiting by Jani Ortlund

Hold your fears loosely. Bring them to God and offer them to him with open hands, asking him to replace your fears with hope. Let go of your fears and hold on to him. As we leave our fears with him, he will quiet us by his love (Zephaniah 3:17), helping us to ask ourselves, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Psalm 43:5).

And what does that hope look like? It looks as satisfying and secure as God himself, because real hope is a person. Paul tells us in Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” When we hold on to the God of hope, what we have then is not a psychological uplift, but God himself as our ally for every doubt and danger. (click here to read more)

On giving: How Much Money Am I Supposed to Give Away by Tim Challies

When I say we are to give enough that it matters, I mean that we should give enough that it makes a difference to our lives, to our lifestyles. Erwin Lutzer says it well: “Those who give much without sacrifice are reckoned as having given little.” We are meant to give enough that there are things we cannot do and cannot have because of our dedication to the Lord’s work. Let me be clear that I do not mean that we should do without food or we should do without paying our bills. The sacrifice is to be ours and not the bank’s or the landlord’s. Giving “as he may prosper” is not calling us to give beyond the ways the Lord has prospered us. There are theological traditions that insist that going into debt in order to “plant a seed” will ensure God’s provision in return. God may choose to do that, but wisdom dictates that we ensure that we are able to pay our bills and feed our children. We are to be generous, but we are to be wise as well. (click here to read more)

On the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit Is not an It by Jared Wilson

The Holy Spirit cannot be pumped and scooped. He cannot be slung around, gathered up, or dispensed. He’s not pixie dust. In this sense, there is no such thing as the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is not a thing at all, but the very presence of the personal God himself—with us, in us, and around us.

Yes, the Holy Spirit’s power is something we really do experience, really do have access to, really can be more aware of or less—that is what this entire book is about, after all—but we never, in any sense whatsoever, can think of ourselves as controlling the Holy Spirit. You may as well try controlling ten thousand hurricanes at once. “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). (click here to read more)

On purpose: The Surprising Truth About Finding Your Purpose by Mark Altrogge

You know what I love about this verse? It doesn’t talk about me finding MY purpose for my life. It talks about the Lord fulfilling HIS purpose for my life. This is great news. The Lord has a purpose for every single person who has believed in Jesus and called upon him to save them. God isn’t wondering what to do with me; he knows exactly what he is going to do. He has plans for the life of every one of his children. (click here to read more)

The Loud, Visible Return of Jesus

“The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you won’t see it. They will say to you, ‘See there!’ or ‘See here!’ Don’t follow or run after them. For as the lightening flashes from horizon to horizon and lights up the sky, so the Son of Man will be in his day.” – Jesus, Luke 17:22-24 (CSB)

Something that distinguishes many cults is secrecy. They don’t want their true beliefs or inner workings to be publicly known. Some have even twisted views of Christianity, setting up secret sects or compounds, claiming that Jesus has returned and is among them.

But Jesus, himself, gives us a different picture of his return. Though in the Son of God’s incarnation into the world, he was born without much fanfare to a young couple from the lower end of the social spectrum, when he returns it will be anything but unspectacular.

There won’t be secret appearances or compounds in which to gather in the wilderness. There won’t be people disappearing and the world wondering what had happened. No, Jesus’ return is going to be visible and public. There will not be a person on the earth who will miss it.

Lightning, in it’s brief moment of existence, can make the darkest hour of night seem like day. You can’t not notice when lightning strikes. The same will be true with Jesus’ return.

The church at Thessalonica encountered some false teaching that said otherwise. Someone, pretending to be Paul, wrote telling them that they had missed the return of Jesus, and this upset them greatly. So, Paul reminded them not to be troubled. They knew what he had originally taught them and it was still true. Jesus wasn’t coming back in secret but he’d be revealed “from heaven with his powerful angels” (2 Thessalonians 1:6).

So, we can rest in what Jesus said. We don’t have to worry about missing his return or having to find him in some hidden gathering. When he comes back, the whole world will know.

Good Reads 01.18.18 (on anger, heaven, and more!)

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

On heaven’s impact on life today: 3 Things Heaven Changes by Jared Wilson

Many of us are tempted to simply treat our days like punching a clock for that paycheck, something to keep us warm and well-fed. If we dare to dream big, we think along the lines of the American Dream, of investing for our financial future, or putting the kids through school or leaving them a good inheritance. But the immediacy of heaven transforms the way I view work.

If in fact my daily work is a part of God’s mandate to His people to take dominion and subdue the earth, then my workday becomes brimming with heavenly possibility! Through my work, I am laying up treasures in heaven.

I work now “as unto the Lord,” trusting that even the mundane things I do are being stewarded by Him to accomplish His purposes on earth—and in the earth to come. (click here to read more)

On anger: The Easiest Sin to Justify by Tim Challies

But I think anger is often different. When we sin in anger, we tend to absolve ourselves of blame by pleading the circumstances around the anger. So we blow up at our child, we raise our voice, we fling an insult. But when we’re challenged by our spouse or child or even our own conscience we point to the circumstances. “If she hadn’t been disobedient, this never would have happened.” So really, you see, it’s her fault. We scream an insult at the driver who cut us off in traffic. We use one of those four-letter words that surprises us (not to mention the rest of our family) as we hear it coming from our mouths. But in the silence that follows, or over the gasps from the back of the van, we insist, “He cut me off! He could have killed us!” It’s not our fault, but his.

When it comes to the sin of anger, we can always find an explanation that exists outside of us. We can always dump this sin in the lap of a husband or wife, a child or stranger. Failing that, we can plead fatigue or hormones or waking up on the wrong side of the bed or something—anything!—else. (click here to read more)

On knowing that you’re saved: How a Fish Can Help You Answer the Question of Whether or Not You Know Jesus by Mike Leake

But what separates a live fish from a dead fish? It isn’t that on occasion they are being tossed about by the stream or even swimming with the current of the stream. Both living fish and dead fish can go with the current. But there is one thing a dead fish can never do—swim up stream. They cannot go against the current.

The same is true of believers. There are times when we go along with the current of the world. We look just like the dead fish—being carried about by the cultural stream. We look like unbelievers being tossed to and for by every wind and wave. In such a season we’ll likely question our salvation because we aren’t reflecting our new life in Christ, we’re just going downstream like nothing has changed. (click here to read more)

On reading the Old Testament: The Joy of the Old Testament by Patrick Meador

God is introduced in power! He is introduced by what He has done. This is the power of biblical history. By reading what God has done, we gain insights into the character of God. When we read of God’s deliverance of the Israelites, we see the love, compassion, and power of God. In the recounting of His dealings with King David and Bathsheba, we see that even a man after God’s own heart can be broken and redeemed. It is in Isaiah 53 that we see the prophecy of the suffering servant, Jesus Christ. We read of God not only making promises but delivering on them!

Since discovering the value of the Old Testament, I have done sermon series through Joshua and Nehemiah as well as spent many times on sermons through the Old Testament, pouring over the text. (click here to read more)

Generosity

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Jesus, Luke 12:32-34 (ESV)

The Bible regularly calls us to generosity. In the Old Testament, the attitude is pictured with a wide-open hand. Instead of holding back for yourself, you open up to share with others.

Jesus gives us the foundational cause for our generosity in Luke 12–when God is our Father, we already have everything.

With this, there will be a disconnect that we feel between this life and eternity. When we live on budgets, balance our bank accounts, and try not to spend more than we bring in, it might seem like we don’t have much. But, our share in everything is coming. This is why the Bible describes our eternal gain through Jesus as an “inheritance.” An inheritance is something that is becoming ours but not yet in our hands.

The problem with earthly inheritances is that they are never guaranteed. Even if a parent or grandparent promises us a large sum of money, something could always happen that results in a far reduced share. Our eternal inheritance, however, will be ours without question. Jesus already gained it on the cross, and the God who never lies has promised that will we receive our full share through Christ.

This reality shapes what we do with our money now. Do we want to be wise with it? Of course. Is there still room for investing and saving? Yes, as we are able. But, we should not let gain in this life be a driving motive. What we do with our treasure reflects our hearts.

If we live as children of the Kingdom, we’ll be interested in helping out, as much as we can, those who are in need. We can be generous because we don’t live for the money in the account, but rather because we live for Jesus and he has promised us a treasure that will never fade.

Truly Blessed

We’ve been on a break from updating the website for a couple of weeks. We hope to be back regularly starting today. Our Bible reading plan for 2018 is a slower plan (typically a chapter a day) designed to take us through most of the New Testament and half the psalms at a pace to allow for more thought and reflection. Online devotional thoughts will draw from that day’s passage in the Bible Reading Calendar (you can download the calendar by clicking here).

Truly Blessed

As Jesus said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But Jesus said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” – Luke 11:27-28 (ESV)

People talk all the time about being blessed. When athletes and entertainers win games or awards, they might speak of how blessed they feel. We even find on social media the hashtag #blessed used to describe something good that has happened.

To be blessed is to have an experience of goodness. The word essentially means to be made happy or to be in a happy state of being. This is more than a general sense of happiness that comes in day to day life. To be blessed typically involves and even greater cause for joy.

This is what the woman intended who called out to Jesus. She knew that Jesus was someone special, so his mother should be happy in a special way. And, indeed, Mary may have been. However, Jesus turned around the idea of blessing upon this woman. He replied to her that those truly blessed are those who hear and do God’s word.

Why is this so?

First, it’s because the Bible is God’s word about himself. God is great joy and he is the giver of great joy (Psalm 16:11, 1 Timothy 1:11, John 17:13). Therefore, to know God and experience his presence through his word is to be greatly blessed.

Second, it’s because the Bible is God’s word about our need for Jesus. The Bible is a book of “good news,” but we need the good news because of the bad news. The bad is that we all rebel against God and deserve death and hell. The good is that even though we had no way to rescue ourselves, Jesus came to rescue us from our rebellion. It is a great blessing to move from being enemies of God on a path toward hell to being children of God on a path toward eternal joys.

Third, it’s because the Bible tells us how to live “blessed” lives. As Jesus said in John 10:10—“The thief” (that is, sin, Satan, and death) “comes only to steal, to kill, and to destroy, but I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.” When we turn to Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit, we have power to live different lives—lives that daily please God. Such lives rest in and reflect the goodness of Jesus who came to give us abundant life. The commands of Scripture steer us away from the way of the thief and into the way of Jesus, the way that is blessed.

So, cling to Jesus, hear the word of God, and do what it says. There you will find true blessing.